“What is it?!”
The man looked up from the stack of folders on his desk and growled. A nervous looking head poked its way through the open door before answering.
“It’s just me, sir. There’s a special delivery for you,” the visitor squeaked, straightening his glasses.
“More mail? Have you seen this? ” he snapped, waving a hand at his laden desk. “I step away for a quick lunch and come back to find that all of this. I’m starting to think that I’m the only one who does any work around here.”
Fudgely had to work hard to keep a straight face at the thought of a three course champagne lunch in the executive dining room described as quick.
“Uhmm… that was only what came by post. I’ve brought…”
“Take it all away,” he cut Fudgely off, turning his attention back to the document in front of him. “I don’t have time to deal with whatever it is. Give it to one of the girls in admin.”
The door openly fully revealing a lanky figure in black just as he finished the final word, his eyes bulging when he saw who it was.
“Oh I’m sure any of the ladies would love to get their hands on me but I don’t think Serena would approve,” Bernie said smoothly. “Hello Simon, long time no see.”
The colour on his boss’s face drained and Fudgely couldn’t help but think that Mr Harper bore a distinctive resemblance to an albino goldfish. Simon’s mouth opened and closed wordlessly a few times, making the odd noise before finally managing a hoarse whisper. “It can’t be. This is a bad dream. Or maybe that oyster I had at lunch”
Bernie smiled grimly. “I assure that I am not a mollusc-induced nightmare. I am very real and very much alive, Sy. No thanks to you.”
A tinge of colour returned to the producer’s face. “Well, yes. But we had an agreement - you get a nice place and a quiet retirement in Halifax and we get to move on to another storyline.”
“An exit for Berena,” Bernie said, her voice deceptively calm.
“Yes. Berenaxit means Berenaxit, right?” he said, giggling at his own joke,.
“Except, “ Bernie walked up towards the desk, closing the gap between them, “you didn’t keep your part of the deal.”
“I don’t know what you mean.”
She gave him a look hard enough to make him flinch and shrink back into his chair. Simon held a hand up in acquience. “Okay, okay. There might have been a few tweaks that had to be made in view of the circumstances. It was all in your contract, Bern.”
“Call me that again and I will give you a demonstration of what I learned in the Army,” she leaned closer and paused to let her words sink in. “All thirteen ways.”
A small frightened nod was reassurance that the message had hit home. Bernie pulled back before continuing. “There were some things I agreed to in the contract. Although most of it was before I realised that your writers’ idea of travel was flinging darts blindfolded at a map of Africa to pick a location for the week.”
“Gave you a chance to see the world,” Simon suggested hopefully.
“And don’t get me started on all the different ways you’ve tried to knock me down. Blown up, disgraced, cheated on and exiled. And yet I still kept coming back,” Bernie said. “It was as if I was bulletproof. Titanium.”
Simon shrugged nervously. “Must be all that Army training. They did a good job with you, the RAMC.”
Bernie shook her head. “I thought so at first until I stumbled on the truth the day of the bomb blast. Which was both pointless and lazy writing, by the way.”
“You know what they say - drama needs drama and no one else gets hurt if it’s off screen, right?” Simon replied defensively. “Except you’re still here and I don’t understand how that is. The bomb killed you.”
There was a glint in Bernie’s eyes as a large smile stretched across her face. “It would have but you made a grave mistake by being over-zealous with your efforts to get rid of me.”
“It wasn’t my fault. None of this would be necessary if only those stupid wolf people would stop haranguing me on Twitter after we sent you to Nairobi and set Serena up with someone else,” Simon huffed. “We even tried giving you another girlfriend off screen but they still keep going on and on with their rants - Bernie lives, fuck canon…”
“The W.O.L.Fs are the reason I’m immortal so I would be careful what I say about them if I were you.”
Simon gulped and nodded meekly. “I still don’t understand how you could come back here. You may be alive but you’re supposed to be off-script.”
The loud honk of Bernie’s laughter rang throughout the small office. “I have the writers to thank for that.” She dug into the pocket of her jeans and pulled a chain out of it, the metal clinking lightly as she placed it on Simon’s desk. “You see, Sy, you’re supposed to keep one tag with the body if you want it to stay dead.”
“Oh,” Simon said, his voice a soft whisper. “So you’re back for good.”
“I don’t have to be,” Bernie answered. “I’m sure we can come to some agreement.”
-six months later-
“This is a lovely place,” Serena said as she walked from the entrance hall into the living area. “I thought you said they gave us a cottage.”
The large villa was surrounded by at least an acre of land and Serena could see a summer house a short distance from the house with an adjoining tennis court and what looked like a jacuzzi the size of an Olympic pool.
Bernie smiled and shrugged. “I made a couple of suggestions and they managed to find some extra budget for a bigger place. Welcome home, darling. Happy retirement.”