A/N: I missed Emma. But apparently, she'd rather hang around with those imaginary blue things (and NPH) instead of spending some happy time with Will. Haha, but who am I kidding. I love the smurfs and I can't wait to see her in it.
This was written before Journey aired btw. It was meant to be posted earlier but my PC screwed up on me.
Emma squinted as bright light flooded her vision.
"Sorry about that," a man clad in a white coat quickly apologized as he readjusted the overhead lamp.
He then reached for a pair of gloves, which he put on a little too enthusiastically. Emma smiled- he'd told her once that his favorite part of the job was snapping on the latex. After making sure that he had worn it properly, he turned to her again, a scalpel now in hand.
"Open up," he instructed her, almost mechanically.
Emma complied, opening her mouth as wide as she could. For the next few minutes, the dentist probed her mouth with an array of tools set on the nearby tray. As she felt that familiar feeling of cold metal brushing against her gums and teeth, her mind began to wander off.
With everything that had happened to her over the past weeks, her appointment with Dr. Howell was the last thing on her mind. In fact, if she hadn't come across those crazed fans of that vampire novel that morning, she would've completely forgotten all about it. One look at their faux fangs was enough of a reminder for her. She never would've imagined that their obsession actually had some advantages.
Howell's remark instantly snapped her out of her reverie. She would have asked him what was wrong, if his hand wasn't stuck down her throat. She waited nervously for what he had to say next.
"Hmm. This is bad."
His next statement only aggravated her anxiety. All she could do was watch in horror as Howell continued to examine her, his brows furrowed and his head shaking every now and then. She wasted no time when she finally had the chance to speak up. "What's wrong?"
"It appears that you have some plaque build-up. It's only a matter of time before cavities start caving in," he explained to her matter-of-factly.
Disbelief quickly surfaced on Emma's features. "How is that possible? I-I brush and floss before and after every meal and-"
Emma's sentence was cut off when Howell, much to her confusion, began to laugh. Just as she was about to ask what was so funny about her teeth about to get rotten down the core, he stopped and flashed her one of his award-winning smiles. "I kid, I kid. Your pearly whites are in perfect condition, as always," he informed her, putting emphasis on the last two words.
"Gosh, doc. You really scared me," Emma confessed before breathing a sigh of relief.
"Really, Emma. I don't see why you need to come visit me for a check-up every month when you take such excellent care of your teeth. Not that I don't appreciate you dropping by, of course," he told her as he disposed of his gloves and put his tools back in place.
"You know how much I value oral hygiene," Emma reasoned. He couldn't agree more.
"Yes. For two years now actually," Howell pointed out in amusement, letting out a short laugh afterwards. She had always been one of his best clients. A wistful air surrounded him as his mind drifted back to their first meeting. "Isn't it amazing how fast time goes by? It seems like yesterday when you first waltzed into my office…," he trailed off, bringing his contemplation to a close after seeing Emma's reaction.
It was now his turn to be puzzled. Instead of the nostalgic remark that he expected, she just looked at him, her eyes registering no particular emotion. It was his first time to see the fragile-looking ginger in such an intense state and he found this very unsettling. The atmosphere lifted partly when Emma sat upright from her reclining position, of which she'd remained unmoved for what appeared like an eternity to him.
"Are you all right Doctor Howell?" she finally asked, her gaze softening.
He stared at her for a moment before setting his eyes down on the floor. Emma took this as an answer to her question.
"I understand if you'd, um, prefer not to tell me but it'll make you feel better if you talk about it," she prodded, trying her best not to be too intrusive.
"No, no. It's ok," Howell assured her, taking a deep breath shortly afterwards. "I'm curious, though. How did you know that something was bothering me?"
"Your palms. They were, uh, mostly closed since I got here," Emma explained, pointing at his hands which were indeed closed. "Closed palms are usually a sign that something is troubling a person," she continued after noting that his puzzled expression was unchanged.
Howell chuckled bitterly, in an attempt to lighten the mood. "I almost forgot you are a shrink."
"So, uh, what's going on?" Emma began, moving towards the edge of the dental chair so that she could face him directly.
Howell sighed. "This may be your last visit," he put it bluntly.
"What do you mean?"
"My landlord threatened to kick me out if I don't pay up at the end of the month," Howell admitted, taking a seat on a nearby stool. He figured that there was no use beating around the bush. She was going to find out eventually anyway.
"How much do you owe him exactly?"
"Just two months worth of rent," he answered, pausing briefly to glance at the calendar. "Three in a week."
"Gosh, that is a problem. I'm very sorry to hear about that," she expressed her sympathy.
Howell shook his head. "No, don't be. Keeping a dental office is rather draining on one's wallet. It was bound to happen sooner or later," he told her, keeping a practical view on the subject. Really, he didn't deserve her pity.
"Ok, well, um, why not move to another location? One that's more affordable," Emma suggested after a moment of thought.
"I've been looking, but I haven't had much luck. Those that do fit into my budget are too small and such," he negated, quickly crossing out the option.
Undaunted, Emma tried suggesting other alternatives. None of them could get the money he needed in time though. She was running out of ideas, but she continued to think up of new ones anyway, as she felt obliged to help him out. She had seen the passion he had for his work and it would be a shame to put an end to it so soon. Finally, just as she was about to give up, an answer finally hit her. "Wait! I think we have a job opening at McKinley. You could, um, work part-time. The pay's not stellar, but it'll be enough to pay off all your debts."
