Reconnections (with the Gal Pals)

(Story Summary: Over the past few months, Lincoln has grown rather close with the members of his Gal Pals crew. However; there has been one whom he still feels slightly awkward around, Cristina. Now that she has come back into his life, Lincoln wants to try and set things right with her.

But will his plans go smoothly or will Madame Fate rip the carpet out from under him, causing the poor lad to screw up?)

In the Loud House; we find Lincoln Loud in his bedroom, laughing pleasantly while looking through some photos on his computer. These photos consisted of all the adventures he and the Gal Pals had experienced earlier that year, good...and bad. At the head of the photo album is a group shot of all of them together with Lincoln enveloped in Carol and Whitney's embrace.

"Such good times we've had this year; you remember them, right" he asked the reader/viewer, "yup, despite a few...bumps this year; meeting the Gals was one of the best things that happened to me." After that, he chose to take a break from sorting out his pictures and decided to look over his schedule for the week. He had bird watching with Phoebe on Thursday after lunch, baseball with the whole crew at Ketchum Park on Saturday, a discussion on his next Double Draw issue with Becky, Joey and Chaz next Monday and Haiku invited him to be his guest at the next Morticians Club meeting on Sunday.

Apparently, on that day; the group decided to briefly break away from discussing macabre topics and wanted to have a small book club session together. They were planning on discussing their feelings on a new book Persephone discovered called "Night of the Blood Moon." From what Lincoln heard from Lucy, it put a whole new spin on the concept of vampires.

At her suggestion, Lincoln decided to give it a look...and became hooked on it after the first two chapters. After that, he begged Haiku to let him sit in with the club to discuss the story. Of course, she was more than happy to say yes; even though he left, Haiku still considered him an honorary club member.

"Yup, life with me and them has been good lately" Lincoln stated, "except...there has been one member of the crew I've been having a bit of a problem with." After this, he heads back over to his computer and looks at the group shot photo on the screen. While looking at the photo; Lincoln's gaze slowly falls on one of the younger members of the crew, Cristina.

"You guys recognize this face, right" he asked, "she used to be my crush back at Royal Woods Elementary...before certain things happened that caused us to...drift apart. To help elaborate on his statement, Lincoln began to regale everyone with a story; one involving himself and Clyde trying to obtain tickets for a SMOOCH concert they wished to attend. At the same time; they tried to do so without letting Luna, another one of his sisters, catch on.

The reason; to put it bluntly, the girl had tendencies to go overboard whenever first concerts were involved. She'd act wildly, forcefully leap onto others in an attempt to do "crowd surf" or "stage dive" mosh pit moves and try to get everyone to get in the mood. Normally, this would not be an issue but as mentioned earlier; Luna often goes overboard with music related things.

Case in point; while waiting in line for tickets, she broke out her acoustic guitar and tried to get those in line to join in a SMOOCH sing-along. At one point, Luna caught sight of Cristina and openly singled her out as Lincoln's crush (without her bro's consent.) To make matters all the more awkward, she tried to urge him into publicly kissing Cristina.

As expected, this made both the girl in question rather uncomfortable and Lincoln quite miffed. Next, he brought up a video on his computer; one showing him partaking in some "kissing practice." To add insult to injury on himself, Lincoln taped a picture of Cristina over the face of Lucy's bust of Edwin and proceeded to kiss it.

He practiced this method on two occasions; unaware that Luan, one of his older sisters, was recording his actions on video both times. "Now, you may be wondering how Cristina came to know about this" Lincoln inquired to the viewer/reader, "long story short; to make up for posting a humiliating video compilation of my sisters online, I...posted one of myself using footage Luan had stored away." After showing this video in his class, it was the final nail in the coffin for him.

While he did earn back his sisters' love and respect, after this; Cristina chose to switch classes due to the "kissing practice' clips she saw. "After that, I hadn't seen much of Cristina around town for some time" Lincoln stated, "so, you can imagine my surprise when I saw her among some of these other ladies at Gus' back in March." From here, Lincoln talks about recounts of how he grew close to each of the (yet to be established) Gal Pal crew.

But while he tells the story, he finds himself slowly trailing off whenever Cristina is mentioned. Upon seeing everyone "looking at him" oddly, Lincoln quickly recovers and dusts himself off. "Sorry about that, guys" he murmurs with a bashful chuckle, "it's just...things have been incredibly awkward between me and Cristina, since we met up again."

Lincoln then reveals that despite her helping him out during his whole ordeal with his family, way back when; they've yet to actually talk things out together. "I think it's time she and I had some time alone to clear the air between us" he suggested to himself, "but...will she say yes and how will she respond to everything I say?" No sooner had he said this, Lincoln's door suddenly shot open; causing the poor boy to almost leap out of his skin.

Upon recovering slightly, he turned around to see Officer Higgins standing at his doorway. "Hey there, sug; just thought I'd pop in to check on you" she said sweetly, "sorry for spookin' you like that." Lincoln smiled slightly at her and assured the officer that he was okay.

