Picnic Panic with the Gal Pals

(Story Summary: There's a big 4th of July picnic happening down at Tall Timbers Park and Lincoln is anxious to spend the event with his new friends, the Gal Pals. Unfortunately, there's very little space to spare; which forces Lincoln to search for the best spot available before everyone arrives. Will he be able to find one in time before the sparks start flying?)

All around Royal Woods, people were getting pumped up for the big 4th of July weekend celebration. Mayor Davis was prepping the town marching band, the staff at Reininger's was setting up stylish holiday themed outfits at the window display and Flip...he was slinking around town to find a special spot to "legally" sell his collection of "quality fireworks" (only to be busted barely two minutes later by the Po-Po.) Yes, everybody was getting swept up into the excitement and anticipation of the holiday; including one Lincoln Loud.

But instead of meeting him down at his house; the camera, instead shifts over to a lone police cruiser driving down the street. After one quick zoom in, the "viewer" spots Lincoln riding inside of the cruiser with Officer Higgins sitting at the wheel. "Thanks for giving me a ride to the park, Officer" he said gratefully, "I'm hoping to find a nice spot to set up my picnic for this afternoon."

The policewoman looked at Lincoln's smiling face on her rear-view and giggled pleasantly at him, telling him it was no trouble. "I'm happy to help ya, hon" she stated, "me and the gals have gotta work security detail their tonight anyhow; so, I figured I'd help give ya a lift." At first, Lincoln was prepared to question why a 4th of July party would need police security around...until he was suddenly reminded of anything and everything that could go wrong.

People might get rowdy with the sparklers and start hitting one another with them, attempt to sneak in some unauthorized beverages into the park, throw too much litter on the grass...or even worse, set off some illegal fireworks. Of course, Lincoln knew all of these things because he'd actually seen people do at least half of these offenses years before. Regrettably, his own sisters were found guilty of such things the year before all the "court business" went down.

Luna had inadvertently caused numerous public disturbances with her music, Luan outraged just as many people with her prank firecrackers (which fooled people into thinking they were duds before exploding ten seconds later.) Lisa put nearly the whole park in danger with her experimental bottle rockets, Lana was apprehended after getting into a fight with some kids by Fishmans Pond (where it was later revealed that those other kids were harassing the Fishmans family that lived there...even Leni caused a bit of a scene at the park that day.

Of course, all she did was accidentally steal a few picnic blankets she "found" lying around...before cutting them up and refashioning them into 4th of July themed outfits. In any case, the Louds were all banned from the premises while public gatherings were taking place; including Lincoln (due to the rather idiotic "Guilty by Association" mindset park officials had at the time.) "I'm just worried something bad might happen again at the park like before" the Loud Boy murmured worriedly, "today's 4th of July is really important for me."

Not long after he said this, he reached into his backpack and looked up a picture on his phone; one featuring him and the Gal Pals down at Jordan's for a pool party. This particular photo was taken at the end of June on what was perhaps, one of the hottest days of the summer. Thankfully, some swimming fun with friends did just the trick to help make Lincoln's day.

"The Gals have all done so much for me, this year" he sighed wistfully, "I'm going to return the favor by finding the best spot to watch the fireworks go off tonight." Officer Higgins chuckled heartily at Lincoln's words, gave his hand a tender pat and told him that his idea was "as sweet as a cool glass of lemonade in the shade." "Don't you worry none about your family causin' another ruckus this year, sug" she assured, "as we speak, my partners and Officer Schoffner are all probably gettin' them suited up at the station for today's job."

(Line Break)

One quick flash later and the scene shifts over to the Royal Woods Police Station, where the other members of the Loud Family are seen being suited up and briefed on their next Community Service job. "As you all know, the annual 4th of July Community Picnic is happening today" Officer Schoffner explained, "and this in turn, attracts many people there...which could very well lead to vast quantities of litter being strewn about." No sooner had the policewoman mentioned the "L Word," the Loud Sisters each let out heavy groans of disapproval.

Ironically, her description of their assignment alone made them feel like cleaning their house was far better by comparison. Of course; it was Lori, Leni, Lola and Lisa who felt the most upset about the whole thing...but each of them had different reasons for it.) The main qualm the first three had with litter clean-up was the fact that they'd be doing it all in scorching midsummer heat.

In addition to this, there was also the fact that they'd all be required to wear "special uniforms" for the job. At first, Leni and Lola felt this would be a "small perk" to help make everything feel "less humiliating." But then, all that changed when Schoffner's fellow officers entered the room; each one holding two separate articles of clothing in their arms.

The first item was a typical yellow work vest with grey stripe stretching across the midriff, something Rita was already familiar with. The other piece of clothing was something that caused practically every member of the family to cringe in disgust...orange prison jumpsuits. Of course, according to Schoffner; these suits were "entirely different" than what the prison inmates wore.

"This will help us spot you all easily...should you decide to do something foolish, like flee the scene" she said with a light grin, "so, which uniform would you all like to wear?" Without hesitation, Rita immediately went for the work vest; not caring about how "tacky" it might look on her. Lynn Sr. also went for the vest, bashfully proclaiming that wearing the jumpsuit would make his rump look big. "All that's left is the ten of you, ladies" Schoffner murmured, "so...will it be the vests or the jumpsuits?"

Typically, for any other kind of people; such a choice would be an easy one and they would easily go with the vest option. As it turned out, nearly half of the Loud Sisters agreed with it; while the other half still refused to choose. "C'mon, you little sissies; it's not that hard" groaned Lynn Jr., "just go with our choice and put on the vests already!"

Alas, much like with the idea of doing litter clean-up; Lori, Leni, Lola and Lisa all openly dismissed the wardrobe choice. Of course, Lisa's own "complaints" involved far more than just this; much to her family's annoyance. According to her (as the wee genius liked to put it,) "a person of her intellect should not be forced to endure such menial labor."

This not only caused her family to groan in frustration but the officers as well, who all agreed that Lisa had yet to learn her lessons from Sensitivity Training. "It's your choice, little Einstein" Officer Schoffner said firmly, "you can either cooperate and do your assigned service...or I can write you up, which will then add in some extra time for us to spend together." In that moment, young Lisa found herself in a situation she rarely ever experienced in her young life; a mental crossroad.

On the one hand; as someone who was more "intellectually gifted," she hated the idea of doing any form of physical labor. If she were still able, Lisa could create a device or machine that could complete tasks like litter clean-up in a manner of seconds. But she realized that this was no longer possible; by order of the court, Lisa was now forbidden by law to create anything that could pose any form of danger to those around her; including robots.

Even if she were able to make such a thing now, there was a 50-50 chance the robot would malfunction (as machines often do;) thus leading to it either covering the park with even more trash. There was also the possibility that the machine's malfunction would lead to it attacking any humans within sight; herself included. Still, even with all of this in mind; Lisa still loathed the idea of doing work that didn't involve scientific study.

