Something Like Laughter

by Dubs Rewatcher

First published

It's been six months since Tirek was defeated, and Trixie is fine. Trixie isn't scared. She's not lonely, or sad, or even worried. She is, however, unable to sleep. And yet the nightmares won't stop coming.

It's been six months since Tirek was defeated, but Trixie still has nightmares. Nightmares of being pinned down, of the magic being ripped from her bones, of being thrown around like a worthless doll. It's been six months since Trixie has had a full night's sleep, and all she wants is peace.

But Trixie is fine. Trixie doesn't need Twilight. She doesn't need her family. She doesn't need anyone. Trixie loves being alone.

So why can't she stop crying?

A completely revamped version of a fic written for the Writeoff Association's May contest, "I Regret Nothing," which was originally published under the name Fight Back.
Loosely inspired by the song of the same name by Five Iron Frenzy.
Rated 'Teen' for some minor violent imagery.
Art by Kas92. Thanks to Manaphy, Floydien, Horizon, Trick Question, Majin Syeekoh, Imaginary Valued, and Pascoite for their advice and insights. I love you guys, and I couldn't do anything if it weren't for all of you guys putting up with my ceaseless nagging.


It’s just past midnight when Trixie wakes from her nightmare. She snaps up in bed, grimacing at the pain that courses through her sweat-soaked body. Every Goddess-forsaken joint aches, as if injected with pure rust—the humidity in the Whitetail Woods should be illegal. Maybe it is, and the weather ponies are just trying to make her miserable. It wouldn't surprise her if every pegasus in the country was conspiring against her.

Let them conspire. The Great and Powerful Trixie is not miserable, no matter what anypony might say. Trixie is not pathetic, either. She is not stupid, nor moronic, nor terrible, and she is most certainly not lazy.

Trixie is wonderful.

It’s these words that Trixie repeats to herself as she clambers out of bed and stumbles across the wooden floor of her caravan, headed to the small cupboard that serves as her kitchen. It’s been a few weeks since Trixie has had enough money to really go shopping, but there are just enough tea leaves for her to make herself a warm cup.

She rummages through the cupboard and takes a deep breath; the fragrant odor of the leaves reminds her of home. It reminds her of rooms she hasn’t visited in ten years. It reminds her of aging, mold-mottled books scattered across hardwood floors. Her muscles tense as the lightest hint of strawberry floats through the air: the scent of her mother’s mane as she stands at the stove.

But it’s as she’s searching through her cupboard for her own cracked kettle, swiping her hooves through the dust and the cobwebs, that her mother drifts away and the image of Sparkle darts through her mind, sending a chill down her back.

Sparkle’s kitchen is probably larger than Trixie’s entire caravan. Sparkle doesn’t have to worry about cracked tea kettles. Sparkle doesn’t have to worry about anything! She’s a Princess; she gets anything that she wants, whenever she wants. Her and her whelp of an assistant. And what did she do to deserve it? Nothing.

Trixie was born with nothing but the hair on her back and the horn on her head—like a true unicorn should be. But Sparkle was born into luxury, raised in Canterlot, with royalty overseeing her every step, her every breath. Trixie knows because Trixie has studied. Sparkle has everything! Twilight Sparkle is nothing more than a wretched, spoiled brat!


Trixie grips the bag of leaves and breathes through clenched teeth. She knows that Sparkle―Twilight isn’t wretched, nor spoiled; she’s a friend now. Trixie does not hate her, nor does Trixie wish to grind her entrails into dust. Trixie likes Twilight. Probably. Maybe.

And it’s not true that Twilight has faced no hardships. In the years since they first met, Trixie has watched as Twilight bested foe after foe! The enigmatic draconequus, Discord; the dark lord, Sombra; and Tirek.


Just the name makes Trixie’s horn feel like it’s splitting itself open, like her mane is igniting, like every bone in her body is being snapped. She drops the tea leaves and her chest tightens. Flecks of spittle fly with every breath.

It’s been six months since that day, and still the nightmare comes rushing back to Trixie. Tirek pinning her to the ground, eating all the magic from her body, turning her blood vessels to acid, burning her horn with his acrid breaths, before picking up her listless body and throwing it against a wall. Her legs crack. She’s screaming, but there is no sound. Her ribs crack. He laughs at the sound of her dying breaths. Her neck cracks.

