Title: The Clock Stopped Ticking
Fandom: Once Upon a Time
Pairings: Swan Queen
Summary: "I'm sick! I'm never going to get better, Miss Swan!" The room was quiet as the words hit the air. Regina almost wished she could pull the words back and stuff them deep within her throat, but the words were out there and it ran Emma cold. "What?"
Author's Note: I am not a doctor and character death. A prompt from Tumblr: I know you probably have a bunch of fics right now, but I thought I'd throw one at you. :) Swan Queen, okay? With Regina, okay, still with me? She gets cancer, terminal, are you still there? Okay, good, Regina gets cancer. and. tells. no. one. Enjoy! :D
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
"I am so sorry, Mayor Mills." Dr. Whale's voice was distant, like he was a hundred miles away instead of two feet. Regina blinked slowly, her mouth gaping, trying to scrape words out of her throat to communicate to him. To tell him how much it didn't matter how sorry he was because sorry wasn't going to cure her, or make her have a fighting chance.
Sorry only told her that she had run out of time.
"I trust you can keep this to yourself?" The dark haired woman said, finding her words and choking them out. Dr. Whale's pale blue eyes stared at, uncomprehendingly for a moment. She slid off the table and stepped closer to him. "Dr. Whale, can you or can you not keep this between us?"
He nodded, unsure. "But, Madame Mayor, while I respect your privacy, you shouldn't go through this alone."
"I'll be fine Dr. Whale. Have a good evening."
She stalked out of the side room and left the hospital.
Only one tear fell.
She lay wide awake, staring at her white ceiling as if it had all the answers she sought out. It didn't. She sighed and rolled over to look out the window. She took in a few stuttering breaths to keep the tears at bay, but it didn't work. The moonlight blurred as tears filled her eyes. Her body was racked with sobs. She covered her mouth to muffle the pitiful cries that echoed around her bedroom.
The last thing she needed was to wake Henry.
She jolted at the thought of her son. He hated her. And that hatred stemmed from her being the Evil Queen, because she destroyed everyone's lives. He saw who she was and he didn't fear her. He was disgusted by her and her actions. He hated her presence in his life. She made him unhappy.
She pressed her face into her pillow and grasped at her chest.
He was as unhappy with her as she was with her own Mother. Cora had kept her from Daniel and Regina was keeping Henry from Emma, his birth Mother. Her heart lurched painfully against her ribcage. She had become her Mother, something she swore to the ends of all the worlds that she wouldn't do. History was repeating itself.
She let her emotions wash over her dead into the night and as the moon sank and the sun rose, she had come to the only conclusion.
"Go and get yourself a hot chocolate, Henry. I need to speak with Miss Swan for a moment." Mother and son stepped into Granny's diner and Regina immediately spotted blonde curls. The Mayor nudged her son toward the counter where Ruby stood with a smile and he left with an anxious look in the blonde's direction.
Regina shoved the hurt deep inside and made her way to the Sheriff of Storybrooke. She slid into the booth across from Emma Swan and waited for the blonde to acknowledge her. Green eyes stared startled at her before narrowing. She began to fold up her section of the newspaper, "Look, Madame Mayor, I don't have time for whatever thing you're trying to blame me for, so-"
"I have a proposition for you Miss Swan." Regina says calmly, though inside her emotions are tearing her apart. Her hands are folded neatly on top of the table and it's all she can do to stop from fidgeting like she wants to. She can see Henry watching them from her peripheral vision and it sends a stab of pain through her at his blatant distrust.
Emma sighs and leans back into the booth. "Okay, I'll bite. What's up?"
"It has occurred to me that Henry wishes to see more of you and, since the office has required me to take up more hours, I am willing to allow it." Regina said, proud that her voice didn't waver in the slightest.
Emma shot forward, clearly surprised. "You'd let me be with Henry alone? I mean, I-wait." Her eyes narrowed and anger flared in the blonde's green irises. "Is this another one of your schemes to make me look bad? Because-"
"Miss Swan, I have no ulterior motive. The babysitter I hire is asking for a raise in her pay and I do not feel comfortable leaving Henry home alone past sunset." Regina told her and it was a good half lie. The babysitter was asking for more, but it wasn't anything she couldn't afford, she was the Mayor after all. "If you don't feel up to it, I can tell Henry as much."
