AN: This took a lot longer than I'd planned on. Partially because Hero and I have been working on getting Archetypal up and running again, but mostly because this chapter turned out to be a lot more difficult to write than I'd expected. But on the plus side, now I have awesome cover art for this story, so hopefully that offsets the quality of the content, at least a little :)

Mr. Haziq: We'll get to that eventually.

Guest whose identity I'm fairly certain about: Thank you, I'm really glad you liked the chapter. Drama isn't my strong suit (Lynn is. Ha!), so those parts were difficult for me to get into the right head space for, but I'm glad I was adequately able to convey what's going on with Lynn and Lori. Carol will definitely be making an appearance, possibly in the near-ish future.

Wanderer of Fortuna: Thank you. Hearing that people enjoy my stories makes it that much easier to keep on writing them. Especially Gigant, which is a really niche story that gets a surprising amount of love.

Lumias: Or, alternatively, sleeping with someone you love very much just has a soothing effect on your psyche :)

Sogg1Dog: Thank you. I try to focus on writing a good story first, and then I add the superpowers and whatnot after that, in the hopes that I can make a story that someone would enjoy even if they aren't actually a fan of superheroes, or tokusatsu, or what have you. Seems to be working decently enough, and I'm really glad that people like you are enjoying the story.

KumaNoIkari: Keep reading :)

redandready45: I generally don't make a habit of clarifying my intentions. And this will be no exception. What matters is that the story resonated with you, and it sounds like it did, for which I'm very glad.

nobodyreallyimportant: She was actually modeling for the in-game character model. But she didn't know that, nor did she know they were planning on recording lines from her. Between this and the tv show, it seems like Lynn's agency is really good at getting her to do stuff without burdening her with unnecessary information.

nuuo: Its actually very common in mobile games to have a Friend Unit function of some kind, where every player sets a character that can be used by other players. A lot of them even make it mandatory, giving you a spot on your team that can only be filled by a friend unit, for better or worse. Its partly to help newer players out, since a high level player's character will generally be able to carry a newer player through early game content, but it also plays to people's e-peen tendencies. You spend time and/or money to trick out your character as much as possible so that everyone else can be in awe at how much time and/or money you have to burn. There's a reason I've stopped playing most of those games, lol, aside from FGO, which is pretty light on the money grubbing tendencies present in similar games.

qazse: No, there wasn't any comet-induced brain tinkering. The Louds are just a very close family. And some of them are closer than others. Super powers just exacerbated an existing situation.


The school day had continued to drag on for Lincoln at a snails' pace. It wasn't that he didn't appreciate the nuances of constitutional law...

"And so you see, class, these are the tools that were imparted to our burgeoning society to form the framework of our legal system. For example, take the case of..."

Well, alright. Even were he at his best, he'd probably still find the material...challenging, to process. But Lincoln's mental state wasn't exactly in the best condition at the moment. His sleep-deprived body ached with the desire to indulge in just the tiniest bit of rest. But every time he relaxed his guard, even the slightest amount—

"Hey Linc, glad you're here. Bet you wouldn't think I'm very flexible, but check this out..."

—And for what seemed to be the zillionth time that day, Lincoln forced himself, through sheer force of will, back into the waking world. That. That was what happened.

For better or worse, Lincoln's sisters had always been an indelible part of his life. Childhood hadn't always been sunshine and daisies. Even before the world changed, Lincoln had been the odd man out in his family, the mundane amongst paragons. There were times when he had felt overwhelmed by the impossibly high standards set by his siblings, even whilst fully aware that there was neither expectation nor a requirement for him to meet those standards. He was never going to be strong like Lynn, skilled like Lori, or smart like Lisa. Or any of the other infinite qualities one could attribute to his siblings. Some days that knowledge had been more difficult to process than others, there had definitely been points in Lincoln's short life that had been far lower than others. But those times were the exceptions. Whatever else could be said about that period of his life, there remained one constant that was ever on the verge of being proven, time and time again. Lincoln Loud was loved. Always, and unconditionally so. And the feeling was very much mutual. He supposed that was where the troubles had started.