On the other hand, though; she realized that swallowing her pride and doing her duty was an important step towards getting her life back. After almost losing so much during the Spring (her stance at the university, her friendship with Darcy and most importantly, the love of her only brother;) she didn't want to make the same mistake twice. "After much deliberation, I have decided...to go with the vest option" Lisa stated, "on the condition that you happen to have such attire in my size."

As if they were expecting the wee genius to say this, one of the other officers beside Schoffner brought out a small "Toddler-Sized" work vest. Upon seeing it up close, Lisa suddenly felt a heavy blush form on her cheeks; as if dreading the idea of having to wear it. But in the end, she knew that it was too late to change her mind now and agreed to it.

(Line Break)

As the scene flashes back to the present, we find Officer Higgins' cruiser sitting before a traffic light; waiting for it to change color. Inside, she took a moment to show Lincoln a picture Leni took and e-mailed to her; one featuring Lisa wearing her work vest. Needless to say, after looking at it for almost fifteen seconds; Lincoln suddenly fell into a fit of jolly laughter.

"Now, sug...it ain't nice to be laughin' at other folks' expense" Higgins said in a mildly firm tone, "no matter how cute your sister may look in her uniform." After taking a moment to calm down, Lincoln held up a hand in defense and said it wasn't Lisa he was laughing at; it was the size of her vest. "You gotta admit...it is pretty small, even for someone like her" he chuckled softly, "do you guys really have work vests in toddler sizes?"

After taking these words to heart, Officer Higgins soon realized the amusing irony of the situation and found herself chuckling as well. But then, as the traffic light turned green and the cruiser continued on down the road; she explained that while it was common for children to perform Community Service...it was rare to have someone about Lisa's age to be part of it. "Thankfully, Schoffner and the Chief still had your sister's lil' ol' shrink ray they collected from her bunker" Higgins stated, "we used it to shrink down a couple normal sized ones a smidge for her and the twins."

Lincoln let out a soft murmur of intrigue, as if feeling slightly surprised by the fact the police still had some of Lisa's inventions on hand. But when he asked Higgins if they still had the shrink ray, she shook her head in response; revealing that they later had it sold off for scrap, after one of the rookies attempted to use it to make a donut he was eating bigger. Apparently, the little "experiment" worked...but just a little too well, as the rookie would soon discover.

To make a long story short, the donut grew so large it filled the entire bullpen; almost trapping every officer inside. "That...That right there is the reason my partners and I came to your house late last Friday" she stated, "we all spent hours with the others tryin' to get rid of that big ol' pastry and open up the bullpen again." After he had finished shaking his head, mentally stressing how Lisa should've been more careful with her inventions; Lincoln asked what happened to the shrink ray and the enlarged donut.

"Without so much as a second thought, the chief ordered us to tear down that ol' gizmo and what remained to the scrap yard" Higgins replied, "as for the donut...it took the hungriest officers in the building to eat enough of it for the rest of us to get rid of whatever remained of that!" Once more, Lincoln let out a laugh at the policewoman's story; mostly because of the fact that some people would consider such a situation "a dream come true." Much to his surprise, Higgins seemed to agree with him; as she also started laughing heartily.

But just when things were starting to seem really fun, Lincoln suddenly heard his cellphone going off. When he looked at the screen, he saw Carol's image and number; which made him smile even broader. "Go ahead and answer it, hon" Officer Higgins urged, "just make sure not to distract me with your conversation, savvy?"

With a silent but affirmative thumb's up; Lincoln adhered to his friend/sitter/escort's request, turned down the phone volume slightly and answered the call. Within seconds, Carol's face appeared on the screen; smiling wide and waving at him with great fervor. At the same time; Lincoln could see Becky, Whitney, Chaz and Dana standing with her.

"Hi-hi, Linky; having a safe ride so far" Carol asked, earning a light nod from her ward; "good...just wanted to let you know that we're finishing up with gathering a few things for tonight and we'll meet you at the park later." No sooner had all this been said, Dana added that she had already touched base with the other Gal Pals and learned that they would be on their way as well. "Land sakes, ladies; you best hope there's still some room left at Tall Timbers for all of ya" Officer Higgins chuckled, "if there ain't none, I reckon it'll be a real tight squeeze for ya."

Although he knew that the policewoman meant well, Lincoln shook his head in denial and claimed that there may still be plenty of space for everyone at the park. "Make no mistake, I'm going to try and find the best space for us there" he pledged, "one where we can all get a perfect view of the fireworks going off." Although the ladies were touched by his kindness, they kindly yet firmly stressed to Lincoln that he shouldn't put himself through such work for their sake.

"Nonsense, girls...you've all done so much to make me happy this past year" he stated, "the very least I can do is repay you in some way." Once more, the Gals were quite moved by his words; even Higgins couldn't help but coo sweetly at the Loud Boy. "Well, Linc...whatever you do decide on doing, just promise us one thing" Whitney requested, "don't hurt yourself."

After giving them a "Scout's Honor" salute; Lincoln said his goodbyes, shared a quick "I love you" with each of his guardians (despite Chaz making playful gagging sounds in the background) and turned off his phone. "All due respect, sug...I hope you know what you're doin'" Officer Higgins said warily, "you know how popular the 4th of July picnic gets in this town." On the one hand, Lincoln's optimism was doing everything possible to help keep his hopes strong; telling him he might get lucky.

But on the other hand, another part of him believed that Officer Higgins was right; finding an open space at the park for so many people would not be an easy task. "Well...no matter what, I'm still going to do what I can to make tonight great" Lincoln said affirmatively to the viewer, "I mean, it shouldn't be as hard as we think...right?"

(Line Break)

For what felt like ages, Lincoln stared aghast at the sight before him; taking care not to drop the picnic basket that hung onto his arm. When he and Officer Higgins first arrived, the Loud Boy believed there would only be...thirty, perhaps forty people at the park. But the instant he arrived, Lincoln saw legions of citizens crowding the area; friends and neighbors alike.

Officer Higgins was also quite surprised by this herself, to say the least. "Shee-ooot! The chief didn't say nothin' about this many people comin' here today" she gasped, "guess us police folk will be busy today." Upon saying this, when she turned on the phone and looked at the time; Higgins suddenly let out a shocked squeak. "Sorry I gotta cut and run on ya, Lincoln" she stated, "but I need to skedaddle right quick before mine and the girls' shift starts."

The officer also happened to add how she wanted to meet up with her own family as well, hoping that her husband hadn't strained himself in carrying their own picnic supplies. "Huh...I think I remember you and your partners saying you were mothers; back during the trial, ma'am" Lincoln said in surprise, "but I didn't know you were married too." Higgins chuckled softly at his words and responded with a playful "even us cops can be softies, youngin."

"Believe it or not, Lincoln...you'll probably see her up in the middle school, come September" she stated, "same with Miss Gail and Gabby's lil' ones." This bit of news seemed to intrigue Lincoln a little, wondering just what kind of kids his police officer sitters must've had. Then, after giving his white hair a ruffle; she said her farewells to Lincoln and wished him on the best of luck in finding a good spot to set up.

