• Published 17th Jan 2012
  • 8,867 Views, 339 Comments

We are our Habits - Agarwaen



Nurse Redheart pulls a Pegasus back from death's grip. Only time will tell what your future holds.

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My Downfall

For the rest of the breakfast, time seemed to barely move. You could not figure out if it was because your head was brimming with confusion, or because everything seemed so awkward now. Pinkie, and the other two ponies, who had now introduced themselves as Lyra and Bon Bon, had joined you at your table. The conversation touched on all bases; thankfully it all didn’t revolve around you and your situation. You couldn’t help to admire how beautiful Nurse Redheart looked with her hair down, and you caught yourself staring on more than one occasion, and in one such event, you even caught her wistfully staring back at you. As your eyes locked, the entire world around you seemed to cease to exist. Awareness outside of Nurse Redheart and of the slight smile on her pink tinged face slipped away from you.

“Eh-hmm.” Your mind returns to reality, and realises you have been completely immobile, staring, for quite some time. Glancing around, you notice that everypony is looking at you. You’re quite sure you've missed something important, and beating around the bush just doesn’t feel right.

“Why is everypony staring at me?” The seafoam unicorn looked a little annoyed at you.

“Bonnie asked you a question, and you just sat there, staring off into space.”

“O—“

“Sorry,” Nurse Redheart interrupted as she shot you a quick wink. “That was probably my fault. I gave him some muscle relaxers to help with a problem we had with his wings earlier. They can have a pretty wide range of side effects, and loss of focus is definitely one of them. That being said, we should probably get back to the clinic. You can never be too safe with drugs and their side effects.”

You exchange goodbyes with the four mares, and climb to your hooves. As you begin to walk towards the exit, you realise that your legs feel something akin to how a marshmallow would feel, if it were sentient. The tinkling of the doorbell sends a chill down your spine as you exit, holding the door with your right wing for Nurse Redheart. You let the door fall back closed after she passes through, but in the process you lose your balance and stumble backward. Luckily, you are close enough where the building can catch you before you fall completely to the ground.

“Are you feeling ok?” At first, the white mare didn’t notice you fall behind, and is now quickly trotting back to you.

“My legs are just really wobbly and slow to react.” You push off the wall that you've been leaning against, and begin to walk back towards the clinic. Nurse Redheart moves to your right side, and matches your slow but steady pace. You feel her warm body press up against your side, her soft coat rubbing against your, still sensitive, abdomen. The feeling sends shivers down your legs, to the tips of your hooves.

“If you feel like you’re going to fall, you should lean on me. I don’t want you falling onto your side and hurting your wing any more than it is.” You slowly press yourself up against her side, until she supports a good portion of your weight. You’re not quite certain you would have fallen over if you didn’t rest against her, but you definitely like the warm tingly sensation that doing so brings to your body. Time no longer existed; your legs were on autopilot, your brain only processing sensations of comfort. You could feel her heart beat faster at your touch, and her chest rising and falling with each breath.

The smell of disinfectant and freshly purified air pushes its way into your nose, forcing you back to reality. Realising that you had drifted off into your thoughts again, you quickly glance around. You find yourself still leaning into Nurse Redheart as you pass through the second set of automagical doors into the Ponyville Clinic. As she leads you back to your room, you notice how frigid the clinic is; in contrast, you feel like fire is radiating through your body from her contact. Upon entering your room, Nurse Redheart motions a hoof to your bed.

“You should lie back down until the muscle relaxers wear off.” She slowly pulls away from you, so as to not cause you to lose balance. A small frown reflexively forms on your face. You walk over to the bed and quickly bury yourself in the linens, vainly hoping to bring back the warmth that has now vanished and left your body freezing. Rolling onto your right side, you can see her expertly twirl her mane into the bun that you have seen so much over the past few days. With a couple pins, retrieved from the bedside table, her mane is locked in place. She places her nursing cap onto her head before saying,

”I'll be back in a little bit; I need to fetch some supplies to take a blood sample. If that shows us your body chemistry is balanced, and you don’t have any infections, we can release you.” As she finishes, she turns to see you watching her, and a small smile and blush spreads across her face. You nod slowly; mixed feelings of fear, excitement, and sadness keep your facial expression blank. Nurse Redheart turns and leaves the room. This is a great opportunity to simply rest your mind, and you take it.

