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Invisible Smoke

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"I just don't know what to do, Fleur. She honestly thought that I would be receptive to being kissed by her!"

"That is a little creepy, I must admit. So, what are you going to do about it?"

"Honestly? I'm thinking that Cam's idea of storming Somalia and turning over every stone until we find Bernie is starting to sound better and better. God knows that my attention is shite right now, though it hasn't affected my surgical skills as of yet. But I know that I am going to be more distracted the longer I think about this situation. I didn't want to let her into my head, but that is completely what happened."

Fleur nodded in sympathy as a commotion caught their attention. Looking up, Serena saw that Cameron was arguing with Ric and Donna, and she groaned a little before looking at Fleur. "You should probably go and see what was going on."

Serena let out another groan as she gave Fleur a sharp nod. "I cannot even begin to think what the problem is now. I know that we've both had a hard time coping, but there's only so much rope that he will be given before he'll be out on his ear. He was already kicked back down to my ward, though I don't blame him after what Kian did. Anyway, we'll catch up soon, I promise."

"And if you head to Africa, let me know! I can hold down the fort here for you."

Serena gave her a warm smile as she got up and crossed over to where the group was. "What is going on here?" she demanded as she glared at Cameron, smelling the alcohol that was rolling off his breath in waves. "You smell like a distillery, Cam! Do you truly think this is what your mother would want from you?"

His face fell as he lowered his head and shook it a few times. "No," he finally croaked out, and she let out a deep sigh as she reached out her hand. He stepped forward and let his head thump down on her shoulder, a move that reminded her very much of Bernie, and it was a struggle to not cry, to not let on that she was despondent at that move. She had to be tough, to let him know that this was completely inappropriate behavior from him, and that there would likely be consequences from today. That idea was scrapped when Henrik stepped out of the lift and gave her an almost disappointed look. She shook her head a little, knowing that the reckoning was going to come sooner rather than later.

"Doctor Dunn, Ms Campbell, I believe that we need to have a little discussion in my office." There was a gravity to his voice that she could not ignore, and she drew in a deep breath as she gave him a small nod. "If you'd follow after me, then."

Gently, she pushed Cameron away from her and then followed after Henrik, Cameron at her heels. The ride up to his office was uncomfortably quiet, and she tried to come up with something to say to break the silence, to make things be a little more comfortable between them so that it wouldn't turn into another shouting match once they were behind the safety of Henrik's office door. Still, nothing came to mind, and then she was once more following Henrik down the hall, wondering what the first words out of his lips would be. The door closed loudly behind Henrik, and as they stood in front of his desk, Serena again couldn't help but be reminded of the time when Bernie and she had been in that same position. "Henrik…"

"Please, take a seat, both of you. I am the only one who looms in this hospital."

The use of a joke, no matter how subtle it was, set Serena at ease, and she did as asked, watching Cameron follow her lead from the corner of her eye. "Mister Hanssen," Cameron started, only to be cut off with a quick wave of Henrik's hand.

"Would either of you care for something to drink? I know that I pulled you away from your break with Fleur, Serena."

"Some water might be nice. For both of us."

Henrik nodded as he went over to the closet in his office. Serena listened to him rummage around before he rejoined them, taking a seat behind his desk before handing over the bottles and watching them intently. She felt like she was under intense scrutiny, and knew that she wouldn't feel better until he asked the questions that were surely on his mind. Cameron cracked open his bottle, and she glanced over to see that his face had completely drained of colour, though little beads of nervous sweat had started to form at his hairline. Reaching out, she patted his arm lightly before opening her own bottle and taking a small sip from it before focusing back on Henrik and awaiting what he had to say.

"I believe that we finally have to address the invisible smoke in the room," he said as he glanced between both of them. Serena pursed her lips to realise that she was being included in with this whole fiasco, and her eyes narrowed a little as she stared at him. "Yes, I have been watching you as well, Serena. No matter what you try to say, Bernie's absence is affecting both of your deeply, and as it is now affecting both of your performances here."

"I just can't seem to get into the right track here, Mister Hanssen," Cam said before he took a sip of water. "I just miss my mother, and I want to go searching for…I don't even know anymore. Perhaps closure?"

"Closure is a very good thing to have, Mister Dunn. Perhaps you could find that while taking a bit of compassionate leave? I am also extending the same offer to you as well, Serena."

She looked over, meeting Cameron's gaze, and saw that he appeared to want her to agree first, so that he didn't look weak by doing so. "I believe that would be for the best, Henrik. Cameron and I would really appreciate having a few weeks to get our affairs in order. I hope that this won't reflect poorly on Cameron's record, since grief can make us react differently than we would in a normal situation."

"Certainly, Serena. However, I will have to make a note of it in his file, though it will not be a formal reprimand. Take head, Doctor Dunn, that should this happen again, once you have returned from leave, I will be unable to be quite so lenient."

"I understand, Mister Hanssen, thank you."

He nodded and threaded his fingers together as he looked at them. "I did not have the opportunity to speak at Bernie's memorial, however I did want to let both of you know that I always regarded her in the highest degree. Her skills as a trauma surgeon were beyond parallel, and if I had been in control of the board, rather than Ms Kartik, I would have ensured that there was adequate funding to keep the trauma ward running. I always regretted losing her to Nairobi, and then Mogadishu, but at least the people in need there were able to have access to someone as skilled as Ms Wolfe."

Serena felt herself tearing up, and Henrik must have read that in her look as he handed over a box of tissues, allowing her to take a few and dab at her eyes without comment. "And I know that she always respected you, Mister Hanssen. Even though you two did have a few occasions where you didn't quite see eye to eye."

"If everyone agreed all of the time, the world would be a boring place where nothing new occurred. I am quite content to know that we had our disagreements, and I hope that those quarrels were enough to help sharpen our thoughts and change our perspectives. Now, I don't want it to appear that I am disciplining you by sending you both home now, but I feel that it would be better if your compassionate leave began as soon as possible. Serena, would you make certain that Doctor Dunn arrives home safely?"

"Certainly, Henrik. Come along, Cam." She got to her feet and went over to the door, waiting for him to join her. It didn't take long, and then they were headed for the lifts once more.

"So, what are we going to do now?" he asked a bit forlornly as they stepped inside the lift, and she gave him a small smirk. "Serena?"

"We're going to do what you wanted to do from the very beginning. We're going to Somalia and we are tracking down the people who knew your mother there, and we will find out exactly what happened to her. And if the truth truly is that she passed, and they couldn't find any part of her amidst the rubble, then we'll have to believe what they say. However, I have the feeling that Alex was keeping something from us, and that we are duty bound to figure out what that is. I can't do it alone, and I'm hoping that your sister will also agree to come with us. I think that it would be a good bonding experience for us. What do you say?"

"When do we leave?" And for the first time in a matter a weeks, a true smile spread across his face and Serena knew that this was precisely what they all needed to help heal the wound of Bernie's disappearance from their lives.