"I've grown used to it, over the years" he chuckled, "especially whenever Lucy suddenly pops up out of nowhere." After that, there was a bit of a silence between the two of them until Higgins saw the picture Lincoln had on his laptop screen. "Penny for your thoughts, sweetie" she inquired, "something wrong between you and your lady friends?"

Suddenly realizing his error in leaving the picture exposed, Lincoln quickly closed up his computer and smiled up at Officer Higgins; assuring her he was "fine." "There's no use lyin' to me, honey" she said with a sly grin, "I heard almost everything you said outside after I was done...usin' the facilities, shall we say."

At first, Lincoln was prepared to question how the officer could've heard him. But then, he remembered just how thin the walls of the house were and how they provided so little privacy; in terms of speaking out one's thoughts. "The look on your face also tells me that somethin's up" she said firmly, "so, I'll ask again...is there something goin' on between you and your lady friends?"

Realizing that he had been cornered, Lincoln let out a soft sigh and sat down on his bed; ready to tell her everything. "To start things off, Ma'am; nothing's wrong with me and the gals" he stated, "at least...not in the way you're thinking." Intrigued, the officer sat down beside him and polite urged Lincoln to continue.

"Well...it's Cristina, one of the younger members of our crew" Lincoln stated, "she and I used to be in the same class, back at the elementary school...until certain things happened between us." Before he could continue, Officer Higgins politely stopped him; stating that she already learned about those incidents earlier. "If I may offer my 2 cents on this, you should just talk to her" she suggested, "what happened during those moments were, as the courthouse put it, misdemeanors."

Lincoln blinked confusedly at the officer and said that he wasn't fully sold on her assumption. "I don't think that's the best word to use for my particular situation, Ma'am" he said softly, "on the other hand, the kissing practice videos Luan used might be seen as such." Realizing that she might've used the wrong word, Officer Higgins decided to try another idea.

"Let me put it in another way" she offered, "the thing with the web video; it was a little...strange, yeah but nothing reprehensible about it." Lincoln took a moment to let her words sink in and in time, he realized she might've been right. "Truth be told; back when I was young, I used to...secretly do kissin' practice on the head of our school mascot" Officer Higgins muttered shyly, "that is, as long as no one was wearin' it at the time."

While still trying to be respectable, Lincoln couldn't help but chuckle a little; something Officer Higgins took immediate notice of. "Go ahead and laugh, Son" she said with a mild chuckle, "my partners and hubbie did it when I told them, long ago already." The two shared a quick yet hearty laugh at her little reveal and then, things went back into "serious mode" for a moment.

"My point is...things happen and the best y'all can do is try and put it behind you" Officer Higgins stated, "but I imagine y'all already had that in mind...right?" Lincoln nodded slightly in response and looked back at Cristina's picture in the group photo. "I really want to talk with her and see if things are okay between us" he stated, "but...I'm nervous, what if she doesn't want to be anywhere near me?"

Upon hearing this, Officer Higgins gave the boy a knowing look and brought up his "Gal Pals" photo album. Afterwards, she asked him to look at the girl in question in each one of the pictures. "Does Cristina look uncomfortable around you in any way in any of these moments, Linc" she asked, "because from where I'm sitting, she's havin' a rootin' tootin' good time with y'all."

Lincoln nodded slightly in agreement but mentioned, a split second later that she might've only looked happy because of the others; not him. "From what I've been hearin', boy; all them gals just love ya to pieces" Officer Higgins said with pride, "I imagine Cristina's the same way, to a degree." After this, she snatches up Lincoln's cellphone from his dresser and hands it to him.

"Give her a call, try and see if y'all can meet up someplace" she suggested, "then, you can talk things out without distractions." With that said, she gave Lincoln the reminder of dinner and left the room. Once he was alone again, Lincoln looked down at his phone while the officer's earlier words echoed softly in his head.

"Maybe she's right; I should, at least try to clear the air between us" he thought to himself "I just hope I don't make a fool of myself...again."

(Scene Change: Cristina's House, that same hour)

In another area of Royal Woods, Cristina is seen helping her parents set up the table for dinner. After setting down her plate, she suddenly hears her phone going off in the living room. Curious about who would be calling her at such a time of day, she walks over to the coffee table and answers her phone.

You can imagine her surprise, when she heard Lincoln's voice on the other line. "Lincoln, hi" she exclaimed softly, "how are things going for you?" For a moment or two, the young white haired lad didn't know how to respond. Finally, Lincoln answered her in saying that things were great at home.

"I've just been sorting out my online photos today" he stated, "found some great ones with us and the other Gal Pals." Realizing he used the word "us" in a possessive sense, Lincoln quickly did his best to "save himself." But much to his surprise, Cristina simply laughed at him; not in a mocking way but in a friendly manner.

"It's okay, Lincoln" she assured him, "I get what you mean; did you find any pictures you liked?" With a soft smile on his face, Lincoln brought over his laptop and showed some of the pictures he saved up. "OH! These are some good ones" Cristina said with delight, "Carol and Phoebe sure have an eye for good photo op moments."

