Emma Swan was never late for anything. In fact, she liked to pride herself on being punctual for everything. So choosing today, of all days to be late was not something she had planned.
The first shift as an intern is basically make or break; if you shine during your first forty-eight hour shift, the residents and attendings will make your career, and if you even for a second look like you’re stumbling, they will break your career as a surgeon into tiny little pieces and scatter them across the OR floor. Dr. Swan came first in her class at Stanford and she sure as hell was not about to get crushed by one of the best surgical internships on the East Coast. She was determined to shine – not that she had much choice but to do so, she was still determined to stand out from the crowd.
And also kind of determined not to get chastised for being late on her very first day.
She sprinted across the wet parking lot, already feeling puddles spraying up the back of her jeans, praying on her luck that she wouldn't slip and break something. In five minutes, her surgical resident would be wandering into the locker room calling out her name and if she wasn't there then she would more than likely get kicked directly off the programme before it even began. She had to be there on time.
Her feet splashed and skidded across the linoleum reception floor, sending her flying into one of the nurses' stations with a painful crash. Politely providing rushed apologies and smiles she didn't have time for, Emma managed to catch her foot between the closing doors of one of the elevators and clambered inside. She tapped the button for the third floor and used the time it took for the elevator to travel upwards to catch her breath. She tried to pay as little attention to the raised eyebrows she was receiving from the other people that had already been crammed into the stuffy elevator.
Once the doors opened on the third floor, her race began again. Left out of the elevator, right at the first hallway, left at the second, left again, then the third door on the right. She threw the door open to find a large group of terrified looking people in light blue scrubs staring back at her. Clearly they had all managed to arrive early, or at least on time. If she hadn't been behind schedule, Emma probably would have felt relieved that there was no sign of a surgical resident in the vicinity, but with at least twenty people watching her every move, she didn't have time to feel anything other than anxious.
With her pride kicking in, Emma dropped her duffel bag on the end of a bench between two rows of lockers and began to strip. She ignored the few childish wolf whistles that came from several other interns, opting to focus more on putting her scrub top on the right way around instead. Once her scrubs and shoes were on comfortably, Emma stuffed her civilian clothes into her bag and went in search for her stethoscope that she assumed had found its way to the bottom of her bag when she couldn’t find it immediately.
"Good morning, people." Came a voice from behind her, making Emma's focus change completely. "My name is Dr. Whale. I will be the elected resident for a lucky few of you," he paused to flash a glimpse of his pearly-whites behind a sleazy smile. "The rest of you have been assigned to some of the other residents waiting at the end of the hallway. Now, when I call your name, I expect you to leave immediately to find your resident. Understood?"
There was a low rumble of murmurs from the interns, even though most of them, including Emma, were too preoccupied hoping to whatever gods they believed in that they would not be stuck with Dr. Whale as their surgical resident. Multiple employees of Storybrooke Memorial Hospital had already handed the interns some sort of opinion on some of the attendings and almost all of the residents during their welcome party the week before. From that moment, Emma knew that the last person in this hospital that she wanted to be stuck under was Dr. Whale. His sexist and derogatory attitude hadn’t seemed to get him very far with most of the attendings and any of the nurses, and it sure as hell wasn’t going to stand with her either.
"Okay; Bell, Watkins, Morris, O'Donnell, and Adams, you're with Dr. Howells." Five gracious looking interns all shuffled towards the door, leaving only fifteen others behind. "Blanchard, Lucas, Jones, Cassidy, and Swan, you're with me." Emma's stomach dropped. "Stewart, Thomas, Wilson, Stevens, and Jacobson, you’re with Dr. Williams. And the rest of you are with Dr. Watson."
Emma Swan, the girl with the M.D from Stanford was stuck with Dr. Manwhore. She didn't need to know who he was or what his personality outside of work was like to know that her surgical resident liked spending more time flirting with the nurses, interns, and attractive patients than actually spending time cutting in the OR. Even the Chief of Surgery had warned her about his concerning behaviour. This was perfect. Absolutely perfect.
As soon as the other groups of fortunate interns rushed out of the locker room, Dr. Whale got down to business and flashed a politician-like smile at his interns with his overly bleached teeth.
"I have five rules. Remember them; abide by them and you won't get caught out. Follow me." He turned on his heel and swiftly left the room with three of his five interns in tow.
"Hey, you dropped your stethoscope when you pulled out your scrubs," came the voice of one of Emma’s fellow interns. Emma looked up from the position she had resumed halfway into her bag to see a dainty, pixie cut, brunette woman by her side. The other intern reached beneath the bench and pulled out Emma's yellow stethoscope before offering it straight over. "I'm Mary-Margaret, by the way."
