DISCLAIMER: Once Upon a Time and its characters are the property of ABC. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This story deals with difficult situations (See Warnings). It is Swan Queen with a lot of twists and turns. Some turns are pleasant while other twists are not. The later chapters of this story are beta read. Huge thanks to Mooglesmuse for beta reading and the support for this story and my others.
WARNING: This story deals with terminal cancer, mentions of rape and murder, as well as possible character death.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To daughter2artemis[at]yahoo.com
This is How It Ends
By In-Betweens (aka Tweenlove-n-hate)
'Doctors, Hospitals, and Wails'
Emma shouldn't have been surprised. The Mayor's car was the black Mercedes. Emma wondered if there was no other color that the Mayor liked. Her clothes were one thing, her office a second and now her car? At least the interior was leather. They shared that 'liked' in common. Except Emma had a sinking suspicion that the Mayor's leather wasn't as thrift shop faux as Emma's often was. So, maybe they didn't have that in common.
Sinking into the passenger seat Emma kept her hands on her lap waiting for the Mayor to pull away. After an unneeded minute Emma turned to see Regina looking at her. Confused Emma looked out the window before meeting Regina's eyes again, "What?"
"Seatbelt." Regina pointed to the belt and waited impatiently for Emma to put it on.
Emma laughed, until she realized Mayor Mills wasn't going to pull away until she put on her seatbelt. Huh Emma thought. "Alright, then. You're serious " Pulling on the safety belt Emma tugged on it as it rested across her chest to show she was wearing it.
Regina took a deep breath to calm down. The last thing she needed to do was upset Ms. Swan. It was obvious the woman had issued with authority. That had been clear in the file Sidney had pulled on Ms. Swan. The woman didn't stay in one place for very long. She had been lucky to catch Ms. Swan in one of her down periods. In the last four years Sidney found the blonde had moved from one place to another every three months or so. Ms. Swan had been in Boston for almost five, thankfully. If Regina wasn't desperate for Ms. Swan's help she might feel bad for disturbing the woman when she had apparently found someplace to be comfortable in.
Emma's laughter pulled Regina's attention away from the road. Staring through the corner of her eyes Regina snipped, "What is so funny?"
"Well, you are actually." Emma chuckled, consumed by her own thoughts.
It was another block before Regina spoke again. The blood vessel in her neck pulsing as the Mayor instinctively flexed and eased her muscles. "What exactly about me is so funny?"
"Calm down Madame Mayor, it's not like you have something on your face." Emma looked away, grinning as Regina swiped nonchalantly at her right cheekjust to make sure she, in fact, did not have something on her face. "Like I said, nothing on your face. You just " Emma groaned as the car came to a sudden stop. Regina's arm shot outon instinctand held Emma back from hitting the dashboard. Not that Emma's seatbelt would have allowed for that. It had already snagged, catching Emma and holding her back against her seat like it was supposed to.
"Wh..aat was that for!?" Emma raged, sure that Regina had done that on purpose.
"Aside from stopping the car short to save that child " Regina jutted her head to the road where said child was now being held in his mother's arms. In the toddler's arms was a rainbow medium bouncy ball. " nothing."
Emma blinked and remained silent as the mother came to the window, the boy still held tightly in her arms, even if he seemed a bit heavy for her to lift. He had to be three or four and was stock still, blinking every few seconds. He and the mother's faces were level with Regina's window.
"Oh my Ma-ma-mayor hu-hmm th-thank " The mother was out of breath and looked like she was about to cry.
"Carla, it's going to be fine. I'm sorry if I scared Charley." Regina looked kingly at the boy in Carla's arms.
"No maybe now he'll thing twice about " Carla swallowed and two tears fell. The woman was obviously in shock. She had almost watched her son get run over by a car. She had raced across the front deck and the lawn but still had only gotten to Charley seconds after the car had stopped inches in front of him.
"Go on back into the house. He's fine. So are you. He'll be fine! Won't you Charley?" The boy blinked three times before nodding his head. He arched his head to look up at his mother and offered her a gap tooth grin.
Carla nodded and stepped up onto the curb. Regina waited until they made it into the house before she continued down the road.
"That " Emma was practically speechless at witnessing Regina interact with that woman and her son. Did the Mayor know everyone's name here in town? Or was this just a coincidence that she'd stopped before killing the child of someone she knew personally?
"That happens around these streets, Ms. Swan. It's why there are more signs warning about children at play here then deer crossings."
Emma nodded, shocked that Regina wasn't even phased by this. Maybe it did happen enough to make her immune to it and why she was driving so slow through the residential area. "I'll be sure to remember that." Especially if it kept her from hitting some small kid on accident.
The silence in the car was deafening. The tension palatable as Regina drove.
"You're a mom." Emma whispered looking away from the street signs passing them by and the houses with the picket fences and green grass front yards.
At a stop sign Regina turned her full attention to Emma waiting for the blonde to elaborate. "Yes, I am a mom, I don't "
"The seatbelt thing and the soccer mom arm block you did. The way you spoke to that kid, Charley. You're a mom." Emma explained, "It was hard to imagine you as a mom before when you showed up at my door, or even in your office. It even the pictures only hinted at the fact, that, well that you're a mom."
"Your point?" Regina asked. She'd heard it for years how she didn't seem like the "mom type". She made it a point to be at every bake sale, every school faire, play, recital and even all Henry's intermural soccer games when he was too little to even really kick the ball very far. She had been trying to prove to everyone from the very beginning, from the day she'd been given Henry, that she was his mom. A good mom.
Now here she was sitting with Henry's birth mom and she was the one to common on how mom-ish she was. Emma hadn't even seen her interact with Henry. She just saw what having Henry in her life had helped her become. A better person. A vigilant person and a kinder woman.
Where mom came from, Regina wasn't sure. Then again what authority did Emma have to declare she was mom-like?
Emma shrugged, "I guess I don't have one Mayor."
Regina nodded, happy with the silence that descended over them again.
Emma twisted her shoulder so she could watch out her window. Hopefully she would be able to find the hospital on her own next time. She felt it was safer for both of them if she wasn't trapped in a small space with Regina again. Seeing the six-story building on the left Emma sighed happily.
'We're here, thank god.' Emma jumped up and out of the car as soon as it stopped. If she was stuck in that car with that buzzing silence she was going to start singing and no one wanted that.
Regina grinned internally, 'was it something I said?'
Regina realized as she stepped out of the car, locked the doors, and checked her makeup in the mirror that she hadn't been told why Emma was laughing before. Moving in step with the blonde Regina weighed her options as they neared the front of the hospital. The mechanical doors opened as she thought: 'To ask or not to ask '
"What was so funny in the car?" Regina asks as she leads Emma into the hospital and immediately down the right hallway to the elevator bay. They pass two guards as they walk by and they each nod their head in Regina's direction before walking by them, leaving them be. As soon as they reach the elevators Regina presses the call button and waits for the elevator and for Emma to explain herself.
Emma sighs as she stand to Regina's left. She shifts her weight from one foot to the other awkwardly. "It was the seatbelt thing."
"What about the 'seatbelt thing'?"
"Well it seemed silly. You want one of my organs. Organ donors don't have to be living donors. The need for a seatbelt seemed toit seemed more of a routine thing then a helpful measure." Emma shook her head and laughed cynically, "It'd have been easier for you to let me go flying out the windshield."
Regina blinked as she twisted her neck to truly look Emma over. Obviously the blonde was misinformed. "Organ donors, living or not, are rare. Only 35% of people waiting for a donor ever get the organ. Car accident victims unlike popular belief are not ideal donors. In 45% of cases the organs are viable and even if they are not everyone is a registered donor. Often times the organs of registered donors and unregistered donors have been damaged in the crash one way or another so it makes some vital organs unviable." Regina looked up at the ding the elevator made and stepped into the elevator. "So, no, it was best that you not go flying through my windshield."
Emma huffed a laugh as she blinked at Regina, her mouth hanging open as she watched the Mayor's lip lift into a smirk. Shaking out of her stupor Emma stepped into the elevator. She made sure to stand a few inches away from Regina. Just in case.
'In case what?' Emma asked herself. 'Just in case she has a needle in her purse that she plans to stick in my neck, knock me out, and drag me to an operating room to harvest my organs!' The panicking little voice inside her mind screamed, hyperventilating. Emma gulped and leaned against the wall, the farthest she could get from Regina.
The numbers went by quickly and they were on the sixth floor before anyone could drug or accuse anyone of planning to drug anyone. Regina had to keep back a snicker at Ms. Swan huddled behind her watcher her like a hawk.
The doors of the elevator opened and neither woman moved. Emma waited for Regina to step off first and Regina was waiting for Ms. Swan to disembark first. Regina waves her hand out in front of her as a clear, 'after you'. Emma shakes her head, "No, please I insist, after you."
Regina cocks an eyebrow before stepping out of the elevator. 'Really Ms. Swan how droll of you.' Once outside she looks behind her to see Emma following dutifully. "Good, follow me this way." Regina leads Emma through an open loft type room. There are seats in one corner and nurses moving between rooms with glass walls. They walk to the back left of the floor where there are two women and one man looking over a sleeping patient's vitals. Regina knocks on the glass and the occupants except for the unconscious man look up.
Dr. Whale says something to the two women before handing them the chart he'd been holding. He steps out of the room and the door closes behind him as he slips his pen into his breast pocket. "Regina," He nodded to the Mayor. "You must be Ms. Swan." Connor extends his hand to the blonde.
Emma looked around the area and was pulled away from her observations by the sound of her name being said. Turning to the doctor she notices M.D. then C. Whale on his lab coat. "Dr. Whale." She grasped his hand and shook it firmly.
He smiled at Emma, glancing at Regina after he'd released the blonde's hand. "Why don't you ladies follow me to my office?" He extended his arm, corralling the two to his office which is directly down the hall from this section of the hospital.
"So, how many people know who I am?" Emma asked under her breath as she leaned towards Regina while they walked to Dr. Whale's office.
"Why, would you rather no one know who you are? Ashame "
Emma immediately cuts in. She's not ashamed of being Henry's birth mother. "No, I just keep a low profile. I like to know who knows me." And what they know. It was easier to keep herself safe that way. "Why are you trying to put words in my mouth?" Emma hissed, stepping away from Regina so Dr. Whale could unlock the door to his office.
Once at his office, Connor unlocked the door and held it open for both women. His eyes stayed on and followed Emma into the room admiring the hug of her jeans. "Please, take a seat." Connor gestured to the two available seats in front of his desk as he took the seat behind it.
"So Doc," Emma leans forward in her seat right away, "Maybe you can answer some of my questions."
"Sure, of course." Connor leans back in his seat his hands lax on his desk. "What questions do you "
"What does the kid have?"
Dr. Whale blinked, "I'm sorry, what?"
"Why does the kid "
"Henry " Regina interrupted.
Emma rolled her eyes, "Why does Henry need the transplant? What does he have? Illness wise? What organ am I giving up and how do you know I'ma match?"
Connor looked to Regina, confused. "What exactly " He looked back to Emma, " do you know, Ms. Swan?" Because it seemed like she didn't know anything at all.
"Besides that without this transplant Henry's going to die? Not much."
Dr. Whale turned accusing eyes back to Regina. For her part Regina put her hands on either arm of the small chair, crossed her legs, and leaned back, uncaring. She was trying to be as imposing as she could be. "There was very little time to explain much of anything, Dr. Whale. So please, be my guest, explain to Ms. Swan everything." Better you than me.
Dr. Whale cleared his throat, knowing the Mayor's tone did not bode well for him. "Right, right. Well to start." He pulled at his collar a little. "Henry has liver cancer. Rare in children but we found a small tumor on his liver. We did a biopsy of it and found it was malignant. It was cancerous. We started Henry on chemotherapy and then removed it. I diagnosed it as Hepatoblastoma."
Emma nodded suddenly having trouble swallowing. "How uh how old?"
"He was six." Regina informed Ms. Swan, looking at the wall behind Connor's head rather than the woman sitting beside her. It was hard enough hearing Connor talk about this. It was like it was all happening right in front of her all over again.