Lincoln nodded slightly and said his favorite ones were a tie between those taken at Gus' and the Ace Savvy Convention. After that, he suddenly went silent and Cristina could see a faint frown developing on his face. "Lincoln, are you sure you're okay" she asked with concern, "if something's wrong, you can tell me."

At first, Lincoln hesitated in answering her; unsure of how the girl would respond to his words. Finally, he took in a calming breath and looked the girl straight in the eye before speaking. "Truth is, Cristina; something has been on my mind lately...and it involves you" Lincoln murmured, "sorry if that sounds weird."

For a moment or so, the young redhead didn't know how to respond; which was making Lincoln feel rather nervous. Finally, after about a minute of silence; she politely urged Lincoln to continue. "Right...you see, I've been meaning to talk to you about something" the boy stated, "could you meet me at Flip's tomorrow to discuss it properly?"

Cristina thought about the idea for a few seconds and then, she smiled at Lincoln and gave him a nod. "Great, I'll see you then" Lincoln said with relief in his voice, "I'll leave you to your dinner preparations, now...bye." After that, Cristina hung up her phone and all was quiet in the room again.

Meanwhile, inside her head; the young girl's mind was swirling with thoughts. What was really going on with Lincoln, why did he need to speak with her and was he feeling okay? For the moment, she couldn't do anything about it.

"Just wait until the morning, Cristina" she whispered to herself, "hopefully...hopefully things will go smoothly."

(Line Break)

The next day, Lincoln was seen standing outside of Flip's; sipping on a soft drink (affectionately dubbed a Flipee.) For almost ten minutes, he stood out there by the door; much to the owner's annoyance. "Listen, kid; I don't take kindly to loiterers" grumbled Flip, "so...either buy more merchandise or leave."

Lincoln was ready to begrudgingly comply with the man's complaints. But then, he looked to his right and spotted Cristina approaching. With a smile forming across his face, Lincoln greeted his friend with a happy wave.

Cristina did the same thing almost a split-second later. "Glad you could make it" Lincoln said sheepishly, "I was beginning to think you were having second thoughts." For a moment, Cristina did not answer but Lincoln could see some signs of uneasiness on her face. "At first, I was having second thoughts" she admitted, "but only because I was confused as to why you wanted to meet with me."

Upon hearing this, Lincoln quickly realized how sudden he must've been in calling her. With this in mind; he sheepishly chuckled, apologized and offered to buy her a Flipee. "Thank you very much but there's no need" she said with a smile, "my parents gave me some money to use."

Upon hearing the word "money," Flip snatched away her coins away and placed a fresh Strawberry Flipee into Cristina's hand; mildly startling her. The whole time this was happening, Lincoln rolled his eyes and commented on how he acted so overworked on other moments but becomes a speedster whenever money is mentioned. Cristina let out a small chuckle at his words and then, took a small sip of her drink.

But after a few seconds, she stopped herself and looked Lincoln in the eyes with a sort of serious/confused expression. "I'm here now, Lincoln; just like you wanted" she murmured with uncertainty, "so...what's this all about?" In an instant, Lincoln's demeanor suddenly changed from joyful to uneasy. "Oh, yeah...thanks for reminding me" he murmured, "it's nothing really serious, I just...needed to talk to you."

Feeling evermore curious, Cristina asked her male friend what was on his mind. "Well, to start with; I just wanna say that I'm...I'm sorry" he said bluntly, "sorry about what my sister, Luna did when you were waiting in line for concert tickets and I'm especially sorry about the kissing videos you saw." The moment he mentioned, Cristina started to feel a little nervous; thinking Lincoln was about to do something crazy.

Meanwhile; Lincoln, after channeling as much courage he could muster, tried his best to continue speaking. "Thing is...back then, I had a...a bit of a crush on you" he admitted, "you're sweet, kind, friendly to everyone around you and you're incredibly loyal." While still in shock over his slight confession, Cristina was still rather flattered by Lincoln's choice of words to describe her.

At the same time, however; she had to stop him before things would get even more awkward between them. "Lincoln...I'm flattered you like me, I really am" Cristina said with a light smile, "and after everything that's happened, I think...I think you're pretty great yourself." Lincoln couldn't help but blush a little at her words.

But then, he soon realized that his friend might have a bit more to say and his face quickly returned to a more stoic appearance. "But...the truth is, I'm...I'm just not ready" she said simply, "I don't think I'm ready to get into a relationship yet...and I bet you feel the same way." Surprisingly, Lincoln didn't feel too shocked by her declaration.

During the trial, not too long ago; he said something similar to his sisters, when it came to him and Ronnie Anne's relationship. "But make no mistake, Lincoln" Cristina said suddenly, "you're a great guy and I know you're gonna make some lucky girl out there very happy." Flattered, Lincoln bashfully thanked his friend for such a compliment and extended the same wish unto her as well.