"Thanks for the ride, Miss Higgins; I hope to see you later" he said while exiting the cruiser, "tell the others and my family I said 'hi,' if you happen to see them." The officer gave him a nod, blew him a light kiss and went off to join her fellow officers for the day's routine security watch. As Lincoln ventured off into the park, he took the time to look around at all the people who were already situated there.

There were teens tossing Frisbees to each other, toddlers waving mini versions of the American flag while laughing and the smell of the air held the aroma of numerous meals being cooked on grills. With each of these sights and sounds, Lincoln couldn't help but think about doing similar activities with his friends...once he found a good picnic spot, that is. Sadly, nearly every spot within sight seemed to be filled with people; just like Officer Higgins warned him.

"Don't lose hope yet, dude" Lincoln told himself, "there must be a good spot to set up and watch the fireworks go off somewhere around here." With these thoughts in mind, he wasted no time looking around for any open space to sit. But any spot that did appear to be open along the path had different yet glaring flaws. One space Lincoln saw didn't look all that spacious, either for him or the Gal Pals to set up a blanket.

Another one did look open enough...but it was right underneath the canopy of several trees. During the day, such a thing would provide perfect shade for a camping trip or a stroll. But for watching nighttime fireworks, it was difficult to even see the stars through the leaves.

Another open space Lincoln found was right next to a nearby pond, which had two kinds of issues for picnic goers. Not only would being near some water put their food at risk of getting wet; animals like ducks, geese or various amphibians might come along and attempt to steal everyone's food. "There's gotta be a good picnic spot somewhere around here" he whispered, "a place where we can get a perfect, unobstructed view of...THERE WE GO!"

As he looked ahead towards the grassier area of the park, he spotted a small hill spot; one that had a full view of the open sky. At the same time, when he got a little bit closer; Lincoln could also see some other picnic attendees below. "Now, that is more like it" he thought confidently, "there's not that many people around, the view is clear...it's the perfect spot to set up my blanket."

With renewed hope in his heart, Lincoln speed-walked his way towards the hill; taking care not to drop his basket while doing so. Then, just as he was only a few paces away; he caught a glimpse of another family group heading towards the spot. In that moment, Lincoln suddenly felt a surge of determination flow through him; one he hadn't felt for sometime.

"I really don't want to hog the space from them" he murmured to the viewer, "but like Lynn used to say, when you see an opportunity...you've gotta grab it while you can!" With that said; after making certain that the latch on his basket was closed nice and tight, Lincoln hurried off to the spot as quickly as he could.

As he drew closer he spotted a family making their way towards the spot; the little ones waving their flags while singing patriotic songs in their own gibberish language. "Oh, man...I really don't wanna do this" Lincoln murmured, "but as Lynn used to say, first come is first served!" With this thought in mind, Lincoln pulled out his picnic blanket from inside of the basket and hurled it towards the spot with all his might.

Miraculously, the blanket had unfolded itself in midair and gently landed on the grassy spot; just as the little ones were about to sit down. "Hey, now; we were just about to sit here" cried the father, "who's the wise guy who threw that?!" No sooner had he said this, the man spotted a young boy with white hair approaching them; panting heavily and dripping with sweat.

"Sorry...everyone but I...really...r-really need this spot" he said between breaths, "it's the only space big enough for me and a collection of my friends to sit at." While he believed that Lincoln's claim was valid, the man still questioned him on where his "friends" were at this time. In response, Lincoln said that they were probably on their way to Tall Trees and that they personally asked him to save a spot for everybody.

"That's an awful lot of responsibility on someone so young" murmured the mother, "furthermore, where exactly should we all go instead?" For a moment, Lincoln offered no response to her inquiry; mainly because he was trying to get all the air back into his lungs again. But at the same time, he was also trying to remember the open spots he saw earlier; thinking the family would approve of one of them.

That's when he brought up the area he saw by the pond a few moments ago. While Lincoln himself didn't really approve of it, he thought maybe the family would instead. "That...actually does sound rather nice" the father muttered, "I think we'll take you up on that suggestion, young man." Feeling hopeful, Lincoln attempted to seal the deal by mentioning the possibility of all the little critters that might be living in the pond.

"Like duckies, fishies and froggies and stuff" the little girl asked eagerly, "YAY! Can we go picnic there, Daddy, please?" At first, the children's parents were hesitant in agreeing to the idea; mostly because they didn't want anything dangerous to come after their food. But Lincoln, as if sensing this, quickly assured them that he saw no such dangers when he passed the open space.

"Well, then; you have yourself a deal, young man" the father chuckled while shaking Lincoln's hand, "hope you and your friends will have a good time here." With that, the family said their final goodbyes and went off on their way; leaving Lincoln behind on his desired picnic spot. "That went much better than I expected" Lincoln said to the viewer in disbelief, "now comes the real challenge, setting everything up."

(Line Break)

Almost eight minutes had passed by since Lincoln set himself up at the hill and everything seemed to be going smoothly. But if one were to take a closer look, they'd see that things were far different than it looked. To start with, setting up the picnic blanket nice and smooth on his own was no easy task for Lincoln.

Truth be told, most people who went on picnics would bring with them blankets that were no bigger than a bed. But when you have a family as big as Lincoln's, you're required to either bring several at one time or a whole tarp. In this case, he went with the first option; bringing up to six different picnic blankets with him (each one large enough for people to sit together in pairs.

While this seemed like a smart and sweet idea (on paper;) Lincoln, once more saw the fatal flaw in his plan...setting each blanket up on his own. "It's okay, dude...just start with one at a time" he whispered while taking in a calming breath, "why not start with the blanket in your basket first?" With this thought in mind; Lincoln placed his basket on the grass, opened it up and brought out a large red and white checkered picnic blanket.

He then took hold of two corners, raised his arms up high and flung them down with all his might; only to see the blanket unfurl about half way. Meanwhile, the opposite side of the blanket was still holding on to its rolled up shape. "It's okay, I can work with this" Lincoln thought to himself, "I needed one side open to put the basket on top of anyway."

With an unenthusiastic chuckle in his throat, he placed the basket atop the middle part of his side of the blanket; which would give just enough weight to keep the whole thing from blowing in the wind...hopefully. As he made his way to the other side of the blanket, Lincoln refused to let hiccups like these dampen his spirits. "It's like Lynn used to say, dude" he told himself, "'nothing in life is ever easy...you gotta work hard to get what you want, even if it's frustrating.'"

With these thoughts in mind, the Loud boy resumed with his picnic preparations; starting with the blanket. But unfortunately, unfurling the other end of it on his own proved pretty hard; between safely rolling out the rest, keeping the blanket smooth on the ground and making sure to do all this without knocking over his basket...Lincoln started to think he may have been in over his head. Yet even with all of these valid issues in mind, he still refused to give up on his plan; which could be seen as both foolhardy yet quite admirable.

"The Gal Pals worked all worked so hard just to keep me safe, sane and happy this past year" he thought to himself determinedly, "I've gotta return the favor...somehow, even if I exhaust myself in doing it!" Miraculously, these thoughts somehow filled Lincoln's belly with a great fire of passion; the kind that he believed only a few of his sisters had felt before. With it, Lincoln started to work even harder than he already did before.