***

It’s only a few minutes before the white mare returns, carrying a tray on her back. She sets the tray down on the bedside table, places a hoof on top of a small paper package, and rips the end of it off. You can see its contents clearly; inside is a large needle with a round recess that seems to be the same size as a small vial setting next to the package. You must have a very shocked or scared expression on your face, because Nurse Redheart immediately begins trying to comfort you.

“The needle may look really big, but it won’t hurt at all.” She’s fidgeting around in a drawer in the bedside table, looking for something. “Ahh, here it is!” Her hoof withdraws from the drawer with a small red ball. She then places the ball next to your right forehoof.

“I need you to put your hoof on the ball, and in just a moment, I want you to squish it into the bed three times. On the last squish, hold your hoof down on it firmly.” You simply nod in agreement. She grabs a large elastic band from the tray, and in a blur of both forehooves, she ties it tightly around your foreleg just above the knee. A small square paper pouch is retrieved from the tray on your bedside table. Nurse Redheart rips it open, takes the small cloth from inside, and rubs it on your foreleg just above your fetlock. It leaves a tingly, cool sensation behind.

“Ok, go ahead and squish on the ball,” she says, before grabbing the needle in her mouth. You oblige, and pump your forehoof on the ball three times, holding pressure on the ball on the last motion. She moves closer to your appendage with a look of stark determination on her face; you find it oddly endearing. As much as you’d love to continue to admire her in her element, that needle is really bucking big, and you press your eyes shut, awaiting some intolerable amount of pain. The sensation of her warm breath across your coat sends a shiver through your entire body. Moments pass, and before long, the warmth subsides from your foreleg. Opening your eyes, you can see Nurse Redheart as she pulls the elastic band away.

“That wasn’t bad was it? Putting the needle in scares pretty much everypony, but this next part is easy. I just have to put this vial into the syringe in your foreleg, and the vacuum pressure in it will suck some of your blood into it.” Looking down at the apparatus embedded in your flesh, you watch as Nurse Redheart pushes the small vial into it. In less than two seconds the vial is full; she pulls the syringe and vial out, and places them on the tray. Moving quickly, the white pony grabs a square of gauze from the tray, and presses it onto a small drop of blood that now rests atop your foreleg. A piece of white medical tape is then placed over it, holding it in place.

“Ok, you can let go of the ball now. It will take about 4 hours for us to go through this and make sure everything is normal. If you get hungry, there is a small cafeteria down the hall that you can get something to eat in. I’ll come back to see you with the results.” You simply nod in acknowledgement; your mind is still addled by the fear of the fact that in a short while, you may be ejected into a world you know nothing about, with nothing to call your own. Nurse Redheart places the tray onto her back, and leaves the room.

***

Nurse Redheart had barely made it into the hallway before she heard the familiar voice of her insufferable sister, Nurse Tenderheart.

“Soooo, how’d it go?” The blue pony took up a position aside her, and they walked towards the lab together. Nurse Redheart decided to take her co-worker’s vague question to her advantage.

“The new anaesthetic, disinfectant wipes worked like a charm. I don’t think he felt the needle at all.” A sly grin spread across the white mare’s face, as an exasperated sigh was drawn from her prey.

“You know that’s not what I mean.” Nurse Tenderheart responded in a tone that clearly showed her lack of amusement.

“Oh, so you must have meant the experimental vacuum vial, then?” It was becoming hard for Nurse Redheart to keep a straight face, especially when the blue pony facehoofed too forcefully.

“Yes, I meant the vials that cost the clinic 5 times as many bits as the normal vials, which work just as well. I wasn’t thinking, at all, of the breakfast you spent with a patient that you feel attracted to. In fact, that was the last thought on my mind.” Her voice was muffled from the hoof that was now rubbing her sore muzzle, but she should probably get an award for sarcasm. Nurse Redheart didn’t think it was possible to sound as sarcastic as she did.

“The breakfast? Oh, it completely slipped my mind.” Grinning widely, Nurse Redheart turned to regard her sister, met with a blank look.

“You know, you really are the worst kind of pony.” A smile emerging as the blue mare responded. Nurse Redheart waved a dismissive hoof.

