Playing the Fool with the Gal Pals
(Story Summary: April Fools is fast approaching and, in spite of the court order; the Louds are still worried that Luan might regress to her crazed prankster self once more. When the Gal Pals catch wind of this; one of the honorary members, Beatrix Yates, comes to Lincoln's aid and offers up a challenge to the "Prankster Princess." If she loses, Luan will willingly agree to never think about pranks on April 1st and forsake all pranking tendencies.
However, if Luan wins; Beatrix and the entire Gal Pals crew will serve as her primary prank victims...forever. Who will win in the end, will Luan honor her promises and what sort plan does Beatrix have up her sleeves.)
(A Note to the Reader: Chronologically speaking, this oneshot takes place one year after the events of Spring Break-Up)
It was a bright and sunny day in Royal Woods and everyone was indulging in some long-awaited Spring Break fun. Among those taking part in such activities were the Gal Pals crew, who chose to gather down at Tall Timbers Park for a picnic together. After weeks of studying, homework and the usual schoolyard grind; it felt so nice to have a moment to relax.
"This has been such a wonderful afternoon; hasn't it, ladies" questioned Cristina, "the sun's out, the birds are singing and the picnic food is just delish!" The other Gals couldn't help but agree, even those who appeared to have food in their mouths; today truly was a wonderful Spring Break day. "So, who's got ideas on what we should do tomorrow" Stella asked, "I was thinking that we could all pitch in and book some rooms down at Weeping Willow Resort & Lodge!"
With a giggle, she went on to talk about how Lincoln went on a trip with his family there a long time ago. "From what he told me, the place is awesome" Stella squealed, "it's got bumper boats, the lake is beautiful, it has horseback riding and...twenty-six different flavors of fudge!" All of this had the Gals trembling with glee, especially Carol; who appeared to be salivating hungrily at the mentioning of the fudge.
But then, all too quickly...reality suddenly struck the group like a lightning bolt and they realized the trip would be a no-go. "As I also seem to recall, Stell; Linc's fam had to save up for who knows how long to pay for that trip" Phoebe said bluntly, "I think he said that rooms for all of them added up to $1,800 bucks total!" This reveal came as such a shock to rest of the group that some of them came close to choking on their food.
With yet another idea down the tubes, Haiku suggested having a scary movie marathon down at the cemetery. "It's the perfect atmosphere" she stated, "all we need is a projector, a screen and some tasty horror themed snacks...I know a good recipe for Bat Burgers. Once more, the Gals almost lost control due to the shocking nature of a friend's idea...specifically when it came to the food.
After taking a brief moment to shake away the chill from their bones, the other Gal Pals proclaimed that the idea actually sounded fun...but only on paper. "I mean, I do remember my class having a scary movie night at the cemetery back when I was in 8th Grade" Becky stated, "but my teacher said we could only do that if we passed our exam and if we got the 'a-okay' to use the property." Not long after she said all this, the teen added that it was unknown if holding a movie viewing at a graveyard was legal (if not safe.)
"For the record, we're open to having horror movie viewings" Cici assured, "we're just saying that it might not be...appropriate to watch them in a cemetery; at least, during the dead of night." Haiku murmured the word "sigh" under her breath in defeat, realizing that her friends had made valid cons towards her idea. "Jeez, ladies...I'm drawing a complete blank here" grumbled Whitney, "my brain must still be tired from studying so much this week."
The rest of the crew sounded off tiredly in both agreement and defeat, muttering how it shouldn't be healthy for people to stress their brains so much in one week. "I wish Linky was here with us" Dana mewed sadly, "not only would he be able to come up with a plan...I could really use the company to help forget about school life." Some of the other Gals couldn't help but agree with her, while also mentioning that they hadn't seen Lincoln around very much outside of school.
"Well, whatever's going on; I haven't heard anything from his folks either" Whitney stated, "in fact...they and the rest of the Louds have all been eerily quiet lately." For the third time that afternoon, half of the Gal Pals almost fell over themselves in shock while the other almost choked on their beverages. After everyone finally managed to calm down, Carol asked for everyone to agree to not share shocking news while having a meal; which was met with a resounding "aye!"
"So...Rewind and pause for a bit, Whitney" murmured Cici, "did you just say that the Loud House has been quiet...for how long?" The poofy-haired teen scratched her chin in silence for a moment and then, she revealed there hasn't been much going on with the Louds for almost three days. "Seriously...no loud rock music, no bats flying out the windows, no spontaneous roof explosions" Cici asked, "that is strange."
In an instant, the group's earlier joy quickly faded and they started to wonder if their male bestie was safe. Upon sensing this sudden mood change in the group, Carol made an attempt to lift everyone's spirits by suggesting on doing something fun; like bird watching. "Yeah...to be honest, I don't know if I feel like eating anymore" Phoebe murmured with shame, "I'm not even in the mood for bird watching while our buddy is in some kind of trouble!"
No sooner had she said this, the young shutterbug suddenly felt a shiver of regret run through her body. On a beautiful day like today, she really hoped to have a moment to indulge in one of her favorite photography hobbies. But at the same time; she wouldn't be able to live with herself, if something big was happening to Lincoln and she wasn't around to help him.
"It's settled, then; once we've all finished eating, we'll go over to Lincoln's house and see if his family's alright" Jordan decreed, "all in favor, say 'Gal Pals!'" Without the slightest hesitation, the other ladies heartily chanted out their group name with gusto and returned to their meal. After that, all seemed as calm and peaceful as it was from the start.
But for some reason, the ladies sensed that there was something...odd in the atmosphere; they just couldn't figure out what it was. Then, at that moment; Cristina looked up in the trees and gave a joyful squeal. "Guys, quick...get out your phones" she cried eagerly, "there's some kind of new bird species up on the high branch of those trees!"
Excited by this news, every one of the Gals quickly pulled out their phones and scoped the area; hoping that this mystery bird hadn't flown away yet. Finally, the crew spotted it on the highest branch of a nearby oak tree; poking its beak into a small knothole. The little critter appeared to have sort of unique orange and white plumage, blue "legs" and a pointed beak.
While at first glance, this seemed like a unique find; Phoebe couldn't help but think something felt...off about the "mystery bird." Meanwhile, the rest of the Gals seemed far too be excited by this unique specimen to even consider this. "EEE! It looks so adorable" Carol squealed with glee, "this will make the perfect background image for a Spring Selfie."
With this thought in mind, she readied her phone and prepped herself in the best kind of pose she could think of. But just as she was about to snap a picture, the rest of the crew saw a falcon perching beside the "mystery bird" on the tree branch. It glared intensely at the little critter, causing it to seemingly break out in a nervous sweat.
Not wishing to appear rude, the "mystery bird" greeted the falcon with a soft yet odd sounding "squawk;" as if it were asking a question. But unfortunately, the bird of prey wasn't interested in making any sort of friends; especially scrawny intruders. With its wings spread out wide and its head held high, the falcon opened its mouth and let out a piercing screech.
This short yet fierce noise was just enough to startle the odd "mystery bird." With a frightened yelp, it suddenly fell backwards off the branch and fell to the ground like a stone. Feeling desperate, the "mystery bird" attempted to save itself by flapping its "wings" frantically.
Sadly, he was barely able to even hover in the air; as a result, the "mystery bird" crashed into a bush with a resounding thud. "OMG! Did you ladies see that fall" cried Cristina, "we've gotta go help the little thing, quick!" Not needing to be told twice, the ladies all leapt to their feet and made a beeline straight for the bushes.
After pushing aside a few leaves and branches, they were relieved to see that while it looked a little dazed; the bird looked relatively unharmed. However...upon observing the creature more closely, the ladies soon realized something was off. "Okay...I'll be the first to admit I'm no bird expert" Paige stated, "but since when do birds wear sneakers?"
Not long after this was said, the rest of the crew noticed several other odd traits about this "mystery bird;" such as the pillow feather wings and the fact that its beak was attached to a rubber band. Upon removing it, the Gals saw a human mouth underneath; which happened to have a pair of familiar buck teeth with a slight chip. "Oh no, it's Lincoln" cried Carol, "oh my gosh, I hope nothing's broken; Lori or Mrs. Loud will never forgive me, if there is!"
With this reveal, the Gals wasted no time in going into "TLC Mode." The first thing they did was quickly brush away any leaves, twigs and/or dirt off Lincoln's body; making sure not to touch any sore or possible broken areas. Of course, the whole time this was going on; some of them couldn't help but commentate on the disguise he chose to wear.
"I knew something seemed off" Phoebe proclaimed, "for one thing, pillow feathers would never pass off as any typical bird plumage." Despite however much the Gals agreed with their friend, Cici was the first to firmly urge her to remain focused on the task at hand; which was attending to their fallen friend. Afterwards, Carol and her crew lifted Lincoln up off the bush and gently carried him over to the picnic blanket.
After the teens gently let him down, Jordan placed her purse down sideways; allowing it to be used as a sort of makeshift pillow to rest Lincoln's head on. Once he was comfortable, the Gals did their best to try and reawaken Lincoln him as best as they could. "C'mon, pal...speak to us" Becky urged desperately, "say something to show us you're okay, ANYTHING!"
Much to everyone's relief, Lincoln finally did make some sort of response...but it only happened almost a minute and a half later. Furthermore, instead of giving them a sort of greeting; the first thing he said was a sort of groggy "chirpy-chirpy...chirp, chirp, chirp." "We've gotta find a way to wake him up, somehow" Jordan murmured worriedly, "any ideas, ladies?"
Barely five seconds passed by and like a flash, the Gals were struck by inspiration; they decided to shock or surprise him. "But how exactly are we supposed to do that" asked Kat, "I mean...I could touch a cold soda can to his cheek, that usually wakes me up." While the idea sounded good, the group thought the sudden chill would give Lincoln too great of a fright; not to mention they'd already split up drank all the sodas they brought earlier on.
It was here that Stella came up with an idea that would surely do the trick, one that she assured would be both safe and effective. First, she took a moment to clear hear throat; to ensure that Lincoln would hear her clearly. Then, she slowly eased herself over his slumbering form till she was just within earshot.
Finally, with a naughty smile on her face; Stella said "hey, Lincoln...they've released an Ace Savvy/Muscle Fish crossover comic down at the mall today." In an instant, Lincoln's eyes suddenly shot open and he flew up onto his feet with a hearty cheer. Meanwhile, the rest of the Gals stared at the scene before them with looks of awe upon their faces.
When Lincoln finally came to his senses and saw that everyone was looking at him, his joy slowly faded; which led to his body slumping down slightly in annoyance. "Why...Why does that trick always get me" he grumbled, "you'd think I would've learned after Lynn did it to me over the past four years." The Gals did everything they could to not giggle at their friend's disappointment, despite however much adorable his mild disappointment looked.
After a while, they'd all calmed themselves down enough to greet Lincoln in the usual manner; with a safe yet equally loving multi-sided group hug. "Sorry for the lie there, pal" Stella muttered with a light blush of shame, "but...you were unconscious and we needed a way to wake you up that wouldn't give you too much of a scare." After hearing his friend say all of this, Lincoln stared at her with a look of utter confusion; as if everything she said sounded like an alien language.
"It's true, buddy boy" Cici said matter-of-factly, "you've been unconscious for almost two minutes, after you fell from the tree over there." Once again, Lincoln stared at his friends with a look of utter confusion; trying to understand exactly what they were talking about. It was here that he finally got a chance to look at himself and noticed he was still wearing his pillow feather bird wings.
