"Luan, my tummy`s hurtin`...." Lana whined from across the table. They had just managed to get their inebriated father to go to sleep, though not before watching him sob drunkenly and express his regrets, not just for losing his temper with Lynn, but also about his belief about being an awful parent and husband following his family`s string of misfortune.
Hearing it was heart-wrenching for the girls, and Luan knew that she would have to have a serious discussion with her father about his own insecurities, maybe with Lincoln`s help. But that would have to wait. It was only now that the sisters realized how they hadn't eaten anything all day long.
"I`m sorry Lana, but you know I`m not much of a cook, but don't worry, I`ve ordered a large pizza for all of us." Luan reassured her.
"We sure were lucky that I found enough spare change to even pay for one." she commented further while grabbing a single apple from a bowl.
"But when`s it gonna come? I can't wait anymore!" the tomboy complained with a saddened look. Despite feeling half-starved herself, Luan couldn't bare watching her little sister`s sorrowful mood, so she sighed and offered her the apple instead.
Lana accepted it and took a bite. While she was munching, Luan tried to savor the moment of piece and took a look at her arms, her rash was still very visible.
"Guess I`ll have to find a way to cover it all up when I go performing tomorrow." she mused sadly, knowing that right now countless teens and kids were probably laughing at her online. If she only knew...
"Hwey...Wruan?" Lana spoke with a full mouth "....why..whras..dgad....whelring... ad..Wian?"
Luan looked confused and Lana swallowed. "I said, why did dad yell at Ryan?" she repeated.
Luan placed a hand on Lana`s shoulder. "He....eh......didn`t mean to, really. He just drank too much wine and wasn't himself..." she tried to explain.
"What do ya mean by that?" Lana asked innocently.
Luan puffed. "I`m not quite sure myself, but from what I know adults sometimes drink wine or beer and other such drinks to help them relax a bit after a hard day, but if they drink too much of it it can make them go a bit loony, too much of a good thing."
Luan then smiled, sat next to her and patted her sister`s head. "Kinda like when you and Lola would eat too much sugar."
"Hey! I never went crazy from eatin` candy!" a miffed Lana protested while pushing Luan`s hand away.
Her sister chuckled. "You and her might not remember, but the rest of us sure do.." she paused to shudder "....and trust me, we`d rather not."
"But still, why would he still be angry at Ryan?" Lana wondered.
Luan snickered mischievously. "An excellent question, sis. That`s something we call "Over-Protective Dad Syndrome", or in other words : dads just don't like seeing their daughters grow up and meet boys. And if you have no less than nine daughters your over-protectiveness must be in super, hyper overdrive." she explained jokingly.
"I don't get it? What's wrong with playin` with boys?" Lana questioned, feeling only more perplexed. She usually enjoyed playing with boys much more than with most girls her age anyway.
Luan smirked. "Oh it`s not playing with boys that dad`s got an issue with. It's more about his fear that Lynn or another one of our sisters will get......well how do I put it..." she pondered "...will get affectionate with said boy, enamored, infatuated....." Luan`s smirk grew "....romantically involved."
Her sister`s reaction was unsurprising.
"Ewww...." Lana cringed "....Luan, why do you keep sayin` that? Why do you keep teasin` Lynn that she`s in love with Ryan? It's really gross!"
"Me?" Luan snickered while pointing at herself. "I`m not teasing anyone, I`m just seeing the obvious. It's no secret that Ryan really likes Lynn, I mean have you forgotten how much he has been flirted with her before?"
"But...." Lana looked at her awkwardly ".....but datin`, and kissin` boys, that's all icky and gross........and icky....."
Luan leaned in closer. " Aww Lana, I know you don't understand these kind of things, but having a boyfriend isn't that bad. It's just another person you deeply care about and want to spend time with, it's no different than loving your family, or your friends. It's just that with this special friend you do some special things.......like kissing..." Luan blushed slightly at the thought of that.
Lana didn't look any less grossed out.
"But of course....eh...a girl doesn't have to do that if she doesn't want to." Luan quickly added, realizing this kind of discussion was proably uncomfortable for Lana.
Lana squinted her eyes pondering. "So....you`re sayin` it's just like havin` another best friend? And ya don't have to be all yucky and mushy..............like Lori?" the tomboy asked, her oldest sister being the only point of reference regarding romance she could think of.
