I'M BACK! Please don't hate me for being away for so long, I'm so sorry. I was dealing with a lot of things with my family and I was also just in a slump. With filler chapters comes writers block for me so... that's why it's taken me so long to write this chapter and get it out for you guys.
Thank you so much for reading and reviewing. I'm so grateful for all of you who have liked, favorited, left kudos, followed, bookmarked, reblogged, commented and left a lovely review! I suck at responding to all of the wonderful reviews and comments, but I am so appreciative of them... and you!
I really hope that you all enjoy the new chapter.
She was fucked. She had never been so fucked in her entire life.
Was the universe playing a cruel joke on her? Was this punishment for trying to fool the world into thinking that she was healthy? Clearly.
"Hey, how about you come inside and close the door behind you?" Emma said softly as she looked at the young woman.
"Hold on a second, is this some sort of method acting thing? Are you preparing for a new role? I didn't see anything about this on Tumblr, and I get all of my information from there." The young woman rambled as she pulled her tubes closer to her and closed the door behind her. "I didn't know that you are a method actor, that's pretty cool. Why else would you be here, right?"
All that Emma could do was chuckle nervously as she watched the woman ramble on. As the woman talked, Emma unlocked her phone and sent a few quick and discreet text messages to Regina.
Emma: CODE RED
Emma: FUCK ME! CODE RED!
Emma: SHIT. FUCK. RED.
"Oh my gosh, can I get a picture with you? For my blog." The woman beamed as she pulled her phone from her pocket.
"No!" Emma answered a little too quickly and a lot too harsh. When the young woman flinched and took a step back with a frown, Emma cringed. "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."
The woman then nodded her head and slid her phone back into her pocket. "It's okay. I'm sorry, too. I'm just... such a huge fan. I didn't mean to be awkward."
Emma sighed. She felt terrible. She had no idea how to handle this situation, but she needed to figure it out fast. "It's alright. Really."
The woman's lips curled up in an awkward half-smile; but as her eyes were wandering around the room, her smile began to fade. Emma's eyes began to water at the sight of the look of despair on the woman's face as the realization hit her. "You're not a method actor, are you?"
Emma shook her head and ran her hand over her bald head. "No, I'm not."
"What do you have?" The woman breathed.
"AML." Emma mumbled. "What about you?"
"Brain tumor." The woman answered bluntly.
Before Emma could comment, the door opened behind the girl and Regina rushed inside while trying to catch her breath. As soon as her eyes landed on the girl, her mouth fell open. "What the hell is going on? Who are yo- Who let you in here?"
Emma rolled her eyes at Regina's outburst. "It's not like I keep my door locked, Regina. That's a health code violation... or something. She literally just walked in."
"What kind of person just walks into a random person's hospital room?" Regina asked incredulously as she exchanged glances with the young woman. "Who are you?"
The look on the woman's face was one that Emma could only describe as terrified. She clutched onto the stroller that held up her tubes so tightly that Emma could see her white knuckles. "I'm Rhea Morgan. I was looking for Belle and walked in... accidentally?"
Emma felt her lips curling upwards into a small smile at the woman's clear anxiety.
Regina scoffed and turned to Emma with raised eyebrows. "Does she know?"
Emma pursed her lips and scrunched her face. "Seriously, Regina? I'm sitting here looking sickly pale, with no hair, and still hooked up to my damn chemo! I think she knows."
"I won't tell anyone!" Rhea chimed in. Emma and Regina turned to meet the girl's eyes as she spoke. "If this is a secret, as I suspect it is, I won't tell anyone. I promise."
"I'm afraid that we will need some assurances first." Regina crossed her arms over her chest and scowled. "We don't even know you. How can we trust you?"
Emma didn't know what it was about this young woman, but she believed her. Maybe it was a gut-feeling, or the superpower that she was always sure that she had, but Emma trusted her. "She's telling the truth."
The relieved smile on the young woman's face was so bright and light that it almost made Emma feel cured at that second. She matched the woman's smile, reached for her beanie on the side table, and tugged it on.
"Well, you may trust this woman, Miss Swan, but I don't!" Regina argued. "I don't trust her at all."
Before Emma could comment, Regina walked towards the woman. "You do realize that if this got out, it won't just be Emma's life on the line? No one knows about her condition. She could lose her job. She could lose her reputation and her fans. She could lose her fiancé."