After that, everything finally became clear to Lincoln and he realized that the Gals had all been telling him the truth. Then, mere seconds later; a chilling sense of dread suddenly crept over him and his body suddenly started to shiver. "Oh, you poor thing" Dana cooed in alarm, "are you sick...hold on, my parents packed me some soup for our lunch."
With that said, she quickly reached into the picnic basket and drew out a long thermos. Then, after she unscrewed the lid; Dana carefully poured some soup out and handed it over to Lincoln. "Thanks, D...you're a peach" the boy said gratefully, "thing is, I'm not really sick...I just need something to help calm my nerves a little."
As he took a moment to sample some of Dana's soup, the Gals looked down at Lincoln with looks of horror upon each of their faces; wondering what could be leaving him feeling so on edge. Their first assumption was that he might've been bullied again at school and those like Whitney or Carol looked ready to bust some heads, if their hunch was right. "No worries, guys; I don't have a bully anymore" Lincoln assured with a light smile, "after Biff and the others left, last year; Principal Ramirez has intensified the 'Anti-Bullying' policy at school."
Straightaway, Phoebe proclaimed that the Loud Boy's words were true; adding that even the teachers were now being warned about this new policy. It didn't take long for the eldest members of the crew to understand why this was the case. After the years Bolhofner spent making the lives of Middle School students a nightmare, their friends included; they wondered why this policy wasn't enacted sooner.
"Okay...so, if it's not a bully that's got ya so jumpy; what is it" Whitney inquired, "what brought you to dress like a bird and hide here in the park?" Before answering her, Lincoln told his friend that the bird disguise wasn't the first time he tried hiding there. One other attempt he made was a day or so ago, which involved him hiding in the lake and using a reed to help him breathe.
"Ooh! Clever idea, Linc; guessing you saw the latest survival special Rip Hardcore released" Kat chuckled, "but...why on earth were you even hiding at all?" Rather than give her a verbal response; Lincoln reached into his pocket, brought out his phone and pressed the calendar icon on the screen. It was here that the Gals noticed something odd about Saturday's date on it.
It was circled three times over in red, had several Halloween emojis around it (specifically skulls and devil faces) and even one or two "Danger" sign emojis around it. "Oh...kay, this is weird" Becky murmured, "Linc, why do you have all this around Satur..." Just as she was about to finish her sentence, she took another look at the date and saw something that almost made her eyes pop out; the word "April" and the number one.
Soon after that, the entire Gal Pals crew suddenly felt themselves experiencing the same sense of dread Lincoln felt mere seconds ago. Their bodies shivered, their faces paled slightly (except for Haiku's) and their voices sounded off with a series of distressed whimpers. For those unaware who would pass them by, they would think there wasn't anything that grim about April 1st.
But for people like the Gals, Lincoln and the rest of his family; the date brought nothing but all manner of painful and/or traumatizing memories. However, just as they were feeling the fingers of dread grip around them; Haiku quickly brought something to the crew's attention. "With all due respect, Lincoln...why are you still afraid of April 1st" she asked bluntly in her usual monotone, "as I recall...your sister, Luan is now forbidden by law to pull off any of her outrageous pranks anymore."
The moment this factoid was brought onto the table, the other Gals' earlier dread instantly vanished and they each heaved out long sighs of relief. Meanwhile, Lincoln still looked like danger was still looming around him; in spite of the wee Goth's reveal. "Haiku's right, dude" Phoebe stated, "if word gets out that your sister pulls off even one of her insane April Fools pranks again, it's back to the slammer for her!"
Once more, Lincoln wished he could feel as relieved as his friends...but he couldn't. His mind still echoed with the sounds of terrified screams and cries of embarrassment made by the victims of Luan's Prank-Pocalypse assaults over the years (his family among them.) As if sensing this, the Gals decided to try and calm Lincoln down with some food; which he happily welcomed.
Like a hungry dog, he wasted no time in eating and/or drinking whatever they offered; much to their mild disgust. Then, after he'd almost sucked a pouch of fruit punch dry; Lincoln suddenly realized what he was doing and apologized to his friends for his actions. "Thanks for the food, ladies...really" Lincoln said gratefully, "truth is, I've been hungry since the moment I woke up this morning."
As expected, this statement caused several of the Gals to murmur in either disbelief or shock; while the rest simply asked if he was joking. "Seriously, what are you even talking about" Paige asked, "didn't your parents feed you and your sisters this morning?" After swallowing a bit of a cookie he had just bitten into, Lincoln said that no one in his family had a chance to make a decent breakfast for themselves.
"Seriously...all of you guys are on edge over this" questioned Cici, "just call up your godmothers and they'll handle things from there." Much to everyone's surprise, Lincoln openly protested to the idea without so much as a second thought. Even though calling any member of the police would nip any possible prank attacks in the bud, he had no desire to send his sister to jail.
"The thing is...despite however jumpy I am, Luan hasn't actually pulled a prank on anyone in my family...yet" Lincoln murmured, "I know, it sounds strange but it's the truth." As expected, the Gals were left baffled by this reveal and asked what the real reason behind his fear was. "It...It's a bit hard to explain, ladies" Lincoln muttered, "you might as well get comfortable because there's a bit of a story behind this."
With that, all twelve Gals sat down on the blanket alongside their friend; while also collecting a few of the remaining snacks from their picnic bags. Once everyone was comfortable, Lincoln got straight to the point of his story. While the local law enforcement still remained on alert for her next outrageous prank, Luan was actually doing everything in her power to restrain herself.
Surprised by this, the Gals couldn't help but slightly praise the Louds' resident comedienne for her show of self-control. But while he greatly appreciated the gesture, Lincoln told them not to feel too pleased with her. "You'd all be thinking differently, if you've actually seen what Luan's been like this week" he said grimly, "she's locked herself up in her room, cackles madly under her breath 24/7, has written words like "HA-HA" or 'no gags and no pranks make Luan a dull clown' with pie filling on her bedroom wall...and I swear, I thought I heard her humming 'Pop Goes the Weasel' in her room last night."
Before anyone had the chance to make a sort of snappy retort; Lincoln explained that Luan's humming sounded faint, haunting and eerily frantic (like she was only doing that to keep herself from snapping.) "I haven't seen behavior like this since Lori went several days without texting or calling with Bobby" he stated, "scratch that, Luan is ten-thousand times worse than that!" Upon being reminded one of his eldest sister's strongest urges, the Gal Pals soon realized what the problem was.
After so many years of pranking people, family or otherwise, Luan had become utterly hooked on it; especially on April Fools. Now, if Lincoln's story was true (and the Gals could sense that it was;) Luan might've been exhibiting severe signs of withdrawal. Ironically, all of Luan's mannerisms that were mentioned in the story seemed more akin to people trying to kick real bad habits; such as overeating, smoking or too much caffeine.
But considering the girl's mad desire for pranks, her insane attitude every April 1st and all of the evidence Lincoln shared with them about the prank-related trauma his family had endured; the Gals agreed that this seemed so much worse by comparison. "This sounds like a dire situation, everybody" Carol said firmly, "and you know what that means, right?" With firm looks upon their faces, every member of the Gal Pals (save for Lincoln) nodded at one another and murmured five simple words; "it's time...for a Powwow."
"Whitney, put out the call" Carol ordered, "I think we're gonna need everyone's help with an issue this big." Whitney nodded obediently, took out her phone and pressed the "mass text" button on the screen. Afterwards, her thumbs started typing away at a mile per minute; making certain that every part of the message was clear and concise.
The last thing she added to the message was an emoji of a group of football players huddled up. After all this was finished, Whitney pressed the "send" button and the text was delivered. "Hope you all get the message, guys" she thought hopefully, "it's a matter of utmost importance that you do."
(the next few scenes show a montage of all the other members of the Gal Pals receiving the text message. In addition to them, members of the Guy Squad also receive the message. After reading the text from beginning to end, their reactions varied from alarmed to downright miffed)
As the message traveled out to the other branches of the Gal Pals crew, each recipient was suddenly reminded of the stories they've heard about Luan Loud's prank sprees the heard in the past (either from the trial or Lincoln himself.) Even though some of them hadn't experienced her actions up close for themselves, those who did suddenly felt heavy chills run through them; giving them feelings of military-grade PTSD. In the end, the responses to the Gal Pal Powwow summons was met with unanimous agreement; even from those who lived a long way's from Royal Woods.
Margo: "Oh, heck no! Anybody who messes with Lynn's fam is an enemy of mine...even if the crook involved is a member of that fam!"
Nadia: "After what she did to my neighbors four years ago on April 1st, you bet I'll help try and help stop her from pulling the same stunt again!"
Ronnie Anne: "Pranks are supposed to be fun, not dangerous; if you need my help, count me in!"
Dolores: "I still think we should tell my mother about this...but if you think planning things out is better, so be it."
Maddie: "Lincoln and my Kaito are besties...so, I need to make sure both of them are safe; especially from Luan's crazy pranks."
Nikki: "Wish I could help...but I'm here in the city. Still, I can give ya any kind of advice you might find useful."
Sid: "First of all...ask Lincoln if he can send me a pic of his bird disguise. I wanna see if it's believable enough for future camouflage attempts. Second of all, I'm all for a good prank...but if the stories I've been hearing are true; what Luan used to do goes too far.
I can't say I'll be much help...but I'll try and give any kind of input you could use."
One by one, members of the vastly growing friend group responded to the text; several expressing how much they dreaded the idea of Lincoln experiencing anymore bad April Fools memories. This pleased Carol greatly and she sent another mass text, asking everyone to assemble down at Lynn's Table for supper. "Those of you who can't be with us in person, just use your webcams" she instructed, "we're gonna need our best, brightest and most creative thinkers with us on this matter."
As if on cue; the very instant she said this, Carol suddenly got a video call coming in. Upon answering it, she was suddenly greeted by the smiling face of one Beatrix Yates; a girl Carol hadn't seen for sometime. "Heya, girl; long time no see" she greeted happily, "how are things down at Lansing?"
The eldest Yates child squealed joyfully at her old friend and wasted no time in telling her what she had done so far. "I've been learning so much here about computer programming and coding, since I've went off to college" she said excitedly, "but...I've been feeling pretty homesick lately and couldn't stop thinking about all my friends." Carol and all others online felt greatly touched by Bea's words, expressing how much they've missed seeing her as well.
It was here that she got the idea to invite her to the Powwow, hoping that she would say yes. "If it means getting the chance to see you guys again during break, I'm all for it" Beatrix replied, "but...why gather so many people for this 'powwow' of yours?" Carol smiled lightly at her friend and told her that everything would be made clear, when she arrives.
After letting these words sink in for a few moments, something in Carol's tone gave everyone present (so to speak) a strong sense of uncertainty. "Whatever is going on, it feels like something incredibly serious" Beatrix thought mentally, "I just hope I'll be able to help everybody involved."
As the scene shifts over to Lynn's Table, the town eatery owned by Lynn Loud Sr. and his family; the "viewer" spots a sign upon the glass door that reads "Meeting in Progress: Come Back Later." Inside, we find many of the Gal Pals members chattering amongst themselves; some of whom appeared to be communicating via webcams (like Ronnie Anne or Carlota.) Also in attendance were some members of the Loud Family; who, according to Carol, also had a part to play in this group meeting.
At one time, Lynn Sr. (being the dutiful man that he was) offered to serve the attendees a little something to eat during their meeting. "Ain't no way we're letting you cook for so many by yourself, Lynn" Officer Simmons said firmly, "let me and Omar give you a couple of extra hands." Without hesitation, Lynn Sr. happily welcomed her offer; as did the rest of the Louds.
