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In the Absence of Raspberry Ripple, a Burger will do.

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“What’s he doing?”

 

“Who?” Fletch didn’t look up from the screen, not desperately pleased to be interrupted as he was struggling to unravel a bed blocking mix-up that meant it was apparently his fault that Geriatrics was unable to take Mrs Pearson off the ED’s hands.

 

“Hanssen. He’s stood in their doorway.”  Fletch looked up just enough to confirm that Raf had meant the consultant’s office doorway.

 

“Talking to Ms Wolfe?” he suggested, not quite sure what was particularly interesting about that - as a general rule, he tried to keep well clear of Hanssen when he was in one of his creeping moods.

 

“That’s just it…” Raf sat on the edge of the desk, jostling the mouse with his hip as he settled into his perch, forcing Fletch to abandon his bed blocking mystery with Mrs Dobson who, as far as he could tell, was the AAU patient that was currently on Keller but he was certain he’d transferred her to Obstetrics.

 

“What’s just it?”

 

“Hanssen.”  Raf jerked his head in the general direction of the office doorway where they could see Hanssen stood, statue like.  “He’s been stood there in silence for seven minutes now.”

 

“Silence?”  Bed blocking forgotten, Fletch was now curious.  Hanssen was well known for being a man who appreciated brevity, but he was not renown for remaining in one place for longer than absolutely necessary.

 

“Silence.”  Raf glanced over his shoulder, checking that the CEO was still there - not exactly in AAU, not quite in the consultant’s office.

 

“Tenner says he breaks first.”

 

“Hanssen?  No way, I mean, he’s Hanssen!” Thinking Fletch had taken leave of his senses, Raf reached out and shook his friend and housemate’s hand.

 

“And she’s Major Wolfe,” agreed Fletch, equally confident: if anyone was going to ‘break’ the CEO, it would be her….  “Yes! He’s turning away…pay up mate!” Surprised at how quickly the apparent stand-off had resolved itself, Fletch held out his hand as he waited for Raf to hand over the prize.

 





“I am capable of taking a message…” muttered Bernie, keeping her head down, ostensibly focused on the file she was reviewing, although she’d actually stopped reading it two minutes ago when it was five minutes since she’d been aware of him hovering.

 

“Excuse me?”  Hanssen stopped mid turn and looked back at her.

 

“A message, for Serena.”  Bernie put down her pen and looked up at him.  “I assume that’s why you’re going without saying anything, because you wanted Serena?”  She watched as he stepped back into the doorway, so he was once again stood square on.  “Because I’m sure you didn’t stand there for almost eight minutes waiting for me before giving up.”

 

“This amuses you Ms Wolfe.”  He stepped forwards and to the side, enabling him to close the office door neatly and easily behind him but without ending up stood on top of her desk.  This wasn’t usually something that his colleagues found amusing.

 

“A little,” conceded Bernie, leaning back in her chair, meeting his measured gaze with one of his own, a gaze he noticed was much steadier and far more confident than he’d remembered it from their earliest discussions when she had not settled into Holby Hospital life.  “What can I help you with Mr Hanssen?”

 

“Will you be in the hospital a week on Saturday Ms Wolfe?”

 

“Saturday week...”  Bernie glanced at the desk calendar, confirming the date.  “In the hospital,” she repeated his unusual phrasing deliberately, looking back at him, “probably, given Serena’s still on holiday then.  But Mr di Lucca is in charge of AAU: if I am in, I will be getting ahead on paperwork.”  After years of dealing with COs who favoured the ‘raise your hand, ah, excellent, you’ve volunteered’ approach to task delegation, she had a finely honed sense of when to not volunteer.

 

“Very good.”  Hanssen reached inside his suit jacket and pulled out some folded papers.  “I took the liberty of bringing you a copy of the guidance, since Ms Campbell wasn’t at the senior management meeting this morning.”

 

“Guidance?” Not following his train of thought, Bernie reached for the paper, although she waited for him to finish providing what she might consider to be an adequate explanation as to why a guidance note was required before she moved to look at it.

 

“Armed Forces Day.”  He watched, his face impassive despite his surprise at a lack of reaction from her.  “As in previous years, there is guidance provided to colleagues on the Trust’s response, which, it goes without saying, is one of total support to both staff, patients and visitors.”

 

“Of course.”  Bernie’s voice was steady and her expression remained neutral as she waited for the not-yet-delivered punchline.

 

“Naturally I know you do not require the guidance on recognising rank insignia - the second page is included because I would welcome your comments before it is circulated to all staff tomorrow.”

 

“Certainly.”  Although her face didn’t show it, Bernie was prepared to give him a gold star for that - it was one thing to acknowledge that they might get more patients and visitors in military uniform than they usually did in any given day, quite another to make sure that staff felt moderately confident recognising the ranks, particularly if they were patients.  “I’ll make sure your secretary has it within the hour.”  If she didn’t tackle it immediately, there was a strong chance she would never get to it before she was required to operate, and then there was no telling when she would get to it.

 

“Thank you Ms Wolfe.”  Nodding, he turned, opening the door, intending to leave the office.

 

“What else did you want to talk to me about?” asked Bernie, deceptively casually, not remotely convinced that, important as his request was, it had warranted him waiting for as long as he did.

 

“I…” Only the most expert of observers would notice the extra deep breath he took before speaking, his body still turned predominantly towards the now open door. “...understand from our colleagues in Human Resources that you are the most senior officer on the Staff.  They will be in touch.”

 





“Was that…” Raf looked at Fletch, not quite sure that he’d just seen what he’d just seen.

 

“A paper cup? Yep.  About a seven I think…” he watched Hanssen as he left AAU, “maybe an eight?”

 

“There’s not much rattling…” Normally, they only gave out eight or higher if Bernie managed to get the blinds on the office glazed partition to rattle for a good ten seconds after the paper cup she’d thrown at them had fallen to the floor.

 

“Not much back swing.  He’s a quick mover is Hanssen.”

 

“Good point, eight it is.”  Raf stood up, knowing that the test results would probably be back on the suspected peritonitis in four by now, not to mention the fact that if she was scoring an eight he didn’t want to be the first she saw, just in case…