Even in hindsight, it was difficult to quantify exactly when Lincoln's feelings towards his sisters had...developed, the way they had. Spending time with his siblings had been a way of life for the young Loud. Partially because a finite amount of house combined with a family as large as theirs meant that proximity between siblings was all but certain at any given time, but there was also the simple fact that he genuinely enjoyed the literal and figurative closeness. Nobody understood Lincoln the way his sisters did, and for a time, he was certain the reverse was also true. It just seemed like that was going to be their reality going forward. The Louds, together, having adventures and getting into hijinx together until the heat death of the universe. It was a comforting thought and one that Lincoln would have been more than happy to see come to fruition.

Naturally, of course, that was not the way of things. Time went on and fractures began to appear in their idyllic family life. Lori got together with Bobby, and that had been...strange. Not unpleasant, precisely, Bobby was a stand-up guy who clearly cared very much for Lori, Lincoln knew academically that he couldn't hope for a better partner for Lori. But he'd been young enough to roll with the punches. He wasn't exactly happy about the situation, but Lori clearly was, and Lincoln loved his sister enough that he could be happy for her, at the very least. His reality still persisted, he still had his sisters, and they still had him. There was just the occasional presence of...him, to worry about. Periods of Loud bliss that were occasionally interrupted by the presence of Lori's handsome, strapping, astoundingly genial boyfriend. It wasn't ideal, but Lincoln could deal with the change. Then, Luna brought Sam home.

In hindsight, Luna getting together with Sam really wasn't all that different from Lori and Bobby entering into a relationship. The only explanation Lincoln could muster for why he had reacted the way he did, was simply that Sam had come later. When Lincoln was more aware of his feelings, more aware of what it meant when a sister of his brought home a love interest. And more specifically, more aware of what it was that he was losing when that happened. Whatever the reason, Sam Sharp was a beautiful, kind, and extremely charming girl, and one who was, inexplicably, every bit as talented as his sister at the thing she loved most in the world. The Yin to Luna's Yang, the tempo to the melody by which she lived her life. And she was stealing Luna from him.

As an adult reflecting upon the past, Lincoln knew it had been beyond idiotic to feel that way about someone who made his sister so very happy. But as a child, the pain he felt from that development had been so raw, so visceral, that it was all Lincoln could to do maintain his composure just long enough to politely excuse himself from the family dinner that had been meant to welcome Luna's new girlfriend into their little clan. Thankfully, he'd had the presence of mind to conceal his feelings from his family, to refrain from letting his sisters, Luna, in particular, see him hurting. But the Loud hivemind was a powerful thing. They may not have known what was going on with him, specifically, but Lincoln's sisters were savvy enough to know he was hurting, and like it or not, they made it their business to fix him. Lynn in particular, he recalled, was adamant about spending time with her hapless boob of a brother (her words, of course), determined to rescue him from whatever it was that was making him unhappy. Even back then, his sisters had been heroes in their own way. His heroes, and n his more introspective moments in the years that followed, he'd often found himself wondering if that comet gracing their campsite with its presence wasn't a mere stroke of luck, but destiny proceeding as intended, allowing his sisters to become the larger than life figures that they were always meant to be. Regardless, with their help, Lincoln had eventually come to terms with the inevitable. That his happiness was not his sisters'. That they had their own lives to lead, their own adventures to be had, some of which would not involve him. But being a Loud meant being a part of something far greater than himself. Even if he and his sisters ended up going their separate ways, they would never truly be apart, because being a Loud meant that you were never truly alone. And Lincoln allowing himself to accept that, to accept Bobby and Sam for the good-hearted people they were, to accept whatever other individuals fate would inevitably put in the path of his sisters to help them find their own happiness, had finally brought him a measure of peace. And then, Lincoln lost everything.