As for the children, all eleven mouths suddenly started watering with delight at the thought of their godmother/police guardian being in the kitchen. While they all agreed that their father was an excellent cook; during the time she and her partners helped watch over them, Gail Simmons proved to be just as skilled (if not slightly better.) Furthermore, her Cajun and Creole dishes filled the Loud House's kitchen with such delicious aromas that even the pets found themselves salivating hungrily.
"Any of you kids fancy some Jambalaya" she asked, "what about a plate of my famous Red Beans & Rice with Sausage?" The first to speak up were the officer's two children, Tonya and Omar; who both went with the latter food option. Meanwhile, many others suggested a mix of both chefs creations; some of Officer Simmons' Five Alarm Gumbo with a side of Mr. Loud's famous Mac n' Cheese Bites.
The two adults and Omar nodded in understanding and went off into the kitchen, leaving everyone else in the dining area to talk. "Okay, everybody; while they're busy cooking...I hereby call this Gal Pal Powwow to order" Carol decreed while lightly slamming a napkin dispenser like a gavel, "is there any old business to discuss before we begin?" Almost immediately, the first to answer this call was Ronnie Anne; who revealed that her brother had recently added something new to the Mercado...an official website.
"My friend, Laird has a cousin who helps design websites for business people" she stated, "he and I were able to help convince him to make a site for our business." At first, everyone felt that the idea was a very clever one...until they realized on glaring issue with it. "Isn't your store like one of those...Mom & Pop kind of places, Ronnie Anne" questioned Cici, "in which case, why would it need a website?"
In response to this, Carlota chimed in and answered this question with one of her own; did anyone catch anything interesting on TV recently? "Uh...nothing comes to mind, Missy" Ellie murmured, "except for the recent bombshell of a finale on Dreamboat last month." As if this was some kind of "secret word," Carlota squealed with glee and asked if anyone had seen anything interesting during the commercial break.
As expected; this was met with many people saying they preferred to skip past, leave the room or mute their TV's during the commercials. "I guess that's to be expected, nobody likes sitting through ads" Ronnie Anne chuckled, "I just hope you didn't mute OURS, when it came on." This sudden declaration created quite the reaction from everyone, to say the least.
Some like Lana or Lynn dug their fingers into their ears, checking to see if they heard her correctly. Others meanwhile, stared at Ronnie Anne with looks of utter disbelief on their faces. "If you guys want proof, I'll give it to you" she said with a coy grin, "just...give me a sec to look up something on my phone."
After waiting for almost twenty seconds, everyone looked towards the laptop and saw Ronnie Anne showing off an online video on her phone. At first, everyone thought it was an ad playing before the video started; as was expected from online sites. But Carlota revealed that the ad was the video her cousin wanted her to see.
The first few seconds featured Bobby walking about the Casagrande Mercado, playing an accordion and singing a ballad about everything they had. Beside him was his Abuelo, Hector Casagrande; who was singing along with Bobby while playing his guitar. Naturally, everyone praised the duo for their impressive musical skills; especially the ladies (young and old.)
Then, the ad showed several members of the family dressed in costumes modeled after some of the food they sell at their store. Naturally, Carol and her crew thought they looked adorably stylish; which Carlota found to be quite flattering. Then in a flash; the ad turned into a sort of hip hop video with Bobby and his grandfather dancing while their parrot companion, Sergio was showing off his deejay skills at a turntable.
"Goodness...That bird is a most impressive creature" Lisa murmured in amazement, "I wonder if he has any other skills?" Many people agreed with the young genius while also praising Hector and Bobby's singing skills. When the music had ended, everyone could see the entire Casagrande Family looking at the camera and proclaiming "bienvenidos, welcome to the Casagrande Mercado!"
After the video came to an official end, everyone in the room cheered loudly with applause. Many praised the ad not only for its catchy tune and the inside look into their business, they also praised the costumes that the family was wearing during the one scene. "Thanks, everybody; those were my mine and my mom's idea" Carlota said with pride, "Bobby thought they could be useful in catching people's attention."
The instant she brought this up, everyone soon notice the young lady's joyful expression shift slightly into a bitter frown. It was here that Carlota revealed that her grandfather had mocked Bobby's ideas, at first; claiming that "the Mercado was doing just fine without any sort of silly gimmick." As a result; for a short time, he went on to work at Mr. Hong's market; which was one of the other businesses within their neighborhood.
"Long story short; Abuelo tried to do things his way, after Bobby left" Ronnie Anne stated, "but...the only person who stopped by for weeks was a guy who had a business selling tumbleweeds." No sooner had she mentioned this, she added that this fellow only happened to stop by after one of his tumbleweeds blew into the Mercado. "Then, Bobby got fired from Hong's place" Carlotta revealed, "as it turned out, not all of his ideas were good ones."
Taken aback by this "insult," Lori was mere seconds away from defending her boyfriend's honor. But when Ronnie revealed that his latest suggestions involved customers bringing in pets, everyone suddenly realized the point she was making...especially Lori. "Things got even crazier when the pets started chasing some bunnies around Hong's store" Carlota stated, "and in case anyone's wondering...they were part of another one of Bobby's ideas; customers cuddling bunnies while they shopped."
At the end of the day, Hong had no choice but to fire Bobby for the damage he caused. But Hector happily welcomed his grandson back to his place, while also apologizing for not giving any of his ideas a try. "After a bit of discussion and a little compromise, Abuelo finally agreed to Bobby's idea" Ronnie Anne stated, "but...he urged him to keep just a few of his suggestions under his hat, after what happened at Hong's place."
Many people, the children included, agreed with Hector's words; calling them both firm yet fair. Still, they were happy that he chose to respond to one or two of Bobby's ideas. "It's so cool that you guys have your own commercial" Cristina exclaimed, "I'll bet you guys got loads of customers coming in, after that."
With a proud smile on her face, Ronnie Anne shifted her camera behind her to show a long line of people inside of their store. "Only downside about this...it's hard for me to get to the front door, sometimes" she chuckled, "but this is thanks to both Bobby's commercial and the website idea I mentioned, both of which my Abuelo seemed...a little hesitant about." It didn't take long for everyone to understand the reason behind Hector's behavior.
Like any other senior would in his position, the idea of implementing "new-fangled modern ideas" into their tried and true work ethic seemed rather preposterous. "But...much to his surprise, Abuelo saw that both ideas brought in more customers than we've ever seen" Carlota explained, "just last week, a tourist came to visit Great Lakes City all the way from Tennessee and the Mercado was one of the places he wanted to visit!" This reveal left many in the room even more amazed than they felt after viewing Bobby's commercial.
Before long; both Ronnie Anne and Carlota got into a big story about what the tourist said, bought and saw in Great Lakes. Ronnie Anne even showed several pictures she took for the tourist. Alas...while all of this was entertaining, it seemed like a huge distraction from the matter at hand.
With this in mind, Haiku decided to bring everyone back to earth and she had just the way to do it. She brought out her phone, accessed her music library and (after taking a moment to adjust the volume) played a loud collection of pipe organ tunes. This sudden noise not only caused their conversations to cease, it also led to everyone covering their ears painfully.
"OW! Aw man...not cool, brah" grumbled Luna irritably, "if you want somebody's attention, ask for it politely!" The rest of the Louds seconded the young rocker's words, while the Gal Pals asked for an explanation behind Haiku's actions. "I truly am sorry for what I had to do, everyone" the wee Goth girl murmured sincerely, "but I had to do something...your conversation almost distracted us from the main issue at hand."
With these words, everyone's faces suddenly started to glow red with mild shame; regretting the fact they almost lost sight of what really mattered. "Thanks for the reminder there, Haiku" Carol said gratefully, "moving on to new business, I've summoned you all here to discuss an important issue...April Fools is coming." Now, some might hear this news and claim that the so-called "holiday" is nothing more than something that gives people free reign to humiliate each other with crude jokes and pranks.
But to the people of Royal Woods (or more specifically the Louds,) this day was that and so much more. "Now...for those of you unaware, April 1st has been...a bit of a rough time for the people of this town" Carol said grimly, "and we all know the reason why by now, right?" Without missing a beat, nearly everyone present (including those on webcam) murmured one simple word..."Luan."
This alone caused many to grimace, shiver, whimper or tremble slightly with disgust. Upon sensing this, Rita rose from her seat and attempted to try and bring her daughter's name in a more positive light. "Now, I know Luan's actions have caused a lot of us...issues; my family included" she said warily, "but at the same time, her comedic talents have been used for good!"
With these words, she proceeded to reference every party and social event she had been hired to entertain for. "You do have a point, Mrs. Loud" said Jordan's mother, Mrs. Rosato; "but those events are small potatoes compared to the 'epic' level pranks and gags she's pulled on this town." No sooner had she said this, Carlota suddenly brought up something Bobby told once her; something about Lori having an "eyebrow situation" that caused her to postpone any dates for the entirety of April.
"She wasn't joking about that, dudes" Luna said suddenly, "it was an incident that happened back when I was in 4th Grade." She then explained that the incident involved Luan switching Lori's nighttime face mask cream with a sort of waxing substance. When she pulled off the stuff, the next morning; the poor girl had inadvertently pulled off her own eyebrows.
In terms of the incident from Bobby's story, she added that Lori wanted to make sure something like that would never happen again. To say the least; everyone, young and old, shouted out loudly in shock. "But wait a minute...didn't the court force her to give up on her outrageous pranks" Donna Ramon asked matter-of-factly, "so, what's the real issue we're dealing with here?"
To help answer her question, the Louds offered to show a video one of them took at their house; which Lisa kept stored in her cellphone. Before playing it, she urged everyone to keep silent and listen very closely. "O...kay, weird vibes much" murmured Nikki on the laptop, "what's so important on the video that we need to hear?"
Rather than answer her, Lisa simply pressed the play button on her phone and held it towards the crowd. It was here that they caught sight of Luan and Luna's bedroom door, which was open slightly ajar. At first, everyone presumed that someone had forgotten to close it but the Louds said that wasn't the case.
Then, there came the sound of sad giggling coming from the room; which made everyone feel rather concerned. That's when the Gal Pals noticed the video on Lisa's phone suddenly zooming in, which meant she must've been walking towards the door. When she had finally got close enough, she peeked inside to see what exactly was going on.
That's when everyone saw it; the gag toys spread around the floor, the clown clothes that were stuffed in the nearest waste basket, the words "Ha-Ha-Ha" written in pie filling on the walls. When Lynn Sr. caught sight of the third example, his cheeks suddenly flared red with frustration. "Such a waste of perfectly good pie ingredients" he cried with outrage, "what has gotten into..." Before he had the chance to finish his statement, everyone sternly shushed the Loud Family patriarch and insisted that he keep quiet.
Afterwards, all was quiet again; which made it all the easier to hear what was going on next. On the video, Lisa took a cautious glance over towards the right side of the room and saw something that made her gasp softly with shock. There, everyone could see what looked like a makeshift stand-up comedy stage; complete with a nightclub background poster, mic stand and spotlights hanging from the ceiling.
At first, everyone (sans the Louds) was prepared to question how a teenager could afford such amenities; let alone her parents. But that thought quickly faded from their minds, when they took another look at the stage. It was here that everyone soon spotted Luan, rocking back and forth in some sort of fetal position.
