A/N: Last chapter, Lincoln learned how the incident that led to the Sister Fight Protocol being engaged really started; and to say he was upset is putting it mildly. Lori now faces the possibility of confronting an angry Loud, something not unexpected but a situation she wished to avoid. However, she just might manage to smooth things over if she plays her moves carefully.
Disclaimer: I own NOTHING from the Loud House.
A Couple Hours Prior...
Lori watched as the school bus that had a stop on its route near her house leave the lot. Her younger sisters were on board, seeing the pair giving small talk to each other from the windows. At any usual moment, she would be with them. Or more specifically, she would be driving them towards the school the rest of her siblings were attending before heading home; vanzilla wasn't an option since her parents needed it today.
Not that it mattered much, for Lori had other priorities to deal with.
Lincoln's rant from that morning left her unsettled for much of the day; she could barely focus on her classes, hardly ate anything during lunch, and even brushed off the rude comments sent her way courtesy of her (former) bestie Whitney. She also didn't fully register the two-person project her Social Studies teacher decided to force on the class, or the fact she had gotten Carol as her partner.
Actually, that could be considered a good thing. There was no telling how things work out with the other students; not that it probably mattered much since she was aloof to everyone just as they were to her. Barring a few exceptions...
"Hey." A soft-toned voice called out. Lori glanced back, seeing her partner coming up. "Ready to get away from jail?"
Lori gave a reluctant nod. The joke should've been something to feel lighthearted about, but the Loud didn't fully resonate the vibe it was intended to convey. Part of her couldn't help but wonder if that was a punishment she deserved. She's already close to be considered an adult, if not already since ten months from now she'll legally be one. The Loud doubted a one year difference would hold up much in the court of law; or it could, she wasn't certain.
Never did pay much attention in her class.
Lori blinked, shaking her head slightly, which allowed a few strands to fall out of place. "Huh?"
"You started zoning out." The Pingrey teen clarified.
"Right..." Lori smother her hair back into place. "I just got a lot on my mind..."
"We can talk about it." Carol replied, only to start walking back her initial statement. "I mean, if you want to."
Lori gave a shrug, feeling that she wouldn't have had a choice either way. The duo began down a path away from the school; unlike Lori, Carol lived within reasonable walking distance from the educational center. Sometimes she could drive via her parent's car; but like Lori, said car was currently being used to transport the breadwinners to and from their jobs.
"The longer I'm in this situation, the more I'm convinced I'm literally the worst sibling in the house..."
Carol raised a brow. "It can't be that bad. I still remember seeing one of your sisters make it in the news for harassing Mick Swagger for a piece of his hair."
Lori rolled her eyes. "Luna has a track record for causing some property damage due to her lack of volume control." She admitted. "But she rarely does things that have lasting damage..."
"...Since we barely speak to each other, I'm just gonna lay it out like I did with my therapist."
Carol had her mouth open as if to speak, but no words came out. "She went to therapy?..." She mulled to herself.
"My relationship with my brother, and my sisters by extension, hasn't been the same since middle school. Normally, I would've been this chill, big sister everyone could come to for help. But after going through the hell that was 7th grade, I just..." Lori sighed. "I just started looking more after myself..."
Carol pursed her lips. "Is this something like, you just stopped caring about whatever your siblings do so long as they don't bother you?"
Lori made a so-so motion with her hand. "Something like that. I have 10 siblings, and the first time I ever snapped at them was when I only had 8."
"Ten?" Carol asked in surprise. "I thought you only had just a few." She thought back to the time Lincoln had invited her over to take Lori's place for a family photo. "At least from what I saw in the door before you shut it. I mean, I doubted I could've pulled off the look anyway, but-"
"Then why did you come over?" Lori cut her off, the notable hotness in her voice making Carol a little flustered.
"I-I'm not really someone who'd turn down a chance to help someone." She gave a rather meek response.
Lori bit her cheek, feeling guilty for appearing angry at Carol in her questioning. She should've expected an answer like that, given how she's quite literally the only person aside from her sisters that would act friendly towards her at this point.
"I could've asked that in a better way..." The Loud started. "But the truth is, Lincoln only invited you to get a rise out of me to retake a family photo."
Carol made a quizzical look. "I...don't get why you'd be upset about retaking a family picture."
"I figured." Lori frowned, more upset at herself than anything else. "And I shouldn't have been..."
"Ooookaaay..." Carol replied, averting her gaze for a moment as they crossed an intersection. "Is there more to what happened that day or...?"
"It was my parents' anniversary, and every year we always give them gifts. Lincoln's..." Lori grimaced. "Lincoln usually made coffee mugs for them; not that it's not a bad idea, but he didn't take enough pottery classes to actually let them function like the cups they're supposed to be." The pit in Lori's stomach grew as she recounted the following incidents. "Because of that, Mom and Dad put his stuff in a box in the attic labeled "Do Not Open". All of us were aware of it and knew Lincoln would be devastated if he found out, so we hid this fact from him for years..."
Carol squinted an eye. "That doesn't sound so bad." She admitted after some deliberation. "You guys just wanted to spare his feelings."
Lori knitted her brows together in a show of a little irritation filling her mind. "And it would've stayed that way if Lola didn't open her mouth and tell him what really happened with his gifts..." The eldest Loud sibling sighed. "Though, I doubt it would've been brought up if the rest of us didn't ask what those clay things were supposed to be."
Carol gave a light nod. "Ok? So, where does the part about me coming over play in all this?"
"So, we tried taking the first picture, but apparently Lincoln didn't set the timer correctly. And in the moment it took before it finally flashed a picture, the rest of us got bored and started doing our own thing. When the camera did go off..." Lori recalled how it looked. "Basically, if anyone outside our family saw it the picture, you'd probably think we're a crazy bunch; if you didn't already."
Carol began to frown, feeling there was a particular reason she had been called over that she wouldn't like. "How long did it take for the camera to snap the photo?"
Lori counted on her fingers. "From the time Lincoln pressed the button and how long we stood there...I'd say 20 to 30 seconds."
"Annnd no one could stand still for that long?"
Lori sighed. "No...in fact, I gave up after 10 seconds and opted for selfies..."
Carol began to piece together how she ended up being brought into the mix. "And I'm gonna assume your brother wasn't satisfied with the picture and wanted to take another, but no one wanted a redo?"
"Yes, but not entirely." Lori replied. "Luan and Luna were ok with it, but Lincoln wouldn't let them use their props or instruments." She folded her arms. "Not like they would've needed them anyway."
