Actions

Work Header

I'll Be Here

Chapter Text

She sees her on the train every morning. Well, every morning that ThamesLink’s late bloody trains will allow. Harvard alumni Serena Campbell will never admit it to anyone, but she thinks she might be a little too interested in this woman for it to be considered ‘friendly’.

She pep talks herself into sitting next to the blonde one morning, smiling as she does so. She hears a sharp intake of breath from the woman, she can definitely feel it too. Serena thinks to herself. She presses her thigh up against the other woman’s, for once thankful that the train is packed as she has an excuse to sit so close.

The chore of getting on the train in the morning becomes a pleasantry, and she smiles a smug smile at the visible heavy breathing that comes from the woman as soon as she sees Serena get on.

They get off at the same station, but in the bustle of a lot of people, they never seem to see each other after they depart the train. Serena considers being late for work one morning just to follow her, in the hopes of conversing or necking in an alleyway. But Henrick Hanssen would never sanction Serena being late for work, so she thinks better of it and tries her best to push thoughts of a certain blonde away as she is elbow deep in a young girls abdominal cavity.

One night, after a regretful amount of Shiraz with Raf, she blurts out that she’s falling in love with someone, a woman, and if he is astounded, he hides it well. He prods her for details and snorts a laugh when Serena tells him they haven’t actually talked to each other.

"You can’t be in love with someone you’ve never talked to Serena!" He says in his high-horse, yet reasonable way. "Talk to her, I dare you," he says a while later, and Serena realises that he’s right, there’s no reason for her not to.

She thinks that morning walking to her station that she probably cant just walk up to the woman and say, ‘Look, I know we’ve been having eye-sex for the past however many weeks and I think I’m in love with you,’ so she formulates a more professional and modest and not at all lovesick introduction.

When she gets on the train that morning, she blushes with excitement at the empty seat next to the blonde, and quickly occupies it. She takes a deep breath, and gets ready to introduce herself to the woman she may or may not be in love with. That is, until the train grinds to a halt, and a collective groan is released from just about everyone on the carriage.


"Engine been growling or whining?" The blonde mumbles from beside her, and Serena practically melts at the sound of her voice. She chuckles instead.

Serena spends the next week thinking she will only ever see the blonde on the train, that is, until she sees a strangely familiar blonde out of the corner of her eye when she’s on shift. Her head whips round to look at her, and she positively gapes at the sight of the woman in AAU Blue scrubs, her hands in her pockets putting just enough tension to accentuate her breasts. Serena takes advantage of being able to stare at the woman before she notices. Suddenly, the woman looks up from the patient notes a nurse is holding out to her and looks Serena in the eyes, her deep intake of breath noticeable to Serena who is still gazing at the woman’s breasts. Serena quickly flicks her gaze up to the woman’s face, which is infinitely more beautiful when not bundled up under a scarf. The woman smirks a knowing smirk at her. Serena gathers all her courage and walks over to the woman, holding out her hand.

"Serena Campbell, Lead Consultant here on AAU, and you are?" The woman properly smiles now, eyes crinkling at the feel of their hands touching.

"Bernie Wolfe, locum GS Consultant and Trauma Specialist. Ex –RAMC," Bernie says before Raf interrupts them, takes Serena by the arm and pulls her into the office.

"That’s her isn’t it!" He practically squeals with excitement. "Ask her for a drink or something, she’s been eyeing you up all morning," he says. Serena nods before walking out to do her ward rounds.

At the end of their shifts, Serena grabs Bernie’s hand before she can walk out of the locker room, and Bernie turns to look at her with those eyes and Serena blushes profusely.

"I was wondering if you’d like to go for a drink, or… or for dinner or a movie or something?" Serena stutters out, and Bernie leans in to shut her up with a kiss.

"I thought you’d never ask."

