There will be a little bit of angst in this chapter but I promise it won't last long! It's just a necessary part of this story! And next chapter will probably bring Dr. Whale!
Regina awoke to the sound of whimpering. Her first instinct was that Henry was having a nightmare, after all she had spent countless nights waking up to him crying out from night terrors in the last ten years. But then she realized it wasn't a child's whimper at all but that of a grown man.
Yesterday's events came crashing down on her like a tidal wave and she sprung up into a seated position only now noticing that the bed beside her was empty.
"Daniel?" She called into the dark room and her questioning earned another, louder whimper from across the room.
Dread filled her and she quickly reached over to flick on the lamp on her nightstand, immediately searching for Daniel in the now lit room.
She found him not too far from the bed, curled up on the floor, his knees pressed to his chest and doubled over.
"Oh my god." She whispered in horror and crawled to the edge of the bed. "Daniel?"
He slowly lifted his head and her heart shattered at the sight of him, his eyes wide with terror and filled to the brim with tears, his face scrunched up in agony. "Help me." He chocked out.
She was immediately flying off the bed and to his side, wrapping her arm around his trembling shoulders. "Daniel, what's wrong?" She demanded, trying to keep her voice steady for his sake.
He cried out, throwing his head back and a few tears trickled down his cheeks and that was when she spotted it. The front of his shirt was stained bright red with blood.
It was like someone had suddenly punched her in the gut and knocked all the breath completely out of her. She couldn't breathe, and the pain and horror completely overwhelmed her.
How could she have been so foolish? How could she have just accepted that Daniel was alive and that it would have no repercussions especially on him. You don't get brought back to life with just a scar to prove it.
Daniel closed his eyes tightly and she could practically hear his teeth grinding together and his knuckles dug harshly into the floor beneath him, a string of agonized cries escaping his throat.
"Regina..." It was the sound of her name, from the pained voice of her lover that finally snapped her back to reality. Her arm tightened around him and she looked down at him anxiously.
His eyes were open again, his jaw quivering as tears continued to cascade helplessly down his cheeks. His breathing was sharp and shallow and he looked so helpless and frightened. "What's happening to me?" He bit out in between whimpers. He cried out again and his head fell onto her shoulder. "Make it stop...please..."
She fought back tears of her own at how hurt he sounded and she brushed the hair off his sweaty forehead and pressed a tender kiss there. "Don't worry...everything will be alright." She kissed his forehead again before carefully moving away from him.
He cried out again and buried his head between his knees and she wanted nothing more than to hold him again but she knew she had to get him help. She quickly threw on a pair of jeans and flats and then ran back over to Daniel.
"Daniel." She murmured sympathetically, running her hand comfortingly down his back knowing it would probably do nothing to ease the pain but needing to try. Then she slipped her arms around him, near his waist to avoid the scar and gently tried to ease him up. He always was a lot stronger and bigger than her and no matter how she tried he wouldn't budge, whimpers and cries still emitting from his form.
"Daniel." She kneeled to his side and brushed back his damp hair, pressing her mouth to the side of his head near his ear. She spoke low and soft, her voice taking on the tone she used to soothe Henry when he was upset. "I'm going to help you, Daniel. We're going to make it stop, I promise. You have to help me help you."
He remained still for a few long moments, his low whimpers ceasing but his staggered breathing filling the silence. Then with a low, mournful whine he slowly eased himself into an upright seated position, his eyes closing in a painful wince, a hiss escaping through his clenched teeth.
Regina continued to rub his back soothingly, watching him intently and after about thirty seconds he opened his eyes and turned his head to her, visibly swallowing and nodding his head once.
She forced a small smile to her lips, silently praising him for struggling through his pain and then she slid her arms back around his waist and gave a gentle tug upwards.
Slowly and very carefully Regina helped him to his feet and a loud cry escaped his lips, his head tilted back and his knees wobbled, threatening to bring him back to the floor.
"Daniel." She wrapped her arms securely around his waist and pulled him gently to her side to keep him up as best she could. "Stay with me, Daniel. You can do this."
He let out a shuddering breath with another whimper and his arm shakily moved around her shoulder.
Practically all his weight was now on her small frame but she couldn't care less. She mustered all her strength and slowly they started to move out the door. They had to pause every couple of steps to let Daniel catch his breath and work through his pain.
They came to the stairs and they made it down one or two before he let out a strangled, agonizing cry and grabbed tightly onto the banister, his legs shaking. He shook his head slowly, "I can't." He whispered.
"Daniel," With one arm securely around his waist she moved her free hand to his face, brushing the tears away from his cheeks. Her determined yet worried eyes met his pained ones. "I know you can do this. You're almost there."
He continued to shake his head and it killed her to see him in that much pain. She didn't want to resort to it and she had promised herself and Henry she wouldn't but Daniel meant everything to her and she would do anything it took to make his pain stop.
