“Wake up Laughing Stock, you’re burning daylight!” Twilight used her magic to lift the blinds in the bedroom. The sleepy comedian placed his pillow over his eyes to shield himself from the evil rays of the sun.
“We have a big day planned! Princess Celestia is going to take us hiking! Doesn’t that sound like fun?”
The lavender unicorn thought she heard a reply from her boyfriend, but the pillow over his face made it difficult to understand.
“I couldn’t hear you, what did you say?”
Laughing Stock lifted his head support long enough to say no.
Twilight was surprised. “How can you say hiking with the ruler of Equestria doesn’t sound like fun?”
“Because it’s physical activity and probably going to be educational.” He sat up, blinking heavily while his eyes
grew accustomed to the sunlight. “And you know how much I hate both those things.”
“Well, I agree with you on the physical activity.” She used her magic to throw the pillow across the room. “But you know how much I love educational things, and since you’re my boyfriend, you have to come along.”
“Ugh…fine.” Laughing Stock rolled out of bed and followed Twilight to the kitchen. Upon entering, Laughing Stock saw Luna, Cadance and Shining Armor sitting at the table. He joined them while Twilight helped Princess Celestia with breakfast.
“Good Morning, Laughing Stock!” Cadance beamed as the comedian took a seat beside her. “How are you doing this morning?”
He didn’t didn’t reply. He placed his head on the table, attempting to go back to sleep.
“That bad, huh?” She pat the comedian on back. “Once we get outside and start the hike, you will feel so much better!”
This time, the tired comedian replied, but not with words. Instead, he just groaned.
“Good morning everypony!” Princess Celestia approached the table with a cheery smile. “I hope you all are ready for our hike.”
“Are we going somewhere in particular?” Twilight wanted to get started.
“Not really, I figured we can walk until we get tired.”
“Probably not the best idea, Celestia.” Laughing Stock picked his head off the table. “In my case, it will be a hundred yards out the front door.”
Everypony started laughing, even Shining Armor seemed to enjoy the joke.
Then again, I just insulted myself...
As the herd of ponies started their trek through the woods, Laughing Stock thought it would be a good time to apologize to Shining Armor.
“Excuse me, do you have a minute?” The Royal Guard nodded as the comedian approached him. Cadance joined her aunts and sister in law up ahead
“I’m sorry about everything that happened yesterday.”
The white unicorn shook his head. “You have no reason to be sorry. I was the one who acted like a foal and flipped the board.”
Laughing Stock felt some relief, but he felt that there were other issues that needed addressing.
“Well, there were other issues that occurred yesterday tha-“
The comedian was interrupted by the captain.
“Look, I understand that I have been quite unbearable to deal with the past few days, but please hear me out” Shining Armor pleaded. “I want to make sure she is in very capable hoofs. Even though she is my sister, Twiley is almost like a daughter to me.”
A rather grotesque image of Twilight’s mother and Shining Armor occupied Laughing Stock’s brain. Seeing the horrified expression on the earthpony’s face, the Royal Guard became frustrated immediately.
“See! That is a perfect example of why I find you incapable of caring for my sister. You are so immature!”
“I’m immature?!” Laughing Stock became offended immediately. “You’re face is immature!”
Shining Armor shook his head, “You say things like that, and you think you’re ready for marriage? You have a lot of growing up to do.”
“I am grown up enough to get married!” Laughing Stock insisted.
“Really?” The guard stopped momentarily, thinking of a way to prove the comedian’s maturity level wasn’t high enough.
Immediately the earth pony fell to the snow covered ground, cackling like a hyena.
“YOU SAID ERECTION!” Laughing Stock was rolling around, pointing at the disapproving unicorn standing above him. “That was classic, high hoof!”
“And…this is why I am not letting you marry my sister.” Shining Armor continued walking, leaving a very confused black pony on the snowy ground.
“Hey, you can’t do that! Lots of ponies think the word erection is funny, and I can prove it.” Climbing to his hooves, the comedian called Princess Luna.
“Yes, Laughing Stock?” The four mares were well ahead of the stallions. In order for the two ponies to hear each other, they had to shout.
Minutes later, Luna broke the silence.
“WHAT DID YOU SAY WAS BEING ERECTED?!”
Laughing Stock turned to a grinning Shining Armor, trying to explain that Luna was a horrible example in retrospect.
“She’s been on the moon for a thousand years!” He used every excuse in the book, but Shining Armor ignored him. His smug sense of satisfaction was driving the comedian crazy. Laughing Stock knew what he had to do to wipe that smirk of his immature face.