The Mayor needed the blonde to say yes, she needed the blonde to take her son and love him more than Regina was ever able. He would love her back more than he had ever loved his adoptive Mother. It was the first step in getting her son's happiness. She needed for Emma Swan to prove her wrong and step up as the parent Henry always wanted.
"No, I'd love to-"
"I trust that you'll bring him home fed and homework done." Regina stood and a slight lightheadedness hit her while black danced in her vision. She gripped the back of the booth to ensure that the ground wouldn't have an up close and personal experience with her face. The action didn't go unnoticed by the Sheriff in front of her.
"I'm fine." The brunette snapped with venom dripping from her words. She waved at her son to come closer. "Henry, come, you'll be late for school." He hopped down from the stool, cup of hot chocolate half full on the counter, and made his way over to her.
"What did you say to her?" He demanded as they made their way to the door and Regina was sure the ripping she felt in her chest was her heart beginning to crack. He was so much like her at this age, it was hard to believe that she hadn't given birth to him.
"Miss Swan will be picking you up from school today." She said loud enough that Emma could hear it. She would not have this woman forget Henry at school. Henry glanced over and saw a blonde head nodded in agreement. He beamed and ran out the door, Regina barely trailing behind him.
"I got the papers." Sydney announced in a hushed whisper as he walked into the Mayor's office. He placed the manila envelope in front of her. She quickly opened the flap and pulled the pristine papers from their covering. Reading over the documents in her hand, she waved the reporter off.
"That will be all, Mr. Glass. You may go." He walked away, but stopped, a hesitant question coming out of his mouth.
"Are you sure you want to do this?"
Her glare was deadly, ruthless. "What I do does not concern you, Mr. Glass. I think it'd be in your best interest to leave now."
"Henry, breakfast is ready!" She called up the stairs to him. She normally would go up and get him, but she was too tried and since her body was rejecting food, she didn't have a way to gain the energy to make such an action. It was surprising to her that she even made the waffles without burning them.
After what sounded like a stampede going down her stairs, Henry entered the kitchen. He was dressed in his school uniform, but his hair was still sleep-messy. He yawned and rubbed one of his eyes with a small closed fist. "Waffles?" He questioned, sitting at the table where a plate was waiting for him. "Thanks Mom."
She nodded at him and willed the surge in her go away.
He had been more civil toward her the past couple weeks after letting him spend more time with his birth Mother, but Regina didn't want to feel hope that her son was coming around. She was as good as dead, the past couple doctor's appointments told her that. She could see a spark in his eye that she hadn't realized was missing since he had gotten his book. Emma was making him happy.
"Aren't you going to eat?" Henry asked as he saw her lean against the counter, a cup of warm tea in hand. She shook her head and managed a smile, but he saw through it. Something was wrong. "Is this because of how much time I've been spending with Emma at Miss Blanchard's?"
"Of course not. Now eat, I have to go into the office a bit earlier today, so I can drive you to school." She turned and placed her barely touched tea into the sink. "Miss Swan will be picking you up from school today."
"Again?" Regina looked him over her shoulder. He seemed almost sad.
"Yes." She told him after a moment of silence. "I won't be home until late. If you'd rather, Miss Swan can bring you here and the two of you can stay here until I get back." She assumed that he missed his things, his home, that he wanted to have something familiar around him.
He was quick to ask, "From your office?" He looked at her straight on, daring her to lie to him. She often wondered if he had his Mother's 'superpower' of being able to catch lies as if he were a human lie detector.
"Where else would I be?" She settled on.
Disappointment was clear on his face.
"I think my Mom is in another relationship." Henry said suddenly. Emma jumped, startled, from her spot next to him. He had been quiet since she had picked him up. He asked her to bring him home and started on his homework as soon as he walked in and sat at the dining table. That had been an hour ago and not a word had been said between the two.
"Like with Graham." He told her, looking up. She placed the file she had been reading down on the wooden table and turned toward him fully.
"Kid, she's at town hall, doing paper work like she always does."