Waking Henry up one morning for school and hearing him moan as he rolled around in bed complaining of a back ache, and an upset stomach. She had thought he just wanted to get out of going to school because he had a spelling test that he was nervous about. However she'd sat on the edge of the bed, touched his head to placate her own worry and his acting only to feel a fever. She asked him where his back hurt and where his stomach hurt. He was sore to the slightest touch on his stomach and said his lower back hurt. She let him stay home and called in sick for the day. She took his temperature and made him toast for his upset stomach. She laid with him in the living room watching his favorite cartoons as he snuggled with Mr. Brownie. Not an hour after eating it he'd gotten sick. She called his pediatrician and he told her that the stomach flu was going around and that it was probably just a 24 hour bug. He told her not to even bother coming in.
When the 24 hour bug didn't go away for 48 hours and Henry complained of more pain she took him to the hospital. Dr. Whale had been about to send Henry home when he did an exam of Henry's stomach and found it bloated and hard to the touch. He had an ultrasound done and a CAT scan. Four hours later he came back as Regina sat in Henry's bed with him reading him the book he had to read for homework. Dr. Whale had pulled her out of the room to tell her that they'd found a tumor on the scans. Regina can remember feeling like she was going to be sick at the word tumor. Dr. Whale said they needed to do a biopsy, and she had never expected it to come back cancerous. Never had she thought fate would be that cruel. She had looked into the room at Henry holding Mr. Brownie and reading the book to the stuffed bear in her absence and cursed Fate for being so cruel.
"Six " Emma breathed blinking, unbelieving. "What why do you still need me?"
"Uhmm " Dr. Whale sighed, telling all of this to one distraught woman was one thing. Telling it to another was something new altogether. "We watched him for several months very closely. There were no signs of the tumor and he wasn't feeling ill. He was in what we call remission because two years later we found another tumor on a different portion of his liver. This one was a bit larger. We did another biopsy of course and then used chemo therapy to try and shrink it before we operated. We also took a bit of his liver out with the surgery as well. He was fine for a few months but when we tested the portion of the liver we had taken out we found cancerous cells in the tissue of the liver." Dr. Whale looked away nervously, playing with the folder on his desk for a moment, opening it and closing it. "I had been wrong. I diagnosed Henry with Hepatoblastoma when he actually had Hepatocellular carcinoma."
"What's the difference?" Emma asked, she could hardly even pronounce these words let alone wrap her mind around the fact that her kid HAD these cancers.
"Hepatocellular carcinoma is a rare disease but it's the most common primary cancer of the liver in children. It's when cancerous cells are found in the very tissue of a child's liver. It's usually found in children between the ages of one and fifteen. It usually presents itself around the child's twelfth birthday. So in theory we were lucky that we caught it so quickly. The only reason we did was because of the tumor pressing on Henry's stomach causing him a great deal of pain. But I had thought it to be hepatoblastoma because it only presented as a cancerous tumor. It is also more responsive to chemotherapy and surgery. Hepatocellular carcinoma is not. There wasn't anything to suggest that it went farther than the single tumor. At least not at that time. Not with the results we got back from the CBC, ultrasound, biopsy."
Regina still couldn't look at Connor or Ms. Swan. She was too busy grasping the arms of the chair until her knuckles turned white. She had been ready to murder the 'good doctor' when he told her that he had misdiagnosed her son. If they had known from the beginning that they were facing hepatocellular carcinoma they would have been looking for a donor sooner, doing more extensive chemotherapyeven though chemotherapy was not known to work well for this particular disease.
"So then how did you found out it was this Hepo-celular carcous-onoma "
"Hepa-ta-cellular car-sin-oma." Regina annunciated for Ms. Swan.
"During one of one of Henry's check-ups we found that the tumors had spread to another part of his liver. Chemotherapy wasn't giving us the results we were hoping for. He cleared his throat, "After another surgery to remove the tumor on his liver it was decided that "
Emma looked between Dr. Whale and Regina, "That what? What?!"
"There was nothing they could do. The cancer had metastasized, it had spread to his abdomen and they feared it would reach his lungs in a few weeks' time." Regina answered, her eyes distant. "They used the word " Regina felt a blockage fill her throat that she forced away. "..the word."
"Terminal" Dr. Whale supplied, seeing Regina's hardship. "We tried to get Regina to accept that there was nothing else we could do "
Emma turned to Regina and saw how tense she was, the muscle in her neck tight as the view bulged. "If-if he's if there's nothing that can be done then " why am I here?
"Oh no, he's in critical condition right now but there is hope."
Emma spun her head back to Dr. Whale. "How!?" With all they were telling her, Henry had no chance in hell, but now he did? How? By what miracle?
"The chemo, extensive and a first attempt at a liver transplant. The tumors were removed and he was doing well with the transplant."
"But the cancerous cells had spread " Emma whispered out of breathe as she leaned back in her seat. It was like riding a roller coaster with all these ups and downs.
"We used concentrated radiation with the chemotherapy and, honestly? It was a miracle it worked."
Then Emma realized something. "First attempt at a transplant."
Connor nodded his head sadly, "He rejected it. The immunosuppressant didn't work. After three weeks he was showing signs of rejection. He rejected the partial transplant just two and a half weeks ago. Without another transplant he'll die. He has half a liver, which would be enough for someone who wasn't as susceptible to infection as he is right now and the fact is he needs another liver all together. We plan to take the remaining part of his liver out completely and give him half of well yours."
Emma shook, nodded, and rolled her head around unsure what to do or say to this. "The match for the first transplant, they couldn't do it again so you went looking for me and the kid's "
"Henry!" Regina bit out, tired of Emma referring to Henry as 'kid'. He had a name! She would not allow Emma to distance herself from Henry by not saying his name. She would say his name and know it and accept that she was now his only hope. It was the only way to ensure she did not run away. She could not skirt this particular responsibility. Regina would not let her.
" father." Emma figured that out on her own. If they had just done the transplant a month and a half ago the other person's liver wouldn't have regenerated enough to be viable to give a full half. Emma wondered why they simply didn't just take all of Henry's liver out to begin with if it was so malignant. "How'd you get into my records? How do you know if I'm a match?"
Dr. Whale seemed uncomfortable and was busy looking at his desk instead of Emma's eyes. Seeing he wasn't going to answer Emma turned to Regina. "Well ?"
"I had a friend hack into your medical files. I found that in your, stay in "
"Yeah " Emma bit out.
"You'd been injured."
Emma shuddered, yes she'd been injured. She'd gotten a shiv to her chest. Thankfully nothing major had been nicked. It was also right before she was released and right before she'd had Henry. She had to be given suppressants to keep her from going into labor during the traumatic experience. Emma didn't like to think about her time behind bars. Especially when she knew that attach had been orchestrated from the outside. It was why she was always on the move.
"You got my records from then, wonderful. So you can get closed adoption files AND adolescent criminal records."
"Criminal?" Dr. Whale asked, shocked.
"Juvie, Doctor. Wrongly convicted."
Emma was surprised to find the Mayor defending her, in a way at least. 'Where were you when I was facing those charges?'
"Oh my apologies." He didn't seem very apologetic if Emma really thought about it. But at least now he wasn't looking at her breasts when he thought she wasn't looking.
"Yeah, that's why the files were sealed." That wasn't actually true. They were sealed because she served her time and was released. It was just a dig at the nosy Mayor. Who shouldn't have gone digging where she wasn't supposed to, to begin with.
"Point taken." Regina forfeited, for now. "Are there any other questions you would like answered?"
"Yeah, who was the person who gave up their liver the first time around? How are they doing? What exactly is going to happen after you take half my liver? What's the recovery time? Instructions and all that?"
"Why would you want to know who was the first donor?" Regina asked, looking sideways at Ms. Swan.
"Oh, I don't know because whoever it is gave up part of their organ to save m your kid?" Emma replied, the 'duh' intoned.
"Those records are private. I'm sorry to say that I "
"Oh please, if you won't tell me I'm sure if I go around asking someone around this town is going to give up the information. With the way everyone watches everyone else and gossips? The whole town has to know. So what's the harm in telling me in person now instead of me asking "
"Her name is Ms. Blanchard." Regina gave, just to make her stop talking. "Mary Margaret Blanchard. She would be Henry's fourth grade school teacher if he attended the private school here in town."
"He's not going to school."
"No, obviously he cannot handle that, Ms. Swan. He has been home schooled for the last two years. It was un-conducive to his recovery to be in school around sick children while his immune system was compromised."
"Right, right, so about that procedure and recover---hey wait a second " Emma holds up her hand, "Mary Margaret? Short black hair, pale white skin? Kinda reserved and quiet?"
Regina's eyes widened, "Yes, how did you ?" Her brow furrowed.
"Met her this morning at Granny's Diner." Emma leaned back in her seat and stuck her hands into her jacket. "Small world."
"Small town," Dr. Whale supplied. The comment earned him a grin from Emma and a scowl from Regina.
"Quite " Regina looked at Dr. Whale and noticed he was a bit nervous, more so than he had been a moment before. "I believe Ms. Swan asked about the procedure and the recovery time."
"Well there are still a few tests that we're going to have to run. I'm also going to have to ask you some questions, personal in nature, and once I've determined if it's best for everyone involved we'll schedule the surgery."
Regina glared. She didn't like the sound of 'best for everyone involved' and the way he stressed this fact.
"Great, so what kind of tests you gonna run doc? No time to be wasting, right?"
"No, no there isn't." Regina smiled at that, watching as Ms. Swan stood from her seat and waited for Dr. Whale to do the same. It comforted her to see how eager Ms. Swan suddenly was to get everything done that she needed to get done to help Henry. She stood up as well and followed the two out of the office.
"Regina, if you'd like you can go home and see Henry and then come back. These tests will most likely take up the rest of the afternoon."
Regina looked between Connor and Emma before nodding. She looked at her watch and saw it was nearly eleven. She promised Henry that she would be back for lunch today. She had been planning on bringing Connor along with her as well as Graham. Now, it seemed like she wouldn't need to bring the good doctor around. There might be hope left to cling to after all.
"Very well. Call my cell when you've finished. I will pick Ms. Swan up then."
"I can just call a cab or something." Emma offered, really not feeling like going anywhere in a car with Regina again.
"Nonsense. I will need to be here to review the results of the exams anyway so it will be no problem for me to drive you back to Granny's."
"Honestly Mayor I can justa"
"I will be back here after the exams and that is final Ms. Swan."
Emma pulled her hands up in surrender. "Alright, see you then. Tell the kid "
"What, tell Henry what, Ms. Swan?"
Emma shrugged, shrinking away at the ferocity of the woman in front of her. "Nothing, never mind."
Regina nodded pleased with that answer. She would not tell Henry anything Ms. Swan had to say. Not yet. "Call me when she is finished."
Dr. Whale offered a smile and a curt nod, "Of course."
Looking Ms. Swan over once more Regina turned and left the two standing in the hallway. She had a standing lunch date with her son to get to.
Emma and Dr. Whale both watched Regina leave. Once she was around a corner and they could no longer see her Emma turned to the good doctor. "So, we doing this or not?"
"Yes, yes, follow me."
'Lunch For Henry'
Regina pulled up to Granny's diner and parked in the back parking lot next to a rundown yellow Volkswagen. Grimacing at the old little car Regina leaned over the seat and grabbed her purse. Digging through the black bag she pulled out her iPhone and hit 2 and then send. The phone only rang three times before it was picked up.
"Hey Regina," There was another voice on the other end of the phone but Regina could not make out what was being said. "Where are you? What's your ETA?" Kathryn asked from the other end of the phone.
Regina rolled her eyes, "You have been spending far too much time with Graham. ETA?" Regina emphasized, enjoying the sound of Kathryn's laugh mingling with Henry's in the background. "I assume I am on speaker."
"Yes," Henry continued to giggle, "Hi mom!" It warmed Regina's heart to hear how excited Henry was, how joyful. "Where are you? You still coming home for lunch like you said?"
"Of course I am. I did give you my word after all."
"Great!" Regina knew that Henry was smiling.
"I have decided to give both Kathryn and I a break today, Henry. What would you both like from Granny's."
"Granny's!?" Henry squealed and Regina could imagine him looking between Kathryn and the phone as if he'd just been told he could go out and play baseball again. Regina had not let Henry have Granny's for some time. He was on a strict diet and although he still was she knew that he could afford to have something from Granny's as well.
"Yes, Henry, Granny's. Must you make me repeat myself?" There was no irritation in Regina's tone, even if she did roll her eyes.
The laughter that came through the small speaker of her phone eased her mind. Henry knew her well enough to know she was joking with him. Had she not been her tone would have been far more harsh. "Can I have soup, yet?"
"You can have chicken broth with some chicken but no vegetables." Kathryn and Regina reminded the young boy at the same time.
