Disclaimer: I own NOTHING from the Loud House.
After her chance, and relatively short, meeting with Lincoln and Ronnie Anne, the family athlete finally reached Casa-Loud. Seeing that Vanzilla was still absent, Lynn knew her parents were at work. She was glad for that, as Lynn wasn't in the mood to play twenty questions as to how she was feeling. While the other girls seemed to be more optimistic about their chances of bringing the family together again, the jock was still rather cynical about it. She didn't openly weep in front of her family (besides Pop-Pop), her depression was quite obvious despite repeatedly denying that something was wrong with her. Noting her reflection, she saw that her hair was a little disheveled from bumping into her brother. Fixing it up, Lynn opened the door and shuffled inside.
Luan was sitting on the couch reading over some geometry homework, as well as thinking up some puns related to the subject. Lifting her head upon hearing the door open, "Hey Lynn."
"Hey..." Lynn gaze a half-interested gaze at the comedian.
The 14 year old took note of the slight pink in Lynn's eyes as well as the younger girl's posture. She looked as if Lucy suddenly appeared behind her with a hockey mask and chainsaw. "...You ok?"
"I'm fine Luan..." Was all the jock said before shuffling her backpack and walked to the kitchen.
She should've expected that response. Luan didn't like seeing any of her family members sad, even though she understood the reasoning behind it. But at this point, she didn't want to press her luck again. While everyone was beginning to see hope for the only Loud boy to return, Luan tried to get Lynn on the same boat. However, this endeavor failed miserably. She tried telling jokes, only to get an annoyed groan in response. She tried her typical stand-up routines, but this just seemed to piss off the younger teen. Before the comedian could try anything else, she had to duck out of Lynn and Lucy's room as the sports lover threw several sports balls and a bat at her. And this happened yesterday.
Lynn came back from the kitchen with a bottled water in her hand before climbing up the steps. She could hear the twins through the open door of their bedroom, but didn't bother peeking in. She opened the door to her room and wasn't surprised to see Lucy nowhere in site.
"She's probably in the vents again..." The jock muttered.
The 13 year old looked at her bed, as if it was calling to her. The lack of sleep over the past few days wasn't helping matters, but she could hardly find herself getting any rest. Since her nightmare, she lied awake on her bed every night, thinking about where she went wrong and how she was likely the worst sister on the planet. If she ever got to the point where she finally got tired enough to shut her eyes, said thoughts would continue to plague her throughout the night, robbing her of any chance of any actual rest.
She lied down on the bed regardless, not to sleep, but because she had homework to do.
Hours passed as the rest of the family had returned. Lori could be seen texting on her phone, Leni was looking up mattresses on the computer, Luna and Luan were still putting the finishing touches to their little project, and for the first time in a while, the twins weren't arguing with each other. The parents came home around 5, with Lynn Sr. prepping dinner like usual and Rita helping Leni in picking out a mattress for the bed. They had plenty of twin-bed mattresses to choose from on Mattress Firm's website, but Leni's indecisiveness was making it rather difficult.
"Ooh, Lincoln would totes like this one." Seconds later, she'd change her mind. "No wait! This one would totally suit his new bed. But what about this one...mom how soft do you think this one is?" Leni pointed at the screen.
"Hard to say dear. The mattress me and your father sleep on is made of polyester, cotton, and polyurethane molding."
Leni looked a little lost at this. "Basically Memory Foam mattress sweetie."
"Ooh, but wait, how does a bed keep your memories?"
"The foam in the mattress shapes to the way you sleep dear."
"What?! I didn't know how you sleep matters! I've been totally under-dressed the whole time!"
Rita gave a small laugh at her daughter's reaction. "Look Leni, how about after school I take you to the mattress store so we can pick one out for him?"
"Like, ok." Leni smiled.
"Family! Dinner time!" The Loud patriarch shouted as he carried tonight's dinner into the dining room. As slated on the evening meal schedule, he was serving up meatballs today.
A chorus of feet was heard stampeding into the room to take part in another delicacy made by the chef of the house. Lynn looked around as he noted everyone's seat position. As usual so far, Lincoln's seat was empty as Albert went back to his retirement home yesterday. The elder man told the parents he found Lincoln and had a chat with him, assuring the two adults that the boy was considering forgiving them all. However, Albert made it clear that both Rita and Lynn himself would need to have a long chat with their son about his place in the family once they figure out how to regain his trust. As the father scanned his now eating family, he frowned as one other seat was empty...Juniors...
