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Emma's eyes flickered open and she immediately scrunched up her face against the annoying brightness of the room she was in. She tried to lift her arm to shield her eyes, only to hear a metallic clink, followed by a sharp pain in her wrist as something resisted the movement. The pain cleared the haze she was in and Emma sat up with a startled gasp.
Her eyes widened as she took in her surroundings. She was obviously in a hospital of some kind, but what was worrying her was the handcuffs attaching her right hand to the bed. Her left arm was free, but she could see the tape from the remnants of an IV line on the back of her hand. She was relieved to find that she was still fully clothed, bar her jacket and boots. Her missing jacket was draped over the chair beside the bed, with the boots sitting on the floor under it.
The last thing she remembered was getting into her car. Obviously her second trip through the barrier had left her much more worse for wear than the first. She cautiously moved her arms and legs. Apart from a slight headache, she felt fine.
She tugged experimentally on the handcuffs, but they were firmly attached to the bed frame. There was enough give in the cuffs to allow her to sit upright comfortably, but that was pretty much it. She fiddled with the controls on the bed, raising it so she could lean back while sitting up.
The door opened and a sandy haired man wearing a white coat, walked in. "Ah Sleeping Beauty finally awakes". He gave her a flirtatious smile. "I'm Doctor Whale, and I'll be your doctor in shining armour today".
Emma just raised her eyebrows at him. "Why am I handcuffed to the bed"?
Doctor Whale looked surprised. "Straight to the point I see. Miss Swan, may I call you Emma?" He didn't wait for a response. "Emma, such a pretty name to match a pretty lady. You know most people would have asked why they were in hospital first".
The man was obviously an outrageous flirt. She supposed he was good looking in a generic Ken doll way, but she was definitely no Barbie. Plus she had always had a preference for dark hair and eyes.
Emma gritted her teeth and smiled tightly. "Ok, why am I in hospital?"
He flashed her another blinding smile in return. "Well the simple answer is dehydration. Tell me Emma, when was the last time you ate or drank?"
She shrugged. "Yesterday, assuming of course that it's still Monday". Dehydration. Interesting, but not entirely surprising given the nature of the change her body had been subjected to.
"Yes it is". Doctor Whale nodded. "Well going by your symptoms, I would have thought it was probably a bit longer. You were severely dehydrated. It's a good thing the Sheriff found you when he did." He actually looked concerned.
The last thing she needed was some nosy doctor, poking and prodding her. She thought quickly. "Well I did go out on Saturday night, may have had a few drinks." Emma smiled widely at him.
"Ah say no more." Doctor Whale winked at her and Emma fought not to roll her eyes. "You should really drink more water the next time though". He made a note on her chart.
"Are you a vegetarian by any chance?"
Now that was an odd question.
"I'm trying the diet out", she answered slowly.
Doctor Whale looked smug. "Thought so. Your iron levels are on the low side. I would recommend you take supplements, but the easiest fix is just to eat some red meat."
Emma nodded in response. The changes she went through when she crossed the barrier were obviously taking a toll on her body. She would need to address a few things before she tried the barrier again. She definitely couldn't afford to pass out every time she crossed into Storybrooke.
"Apart from that everything checks out normal." Doctor Whale returned her chart to the end of her bed and fixed his attention on her. "So tell me Emma, how are you feeling?"
"Pretty good actually". Emma said evenly. She did actually feel surprisingly well.
"Excellent". Doctor Whale nodded. "Good to know the electrolyte replacement worked. You will need to keep drinking throughout the day though. Gatorade should do the trick."
Emma scrunched up her face in disgust. Sugary pop drinks were definitely not something she had missed after her change in diet. She had never cared for the taste.
Doctor Whale noted her expression. "Not a fan of Gatorade I take it?"
"Not really, no".
He smiled condescendingly. "Well Powerade will do as well."
Emma just sighed and nodded.
"Any other questions?"
"Just one. Why am I handcuffed to the bed?" Emma jiggled the cuffs on her right arm and looked pointedly at Doctor Whale.