After a short gallop, Laughing Stock caught up to the rest of the group. He trotted alongside Shining Armor for a few moments before ruining the unicorn’s day.
“Your sister REALLY likes having her mane pulled while I spank her with a book.”
Hearing this newest exploit was enough to make the usually calm and collected stallion snap. He used his magic to roll a snowball, and hurled it at the earth pony. It smacked him in the side of the head.
“Did you really throw a snowball at me?”
The white unicorn nodded.
“You won’t throw another one.”
Once again, Shining Armor used his magic to create a snowball, but this time Laughing Stock was ready. He dove to the ground in order to avoid the slushball.
It hit Princess Celestia in the back of her head, knocking her crown to the ground.
Laughing Stock didn’t waste any time ratting the guard out.
“Shining Armor, why would you ever throw a snowball at me?”
The captain began apologizing profusely, blaming the comedian for the incident.
“Isn’t ironic that the pony who is sworn to protect you is now the one you need protection from?”
The focus of the ruler’s ire changed from her guard to the earth pony.
“Both of you need to stop behaving like foals! The next pony to throw a snowball will be-“
Before she could finish, Celestia was hit in the snout. Everypony turned to the left to see where the object came from.
Luna had a massive grin on her face. Another snowball was surrounded by a blue aura.
“That was banishing us to the moon!”
The lines had been drawn. The clearing that was being used as a place for a rest turned into a warzone before anypony could figure out what happened.
Laughing Stock avoided a barrage of snowballs and hid behind a massive tree. He noticed Princess Celestia was taking refuge behind a snow bank.
“Princess, it looks like Shining Armor and Luna have teamed up. I know you are angry, but if you want to get out of here unscathed, we should do the same.”
The princess agreed and the two began an offense assault of their own. After a few moments, Cadance and Twilight tried to stop the skirmish.
“Can’t we all just get along and get back to our hike? Twilight was pleading with the group, Cadance nodded in agreement.
“We are really looking forward to getting back to hike! We were just getting ready to learn about the local wildlife.” Just as Twilight was explaining her interest in the migration patterns of Europony Swallows and their carrying capacity, the comedian noticed the white alicorn trying to get his attention.
“It would be very funny if we threw a snowball at Twilight.”
“What? Are you crazy?! She’s already upset!”
“Oh come now. She is my star pupil, she can’t stay mad at me!”
“Yeah, she won’t be mad at you. That means she will be twice as mad at me.”
Princess Celestia insisted they should throw a snowball on three. Laughing Stock begrudgingly prepared his ammunition awaiting the signal.
“1…2…3…GO!” The princess hissed as Laughing Stock lobbed the ball of frozen water crystals toward the love of his life. Watching the object arc back toward earth, he prayed that it would miss.
Instead, the ball connected with Twilight, right on the cutie mark. Releasing a small yelp, she grabbed her flank and turned to face her assailant.
“Laughing Stock!” The lavender unicorn couldn’t believe the stallion she trusted most would do such a thing.
“What the hay happened to “we”, princess?” Laughing Stock turned to the ruler of Equestria, who was quietly snickering behind her tree.
“By “we”, I meant the team. Somepony on the team had to throw a snowball at her.” She carefully peeked around the side of the tree to take a look at the victim. “And by the looks of it, I’m glad it was you, and not me.”
The six ponies made their way back to the cabin. Princess Celestia told the others to sit down and not to say a word.
“The little incident proves that we all could use a little team building. So I have decided to pair each of us off, and we could get to know each other a little better during various activities.”
“What kind of activities?” The comedian was already loathing the idea of team building.
“Well, we are going to start with trust falls. Everybody pick a partner.”
Laughing Stock looked around to find a suitable partner. His first choice was obviously Twilight, but she had already paired with her brother. Cadance paired with her aunt Celestia, which meant one pony remained.
“We have the fortune of being paired with our newest companion, Laughing Stock!”
“Now that everypony has a partner, we need you all to stand on your hind legs.” Celestia and Cadance demonstrated how the fall should look.
Laughing Stock looked at Luna, who seemed nervous. The comedian asked if she was feeling ok.
“We are afraid of thou failing to seize us after our descent rearward.”
“I am assuming you said something along the lines of please don’t drop me…er…us.”
Luna nodded, so he attempted to calm her down.
“I understand we are still new friends, but you have to believe me when I say that I won’t drop you. Wasn’t I right about sledding yesterday?”