This was the third time that Lynn hadn't come down. Not that it would be surprising since the father knew she was taking the whole situation pretty hard. However, it was rather jarring that she wouldn't even join the family in eating her favorite meal. Sure, he could understand Junior not liking Succotash and Fish Fry, and she probably wasn't in the mood for Salisbury Steak yesterday. But when you have a daughter who can chew threw meatballs subs like a wood chipper, you'd think even with her being upset, she'd still enjoy the taste, or at least eat them as a means of comfort.
Giving a small sigh, "Lucy, could you-"
"Don't worry. I'll get her." The 8 year old stated before he finished.
Lucy briskly walked up the stairs towards her room, her stomach nagging her for cutting its feeding time short. At this point, it was almost self-voluntary that she was the one to coax Lynn down to eat. The other sisters had opted to do it as well, but since the emo shared the same room as the sports lover, she was likely closer to Lynn than the others. In the past, any attempts to get Lynn to come out ended with the brunette refusing to come down and Lucy giving up. But not this time. When someone in the house skipped out on their favorite meal, clearly something was up. And Lucy intended to get the stubborn athlete out of their room whether she wanted to come willingly or not.
Seeing that the door was closed, Lucy knocked first. "Lynn?" Not getting an answer, the 8 year old poked her head in, spotting the teen reading a book with a tired expression on her face. Fangs was once again sitting on top of Lynn's head, peering at the same book. Either she didn't seem to notice, or she just didn't care. No matter how many times Lucy was used to seeing this, it still bothered her to see Lynn so unlike herself.
"Lynn, it's time to eat."
"I'm not really hungry Luce..."
Lucy gave a larger frown. "You always say that, but I often hear your stomach beckoning that you give it sustenance."
"I just don't feel hungry Lucy. Is that too much for me to say?" Lynn replied, growing irritated.
"Not even for your favorite meal? You know dad serves meatballs every Monday."
The mere mention of it made Lynn's stomach gurgle loudly. Lucy had to fight the urge to give even the slightest smile at this. However, the brunette chose to remain indignant, as usual. "I...I think I'll pass..."
"Sigh...look Lynn, I know you're taking this harder than the rest of us, but destroying yourself isn't going to make things better."
Lynn shot a glare at her roommate. The sudden movement forced Fangs to fly off her head and onto Lucy's. "Who said I was?"
"Lynn, you can't lie to me. I can feel the darkness and misery radiating off you. Actually, I wouldn't even need to feel it because it's clear as day." The younger sibling stated monotonously. "It doesn't take a genius to figure it out, as everyone knows you're depressed about Lincoln's absence. It's very obvious that you blame yourself for everything that's happened and wish to receive punishment. The guilt is eating at you to the point you can't eat, sleep, or even function properly during the day. Don't think I haven't noticed how slow you walk when you should be walking like you have some purpose. Not only that, your appearance looks as if someone is suffering a slow, decaying death."
The teen was about to open her mouth to form a retort, but her exhaustion made that task a chore. Not only that, no matter how much Lynn could deny it, Lucy read her like an open book. It was foolish to think she could fool someone who experiences depression on a daily basis. Glancing up at the large mirror in the room, Lynn could see herself in all her former glory: bags under her tired eyes, said eyes were slightly red from lack of sleep, her hair was still a little out of place, and to add on to the list, she swore her skin looked slightly paler than usual. Although she looked far from it, Lynn thought she almost looked like a living corpse.
Staring at her bed sheets in defeat, "...That's because I deserve it Lucy...everything was my fault...if I had just took my frustration out on something other than my own brother, none of this would've happened...I know you'll say that Lincoln had a part in it too by spreading that lie, but if I hadn't called him bad luck in the first place, he wouldn't have gotten that idea in his head...I haven't even been able to look at myself in the mirror 'til now, cause all I see is a sore loser who was too immature to responsibility and instead blamed others for their own failures they had no influence on the outcome...I barely eat because I feel sick to my stomach thinking about it all..."
Lucy calmly petted Fangs on his head. "And I'm assuming your lack of sleep is due to that nightmare you had?"
The athlete gave a small nod. "I can't have any nightmares if I don't sleep, but I can still hear that taunting voice in my head..."
"So what happened Lynn? When you first had that nightmare, you still had that somewhat annoying flare to you when you first got your crutches. Sorry for saying that, but I'm being honest. Then over the past few days, you started falling into the pit of despair with nothing but hopelessness and woe to comfort you." Lucy looked at the floor for a moment. "It's...it's actually scaring me to see you becoming like myself...so what happened to you? The OLD you?..."
