A Brand New Day
Two months passed by since the trial ended and life in Royal Woods slowly fell back into the status quo. The kids went back to their classes, their parents continued their work in their respective homes/businesses and ol' Mr. Grouse was still yelling at passersby to stay off his property. But while everything appeared to be normal, at first glance; something felt slightly...different in the air.
Within one particular neighborhood of Royal Woods, this was especially so. There were no air horns going off, no explosions, no whoopee cushion noises spluttering, no sports gear crashing through the windows and no sounds of loud bickering. Now, you may be asking why things have suddenly become so calm in the neighborhood.
Well, this newfound tranquility was all thanks in part to the end result of the aforementioned trial. Once the law had won in Lincoln's favor, the court and the townspeople of Royal Woods worked quickly to put the conditions of the Loud Family's sentence into affect. To start with, both Rita and Lynn Sr. were given permission to go back to work again.
However; as ordered by Judge Snapper, the both of them would perform their work while under mild police surveillance (as part of their probation.) It was also later recommended that a few times a week, the Loud Parents would attend parenting classes as well (until the court officially declared them stable parents.) Naturally, they stood against this idea; proclaiming that they already knew what parenting was.
Upon hearing this, though; people like Judge Snapper or Officer Schoffner seemed to only scoff. This seemed to be their way of saying "if you did know how to behave like a parent, how did you end up in court for negligence?" Before either of them could offer up a rebuttal, another officer unceremoniously loaded the Loud Parents inside her car and drove them away.
In the meantime, the house was left under the watch of the family's new caretakers; Officers Higgins, Simmons and Campos. While they weren't strict or tightfisted women, these trio made absolutely sure that the Loud Sisters would fall in line and behave appropriately. They allowed Luna to play her music, Lana was still given permission to roll in the mud, Lola still had her tea parties and even Luan cracked a few small jokes every now and again.
But due to the court order, the officers made some minor changes to the house's usual business. Luna could still play music, so long as it didn't short out the town's power or cause too much noise for the neighborhood. Lana still rolled around in the mud and played with the pets. But of all the ones that were specifically hers, Lana was only allowed to keep four of them; Hopps the Frog, El Diablo the Snake, Izzy the Lizard and Bitey the Rat.
Unfortunately for Lana...all the other animals she had somehow managed to keep up in her room were either taken away to live in the wild, sent off to the local shelters, put into captivity at the local zoo or were sent away to be raised on Liam's farm; which was actually not too far from their house. One day, after seeing her pet pig being escorted off the property; Lana vowed to visit her as often as she could, in the future. For Luan; the three officers made sure that she would ease up on her usage of puns, wouldn't revert back to her former pranking ways and later asked the bank to reopen Funny Business; after they told them about her situation, of course.
From that point on; the court vowed that in order to reduce risk of being shut down again, they would never again give Luan access to any of her usual "Prankpoclolypse" gear. Anything inside that was bigger or more bombastic than simple gag props for her entertainment gigs (joy buzzers, fake limbs, glass eyes etc.) were all removed from the premises. Anything else that was also too grand in scale was now strictly prohibited by order of both Judge Snapper and Mayor Davis down at City Hall.
However, like a struggling drug addict did with trying to quit their cravings; there were a few moments where Luan suffered severe "Pranking Relapses" (as she chose to call it.) On one such occasion, the three policewomen were momentary called outside of the house to answer a call from the station; which left Lori in charge for the next hour or so. Once the officers had left the house, Luan went nuts; mumbling to herself "I've gotta pull just one prank...just one! Then, I'm done for good!"
With that said, Luan went into work on creating a simple yet still effective prank for the officers; the old bucket of water on the doorway prank. This didn't go unnoticed by the rest of her sisters, however; especially Lori. As she watched her younger sister fill up a bucket while giggling madly, Lori quickly leapt into action.
"Luan, are you literally out of your mind" she hissed in a whispering voice, making certain they didn't wake up Lily or alert anyone listening on their ankle monitors; "do you want to get us into more trouble?!" Alas, the elder sister's words seemed like white noise to the prankster's ears; who clutched at her water bucket protectively. "C'mon, Lori...just one tiny prank" she murmured while giggling frantically, "I just gotta do one and who better to prank than those three pigs?!"
Everyone suddenly tensed up, the moment the "P" word passed Luan's lips. From her mannerisms, her fits of mad giggling and the crazed look in her eyes; everyone could tell that Luan was on the verge of having a breakdown. They only wished she had a different target in mind, when it came to indulging in a small prank like this.
"Sigh! Get it through your head, you mad clown" Lucy said in a hushed tone, "even if this so-called 'joke' of yours ends successfully, it will only get us into more trouble!" Now, this is where Luan actually started to feel conflicted; believe it or not. Deep in her mind, she knew full well that her little sister was telling her the truth.
If she or any of them made one slip-up; there would certainly be some severe consequences, afterwards. But at the same time...she just couldn't hold it in for much longer! After several weeks without anything bigger than a joy buzzer handshake prank or a whoopee cushion on a chair, Luan felt like she needed some "serious comedy relief."