"Ohhh fine. Maybe maybe some toast with Granny's homemade jam?"
"I shall see when she made it. If it was not made today thena"
"Not even from yesterday? She usually makes it at night on Sunday's. Today's Monday. Please " Henry begged through the phone and Regina didn't have the heart to deny him this.
"Yes, well if she made it last night then you may have some toast with the jam on it. How is your stomach?" This question was directed more to Kathryn then it was to Henry.
Henry merely groaned, and Regina knew that it has been a rough morning for her son and yet somehow he seemed excited over something. What that something was Regina did not know. She had planned to talk to Henry about about Regina felt her throat close at just the thought of talking to Henry about what he would like to do for what would be the last few weeks of his life. Now, with Ms. Swan here, there was no need to have such a horrifying conversation.
"He's been fine for the last hour and a half. However after breakfast we had a bit of a reappearance." Kathryn let Regina know as softly as she could.
Regina sighed softly, knowing how tired Henry was of being unable to keep down the simplest of things. "Soup and some toast will not be such a bad idea then, would it?"
"No, the chicken broth would probably do him well. Some crackers as well but we already have plenty of those. The toast with no butter and only a scrape or two of the jam."
"See, mom! Even Nurse Kathryn thinks it's okay to have some of the jam."
"Yes well if Nurse Kathryn thinks it's alright who am I to object?"
"Well, you are the Mayor "
"Nooo! Ms. Nolan ." Henry objected scandalized. "Traitor. You're supposed to be on my side. Don't go giving her any ideas she'll change her mind!" Henry objected horrified that Kathryn had seemingly betrayed him. The shock was clearly heard over the line, Regina could just picture his mouth falling slack before he pouted at Kathryn, who was a sucker for Henry's puppy dog eyes.
"She is the cat's mother." Regina reminded with the age old saying.
Kathryn laughed while Henry grumbled on the other end of the phone. "Graham called as well, Gina. He will be a bit late so he said not to wait for him to start eating."
"Oh, something wrong?" That she should be made aware of? She'd been going easy on Sherriff Graham for the last two years, like she had for everyone. Her attention span was split unequally on the town matters and her personal matters with Henry. She'd hate to see that anyone was taking advantage of that like some had last year. Those who had had been dealt with swiftly.
"No, nothing that he said was a big concern. Something about Mr. Gregson and Mrs. Cole arguing about property lines again."
"Those two will never stop bickering over that fence, will they?"
Kathryn sighed, "I guess not. I'm just glad that Mr. Franklin hasn't ever complained about my overgrown bushes."
"Well, he wouldn't, now would he?" The edge in her voice made it clear that if Mr. Franklin ever saw fit to try and cause any form of trouble for Kathryn he'd find himself subjected to very uncomfortable interviews with both Graham and her.
"Regina, he's a seventy year old man who has an obsession with lawn knombs."
"Which in and of itself is "
" creepy!" Henry chimed in. Regina was almost startled to hear his voice; she hadn't realized he was still there.
"Henry!" Kathryn scolded, even while Regina refrained. She couldn't agree more with her son. Mr. Franklin was a bit of a creepy old man that resembled a gremlin probably because his mother had been part gremlin.
"Whether Mr. Franklin is creepy or not is up for debate. However that is a debate we shall need to have at another time. Kathryn, what may I get you for lunch?"
"Oh, you don't have to get me "
The woman sighed, "BLT on whole wheat bread, toasted, no mayo."
"There, was that so hard?" Regina inquired as she grabbed her purse and opened the car door but did not leave the vehicle just yet.
"No I suppose not. So we should expect you in "
"Awesome! See you soon then mom."
Kathryn and Regina both waited a moment. "He's doing well but he's very tired. He's also hungry but he was afraid to eat anything after getting sick. I'm surprise he was even able to sound as excited as he was. He wasn't well enough to do lessons today." Kathryn confided in her friend and employer. Henry was safely tucked away back in the living room nestled in his favorite recliner with Mr. Brownie and a cartoon on. "His fever's back and I put a shot of antibiotics in his IV drip this morning. It should help with the fever but it'll make him a little bit more nauseas."
Regina sighed, pinching the bridge of her nose. This was the second day in a row that Henry had been unable to keep down his breakfast. However he usually did better with lunch and it varied with dinner. "I'd hate to have to put him back on a fluids only diet." Then again if the surgery were to take place soon he would need to be on a no solids diet for 36 hours before the surgery.
"Let's not jump the gun. We'll see how he does with lunch and dinner tonight. If he can't keep anything down then we'll move him to apple sauce and Jell-O again. How uhm is Dr. Whale coming to join us?" Kathryn's voice was nothing but a whisper with her question about Dr. Whale.
Regina couldn't help the hopeful smile that spread across her face, "No, Dr. Whale is busy with a patient at the hospital today. There is no need for him to join us until later. The conversation we will be having with Henry today has also changed in topic."
"OH?" Kathryn sounded surprised and Regina could tell, hopeful, just like she was.
"Yes, it appears that Ms. Swan is not as heartless as I believed her to be."
"You mean she's gotten in touch with you? She'll do the transplant?" The excitement was hardly contained on Kathryn's end, but Regina was glad for it. She herself hadn't allowed herself to feel that relieved excitement just yet, it would be nice to live vicariously through Kathryn's. For now.
"Better than just getting in touch with me, Kathryn. She has arrived in Storybrooke. She is currently occupying Dr. Whale's time running some tests to ensure that all is well for the transplant."
Kathryn was silent for several seconds. Regina knew this news was shocking to the other woman; it had shocked her as well. "She's you mean what does...oh my god Regina that's amazing! If she's here and everything turns out okay then the transplant can happen no later than Saturday if all checks out and"
"If the transplant is successful then Henry will only need to go to checkups and we'll be even more vigilant about the immunisopresants but with the transplant coming from his mother it will be less of a chance of rejection "
"Especially if Dr. Whale decides to do the bone marrow injection as well. It will lessen the chance of rejection by 78%...it's uncommon but with what happened last time "
"Kathryn!" Regina stopped the other woman from hyperventilating with all the possibilities. "We will tell Henry about Emma's appearance. We will not tell him about the possibility of a transplant until after Dr. Whale has assured us that such a procedure will be taking place."
"Right, right, of course, I'm sorry I just got"
"I understand." Yes, she understood more than anyone could imagine. "Please refrain from telling Henry anything until I return home. I would still like it if you and Graham are present during this conversation."
It would be hard to tell Henry that his biological mother was in town. She had been forced to tell Henry about his adoption when he was seven years old. One of the nurses had spoken out of turn about how she was not a match for his blood type and the smart boy that he was wanted to know how that could be. He had never thought to question whether or not he had been born from her 'tummy' until that day. Henry had asked about his biological mother but for the most part and afterwards he had been very distant from her.
Regina had been devastated when he pulled away from her and would rather talk to Kathryn or Graham instead of her. It was when she invested in Henry's sessions with Dr. Hopper. The sessions helped a great deal, whatever animosity that Henry had felt towards her for adopting him, not having told him, and being unable to help him in his time of need had been addressed quickly and hopefully would save mother and son many years of possibly hostility.
"Of course. We'll see you soon."
"Yes, you will." Regina hung up and took a deep breath. Praying to whichever deity might be listening to grant her this miracle, to ensure the health of her son. He deserved so much more than what he had been given here. She wanted to give him the world and she could hardly give him ten years of life.
Locking the door she pulled her purse against her chest and stepped out of the car. Walking into Granny's she noticed there was a small lunch rush scattered around the tables. Granny was behind the counter looking over some books while Ruby and Claire split the tables in half. Regina didn't bother taking a seat, she went right to the register to place her order. Regina only needed to wait a minute before Ruby was behind the counter offering a smile, nervous as it might be.
"Afternoon Mayor, how can I help you today?"
"Good afternoon Ruby. I need a takeout order, as fast as the chefs can make it."
Ruby nodded, pen and pad in hand. "Sure thing. What can I get you?"
"I need a B.L.T. on whole wheat bread, toasted, no mayo." Ruby 'uh huhed' as she wrote it down. "A grilled chicken salad with your light Caesar dressing." Another head bob before Ruby looked up to meet Regina's eyes. "And your chicken broth, only a small amount of chicken, NO vegetables." Ruby swallowed, nodding. She knew who that order was for. "Also, white bread lightly toasted with a scrape or two of your grandmother's homemade jam. ONLY if it was made within the last 24 hours and not more than two spreads."
"It was made last night. Is ?"
Ruby nodded, wrote down the order and then dared to ask, "How ah, how is Henry?" Ruby was as gentle as she could be with the question.
Regina once would have taken offense to the innocent question. Her ire would rise for no reason at all, but not now. Ruby had never meant harm in asking after Henry. No, Ruby was genuinely concerned and curious. Ruby and Granny had been two of Henry's constant visitors while he was in the hospital. The two Wolfs' were two of a good half dozen that always visited Henry in the hospital. Mary Margaret, Ashley, Kathryn, Graham and even Mr. Gold visited Henry while staying overnight for procedures or exams.
Regina had never been comfortable with Mr. Gold visiting Henry. She made sure that whenever Gold went to visit the nurse stayed in the room and called her. He was never allowed to be with Henry alone. As scared as everyone in town was of Gold, no one wanted to face her when she was protecting her son. Her wrath would be swifter and harder than even Mr. Gold could deliver.
Graham and Kathryn related Regina to a mamma bear and a lioness. They still hadn't come up with a moniker that they liked best in combining the two animals together. She dreaded the day that they did.
"He's doing as good as can be expected."
Ruby sighed, seeing the frown lines around Regina's mouth as she commented on Henry's health. "I'll make sure to put a rush on this." Ruby held up the slip of paper as he walked briskly to the kitchen.
"Thank you." Regina whispered as she looked down at the counter. Her thoughts consumed by the possible futures that she and Henry were faced with.
What if's were how she once lived. There needed to be contingency plans, plan B's while an Evil Queen. When battling against the 'light' a woman like her had to be prepared. There was a slight snag here. In this world there was no magic to fall back on. No potions or spells that could save the day at the last second. She'd already given up the last of her magic, the last relic of her old life, to give Henry a partial miracle.
Regina's hand moved to her neck where there no longer was a simple chain with a ring dangling from it. Daniel, her lover, the love of her life, had given her so many years ago had never left that chain that dangled it above her heart. It hadn't left until she'd needed the magic that remained attached to it. The pain of giving up one love to save her new love hadn't even been a conscious decision. It had been simple. There was no pain not until after she realized what she had given up to save her son.
She loved Daniel. Had loved him with an innocence and purity that she no longer contained. She was far from the innocent and her purity had been tainted red and then black long before she had even come to Storybrooke. Daniel would always be her true love, but Henry was her happy ending.
There should have been a whole in her heart, a consequence of the curse. For the longest time it had seemed like nothing could fill the void Maleficent warned her of when she stole back Rumpelstiltskin's curse. She was right. Damn that blonde haired fairy, she had been right. There had been years where Regina could feel nothing at all. No anger or pain, no hatred or despise. In all those years though she had felt a burning, a flame inside her that longed for something she didn't have. For the longest time she thought the longing had been for Daniel, for further revenge, but what was there to take revenge on here: A poor meek woman who had nothing but her job and a scattering of friends?
No, even Regina could not bring herself to harm Mary Margaret any more than she already had. Everything Snow had ever wanted, had ever loved, was taken from her. The joy she thought she'd feel in that never came. How could she feel joy over it? Mary Margaret was content in her life because she did not even realize all that she had lost. A side effect of the curse she had not considered.
It seemed ironic that she realized what she was missing while she passed the private school here in town and watched as Mary Margaret waved to the children leaving her for their parents. It was the same thing that had been missing when she went to the White Castle and found Snow cradling James not a child, a daughter, a little girl.
Regina spent years searching for the young Princess that had escaped through that blasted wardrobe. It did not matter that the child was meant to destroy her. How could she leave that little girl alone? Punishment to Snow was one thing but that child had been innocent. That child was Regina's second chance at a happy ending. What better revenge than to raise the child of her enemy right in front of her?
Regina had only given up on ever finding that little girl when she would have been too old. Too much time had passed, sixteen years to be exact, not that time moved relatively well here in Storybrooke. It was after those sixteen years that Regina began considering adoption of another child, a male child. With Gold's help she adopted Henry only two weeks after he'd been born. There had been a worry that Henry would be a crack baby, or addicted to any number of illegal drugs as his mother had been incarcerated while pregnant. When he passed all his blood tests she'd been able to adopt him and with him the burning longing faded.