Carol nodded in agreement. The two hung a left as they began walking past rows of houses. "But like we're saying, not everyone was on board. So, if he had to ask me to come over in order to get you to take part, I'm guessing he did the same with the rest?"
Lori nodded. "I'll admit he went overboard like making us put on Christmas sweaters or whatever to make us appear more 'normal'."
Carol squinted an eye. "Did you guys maybe think to look at the situation through his eyes?..." There was a hint of irritation that didn't go unnoticed by Lori.
The Loud didn't know whether it was a rhetorical question or a legitimate one. Either way, she gave the most obvious answer. "No...and I doubt it crossed anyone's minds..."
Carol couldn't avoid the look of repressed anger she had on her face, but managed to keep her tone calm and somewhat relaxed. "Your brother just learned that his parents don't like the gifts he made for them; by hand no less. And..." She paused for a moment. "When did this all happen?"
"The day before their anniversary."
"And on top of that, your brother was most likely racing against the clock to come up with something better that he thought would impress your parents. I mean, how would you feel if you found out they didn't fully appreciate what you made for their special day?"
Lori frowned, subconsciously shrinking into herself. "...I'd feel like I wasn't loved as much as my siblings..."
"And how'd you guys react for much of the day about his idea?"
"...Half weren't interested and most felt it was a waste of time; even though we should have been more supportive..." The Loud uttered quietly. "Instead of trying our best to help him, we barely put much effort into his goal of getting mom and dad something he'd think they'd like." She reflected back towards her brother's ranting that morning. "I even said some things that literally shouldn't have been said...Lincoln brushed it off like it was nothing, but now that he has time to reflect back on things..."
Seeing how Lori was beginning to become more and more withdrawn, Carol decided to find out what was the end result of it all. "So what did he end up giving them?"
Lori remained silent for a minute, with Carol lightly tugging her in one direction when they reached another intersection. This turn led them towards a small culdesac, with Carol identifying one of the homes at the circle as hers.
"He gave them the original botched photo we took. Mom and Dad liked it, and Lincoln apologized for going overboard and trying to make us appear unlike ourselves, saying it showed the perfect us." Lori bit her lower lip. "Hobbies aside, it still doesn't give a good look on our dynamic as siblings; heck, our initial reactions when he didn't give them the 'corrected' picture pretty much showed how little confidence we have in him, but that's not the worst part." The girls walked up the driveway as Carol fiddled with her bag to get her keys out. "I know Lincoln is going to think about this too, and I can say with certainty that if we just let him take a second picture right after the first, there wouldn't have been any problems. He might have not went as overboard as he did trying to set up the second photo."
Carol only gave a nod in agreement, mostly just going along with Lori's assumptions since she witnessed everything that happened. "So, how does that tie into you thinking you're the worst out of all your siblings?" She finally found her house keys and started unlocking the door.
"...I probably did a ton of selfish stuff that my sisters could name on hand, but I also have this habit of saying stuff that cuts deep..."
"Such as?..." Carol looked towards Lori as she pushed the door open, with the Loud coming in after.
"...I insulted Leni (the sister whose a year younger than me) about how certain dresses wouldn't work for her because she'd look washed out."
Carol's eyelids opened up a bit more at that. Definitely a fashion related insult, but she wouldn't consider it 'dark', per se.
"...And during the photo incident, I made a mention to Lincoln that he could've just used a phone instead of a camera; which actually sounded like a poor choice since those photographers on Picture Day use those big, bulky cameras that cost like, hundreds of dollars?" Lori realized she was getting a little off base, taking a moment to clear her throat. "A-Anyway, after he mentioned that doing so would be like drawing a famous picture with only a crayon...I said..."
"Saaaaid?..." Carol dragged out, motioning her to continue.
"T-This may be the year you don't fail miserably and crush Mom and Dad's souls..." Lori answered, her tongue curling up in her mouth as if something bitter touched it.
Carol had her mouth agape with her eyes fully open. "What, on earth, possessed you to say that?!" There wasn't any malice in her voice, likely because it was still overshadowed by the shock she had.
"I-I don't know, ok?!" Lori answered, her voice breaking a little as she gripped the sides of her head. "It's a miracle Lincoln only brushed it off as a rude comment and didn't think deeper about it!...Which I know he WILL because this whole mess is my fault!"
Carol watched as Lori started to develop a case of the sniffles, with tears forming at the edges of her eyes. Thinking over what was just said, she could assume Lincoln must either have a big heart, or was too absorbed with getting a new gift for his parents to fully register what Lori said at the time. Regrettably, this instilled another thought in the Pingrey teen's head:
How often were comments like that thrown around towards not just Lincoln, but her other siblings?
Eyeing the door briefly, Carol moved to close it. Last thing she wanted was another fly in the house.
"Lori..." Carol started, shutting the door. "I think I get why you might feel like you're the worst sister right now, but how exactly are you responsible for something that sounded like a group effort?" Her eyes narrowed as she thought over her own question. Nervousness filled her stomach as a dreadful idea came to mind. "You didn't...personally lead your sisters into-"
"No..." Lori rubbed her nose. "It's not like that..." She leaned against the wall. "All of this started because me and Leni started arguing over a dress..." Carol could understand that. It wasn't like there weren't times she got into scrapes at the mall over clothing that was limited and on sale. "But the thing was, I had little room to demand Leni take hers back when she had the dress first..."
"Wait, so you both bought the same dress, but only one of you wanted to be the one to wear it?"
"We both had a dress of the same brand, design, and stitching." Lori clarified.
Carol mouthed an "Oh" as the Loud continued.
"I ordered Leni to take hers back (she already had hers on to try it out when I got home), she argued I should take mine back, and...things just went downhill from there..."
The next half hour was spent with Lori explaining how everything happened, all the way until Lincoln had been injured enough to be hospitalized. By then, the girls were sitting in the empty kitchen with a few snacks arranged on the table. Carol looked rather unsettled as Lori explained how the 'Sister Fight Protocol' worked, which morphed into something of an "Are you for real?" face as the actions the girls took didn't make the situation better. She still couldn't believe Mr and Mrs. Loud did nothing to stop it, even when all the girls started fighting the first time.
By the time Lori reached the point explaining how the girls turned their anger towards their brother, Carol finally understood Lori's point; had she not started the initial argument, none of these events would've happened. Carol may also admit the girls' system didn't make much sense.
"If the point was to keep out of the quarrel and let it resolve itself, why did they inject themselves into the mix to separate them? By that logic, they technically aren't letting things resolve itself." The class president mulled to herself.
"And it's only a matter of time before Lincoln realizes that; if he hasn't already..." Lori finished.