Lynn flipped around so she was on her back. "...She died the moment she had time to reflect on everything...I doubt anything I do will make Lincoln forgive me for what I did..."
"That's where you're wrong."
Lynn tilted her head up and looked at the emo in confusion. "Huh?"
"You aren't the only person to blame for what happened. While it's true that you were a partial catalyst in the suffering we are enduring currently, you shouldn't shoulder all of the blame." Lucy sat her on sister's bed. "You're forgetting that ALL of us are at fault for how we ended up treating Lincoln. Yes, he had used the whole 'luck' fib to his advantage, but we ended up taking things so far to the point he felt betrayed by those he loved. Each of us is regretful that the good times we've had with our brother seems to mean nothing now that we cast him out like he hasn't been in our lives for 11 years...in my case, it makes me feel like a mouse when he reminded me of a noble deed he did when the toilet was clogged..."
"What are you talking about? He always bombs the toilet."
Lucy shook her head. "In other cases, yes, but not the time he had that convention that weekend...that book actually belonged to me...I was too afraid about getting teased by you guys that Lincoln took the fall for me...he was rightfully less than pleased when I found him in the library on Friday, and his very words were 'had I known you'd kick me to the curb like the rest of my so-called family, I would've just let you admit the truth'..." Lucy stared at the floor in sorrow. "He even said he might have laughed at me too...as for our parents, I recall the time they said they wouldn't kick any of us out of the house. Imagine how they must feel right now, having to live with that broken promise."
Lynn stared at the ceiling with a frown.
"But despite all of that, if Lincoln truly felt we were beyond forgiveness, he would've ratted us out to the cops. He wouldn't have given us the chance to make it up to him." The black-haired child put a cold hand on Lynn's forehead. "So please Lynn, I know you're drowning in guilt, but don't do it alone. We're your family you know, and we're all in the same boat."
"...I saw him today..."
Lucy lifted her head a bit in surprise. From her position, Lynn could see the shock in her roommate's eyes. "You did?"
"Well...actually I bumped into him...he looked ready to beat me to death Lucy. I could see the hate forming on his face as he glared at me while I was on the ground...he could've totally dominated me and there would've been little I could do to stop him. But instead of hurting me...he calmed himself down and asked me how my foot was doing...then I asked him if he was doing ok, which he said 'good', then I just bolted out of there...I don't know what stopped him. Maybe it's the fact he forgave the twins or something, I don't know..."
"Or, he saw the damage he did to you and opted not to attack. It was the first time you've both seen each other since...Thursday right?"
"Yeah...would you believe me if I told you that meeting Lincoln like that made me more scared than the times you constantly pop out of nowhere?"
"After seeing that level of focused rage twice, I believe you."
"...Lincoln used to get really nervous any time I would threaten him...now I know how he feels..." Lynn rubbed her nose. "But in a strange way...somewhere inside me feels proud of him."
"How's so?" The 8 year old asked.
"I've always wanted to see him stand up for himself, at least prove he can handle his own business...wish it was under an ENTIRELY different situation though..." Lynn's stomach growled again, asking her when she was going to get up off her butt and feed it. "Ugh...you know what, fine. I'll eat something." She sat up on the bed and hugged her little sister. "Thanks for the talk Luce..."
Lucy returned it, giving a faint smile. However, that moment was ruined when a pungent smell hit her nose. "Gross..."
"When was the last time you showered?..."
By the time Lynn and Lucy came down, most of the family was just about finished eating. Only the parents, Lisa, and Lily were still at the table. The former two were there due to concern for the two girls since they were upstairs for 22 minutes, while the toddler was trying to help feed Lily since she wouldn't stop playing with her food. It was rather cute to see, as Lisa didn't do this quite often. When it was up to the kids to feed her, Luna or Lincoln would be tasked with this job. But since the former was busy and latter was...absent...Lisa was given this important job. And boy was it adorable. The toddler had difficulty trying to get Lily to sit still for a moment so she'd eat a meatball. The infant responded by getting sauce on the prodigy's glasses, giggling while doing so. Lisa kept a stoic face as she removed her eye-ware for cleaning.
The parents found themselves smiling at the site, but then shifted focus to their two other daughters. Whatever Lucy did to coax Lynn to join them, they were very grateful for it. Upon asking what they missed, Lynn Sr. went on and told them that the other girls' days were more or less the same, though Lana had a pretty interesting day. A few of her classmates congratulated her for sticking up for her brother, as well as saying she had a pretty cool bro given how Lincoln wholeheartedly returned the favor. As for the parents, Rita went on too discuss how she had the misfortune of inspecting Chandler's mouth, earning disgruntled looks from the two. Lynn made a comment saying she should've pulled a few more teeth out, but Rita stated she had to do her job regardless of who was in the chair. When asked the same question, Lucy stated her day was depressing as usual. With Lynn, thanks to the talk she had with Lucy, she was more willing to open up to her parents.