It did not disappear completely. There was still something wrong. The happiness and joy she felt at watching Henry take his first steps or the astonishment and elation she'd felt when he first called her mom or pride when he went to the bathroom all on his own wasn't right. There was something wrong with it. She felt it but almost as if she felt it from a distant, like she was sharing someone else's happiness or pride. It was in those moments that she realized how deeply this curse affected her. She would never truly be happy because she didn't have the ability to be so.
It was why when she was questioned about her love for Henry, how she raised him, she became incensed. It was like Mary Margaret could tell that something was wrong with her even when it was impossible for her to know. It hadn't been until Henry had become ill, and the fierceness she had always held and tried to contain deep within herself while here in Storybrooke was released. She damned everyone and everything for this misfortune but she also strove longer and harder than anyone thought she could to find Henry a cure. She sat with him until the sun rose in an uncomfortable chair and held his hand to keep away the nightmares. She canceled meetings and sent her regards to those functions she had never once missed before. She cried at night when no one could hear her over the pain her son felt and pain she could not take from him. She went to work bleary eyed and exhausted and still ran Storybrooke to a T even though she had two full time jobs with her responsibilities to the town and to Henry.
It was when Regina even began to say she would not run for Mayor in the next election that people really started to realize how devoted she was to her son, as if everything she'd ever done before Henry had become sick hadn't mattered. She wanted more than anything to love Henry and when she gave up Daniel for Henry she knew that she did. She loved Henry more than she could ever imagine loving anyone even with the whole and darkness still wrapped around her heart. Henry had snuck his way into her heart and she'd be damned if she ever let him out.
Regina snapped her head to see Granny standing at the register, Ruby behind her with two plastic bags, one with two brown paper bags inside it and the other white containers. "Ye " Regina cleared her throat, "Yes?"
"Are you alright?" Granny asked gently. Regina recoiled, of course she was alright why wouldn't she be alright!? "It's just " Granny continued, "You're crying."
Regina blinked and brought her hands up to her face, shocked to feel tears on her cheeks. Clearing her throat again she turned away from where some of the patrons were staring at her, her back to them as she wiped at her cheeks. She was mortified. She hadn't even realized she'd been crying in public!
Granny quickly offered her a napkin that she used to wipe away the remnants of her tears. Thankfully her mascara hadn't run and her makeup was intact. She nodded her thanks to the older woman, "I I don't know what came over me." Of course she did, she just wasn't about to admit it to anyone.
Granny looked sympathetically at her. If there had been an ounce of pity in her look Regina was sure she would have decapitated the woman verbally of course. However there was true sympathy in the woman's eyes and understanding. Granny knew better than anyone the pain of watching someone you love, your own child, sufferin this life and in their last.
"Your food " Ruby offered, hoping to break the tension as she put the bags down in front of Regina and offered a smile.
"Thank you, how much do I owe you?" Regina asked as she pulled out her wallet and waited for a price.
"Nothing." Regina and Ruby both looked at Granny a bit shocked. "It's on the house."
"No, that's, I am more than capable of paying for this."
"Oh, I know you are and trust me I won't be doing this often." Granny agreed with Regina even as she pushed the bags a little bit further towards the Mayor. "But consider it an apology."
"Apology?" Regina had no idea what Granny had to be sorry for.
"Yes, for whatever trouble Ms " Granny stumbled realizing she didn't know Emma's last name, "Emma has given you."
"You know about her?"
Ruby dropped her head, she'd hoped that Emma hadn't been the cause of the Mayor's troubles but she'd never seen Regina cry. In the last four years not once had she seen Regina cry. She knew the woman did cry because she'd sometimes see her with bloodshot eyes and red rims around them but she'd never witnessed it. Until today.
"She asked where your office was. I gave her directions. If I knew she would have caused you trouble I never would have sent her your way. You don't need any more stress than you already have. I'm sorry if she did something."
Regina stood staring, shocked to her core at how eager Ruby and Granny seemed to be to help her. Or wish to make up for not helping her. "She hasn't caused me trouble well much trouble." Regina admitted with a shake of her head at the thought of the blonde. "I do appreciate your offer but I feel I would be taking advantage of you if I did not at least pay something."
Granny wasn't sure she believed Regina hadn't had more trouble with Ms. Swan. "Very well. Ten dollars."
Regina rolled her eyes but took out the ten and another one from her wallet. She pushed that across the countertop to Ruby. "Thank you, Madame Mayor." The brunette took the bill before her Grandmother could tell her otherwise.
"You're welcome Ruby. Don't be afraid to send people to my office. I'm hardly there as it is. Judy is more than capable of handling anyone I cannot." She grinned, "Not that I can't handle anyone." The nervous smiles from both Wolf women made Regina calm, she hadn't lost her touch. Her smirk could still strike fear into those she needed it to. "Have a pleasant day."
Regina left to both women offering her a good day as well. With a softening smile on her face, Regina knew that today would be a good day. It had to be.
'Lunch With Henry'
"She's home!" Henry heard called out from the hallway. He'd asked Kathryn to watch for his mom. She was late. It was five minutes past the time she said she would be home. That wasn't like his mother. Kathryn had tried to insist he not worry so much that it would just make him sicker but it didn't work. He was still worried. He sat in his favorite recliner with Mr. Brownie snuggled up against the side of the chair, his legs curled up behind him. The foot rest of the recliner wasn't even up because he was still able to fit on the seat itself.
Henry's eyes brightened as he waited for his mother to come in to greet him. She'd ask him where they were going to have lunch. It used to be that they had to eat at the kitchen table or dining room table no matter what but now she let him decide. He could eat in here while listening to musicshe drew the line at watching televisionor they could eat at the kitchen table or dining room table.
He was glad that his mom always came to him now because he didn't have enough energy to go say hello to her in the front hall and then walk back here to the living room only to walk somewhere else later. He saved his energy for what was important; like his needed trips to the bathroom. He hated throwing up into the basin that sat at the side of the recliner more than he hated doctor's appointments. And he really hated doctor's appointments.
Henry offered a small tired smile as his mother walked into the living room. The smell from the bag she held made his stomach turn even as it growled. That, sadly, was the norm for him. He was hungry but he wasn't sure if he could keep anything down.
The food smelled delicious, it reminded him of the Sunday breakfasts he used to have every week with his mom. He liked those Sundays. They'd do whatever her wanted for the day. It was the one day a week that he never had to share his mom with anyone. They'd go to Granny's for breakfast and sometimes even lunch but then they'd come back home because even while off duty there was always something or someone that needed his mom's attention. Sundays were his day. They still were, even if he had a doctor's appointment or wasn't feeling well. It was just him and his mom. Unless he asked for Graham or nurse Kathryn to join them.
Today wasn't Sunday though and today wasn't his day alone with his mom. Today was just another weekday. He knew it was a special one though. He could tell. His mom was going to tell him that it was time.
They had talked about it once before.
He was a smart kid, everyone said so. He could read people well. He knew the deeper meanings to certain actions, meanings that other kids missed sometimes.
When things had gotten bad.
Worse than when he'd caught pneumonia that one winter, he had asked his mom if it was time.
She hadn't understood what he was talking about. He was coming in and out of consciousness. He was weak. His voice soft. Softer than a whisper. He forced a smile. He stared into his mom's eyes and took her hand.
And he asked her if it was time for him to leave. 'The hospital?' she'd asked. He'd shook his head and stared at her, his eyes trying to find something in her very soul. She whimpered a broken sob as she realized what he was talking about.
Death. Was it time for him to die, to go to heaven? Was it time to stop fighting and finally rest?
She told him that it wasn't time. That it wasn't his time. She promised that when it was his time, when it was time to stop, she'd tell him. He made her swear on her favorite thing in the world, (he'd thought it was her car, he never realized she'd sworn it on his life) that if the time came that he had to stop fighting came, she'd tell him to his face. She made the promise. She swore on her favorite thing in the world and he'd fallen asleep. He fell asleep to the sound of her promises that if it was time, she'd tell him and the gentle swipe of her thumb moving back and forth across his hand. She'd sobbed, without tears, and held his hand and rested her head on his shoulder for a long time after that.
Today was going to be the day that she told him it was time. He could tell. The way she had looked at him last night, the way she had cried in her sleep, he sighed. It was time. She just didn't know how to tell him but she'd promised him that she would. So she was going to tell him. He'd hoped that, well he'd hoped that the savior would come but she wasn't here and it was time. He wasn't afraid. Not anymore. He was ready. Ready for whatever the future held for him.
Except, she was smiling. She was giving him a bright smile as she made her way into the living room with the bag of food. Nurse Kathryn took the bag from her hands so she could come and sit next to him. That didn't make sense. He watched her carefully, wondering what was going on.
"Hello dear, how are you feeling?" He sighed exasperated; she always asked that even when she already knew the answer. Nurse Kathryn would give her updates on how he was feeling every day, every two hours on the hour. Still, he always answered her because he knew she was worried and wanted to hear how he was doing from him. Not someone else.
"Tired and achy. I was able to keep down breakfast though." He watched her smile widen, if that were possible, and followed her as she sat on the arm of the recliner he was resting in. She leaned over and gave his forehead a kiss, her hand sifting through his spiky practically none existent hair.
He'd had most of his hair shaved off before the transplant with Ms. Blanchard because he'd been losing it with the chemotherapy. It had started to grow back a little since the surgery though. Sadly with the new rounds of chemo started up again he knew he was probably going to lose it again.
He didn't mind so much. Not anymore. The first time he saw the hair on his pillow he was okay. The doctor had explained his hair would start to fall out, but that it was a good thing because then they knew the medicine, chemo, was working. He was young enough to believe the doctor who'd only been trying to make him feel better, to feel hopeful.
It wasn't until he was losing more and more hair by the day and the tumors weren't shrinking or they kept coming back that he'd been upset. He'd cried and thrown a fit worthy of a gold medal. He pulled out his IV, threw the IV pole with the bags of antibiotic and fluids to the ground, tore off the wires attached to his chest and even pushed his mom off the side of the hospital bed. He'd been so angry he'd pushed her right off the edge, she hadn't been expecting it and fell roughly to the ground but he hadn't cared, hadn't apologized. The nurses rushed in when his monitors 'flat-lined', so did Ruby and Ms. Blanchard who'd been there to visit him.
It was a fit he wasn't proud of. Not at all. He could still remember the heartbroken look on his mom's face as she stared up at him from the floor. The nurses were going to sedate him when she'd stood up and pushed them away from him. She had the scariest look on her face that he'd ever seen. She wouldn't let the nurses even consider 'sedating him like some animal'; her words exactly.
He hadn't seen how she was just trying to protect him. To give him this tantrum to let out his emotions and his fear and anger. He was just so angry all the time back then. He screamed at his mom the whole time. He told her it was her fault he was sick, her fault he wasn't getting better. He told her that he hated her.
And still, still, she went to him, let him beat against her chest, shoulders and even let him kick and slap her. She didn't let go of him. She wrapped her arms around him and told him how much she loved him, how sorry she was and how she promised to make this right. He'd calmed down enough to let the nurses and doctor's put back his IV and the heart monitor wires. All the while he clung to his mom and cried against her shoulder.
It wasn't long after that day that he started having regular sessions with Dr. Hopper.
That had been the first time he realized that he might not get one of the fairytale happily ever after endings like the people in Ms. Blanchard's books. It was also the ready why Ms. Blanchard presumably brought his new favorite book in to read to him instead. This book had different endings, deeper in-depth stories where good and evil both won sometimes. He liked this book more than the others because it seemed more real. In it bad things happened to good people and sometimes those bad things never went away, never got better. But in others? In others things got better, so much better.
"Well I have your toast."
"Fresh homemade jam." Kathryn announced as she walked into the living room with a tray full of their food.
"You sounded just like Granny " Henry giggled, even as he sat up straight knowing the tray was going to be put over the arms of his recliner so he could eat here.
"Well thank you, thank you " Nurse Kathryn bowed her head as if she were doing so for an audience. Then again, Henry thought he was a pretty decent audience since he even applauded and laughed at the theatrics.
His mom kissed his forehead again, rolling her eyes at their antics, before she stood up and let nurse Kathryn put the tray across the arms of the chair just like he knew she would. He scrunched his nose up at the salad and the sandwich with bacon on it. He hadn't had bacon in a long time and the smell of it made him sick to his stomach more so than a lot of other foods.