"...Was it always tense in your house or...?" Carol asked out of instinct. She immediately regretted asking such a question, but Lori shook her head.
"No..." Lori absently stuffed another cookie in her mouth. "I've had to look after someone younger than me since I was two. Like a lot of people, I went through the phase of being jealous of my younger siblings getting all the attention, but warmed up to them. By 7th grade though...it just got tiring. Not only was I dealing with low popularity in school because of my looks, but having an ever growing number of siblings because Mom couldn't stop being a baby factory just made me start acting stricter..."
Carol drummed her fingers on the table. "Was it so bad that you made them do next to nothing? Like staying in their rooms?"
Lori nodded. "Yeah." Glancing at Carol, "How'd you know that?"
Carol shrugged. "Saw it as a likely outcome. I did some babysitting jobs before." She grabbed a cookie off the tray. "And trust me on this: some of those kids DID NOT like me for keeping them from burning the house down." She bit down on her treat.
Lori gave a dry laugh. "That almost happened the one time my siblings managed to stage a coup on me."
Carol winced. "Stove being ran too high?"
The Loud shook her head. "Fireworks." Carol nearly went bug-eyed. "I don't know where Luna got them from, much less what made her think launching those things inside the house was a good idea."
Carol blinked. "I can't help but wonder how your parents took it."
Lori managed a tiny grin. "They don't know about it; at least the fireworks and the huge mess everyone caused. Lola did break Dad's nine iron though." Her grin faded. "But I wish it hadn't came to that. I don't like having to yell or use my authority as the oldest sibling to keep everyone in check; but doing it so much for too long made it go to my head..."
"In what ways?"
"For starters..." Lori began, wringing the edge of her shirt nervously. "I'd often use the fact of being born first to get what I want..." Carol frowned. Lori knew she wouldn't approve, since that reasoning alone wouldn't hold a candle in most situations. "And I used to make my siblings do stuff for me in exchange for driving them places."
"So, a quid pro quo?" Carol clarified.
"A..." Lori squinted her eyes in confusion. "What?"
"It's when you do something for someone in exchange for them doing something for you." Carol explained. "Like, you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours? It got thrown around a lot in class."
Lori was familiar with the old phrase, but not so much on the fancy word for it. Pretending she understood, she continued. "During that moment, my siblings didn't like the system we had, so they (especially Lincoln) decided to teach Leni how to drive. You might think that sounds easy, but Leni is..." She paused to figure out the right words. She felt she couldn't say Leni was 'disabled', as that would imply some harsher conditions. And it felt like a false stereotype since Leni was on the level of an average 16 year old when her medication kicked in. "Slow to act most of the time. She failed so many times that you'd think some cartoon sponge replaces her behind the wheel. However, they managed to work it out for her; and she would've passed if I hadn't..."
"Made her fail?..." Carol finished for her with a deadpanned face.
Lori nodded shamefully.
Carol pinched the bridge of her nose, expelling a neutral sigh. "I'd ask why, but I'm guessing the power of having your siblings in that position was too enticing to give up?..."
"Carol." Lori began, averting her gaze from her classmate. "I couldn't give you a straight answer even if I wanted to..." She glanced out the window, staring at the unmoving trees that bordered the backyard. "It may have been me being power hungry, or (after talking with my therapist about it) I'm being overly worried about what my siblings might do without me...it's stressful enough keeping them from destroying the house; and I can only imagine what might happen if Leni got into an accident with them in the car..." She made a light huff as her eyes started to become a little wet. "I might've almost killed her by making Leni fail her test when everyone tried their best to teach her..." Lori took a second to wipe her eyes. "To make amends, I started teaching her myself about how to drive, but it's still been hit or miss. I've changed over the years, but what was the point? Gaining popularity on social media while pushing my siblings away?..." Lori sank in her seat. "And I hadn't even cared about that fact until my own brother looked at me like I was a serial murderer..."
Carol absorbed the information Lori told her, although she hadn't the faintest clue on how to respond. Granted, Lori might've been the definition of a mean, selfish, older sister. Well, no. Scratch that; a sister with selfish tendencies that may sometimes go overboard to achieve her goals. But it was apparent Lori still cared for her siblings. There had to have been some good moments that were shared.
Before Carol could go with that lead, Lori spoke again. "Let me ask you this Carol."
"Hmm?" The Pingrey teen raised a brow.
"After everything I just told you, and from what you've seen happen in school," The Loud stared at her. "Why are you even trying to help me?..."
Carol didn't give an immediate answer. Her mind wandered towards the moment when issues surrounding Lori first became known to her. Her memory was a little foggy about how it started, but it was hard to ignore what was becoming the talk of the school.
The one day of the week to remind you that your torture facility, or school, wants you back to cram information you'll find to be vital to your daily no matter how much you hate it.
Although, Carol didn't have issues with school to begin with.
She wasn't a Straight-A student; quite close with a 3.8 GPA however. But as far as she was concerned, most of her classes were a breeze during senior year. You could say she was a girl who had it all during school: she had a nice group of friends, a caring boyfriend (whom many boys were jealous of because they liked Carol for her looks), good grades, and she was Valedictorian of her class. Many girls could only dream of welding power and beauty while in high school; and often times it'd seriously go to their head.
Carol however, wasn't one of them.
She always had been fair in her judgment and mostly used her authority to obtain better resources for her class and the school at large. She also detested anyone who would use their position for ulterior motives; one such example is the fact she had reported the Secretary of the Treasury last week to the principal for misusing school funds appropriated for class events for personal expenses for not only herself, but a clique of friends.
However, today would be the start of something she believed should've remained a familial matter.
Carol dropped her textbooks in her locker, only retrieving the one book she needed for her computer class. It wasn't a class she necessarily needed, but it was a more meaningful choice than the other electives on the list.
"PSSST! Carol!" A feminine voice called to her attention.
The Pingrey teen turned to see the newest head of the Treasury Department, Tiffany Fairwood. Tiffany only moved to Royal Woods 2 years ago, having crossed the northern border from Toronto. She wasn't a very talkative person since she arrived, only coming out of her shell after some time spent hanging around Carol. Supposedly her more positive nature had an impact on the shy girl. If only she got over talking above a whisper.
Inspite of being socially awkward, Carol selected her as a replacement for the last head as the girl was wicked good with numbers and tracking; if something wasn't adding up, she was usually the first to spot it.
"Hey Tiff." Carol greeted with a smile. "What's up?"
Tiffany looked around to make sure no one else was paying too much attention. Carol shook her head. "You're making it kinda obvious you're spilling a secret." She chuckled inwardly.