"She's not at the office." The boy shook his head and threw his pencil down. "I called. They said she took the day off." His voice dropped to a whisper. "She lied to me."
"Henry…I'm sure she has a good reason." The blonde woman tried, but it was clear that her son was hurt and the one to do it was a cold woman who claimed to love Henry with all her being. Emma wasn't sure why she was defending the dark haired woman, even doing so, a kernel of anger bubbled inside her.
"I asked her this morning because she was being weird, but she said that she'd be at her office. She said…" Henry picked up his pencil and began to do the math that was in front of him. It was his most hated subject and he struggled. Emma could do it, but couldn't explain it and there was only so much Miss Blanchard could do. His Mom was good at math.
"Weird how?" She put her hand on his to stop his furious scribbles for a second.
"She didn't eat breakfast. I haven't seen her eat at all the past couple weeks." He confessed.
"Nothing?" Regina didn't seem the type to starve herself, but Emma didn't know the woman. And if it was just now starting to happen, maybe there was something the blonde could do to stop it before it was too late. After all, the brunette had given Emma the chance to have a relationship with Henry.
"Little bits of food, but not a meal. Not a lot." Not enough he added in his head.
"I'll talk to her."
"Where have you been?" Emma took a bit of pride in seeing Regina jump. It was well past the usual time the Mayor came home, Henry had been in bed for at least two hours and Emma had been left alone to allow her anger to fester. When she heard the other woman's car pull into the driveway, she was ready to bite someone's head off and who better than the woman causing the white hot rage to burn inside her.
Regina composed quickly. "Miss Swan, please, try to keep your voice down." She knew the time and she knew the boy she called her son would be fast asleep, if Emma hadn't fed him ten tons of sugar.
"Where. Have. You. Been." The blonde lowered her voice, but it only succeeded in making her sound angrier.
"Cut the bullshit, I know you weren't and what's worse is so does Henry." Emma put her hands on hips. Regina frowned at that information and looked up as if she could see through the ceiling. "Where were you?"
"My whereabouts, Miss Swan, are none of your business."
The brunette answered, making a move to get further in the house, but her steps were stopped when Emma stood in front of her. "It's Henry's and that makes it mine. So where were you, off with some guy?"
"You are crossing a line that you do not want to." Regina snarled quietly.
"Are you though? Are you fucking some guy at Granny's while I'm here with Henry?" Emma stepped into Regina's personal bubble and frowned when the smell of antiseptic hit her nose.
"You need to leave. Now." The older woman hissed and Emma felt the flow of air from her mouth hit the blonde's fair face. Regina turned sideways and slipped between the doorframe and Emma before the Sheriff had time to stop her. The woman instinctively grabbed at Regina's elbow and felt a bump underneath the material of the blazer that the Mayor wore.
The brunette paled instantly. She struggled to get out of the grip she was in, but she was too tired and the pain that now radiated up and down her arm was making everything sway.
"No, what are you hiding in your jacket?" Emma, with a roughness she deemed necessary, ripped the jacket off a weakened Regina. Dozens of needlepoint small dots could be seen at the bend of one of Regina's arms and Emma was sure that the other arm would be the same had a cotton ball not hid most of the skin.
When Emma's grasp loosened, Regina pulled away from her, catching the table behind her to keep her balance. "Who the hell do you think you are?"
"Regina, what the hell is this? These are track marks."
"None. Of. Your. Business." She didn't bother to put her coat back on. The blonde had seen her arms, there was no way to convince her that her eyes had been playing tricks on her. She simply opened the closet door and hung the jacket on a hanger and placed it back where it belonged.
"Are you doing drugs?"
"I'm not some hooligan, Miss Swan. I don't need a drug to make me feel good about myself, unlike some people." Emma ignored the intended jab and kept her gaze focused on Regina. Her arms, her eyes, her posture, her words. She was trying to deflect.
"Are you sick?"
"Are you going to the doctor's and you don't want Henry to worry? There has to be a reason for…this!" She gestures wildly with her hands. She has no idea what to think. Regina is quiet for a moment. She doesn't want anyone to know, it wouldn't do her or anyone else any good.
