ACT 1: "Innocence is Over"


Ring-ring-ring Ring-ding-a-ling

Ring-ring-ring Ring-ding-a-ling

"Hey, Lame-o! You didn't pick up. What's wrong, sisters got your tongue?"

"Hahahaha! Sorry, I was busy."

Suitcases clicked close, one after another. A golden metal clasped reflected Lori's dismal face.

"Why, what's up? Oh... Today isn't the day, is it?"

Hundreds of thick sheets of paper laid in a cardboard box. On each, arcane scribbles and notations filled each side until the white became it's own pareidolic language. Lisa organized them all and set the cubic stack into her bag.

"Yeah. I thought you knew. I figured you of all people would be counting down the days."

Leni did her hair and packed swimsuits, only for Lori to smack them out of her hands and shake her head with a grim fierceness.

"Aw! I wanted one more chance to pummel them."

Luan sat at the edge of her bed.

"No, no more of that. They already got pummeled!"

"You know... I could've sworn they were leaving the same day mi familia was coming back. Did it change?"

Lola and Lana halfheartedly fought over a bare khaki tunic dress. Some horrible twinkle in their eyes brought this fight to a pathetic end. Lola won.

"Nope! It was always today. In fact, I'm heading back home right now."

"Oof. Be very careful, Linky. Draw some eyes on the back of your head."

Luna strummed the same chord on her axe for several minutes, her head down and eyes glazed in a spooky catatonic haze. The suitcase, "L. Loud", was filled and the clothes inside, wrinkled and dusty.

"It's fine. My parents and Chief Majors'll be there."

Lynn walked out her room and met up with Luan. Both had their hair down, and neither met the other's gaze.

"Yeah, but still. You're prolly gonna need those extra eyes anyway."

A police cruiser sat behind Vanzilla. This happy house said nothing to the outside world. To any passerby, this was but another Friday morning at 1216 Franklin Avenue.

A burly man, clad in a blue uniform and a classic mustache to match his badge, stepped out the front door with Lynn Sr and Rita Loud following.

"Y-yeah..."

They turned their heads and saw that happy-eyed white hair boy sitting at the edge of the driveway. He rolled the wheels of his wheelchair forward and approached his home. Harold McBride closed his own car's trunk while Howard closed a passenger door behind Lincoln.

"Well... gotta go. Talk to you later."

"Cool. Love ya, Lincoln. Good luck."

"There he is! How ya doing, champ?" Lynn Sr called out as he and his wife ran to embrace their son. Lincoln loved having someone rub his hair.

"Doing great! I can't wait to be back home."

"Then come in, come in! We've been waiting for you."

They entered the house. Lincoln used a brand new ramp to get up the stairs. His heart fluttered for a second as he smelled the old goulash and fish smells stuck in the walls. In this living room alone he had so many adventures that it would make for a great TV show.

Charles and Cliff ran downstairs. At first they had been chasing each other. However upon sight of the boy, both took a detour and leapt into his lap. He laughed and pet them both.

"Linky!"

"Lily! There you are!" Lincoln held open his arms as Lily threw herself into his lap as well, and he held her tight. "I'm so, so glad to be home for good."

His smile vanished when he saw a face peeking out from atop the stairs.

"Oh, uh... Hi, Lynn."

Her voice weak, she said, "Hey, Lincoln." The family tensed up as the sisters proceeded downstairs as if led to their execution.

"So, um..." Lincoln rubbed the back of his head. "Yeah. I guess... I guess I'll be seeing you guys for Christmas?"

"Yeah..."

Upstairs, Lisa finished setting her papers together.

Silently to herself, she said, "All apologies, Lincoln, for my crippling failure of judgment." She looked out of her window towards the entrance of her bunker and sighed one for the ages. "Oh well. You win some, you lose some. That's why they call it gambling." Then she left her room. Yet instead of joining the others, she walked towards the bathroom, climbed atop the toilet, and peered into the vent. A few sobs echoed off the metal.