Chapter Text

"Come on Bernie, we’ll be late!" Serena shouts from downstairs at the blonde, who is battling with a hair tie that wont stay in. "We have to pick up Evie and get to the shop for one o’clock appointment."


"Yes yes I’m coming calm your tits," Bernie replies on a sigh.

"That’s why we’re going Bernie, for my tits!" she wails as Bernie pats her arse on her way to the living room to pick up her purse.

"Technically this is about Evie’s tits but I’m sure one of us can sneak off and pick up something a bit lacy," she mumbles into her lipstick as she applies it, then pops it in her handbag and turns to face the exasperated brunette. "Ready?" She quips, earning a grumble from Serena as she walks out the door to her car.

They pull up at Raf and Fletches’ house and Evie is waiting outside with her overnight bag over her shoulder, and her smile glows when she sees their car approaching. She opens the back door and leaps in, stuffing her bag into the foot well.

"Hello Evie," the two older women say in tandem.

"Hi! I thought it would be easier to bring my stuff with me instead of dropping back here to get it later, I hope that’s okay?" she asks, trying to start a conversation that isn’t about breasts, as that will likely be the only subject of conversation for the next few hours.

"Course, that was a good idea Evie," Bernie says as Serena starts the car.

They get to House of Fraser and Evie hangs behind a bit, apprehensively. Serena notices and reaches out a hand behind her and catches Evie’s, tugging slightly on her arm to move her to walk in between her and Bernie. Bernie looks at her and smiles a knowing smile, this was one of the things she liked doing with Charlotte. Finally something that Charlotte would rather her over Marcus doing.

"Don’t worry Evie, you get used to it," Serena says reassuringly as they walk to the lingerie department. Bernie takes Evie to have a look round to gather what style she likes as Serena goes up to the desk to check in for their appointment. She texts Bernie when they’re ready, and she sees the two return holding a number of outrageously colourful bras, and smiles and raises her eyebrows at her partner.

"I told Evie they matched your blouses," she whispers as she hands them to the fitter, who takes Evie into the changing room.
A few minutes later, the fitter comes out with the stack of bras and goes to find ones in Evie’s size, smiling at Bernie and Serena who are waiting outside. She comes back with similar colours but different styles, and swishes into the changing room again.

This time when she comes out she walks over to the two women. "Whichever one of you is Serena, she wants to show you," she says, and Serena looks at Bernie and raises her eyebrows, before popping her head round the fitting room door to see Evie clad in an AAU scrubs coloured t-shirt bra, beaming.

"Well then young lady, looks like you’ve made a decision, nice colour," she says, winking and nods to the fitter before walked back to Bernie.

"Her favourite is the AAU blue; I suppose she gets it from her aunties," Serena says to Bernie, and then sits down next to her and they wait for Evie to come out.

 

"Our treat, Evie," Bernie says when Evie tries to pay, then bats her hand away to make way for her card. Evie just beams up at her again, and Bernie cant help but seeing a young Charlotte.

 

"Jason has gone to Alan’s for the night, so whatever you want for dinner is at your request." Serena looks at Evie in the backseat, while Bernie drives.

"Pizza?" She asks, and Serena flicks her eyebrows up and smiles in response.

 

Once the pizza has been eaten and they are all lying on the couch, Evie turns to look at Bernie and Serena, Serena has migrated and is lying in Bernie’s lap, the blonde’s hand combing through her hair.

"How did you know that you liked women, Bernie?" Evie blurts out, and Bernie looks at her with a smile.


"I don’t know Evie, I just did. I realised that I saw women differently to how I saw men, to how I saw Marcus," she says, hoping she’d answered the girls queries. Evie nods in understanding,

"Right young lady, I quite think its time for bed," Serena says, getting up off Bernie’s lap. Evie smiles and nods, and follows Serena into the guest room.