First, he got an idea on how to best roll out the rest of his blanket; place his hands on the middle and move it towards him. Unfortunately, he had to do so inch by inch; to ensure that he wouldn't topple over the picnic basket on the other side. In addition to this, Lincoln realized that there was also the issue of an occasional breeze blowing passed his ear.

This led him to fear that if one single yet heavy gust came in, it may ruin all of his work. "No, dude; you promised to never let fear hold you back again" Lincoln said to himself firmly, "stop being weak...and FOCUS!" After giving his face a few good slaps to snap him out of his fears, he was finally ready to finish up in readying his blanket...despite the stinging sensation in his cheeks.

Finally, after almost two minutes of careful concentration; the job was done and the blanket was fully opened on the grass. "Okay, now to set up the rest of the stuff" Lincoln sighed with relief, "starting with the food." The mere instant this idea popped into his mind, the Loud Boy suddenly heard and felt his stomach growling with hunger.

This was to be expected, of course; given how much time he spent setting up the blanket properly. "I don't think everybody will mind if I just have one little snack to hold me over" Lincoln thought to himself, "good thing I brought a couple of snickerdoodles in my backpack." With this thought in mind; Lincoln threw his backpack onto the blanket, opened it up and collected a small Ziploc bag full of cookies inside.

"Just one cookie and then, I'll save the rest for the others" he murmured, "then, I can get back to finishing up my preparations." Without further delay; Lincoln pulled open the bag, picked out one of the snickerdoodles and took a bite with a pleased moan. He then took a mental note to say his thanks to Clyde for helping him bake the cookies for the picnic, whenever he might see him.

As Lincoln prepared to take another bit of his snack, he suddenly heard the soft sounds of squeaking and chattering from nearby. He took a look at his surroundings for a few seconds but founds nothing out of the ordinary, just all the other picnic goers enjoying themselves. "Probably just my imagination playing tricks on me" Lincoln thought, "a side effect of either my hunger or the stress of preparing everything."

The instant the second thought popped into the boy's head, he couldn't help but chuckle ironically; realizing that now he understood how his parents felt every Thanksgiving at home. But then, just as Lincoln was about to resume his work; he heard the chittering sound once more and it sounded even closer now. After taking a glance downward, he spotted a lone squirrel standing in front of his feet; smiling pleasantly.

"Well...hey there, little fella" Lincoln said happily, "what brings you up here, looking for something to eat?" As if it heard him say "the secret word," the squirrel started chattering excitedly; all while gesturing its tiny paws at its mouth. With a playful chuckle, Lincoln broke off a fragment of his uneaten half of the snickerdoodle and handed it over to the little creature; which it happily accepted before darting away.

Little did Lincoln realize, however that this gesture did not go unnoticed by the other animals who happened to either witness the exchange themselves or see the squirrel run by them with the bit of cookie in its mouth. Regardless, this gave some of the other forest animals, from chipmunks to even a few dear, an idea to go for a free handout. Many of them had been rudely denied this earlier on, either by the other park guests or the authorities themselves.

But there was something about the white-haired boy that made them all think that getting a snack will be so much easier.

(Line Break)

Back at the hill, Lincoln had already opened up his basket and was moments away from setting out some paper plates for the food he had. But then, he heard the soft sound of hooves approaching; which made him look up in surprise. At first, he thought it might've been something huge approaching his blanket like a moose.

But instead, he saw that it was only a little faun; one no bigger than him. "Aww! Hey, lil' guy, what'cha doing all the way here" Lincoln asked in a babyish tone, "did you get lost from your Mommy?" The faun only let out a soft grunt in reply while also nudging its snout towards his basket.

Upon seeing this, Lincoln started to get a pretty good idea of what the critter wanted. After living with several pets at home, he learned to notice a few of the signals whenever they appeared hungry. "I'm sorry, little guy...but this is all people food I got here" Lincoln said kindly, "you'll need to find some other place for something to eat."

You'd think that would be the end of it all right there, after that; wouldn't you? Well, I'm afraid that Fate just wasn't ready to stop playing her little game with Lincoln just yet. To start with, rather than adhere to the human's wishes; the wee faun simply put on a pair of sad eyes.

This move not only felt like a blow to Lincoln's heart but to his mind as well. On multiple occasions, he vividly recalled the times where other people would use this look on him; whether it was his own sisters or the Gal Pals. As such, he once again found himself struggling with trying to remain strong and indifferent at the sight of such cuteness.

"Nope...sorry, lil' fella; I'm not budging" Lincoln said tensely, "I don't want to risk getting in trouble with the fuzz or see you get sick from..." Just then, his train of thought was suddenly disturbed by the sound of rustling from behind him. With a gasp, Lincoln looked over his shoulder and spotted several animals trying to root through his picnic basket.

As if sensing that its job was complete, the little faun's pleading expression suddenly turned shifty and sly; leaving Lincoln to realize too late that he had been conned. Before leaving, the faun gave him the biggest raspberry it could muster and darted back into the woods; leaving its fellow creatures of the forest to collect the spoils. "OH, NO YOU DON'T" Lincoln exclaimed, "BACK AWAY FROM THAT FOOD, YOU LITTLE TRICKSTERS!"

With his cheeks flaring bright red in annoyance, the Loud Boy ran straight for the woodland creatures; all while hooting and shouting at them loudly. Startled; the creatures made a beeline down the hill and retreated back into the woods, alarming and aggravating several other picnic goers in their path. As for Lincoln, while he felt annoyed by their sudden intrusion; he was relieved to see that not a whole lot had been eaten from his basket.

"Okay, let me see here" he muttered under his breath, "the sandwiches are still in their bags, the Mac n' Cheese Bites Dad packed for me are still there, the poppers are still here and...OH, NO!" During the inspection, Lincoln was relieved to see that the majority of his food was still in one piece (with the exception of a few noticeable nibbles on some apple slices he brought.) But much to his shock and dismay, he noticed that the extra picnic blankets he brought had chew marks on them.

He felt that there was no way that the girls could use them, regardless if the marks didn't really seem that noticeable. "Hold on, dude...don't go in a tizzy just yet" Lincoln thought mentally, "the important thing is that the food is still here; if worst comes to worst, I'll just have to share my own blanket with a few of the Gals." With renewed hope in his heart, he reached into his basket and collected a package of paper plates for the food.

Unfortunately, he had only just removed the plastic wrap when a sudden gust came and blew several of the plates up into the air. "OH, C'MON ALREADY" Lincoln screamed angrily to the heavens, "CAN'T ANYTHING GO RIGHT FOR ME TODAY...WHAT DID I EVER DO TO YOU, UNIVERSE?!" With a bitter huff, Lincoln followed after his collection of paper plates; which seemed to only be floating ever higher, thanks to the breeze.

Faster and faster he ran after the plates, taking care to not run over any of the other people or their own picnic spots. Sadly, his play it safe efforts only seemed to be slowing him down; as the plates started to fly even higher up. "That's it, I've put up with so much stuff already these past few months" Lincoln growled, "I will not let Nature ruin my day!"