"I suppose now that the cat has been manhandled out of the bag, I could tell you, but I must have your word that it stays between the two of us. Most importantly, that it does not reach Henry's ears."
"Miss Swan, I need you to take Henry to his session with Dr. Hopper."
"Hello to you too Mayor Mills. How was my day? So far, pretty boring. I was just about to head home. Thanks for asking."
"Why can't you take Henry to Archie?"
"Is it because of-"
"I'm tired. I don't wish to cause my son a trip to the hospital because I fell asleep at the wheel."
"…I'll be there in ten minutes."
"Are you okay?" Emma asked, quietly moving into the bathroom where Regina was hunched over the toilet, pale and shaky. Blood shot eyes threw a glare in her direction before the Mayor's body lurched. She gagged for a second and then her body dispelled what little was in her belly. Emma awkwardly squatted down next to her and rubbed her back.
"What…are you…doing back here?" Regina panted, out of energy, leaning her cheek on the white seat.
"Henry said he heard you throwing up. I told him I'd come back and check on you." And she had. The boy was reluctant to leave the house and kept glancing back up the stairs, toward his Mother's room. Emma had only gotten him out of the house by promising to make sure that the dark haired Mayor was okay.
"So noble." Emma heard Regina mumble, almost to herself.
"Are you okay?" She asked again, pulling her hand back when she realized it was still there and the Mayor was no longer shaking as bad. The brunette nodded with little conviction and pulled away from the toilet.
"Never better." She pushed the lid to drop and the sharp sound of porcelain hitting porcelain rang in their ears. Emma cringed, but the Mayor was indifferent. She weakly flushed and heaved herself onto the now-closed toilet. "I have papers I need you to sign. If you could give me a moment, I will meet you in my office."
"But…Never mind." The Sheriff shook her head and backed away from the still pale woman. "Don't take forever, I promised Mary Margret that I'd make a grocery run."
Emma sat on the couch in the medium sized room, calling her roommate to inform her that she'd be a little late, but would in fact get to the store for their dinner. Five minutes passed before the Mayor strut into the room. That was the only word Emma could use for the way Regina walked. Sure the woman was pale and sick and weak, but she walked like a model on a runway.
"What is this paper that I need to sign?"
Regina sat behind her desk. She reached under a pile of papers and pulled out a thin stack that was stapled together. She wordlessly handed the documents to Emma who had her hand out stretched. She read the title and horror filled her eyes. Quickly she shuffled through the papers and saw a section that was already signed by Regina Mills with a blank spot for Emma to place her name. "What is this?"
"I think you know." Regina said calmly, leaning back into her chair and trying to relax her weary bones.
"'Transfer of Parental Rights'?" Emma questioned in disbelief.
Dryly, Regina quipped, "Glad to know you have a third grade reading level."
"I don't understand."
Regina sighed, almost frustrated. "I'm giving you Henry. Congratulations, you have an almost teenage boy." Her stomach rolled and she knew it had nothing to do with the fact that her body was turning against her. It had nothing to do with the blonde sitting across from her. It had nothing to do with the memories of her childhood and her brutal Mother. It was her giving in and giving her son-no not her son, Emma's son-Henry to his Mother.
"I thought you loved him." She growled, getting to her feet and curling her fist around the papers in her hand.
"Then why are you giving him away like a repackaged birthday gift?" Emma shouted. She slammed her palms on the desk in front of her and fury swam in her eyes.
Regina's eye twitched. "Because it's what's best for him."
"That's shit and you know it!"
"I'm sick, Miss Swan."
"No!" Regina was finally up and leaning over her desk at glare at the Sheriff. "No, you don't."
"Only because you won't tell me what's going on with you!"
"I'm sick! I'm never going to get better, Miss Swan!"
The room was quiet as the words hit the air. Regina almost wished she could pull the words back and stuff them deep within her throat, but the words were out there and it ran Emma cold. Her body was frozen. "What?"
Regina released a small, sad, breath of air. She turned to the window, one arm secured around her middle, the other leading a fist to her mouth, and glued her eyes on her tree dotted with red apples. "I'm never going to recover. It's only going to get worse."
"What's going to get worse?"
She let out a chuckle to cover the sob that hugged her chest. "My cancer."