Trixie lights her horn, and the bucket of rainwater she keeps by the caravan door comes flying over, spilling a deluge of water onto her body. The freezing water drowns the fire burning in her chest, and she yelps as she feels it sliding across her skin. The bucket falls with an echoing clang.

Standing in the center of her caravan, she pants for breath.

But that’s okay. Trixie is fine. In fact, she doesn’t need tea—she doesn’t need anything! She is the Great and Powerful Trixie, and she is not miserable, or pathetic. And Tirek is gone, banished to Tartarus by Twilight. It’s been six months since that day, and everything is fine. Everything’s fine. Everything’s fine.

Trixie uses a spell to lift the water from her coat and returns it to the bucket before heading back to bed. But when she lies down, she finds that she can’t bring herself to close her eyes, as every attempt is plagued by storms of nausea, rolling through her stomach and up her throat.

Trixie is the greatest unicorn ever to live, she tells herself. Trixie knows that she is brilliance incarnate.

But the nausea only builds as she turns over in bed and looks up at the moon, and sees that it is full, because it’s at that moment that she realizes that she can’t remember the last time she didn’t fall asleep alone. Weeks. Months. A year. It’s been over a year. And now her breath is getting short again, and she doesn’t know why, so she covers her head with a pillow and forces her eyes closed.

She’s in the Whitetail Woods, near Ponyville, but far off from any sort of path. She’s been there for over a month, and at no point has she seen a single pony pass. If she wanted to, she could go visit Twil

No, Trixie isn’t going to. She doesn’t need her. And besides, it’s not like anypony in that idiotic town would understand. They would laugh at her, just like everypony else. Sparkle talks all the time about friendship—friendship is for nice ponies. Friendship is for ponies whom everypony already likes. Trixie isn’t any of those things. Trixie is a liar to them. Trixie is a terrorist. Trixie is Trixie, and she’s alone.

She’s alone. She’s alone, and it’s all Sparkle’s fault.

No, it’s not. Twilight didn’t do anything.

Exactly! Sparkle has done nothing to help Trixie. After their last duel, Sparkle could have stopped Trixie before she ran away! She should have offered Trixie a room in her home, where she might have stayed and rehabilitated her image! Sparkle is no better than Tirek and Trixie feels nauseous again and everything hurts and she needs air.

Trixie throws open the window and takes great, gasping gulps of night air. Her entire face stings, and her chin is shaking, but it’s nothing compared to the nightmares, or when she was eaten, and Trixie hates Sparkle. She hates her. She wants Sparkle to leave her alone, to not come near her ever again.

Trixie doesn’t need anyone’s help. She’s fine. She likes being alone. The entire reason Trixie hauled her wagon out here was so that nopony would find her, nopony would bother her.

Trixie gazes out into the Whitetail Woods and tries to calm herself. Trixie’s mother always said that the best medicine was a long breath of fresh air—and as Trixie steadies her breathing, tries to stop her lungs from caving in, she sees what her mother meant. Trixie loves her mother, even if Trixie used to yell at her, even if they haven’t seen each other in ten years.

Trixie loses her breath. She spits out a curse, and it flies through the grass, soaking in the morning dew. She tries again.

The air is light and tastes sweet on Trixie’s tongue, like strawberries. The horizon is thick with clouds, and from where Trixie sits, it looks like a dark mountain range has sprouted from the earth, surrounding Equestria. She can just barely see the North Star peeking through the wisps, gazing back down at her, and the sickness in her stomach starts to fade.

A storm is coming, and the warm wind is skating through the trees, creating something like laughter. A giggle. It sounds happy, careless. It sounds like a mare. Trixie leans into her touch, letting the breeze run through her mane, trace a wing down her neck. Goosebumps pop along Trixie’s skin as the wind flows in, deafening the sweat that soaks her coat. Her giggles float through Trixie’s ears, richer than the most elaborate symphonies.

The wind croons for a minute until she falls low and booming. The laughter has deepened and sounds like it’s been laced with poison. The symphonies in her ears have turned to centipedes.

It’s his laugh. He’s still laughing at Trixie.

He knows where she is.

Trixie’s legs buckle under her, and she just manages to lock the window before she collapses onto her bed, wheezing. Her pleading words come out in rasps as she wraps herself in her blankets, covering every inch of skin and every tuft of hair. Her already-aching muscles feel like they’ve been pounded with mallets.

And even with the window closed, his laughter still breaks through the glass, flooding the room. He’s laughing at her, and his voice sounds like an erupting volcano. Trixie ties the sheets around her ears, but nothing is working. The laughter is still there, still mocking Trixie.