Surprisingly, these thoughts of determination seemed to have ignited an intense spark; deep down inside of him. In an instant, Lincoln could feel a fire burning in his eyes and an overwhelming flow of adrenaline flow through his body like rushing rapids. As a result, Lincoln suddenly noticed a surprising burst of speed in his legs; which allowed him to keep up with the flying paper plates still.

Speaking of which, the gust of wind that sent them all flying finally died down; allowing the plates to slowly float back to the ground. "Yes...Yes, that's it" he cried with joy, "just a little more and I'll be able to..." Just as Lincoln was about to finish his statement, something happened that caused both it and his sudden stride to come to a halt.

Before he had the chance to react, the poor boy suddenly found himself crashing hard into something; resulting in him falling hard onto the ground. Mere seconds later, Lincoln heard the sounds of a person groaning in pain from both the collision and them falling over. But whether it be to his brain still being clouded by adrenaline or the stress of the day's mishaps wearing on his nerves; instead of offering concern, the first thing Lincoln said to the other person was "WATCH IT, BUDDY!"

Mere seconds after this, the person who fell over responded to the boy's harsh tone with the phrase "why don't you watch it, you little nitwit!" The instant he heard this, Lincoln let out a soft gasp of surprise; realizing that the person he crashed into sounded very...familiar to him. Once he shook the cobwebs out of his head; he looked ahead and saw his sister, Lori lying before him.

At the same time, the girl in question was also clearing her head out from the crash and when she saw her brother lying on the ground, her attitude also changed. "What the...Lori, where did you come from" Lincoln gasped, "I mean...I'm sorry for bumping into you and snapping at you but...I just didn't think I'd see you around today." After she got back onto her feet and dusted off her jumpsuit, Lori helped bring her brother off the ground and did the same for him; while also checking for any signs of injury.

"Everything seems to be in one piece" she murmured intently, "now then, Little Brother...kindly explain to me why you've been running like a bat outta the Underworld and ramming into me?!" At first, Lincoln couldn't help but flinch at her tone; which meant that his sister was clearly upset over what happened (accident or not.) But then, he suddenly noticed that something seemed...different about her today.

While Lori's face did show clear signs of irritation and annoyance, she was still doing her best to appear calm in spite of it. "Wow...I guess the Anger Management Classes must really be paying off" Lincoln thought, "best not to say anything out loud about that, don't want to risk poking the bear." After taking a moment to clear his throat, Lincoln was seconds away from telling her what was going on...until another familiar voice suddenly spoke up.

"HEY, LORI; GET BACK TO WORK" it shouted shrilly, "WE'VE GOT A WHOLE LOTTA PARK TO KEEP CLEAN WHILE THIS PICNIC'S GOING ON AND WE CAN'T AFFORD TO MESS AROUND!" After letting out a bit of an annoyed sigh, Lori turned around and told the speaker that something disrupted her workflow...or rather, someone. "Hold on...that other voice, I recognize it anywhere" Lincoln whispered, "Lola is here...which means the rest of the family might be with her and Lori as well."

Surely enough; after taking a look over his sisters' shoulders, Lincoln could clearly see the rest of his family behind them. They were each dressed in matching work suits, holding a pointed stick in one hand and a plastic bag in the other. As it turns out, though; only one half of the family's bags appeared to be almost half-full.

At the same time; Lincoln also happened to notice that his sisters either looked dirty, incredibly disheveled and incredibly exhausted. "I'm guessing you guys aren't having a good day either, huh" he murmured sadly, "join the club...mine hasn't been going any better either." Now, it may have been due to the stress of the clean-up job or the fact that she was only midway through her court assigned therapy classes.

But the instant Lynn heard her brother's complaint, Lynn Jr.'s rage got the better of her and she threw her clean-up gear on the grass in an angry huff before getting nose-to-nose with him. "Oh...you've been having a bad day, huh" she growled, "try spending a week listening to a teacher sing sappy songs, having an amusement park reject hug you every five minutes or spending hours picking up trash...then, we'll talk!" Now, under normal circumstances; Lincoln would want to either bicker with his sisters or immediately apologize (if he had angered them, somehow.)

But after the day he had and after the feeling of adrenaline from moments ago had faded away; he simply stared at his sister dryly and murmured one simple word, "whatever." "Lincoln! That's no way to talk to your sister" Rita said firmly, "now...whatever is bothering you might be valid but I want you to calm down and tell us nicely, okay?" For a moment or two, Lincoln didn't answer his mother's words; mostly because of how surprised he felt deep down.

This was a side of her he only seen a few glimpses of during hostile situations, firm yet fair. To Lincoln, he took this as a sign that all the parenting classes she was taking must've been doing well for her. "You're right, Mom...something has been bothering me today but it's not right for me to take it out on any of you guys" he murmured, "I...I'm sorry for bumping into you, Lynn."

Now, Lincoln wasn't expecting an immediate reply or response from his sister after his apology. But for the first few seconds, all she did was stand in front of him; arms crossed and wearing an intense "Stink Eye" look on her face. This led Lincoln to believe that he got himself on Lynn's bad side; which was a part of her that scared everyone in the house (even Lucy.)

But then, just when everything seemed bleak; the former family jock reached out and clutched Lincoln into the biggest hug she could muster. "It's okay, dude...I forgive you" Lynn said with a light smile, "gotta say, though; never thought I'd see you bring me down after tackling me." After everyone shared a few lighthearted comments about the moment in question, the family asked Lincoln what had him so down.

"I just...I've been having the worst time yet" he grumbled, "I've spent hours trying to prepare my picnic spot for me and the Gal Pals to sit at...but so many things just kept getting in the way, both figuratively and literally." It was here that Lincoln regaled his family on everything he endured over the past hour or so since he was dropped off at the park. When he got to the point about crashing into Lynn accidentally while trying to catch some paper plates, their mouths were all hanging agape with shock.

"OM Gosh, Linky; that does sound like a bad time" Leni gasped, "it makes everything I've been through seem...kind of stupid by comparison." His curiosity getting the better of him, Lincoln softly cleared his throat and asked his sister what it was that got her so upset. "It wasn't as bad as what you went through" Leni confessed, "but earlier this morning, I was picking up trash by the entrance...and some jerk threw his bubblegum into my hair!"

As proof her words were true, the second eldest Loud Sister removed her glasses from off her head and revealed a large wad of ABC Gum stuck on top of her head. The mere sight of it alone was enough to gross Lincoln out but the fact that some rando would just chuck it at someone's head was just bogus. "That's not half as bad as what happened to me yesterday, dude" Luna sighed, "long story short, I...met someone down by the trashcans while emptying my bag, a mama raccoon who did not look happy to see me."

As proof that her story was true, Lincoln studied his sister's jumpsuit carefully and saw a small collection of claw marks on the abdominal area. This meant that the mother raccoon must've pounced on Luna before she had the chance to run away. Thankfully, there didn't appear to be any sign of injury and Luna didn't show any sign of rabies while speaking to him.

