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Running My Mouth

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Marcus wanted a service. Something small. Strictly close friends and family.


Of course she’d go. She had to. She was his mother. She was there when he took his final breath.


Bernie could feel the eyes on her. Feel them burrowing into her skin as she sat there with a blank expression on her face and a hand that furiously rubbed the bumps of the silicone bracelet at her wrist as they laid in her lap, easily hidden. At least it was black. It went with her jet black tailored trousers and matching blazer, gunmetal simple silk blouse. 


She didn’t want to be here. It was too vast. Too dark. Too all encompassing. The words from the vicar echo against the marble pillars, old wood of the pews, and the stained glass windows.


It becomes suffocating.


Serena starts to stand, ready to go after her partner as Bernie bolts through the side door of the chapel. Prepared to offer her comfort like she’s done over the course of the past year of their life in Spain, but she feels a hand over hers when she uses the pew in front of her as leverage to stand, stopping her from moving.


“Let me go.”


Honestly, she doesn’t know how her partner will react. Serena is about to object, but something tells her this might be exactly what Bernie needs. A different voice. A voice that isn’t hers, yet is familiar.


Bernie stands on the pavement maybe ten feet from the door she just burst out of, unlit cigarette hanging from her chapped lips as she stares toward the car park, furiously patting herself down in search of her lighter. Ready to cry because she doesn’t have a fucking lighter. 


She hears the door open behind her, the same door she had run through. However, it isn’t met with the usual nervous gait of Serena’s rubber soled shoes. Heels. It causes her to lift her hand to her lips, balancing the cigarette between her two fingers as she turns back toward the door, the person standing there causing her to freeze.


“Need a light?” Charlotte holds her hand out, familiar antique lighter in her palm. Her father’s lighter, adorned with Army insignia from the second World War. Cleaner than she’d usually keep it. “It’s yours after all.”


Bernie finds herself looking at the lighter, then up at her daughter holding it. “You smoke?”


Charlotte curls her lip, flicking the lighter open and starting the flame with little effort. She’s done this many times , “don’t tell Dad.”


Bringing the cigarette back to her lips, Bernie leans in, inhaling enough for the tip to light before standing upright again. “Thanks,” Bernie mumbles softly, swallowing, “you didn’t need to follow me out here.”


Humming softly, Charlotte shrugs, reaching into her blazer pocket for her gold cigarette case containing slim, lavender colored cigarettes. “Vicar Thomas was always long winded, but he’s a friend of Dad’s from University.” She brings one of the cigarettes to her lips, closing the case and shoving it back into her pocket before lighting the end with the same lighter, snapping the antique device closed with a flick of her wrist. “Hell, you should have seen him during your funeral.”


Furrowing her brow, Bernie leans against the car she and Serena had rented during their stay, parked nearest the door, “Derrick Thomas?” Bernie was prepared to go when they got there. She didn’t want to stick around for after service condolences from the few guests to attend. They didn’t really mean it anyway.


“One in the same.” Charlotte nods, balancing her own cigarette between her own fingers as she exhales. She takes a few steps closer to her mother, standing next to her against the car.


“Looks ridiculous.” Bernie nods toward the cigarette in her daughter’s hand.


“It’s French.” Charlotte smiles a little, holding it up for the woman to better inspect it. “I dated a guy once who...just couldn’t take the smell of smoke, so he bought me these fags because they don’t give off a smell.” She nods, bringing it to her lips again, “only thing I continued on doing after that relationship were buying these stupid bloody fags.”


This actually isn’t so bad. Charlotte never was one to demand much attention from her. It’s why their relationship was always better than that of she and Cameron. Though, Bernie was always more willing to give it to Charlotte as well. Her therapist thinks it has something to do with how the young woman came into the world, and the trauma that surrounded her birth.


A comfortable silence surrounds them, the noise of passing cars and lawnmowers seems calming.


“I don’t know when a good time would be to bring this up.” Charlotte says quietly, looking around at the car park and the sky, the church. Anything that wasn’t her mother’s direction. “I sectioned out Cam’s ashes. You, Dad, Me...some for Tomika.” She mentions the name of her niece, “I just want to make sure you take yours before you head home.”