Luan smiled amusingly and shrugged.
"More or less, most couples aren't nearly as sickeningly affectionate as Lori and Bobby." she giggled. "I mean a couple can act however they want to, but personally I wouldn't wanna take pointers from Lori."
"There's only so much affection most people can take, and most draw the line at nauseating pet names and texting one another every ten minutes." Luan clarified. She couldn't speak from any personal experience, but Lori definitely gave her some idea about what she wouldn't want to do.
Lana paused and imagined Lynn calling Taylor by the same pet names Lori used for her boyfriend, and instantly snickered uncontrollably. It was both disgusting and yet somehow hilarious to her.
"So? How do couples usually act?" she asked curiously.
"Casual, like most people I`d say...." Luan shrugged ".....most probably don't get very romantic with each other unless they are all alone, like mom and dad were...." Luan paused and looked away awkwardly ".....well minus the bitter breakup...........I hope..."
"Like mom and dad were?" Lana asked, remembering how heart-broken their father was after the divorce, and how she was likewise devastated when she had to part ways with her twin. If Lynn and Taylor meant that much to each other, then by all means she should want them to be together, Lynn was her big sister and she considered Taylor a friend and even someone to look up to.
"Say, if they were together, would that make Ryan...like...part of our family?"
"Hmm......technically not, unless he and Lynn got hitched!" Luan joked, biting back the urge to giggle. "But I don't think they'll be ready for that for another seven or eight years."
Even to Luan that notion wasn't something she meant seriously, but Lana started to subtly like the idea.
"So..........you really think Lynn likes him that much?" Lana asked.
Luan mused. "Well, it's next to impossible to get an answer like that out of Lynn, since she isn't the type who likes to talk about her feelings, but I have no reason to doubt it, given how inseparable the two have become at school. And since she`s family, I would certainly want to see her happy and spare her a lot of pointless and tedious friend zone melodrama while I`m at it ."
"Friend zone...what?" a baffled Lana starred at her .
"It`s a figure of speech, Lana. It's when a boy meets a girl and they become fast friends, but then they grow feelings for each other, but neither can spill it out cuz they are so used to being friends and feel all awkward and wrong for feeling that way, leading to months of relationship drama and the girl eventually ends up with a different guy who's a a huge jerk-face and doesn't deserve her, so the boy has to race and finally confess his feelings for her before he looses her forever, and so on.............or at least that's what I`ve learned from watching lots of teen sitcoms." Luan admitted nonchalantly.
"And to think that they all could have avoided all of that if one just asked the other out on a date right from the start!" she stated poignantly.
Lana wasn't really sure what to make of that. "Eh.......and you think Ryan would be happy that way too?"
Luan brightened up and chortled. "Happy? I would bet Mr.Coconuts that he would be leaping with joy so high that he would eventually smack his head into the moon!"
Lana smiled fondly. "Well, I do want him to be happy, I know he`s a good guy under his rough outside and he deserves to have friends......I sure wish I could see him again...." then something hit her.
"Say Luan...." she faced her sister, but they both suddenly heard Lisa screaming in frustration.
"So, did ya destroy the flashdrive?"
Taylor faced away from his laptop to see Lynn behind him, leaning against his chair.
The boy snorted. "Destroy it? You do realize that I`m gonna need that thing in the future, there are ways to fix a problem without just smashin` things, ya know?"
Lynn rolled her eyes. "Yeah, yeah..." she replied dismissively "....did you terminate that stupid video?"
Taylor sighed amusingly." Sure I did, I uploaded it all on my laptop here and immediately canned every last frame of it. We destroyed the evidence!"
Then he remembered something. "Hey? Shouldn't you be watchin` the popcorn?"
"I got bored." Lynn answered coolly before making a twirl as she backed away. "Besides, I wanted to ask you somethin`."
Taylor turned off the the laptop. "And what's that?"
"I`ll tell you in a moment. But do you know where your cat is?" Lynn snickered.
Taylor didn't answer and looked around.
"Well I just peaked inside Lincoln`s room, and turns out he and Marceline are sleepin` together. I haven`t seen such an adorable sight in ages!" Lynn replied, almost gushing.