"Thanks for today, it was really cool," Evie says, then smiles when Serena pushes a packet of pads into her overnight bag. Serena looks at her, winks, says goodnight and shuts the door. "Don’t be too loud!" she hears Evie snicker and Serena giggles to herself, walking into the bedroom to find Bernie lying on the bed, wearing a sexy lace set Serena assumes she bought today.

"Evie says not to be too loud," Serena whispers as she clambers on top of Bernie, pushing her down and silencing her with a languid kiss. They make love into the early hours of the morning, like most nights when Bernie comes to stay.

They are greeted in the morning with a knowing smirk from Evie when she asks if they slept well.

Chapter Text

Serena knows what the outcome will be when Bernie offers to cook for her, she knows that Bernie will somehow make a royal mess of herself and her kitchen, and she knows that they will end up getting takeout. But she also knows that Bernie loves her, even if she doesn't say it nearly as much as Serena does. And this might just be one of Bernie's ways of saying it, so she has to at least give her a shot.

She agrees enthusiastically when Bernie asks her, at some ungodly hour when they're walking to their cars after a night shift. Once she's had sleep and realises what she's agreed to, she texts Bernie telling her she doesn't have to, and they could just go out somewhere, but Bernie is insistent, and when Bernie's got a mission she'll see it through.

'You still good for tonight?' Bernie asks in passing when she is scrubbing out and Serena scrubbing in. 'Wouldn't miss it for the world, you?' Serena gives her a half smile, and turns off the taps with her elbows, gesturing for the scrub nurse to bring over her gown. 'Course, just making sure. I'm thinking lasagna?' Bernie says hesitantly, she knows Serena is a bit apprehensive about her cooking. 'Sounds perfect, see you then' Serena says as she saunters off into theatre.

Bernie leaves half an hour early to get dinner ready. Armed with a recipe and way-too-big-for-two pot, she begins. And that is where it ends really, well that's where her normally clinically clean kitchen ends, and the mess begins.

Serena lets herself in and strides into the kitchen to find Bernie sitting on the floor in front of the oven. Bernie looks up at her and gives a weak smile.
'I don't think it worked' she says wearily, looking at the brunette who is leaning over the counter to look into the various pots. 'I'm sorry Serena' Bernie says, not moving from her place on the floor. Serena huffs out a laugh, turns the oven off and places a tea towel down next to Bernie for her to sit on. She plonks herself down and links their fingers together, resting her head on Bernie's shoulder.
'I don't think it did either' she says sympathetically, and feels the first of Bernie's tears on the top of her head. She lifts her head up from Bernie's shoulder and looks at her, crestfallen. 'It's okay Bernie, I don't mind' she says quietly, rubbing the blondes shoulder. She suddenly gets up from her makeshift seat and holds out a hand for Bernie, who wipes her nose on her sleeve before taking her hand and allowing herself to be pulled into an embrace. Bernie's body shakes a little as she continues to silently cry. Serena manoeuvres them over to the couch and sits down, Bernie following and curling into her side.
'Talk to me, hmm?' Serena says after Bernie's tears have stopped.
'I just wanted it to work and be perfect because you're perfect and you deserve someone better than me, someone who can cook fucking lasagna' Bernie says, and the tears start again, burrowing her head into Serena's side.
'You tried your best Bern, that's all I will ever ask for' Serena looks down at her, and Bernie gives her a faint smile. 'I love you, you soppy romantic' Serena says with a sigh, and leans down to kiss the blonde. 'Now, I propose takeout. Then I can show you just how much I love you' Serena says and winks, before getting up off the couch and moving to the bottom drawer to get the menus.

Chapter Text

"How about... never have I ever?" Slurs out a very drunk Fletch.

The two women look at each other in mock horror, and Bernie winks and turns back to Fletch to agree. Serena looks around for Raf, who returns carrying another round of shots, and places them down in the middle of the table. Jasmine then comes back and places yet another round next to the first.

"Never have I ever dated a patient," Fletch starts, and Morven is the only one who drinks.