Then, he suddenly realized that they were getting a little off-topic and politely cleared his throat; getting Cristina's attention. "Now that that little issue is off the table, it will make what I have to say all the more easier" he stated, "on that note, I'd like to...ask you something." Before continuing further, Lincoln could feel his body quivering with nervous anxiety.

But after he took a small sip of his drink, he managed to calm himself down enough to speak again. "I've been thinking, Cristina" he began, "since we're both kinda...back in each other's lives again, maybe...maybe we can...start over?" After that, all was silent between the two pre-teens. Cristina simply stared into his eyes with a sort of deep gaze, as if she were looking into his mind to see what he was "plotting."

Then, after a while, she smiled warmly at him and placed her hand gently upon his shoulder. "Yes, Lincoln" she said sweetly, "yes...I would like that very much." With that said, they lightly tapped their Flipee cups together, "toasting" the restart of their friendship.

(Line Break)

Two hours passed since that meeting and Cristina was having a rather good time. First, they went on a short walk through the park; where she and Lincoln got to greet some of the dogs walking through there. Then, Cristina accompanied Lincoln on a trip to Liam's farm.

While there, he took a moment to check on some of the animals there; specifically the sort Lana once kept as pets. "Sure, I'll take you to 'em" the young country boy said with a smile, "they's all down at the pen with Virginia." Cristina suddenly gave a light shudder at the mention of Liam's pet pig.

She didn't dislike the animal in question, mind you; she just didn't want to risk getting covered with mud. But in spite of her fear, Cristina didn't want to ruin her chances to reconnect with Lincoln. So, she took in a breath and followed him over to one of the animal pens.

(Scene Change: Virginia's pen)

Upon there arrival, Virginia rushed over and greeted Lincoln with a happy squeal. "Hello there, Virg" he cooed adorably, "you're getting so big and beautiful now, betcha Daddy Liam is happy about that." While Cristina was a little weirded out at the sight of her friend greeting a pig like he would his pet dog, a part of her actually found it...cute.

Then, she saw another pig hurry over to the side; also appearing eager for some head scratches. "Whoa! Percy...is that really you" Lincoln gasped, "wow, you're about as big as Lola's princess car now!" Liam chuckled proudly and commented on how the pig's "growth spurt" (so to speak) was the end result of a healthy diet of his family's scraps.

"Gotta say, he has as big a love for Ma's cookin' as I do" he chuckled, "just wish he didn't get more to eat." Then, all of a sudden; Liam looked over Lincoln's shoulder and spotted Cristina standing behind him. The young redhead smiled at him and greeted the farm boy with a wave.

"Howdy there, lil' miss" Liam said casually, "ain't seen ya for sometime; what brings ya to my farm?" Cristina giggled at him lightly and commented how it has, indeed been long since they've seen one another. "I'm just accompanying Lincoln while he checks on some of the animals his sister used to own" she explained, "I'm guessing that the big pig here is one of them?"

Lincoln nodded slightly and explained that the hog called "Percy" did belong to Lana, long ago. "You'd think having a dog, cat, hamster and canary are enough to handle; in terms of pets" he chuckled, "but Lana has tendencies to 'bond' and collect whatever animals she comes across...which leads to her bringing them home." Confused, Cristina asks if Lincoln's little sister tries to hide these animals from the family.

"In the past, she did...but then; she managed to manipulate my parents into letting her keep them" Lincoln explained, "nowadays, she only has a small handful of her pets to keep." He then said that the rest of Lana's animals would be given new homes across the town and city, Liam's farm being one of them. "At first, it was...a little hard for Lana to say goodbye" Lincoln murmured sullenly, "but she visits each of the animals she gave away as much as she can."

Cristina found herself smiling a little at this news, happy that Fate was being merciful to some members of Lincoln's family. Meanwhile, Liam looked over at her and back at Lincoln in silence; all while sporting a sly grin on his face. "So...what's the two of ya doin' all by your lonesome" he chuckled, "fixin' to make some sweet music together?"

This comment caused Lincoln and Cristina to blush deeply in unified shock. Thinking quickly, the former pulled Liam over to the side and made sure Cristina couldn't hear him. "Dude, it is not like that" Lincoln whispered in an annoyed tone, "I'm hanging out with her in hopes of fixing things between us."

At first, Liam was confused by his friend's words; wondering what could've needed fixing between him and Cristina. But then, his mind recalled the internet video his class was shown earlier that year. In that moment, everything started to come together for him.

"I getcha now, friend" Liam whispered, "but I figured things had been square between the two of ya over the past few months." Lincoln nodded slightly in understanding and assured him that things with the Gal Pals have been great. "It's just...now that Cristina's back, I haven't really had the chance to clear the air between us" he murmured, "so, I want to spend some time with her and help make things right between us."

Having heard all this, Liam's demeanor quickly shifted from sly to sympathetic. "Right-o, Linc" he said simply, "hope all goes smoothly for the two of ya." With that said, he bade his two friends farewell and returned to his chores.

Back with our main duo, Cristina said she had seen enough of the farm and wished to go somewhere else for their hangout. "Sure thing" Lincoln said with a grin, "where would you like to go, exactly?" After being asked this, Cristina silently scratched her chin in thought until an idea formed in her head.