"I'm going to put this bucket on the door and that is that" she said in a crazed voice, "you're all welcome to stop me...if you can!" Taking this as a challenge to her (temporary) authority, Lori quickly leapt at Luan and tried to pry the bucket out of her arms. Meanwhile, the rest of the Loud Sisters were desperately trying to get them to calm down...but to no avail.
Then, at that moment; Charles suddenly woke up from his slumber and started barking happily at the door. For the girls, this meant that his sensitive canine ears might've heard someone's vehicle pull in; which meant that the officers must be returning. "Ah, dang it; the fuzz is back" Lola thought worriedly, "we've gotta stop this fight or we're sunk!"
With that in mind, the young (former) pageant princess did anything and everything possible to stop her elder sisters from fighting; all while also trying not to wake Lily up. Unfortunately, neither Lori nor Luan seemed to listen to her...and she always hated being ignored. Finally, the doorknob started turning slightly; which made the other Loud Sisters even more nervous.
"Girls, please; you have to stop" Leni begged, "somebody's coming in!" Alas, much like with Lola; her voice went unheard by the others as well. Finally, as the door slowly started to crack open; Lola was at the end of her rope.
With her fists clenched at her sides and her face scarlet with rage, she opened her mouth and shouted "QUIET" as loud as her lungs would allow. As expected, this loud outburst not only stirred lil' Lily from her nap; causing her to wail loudly. But these combined noises (somehow) managed to shock Lori and Luan out of their fight.
Unfortunately; when the two aforementioned ladies stopped quarreling over the bucket, it suddenly flew out of their hands and up into the air. This slip caused everyone to gaze upward in fear, as the bucket headed straight for the door. Then, as it started to open up; Lola and Lori started screaming "NOOO" in slow-motion, while Luan simply cackled like a mad woman.
Everyone watched in horror, as the bucket fell on top of Officer Simmons' head; spilling its contents on both herself and her partners with a mighty "splash." Once the "prank" was finished, Luan fell backwards and started rolling about on the floor with crazed laughter; all while tears of joy poured out from her eyes. Of course, all this noise seemed to make Lily cry even harder with displeasure; much to the other Loud Sisters' dismay.
In an attempt to save themselves, Lori and Lola rushed over to Lily and tried their best to calm her down...but to know avail. Meanwhile, after Simmons threw the bucket off her head and onto the floor; she gave the girls the fiercest of glares. For a while, no one dared to speak a word; fearing that doing so would only make things worse.
Finally, the three officers all murmured three simple words in unison; "who...did...this?" When no one chose to speak up, they became even more irritated and asked in a much more demanding tone; "WHO DID THIS?!" In that moment, the remaining Loud Sisters all silently pointed towards the other room; where both Lori and Lola were seen trying to wring Luan's neck.
"You three, in here...now" demanded Officer Campos, "don't make me tell you twice!" Upon hearing her stern voice, the three ladies ceased their bout and stood before the officers. Then, Simmons demanded to know whose idea it was to dump water on the three of them.
Without missing a beat, Lola immediately pinned the blame on Luan; proclaiming that the rest of them were just trying to relax in peace in the living room before she snapped. "Hey, the court said I could do one prank a day...I was desperate for relief" the young prankster said defensively, "besides, putting a bucket on the doorway isn't that extreme of a prank." Much to the girls' surprise, Officer Simmons smiled at them and said Luan was absolutely right with her defense.
"The 'bucket on the doorway' prank does qualify as one of the 'simple gags' the court approved of" she stated, "however...you are not, under any circumstances, allowed to use it or any small pranks on the three of us!" As the three officers loomed over them, it was in that moment the girls knew...they were in deep trouble.
Sometime later; Lori, Luan and Lola were dropped off downtown for another class in Sensitivity Training. After Luan's water bucket stunt and disturbing their youngest sister's sleep, Officer Higgins told the instructor to not dismiss them until they've all performed each of their lessons successfully. Upon taking their seats, the three girls suddenly spotted Lisa and Lynn among their classmates.
"Hey, what are you two doing in here" murmured Lola inquisitively, "I thought your classes didn't start until Friday." At that moment; the class' instructor, a young woman dressed in hippie attire, said that Lisa was sent in early due to an..."incident" at school. "I still do not understand what I did wrong" the wee genius murmured, "all I did was inform Cheryl that she made a number of grammatical errors, while performing morning announcements."
In response, the instructor clarified in saying that Lisa acted rather...viciously; while telling Ms. Cheryl about her errors. "You people don't understand" Lisa grumbled, "she was mispronouncing words that even my baby sister could say correctly...and most of the time, all she can say is 'poo-poo!'" The whole time she ranted; Lori, Luan, Lola and the rest of the class couldn't help but think that their sister belonged in here.
Afterwards, Luan turned towards Lynn and asked why she was there so early. "Got into a bit of a tussle at school today" she muttered, "some jerk said he saw me cryin' on TV when the trial was going on and said I wasn't as tough as I claimed to be." Lori hissed worriedly through her teeth and asked what happened afterwards? "I gave the punk a little Indian Rope Burn" Lynn replied, "but I...may have overdone it a little."