Taking a minute to think about the previous day, Luna stood on her hind legs, letting the stallion know she was ready to participate in the activity. Luna crossed her arms and gently fell into the hooves of the comedian. Still in his arms, she opened her eyes and looked at him.
“Thou is really comfortable to rest upon” the princess remarked. “Thy body is very spongy.”
“Thank you Luna, I…wait…did you just call me fat?”
Before he could get an answer, he had to switch places with Luna. Just like the previous group, Laughing Stock stood on his hind legs and fell backwards. He expected to feel Luna’s fur against his spine, but after falling back, he felt nothing.
“Luna the whole purpose of this exercise was to not use magic.” The comedian opened his eyes and say he was surrounded by Luna’s magical aura.
“Our apologies sister, we will correct our error!” Luna released Laughing Stock from her magical spell, but wasn’t quick enough to catch him. He fell to the floor with a heavy thud.
“LAUGHING STOCK, WE ARE TERRIBLY REGRETFUL FOR ANY DISCOMFORT WE HAVE CAUSED THEE!” Luna was visibly upset over dropping the comedian. “ARE THOU HURT?”
“Yeah, I think so.” The earthpony sat up, rubbing the back of his throbbing head. He looked at the group of ponies surrounding them, and immediately noticed the room was a lot more crowded than before. “My vision has been…doubled.”
Luna looked away from her injured friend to the rest of the room after hearing somepony else use her catchphrase.
“Do we sound that peculiar when we speak those words?”
After giving Laughing Stock a few minutes to collect himself, the trust falls continued. His falls with Celestia and Cadance yielded no injuries from the ponies involved.
“Looks like it’s our turn.” Twilight approached her stallion, still sounding troubled after the snowball fiasco.
“Look Twiley, if I hurt you, I apologize” The lavender unicorn fell back into her boyfriends outstretched hooves.
“No, I am sorry. I am sure I was over reacting a little.”
“A little?” The comedian playfully rolled his eyes. His lovely mare laughed as she wrapped her hooves around his neck, kissing the stallion she loved.
“Ok, that’s enough you two.” Princess Celestia reminded the lovebirds that everypony had one more trust fall to do.
Let’s see, I went with Luna, Cadance, Celestia and Twiley. This means…
Shining Armor approached the comedian, “Just so we’re clear, I want to get this done to make Celestia happy. I don’t trust you as far as I can throw you.”
“Fine by me.” Laughing Stock snapped as he caught the royal guard.
“Our next activity will require us to pair up once again” Princess Celestia announced as everypony finished their trust falls.
“What’s this activity going to be?” Laughing Stock was sick of these group games. He wanted to do something else.
“It’s actually something you are very familiar with, Laughing Stock.”
Before the princess could finish, Shining Armor guessed what the game could be.
“If Laughing Stock is good at it, it probably means we are going to be eating something.”
Nopony was laughing.
“You are such a f-“Laughing Stock’s insult was cut off by Celestia before he could finish.
“No, we are going to be doing some improv!” The white alicorn explained that each group would do one scene together with their new partner.
This time, Cadance was paired with the pony that did this for a living.
“Ok, let’s have Twilight and Luna go first.” As the two mares walked in front of the fireplace, Celestia asked for scene ideas.
Somepony suggested that Luna was a store clerk, and Twilight would be a customer.
“That’s perfect! Ready you two?”
The two mares nodded as they began their sketch. Twilight trotted up to the invisible counter a very confused Luna was standing behind.
“Hello ma’am, I am here to purchase these items from your store.”
Luna stared at Twilight.
“We do not see any items.”
“The items I am taking out of my bag…right in front of you.”
“We do not see a bag.
The performance went on a few more minutes. Twilight was desperately trying to stay in character while Luna was getting more confused as the show went on.
“Look!” Twilight’s tone suggested she was angry with the young princess, probably because she was ruining this assignment from her mentor. “I don’t understand how you can’t see my bag full of groceries, right here in front of you."
To everyponies surprise, Luna started to grin.
“Because we are a blind shopkeeper, we can’t see anything!”
Cadance turned to her partner. She confessed that she was very nervous.
“I am not very funny, I don’t know what to do!”
The comedian put a hoof on her shoulder and told her to relax.
“I’ll take care of the comedy. You just say the first thing that comes to mind.”
Taking their place in front of the fire place, the two ponies awaited their scenario.
Twilight suggested Cadance should be a rock star, while Laughing Stock plays her fashion designer.