"I'm not sure if it's really your thing" she murmured hesitantly, "but in town, there's a new bookstore that opened recently and I really want to see what they have." Upon hearing this idea, Lincoln's face suddenly shined with excitement. "Are you kidding" he exclaimed, "I love reading regular books as much as I do comics, I'm all for that!"

Having come to a mutual agreement on the idea, the two pre-teens swiftly left the farm and headed off towards town.

(Line Break)

Sometime later, the kids had left the book store and were walking through downtown Royal Woods towards their neighborhood. In his hands, Lincoln was seen holding a pair of bags; both of which containing two or three hardcover books. "Are you sure you can carry both bags, Lincoln" questioned Cristina, "I'm not doubting your strength or anything...I just don't want you to strain yourself."

Lincoln gave a light shrug of his shoulders and assured his lady friend he was okay. "I've had to carry much heavier loads than this a few times" he chuckled lightly, "besides, Lynn's always telling me to exercise my arms more." Though she still felt he was pushing himself a little; Cristina knew her friend could be stubborn, when his mind was set on something.

Thus, she chose to respect his wishes and welcomed the gesture. "I still can't believe you bought The Princess Bride, Lincoln" Cristina giggled, "I didn't think it was really your thing." With a bashful look on his face; Lincoln admitted that, when he was 9, Lori and Leni had the whole family sit down and watch the movie version with them.

"When it started, I thought the movie was gonna be some extremely sappy kissing movie for teens" he grumbled, "but...I was surprised to see that I actually started liking it." With a doubtful look upon her face, Cristina decided to test him on his "knowledge" on the movie. "If you have seen the movie, answer me this" she inquired, "what did Inigo and Fezzik use to help revive Westley, after they all escaped the Pit of Despair?"

Lincoln gave his lady friend a sly grin and, without missing a beat, responded with "they used a chocolate coated Miracle Pill that was given to them by Miracle Max, the healer." His answer seemed to please Cristina but she still felt unconvinced. "How about this one" she challenged "what is the character of Fezzik best known for?"

With a confident grin upon his face, Lincoln said that the character had four defining qualities; his great size, his equally immense strength, his big heart and his love/gift for rhyming. To say the least, Cristina was becoming rather impressed. But she had one last question to give him; then, he'd have truly proven himself as a fan.

"You probably know that Westley had a new identity as the Dread Pirate Roberts, right" she asked, "but tell me...who had the title before him?" Upon being asked this, Lincoln suddenly stopped walking and began racking his brain for the answer. After almost two minutes of thinking, he finally figured it out.

"According to Westley, the Dread Pirate Roberts was merely a pseudonym or alias that's been used before" Lincoln explained, "the man he served before was known as Ryan, in reality." Cristina was so pleased with his answer that she started clapping her hands lightly. But Lincoln quickly yet politely stopped her, indicating that he wasn't finished yet.

"Before Ryan, there was another man who used the title of Dread Pirate Roberts" he stated, "but his name was Cummerbund and he inherited the title; after the OG Roberts retired to live in Patagonia." By the end, Cristina was rendered silent with both shock and surprise. "I am seriously impressed, Lincoln" she chuckled, "though...I wonder how you could've gotten all that from just one viewing of the movie version of the story."

Lincoln chuckled sheepishly and admitted that since then, he had become a die hard fan and watched it every chance he had over the past two years. "Even Clyde's a bit of a fan" Lincoln stated, "although...whenever he tried using Westley's 'as you wish' phrase on Lori, she wouldn't get the idea and assumed he wanted to be her pack mule." At that moment, Cristina suddenly found herself guffawing lightly at Lincoln's words; mostly because of the ironic nature of Clyde's situation.

In the end, Lincoln had proven himself to be rather versed in the Princess Bride film. But Cristina quickly reminded him that the book might differ from it, in some ways and it might not be as good. "That may be true" Lincoln said matter-of-factly, "but I'll still love both versions, if the book is as good as you say." After that statement, the two of them continued off on their way while discussing what else to do during their hangout time.

Then; at that moment, they leapt with a start at the sounds of loud crashing from somewhere nearby. At first, Cristina thought someone had got into a vehicle related accident somewhere. But then, they looked ahead and saw two burly teens pushing their way through crowds of people.

One was a teenager with long, shaggy black hair that covered up his eyes, wore a red jacket that looked rather worn out, a dirty t-shirt under it, blue jeans and white sneakers. The other teen had brown hair styled into a Mohawk with spikes on the front, wore a dark green shirt with the sleeves rolled up, blue jean shorts and white shoes with blue stripes.

As the two boys drew closer, Lincoln found himself becoming incredibly nervous. "Oh, no; not these thugs again" he thought fearfully, "what are they doing this far from Hazeltucky!?" Meanwhile, Cristina was feeling nervous as well but it was more towards the height and bulk of the two boys.

