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Collecting You

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Serena Campbell couldn’t remember the last time she’d found herself doing this.

Watching.

Not analysing, deciphering, dissecting - just watching. She shook her head and berated herself before her attention slipped yet again and her eyes were drawn back to where they were before.

Possibly because she wasn’t just watching - in her mind that implied purpose which, well, she had none, and yet she couldn’t stop doing it. In fact, to anyone else who might be bearing witness, they might have ventured so far as to say that she was staring.

The subject of her attention chose that particular instant to demonstrate a point to an F1 by standing up and leaning forward. The loose lines of standard issue scrubs did nothing to flatter anyone’s figure but Serena was certain she could almost make out the contoured outline of a waist under the thin blue fabric just before it started flaring out under the elastic of the matching bottoms. The body shifted and bent over to pick something off the floor and this time there was no mistaking the clear definition of firm rounded muscle as the material of the bottoms clung tautly across the slim hips.

Staring was in grave danger of being upgraded to ogling if she continued and she pulled her gaze away in reflex. Serena searched for a distraction and the flashing notification on her screen caught her attention. Perfect. An email from Hansen was just what she needed to restore her focus. Before she read it, she couldn’t help but sneak another peek but she could no longer find what she was looking at before.

Ah well. All the better for concentrating on the mountain of paperwork in her intray. She sighed as she hit send on the reply to Hansen and pulled the first file off the top of the precarious pile. Still…

****

“Ms Wolfe, I’m not sure to do with Miss Murgatroyd in bay 3. She’s still not responding to the infusion and I’ve done the bloods and enzymes and they’ve all come back normal. Nothing makes any sense and I don’t…” Morven stopped short in her spiel when she realised that she had possibly been talking to herself for the past minute. Bernie looked a million miles away, her eyes pinned on something across the room. The young doctor followed her gaze, hazarding a guess that something out of the ordinary was holding her attention. Her eyes narrowed in confusion because there was nothing there. Well, nothing except the impressive pile of paperwork sitting on her desk mirroring a marginally shorter stack perched in front of Ms Campbell and it was a well know fact that Bernie Wolfe avoided reports and spreadsheets at every turn. She would have just given up and slunk away but she really didn’t know what to do next.

“Ms Wolfe?”

The head finally jerked in her direction. Morven couldn’t help but notice the slightly unfocused look on the older woman’s face. “Everything all right?”

Bernie blinked as she chastised herself for letting her concentration slip. The mantle of keeping calm, cool and carrying on had worn thin of late and it was growing thinner with each passing day.

“Yes, Morven. You were saying…?”

The young doctor had barely opened her mouth to repeat herself when all hell broke loose. The usual sounds on the ward - voices murmuring, the rumble of casters as carts skittered their way around the beds, the hum of various machines - were suddenly obliterated by a loud cacophony of shrill beeps. Morven jumped slightly before her training kicked in and she headed for the bed nearest to them. Bernie’s eyes swivelled immediately round the ward trying to pinpoint the source of the sound. Or, to be exact, sounds because every alarm in AAU seemed to have gone off simultaneously.

Voices were now audible above the din as murmurs were upgraded to chattering. Fletch and Raf were making attempts to calm the patients whilst checking the monitors and reassuring themselves that the alarms must be a technical glitch because half a dozen patients could not possibly be crashing all at once.

Bernie was still deciding what to do when she felt a presence a split second before she heard the voice that belonged to it and the tension in her head was immediately halved.

“What’s the hell is going on?”

****

“Yes, Henrik, I promise, hand on my heart, that I will let you know if anything changes.” Serena sighed as she put the receiver down for what seemed like the hundredth time of the day. She drew a deep breath and told herself that she should be grateful it wasn’t a more difficult conversation. The malfunctions in the heart and respiratory monitors were reversed within fifteen minutes and there were fortunately no casualties from the brief drama other than a few frazzled nerves.

She looked across the ward, smiling to herself as she remembered how seamlessly the team had worked together and stayed calm throughout. Bernie had decided straightaway that her skills were best served organising the troops while Serena used her legendary powers of persuasion to get maintenance down to AAU.

ASAP.

That last cheeky addition by Bernie earned her a mock glare and a swat on the shoulder but her co-lead didn’t seem to mind, judging from the smile on her face at the time. Serena’s concentration slipped again at the memory of that smile. The way her lips thinned and quivered as she tried not to let on that she was amused. The darkening of her eyes  with mirth. How the corner of her mouth eventually twitched upwards and gave her away in the end.

“Serena?”

Fletch’s voice pulled her back from her reverie.

“Yes, Fletch?”

“You all right?”

Serena’s eyebrow lifted quizzically.

“Never better, now that armageddon has been averted for another day. Why?”

Fletch paused, wondering if it was too late to change the topic. “No, nothing. Just checking in.” He started pulling the door shut behind him when Serena’s voice froze him in place. More to the point, it was the tone of her voice that changed his mind.

“Fletcher…”

He pushed the door open again and stepped into the office.

"Out with it.” Serena’s expression made it crystal clear that she was not in a mood for beating around the bush.

“You seem somewhat distracted lately.” Serena’s eyebrow rose a little further, inviting him to elaborate. “And we’ve…”

“We?”

He barely stopped himself from flinching at the crispness of that single syllable but forged ahead. “Raf and I are just concerned that you might be a little stressed out at the moment.”

“Am I now? Would you care to enlighten me on how the two of you came to that conclusion?” Serena’s voice would have put diamond cutting through glass to shame.

Fletch sighed as he clicked the door shut behind him. “Look Serena, you’ve got a lot on your plate with the ward, the trauma bay and Jason. He can be a lot to take on at times.”

“I’m well aware of how wonderfully challenging my lovely nephew can be but I’ve got it all under control. So thank you for your concern.” Serena started to turn her attention back to the screen in front of her before stopping short. “Why all this sudden interest in my well being?”

“Serena, you were either distracted or in need of an audiology assessment because I had to call out three times before you heard me.”

“Cheeky.” Serena grumped back with a smile, hoping that the flush of embarrassment at being caught wasn’t showing on her face.

“And that’s exactly why you love me. And remember, the offer’s always open. Unless,” the corners of his eyes crinkled as he grinned,”it’s something girly. I’m sure Morven won’t mind. Or Bernie.”

The door clicked shut behind him but Serena hardly noticed his exit.

Bernie.

Serena squeezed her eyes shut with a sigh. Somehow she couldn’t imagine having that conversation with Bernie would make anything better. Not in a thousand years.