Both women took their lunches off the tray quickly, putting them down on the coffee table which they both kneeled in front of. His mom refused to buy snack tables, preferring that they either eat their meals in the kitchen at the counter or table or in the dining room. The trays were for special occasions when they wished to have breakfast in bed or they had been before.
Sipping slowly at his chicken broth he kept a close eye on the two women. Their conversation was simple. They talked about what the plans were for the rest of the week, how his mom wasn't going to be going into the office tomorrow and the upcoming elections for Mayor.
"So the election is coming up pretty soon. Any rumors about an opponent this time?"
"No, I think after the fiasco with Leroy that my office is safe."
"Oh that had been rather entertaining. Everyone truly thought he was going to stake a claim for a ballot. He slurred about it enough at Mikes." Nurse Kathryn shook her head as she grinned over the shared remembrance.
He couldn't remember a time when his mom wasn't the Mayor of Storybrooke and he figured that was because no one ever ran against her. No one here knew any different. Who else would be up to the job? Henry couldn't really think of anyone off the top of his head but then again he already knew why no one else ever ran against his mom.
He nibbled on his toast and jam, he'd finished almost all of the broth and was enjoying his treat as the topic moved away from politics and work towards medical things. He should have known it would go from one boring topic to the next. He played close attention to his mom as they talked about her supposed meeting with Mr. Whale, looking for any clue, any hint of what was to come. Instead of focusing on the meeting with Dr. Whale and explaining what the good doctor told her during the meeting like she always did she talked about how on the way to the hospital she nearly hit Charley Dalton with her car.
Odd. Usually after a solo visit to Dr. Whale he was learning what he could and couldn't do until his next checkup, which was now scheduled for tomorrow.
"Oh my, is " Nurse Kathryn gasped at the news of his mom's near miss.
"He was fine. Carla was more shaken up then he seemed to be."
"Well, thank goodness, he's alright." Nurse Kathryn truly seemed relieved over the turn of events. Henry was too, even if he was having a little trouble picturing who Charley Dalton was.
There was a knock at the door. "Who's that?" Henry wondered if he should have been expecting someone else.
"That should be Graham." Nurse Kathryn grinned as he hid his smile behind his toast. The way her eyes lit up at just the thought of seeing her boyfriend sometimes made him want to gag, but today it just seemed nice. He chanced a look at his mom and saw her roll her eyes as Kathryn stood up to get the door.
"Don't touch those dishes!" Kathryn warned from the doorway, stopping his mom cold in her half bent over position of grabbing up their dishes from lunch.
"She caught you." Henry giggled as his mom turned her head to give him a wink and a conspiratorial smirk.
"Well if she asks, you brought them inside."
He crossed his heart as he watched her leave the room with everyone's dishes except his tray and plate for the toast he was still munching on.
"Well, hello there young master Henry." Graham greeted as he stepped into the room. Henry noticed that Graham was almost as uncomfortable while in this house as Ms. Blanchard and Ms. Blanchard was hardly ever in the house for longer than a half an hour. Usually just to drop something off for him, chat, and then rush off because his mom made her nervous. His mom made a lot of people nervous. The only person who wasn't as nervous around his mom as everyone else was Kathrynshe'd stopped being nervous around mom around the time she practically moved into the houseand Mr. Gold.
"Sherriff! Did you bring me anything?" He asked as he noticed the brown drug store bag held in the Sherriff's hands.
"Henry!" Regina admonished as she stepped into the room dish free.
"What's this?" Nurse Kathryn asked as she pointed to the empty coffee table.
"An antique coffee table. I can show you where to buy one of your own, dear, if you'd like?"
"Hardy har har " Nurse Kathryn rolled her eyes as she sat down on the loveseat across from the couch and recliner. "Save it Mayor. I'm on to you."
"Did you hear that Watson? She's on to us." Regina gasped, a hand grasping her shirt above her heart as the other pressed the back of her palm against her forehead in exaggeration.
"Hey, how come I'm Watson?" Henry complained.
His mom squeezed his shoulder before taking the seat on the couch closest to his chair. "I'm sorry dear. You can be Sherlock next time."
Henry shrugged, turning back to Graham who was still standing a bit awkwardly at the far end of the coffee table. "So, did you get me anything?" he asked again with his biggest charming smile.
"Henry " His mom complained again.
"What, he has something from the drug store. Usually that means it is medicine or something cool for me."
"He does have a point, Regina."
"That is beside the point."
"I think that it's exactly the point. At least for Henry. Did you even notice that Graham was carrying something?"
"Of course I did."
"And when you saw it what did you think it was?"
His mom glared as Nurse Kathryn stole a glance at him to wink. He just finished off his toast while his mom and her best friendbecause Kathryn was her best friendbickered.
"I thought that it was something for Henry." His mom finally conceded.
Henry grinned as Kathryn leaned back against the back of the couch, as if to say, I rest my case.
"Ugh, hmm " Graham cleared his throat as he stiffly stepped up to Henry on his recliner and passed his the brown bag. "I hope this is the one you wanted."
Henry took the comic out of the bag slowly and gasped at the cover. He pulled the entire bag against his chest and nodded his head, "Yes, yes it is. Oh this is awesome! Mom look " Henry held out the comic to show his mom the colorful display of Ultimate Comics: X-Men.
"That's great, Henry." His mom offered a wide smile, even as the slight crease across her forehead told him she had no idea why this was such a great present. He sighed, not everyone could be a comic book fan. It wasn't one of the originals but it was the extended story arc after Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man series where Spider Man died in the final battle against Norman Osborn.
"Thanks Sherriff Graham!" Henry would have stood up and offered the Sherriff a big hug if he could. Hopefully his smile portrayed that.
"No problem bud. Let me know if it's any good."
"I will. I promise." He didn't waste any time, he opened the comic book to start reading right there.
"Henry, there's something that we need to talk about before you read that. Sherriff Graham doesn't have a lot of time before he goes back to the station." His mom began as she put a hand over his arm lowering the comic book.
He looked from his mom to the first page and then sighed. Wondering if he could somehow convince his mom to let him read this first. Seeing her incline her head a little and hold his gaze he knew he wasn't going to get to read this before they had a 'family' meeting. They didn't call them family meetings but Henry did. They might as well be called family meetings since Nurse Kathryn and Sherriff Graham were as integral to him as his mom sometimes. He closed the comic book and put it on his lap.
Nurse Kathryn took the lunch tray into the kitchen, giving him a minute along with his mom as Sherriff Graham followed her.
"It's about the test results, isn't it?" Henry asked softly, looking down at his fingers. His moms fingers moved across his own and grasped his hand gently. Looking up into her eye he didn't see the same sadness that he'd seen when Dr. Whale read off his numbers at his last appointment.
"In a way, yes it is about the test results."
He nodded, biting his bottom lip as he looked down at his lap. "Is it about your trip?"
There was a pause, "Yes, it is about my trip."
He squeezed his eyes closed. "You couldn't find her."
The sound of his mom gasping didn't surprise him. He wasn't supposed to know why she had left or where she had gone, but he did. He'd seen the directions to Boston left up on the computer browser the morning after she'd left. What had surprised him was the name of the woman his mom was looking for. Before the surgery he had asked Ms. Blanchard for a favor. He had asked for her help in finding his birth mother. He'd planned on going to find her and bring her back to Storybrooke himself. That was before. He'd hoped the transplant would be successful and he could bring her to Storybrooke to break the curse. But the transplant didn't go as well as they'd all hoped. He'd gotten her name.
Emma. Emma Swan.
It was the same name that was left on the post it on the desk. No, his mom hadn't left the post it there. But she'd written so hard on the top post-it that she'd left an indention of the name on the post-it beneath it.
"I know you went looking for my birth mother." He admitted as he looked up with only his eyes to judge his mom's reaction to his words. "I looked her up before the surgery. I wanted to go and find her."
"You I how " The devastation was clear upon his mom's face and he just wanted to make it go away. She'd had enough heartbreak in her life, a lot of it caused by him, she didn't need any more of it. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to make you upset. It wasn't anything bad. I just wanted to meet her. I thought, I thought that if she met me that that maybe she'd stay."
Regina stood up slowly from the couch, her back to Henry as she did. She didn't move far though, only a step away from him.
"Mom, I'm sorry!" He felt tears burn his eyes as he watched his mom's shoulders slump. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean anything bad by it. I just wanted to meet her. I wanted her to know me just in case." His shoulders fell in the same manner as his mom's had.
Just in case just in case
He didn't see his mom slowly turn around to look at him, her eyes glassy as she stared softly at him, her hands unclenching slowly at her side. Just in case
Her eyes closed for a moment and she took a deep breath. She had to accept that her son had gone looking for his birth mother. Whatever the underlying intentions were, he was aware that she had gone to see Ms. Swan, and he believed that she had not found her.
A part of her wanted to tell Henry that she had found Ms. Swan, that she'd begged the woman to come to Storybrooke with her to help him, and that she had refused. That she had left empty handed and completely destroyed in the wake of her failure. She wanted to make Ms. Swan seem like the selfish woman she had been. Not a woman to idolize or want to meet and to stay here and be a part of their lives.
"I, Henry its alright." Regina assured as efficiently as she could. It would be alright. This was something that she would need to speak with him about in detail, later. How could he know his birth mother's name? It had taken her a great deal of digging and a few favors to even have the records unsealed. What kind of resources did a ten year old boy have to grant him the knowledge before her?
"Is it ?" Henry asked his voice broken by his whimper.
"Yes, it's alright." Regina sat on the edge of his chair once again and pulled him against her and held him close, soothing him. "I'm not angry. I'm just surprised, and " She swallowed, " a little hurt. No," She stopped him from commenting or trying to explain his motives again. "No, I trust you, dear." She trusted that he had never meant to hurt her in actively looking for his birth mother.
Just in case
The words echoed in her mind as she dropped her nose to the top of Henry's head. She missed the way he used to smell. There was something about his scent now that lacked the brightness and excitement, the life, it'd once had before.
"That is something I also wish to speak with you about."
Henry sniffed as he used the back of his hand to wipe away the tears from his cheeks. "Ye..ah..?" He hiccupped a little.
"Yes." Regina took a moment to collect her thoughts. "One thing at a time."
"First, we have a newly scheduled appointment for you tomorrow morning with Dr. Whale."
Henry nodded. That wasn't something he didn't expect. He had been getting worse up until today, today was one of his good days. To have another appointment made sense to him. "Second, my trip was to Boston seeking out your birth mother."
"Did you find her?" He asked his eyes lighting up, the tiniest amount.
Regina looked to the side, away from his shining eyes. She heard Kathryn suck in a deep breath from behind her. Chancing a look over her shoulder she saw Kathryn and Graham standing in the doorway looking at them. Graham's hand on Kathryn's lower back.
"Yes, I found her." Regina answered as she turned back to Henry.
"You did? Is she here? What did she say? Can I meet her? What's "
Regina raised a single hand up and Henry's questions quieted and then stopped all together. He looked between Regina's hand to her face, wiggling in his seat in anticipation. "We will discuss whether or not you can meet with her." Now she felt more reservations about allowing the two to meet knowing Henry was so interested in doing so. "With the close adoption there are, well there will need to be a new contract written between the two of us that will allow her visitation rights to see you." If she even wanted them. When it came to Ms. Swan Regina wasn't sure of anything.
"Oh, well okay cool!" Henry didn't really understand why there needed to be a contract written up so that his birth mom could come and see him. He was just truly excited about meeting her at all. The legalities he'd leave to his mother.
"Yes " Regina's grimace made clear what she thought of the word, " cool."
"Is that all you wanted to talk to me about? The big family meeting?" He asked after there was a few minutes of silence. Nurse Kathryn and Graham made their way back to the love seat and were sitting down across from them.
Regina made no comment about the 'family meeting' usage, this time around. "Yes, for now that is all." Until she spoke to Dr. Whale and received the final word from him about the transplant that was all there was to talk about.
"Good cause uhm " Henry's face went from very red, from all the excitement about his birth mom being in town, to being very pale and green about the gills.
Regina and Kathryn were both up and out of their seats at the sight. Regina on her knees, grabbing up the basin that always sat by the edge of where Henry was sitting. Kathryn took it from her and allowed Regina to rub at Henry's back as he leaned over and lost most of his lunch.