As they watched Hawk toss a fifth grader into a trashcan, Lincoln suggested fleeing the scene as quickly as they could; an idea Cristina happily agreed with. But alas; due to the weight of the books they were carrying, they couldn't get very far. At one point during her stride, Lincoln lost his balance and fell to the ground; spilling his books onto the sidewalk.

"Lincoln, are you alright" cried Cristina, "did you hurt yourself?" While trying his best to push himself up from the dirt, the white haired lad looked over his shoulder at his lady friend and smiled slightly. Then, he tried his best to collect his books as quickly as he could.

As he rushed over to pick up his Princess Bride book, Hawk swiftly yanked him up from behind by his collar. "Well, well; lookie what I've got here, Hank" chortled the bully, "it's the lil' runt who cheated us outta our Halloween haul last year!" His curiosity piqued, the other bully parted away his hair slightly to get a better look at his pal's "prize."

While it was clear that he wasn't the sharpest knife in the drawer (much like Hawk.) After getting a look at Lincoln's orange shirt, white hair and chipped tooth; Hank was able to put the pieces together. "Yeah, I remember him now" he gasped, "I know that ugly grin of his anywhere."

Not only was Lincoln rather put off from the ruffians' comments on his teeth but so was Cristina, who remained frozen in place while all this was happening; slightly frozen with fear. "L-Leave my friend alone, you creeps" she shouted slightly, "we don't want any trouble, just let us get our stuff together and we'll be on our way."

For a moment or two, there was an eerie silence in the air; which led Cristina into hoping that the boys were willing to grant her request. But then, Hank and Hawk suddenly erupted in a loud fit of laughter. This noise suddenly attracted the attention of others in the area; who, at first, chose to watch the scene in silence.

When they finally stopped laughing, Hawk turned Lincoln around and looked him square in the eyes with a fierce stare. "Talk about pathetic" he chuckled, "you can't fight for yourself; so, you gotta have babes handle your battles for ya." Before Lincoln could come up with some kind of rebuttal; Hank snatched up one of Lincoln's books, looked at the title and burst into another laughing fit.

"The Princess Bride, you're even more of a sissy than I thought" he gasped between chuckles, "not only do you need girls to fight for ya but you also love girly books!" Her patience at her limit with his comments towards women, Cristina rushed up and gave Hank a swift yet painful kick in the shin; causing him to drop Lincoln. "That's for getting in our way and for messing with Lincoln's book" she said boldly, "someone should teach you two brutes some manners!"

While still hopping around and clutching at his sore leg, Hank glared daggers at the young redhead and ordered Hawk to "waste her." "You little runt" he growled, "you're gonna pay for hurting my pal!" With that said; he rushed over, grabbed Cristina by her hair and started slapping her hard across the face.

As Lincoln watched his friend getting manhandled, he suddenly felt a fierce rage bubbling inside of him; something he hadn't felt since his whole tiff towards his sisters. "That creep, how dare he mistreat one of my friends like that" he thought furiously, "this ends NOW!" With that thought in mind; Lincoln pulled himself up from the dirt, placed his books safely aside and charged at Hank like a mad bull.

Just as the bully prepared to slap Cristina again, he asked her if she had any last words to say. At first, the poor girl said nothing; the pain of her sore cheeks leaving her unable to think of a response. But as she wiped her tears away, Cristina saw a "white bullet" heading towards Hawk from behind.

With a soft smile upon her lips, she only offered the bully four simple words; "look out behind you." Hawk stared dumbly at the little girl, wondering just what she was talking about. Then, he suddenly felt something nail him from behind like a battering ram; which sent him flying down the sidewalk.

While still a little dazed from the blow, Lincoln glared at Hawk with a burning hatred in his eyes. "I'm only going to give you this one chance, meathead" he growled, "leave here and go back to Hazeltucky while you still can...or else?" As he slowly got back onto his feet, Hawk looked over his shoulder and glared at Lincoln with equal fury.

"You little turd" he shouted, "I'll teach you to knock me from behind...the hard way!" With that declaration, Hawk rushed towards Lincoln like a running back at a football game. He tackled Lincoln to the pavement and proceeded to lay down punch after punch against his face.

Horrified by this violent display, Cristina took out her phone and quickly rung up Officer Higgins' phone number on speed dial.

(Scene Change: The Loud House)

Back at the house, the three officers were having a friendly card game in the dinning room. Along with them was little Lily; who, while not playing, acted as Higgins' "tell." At one point in the game, she seemed to be rubbing her tiny hand on her chin; as if in deep thought.

Then, she let out a soft cooing noise of joy; which took Officer Campos by surprise. "What is she saying...'gaa-goo'" she asked, "that must be her tell; I fold, then." The moment she did so, Simmons and Lily suddenly burst out in joyful laughter. "Fooled ya, Gabby" Simmons chuckled, "this lil' lady was bluffin', giving me the chance to throw down these!"

With that said, the officer threw down a royal flush; which beat out Higgins' two pair. "What, that's nuts" cried Campos, "how did I fall for that trick!?" After that, she demanded a do-over and proceeded to reshuffle the card deck.