Taylor couldn't believe his ears. "That damn cat takes a liking to everyone. At least that brat is out of the picture." he mused inwardly.
"Uhuh....fascinating..." he responded dryly, clearly not sharing her sentiment ".....and you were tryin` to ask me?"
"Just look out of the window." Lynn pointed out.
Taylor did so and was quite surprised by what he saw.
"Huh, the storm`s goin` away." he dully noted, seeing that the rain had dialed back and the clouds spaced out, revealing a bit of the night sky.
"And here I was worryin` that we were in for a hurricane!" Taylor said sarcastically.
Lynn ignored his remark and got to the point. "Exactly. And while I`m all for watchin` movies all night long....." she told him not-so-sincerely ".......I always wanted to stay up late and...."
"And, lem`me take a wild guess, play sports under the moon light?" Taylor finished smarmily, earning a small glare from his friend.
"Lynn, you're way too predictable." he shook his head amusingly.
"So what if I am?" she shrugged as she sat on his bed. "I always wanted to play soccer or footfall or basketball or just do anythin` way past dark, but my folks never let me do it, even on weekends, cuz they thought it would mess up my "biological clock" or some crap like that."
"Hmm.." Taylor considered "....well that ain't a bad idea, exept you do realize that the whole yard is probably gonna be one big, slippery bog?"
"So? I`ve played under much worse conditions, the tricks is to overcome all the obstacles. Plus, it's not nearly as fun if ya don't get at least a little dirty."
"You would want to get your fine clothes dirty?" Taylor probed teasingly with mock surprise. To his actual surprise, Lynn smirked proudly, utterly unfazed.
"What can say? Always was one of the boys, never was in touch with my feminine side, especially cleanliness." she shrugged haughtily.
Like she was ashamed to admit that. If Taylor thought he could get to her with a jab at her lack of femininity then he was seriously losing his touch.
"Sure, dad might freak out if I come back home dirty, but I`m sure you would lend me some clothes so I would't have to mess up my favorite jersey?"
Taylor stood up. "Disobeyin` your pops and coverin` up your tracks? Why Lynn, you're learnin` quicker than I had expected. I must be a better teacher than even I had thought." he spoke self-aggrandizingly.
Lynn huffed "Yeah, you're the unchallenged champion in bein` an underhanded sneak, but I would like to see how well you can keep your footing on slippery terrain?" she folded her arms, carrying a challenging smirk.
Taylor didn't bite and looked out the window. "Well I dunno, I`d say I have pretty good footing, I scaled rocky cliffs, tracked trough swamps, climbed up the highest trees I could find...."
"Sure ya did...." Lynn`s sarcastic retort cut into his bragging "....we`ll see how much water that will hold after you land on your face about a dozen times out there. But hey, if somethin` like football proves too hard for ya we can do somethin` more up your alley. Like mud wrestlin`!"
"Mud wrestlin`?" Taylor snorted, unable to keep a straight face. "Are ya twelve, or two years old?"
"Why not, tough guy? Fraid you`ll lose?" Lynn smirked. "Well I suppose you outgha be, I am a pro at wrestlin`, me and Linc have been practicin` it since he took his first steps."
"He was your sparrin` partner at wrestlin`?" Taylor cocked an eye brow, being hard-pressed to believe it.
Lynn`s face dropped a bit. "Well.....kay, he might not have been very good at it and it sorta took me a while to realize it......."
"It took you ten years to realize that lil`Lincoln wasn't cut out for wrestlin`?" he gave her an almost pittying look.
"Oh, give me a break!" Lynn retorted. "I`ve spent enough time beatin` up myself over it, don't need to rub it in."
"Actually that explains a lot." Taylor mused.
"Explains what?" Lynn questioned sharply, not liking the teasing look on his face.
"Why it's so easy to take you down in a brawl. I thought it was just the simple fact of boys bein` stronger than girls...." Taylor backed a few steps away upon seeing his friend tense up and twitch her eye.
".......BUT, if you`ve mostly just practiced combat on him...."
"Is that a challenge?!" she asked harshly with narrowed eyes.
Taylor raised his hands up defensively. "Wow, chill out, I don't wanna hurt ya."
"Oh that`s it!" With the help of the springs in the mattress, she flung herself at Taylor and tackled him to the floor, pinning both of his arms down .
