Hectic really is the only word to describe a day like to today. A helicopter crash in the vicinity will have that effect, apparently. It’s certainly causing, what seems like an endless flow of patients to come through AAU’s doors. The staff have been run off their feet keeping the ship afloat; Raff and the majority of the nurses have been attending to the more minor injuries, whilst Bernie and Serena have spent most of the day in theatre patching up the less fortunate. In between operations, Bernie has been trying her absolute best to keep an extra close eye on one patient in particular - James Fielding.
Mr Fielding had been brought in with a splenic injury as a result of being caught in the crash, but his physical injuries are no longer the primary concern. His behaviour on the ward is. It’s been rather worrying; he’s displaying signs of paranoia, agitation and seems particularly concerned with Bernie’s safety and wellbeing.
After much persuading, Bernie agreed to refer him to the psychiatric team, only to be told later that a more urgent case had come to their attention and was taking priority. Mr Fielding’s assessment wouldn’t take place until the following day at the earliest. Bernie had sighed at the woeful state of mental health provision in the NHS, but knowing that she had done all she could, for now, she heads back to theatre and the latest case needing her trauma skills.
When Bernie and Serena arrive back on the ward after their latest spate in theatre, Bernie notices, from the nurses’ station where they are getting an update from Raf on the rest of the patients on the ward, that James Fielding’s bed is unoccupied. All that is left on the bed is page upon page of disturbing notes and graphic images scattered among the sheets. He is nowhere to be seen.
“Fletch. Where’s Mr Fielding?” Bernie questions as Fletch approaches her.
“I don’t know. He was here a few minutes ago. I asked the agency nurse to keep an eye on him while I called Evie and make sure the kids are alright.”
“It looks like Ms Sims has also done a disappearing act.” Serena points out as she comes to stand beside Bernie.
“We’d better find them quickly, considering Mr Fielding’s state of mind. You know he’s convinced Ms Sims is the enemy and has it in for Ms Wolfe?” Fletch says.
“I’ll find them,” Bernie announces, striding towards the ward exit before she’s finished speaking.
“Bernie, wait. I really don’t think that’s a good idea. We should call security and let them handle this.” Serena voices her concern as she catches Bernie before she heads through the door.
“It could make the situation worse. He’s more likely to cooperate with me than security. It’ll be fine, Serena.” Bernie dashes off before Serena has a chance to protest further.
“Serena, I think you better take a look at these,” Raf calls from Mr Fielding’s bay. He’d been passing the cubical after finishing with another patient when he’d noticed the contents of the bed and decided to have a closer look.
“Good god.” Serena murmurs to herself as she flicks through the torn out pages of a notebook Raf has handed her. “Right, we’re calling security whether Berenice Bloody Wolfe likes it or not.”
Raf rushes off towards the nurses’ station to make the call leaving Serena still standing beside the bed gathering the papers into a pile. She’s beyond worried about Bernie and is regretting allowing Bernie talking her into letting her go off alone, now convinced that she should have tried harder to stop her.
Bernie finally finds Mr Fielding and Ms Sims in the basement after searching the most popular hiding spots in the hospital. Mr Fielding is threatening Ms Sims with a screwdriver, backing her against a wall and Bernie is quick to react when she sees what’s happening.
“Stay back Major Wolfe.” Mr Fielding warns Bernie as she steps towards them. “Don’t you know what she’s planning?”
“I’m sure Ms Sims isn’t planning anything. She’s in no fit state.” Bernie replies as calmly as possible.
“I won’t let her hurt you.” Mr Fielding guarantees.
“I don’t know what he’s talking about. I just wanted to get out of here.” Ms Sims confirms, she has done absolutely nothing wrong. She knows she’s already in enough trouble.
“No one is going to hurt anybody.” Bernie tries to reassure them both.
“She was sent here to murder you. She’s been plotting how to kill you.”
“You’re mad. I just want to see my daughter. Leave me alone.” Ms Sims says, getting the words out just before she grabs her abdomen, winces in pain. She slides down the wall and ends up sitting on the floor.
“See, Ms Sims doesn’t want to hurt anyone. She’s been trying to find her daughter.” Bernie explains
“She’s lying. She was looking for you and I need to stop her.” James insists, welding the screwdriver threateningly.