She told them everything, from her not feeling too well throughout the day to bumping into Lincoln while she was walking home. The last part caught everyone sans Lucy by surprise, their nervousness very clear since both Lincoln and Lynn departed on a sour note. However, Lynn eased their worries by first stating that they didn't get into another fight. While she was immensely scared, Lincoln kept himself calm and spoke with indifference. This gave the parents some hope that Lincoln really was beginning to come around, but as far as anyone knew, the adults felt they were still a long way off before their son would even consider returning home. But the least they could do, was try to initiate some form of contact. Hopefully, Lincoln didn't block their phone numbers.
Elsewhere in Royal Woods, another set of kids were going about their daily business. Inside a medium-sized two story house, Conner was sitting on his bed, button mashing the controls of the game system he was playing. He had been playing Muscle Fish on multiplayer for the last hour and was growing more and more frustrated by the frequent losses he accumulated against some user named AceSavvyFan11.
"Come on, come on come on come on! This has to work!" The blonde said in near anger.
He tried another combo move against his opponent, who managed to block it to reduce the damage it would've taken. Then, said opponent used their special move and finished his character. The 'DEFEAT' logo flashed on screen in bold red, as if it was mocking the child. With his irritation boiling over, Conner went into a series of rants on how he ended up losing.
A knock on his door made him quiet down. "Yeah?"
The 11 year old was met with an irritated look from his oldest sister. "Conner, you really should be careful when you swear like that. You know mom and dad will ground you again." Carol stated.
"Sorry...but this game just REALLY gets to me..."
"Why don't you just play single player, or co-op?"
"Single player is boring, and co-op isn't as fun as kicking the butts of other players."
"And yet you just got yours kicked and you're whining like a baby." The elder blonde smirked.
"Was not!" Conner fumed, blushing slightly.
Carol just gave a bigger smile before ruffling her brother's hair. "Here. Let's play co-op and I'll show you it's not that boring."
The boy could only grumble as his sister picked up a second controller. After five minutes of playing time, they were both heavily focused on trying to get past a rather frustrating level. "Ugh! The timing of these fryers is so off!" The teen groaned.
"I know right?..." Conner sat in silence for a moment, his fingers fiddling with the controls. "Hey sis..."
"You know those days when you come home looking mad about something, what was that about?"
"There's this girl named Lori who keeps giving me rude comments. People say we look like sisters, but I don't see the resemblance. I remember a couple times Lori's sister, Leni, had mistaken me for her. But the thing is, I don't know even know what I did to get on Lori's bad side. Maybe, it was because I won Homecoming Queen last semester and she didn't. If that's it, then how am I supposed to apologize for something EVERYONE voted on? If it's not, then I don't know what her problem is. I just try to ignore it, but she always gives me this scornful look anytime we happen to look at each other. Doesn't help that occasionally I hear her talking about me behind my back."
Conner glanced at his sister. "Doesn't that count as bullying?"
"No. She hasn't done anything physically, or on the Internet. But if it does come to that I might have to-YES! Finally!" Carol shouted in joy as she managed to get to the end of the level. Conner's character had died due to a mistimed jump.
Conner smiled a little bit at the slight elation of having beaten a rather difficult part of the game, even if it was his sister than carried them to the objective.
"So why did you ask that?" Carol asked.
"Um...just something on my mind. And uh, here's another question...if you were about to do something you'd probably regret later, would you still do it?"
Carol looked at her brother in silence, wondering what brought this on. "Conner...is someone messing with you in school?"
"What?! No! You know I haven't had a bully since the first grade."
"Then why would you ask that? It's not just a random question that pops up out of the blue you know..." The teen said, a frown forming on her face.
Conner sweated a little. He could let his sister know of the little deal he made with Chandler, but that would add more fuel to the fire (and get himself in serious trouble). Instead, he decided to steer the question back to Carol's issue with Lori. "I mean, you're fairly nice and all, so I don't see how someone like you could make enemies. What I'm saying is, if you got to the point where you had punch Lori in the face, would you do it?"
Carol hummed in thought. While she may have issues with Lori school-wise, they hardly interact outside of the education system. In fact, Lori had barely given her any issues over the last couple of days, so the chances of them fighting were very unlikely. The blonde wasn't really a fighter, as she firmly believed violence doesn't solve anything. She couldn't even see herself slapping someone, but rather telling them off. Still, Conner did have a point.