The instructor shook her head slightly and said that by the time Lynn decided to stop, the "poor boy's" arm looked like it had been set on fire. "You all have to stop doing all this" she said calmly yet firmly, "if some of you want to attend graduation or even earn back the trust of the townsfolk, you need to change your attitudes." The five Loud Sisters simply sat in their chairs, slumped over and bitterly grumbled to themselves; feeling like all this would be pointless.
Upon seeing the looks on their faces, the instructor felt the time had come for a visit from her "partner." "Neko-chan, could you come in here for a minute" she called out towards the hallway, "there are some ladies in here who are in need of a hug." A moment later, the girls' eyes widened in shock; as a figure dressed in a fluffy cat mascot costume entered the room.
The character looked like something out of a freaky kid's show; with its oversized arms, big "anime" eyes and freakishly child-like voice. Admittedly, when she first met this character; Lola was overjoyed by Neko-chan's presence. But then, it was revealed that she would be present not just during their sensitivity training classes...but also during Anger Management.
While there; should the girls or anyone in class act up inappropriately, Neko-chan would hug them tight until they would let out their anger appropriately or agree to behave. Now, you might think that the likes of Lynn wouldn't allow this thing to get that close to her...and you'd be right. During her first few classes; once or twice, Lynn attempted to fight off Neko-chan whenever she tried to hug her.
But the instructor, all while keeping her usual sweet persona, warned Lynn that if she and her sisters didn't follow the rules; then, she would have no choice but to notify the police. "Should that happen, another day will be added to your sentence" she said softly, "which means you'll get to spend even more time with me...doesn't that sound nice?" While at first, she was prepared to challenge the instructor on her threat; something about her smile told her that she wasn't joking.
So, in the end; the girls had no choice but to swallow their pride and take the hugs. In the end, it all felt as they expected; super soft and yet...super awkward at the same time. But as hard as Sensitivity Training was, the girls didn't do any better during Anger Management Class either; especially when the instructor broke out the big guns...insults.
He insulted Luan on her comedy skills, he insulted Lynn Jr.'s athletic abilities, he called beauty pageants pointless in the most vulgar way possible...right in Lola's face, he used Lori's word "literally" in the most mockingly obnoxious way possible and as for Lisa; he purposefully recited his plans for the class with all kinds of improper grammar terms. Though his methods were...outlandish (some would even call them "mad,") it was all to teach the Loud Sisters a lesson in restraint and self-control. Alas, this was a lesson that would take these particular Louds weeks to master...if at all.
To help give them proper motivation, however; the instructors in both classes told Lori and Lisa that if they towed the line, they would be let out early to go prepare for graduation. "I hear that things have been slowly getting back to normal for you all, in terms of your school and social lives" the anger management instructor stated, "do you really want to risk missing graduation...just because you couldn't keep calm enough?" Though they all still felt rather miffed, the young ladies couldn't help but agree.
Even though their summer season would mostly be spent picking up trash, cleaning up sidewalks and who knows what else. For Lori and Lisa, them graduating and either leaving school completely or moving to the next level was a big thing for them. "Plus, next month; I hear your brother is about to graduate from grade school as well" the Sensitivity Trainer said joyously, "I know that...in spite of all that happened, you'd all want to see that; right?"
Once again, the instructors spoke the truth; they truly did want to see their brother graduate just as much they wanted themselves to do so. But considering the situation they were in, the girls had a feeling they might be late.
Speaking of Lincoln, a week or so after the trial was finished; life began to return to normal for him. He went back to his home, reacquainted himself with the family pets (including those like Hopps and Fangs,) brought his things back up to his old closet bedroom and even got to reunite with Bun-Bun. After that; he went back to his old routine of going to school, mingling with his crew and catching up on his work.
Then, one afternoon in May; Lincoln got a call from Officer Schoffner, reminding him to come over to the courthouse before dinner. "In order to have your friends become your official legal guardians; we will need you to sign some papers, first" Officer Schoffner said over the line, "we should also bring your parents over too."
When he asked why they would need them, Campos informed Lincoln that his parents were required to provide a letter of consent; before anything could become official. "Do you think they will give their consent, though" Lincoln asked warily, "I mean...my folks don't know Carol, Becky, Whitney and Dana as well as I've come to know them." Upon hearing this, Campos couldn't help but sense a hidden meaning behind the boy's words.
Though he didn't show it on the outside; on the inside, Lincoln was worried that his parents might refuse the order. With this in mind; Higgins approached Lincoln from behind, took a knee and placed a hand upon his shoulder. "Sugar, it's true that your folks don't know these girls as well as you've come to know them" she stated, "however, they do understand just how much you care about them and vice versa; so...they can't imagine anyone better to look after ya."