But just as she prepared to cut the cards, Officer Campos suddenly felt her cellphone ringing and she quickly answered it. "What's up, Gab" questioned Officer Higgins, "something goin' on at the station?" Campos shook her head slightly and revealed a text message that was sent by Cristina; which read "come to downtown, Lincoln is in danger!"
"Strange, why would they be calling us at this time of day" questioned Officer Higgins, "with how quiet things have been, I thought their hangout was goin' smoothly." Just as the other officers were prepared to respond, Simmons felt her phone go off suddenly and she quickly answered it. Upon doing so, she received a most shocking video e-mail.

It featured Lincoln, who was doing his best to hold his own against a boy who was twice his size. "We gotta get their quick before that punk turns our lil' buddy into a vegetable" ordered Simmons, "to the van, ladies!" With that order; the three officers placed Lily in Leni's care, rushed outside, got into their police van and rushed off towards downtown.

(Line Break)

Back at the fight, Lincoln was still hanging on; despite the fact that he was covered with several bleeding scratches, his shirt was torn and his right eye appeared black and swollen. Meanwhile, Hank towered over the eleven year old; appearing unharmed from any possible retaliation the eleven year old put up. "Give it up, twerp; you can't win" Hawk chortled smugly, "one more punch and you'll be off to the hospital!"

While he didn't want to openly admit it, Lincoln knew that the bully spoke the truth. One more punch or slap and Lincoln would be out for the count. He was barely able to stand up as it is, after everything else.

But at the same time, he just couldn't bring himself to call it quits yet. After seeing how viciously the bullies treated Cristina earlier, something inside of Lincoln told him he had to make them pay; even if it meant getting hurt. So, after taking in a deep breath to steady his nerves; he glared firmly at Hawk, clenched his fists tightly, drew back his right arm and...suddenly passed out.

Cristina gasped in horror, as she watched her friend fall backwards with a groan and prepared to take on the bullies herself. Ever so slowly, Lincoln could feel his mind and body growing weak with fatigue. Then, his eyelids suddenly became heavy and he slowly drifted off into unconsciousness.

Before the world went dark; Lincoln's ears could hear the muffled sounds of Hank and Hawk's laughter, Cristina's worried cries, the murmuring of any people in the area...and what he presumed to be sirens. After that, he let out a soft groan and shut his eyes.

(Line Break)

As his eyes blinked softly, Lincoln let out a loud yawn and found himself lying inside of a hospital bed. With a startled gasp, Lincoln shot upright in his bed and began asking all manner of questions; such as "where am I" and "how did I get here?" Not long after this, a nurse suddenly approached him and placed her hands reassuringly on his shoulders.

"Calm down, young man" she urged softly, "it's okay...you're safe here." After about twenty seconds of breathing, Lincoln's nerves were finally calm enough for him to ask how he got into the bed. "You were brought here two hours ago by three policewomen" the nurse explained, "they said they found you unconscious on a sidewalk downtown and were covered in bruises."

After hearing this explanation, everything came back to Lincoln in a flash. In that instant, he remembered everything; from the walk he and Cristina had at Liam's farm to them on their way home from the bookstore. When this came into mind, Lincoln suddenly went pale with worry.

"Nurse, I need to ask you something and I hope the answer's good" he said desperately, "did a young redhead around my age come in here as well?" Sensing Lincoln's desperation, the nurse calmly laid him back against his pillow and assured him that his friend was fine. "One of the doctors had to give her some crème to help relieve the bruises on her cheeks, after we brought you in here" she explained, "but she's right as rain...despite being worried sick about your safety."

After that, she explained that aside from a few minor scratches and "one heck of a shiner;" the nurse assured Lincoln he'd be okay as well. "But...how did I get here" the boy mumbled, "last thing I heard before I passed out were the creeps laughing at me, my friend crying with fear and...sirens." Upon saying this, the door opened up and in came Officer Campos with Cristina in tow.

When she saw Lincoln up and awake, she gasped loudly with joy and rushed over to his bedside. "Lincoln, you're alright" she cried with joy while hugging him, "thank God...I was worried you were out cold." In an instant, Cristina suddenly realized what she was doing and pulled away while shyly blushing.

After his own blush subsided, Lincoln asked several questions; how did he get here, what was Miss Campos doing in the room with him and where were Hank and Hawk. "You may not be much of a fighter, chamaco" Campos said with a light chuckle, "but you can certainly take a beating as well as anyone I've seen." After that, she explained that Cristina sent a text to her and her partners at the house three hours ago.

"When we heard you were in trouble; we thought it was nothing serious" she stated, "but then, your friend e-mailed a video she was recording of the whole thing and that was enough to get us down there." Having said this, Officer Campos chuckled sheepishly and apologized for taking so long to get to him. "The important thing is you came" Lincoln said matter-of-factly, "on that note, I wanna say thank you for...whatever it is that happened."