“Alright…that’s weird, but here we go none the less.”
Laughing Stock rapped his hoof against the fireplace, simulating a knock on Cadance’s dressing room door. He let himself in and gasped in horror.
“Cadance, why aren’t you dressed yet, you are supposed to be on stage any minute!”
“I’m sorry Mr. Stock, I don’t know what to wear.”
“Don’t know what to…I don’t even know why I bother designing clothes for you…this is what you’ll wear!”
“No, that outfit says I’m too easy.”
“If this one doesn’t scream prude, nothing does.”
“No, that outfit says I am too prudish.”
“Here, this is the last one I’m picking for you.”
“I don’t think so.”
“What’s wrong with this one, too easy and too prudish at the same time?”
“No, I’m just not feeling it.”
“Well then maybe you should just wearing what you’re wearing now on stage!”
The rock star looked down at the outfit she was wearing.
Everypony in the room burst into a round of applause. Cadance gave the comedian a big hug and thanked him.
“Don’t thank me! You carried me during that performance!”
Celestia and Shining Armor were the last group to go. Laughing Stock eagerly waited to see what the two could do.
“Well…that was rather…” Laughing Stock had no idea what he just witnessed.
The skit with Celestia and Shining Armor was horrendous, mostly because Shining Armor tensed up and over analyzed the situation. He was trying too hard to be funny.
The guard left the room furious with himself. The comedian followed him, hoping to have a chat.
“Go ahead. Make fun of me, I deserve it.”
“Make fun of you? Why would I do that?”
“Because I blew it out there. I embarrassed myself, and that is what comedians do, isn't it?”
“Well, I guess we do tend to do that. But don’t worry, I’m not going to make fun of you, I want to help you.”
“Help me? How do you plan on doing that?”
“We are going to get back out there and doing a scene together.”
Shining Armor thought the earthpony was nuts.
“What if I mess up again?”
“Don’t think so much, just go out there and talk. You are going to be the serious pony, I will be the one making the jokes.”
“Why are you so eager to help me?”
"I've bombed on stage a few times in my life, I know how you’re feeling. Besides, you do know that the whole reason everypony is doing these team building exercises is because we don’t get along, right?”
“...I was not aware of that.”
The two ponies walked in front of the crowd. Laughing Stock addressed everypony, telling them that they were going to do the skit, they waited for Princess Celestia to give them a scene.
“Laughing Stock, you are a surgeon that is about to perform surgery with assistance from Doctor Shining Armor!”
The two stallions looked at each other and nodded.
“Good morning, Dr. Stockso.”
“HEY, Dr. Stable! Long time no see! I can't even remember the last time I saw you!”
“About twelve hours ago. Are you ready for the surgery you are going to be performing today?”
“Stockso, why do you need a bouncy ball during surgery?”
“Do you have any idea how stressful this job is? Bouncy balls take the edge off!”
“Ok, all we need to do is to attach this thing here and...uh oh...”
“What is it now Stockso?
“The ball bounced into the patient..”
“...I hope you’re joking...”
“It’s my favorite bouncy ball, why would I joke about that?”
“FIND IT! What color is it?”
“You brought a red bouncy ball with you to surgery?”
“It was the only one I had left after I lost my blue one in the...hey! I found it!”
“On the purple squishy thing.”
“...You mean her liver?”
“Right. It’s on her liver. Can you grab it, I can’t get a hoof free.
“Fine...there it is. Now can we please hurry up?
“Yeah, sure no problem. Let me just attach this to the do hickey and...done!”
“You think she will make a full recovery?”
“Dr. Stable, she will be bouncing off the walls in no time! Wait...I thought I started surgery with two gloves?”
The room went crackers. Standing ovations from eveypony in the room. To laughing Stocks surprise, Shining Armor put a forehoof around his neck.
“I really appreciate this.”
“Hey, it’s what brother in laws do for each other....right?”
Instead of a harsh response, the captain simply shrugged.
Once again, the group gathered around the small table in the living room after supper. Cadance left to pick a game from the hall closet. She returned a few minutes later with a box filled with small blocks. Laughing Stock had never seen this game before.
“Don’t tell me you’ve never played Jenga before.” Cadance began stacking the blocks in alternating patterns.
The comedian shook his head, so the pink alicorn began explaining the rules while the towers construction continued.
“The rules are simple: Take a block from a spot on the tower and place it at the top, last pony to successfully place a block on the tower before it falls over wins. Any questions?”