Emma's stomach dropped and she couldn't explain the tears that stung her eyes. "Regina…"
"As much as if pains me to say this, and you know it does, Henry is happy with you." The woman continued, as if she hadn't just admitted to having cancer. Her back was still to Emma and the blonde could see her tense shoulders and shivering frame.
"Regina, you're his Mother."
"No, I'm not." Emma swore she could hear Regina's heart shatter like glass being hit with a baseball bat. Regina laughed self depreciatively. "I don't think I ever was." Her voice was small and far off. The younger woman wondered where the brunette was at that very moment. "I was a caretaker. Someone to hold your place until you were ready to a person he could be proud of." Regina tilted her head over her shoulder slowly. The light that filtered in from the window passed Regina and made the woman look like a fallen Angel. "You're ready now. You are his Mother."
"Why aren't you fighting this?" It had been three weeks since that evening in Regina's office and Emma had yet to sign the papers, not that Regina pushed her too much. Emma had brought up the cancer several times, but almost every time, she was cut off or ignored. She could see the toll it was causing the Mayor now.
She was thinning, she hardly felt up to eating and usually when she did, it would make a reappearance. The fiery temper was quelled by a bone deep exhaustion and when she wasn't in her bed, trying to find some energy to anything, she was pushing herself to look normal the few times Henry was home.
Despite being sick, Emma found the woman had a sneaky ability to set Emma up to do things with Henry, keeping the boy with the blonde and away from the home that he was raised in and Regina herself.
Regina sat up in bed with great difficulty. She glared at Emma with glossy eyes from the slight fever that claimed her body the night before. The blonde trained her gaze on Regina's face, trying not to look at the curly hair that the Mayor didn't have the energy to straighten anymore, trying not to look at the tank top that barely covered anything, trying not to look at the bare leg that revealed a smooth looking thigh from under little blue blankets.
"I am!" Regina told her loudly, conscious of Henry in the kitchen.
"Could've fooled me." Emma crossed her arms and watched Regina on the bed.
"You think I'm not." She said and it wasn't a question, so Emma didn't answer. "Let me ask you something Miss Swan. Do you know what it feels like to waste away? To have your body turn against you and a number suddenly above your head that counts down until your days are over?"
"You don't have an expiration date."
"I'm being told otherwise." The brunette retorted. "I am fighting. I'm not ready. I don't want to die. I have a life, I have a son." Tears that she hadn't cried in front of anyone in over twenty eight years crawled down her cheeks. She didn't bother to brush them away. She didn't care. "I'm not ready."
Emma moved closer and sat at the edge of the bed, facing Regina. "Then why not try chemo or surgery?"
"It's too far along. We caught it too late and now there is nothing to do." Regina looked at Emma for a moment before dropping her gaze. "How's Henry?" She wanted to change the subject.
"He misses you." Emma confessed. "Sometimes, we make him food or pack his lunch or…make popcorn even, and he takes it, never complains. But I can see that he misses the way you did things like that for him. He understands what he took for granted." She told her, pushing away the old sting of rejection. "You should tell him."
"We already talked about this."
"Regina, he's your son and stop glaring at me because he is. That boy, you raised him, you said so yourself. Just because you're…" Emma took a deep breath and continued in a softer voice. "Just because you're dying doesn't mean that you're alone. He's here, I'm here, the town is here."
Regina scoffed. "We are not telling Storybrooke."
"What would be the point? I would rather they hate me for who I am then to pity me as a dying fool."
"This discussion is over. I believe you need to get Henry to school."
The phone rang late into the night and Regina groaned. Sliding closer to her nightstand, she grabbed her phone and answered. "Mayor Mills." She answered with a yawn, sleep gently tugging her back into its clutches.
"Regina! Regina, I don't know what to do!" At Emma's terrified voice, Regina sat up straight. The phone call could only be about Henry. It was his week with Emma and Emma wouldn't call in the middle of the night for any other reason, especially knowing that sleep was always on the brunette's mind.
"Miss Swan-" She tried.
"He's burning up and he can't keep anything down and he's crying and-"
"Miss Swan-" The brunette attempted again with the same results.