"You just never learn?" Taylor responded snidely, before easily pushing his arms up and wrapping them around the girl`s waist.
In an instant Lynn lost control, as Taylor pulled her against him in a crushing embrace. He rolled over and was soon on top of her, still keeping her restrained.
"Give up?" he laughed.
"Alright!" Lynn hissed exasperatedly.
"Well that was easy." Taylor quipped, but the moment he loosened his grip he felt Lynn`s elbow striking him in the chest. Gasping, he stumbled back, while Lynn kneeled up.
"That was cheatin`." Taylor hissed in a strained voice while clutching his chest. Lynn smirked at him.
"Since when did you care about playin` fair?" she remarked snidely.
Grumbling, Taylor tried to tackle her, but she swiftly slipped betweven his legs. A second later, she jumped on his back, covered his eyes with one arm and grabbed him in a choke hold with the other.
Tumbling backwards, he fell on his bed with Lynn on top of him. Suddenly she pulled the blanket over them, encasing them both in darkness.
"You know I`ll just push you off, right?" Taylor snarked while having his head pressed against the mattress.
"Not after I pull out my secret weapon!" Lynn countered triumphantly and released a Dutch Oven.
A few seconds later, however, and Taylor had no reaction. He only took a whiff and she heard him say "Really? That's it?" in the most deadpan, unimpressed tone imaginable.
"Aw, crud..." she muttered before being pushed off to the side. Taylor got off the bed and onto his feet while grabbing the blanket, before turning towards Lynn.
"You know I`m not Lincoln, right?" he smirked at her. Lynn fumed as she kneeled up and angrily tried to grab him, only for him wrap her up with the blanket.
Blinded and disoriented, Lynn squirmed as she felt herself being hoisted up. Once she finally managed to free her head, she realized that Taylor was holding her over his shoulder like a sack of flour, and kept her legs restrained.
"Hey! Let me down!" she roared furiously.
"Not till you say "I surrender"..........or beg for mercy, either works. " Taylor replied smugly.
"Never!" Lynn freed her arms and started pounding on his back.
Taylor yawned, unfazed. "I can keep this up all night, Lynn." he said confidently.
"Ya know, you'd be surprised how easy this is for me. Either you're made of styrofoam, or I`m just that strong." he bragged and started flexing his arm.
Growling bitterly, Lynn dug into her nose and gave Taylor a wet willie. The boy shut his eyes tight and shuddered trough gritted teeth.
"Alright! Enough!" he growled annoyingly and kneeled down. He placed Lynn against the bed and she unwrapped herself, while he picked the bugger out of his ear before sitting next to her.
"You know, if your last resort is cheap gross-out tricks then you know you've lost." he told her in a dry, snarky tone.
"Lost? Huh! I got you to back out of the fight!" Lynn huffed haughtily.
"Back off?" Taylor laughed. "I had you wrapped up like a burrito! I simply grew tired of your ever more desperate and childish "tries" to win. I won fair and square."
"No you didn't!" Lynn snarled defiantly.
"Yes I did." Taylor retorted smugly.
"No you didn't!"
"Yes I did."
"No you didn't!"
"Yes I did."
"No you didn't!"
"Yes I did."
"No you didn't!"
"No I didn't."
"YES YOU DID!!!" Lynn stopped and immediately clamped her mouth shut, before sending Taylor a glare.
"Well then, you are a good sport after all." Taylor shrugged in a chill tone.
"This is not over!" Lynn pointed her finger at him angrily.
"Sure, if it makes ya feel better...." the boy replied, looking disinterested.
Lynn`s gaze shifted down as she silently fumed, when something caught her eye. A rather thin, dust-covered book underneath the bed.
"Hey, what's that?"
Taylor looked to his side and saw her pulling something up. It took him a couple of seconds to realize what it was and he gasped.
"Give me that." he said urgently.
Seeing his reaction, Lynn smirked deviously and threw the blanket in his face. By the time he pulled it off she reaching for the door.
Once she reached the hall, Lynn was tackled by the waist and dropped to the floor, still holding the book. Acting quickly, she placed both feet against Taylor`s chest as he tried to restrain her, and pushed him away.