"It's okay." She whispered to him and she let him go and waved her hand through the air. He gasped as he lifted off the ground, his already wide eyes widening further and she nodded to him encouragingly. She carefully moved down the stairs, her arms outstretched, keeping Daniel suspended in air as she floated him down the stairs.
Once they were safely on solid ground she lowered him back to his feet and slipped her arms back around him and then released her magic hold on him. His body shook as he had to support his own weight again and let out a cry as he leaned against her. He took a few deep, even breaths and then gave her a squeeze, his voice shaking as he whispered, "Thank you."
She smiled sadly. "Of course."
Then again they started to move slowly towards the door and he gasped as she opened the door and the brisk night air hit him. He spotted the couple of steps that led off her doorstep and whimpered and Regina looked at him and she moved to released him when his hand shot out and grabbed hers. He slowly shook his head and in an agonized cry they made it down the few steps.
She shot him a small, proud smile and he returned a small grimace which she assumed was a smile.
They eventually made their way to her car and Regina helped him into the passenger seat before rushing to the drivers seat. She shoved the keys into the ignition and as fast as she could without jerking the car forward, drove off to the hospital.
It was this time more than ever that she thanked God she chose a house in the center of town and the hospital was only several blocks away.
She didn't know how much longer she could stand to listen to the sound of Daniel in pain.
She pulled into the nearest parking spot to the entrance and hopped out of the car, running over to the passenger side door and ripping it open, leaning in to help Daniel out.
His arms wrapped fully around her as she lifted him out and he held onto her as they walked slowly into the Emergency Room. The place was deserted, not many emergencies in a small town in the middle of the night which worked wonderfully in their favor.
The nurse behind the desk looked as if she were about to fall asleep but at the sound of the doors swishing open, she was instantly alert and her eyes widened at seeing the mayor with a bloody, clearly agonized man at her side.
"Oh my god!" She rose out of her seat and she rushed out of her booth and called into the back room. "We need a gurney in here STAT!"
She ran towards them and reached out to help Regina support Daniel. "What happened?"
Regina swallowed thickly. She dreaded this moment however much she knew that it would come. She didn't want to explain what had happened but god knew if it would save Daniel's life she would do it.
"It's his heart." She explained frantically. "He has a new one and it's..." She paused, chocking back a sob. "It's killing him."
Regina could see the horrified question in the woman's eyes but she didn't ask and Regina was more than grateful for that, however knowing that the questions eventually would come.
The gurney came barreling out of the double doors surrounded by three other nurses and Regina reluctantly let Daniel go to let the nurses help him onto it.
"Regina." He whimpered, his voice shooting up an octave in fear as he shakily reached out his hand for her.
She quickly slipped into one of the empty spaces between two of the nurses and grabbed his hand, looking meaningfully into his eyes. "You'll be okay, Daniel." She kissed his hand. "You'll be okay."
"You have to let go, Ms. Mills." One of the nurses beside her instructed cautiously yet professionally strict. "We'll do everything we can."
"You'll do more." Regina bit out and turned her glare on the woman, though she imagined the tears sprinkling her eyes conveyed more of a message.
The nurse nodded and Regina squeezed his hand, his fingers sliding out of hers as they rushed him through the double doors and out of her sight.
She stood there in silence, watching where he'd disappeared and then finally a sob broke past her lips and she covered her mouth, though no one was around to hear it and collapsed in tears into a near by chair.
The hours ticked by like days. Regina lost count of how long she was sitting in that chair.
The tears and sobs stopped hours ago and now she was just numb, sitting and staring in silence at the tiled floor.
She'd been in that position before. It was when Henry was just over a year old and he became so sick, his fever was record high and he was struggling to breath and she rushed him to the hospital and despite her demands they made her wait in the waiting room for just over an hour until they let her in to see her baby.
And then there was the dreaded time just a few short weeks ago when Henry fell under the sleeping curse. She didn't have to do any waiting in the waiting room but watching him, lying there unconscious and knowing she had put him there was just as bad.
But somehow, this was worse than either of those times. She hadn't even had Daniel back for a whole day before the universe tried to take him away from her again.
At first she felt sick, whether it was from all the crying she was doing or the worry that consumed her as she thought of Daniel fighting for his life in the hands of strangers she wasn't sure.
Then it was just numb. She got lost in her own thoughts, her memories of Daniel, those of long ago and those of just yesterday when he was safe in her arms.
A few people had come and gone, including the nurse that she originally talked to but no one bothered the distressed mayor.
Although she was mostly unaware of her surroundings, in her peripheral vision and the far corner of her conscious mind she could see the bright yellow of the sun beginning to rise.
