The crash of the trolley as it came through the doors to AAU tore Bernie’s attention away from what she’d been focused on - which was probably just as well. Serena’s backside may be an extremely fine specimen, but staring at your co - lead’s behind didn’t really come under the umbrella of appropriate professional behaviour.
Resisting the urge to vault the desk in her haste to put the realisation of just where her mind had been drifting to behind her, she instead managed to take the two steps to her left and exit the nurses station via the more traditional route. Fletch screeched to a halt in front of her leaning back slightly as he did so to prevent the trolley from rolling on of its own accord.
“What have we got?” Bernie asks, now firmly in “best trauma surgeon the country can offer” mode.
“We’re not sure. It’s a WIP found abandoned. Not in a good way. Something’s going on - but none of us can figure out what’s wrong.” Fletch fills her in.
“Ok, I can see it looks bad. Straight to theatre and prep for a trauma literary laparotomy please.”
“Right you are boss.” Fletch says as he shoves the trolley hard to get it moving and pushes it at speed in the direction of the operating theatre. The removal of the trolley leaves Bernie stood by the nurses station, engrossed in the images she’d pulled up on the tablet she’s holding. She’s so engrossed that she doesn’t notice Serena walking towards her until she’s right next to her.
“ A trauma literary laparotomy? You don’t see one of those every day, do you?” She says,
“No, no, you don’t” Bernie replies, slightly absent mindedly. Her fingers dance around the screen as she manipulates the images of the patient she’s called up. She doesn't say anything as she focuses. Serena, standing silently next to her, is equally engrossed. Not at the images on the screen, but on the long elegant fingers manipulating it.. Her own fingers find their way to the pendant hanging on her chest and start to worry at it. Her face starts to flush, because the thoughts she’s having about her colleague; her fingers, and what uses they could be put to, are thoroughly NSFW. The slightly awkward silence is broken when Serena swallows loudly and Bernie’s eyes snap towards her.
“The images aren’t very clear, but I think there’s definitely something there that shouldn’t be. I say that we get in there, see what we’ve got and if we need to, get it out.” Bernie offers
Bernie is gesturing with her fingers, Serena is distracted by the now very erotic thoughts they are causing. She grabs hold of the last of her professionalism and manages to say
“You don’t need my permission to schedule a necessary surgery.”
Bernie, very unaware of the effect she’s having on Serena, and therefore slightly bemused, says
“I thought, as a friend and an interested colleague, you might like to lend a hand?”
Serena gulps, flushes at the image Bernie has planted in her mind, and all but stammers
“I think it best that you deal with yourself, with it, deal with it, yourself.”
“Oh, well, Yes. I will. Absolutely, if that’s what you want. It’s just that I could use your expertise.I think it’s going to be a complicated one. A little help please?”
Bernie asking for help is just so new and so heartbreakingly soft and full of vulnerability that Serena melts
“I’d love to” she says with a coy grin.
“Thank you.” Bernie grins back. “I’m going to go get set up, I’ll see you in theatre as soon as you can get there?” she says as she starts walking rapidly away,
“Absolutely!” Serena calls after the retreating figure. As soon as it’s left the ward Serna slumps against the nurses station and wonders exactly what she’s got herself into.
It’s not long before, both gloved and gowned, the patient on the table in front of them, Serena and Bernie are going over the results of the tests that had been ordered when the patient had arrived.
“What are the trope counts like?” Bernie asks
“Bed count of only one. Positive for friends to lovers. Traces of childhood friends and coffee shop.” Serena tells her, skimming down the rest of the results. “Oh, Burn rating of slow. This might be a longer job than we thought. It could easily be 50K if it’s slow burn and friends to lovers.”
“We’d better get started then.“Editors scalpel please.” Bernie requests and when Donna hands it to her she makes the first incision and Serena stands by ready with the retractors.
It doesn’t take them long to get the patient open and to start to assess the damage. It’s bad, very bad - but Bernie isn’t phased. She knows that with Serena she can achieve anything. Both surgeons are at the top of their game, but the surgery is going to tax them both. They’ve worked together many times before and it’s a beautiful partnership.
They start their exploration in silence, punctuated by requests for instruments and half sentences starting with “Could you” or “would you” by one surgeon and finished by the other intuitively - understanding what was being asked and doing it without need for words. It’s when they reach the guts of the WIP and open it up that the conversation picks up a notch.
“Where’s the plot?” Bernie asks. “There’s too many cliches in the way. I can’t see anything. Suction please, quickly, before the WIP gets too weak.”
“Is that Smut I can see there?” Serena asks.
“It is, but it’s not working though, I think one of them has an extra limb.”
“Apply some Careless Whisper?” Serena suggests
“Let’s use the sax version to be sure, but yes, that should do it.” Bernie confirms.
“Hang on a minute, it looks like this isn’t the first surgery this WIP has had.”
“What do you mean? Serena asks
“See here? This looks like an abandoned idea still half embedded in that paragraph. Let me just grab it and see….” Bernie works for a minute and then holds aloft the offending concept. “It looks like they wanted to blow someone up for the second time and string out her death for weeks by having her go missing - and then have her ex girlfriend break the news to her family and claim they were engaged.”
“That’s ridiculous! No wonder the WIP wasn’t working. There’s no way that should have stayed in.”
“Absolutely not, even though it is Holby based and almost anything goes. Should have been removed during the last surgery. Now what else have we got?” Bernie continues her exploration.
“Ah! Look at that” She exclaims, so Serena does. “That’s a plot hole in the main narrative. It’s causing real problems with the flow.”