"Grayscale sister unit, I request your presence." No response. She ran her finger across the grille.

Downstairs, Howard and Harold entered the house alongside Clyde, all carrying various trinkets and boxes.

"Girls!" Lynn Sr. instructed. "Assemble! Collect Lincoln's belongings and bring them upstairs."

They saluted and ran outside to assist bringing in more boxes. Lincoln looked on, half-amused. Chief Majors stooped down and asked him, "Are you ready, kid?" He looked at the door, watching Lynn carry five boxes as if the extra effort would make him impressed.

"Aye aye, captain."


Lisa jumped back as Lucy's visage broke through the other side of the grille. "Great yarbles of Carl Sagan, you're upsetting!"

She wormed her way out of the vent and down onto the floor. The sobs came with the grace of agonal breathing. In this moment Lisa had her arm around her big sister.

In the mirror, Lucy saw the difference between the two and wondered why it had to be this way.

"Engage your cochlear nerves and pay good attention, because I'm only going to say this again once." Lisa removed her glasses and set them in the pocket of her Hazeltucky Juvenile Detention Center shirt. "I understand you're overcome by regret and humiliation — such misery has spread through us all like the proverbial apex reciprocal of a Leibniz harmonic triangle. In your compromised emotional state, I do understand you're desperate to return to your dear brother's good side and no longer be "his enemy" as it were."

Lucy set her fist near her neck and could not bring herself to look at Lisa.

"However." Now Lisa spoke like an explosion. "If you dare tell Lincoln of the machine in my lab..." Lisa stood in front of her and thrust her finger in her face. "I will personally emotionally disown you as my sister."

"Lisa!" called Lynn Sr. from downstairs. "The bus is here!"

"Coming, patriarch." She looked back to Lucy. "Do you understand? And do I need explain myself?"

After a few seconds, Lucy whispered a weakly, "I understand."

"Good." The two walked towards the stairs. "I only say this for his sake. It may be unfortunate for you, but that's the way the beaker explodes."

Lisa joined her sisters, all clad in the same blue and khaki uniform.

Chief Majors said, "When you get there, you'll be able to take off those ankle monitors. I'm sure that'll be a relief."

Leni gasped and said, "You're going to amputate my blinky ankle ring?" as if she had been told they were cutting off a limb.

Lincoln could not help but to smile.

"Guys... Listen. I get it, you're all sorry and stuff. If I had my way, I'd have rather deal with this without juvie."

"Yeah, because you're scared we're going to beat you up for it," Luna said, distressed. "But we deserve to be there! That's—"

Lincoln held up his hand.

"What's done is done. I don't know if things'll ever be the same, but..." With a sigh as heavy as his heart, he went on, "I'm willing to start again. Willing. When it's time." He blinked." So you guys, go serve your time, and we'll work things out from there."

It took a few moments for the words to come to her, leaving the silence to hang awkwardly. But soon, Lori found the will to say, "This might be too much to ask, but... can we get a hug?"

Lincoln said nothing. Lori dropped her arms and said, "If not, I understand."

Lincoln rolled forward and threw his arms around her, and she did the same. Though they knew it was a risky move, Luna and Luan followed, and then so did Leni, Lynn, Lola, Lana, and Lisa.

Lucy watched from the lowest step. She rubbed her striped wristwarmer and looked at her own ankle monitor. That one wasn't coming off anytime soon.

"Alright, that's enough," Lincoln said as his heart began to palpitate. They immediately broke off, and the tears began to roll. "Go on, get outta here. Before Ronnie Anne comes here and pummels you into the ground."

"Hey, Linky. Have a good summer," said Luan. "And, um... I..." She sniffed. "I hope you have a good time with Ronnie Anne."

He nodded. "I will."

Lisa looked back and caught Lucy's gaze. The goth had tried letting her bangs fall over her eyes, but they were not long enough. So she looked back.

Lisa nodded. Lucy nodded.

"Girls, listen!" Rita said. "No matter what, remember that we still love you."