Emma graciously took the tool and swung it around her neck. "Thanks. I'm Emma." She nodded towards the door, where they could still hear Dr. Whale's obnoxious voice talking with the leggy intern that Emma had noticed was too busy making eyes at their resident to even listen to him. "Shall we?"
The brunette nodded and followed Emma as she stalked out of the locker room with a little more confidence than she had before she had skid into the room, and that confidence only grew as Dr. Whale mumbled through his introductory spiel.
“Rule number one,” Emma managed to hear Dr. Whale begin at the end of the corridor. “Don’t bother sucking up. I already hate you; that’s not gonna change. Except for you… We could probably make some sort of compromise.” He winked at the flirtatious intern that had previously been making eyes at him. The rest of the group of surgical interns rolled their eyes, but Dr. Whale seemed to have missed it completely as he picked up a box from the nurse’s station. “Number two: trauma protocol, phone list, pagers. The nurses will page you, and you’re to answer every page at a run - and I mean that. You run.”
He handed the box over to a handsomely ragged male intern with thick, dark hair and continued walking as the rest of his interns tore a pager from the cardboard box like wild animals. Fortunately for Emma, she was the first to grab one and found herself directly behind Dr. Whale as he continued with his third rule of survival. She didn’t want to suck up to him, but if she could worm her way into his good books, like one of her fellow interns already seemed to have accomplished, Emma hoped she would have the chance to take her pick of surgeries straight away.
“Your first shift starts now and lasts 48 hours. You’re interns, grunts, nobodies, bottom of the surgical food chain. You run labs, write orders, work every second night until you drop, and don’t complain.” He came to a sudden stop and pushed the door to his right open. “On-call rooms. Attendings and residents hog them for things other than sleep.” He winked again at the flirtatious and lanky intern, which was caught with an incredibly coy smile. Emma bit back a groan as she rolled her eyes at the unprofessional scene that was unfolding before them. “Sleep when you can, where you can, which brings me to rule number three: if I’m sleeping, don’t wake me up unless your patient is dying. Rule four: the dying patient better not be dead when I get there; not only will you have killed someone, you would have woke me for no reason. Are we clear?”
The entire group of surgical interns nodded, until the lanky brunette intern stepped forward with her hand slightly raised and her lip pulled between her teeth.
“Dr. Whale, you said five rules, that was only four...”
Whale hummed for a moment, as if to wait for something to happen, and much to the interns’ surprise, his pager buzzed loudly. Dr. Whale grinned and winked again. “Rule number five: when I move, you move.”
He pushed his way through the group of interns, who were too busy gawking at each other over the coincidence of his pager beeping at the opportune moment to even realise what the situation was. As their assigned resident sprinted out of sight, the interns clicked onto what was happening and scrambled away from the on-call room to chase their resident through the corridors and hallways that led to the only elevator in the hospital that travelled from the basement to the helipad on the roof. When they finally reached the silver elevator, the doors slid open to reveal a paramedic straddling a seizing patient as she tried to hold the teenager down by his hips and his wrists. With the help of his interns, Whale pulled the metal gurney from the elevator and into the corridor.
“What have we got?” Whale asked as they wheeled the bed into an empty room and pulled the paramedic back onto her feet. They transferred the teenager from the gurney onto the larger bed that took up most of the space in the room before awaiting instruction from their resident.
“Adam Young, 15 years-old, new onset seizures, intermittent for the past week.” The paramedic that had been pulled off the boy had explained as she handed over the scribbled chart she had created in the copter. “IV lost en-route, started grand mal seizing as we descended.”
Dr. Whale nodded and instructed his two male interns to his side, “Get him on his side,” he looked up at the lanky brunette over the table; this time there was no wink or any form of flirtation. “You – 10 milligrams of Diazepam IM.”
She nodded to him and fiddled around in the draws of medical supplies that had been wheeled in with the bed as she pulled out a vial and needle. She extracted the liquid into the syringe and pushed the needle into the boy’s spine as he shook atop of the bed. His shaking began to slow as Emma was instructed to go with her gut instinct to do what was expected next. And she did. She successfully connected the boy’s heart rate to one of the machines, and his brain activity on another, all before the attending sauntered into the room.
“A wet fish on dry land, huh?” Asked a strong voice in the doorway of the room. The attending folded her arms across her chest, looking slightly impressed with the efficiency of the newest batch of interns. Emma looked up from the monitors that she had been cautiously checking was on the right track before anyone could check them for sufficient data, when she noticed the stunning brunette. The attending seemed to hold the entire room with just one sentence and a cocky attitude. The sight of the woman that seemed to rock dark blue scrubs and a scrub cap better than anyone Emma had ever seen made Emma’s heart unintentionally falter in her chest. The attending glared at Emma when she noticed the blonde watching her every move. It should have made Emma flinch, but she couldn’t find it in herself to look away from the stunning sight before her.