“James, I really need you to put the screwdriver down,” Bernie is panicking internally, but does her best to appear calm and collected.
Mr Fielding doesn’t react. He continues staring at Ms Sims who hasn’t moved but is still crying in pain. Bernie can only wonder at what could possibly be running through his mind.
“Please, James, put the screwdriver down, or if you’d like, you could hand it to me?” Bernie pleads.
He makes no attempt to drop or hand over the weapon - instead, he takes a step back and lowers his arm, holding the tool loosely by his side.
“Can I take a look at Ms Sims? She seems to be in a lot of pain.” Bernie asks cautiously.
Bernie moves towards the other woman once Mr Fielding nods in agreement. She helps Ms Sims to her feet slowly and allows her to steady herself back against the wall. Before Bernie has a chance to check the patient over James notices Steph is smirking - and she’s looking him directly in the eye as she does. He strides forward to stand beside Bernie griping the screwdriver tightly. “She’s acting. You’re in danger. Get away from her.”
Faster than Bernie can blink, before she has a chance to react to the sudden change in what had been a calming down of the situation, she is grabbed by a volatile Mr Fielding and pulled away from Ms Sims, losing her balance in and falling to the floor in the process, knocking her head on it as she lands. When she hears Steph scream Bernie redoubles her effort to pick herself up. She’s back on her feet quickly and, once she’s shaken her head to clear the slight fuzziness the bang has left her with, she sees James has the other woman backed against the wall. If her imagination isn’t playing tricks on her, or the bang on the head isn’t messing with her sense, she’s absolutely certain she can hear Mr Fielding hissing. As she takes a few steps closer she notices that, from his side profile, the sclera of his eyes seem, to have turned a blood-red, dark purple vein have appeared under his eyes; blood coursing through them visibly, and canine teeth have been replaced with razor-sharp fangs. She realises she can’t possibly be seeing that ultimately deciding that either her imagination is absolutely playing wicked tricks on her or her head hit the floor harder than she thought it had.
As Mr Field is about to, what looks like to Bernie, sink his teeth into Steph’s jugular, she acts fast and interrupts him, kicking the flat of her foot into the back of his knee, and he collapses straight to the ground. But as quickly as his knees hit the floor, James is back on his feet.
Bernie now has a clear view of his face and can see any of the features she thought she had seen minutes earlier have disappeared. She knew it couldn’t have been true, She also knows negotiating with the man is useless and no longer an option. She needs to put an end to the dangerously escalating situation.
Acting as fast as her thoughts form, she lunges forward and tries to snatch the screwdriver from Mr Fielding’s hand. She manages to get a grip on the metal end of the tool, whining slightly when she cuts her palm on the sharp, flat, edge of the head in the process. James tries to wrestle the weapon away from the blonde and gain control once again. Bernie uses all the strength she has and a couple of unarmed combat moves she’d learned in the army to stop him from snatching away the half of the screwdriver she has in her grip - but she fails - James is much stronger than she had anticipated.
Not wanting to let the man win, Bernie switches to another tactic. She grabs him by the wrist and as she wrestles with him she tries to twist his arm behind his back, planning to use move another trick she’d learned to force him to drop the tool, but his resistance is too strong. They continue to struggle over the weapon until it’s all over.
The whole struggle took minutes, but it felt like seconds as if time had been put on fast forward. When time returns to its correct speed and the struggle finishes somehow Bernie is standing in front of Mr Fielding. Mr Fielding is glued to the spot, looking down at the screwdriver now protruding from his abdomen. It isn’t until Bernie watches James move his hands around the handle of the tool, ready to pull the object out of his stomach that her mind catches up with events.
“No, don’t…” Before Bernie can finish her sentence he’s pulled the screwdriver of out his body. He collapses to the floor, wound bleeding heavily and blood begins seeping through the fingers of the hand he’s holding over the site.
With lightning-fast reactions, Bernie drops to Mr Fielding’s side, uses her hands to apply pressure to the wound and tries to stem the bleeding. It isn’t more than minutes before Fletch followed by two security guards appear from around the corner and look in horror at the blood that has spilt on the floor.