"I heard from Roger that Roberto Santiago and Lori Loud broke up."
"Already?" Carol spoke in surprise as she shut her locker. "Didn't they hook up like, back in April?"
"Early March actually." Tiff corrected. "And it's not what most would expect either: SHE broke up with HIM."
Carol frowned, putting a hand on her hip. "This isn't one of those cheating scandals, is it?"
Tiffany shook her head. "No. But from what Roberto said, and this is gonna sound crazy..." She muttered, making Carol's curiosity rise. "He said she broke up with him over something about," She paused, trying to recall exactly what she heard. "Seriously beating up her brother."
"Her brother?" Carol questioned. A memory ran through her mind, bringing up the time she got invited to Lori's house for a family photo. It was an unusual request, but the young boy made it sound important over the phone. When she arrived, she had been greeted by a boy with white hair wearing an orange polo; he was probably no older than 12 or 10. "And he was beaten up? Or so she heard..." Carol mulled to herself.
"Are you sure that's what you heard? I don't think you should have been prying on their conversation." The class president spoke in a stern tone.
However, Tiffany remained adamant about the information she had. "I'm certain. In fact, I heard a few others talking about it too when I was coming to speak with you."
Carol hummed in thought. It did sound rather unsettling; Lori often liked to flaunt about what she and her boyfriend did, especially to Carol as if they were in some weird competition. To hear they abruptly broke it off seemed pretty out of the ordinary, especially since Carol saw the two openly greet each other warmly in school numerous times on Friday.
Maybe something happened that weekend that caused the sudden change.
"Either way, it sounds like a rumor." Carol surmised. "And those, no matter how dumb, can spread like crazy..." Focusing back on Tiffany, "Thanks for telling me, but I wouldn't worry too much about it. It could just be a random excuse over something that's not a big deal."
Tiffany bit her cheek as she prodded her fingers together in a shy manner. "Okay...but it didn't sound like it was made up..."
The two separated shortly afterwards towards their separate classes. Carol didn't hear much about this rumor for the next couple of hours, though she had heard Becky and Mandee talk about something eerily similar to what Tiffany said, as well as mentioning someone named 'Leni' numerous times in the row behind her.
Halfway between class, Carol excused herself to the restroom. As she searched for a stall to use, she was satisfied that the janitor took her advice to try and keep the bathrooms cleaner; seriously, half the time, the bathrooms were so filthy that Carol just pushed herself into holding her waste in until she got home. Finding one that was freshly clean, the Pingrey teen shut the door and settled in to do her business.
Seconds later, the bathroom door was abruptly slammed open, making Carol flinch.
"Ooooooh God I literally messed up..." A broken voice echoed among the walls.
It sounded familiar to Carol. "Lori?..." She muttered.
"Lori?" Another voice called out as the door was pushed open. "You ok?"
"No I'm not ok Whitney!" Carol heard Lori yell. "I just..." Lori made a broken scream that sounded like a mix of frustration and sorrow.
"Ok ok, girl. Just work with me, alright?" Whitney spoke. Carol heard a hand patted something, which assumed was Whitney giving Lori a hug. "I know you just had a break up, but it's not the end of the world."
"I'm not worried about the stupid breakup, I'm worried for my brother!" Lori yelled out. "I don't even know if he's gonna be ok, or if he'll even be the same again!"
"What do you mean?" Whitney asked. "Like, I heard what you said earlier about why you guys broke up, but I'll be honest: that sounded coo-coo." There was a pause as Carol heard one of the faucets running. "I get you probably don't wanna tell the REAL reason you guys ended it, but you can tell me though, ok?"
"And I already told you..." Lori growled out. "My brother is in the hospital because of something stupid I did...why would I joke about that?!"
Silence began to fill the bathroom again, only being kept at bay by Lori's heated breathing.
"...Soooo...you were being serious about what you said earlier?..." Whitney asked. There was a brief silence, likely confirming what Lori had stated. "Oh, my God..." Whitney spoke in a hushed, yet shocked tone. "What did you do?..."
Lori sniffled once. "Me and my sisters were arguing over...something, I don't even remember what it was at that point; it had been going on for two days..." Shuffling was heard. "We then realized Lincoln ended up causing our arguments, we had a shouting match between us and him...he ended up insulting us and..." Lori stopped for a moment, likely to gather herself. "We ended up beating him into the floor and didn't realize what we were doing until he was a total mess..."
The whirring of the fan filled the void for what seemed like an eternity. Carol sat there, processing what she just heard. Evidently, the rumor turned out to be true; and it wasn't just Lori who was guilty of what she claimed it seemed. She was jostled in her seat when she heard Whitney begin to yell.
"Are...ARE YOU FOR REAL?! WHY WOULD YOU GO AND DO THAT?! I'VE SEEN YOUR BROTHER BEFORE AND I CAN TELL HE PROBABLY COULDN'T EVEN DEFEND HIMSELF!"
"I was mad ok?!" Lori shouted back. "Everything had been so tense in the house that everyone was just about ready to fight again!"
"Ok, you were mad. I get that. But did you actually try to, I don't know, TALK things over? Do you always fight your siblings like that every day?"
"N-No...I mean, sort of...but-" Lori was cut off as Whitney continued.
"Then it's obvious to me that you and the rest of your sisters are too hotheaded and practically barbaric to handle something simple with words; since you just implied talking is cheap." Carol heard the bathroom door open. "I don't know how that mess happened in that house of yours, but you got anger issues you need to work out..."
Carol heard the door shut, leaving her alone with the broken sobs of a Loud. It stayed that way for a few minutes, until she heard some paper towels being dispensed, followed by the distinct ruffling sound that occurred whenever they were being used. Shortly afterwards, Carol heard the door open again as footsteps exited the room. Feeling that she was finally alone, Carol flushed the toilet. Her body felt like it was on autopilot as she wondered what exactly happened to that little boy she met only for a few seconds. More importantly, she wondered how Lori was going to cope with being potentially shunned by the student body; any sort of negative news surrounding anyone had a tendency to get hyped up to unreasonable levels.
As the valedictorian slowly trekked back to class, she walked past the band room. She could hear some muffled talking there before the door abruptly opened. A couple of teens (one being a brunette boy taller than herself and a blonde girl with a blue highlight on one of her bangs) dressed in some sort of casual punk rock clothing exited; leather was considered casual, right? Either way, both didn't appear to be happy. Distraught would've been the word Carol could've used to describe them. She eyed the two as they left, then glanced inside the room out of habit.