It’s inside her caravan, bouncing off the walls. She curls deeper inward, tries to beg for peace, but it just grows louder. And it isn’t just him laughing at her now—it’s everyone. It’s the foals who would push her into the dirt and taunt her. It’s Celestia. Everyone she’s met, everyone she hasn’t met.

They’re all laughing at Trixie. They all know how much of a failure Trixie is, and they hate her.

But Trixie’s not a failure. She’s not pathetic. She’s amazing. She’s wonderful.

But they keep laughing anyway, and Trixie is trying to scream at them to go away, but they just come closer, and Trixie can’t see them in the dark but she knows that she’s surrounded. She throws out her hooves, but all they hit is air, and now she can feel something warm falling down her cheeks.

She’s not crying. Crying is for weak, worthless ponies who don’t deserve anything.

But Trixie is crying. She’s crying and everypony is laughing at her because she is weak, because she is worthless. She doesn’t deserve happiness. She doesn’t deserve to have friends. She’s a criminal, a liar.

Trixie is pathetic. She bows her head and sobs like a little filly.

There’s a knock at her caravan door, and the laughter stops. Everything is still, quiet but for the sound of Trixie’s hitched breaths. Trixie sniffles and wipes her face off on the sheets. Her brain tingles, as if it’s just been hit by lightning. But the laughter is gone, and that means that Tirek is gone too. Trixie is safe.

Unless that’s Tirek at the door.

All that escapes Trixie’s lips is a squeak as whoever is at the door knocks again. Trixie looks around her caravan for a weapon. Something she can use to defend herself from him. She sees the bucket, a few books on dream magic—there, over by the closet. Trixie’s shovel is propped up against a wall, its blade caked with dirt. That’ll be enough.

Trixie is going to kill Tirek before he has the chance to touch her again.

Trixie steps out of bed, casting a spell to deafen her hoofsteps. As Tirek knocks again, Trixie creeps across the caravan, picking the shovel up on her way to the door. She holds it high above her head, its sharp edge pointed toward the door, as she places her hoof upon the wood.

She throws the door open and stabs the shovel into his stom

It isn’t Tirek at the door.

Trixie has to take a step back as Twilight Sparkle smiles at her, perfectly preened wings spread wide. The moonlight glimmers off of her feathers, giving her an otherworldly air. There’s only silence as she steps inside the caravan, folding her wings to pass the doorway. She walks to the center of the room before stopping and offering Trixie a warm grin.

What is she doing here?! Trixie doesn’t want to see Sparkle. Trixie hates Sparkle—and yet, whenever their eyes meet, Trixie feels herself go weightless for a moment.

But that moment passes quickly, and Trixie’s breaths turn to lead in her throat. She tries to choke out a greeting, but she can only muster the sense to spit, “What are you doing here?”

Sparkle doesn’t answer.

“How did you find me?” Trixie asks, stamping her hoof. “Why are you here?!”

Sparkle giggles, and Trixie freezes. Sparkle’s voice flits through the air and presses on Trixie’s mind like a bed of nails. Her voice is musical, graceful. Compared to it, Trixie’s voice is scrap metal. Trixie’s eyes sting. She stumbles backwards, bumping into the counter before falling to her haunches.

That’s why. Sparkle is here to laugh at Trixie.

An icicle stabs itself into Trixie’s spine as the realization crashes down around her. Blinding jolts spark around Trixie’s horn as she takes in a breath, ready to curse out the mare who ruined her life, who stole everything from

Sparkle leaps forward and wraps Trixie in a hug. Trixie tenses up at the touch—every instinct is screaming at her to hit Sparkle while she’s vulnerable, to obliterate her, to rip her to shreds. And yet, Trixie doesn’t. Trixie won’t.

Trixie leans into her touch, burying her muzzle into Twilight’s mane. Twilight’s breath runs through Trixie’s mane, and she whimpers as Twilight traces a wing down her back. Goosebumps pop along Trixie’s skin as Twilight tightens her grip, not caring about the stale sweat that soaks Trixie’s coat, or the way she trembles with every heartbeat.

And the trembling only grows stronger as the seconds pass, as the minutes pass. Trixie can feel every emotion welling in her throat, and holding it in is causing her more pain than she’s felt since he touched her.

So she lets go. Trixie pours herself into Twilight’s shoulder. Ten years come in shuddering breaths and in shaking bawls. Ten years of being brilliant, of being invincible, of being so lonely.