Regina closed her eyes as she tried to ease the taught tension in Henry's back as he retched again and again. As he leaned back he was out of breath and his eyes droopy, exhausted. His hands trembled as he shivered. Regina pulled up the duvet and wrapped it around him as she pulled him into her arms and let him snuggle in against her. Kathryn took the basin to empty and clean it.
"It's alright it's alright " Regina soothed as Henry softly cried against her shoulder.
She knew, without Henry having to say a word, that he was devastated that his good day was coming to an end. Holding his frail underweight body against her own as tight as she dared, Regina prayed this would be the last of his bad days. Humming softly she felt Henry's body slowly relax against her own, his breathing slowing down as it evened out and he fell asleep.
Regina prayed hat Emma Swan could save her son. And maybe while she was at it, save her as well.
Emma slowly slipped her shirt back over her head. The hospital gown she'd been wearing remained pooled on the floor at her feet. Brushing her hair out from under the collar of her shirt she sighed. These tests had taken far longer than she thought they would.
Five hours of going from one part of the hospital to the next could be exhausting. First it was to the second floor to get a CAT scan, MRI and arteriogram to test for the blood flow and supply to her liver. It was part of the radiologic testing that each candidate for a transplant had to go through, or so Dr. Whale had explained to her on their way to each exam. She'd thought it was a little funny that it was called radiologic testing since she was sure having all these forms of X-rays done on her body could make her radio-active.
CAT scan, MRI, and
After the arteriogram, which had been a bitch testing her arteries, they'd gone to get an EKG on her chest. Apparently they had to cover every single organ she had in her body to make sure she was healthy before donating the liver. She didn't mind. At least she'd find out her lung capacity.
The longest had been the tissue typing. They had to collect a sample of tissue from her liver. She hadn't even had to be put under. They had just brought her into the OR and with the help of microscopic lasers and medical tolls Emma couldn't pronounce they'd collected a sample of her tissues. They warned that she was going to be sore afterwards, but even looking down at where they'd gone through her bellybutton she didn't see anything. There was a bit of discomfort but nothing comparable to her monthly cramps.
The worst had been when she sat in the office of a psychologist on the first floor who showed her the cliché ink plot tests. That was the only examine that she knew she'd fail. Anyone trying to examine her mental state would clearly see that she was out of her mind. Dr. Warren didn't show any outward concern for her answers and took down her medical history as well as her personal history. She'd asked why she needed to have a psyche evaluation, but was informed that it was procedure to make sure that after the surgery she could handle the mental fatigue as well as the physical.
Then came the blood tests so they could perform cross-matching tests to make sure she was a compatible match for Henry (which wasn't really needed since they had her records already, but to make sure no one went to jail they did it again, as procedure called forDr. Whale's words not hers) and the antibody screening.
The nurse had to stick her arm three times before she could draw sufficient blood, she'd told the woman that her veins were thin; obviously the woman hadn't been paying attention to her warning. The two consequent sticks of the needle into her arm and then her hand were further proof. She'd held her tongue, afraid that if she made a fuss verbally rather than just glare at the woman, she'd end up with a few more sticks of other needles. Thankfully she'd gotten all the blood she'd needed and had left her alone a few minutes ago with the instructions to get dressed.
Standing in the empty room Emma shivered. It was cold in the hospital. The sterile environment of the hospital bothered her. It creeped her out to be honest, making the hairs on the back of her neck stand erect. No place was meant to be as clean and tidy as this place was. The antiseptic smell and the white washed floors were giving her a headache.
The only part of the hospital that she had walked through that had been remotely homey had been the intensive care wing. There were fresh flowers at each bedside and colored quilts on each of the patients in that wing of the hospital. It was also warmer on that floor. Emma figured it wasn't the temperature that made it warmer but the comfortable feel to the unit that made it seem warmer. It also smelled like spring had come early. The flowers on each bedside were new and the sweet aroma of each blended nicely as they permeated the air.
Surprisingly Emma hadn't even needed to ask about the calming quality of that wing. Dr. Whale had offered up the information about volunteers who came in to make the wing a bit lively, even if many of the patients were comatose. Apparently studies showed that it would help with a patients' recovery if they felt more comfortable in the hospital environment.
If in the descriptions of the volunteers that spend their afternoons there Dr. Whale focused on one Mary Margaret Blanchard more than the other half dozen volunteers? Well, Emma pretended not to notice.
She couldn't help but feel like she was being compared to this saintly woman by the doctor. It were as if he were looking for some kind of interconnected characteristic between herself and the elementary school teacher when there wasn't one. Emma had already met the woman. They were polar opposites from what she could tell. Mary Margaret Blanchard was a reserved and kind woman. Emma was neither reserved and usually not described as kind on any given day. Gruff, impatient, opinionated, loud that described Emma far better.
She'd already picked Dr. Whale out as the intellectually perverse stalker type, but to already be under his microscope? Both figuratively and realistically, put her on edge. The way he looked at her from the corner of his eyes, watched her as if trying to find some kind of flaw hidden beneath the surface of her skin was making her antsy. She had no intention of staying in this hospital with him longer than she had to. She was almost upset to know that she'd have to come back here to see him again and again until the surgery and then following it. As the General surgeon on staff he was going to be performing the transplant with one of his co-workers to whom Emma had yet been introduced to. Still, the way Dr. Whale watched her made her feel like being on the inside the room with a one way glass and she was once again the subject that intrigued the people on the other side. Again.
"Are you decent, Ms. Swan?" Emma turned towards where the door was located on the other side of the curtain. Dr. Whale only waited a moment after her affirmative before he pulled the curtain back and took a seat by the examination table she was leaning back against, her leather jacket folded over her arms.
"So, what's the deal doc?"
"Well, the blood tests should be back by tomorrow morning at the earliest. Your CAT scan and MRI are clear. So is your EKG. When we took your blood pressure everything was good as well. You appear to be a very healthy woman." Emma was glad that he didn't leer at her chest or at her person at all. In fact he seemed very interested in the chart he was holding, only glancing up at her for milliseconds before pretending to flip through the results on the clipboard.
Tightening he arms around her chest, her jacket getting a bit wrinkled, she questioned him, "Why am I sensing a but coming?"
Dr. Whale seemed to become even more uncomfortable. Almost as uncomfortable as he had been while Mayor Mills was still with them. Emma had noticed immediately that as soon as the Mayor had left he'd calmed down. His body language was more open than it had been when Regina was with them. Now he seemed to be as rigid and tight as before and Regina was nowhere in sight.
Well that can't be good Emma mused silently.
"I'm obligated by UNOS (United Network for Organ Sharing) to inform you that you are a compatible match genetically but not psychosocially."
Emma blinked, "Psychosocially?" What the hell did that mean?
"After this surgery, after this transplant, you are going to need constant home care. Which, as you have admitted, you do not have. Even if you were to return to Boston you have already mentioned that you have no close friends or family. Your emergency contact is a detective in Boston whom you work with, on occasion." He sighed finally looking up to meet her eyes. "Is there any chance that she would be willing to "
Emma felt her heart plummet into her stomach. It was just as she knew it would be. She wasn't enough. Because of her, because of the way she lived and had been living her life she wouldn't be able to save Henry. Not that she'd honestly thought she'd be rejected by the doctors because she wasn't very friendly with a lot of people. Maybe Henry would reject her because she wasn't the best with kids or very interesting to a lot of people, but the doctors? That hadn't even been a thought in her mind.
"No." Emma shook her head as she stared down at her shoes. "No, she wouldn't be able to take care of me after the surgery." Emma let out a long regretful breath.
She'd thought they'd find something wrong with her organ or her blood or find she wasn't the perfect match they seemed so sure she was. Now Dr. Whale was saying so far she was medically perfect for this donation but he still had to turn her away. "Are you telling me that you won't allow me to donate my livera"
"A piece of your liver." Dr. Whale quickly reminded.
"A piece of my liver " Emma repeated with a roll of her eyes, "because I don't have anyone to take care of me after the surgery?"
Dr. Whale seemed as troubled with this as she was, but he still uttered a firm, "Yes."
"Well fuck that!" Emma shouted, throwing her jacket onto the exam table. "I mean I can hire a home care nurse to come and take care of me for the recovery time, or something. I mean, there are other options, doc. There are other options!" She repeated, her voice rising with each word as she became panicked. What if it there weren't any other options? She hadn't even met the kid yet (again) and she was desperate to do this surgery. Just as desperate as Regina was. The kid needed her and she'd be damned if her lack of family or friends (which wasn't her fault, mostly) was going to stop her from donating part of her liver to the kid.
"I don't need family or friends to take care of me. I have money!" Not a lot of it but, "I have enough money to hire a nurse to look after me if I need one." A beat, "How long was the recovery period again?"
"Six weeks to six months. It depends on the patient."
Emma cringed. Hiring a nurse to come take care of her for six weeks she might be able to handle. Her savings would allow for that. It was only the issue of where she would be staying for those six weeks that gave her pause. She tried her best to keep moving. It was safer that way to always keep moving. If, god forbid, she had to be in recovery for six months? She wasn't sure she knew what she'd do at that point. She needed to be able to disappear at a moment's notice if the need arose.
"Okay, so home care? I can do that, can't I?"
"Yes, yes you can but "
"No buts!" Emma ordered, making Dr. Whale snap his mouth shut. "Look, we've already talked about this. This transplant is Henry's only chance. If I have to stay here and hire someone to take care of me then I'll do that. I could do that. I will do that." Emma wasn't sure who she was trying to assure of this, Dr. Whale or herself.
Dr. Whale was sure that Emma didn't even realize she'd said Henry's name instead of kid, but he had. He made a quick note of it on the sheets in front of him, internally smiling. Emma hadn't passed the psych evaluation. One of the notes that Dr. Warren had made was Emma's firm resolve to distance herself from Henry, even in name. It was one of the only hang ups that Dr. Warren had on Emma being the donator.
Emma's attempt to distance herself from Henry would be impossible after the surgery. The child would not only be her biological son, he would no longer just be the child she carried for nine months and gave up for adoption. Henry would hold a part of her. A larger part of her than he already had. Henry would have a physical aspect of her person, that part of her body, her very organ would forever be within her child's body. It would link them in ways that Emma wasn't ready to accept. Emma couldn't even accept the boy as her child in a healthy manner. Dr. Warren worried that when her coping mechanisms about Henry failed, and they would fail after the surgery he was sure of it, Emma wouldn't know how to cope.
"Alright, alright if you are certain about this, then, fine. There are several home care services that I can recommend. The hospital also runs many of them." Dr. Whale attempted to placate her, but his tone and the slight touch to her shoulder only furthered her agitation. It also made her skin crawl. "However, this was not the only issue with the tests we conducted today, Ms. Swan. I understand your wish to save Henry, truly I do. However, we'll need to speak with Mayor Mills about this new situation."
Emma rolled her eyes. "Why do we have to speak with her about it?" Then, "What is it?"
Dr. Whale certainly didn't want to be the one to tell Regina that Emma would need to meet Henry. Nor did he want to tell the Mayor that theyEmma and Henrywould have to have a relationship before the surgery. Especially when he knew that by doing so would turn Regina's ire onto him because it was an ultimatum. One he didn't want to make. If Regina did not let Emma know Henry, did not agree to Emma making a connection with Henrya healthy onethen Emma could not donate her liver to him.
Be it a small relationship, a relationship that could hopefully be made in only five days.
Dr. Whale liked his colleague. Dr. Warren was a talent man in his field. However he wasn't as immediately affected by the outcome of this transplant. He hadn't watched Henry from the beginning. Dr. Whale had been there from the very beginning and he was going to see this through to the end. So even with the advice that he should find another donor, he wasn't going to. They had time and if he had to he could call in Dr. Hooper who would certainly sign off on the transplant and Ms. Swan's mental state. He would do it because it was the best thing for Henry. Even if that meant it wasn't the best thing for Ms. Swan.
It also wouldn't hurt to let Regina know that it would be necessary for Ms. Swan to hire home care to help her during her recovery time. He was hoping that the Mayor would offer her services to Ms. Sawn so there would be no back-last from his slight ignorance of the rules of the State. He couldn't sign off on the surgery unless he knew that Emma would have adequate care afterwards. She had no insurance and would be paying for the home care service out of pocket. A pocket that was not very deep when it came to monetary means. However, Regina's pockets were deeper than anyone Dr. Whale knew, save for Mr. Gold. Regina would offer to pay for the home care services or Dr. Whale would have to play a little dirty.
