Emma paced back and forth in the waiting room.
Regina had entered the operating room with Henry 3 hours ago and still hadn't come out. The blonde was in such a state of nervousness that almost bordered on hysteria, in less than 48 hours the child had gotten under her skin, she cared for him more than she had ever worried about any of her other patients. Even Regina had been visibly worried throughout the planning process.
- flashback -
It was 2 in the morning and both were reviewing the surgery action plan that Regina and her team would develop later. Emma never had the opportunity to work so closely with the surgeon but she already admired the dedication that the brunette put on her work.
After a busy day, regarding to their little patient, both still had a long journey ahead.
Emma looked up for a moment from all the paperwork she still need to finish and stretched her back loudly, ending with a long, deep breath . When she opened her eyes she found a funny looking brunette, staring at her.
"We have reached the stage where we leave the formalities aside, Dr. Swan?"
"Sorry," Emma replied trying to look contrite. "But I lost the formalities somewhere between the fight with the boy's adoptive father and the meeting with the board of directors that I authorized the surgery... and please call me Emma"
"Very well..., Emma" Regina approved, still smiling, "How about if we take a break? The coffee quality at the cafeteria improves greatly at this hour of the night"
Emma smiled from ear to ear, getting up quickly.
"Ahh , coffee.. That's a magic word for me"
"I see you still have energy," the older woman observed, rising gracefully and following her. Regina was beginning to suspect that the kind pediatrician had the same energy levels of her little patients.
The hospital was deserted in those cold and long hours before dawn, only some employees roamed the hallways. Both doctors found a quiet spot in one of the waiting rooms that looked over Fruit Street. The cool night air, coming from one of the opened windows, seemed to infuse a much needed energy into their systems.
"Are you ready for the surgery?" Emma asked suddenly.
"As ready as I can be concerning this type of procedure" Regina replied, mentally going over the list of what she needed to do on the operation table. "The removal is difficult without causing an injury to the adjacent brain tissue" she continued "if the tumor is attached to the walls of a near-by artery, there are chances of stroke"
"He can develop hormone, appetite and emotions problems later on in his life as well," Emma pointed, "I know..."
"Indeed, but the surgery is completely necessary if we want to relieve the intracranial pressure"
"The follow-up care will not be easy either"
"No, but we can start by giving that little boy the best chance possible. I've already contacted all the specialists I know to put together the best team for the surgery; they agreed to do it pro bono"
"So the only ones who opposed to this procedure were the assholes of the administration?"
"Yes, but that was to be expected" Regina said after a long sip of her steaming coffee "Those people, only think about numbers, not human lives, it's one of the many things that are wrong with this system"
Emma nodded, both women staring at the incipient human activity in the street in front of them.
"Thank you for the help in the board meeting" Regina mumbled, breaking the comfortable silence that had settled between them "You definitely have a strong personality."
"You say that as if you're surprised" she told the brunette with a genuine smile playing on her lips.
"I must admit it's not something I expected of Emma Swan, the saint"
"So, that's what they call me?"
Regina nodded, smiling back.
"You know what they call you, right?"
"Oh, yes. The Evil Queen" Regina said with a laugh, "I'm afraid I let that nickname spread"
"Why?, instilling fear?" Emma said, amused. After a hectic day, a bit of relaxing talk was a welcome by both.
"Not fear, I like to see it as respect. Many surgeons don't have a predilection for taking orders from a younger colleague, much less if it's a female. Now, if they think that said colleague can sever their heads at the slightest insubordination, that's when they follow orders"
Emma laughed heartily.
"I think your looks might help as well" she said after a few seconds.
"What do you mean?"
Emma blushed visibly but continued. "Well, if you add the Evil Queen is an extremely attractive woman... I mean..., I would follow your orders immediately..."
The brunette's eyes seemed to darken for a split second before, with a smirk, answer the compliment.
"Well, I must admit, Emma, you are adorable AND charming"
Emma's face couldn't get redder, the girl was speechless.
"Come on, doctor, we must return to the office and finish all this in time. If possible, I would like to rest for a few hours before the surgery… to clear the mind" and with this, Regina rose, heading to her office.
"Yeah... yes, of course!" Emma babbled, following her.
- end of flashback -
All this seemed to have happened days ago, Emma thought. She had tried to keep herself busy by doing her rounds in the pediatric ward, but her mind went back to the room 108 where little Henry awaited for the surgery that would change his life.
After completing her rounds, Emma decided it would be best to wait until the beginning of the operation by Henry side, the kid would surely need all the love and support she could give.
She signed the discharge for some of her patients and went to the small room. She didn't expect to find there the one only Regina Mills. The blonde leaned against the doorframe and smiled at the image in front of her. Regina hadn't lied about needing some rest. The surgeon was lying, fast asleep, in Henry's bed. The boy was curled on Regina's side, hugging the woman. Regina's protective arm curved around him.
Emma decided to let them rest, both could use the time together.
She used the free time to shower and change clothes. Sighing, the blonde took clean clothes of her locker, she practically lived at the hospital. When she arrived to the city she had rented a small apartment just a few blocks away. It was comfortable enough for a single person and she liked the view it had of a beautiful little square across the street. But she rarely had a chance to sleep in her own bed in the last two years. Her career was consuming her life, but that was exactly what she needed at the time.
Now, a few hours later, with no news on Henry's surgery, Emma contemplated her future, trying to forget the past, what brought her to this city.
But wasn't long until concern again invaded her mind, she had decided to stay optimistic, but it was proving something hard to do. She tried to contact all of the neurological rehabilitation centers in the city, explaining Henry's case. Most had rejected him. Only a few had given a shy 'maybe'. Heartless bastards! They're just a bunch of hypocrites, she thought, thinking in their slogans and advertisements that sought of kindness and equity in health care… Yeah, right!
Cursing softly, the blonde returned to the waiting area, a few steps away from the Operating Room number 3. It had been about 45 minutes when she saw the figure of Regina emerge from the OR, with a huge smile on a very tired face.
"The surgery was a success!" she said, "There were no adjacent tissue compromised nor clamped vasculature"
"What about the tumor?" Emma asked anxiously.
"It was completely removed. Henry will be with pain medication for a while and will need regular visits to a neurologist, but he won't suffer any side effects from the surgery or the craniopharyngioma"
"That will shorten the rehabilitation time in half!" Emma claimed happily.
"It's very likely, yes. His brain must readjust to the cranial cavity now that the tumor mass is gone. Therefore some motor functions will suffer temporarily. Beyond that, Henry is a completely healthy boy"
Emma couldn't contain her excitement and lunged towards Regina, wrapping her in a fierce hug. To her surprise, the surgeon returned the embrace with the same intensity.
After a few seconds, Emma didn't feel the hug was uncomfortable, quite the contrary, it was really gratifying to have the other woman in her arms.
"You know what...?" Regina whispered into the blond's ear "I could get used to this."
Emma smiled running a hand over Regina's back. "Me too"