"Regina, I don't-I've never dealt with a sick kid before-"
"Emma!" Regina shouted into the phone, effectively stopping the blonde woman's ranting. "Are you listening to me?"
"He wants to talk to you." Emma said and Regina could hear the phone being passed over.
"Mommie?" He murmured, tears clear in his voice. Her own eyes watered at the endearing term, it had been a long time since he called her that and she couldn't say it didn't warm her heart, even under the circumstances. "Mommie, I don't feel good."
"I know baby, but Emma's going to take care of you-"
"I don't want Emma, I want you." He cried as his words cracked. "I'm sorry I said you were the Evil Queen. I want to come home. I want to be with you. Please, Mommie, please. I need you." Henry begged on the verge sobbing and Regina couldn't deny him something so simple.
"Give the phone back to Emma."
"Henry, baby. Please."
"Bring him over."
"How did you do that?" Emma asked quietly from her side of the bed that belonged to Regina. The dark haired woman paused the motions of her hand on Henry's back, only to start a moment later when he began to squirm on top of her. "Get him to sleep, I mean and break his fever."
"A tea that my Father showed me how to make as a child. It can sooth even the wildest of fevers. I can teach you how to make it before…" Regina stopped and looked down at Henry. The young boy was cuddled into her chest as he lay on top of her with her arms firmly wrapped around his body. "As a baby and toddler, Henry loved to be held, loved to be cuddled. He doesn't like it so much now, but whenever he's sick, let him hear your heart beat. It calms him."
Emma had left in the morning before Regina had awoken. The blonde had to work, but it was also a good time to get Henry and Regina to have some one on one time that both desperately needed, but wouldn't ask for. She had slipped out of the bed and found herself not wanting to leave the soft bed, the warm covers, or the bodies she was pushed up against when consciousness nudged her.
"Em-ma?" She heard behind her when she reached down to grab her boots that lay on the floor beside the bed. She popped her head up and saw Henry looking at her. He didn't move from his place on his Mom, if anything, he tucked himself further into her arms and under her chin.
"I gotta head to work, kid. You okay staying with your Mom for the day?"
His sickly face brightened, enough for her to feel that sting again. Emma knew he'd be more than okay. Regina was everything that a Mother should be last night. She guided Emma's hands in checking for his temperature, she sung softly to him as she carried around his seventy five pound body, she turned on the hot water and sat on the floor in the bathroom with him in her lap to clear his sinuses.
If Emma was worried before, she wouldn't have to be now.
"Thanks for bring me home, Emma." He said, his lids slowly, but surely finding themselves closed. Emma reached over and ran a hand down his back, exactly how she'd seen the dark haired woman do it last night. His body sagged at the familiar touch.
"Calling you evil. You're not."
"Maybe I am Henry. You have nothing to be sorry for."
"Then why do I feel guilty?"
"Because you're adjusting to Emma being a new Mother to you and its making you scared. Anyone would be in your situation."
"You're still my Mom, you know that right? Just because I love Emma, doesn't mean I love you any less."
"I know, dear."
"I missed you."
"Not half as much as I you."
"Do I have to go back?" Henry asked her quietly from his spot in her car. Regina tried to smile at him with her newfound energy, but she couldn't. She smoothed a hand over his dark locks making him look up at her.
Regina nodded. "You've been out of school for a week with that flu of yours."
"That's not what I was talking about and you know it."
Watching Henry cross his arms and pout made Regina chuckle freely and even Henry couldn't help the grin that found purchase on his features. She had been so open, so loving, so free this past week and Henry wasn't willing to let that go. This was the Mom he remembered from his single digit years, this was the Mom who would pick a random day to pull him out of school and they'd go to the beach, this was the Mom who taught him how to make a fire. This is the Mom he missed the most.
"I know, but Miss Swan and Miss Blanchard must miss you. I know I do when you're gone." Regina told him softly.
"But they have each other, they don't need me to stay there." He ducked his head and squeezed his fists into his pants.
"Henry." Regina hooked a finger under her son's chin and brought his head up until their nearly identical eyes met. Henry's eyes were puffy and reddening as Regina ran a thumb across his cheek to swipe away the tears that escaped. "I'm not alone."