“Whale, shotgun him.” The attending insisted as she began her work up on the teenager who had now stopped seizing. She lifted the boy’s eyelids and flicked her flashlight back and forth, tracking his eye movements. She ‘hm’ed for a second before pulling the heart monitor and brain function monitor from Emma to take a look for herself. She nodded to herself and pushed the screens back to the blonde intern. “Whatever intern you choose for this case, I need them to keep me updated. Dr. Nolan will be in surgery for the next 18 hours and doesn’t need to be disturbed by a group of idiotic interns.”
Whale clapped his hands together once as the attending sauntered back out of the room. “Okay, you heard Dr. Mills. We need every test in the book: CT, CBC, chem-7, tox screen,” He glanced around his interns and pointed at them one by one as he handed out their duties. “Blanchard, you’re on labs. Jones, patient work-ups. Cassidy, you’re in for a fun morning on rectal exams. Swan, get Adam for a CT; he’s your responsibility now. Report to me before you report to Dr. Mills unless we’ve got a serious problem.”
Emma tried her hardest to hide her smirk, especially since she would now be reporting to Dr. Mills too. She nodded and began unhooking Adam from his machines as he slowly began to come around. She charted his last reading on the monitors as three of her fellow interns stalked out of the room – one more reluctantly than the rest.
“Dr. Whale, what about me?” Emma heard Whale’s favourite intern ask as she released the break from the bed.
“Don’t worry, Lucas. I didn’t forget about you.” He winked at her. “You’ve got the pleasure of being with me all day today.”
Emma had been lugging the oversized bed around the corridors of the hospital for at least thirty minutes before Adam sat up and laughed at her.
“You have absolutely no idea what you’re doing, do you?” He asked her after he realised they were circling themselves down the same corridor for the fourth time.
“I know what I’m doing – I’m just a little lost.” Her patient narrowed his eyes at her, looking more than unimpressed with the intern he had been stuck with. “Look, kid. It’s my first day. Just cut me some slack, okay?”
He scoffed at her. “Sure, I’m a whole world more forgiving than my parents, who will actually be paying for all of this.” He groaned when he saw the same elevator for the fifth time. “Why don’t you just ask someone before my seizures kick in again? You don’t exactly want a dead future soccer star on your hands on your first day, do you? You’re literally worse than the nurse that I got stuck with when I twisted my ankle a few weeks ago, and that’s saying something.”
Emma rolled her eyes at the teenager and gave in. She found the nearest nurses’ station and was finally given directions to CT, where she was aided in transferring Adam from his bed and onto the table for the scan by a male nurse who seemed to smile at her far too much for her liking. She left the nurse to inject a sedative into the teenager’s newly attached IV and wheeled the bed back into the corridor before dropping herself into the chair beside the CT technician. They sat in a comfortable silence as the machine beeped and developed scans of the teenager’s brain on the computer screen. As each scan came onto the screen Emma observed and noted down everything she saw; clear cerebellum, clear optical lobe, clear temporal lobe, clear parietal lobe, clear frontal lobe… Everything was clear.
“Why are we only now at this point?” The same strong voice announced their presence in the doorway, making Emma’s stomach flip as she turned in her chair to see Dr. Mills. She fought the urge to point out the obvious that the attending was flawless in every physical way possible. Instead she guiltily smiled at her and fidgeted with the notes she had taken from the scan.
“We had a few difficulties getting here, but the scans are developing and from what I can tell, there’s nothing to suggest an explanation for Adam’s consecutive seizures.” Emma said as confidently as she possibly could. She had spent far too much time looking at brain scans during her time in medical school to be able to spot any sort of obvious abnormality. Adam had none, and it only made her more suspicious.
“Dr. Swan, is it?” The attending asked, seeing the blonde’s badge hang from the top of her scrub pants as she stood for her to take a seat and observe the scans for herself. Emma nodded at her. “A verbal confirmation would have been nice, Dr. Swan.” She bit before taking the offered seat. She glanced at the screens as she skimmed through the scans with a pensive look on her face. “I’m not the neurosurgeon, but I hate to admit it, I agree with you. We’re just going to have to continue these scans and wait until Dr. Nolan gets out of surgery. Nice work.”
“Thank you, Dr. Mills.” Emma tried not to blush at the compliment as Dr. Mills stood and sauntered past her towards the door, leaving a waft of sweet apples in her midst.