"We only went out once!" She says, putting her hands up in surrender. She nods to Raf, indicating it’s his turn.

"Never have I ever had a one night stand," he says in his Scottish accent.

"Yes you have! What about Sian!" Serena screams out.

"I dropped her home after the opera, nothing happened,” he quickly defends himself, and Serena lets out a hearty laugh and Bernie smiles.

Serena, Bernie and Jasmine all drink, and then its Jasmines turn.

“Never have I ever walked in on someone,” she mumbles, and Serena is the only one who drinks, Fletch turns to her and gives her a sympathetic smile, knowing she’s talking about Edward.

Morven pips at the realisation it’s her turn, and gets comfortable in her seat.

“Never have I ever been caught doing something inappropriate in a store cupboard,” she says with a glint in her eye, Bernie realises she means that she’s never been caught, not that she’s never done it, and looks at Serena out of the corner of her eye and they both take a shot.

“Never have I ever been so drunk I don’t remember their name,” Bernie says triumphantly, and thumps her hand down on the table.

Jasmine takes a shot and they all look at her for some form of explanation.

“First year of med school, I convinced myself it was stress relief,” she says, and Bernie honks out her goose laugh.

“Your turn, Serena,” Bernie turns to look at her girlfriend and says.

“Never have I ever made someone scream during sex,” she says confidently, as if she is listing off bloods for a patient.

Bernie turns beet red and stifles a laugh, because she knows that this is most definitely not true.

“Liar,” she leans over to whisper in Serena’s ear, and hears the brunette groan, but her drunk self is not as quiet as she had been aiming for, and she sees four heads whip round to look at her.

Serena coughs and turns her head away from Bernie, now equally blushed.

“Your turn Fletch,” Serena says, trying to draw the attention away from her and Bernie, who were both wishing the floor could swallow them up. Fletch takes this in his stride for his next question.

“Never have I ever been in a relationship with a colleague on AAU.” He feels the need to clarify the ward in case any of them have heard of his affair with Tess when he was in the ED.

Bernie death stares him and her, Serena, Morven and Raf drink. He knows the nature of Morven and Raf's relationship, so the attention one again turns to the two consultants, whose hands are inconspicuously linked under the table.

Serena has the easy way out of this one, can say it was when Edward came back. But Bernie on the other hand has no way out of this, and all eyes are on her.

“Spill it Major,” Fletch says.

“Yes Bernie, do tell,” Serena says with a smug grin.

“Well maybe you should ask Ms Campbell, as she is the only other person who knows,” Bernie turns to face her with and smiles proudly at the blush rising on Serena's neck.

Serena turns to look at her in horror. They had agreed to keep their relationship under wraps for a while, until the rumour mill had died down.

Fuck it. Serena thinks, and leans over to kiss Bernie, outing them in front of everyone.

Bernie kisses back with force, making to deepen the kiss before remembering that they had an audience. She pulls away, coughs, and turns to face the astounded faces of their colleagues. Serena then lifts their hands from under the table, fingers intertwined, and proudly places their hands down on the table for everyone to see.

Later that night in bed, Serena lays on top of the blonde, using her body weight to press them together, feeling their bodies grind against each other she starts unbuttoning Bernie’s pyjama top, while Bernie’s fingers make quick work of Serena’s black tank top.

Soon they are both pressing against each other again, their bare nipples hard and rubbing together, Serena letting out small moans and whimpers, desperate for more contact. She moves her hand down to Bernie's shorts, fiddling with the waistband until Bernie lifts her hips so that she can slide them down her legs. Bernie finds herself taking Serena's pants off and throwing them to the floor in a desperate attempt not to spend too long away from Serena's lips.

She slowly toys with the last layer separating them, a pair of black lace underwear, almost as if Serena had planned this and worn them for a reason. She slides her finger down and hears a moan escape from her lover’s lips.