They also noticed that the poor girl was a mess, her face was covered in poorly applied clown makeup and many swore they could hear her singing something. Of course, it was revealed that it wasn't Luan doing the singing but her "partner;" the dummy, Mr. Coconuts.
(Mr. Coconuts "singing")
"Even though you know your heart is breaking; laugh, clown, laugh!"
Even though something inside is grieving; laugh, clown, laugh!"
Almost immediately, many of the adults present at Lynn's Table recognized the lyrics of the song. It was something that was seen many times in films and television programs they've watched over the years. But something about Luan's version felt incredibly off to them.
Other artists who've performed the song did so with a jolly and pleasant attitude. But Luan...during the portions of the lyrics where the singer is supposed to laugh heartily, she instead went into a mad laughing fit before it turned into wailing sobs. Then, just when it seemed that things couldn't get anymore strange; Luan got up from her stage and slowly walked over to her vanity mirror.
There, she glared at her reflection silently for a few moments...until her sad expression suddenly shifted into an angry one. "C'mon, clown...weren't you listening" she yelled bitterly, "you're supposed to be laughing, not crying; so...LAUGH ALREADY!" With that final outburst; Luan chucked Mr. Coconuts at a nearby pile of whoopee cushions in anger, threw herself onto her bed and sobbed loudly into her pillows.
The whole time this was going on, no one watching the video dared to say a word; not even Lily. Finally, Lisa turned off her phone and softly cleared her throat before expressing her deepest apologies to everyone for seeing all of this. "What's going on with Luan, you guys" questioned Dana, "why was she acting like that?"
As a response, Lisa once again reminded everyone that April Fools Day was approaching; a day that once brought Luan incredible amounts of joy. "But...as many of you have pointed out; my sister is now forbidden by law to perform her outrageous tricks on that day" she explained, "if she were to break this rule in any way, she would later face severe consequences." To say that all this information left everyone feeling dirty would be a tremendous understatement.
But after a while, a few parents proceeded to question if this wasn't simply a front Luan was putting up; in an attempt to gain sympathy points from those who saw her "suffering." "That's what my husband and I thought too, everyone" Rita stated, "but...that changed after last year's April Fool's Day." She then explained how during the week of the date in question; Luan hadn't left her room, she hardly ate anything, she barely slept and she hadn't even spoken to Benny during that time.
When asked why all of this was happening at all, Officer Higgins was given the floor. "It's like what everybody else said; if Luan ends up violatin' the court's 'No Fooling Policy,' she could get punished big time" she stated, "so...all of this is simply her tryin' to honor that rule...a strong emphasis on tryin'." Lisa smiled softly at her godmother and confirmed that she was speaking the truth.
In addition to this, she explained how Luan was exhibiting telltale signs of what she dubbed "Pranking Withdrawal;" which was behavior more commonly seen amongst the most severe of addicts. "My elder sister has spent so much of her life being a trickster; it's become part of her very nature, I'm afraid" Lisa stated, "thus...taking away her love of pranking is like draining away her very life-force." In that moment, everyone in the room found themselves at a crossroads.
On the one hand, they felt pity for Luan during her time of suffering. But on the other hand, they believed that it was a good thing that the law finally took some action against Luan's often dangerous "jokes." "The truth of it is...I've seen this before from her" Lincoln interjected suddenly, "it happened sometime before my...falling out with my family, long ago."
Without delay, the young man regaled everyone with a story from his past; specifically the day his sister was practicing for her gig at the Chortle Portal. "For most of that week; Luan had used all sorts of gags, puns, quips and even her lamest jokes on all of us every chance she got" Lincoln murmured with mild annoyance, "all to 'test her skills' before her upcoming gig." At this point in the story, Lincoln's other sisters chimed in and everyone could see looks of regret plastered on all of their faces; Lincoln's included.
This sudden mood change came as quite the surprise for Rita, to say the least and she asked what happened next. "Long story short, Mom; we...got a little too frustrated with Luan and said her jokes were annoying all of us" Lincoln mumbled shamefully, "which led to her almost throwing all her comedy stuff in the trash...including Mr. Coconuts." Not only was Rita shocked to hear this news but at the same time, people swore they heard the sounds of dishes clattering in the kitchen.
Not long after that, Lynn Sr. poked his head out of the kitchen window and asked his children why they weren't told about this before. "We didn't tell you, Dad because we didn't even know it happened until the next morning" Lynn Jr. murmured in reply, "so...I know it's late but...we're sorry." The rest of her siblings offered up a similar apology, hoping that their parents wouldn't be mad.
"While I am disappointed that your father and I only found out about this now, I suppose you aren't...completely at fault" Rita sighed, "as you said, you were just frustrated from the endless gags and were only venting amongst yourselves." The Loud Children sighed softly with relief, happy to hear that their mother didn't hold this incident against them. Before moving on with the meeting, Lincoln revealed that he was able to get Luan back into the comedy spirit and he did so but "failing" at his own performance at the Chortle Portal.
"This is all well and good...but one thing still puzzles me" questioned Mr. Pingrey, "why does your daughter feel so driven to commit pranks to begin with?" To help bring light on the issue, Lola was given the floor and she claimed that her instructor during Sensitivity Training had a good theory about it. "As you guys may already know, my siblings and I used to get...pretty chaotic with our bickering and whatnot" she stated, "according to my teacher, Luan probably uses April Fools as an excuse to get back at us for all the times we've upset her during the rest of the year."
While this idea seemed...plausible on the surface, everyone agreed that no one should be allowed to act so cruelly towards others; sibling issues or no sibling issues. "Dr. Lopez once told me that Luan could be acting this way because to her, seeing others scream and cry in fear is 'funny'" Lincoln stated, "as she claimed during the big trial, 'humor is in the eyes of the clown...' whatever that means." Unsurprisingly, everyone was able to deduce the meaning behind Luan's rather cryptic motto but it only seemed to make things worse.
In the end, they seemed now have a better understanding of who she was and why she did what she did over the years...at least, to some degree. As if sensing the tension in the air, Lincoln made a desperate attempt to defend his sister's honor. "Despite everything she's done, Luan's main goal was always trying to get people to smile" he stated, "I mean...she always managed to help me smile when I was a baby."
Not long after this, the rest of the younger members of the Loud Siblings revealed similar moments where Luan helped brighten their lives. The most surprising of these came from Lucy, who claimed that Luan helped her out a great deal during a period where she struggled with her poetry. "This is all well and good, children; really" murmured Mr. Zhau, "but a few moments of kindness cannot erase all the years of destructive pranking she's committed."
Despite however much they wanted to disagree; in the end, the Louds realized that he wasn't exactly wrong with his argument. "The main point I'm trying to get to here is the reason why I've assembled this meeting in the first place" Carol interjected, "judging from what we've been shown and told tonight, Luan could be on the verge of breaking down in the worst of ways!" The instant this was said, everyone suddenly had visions of Luan breaking down and going on a mad pranking spree across Royal Woods as a result.
Of course, Lynn Jr. was quick to remind everyone of what would happen if she did prank anyone in town. "So...that's it" Lana murmured confusedly, "it's either we let Luan prank us, we get hurt in the process and she goes to jail or she doesn't prank us and goes bonkers from not being herself?" The instant this inquiry was brought to the table, almost everyone in the restaurant went into a rather heated debate on what to do next.
The only ones who weren't part of this were Lincoln and Beatrix, the latter teen looked as though she was in a deep state of thought. Her brow was scrunched up tight, the fingers of her left hand were scratching at her chin slightly and her right hand's fingers were drumming against the table she was sitting at. The instant he noticed this, Lincoln wondered what his lady friend could've been thinking about.
After almost a minute and a half of silence from her, Beatrix's face suddenly gleamed brightly with joy and she quickly (yet politely) called for everyone's attention. "Excuse me, everyone...excuse me" she called out respectfully, "I think I may have an idea of how to fix the 'Luan Situation.'" The instant this was said, everyone's voices swiftly stopped talking and all was quiet in the room once more.
Due to this sudden change of atmosphere, Beatrix suddenly found herself feeling slightly self-conscious and she wondered if she had said something wrong. "What did you say, young lady" Lynn Sr.'s voice called out from the kitchen, "hold that thought...we're almost finished in here." For almost five minutes, everyone sat in silence; wondering what to do or say next.
Then, Lynn and Officer Simmons came walking out of the kitchen while pulling a serving cart behind them. On it was a pot full of the police woman's Five Alarm Chicken Gumbo and a platter of Lynn's Mac & Cheese Bites. Although they were upset with how long the meal preparation took at first; when the smell of the food hit their collective nostrils, everyone quickly forgot about it all.
"So sorry for the wait, everybody...but 'good food takes a good amount of patience to make,' as my Mama always said" Officer Simmons stated, "now, what's this I'm hearin' about plans to deal with Miss Luan?" Without the slightest hesitation, the eldest Yates child stood up from her seat and walked out to the open area of the room. Then, she went on to describe a way to help ease Luan's troubled mind, keep her distracted and with luck, teach her a lesson.
"When you say 'teach her a lesson', Bea; you're not planning on doing anything...drastic against my sister, right" questioned Lincoln, "I mean...in spite of everything she's done on April Fools, the last thing I want is for her to suffer." Beatrix's smile faded slightly upon hearing these words, not because they offended her but for the fact that they touched her deeply. With a soft chuckle; she walked up to Lincoln, gave him a hug and kissed him lightly on the forehead; assuring him that her plan would be perfectly humane.
The time was now 7:30 in the AM on April 1st and everything seemed eerily quiet on Franklin Avenue. There were no sounds of children at play, no traffic flows, no pets making noises outside and even the Loud Residence seemed strangely calm. But inside of the aforementioned home, things were anything but calm.
Inside, Miss Luan Loud looked even more crazed and disheveled than she did earlier that week. She still wore her poorly applied clown makeup on her face, her usual clownish attire looked dirty, her ponytail had come undone (allowing her hair to hang down freely) and she was humming the tune of "Laugh, Clown, Laugh" under her breath in a fast tempo. Needless to say, she did not look like a very happy clown.
"The big day's finally here, Luan...your big day" Luan thought to herself, "or at least, it would be; if you were allowed to prank again!" The instant this thought popped into her head, Mr. Coconuts appeared beside her and lightly nudge Luan on the arm. With a coy look upon his wooden features, he attempted to "coerce" his puppet mistress into getting one of her gags out from her room and "find a nice schnook" to use it on.
"MR. COCONUTS...you know I can't do that" she cried out in horror, "if I break out any of my April Fools arsenal out again and use it, it's up the river for me...and I doubt they think clowns like me are funny down at the Big House." While her words had a strong ring of truth behind them, Mr. Coconuts shook his wooden head and told her that would "never happen." "C'mon, girlie...no one will ever know" the dummy "said" slyly, "just get out one of your best gags from your room and use it on the first chump who's crazy enough to walk through the door."
For what felt like ages, Luan hadn't said any kind of response to this. Instead, her eyes simply kept darting back and forth at her dummy companion and the front door of the house. While this was going on, the poor girl's mind swirled with many thoughts.
The court did grant her permission to prank someone at least once or twice a day, as Luan so vividly remembered. But at the same time; she was forever barred from ever engaging in any sort of prank that was bigger than joy buzzers, gag peanut brittle cans, fake limbs or the "ever popular" whoopee cushion. Anything that went beyond that would reward her with a One Way trip to the Michigan Insane Asylum.