Lincoln didn't remember much about The Fight. He remembered the lead-up, the house quickly devolving into a warzone as one disagreement or another quickly spiraled out of control, far beyond what even the Sister Fight Protocol could account for. He remembered Lori telling him to stay put in his room, reassuring him that she was going to put things right. He remembered...noise, the walls shaking, the floor giving way, and then...silence. No matter how much he tried, that's where it always ended. Panic, darkness, and then right to the hospital bed. Pop Pop and Myrtle at his side, desperately trying to keep him calm as he cried out for his family. But they didn't come, nor would they. The situation had gotten...complicated, that was always the word they'd used, and no matter how old Lincoln got, no matter how much he tried to understand the situation, that was what it remained. Complicated. He wasn't going home, not even after he'd recouped from the bonanza of bruises, lacerations, and the odd bone fracture he'd suffered. His grandparents had assured him it was fine, they'd gotten themselves a nice place out in the countryside, with plenty of room for Lincoln to stay for as long as he'd needed. They'd never explained why it was so important for him to uproot his life so quickly, but it wasn't exactly hard to infer from context. There'd been ten people in the Loud house on that day, and Lincoln was the only one to end up in the hospital. The facts very clearly spoke for themselves. The weak link in the family had gotten even weaker. He wasn't just the outlier in the family anymore, now he was also a liability.

Things eventually returned to a semblance of normalcy. Once he'd settled in at his new home, Lincoln began commuting to his old school again. It wasn't easy, as nice as Pop-Pop's new house was, it was so close to the city limits that even Liam's farm seemed metropolitan by comparison. Multiple bus rides both ways quickly became commonplace for Lincoln, but he endured nevertheless. Homeschooling had been suggested by his grandparents multiple times, but Lincoln always politely, but firmly turned down the offer. As much as it would simplify things, spending time with his friends was now a luxury, and he needed to make every minute with them count. But there was also the hope that being there, might let him see them. He never did. He still got to see his parents on occasion, Lily too. They'd made it a point to drive out and visit him and his grandparents on a pretty regular basis. But never the girls, and never an explanation offered as to why that was the case. As always, it was Complicated.

It was in Lincoln's teen years that they finally emerged. Metas. Heroes and villains straight out of the comic books he'd loved so dearly as a child, physical gods and goddesses who had presumably once walked among normal people in relative anonymity, much as his sisters had done only a few years earlier, now out in force. The masquerade was over, the comet having clearly been but a prelude to what was to come, and the world as he knew it was irrevocably changed. It was difficult, even long after the fact, for anyone to find a clear catalyst for the meta boom, for any person to narrow their emergence to any one single event, it simply happened too fast for most people to process. As far as he was concerned, however, it started when he began to see his sisters among their numbers. He remembered the news coverage as Lori appeared in a flash, and tore a malfunctioning airplane out of its deadly, downward spiral with her bare hands, the proverbial guardian angel for every single passenger aboard that day.

He remembered huddling in a bunker, crammed in with countless other people during the Incursion, the first invasion of Earth by otherworldly forces. In time, such events would become commonplace, some so low key, and so quickly resolved by humanity's now experienced defenders that they were more annoyance than threat, even to the non-meta populace. That first one, however, had been legitimately terrifying, the planet having been quickly turned into a warzone nearly overnight. But that fear wasn't what he remembered most vividly about that time. Rather, his strongest memories were watching on a nearby monitor as the tide turned. A surge of metas, the best and brightest that could be rallied, streaming straight at the enemy command, a speartip aimed straight at their heart. And among them, doing her utmost to stay ahead of the pack, was Lynn, roaring challenges at the top of her lungs as she tore a hole through the enemy's ranks, very literally punching holes in their formation to be filled by her fellow heroes, her contributions to their victory undeniable, even by her most vehement of detractors.

