What is Fame without Friendship?

by Rabuiods

Chapter 1: Do I Know You?

Laughing Stock boarded the twelve o’clock train headed to Ponyville from Canterlot. He patiently waited to give the conductor his ticket.

“Let’s see what we have here…a one way ticket to Ponyville? Huh, I don’t see many of these” the conductor mentioned as he stamped Laughing Stocks’ ticket.

“Really? I’m quite shocked to be honest.” Laughing Stock thought sarcastically.

“What is the reason for your trip, Business or pleasure?” The conductor handed Laughing Stock his ticket.

“It’s not business, but it sure as hay isn’t for pleasure either” Laughing Stock said with a bitter tone. “I just need to leave Canterlot now, and this was the first available train.”

“Oh, well have a nice trip, sir” The conductor added as Laughing Stock made his way down the corridor to his compartment.

Laughing Stock thought about the conductors question as he opened the compartment door and moved his things inside. He started to feel bad about his attitude toward the poor pony. He was only doing his job after all, but he was in no mood to engage in small talk.

“Business or pleasure...what am I supposed to say when my life is falling apart right before my eyes.”

Laughing Stock thought back to yesterday, a day that was the opposite of today. He had it all. His career as a standup comedian was starting to pick up; he had the most attractive marefriend in all of Equestria and a best friend who also doubled as his agent. He stopped at nothing to make sure that Laughing Stock had work as a struggling comedian.

Yesterday, his agent called him with great news; he had landed Laughing Stock a gig at Fancypants’ birthday party. Because it was such a high profile event, many very important ponies would be in attendance. He knew that putting on a good show could only mean great things for the future. He decided to take his marefriend and agent out to celebrate the occasion. At that moment, he was on top of the world.

This morning when he woke up in his apartment, he was still riding on the adrenaline from the night before. He arrived at the restaurant where the party would be held and made pre-show preparations and got a feel for his surroundings. Still in a great mood, he went to his marefriends apartment to take her out to a nice breakfast. That is where things started to fall apart.

Once he arrived on her floor and made his way to her door, he noticed it was cracked open. Fearing the worst, he crept in and decided to investigate. When he stopped outside her bedroom door, he heard two familiar voices: One belonging to his marefriend, the other belonged to his now former agent and best friend.

He left as quickly as possible, slamming the front door on the way out. He not only felt betrayed, but violated as well. He was doing his best to hold in his tears as he ran back to his place. He packed a bag with a few items and jumped on the next available train. He had no marefriend, no friends and worst of all, no career once Fancypants realizes his entertainment for the evening is on a train headed to Ponyville.

Laughing Stock had the events from earlier playing on a loop in his mind. He stared out the window as he ran his hooves through his long red mane, with only one thing on his mind. Why? He was so entrenched in his thoughts; he failed to notice the mare that had made her way into his compartment.

The mare had knocked and called out to him, but to no avail. She reached out a hoof and tapped gently on his shoulder in order to get his attention. Almost immediately, the young earthpony snapped back to reality. He turned to see who had touched him and saw the mare. She looked a little embarrassed at the fact she had startled him.

“I am so sorry.” The mare apologized. “There are no other seats available on the train and I was hoping I could sit here.”

“Oh, yeah…yeah sure…sorry about that” said Laughing Stock, once he had recovered from the whiplash like effect that had occurred after the physical contact.

Once the mare had settled in, he went back to thinking about his life that was slowly corroding around him. He had acted so hastily, he never considered the consequences for his actions. Just because the love of his life was currently entangled in his best friend, bed sheets and betrayal, didn’t necessarily mean he had to skip out on an event that could have changed his life.

As he silently thought about what it would be like as a homeless pony in Ponyville, the mare interrupted his train of thought.

“Ponyville doesn’t get a lot of visitors from Canterlot, what brings you there.”

Laughing Stock sighed. “I don’t know. I just need to be alone for a while. I am trying to get away from all noise and distractions that a big city has to offer.”

“I see…well anything I can help with?” The mare could see he was in pain, and wanted to lend a hoof.

“Not really. I just have a lot on my mind” Laughing Stock said with a small smile. He really appreciated this stranger offering to help him out, but he didn’t want to waste her time.

“Well, we still have a few hours.” She responded with a smile that made Laughing Stock feel a little better.

For the next forty-five minutes, he told her everything that had happened to him in the last forty-eight hours. The mare felt horrible and gave the distraught stallion her condolences.

“I am sure you will find another job somewhere, you need to think positive. You are still a young stallion, this is just a small hurdle on a long track of life” she told him.

”I suppose you’re right.” Laughing Stock said as took a deep breath. He had enough of this pity party. This mare was right, this was a small hurdle. Right there on the train, he swore to himself that he would get over this and get on with his life.

“There are other comedy clubs out there, right?” Laughing Stock said with a chuckle.

“That’s right; you mentioned you were a comedian” the mare added. “I happen to love standup comedy. What’s your name? Maybe I will look you up and take in a show.”

Laughing Stock stood up and introduced himself to the mare, and to his surprise, she had heard of him.

“I saw your show when you opened up for Mane Cook a few years ago! You were brilliant! I thought you looked familiar” the mare enthused.

Laughing Stock thought back to that period in his life. He was the talk among the comedy community. A pony fresh out of school that climbing up the ranks, and many other established comedians had taken notice. Mane Cook, one of the most popular comedians in Equestria had heard of Laughing Stocks’ popularity and decided to capitalize on it. He took him on his country wide tour to open his shows for him. That was the first time that he felt real fame, and it was a feeling he had to have back.

“Wow, you actually heard of me? That's a first" A grinning Laughing Stock answered “Well, back then I was rather brilliant” Laughing Stock said jokingly. He admitted that he was having a hard time finding new material, which was also making life a lot harder on him.