Yet...even with this in mind, something inside of her still urged her to give in (or more specifically, beside her.) Slowly but surely, Luan lifted Mr. Coconuts up to her left ear; where he then proceeded to "whisper" to her in a most sinister tone. "C'mon, dollface...no one will ever know" said the dummy, "it's April Fools, you gotta do one prank on somebody...just one bitsy prank."
Again and again, the dummy's words kept echoing through Luan's already frazzled mind. Of course, she did try her best to ignore them...but since they were her own subconscious thoughts; it was almost impossible. Then, at that moment; a sound quickly snapped her out of her stupor.
With a crazed look in her eyes, Luan looked over and saw the doorknob was jiggling. "Someone's coming...but who" she whispered under her breath, "I mean...I haven't seen Mom, Dad or the others since I got up; you think that..." Just as she was about to finish her statement, Luan suddenly froze stiff like a deer caught in the headlights.
She soon found herself wondering who could be coming into her home. She hadn't seen her parents, her sisters, Lincoln or any of the house pets since she got out of her room. Luan's first idea was that they were all hiding from her, as they have done for the past few years on April 1st. "Maybe it's one of the neighbors" she murmured, "they probably want to check and see if..."
No sooner had she said all this, Luan suddenly started hearing Mr. Coconuts' words from earlier echoing through her head like crazy "just one little prank, no one will ever know...one little prank." For what felt like ages, these words kept repeating incessantly inside of Luan's head until finally...she snapped.
(The scene briefly shifts over to Mr. Grouse's house, where the old man is seen tinkering with his favorite cuckoo clock. When he finally finishes working, the mechanical bird pops out of the door and sounds off its familiar "cuckoo-cuckoo" sound.)
Within seconds; a crazed, Grinch-esque grin appeared on Luan's face while her eyes showed a mixed look of fear and desperation. "Ha-ha...You're right, Mr. Coconuts; what harm could one itty bitty prank could do" she cackled crazily, "no one will ever know...except for the person coming in! HA-HA-HA-HA!" Then, like a bolt of lightning; the mad comedienne rushed up the stairs to her bedroom.
Meanwhile, the front door finally slid open to reveal one Beatrix Yates; who sported her usual joyful grin upon her face. "Hi-Hi, Luan...are you home" she called out while entering the house, "your parents said you were feeling a bit off; so, I thought I'd come by to keep you company!" No sooner had she said all of this, Beatrix suddenly heard a loud clattering noise coming from upstairs.
Feeling concerned, she went up the steps as quickly as she could; making sure not to accidentally trip over herself in the process. When she got to the top, Beatrix heard more clattering sounds coming from one of the rooms in the hall. It was here that she noticed one of the doors was ajar, which meant the noises were coming from that specific room.
Slowly and cautiously, Beatrix made her way towards the door and pushed it forward; allowing her a chance to peek inside. The whole floor of the bedroom was littered with all manner of gross-out toys, comedy props and gag items; it was as if a prank shop had exploded inside there. "Goodness, look at this mess" Beatrix thought worriedly, "I hope Luan is safe, wherever she..."
Her train of thought came to a screeching halt, when she snuck a glance over at the opposite side of the room. There, she spotted Luan on the makeshift stand-up stage from Lisa's video and it looked as though she was working on something. Not wishing to disturb her too much, Beatrix decided to get her attention in a less distractive way; by knocking on her door.
Surprisingly, this method seemed to have worked too well and Luan suddenly gave a terrified shriek after only just one knock. "Huh...What's that, who's there" she asked in a mildly hostile tone, "I'm warning you...I've got a pie here and I'm not afraid to throw it at you!" While she remained silent outside of the door, Beatrix took a moment to inspect the aforementioned pie in Luan's hands.
The tin container was viciously banged up (perhaps from repeated use) and the pie itself was nothing more but a disgusting pile of random bits from other pies she must've thrown (or who knows where else she got them.) In any case, Beatrix did not wish to get her dress soiled but she still risked the chance to help her friend out.
After letting out some cleansing breaths; she pushed the door back slowly, walked into the bedroom and greeted Luan with the friendliest smile she could offer. "Hey, there; Luan" Beatrix said happily, "I heard you were feeling...a bit down lately; so, I thought I'd come by and keep you company." While these words seemed rather sincere on the surface, something in Luan's mind kept telling her that this could be a front; a trick to get back at her for pranking her family.
But then, what currently remained of her rational mind reminded Luan that nobody in the Yates Family had it in them to play a trick on people; much less Beatrix. All of these thoughts and more were driving the poor girl out of her mind. "Listen, Bea...I don't want to hurt you" Luan murmured, "but I...I need to prank somebody just once today, JUST...ONCE!"
For a moment or two, Beatrix remained frozen where she stood; slightly startled by Luan's words. But as she took a good look at her, she soon noticed that a few things about her friend's demeanor. Despite however much she tried to appear intimidating, if not threatening; Luan's arms were quivering violently, a nervous sweat trickled down her brow, her breathing sounded frantic and it looked as though she was struggling to suppress some tears.
After noticing all of this, Beatrix deduced that the Loud Family's resident comedienne was truly on the verge of an emotional breakdown. As such, she took in a deep breath to calm her nerves and cautiously approached Luan. Of course, this only made the poor girl feel even more apprehensive; like a wild animal being approached by a hunter.
"I'm warning you, Yates...don't come any closer" she said in a warning tone, "take one more step and I will throw this pie at you...I MEAN IT!" In spite of these threats, Beatrix continued to move towards Luan; this time stepping with a more casual pace. "Please, Luan...you can trust me" she said with a pleading tone in her voice, "I don't want any trouble, I just want to talk to you."
Although a small part of her mind kept telling her to trust her friend, Luan still acted as though she was about to be attacked. As a result, she gave a startled shriek and was prepared to hurl her pie with all the strength she had. But Beatrix firmly gave her wrist a sudden yet gentle grab, causing the pie to slip out of Luan's hand and fall behind her onto the floor.
"Look at me, Luan...I just want to help you" Beatrix whispered, "but I can't do that unless you want me too...so, what do you say?" For what felt like ages, neither of the two teens said a word or even moved a muscle. The only things that broke the silence were the sounds of birds tweeting, cars passing by and Mr. Grouse's cuckoo clock going off again.
Finally, after almost five minutes of tension; Luan fell to her knees with a distressed whimper and let out a heavy sob. To say that this alarmed Beatrix greatly would not do the situation proper justice. In all the time she knew her; no one, not even the rest of the Loud Family, had ever seen Luan cry (at least, they'd never seen her sob in anguish.)
Thinking quickly, Beatrix reached into her backpack and brought a small packet of tissues; which she then proceeded to offer up to Luan. Of course, the poor girl cried so much that she went through half of the packet in less than a minute...but Beatrix didn't care. "It's okay...let it all out" she murmured with a soft smile, "you must've been keeping all those tears bottled up for a long time."
After blowing her nose for the fourth time in a row, Luan turned towards her friend and offered up a silent nod in response to her words. Then, she got up from the floor and sat herself more comfortably on her bed; prompting Beatrix to follow her lead. Afterwards, the two of them sat in silence for the second time that morning until Luan finally worked up the nerve to speak first.
"Sorry you had to see all that, Bea" she murmured, "I've just...I've been having a really bad week lately and today's the worst part of it all." In an instant, Beatrix's smile faded slightly into a more stoic expression and she wasted no time in telling Luan that she knew the true reason behind her sorrow. "I know you consider April Fools to be 'your day,' Luan" sighed Beatrix, "but is it necessary to use such harmful methods to prank people every year?"
While she knew that there was no real malice behind her words, they still caused Luan to cringe violently. After taking a moment to "shake off the ooglies" as she called it, the poor girl proclaimed that she couldn't help herself. But before the conversation could go any further, Beatrix stopped her suddenly; suggesting that they go somewhere else to talk.
"You must be starving by now, Luan" she stated, "why don't we go down to the kitchen and I'll whip us up some breakfast." Although the gesture was very kind and even though she was hungry, like her friend suggested; Luan couldn't bring herself to take advantage of Beatrix's goodwill. "Nonsense, Mommy and Daddy always encourage me to aid those in need" the young lady said sweetly, "and you are certainly in need of my care."
Before Luan had the chance to say or do anything, Beatrix had already gripped her by the wrist and started leading her out into the hall. "I guess a little food can help take my mind off things" she thought to herself, "it's the rest of the day I'm more worried about."
Sometime later, the two ladies were sitting at the Louds' dining room table; eating some scrambled eggs Beatrix had whipped up for them. While they ate, Luan did her best to explain the reasoning behind her outrageous behavior on April Fools Day. "I just...I'm the clown of this family, it's in a clown's nature to use pranks and gags on people" she murmured, "plus, April 1st is the one day of the year where people like me are allowed to do that kind of stuff to others."
From here, Luan proclaimed that while many of her past pranks were rather outrageous; she used the same "go big or go home" excuse she used during the trial. "With all due respect, Luan; I understand that you like to really go all out with your comedic talents" Beatrix stated, "but...what you've done and have been doingto others, especially your family, isn't funny or charming in any way." In the past, the "old Luan" would've stood her ground and staunchly told those like Beatrix that "comedy was subjective" or she would've used an old quote from one of her comedy idols as her defense; "comedy is tragedy happening to someone else."
But after her family's trial, after seeing all the evidence that revealed just how negatively her pranking had affected her loved ones; she didn't believe in that anymore. Upon seeing the sad expression on Luan's face, Beatrix gave her a light hug to comfort her. "I'll tell you what, I may have something that could help lift your spirits a bit" she suggested, "that is...if you're up for it."
While her mind still felt a tad frazzled from the morning's episode, something in her friend's words intrigued Luan a little. After taking a moment to think it over, Luan decided to trust her a little; thinking that she could use something to take her mind off of...you know what. "Excellent, you won't regret this; I promise" Beatrix assured, "just finish your breakfast and come meet me in the living room after."
Luan nodded obediently and resumed finishing up the rest of her eggs; allowing Beatrix to go into the living room and wait for the chance to put her plan into motion. After taking a seat on the couch, she placed her backpack beside her and started fishing about inside of it. That was when she noticed two of the house pets, Charles and Cliff staring at her from nearby.
"Shh...please, boys; don't blow my cover just yet" Beatrix whispered, "I have a surprise here for Luan and I want to keep it as such for a little bit." Although they couldn't answer her outright (being animals and having no real ability to speak,) the two pets responded to her request by performing a "zipping" gesture over their mouths. At the same time, not too far away; the house's pet canary, Walt performed the same gesture over his beak.
With her secret safe for the moment, Beatrix chose to spend the next minute or so chilling out on the sofa. Then, at that moment; her cellphone suddenly gave out a loud buzz. Thinking quickly, she fished it out of her pocket and did everything she could to keep Luan from hearing anything.
When she finally put it on "Silent Mode," Beatrix saw that it was a text message from Carol; asking her how things were going. With steady hands and equally steady thumbs, she responded back with the statement "Luan's having breakfast, right now; TTYGL." Once the message was sent and she put her phone back into her pack, all was quiet once more.
After a short while, Luan had finished her breakfast and joined Beatrix in the living room. It was here that she noticed the eldest Yates child fishing about her bag for something. "So, what is it you wanted to show me" she asked, "will it really help me forget about today...or is this just another prank?"
While still doing her best to keep her surprise under wraps, Beatrix responded with a so-so hand gesture; telling Luan that things could go either way. Unfortunately, this only left her scratching her head in confusion. "All I need for my little surprise is access to your brother's game system" Beatrix stated, "he won't mind if we use it, right?"
