“I’m glad you’re back,” Deirdre said. “It’s been too long.” She held out the bouquet of flowers formally, her face without expression.

“It has indeed,” Bernard replied. “I accept your gift.” He took the flowers and rested them in the crook of his arm.

They stared at each other a few moments longer.

They broke down simultaneously into peals of laughter. The passers-by in the subway station looked on with expressions ranging from confusion to annoyance.

“How long have you been rehearsing that?” Bernard asked once they’d caught their breath.

“Since Tuesday. I thought I’d be able to keep a straight face longer, though.”

Bernard stuck out his tongue and hefted his single bag over his shoulder. His expression turned a bit more serious. “So where do we stand?”

Deirdre started navigating through the crowd back to the surface. “Three cells online, two pending. One in dire need of your expertise.” She pushed past the flap at the base of the stairs. “And at least two new lab kittens that are desperate for attention.”

“Well, we must have our priorities,” Bernard said. “I’ll see to those first.”