"Thank you… you know, for taking me of me Serena." Alex's eyes fall to the hand holding hers, offer a small comfort after the day's events.
"It's the least I could do." Serena patted her hand.
"It make me feel bad."
"Because I lied to you."
The low hum of the ward builds into shouts for help from Ric."Can I get some help here please?"
Looking to voices calling to her and then back at Alex she reclaims her hand; "Yes of course, I'm coming."
It didn't take too long to assess the patient even though Serena is clearly distracted. Given their earlier conversation in the office, Ric assured Serena that he and Mr Duvall will manage, so she returned to Alex's bedside.
A remorseful looking expression turns from the wall to meet Serena gaze, "What have you lied about?" Serena's voice betraying a mixture of confusion and frustration, she doesn't want to be angry but what was Alex to gain by lying to her after Bernie's death.
"I… I have lied to more than just you Serena. Going back there made it my actions here seem meaningful but unreal. I had no reason to think I would stay in touch with you, I had hoped Cameron might want to… I thought when some time has passed he might have questions about Bernie and I wanted to be able to give him answers. She wouldn't want him to be alone in his grief… she wasn't sure how Marcus and Charlotte would respond if the worst happened but Bernie knew Cameron would need someone."
"He has me," a determined bark came from Serena, "I promised I would look after him and I fully intended to honour that promise. Nothing has changed."
"I didn't mean to insinuate anything Serena, Bernie always told me what a talented surgeon you were, astute in the ways of the hospital too."
A brief upturn of Serena's belied her reflection on Bernie's tussles with NHS administration and hospital politics, "Yes, well, he does have her attitude towards authority at times."
"Determined, I have heard her since she left." A wistful Serena turned away briefly, hearing her ex-partners words in a youthful, male voice in her head. She held a breath and then released it as she faced Alex again.
"What did you lie about?"
"She talked about you a lot when we first met again. She had struggled at Christmas, thinking about you, the children… and Elinor." Alex lowers her eyes to give Serena a moment to take in her daughter's name. "She was worried about you, what the day would be like for, if you would reach out to anyone for support."
Serena sat back in the chair; she put her hand on the bed but didn’t reach for Alex.
"She… that's… I thought about her then too."
"I don't know if she thought you might contact her, use it a reason to get back in touch?"
"I couldn't, I didn’t know how. It wouldn't have been fair to need her but then… I couldn't have been friends with her after… I don’t think we could have made that work."
"Not when you wanted so much more."
"I made her go Alex; it wasn’t fair to ask her to stay when she wanted to out in the world doing something amazing."
"The thing is Serena, she was doing something amazing. Building a life with you was amazing to her."
"I… we…she needed…"
"You! She needed you! She wanted you!" Alex looked around as she raised her voice. She didn't want to embarrass or hurt Serena, AAU had seen of that with Bernie and Cameron's passion fuelled outbursts.
"A life lived running from everyone including herself and then she found you. All those years spent serving and yet you finally made her brave. She faced all her fears because something mattered more than the shame, the fear, the failures. You mattered, her family mattered; finally finding a place that welcomed her, it made her feel like the home she built in RAMC wasn't a fluke. She could have the same again here and not just because people couldn't say no to her." Alex's voice ends with a small chuckle, "she never believed the faith we all had in her; she led by example, dedicated, passionate, unrelenting but that was Bernie not just the Major."
Alex reached over and took Serena's hand in hers; looking straight into her eyes Alex took a deep breath, "the lie Serena... I told it to myself as well as you. I might have been her fiancée but you were the love of her life."