“Psh, you know you love your dear sister.”

“I’m not so sure of that anymore,” the blue nurse deadpanned. Nurse Redheart stopped in her tracks, a look of shock on her face. Her sister turned to face her, and burst out into laughter at the sight. Nurse Redheart pushed her way past the, still giggling, nurse into the lab.

The room was the same cold, Spartan design as the rest of the clinic. However, this room was full of many different types of magical machines that could do any number of things, from analysing blood or tissue, to zapping various bacteria or viruses out of existence. In this case the nurse was here to do the former. She began with her tedious work of separating the blood sample into multiple different tubes, placing specific solutions into each one, and placing some into machines and others into a refrigerator. Hoofclops alerted her that her sister had most likely regained control of her legs after her bout of uncontrolled laughter.

“Y-you, just left me out there, I was laughing hard enough that I could have suffocated. How could you do that?” The blue mare’s voice came from the doorway, bathed in an overdramatized tone. They both knew this wasn’t medically possible.

“At least that would rid me of your constant badgering about my love life.” Nurse Redheart joked as the blue mare walked up beside her. The response from her sister was the complete opposite, her expression showed concern and her tone was serious.

“Honey, I ‘badger’ you about your love life because you don’t have one. Hay, you schedule yourself for 18 hour shifts when there are plenty of other nurses to cover the ward.”

“But one of us should always be here—“ The blue mare seemed a more than a bit annoyed by her sister’s stubbornness.

“We might be the head nurses, but we don’t always have to be here. The doctors are more than able to advise the other nurses, who aren’t completely helpless by the way, what to do if we’re gone.” Nurse Redheart let out a defeated sigh, but continued to work on her task of analysing the blood sample.

“So, what then? You want me to marry the first pony I see?” Her voice took up a defensive tone.

“Don’t go overboard. I just want you to take time, get your head on straight and give ponies a chance. Ever since that friend of yours—“ Nurse Redheart’s hoof interrupted her sister as she grabbed her shoulder and spun her around until they were face to face, mere inches separating them.

“He wasn’t just a friend!!” She yelled indignantly. “He was the only pony I ever loved! And I never got to tell him…” Her voice cracking up and fading into a squeal as her eyes welled with tears. Nurse Tenderheart grabbed her with both forehooves and pulled her into a tight hug.

“That’s exactly my point.” The blue mare’s voice was soft, and she could feel the cool, moisture of her sister’s tears run through her coat. “It’s been over five years, and you haven’t really showed any emotion since then. Even when our Gram passed, you never shed a tear.”

“When he died, I locked myself in my room for days. At first I cried like a foal, and then I tried to distract myself from my feelings by reading all of the books in my room. I found a book by a pony named Ebon Mane called Merely a Mare; when I first started to read it, it was just a hole to bury my mind in. But there was a paragraph at the end of the second chapter that made so much sense at the time. My heart had been utterly ripped from my chest, and here was a set of directions to prevent it from happening again. I still carry that page with me.” Nurse Redheart broke the embrace, and reached a hoof up to remove her nursing cap. The blue pony could see a small square of paper tucked away against the forward face of the hat. It was removed and set down on the table infront of them. Nurse Tenderheart could see that this page had been through a lot of wear. The edges were frayed, as if ripped hastily out of the book in which it once resided, the paper was discoloured from age, and there were many creases in the paper.

Before the blue mare finished reading the passage, Nurse Redheart hung her head disappointedly and continued to explain herself. “Even after I closed my heart off from the world, it took all my willpower not to collapse into a ball of helpless, sobbing pony when we buried Gram. We spent most of our foalhood with her. Once I was alone after Gram’s funeral, I cried for hours. I felt like I betrayed her by not showing my sadness when we said goodbye for the last time.” Nurse Redheart collapsed down onto her haunches, and her head hung so low that now her runny nose nearly rubbed the floor.

“You didn’t betray her; we all mourn in our own ways. As long as you remember all of the things she taught us when we were growing up you honor her.” Nurse Tenderheart sat on her haunches next to her sobbing sister, and nuzzled her affectionately. “I want you to go home tonight, after your shift, and figure out what you need to do to make yourself happy. Take as much time as you need, but I’ll tell you now that I’m scheduling a full rotation this week without you in it. So don’t bother coming back before then.” They sat there for a few minutes; the only sounds in the room were the slowing sounds of crying. It then shifted to the sound of loud, unsteady breathing and sniffling before turning into complete silence.

