Serena Campbell had struggled on the relationship front since the day the love of her life gave her that mock salute, exiting her life on the evening of their nephew’s wedding day. She didn’t just lose the one great love affair of her life but their small, unconventional family and a soft voice down the end of the phone after a rubbish day. She knew, she was at fault - the unprofessionalism, the betrayal, the hurt she caused other - and she was beginning to think she wasn’t deserving of romance or somebody to spend the rest of her life with.
There had been few others - mainly just one night stands (men and women) but nobody quite fit the bill. One or two of her flings managed to haggle an invitation to Albies or have dinner with her, Jason, Greta and Guinevere. There was Carole, she lasted three months and Peter fled after Jason mentioned her sapphic antics. But all of them just weren’t quite right. Had the wrong colour hair, their laugh wasn’t kind as voluptuous as she wanted, their hands wandering or they weren’t quite as comfortable to curl into, and they didn’t fancy sharing a bottle of Shiraz in the evenings.
Of course, she knew she idolised Berenice Wolfe. She was beautiful. Her messy, silky hair, which she couldn't resist running her fingers through. Her ridiculous sense of humour and accompanying ridiculous laugh. The thought of them tight, figure hugging jeans she used to wear, the ones that flustered Serena, made her weak at the knees. They hadn’t kept in contact, it hurt too much - at the thought of letting each other go. Serena had memories: at work, at home, in France, that she cherished and she carried them with her everywhere she went. She’d give anything to see her again.
Berenice Wolfe stood in front of Holby City Hospital, her home at one point of her life. It had been over three years since the last time she stepped foot inside the building, since she gave a mock salute to her partner, returning to Nairobi, the place she had lived ever since. Serena always crept up in her mind - when she was laid in bed, awake at night, whenever she bought a bottle of wine, in surgery, wanting the bald, male vascular surgeon in front her to be a silver-haired, female consultant who wore that leopard print scrub cap.
Bernie’s life hadn’t been adventurous either, impacted by the fear of the authorities in Kenya and after splitting with Serena, had dived head first into her work, devoting all her time to the trauma unit. When she had come back to England to visit her children, she had met a couple of women at bars, done the deed and had left as soon as they had fallen asleep. A French registrar had recently moved to the trauma unit, they had been for a drink and she had hinted towards a relationship, but Bernie wasn’t too sure yet. She knew it had been over three years, but everytime she laughed with another woman or flirted, she felt out of place, like she shouldn’t be doing it.
Sadly, she was back in Holby because her mother was ill. She had been declining for a while but the cold weather had taken its toll and after a battle with a nasty chest infection and a spout of pneumonia, Margaret Wolfe was becoming weaker and weaker every day. After a call from Cameron, she decided she needed to come home. Bernie and her mother had never really had a good relationship, strained by her affair with Alex and sapphic revelations. Maggie Wolfe wanted her daughter to grow up in a peaceful environment, raising the children whilst Marcus went out and worked. Her daughter didn’t want that - she became one of the greatest trauma surgeons in the world, top Army Major, who was there for her kids as best as she could be. Bernie would never regret her career path, she would confidently say she is proud of all of her achievements - she just wished she had gotten on with her mother as she got older, told her the truth about her sexuality and spoke more - but life got in the way.
Bernie had come straight from her Mother’s care home before heading to Holby City. She wanted to see a certain individual. They hadn’t spoken much over the years, but if she was in Holby, she would never forgive herself, if she didn't see Serena. But she also wanted to see her friends. Ric, Fletch, Sacha, Henrik, Jason and she would love to see little Guinevere again - her and Jason had kept in touch a little over the years, the odd birthday card or postcard being exchanged, but it had been some months since his last email.
She made her way through the corridors, filled with memories, both good and bad. At Pulses, which had had a huge makeover since she’d last been there. Serena kissed her near them doors, begged her to wait for her. Ha! That didn’t last long, did it? The lift. That morning after she had kissed Serena on the theatre floor - gosh, that was awkward. The corridor leading to AAU. The flirtatious conversations they used to have, arms brushing one another. The locker room. Her and Serena had gotten up to some light necking after changing out of their scrubs, the first time she had come back from Nairobi. None of that this time though. She was going to remain friendly.