The brunette paused in the doorway before turning back to the intern. “Oh, and you should probably find yourself a map for next time.”
Once Emma had finally completed every scan available to them, she returned Adam to his temporary room on the neurology ward and found herself wandering towards the cafeteria. It had, after all been six hours since she started her shift, and her stomach had started to grumble after the second hour. She grabbed a tray and helped herself to a greasy grilled cheese, fries and a large drink, painfully ignoring the doctor side of her brain that seemed to be yelling at her to choose something healthier and something that might actually give her enough energy to get through the next few hours. As she glanced around the busy cafeteria, she spotted her group of interns as they huddled around a table whispering amongst each other.
“Do you mind if I join you?” She asked, with her tray already on the table. Mary Margaret pulled out the chair beside her with an overly perky grin as Emma took it and sat down.
“I can’t believe you’ve actually been put on a real case straight away,” Mary Margaret sighed, clearly not impressed with being a lab rat for the day.
The lanky brunette shook her head and laughed in near hysteria. “I spent all morning flirting with that idiot and I still haven’t seen a single medical procedure since that kid’s seizure.”
“Ignore Ruby,” the pixie-cut said with a hand on Emma’s shoulder. “She’s just jealous because she’s stuck fetching Dr. Manwhore’s coffee all day.”
“Yeah, well I’d rather be fetching coffee than sticking my fingers in places no one wants fingers to be stuck.” Cassidy groaned. “Have you found anything on the case yet?”
Emma shook her head as she sipped her soda. “Nope. His CT was clear, so were his toxins, and everything else you can think of. So I’m stuck with a medical mystery and a kid that seems to think he knows more than we do.” She chuckled and leaned closer towards her fellow interns. “Does anyone know anything about Dr. Mills?”
“Cardiothoracic Dr. Mills? The one that you’re supposed to be reporting to with this case?” Emma nodded at Cassidy, who raised his eyebrows at her apparent ignorance. “Did you actually read a book in medical school…? She’s the daughter of the greatest cardiothoracic surgeon in the world. Dr. Cora Mills is a legend, and apparently this Dr. Mills is continuing the family legacy.”
“Wait. Her mom is the Dr. Cora Mills? The Dr. Cora Mills that invented the Mills Method ?” This time, it was Cassidy who nodded at her. Emma’s jaw fell slack as she stared back at him in disbelief. “I…But…I thought this Dr. Mills was just a coincidence – I didn’t realise she was already practicing – and practicing at Storybrooke Memorial! Oh my god… She already thinks I’m a complete idiot.”
“Don’t get too far ahead of yourself, love.” Jones told her with a toothy grin that made Emma wince a little. Sure, he was handsome, but everything about him screamed sleaze. She internally rolled her eyes, knowing that without a doubt that he would attempt to lure her into bed with him after a few drinks at the only bar in town, much like she had found herself doing during her years at medical school with many other complete sleaze balls. It was easy, but it got the job done. “Regina Mills thinks everyone is an idiot. That’s why all the residents call her the Evil Queen; she thinks everyone’s an ant, and she’s the boot. She’ll rip your surgical heart out of your chest and crush it before you can even show her how handy you are with a scalpel.”
“Oh, come on, Killian. She can’t possibly be that bad.” Ruby rolled her eyes. “I heard that the best way to get in her good books is by impressing Dr. Nolan.”
Emma seemed to deflate at that point. Mills had already discussed Dr. Nolan multiple times in conversation, but she hadn’t thought much of it – she had simply assumed that they were both nothing more than work colleagues that seemed to work well alongside one another. She hadn’t expected them to be a thing . For some unbeknownst reason, Emma found herself jealous of a man she hadn’t even met yet over a woman that she had barely two encounters with. But she bit her tongue out of pride and nodded. She took Ruby’s advice on-board and convinced herself that when she was later expected to report to Dr. Nolan about Adam’s case, she would prove her worth tenfold.
“Talk of the devil,” Cassidy coughed into his soda, attempting to be as discreet as possible. He failed epically, but the entire group of interns all sat to attention as Dr. Mills approached their table with a sadistic smirk.
“Good afternoon, interns.” She said, instantly sending shivers down Emma’s spine. ‘Great – you’ve got the biggest crush on the greatest surgeon in this hospital ’, Emma thought to herself. ‘How the hell do you expect to learn anything now?’ The blonde internally chastised herself as she barely heard Dr. Mills address their table. “As you all know, the honour of performing the first surgery is reserved for the intern with the most promise. As I’m running the OR today, I get to make that choice. Dr. Neal Cassidy, if you can find it in yourself to stop pretending to have a coughing fit at inappropriate moments, I would like you to scrub in for an appendectomy this afternoon. Congratulations.”