Playing dirty with the Mayor was not something he looked forward to. He knew how powerful she was, what she was capable of. He did not want to be on the receiving end or her wrath.
"Dr. Warren's evaluation raises some concerns. Concerns that Mayor Mills must be made aware of as they concern her and Henry."
"What concerns?" Emma asked, her eyes trained on Dr. Whale. Seeing the tick above Dr. Whale's eye begin to throb Emma shook her head. How was it that this woman had such control over these people? She wasn't that scary. Granted Emma had only known her for the about 48 hours. She wasn't afraid of the woman. Annoyed, intrigued, and stimulated (both intellectually and physically) by Mayor Mills? Sure, though she wasn't ready to admit the second aspect of how the Mayor could affect her.
"He brought to my attention that after the surgery you may not be able to handle the ramifications."
"I'm healthy and I heal fast I can deal with "
"Mentally, Ms. Swan. He feels that it is not in your best interest, mental health wise, for you to be the donator."
"That's crazy!" Emma shrieked. Dr. Whale stepped away from Emma, the blonde turning on her heel to pace the length of the examination room.
"How can he say that!? This is Henry's last chance. You said that you all said that! You said that this was his last chance! That I am his last chance. You said that!" Emma pointed a shaky finger at Dr. Whale.
"It is and yes I did and you are."
"Then how can he say that? How can he say no because of my mental state? Does he think my mental state is going to be any better if I'm the reason that he dies? That because I'm not mentally healthy or perfect or whatever that he dies? What happens then? Does he realize what happens then? Does he?!" Emma stopped pacing to stare at Dr. Whale her arms waving around in front of her before they too fell to her sides and she stared at him, her chest heaving, her heart pounding beneath her chest. "Does he ?" She whispered her face softening as she looked around the room, unable to see the pity directed her way by Dr. Whale. She closed her eyes, her hair falling around her face as she looked at the floor and tried to calm down. Taking several deep breaths she waited a few minutes before she looked up to see Dr. Whale still standing in front of her, offering her an apologetic smile, small as it could be.
"What do we have to do? What do I have to do?" Emma stressed the "I" as she waited, hopeful, that Dr. Whale had a plan. She hoped that she was wrong about him and that he wasn't a sleazy creepy bastard.
"We have to speak with Mayor Mills about you meeting Henry. Getting to know him, and forming some kind of relationship with him. If that relationship is formed before the surgery than Dr. Warren will have no choice but to sign off on the surgery."
"And if he doesn't?" Emma asked.
"Then I have another colleague of mine who we can turn to in that situation and that situation only. He'll agree to it then, even if it is against his moral code, he likes Henry too much not to sign off on the surgery."
"Okay okay " Emma nodded her mind running wild with what she had to do. It wasn't so bad. Not really. She had to meet Henry. Talk to him. Get to know him. It wasn't as if this would be the scariest thing she ever had to do. No this would be a cake walk. She'd get to know her kid. See what he liked; see if they had anything in common. See what he looked like; hear about what his life had been like before and after he'd been diagnosed with this disease.
See? It'll be a total cake walk. You just ask a few questions. He'll ask a few questions.
Questions about her life, and how she grew up. What she liked and what she didn't. Maybe even what she did for a living. That'd be cool for a ten year old to hear. She wouldn't tell him everything but didn't all ten year old boys love to hear about a good chase scene? She had a lot of interesting stories about some of the men and women she'd chased down. If he was anything like her and liked adventures he'd love those stories.
Yeah, yeah that'll be easy. It won't be so bad. Total cake walk .
He could ask questions about why she gave him up why she didn't stay in one place for very long, what she planned to do after the surgery did she plan to stay? Questions about his father
"Oh god " Emma ran to the other side of the room where she knocked the top of a trash can away and emptied her breakfast into it. Dr. Whale's hand on her back only made her feel worse as she heaved again.
Hell who am I kidding? This is going to be a disaster.
Emma was finally starting to feel better. The nurse had just brought in a bag of saltine crackers and seltzer to make her stomach settle down. She'd refused to be stuck with another needle. Not by Nurse Ratchet. Not by anyone, for at least the next few hours. If that meant she'd have to deal with her nausea then so be it.
Sitting up on the exam table she munched slowly on the crackers, her face pale and her hair sticking to her forehead. She hadn't taken the news of getting to know Henry very well.
Thankfully, egotistically, she was able to wave off the idea of meeting her son being so terrifying that it made her ill easily. After all, she'd just gone through several tests and had a lot of blood taken. There were any number of reasons why she had gotten sick. It hadn't been her fear. Nope. Not at all.
She wasn't fooling anyone and she knew it. Not that Dr. Whale said anything. He hadn't said much since he'd helped her take a seat on the exam table and had called for that nurse that just left.
The nurse had forgotten to close the curtain when she came in and Dr. Whale was too busy taking her pulse to close it. Not that she minded, she was dressed and although she looked like crap it was nice not to feel suffocated in the cold room. She could see out into the intensive care wing through the glass windows.
There were people sitting on the beds next to people they cared about. Some of the ones that were awake were talking with their loved ones even, and they all seemed content.
Emma loved solitude. She lived alone and enjoyed it, but she loved knowing that she was surrounded by people at all times. Even as a child she had hated being surrounded by other kids in the system, never having a room to herself, most of the time. Then there were times where she was grateful that she wasn't alone, that there were other people around her. It made her think that she wasn't really alone even when she knew she kind of was.
In crowds, big crowds, she never felt suffocated. It was why she lived in cities. She liked to people watch. It made her feel better because it was something she had always done. It was something she was good at. She noticed things that no one else did about a person just by looking at them. She liked to think that was how she'd developed her own super power.
She was a human lie detector. She knew when someone was lying to her just by looking at them. She utilized that ability like the weapon it was in her line of work. It certainly helped her catch one or two or twelve plus bounties, putting all that extra cash in her account.
In the corner of her eye Emma noticed a familiar figure moving around the wing.
The school teacher was carrying a small vase of flowers and wearing a kind smile. It looked like she was heading towards Emma's room for a few moments. It became clear a few pain staking seconds later that she was headed to the room next to Emma's. In those moments Emma couldn't help but watch her. Looking to the wall, which was just a glass barrier between her room and the next, Emma saw Ms. Blanchard put the vase of flowers down on the bedside table of an unconscious man. He had shaggy, dirty brown hair and a strong jaw line. The arm that was out from under the blanket let Emma see thick muscle tone which would have dissipated with time as he remained unconscious, making her believe he hadn't been unconscious for long. He was too 'well preserved' to have been in a coma for more than a few weeks.
Emma wondered what he did. His shoulders were broad, but in a sleek build. Emma imagined he was very strong, maybe a football player or athlete of some kind. Then again, he could very well have worked on a farm all his life there had been a few farms in this area, hadn't there? Yes, thinking about it Emma remembered there being a bit of farm land outside of Storybrooke. Mostly cattle farms, not crops.
She had worked on a farm for two years after she got out of juvie it meant a lot of manual labor. She'd developed strong arm muscles from all the heavy lifting that still came in handy these days, especially when fighting guys twice her size. Moving around rural America between counties during harvest season was one of the ways she'd made a living for herself. There had been a lot of accidents though. A few too many happened for her liking, so she'd looked for other jobs closer to cities and more people.
Small town life wasn't exactly her 'dream come true' or even a distant apparition of what she wanted for herself. The smaller the population the easier it was to find someone. The harder it was to be unnoticed.
Snap out of it, Swan.
Thinking back on it now Emma smiled; she'd lost all of her baby weight quickly with her workload. Slackers weren't welcome and if she knew for sure anything about herself it was that she wasn't a slacker. She did the work she was given and didn't complain about it. Complaining didn't get you anywhere in life. She'd learned that right quick while in the system. Better to be grateful for what you had with the family you were with than complain about what you didn't.
The curtain around her exam room was pulled closed, blocking Emma's sight of Mary Margaret and the comatose man. It was probably for the better. She didn't need anyone thinking she was some kind of stalker.
"Alright, I just need you to sign a few of these forms and once you're feeling up to it we can head back into my office."
"Yeah, sure." Emma grabbed the clipboard and skimmed through the legal jargon on the pages before scribbling her signature on the appropriate line.
Dr. Whale took the clipboard from Emma and held it flat against his chest. He stared at Emma for a few seconds longer than was comfortable.
"So " Emma bit her bottom lip as she nodded twice and slapped the edge of her examination table. "What's next?"
"There are a few things I'd like to discuss with you and Mayor Mills when she picks you up."
"What things?" Emma asked, suspicious.
"Nothing to worry about at the moment." Dr. Whale forced a smile on his face.
"Has anyone ever told you how creepy you can be when you smile like that?" Emma crossed her arms as she watched Dr. Whale's eyes widen and his smile disappear. "No, huh? Just for further reference, it's creepy. It makes you look like a psychopath. And psychopath vibes and being a doctor don't usually tend to mix well."
"I, uh no one's ever, I am a professional. My only concern in this matter is for you and Henry."
Emma tilted her head, wondering why he was lying. "That's not true, is it?"
Dr. Whale blinked, startled at how quickly Emma rose from the exam table and was standing in front of him. "What exactly are you insinuating?"
"I don't know, why don't you tell me? Why are Henry and I not your only concern during this?"
Dr. Whale swallowed nervously as Emma stared him down. Only a few moments before, she had seemed so vulnerable and fragile. Now she seemed as steady and strong as an ox and as determined as one as well. "I have no idea what you're "
"Don't lie to me, doc. You won't get away with it. Who else are you concerned about in all of this??" Emma waited a moment. "Mayor Mills?"
Dr. Whale took a deep breath and squared his own shoulders. There was only one woman in this town that could get the best of him in his own hospital, and her name was not Emma Swan.
"I am concerned about all of you. This is not just about a surgery anymore, Ms. Swan. It is about so much more," he sighed. "So much more. I just want it to go smoothly. I want everyone to come out of it unscathed. Henry deserves more than what he's gotten in life. And to be honest? I think you deserve more as well."
Emma faltered, "You don't know anything about me."
"I know enough. Your medical history, your criminal record, all of it weaves a particularly lonely tale, Ms. Swan."
"You know nothing! You can't just read about my life before and think that you have the right to pity me." Emma exclaimed, her heart beginning to race against her chest as she remained within arm's length of Dr. Whale.
"I don't pity you. No. Nothing of the sort. I respect you, Ms. Swan." Dr. Whale watched Emma's eyes widen as she took a small step away from him. She was still closed off, her arms across her chest and her feet planted firmly upon the ground, but her eyes were softening, though wary. He took his chance to continue. "I cannot imagine what your life has been like. I could not even begin to fathom any of it. Any of the hardships you had to live through. I merely wish for you to have something that you haven't had before while you are here."
"Oh, and what's that?" Emma asked, her head turned away from Dr. Whale slightly, as if she were afraid of what he was going to say.
He smiled softly at her, and this time Emma didn't think it was creepy but genuine and made him look rather handsome. "Family. Support."
Dr. Whale watched as a lightness appeared around Emma, but it was gone as soon as it had come. Hope, he realized, that spark of lightness around Emma's person had been hope. But it was dashed as soon as it had come.
"I don't have family here. Henry's here, sure. But he's not mine." She frowned, a darkness covering her eyes as she turned away from him completely.
Dr. Whale twitched as if he wanted to say more. His knuckles turned white as he clenched his hand into a fist. He looked at Emma and then watched as Mary Margaret walked passed their exam room, her doe eyes looking up and meeting with Emma's for only a moment before she looked to him. Her raised brow was question enough and he offered only a short shake of his head as her answer. She nodded before offering Emma another smile, walking by on her way to finish collecting the dying flowers on certain tables and trading them for fresh ones.
Emma sighed heavily, her entire body appearing to fall in on itself. "I can't stay. Not after I've healed. Not after he's better. I can't stay here and be forced to watch from afar as he grows up," Emma admitted, her arms wrapping around herself; instead of seeming hostile, this time he thought of it as a form of protection, her arms keeping her safe and secure because no one else's arms were there to do it for her.
He stepped up to her and placed his hand gently on her shoulder. "There's time to decide that. But maybe you wouldn't have to be on the sidelines."