And Twilight is still laughing, but now Trixie realizes that it’s a laugh of joy and love. Twilight is laughing with Trixie, not at her. Her voice is happy, careless. Twilight is the Princess of Friendship—she would never do anything to hurt Trixie. They’re friends. And now, Twilight is going to bring Trixie back to her castle, so Trixie can make a new life for herself. So Trixie can start again, and finally escape these nightmares.

For the first time in six months, Trixie feels safe.

That’s enough to make even Trixie laugh. She chuckles through her tears, soaking the hair on Twilight’s shoulder. Her ears are filled with giggling, so it’s easy for Trixie to notice when Twilight’s airy voice turns to bedrock.

Trixie doesn’t have time to react as sharp red claws pull backwards on her scalp and tear her away from Twilight. She feels burning needles searing into her forehead, smells sulfur breaths rising up through her nostrils. It’s just as she lets out her first scream that she sees a flash of red out of the corner of her eye, only for it to disappear.

She can hear Tirek’s laughter, and she can smell his musk, and she can feel his talons tearing into her, but she can’t see him. He’s nowhere and at the same time he’s everywhere. His filthy hands are all over her, grasping at her limbs from every angle.

Trixie’s veins fill with burning oil as the magic is sucked from her. It pulses from her body, surging out through her horn, and every nerve ending is set ablaze. She wants so desperately to be away from here, to pass out, to die, but it never ends. She is forced to stay awake, to watch as Tirek sucks her dry. She tries to cry, but doesn’t have enough energy to wail, let alone take a breath.

And Twilight is still laughing.

Black spots dart through Trixie’s vision as the last of her magic is coaxed out. She lets out a whispery sigh and her head falls—but Tirek throws her across the room, and the world comes rushing back as her head cracks against the floorboards.

Tirek is laughing now. His booming guffaw shatters Trixie’s eardrums.

Trixie is begging for mercy, but her pleas die out as Tirek grabs her by the mane and throws her again, letting her hit a wall.

The walls are laughing at her. Everypony in Equestria is watching the Great and Powerful Trixie be tortured. They’re watching as Trixie dies, all alone, with no one coming to save her.

Trixie barely notices when she leaves the ground again. She’s a ragdoll as she flies across the room and hits the kitchen counter, only to bounce off and collapse to the floor. Something has torn inside of her, and one of her ribs snaps, and she can feel its jagged edge digging into her lung. She can’t breathe. Everything is spinning.

Trixie’s body is burning. She still can’t breathe and she still can’t see where Tirek is. Everyone is still laughing. She’s splayed out across the floor, her broken body shuddering with every cough.

She stares up at the shifting ceiling as Twilight trots up to her, giggling like a schoolfilly now.

Twilight doesn’t want her. Twilight has never wanted Trixie.

No one wants Trixie.

Twilight leaves Trixie with one last grin before turning around and walking out the door. Trixie crawls forward, sobbing, trying to call out for her only friend, but Tirek steps on her thr


It’s just past midnight when Trixie wakes from her nightmare. Yelping, she throws herself out of bed and crumples onto the floorboards. Her mind is buzzing and she can’t stop hyperventilating and she’s going to throw up she’s going to throw up so she sprints out the door.

She trips on the doorway and tumbles to the dirt outside. It’s cool and smells of dew, but it does nothing to stop the nausea roaring up her throat. All of her thoughts are ripping themselves apart and she wants to scream but she can’t because she’s writhing on the ground, grasping at her stomach, her chest, her throat.

She heaves, but nothing comes up. She’s crying, and she’s convulsing, and everything hurts. Her legs are numb. She wants someone to hold her, to tell her that everything is going to be fine, but all she has is the dirt and the rocks and the bugs. So she lies there, spasming. Trying to forget her nightmares. Trying to forget six months of torture, of suffering. But whenever she tries to forget, all it does is force her to remember.

There’s no laughter now. Just crying.

The Great and Powerful Trixie is weeping into the dirt.

The forest is quiet as it watches Trixie try and stand, only for her legs to give out. She falls, and her coat is streaked with mud. Her chest rises and falls in time with her heart, faster and faster until it makes her dizzy just to watch. She smells like salt and rot. Her lips are coated with frantic spit as she rolls over onto her back.

Trixie feels like a foal, helpless without her mother to guide her. That thought brings out a blubbering whimper—she wipes her face, but the tears are coming back too fast, flooding her eyes with a stinging warmth.