Inside, Carol saw another brunette with a pixie cut roughly the same height as the blonde she passed. The teen was wearing a purple shirt with a skull on the chest area; she looked no better than the two people Carol passed, having her hands gripped to the sides of her head as visible tears leaked down her face. The Pingrey teen bit her cheek as she felt uncomfortable, but decided to ignore it for now as she pressed on back to her class.
Now that Carol thought about it, that other girl she had seen at that time must've been one of Lori's sisters. While she had confirmed the rumors going around a few social circles had been true, she decided it was better to not make a big fuss over it; especially when it was clear the guilty party had already regretted their actions.
"I heard everything you said to Whitney the day I assume the fight happened; or the day after." Carol eyed Lori. "You said it happened over the weekend, right?"
Lori gave a curt nod.
"I knew from the moment you talked about it, you felt like you wished you could take everything back. But at the same time, I felt it wasn't my place to talk to you about it since it was a private issue." Carol leaned back in her chair as she frowned. "But clearly your friends, or former friends specifically, took it very personal that you'd do that to your brother; same thing that happened with your sisters from what I've seen occasionally."
Lori sighed through her nose. All of her sisters in high school had been scrutinized to some degree, largely by people they commonly associated with. But there were some exceptions to that...
There was a moment when Luna had been nearly provoked into a fight by a random student looking to cause trouble, and they decidedly went with the word about what happened to Lincoln; in spite of not knowing the Louds personally. Leni managed to keep Luna from landing herself in hot water, especially when the student (now joined by a few) had mocked Leni for her supposedly low intelligence. On top of that, Whitney made it clear numerous times she wanted nothing to do with Lori. The other blonde usually kept her distance, but a week after Lincoln had been hospitalized, Lori found herself getting harassed by a few of her former friends more often than what might have been considered normal.
"My sisters had it rough for a while...and I've had my books occasionally shoved out of my hands, spitballs shot at me during class, my locker (and sometimes by bag) getting crappy graffiti on it, and occasionally being blamed for stuff I didn't do and getting detention..." Lori had her hands tightly curled into fists as she recalled every moment of slight at her expense. She began to hum as she simmered down. "But I didn't want to give anyone the satisfaction of seeing me ticked off..."
Carol gave a soft smile. "And I'm glad you stuck it out until that school-wide assembly 4 weeks ago."
"While I couldn't do much personally since I'm the class president and all; as much as I hate bullying, I can't just step in and demand someone to stop. That approach would only last so for long." Carol explained, putting another cookie in her mouth. "So," She chewed for a moment. "I informed the principal that there was an increase in bullying and harassment lately, and everything fell into place from there."
Lori squinted her eyes in thought. "So that's why we had that assembly..."
"And the teachers were being more proactive at putting an end to any bullying they saw." Carol clasped her hands together. "I just hope that eased things for you and your sisters."
Lori gave a light nod. It was rather satisfying to see Whitney actually get called out for her harassment, especially when Lori accused her and two others for defacing her locker; the look of surprise when security footage was pulled as proof made Lori feel the happiest she'd been since the fight. But it was only a marginal victory, for the main problem still slapped her in the face every time she came home.
"It helped not having someone there 24/7 to make me feel like shit." Lori admitted, her hands lowering to her lap. "At least Bobby was never a part of that..."
Carol bit her cheek. "I want to ask, and I don't mean much by it. But why did you break up with him?"
"I figured Bobby wouldn't want to be with someone who would beat up a child..." Lori stated, a longing look in her eyes. "And..." She blinked back a couple tears. "I felt it would've been for the best since I felt I had been using him..."
"Using him?" Carol questioned.
"Mmhmm..." Lori absently took the last cookie on the plate. She stared at it as she continued. "It's no secret I flaunted my relationship with Bobby around the school. At first, I had hooked up with him because..." Looking at Carol, "I was jealous of you..."
"You had everything going great for you Carol. You have a loving boyfriend, you're the class president, just about everyone wishes they were you." Carol couldn't argue with that. "With me, my family drives me up the wall half the time and I only had a small group of friends; but I could hardly compete with you since I didn't even have a boyfriend."
"I..." Carol started, shifting her gaze a little as she felt uncomfortable. "I didn't even know we were competing on anything."
"Yeah, it was a thing I started..." Lori shoved the cookie in her mouth. "Might've been a carry over from my family since we often compete over a lot of things. Back to my point," She swallowed. "Bobby probably wouldn't have been my first choice, since he is a bit dense. But he seemed like a nice guy, so I figured all I needed to do was grab his attention and it'd seal the deal." She frowned. "I didn't employ the 'best' methods to do it, but it worked. I thought it might've been a short relationship, since I didn't exactly love Bobby like I did later on; but I saw how devoted he was to me and..." Lori blushed a bit. "I was practically stuck to him like glue."
"I don't suppose you've talked to him since the break up?"
"...As much as I want to, I don't think I can face him..." Lori stated.
Carol hummed in thought. "It may have been a little shortsighted for you to break up with him immediately after what you did to your brother."
Lori looked at Carol with a deadpanned face. "What makes you think he wouldn't dump me over the phone? He practically did when my brother insulted his little sister because she picked on him."
Carol pursed her lips. "Well, when you put it like that, I guess you're right. But I thought he'd be understanding and try to help you through this. I have arguments with my boyfriend sometimes," She shrugged. "But we still make it work."
Lori didn't feel any better with that poor comparison. "I think you of all people would know that not everyone has the same type of relationship."
"Yeah, but it may help you some if you just talk to him." Carol leaned on the table. "We have like, sevens left in senior year, and it's not like you can avoid him forever."
Lori's brows drooped as her eyelids dropped halfway. "Maybe..." She looked out the window. "I can't avoid my brother forever either, even when he does piece everything together." Looking at Carol, "But what would I say to him? Or Lincoln? He might be afraid of me now, but he's been drifting more and more towards being angry about," The Loud shrugged. "Everything I guess."
Carol could only shrug. "I can't give any other advice other than just take whatever he throws at you Lori. I don't know if he'll try to hit you or anything; doubt it'd hurt you much since he's a small kid. But letting him rant and rave might help him in the long term." Carol grabbed the plate and got up from her seat, moving to put the dish in the sink. "Plus, given what you've said earlier, you gotta admit: it's been coming for a while."
Lori gripped her arms. "I'm surprised he didn't snap much sooner..."
"And for Bobby..." Carol hummed as she tried to come up with some idea. "You'll likely just have to wing it; but don't leave anything up to chance and just be honest with him."
Lori nodded, her stomach welling up with uncertainty as she hadn't a clue how she'd approach her ex.