Lincoln couldn't help but smile slightly, suddenly realizing how silly he was being in doubting himself or his friends. "It may take a while for them to get used to seeing 'strangers' looking after one of their own" Campos stated, "but then again, they're still getting used to me and my partners being here!" After that, she and Lincoln shared a good laugh at the little joke with Schoffner joining in over the phone.
After the laughter stopped, Lincoln said they would give his folks a call as soon as possible. "Great to hear that, young man; we'll catch you later" Schoffner said happily "I'll call the Pingreys and let them know about this as well, after we've hung up." With that said, everyone said their good-byes and hung up the phones on both ends.
After that, Lincoln found himself bouncing around and cheering with glee. "Watch yourself, lil man or you'll trip over something" Officer Simmons called out from the dining room, "not that I don't like seein' you happy and all." Almost instantly, Lincoln suddenly realized what he was doing and quickly stopped himself.
"Sorry, Ma'am; I just...I can't believe this is happening" he said with glee, "to think that a month and a half a go, I was having nightmares about ending up in Hell for my family's troubles." The two officers suddenly stiffened at these words, remembering how vividly both Lincoln and Dr. Lopez spoke about the aforementioned dreams during the trial. "But now; my family's lives are getting back to normal, I've been sleeping peacefully again and my newest friends are about to become part of my family" Lincoln giggled, "with so much good going on, I can't help but bounce!"
The officers all giggled at him softly and gave him a quick hug; before reminding Lincoln that if he fell over from bouncing and hurt himself, he wouldn't be able to make it to the signing. "Right, sorry about that" he murmured sheepishly, "I'm just bursting with joy right now...something Lucy might find a little weird." At that moment, the girl in question suddenly appeared behind Lincoln; mildly alarming both him and the officers.
"Normally, such an abundance of joy from anyone within the family would feel odd to me" she murmured, "but in this case, I'll make an exception." Feeling mildly confused by her words, Lincoln asked Lucy what she was trying to say. "After being exposed to so many bad vibes in this house for who knows how long; everything is peaceful, once again" she said with a soft smile, "so, I'm more than willing to handle any level of perkiness from anyone today...every once in a while."
After hearing this, Lincoln smiled down at his younger sister and gave her a big hug; expressing how happy he was to be home again. "While I'm loving this lil' hug fest of yours, y'all; it's time to get movin'" Simmons stated, "we gotta get to the courthouse before supper's ready." With that said, they hurried off to the police car and climbed in.
"Girls, keep watch over everything until we get back" Simmons called out to her partners, "we shouldn't be too long." The two other officers saluted their friend, while Lincoln said his goodbyes to his sisters inside the house." Then, the car revved up loudly and they were on their way towards downtown.
Moments later, everyone gathered in the deliberation room inside of the courthouse. There, the three Loud Family members were adding their names onto a few pieces of paperwork. Afterwards, the Pingreys added their names as well; followed by Becky, Whitney and Dana's parents. The last to add their signatures were Judge Snapper herself and Mayor Davis.
"Now, before we continue, I just want to ask again...do you ladies really want this responsibility" questioned the mayor, "while it won't be happening every hour of the day, looking after a preteen minor can be rather involved and I know you girls have your own social lives to think about." Without a second thought or the slightest sign of hesitation, each of the three ladies voiced their strong desires to go through with the signing.
Carol: Of course, nothing would make me happier than having Lincoln become part of my family.
Becky: My little sister is around his age and I've been looking after her long before Linc and I even met. So, I'm already prepared for a situation like this.
Dana: Same here Madam Mayor, Your Honor; I'm more than ready for this. Plus, it'll be fun having Linky hang out with me and Chaz more often.
Whitney: Unlike two of my friends here, I don't know what it's like living with a younger or older sibling. But after being with Lincoln for all this time, I just can't imagine my life without the lil' dude in it.
The whole time they were all talking, Lincoln couldn't help but blush a little from their compliments and warm statements. "Wow...these girls really do care about me" he thought to himself, "I'll make sure they won't regret their decision." Meanwhile, the parents on both sides were equally pleased by the girls' words towards Lincoln.
"I'll be the first to admit that, unlike my Carol; I've only known the boy for a short time" Mrs. Pingrey stated, "but regardless, I speak for all the girls' parents here when I say that he has been just as kind to our daughters as they've been with him." The other three pairs of parents, along with Mr. Pingrey, then started chattering happily in agreement; which made Lincoln feel rather bashful. "So, in the end; we would all be more than happy to offer our consent in this matter" Mr. Pingrey decreed, "what say you, Mr. and Mrs. Loud?"
For a moment, neither parent offered a response; due to an unsure feeling swirling around inside of them. What would happen if their own daughters went back to their hostile ways and they failed to stop it? Would any of the four girls' families take Lincoln away from home permanently or worse...would the judge bring back the "split them up punishment?"
As their minds became clouded by these fears, neither Lynn nor Rita sensed that something was gripping both of them around their waists. Upon snapping out of their trances, they looked down to see Lincoln hugging them close to him. After a while, he looked up with a sort of tearful expression and sniffled softly. "Don't worry, guys; I'm in good hands here" Lincoln said reassuringly, "besides, as much as I love all of them...they could never replace you two or my sisters."
