Hi. This is a short, comfy story between Leni and Lincoln. Don't expect too much. For those that are still waiting for the next chapter of Requiem for a Loud, I'm deeply sorry. I feel like crap for not being able to get that chapter done. I'm going through a lot, and this story kinda just served me to get over my writer's block a little. I'll try to have it done as soon as I can. Again, I'm sorry.
The one that recognizes the reference in the title gets a free virtual hug.
Disclaimer: The Loud House doesn't belong to me, it's property of Chris Savino, Nickelodeon and Viacom.
Leni turned off the sewing machine and lifted her brand new dress to appreciate her work. A bright, powerful red dress that she would use later that night to attend to Britney's Halloween party with Lori, Becky and the rest of her friends. She wanted to dress as a flamingo, like last Halloween, but Lori had told her that this would be a high school party and that they had to look cute, not scary or dumb.
Special occasions like that deserved a special attire, and when you had a tight budget to live with and you couldn't really afford expensive new clothes, it was always a good thing to be a wannabe fashion designer with great talent to make simple, yet elegant clothes in a short amount of time. The oversaturated red of the fabric would be too much for any other day, but since it was Halloween, it resembled blood so well that it was perfect.
As Lori usually said, Leni wasn't the sharpest tool in the shed —well, duh! She was a girl, not a hammer!—, but she knew her fashion like no one else.
Speaking of her older sister, their bedroom door opened and the blonde girl walked in, her eyes fixed on her phone's screen.
"Lori! You gotta see this!" Leni excitedly said, grabbing her new dress by the neck and quickly running right in front of Lori, presenting her the beautiful piece of clothing with a happy "Ta-daa!"
Lori closed her eyes before apathetically looking up. When she saw what Leni was showing her, though, her pupils became hearts and she opened up her mouth.
"O M Gosh!" She said, tossing her phone onto her bed without even looking at it as her hands grabbed the fabric. "Leni, this is literally the cutest thing I've ever seen!"
"You're definitely gonna be the best looking girl in the party, as always."
That made Leni extremely happy. She really wanted to stand out this time. It was a special occasion, and she knew she needed to look her best.
"Oh, stop it you!" She said, her smile as bright as always, flattered by her older sister's words. "I'm, like, really excited about this. You think I'm gonna be okay there?"
"Of course you will, dummy", Lori said, leaving the dress aside and wrapping her right arm around Leni's shoulders, using her other hand to playfully poke her little sister's cheeks. "I promise I'll be with you the whole time to make sure everything's alright."
Lori's words reassured Leni. This was actually one of her first real grown-up parties. She loved sleepovers and hanging out with her friends, but her parents would never allow her to go to actual parties. Apparently, they didn't like the idea of her being unsupervised around boys, for whatever reason. It was thanks to Lori that they were able to convince them to finally let her attend Britney's party. She could always count with Lori to take care of her and make sure that she wouldn't do anything too dumb.
"Thank you," she told her.
"No problem. You should probably go and take a bath. I'll talk with Luna to make sure that she'll stay here to take care of everyone while we're gone and then I'll go get some last minute shopping. Be ready for when I'm back, alright?"
Lori left the room and Leni took out her phone to look at the time. Three pm. The party started at eight. So she had... something like ten hours and eighty-three minutes to get ready, right? But if Lori told her to take a bath, she should probably do it as soon as possible. Even she knew the importance of taking a bath whenever the bathroom was free. She grabbed her towel, some of the hair product she and Lori had to keep safe in their room to keep the rest of the girls from using, and she started to look for her loofah.
As hard as she looked for, though, she couldn't seem to find it. Well, she'd have to ask for someone's loofah, as eww-y as that would be. Lana and Lynn were definitely out of question. Their loofahs would not be clean enough for Leni's taste. Luan would probably put a fake spider inside of it just to prank her. And Lola would ask for a favor in return. Who could she ask?
She left her room and walked into the hallway just in time to find her answer.
"Ha! Guys, check this out!" Lynn said from the door frame of her room, dressed as a pirate and pointing her hook at the stairs with an evil, yet amused grin. Everyone quickly peeked their heads out of their rooms, just in time to see Lincoln emerging from downstairs.