With this statement, Campos began to playfully tell Lincoln and Cristina everything that happened after he passed out. To start with; when they saw how viciously Hawk was brutalizing Lincoln, Officer Higgins used her taser gun on him. After seeing his pal fall unconscious, Hank was ready to give the officers what for.

"Unfortunately for him, the punk didn't realize we didn't come alone" Campos chuckled, "that was when Carol, Dana, Whitney and Becky came in and...well, I think you can guess the rest." To prove the officer's words were true, Cristina took out her phone and brought up a picture. While still a little tired, Lincoln couldn't help but laugh at the sight of the four gals in question standing over the brutalized forms of Hank and Hawk.

"After that, Miss Higgins handcuffed the both of them and escorted them back to Hazeltucky" Cristina explained, "from what I heard, they'll be in Juvenile Hall until they're twenty!" This caused the young lady to let out a jolly laugh, causing Campos to join in with her. But after about a moment or so, they quickly stopped when they saw the sullen look on Lincoln's face.

"Why the long face, Linc" inquired Cristina, "those bullies will never harm anyone of us kids again, thanks to us." After letting out a sigh, Lincoln looked at Cristina and admitted that while all that was true; their day ended up a total bust. "I wanted things to go smoothly for us, to make up for screwing things up long ago" Lincoln confessed, "but look where we ended up."

For almost two minutes, no one spoke a word; fearing that doing so would only make things worse. But then, Officer Campos smiled at Lincoln and patted him affectionately on the cheek. "Amigo, I'm afraid you are mistaken" she stated, "while you rested, Cristina told us everything else that happened before the fight...and it sounded like you had a lot of fun."

Lincoln blinked in confusion, appearing baffled by the officer's words. Then, he turned slightly towards Cristina and asked if she was telling the truth. "I was, Lincoln" she said softly, "aside from what happened near the end, I did have a lot of fun with you today...thank you."

In an instant, the young lad found himself smiling softly. "I'm happy everything turned out great for you, Cristina" he murmured happily, "that is...I'm happy things turned out great for both of us." With that, Lincoln suddenly felt himself becoming more at ease and he asked the nurse if there was anything serious regarding his physical state. "Doctor found no signs of severe injury or broken bones" the nurse said with relief in her voice, "aside from a black eye and a few bruises, you're perfectly fine."

After that; Officer Campos said some people were going to clean up his scratches later and then, they'd help tend to his swollen eye. "After that, you'll be home in the morning" she stated, "you're gonna be okay." With that said, she gave Lincoln a hug and left him alone with Cristina while she and the doctor sort things out.

After a while; the young lady in question approached Lincoln's bedside, took him by the hand and smiled. "Thanks for standing up to those jerks earlier" she muttered, "that was really brave...a little dangerous but still, rather brave." Lincoln blushed slightly and assured Cristina it was no big deal.

"It's one thing to hassle me, I've dealt with it from my sisters for years" he declared, "but when one of my friends is in danger, I get really burned up!" Cristina giggled softly at his bold statement and, much to his surprise, gave him a light peck on the cheek; causing him to almost burn bright red. "Now, don't get used to that kind of thing" she said firmly, "as I said, I'm not ready for any romance...yet."

After saying this, she handed Lincoln his bag containing the books he purchased; including The Princess Bride. When he came back to his senses, Lincoln cleared his throat and assured Cristina that he perfectly understood her. "I'm more comfortable with us being friends anyway" he stated, "thanks for helping me out back there."

Cristina smiled warmly at Lincoln and assured him that he would always have her back. "So, I was thinking" she muttered, "when you get out; maybe...maybe we could hang out again and read your book together?" Lincoln took a moment to consider his lady friend's offer and then, when he looked inside his bag; he came up with the perfect response.

With a toothy grin upon his face; Lincoln patted Cristina's hand lightly, looked her in the eyes and said "as you wish."

The End

(First AN: Those of you who will read Lincoln's standoff with Hank and Hawk and call it "unrealistic;" remember what Officer Campos said. While Lincoln may not have many fighting skills like Lynn or Lori, he's certainly able to take a licking and keep on ticking. Plus, there's a very old saying that fits Lincoln's situation with the bullies rather well.
"It's not about how hard you can punch, it's about how many hits you can take and still find the strength to get back up again." On that note, I think Lincoln's fight with the bullies was done rather well. But what do you all think?)

(Second AN: Despite all the hints; no, Linc and Cristina do not end up as a couple at the end of this. They both agree that they aren't quite ready for a relationship just yet. That being said, he still has a spot for the likes of Cristina and any other gal he holds dear.)

(Final AN: Sorry if all the Princess Bride references seemed a bit much. But I figured that like me, Lincoln would also be a mad fan of the story as well as the movie. Those of you who haven't looked at either version, I highly recommend you look them up; the story is really charming.

On a side note; those of you who are confused by the "as you wish" line, the story suggested it was Westley's way of saying "I love you" to Buttercup. So, when Clyde said it to Lori and when Linc said it to Cristina; they were saying that very thing to the both of them...with Lincoln being the only one to earn a positive response from it)