Taylor was slammed against a door and clutched his aching head. By the time he came to, Lynn was gone.
Cursing, Taylor raced down the stairs and eventually found her lying belly down on the couch.
He saw saw her already flipping trough the pages and giggling. Taylor deflated dejectedly before facepalming.
"Oh Ryan, I had no idea you used to be so adorable." Lynn snickered while showing him the open pages of the photo album, containing several baby pictures.
Taylor`s eyes were twitching madly and he was turning as red as a lobster. "Give me that!" he snapped and snatched the album from her hands.
Lynn kept giggling. "Oh don't be so secretive, I just wanted to learn more about you." she told him half-seriously.
"So you can laugh at the sight of me in diapers, after you nearly cracked my skull?" his tone immediately dropped to flat and deadpan, trough this time there was no underlining hint of humor. His head was still hurting too much to joke.
Lynn bit back laughter. "I won't, I wasn't even laughin` at you, I did say you looked adorable."
With a bitter glare, Taylor grunted "Forget it" and tried to walk away when Lynn grabbed him by the elbow.
"Hey, come on. I know nothin` about you before you moved here." she said coyingly.
"So? It's the past. It means jackshit to me, so why would you want to know?" he responded irritably.
"Eh maybe cuz I`m your friend and friends share stuff with each other?" she told him matter-of-factly. Taylor tried to yank his arm free but she wouldn't let go.
"C`mon Ryan, if ya show me, I`ll show you some old pictures of me I have on my phone? Pleeeeeease!"
"I never asked for that." he replied plainly."And there ain't much to see."
"Please!" she gave him the sad, puppy-dog eyes again. Taylor felt himself caving in again at the sight of it and inwardly cursed to the heavens.
"Alright! Alright!" she he exclaimed belligerently and sat next to her. "We`ll flip trough it once! And that's it!"
"Yeesh, what's gotten into you?" she asked teasingly.
"Cuz don't like to and never showed this to anyone." he answered her in a grumpy manner.
"Well then, it pleases me to be the first." Lynn elbowed him.
"Just quirk it and let me get this over with." Taylor muttered and flipped trough the pages.
"You saw the pictures when I was one year old, here are some when I was two, yadda, yadda..."
"Hey, slow down and let me see..." Lynn stopped him from rapidly turning the pages.
The boy exhaled exasperatedly. "What`s there to see?" he asked dryly. "It`s just stupid photos of a baby doin` stupid baby stuff."
Sadly for him, Lynn was once again distracted and tuning him out.
"Awww look at that? Is that where you got your cap? Looks like you hadn't quite grown into it." Lynn snickered and pointed out at the photo of the 2 year old Taylor having half his head covered by a red cap.
"Not at all." he replied unenthusiastically. "I had many caps, still do. And I`ve lost or thrown away plenty of them over the years. I don't even know when I got this one...." he tilted his current cap slightly "....it's just clothes after all." he shrugged.
"Ya serious?" Lynn gave him a look of disbelief before pulling on her jersey. "I`ve worn this thing since I was ten! I grew into it and I`ve never washed it since!" she stated proudly.
"Wanna know why? Cuz it's my lucky jersey! When I wear it, I don't have a shadow of a doubt that I`m headin` straight for victory!" she said it all in such a bombastic and over the top manner that Taylor had to supress the urge to make a dozen snide comment on it.
"She thinks wearing a sweaty jersey brings one luck? That`s............something?" He had never pegged Lynn as a superstitious one.
"Sure....." he spoke dryly "....but I`d think someone with your skill wouldn't need to relay on lucky charms?"
"I do have plenty of skill and I never doubt them." Lynn replied proudly. "But it never hurts to have a little good luck on your side, especially during the big games."
She caught on to the look Taylor was giving her and tensed up defiantly "......but it doesn't mean I`m some superstitions nut, okay? I ain't talkin` about crap like ghosts bein` real or breakin` a mirror givin` ya bad luck...........that`s more of Lucy weird, little imagination." she snidely added in her head.
"It`s just little stuff, like how I never "bomb the toilet" before a big game, trust me! That one always brings me some extra luck!"
Taylor was puzzled, before finally making the mental leap about what she meant. He shuddered instantly.