The effect was immediate: as soon as they all saw him wearing his Ace Savvy costume, they all started to laugh. Even Leni found the silly outfit hilarious. A blue washcloth as a cape, rain boots and his underwear on the outside? Lincoln definitely had no sense of fashion whatsoever. It was cute in its own way, though.
"What's wrong, Captain Underpants? I thought you'd be meeting with Clyde so you could be embarrassed together!" Lola said from her room, her mischievous smile contrasting with her pure angel costume.
Lincoln glared at her before going inside his own room, ignoring how everyone was laughing at him. After he was out of sight, everyone returned to their own rooms to finish the preparations for that very special night. It took Leni a couple of minutes to remember what she was supposed to do, and that's when she realized: Lincoln was almost as hygienic as her, his loofah would be okay to use! She walked to his bedroom door and knocked it twice before entering.
"Heeeeey, Linky!" She said, with a big smile, since she knew that the key to getting Lincoln to do something for one of his sisters was to have a charming smile, puppy eyes and to-
Wait. Why was Lincoln laying on his bed, his face pressed against his pillow? That seemed like a very uncomfortable way to take a nap.
"Linky?" She asked, leaving everything that she carried in her arms on her brother's desk. She sat on the bed next to him and rested a hand on his back. "Are you alright?"
He said something, but it was muffled by the pillow.
Realizing that, Lincoln moved his head to the side. Did he look kinda sad?
"I said yeah, I'm alright."
His voice certainly didn't convey that.
"Are you sure?" She asked again, now starting to get a bit worried. "Why aren't you with Clyde? I thought you were going to start trick or treating early this year."
His face wasn't pressed against the pillow, but his answer was so mumbled that she couldn't understand him.
"What did you say?"
"I said I'm not going out this time!" He snapped back, his arm undoing the knot of his washcloth —his cape— and tossing it to the other side of the room. "I'm staying home."
"Oh, but you were totes excited about this!" She said, not believing what she heard. "You were talking about this for, like, a month!"
"Now I don't want to do it, okay?"
"'Cause... because I look stupid."
His tone gave it away. Even Leni could see it now. He was bummed out because of his outfit. Were they too harsh on him? She thought it was just some good-natured banter, an old fashion Loud siblings teasing. He definitely knew about this, right? But then she thought, what if her sisters and Lincoln started to say that her dress looked bad and that her nails were off?
"Oh, God!" She screamed, the horror of what they had done finally weighing down on her. "I'm sorry, Linky! We didn't mean that! I think you look totes adorable, you're like the cutest kid I've seen when you wear that outfit!" She told him, quickly pulling him in for a hug.
"I know you were just messing with me", he told her, ending the hug just as quick as it had begun, laying down on his bed once again. "But you were right. I was just going to Clyde's house and I ran into some older kids and..."
He didn't finish the sentence, but being a sixteen years old girl Leni knew how mean people could be when making fun of someone else's clothes or outfits. She had been on the receiving end many times, sometimes just by some girls that wanted nothing more than making her feel bad. And she saw herself in her brother. That hurt expression, those sad, bright-less eyes, how his arms wrapped themselves around him to try and cheer himself up.
She started to think. What could she do to make him feel better? Because there was no way she was going to stay there with her arms crossed, doing nothing as her little brother felt miserable.
"Lincoln, they were just jealous because you looked—"
"Leni, just... stop" he interrupted her. "You don't need to lie. I know I look silly. They had these awesome costumes, one of them was dressed as a soldier and he looked so legit! They were awesome and I just—"
He let out a long sigh that hurt Leni deep in her heart.
"My costume is stupid. A washcloth? I can't believe I was actually going to go on the street dressed like that" he finally said, shaking his head.
"But... you were so happy and proud about it!"
"Yeah, because I thought I was really smart by using stuff I had in here to make one. I didn't realize it was so... so... terrible."
"Linky, don't let them—"
"Leni, just... It's okay. Thanks for trying, but I just want to stay here tonight", he said, taking out his rain boots and lying on the bed once again.
This was bad. Like, really bad. She couldn't remember seeing Lincoln so... hurt. So unmotivated. This wasn't her brother, that cute little boy that was always happy and had the energy to do anything. It was almost painful to see him like this, especially since he was basically giving up one of his all-time favorite holidays. He had been talking about his plan to get several bags worth of candy along with Clyde.