Not all of his sisters' had such flashy debuts. Lucy rarely made the headlines, though Lincoln suspected that was intentional on her part. Lana's abilities weren't suited for such overt displays of power, but she was certainly a hero in her own right. Lincoln was significantly less enthused when her media coverage had shifted away from the genuine heroics she engaged in, and instead focused primarily on her frequent, yet suspiciously consequence-free battles with Lola, but he supposed the Twin vs. Twin angle was an attention grabber, and he had enough faith in his sisters to believe that they wouldn't keep up the charade if they weren't enjoying themselves. Luan and Leni certainly had the capability to hang with the big dogs, but even as an outsider looking in it seemed pretty clear that neither was cut out for hero work, and it seemed like both girls careers had barely begun before they each made the decision to quietly hang up their costumes and find careers in the private sector. Nevertheless, Lincoln was inordinately proud of each and every one of his sisters. There had never been much in the way of concrete information about what Luna or Lisa had gotten up to following his departure, and the things he did hear were...concerning, to say the least. Nevertheless, Lincoln was proud of all his sisters, without exception. His already amazing siblings had managed to surpass their own exceptional potentials, and the world was generally a better place for it. He just wished they hadn't needed to leave him behind to make it happen.

Granted, things were different now, incredibly so. It was the meta emergence all over again, just localized entirely to his apartment, and for the most part, Lincoln was happier for it. For as insufferable as she could be, having Lynn back in his life had turned out to be strangely life-affirming for Lincoln. Lincoln had tried many times to think back to how he lived before his big sister had crashed her way back into his life, and it felt like he was recalling the memories of an entirely different person. Lynn made his life interesting. She made things...fun. Not always while they were happening, but certainly afterward, as Lincoln lay in bed, reminiscing about the day's events, he'd find himself smiling more often than not. Life was most certainly better Loud. Which made it all the more...Complicated, when Lynn insisted on prancing around in her skivvies at all hours of the day and sharing a small, far too intimate bed with him at night. It wasn't out of character for her, Lynn had always been very physical in showing her affections for him, but what seemed cute when they were kids was significantly less so when they were adults. Lincoln had, with a surprising amount of melancholy, chalked it up to his presence being so insignificant, that he wasn't worth worrying about on that level. That he was so unthreatening, that Lynn didn't need to worry about even the most basic inhibitions when he was around. And he supposed she wasn't wrong, after all, the insurmountable difference in their physical strength aside, Lincoln was just her little brother. Under normal circumstances, there wouldn't be any need to worry about anything...improper happening between them.

Lynn didn't see Lincoln struggling to maintain his composure as she nuzzled against him at night, her beautiful, sensual body casually melding against his own. She couldn't see the way his spirits lifted when he came home from a long day at school and found her still around. Still there, in his life, even though she had no practical reason to remain. She couldn't see the way his heart quickened when she flashed him her confident Lynn smile, or the way his mind cleared when she'd let out her hearty Lynn laugh, all his thoughts focused solely on her, and that enchanting melody of her's. She couldn't know that he felt...things, when she was around. And, that as unsettling as those feelings were, he desperately wanted to keep on feeling them. Lori's arrival had only further complicated matters because now he was dealing with a second, entirely distinct set of impossibly unrequited feelings. And then, when it seemed like matters couldn't get any worse, she'd kissed him. Entirely without meaning to, and likely without knowing she had. But Lincoln knew. And Lincoln liked it. And as wrong as he knew it was, he so very desperately wanted to experience it again.

The haze of Lincoln's troubled memories cleared just long enough for him to notice that the whiteboard at the head of the classroom was now significantly more full than it had been when he'd begun his little stroll down memory lane. And he didn't need to look down to know that his notebook was still completely empty. The pale-haired young man let out a frustrated sigh, fumbled for a pen, and set about trying to salvage what he could from the lecture.

Why did things always have to be Complicated?