"Yes you are!" He yelled. "I go to Emma's and you're home all by yourself with no one to talk to or to make food for and I feel bad! I don't want you to be alone."
"I chose this, Henry." She leaned forward to kiss his forehead. "I chose to share custody with Miss Swan. You knew this when we asked you."
He shook his head and more tears fell. "I didn't think about it. Mom, I didn't think that you would be all alone in that house. Can't I stay with you?"
"And how would that be fair to Miss Swan? I know I raised you to honor your commitments."
He nodded solemnly. "But…this isn't fair to you." Henry looked up at her with wide eyes that clearly conveyed the hard emotion whirling inside him. She felt her stomach clench as dread filled her. She didn't want him to feel like this.
Not when it would be the last time they would see each other.
"I knew what I was doing." Regina repeated with a soft sigh. "Henry, I don't want you to think about this. Think that now, you have two people who love you more than anything. Two people who would move the ground beneath us to help you." She quirked the corner of her lip and mischievousness twinkled in her dark orbs. "Double the presents, double the love, and double the ice cream."
Her fingers reached out and poked his belly. He screeched in unexpected laughter.
"Emma? Can I go home?"
"I want to talk to Mom about something."
"Isn't she at work?"
"Nope. I called and her secretary said she hasn't seen her."
"Tell you what. You stay here with Mary Margret and I'll go check on your Mom."
"But I need to talk to her."
"I love her. I haven't told her yet. I forgot."
Emma stepped into the hospital, ignoring the chill that shot up her spine. "Dr. Whale?" The blonde doctor looked up from the chat he was reading intently and nodded at Emma in greeting. She walked over to him and leaned to whisper in his ear, "Is there somewhere we can talk privately?"
"Sheriff Swan, I really have a lot going on right now. I don't have the time-"
"It's about Regina." Emma kept her voice low as she spoke. The man blinked in surprise before frowning.
She cut him off. She didn't have time for these games. "I know, okay? She told me. And something tells me she's here."
"She told you?" Whale asked disbelievingly.
"Can we please talk somewhere else?" She caught a few stares being directed at them and Whale could too. He motioned for Emma to follow him. They walked down several corridors before stopping in the hall in front of a door.
"Mayor Mills told you about her…"
"Cancer." She supplied, knowing a test when she saw one. His shoulders slumped and he squeezed his eyes closed. The weight of the world seemed to be upon his shoulders and all Emma could do was watch.
"We did everything, but it had progressed too far too fast."
"I know. She told me."
"She told you." He said again.
"I haven't seen her son around."
"Because he doesn't know."
"But you do."
"She's in there. And Sheriff? She hasn't much time."
"Emma?" A small voice croaked in the cool, dark room. Heart monitors beeped slowly, much slower than normal and a soft, light was shown on Regina's sunken in face. Emma closed the door behind her and sat in the hospital chair that was beside the Mayor's bed. The blonde took the brunette's hand on hers, pushing the shudder at how cold the hand was away.
"It's me." Was all she said.
They sat there for hours. Not a word was said between the two, but it made Regina feel better knowing that she wasn't going alone. Emma traced random patterns into the other woman's hand to let Regina know she was still there. Emma's phone rang three separate times. She didn't bother to pick it up, though she was tempted when Regina raised an eyebrow at her.
Emma grinned at her and quiet laughter hung in the room, only for a few moments.
"Are you…going…to…sign the…papers now?" Regina gasped into the thin air. Her words were hard to hear, only above a whisper.
"I already did. A couple of weeks ago." Emma admitted.
"Why did…you keep bri-" The dark haired woman was interrupted by her own coughing. Emma grabbed a cup of water with a straw and led the straw to Regina's semi-chap lips. "Why did you keep…bringing him back?"
"Because he needed you. He loves you, Regina."
The sun rose.
Yellow rays of sunshine splashed into the room, across the tiled floor, across an empty bed, through swaying blonde hair, finally landing on the still figure of Regina Mills. Emma watched as the dashes on the heart monitor became longer and longer until there was no spike of green. Dr. Whale was in the room and he silently shut off the machine.
He left the room, unable to stay at the expense of his own mind.
Emma kissed the back of the hand that still rested in her own.