He said nothing, but a glint of hope surfaced on his blue eyes. As much as she wanted to help the guy out, she also didn't want him to bear false hope. "I'd have to inquire with Principal Figgins first, but with your credentials, I'm sure they'll hire you right away," she continued, keeping her optimism.
Howell remained speechless, as though he was still letting the good news sink in. When it finally did, he couldn't contain his happiness any longer. He leaned forward and gave her a hug, which she promptly returned. Normally, she would've avoided such close contact. She figured that her therapy must be working.
"God, thank you Emma. I owe you one. A huge one at that," he thanked her.
"You don't owe me anything doc. I'm glad to help," she assured him as he pulled back and straightened his outfit.
There was a question that lingered on the dentist's mind, but he was unsure if he needed to know the answer or not. In the end though, curiosity got the better of him. "What happened to the old dentist, if I may ask?"
"He, uh, hanged himself," she answered uncomfortably.
Howell didn't seem to be the least bit bothered by it. "Well, in the medical profession, dentists do have the highest number of suicide rates," he informed her.
"Oh. How…interesting," Emma muttered, for a lack of better reply.
A brief silence settled between them until Howell stood up to break the awkward air. "So I'll see you on Monday then," he clarified, in an attempt to get her mind off his earlier comment. The last thing he wanted was for Emma to tag him as an unfeeling robot with suicidal tendencies.
Emma nodded, her uneasiness gone. "Yeah. Monday. Let's hope for the best."
Emma grabbed her purse and made her way towards the door. She was about to turn the knob when Howell stopped her in her tracks. "Oh, and Emma?"
Emma paused mid-step and looked over her shoulder, waiting for what he had to say.
"Enough of the formality. Call me Carl."
"All right, then. Carl it is."
They exchanged smiles one last time before she turned on her heel and walked out of his office.
The satisfaction Emma gets whenever she made someone's day filled her system. It was her natural high, so to speak. For once she felt great and it showed. Yet just when she thought nothing could ruin the moment, an all-too-familiar face came into view.
"Hey," Will greeted, unaware of how his presence overwhelmed her.
"Hey," she greeted back, forcing a smile. It was a real effort for her, seeing how the mere sight of him broke her heart into pieces. But when he returned the gesture, her heart fluttered once more, as though it had never been broken in the first place. Emma was confused; she decided to move away before things got too uncomfortable. She proceeded to the receptionist to pay.
In reality, she was only a meter away. But to Will, they were worlds apart. Since the faculty break room fiasco, their interaction had been limited to awkward glances and the occasional exchange about school activities or some other mundane topic. He surely wasn't about to let this opportunity pass. "I didn't know that Dr. Howell was your dentist," Will began, setting the magazine he'd been reading back on the table.
"Same here," she said without looking at him.
Will was determined to keep the conversation going at any cost. "He's really good. You know, with teeth and stuff."
"Yeah. Definitely. He handles his tools quite well," Emma replied while handing some crisp bills to the woman behind the desk.
She turned to face him after gathering her change. "So, I better get going. I still have some, uh, counseling stuff to take care of."
"The kids were dismissed two hours ago," Will simply said, not buying her excuse one bit.
"It's a house call," she lied.
Will saw through her pretenses, but he decided to let this one slide. "Oh. Well, good luck."
"Thanks Will." She gave him another smile, sincere this time. The gentleman that Will was, she was more than thankful that he respected her space, that she wasn't ready to let him back in just yet. She looked at him one last time before giving his shoulder a light squeeze and heading towards the door.
Will raised his hand and waved goodbye, even though she already had her backed turned. He watched silently as she walked off, until completely disappearing from sight when she rounded the corner. But even then, he could still hear the clacking of her trademark Mary Janes against the floor, which grew fainter and fainter as time passed.
As Emma stepped inside her car, one thing was clear: she loved Will and she still does. But she wasn't exactly sure if he loved her just as much.
Back in the waiting room, Will was brought back to his senses when the receptionist cleared her throat. Apparently, he spaced out so much that Dr. Howell had to come out of his office to see what was taking his next patient so long. He mumbled his apologies to the woman before heading towards the dentist's office.
"You and Emma know each other?" Howell asked, noting their earlier exchange that he witnessed. "You seem awfully close."
"Yeah, we work together," Will said, meaning it in more ways than one.
"She's very nice. A little bit on the quirky side, but that makes her all the more interesting."
"I know. She's an angel."
From the start, Will knew exactly where their conversation was headed- it wasn't a surprise when he finally dropped the question. "You think she's seeing anyone?" Howell asked casually, a grin drawn on his lips.
"Not recently," he replied, trying to keep his tone as casual as the dentist.
"I pity the jerk who let go of a woman like that," Howell remarked after a slight pause, his words marked with sympathy.
"Yeah. What a jerk," Will agreed, his weak tone an understatement to how strongly he felt about it.
Howell went on to discuss about the new teeth whitening procedure he scheduled, but he couldn't really care less. He was a jerk and he knew it. All he wanted was to set things right and win Emma back no matter what.
I don't know about you guys, but I'm still disappointed about the name choice. I mean, come on! Carl Howell? Our specced name Charles Cadwell sounds waaaaay better in my opinion. CadBury owns CarMa. XDD And please don't get me started on who they cast.
Anyways, I'm not sure if I should just keep this as a oneshot or not, so do tell me what you think. Reviews are like crack to me. :D