They all waved each other off. The diesel engine rumbled to life and the bus began to move. Lucy looked at the bus forlornly, her ankle monitor blinking. She should be with them. But she's wasn't. It turned off of Franklin Avenue like the last page of a chapter.

Chief Majors said to the parents, "Like I was saying, either I or Officer Ed will take her to community service on any day you have other obligations."

With a professionality, Rita said, "That's fine, and thank you. We were also able to get someone to act as her babysitter and guardian."

"Oh, really?"

"You know the Pingreys?"

Chief Majors stroked his mustache and said, "You must be referring to, ah, Carol!"

The three entered the house, taking their time with each step.

Lynn Sr. said, "Hoo boy, it sure was lucky that she decided to do online college and work for the city. I don't know if anyone else in this town was willing to deal with her."

With Lily, Charles, and Cliff still on his lap, Lincoln turned his attention to Lucy. She had returned to the bottom stair. He rolled over to her and cleared his throat. No response. Except she did respond with a frightened recoil. Some sad glances passed around the four, and Lincoln rolled into the kitchen.

Clyde ran up to his friend. "You think you can make it through the whole summer?"

He sighed. "I'll have to."

He knew it wasn't her fault. In some vicious act of cosmic cruelty, the universe seemed to conspire to put Lucy through the wringer. Was this deserved? Justice? Did she open herself to this fate?

The door shut and Chief Majors pulled out and drove off.

Harold said to Lynn Sr. "If you need us for anything else, give us a call!"

Clyde fist-bumped Lincoln. "I'll still be here if you need me, man!"

"You got it. And hey, Ronnie Anne's coming back next week with all her family, so we gotta meet up then!"

Clyde saluted and the McBrides left.

"Alright, Lucy!" shouted Lynn Sr. "It's time to go over the ground rules."

She looked up. Her parents beckoned for her, so she went to sit at the kitchen table. Lynn Sr. scribbled on a tablet. Then he looked up and said, "Hold on a moment! I almost forgot!" He hurriedly dashed into his room and pulled out his whiteboard.

"Lynn, do you really need—"

"Now, now, honey! I've been meaning to use my whiteboard for weeks. It's really remarkable!"

Badum-tssh!

"W-what was that..." Lincoln whispered as if possessed by a demon. His eyes darted around the living room until they came across a monstrosity sitting behind the couch. How had he missed this?

"Oh! You don't remember that thing?" Lynn Sr. marveled at the machine, and Rita smiled with a twitch pulling at her eye. Lily boo'd the machine.

"No, no, I do." The summer was already off to a glorious start.

"Wait, where you goin'? You gotta hear all this too, Lincoln mah boy!"

Lincoln rode the wheelchair stairlift and went to Lori and Leni's room.

Rita held Lynn's hand and said, "Let him go. He's probably really upset."

Lucy dropped her head into her hands.

On the pastel walls, there hung his Ace Savvy, Glob Man, and Amazing Space posters. He elected to throw himself onto Lori's bed as something of a victory and looked at the ceiling.

Where his sisters' chest of drawers once stood, there was now his comic-drawing station. He pulled himself out of bed and into his wheelchair. What happened to that follow-up comic he said he'd do? He had been putting it off for weeks. What better time than now, he told himself. And then there was the calendar. A red circle entrapped December 16th.

He jumped.

"L-Lucy!" he said. There she stood in his door, eyes reddened and puffy. Some words tried leaving her lips. Instead, she sighed and moved on.

'Didn't even say sigh? That's odd...' However, he knew what she was going to say even if she was too flustered to say it.

Yeah, she's said it before. Always honest in saying it. I know she meant well and was sorry, but I still needed time. You can't say "sorry" to a broken leg and voila, it's fixed. But I get it.

Lincoln rolled over and closed the door, then went back to his workstation.

I don't have to be concerned about her. It's what Dr. Lopez said: there's no obligation to care about their benefit. Or something like that. I guess if I had to explain myself, it's more that I know Lucy's always been withdrawn, or at least has been for the past several years. We've always been so close. I was like her rock in a way. And like a broken rock, she's probably going to crumble without me.