Despite the phrase sounding obviously corny, it did its job in striking a chord in both Lynn and Rita's hearts. "Oh, honey...thank you so much for that" the Loud matriarch said sweetly, "we love you too!" With that said, Lincoln gave his parents a big hug...but not before they each signed their names upon the document. After that was finished, both Judge Snapper and Mayor Davis gave the paper their stamps of approval; thereby making the whole thing official.
There was much joy in the room, after that; particularly among the children themselves. As Lincoln leapt into Carol's arms, she and her friends proceeded to shower their little friend with affection like there was no tomorrow. Meanwhile, Rita was busy passing out to each of the girls' parents the necessary information they would need to know about Lincoln; should any emergency situations arise.
Time passed since the night of the signing and Lincoln, along with many of his OG friends, stood alongside their fellow students inside the Royal Woods Elementary auditorium; in the midst of their big Fifth Grade Graduation Ceremony. In the beginning, Lincoln didn't think he'd be standing here; moments away from receiving his Grade School diploma. Between hiding out from his sisters' big fight, all the Spring Break fun, the nervous breakdowns, the nightmares, the visit with Dr. Lopez and of course, the big trial; Lincoln feared he would miss out on his final exams.
But once the trial ended, the Gal Pals all agreed to help him study for each of them. Furthermore, Principal Huggins and all of Lincoln's other teachers offered him extra assistance in school; if he needed help trying to catch up. In the end; thanks to all this support, Lincoln took his finals and passed with positive grades across the board (he even earned a solid "A" from Coach Pacowski.)
(Moments before the ceremony)
While he was happy to be going on to graduation, Lincoln still lamented the fact he'd be saying goodbye to some of his favorite teachers and staff (namely Mrs. Johnson and Principal Huggins.) So, to help ease the pain; he made sure to give Mrs. Johnson a special goodbye hug, which she happily welcomed. "Before you leave here, Lincoln" I wish to say something" she murmured suddenly, "I'd like to...apologize."
Confused, Lincoln pulled away from the teacher and asked her why she was apologizing. "After the events of the trial; I realize now, that there were moments where I...I wasn't very fair to you" she sighed, "as a teacher, it's my duty to act firmly yet kindly towards all my students...but I failed three times over with you." The first of these moments in question was in regards to a project he made on his family, long ago.
At first, she was prepared to give him an "A" for it; even though his project involved his sisters posing in certain positions (due to his original model being destroyed.) But after being on the receiving end of Luan's stupid bucket of water prank, she knocked it down to an "A-;" as if it was his fault it happened. But much to the woman's surprise, Lincoln simply brushed it off and said there was no real harm done.
"The whole thing was my sisters' fault, anyway" he murmured, "more specifically, it was Luan's and her inability to restrain herself from pranking anyone." Lincoln then said that in spite of receiving an A Minus; his parents were still proud of his grade, overall. "But what about the 'Save the Polar Bear Challenge'" she murmured inquisitively, "it wasn't right of me or any of the other students to single you out for how much energy your family used."
She felt especially guilty with having to remove him from the classroom after he "volunteered" to help provide power for his sisters that week. Of course, due to the stench that radiated off of him that day; it was rather justified...but she still felt guilty. "Lastly, I should've said or done something; when your sister, Lisa made things harder for you in class that one time she was with us" she murmured, "but instead, I exempted her because of her intelligence."
After hearing all these failings, Lincoln stood silent for a moment or two; which made Mrs. Johnson a little worried. Then, he suddenly held her tight in another hug; which took the teacher by surprise. "Mrs. Johnson...you messed up" he muttered with a soft smile, "but then again, so have I...many times, in fact; but we both became better after that, right?"
After the two of them shared a bit of a hearty laugh; Lincoln said that despite his flaws, he was still a good person. "The same thing goes for you, Mrs. Johnson" he stated, "besides, you standing up for me in court more than makes up for those bad moments." Touched by his kind words, Mrs. Johnson gave him one final hug and wished him the best of luck in Junior High.
After that, he shared one last goodbye with his teacher and went out the door. Next; he popped by Principal Huggins' office, gave Cheryl a farewell hug and gave Huggins a goodbye gift in his office...a fully-printed character guide for his new Ace Savvy Comic series, Double Draw. "If you liked the Checkmate series, Sir; you'll love this new one I'm working on" Lincoln said proudly, "I even made an alternate universe version of your Wild Card Willy character; gave him a sort of...Jeff Bridges style Rooster Cogburn look."
Upon looking at a splash page with the character in question, Principal Huggins started nodding with approval. The other universe version of Wild Card Willy appeared grizzled, fierce and looked like a man who'd been through the wringer; which seemed to mesh well with the dystopian look of the other earth. He had a full-faced grey beard, wore an eye-patch over the right side of his face, a scar stretching down the right cheek and had a gun belt with a pack of steel playing cards loaded in each holster.