Something about Regina's words stung Emma deep. It was like a split-second sting down the middle of her back; and suddenly the light smile was gone, and dread took its place.
"Killian Jones doesn't know that you are sick?" The woman asked with shock in her eyes.
Emma shook her head and bit the inside of her cheek. "He knows that I was sick... once, but he doesn't know about my condition at the current moment."
"Emma, stop talking!" Regina growled from beside the woman and stomped her foot. She started pacing around in a small circle and she pulled her phone out. As she angrily dialed a number, she pursed her lips and looked to the young woman before walking to the bathroom to make a call. "Don't go anywhere."
Emma pointed to the chair next to her bed and curled her lips upward in an awkward smile. "Might as well have a seat. No telling what Her Majesty will have planned for us."
The woman nodded her head and walked towards the chair, pulling her tubes behind her. "I don't really know how I can prove that I won't say anything, but I promise-"
"Don't worry about it. We will figure it out." Emma brushed her off. "I was planning on coming out about my cancer at some point, but I wanted to wait until we found out if the chemo worked... and until Killian returned from London."
"You two are together, aren't you?" The woman asked with a squinted face. Emma could tell that the woman hated herself for asking as soon as the words escaped her lips; but before Emma could answer, she continued. "I mean, why wouldn't you want to tell him about the cancer? If you two love each other, why wouldn't you want his support through this?"
Emma could see something in this woman's eyes, something that she knew long ago... loneliness. It was a look that Emma wore well before she met David and his family. A look that resurfaced after she was initially diagnosed only years before. "Rhea, is it?"
"Yeah. It's really Andrea, but everyone just calls me Rhea."
"Well, Rhea... my situation with Killian is complicated."
Emma knew better than to go into detail about her entire relationship, but that didn't mean that she couldn't still find a confidant in Rhea. "He's working on a project right now and... this has been a dream of his since before we even met. If I told him about my relapse, he wouldn't have taken the job. He would have regretted it. I couldn't do that to him."
Rhea sucked in a harsh breath through her teeth and shrugged her shoulders. "What's worse, though? The regret that he would have for missing this great opportunity... or the regret that you both would feel if things don't work out the way that you want and you both miss out on your time together?"
It wasn't anything that Emma hadn't heard before... or thought before, but hearing the words coming from this girl was different. This was an unbiased opinion from a complete stranger, and it meant so much. Emma wanted to tell him, she wanted Killian to be here with her, and she wanted to stop lying to everyone about her health... but she couldn't. "So what? Would I just pick up the phone and say, 'Babe, hey, I know that you are busy with your big film and your dream role, but my cancer is back. I need you to drop everything and come back.'? I don't know how that will play out, Rhea."
"What's the harm in finding out?" Rhea asked as she glanced around the room.
Emma took a deep breath and started twirling her ring that rested loosely on her finger. Everyday that passed, the ring became more loose. Soon, she won't even be able to wear it at all.
"Life is short, Emma." Rhea started with a stern and strong voice. "At some point, you are going to have to stop thinking about how you plan on sparing everybody else's feelings and worry about your own. You are going to have to be a little selfish. If you want Killian here, tell him. I would like to think that he wouldn't give a damn about the movie. I see the way that he looks at you in the photos. Everyone has. He absolutely adores you... and he is going to be crushed when he finds out that you kept this from him, but he will not love you any less."
"You sound like you've endured a similar situation." Emma concluded. "I'm kind of wondering how that can be because you don't look any older than 17."
"Not far off." Rhea pressed her lips together. "I'm actually 22... and I had someone that I loved once."
"It didn't work out." Rhea tried to brush it off, but Emma's eyes begged to know more. "I am a lot like you, Emma. As crazy as it sounds, I had a guy in my life and I loved him. He was the first guy that I ever lo- the only guy that I will ever have the pleasure of loving. He was perfect for me, but he's no longer around."
"Where is he now?"
"Venice, I assume." Rhea scrunched her face in question. "I tried to hide it from him because he would always say that he didn't like drama. I don't know about you, but brain cancer is pretty dramatic. Anyway, about three months ago, it got worse and I needed an emergency surgery. That's when he found out."
