To say that Redheart was peeved would be an understatement, and a colossal one at that - she was absolutely livid. After stepping out of the hospital, the white mare had made sure to get herself a healthy distance away from the building, and upon doing so, she let loose. She yelled. She spat. She cursed. She even took her anger out on a nearby tree, kicking it with her hindlegs, though she quickly began to regret doing so as she hobbled away.
She gradually walked off her limp as she moved away from the hospital, and Redheart let out a huff as she pulled out the pin that was holding her mane in place. If she wasn't on-duty anymore, there was little reason to stay in uniform as well, and she quickly threw the pin into a nearby bush and gave her head a good shake. Her nurse's cap soon fell to the ground, and Redheart briefly eyed it before leaning down, picking it up in her mouth, and continuing her trip down the road.
Stupid things cost too much to replace.
In spite everything that had happened thus far, she was still trying to stay on the positive side of things. Now that she had been given the rest of the day off, as well as tomorrow, there were all sorts of things she could do! She could actually get lunch! She could sleep in! She could-
Redheart quickly came to a halt and nearly stumbled her own hooves, but soon managed to regain her balance. After glancing around the area, she turned to face the source of the voice and grinned sheepishly up at the figure. "Uh... hi, Macintosh. I... didn't know Sweet Apple Acres made deliveries out this way."
Macintosh replied simply enough. "We don't."
"Then... what are you doing out here?"
"Got done sellin' our stock for the day, so I figured I'd take a walk." The red stallion inhaled deeply and exhaled, a faint smile upon his face. "Nice day out anyways. Thought you were 'spose to be at work, though?"
Upon hearing mention of 'work', the mare huffed and lowered her head. "Yeah. So did I."
"...ohh. You uh... you doin' alright, Redheart?"
"I've been better, Mac."
"You wanna talk about it over lunch? I've got some food packed, if ya want some of it." Macintosh pointed at his saddlebags and gave her a hopeful little smile, and even that seemed to perk her up a bit - the mention of lunch was just an extra incentive.
"I'd like that."
The two of them had managed to find a quiet spot a fair distance from the road, and Macintosh had already taken his saddlebags off and was rummaging through them. Even as he dug around for the food he had packed, Redheart grumbled and paced back and forth. The stallion briefly glanced towards her and chuckled before returning to his search once again. "Redheart, ya keep that up and yer gonna end up wearin' a rut into the ground."
"Yeah, well, Miss Twilight told me she managed to do it to a wood floor."
"Oh c'mon, you can't honestly believe that, Mac."
"Well, if I can't believe that, then how am I 'spose to believe you had such a bad day?"
Redheart let out a sigh and took a seat underneath the shade of a nearby tree. "Macintosh, that isn't fair and you know it. I got stuck with a short list, my lunch was stolen, and then I got sent home. I didn't even get to have my morning coffee!"
"And that's a bad day?"
"...by my standards, yes. Yes it is."
Macintosh carefully picked the saddlebags up with his mouth, carrying them over to Redheart and setting them down in front of her. After taking a seat at her side, he pushed one of the bags over, causing a canteen of water to tumble out, as well as some apples. "C'mon, hun. You gotta be starvin'."
Redheart wasted no time at all and quickly picked up one of the apples, taking large bites out of it and noisily chewing. She hadn't eaten anything at all since that morning, and she was hungry enough that even the grass on the ground was beginning to look appetizing. To any other pony, it may have just been a piece of fruit, but to her? This was a treat. Somehow, Redheart had managed to finish before Macintosh had even begun, and she was now leaning against his side. "I think... that apple is the best apple I will ever have. Not even kidding."
The stallion let out a soft chuckle and he glanced down at her. "Is it 'cause you were hungry, or 'cause you were havin' a bad day?"
"Is that so?"
"Yeah." She sighed and absentmindedly rubbed a cheek against his side. "You've been the only good part about today."
Macintosh looked down towards the white mare, a faint frown upon his face. "It wasn't really that bad, was it?"
"Mac... I had to get up at six in the morning, sit through a cold shower, and skip coffee and most of a bagel because I didn't have enough time for either. I show up for work and get assigned an incredibly small amount of patients, which makes the rest of the staff mad at me, and then I finally go on lunch break and discover that somepony swiped it yet again. And then, to top it all off, the charge nurse sends me home. It's the first time I've ever been sent home in my entire career. I'm tired and I'm irritated." Redheart sighed once more and looked up at Macintosh with a frown of her own. "Yes, it really has been that bad."
"...you still like what you do, don'tcha?"
"Of course I do, Mac. I just... I dunno."
"It's the other ponies, ain't it?" He gently brushed her mane away from her face and offered her a comforting smile. "You wanna talk about 'em? Might make ya feel better."
"I guess." Redheart shrugged ever so slightly, and the mare threw a foreleg around Macintosh, giving him a gentle hug. "There's... Sweetheart. Always steals my lunch, every damn day. Even if I write my name all over it, she takes it."