In addition to both of these stories; Luan revealed that she got sprayed by a skunk the day before, Lola revealed that her hair ended up smelling like trash for several hours the day before that and as for the parents; after last week's community work, they had a difficult time waking up early this morning. "Guess we've all been having rotten luck lately" Lori stated matter-of-factly, "but it seems like you've been having the worst of it, Lincoln." No sooner had she said all this, the family watched as all the color seemed to instantly drain from their son/brother's face.

It didn't take them all long to realize the reason why and when they did, Lori was the first to apologize. "I am literally sorry about that, Lincoln" she murmured sincerely, "I know we agreed not to mention...the 'L' word whenever misfortune happens but you see my point, right?" After taking a moment to recover from the shock, Lincoln smiled up at Lori and nodded in understanding; telling her he knew the point she was trying to make.

"In all seriousness, Son; we're sorry all this has been happening to you" Lynn Sr. murmured, "I wish there was a way we could help." No sooner had this been said, the rest of the family sounded off in agreement; also wishing to help lift Lincoln's spirits. "There's nothing that you guys really can do for me...no offense" the Loud Boy murmured sadly, "unless one of you could fly up and retrieve the paper plates that blew away from me."

You can call it Fate, you can call it Chance...or you can call it plain dumb luck...but in any case; after hearing her brother's dilemma, Leni suddenly let out a gasp and proclaimed she saw the plates herself. "I saw them all falling, after you and Lynn crashed into each other before" she explained, "I was going to make cute 4th of July decorations with them...but after hearing what you said, I'm glad I didn't." At first, Lincoln offered no reply or response to his sister's words; due to the overwhelming amount of joy running through his mind.

Then, before anyone had the chance to ask if he was okay; he suddenly rushed forward and hugged Leni around her waist tightly. "Oh...THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU SO MUCH" he cried ecstatically, "I've already come close to losing everything else; if I lost these, my picnic plans would officially be sunk." Leni cooed softly at her brother, mostly for his thankful words and his show of affection and stroked her hand through his hair in appreciation for it all.

Afterwards, Lincoln gathered up all of the plates in his hands and went on his way back to his picnic spot. "Happy to help, Son" Lynn Sr. called out loudly, "hope you and your friends will enjoy yourselves...and make sure you dispose of your trash properly!" No sooner had he said all this, a cyclist pedaled past the Loud Family and they appeared to be eating a granola bar while doing so.

Upon eating the remaining half of it; they let out a satisfied belch, crumpled up the wrapping paper and threw it nonchalantly to the side. The Loud Sisters watched the scene in shock and annoyance, which grew even higher when they saw the wrapper land on a spot they'd just finished cleaning at. Now...the Louds have been doing their absolute best in obeying their court sentence, attending all their classes and practice every lesson they were taught.

But after dealing with so many stresses during Community Service in that one week alone...well, this was just enough to push at least one of the Loud Sisters over the edge. "OH...FOR CRYIN' OUT LOUD" Lynn seethed with rage, "CAN'T YOU SEE THROUGH THOSE SUNGLASSES OF YOURS, BUDDY; THE WASTE BASKET WAS RIGHT BEHIND YOU!" Unfortunately for the disgruntled former jock, her complaints went unheard by the cyclist; who was now too far down the path to have heard her.

With an intense fire blazing in her eyes; Lynn picked up the granola bar, stuck it into her mouth, swished it around for almost ten seconds and spat it back out into her hand (much to her family's overall disgust.) Then, she reached into a waist basket and pulled out a dirty bendy straw; not caring about how much garbage she was spilling onto the grass while doing so.

"Lynn, please...you have to stop this" Lucy murmured softly, "I know the day's work has been making you frustrated...but if you're not careful, you'll get us into some serious trouble." While one part of her fully understood the young Goth's warnings, as well as the severity of what her actions might do; Lynn's irritation had completely overshadowed her sense of logic. In her mind, the litterbug had to pay; even if it meant she and her family would get busted.

"I may not be in the league anymore...but I can still throw a good hardball" she whispered, "I just need to wait for the right...THERE!" Up ahead, the cyclist was about to make a turn on the bike path; which gave Lynn the perfect opportunity to strike. After taking in a deep inhale; she placed the straw between her lips, took aim and fired!

Like a cannonball, the wrapping paper spitball shot out the other end of the straw and flew through the air at an amazing speed. Then, at the last second; it finally struck the cyclist on the side of his face with a soft squishing sound. "Yes, direct hit" Lynn cheered proudly, "maybe that'll teach ya a lesson about littering, loser!" As she proceeded to take part in her "Lynner, Lynner Chicken Dinner" victory dance; the rest of the Louds could only watch their sister/daughter with worried expressions.

Of course, they weren't quite that concerned over Lynn's current show of behavior or when she hit the cyclist with her spitball. Instead, it was what transpired after the aforementioned attack that left them feeling alarmed. While Lynn was busy dancing about, she failed to notice the cyclist suddenly losing control of his bike and running off the path.

The Louds could only watch in shock as the rider rode out of control past several people, come close to running over several small creatures (including the squirrel Lincoln fed earlier) and crash his bike into a stone that was hidden in the grass. The resulting collision led to the rider being thrown up into the air for several seconds, before he landed face first into a large waste basket; one that was already full to the brim.

Once everything seemed supposedly calm for the moment, the other half of the Louds turned slightly and sent very intense angry glares in Lynn's direction. At the same time, she herself was doing everything possible to prove she was in the right during the situation. "Boy...our teachers are going to have a field day over this, once they find out" Lori grumbled, "how much worse can things literally get at this point?!"

As if on cue; the instant she said all of this, everyone could hear the sounds of both the cyclist groaning in pain and the garbage in his can tattling around. This all meant that he was waking up from Lynn's assault, which would lead to him wanting to get out. But due to the cyclist's current...situation, doing so would not be easy.

To make matters worse, the Louds could see several other park attendees heading towards the can; feeling concerned about what happened to the cyclist. Among these concerned citizens was the Tall Timbers Park Ranger, who was the first to arrive on the scene the minute he saw a pair of legs sticking out of the can. With great care and a steady hand, he and two other park goers managed to pull the cyclist out of the can.

Sadly, this resulted in nearly half of its contents spilling out over the sides; which filled the Louds with a great sense of dismay. "NO! We just got done cleaning over there too" Luna groaned while glaring at her sister, "not cool, brah." Once more, Lynn was about to make an attempt to defend her honor...but when she saw the glares on her family's faces; the fire in her belly died down instantly.

Meanwhile, after rescuing the cyclist; the park ranger stood before the crowd and demanded for those who were responsible to come forward. "Come on, now...make this easy on yourself" he said firmly, "who among you is responsible for causing this man's crash?!" Rather than wait for the guilty party to reveal themselves, the crowd turned slightly and all jabbed accusing fingers at the Louds in unison.

Not long after that, the cyclist sealed the deal by revealing that Lynn was shouting at him for failing to dispose of his granola wrapper. "Well, Sir; littering of any kind is not something we tolerate here in Tall Timbers" said the ranger, "that being said...Louds, I think it's time for you all to get back to work." As expected, the Loud Family groaned in bitter exhaustion at the command; proclaiming that they had all been cleaning all day.