"I'm sorry." Emma knew what little weight her simple words held; but she was hoping that through her eyes, Rhea would be able to see that Emma really cared and was truly sorry for all that she had been through. "What was it like? For him to find out?"
"He was angry." Rhea's voice started to crack and Emma could tell that she was on the verge of tears. "He was so furious, but not at me... at himself. He kept crying and holding onto my hand as I pretended to be asleep. He said 'How could I not have known?'. I think he understood why I didn't want to tell him, but he kept saying that if he truly loved me, he should have figured it out."
The tale was enough to warrant quiet sobs from the young woman and tears from Emma. She couldn't imagine something like that happening to her, but the odds of her being on a similar path are in her favor... unfortunately.
"He was so angry at himself for not knowing and not being there for me that he completely dismissed the fact that I lied to him." Rhea sniffled. "I felt awful. I felt like I had brainwashed him in some kind of way. It was terrible. He should have been angry at me, but he could only pity me. That is something that I never wanted from him."
"Yeah, I feel that." Emma muttered softly as she slowly reached over and rested her hand over Rhea's. "You put on a brave face so others don't see you struggle, but there is always that one person who sees right through you. He sees right through your pain, your regret, your fears and anxiety; but he's so blinded by his love for you that he doesn't see the lie."
"I told you that we were a lot alike." Rhea smiled through her tears. She quickly tried to dry them with the sleeve of her shirt. "We just kind of grew apart after that. I felt terrible, he felt terrible. I thought that there was no way that we could get back what we once had until I was out of the hospital, so I didn't try to fix our relationship. I just pushed him away until I was ready. It's been a month since I told him that he could stop coming, and there is nothing that I regret more. I've needed him these past few weeks. I really need him."
"Did he want to stop coming to see you?" Emma asked carefully.
Rhea shook her head, and looked up at Emma. "I had to remove him from my visitation list. I felt too guilty for lying to him, and I didn't want him to see me suffering. I had wanted to wait until I was healthy again to reach out, but..."
"What changed?" Emma raised an eyebrow. "What happened for you to need him so badly now?"
"My MRI results." Rhea inhaled deeply. "The surgery didn't save me and the cancer spread."
Emma shook her head and looked down to the ring on her finger. "I'm so sorry, Rhea. I can't imagine..."
"Learn from my mistakes, Emma." Rhea said as her shoulders slumped. "My time is up, but you- you still have time. Don't push him away. Reach out to him."
Emma pulled her hand back to her lap and released a shaky breath as she contemplated her options.
Regina walked back into the room as she shoved her phone in her coat pocket. "Great, you've bonded. Fantastic."
Rhea looked up at Regina and then shot Emma a quick glance. "I mean, I hope that we've bonded. I'd like to think that we bonded."
"Yeah, we've bonded." Emma agreed as she narrowed her eyes and looked to Regina. "Who did you call?"
"A complete moron." Regina mumbled to herself. "I can't stand that man for not having proper security, but Liam has a way to make sure that our mole doesn't get out."
Rhea's face instantly hardened as she looked between Emma and Regina. "Mole?"
"Really Regina, do we have to resort to being cruel to the girl? She won't say anything." Emma interjected.
"I'm still skeptical. Liam is going to have her moved into the room next to ours." Regina said as she peeked out of the small window on the door. "I want to keep an eye on you, Miss Morgan. I need to make sure that what you've seen today does not leave this room."
"Is this like what happens on TV when the really smart guy accidentally finds nuclear launch codes and he has to be detained to keep them a secret?" Rhea asked as she stood up and walked to the door. "I found out too much and now I have to be watched?"
"I'm not quite sure what TV shows you are watching, Miss Morgan, but the reputation and well being of Emma Swan is my number one priority." Regina said as she opened the door and flashed Rhea an evil grin. "You just became a casualty in the collateral damage. Have a good evening, neighbor."
October 14, 2016 (Day Nine of Treatment)
Meeting Rhea Morgan was a blessing in disguise. She finally had a friend who understood almost exactly what she was going through. Sure, Mary Margaret, David, and Regina were amazing with her, but they didn't get it. Not fully. They didn't understand the pain and weakness that Emma felt. They didn't understand the emotional turmoil that she was under due to her situation with Killian.