Not being able to stand the teasing much longer, Serena pushes her own hands down into Bernie's simple back underwear, instantly finding the wetness that has spread to her clit. She rubs in circles around it, obtaining small whimpers from Bernie as she pushes her hips up into Serena's fingers, desperate for her. She gives into Bernie and easily pushes one, then two fingers inside her, feeling Bernie contract and relax around her. She hears Bernie moan into her mouth, making her even more desperate for Bernie to touch her. As she feels Bernie bucking her hips and arching her back she curls her fingers slightly, getting a scream from Bernie and she comes, panting and whimpering into Serena's mouth.

Serena works Bernie through it; her fingers only stopping when she is sure Bernie is spent.

“So much for not making someone scream,” Bernie breathes out.

Serena giggles in response and moves to lie beside Bernie.

“I love you,” Bernie looks down at her and says, but Serena is already fast asleep.

 

Chapter Text

 

 “I hate you,” Serena slurs over her glass of water, pouting at Bernie sat opposite her.

 

“Are you sure that’s not the alcohol talking?”

 

“Fuck you Griselda, you didn’t have to take away my credit card.”

 

“Hmm, I think you’ll find I did, darling,” Bernie says, picking up her handbag and slinging it over her shoulder, before helping Serena into her coat. Serena groans and stumbles as she stands, just managing to land herself in Bernie’s arms before she hits the ground. “Come on you,” Bernie grunts, holding up Serena and leading her out the door.


Serena’s annoyance seems to disappear as soon as they are alone in Bernie’s car. Her hands wander over Bernie’s left thigh and Bernie has to clench her fists to keep herself focused on the road. Serena leans over and starts laving kisses to Bernie’s shoulder, pulling down the loose-fitting shirt to access her skin. Bernie decides she values her life more than Serena’s libido, so pulls over the car and looks sternly at Serena.

 

“You need to stop, if we’re going to make it home alive.”

 

“But Bernie!” Serena wails, flailing her arms out to grapple at Bernie’s lap, but finds her hands being pushed away and in to her own. “I want you,” she keens.

 

“And I want you too, but we need to get home.” Bernie reaches over and places a kiss on Serena’s lips, tasting the combination of the alcohol and the taste that is exclusively Serena. She pulls back and pats Serena’s hands resting in her lap. “Keep them there.”

 

Bernie can see Serena pouting out of the corner of her eye.

 

Its barely five minutes before Serena is leaning on Bernie again, pulling at the collar of her shirt and running her hands over Bernie’s thighs.


“Serena, if you don’t stop I’m putting you in the back seat.” Serena huffs and pulls her hands away, stuffing them in her own lap and laying her head against the window; the cool glass providing some relief from the alcohol and her almost unbearable state of arousal.

 

Serena can barely get herself out of the car, let alone walk up the path to the house. Bernie comes round to her side of the car and helps her out, slips her arm around her waist and walks with her up to the front door, all the while having her neck kissed and her jeans being unbuttoned. She huffs and pushes Serena’s hand away, not because she wants Serena to stop, but because Serena is being relatively loud and the neighbours could walk out and see them.

 

“Griselda,” Serena growls, tugging on her arm and pulling her inside. She pushes her back against the door and crashes her lips against Bernie’s.

I should have known she’d be a touchy drunk, Bernie thinks.

 

Bernie almost cannot bear the strong taste of alcohol on Serena’s lips. It’s so overpowering she thinks she might become intoxicated just from kissing Serena, and not in the good way. She pulls away and looks at Serena’s pouting swollen lips, her hand roughly groping Bernie’s breast.

 

“Go drink some water,” she says sternly, and Serena harrumphs and treads into the kitchen. Bernie hears the tap turn on and hears Serena gulp down a glass of water with a groan. She chuckles and walks into the kitchen, finds Serena propped up against the bench with her hands resting on her thighs.

 

“I want you so much,” Serena whispers when she sees Bernie.