She wanted to tell him that the costume wasn't important, that looks weren't anything. But she felt like that would be like lying, since she cared a LOT about looks, and she didn't want to lie to Lincoln. How could she tell him not to worry about what other people think of him when she had spent a couple of hours finishing a dress to impress everyone else? They had that much in common, Lincoln and Leni, they both had tried to make their own clothes for that day. Unfortunately, he wasn't as crafted as she was when it came to—
It suddenly clicked for Leni. That was it!
She stood up, grabbed her things and left her brother's room. She didn't say goodbye, and he didn't seem to care. She rushed to her own bedroom, barely dodging a pie thrown by a Luan. Once she was there, she went to her wardrobe and grabbed all her supplies. She had different pieces of fabric of all colors, textures, and sizes. She couldn't really remember what Ace Savvy actually looked like, so she had to Google an image of him on her phone. He had this bright red onesie with some darker areas and an Ace of Spades on the chest, a black mask, some wristbands, a yellow belt and a blue cape. It was... it was actually something really easy to do! At least for her.
Lincoln should have totally just asked her to make it in the first place!
She selected the fabrics. That navy blue would totes be seen even during the night, and it would really make his eyes pop, which he would need since he was going to be wearing a black mask. She found she actually had a yellow leather belt, and some good accessories she could use for the wristbands! Some black fabric for the mask and the ace of spades. Perfect! She had almost everything, except for...
Oh. The red. She had used it all to finish her dress. That beautiful, electric red dress that would guarantee a success on her first grown-up party with Lori. Being a quite long piece, there was barely any red left, and even though Lincoln was a fairly small kid, the amount of red fabric she had was not gonna be nearly enough to make him a good costume.
Her downcast eyes showed how disappointed she felt right then. For a second, she thought she had found the solution to Lincoln's problem. She almost never had good ideas, she knew she messed up more than she did things right, so when she felt like she could actually do something about her brother's situation, she felt absolutely proud of herself. She was the kind of girl that would give it all just to see her family happy. She couldn't stand seeing them sad, especially not her little brother.
And now she felt like she couldn't do anything to help him.
...or could she?
The third time Leni walked inside his room, Lincoln actually felt a little annoyed.
The first one she was just going to ask him something and had found out about what had happened with those mean kids. She didn't know he wanted to be alone, so he didn't blame her, it was all good. Then she had come back ten minutes later, just as he was taking his stupid handmade costume off to read some comics —and after seeing a couple of panels with Ace Savvy in them he realized that for God's sake, he had been SO STUPID to think that his costume was cool!
He was taking his pants off when Leni walked in on him. Again, he didn't care much. His sisters had seen him in his underwear since he was born, no big deal. She asked him to go to her room, but when he slowly explained to her that he wanted to be alone, she just grabbed his costume from the floor and left. Lori must have tricked her into doing the laundry again so she could text Bobby a little longer or get ready for her party.
But now that she entered his room for the third time, even if it was three hours later, he started to feel a little annoyed. Not even Lynn had walked in more than once after he told her he was not in the mood to play "Pirate Wrestling" or whatever she wanted to do. She had insisted, of course, but after seeing his face, realizing he was definitely not okay, and getting a blank response after asking him if he needed something, she didn't bother him again.
"Linky, come with me!" She asked him, completely ignoring the fact that he was trying hard to concentrate on his comic books.
Cheerful and ignorant as ever.
"Leni, look, I'm just trying to read a comic book, alright? I appreciate what you're trying to do but—"
"Linky, please! I have something to show you! Please, please, pretty please with a cherry on top?"
There it was. Puppy eyes. Leni's puppy eyes. All his stubbornness and bad mood suddenly faded away. She KNEW he couldn't say no to that face. She knew it. And dang it, she was absolutely right.
"Okay", he said, closing his eyes, putting down his comic and accepting his defeat. "Let me just toss on some clothes."
"No need to!" Leni told him, quickly grabbing him by his wrist and pulling him out of his room.
"Hey!" He complained as she dragged him through the hallway and into her room. Once they were there, she let go of his wrist and walked next to her small sized mannequin, which was covered with a blue fabric. Did she want fashion advice again?