"...To be honest, I'm not sure. The first thing I'd do is just chew her out for being needlessly mean, but if I had to actually hit her...maybe I'd just slap her, but I don't know what good that would do."
"But what if you had to actually go to town on her?"
"Like I said Conner, I don't know. It'd probably just be in the heat of the moment."
...Baby..." The boy muttered.
Carol looked at Conner in irritation. "What was that?"
"I said you're a baby. I mean, who would be afraid to hit someone if they wholly deserved it?"
"Oh I'll show you whose the real baby in this house." Carol said with a sinister grin.
The 11 year old realized what this meant. "Carol, no. Don't you dare-!" Was all Conner said before Carol jumped him, making him erupt into a laughing fit as she tickled his sides.
"Say you're the baby!"
"N-Never!" The little blonde replied, laughing his head off.
"Say it or I'll start on your feet!" Carol teased.
"O-OK OK I'm the baby! I'm the baby! J-Just not the feet!" Conner shouted, almost out of breath.
Satisfied, the teen stopped. "And don't you forget it bro." She pecked him on his forehead, much to the boy's annoyance. Looking at the clock, Carol was surprised by the time. "Wow, it's 9:30 already?"
"Game time moves slower than real time. Everyone knows that." Conner stated as if it was fact.
Carol just shrugged. "Eh, whatever. I'm gonna get ready for bed." Without another word, the teen walked out the room, shutting the door behind her.
In the Santiago house, Lincoln held a triumphant smirk as he crushed yet another opponent on the Muscle Fish game he brought with him. If you looked at the top of his health bar, the name 'AceSavvyFan11' stood out in bold letters. The boy started to laugh as said opponent rage quit after getting their character schooled for the fifth time tonight.
"And another one down, and another one down, and another one bites the dust!" Lincoln sang as he started doing a victory dance.
"Well, you can wreck people in Muscle Fish, but you can't be me in Turbo Blasters XXI." Ronnie Anne smirked.
"But I managed to beat you in Dance Dance Revolution." Lincoln replied.
"Then you came in 4th place in Mario Kart 8, right before the finish line on the last lap." The Hispanic Girl laughed.
"Curse you blue shells...you know that they tend to ruin friendships right?" Lincoln grumbled. He really hated how those things suddenly pop up behind him when he's in the lead, especially when he didn't have anything to block it.
"Yeah, but they won't ruin this one. Even though I'm the one that fired it." Ronalda laughed.
Their stint at the arcade helped Lincoln take his mind off their encounter with Lynn, but Ronalda could tell it still lingered in his mind from the way he would temporarily slip into deep thought. However, it didn't seem to bother the platinum haired child for long.
"You know I'm gonna want a rematch for that."
"So you can get your butt kicked again?" The smug grin on her face said it all.
Lincoln returned the gesture. "I'm not the one who got mad when you lost in those two other games."
"T-That's because the game was glitching!"
"My sore arm says otherwise."
Ronalda grew irate. Naturally, she wasn't a fan of losing, especially when someone was right and called out her excuse. Looking at Lincoln's game, she gave a smug grin. "Bet I can beat you in your stupid game."
Lincoln grew surprised at the girl's accusation, but put on his bravado. "Really? You think you can beat mwah at the most classic game in history?"
"Oh I can, unless you're afraid of getting your butt whooped."
Lincoln gave a small chuckle. "I bet I can get a flawless victory."
"Really, then let's make this interesting. If you win, I'll make you a full stack of waffles with your name on it."
The chipped tooth child could feel his mouth beginning to water at mention of a decent breakfast. Ronalda started to think of what she could get out of this if she won. She could have Lincoln do something embarrassing, but that would be too easy. Plus, it would be the last thing Lincoln needed with his life being a mixed bag right now. However, maybe there was something he could do, not only as a confidence booster, but also because she figured the nerd could learn to keep proper balance.
Lincoln grew nervous as he saw Ronnie Anne form a devilish smirk. "Um...Ronalda?"
"If I win, I'm teaching you how to skateboard."
Memories of last Friday morning crept into Lincoln's mind. "Oh man...what did I get myself into?" He spoke in his mind. Why would Ronnie Anne want to teach him how to use a board? He knew how to handle himself on a bike, but skateboarding? Was she going to enjoy seeing him fall on his face? He silently prayed for the gaming gods to be on his side. Otherwise, he was in for a long day ahead.