 

“Are you always like this when you’re drunk?” Bernie asks, walking over and resting her hands on Serena’s shoulders.

 

“I’ll have you know, Ms Wolfe, I am not drunk.” Bernie chuckles and moves her hands down to grasp Serena’s, then tugs her out the door and up the stairs. “Ooh! Ms Wolfe!”

 

Serena’s enthusiasm only skyrockets when they reach the bedroom, she turns around and pushes Bernie back against the door, kissing her fiercely and slipping a thigh between hers. Bernie grounds down and whimpers, then pulls away and pushes Serena backwards onto the bed. Serena squeals and giggles in delight as Bernie holds her down on the mattress; their breasts brushing through clothes and Bernie’s legs in-between Serena’s. Bernie rolls her hips and Serena whimpers, then surprises Bernie and flips them both over, pressing her own hips down on Bernie’s.

 

“You are definitely drunk.” Serena glowers and rolls off Bernie, planting herself next to her and shucking her blouse and trousers.

 

“I guess I’ll have to take care of myself then,” she huffs, slipping her hand into her pants and closing her eyes. Bernie moves to lie on her side and looks over at Serena; the epitome of a drunk, horny, and hormonal woman. Bernie starts to chuckle quietly, moving her hand to gently caress Serena’s breast through her bra, but Serena’s free hand comes up to bat it away, replacing it with her own. “I’m trying to concentrate.”

 

“And I’m trying to have sex with my girlfriend,” Bernie says, and moves so she can slip her hands under Serena’s back and unclasp her bra. Serena lets Bernie slide it off her arms and then moves her hand away so Bernie’s mouth can close around a nipple, her own hand still working between her legs. Serena whimpers when Bernie kneads the nipple with her teeth, groans when Bernie pinches the other with her hand, sobs when Bernie’s other hand comes down to meet hers and enters her slowly while she rolls her own clit.

 

“You’re really cute Bernie,” Serena mews, earning a chuckle from the mouth still enclosed around her nipple. Bernie lets Serena’s nipple go from her mouth and looks up to see Serena’s eyes screwed shut and her jaw slack.

 

“And you’re really drunk, Serena.”

The no doubt witty yet slurred remark Serena has ready disappears when Bernie curls her fingers. She keens and moans and arcs her back, her own hand becoming faster in its movements in tandem with Bernie’s.

 

Bernie thinks Serena’s libido is different when she’s drunk, thinks that Serena wouldn’t normally be this needy, this desperate. Because Serena’s orgasm is so long and so loud that she has to clamp a hand over her mouth to stop her alerting Jason.

 

“Weh heh hee!” Serena squeals when she can breathe again. Bernie rolls her eyes and rests her head on Serena’s chest.

 

“You need to be quiet,” she hisses, and Serena giggles and pushes Bernie off her so she can get up and walk on wobbly legs to the bathroom. Bernie expects to hear the usual post-coital routine, but is surprised when she hears Serena retching through the wall. She drags herself out of bed and opens the door to the en-suite. Serena is bent over the toilet with a steady stream of shiraz-tinged vomit coming out of her mouth.

 

“How very sexy,” Bernie says sarcastically, walking over to gently rub Serena’s back. She hears footsteps in the hallway and realises Jason has either woken up or become curious.

 

“Is Auntie Serena drunk again?”

 

Chapter Text

She starts awake. It’s still the middle of the night; still dark in their bedroom. She shouldn’t be awake yet. Why am I awake? Then she hears it; feels it. Serena is beside her, weeping quietly, but Bernie can feel her body shake and the bed shake in turn. Serena has nightmares; nightmares about Elinor, about that day, nightmares about being alone again. Serena rarely sleeps through the night, rarely doesn’t wake crying, shuddering against Bernie; who is doing her best to curl protectively around her.

 

“Hey,” Bernie whispers, tightening her grip on Serena’s waist, pulling her closer in. She starts placing gentle kisses on the nape of Serena’s neck, softly stroking circles on her belly, whispers terms of endearment and murmurs her love. “You’re alright.”