"Leni, what gives? You could've just—"
She completely silenced him when she turned the mannequin around and he could see what it was. There were no words to describe what he felt at the moment. He childishly rubbed his eyes with his hands, trying to make sure that they were working alright and that it wasn't just his imagination playing games at him. It was the most accurate, incredible, realistic and totally awesome Ace Savvy costume he had ever seen in his short life. Every little detail was there. He'd seen real cosplayers going to conventions, but not even the most professional of them came even close to a result like what he was staring at. Or at least that's how he felt.
He ran to it and touched the costume. It was... it was real.
"Leni! This... This is— I mean, is this for...? Did you...?" His excitement wouldn't let him finish a simple sentence. He was... his head almost felt light. He couldn't believe it yet.
"It's that superhero's costume!" She explained, taking it out of her mannequin and handing it to him. "Try it out!"
Pfft, like she even had to ask! He snapped the costume out of her hands and he put it on himself like he wanted to outspeed Captain Yahtzee and his Dice Attack, the fastest move of the planet. He wasn't even aware of Leni's warm smile or her cheerful eyes, watching him struggle with the zipper on his back, adjusting his cape and putting on the wristbands.
When he was done with the boots, Leni opened up her closet so he could see himself in the body-length mirror. He wasted no time standing in front of it, marveling at every angle of his new costume.
"So?" She asked. "Do you like it?"
"LIKE it?" He said, turning around and looking at his sister in the eyes. His smile was so wide it took up most of his face. "Leni, this is the BEST. COSTUME. EVER!"
He was so excited he couldn't help himself. He started to run around the room, jumping over the bed, punching the air like he was fighting some ninjas, covering himself with his cape like someone had just thrown a smoke bomb at him, even jumping backward and falling on the bed like they had landed a powerful hit on him. He could listen to Leni's chuckles, but he didn't care if he looked silly. He felt like he was the real Ace Savvy!
After five more minutes of playing pretend, he jumped from the bed to the floor and ran all the way into Leni's arms, embracing her tight enough for him to let her know that he loved her and that he was happy like he hadn't been in a long time, but trying not to squeeze her too much. He felt her wrapping her arms around him.
"Leni, I'm so, so, so, so, so sorry!" He told her, the pain tangible through his voice. "I treated you really bad, and you did it for me, and I just..."
"Aw, don't worry Linky! Anything for my baby brother!" She said, and after saying so, she softly let go of the embrace and got on her knees, to be eye-level with him. "I just didn't want to see you sad! You looked, like, totally bummed out."
"Yeah... Sorry about that."
"L O L, stop saying you're sorry", she told him after giggling. "Just, like, promise me you'll go out and have fun with Clyde, okay?"
He nodded furiously before pulling her into a new hug.
"I'll make sure to get a lot of extra candy just for you!" He promised to her. "We'll be drowning in chocolate for a whole week!"
"Isn't that, like, dangerous?" She asked, suddenly worried.
He laughed it off and, after thanking her for the tenth time, he quickly left the room, going to his own to tell Clyde that Operation Going-To-The-Best-Neighborhoods-To-Improve-Our-Chances-Of-Getting-Maximum-Candy-And-Also-Think-Of-A-Shorter-Name-For-This-Operation was a go once again.
Leni was left alone in her room.
She looked at the red strips of fabric that had remained on the floor. Those were the only things that were left of her dress. She grabbed them and stared at them, feeling a bit sad. She would have to go with a boring, plain dress for tonight's party with Lori. She was probably not going to stand out as much as the rest of the girls. And that made her feel bad.
But then she heard some screaming outside and sneaked a peek on the window. Pirate Lynn and Werewolf Lana were chasing down Lincoln, who ran with his blue cape extended, pretending that he was flying. He managed to dodge Lana when she jumped on him, but Lynn was too quick and jumped on his back. Lana then wrapped herself around his right leg, and the poor boy tried his best to escape them.
Even though she was one story above, she could see his smile and his happy face, and she could listen to his laughs.
Maybe she wasn't going to be the most beautiful girl at the party. Maybe she wouldn't stand out from the rest, but if her little Linky was happy, then it was all worth it.
The only thing that worried her was that thing Lincoln said about drowning in chocolate.
She didn't know how to swim.