Then, biting down her sobs, to keep herself steady, she thinks of soft words, laced with the sweet scent of strawberry, that she hasn't heard whispered in ten years: in times of trouble, look for the North Star. No matter what happens, no matter how bad things might seem, it will always be there for you.

And sure enough, there it is: just in front of her, resting above Mount Celestia like a beacon, and as soon as she sees it the pain leaves. Trixie knows that it’s just a blob of plasma millions of miles away, and that it’s no more special than any other star, but there’s something about it that settles upon Trixie’s lungs like new snow.

She feels her breaths slow to a steady crawl. And the tears are still flowing down her cheeks, and into the grass, but they don’t hurt anymore. Her face tingles like it tingles when the noonday sun hits it, or when she’s been smiling for too long. There’s a lightness in her mud-soaked chest—and her chin can only quiver as the feeling floats up to her stained cheeks.

Trixie hates being alone.

She can’t stand it anymore. She can’t stand being out here, trapped in a caravan with nothing but the nightmares to keep her company. She needs somepony that she can talk to, somepony that she can lean on; she needs somepony to help her.

And as she sits here, under the North Star, Trixie starts to feel like maybe she’s not alone. Like maybe there actually is someone out there, somewhere, who’s thinking about her. Like there actually is someone who wants to help her, who wants her to keep living. Maybe there is someone who wants to be her… her friend.

Trixie sits up, still staring at the North Star. But at that moment, she feels something tugging on her—some wriggling worm in the back of her mind, pulling her eyes downward. She follows its urgings and looks down.

From where she sits, Trixie can just barely make out the tip of a massive, crystalline structure, jutting out of the center of Ponyville. It glints in the moonlight, and even though it strains her eyes, Trixie can't look away.

She smiles. The tears keep falling.



The voice is musical, and graceful. It’s happy, and carefree.

Trixie wants to run away.

But before she has the chance, the door to the palace creaks open, and Trixie can only stare as Twilight Sparkle steps out.

Twilight’s eyes are wide as she scans Trixie. Her lips part silently, and she hangs like that for a few seconds before muttering, “Trixie…? What in the world are you doing here?”

The first words Trixie has heard spoken to her in weeks. She tries to respond, but nothing comes out.

Trixie wants to run. She needs to run. Her eyes are burning and her lungs are collapsing and her hooves are shaking and she’s going to run away. She’s going to be alone she’s going to

Twilight takes a step forward and pulls Trixie into a hug.

Trixie tenses at first, but everything melts away as she catches the scent of strawberry rising from Twilight’s warm, silky mane. This… this isn’t something that Trixie has noticed before. She likes it.

“Are you okay?” Twilight asks, pulling away too soon. She lays a hoof on Trixie’s shaking shoulders and tries to look her in the eye. “You seem upset.”

The world goes blurry again. Does Trixie really think Twilight can help a mare like her—would help a mare like her? Trixie dips her head and tries to say something, but all that comes out is a pathetic squeak. Trixie is pathetic. Worthless. She deserves the nightmares. She deserves to suffer. She deserves

Twilight touches a wing to Trixie’s cheek, bringing her eyes up to meet Twilight’s wide smile. “Come inside,” Twilight says. “I’ll have Spike make us some tea, and we can talk. Okay?”


Trixie doesn’t answer at first. She just opens her mouth. It takes what feels like a full day for her to close her quivering jaw again and simply nod. She wants to smile, just like Twilight is smiling, bright and beautiful, but she can’t. Not yet. Trixie's spent her entire life forcing herself to look great, to look powerful—but maybe now, if only for a moment, she can allow herself to be weak.

Maybe being weak isn’t such a bad thing.

Twilight grins and walks back inside, gesturing for Trixie to follow.

The Great and Powerful Trixie takes one last shaking breath before I step inside Twilight’s home.

Author's Notes:

This story takes a lot of inspiration—both intentionally and unintentionally—from the work of my favorite singer/songwriter/poet/superhero of all time, Reese Roper. The original version of this fic, Fight Back, was directly inspired by his 2000 song, "The Greatest Story Ever Told."
This version of the fic takes both its name and quite a few themes from his 2004 song, "Something Like Laughter."
In addition, quite a bit of the style of prose here takes cues from his poem, "On Day Number Six," specifically the sixth stanza.

Thank you for reading. This piece was very experimental for me, so any and all comments—positive and negative—are greatly appreciated.

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