 

Serena doesn’t stop crying, Serena never stops crying, is what it feels like. Bernie feels her chest ache in the knowledge that she can't do anything to help her, in the knowledge that sometimes Serena hates her living children.

 

“I don’t…” Serena starts, throat hoarse and gulping for air. “I don’t want to be here without her.” Bernie feels her throat ache and tears press against her eyelids. This isn’t the first time Serena’s implied something like this, and it gets harder to hear every time. She presses herself as close as she can and tries to envelop Serena in what she hopes is warmth, what she hopes is comfort. Confessions like this always come in the night, with the nightmares. Serena never mentions them in the light of day and Bernie doesn’t either, thinking that Serena needs to make the first move, even with the knowledge of how serious they could be.

 

“I know, love,” she whispers. She can't think of anything else, doesn’t think that making Serena feel guilty about how she’s feeling will do any good. “You’re alright,” she says in her best soothing voice. It doesn’t work, and Serena’s cries become more violent.

 

“But she’s not, Bernie, she’ll never be,” she shouts. Bernie still isn’t used to Serena shouting at her, especially in the middle of the night when she’s still tugging Bernie to hold her close. It’s conflicting, and Bernie wants to scream and cry herself. It’s worse, though, when Serena pushes Bernie away and turns in on herself. She slips out of bed and sniffs and dries her eyes on her way out the door, looking back to find Serena still shaking, alone, this time.

 

“Bernie?” Jason’s voice is small, timid, not like his usual demeanour. Although Jason hasn’t been himself since his cousin died, since his aunt started acting like she resented him. Bernie’s heart breaks even more at the sound. She knocks once on his door and then pushes it open. He’s curled on the bed facing the door and there’s a wet patch on the pillow under his head and even in the dim light of the room she can see the tear streaks down his cheeks. She hurts, seeing him like this.

 

“What’s wrong, love?” She whispers, taking a step into the room and walking towards him. “How long have you been awake?”

 

“Why does Auntie Serena shout at you?” Bernie sighs and sits down on the bed next to him, quickly wiping her eyes as more tears fall. He hasn’t answered her second question but she guesses he’s been up long enough to hear Serena shouting.

 

“Because she misses Elinor,” she says, quietly. “We all miss her, but she’s missing her more.”

 

“I know that, Bernie,” Jason says matter-of-factly, “But what makes her so angry at you and me? Have we done something?” Bernie shakes her head and leans to squeeze his shoulder. She can't tell if she’s answering no or that she doesn’t know, hasn’t known the answers to a lot of questions recently. It feels like Serena asks her endless questions and she never knows the answers. It feels like Serena asks her endless questions she should know the answers to.

 

“I know you sleep on the couch most nights,” he says. It makes her feel ashamed; she had tried to hide all evidence of her sleeping habits as not to worry Jason more, but she always forgets how observant he can be, especially when he’s pottering around the house all day while he heals.

 

“Sometimes she doesn’t want me to be with her,” she says, fighting the press of tears and the lump in her throat. “A lot of the time she doesn’t want me to be with her,” she corrects.

 

She talks to Jason a while longer then says goodnight to him, makes her way downstairs and arranges the pillows on the couch to accommodate her ever-thinning form.

 

 

~

 

She starts awake. It’s still the middle of the night; still dark in their – her – bedroom. She shouldn’t be awake yet. Why am I awake? Then she doesn’t hear it; doesn’t feel it. Serena is not beside her. It’s herself that’s weeping quietly, and she can feel her own body shake - the bed shake in turn. She has nightmares; nightmares about Elinor, about Serena, about that day, and then about that day, nightmares about being alone. She rarely sleeps through the night, rarely doesn’t wake crying, shuddering against herself; no one left to curl around.

 

Serena is not beside her. Serena will never be beside her again.