“Tea or coffee?”
Serena sticks her head out the kitchen, taps a teaspoon against her palm as she waits for her lover’s answer.
“Hmm? Oh, coffee, please.”
Bernie’s murmured answer is absent, at best, as she lounges on Serena’s squishy sofa, leafs through the latest volume of The Lancet. Serena shakes her head fondly and makes them both a mug, brings them out to settle on the coffee table with a clatter. She squints consideringly at the window for a long moment before nodding, ambling over to the stereo system to jab at it. Today feels like an afternoon for French song (or more specifically, Reynaldo Hahn), and she puts the appropriate disc into the machine, sighs a long sigh as the familiar melodies waft out the speakers. She twitches the curtains a little, nods approvingly at the lovely shadows cast by the lace. Bernie had left the windows slightly ajar, and the faintest scent of her roses, so lovingly planted, wafts in on the warm breeze.
Yes, perfect for French song, she muses, wanders over to the sofa.
“Budge up,” she smiles, and Bernie smiles back as she acquiesces, eyes soft as she gazes at Serena.
“Alright, beautiful,” Bernie says, lowly, and Serena blushes, clears her throat as she leans forward to pick up the latest copy of the British Medical Journal.
“Anything interesting?” Serena asks, thumbing through the journal until she finds her bookmarked page, an article on the latest advances in 3D minimally invasive endoscopic surgery.
just reading an article on PTSD and cardiovascular disease
“Research funded by the US Veterans Administration, amongst others.”
“Ah, I see. Any insights?”
“Mmm…PTSD is apparently a risk factor for incident cardiovascular disease, and a common psychiatric consequence of cardiovascular disease events that might worsen the prognosis of the cardiovascular disease.”
Bernie trails off into silent thought once more, fingers slack on the journal in her hands. Serena allows the quiet for a few moments, lets Bernie consider the morbid for a precious few seconds before she puts an end to it, pushes in close, huddles right into Bernie’s side
“Well, if they conclude thus, they must have also, at the very least, pointed out some research areas that go to addressing the problem?”
“Yes, they did. They identified several individual and environmental interventions that might, in time, offset the risk of PTSD and cardiovascular linked disease events.”
Serena waits a beat, and then another, waits for Bernie to look her in the eye.
“Alright?” She asks, gently, and Bernie blinks, shakes her head slightly, as though to clear it.
“I- uh- Yes?”
“Good,” Serena says, again, and throws caution to the wind, dumps a pillow in Bernie’s lap before flopping down, staring up at Bernie.
“Hi,” she beams, and Bernie honks out a laugh after staring down incredulously for a moment, free hand coming to rest on Serena’s tummy.
“Oh, you. Never change,” she mumbles, bends at the waist to drop a kiss on Serena’s forehead.
Serena only grins again, and pats at Bernie’s hand.
“I’ll try my best, dear. Now, can I get on with this?”
She raises her copy of the BMJ and an eyebrow, and Bernie nods, laces their fingers together as she turns her own attention back to The Lancet , propped up on the arm of the sofa.
Serena soon loses herself in the article she had flagged to read earlier, muttering slightly under her breath. She fishes in a pocket for a pen, underlining and scribbling in the margins of the journal with a vengeance. The authors of the article were clearly misinformed and out of date on the surgical techniques that had developed in the past few years.
“How disappointing. I thought the BMJ had higher standards than this,” she grumbles, viciously circling a point that she disagreed with.
“Yes, yes, they’re all idiots,” Bernie says in response, reasonably, patting Serena’s hip.
“Look! Just look at it! So many errors! Even
could’ve told them they were wrong completely wrong about
particular point, and she’s never even
a 3D stack.”
“And this. Look at this!”
Serena jabs at the offending line with her pen and barely notices as the pen stabs through the page.
“This point!!! Outdated technique my arse!”
“And a very lovely one at that.”
“I’ll show them - oh thank you - outdated! Idiots!”
“You’re very welcome,” Bernie replies, watching with fond eyes as Serena brandishes her copy of the BMJ in the air, launching to sit upright whilst gesticulating with her pen.
Serena huffs and tosses the journal away, folds her arms and pouts.
“Will it help,” Bernie says very carefully, holding Serena’s hand, “if I said you were the most fantastic, fearless vascular surgeon with 3D stack experience this side of Inverness?”
“Maybe- wait, why Inverness?”
“Oh, no particular reason,” Bernie says, airily, and Serena narrows her eyes, glares at Bernie as she pokes a finger against her sternum.