Once more, Luan was left baffled by her friend's words; wondering how her surprise involved something of Lincoln's. With a light shrug; she granted Beatrix permission to use the system; on the condition that she'd be extra careful with it. "Thank you for that, Luan" the eldest Yates child said with a smile, "but you misunderstood me, I not going to use this...you are."
Yet again, the young comedienne was left baffled by her friend's words; almost losing count of how many times it happened that morning alone. But after only a few seconds, she quickly came to her senses and proclaimed that she wasn't really the gaming type. "You should ask Lincoln or Lana to play a game with you" Luan said matter-of-factly, "heck, even Lori indulges in these kind of things once in a while."
While everything she had said was true, it did little to deter Beatrix from her goal. With her trademarked smile still gleaming on her face, she politely urged Luan to try out her brother's hobby; telling her that it was never too late to try new things. "Just do it this one time" she pleaded, "if you do this, I'll offer you a deal."
Upon hearing this statement, Luan's mind suddenly burned with curiosity; causing an intrigued expression to form on her face. Meanwhile, Beatrix's smile shifted slightly into a sort of knowing look; which meant that she was getting through to her friend. After a while, Luan turned towards her slightly and asked what sort of deal she had in mind; if she did decide to play her game.
"It's a little something one of my classmates made back at the institute, a sort of video game he wished to share with the world" Beatrix explained, "before he graduated, last year; he gave me a copy to remember him by." Soon after this, she confessed how the game had been sitting untouched in her room for ages. Truthfully, no one had any interest in playing it; not even Beatrix's own brothers.
At first, this story didn't seem to make Luan feel anymore interested in playing the game. But then, she quickly reminded herself about Beatrix's deal and urged herself not to back out just yet. "Okay...Let's say that I decide to play your friend's game" she murmured, "what happens if I beat it?"
As if she had been expecting this, Beatrix wasted no time in delving into the conditions of her deal. If Luan decided to play the game and lost in the end, she would have to completely forsake any further pranking ideas. "Furthermore, I have permission from your parents and the McBrides to escort you to one Dr. Lopez" she added, "you remember her...correct?"
It only took Luan a few brief seconds to recall the doctor's name and in that moment, she felt her body shiver slightly. After later responding with only a simple nod; Beatrix decreed that if Luan lost the game or had a "rage quit" moment, she would agree to have Dr. Lopez become her therapist as well as Lincoln's. Now, if all of sessions with her were anything to go by; Dr. Lopez seemed like a rather friendly specialist.
She was, after all one of the people responsible for helping her baby brother out during his time of need (namely whenever he had his nightmares.) However, she already had a difficult time keeping her cool when she attended both Sensitivity Training and Anger Management over the summer. She had barely managed to make any kind of progress from it all; so, Luan doubted if Dr. Lopez would do any better with her.
That was when she remembered something important about the arrangement; specifically, Beatrix's end of it. "But what about if I do end up winning this game of yours" prodded Luan, "what do I get out of this?" No sooner had she asked this, Beatrix's smile faded slightly to a more stoic and serious expression. This meant that whatever she might say next would be a real bombshell.
"You're right, a deal always goes two ways" she stated monotonously, "if you fail at the game, you'll be visiting Dr. Lopez for a while...but if you happen to win, I will serve as your primary prank target every April 1st." To say that this left Luan utterly shocked would be putting it mildly, I'm afraid. Not only would she be allowed to continue with her pranking behavior on April Fools, if she won; Beatrix was practically presenting herself as a sort of sacrificial offering of sorts.
"Are you being serious with me here" Luan blurted out suddenly, "you'd seriously put yourself out on the spot for all my wildest pranks, gags and booby traps...why?" For a few seconds, Beatrix offered up no reply; as if she herself was wondering if this was the right course of action. But then, she realized she had to do it; not just for the sake of the other Louds but for everyone in Royal Woods.
When Beatrix brought all this on the table (so to speak,) Luan was stunned. "Man, she really is a dedicated gal" she thought to herself, "I just hope she knows what she'll be getting herself into."
After loading up the game into Lincoln's console and turning on the television, the two teens were met with a rather cartoonish title screen. In the background; they saw dancing flowers, clouds with faces, stars falling like rain and at the center of the screen were the words "Gary the Glitch." All in all, such imagery made Luan think that the game would probably be something wholesomely silly.
"I wouldn't be so sure about that" Beatrix murmured slyly, "this game isn't what you think it is." Feeling both confused yet intrigued at the same time, Luan took the controller in hand and pressed the "Start" button; causing the title screen to fade. Seconds later, a strange character was seen walking across the forest-like scenery.
He was dressed in a colored t-shirt, jorts, sneakers, had a sort of goofy Beetle Bailey-like smile on his face and sported a baseball cap near similar to the ones Lynn wore. The aforementioned cap also happened to cover the character's eyes slightly, making Luan wonder how he was able to see. At the same time, she couldn't help but giggle at Gary's design.
"I'm guessing you like the look my friend gave Gary" inquired Beatrix, "he wanted the character to have a goofy/bizarre design to him, something that just screamed that he was a glitch." Upon hearing mention of this word, Luan questioned if she should feel concerned by it; considering how glitchy electronics were never a good thing. "No, it's perfectly fine; trust me" Beatrix assured, "just wait a little longer and you'll understand the title perfectly."
Deciding to give her friend the benefit of the doubt, Luan eased herself more comfortably against her sofa and watched the game's intro unfold. Apparently, Gary was racing off towards a large palace; where, according to Beatrix, was the home of his beloved girlfriend. This immediately reminded Luan of several games that Lincoln played which happened to have similar storylines.
"Too true...Too true, Ma'am" Beatrix stated, "but according to my friend, 'Gary the Glitch' is totally different from all of those games." Before she could explain any further, the game screen showed Gary speaking with some castle guards; asking them where the princess was. In response, one of them said she had been taken to a wedding; which did not please Gary in the slightest.
After that, he raced off back into the meadow; intent on finding where the princess went and stopping the supposed "wedding." "Are you sure this game is different from what Lincoln plays" murmured Luan uncertainly, "because I'm getting the feeling I've seen this before." Surprisingly, Beatrix only giggled in response; which made it seem like she was either excited by something or simply thinking of a silly joke.
Unfortunately, Luan had little time to think on the issue because the game was about to begin. Once she entered into the first level, the game screen showed several familiar elements; random coins, platforms, pitfalls and so on. Truthfully, it reminded her of a game she'd often seen Lincoln and Lana play together; Total Trash Takedown.
"If this is anything like that game, I know what to do" Luan whispered, "just get the coins, avoid the enemies, jump over the pits and try to reach the end alive." With all this in mind, she took the controller in hand and started the game. The first thing Luan decided before going on was take a moment to familiarize herself with the controls.
"Let's see what we got here" she thought intently, "the left and right arrows make me move...obviously, the start button pauses the game, 'A' is Jump and...it looks like that's all, let's do this!" With that thought in mind and without any further delay, Luan put her "game face" on and started the level. On instinct, the very first thing she did was move Gary the Glitch towards a set of coins; thinking they would give her points (or something of equal value.)
But unbeknownst to her, she was moments away from experiencing the first of this game's many surprises. Meanwhile, Beatrix remained seated beside Luan; doing her best to appear as casual and innocent as possible. Then, the very instant Gary made contact with the coins; he suddenly exploded into a burst of 8-bit confetti.
Needless to say, this circumstance left Luan feeling quite surprised; as indicated by her gaping mouth and wide-eyed expression. "What the...WHAT THE HECK JUST HAPPENED" she shrieked with mild outrage, "all I did was touch the coins...aren't they supposed to be a good thing in these games?!" While still keeping up her innocent façade for now, Beatrix faced Luan and reminded her of what her friend said; that the game was totally unlike any other.
"According to him; Gary the Glitch takes all the familiar tropes and mechanics of typical side-scrolling games and flips them around" she explained, "for example...in this game, the coins are bad." Over the years, Luan had heard all kinds of weird things; whether they be jokes, riddles, funny stories or even Lisa's lectures (which seemed so "egghead-ish" to her that she couldn't help but giggle on the inside.) But after hearing what Beatrix had just said about the game, the young comedienne stared at her like a deer in the headlights.
When she finally found the ability to speak up again, Luan questioned Beatrix several times about the coins within the game. "So...just to recap, the coins are definitely bad" she murmured, "that's not some sort of bug in the game or something?" In response, Beatrix simply urged her to make another attempt at the coins; claiming there was only one way to test her theory.
For almost a minute, Luan hesitated in moving Gary towards the set of coins ahead of him. But when she finally worked up the nerve to do it, she watched as the game character exploded into confetti once more. "Okay...note to self, no touchy the coins" Luan whispered, "let's just get a move on."
With that thought in mind, Luan resumed moving Gary forwards until she saw one of the first pitfalls in the level. It was here that she decided to test out the character's jump ability but then, she discovered that he could barely jump up six inches off the ground. "That's no fair, how am I supposed to jump over that pit with something that wimpy" Luan demanded, "there's gotta be another..."
Just then, her train of thought came to a sudden halt when she remembered Beatrix's earlier "hint;" that Gary's mechanics take all the typical ones from other side-scrolling games and flips them around. "Okay, so...you know that the coins are bad in this game" Luan thought, "so, does this mean the pits are bad too?" With this thought in mind, she decided to (quite literally) take a leap of faith and test if Gary can first make the jump; despite however short his jumps were.
However, the instant she would do this; Luan would soon come across another odd mechanic within the game. As she pressed the jump button on her controller, Gary took a leap forward towards the other side of the pit...and fell straight down. For a split second, Luan almost believed that she had lost the game before it even began.
But as Gary the Glitch dropped down into the pit, he suddenly reappeared at the top of the screen; seemingly falling from the sky. This surprised Luan so greatly that her eyes almost popped out of her head. "What the what...Bea, what's going on with the game" she cried, "isn't my character supposed to die when..."
Just as she was about to finish her sentence, a wave of realization suddenly washed over Luan; like she had been doused by a bucket of ice water. Just like with the coins, the pits were also a reversal of typical video game mechanics. Instead of seeing Gary the Glitch fall to his death, what she saw was him going through a sort of...wormhole (or whatever Lisa called it.)
After watching the character fall through the pit three times over, Luan moved on to the next part of the stage.
Almost two hours passed by and it looked as though Luan had become highly immersed into the game, much to Beatrix's surprise and satisfaction. "Okay...after dying almost twelve times, I think I've got an idea of how this game works" she murmured, "the pits are good, coins are bad, the pipe things only help you progress if you pull the handles down and for some reason; the spikes, of all things, help me bounce." Beatrix couldn't help but nod slightly with approval, apparently pleased by Luan's quick way of understanding the game.
"What about the enemies, do you remember anything about them" she asked suddenly, "because there's one coming up in just a few seconds." With a startled yelp, Luan held the controller tightly and readied herself for the encounter...only to be met with an odd surprise. Instead of seeing something menacing like a troll, an alien or a dragon; it was nothing more than a small sun with a sort of "kawaii" face.
As expected, Luan's initial reaction to this was a short yet simple "you're kidding me, right?" But Beatrix insisted that she shouldn't be fooled by anything cute in the game. "Just like with the pits, the coins and even the spikes from the last level; the enemies aren't what they seem" she said firmly, "so, be careful."
While this tip wasn't entirely helpful, Luan still said her thanks and moved Gary towards the cute sun. Of course, she only did so at a sort of cautious snail's pace; barely giving the right arrow on her controller that hard of a press. Finally, Luan watched as the sun made contact with Gary; causing him to explode.