She’s right. There is no good time to bring up ownership of your son’s ashes. Bernie nods absently, “that’s very kind of you. Hopefully, she’ll appreciate them when she’s older.” Bernie swallows, feeling her throat close up a little at the thought.


“The funeral parlor had necklaces available. I didn’t get Dad one, but...they have some of Cam’s ashes swirled inside. I got one of those for us as well.” Charlotte’s voice hitches and she tries her hardest not to trigger her mother. Not wanting to cause the woman to run off again, but understanding if she did.


“Thank you.” Bernie whispers, tilting her head back for the sunlight to warm her features.


“I know he...I know he was awful at the end, but...he was still my brother.” Charlotte feels her chin stiffen, eyes glazing over with tears. She knows full well her mother had seen her brother die directly in front of her. She knows this is definitely harder on Berenice Wolfe. “And he’s still your son and...” Her voice starts to tremble and she inhales deeply, closing her eyes a moment to calm herself, finding the strength to continue only after a moment, “I’m glad you were there with him at the end...I’m glad he wasn’t alone.”


Bernie’s thought about it over the course of the past week, nodding a little. She brings her cigarette back up to her lips, hand trembling slightly as she inhales.


“They asked that I take care of things. Dad, of course, requested a service. I couldn’t deny him’s his son too.” Charlotte’s tongue darts out, wetting her lips as she pauses. “I didn’t...I didn’t expect you to come, honestly. I thought it would be too difficult, but...I spoke to Serena. Promised her that I’d make sure you had an aisle seat; I promised that I wouldn’t get upset if you couldn’t bring yourself to it.” 


She had no idea her daughter would care. Bernie had no idea that the young woman would take the steps to make her feel make her feel wanted.


Charlotte finally turns her head to the side, directly looking at her mother, “no amount of makeup is going to hide that you still have the scars.” She cautiously raises her hand, touching her mother’s delicately curled hair and tucking it behind her ear, but immediately feels as if she’s overstepped her bounds in regards to the intimacy of the act and pulls her hand away. “I’m sorry.” She swallows, looking forward and bringing her other hand up to take a long drag of her cigarette before tossing it to the ground and stepping on the embers. “You came out here for a moment’s peace and all I’ve done is run my mouth.”


Bernie watches as her daughter begins to step away from the corner of her eye. She reaches into her pocket, realizing the young woman had returned the familiar lighter back to her, “I don’t mind the company.” She replies softly, hearing the young woman stop in her tracks. Bernie turns her head, fixing her eyes on her daughter as Charlotte turns to face her once more. “In fact, I-I’d like it if it happened more often.”


That’s the very last thing Charlotte could expect and a surprised smirk forms in the corner of her lips, “me too.”


“Serena and I have been thinking of...moving back this way. Maybe not directly to Holby, but not far from it.” Bernie tosses her cigarette to the ground, looking down as it lands directly next to her daughter’s, stubbing it out with the toe of her black leather dress loafer. “It will be nice be close to family again.” She’s just sorry she hadn’t realized it sooner.


Really, it’s something that Charlotte isn’t going to hold too much stock in, but she isn’t going to hide her optimism for the situation either. “Well, whatever you decide, Tomika will be very pleased to have her Gran nearby...and I will too.”


“Haven’t met her yet.” Bernie shakes her head a little, a slight blush to her cheeks that shows through her thin powered makeup, “I’d like to though...if her mother allows, of course.”


“There’s no denying her...has our eyes.” Charlotte watches her mother for a moment, not wanting to push her luck, but cautiously nearing her again, “May I...may I hug you, Mum?”

Bernie wasn’t expecting that Charlotte would want anything to do with her. Marcus had blamed her for not doing enough to save their son, despite Cameron's suicidal ideation, and she assumed their daughter would follow suit. She usually agreed with her father. However, Charlotte was also always full of surprises. Bernie nods a little, feeling as she’s gingerly enveloped by her daughter’s arms.


Charlotte closes her eyes and wills herself not to cry. That’s the thing about hugs. You can’t see the other person’s face during them. Feeling her mother return the embrace, Charlotte permits herself to finally let go and is almost certain she can hear her mother doing the same in her ear.


They stand there, the two of them, in one another’s arms. Just allowing themselves to feel, allowing themselves to grieve. This would turn over a new leaf for the Wolfe women. One of hope.