For several seconds, he tapped his pen at the tablet.

Guys, I swear I don't want to antagonize her. I'm just not comfortable with her enough to reach out to her again. It's sad, but they all lost my trust, and I can't find it in my heart to let it go just yet. And I guess I've been feeling like a coward for that. I know that they deserved it, but... I kinda wish they never went to juvie in the first place.

He set his pen aside and rolled back to his bed, nothing coming to him or from his hands.

Luna's right. At first, I was scared they would want revenge. And I don't think they should've gotten off Scot-free or anything. But a lot of grief could've been avoided if we just left this in the family.

"Linky?"

A much softer voice came from the other side of the door, and this one he was willing to meet. With a tug of the handle, he opened the door and smiled at Lily. She reached up for him, and he let her into his arms again.

There was one sister he could still trust.

Jeez Louise. This all sounds pretty dramatic, doesn't it? Why am I in a wheelchair? Why are they all going to juvie, but only for six months? Why isn't Lucy going with them? Well, to make sense of it all, we all have to go back six months. Back to the Incident.


A/N: It's taken a damn long time, but I've finally gotten this story online if even in even the tiniest way. The next chapter's coming soon.

So... what even is this story? Rotten Apple started life last summer only a couple weeks after I started really watching The Loud House. It was originally much smaller in scope, focusing almost entirely on Lincoln and Lucy. But to make things more dramatic I started adding more characters until eventually it was a story where all of Lincoln's sisters (except Lily) beat him to within an inch of his life, nearly breaking the family apart and causing him considerable trauma, and everyone has to pick up the pieces and yes, this is basically just That-Engineer's Syngenesophobia. It's actually funny because Rotten Apple became "my" take on Syngenesophobia at least two months or so before I even discovered Syngenesophobia existed. By pure chance I just happened to come up with the same concept presumably because I recognized the same issues. This is why I made an outreach to That-Engineer to assist with the story. Who better to help than the person who did it best?

Anyway! While the story did eventually become an abridged version of Syn, it always remained a platonic Lincoln/Lucy story (I have to stress "platonic" because of ANOTHER side of the Loud House fandom I've become so astutely aware of) even though I myself agree that someone like Lynn would make for a better deuteragonist considering the canon show's more regrettable acts of characterization. But then again I rarely see any good Lucy drama stories that aren't incest and I also felt Lynn wasn't a good fit for how the story eventually ended up because this does build off some aspects of Lucy's character specifically.

The only mild spoiler I'll give (besides the fact that the first act or so is Syngenesophobia: Abridged) is that despite being a Lucy-heavy story, you won't think that for the first act. For a good while, it's going to be a sister ensemble type of story before eventually shifting to a hard Lucy/Lincoln one (though with Lucy heavily telegraphed so as to not make it such a jarring shift). As someone who loves Lucy, I won't deny - even I ask myself "Why am I doing this?" Because it's fun! Also I'm just happy to finally publish something after COVID nearly ended me.

At least two other reasons why I wanted to write the story:

1: I agreed with some others that the Loud sisters got off too easy in Syngenesophobia once I read it, even though I understood why narratively they didn't get worse. The OG concept Rotten Apple came from was literally built around Lucy being incarcerated after accidentally going too far so once it blossomed and I saw some reactions to that story I thought "Oh! Maybe I can be of some service to y'all"

2: The toxic anti-Loud sister hatedom is funny. I'm not saying there's no reason to hate these walking tropes or not get frustrated by the show's meanspiritedness but Lord almighty, you'd think the Louds torture and molest Lincoln going by some of these fans' reaction and utter inability to let things go. So I figured I'd exploit it a bit.

Anywho, don't be afraid! Ask me anything.

Also, don't be afraid! Just because I like Lucy and some other sisters a good bit doesn't mean I'm going easy on them one bit. Oh boy, no. I'm puttin' that goff and her sibs through the wringer.