"And with that said, we should really get started on our project." Carol thumbed to the digital clock on the oven. "Two hours is fine, but this thing is due at the end of the week."
Having spent a few hours at Carol's place, with the two working until they felt they made some decent progress on their project, Lori left for home as she knew it was close to dinner time. Sadly, her prediction came true: Lincoln acquired more information about how the argument initially started. Lori cast no blame towards Leni, as she wasn't one to lie; she was pleased to know that Lincoln managed to work up the courage to come to Leni at all. This wasn't without consequence however, seeing as Lincoln was filled with contempt towards his oldest sibling. Even now, with everyone (including Lincoln himself) at the table, anytime their gazes crossed paths, the boy would glare at her briefly before focusing on his meal.
His seating position remained the same as yesterday: sandwiched in-between Lily and Lynn while remaining a seat away from Rita.
Over time, Lori went from eating at a slow, modest pace to barely picking at her food. Her thought process was jammed on how to approach her brother when it was clear he didn't want anything to do with her. "Ok, Lincoln knows I started the argument, which eventually led to him being afraid of us...but Leni did tell him it was her idea about the 'Days ending with Y' issue. And she did tell him about her condition..." The oldest sibling prodded some of the meat on her plate with her fork, barely exerting any force as the silverware penetrated the skin so she could lift it to her mouth. "Still, I doubt Lincoln would stay upset at Leni for any reason...even that time he pretended she didn't exist only lasted for almost a week..." As she slowly chewed her food, "Maybe if I tell him everything, he might not be too upset..." Lori shook her head. "Dang it, can't do that. He might think I'm just trying to score brownie points on him..."
Lori stole a glance at her brother, who thankfully had been too busy eating to notice. He gave a side glance at Lily as she giggled whilst being fed by their mother, who was making airplane noises as she guided the spoon into the infant's mouth.
"But if I do tell him why I became a bossy sister, he might understand. I know Leni did, and maybe Lynn managed to get through to him on her own problems too. But last thing I want is to make him feel like I'm trying to force him to listen." She prodded her food again until she captured another piece and stuck it into her mouth. "I could also let him come to me whenever he's ready, like he did with Leni." Lori realized she must've been staring at him for too long, as Lincoln's gaze swung back in her direction. She quickly averted and looked back at her plate, but she noticed him glaring at her again through her peripheral. "Or...he'll never want to speak to me, even when I leave for college. And NOT talking to him might convince him I don't really care about him...I wouldn't be surprised if he brought up moments where I said something that seemed cold, but didn't realize it at the time..."
When she no longer saw that he was looking at her, Lori glanced up towards him; his brows were still furrowed in irritation as he was almost finished eating. Lori sighed to herself. "He's gonna be mad either way when I talk to him; same goes for Bobby..." Her fingers tightened a little around the fork's handle. "I need to start somewhere..." She muttered to herself.
With this in mind, Lori figured the best way she might be able to talk with Lincoln would be shortly before he went to sleep. As it stood now, he was keen on using the bathroom before any of his siblings do as to avoid confronting anyone; he already finished before the rest and excused himself from the table. All she had to do was wait and hope he calmed enough to grant her a few minutes.
And so, Lori waited.
Normally, she'd be one of the first siblings to use the bathroom to take care of evening duties. Instead, she waited until all of them went except for herself. Leni asked why, and her roommate gave a half-truth that she was tired from the day and could afford to wait. Once she had the bathroom to herself, Lori went slower than usual so she'd come out when she was certain everyone else would have retired to bed.
Although, the lukewarm water she was greeted with was a minor irritation; a price to pay in the grand scheme of things.
Once Lori was finished and now dressed in her PJs, she gingerly opened the bathroom door. Not a soul was in the hall; all of them were closed with muffled talking resonating out of the twins and Lynn and Lucy's room. The only source of light illuminating the hallway was from the bathroom.
Lori breathed in, "Here goes nothing..." She muttered, shutting the light off.
Similar to Lincoln, she avoided stepping on certain floorboards hidden under the carpet that would give an audible creak. As she approached the converted linen closet, none of the other rooms opened up.
Good. She wanted to do this task alone anyway.
Raising a hand, the oldest sibling gave a few light knocks. Lori heard a small gasp of breath on the other side, making her stomach twitch in worry. A couple footsteps were heard before the door had been pulled back ever so slightly. A head with white hair and a curious eye was visible through the opening.
That same eye narrowed its eyelids as the eyebrow curved down. "What do you want, Lori?..." Lincoln spoke evenly, but it did little to hide his true feelings.
"C-Can we talk for a minute?" Lori asked, wringing the hem of her shirt as a means of comfort.
Lincoln bit his cheek. "Lori, I've already had a 'talk' (a very long conversation) with two sisters today, and I'm not in the mood for another when I'm going to sleep soon." He started to close the door. "And you're the last person I wanna talk to..."
"Wait!" She called out, a little too loud for her liking. On instinct, she moved to stick her hand in the doorway to prevent it from closing, but stopped herself right as her fingers were an inch away. Either way, Lincoln paused in his movement. "It'll only take a few minutes, I promise."
Lincoln could've sworn that his sister would've attempted to simply barge his way into his room, like she had numerous times before while making a big fuss about him entering hers, whether by accident or if he needed something; in the latter, Lori was reluctant to help unless it was about something specific she could get behind, like girl advice. The middle child had every inclination to give some well-deserved payback for those moments; but the way she talked made it clear that she was pleading with him.
"Where have I seen that before? Oh yeah, when they needed me to help with whatever dumb activity they wanted to do and leave me shorthanded..." Lincoln thought bitterly. He stared at Lori's face, which now looked something akin to a child looking to their parent for permission after they had been yelled at previously. Giving a sigh, "Fine...but ONLY a few minutes."
The 11 year old stepped back as he pulled the door open further, letting Lori into his small space. Unsurprisingly, Lincoln was already dressed in his bed attire. The room was only illuminated by a desk lamp, which Lori saw had a few sheets of paper sitting under the circle of light. A few pencil-made pictures were visible.
"Huh. When did Lincoln start drawing?"
"Ok, you said you wanted to talk." Lincoln sat in his chair, folding his arms. "So, what is it?..."
"Weellllll..." Lori dragged out, unsure how to start. "H-How have you been?"
"Peachy." Lincoln replied in a chilly tone. "Is that all?..."
"No..." Lori replied, knowing she needed to get to the point. "I'm guessing you know how the protocol started?"