She shot around to look at him. He shrugged. "I don't think I'm as crazy as your facial expression is making me think I am. After all is said and done, things change. Sometimes people change. Maybe she'll change her mind. I mean," he paused, knowing this was stepping over a line he wasn't supposed to cross, but he felt he owed it to Emma to at least do this small thing, "Especially if you get a contract signed before the surgery. After all, you'll have to retract the closed adoption now that you're going to be here saving his life. And in my opinion, though this is off the record, I don't think asking for visitation rights would be asking for enough."
"You don't?" Emma met his eyes for a second before her gaze fell to his hand, which was still on her shoulder. She raised her eyebrow.
He dropped his hand off her shoulder and shook his head. "No, I don't think it is."
Nodding, Emma turned back towards the glass wall where she watched as Ms. Blanchard spoke animatedly with a nurse on the other side of the wing. Seeing the flowers that now decorated the otherwise dreary ICU wing, Emma smirked.
"I don't have a lawyer," Emma stated as she stared at her reflection.
Dr. Whale reached into his pocket and handed her a white business card with black century gothic print. Emma looked down at the small card and internally cringed at the name on it. "Mr. Gold the man with the cane?"
"He's the best lawyer we've got in town. Well, besides Regina."
Emma laughed, "Of course she's a lawyer. Woman certainly knows how to argue a point to the death." She shook her head as she pocketed the card. "Should've known." Fingering the edge of the card as it sat in her pocket Emma chewed on the inside of her cheek. "What time did you say she was going to get here?"
"I haven't called her yet. Though, knowing her, she'll be here within the hour."
"Great." That would give her enough time, wouldn't it? "You have a phone I can use?"
Dr. Whale smiled. "Of course. Just follow me back to my office."
Emma nodded as Dr. Whale led the way down the eastern hallway towards his office. As they walked by she noticed that the nurse and Ms. Blanchard stared after them.
Emma shook off the feeling of being stared at. "I hate small towns," she mumbled under her breath.
Mayor Mills seemed almost normal as she sat in Dr. Whale's office with them. She had returned to pick Emma up, just as she promised she would. Emma had wanted to call a cab, but one pleading look from Dr. Whale had stopped her before she could dial 411 to get the information. She didn't want the guilt of letting the Mayor loose on the doctor to weigh on her conscience. Not after he'd been so helpful. Besides, Emma was already going along with the doctor's plan to manipulate the woman, in a way. The least she could do was let him bear witness to how it all played out.
It wasn't until Regina arrived in a flourish, because she didn't seem to know how to enter a room without one that Emma wondered if 411 would even have the number to a cab company in this town. 'Hick' town came to mind; it made her grin, but she'd be damned if she ever said it aloud, especially in front of the Mayor of said 'hick' town.
They were both listening to the results of the tests that Dr. Whale had run on her even though she'd already heard these results. The good Mayor didn't even complain much when she found out that the blood tests hadn't come back yet. Dr. Whale assured her highness, because Emma had to resort to making up nick names for Regina to keep herself entertained, that the results would be ready by the next morning. He'd put a rush on them since Henry's case was so important, not only to her majesty but to everyone in the hospital.
Emma knew before Dr. Whale started talking about his obligations to make sure this transplant did not adversely affect Henry or Emma that Regina, her royal stick in the mud, wasn't going to take the news well. She should have put money on it, because the moment the issues arose of any concerns Dr. Whale had for Emma's recovery, the hackles popped up, as did the attitude.
Whatever good mood Regina had been in when she'd returned vanished at the minute detail of whether or not Emma would be properly taken care of after the surgery.
It didn't surprise Emma. Not really. She had known what her part in this deal was. She was here to give her liver to the kid. End of story. What happened after that? Well, her royal heartlessness didn't much care about that.
Emma thought, for the briefest of moments, that maybe it hadn't even crossed her mind, but that was quickly dashed when Mary Margaret's recovery process was brought up.
"Mary Margaret's case was different."
"Why? How was it different? Mary Margaret did not have anyone living with her. No spouse to take care of her during her recovery, or nurses!"
"Yes, you're right." Dr. Whale nodded duly.
"Mary Margaret also didn't have family taking care of her either, so I do not see why Ms. Swan's status as a single individual with no family matters at all in this process. She has agreed to the procedure. She knows the risks."
"Be that as it may"
"You know the risks, do you not, Ms. Swan?" Regina asked, completely ignoring Dr. Whale.
"Ah, uh...yeah I know the risks."
With a nod, Regina turned back to Dr. Whale as if that stuttered response solved everything. "See, there is no need for "
"Regina!" Emma stared, slack jawed, as Dr. Whale took a deep breath and calmed himself. His outburst, albeit warranted, was unexpected. It had stopped her royal snootiness instantly. Emma watched as Regina sat back, her arms folded regally across her chest as she waited Dr. Whale out. Emma wondered if anyone ever raised their voices while speaking to her. Ever.
Emma expected the good doctor to crumble under her intense gaze, so it was a surprise when he didn't.
"There is a need. Mary Margaret may not have had blood relatives to take care of her, or a spouse, or even home care. But she might as well have. I visited Mary Margaret every day after my shift here at the hospital. Ruby and Mrs. Wolf were always at her apartment when they weren't at the diner. Leroy was even present for some evenings to look after her to see if she needed anything. She had full time care. You know this. You were even there on your lunch breaks when you didn't go home to visit Henry."
Well look at that, the heartless has a heart after all, Emma thought as she watched Regina shift uncomfortably in her seat at being 'found out.' But seriously? What was this woman's problem? She was complaining about helping Emma get home care when she herself had played nurse maid to Ms. Blanchard and knew firsthand the trauma and stress of recovery? Was it just her that the Mayor didn't like?
"Fine," Regina relented, refusing to look at Ms. Swan or Dr. Whale. "I shall ask Katherine if she knows of any other home care nurses who would be willing to look after Ms. Swan. Unless you know of someone?" Regina asked, challenging Dr. Whale as she finally met his eyes again. If he knew of someone off the top of his head Regina would know just how planned this entire 'meeting' was.
"No. I think it would be best if you asked Katherine. I can't spare any of my nurses as it is," Dr. Whale was quick to answer. Emma and Regina both noticed how the vein in his neck was pulsing. The poor man was probably minutes away from having a heart attack by the slightly shaky look of his hands and the sweat appearing on his brow.
"Is that all for today, Dr. Whale?"
"Ye" He cleared his throat, "yes, that's all."
"Wonderful. Now, Ms. Swan, if you would kindly follow me I will bring you back to the Wolf Lodge Inn." Regina stood from her seat and made her way to the door.
Emma stood up slowly and winked at Dr. Whale as she followed the woman out of the office. "See you tomorrow, doc."
"Good evening, Ms. Swan."
Emma shook her head at the formal tone. She didn't have long to dwell on it. Not when Regina was already halfway down the hallway. Picking up her pace Emma caught up to the Mayor just as the doors to the elevators opened. They both stepped inside and stood practically shoulder to shoulder. In the corner of her eye Emma noticed Regina begin to smirk.
"Not afraid I'll drug you this time, dear?"
Emma smiled as she chuckled to herself. She had been ridiculous. But she had to remind herself, stranger things had happened. "Not anymore."
"Oh, and why's that?" Regina stared straight ahead at the doors of the elevator though her head itched to turn to stare at the blonde beside her. She could practically feel the heat of the other woman she was so close.
Emma gave in and turned to look directly at the Mayor. "Too many witnesses saw us leaving together. I go missing people will start asking questions."
"Who will ask questions about you dear? You'd just be a woman who passed through."
Emma knew an insult when she heard one; she also knew a challenging smile when one was given. "You don't know me, Ms. Mills. You think I'm alone. That I don't have fri people who would come looking for me." Regina turned to look at Emma, surprised. "You're wrong."
"Yes. And my friends aren't very nice." She almost choked on the word friends, but it was said, it was out there, and she wasn't about to take it back. Seeing the shock upon the Mayor's face, Emma couldn't help but smile. Sure the Mayor now thought she associated with criminals and scoundrels, but Emma would rather the Mayor think she would have someone come look for her instead of no one at all.
The elevator bell dinged and Emma stepped out first; this time the Mayor had to catch up with her.
The ride through town was quiet. Emma made sure to put on her seatbelt the second she was inside the car and kept an eye open for kids playing on the sidewalks that they were passing by. The names of the streets were different this time and the numbers headed down rather than up. Emma wondered if Regina took different routes back and forth from the hospital on purpose or if it was just a habit for the Mayor.
"Thanks for the ride." Emma was happy to see the Inn. She couldn't wait to take a shower, fall into bed, and sleep this day away.
Regina rolled down her window and called out after the retreating blonde. She hadn't had any time at all to speak with the woman about their plans for tomorrow. "I'll pick you up in the morning."
Emma turned so her back was to the entrance of the Inn. "No need. I can drive myself." She stuck her hands into the pockets of her leather jacket as she rocked back and forth on the heel of her shoes.
Regina scowled. "You would just need to leave your car at the hospital if they need to draw more blood."
"Is that concern I hear in your voice Madame Mayor?" Emma teased, enjoying how Regina's scowl deepened. She sighed; she'd let the Mayor off easy tonight. "They don't have to draw more blood. Tomorrow's just about getting the results. I can drive myself. But thank you for the offer."
Emma watched the Mayor's mouth snap shut at the polite refusal. The brunette blinked several times "Very well." She seemed to digest what Emma was telling her and began to roll up her window.
Emma stood frozen for a moment before she walked back towards the car. She didn't say anything, not wanting to warn the Mayor she was coming closer. The Mayor noticed her approach and once again lowered her window. "Yes?" Her bored tone had a bit of hidden curiosity in it.
"Henry ah, how was he?"
Regina's eyes widened as she watched Emma nervously push her tongue against the side of her cheek. She focused on the nervous tick. She had noticed that Emma also bit the inside of her cheek when she was nervous as well. Something that she shared in common with Henry. Or, rather, since she had liked comics since she was Henry's age, he shared that affinity with her. It was disquieting. They had never met before. Was she to believe that merely through DNA they shared the same quirks? That was a frightening thought.
"He was feeling well during the morning. He had some trouble during the afternoon. He I informed him that you were here. Apparently he knows who you are to him." Regina was slightly amused at the shock that appeared on Emma's face. Surely the girl did not think she would keep her a secret did she? Then again, the poor woman looked like she was about to faint, she even stumbled two steps back, putting her in the center of the sidewalk. "Are you alright?" Regina was truly concerned at the loss of color to Emma's cheeks and the show of effort it was taking her to even blink.
Turning off the car and stepping out she pocketed the keys and stood directly in front of Ms. Swan. She was still, her eyes glazed and practically unseeing as she continued to stare at her left shoulder. "My eyes are up here, Ms. Swan." Regina cracked a smirk, hoping the jibe would get the blonde to look up at her.
When she merely blinked once Regina rolled her eyes. Placing her hand on Emma's cheek she helped lift the woman's gaze up so their eyes could meet. There was a swirl of emotions raging against each other inside Emma's blue eyes. It startled Regina. There was an anxious vulnerability lurking just beneath the surface of Emma. Her body quivered with it. Of all the emotions battling within the young woman, Regina noticed this most acutely. She battled the same sense of vulnerability, the fear of inadequacy and rejection, every day.
"He is he wishes to meet with you." Regina didn't understand why she felt so compelled to ease Emma's fears. "He wishes to speak with you. He thinks you might be interested in comic books. Like him, since I abhorred them before he became so fascinated with them."
Emma's eyes cleared, if only just a bit. "He he does?"
"Yes. He does."
As Emma rolled her shoulders and took a step away from Regina, it was then that she realized she had still been cupping the younger woman's cheek. Clearing her throat and dropping her hand to her side quickly, she too stepped away. "Tomorrow. After the results. You will join us for lunch."
"Okay, yeah, great." Emma nodded, dropping her head to hide her blush even though Regina had turned back to her car and was having a bit of trouble getting the key into the lock. "I uhm I'll bring my comic book collection."
Regina dropped her keys, her head shooting back to watch as Emma walked into the Inn, a bit of a hop in her step. Bending over to pick up the keys, she shook off whatever it was she was feeling and opened the car door. As she moved to get in, a long ring sounded throughout the town. Everyone that was on the street looked around and then listened as another ding sounded through the evening air. Regina looked at the clock tower above the library as it sounded once more, signaling it was 6 o'clock.
Her eyes narrowed at the clock. When had that begun to move again?
Looking around Regina climbed into her car and drove away quickly.
Something was happening to the curse.
Time time was back. Time in Storybrooke was moving again.
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