"Somehow, I knew that was going to happen" she muttered in a dry tone, "I've gotta figure out a way past this thing or else I can't progress." Not wishing to waste anymore time, Luan approached the smiling sun in every possible way; only to be met with annoyingly disastrous results seconds later.
(A montage shows Luan trying to either jump on top of the sun, make a sort of running jump over it, follow it to see if it would lead her to another pit and even duck underneath it...only to explode with every attempt)
"I hope you won't take this the wrong way, Luan" Beatrix said warily, "but...this is only one of the minions, he's not really one of the difficult ones." After giving a distressed whimper of frustration, Luan handed the controller to her, hoping she would find a way past the "dumb sun." "Okay, watch me very closely" Beatrix instructed, "in most games, you either hit the enemy from above; so...how do you do that where everything's opposite."
With this short yet simple phrase, Luan suddenly realized what she needed to do; hit the bad guys from below. "Why didn't I think about that earlier" she groaned, "I am such a yutz." With this minor oversight behind her, she took the controller back and followed her friend's advice.
After finding the right moment to do so, Luan pressed the jump button; causing Gary to leap up and uppercut the smiling sun. Much to her surprise, this move actually seemed to kill the enemy; which seemed to confuse her a bit. "Okay...so, enemies like these are the ones I need to hit from below" she murmured thoughtfully, "but what about other ones like those turtles and the ghosts we saw on Level 3?"
After letting out a soft giggle, Beatrix went about explaining the aforementioned elements of the game to Luan. "To start with, you can actually stand some of the enemies" she stated, "which will be useful for getting to things like other platforms." After this little pointer, she mentioned that the ghost enemies could only be destroyed by fire and the only way to gain it was by finding a certain flower.
When the moment came where she would find such an item, Luan was in for an odd surprise. She watched in both surprise and confusion as Gary plucked it off the ground and proceeded to swallow it. Mere seconds later, his face blazed red and flames could be seen in his eyes.
This, of course led Luan to believe that she had done something wrong. "Don't worry, this is supposed to happen" Beatrix assured, "watch closely and you'll see what I mean." Not long after she said this, the ladies saw Gary's eyes blazing with red-hot flames. Then, as he rushed his way across the level; a plume of fire suddenly spewed out of Gary's mouth.
When this fire made contact with any enemies that were ahead, they either fell off the screen or disintegrated into ashes. "Aw Sweet, I'm guessing that's some kind of power up" Luan inquired gleefully, "here I thought it was going to kill me when I touched it." Beatrix giggled softly at her friend's naivety and then, when she looked at the screen; she saw the same raining hearts that were shown at the title screen.
It was here that she asked Luan what she believed she should do, either avoid the things entirely or touch one of them, to see if they were just for show. "On the one hand, they do look pretty sketchy" the young comedienne muttered, "but then, it seems heartless of me to think ill of something so cute." Surprisingly, this little pun caused Beatrix to let out a small yet genuine laugh.
When asked what seemed so funny, she confessed that the delivery of this jest felt genuine; while all other times felt forced and ill-timed. "I may not be a comedic person like you, Luan" Beatrix stated, "but much like this game, true comedy comes from being unexpected...but it must be heartfelt, charming and above all, it must reflect what the audience finds funny." Following this statement, she said that this same idea also applied to pranking.
One should never use such actions as a means to hurt others intentionally and bring fear (which was the complete opposite of what Luan stood for.) "A good prank, like a good joke, is meant to bring joy to others" Beatrix stated, "tell me...how did you feel after touching the coins in the first level?" After giving her friend's words some thought; Luan confessed that the moment in question left her quite stunned, at first.
But after playing the game further and coming into contact with the coins again (albeit accidentally,) there were moments where she actually laughed. "What about the first pitfall I fell through" questioned Luan, "I didn't see that coming by a long shot!" This statement caused both ladies to suddenly break out into a jolly fit of laughter.
When the two of them calmed down, Beatrix explained that was another important part of true comedy; leaving the audience to expect the unexpected. "I really appreciate the lessons, Bea; I do" Luan said gratefully, "but...I've known about these rules for years." Beatrix nodded slightly in understanding, remembering just how dedicated her friend was to comedy.
However, she later suggested that after years of performing so many outrageously dangerous pranks; Luan might've forgotten her lessons along the way. "Before I begin, I'm only saying all of this because I am your friend and that I want you to understand my point" Beatrix said matter-of-factly, "but...looking back; was shaving your house pets, encasing your family inside of a gelatin mold, sending your house floating down a river, installing spring-loaded boxing gloves in the refrigerator or covering someone in animal feed and unleashing said animals upon them humorous in any way?" For a moment or two, Luan hadn't said a word; choosing to take the time to appropriately process what she had been told.
During this silence, her first idea was to respond with her usual "the prank is for the enjoyment of the prankster" idea she always followed. But then, after hearing Beatrix list a few of her "best" pranks out loud; Luan suddenly thought back to the family trial (specifically when the court showed visual evidence of her pranking.) She also thought back to all the times she used her pranks on people from her school, like Principal Rivers.
Then, there was her infamous "Paint the Town Red" idea she had in mind; which involved her painting several miles of Downtown Royal Woods in multiple coats of red paint (even the plants that hung outside of the buildings. Not only did she (and the rest of the family) had to work on cleaning up the mess by hand. But Luan lost count of all the tip money she had to use from her gigs to replace any plants, lawn ornaments décor or other items that were also painted over.
Sure, it all seemed funny (for the first minute or so) but Luan would later see just how much harm her pranks caused. She remembered watching the video evidence in the court room that showed the looks of terror and later, pain on her "victims'" faces. At the same time, Luan remembered how much she cringed when she heard herself laughing in the background of every video.
With all of this in mind, she suddenly felt a wave of guilt rush over her; which almost caused her to break down in tears. "Hey, now...why are you crying, Luan" Beatrix asked with concern, "I thought you said you were having fun." After taking a moment to dry some tears away with her famous "handkerchief banner," the comedienne confessed that she was having fun.
"It's just...I started thinking about what you said and...it just made me realize something" she murmured, "my sense of humor does hurt the people around me, including my family." From here; Luan proclaimed that everyone was right to call her an unfunny, dated, immature monster for all the pranks she committed every April. Then, she turned towards Beatrix and said something that utterly shocked the otherwise joyful teen.
"You may as well get out your phone and make the call" Luan murmured sadly, "it looks like Lincoln won't be the only Loud visiting Dr. Lopez's office from here on out." After that; she paused the game, placed the controller on the coffee table and made her way upstairs to her room. "Hey now, Miss Loud; you can't leave just yet" Beatrix called from the living room, "we agreed that you would only be visiting Dr. Lopez if you failed to complete the game...and we're not quite towards the final stage yet."
For a moment or so, Luan didn't know how to respond; her mind still frazzled from her tirade from earlier. But after a while, a small voice started nagging at her from inside her mind (which happened to sound near identical to Mr. Coconuts.) "C'mon, toots; you ain't gonna let some game beat ya, right" Luan's inner voice urged, "get back in there and prove that Gary ain't no glitch!"
In an instant; Luan's frown of despair faded away and was replaced with a more firm, serious scowl. Then, with renewed confidence; she made her way back down the steps, re-entered the living room and sat back down on the sofa. "Bea...hand me the controller" she said stoically, "I've got a game to finish."
The time was almost 9:30 PM, which meant that most people would be at home and getting ready for bed. But for the occupants inside of Lynn's Table, everyone was still wide awake and feeling incredibly anxious. "Dudes, it's almost closing time and we haven't heard any word from Bea yet" Luna murmured worriedly, "you don't think Luan might've..."
Before she had the chance to finish, Lincoln abruptly silenced his elder sister and warned her to not finish her sentence. "Luna does raise a good point, though" Carol murmured, "something must've happened to Beatrix and whether or not Luan is involved, we need to make sure she's safe!" Not only did the rest of the Gal Pals sound off in agreement to this notion but the Louds did as well.
With renewed courage in their hearts, both groups decided to head back to the Louds' home and see if anything happened there. "If you don't mind my saying so, Bumper and I are coming too" Mrs. Yates said firmly, "we need to see if our daughter is safe." Not long after this was said, the usual chipper woman's expression suddenly became slightly fierce.
It was here that she warned that if any harm befell Beatrix, there would be consequences. "Uh...D-D-Don't you worry, Mrs. Yates" Lincoln murmured uneasily, "I have a feeling your daughter's perfectly fine." The instant these words passed his lips, the boy could hear his mind screaming at him; warning that Beatrix had better be okay...for his sake and his family's.
Afterwards, the Louds and Yates got in their cars and headed back to their neighborhood; hoping that everything would still be in one piece. When they arrived their almost four minutes later, both families were surprised to find that...everything was okay. "Okay...this is too weird, even for me" Lucy murmured, "the houses are still standing, there's no damage to anyone's lawns and I don't see any signs of pies lying around anywhere."
The rest of the Louds took a look around for themselves and were just as surprised by how "normal" everything looked. But as they knew; on April Fools Day, nothing is what it seems. Then, just when everyone was about to lower their guard; there came a sudden scream from inside the house.
"GADZOOKS! FROM THE SOUND OF THE TONE, SOMEONE MAY BE IN DANGER" Lisa exclaimed, "COME ALONG, FAMILY; WE MUST LEAP INTO ACTION!" For the first time in a long time, the rest of the Louds were able to understand the wee genius' textbook vocabulary. Then, without any further delay; they exited Vanzilla and made a beeline straight for the front door.
Unfortunately, due to the fact they were charging in all at once; their combined force managed to bust the door in. "We'll take care of that later, everybody" Lynn Sr. stated, "right now, we've gotta find out where the screams were coming from!" Just as the family was about ready to split up and search the house, Leni looked over in the living room and cried "I FOUND THEM!"
At first, some of her siblings were prepared to call her out on "spotting" the girls too soon. But when they chose to look into the room for themselves, they were quite surprised to see that Leni...was actually right. Not only were Luan and Beatrix both sitting in the living room together, they also appeared to be laughing merrily.
Lynn Sr. and Rita appeared to be equally baffled by this sight, wondering what the two girls had been doing all this time. It was here that they all noticed that the TV was on, showing what looked like a stage from a video game. After trying to put the pieces together in every possible way, the Louds were left utterly clueless by what was happening.
Meanwhile, the two teens on the couch continued giggling amongst themselves; chattering about things like "exploding coins" and "smiling suns." Finally, after taking a moment to wipe some tears away; Luan looked over her shoulder and saw her family standing by the door. Much to their surprise, instead of greeting them with a pun or a warning for a possible prank; Luan offered up a short yet friendly "welcome home, family!"
When the rest of the Louds finally managed to find their voices almost half a minute later, Lynn Jr. glared at her older sister and stomped her way towards the couch. "What the heck is going on here you two" she demanded, "we've been at the restaurant all day waiting for news about Luan and here we find you...giggling like a couple of ninnies!" Not long after this, the other siblings wasted no time in expressing their own confusion on the situation.
Meanwhile, the parents were just relieved to see that the girls were both okay; the Yates in particular. "Beatrix, dear; we're so happy you're safe" sighed Bumper Sr., "when we didn't get a call from you over the past few hours, your mother and I presumed the worst might've happened." The instant he said all of this, he quickly offered up an apology to Luan; hoping she didn't take offense to his statement.