"Well I'm afraid I can't answer that," he said regretfully. "But the Sheriff certainly can. I'll just go let him know you're awake". Doctor Whale shot her one more smarmy smile and left the room.
Emma didn't have to wait too long before the door opened again, this time to admit the sheriff. It was the same dark haired man she had seen at the mansion. "Miss Swan, I see you're awake".
Emma's eyes narrowed. "Am I under arrest, Sheriff?"
"That remains to be determined". The honey smooth voice that answered definitely did not belong to the sheriff. Regina Mills strolled into the room like she owned it, the staccato click of her heels almost painfully loud in the small space. She was impeccably dressed in a black pencil skirt and grey blazer combo. "Vandalism and destruction of public property". She stopped beside the bed and shook her head in disappointment. "I have to say it's not looking good Miss Swan."
Wait. What? Emma shook herself out of the slight daze Regina's entrance had left her in. "Lady, I have no idea what you're talking about."
Regina raised an eyebrow in apparent disbelief, her gaze locked on Emma.
The sheriff cleared his throat and interrupted their impromptu staring match. "One of the signs out on the highway was damaged. Looks like you hit it with your car?"
Emma grimaced as she remembered the rock she'd thrown through the barrier. "Fine whatever. Look I'll pay for the damages."
"That should be.., Regina stopped midsentence as her phone rang. She glanced at the screen and frowned. "If you'll excuse me, I need to take this call." She stepped out of the room.
Emma turned to the sheriff and wordlessly gestured towards her cuffs. He glanced towards the door and hesitated.
"What do you mean Henry wasn't in class this morning?" Regina's voice was suddenly loud enough to carry into Emma's room.
The sheriff and Emma both exchanged worried glances. The kid was missing again? She really hoped he hadn't gone chasing after her.
Regina stormed back into the room and made a beeline for Emma. "Do you know where Henry is?"
Emma tamped down on her instinctive defensive reaction as she noted the white knuckled grip Regina had on her purse. The woman was obviously terrified for her son, and probably for good reason if the barrier around Storybrooke was any indication.
"I haven't seen him since I dropped him at your house." She raised her handcuffed right arm. "Plus I have a pretty good alibi."
"Well he wasn't in class this morning". Regina said flatly.
If he was outside the barrier… Emma fought down her own panic. No, she didn't think the kid would have the resources to leave Storybrooke again so soon after his first attempt, which hopefully meant he was still in the town somewhere. "You should try calling his friends."
Regina immediately shook her head. "He doesn't really have any. He's kind of a loner".
"Every kid has friends", Emma said softly, trying not to antagonise Regina. "Did you check his computer? If he's close to someone he would be emailing them".
"And you know this how?" Regina's voice dripped disbelief as she stared at the blonde.
Emma met her gaze firmly. "Finding people is what I do". She raised her cuffed hand. "Here's an idea. How about you guys let me go, and I'll help you find him".
Regina continued to stare unblinkingly at her. Emma went very still and forced herself not to fidget under the intensity of the look.
"Fine". Regina abruptly broke their gaze and nodded at the sheriff.
After a couple seconds of fumbling he removed the cuffs. Emma shot him a look as she resentfully rubbed at the red mark on her wrist. He looked away guiltily. She quickly grabbed her boots and started pulling them on.
"Sheriff, could you please drop by the school and make sure that Henry is not somewhere on the grounds."
"Of course, Madam Mayor", the dark haired man nodded.
"Miss Swan, lets go". Regina turned on her heel and left the room without a backward glance. Emma picked up her jacket and hurried after her.
Ok I had a bit of a hard time with this chapter, mainly around dialogue and tone. I'm not entirely happy with it but it will do for now. I am sorta following the overall general plot in the episodes themselves, but will be changing a few things around of course, as this is an AU. For instance Emma ended up in the hospital instead of jail after she tried to leave Storybrooke.
Thanks heaps for all the reviews, favourites and follows. They really do help with the motivation to write. There's certainly been some great guesses as to what Emma is. TBH I hadn't originally intended for it to be so vague, but it just ended up flowing better when I wrote it that way, so I went with it.