Neal’s cheeks flared a deep said of red as he shook his head in disbelief. He maintained his composure until Dr. Mills had turned on her heel and glided out of the cafeteria, when he jumped to his feet and cheered. “Reserved for the intern with the most promise,” He recited multiple times as he circled the table, trying his very best to piss everyone off with his incessant bragging.
“You don’t actually get those bragging rights until you complete the surgery, mate.” Killian reminded him with a smirk. He was the only intern that seemed to be able to see through the idea of the first surgery – sieve out the weak to reveal the strongest. “Let’s just hope you’re not the next 007.”
“007?” Emma asked.
“007 – Licence to kill.”
When Emma finally made it back to Adam Young’s room, she found his parents frantically patting the side of his face and cooing over him. They didn’t notice her presence in the room until she picked up his chart to check that everything had been recorded correctly since the last time she saw him. She scribbled a few notes on the bottom of his chart after reading his EKG before stuffing it under her arm.
“They gave him a sedative for the CT scan, so he’s still going to be a little drowsy for a while,” Emma told them with her hands deep in her white coat pockets.
“Will he be okay? Our doctor said he might need an operation – is that true? What kind of operation is he going to need?” The boy’s mother asked, completely overwhelmed and on the verge of tears.
Emma opened her mouth for a moment, as if to say something. She snapped it shut as quickly as she had opened it and waited again before trying to say something. “I…Uh… You know, I’m not the doctor. I am a doctor, but I’m not your son’s doctor… I’ll just…” She started backing out towards the door. “I’ll get you Adam’s doctor.”
She spun on her heel and whizzed out of the child’s room, feeling her legs carry her directly to Dr. Whale, who seemed to be mulling around the nurses’ station with Ruby sulking behind him.
“Dr. Whale,” Emma said almost breathlessly. “The parents of the kid with the seizures are here. They want to speak with Adam’s doctor – they have questions. Do you talk to them or do I ask Dr. Mills?”
He waved off her suggestion. “No, Mills has been called into a consultation. Dr. Nolan is out of surgery early, so you’re going to have to brief him on the case and let him deal with it – it’s his case now.”
Emma nodded and tried to ignore the glare that she received from Ruby over Whale’s shoulder as she hastily crossed the hall to the tall, handsome surgeon that seemed to enjoy flashing every passer-by with his charming smile. Just the sight of the neurosurgeon made Emma laugh – he was the complete embodiment of everything she had found that Mills wasn’t. He was polite and cheerful; he clearly seemed optimistic and positively level headed. ‘Maybe that’s why they’re together – they balance each other out.’ Emma thought to herself as she approached him with her own lopsided smile, remembering what Ruby had told her at lunch.
“Dr. Nolan? I’m Dr. Emma Swan – I’m one of Whale’s new interns.” She said, offering the surgeon her hand to shake. As he took it, his charming smile dropped to a pitiful observation. Trying to ignore it, she handed over Adam’s casefile. “I’ve got a patient – or you have a patient – called Adam Young. He’s fifteen and visibly healthy, but he’s been brought in with new onset seizures. He’s been intermittent for the last week. Dr. Mills ordered shotgun, so we’ve got every test results possible, but nothing we have explains the seizures and his parents have just arrived with questions… for you.”
He nodded and skipped through the file page by page. He paused for a moment on the boy’s CT scan and shook his head. “So why do they have questions for me?”
“Because you’re the doctor on his case now.”
“I understand that, but why couldn’t you have just told his parents what you told me?” He asked her with a pensive look as he returned the casefile to her hands. “Everything you told me, is everything we already know, so I’ll just be reiterating everything you said.”
Emma furrowed her brow, not entirely sure whether or not the surgeon was being serious or if he was chastising her in the most polite way possible. “I didn’t want to tell them any wrong information – and I thought that if they had any more questions, you would be the man to answer them.”
The charming surgeon smirked at her and nodded. “Good, I like an intern that actually thinks about their actions before they do anything too gung-ho.” He took off towards Adam’s room with Emma matching his strides and hanging off of every word he uttered. “If you want to remain on this case and under my service, I suggest you tell the parents what you told me, then they can ask me whatever they want to know.”
Twenty-three hours into her first shift, Emma found herself a front row seat in the OR gallery to watch Neal Cassidy perform the first surgery of their internships. Ruby and Mary Margaret had saved her a seat while she ran to the hospital library to dig out a book on seizures. Dr. Nolan had suggested that Emma spent a few hours researching the onset and causes of consecutive seizures after their discussion with Adam’s parents, but she still hadn’t found anything that could have given them an adequate reason for his series of seizures.