It was then that she got a clue of the time and it was then that the double doors opened and one of the doctors, not Dr. Whale though she hardly expected that, came walking through, his eyes scanning the empty room for her.
At the sound of her name she whipped her head up and snapped back to reality. She quickly rose to her feet and approached the doctor, her eyes full of both hope and fear.
"How is he?" She demanded.
The two seconds that it took for the doctor to reply were the longest two seconds of her life but finally he smiled. "He is doing well."
A flood of relief rushed through her, relaxing her entire body and all the fear, all the worry that was leaving a weight on her shoulders disappeared. "I want to see him."
He nodded and pushed open the doors, leading the way to Daniel's room.
"It was a very interesting case." He said and Regina felt her body tense again, her eyes narrowing slightly as she looked to him.
"Whoever initially performed the surgery on him knew what they were doing but also appeared to be doing it quickly and in any procedure that involves the heart, taking your time is the key." He explained.
Regina ground her teeth together. Most of her wanted to hate Dr. Whale for leaving Daniel like that but how could she hate him when he brought Daniel back to life in the first place?
"Thankfully, my team and I were able to correct the mistakes and his body seems to responding well to the treatment and medication I put him on."
Regina wasn't sure who this man was, probably some medical man of the town who had got caught up in the curse, but he was awake now and knew of what she had done and yet still treated her as if she was just another friend of his patient. She couldn't help but let a small but genuine smile cross her lips as she turned to look at him. "Thank you."
He smiled back and gave a curt nod. "I am only doing my job, ma'am."
Regina frowned as they entered the 'Intensive Care Unit' and the doctor led her to a secluded room much similar to the one David had been kept in all twenty eight years of the curse.
Her heart stuttered in her chest as she spotted Daniel through the glass, secured in the blankets no doubt to keep him warm, with wires and flashing, beeping machines surrounding him. His face was deathly pale, his eyes closed and his body still, the only proof of his life being the heart monitor off to the side and the slight rise and fall of his chest under the blankets.
Just hours ago she was watching him sleep peacefully, happily in her bed, curled up like nothing was wrong. And at the time, nothing was wrong. And now he was there, looking just as dead as she'd known him to be for decades.
"Mayor Mills?" The doctor called and she slowly turned her head to see him in the open doorway, holding it open for her.
She swallowed and her lips very slightly twitched upward in a silent thanks and she moved into the room slowly.
Before she knew it she was at his side, pulling up a chair next to his bed. Both his hands were tucked under his blankets and although she longed to touch him she knew she should probably leave it that way for his safety.
"If all goes well he should wake up sometime today." The doctor said and once again she thanked him never taking her eyes off of Daniel.
She sat in the chair for hours, only getting up when she couldn't take it anymore and walked across to the other side of the room. She stood near the window which looked over the central part of town and she balanced looking between the town and Daniel making sure he was alive and breathing.
It was around noon when her hunger got the better of her and although she dreaded leaving Daniel for fear that when she returned he'd be gone, her growling stomach was telling her otherwise.
So with a tender kiss to his forehead and a promise to return in a few minutes she left the room and went to find something to eat. The hospital food did not appeal to her and so she settled on granola bars from the vending machine and a cup of coffee.
To her immense relief (and slight disappointment) she returned to find Daniel exactly how she'd left him.
She sat in the chair and started to nibble at the granola bars.
Once she was done eating, she set aside the mostly drunken coffee on the table beside her and leaned back against the chair with a sigh.
After a little while of silence she started to talk to him. She told him about all her fear over the last few hours, she told him about her life as King Leopold's wife, she told him about her life as the Evil Queen, she told him more about the curse, she told him about Henry's life as a baby, she told him about Emma and life in Storybrooke. She knew he wouldn't be able to hear any of it but telling him, saying it out loud, made her feel better and perhaps she could be more brave to tell him when he was actually conscious.
It was just around sunset when Regina began to feel the stress of the day and her lack of sleep eating away at her. The coffee had long since left her system and her eyelids felt heavy as she fought to keep them awake.
Eventually she figured it wouldn't hurt to rest for a couple of minutes and she rested her head against Daniel's mattress, using her arms as her pillow. Her eyelids fluttered closed and she had to be sleeping for only a few minutes when she was awoken by movement beneath her.
Her eyes fluttered open and she lifted her head, her eyes widening as she looked at Daniel. His lips twitched and his eyes fluttered and soon they opened to reveal slightly dazed blue eyes.
"Daniel." She whispered in relief and leaned in closer, extending her hand to rest gently on his cheek.
He blinked a few times and then turned his head slowly to her, blinking a few more times as his eyes fixed on hers.
And then his eyes flooded with recognition. "Regina." He whispered. His voice was thick and raspy but she was too happy to see him alive to even care.
She flashed him a smile and ran her fingers through his hair. "Hi, how are you feeling?"