But the park ranger stood firm and demanded that they obey the order, lest they risk the chance of him writing them all up. "If I happen to tell this to Officer Schoffner in my report, that means extra days of service work for you" he warned, "however...if you do finish up like you're told, you can join in on watching tonight's fireworks show." While the idea of doing anymore cleaning filled them with incredible dread, the fact that they'll still get to relax and watch the fireworks after seemed like a good compromise.

With this in mind; Lynn let out a heavy sigh, raised her head up midway and murmured "someone hand me my bag, please?"

(Line Break)

Back at the hill, Lincoln had finally returned to his picnic spot with paper plates in hand; relieved to see that everything was still in the basket. With this in mind, he decided to be on the safe side and stuff the plates back inside of said basket until it was time to eat. "Okay...I've got my blanket, my food, my plates and my sanity back" Lincoln murmured to the viewer with a tired grin, "and I've still got time before the show starts."

At that moment, he suddenly heard his phone going off inside of his backpack; which meant that someone was either trying to call or message him. When he got it out, Lincoln saw that it was another message from Carol; saying that she and the other Gals were on their way over. "Good, they'll be here in just a few minutes" he sighed with relief, "now, all that's left is for me to get out...my chair!"

After letting out an annoyed groan and facepalming himself in irritation, Lincoln suddenly realized that he had left the folding chair he intended to use behind in Officer Higgins' police cruiser. "I knew I should've brought it with me when I got out" Lincoln grumbled, "hopefully, she's still at the spot where she dropped me off." With that, he hurried off back towards the park entrance; running as fast as he could for the second time that day.

Although doing such exercise did hurt him a little, especially after all the running he did earlier on; at the very least, he'd be working up an appetite for some well earned picnic food later. Sadly, much like with finding a spot and setting up his blanket moments ago; this next hurdle would prove to be just as challenging (if not annoying.) For starters, Lincoln had to keep himself from running into any passersby that were in his way; many of which were small children at play.

Then, he had to repeatedly duck his head like a soldier hiding in a foxhole due to all the beach balls and Frisbees being tossed around. Under normal circumstances, things such as these wouldn't be an issue and Lincoln would be happily laughing at the playful scenery.

But since he was currently on a time clock, the poor lad had no time for such things and had to complete his tasks while he still could. Miraculously, after dodging and weaving past the other attendees; Lincoln finally reached Higgins' police cruiser. "Good, it's still right where we parked" he whispered happily, "now to see if my folding chair is somewhere inside of it."

Ever so carefully, Lincoln approached the police vehicle; taking care to not accidentally set off any kind of alarm system it might have. When he got close enough to the window, he spotted the chair sitting in the back of the cruiser where he left it. "This will be real quick" Lincoln whispered softly, "just open the door, reach in, grab the chair and head back to your spot; easy."

For a few brief seconds, he felt like nothing could go wrong for him here...until he suddenly heard the shrill sound of a whistle blowing from behind. This sudden noise caused Lincoln to almost leap out of his skin in alarm, more so than when Carol honked the car horn on him so long ago. As it turned out; just as he did that night, Lincoln instinctively raised his hands high in submission and cried "PLEASE...I DIDN'T DO ANYTHING WRONG!"

"Is that so, young man" said a firm voice from behind, "then, look me in the eye and explain why you were about to break into an officer's vehicle!" At first, Lincoln considered the idea of further protesting his innocence to whoever was behind him; thinking he might gain their trust. But since he was rather pressed for time, he chose the much wiser option and turned to face them.

Lincoln had only glanced over when he immediately caught sight of a familiar policewoman; not one of his sitters/guardians but their colleague, Officer Schoffner. At the same time, when she happened to catch a glimpse at Lincoln's face; her earlier stern expression softened...but only a little. "Oh, Mr. Loud...I didn't realize it was you" she admitted, "although, your hair may have been a dead giveaway; even from a back-view."

After both of their identities became clearer to each other, Lincoln and Officer Schoffner greeted one another with a respectable handshake. But then, all too quickly, she went back into "Business Mode" and questioned Lincoln once more on why he was attempting to "break into" an officer's vehicle. "No...You have it all wrong, Ma'am" the Loud Boy called out defensively, "I wasn't trying to break in...I was just trying to open the door so I could get my folding chair inside."

To further assure his innocence, Lincoln explained how the officer who owned the vehicle helped bring him to the park; due to his own family needing to come for Community Service Duty early that morning. "Ah, yes; Officer Higgins told me she'd be doing this favor for you before she joined up with the rest of us for security detail" Schoffner murmured, "I deeply apologize for the misunderstanding, young man." While still doing his best to be respectful, Lincoln gave the officer a half smile and told her she was fine.

The truth of it is, compared to everything else he had been subjected to so far; a minor misunderstanding wasn't that much of an issue for him. "Let me help get that chair for you, then" Schoffner offered, "it's the least I can do after almost confusing you for a thief." Lincoln smiled gratefully at the officer for her kindness and gave a slight bow of the head in appreciation...only to suddenly realize one major issue.

"With all due respect, Ma'am...how do you plan on getting the cruiser open" he asked, "Officer Higgins still has her key." Schoffner smiled slightly at the boy, reached into her pocket and drew out a key ring; one that had a particularly unusual key along with the others. When Lincoln asked what it was for; she replied in saying that every so often, the force would sometimes receive calls from people saying important items had been accidentally locked inside of their vehicles (babies, phones and especially their car keys.)

"Normally, it's better for people to just call their auto service for such issues" Schoffner stated, "but when it's a dire emergency, we have emergency access keys to help us open locked vehicles...including our own." With a soft groan, she revealed that far too many rookies had made the mistake of locking their gear in cruisers, in the past; which was why the access keys were made. "This'll be quick, young man" she assured, "I'll just open up the side door and you can get your chair back."

With a sigh of relief, a part of Lincoln wanted nothing more than to throw himself down to the officer's feet and kiss them in gratitude. But...he quickly resisted that urge due to the fact that such a display would make her look foolish and he did not want to risk that. So, after he retrieved his chair; Lincoln thanked Officer Schoffner one final time and went off on his way.

(Line Break)

Not wanting to leave anything else to chance; the instant Lincoln made his return to the hill, he wasted no time making a few final inspections on his spot. Thankfully, everything appeared to be quite in order and Lincoln couldn't be happier. Then, just as he was about to have a much needed rest in his folding chair; he suddenly felt his eyes being covered up from behind.

Mere seconds later, the soft sounds of a female giggling filled his ears; along with the soft inquiry of "guess who?" "Hmm...I may be off here" Lincoln said with a faint chuckle, "but is it a certain blonde teenager who I know and love?" The instant he said this, the Loud Boy suddenly felt himself being clutched tightly around his abdomen and being hoisted slightly up off the ground.

"Close, lil' man" the voice said playfully, "but...you didn't specify on what style the blonde teen who loves you has." With this little clue, Lincoln cast a confused glance over his shoulder to see who it was that "ambushed" him. Much to his surprise, it was a blonde teen hugging him...but this one's hair was styled in an incredibly long and curly poof.