“Just one. How am I supposed to move the blocks to the top?”
The room fell silent as everpony stared at one another.
“That’s not what I mean.” Laughing Stock lifted a hoof toward the tower. While trying to pull a block out, his hoof knocked it over.
“I can’t use magic, remember?”
“Oh, that’s a problem we can fix easily.” Cadance and the other mares left the room, they were looking for small, slender items the earthpony could use to push blocks out. The only two males on the trip were left alone once again.
“You know Shining Armor, I could probably use my tongue. I have been told on numerous occasions that I am quite good with it.”
The Royal Guard grinned as he violently shook his head, a last ditch effort to rid his conscience of the disturbing image.
“You are a pig, you know that?”
The mares returned with a stick they found outside. They instructed the normal pony to push the blocks out with it and place them on top the best he could.
After rebuilding the block fortress, the ponies discussed who should go first. It was determined at random that the order would go Shining Armor, Laughing Stock, Cadance, Celestia, Luna and Twilight.
The earthpony watched the unicorn slide a piece of wood out from the tower.
This game doesn’t seem too hard.
When the time came for Laughing Stock to choose a block, he had already changed his opinion of the game. All the middle blocks had been moved, so he had to choose a piece from a side. He carefully
poked at a piece near the top, until the wooden wedge safely fell away from the tower.
The ponies began to grow restless as the game went on. They had fun playing together, but it was becoming rather dull and repetitive. The silence wasn’t helping either. Princess Celestia thought the game could use more interaction.
“Laughing Stock, don’t you find it odd that you know a lot about everypony here, but most of us don’t know anything about you?”
“Nope. I’m a pony that loves his privacy.”
“Oh. I thought you liked us?
“I do! You guys are awesome!”
“So, then you won’t mind telling us all about you while we play.”
“…do I have a choice?”
Eveypony in the room shook their in unison, so the comedian reluctantly agreed to answer any questions.
“Let’s start off easy, where are you from?” Cadance had the first question since she had the next turn.
“I was born and raised in Canterlot.”
The questions kept coming while the game play eventually stopped.
“Where are your parents?”
“Dad choked to death during a Heimlich maneuver instruction course. Mom died when the non flammable shirt she was ironing caught on fire.”
“And you aren’t bothered by it?”
“Not really. My parents loved irony, so I think they loved the fact that they died so ironically.”
“How old were you when it happened?”
“Right after I went on tour for the first time. I missed their funerals.”
“And this has no emotional effect on you what so ever?”
“It did. I started drinking to cope with my feelings of loneliness. I thought it would make things easier, and for a while it did, but my career began to suffer. I decided to clean myself up. I passed the program with flying colors! Now I am sitting in a cabin with a beautiful mare by my side and a bunch of friends. I think i turned out OK in the end."
“What was the strangest night of your life?”
“There was this one night when I thought this male club owner was pregnant...”
“What is thy opinion of us?”
“Well Luna, I really like you. You are a very nice pony. I think you and I are going to be very good friends!”
“Really? Nopony has ever viewed us as a good friend before.”
“Well, it’s their loss!”
This isn’t so bad. I don’t know why I thought this would be horrible.
It was Twilight’s turn to ask her boyfriend a question. She was blushing heavily as she examined the tower for a block to select. Laughing Stock took a drink of water while he waited for her question.
“Do you plan on getting married someday?”
It required every ounce of strength he possessed to keep the liquid in his mouth.
Now I remember.
He looked around the room, hoping somepony would help him out.
"Uh…yes. One day I would like to, when I meet that very special somepony of course."
Twilight seemed satisfied with that answer. She finished her turn, Shining Armor already had a question prepared.
“We all know you did a lot of traveling as a comedian right?”
“That is correct. I’ve been all over Equestria many times.”
“Besides my sister, how many other mares have you been with?”
“Well, look at that! I forgot to use my stick and I knocked the tower over! Shining Armor wins! Now if you excuse me, I’m off to bed.
The comedian ran for the stairs, but somepony else had other ideas.
“I’m sorry I asked. That subject is personal and nopony’s business, other than you and my sister of course.”
“Well, thank you Shining Armor. I am glad you understand.
“No problem. Before the guard made his way upstairs with his wife, he had one last request.
“Princess Celestia asked me to go into town for supplies tomorrow morning, would you like to come with me?”
Laughing Stock jumped at the opportunity. This is what he was waiting for, a chance to spend time alone with the pony who could make or break his future.