With her trademark grin upon her face, the comedienne not only told Mr. Yates that his daughter was perfectly fine; she also sided with him on his earlier words against her. "During the afternoon, Bea here helped me come to grips on a few things" Luan murmured, "and I'll make sure to tell Dr. Lopez about them during my appointment tomorrow." These words came as such a shock to the Loud Family that even little Lily found herself shaking her head in disbelief.
Then, after a while; Lincoln was the first to come back to his senses and ask why his sister planned on visiting Dr. Lopez in the first place. "It's part of the deal she and I made earlier today" Beatrix explained, "if she failed to complete the video game my friend from college made, she would visit the doctor to..." The girl's train of thought suddenly came to a halt, when she heard Lynn Jr. softly blow at her whistle.
Afterwards, she proceeded to question both ladies on what they'd been doing the whole day together. "Uh...Weren't you listening, Lynn" Luan asked in a mildly snide tone, "we've been busy playing Gary the Glitch together." Once more; the Loud Siblings, their parents and the Yates' were all left speechless by her words.
Then, Lana took a look at the TV and saw the title screen of their game. "I've never heard of this game before" she muttered, "how long have you had this in your collection, Lincoln?" Straightaway, the boy gave a sort of baffled expression and confessed that he also never heard of Gary the Glitch before tonight.
Upon hearing everyone's confusion, a sly grin suddenly appeared on both Beatrix and Luan's faces. "We'd be happy to show you how it works, guys" the latter girl murmured playfully, "but I should warn you...it's not like anything you've played before." The instant this was said, Lynn Jr. quickly sat herself on the couch between the duo; proclaiming that "there was no game that could beat her."
(cue brief montage of Gary exploding)
After watching Gary explode into confetti for the umpteenth time in a row, Rita gave a frustrated groan and immediately rage quitted the game. Before her, the other Loud Family members each tried their hands at it; only to fall for the same tricks their wife/mother did. "This is ridiculous" Lincoln cried out in anger, "I've never had this kind of trouble with a game before...what's going on here?!"
After that, not only were the rest of his sisters calling out for a similar explanation but their parents as well. Unfortunately...all they received instead was stone cold silence, much to their initial surprise. It was here that they saw that neither Beatrix nor Luan were in the room with them anymore.
"But...But they were just here a minute ago, weren't they" Leni inquired, "when do you think they left?" In response, Lisa suggested that the two ladies must've left while they were all still immersed in the game. "This must've been how Beatrix kept Luan from pranking anybody" Lincoln surmised, "it certainly made me forget about it."
After everyone had a good lark at this revelation, they decided to head into the kitchen for a snack. It was here that they caught sight of a canister of nuts next to a piece of paper on the counter. Upon inspection, Rita saw that it was a letter from Luan; which said she offered to help see Beatrix off to her home.
"Bea and I couldn't stop talking about the game, especially the ending. If you guys happen to still be stuck on it, she said we can keep the disc she brought over; claiming her friend had the game saved on file at the campus. Regardless, I can show you how to get a little farther in the game tomorrow.
For now, I'm happy to report that from here on, I promise to change my ways."
Upon reading these words, the Louds found themselves hesitating in reading the note any further; believing this could be a possible prank attempt from Luan. But all that changed when Lily pointed to the rest of the message.
"Starting tomorrow, I'll be booking afternoon visits with Dr. Lopez; if she can help Lincoln overcome his nightmares and battle his anxieties...maybe, she can help me out too. But I swear to you, guys; I promise I'll make an even bigger effort to update my comedy skills and dial back on my pranking. As of today, Luan Marie Loud is a changed gal and to prove it; I left you guys a little snack.
See you when I see ya!
After having read the note over several times from top to bottom, the Loud Family felt smiles of relief and pride forming on each of their faces. Whatever Beatrix did during the past few hours must've really did the trick and now, all of Royal Woods could finally look upon the day of April 1st without fear. But then, they suddenly remembered the canister of nuts that sat beside the note.
"I don't trust it, dudes" Luna whispered warily, "what if it's one of those gag Peanut Brittle cans with the spring snakes inside?" While the idea seemed plausible, half of the siblings believed Luan would use something far worse than spring snakes in such a can. "I don't know you guys, what if Luan really has changed" Leni suggested, "after all; none of us have been hit by any booby traps, water buckets or anything else like those."
After taking a moment to think, everyone decided to trust in Leni's judgment and peek inside of the can. Of course, they all partook in a brief "DIBS, NOT IT" to decide who among them should do it...and Lynn Sr. was the last to touch his nose. With his hands trembling slightly and a shallow breath passing his lips, he reached over to the counter and snatched up the can.
Then, as Lynn carefully removed the lid; everyone looked inside and found...nothing; nothing but nuts. "Huh...Looks like Luan was telling the truth after all" Rita murmured with a light grin, "good for her!" After everyone else took a moment to sing Luan's praises, each Loud was given a handful of nuts from the canister.
Upon sampling them, the family agreed that the nuts had a sort of savory flavor to them; almost...zesty. In time, Lincoln was the first to swallow and all seemed perfectly fine...for like half a second. Then, his sisters soon noticed a light sweat developing on his brow; which led Leni and Lisa to think he was developing a fever.
Seconds later, they noticed that their brother was lightly panting while his cheeks started to glow with a bright shade of red. "Uh...Lincoln, are you feeling okay" questioned Lola, "you're looking a little ho...ho..." Before she had the chance to finish her statement, Lola suddenly felt the inside of her mouth tingling slightly. Meanwhile, Lynn and Luna broke out into a sudden coughing fit; both of whom appeared to have the same facial features Lincoln had developed.
Before long, the rest of the family soon found themselves hacking and coughing as well; their faces flaring brighter than Christmas tree lights. The only one who was spared was Lily, who was far too young to eat things like peanuts. With a confused murmur, she crawled over to the canister and looked at the label; which had a picture of a nut that was engulfed in flames.
Startled by this, she held it up to her mother's face; hoping she would notice it. "What the...(cough) what the heck is this" she said with a cough, "I think it says...'Lil Diablo's Ghost Pepper Peanuts?'" The instant he heard the words "ghost pepper," Lincoln took the can from his mother and looked at it for himself.
It was here that he remembered something; not only were these the same kind of nuts Rosa Casagrande often used for her Mole Sauce, these were the same kind of peanuts Ronnie Anne once offered him at school two years ago as a joke. When he brought this up to the rest of his family; naturally, they felt rather bothered by the news.
That's when Lynn Sr. looked back at the note and saw something written at the bottom.
I have no doubt that you guys have probably sampled the mixed nuts I've left for you. You can thank Ronnie Anne for them, if you're wondering where I got 'em; she said they 'might come in handy someday...' and it looks like they did. As I told you, I've changed my ways."
As the family read further on; the note said that from that point on, Luan would only be doing small pranks. She promised they would be harmless, safe and well within the lines of the court's "No Fooling Policy." "Um...Excuse me, how was this a harmless prank" Lola groaned irritably, "my tongue feels like somebody lit it on fire!"
Mere seconds after that, Lana seconded her twin's complaint; while adding that her mouth felt like she ate a whole cup's worth of hot sauce in one sitting. But then, much to their imagine; they saw Lincoln, Lynn Jr. and both of their parents happily sampling more of the nuts. When asked why they were still eating them, they said "they might be scalding hot...but they're still pretty darn tasty."
While this was going on; unbeknownst to them, there was a small hidden camera placed inside of the dining room centerpiece. This in turn was broadcasting the scene to none other than Luan and Beatrix, who were watching it unfold from the comfort of the Yates House. "You see, Luan; this is exactly what I was talking about" said the latter teen, "truly humorous pranks should be both safe yet effective."
Luan giggled softly with glee, thanking her friend once more for her advice. Then, after taking a moment to pause the video feed; she made a quick call to Funny Business. "Guys, cancel all Prank-Pocalypse gear deliveries" she said firmly, "from now on, we're taking things in a different direction."
Not long after this, Luan went on an excited tangent about a new gag idea; pens that squirt "Disappearing-Reappearing Ink." "I hope Royal Woods will be ready for your new style, Luan" thought Beatrix, "if they aren't, I'll be here to help show you the way again."
(First AN: This idea was made possible by not only my own creative mind but also, in some small way, a review left by a user named Hatarolo; which was left on my OG Gal Pals story. In their review, they suggested that Luan might regress back to her old pranking self; even with all the help she'd been getting. Sad thing is, after you think about it...they're not exactly wrong.
Just as an addict often struggles with relapsing back into their old ways, so too would a person who's pulled all sorts of pranks have the same issue. In the end, that was the initial theme of this oneshot; I hope I did it in a believable yet entertaining way for you all)
(Second AN: The game Luan and Beatrix play together, Gary the Glitch, is a reference/parody of an actual Stream game called Default Dan made by Kikiwik Games. I did everything I could to make Gary the Glitch seem both slightly different yet still seem familiar for those who've played DD)
(Third AN: Speaking of references, this oneshot is chock full of them; starting with the song Laugh Clown Laugh. It was from an old film of the same name starring Lon Chaney and the song has been featured in all manner of old school media, mostly the Looney Tunes. For Luan's troubled state of mind, I thought it would be perfect for her.
Everything else were references to episodes of the original Loud House series and The Casagrandes. In terms of the latter, the Mercado's commercial and jingle are seen in the episode Boo Boo Business; while many of the LH references include Fool's Paradise, No Laughing Matter, April Fools Rules and Silence of the Luans.
Even thought my Gal Pals universe is separate from the show's own continuity, I felt that the prank episodes were worth mentioning for this story)
(Fourth AN: I wish to address something that many people have asked and/or spoken about in their reviews of my OG Gal Pals fanfic. No, I do not hate Lincoln's sisters; I simply do not care for how their character archetypes have been written. For example, I'm aware that Luan does have periods of normalcy and vulnerability...but they're often too few and far between.
The rest of the time; she comes across as either annoying or whenever April Fool's comes around, borderline psychotic. Spongebob's own Squidward Tentacles pulled a "Luan Style" prank in an April Fool's episode, years ago and as a result; everyone in the Krusty Krab called him an abusive jerk. In short, I simply don't care for pranks or Luan's style of humor.
Both factors leave me thinking she's failing her duty as a sister. However, I made this oneshot to show how much she truly wanted to change; after seen how much her pranks caused such a negative affect on people. I'm sorry for rambling, I just thought I'd bring this up in case there were any "haters" out there)
(Fifth AN: During the scene at Lynn's table when Officer Simmons offers to cook, she lists a couple of Creole/Cajun dishes. The reason for this is the fact she herself used to live Louisiana before becoming a cop and later meeting the Louds. In one of my bonus oneshots, I plan on possibly going into more depth about this; perhaps, I might even consider doing a separate story exploring the three officers lives before the events of Gal Pals.
What do you all think, is it a good idea or no?)
(Final AN: As said in my "note to the reader;" while the main arcs of A Day in the Life of the Gal Pals have all been completed, this and the next three oneshots will be "bonus stories." What I mean is in the past. I got requests to make oneshot adventures that I couldn't quite find the right place to fit them in the main arcs. So, the next four bonus stories will be my way of honoring those requests.
I've already got a Thanksgiving themed bonus oneshot and one for the 4th of July, which was the one thing I couldn't quite find a place for in the Summer Arc. Now, I just need a bonus Winter-themed story; perhaps something New Year's related. The question is...should it be about someone trying to make it up till Midnight or someone trying to get a New Year's Eve kiss?)