"You try talkin' to her?"
"Yeah, but that doesn't do any good. And then there's Nurse Coldheart. She's charge nurse for the morning shift."
Macintosh raised an eyebrow and peered down at her. "What's so bad about her?"
The white mare let out a groan and shook her head. "Everything. I don't know if she hates me or what, but she's always screwing me over somehow. Either my patient lists are short, which makes everyone else mad at me, or she gives me all the unruly patients, which makes my job extremely difficult. And I've reported Sweetheart to her numerous times now, and she won't do anything about it."
"You try reportin' her to some of the higher-ups?"
"It's pointless. She's been there longer than me, and the previous charge nurse finalized her transfer over the weekend, so... the job is basically hers now."
"Anything else ya wanna get off yer chest, hun?"
"Well... I've lived and worked here for three years, Mac. Three years, and so much of it just seems... backwards. For starters, we've got a filly as part of the staff. A child is running the front desk at the hospital, and during night shifts no less! And not only that, but I swear that there's only one doctor for the entire hospital. It's not that he does a bad job, but only a single doctor for an entire hospital? I mean, I know Ponyville Medical is a small hospital, but only one doctor is just stupid." Redheart huffed and rubbed her face against Macintosh's side. "Sometimes I wonder if it would have been better for me to have just stayed at Canterlot Hospital, or Baltimare Medical."
The stallion placed a hoof under her chin and gently lifted her face until her gaze met his own. "We wouldn't have met, ya know."
"I know, but..."
"You feel like they don't appreciate ya or respect ya."
Slowly, and with a bit of hesitation, she nodded. "Kinda."
"For what it's worth, Redheart, I do. What you do ain't easy."
"Sometimes it feels like you're the only one who does."
Macintosh sighed and cocked his head. "Redheart, ya know that ain't true. There's plenty of ponies that are glad yer around."
"...sure doesn't seem like it."
"You've been awfully bitter all of a sudden. Everything okay, hun?"
She opened her mouth to speak, but quickly stopped herself. As much as she wanted to say that everything truly was fine, she also knew that such a thing was a blatant lie, one that Macintosh would likely pick up on. Truth be told, she wasn't fine. She was stressed out from work, which was affecting her sleeping habits, which was then also affecting her work. It was quickly turning into a rather vicious cycle, and though she knew she needed help, she also didn't want to worry Macintosh. At that point, Redheart decided to do the next best thing - she would be vague. "It's... nothing, Mac. Just stress."
"Just stress? I ain't buyin' it." The stallion shook his head and frowned at her. "I've seen how ya look today, Redheart. You ain't lookin' too good."
"And what's that supposed to mean?"
Macintosh rolled his eyes and sighed. "I mean that ya look tired."
"...Alright, so I haven't been sleeping well lately. It's no big deal, Macintosh. Really."
"And how long has this been goin' on?"
Redheart laughed nervously and gave him a sheepish grin. "Um... a week. Or two. Or maybe three."
"Why didn't ya say anything, Redheart? If you were havin' that much trouble gettin' to sleep, I would've stayed the night with ya."
"Because I didn't think it was a big deal!" Redheart huffed and closed her eyes, rubbing a hoof against her forehead. "We're both busy ponies, Mac. We've only been together for a month, but I know how busy you can be with Sweet Apple Acres, and I didn't want to bother you with something like that. And besides, missing an hour or two of sleep isn't going to kill me."
"Redheart? I want ya to do somethin' fer me. I want ya to take a nap."
"Right now. You need the rest." Macintosh chuckled and grinned at the mare. "I'll even be yer bed, if you don't wanna nap on the ground."
"Such a gentleman!" The mere thought of the stallion being a bed made her giggle, and Redheart gave his side a playful poke. "I appreciate the offer, Mac, but the ground will be just fine."
"Suit yourself." He slowly lowered himself to the ground, letting out a soft sigh as he rolled onto his side. "Could go fer a nap mahself. Been up since four in the morning."
"Sheesh, you get up earlier than me."
Macintosh cast a wayward glance up towards the mare. "Eeeyup. C'mon now, Redheart. No more delays."
"Alright, alright." Redheart gently eased herself down, letting out a groan and briefly closing her eyes as she made contact with the ground. "Feels like I haven't laid down in ages."
"'Cause yer exhausted, hun."
She quickly snuggled up against Macintosh, and a yawn slipped out as she lightly leaned against him. "I hate when you're right."
"And why's that?"
"...no reason, really." Redheart leaned up and gave the stallion a light kiss before settling back down, a faint smile upon her face. "That's for cleaning the coffee pot."
Macintosh grinned and chuckled softly. "Ya didn't really get to use it, though."
"I know, but... it's the thought that counts." The white mare let out another yawn and closed her eyes, the smile never leaving her face. "Thanks, dear."
As Redheart slowly drifted off to sleep, Macintosh gazed out from their spot beneath the tree and let out a yawn of his own, soon closing his eyes to join her in slumber.
"Any time, hun. Any time."