“Ten bucks he can’t even hold a scalpel right,” an intern behind Emma muttered as they all stared down on Neal, who was fidgeting more than an anxious kid waiting for his talk with the principle. It was comical, but it wasn’t exactly fair.
“Fifteen, he cries,” another added.
“No, way. Twenty says he has a complete meltdown.” Ruby offered as she pulled out four bags of chips from her pocket, handing one each to Emma, Mary-Margaret and Killian.
Mary-Margaret scoffed and elbowed Ruby in the ribs. “Fifty says he pulls the whole thing off.” The brunette’s fellow interns glanced over at her in utter confusion at her optimism and confidence in Cassidy. “That’s one of us down there. The first one of us. Where’s your loyalty? This may be a cat fight, but he’s down there with the lions.”
Emma rolled her eyes and matched Mary Margaret’s scoff. “I’ll take that action.”
The interns peered over the balcony to get a closer look of their fellow surgical intern with baited breath. No one really wanted to see Cassidy fail, they simply hoped that they wouldn’t be the first to be titled ‘007 ’. Emma’s research book on seizures lay forgotten at her feet, which was then joined by her chips when Dr. Mills walked into the room with the professionalism that Emma had seen from the original Mills in some of her recorded surgeries.
“Okay, Cassidy. This is a routine procedure – you should have seen this a million times in your textbooks. Let’s see what you can do.” She ushered him towards the operating table, and waited for a moment to see if he would crack even before he made his first cut. “I hope you’ve done your research, because I haven’t performed an appendectomy in a while.”
Mary-Margaret groaned in the balcony as they watched tentatively. “Oh, come on. That’s not fair – she’s making him sweat before he’s even picked up the scalpel.”
Neal nodded nervously and held his hand out to the scrub nurse. “Scalpel.” He accepted the scalpel and gently pressed it against the skin, barely making a tear in the flesh of the patient that lay sedated on the table before him.
Regina tutted under her breath. “More pressure on the scalpel.” She instructed and Neal tried again, this time, successfully cutting through a few layers of flesh. “The human flesh is a tough shell. You really have to dig in to get the result you require.”
She leaned over the table slightly, to get a better look at what the intern was doing with the scalpel. For a few minutes, he spent his time carefully cutting through the thick layers of skin and fatty flesh before holding out his gloved hand again to accept a pair of pick-ups that he instinctively attached to a piece of flesh in his view. He held his hand out again to accept a clamp this time. Regina nodded as he clamped the peritoneum.
In the balcony, Ruby threw her hands in the air out of disappointment and grumbled under her breath. “I can’t believe he even got to the peritoneum without creating a code brown. That’s me out, anyway.”
“He hasn’t finished yet – there’s still time for a 007.” Emma laughed, earning herself a high-five from the lanky brunette.
“Stop it, you two. He’s going to pull it off. He’s actually going to do it.” Mary Margaret chided as she leaned forward in her seat in an attempt to tune out the childish behaviour of her fellow interns.
“Appendix is out.” Neal said aloud with a huge sigh of relief as he dropped the organ into a sterile silver bowl.
“Not bad, Cassidy.” Dr. Mills observed, ignoring the muffled cheering sounds coming from the balcony above them. “Now all you have to do is invert the stump into the cecum and simultaneously pull up on the purse strings, but be careful not to break th- You ripped the cecum.” She watched as Cassidy began to panic at the sight in the open surgical field. This was what it was about – this was where the strong shone or the weak fell to pieces. “You’ve got a bleeder. You’re infecting the area. What do you do, Cassidy?”
Neal looked up to her with wide eyes and shook his head, not knowing what to do in that very moment, other than panic.
“Start the suction and you start digging for those strings before she bleeds to death.” Neal nods and holds out his hand to the scrub nurse in a stunned silence. “Give him a clamp.” He attached the clamp to a random spot inside the surgical field, making Regina groan with irritation at his complete stupidity. “Today, Cassidy. Get your head out of fairy tale land and actually think about what you’re doing. What are you waiting for?”
The intern didn’t move – he couldn’t. He simply stared back at Dr. Mills like a deer in headlights. He heard everything that Dr. Mills was telling him, but couldn’t actually contemplate what was happening before him. Nothing registered for a long time, and before he knew it, a scrub nurse was pulling him out of the way, and Mills was sticking her hands into the surgical field, effortlessly trying to fix the dire mess that he had made inside his very first patient.
“007,” Killian whispered in complete astonishment. “Cassidy is 007.”
“Don’t you dare let him hear you call him that,” Mary Margaret warned with a pointed finger in his face. “That will knock his confidence so much more than this has already done. He doesn’t need you making fun of him.”