He wore a long, dark brown duster jacket, black leather boots with spade symbols for spurs and black gloves. His most prominent feature was the fact that the back of his coat, both of his gloves and even the center of Willy's eye-patch each bore a spade upon them. Beside the man's face was a dialogue bubble that said "if'n ya wish to play a hand with me...best make sure yours are clean as a whistle or I'll cut 'em off."
"Very nice, Lincoln; very nice" Principal Huggins said with great approval, "I especially love that line he said, it really shows how tough he is." Lincoln chuckled softly and said he was happy that he liked it. "Keep your eyes peeled, there's more to this story coming soon" he assured, "I've already got an idea for the next issue." Principal Huggins thanked Lincoln for the gift, shook his hand and wished him luck on the road ahead.
After sharing one final good-bye, Lincoln went off on his way. One by one, he said farewell to each of the teachers and staff he came to grow fond of/appreciate. But when the time came where he planned to bid adieu to Ms. DiMartino and express his thanks for her help, long ago...he fainted.
Upon realizing what he was planning to say to her; Ms. DiMartino giggled softly, whispered "your welcome, sweetie and good luck" into Lincoln's ear and kissed his cheek tenderly.
(Back to the Present)
In an instant, Lincoln's mind snapped out of his nostalgia trip and he could see it was almost his turn to receive a diploma. But as he looked out into the crowd...he was shocked to discover that none of his family was there to witness his big moment. Well...that is to say, his biological family wasn't there to see it.
But after looking through the crowd a third time, he suddenly overheard a shrill whistle ring out from close by. Curious, Lincoln looked over to find Carol and Co. sitting in the middle row of seats; each one of them waving happily at him. Upon seeing the four of them, a broad smile slowly began to form on his face.
Then, a moment later; Lincoln marched his way across the stage and collected his diploma. This caused the four eldest Gal Pals to suddenly shout wildly with delight. Overtime, everyone in Lincoln's class had received their diplomas and they celebrated by tossing their caps high into the air (as custom dictated.)
After each cap landed safely onto the ground, Lincoln ventured out to reclaim his. But before he could put it back atop his head, he was suddenly sacked to the ground by a yellow and purple blur. When he managed to recover from the attack, he soon discovered who his "assailant" was...his friend and newly appointed guardian, Carol Pingrey.
"There he is" Carol giggled while nuzzling Lincoln's cheek, "there's my lil' graduation buddy!" While still holding Lincoln in one arm, she brought out her phone with the other; which showed a picture of herself at her own graduation ceremony from the day before. Lincoln couldn't help but giggle a little at it due to how oddly Carol's cap was sitting atop her hair.
"I'm just so pro...we are so proud of you, Lincoln" she said with delight, "c'mere and let me give you a big ol' kiss to celebrate your big day!" Before Lincoln could interject, Carol suddenly plopped her lips onto his own; delivering a strong yet quick kiss. Once she parted away, ten seconds later; the poor little dude's face was glowing as red as a street light.
"Uh-oh, Carol...I think you may have broken him" Becky giggled, "and we didn't even get our turn yet." Feeling guilty, Carol cradled her young friend/ward in her arms slightly and carried him over to her friends; who proceeded to shower him with their own brand of victory nuzzles and kisses. The whole time this was happening; Clyde, Rusty, Liam and Zach stared dumbfounded at the scene.
But inside each of their minds, the boys all had the same thought running through their minds; "wait to go, Lincoln...you lucky stiff." When Lincoln eventually recovered Carol's kiss, he thanked the girls for coming to see him. At the same time, however; he felt mildly upset that his family didn't show up.
"About that, Linky; there's something you should know" Dana interjected, "your parents and sisters were planning on coming...but they got held up in class." As a way to help offer up a bright side, Carol took out her phone and she asked Lincoln to look at the screen. The boy did as instructed and was surprised to see his family watching him via a webcam.
"Hiya, honey; congratulations on graduating" Rita said with great pride, "so sorry we couldn't make it, the Anger Management Class here had a bit of a mock scenario thing going on...and some of your sisters took it a little too far." She then moved the phone over and Lincoln saw his sisters Lynn and Lola being tightly squeezed by a giant cat. "I'd ask what's going on with that cat thing...But something tells me it's a long story" he murmured, "I'm just happy you could watch me through the phone's webcam, at least."
Next, Dana held up her phone to reveal his other sisters at the house; all of whom were waving happily at him. "Hi, Linky; sorry we couldn't come to the ceremony in person" Leni mumbled sadly, "but Miss Higgins, Simmons and Campos had to leave to monitor the stuff happening at everyone's classes." Lincoln nodded slightly in understanding, informing everyone that their parents told him everything.
"Congrats on gettin' your diploma, dude" Luna said happily, "we're all super proud of you, even Lori is." As if on cue, Carol's phone suddenly beeped and she discovered it was a video message for Lincoln. Curious, Carol pressed play and showed the screen to the boy in question.