"Yeah, sure.............how `bout we get back to my baby photos?" He never thought he would say that, but dammit, Lynn found a topic inherently worse.
That last thing he wanted to know about her was the going-ons in her digestive track, and today he was learning far more about it than he wished to know.
"Okay Ryan, but you could really stand to learn a thing or two about sentimentality." Lynn shrugged and looked back at the album.
She quickly pointed at a photo of the 2 year old Taylor sleeping in his crib and hugging a plush tiger.
"Always had a fondness for felines from the start, huh?" Lynn nudged him.
"I suppose....." Taylor shrugged before a fond smile crept into his face "......but I recall gettin` tired of that little birthday gift pretty quickly after realizin` it wasn't a real tiger, it wasn't even orange but yellow!" he started reminiscing.
"So when I was four, I lent that thing to the local baboons to play............and let's just say that by the end of the day nobody could identify it as either a toy or as a yellow pillow. I certainly had a good laugh searchin` the "crime scene"." he said fondly.
Lynn shook her head. "You got issues, dude." she snorted.
"Oh please, what kid hasn't massacred their toys after growin` into their big boy pants." Taylor sneered amusingly.
"Well, better than not drownin` your plush toy until your ten, I suppose?" the girl thought to herself.
"Oh, look at that!"
Taylor`s face cringed as Lynn noted the picture of his infant self lying in his crib and crying.
"Why didn't ya say "cheese" instead of puttin` on the waterworks? Did ya bomb your diaper or somethin`?" Lynn questioned with a teasing smirk.
"I think we`re finished...." the blushing Taylor tried to yank the book away, but Lynn pulled it back.
"Hey, chill out, I`m sorry......I wasn't mocking ya." Lynn said apologetically.
Taylor gave her an unconvinced glare.
"Hey, we made a deal and I ain't gonna swindle ya. You showed me some of your pictures, and I`ll show you mine."
Lynn grabbed her phone, while Taylor rolled his eyes. He didn't care about "getting even" with Lynn, he just wanted to take the stupid album and throw it into the dumpster.
Lynn was swiping the screen and going trough the files. "Ah, here it is. The first time me and Linc spent some brother-sister time together." Lynn said fondly as she showed her friend a photo of her 2 year old self sleeping and cuddling her newborn brother in bed.
Despite his disinterest, Taylor`s eye widened a bit as he viewed the photo. "Wait? So, was he......born with white hair?" he asked, genuinely curious.
"Yeah, so?" Lynn replied.
"It`s just weird...." Taylor mused jokingly ".....I kinda assumed he just had one really big fright at some point in his life which spooked all the color out of his hair." Taylor snorted, only to see Lynn giving him a look.
"What?" he shrugged. "It was a solid theory."
Lynn choose to ignore him. "Ah, and look at this, that's when I was five. Back then me and him were sharin` a room. Those were the days." she thought back about it fondly.
The picture showed little Lynn sitting amongst a pile of toys and pulling her younger brother into a hug. Her hair was down, she lacked her freckles, as did her brother, and she was wearing a t-shirt with red sleeve and the number one on the front, much like her jersey. She was smiling, showing a gap in her teeth, and surprisingly, so was Lincoln. Both looked like they were enjoying each others company immensely.
Lynn showed another one, taken from the same year. It showed her walking the 3 year old Lincoln trough the backyard. And one of them playing together in a bubble bath.
And another one, here they looked a bit older, both of them in swimwear jumping and laughing while being sprayed by a sprinkler. Taylor got oddly quiet while Lynn was showing him her fondest memories. What he saw felt odd to him, and to some level seeing the pictures of those two playing together felt strangely bothersome to him, almost like he felt envious for some reason?
Taylor, however, choose to ignore that inkling feeling.
And lastly, she showed him a picture from when she was in third grade, smiling and escorting her brother reassuringly, who had a visible bruise on his cheek. In the background another boy was sitting on the floor, crying and clutching his battered face. Taylor didn't need any context to figure out what had happened.
He just whistled in amazement. "Damn! Brutal."
"Yep, I`m glad Luan was there to take a picture. I got into a lot of trouble for this, but it was worth it. You mess with my family, you pay the price."
"So did that kid need plastic surgery?" Taylor quipped.
"Nah, but he was too scared to attend school for a week. And needed some counselin`." Lynn answered coolly.