“Well that’s it then. There’s not anything we can do for that, except make the WIP comfortable.”
“You don’t mean?”
“An atrio caval plot shunt? “Why not?”
“Because only three have ever been successfully done.”
“Let’s make it four shall we?” Bernie looks up at Serena from behind her surgical mask with a look of such self confidence and excitement that Serena is instantly game.
“Red editors pen please” she says to Donna. “We need three paragraphs to bridge this hole. We have to be concise and work fast. We’ll have to do it within a strict word count”
“I believe in you.” Bernie says and Serna smiles back at her with her eyes.
“Ready Miss Wolfe?”
“Turn on the word count Nurse Jackson.” Bernie says, confidently.
For the next few moments the pair work carefully and methodically as the word count runs down.
“There.” Bernie says with a satisfied flourish. “Clamp off please”. Donna removes the clamp and allows the plot to flow again.
“Oh come on!” Serena almost shouts “It’s not holding.”
“It’s fine Serena.” Bernie says as she applies a fresh clamp and the bleeding slows.”We can do this. Here, just remove this bit and then move this bit here…” they drop straight back into their previous rhythm. For a few minutes they work furiously and with deep concentration, communication a minimum of words and a lot of instinct.
“There we go. That should do it. Ready to try again?” Bernie asks calmly, but her tense stance belies her concern.
“Clamps off please Donna” This time the plot starts to flow unimpeded. The surgeons start to relax.
“Looks like four it is then.” Serena says proudly, “That was quite….” but she’s cut off when the anesthetist calls out.
“Angst levels are are reaching almost 20%”
“That’s far too high! There must be something else going on” Serena says.
“IV feels now.. Let’s buy this WIP some time.” Donna hooks up a bag and Bernie extends the surgical incision “I don’t understand. Everything looks fine. I can’t see…”
“Just take your time. You’ve got this.” Serena reassures her. Visibly relaxing Bernie calls out
“Retractor.” and opens the WIP to the next chapter and starts examining the freshly exposed content carefully.
“Is that what I think it is?” Serena asks as both Surgeons spot the problem at the same time. Serena adjusts the light so they can both see better.
“I think it is. It seems to be a canon growth. Looks like this WIP tried to follow canon and things got out of hand.”
“Malignant or benign?”
“Can’t tell at this point. Either way it’ll have to come out. Red pen blade please.”
It takes Serena’s vascular skills and Bernie’s calm trauma head, but between them they manage to remove the growth intact and deposit it in a kidney dish. They both take a moment to examine the offending matter.
“Well, was I right?” Serena asks
“Malignant. No doubt about it. A very aggressive form of bury your gay.”
“Will the patient survive? It’s quite rare for a WIP to survive something so insidious and pervasive.”
“It seems this one was pretty well contained and there didn’t seem to be any secondaries. Obviously there will need to be a thorough sensitivity read and a very good beta read, but I’m hopeful”
“I think we’ve done all we can now.” Serena says
“It’s up to the WIP now.” Both women turn towards the stats monitor, waiting for the flatline it was currently showing to spring into life.
Donna, seeing their shift in focus, looks herself just as the first jagged peak shows. With an air of triumph she calls out
“We have comments! Steady kudos rate. Like / reblog ratio is five to one. Patient is stable.
A round of applause breaks out in the theatre.
“Congratulations Miss Wolfe.” Serena says.
“And to you Miss Campbell. Dr Di Luca. Will you close up please?” Bernie asks the Registrar who has been observing the procedure.
“Of course” he says and steps up to the table as the two women strip off gloves and masks and step back to make room for him.
Serena smiles at Bernie as they converge on their way to the theatre door. The look of triumph and excitement in her eyes mingled with genuine concern and pleasure hits Bernie straight in the feels. She returns the smile - not as radiant or as sparkly as Serena’s, decidedly more shy and coy, but every bit as heartfelt.. For some reason, and Bernie has no idea why she does it, or where the idea came from, as they walk through the doors she raises her hand to high five Serena. The realisation of what she was doing hit just as she reached the point of no return. She’d started to brace for the awkward moment which was bound to come when Serena didn’t reciprocate and instead started to wonder what her co-lead was drinking. Except Serena does reciprocate - with a resounding clap, a huge beaming smile and a moment more hand contact that was strictly required.
Bernie can do nothing but respond to the vision that is Serena’s face with a beaming grin of her own. She knows she shouldn’t pin any hopes on it Serena is straight and there is no way that falling head over heels for her co-lead is going to work out well, but she can’ help but drink in the moments like this, the moments of connection that give her hope when there should be none.
Serena looks down, and Bernie thinks for a moment she’s overdone the smile, but it soon becomes obvious that what Serena is doing is gathering her thoughts. When she looks back up at Bernie she can’t quite meet her eye.
“You know Jasons away until Monday.” she says with a nonchalance that belays the urgency with which her eyes seem to be suggesting that she wants Bernie to read between the lines.
It’s Bernie’s turn to glance down and gather her courage before she says with equal nonchalance
She’s rewarded with a grin of relief springing up on Serna’s face, softer but just as beautiful as the triumphant one she’d worn a few moments ago
“My place?” Serna offers, this time looking directly into Bernie’s eyes and at the shocked pleasure on her face
That’s it folks. It’s as far as this story goes. This is a finish you WIP event. You didn’t think that I was going to actually finish this fic, did you? How would that be in keeping with the theme of the event??? And also, you know, this is me (gestures at my stack of unfinished fic)