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Sunday hadn't exactly been a busy day for Macintosh. He had already stopped by the police station, spoken with Twilight Sparkle, and given his approval. It pleased him to know that his sister finally had somepony who would actually take care of her and treat her right, but he couldn't rest just yet - he still had to set things up in preparation for the impending talk with Granny Smith. That would have to wait until tomorrow, however. For now, he had something else that required his immediate attention.
Namely, his date with Nurse Redheart. Like with the 'date' he and Twilight Sparkle had gone on, he had decided to settle on his little sanctuary, and the stallion had already gotten things properly set up. A checkerboard blanket covered the ground, and Macintosh had brought a basket along as well, filled with food and other snacks. He had even managed to procure a bottle of wine, though he wasn't entirely sure if he would even use it. With everything ready, the red stallion patiently waited, humming a few songs to himself as he counted down the time within his head.
Let's see... got here 'round four, took about an hour ta set up, an' it's been thirty minutes since then. Redheart said she'd be here 'round 5:30, so...
"...I didn't even know this spot existed, Mister Macintosh."
Right on time.
With a grin upon his face, Macintosh turned to glance over his shoulder at the new arrival. "An' what's that 'spose ta mean, Miss Redheart?"
"Well, I've taken a few walks through your orchards before, usually when your family runs that little event in late August. Folks get to pick the apples themselves." The white mare had already walked over and taken a seat on the blanket, and Macintosh couldn't help but notice how she looked when she wasn't on-duty. Without the nurse's cap and her mane tied up in a bun, she looked... different. 'Different' was a monumental understatement, of course - the mare was almost unrecognizable compared to how she normally looked, and even now, she seemed far more relaxed than normal. Before Macintosh could continue his train of thought any further, Redheart had already managed to break it with a quiet little laugh. "Even after all those times picking my own apples, though, I never began to suspect that a place like this existed. I mean, it's quiet... peaceful."
"Eeeyup. Usually come here when I need ta do some thinkin'." The stallion cast a wayward glance towards Redheart, but soon directed his gaze towards the small pond. "So tell me about about yerself, Redheart."
"Oh, I doubt you'd want to hear about it, Macintosh. It's nothing special, really."
Macintosh turned and smiled at her. "C'mon now, Redheart. I told ya about mahself durin' some of those sleepless nights while Granny was sick. I think you owe me."
As she thought back to some of their night-time talks, the nurse couldn't help but grin. "Alright, alright. But if I end up boring you, it's your own fault."
"We'll see 'bout that."
"Well, uh... for starters, I was born and raised in Manehattan."
"Really now? Manehattan?" The stallion sat up and peered towards her - she had evidently piqued his interest.
"Mhm! Finished up highschool there, and then I started hunting for colleges. I already knew what I wanted to do long before then, of course - it was just a matter of finding a place with a good program."
"So what'd ya settle on?"
"I ended up picking Baltimare University. Not the best nursing program in Equestria, but I liked the campus. Pretty place. The town was nice too." Redheart snickered and began to grin. "I uh... met my first boyfriend there too. Didn't work out, but... we split on good terms with one another. I still send him letters, just to see how he's doing."
"Guessin' he stayed there?"
She slowly nodded, the grin never leaving her face. "Yeah... I swear, sometimes he loved that town more than he loved me. He'd always want to go on walks down by the bay, especially liked it during the fall. After we got through nursing school, we both ended up getting jobs at Baltimare Medical, but... I dunno. I just didn't like it."
Macintosh looked towards her, an eyebrow raised. "Any reason?"
"Well... I know this is going to sound really silly, especially because I was born and raised in the big city, but Baltimare was just... too big for me. I needed something quieter."
"So ya came here."
Redheart smiled and turned to face the stallion. "Yep. That was... oh gosh, three years ago, maybe? I don't regret it at all, though. Working and living here in Ponyville has been great."
"Well, that's good ta hear." Macintosh gave her a warm smile and flipped open the lid to the basket, and he eventually managed to get an apple to tumble out. "Never good goin' through life with regrets."
The white mare nudged the fruit towards him, apparently helping - for what good it did, at least. "So, Macintosh... I've got a question of my own."
"Yeah?" The stallion picked up the apple by the stem, throwing it into the air and catching it in his mouth. It would've been far too much for a normal pony, but Macintosh wasn't exactly 'normal' as far as size was concerned.
"Why me? I mean... I dunno if you've noticed, but you've had quite a few mares looking your way. You could have your pick of the litter, if you wanted."
Macintosh finished up his apple and swallowed, then stared at the pond as he thought it over. "Hm. An' ya wanna know why I picked you fer th' date?"
Redheart nodded once in return. "Pretty much."
"Well... I guess it's 'cause ya sorta went above an' beyond when ya were stayin' at th' farm an' takin' care of Granny Smith. Ya didn' jus' take care of Granny, but ya took care of th' whole darn family. Awful nice ta find somepony willin' ta go that far."
"Oh. It's... nothing, Macintosh. I was just doing my job."
"Yer job was takin' care of Granny. Nopony said ya had ta take care of me or Apple Bloom, or that ya had ta get up in th' middle if th' night jus' ta keep me company."
At that, the white mare faintly blushed. "Yes, well... somepony had to take care of you, since you wouldn't. And I had trouble sleeping anyways."
"What, don't believe me?"
"Mm, not entirely."
Redheart glanced towards the picnic basket and smiled as she caught sight of something within it. "Crack open that bottle of wine, and let's talk. Just the two of us."
"Jus' like if it was three in the mornin'?" He grinned and briefly glanced in her direction before carefully pulling two wine glasses out of the basket, and as he began to work on opening the bottle, he heard soft laughter.
"Just like if it was three in the morning."