Lincoln furrowed his brows. "Gee, I wonder what gave that away." He sat up straight in the seat. "So let me ask you something Lori; or a few things actually. On the weekend that stupid protocol started, did you take Leni to the mall with you?"
"No?" Lori scratched the back of her head. "I know she wanted to go super early; like 9 in the morning. Don't get me wrong, I planned on going later, but I'm not in a rush to head there that early on a weekend." She frowned whilst gripping her shirt tighter. "I didn't think Leni had a good reason either..."
"Probably because you didn't have anything she could do for you in exchange for the ride..." Lincoln muttered.
"No, I just didn't-" Lori started.
"Did you run into Leni at any time while you were at the mall?" Lincoln asked, interrupting his older sister.
"No? I don't think-"
"And did Leni have that stupid dress on by the time you got home and showed our other sisters what you bought?..."
Lori felt a twinge of anger at being interrupted twice, but it was subdued by the sheer guilt filling her chest as Lincoln kept pouring out the questions. Tilting her head down in shame, "Yes..."
"But for some reason, you just had to be the only person in the house to own that dress? You and Leni just couldn't live with having the same clothes?" Lincoln stated, no longer hiding his repressed anger. "Heck, Leni probably had a different size than you did! So if you were worried about grabbing the wrong clothes, I'm pretty sure you'd just check the tag. And what did you buy that dress for anyway?"
"I..." Lori paused, averting her gaze. "I can't remember. I think I bought it for a date with Bobby later on, or..."
"And obviously your boyfriend is much more important than your siblings." The boy's arms dropped to his side in tight fists. "Like that time you didn't even bother apologizing when you puked on me from getting car sick, then sent a picture to him. Oh, and somehow Bobby was aware of the protocol, but no one said a word to their own brother?!" Lincoln ranted, his voice raising as he got angrier.
Lori raised her hands in a defensive position. "Lincoln, I know we messed up on that. But I didn't think things would get out of control like that."
"Of course you didn't, because you guys were too dumb to realize how dumb your system was from the start! And I'm surprised you didn't have a bigger part in planning it, considering how much of a control freak you are!" Lincoln stated, pointing an accusatory finger at her.
Lori pursed her lips. "Yes, I know I have my moments, but-"
Lincoln gave a dry chuckle. "Moments? As soon as Mom and Dad go out on a date, you go on a massive power trip. And it doesn't stop there either!" He got up from his seat. "You make all of us do your chores or homework just to give us free rides, instead of just doing it from your heart (if you still have one); you made Leni fail her driving test the ONE time she was close to passing because, you wanted to keep that kind of power over us; and because of that, you refused to drive us to school because Bobby wouldn't wear a suit you picked out! And because of that, most of us were late to school, and I had a perfectly good project ruined! And on that note, when was the last time you taught Leni how to drive?!"
Lori flinched under the accusations. In spite of being nearly three feet taller than her brother, she felt small under his glare and rants, and he wasn't yet finished with his tirade. As far as her driving lessons with Leni, she knew the answer for that (and Lincoln should too); she wasn't allowed to use the van for that purpose unless one of their parents were present, given how Leni crashed it into a neighbor's pool last time. For his part, Lincoln had tried to keep his rage under control, but confirming what he believed to have happened over the dress started making everything spill out before he could even stop himself; and he wasn't sure if he wanted to stop.
"You still got an A after we helped though..." The teen pointed out in a whisper.
"That's BESIDES the point Lori! And it was an A- thanks to Luan..." The young boy growled. "I'll get to her later, but with you Lori? I don't know what caused you to act like...like you hardly care about us other just being tools for you to use; especially me." He started counting on his fingers. "You made me act as a footstool just so I can get a ride to the comic store; you and the rest of our sisters couldn't just let me decide on my own where we wanted to go for the weekend that one time; none of you felt I could have some peace and quiet to read without getting interrupted, and decided to prank me so I could 'learn something about not ignoring siblings', yet you do a great job of doing that a lot given how you're constantly glued to your phone; you burst into my room whenever you want, but kick me out of your room (which is ALSO Leni's room) if I as so much put one foot in; and you guys have the nerve to take my room for your stupid protocol?!"
Lori didn't say anything, heeding Carol's advice to let him drain his anger; though she hoped he'd stop soon. A quick glance back reminded her that his door was still open, letting his loud voice spill into the hall.
"And for that matter, you always act like I'll ruin something whenever I put a plan in motion. I'm sure you remember Mom and Dad's last anniversary? Or the grocery store incident? Or when the toilet got clogged and I said I didn't do it? Or the chocolate I was GOING to bake into pies for a school project?..." Lincoln glared coldly at her, making Lori shift uncomfortably. "Actually, for your information, my plans do work well; not all the time, but most of the time. They just fail because my sisters keep ruining it, especially if it's something I wanted to get on my own!" He folded his arms again. "It's not my fault you guys are slow thinkers..."
Lori's eye twitched a little. She shouldn't have felt upset, as it was true, but it still felt rather irritating to be given a euphemism for 'stupid'.
The eldest sibling sighed. "Lincoln..."
"And now that I think about it," Lincoln continued, ignoring her almost entirely. "I'm pretty sure your control freakiness was a part of your relationship with Bobby. It seemed a little weird how easily he gave in to whatever you wanted."
Lori furrowed her brows, knowing that wasn't true. "Lincoln..."
"And you did obsess over him given how you often ignored how the rest of us felt, while you would spent all day texting him. Or use a ton of devices with screens to talk to each other when your phone was good enough! You hardly even cared that maybe I like Bobby as an older brother and just wanted to hang with him; but instead, you drag Clyde into it and try to 'steal' Bobby back after only a few days! It's like no one is allowed to be near him besides you, how selfish is that?!" Lincoln railed on. "At least, until my tutor came along and you started obsessing over him; and you didn't even care that I could've failed 5th grade when you (and the rest of my sisters and Dad) chased him off! And I don't even know what Bobby would've thought hearing that you almost cheated on him."
Lori narrowed her eyes as her hands began to turn into fists. "Lincoln..."
"If you were going to do that, I might've just held my ground and not go on that double date just so you two could get back together. I mean, how was I supposed to know Ronnie Anne was his sister? She did pull a couple pranks on me that week. If he had a problem with it, he could've told me instead of you dragging me to do something I didn't want to do, again..." Lincoln rambled on. "In fact, Ronnie Anne told me about how you guys got together." He narrowed his eyes at his oldest sibling, seemingly unfazed by the stink eye and tight-lipped face he was getting. "Knowing how dense Bobby can be, and knowing about that rivalry you have with Carol, I'm starting to think you got together with him, just so you can-NGH!"