Emma bit back her laughter at Mary Margaret’s motherly tone as she wagged her finger and continued to rant at the scruffy looking intern. The blonde grabbed her research book and tried to clean up the mess she had made when Regina had appeared in the OR, before patting Mary Margaret on the shoulder. “You owe me 50 bucks, M&M. I will take my payment in cash or in the form of hard liquor.”
This time, when Emma returned to check on her patient, Adam Young, she found Dr. Nolan standing over him, checking his stats and any physical changes in his physique.
“Where the hell have you been?” He barked at the intern as soon as he heard her sneakers squeak on the linoleum flooring.
“I…Watching the first surgery.” She stumbled over her words as she received the chart from one of the nurses. “My pager was on – what happened?”
He ripped the chart from her skinny hands and ushered her outside into the corridor. His voice lowered into a hiss that she would have expected from Dr. Mills instead. “He seized and his heart stopped, that’s what happened. And where were you? Too busy laughing at one of your own failing, when you were miles away from your own failure.” Dr. Nolan took a deep breath and straightened slightly. “I suggest, if you want to remain on this case and remain on my service, that you dig deeper into your research Dr. Swan, because next time, we might not be so lucky. If we don’t find what’s causing his seizures, he’s going to die. If you do find what’s causing his seizures, I’ll let you do what no other intern gets to do: scrub in to assist on an advanced procedure. But you’re going to have to seriously wise up.”
Emma’s eyes widened at the very thought of being the first intern to actually assist on something bigger than a routine procedure of an appendectomy. If she could solve this medical mystery, she would be in every attending on the board’s good books. Now that was sucking up to the boss, but Emma couldn’t even find it in herself to give a damn. She would be succeeding in ways her fellow interns would never imagine. She watched as Dr. Nolan returned to Adam’s room before excitedly speeding off to the library.
For hours, she sat on the floor, beneath the bookcases searching for an answer; searching for something that would at least hint to why Adam was experiencing his seizures. He wasn’t responding to his meds. His CT was clear of tumours; he didn’t have anorexia, renal failure or acidosis; there’s no white count that would suggest an infection; he had no CT lesions, no fevers and nothing in his spinal tap. It wasn’t an aneurysm because there hadn’t been any blood in his CT, and he hadn’t complained about headaches.
She slapped her forehead in utter frustration with the palm of her hand. There had to be something that explained his seizures; but what?!
Then it clicked.
The blonde pushed all of the books from her lap, grabbed her notepad and pen, and raced out of the library faster than she had ever run in her life. She sped through the hospital corridors in search of Dr. Nolan, when she finally collided with him on the surgical floor.
“I’ve got it,” she panted, pointing at the notepad she gripped tightly in her hand. “He’s a soccer player. He has no headaches, no back pain and his CT is clean. There’s no medical proof that he had an aneurysm, but what if he had one anyway?”
Dr. Nolan furrowed his brow at her before he shook his head. “It's not possible - there are no indicators that would show an aneurysm.”
“He twisted his ankle during practice. He twisted his ankle and fell. It wasn’t a big deal, but he had it checked and because it was so minor, his doctor didn’t mention it when I took his history. But he did fall.”
“Oh come on, Swan. You’re wasting my time. Do you know what the chance is that a fall could burst an aneurysm? One in a million. Literally, there is a one in a million chance that Adam’s fall could have burst an aneurysm.” He tried to barge past the blonde intern before stopping in his tracks and mulling over the case in his head once more. He glanced back at the intern and flashed his charming grin again. “What if Adam is one in a million?”
“So, how has your ‘ intern with the most promise ’ handled their first day?” Nolan asked as he leaned back in the chair behind his desk.
“Exactly how I had expected.” Mills smirked as she leaned on the opposite side of his desk. The amusement of the situation swam deep in her eyes at the idea of seeing an intern break on the first shift. “Cassidy crumbled during the appendectomy. He had the right idea, but once it got down to the nitty-gritty part of the surgery, he completely bottled it. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an intern botch an appendectomy in the way he did today.”
Nolan sighed and shook his head at the brunette before him. “I can’t believe that you actually enjoy doing this, Regina… No, I can believe it, I’m just deluding myself into believing that you aren’t that cruel to interns.”
It was Regina’s rich laughter that made the whole outlook on the situation worse for the Neuro surgeon. “Well, they have to learn, David. Who else was I going to choose?”
“Someone with at least a remote idea as to what they’re doing. Swan has a lot of promise.” He told her confidently. He had spent over twelve hours with the intern after she enlightened him with what she was so determined to believe caused Adam’s seizures. “She solved that aneurysm case this afternoon and scrubbed in on the surgery in her first forty-eight hour shift. She’s got the making of becoming a fantastic surgeon, no matter what specialty she chooses. She kept a level head, and even pushed through fatigue enough to sit in the library to research every possibility. She’s already proved herself to be one of the most valuable players in this year’s batch.”