“For the past few months, I had been planning on doing some traveling just to get a fresh perspective on things and hopefully meet some new and interesting characters.” He said with his smile fading a little. “I had just hoped that I wouldn’t have to make the journey alone…”

In an attempt to change the subject, the mare quickly tried lighten his mood.

“Oh, you will have no problem meeting interesting characters in Ponyville,I guarantee you.” The mare said with a tone that implied that she knew just the ponies that may be able to help him create plenty of new material.

Laughing Stock started to feel a lot better since he started talking to this mare. It had been a while since anypony legitimately cared about his feelings. Even his ex marefriend dreaded the thought of talking about feelings; she just wanted to be out on the town, spending what little money he had.

“I do have one question, if you don’t mind me asking” the mare inquired. She remembered back to when she saw Laughing Stock live a few years ago. His cutie mark was rather peculiar, and she was dying to know more about it.

“Answering your question is the least I can do. Go ahead and ask.” Laughing Stock insisted.

“When I saw you on stage, it looked like you had a rubber chicken as a cutie mark. I have to know, is it real or just a part of your act.” Asked the mare, who sounded a little embarrassed since cutie marks were usually a personal matter.

Laughing Stock jokingly glanced down at his flank to double check his cutie mark. Right there in the center of his flank on his sleek, jet black fur, was a rubber chicken that appeared to be squawking.

“Oh trust me, it’s very real” assured Laughing Stock with a slight grin.

“Would you mind telling me the origin of your mark? I mean, everyone’s mark is unique in their own way, but a rubber chicken?! I find that rather fascinating” asked the mare, who seemed to really be interested.

Laughing Stock looked up the ceiling of the train compartment. It had been years since he thought about his cutie mark. In fact, it had been so long, that he nearly forgot the story of how he received it.

“It all started when I was in school as a colt. We had a talent show that everypony had to participate in; whether you were setting up the stage, selling treats during intermission, or actually performing. I was in charge of the curtain because I was too embarrassed to go onstage in front of everypony.”

As Laughing Stock began to tell the story, he felt happy for the first time today. Just reliving that faithful moment gave him enough hope that he could get back on his hooves in no time.

“So you earned your cutie mark raising and lowering a curtain? That’s rather odd to say the least…” said the mare as a smirk began to form on her face.

“No, it’s not quite that simple” Laughing Stock said with a reassuring shake of his head. “one of the performers started crying and refused to go on, and the next act wasn’t ready. They needed somepony to provide filler to stall the crowed. One of my friends told the director that I had some jokes and I “volunteered” to provide the audience with an act I had to create on the spot.

To be honest, I was terrified. I could barley tell my parents a joke, let alone the entire town. I really want to run, but at that moment, I felt a spark. And with that microphone in front of my face, I felt empowered. So I took a breath, looked out at the sea of faces and told them the best joke I had in my arsenal.

“Do you remember the joke?” the rather inquisitive mare asked, waiting for a response.

“Oh wow…it’s been so long.” Laughing Stock said, racking his brain trying to remember. “Wait! Yes, I remember it now!

“I would love to hear it, if you wouldn’t mind” the mare said rather sweetly.

“May I ask why?” Laughing Stock was very confused, why would she care about the first joke he told.

“Well, because I want to hear the joke that started a soon to be legendary career” the mare replied with a wink.

Laughing Stock rolled his eyes. “Fine…What is a ponies favorite game?”

“Hmm…I don’t know. What is it?”

“Stable Tennis.”

The mare began to laugh, and this made Laughing Stock laugh as well.

“So after I told that…gem among a few others, the audience ate it up. That was my first time on stage and I didn’t want to give it up. After I had taken a bow and thanked everypony, I happened to look at my flank and saw that I finally earned my cutie mark!” Laughing Stock exclaimed.

“Wow, and to think you found your life’s calling on accident” the mare added with a sense of astonishment. “I have another question, if you wouldn’t mind…”

“Shoot.” Laughing Stock said as he gave the mare a small nod. Answering her questions has really helped bring him out of his funk, so he anxiously awaited her inquiry.

“I was also wondering; where are you planning on staying in Ponyville? Do you know anypony in town?”

“Nope” Laughing Stock replied with a grimace. He was in such a hurry to get out of town; he forgot to grab some bits. He didn’t have enough on him to rent a room at a hotel. He began to smile as he remembered the thought he had earlier about being homeless in Ponyville.

“Well, if you would like, I have an extra room at my house if you would like to stay over” the mare said. She really liked his company, and she thought it would be fun to keep him around.

“Oh no, I can’t do that!” Laughing Stock insisted. “You have already helped me more than anypony else in recent memory; this would be asking for way too much.”

“I am not taking no for an answer” the mare said standing up and putting her hoof down. For the first time on this train ride, the mare’s smile left her face and replaced it with a stern look.

In a desperate attempt to get her smiling again, Laughing Stock told her that he would take her up on her extremely generous offer.

“I would like to thank you for all your help today…Oh my…I just realized that we have spent the past few hours talking and I don’t know your name” a rather embarrassed Laughing Stock pointed out.

The mare simply smiled at him and said, “My name is Twilight Sparkle.”

“Well, pleased to meet you, Twilight Sparkle.” A happy Laughing Stock said as he looked out the window. He noticed the train slow down and eventually come to a stop.

“Well, it looks like we arrived at the Ponyville station!" A very excited Laughing Stock said as he stood up and picked up his bag and offered to take Twilight’s. After all that she has done for him, there was no way he was going to let Twilight carry her own bag.

As he exited the train with the bags on his back and his new friend, Twilight Sparkle by his side, he had a feeling that he had just cleared his hurdle on the track of life. And for the foreseeable future, there was nothing but a long straight away.