"Hey, twer...I mean; Hi, Lincoln" she muttered, "I'm sorry I couldn't come see your big day, Lynn made a scene up here and...well...as the saying goes; when one person fails, we all fail." Lincoln found himself chuckling slightly; not at Lori's punishment, mind you but at the irony of everyone being punished for Lynn's error specifically. "I just wanted to say...congratulations, I'm proud of you and...I'm sorry again for what happened before."
Lincoln found himself clutching tenderly at his heart, feeling genuinely touched by his sister's words. "Hope you'll have a fun summer, behave yourself at home and...try not to drive the ladies too far up the wall" she said with a giggle, "I'm just kidding on the last part, Bro; peace out, love ya and have a good summer!" After that, the video stopped, and the other Louds said their best wishes to Lincoln as well.
"Enjoy the rest of your day, Son" Lynn Sr. exclaimed, "we all love you and we hope to see you, when you and the...what do you call your crew, the Gal Pals, see us; whenever you're doing your own thing." After that, Lincoln shared his love as well and the video feed cut off. Seconds later; Jordan, Cristina, Kat, Stella and Haiku arrived beside Lincoln and all hugged him tight.
"Alright, Gals; there will be plenty of time for hugs later" Carol called out, "everybody, climb aboard the van!" Without a moment's pause, everyone hurried inside of the vehicle; with Lincoln sitting shotgun up front. "So, ladies; how should we celebrate the end of the school year" Lincoln asked casually, "any ideas?"
Carol smiled tenderly at her young charge and ruffled his hair, much to his chagrin. "First thing's first, lil' man; we've gotta head down to the Middle School and pick up the rest of the gang" she stated, "afterwards...we'll start making our plans." With that said, everyone saluted with a hearty "YES, MA'AM" and the van went off on its way.
An hour later, Carol's van was seen traveling through downtown Royal Woods; now with Cici and Phoebe loaded up inside with the others. "Well, now that everyone's present and accounted for, how should we celebrate the start of our break" Phoebe murmured thoughtfully, "I was thinking we could...head down to the beach for some sun and fun?" After a moment of consideration, everyone openly dismissed the idea; proclaiming that while it was a good one, it was far too late in the day to go to the beach.
"What about Gus'" Jordan said suddenly, "that's the place that started all of this, why not visit for nostalgia sake?" Everyone tapped their chins in thought and, much like with the beach option, felt that this was a good idea. But unfortunately, no one felt in the mood for pizza or garlic knots at the moment.
"I say we save that for Saturday night" Cici suggested, "but for now...oh, dang it; I can't think of anything!" Truth be told, after several days of taking tests; everyone's minds were far too burned out to think of any ideas. Then, all this suddenly gave Lincoln a brilliant idea. "Girls, I think I've got just the thing" he murmured, "it's a brand new month and you know what I think we've been long overdue for?"
For a minute to two, the girls wracked their brains as best as they could; trying to decipher Lincoln's riddle. Then, Carol started thinking about the clue he gave; "a brand new month." That was when it all started sound as clear as day.
"I think I know what he's talkin' about, ladies" she chuckled, "after all our working and studying...what can you think of that would make it all wash away?" Upon hearing the keyword "wash;" the answer to the riddle became perfectly clear, "SPA DAY!" But while most of the crew was buzzing with joy at the idea, Haiku wasn't really feeling it.
"That does sound like a great way to relax, girls" she murmured, "but...all that primping and makeup doesn't quite sound like my sort of thing." Everyone suddenly groaned with disappointment, immediately realizing the minor flaw in their plan. But then, Lincoln got out his phone and decided to check the itinerary for anything Haiku might actually like.
A minute later, he discovered something within the "new to the spa" menu of the website; sand baths. "I think I might've heard about those in school" Dana murmured, "but aren't they usually done in Japan...specifically near volcanic hot springs?" The rest of the Gals (sans Carol and Haiku) brought up the website on their phones and did a quick read through of the bath's description.
"Oh, this is cool" Stella said with delight, "they take some normal sand (though they don't specify where they get it from) and heat it inside of this weird little machine thingy." She then explained that patrons sit inside of large tubs and once the sand reached the proper temperature, they pour it over them." Upon hearing the idea of being buried, Haiku felt mildly intrigued.
But then, she realized that they might only bury her up to her neck and not over her head; like she thought. Still, they idea of bathing in sand was something she never heard of before. "I think I might actually join up with the rest of you" she said with a smile, "not just for the sand bath...but I've been having trouble applying my favorite midnight blue nail polish, sometimes."
With this reveal; it gave Jordan, Stella, Cristina and Phoebe the perfect thing to start out with at the spa...MANI PEDIS! "It's settled, then" Carol decreed with joy, "first, we hit the spa and then; we'll head off for something to eat." After that, everyone began to discuss ideas of where to have dinner; after their spa visit.
While this is going on, Lincoln turns to the screen to address the "viewer." "Things are really looking up for me, everybody" he said with a bright smile, "my family's safe at home again, their lives are getting back to normal, the trial's over, we've all made amends and to top it off...I'VE GRADUATED GRADE SCHOOL!" But in an instant, his joy slightly gave way to a bit of doubt.