"Whitney, you're here" Lincoln cried with great joy in his voice, "are the others with you, I've got everything set up and ready." Rather than give him a verbal response, Whitney decided to surprise him and suddenly tossed him off to the side; where he then landed in the arms of Becky. "Hee-hee-hee! We've gotta stop meeting like this, Mr. Loud" she said in a playfully flirty voice, "but in all seriousness, it's great to see ya."

After giving him a hug, Becky placed Lincoln back on the ground; where he was then greeted by the other members of the Gal Pals crew. "Sorry we're so late, dude" Stella said apologetically, "after Carol picked up her friends and we all got in with each of our parents, we all got into traffic; which really cut into our schedule."

The others sounded off in unison, after this; also expressing their apologies for being tardy. "You ladies have nothing to apologize for" Lincoln said reassuringly, "I'm just happy to see you all here...you would not believe the afternoon I've had." The Gal Pals all cooed softly at him, expressing their sympathies for everything he had been through.

But then, Kat patted Lincoln lightly on his shoulder and offered him the kindest of smiles; which caused him to do the same. "From the look in your eyes alone, dude; we can tell you're telling the truth" she stated, "but the important thing is that we're all finally here." The other Gal Pals sounded off heartily in agreement before taking a seat down on the grass.

With a pleased sigh, Lincoln sat himself down comfortably into his fold-out chair and collected a juice from his basket; eager to have some well-earned relief. Then, all of a sudden; the skies rang out with the shrill sounds of rockets flying into the air. This was immediately followed by the sounds of multiple explosions going off.

To top it all off, the Gals and Lincoln could see sparks flashing in the sky...but they were happening behind them. Curious, several of the younger Gal Pals looked over their shoulders and saw that the fireworks were going off in the sky behind them. "Uh...dude, don't take this the wrong way" Phoebe murmured uneasily, "but I think you might've set the picnic the wrong way."

That did it...while his friend's words weren't spoken out of malice or spite; after everything that happened to him today, every indignity and annoyance Lincoln faced before this moment...that simple phrase was the final nail in the coffin for Lincoln. Before he knew it, his stress soon got the better of him and his eyes slowly started to well up with tears of anguish. "Dang it...Dang it all" he murmured sadly, "I had only one job to do today...and I messed it up, big time!"

The instant they heard him, each one of the Gal Pals did their best to lift Lincoln's spirits...but with little progress. It was here that he confessed how dearly he wanted things to go right tonight, it was his own way of thanking the Gal Pals for everything they've done for him and continued to do. This, of course touched Carol greatly; same with the rest of the group.

"Linky...we really appreciate the thought; truly we do" Carol murmured while holding him closely, "but it doesn't matter if every little detail is perfect, what's important is we're together to share this celebration." In response to this; Becky, Whitney and Dana all sounded off in agreement before joining the group's "leader" on the cuddlefest. "I must concur with Carol's statement" murmured Haiku, who suddenly appeared from (seemingly) out of nowhere, "the truth is...while I enjoy being outdoors on this night, I never much cared for the fireworks on the 4th of July."

In addition to all of this, the young Goth proclaimed that they had a much better view to look at compared to what everyone else saw. "Wait...Do you seriously mean that, Haiku" Lincoln asked confusedly, "what else is out there that could possibly be better than a fireworks show?" Rather than answer him, every one of the Gal Pals gave their guy a smile and gestured towards the distance; as if telling him to look ahead.

For a moment, Lincoln still doubted that anything his friends might show him would make their situation any better. That is...until he actually looked out into the distance and saw a most glorious sight. True, despite all of his efforts; the lad had accidentally set up their picnic spot the wrong way; thus causing them to somewhat miss out on the fireworks.

But what they had instead was something far more exquisite and awe-inspiring; a clear and beautiful view of the starlit sky. In addition to this, the whole crew caught sight of a magnificent crescent moon overhead; which blended well with the small amounts of sunset that still lingered. In the eyes of those like Haiku, Phoebe and even Lincoln himself; this truly was a glorious sight.

"You're right, ladies...this is way better" the Loud Boy sighed, "shall we partake in our meal then while the scenery is at its finest?" In response, Dana mewed softly in denial; proclaiming that she...wasn't quite ready to eat anything just yet. "I just wanna wait a little bit" she sighed blissfully, "let's just...chill out and take in this view together."

Without a second thought, the rest of the Gal Pals sounded off in agreement before situating themselves comfortably where they sat/lay. Meanwhile, Carol and her crew cuddled in closer with their ward/surrogate baby brother; saying they felt too cozy to move too much at the moment. After taking a few seconds to think things over, Lincoln agreed with everyone's whims and snuggled himself comfortably into Carol's embrace.

"You know, guys...it's funny" he murmured to the viewer, "I spent so much time trying to keep everything perfect for me and my friends...but they were right; as long as we're together, we can still have a great time." With that said, everyone sat together comfortably underneath the moonlit sky; savoring their time together under the glow of the fireworks.

(First AN: What a way to end an adventure like this, eh; a cozy scene together with friends. Despite everything he went through, Lincoln ended up having what he wanted after all; a wonderful night with his new friends.

*sniff...sniff* E-Excuse me, everyone; I think...I think I got something in my eye. Happy reading and Happy *Belated* 4th of July to all my American readers)

(Second AN: Some people may read this and confuse it as another piece of Lincoln Torture Porn. But rest assured, it's nothing like that at all; this is simply a precursor to what Lincoln will do during a few oneshots within the main arcs in this anthology. I'm of course referring to the likes of Reconnections, The Gifting, A Love Labor Lost and of course, Spring Break-Up.

In each one of these examples, Lincoln is shown going above and beyond to show the Gal Pals just how much he loves and appreciates them. Some might call me a "St. Lincoln Sympathizer" for saying this. But if you've seen what the Gals have done in the main story, you'll understand just how important they are to him)

(Third AN: I got the idea to do this from the Mickey's Mouse Works short, Donald's Failed Fourth. The big difference between the two is that while both characters have several moments of rotten luck happen to them, Lincoln doesn't lose his temper even once...at least, not in the same way Donald does"

(Fourth AN: Originally; I was thinking of adding Stan Stankco and his son, Steak as Lincoln's final obstacle in this oneshot. But I decided just throwing them in for the sake of having an antagonist/antagonistic force wouldn't really make much sense in the long run. Plus, Lincoln had been through enough with the stuff I had him face already.

For those who don't remember, Stan and Steak were the Father/Son team that went up against Lincoln and Lynn on Legends of the Hidden Temple)

(Final AN; I'm not sure if police officers actually do have a key on hand that helps them enter lock cars. But I figured they must have one, in case they get calls from people who've accidentally locked something inside their vehicle. In this case, not only did I give Schoffner such a key; I also made it so that the reason for its existence was the fact that rookie cops would accidentally leave things behind in their cruisers.

In any case, I just wanted to point this out; to make sure no one here would get confused)