It isn’t long before Bernie and Fletch are rushing Mr Fielding through the double doors of AAU. Serena looks up from the nurses’ station as they crash into the ward, dropping the red trauma phone she’d just finished with back into its cradle and rushing towards them
“Are you ok?” Serena directs her question at her co-lead as she tags alongside the trolley as it makes it’s way to theatre. At this particular moment in time, Bernie’s welfare is her primary concern. As it would be for any of her colleagues who turned up on her ward covered in blood.
“I’m fine. I’ve cut my hand but it’s not serious. Most of the blood is his. I’ll live to tell the tale.” Bernie answers. “Are you scrubbing in? I could do with the help.”
Serena smiles and agrees to help as they continue the journey into the AAU theatre.
A good while and a complex surgery later, Bernie and Serena sit exhausted on the theatre floor, backs against the wall, long after their shifts should have finished. Mr Fielding’s operation had been a success and, much to their surprise, his internal injuries were not as extensive as they’d first thought. Both women rest in comfortable silence before Bernie voices her thoughts.
“This is all my fault. I should’ve pushed for a psych assessment today.”
“What? How is it your fault? You couldn’t have predicted he’d try and attack another patient.” Serena replies as she turns her head to look at the blonde.
“All the signs were there.” Bernie answers.
“A history of depression?” Serena questions, trying to make sense of how Bernie thinks she’s at fault.
“His behaviour on the ward.”
“Bernie, no, you did everything you possibly could. AAU has been stretched to the limit with an endless stream of injured people coming through the doors. I’m way too tired to count how many times we’ve been in and out of theatre today.” Serena tries to reason.
“That’s no excuse. I should’ve done more.”
“I don’t see how you could have. How many patients with mental health issues do we deal with on the ward every day? You had no way of knowing he was dangerous. He’s obviously slipped through the net and been misdiagnosed. How is that your fault?”
“He could have killed someone because I wasn’t keeping a close enough eye on him.” Bernie begins to tear up at the thought that Mr Fielding could have chosen to attack anyone; could have chosen to attack Serena. She would’ve never forgiven herself if that imaginary scenario had become a reality.
“This isn’t your fault. In actual fact, you probably saved Steph Sims' life. I was wrong to try and persuade you not to go off after him alone. If you had listened to me, called Security and stayed on the ward today could’ve been a lot worse.” Serena wants to say that even though it worked out this time, it was still reckless of Bernie to go off and confront such a dangerous situation on her own. She couldn’t bear the thought that Bernie could have been the one seriously injured - or worse killed, but decides against it. She doesn’t think Bernie needs to hear it right now. She shifts her body so she’s facing Bernie before she continues talking,
“A lot of people around here would say that you’re the most fantastic, fearless doctor that’s ever graced this hospital.”
Bernie rewards Serena with a small smile and the brunette can help but smile in reply. Bernie’s face turns sad and serious again, her glance flits between Serena’s eyes and her mouth before she leans closer to Serena slowly. Suddenly Bernie bites the bullet and lunges the remaining distance between them, placing her lips upon Serena’s, moving her hand to the back of her head, fingers threading through her hair.
Serena is taken by surprise. It's seconds before her mind catches up, realises what is happening and starts to respond. The kiss is uncertain and gentle and is over far too quickly. Bernie backs away unsure and immediately, regret floods her mind; thoughts of how she shouldn’t have acted upon her emotions, how she must apologise, how she needs to salvage what is left of most possibly the only friendship she has managed not to mess up, until now.
Before Bernie strikes up the courage to form the words of an apology Serena’s mouth is on hers again, kissing her with more vigour than before. This kiss is anything but tentative, it’s urgent and full of the emotions of the day. Their lips move hungrily against each other’s, expressing a wealth of feelings and the weight of months of friendship growing into something more.
After a moment, the need to breathe becomes more pressing than continuing the kiss and Bernie breaks it off. They move to sit back in their original positions, trying to regain composure and regulate their breathing. This time the silence between them has the slight air of awkwardness. Eventually, Serena decides to break the ice.
“Bernie -” Serena starts but she can’t seem to find any other words. She knows they should talk about what just happened between them but how? All her feelings for the woman - any woman, are new and thrilling but terrifying all mixed together.
“I should go.” Bernie’s announcement shakes Serena from her thoughts. The blonde stands swiftly and starts to head to the exit
“No, Bernie, wait…” Serena calls as she gets to her feet less rapidly that Bernie had managed, but Bernie continues heading for the door leaving Serena standing in the middle of the room alone.