Tense with nerves, Bernie steps back onto AAU. She scans the ward for Serena, finds her examining a patient with Morven and stops, stares, her feet suddenly rooted to the floor.
And then Serena glances around, almost as if she feels Bernie’s presence. And she smiles, the first genuine smile any of them has seen since Bernie left.
Bernie takes a cautious step. Serena is already crossing the ward, meets her halfway.
‘I’m sure,’ she says, searching Bernie’s eyes.
Bernie forgets how to breathe. Knows it’s impossible but is certain her heart skips a beat. She feels Serena’s fingers catch at her own. Sees her smile begin to fade at Bernie’s lack of response, feels her pull her hand away. Tightens her grip. Forces herself to take a shuddering breath.
Serena nods, and Bernie smiles at last.
‘It’s been torture, you know.’
‘I know,’ Serena replies. ‘Believe me, I know.’ She reaches to wipe the tears from Bernie’s cheek. ‘No more,’ she murmurs.
Bernie expects her to step away but Serena draws her closer, gaze flicking between eyes and lips.
And then she can taste the salt on Serena’s lips, can feel her smiling. Slips an arm around her waist and pulls their bodies flush.
When the world floods back in they can hear the rest of the staff cheering. Bernie blushes, but Serena just grins.
‘Alright everyone, back to work. Ms. Wolfe and I have some catching up to do.’
Raf wolf whistles.
Serena glares at him but doesn’t stop smiling. ‘Out of the gutter please, Mr. di Lucca.’
‘Good to have you back, Bernie,’ he calls.
‘It’s good to be back,’ Bernie replies, eyes never leaving Serena. ‘I’ve missed you all.’