Daniel furrowed his brow and shifted around on the mattress, grunting a little bit. "A bit uncomfortable."
"No pain?" She asked hopefully.
His brow shot up as if he just realized that he wasn't in any pain. "No...not really."
"That's wonderful." She grinned and he smiled tiredly back at her.
He grunted again as he shifted, removing his arms out from under the blankets and propping himself more into a seated position, hissing through his teeth. "Alright." He huffed. "Maybe a bit of pain."
He looked up and saw the worried look in her eyes and he shook his head. "It's not bad." He continued. "Nothing compared to what it was."
The worry vanished from her eyes and she visibly relaxed, continuing to run her fingers through his hair. He hummed contentedly and closed his eyes for a few seconds, leaning into her touch. "I've forgotten how much I love when you do that."
A low chuckle rumbled through her and his lips turned upward.
She first discovered that so called soft spot during one of their many late night outings. It was early in their relationship and her mother hadn't had an inkling of what was going on and it was easy for Regina to sneak out to see him. Daniel took her to one of his favorite places, a beautiful clearing not too far from her home where every star was crystal clear against a black sky.
Daniel had spread out a blanket in the grass and Regina, the shy, young girl blushed as she curled into his arms. After a few minutes he encouraged her to lay down, explaining that the view was extraordinary from that perspective.
He released his hold on her and fell onto his back and she giggled as she looked down at him. He flashed a heart warming smile up at her and she couldn't resist any longer, she fell onto her back beside him, curling up to his side.
He told her stories that his ancestors had told him about the stars and she listened to every word intently, the sound of his voice soothing her.
The couple laid there for almost an hour, talking and telling stories and laughing. A cold breeze started to whip through the air and she shivered, curling in more against Daniel's warm body, turning onto her side and propping herself up on her elbow to stare down at him.
He gazed back up at her, his eyes shining with love and affection in the starlight. She smiled lovingly and with her free hand reached out to brush a lock of brown hair that had fallen across his forehead.
As her fingers brushed across his scalp, his eyelids fluttered closed and he hummed, his head curling into her hand. Tickled by his reaction, Regina repeated the action, running her fingers from the top of his forehead to the back of his head and again, another satisfied hum escaped his throat. And so it became a habit of theirs, whenever they were alone and relaxed, she'd run her fingers through his hair and he'd return the favor by lavishing her with sweet kisses which she certainly didn't mind.
They had come a long way since then and Regina was not the innocent, young woman in that field but in these sweet moments she pretended she could be.
"What's wrong with me?" Daniel asked suddenly, pulling her out of her memories.
"Oh Daniel." She returned her hand to cup his cheek and shook her head. "There's nothing wrong with you."
He smiled slightly, letting out a small huff. "If that were true I wouldn't be here. Regina, please, don't lie to me. I want to know. I...I need to know."
Regina sighed and dropped her hand, reaching for his. "I don't know all of it. I do know that the man who brought you back did it in a hurry when it was supposed to be done carefully. The doctors here re-stitched you and fixed whatever the problem was."
"You don't know what it was?"
"I'm not sure even he knows. He said that you were an 'interesting case'. But whatever he did, he fixed you and you're alive and you're...you're alright."
He let out a sigh and nodded in acceptance. She let a small smile cross her lips and she squeezed his hand out of comfort.
After a minute he slipped his hand out of hers and brought it to her face with a frown. "You look exhausted."
She shook her head with a small scoff. "I'm fine."
He caressed his thumb underneath her eye and she kissed his palm softly. With some effort he moved himself over on the bed and patted the empty space beside him.
Her brow lifted and she shook her head. "Oh no. Daniel, I couldn't."
"Please." He cast a pleading look at her, his blue eyes round and wide and she sighed, knowing she wouldn't be able to resist that look.
She slid off her shoes and climbed gently onto the bed next to him. "I'm pretty sure this is against hospital policy."
He huffed and slipped his arm around her pulling her lightly against him and he spoke the words they both were thinking. "I don't truly care."
She laughed quietly and very carefully rested her head against his shoulder. He lightly brushed her hair away from her face and then his hand came to rest over her arm, holding her against him.
He kissed the top of her head gently. "Go to sleep Gina."
Her heart fluttered at the nickname she hadn't heard in years. No one had ever called her Gina, Daniel was the first and last and only. It didn't feel right to her except when it came from Daniel's lips.
She hummed in protest though she could feel her eyelids starting to droop.
"So stubborn." He muttered and she smirked.
"I promise I'll be here when you awaken." He said against her hair.
"You better be." She murmured, curling further into him. She felt him smile against her hair and kiss her again before letting out a long sigh and nuzzling her.
She finally let her eyes close, once again safely wrapped in his loving embrace and knew that they'd always make it, come what may.