"To tell you the truth, though...I'm a little nervous about what Middle School might bring; after Summer Break is over" he murmured, "will the stuff that happened to me months ago repeat all over again or...will I meet students who are meaner than Lori or Lynn on their worst days?!" Before he could continue, he suddenly felt Carol's index finger press lightly against his lips; signaling him to speak more quietly. Confused, Lincoln looked over to see Carol talking casually on the phone.
At first, he thought she was simply chatting with another friend of hers. But then, Carol mentioned something about "two booths for a party of eleven." He couldn't help but wonder who his friend and guardian was speaking with, at the moment.
Then; Carol thanked the speaker on the other line, hung up her phone and smiled at her crew. "Great news, all" she called out happily, "I've reserved two booths at Jean Juan's for dinner tonight; all those in favor for this, shout 'Gal Pals!'" Without any hesitation, everyone threw their hands up high shouted out "GAL PALS" as loudly as they could; even Lincoln couldn't help but say it.
"It's settled, then" Carol giggled with excitement, "first, we relax our bodies and then, we fill our bellies." With that said, the van made its way down in the direction of the Tranquil Springs Spa. As everyone around him merrily chanted the words "Gal Pals" in unison; Lincoln smiled softly at them and faced the viewer, one final time.
"You know what, I don't think I have anything to worry about" he muttered happily, "I've got my sisters, my parents, my old BFFs and my new ones right here to help watch over me." With all this in mind; Lincoln concluded his final thoughts in saying "as long as they're watching my back and I'm watching theirs, the future actually looks pretty bright."
(First AN: There you have it, folks; after almost six months or so of work, Gal Pals has come to an end. Lincoln is still in one piece, his family got some much deserved justice for their actions and the Gal Pals...or at least; in terms of Carol, Becky, Whitney and Dana, have all officially become part of Lincoln's family and he theirs.
To a certain extent, the rest of the crew counts as family as well. But the four older gals in question actually have the proper paperwork. In any case; life is looking up for Lincoln, from this point on.
Many people have suggested the idea of me making a sequel to this story...and part of me thinks the idea is good. But another part thinks this feels more appropriate as a stand alone story. However...if you wish to see the Gal Pals again, you can find them in my other fanfic; Dungeons, Dragons & Dames and my future story, Double Draw.
Until then, enjoy reading the conclusion and have a great day.)
(Second AN: I wish to take a moment to thank everyone who supported me and this story. Thank you DreadedCandiru2, Cabgrant, Momijifan Low-Ki, RawToonage press, Geo Soul, ko777, The Storyteller993, heavy5comando, Dread55, Yellowpikmin88, Jster1983, Darkness Rissing, That Engineer, Wolvenstrom, SpartanXHunterX, Engineer1869, Mr. Freeman, GennaiArakida-XIV, Gold Testament, 1049, Delquea, Mpatton17, Mr. Haziq, Joanne Frances Tiano Cajilig, Zeobide274, FrancisVamp0822 and everyone else who reviewed, favorited and/or followed this story.
If I have neglected to mention you in my thank you's, I apologize; this fic has almost five-hundred and fifty reviews...something I was not expecting to see and most of them were some guest reviews. Regardless, due to my Hydrocephalus; it can be difficult for me to remember stuff clearly. So...seriously, thank you all so much for your feedback and support; it's all highly appreciated.)
(Third AN: Speaking of thank you's, I wish to thank crafordbrian17 for requesting me to make this story. While some of his suggestions for certain scenes felt either...too weird or they didn't quite belong in the story itself, I did my best to make this in the way you wanted it. If it didn't turn out that way, I'm sorry; I was just giving the rest of my readers what they really wanted from the story.)
(Fourth AN: If some of you think the behaviors of Lola, Lynn Jr., Luan and Lori were a "major 180" from how they behaved in the last chapter. Bear in mind that they are having what is known as relapses, which is where someone tries to quit cold turkey on something. But somehow, they feel almost drawn to go back to their old vices.
With Luan, for example; because the court forbade her from using her "Prankpocalypse" gags, she is behaving like how she did in Undie Pressure. She's struggling to keep herself in check...but has trouble with self-control. This same thing applies with the other four Loud Sisters who are condemned to attend Anger Management and Sensitivity Training.
I hope that all makes sense to you, everyone.)
(Fifth AN: Speaking of punishments; as per request from one of my readers, Lynn Sr. and Rita have also been sent to parenting classes. I'll leave it up to all of you to decide if it all helped them or not.)
(Sixth AN: I also found it fitting that Officers Higgins, Simmons and Campos, the officers who helped keep Lily happy during the trial, would be appointed the Louds' official caretakers. As intimidating as Lori might be as a babysitter, no one would dare challenge the authority of an officer of the law; am I right?)
(Final AN: Sorry if the paperwork scene seemed mildly confusing to any of you, gang. I'm not well-versed in matters of law; so, I tried to make up the scene as I went along while using while using whatever knowledge I had on the procedure of becoming a guardian for someone.)