Regina hummed at her colleague as she moved to sit on the edge of his desk. She had recalled reading the intern’s application and her references prior to the interns flooding through the front doors of the hospital. It had been the only application that she would be happy enough to admit she was impressed with. Emma Swan had the advancement in education that very few of the greats had. She was ahead of her time and Regina was intrigued by it; not very many interns were all that willing to prove themselves in the way that Emma had gone out of her way to do.
“Page her. I want to discuss the case with her.” She instructed him, taking his water bottle from the table and swigging from it. She ignored David’s warning tuts and sighs. They were way past caring about each other’s annoying and dirty habits by now. “I want to discuss the case with the intern that actually ran the entire thing without killing someone on their first shift.”
“I’m on it.” He said, pulling his water from Regina’s hands and sending through the page to his intern. “Oh, and you should probably know that they named your promising intern 007 .”
“I hate to admit it, but I think they’re right. He was reckless. I don’t want an intern in my OR that will spend the entire time in there sweating himself unsterile. It was disgusting and totally unprofessional.”
“Oh, come on, Regina. You remember how nervous we were on our first surgeries.”
“Like it was yesterday, yes, but neither of us looked like we were going to faint or sweat into the patient. We were calm and collected, with an excitement that made us determined to prove how prepared we were. I can already see it; these interns are going to be a bunch of idiots.” Regina smirked at him and elegantly managed to cross her legs in the tight pencil skirt she had changed into for her consultations. “Why do you actually think I do the first surgery choices?”
Before David could confirm everything she was asking him to tell her, a confident knock on the door interrupted them. As the door opened and a blonde head popped out around the door, David smiled.
“Dr. Nolan, you paged?” Emma asked, fully opening the door when she spotted Dr. Mills with him. She bit back her smile and averted her eyes from the brunette sat on the corner of the desk.
“Ah, yes. Swan. Come in, come in.” He waved her over to the seats in front of his desk, allowing Emma to choose the seat furthest away from Dr. Mills. Emma knew that if she had taken the seat closest to the cardio goddess, she would have spent the entire time in Dr. Nolan’s office staring at Regina’s legs. “I have just been telling Dr. Mills about how successful you were today with our little medical mystery case.”
With a gentle smile that Emma had yet to see, Regina leaned from her perch closer to the blonde. “I’m pleasantly surprised, Dr. Swan. Remind me, where were you when you last updated me on the case?”
From her slouching position in the chair, Emma pulled herself into perfect posture and tried her hardest to recall when and where she had last bumped into Dr. Mills, all while trying not to include the times she had seen her throughout the hospital or the times that she had thought-up conversations that they never had.
“Uh, I had just gone through all of the tests for Adam’s case. There was nothing in any of his results that would have explained his seizures. There was nothing on his first CT either, but after some extensive research and remembering what Adam had told me about a fall he had during a soccer practice, it was obvious. It seemed impossible that his fall could have triggered it, but since there was nothing else that could have explained it, I knew that it wouldn’t have hurt if we looked into the possibility. So we did. We performed a second CT and induced another seizure, so we could see the aneurysm, where my diagnosis was proved correct.”
“That was a brave decision, Swan. Not many interns are willing to defend themselves in front of an attending, especially on a case like this one.” Regina didn’t want to blow the intern’s trumpet, but she had to admit, she was impressed. “From what I can gather, Dr. Nolan is incredibly pleased with your efficiency and capability of holding your own. I for one, would very much like to see your capabilities first hand. Therefore, I’m putting you on my service for the rest of the week. You will be working under Dr. Whale with Dr. Lucas, so I expect you to prove to me that you’re capable of upholding your newest expectations.”
Emma stared at the cardio surgeon with wide eyes and nodded with exaggeration. “Yes, of course. Thank you so much, Dr. Mills.” As she opened her mouth to blab some crap about making sure to prove herself, she was saved by the buzzing of her pager. She looked down at the piece of tech attached to the top of her scrub pants and cringed. “I have to take this…”
“Yes, of course. Thank you, Swan.” David said to her and held his hand up for her to leave. The blonde grinned at them before hastily making an exit and speeding away to her call.
“Don’t you dare crack her on your service, Regina.” David warned as soon as Emma closed the door behind herself. “Neuro needs some fresh meat, and the only others that are showing any slight interest are O’Donnell and Bell, and neither of them are capable of forming sentences with words longer than four letters.”