“Berenice Griselda Wolfe. What are you not telling me?”
Bernie attempts to arrange her face into a facsimile of innocence.
Serena, of course, tolerates exactly none of it.
“Out with it,” she demands, hands on hips as she glares.
“Eh… I might or might not know one of the authors of that article…”
“Let me guess. They’re from Inverness?”
“Well, put me in contact with them. I shall be sending a strongly worded email.”
“Let sleeping dogs lie? Please?”
And here Bernie makes a valiant attempt at puppy-dog eyes, staring up at Serena through her fringe with the slightest pout and a warm hand on Serena’s knee.
“But they’re so wrong ,” Serena growls, folding her arms and leaning back into the sofa.
“Mmmm. If you let it go today and I promise to have a quiet word with Peter next time he’s down south, can we go back to cuddling?”
“Were we cuddling before? I hadn’t noticed,” Serena grouses, but lifts her arm anyway, allows Bernie to snuggle in close.
“Just because you think you’re cute,” Serena grumbles, dropping a kiss to Bernie’s crown.
“Thank you,” Bernie smirks, somewhat muffled as she presses her lips to Serena’s neck, the pulse point by her collarbone.
“...You win,” Serena sighs, and tips Bernie’s head up with gentle fingers under her chin, claims a kiss.
They continue in that vein for a while more, Bernie slipping a hand up Serena’s camisole and Serena down the back of Bernie’s trousers, simply for the contact of skin against skin.
“Mmm, I do love this song,” Serena murmurs, after a while, lets her head fall back to rest on the back of the sofa as Bernie hugs her close, legs haphazard in Serena’s lap.
“What song?” Bernie mumbles, against Serena’s sternum, and Serena chuckles, starts to sing along to the melody.
“ S'il est vrai, Chloris, que tu m'aimes,” she begins, moves to look Bernie in the eye as she sings.
“Mais j'entends, que tu m'aimes bien,” she continues, and Bernie quirks her lips, appreciates the sentiment, if not the words of the song.
“Je ne crois point que les rois mêmes; Aient un bonheur pareil au mien.”
“Beautiful,” Bernie whispers, and Serena smiles, knows that Bernie means more than the melodie. Serena shifts, moves to straddle Bernie, arms braced on either side of her head. Bernie gazes beatifically at her lover, hands on her waist, rubbing warm circles with her thumbs.
“Que la mort serait importune; De venir changer ma fortune;A la félicité des cieux!”
Serena reaches up to caress Bernie’s face, leaves her hand a lingering touch on her cheek. Bernie turns, presses a kiss to Serena’s palm, holds her even closer.
“Tout ce qu'on dit de l'ambroisie; Ne touche point ma fantaisie…Au prix des grâces de tes yeux.”
Serena’s eyes are earnest, brimming with emotion, and Bernie feels nothing but such love, such affection for this woman, so powerful and magnificent in her own right, who had deigned to make Bernie her own, and had let Bernie claim her in turn.
“Tout ce qu'on dit de l'ambroisie; Ne touche point ma fantaisie; Au prix des grâces de tes yeux.”
Serena ends the song as Bernie expects her to, with a gentle kiss, and then a caress down her cheek, a whispered “ je t’aime, je t’aime; tu es ma vie, ma ch é ri, ” ghosted against her jaw.
“I love you too, so much,” Bernie murmurs, and Serena rewards her with another kiss, smiles against her lips as the track turns over, fades into yet more gentle piano and chanson.
“ Tu es la plus belle chose qui me soit arriv ée, ” Serena says, gaze burning fierce and true, and Bernie’s heart shatters, stutters her breath in her chest.
You are the most beautiful thing that ever happened to me.
“And you, to me,” Bernie replies, thickly, smiles through the sudden sheen of tears.
“Forever and always,” she vows, and presses her forehead to her lover’s, shares the same intimate breath.
“Mine,” they both breathe, together.
(Later, as Serena sleeps peaceful next to her, tucked into Bernie’s side, she looks up the translation of that afternoon’s song on her mobile, gasps aloud at the text.
“Oh, Serena, ” she murmurs, as she puts her phone away, slides further under the covers to hold Serena, properly. Her lover snuffles at the movement but does not wake, only presses closer, moonlight a brilliant streak across her cheek.
“ Je t’aime tellement, ” Bernie whispers, closes her eyes.
Dreams only of Serena, and the promise of the rest of their lives, together.)