“We still need to finish up the blood tests, and we still have a long way to go.” Nurse Tenderheart’s voice broke the silence. “I’ll start working on the samples in the fridge, you finish up here. Ok?”

“Yeah.” The white nurse’s voice was still shaky, and her bloodshot eyes nearly matched her mane color.

The two sisters toiled on, testing and checking the life sustaining liquid. It would take them nearly 3 more hours to finish, and when they finished with their tedious work, they parted ways. Nurse Redheart began her walk back to her patient's room prepared to give the best, or worst, news of his conscious life.

***

You ran out of things to do a long time ago. For a while, you bounced the ball, that was used earlier, against the wall opposite your bed. It took a bad hop and now rests over near the wall somewhere. You definitely can’t be bothered to get up and get it; you’re way too bored for that. Fortunately, the clinic has speakers in each room tied into a radio that is playing quiet and calming music. Unfortunately, it’s still way too early in the day to consider sleeping, and that's all this music makes you want to do. Especially considering you’ve been lying here, in bed, most of the day. At least you’ve been given some thinking time, but, to be honest, thinking is still the last thing you want to do. The more traumatic memories of your death on the operating table, and the resultant delirium seem a bit farther away now. Regardless, the fact that you still have no name and no established life here in Ponyville weighs heavily on your confidence.

The door to your room opening grants you a respite from your failed attempt at not thinking about your situation. You are unsurprised to see Nurse Redheart come into your room, a spring in her step and her expression is absolutely beaming. It’s pretty obvious what she is here to say.

“So, good news then?” You ask, looking to confirm your suspicion. You’d really like to tell her how beautiful she looks, right now, and how her mane complements her radiant, blue eyes. The white mare makes her way to your bedside, and you rein your thoughts in before they take a turn for something unbecoming. Nurse Redheart’s smile grows even larger as she nods her head and a small ‘squee’ escapes her mouth.

“Good news, indeed. We did a full work up on your blood,” Her voice trailed off a bit for this next part. ”and aside from a few chemicals you don’t normally see during a blood test,” You raise an eyebrow, inquiringly. ”everything was 100% normal.” Seeing this, she put extra emphasis on the last portion.

“Uhm… That middle part. Some chemicals?” The white mare’s face lights up a pale shade of pink and she looks away to her hooves. It really was adorable to watch. After a moment, her voice returns, and she explains quietly.

“Your brain releases all types of chemicals during the course of a day. Each one has a different cause and effect. Your blood happened to be carrying some that indicate…” She trailed off into a mumble at the last second, still staring at her fidgeting hooves.

“I didn’t catch that last part. It’s not, bad, is it?” You inquire, a bit nervous now. She quickly looks up at you and shakes her head, her face still tinged with pink.

“No, it’s not. They show… attraction or more specifically…” Her voice trails off again as her face flushes a brighter pink than her mane. “Uhmm… arousal.” Your eyes shoot open so far that you are convinced your eyelids have actually retreated totally into your skull. Trying to hide your embarrassment and oncoming blush, you quickly roll over to face away from the nurse.

“You know, I didn’t realise how desperately tired I was until just now. I think I need a nap.” You spit out quickly, hoping it is convincing. Closing your eyes, you begin to make exaggerated sounds of sleep. A few moments pass as you continue your act, but you are beginning to think she wasn't fooled by your, clearly, magnificent theatrical skills. A soft hoof grips your shoulder and rolls you back over gently. Your heart races as you struggle to keep up your charade until the very end. A captain goes down with his ship, after all. Warm air rushes over your face in waves, and the smell of lavender prevails on these warm winds.

WAIT A SECOND!

Your eyes shoot open just I time to see Nurse Redheart’s half-lidded eyes slide closed as her lips meet yours. Lightning courses through your body, moving from your lips to the tips of your hind hooves. Your eyes lazily slide closed. Her silken lips moving over yours pushes any fear or doubt to the farthest reaches of your psyche. After the initial shock wears off, you find yourself kissing her back.