Bernie finally came to the doors of the Acute Admissions Unit. The place she called home for a while. The place she met some of her closest friends. A family of some sort. A young nurse she didn't recognise buzzed her in. It was almost surreal to be back - she didn’t even know if Serena was in! She really hoped she was. She moved towards the nurses station, peering around the corner to the office but nobody was there.
‘Hello. I’m looking for Ms. Campbell. Does she, erm… does she still work on this ward?’
‘Berenice Wolfe! As I live and breathe…’ A voice bellowed from behind her. The voice belonging to Ric Griffin made her smile. She spun around to see her old friend, the man whom she had been her closest confidant during her last few months at Holby. He looked well.
‘... when I came in this morning, your face was the last I thought I would see!’ He exclaimed before walking over to her and pulling her into a quick embrace.
‘Hello, Ric. Long time, no see!’
‘What are you doing here then, Ms. Wolfe?’ Ric questioned, raising his eyebrow,.
‘I’m back in Holby for a while… My mother is ill, so I’m back until further notice.’ She sighed.
‘Oh, Bernie, I’m sorry...And I’m guessing you’re here to catch up with a certain someone?’ Ric spoke carefully. He knew the two of them hadn’t had the smoothest end to their relationship and that Serena was definitely damaged after they broke up. He would spend evening’s with her in Albies letting her drunkenly talk to him about Berenice Wolfe
‘Is she here?’ Bernie said hopefully.
‘She’s in theatre. Should be out anytime soon…’ Ric spoke reluctantly.
‘Great…’ Bernie replied, unsure where to look.
‘Look. I know, it’s none of my business… but after you two ended things, she wasn’t herself for quite some time and I know she regrets all the mistakes she made… what I’m trying to say, is be careful with her…. She’s not been too lucky on the relationship front, since you.’
‘I’ll tread carefully and trust me, I know how she feels’ Bernie spoke sadly.
The operation hadn’t been anything too complicated. A trauma case in need of an emergency laparotomy, nothing Serena couldn’t do in her sleep. She scrubbed out, methodically washing her hands and took off her scrub cap. She made her way out of theatre with the F2 who was assisting her.
‘Right. I want her on 15 minute obs, make sure you change her fluids and top up her pain relief… oh, and make sure the family are informed.’ Serena spoke, looking down at the medical documents in front of her, before handing them over.
She looked around her ward, before her eyes ascended upon the nurses station - where an unexpected guest stood leaning against it, laughing with Rocky Griffin himself. She could tell who it was even from the way they stood. That hair - it had gotten longer, but still that beautiful dusty blonde. How does a woman at their age wear a pair of jeans that tight?
‘Bernie?’ Serena almost whispered.
The familiar face spun around to look at her. God, she was still gorgeous.
Serena let out what seemed to be a laugh. She couldn’t believe who was in front of her. What she absolutely adored about Bernie was that before their romantic relationship, they were close friends, and despite the awkwardness, they were still able to keep that friendship, no matter what had happened to them. Serena walked over to her and decided to do the ‘friend’ thing. She pulled Bernie into an embrace. The familiarity! She had missed being in these arms. They held on longer than most people would, too encapsulated in the moment. Eventually they broke away.
‘What are you doing here?’ Serena exclaimed.
‘I’m in Holby for a bit… My mum… she’s not doing too well…. and, you know, I can’t come to Holby and not see you… and Ric and Fletch and Jason and everyone… how is Jason?’ Bernie spoke, unsure about her word choice.
‘Oh, God… Bernie. I’m so sorry. Erm, Jason… yes, he’s great. Everyone’s doing great.’ Serena smiled. Bernie had missed that smile, that little dimple in her chin - the dimple that Bernie pointed out one night when they were in bed before Serena got self-conscious, Bernie then told her for the first time how beautiful she thought she was.
‘I’m sure he’d love to see you.’
‘I’d love to see him too… and Greta and Guinevere.’
‘I couldn’t persuade you to come for a drink, Jason’ll be there… I clock off in ten?’
‘I’d really love that.’