Lori tried to keep herself calm. She tried to endure it, as much as it hurt to hear the truth. Most of what Lincoln said had been true about her controlling nature, how her actions had consequences (even when she wasn't the primary cause of the problem in some of those incidents). He was even right (though he didn't know it) about her initial reasoning for hooking up with Bobby. But when he started to insinuate that she never really liked him and was just a means to an end in the same way Lincoln was implying with their family, a nerve broke inside her.
The fact Lincoln kept going on and on about it wasn't helping either, as she felt her anger reach a tipping point. Wanting to shut him up, Lori grabbed him by the collar of his shirt and hoisted him up to her eye level.
"Listen here twerp." Lori spoke in a quiet, yet caustic tone. "I loved Bobby with my heart and soul, and the same goes for my family; I just loved him in a different way! That's why I had to break up with him for not only his sake, but because I fucked up my relationship with you, and I want to fix it! You're no angel either, but don't you dare assume I've cared about nothing but myself since I was born! Yes, I admit that I've used my post as the oldest sibling to do crappy things, but I already realized that and want to do better for you and my sisters! And don't you dare lie to me and say you didn't enjoy hooking up with Ronnie Anne!" The oldest sibling finished, breathing loudly through her nose when she finished.
A second later, her anger suddenly disappeared upon realizing what she was doing. She still had Lincoln in her grip, his feet swinging futilely in the air as they tried to find solid ground. Any hints of rage had been lost as Lincoln stared at her in shock and terror; his pupils were shrunken down as tears appeared on the corners of her eyes. His breathing was uneven as he gripped the part of his shirt clutched in her hand; listening closely, Lori could hear faint whimpering emitting from his throat.
Slowly, Lori lowered him until his feet were back on the ground, then released his shirt. No sooner than she did, Lincoln stepped backwards. Unfortunately, his body was uncoordinated as his legs felt wobbly, making him fall to his butt only after a couple steps.
"Lincoln..." Lori started. "I...I didn't mean to-"
"P-Please..." Lincoln spoke in a broken voice, scooting away from her. "L-Leave me alone..." He moved onto his knees and crawled behind his chair, trying to use it as a makeshift barrier.
Lori dared a step closer. "Lincoln..."
"J-Just go away!..." The boy squeaked out. A shaky sniffle echoed around the room.
Knowing she blew her chance, Lori's arms fell to her sides. She probably ruined whatever progress Lincoln was making in approaching his sisters on his own; her stomach twisted at the idea of being the one to cause Lincoln to even consider moving back to the McBrides. Still, she wanted Lincoln to at least know why she's been as selfish as they both knew her to act. It might even salvage whatever bonds might have been getting fixed.
"...You're probably not gonna believe me if I tell you...but I changed into how you see me as because..." Lori pursed her lips. "I just broke under the pressure of having to take care of everyone for so long; you saw how hard it was when you guys locked me in my room for one night. I still remember the times we played at the park, when I fed you your first ice cream, and when we used to play video games together. You might not believe it, but I even introduced you to comics..."
"We played video games?...And she used to read comics?..." Lincoln thought to himself.
"But when middle school started, I wasn't very popular and had been targeted because of my looks." Lori continued, lightly brushing some of her hair with a hand. "And on top of having to babysit for a constantly growing family, I...I just couldn't take it anymore..." Lori gripped her sleeves. "I ended putting my social status above my siblings, pushed you guys away, grew stricter...and you were right, I did initially hook up with Bobby just so I could say I have a boyfriend..."
Lincoln grew wide-eyed as he wiped away a tear. He had been saying many things in his rant, but didn't actually think that part was really true.
"But over time, I did grow to actually liking him, and got obsessive about it..." Lori continued. "But you have every reason to be mad at me. It's my fault the protocol started, my fault you got prompted to help despite being told not to, my fault it led to you..." She paused, choosing her next words wisely. "Getting badly beaten up...and everything up to now..." She started to back out of the room. "I literally am the worst sister ever..."
Lori didn't say more as she turned heel and walked out. Lincoln stayed in his position until Lori opened the door to her room and walked in; only then did he move to close his door. When he did, he noticed a few pairs of eyes staring at him through cracked doorways. Lincoln decided to try and ignore that as he closed his door. The boy then slumped to the floor, pulling his knees to his chest as he sat their in silence.
That 'talk' was a perfect reminder as to why he was cautious about speaking with his older sisters. Lori took him by surprise and had a perfect opportunity to slam him into the floor; he was surprised she only chided him on his words and let him go. At the same time, she admitted why she became so selfish and, honestly, a bit of a bitch. Recalling the time he ruled the house in the coup against Lori, his other siblings didn't listen to him after the Queen of No was dealt with.
Maybe Lori had tried to be reasonable back then, but the constant disrespect forced her into a position she didn't want to do. But what of the other selfish moments? Maybe she just felt she couldn't relax and had to be controlling or something bad would happen?
Lincoln lifted his head, looking at the clock on his nightstand; it was almost midnight. Sighing, he stood up and turned off his desk lamp. He considered whether he should block his door with his chair again, but his mind felt too numb to make a decision. The boy fell face first onto his bed a moment later.
When Lori got to her room, she wasn't all that surprised to find Leni next to the door; Lincoln's shouting would've woken up Mr. Grouse had he been any louder. Trudging past her roommate, Lori flipped face first onto her bed.
"Lori..." The fashionista asked in concern. "What did you do?"
Lori knew she made a mistake. She should've taken no for an answer and try another time, but she pressed the issue and got a tongue-lashing she evidently couldn't handle. Now, she doubted Lincoln would trust her at all. The only positive part was she managed lay out the truth for him to hear, but she broke the unspoken rule of physically confronting their brother.
The eldest sibling's only reply before a restless sleep claimed her was, "I screwed up..."
A/N: With that, we have a possible setback. What I wanted to remind everyone here is that while Lincoln may have been shifted towards a more angry attitude, he's still very much afraid of getting into another confrontation with any of his sisters. It also verifies his reasoning about keeping his anger towards them bottled up out of fear of provoking them.
There may also be some questions about how long Lori and Bobby have been in a relationship. When Undie Pressure premiered, it was mentioned that the two had been celebrating a 'six week anniversary', implying they only hooked up a month and 2 weeks prior; since it was raining but not freezing I assume it was during the spring. And where this story takes place, which is like August-September timeframe, they've been together for about half a year. I could easily be wrong on this as Loud House doesn't give hints about what time of the year episodes take place unless it's really obvious; or the lack of a time frame since it's only been recent that the show moved everyone up a grade.