After a long day of practice, the Wonderbolts began to pack up and head for home. Two of them, however, decided to deviate from their path for a change. The two friends had much to discuss, and there was no better way to do so than head to Sky High for some drinks. It hadn't taken long at all before they had already been served their drinks - considering that it was a Sunday, the bar was already rather quiet, and Barley was quick to serve them both.
"I swear, Soarin', you've been holding out on me." Spitfire sighed and took a quick sip of her whiskey, grimacing slightly after she swallowed - never could get used to the burn. "Should've told me this place was around sooner."
"Yeah, well... I gotta keep some things secret." The light blue stallion chuckled and grabbed his own mug, taking a long drink.
"So, c'mon now. Tell me how things went on Friday. You've dodged the question every single time I've asked."
"It went... fine."
"...fine? That's it?"
Soarin' sighed and briefly eyed his drink before turning to face Spitfire. "Yeah. Fine. Me and Applejack had a few drinks, and we talked for a bit."
"And then... what? You took her home? Maybe to a hotel or something, and then the two of you f-"
"Spitfire, just... stop. We had a few drinks, talked for a bit, and then she left early. Said she wasn't feeling well."
The yellow pegasus grinned, briefly glanced down towards his waist, then returned to her drink. "Well, you know how earth ponies are. Maybe she thought you wouldn't last long enough."
"It was for me. And hey, maybe if I feel bad enough for you and you buy me enough drinks, I'll let you take me home."
"We both know that's not gonna happen."
Spitfire idly shrugged and took another swig of whiskey, shaking her head as she put the glass down. "Yeah, you're too good of a guy anyways. Smarter than the other stallions on the team, at least."
Soarin' couldn't help but chuckle at that, and he simply watched as Barley cleaned another glass. "You've got almost all of them utterly convinced that you're gonna sleep with them. We might as well change your title from 'Team Captain' to 'Team Flirt'."
"Hey, if I don't do it, Misty will. Besides, if it makes 'em work harder in practice and in shows, then I'll flirt as much as it takes."
"That's... one way of doing it." The blue pegasus finished off his mug of ale and pushed the glass aside, turning on his stool to face Spitfire. "So, hey. There's something I wanna ask, and you gotta promise not to make fun of me for it."
She could hardly hide her own grin, and she simply feigned innocence and shrugged her shoulders. "And why would I do something like that?"
The yellow pegasus sighed and rubbed her forehead - 'Spits' was an old nickname of hers, one that Soarin' had mockingly used once upon a time when they were just kids. It had become an endearing term of sorts, one that the blue stallion only used when he was either trying to get her attention or when he was trying to get her to be as serious as possible. "Hey, what I do is just for fun and games, but... I'm listening, Soarin'. Now c'mon, bud. Tell me what's on your mind."
"Well, I wanted your opinion on something."
"And that would be...?"
"Basically, uh... Applejack didn't leave on Friday because she was sick. She said she needed to go, so I let her go."
Spitfire straightened up on her stool and leaned forward a bit. "Really now?"
"Yeah. And I kinda... asked for Rainbow Dash's address too, so I could just stop by and say hi. Maybe spend time with her too."
"And by 'spend time', you mean 'f-"
"Alright, alright! I'll stay quiet!"
The blue pegasus sighed and slowly shook his head before continuing. "Anyways, I guess what I wanna know is... what do you think about her? Rainbow Dash, I mean."
"Rainbow Dash?" Spitfire tapped a hoof to her chin and she spun around on her stool for a few seconds. "Good flyer, lots of potential. Got a lot of guts too. Definitely like her attitude - seriously wouldn't mind if some of the other Wonderbolts practiced as often as she did."
"Well, definitely jealous of her ma- wait." Spitfire leaned even further forwards on her stool, and her muzzle was now pressing against Soarin's as she looked him in the eye. "Are you thinking about doing what I think you're gonna try to do?"
Soarin' laughed nervously and returned the gaze. "Uhm... maybe?"
The yellow mare let out a laugh and quickly leaned back, pounding a hoof against the bar and grinning from ear to ear. "Soarin', you dog! You're looking for something serious, aren't you? Putting your mare-conquering days behind you?"
"I really don't like when you say it like that..." True, his status as a Wonderbolt made it rather easy for him to work his way into somepony's bed, and when he had first joined the Wonderbolts, he had done so at every opportunity. That was years ago, though, and he was younger then. Things were different now. "Just... I dunno. When me and Applejack talked on Friday, it got me thinking. A fling's fun every now and then, but... I'm kinda ready to settle down. I want something a little more solid, you know?"
Spitfire simply smiled in return, and the mare brushed her mane back a bit as she ordered yet another drink. "No, no. I hear you there. I gave a lot of that up a few years back anyways."
"Did you now?"
"Yeah. I just... got bored of it. I was younger back then. Dumber. But then I grew up a bit." As the next glass of whiskey was sat down in front of her, she briefly stared at it before turning to face her friend. "You've done the same, haven't you? And c'mon, Soarin', be honest with me."
"...yeah, Spits. I have."
Another glass of whiskey was soon placed upon the bar, and Spitfire pushed it towards Soarin', a smile upon her face. "Good on ya. Now c'mon, a toast for the two of us."
Soarin' slowly picked up his glass and held it aloft, peering over towards the yellow mare. "And... what should we toast to?"
"Here's... to us."
"...and to the future, whatever it may bring."
"And to friends..." Spitfire shot a glance towards Soarin', the smile never leaving her face. "For being there for one another through thick and thin."
The blue stallion chuckled as he returned the glance. "I wouldn't be able to leave you anyways, Spits."
"D'aw. Shut up and drink so I can give you a hug."
And drink they did.