Emma didn't mention him again with Rhea over the past few days, but she could tell that Rhea was curious. It's been four days since Emma met Rhea, and Rhea dropped her load of wisdom and guidance, but Emma just couldn't find the courage to pick up the phone and tell Killian the truth. Even when Killian called, every tiny sliver of silence was an opportunity for Emma to come clean, but she just could form the words. She would just listen to how he was doing, and how much fun he was having on set, and how he still couldn't believe that he was actually the next James Bond. It was heartbreaking. How was Emma supposed to tell him after hearing that? How was she supposed to break his heart and crush his dreams?
"So, this is why you left the military? Because of the cancer?" Rhea asked as she looked at the playing cards in her hand.
Emma nodded her head and placed an unwanted card onto the table. Now that she was finally complete with her chemo, she was feeling less weak; so when Rhea knocked on her door and asked if she wanted company while David and Mary Margaret were out getting food for everyone, Emma was more than happy to invite her in.
"That makes so much sense." The girl chuckled. "Do you know that there are people on Tumblr who have theories about why you left the military? Out of the eight theories that I've seen, none of them are even close to being correct. You've hidden it well."
Emma's curiosity was stricken at Rhea's words. "What were some of the theories?"
"There were some pretty mean things on there. I shouldn't have said anything because they were all so ridiculous and far-fetched, but the most popular theory was that you had a drug problem." Rhea confessed. Before Emma could even release an incredulous laugh, Rhea cringed. "That theory gained even more support after a statement was released about you on the night of the Emmy's. One of the girls from a blog that I follow was there and she said that Sidney Glass's interview with you was cut short because you had a nosebleed- not 'technical difficulties'."
Emma scoffed, her smile fading. "How did people find out about that?"
Rhea's eyes widened. "The nosebleed thing is true?!"
Emma rolled her eyes and pointed to her head. "Not because I am on drugs... it was the cancer slowly coming back to kill me."
"This is so weird." Rhea admitted with an awe-stricken face. "On one hand, it's amazing because so many questions are getting answered and pieces of the puzzle are finally being put into place; but on the other hand..."
"It's cancer." Emma answered with a slow nod.
"Yeah." Rhea nodded her head and sighed in defeat. "Cancer sucks."
"Yeah, it does." Emma chuckled and set all of her cards down on the table. "You know what else sucks? Me beating your ass at this game."
"Shit! Again?" Rhea cried out. "How are you so good at this game? I literally just taught you how to play!"
Emma shrugged. "Beginner's luck?"
"Yeah, whatever." Rhea brushed her off as she collected all of the cards to shuffle. As she dealt out a new hand, her phone lit up beside her. As soon as Rhea looked at her phone, she gasped and dropped the deck. "I'll be damned."
"What?" Emma asked as she nodded towards Rhea's phone.
"It's Ryan- my ex." Rhea breathed out as she opened the text message. "After I talked to you, the other night, I called him. He didn't answer, because he's a spiteful piece of shit, so I left a voicemail. I apologized for everything, and asked him if he would consider coming by so that we could talk."
"You did?" Emma asked in shock. She couldn't believe that Rhea had the guts to do what Emma was too much of a coward to do. "What did he say?"
Rhea's eyes slowly started to flood with tears, but eventually she looked up from her phone and smiled. "He's going to come on Sunday."
"Oh wow." Emma exclaimed in the most excited tone that she could muster, but deep inside she was still jealous of the balls on this 22 year old. "That's amazing!"
Just as Rhea was about to reply, her phone started vibrating. "He's calling me."
Emma nudged her and smiled brightly. "Go ahead. Answer it!"
"Okay. Okay." Rhea said as she got up and walked to the door. "I'll come back and tell you everything."
"You better." Emma responded as she let her eyes wander over to her phone sitting right next to her.
As Rhea vacated the room, Emma grabbed her phone and took a deep breath. Before she could chicken out, she pressed Killian's contact and brought the phone up to her ear.
"This is Killian. Leave a message."
Emma was relieved, and upset, at the same time. She didn't know what to do.
The long-toned beep sounded in her ear, and she was faced with having to make a decision. Should she hang up? Should she call again? Should she leave a message?
"Hey, Killian. I know that we talked earlier, but there was just something that I've been meaning to talk to you about. Please call me whenever you get the chance. Don't worry about the time. I promise to pick up. Okay, bye."