"And they still let you roam free after that?" Taylor raised his eye brow.
Lynn just smiled.
"And people call me a menace." the boy snorted dryly.
"And do you have photos of your family?" Lynn suddenly asked.
Taylor chortled. "Nah, this ol`album is just this Taylor`s memories...." he pointed at himself "...and none of the others."
"You can't be serious? You didn't take a single photo with your siblings?" Lynn looked gobsmacked.
"Yup, I was never into collecting memories to begin with, let alone family bonding, you know that already." the boy explained before showing her the rest of the album.
The remaining pictures showed him during his elementary school years. The images weren't anything noteworthy, exept for one thing, in all of them he was alone, many of which looked like selfies. With the exeption of an occasional cat or dog, his previous pets, popping up and playing with the boy, he was always on his own.
Lynn already knew about Taylor`s history and how he`s disconnected with his family, it was nothing new. But seeing evidence of it like this made her feel sorry for him again, just like the time they were trapped in the van.
"Well that's all!" Taylor concluded happily, shutting the album.
"Ryan, haven't you thought that maybe, you should try to patch things up with your sister and brother? I mean now that you're no longer bullyin` kids and you're finally makin` friends, maybe it's time to tie all loose ends?" Lynn suggested intuitively.
Taylor was surprised. "Why?" he shrugged, obviously confused by her suggestion. "We get along just fine, everyone just minds their own business."
"I meant spendin` time together." Lynn clarified in a serious tone.
Taylor snorted. "Yeah good one, Lynn. I can't spend time with them, they are both bores and we have nothin` in common. That's why we always kept to ourselves." he explained.
"So you would rather just cut off all ties with your family?" she asked him rhetorically, getting irked.
Taylor remained chill, but started getting what she was talking about. "Oh wonderful, she`s gonna give me another nauseating lecture about the importance of family." he lamented tiredly.
"Now wait a minute." he retorted calmly. "You can't chastise me for not being pro-family time. I don't see you being all stoked to be with your family, all you ever talk about is Lincoln. And all those photos you`ve showed me are just of you and him."
"So what? He`s my favorite brother." Lynn huffed.
"You mean your only brother?" Taylor smirked.
He crossed his arms with a look of superiority. "At least I`m not pickin` favorites."
"Hey, that's not true, I spend time with the others too!" Lynn retorted.
Taylor shrugged his arms. "Eh....maybe when you all come together for some mandated family activities, but do you actually like spendin` time with any one of your sisters?" he asked bluntly.
Lynn became stunned. "Well....I..." her voice trailed off.
Taylor watched her, not really pressing her to answer, just waiting for a response.
"Okay..." she begrudgingly admitted "......I maybe I`m not very close with any of them. But what am I do? None of my big sisters like playin` sports, two were obsessed with shoppin`, one did nothin` but play rocken roll, you know Luan, and the others were all too young too keep up with me, nevermind the ones who had their own weird hobbies. What was I supposed to do but play with my only brother, even if he was never in the best of shape?"
Taylor smiled, not smugly. Rather her wore a look of understanding.
"That`s what I`ve been sayin`, Lynn." he told her in a chill manner and came closer.
"If you don't have anythin` in common, then what's the point in tryin` to be friends? That`s the very reason why we look for friends, so we don't have to deal with family as our only company 24/7. You can choose your friends, but you can't choose family, whether ya like it or not."
Lynn looked at him oddly, unsure how to respond. "Well I like all my family. Some of them can get pretty annoyin`, but they are still family."
"Hey now..." Taylor spoke up ".....I never said I hated my family, we`re just not very close cuz we`re too different, like with you and your sisters. That's why I wanted to hang out with you, cuz you're cool and lots of fun."
Lynn blushed slightly. "Oh..eh thanks. You're not the worst person to be with either." she tried to joke.
Before Taylor could reply he sniffed the air and detected the smell of smoke.
"Oh crap, the popcorn." he lamented before bolting towards the kitchen, hoping he wouldn't have to resort to the fire extinguisher, leaving Lynn once again alone.
She felt annoyed. She didn't even know what she was exactly trying to tell her friend. Not to take his family for granted! That's what it was, but he just twisted it around and made her admit about her own lack of connection with most of her sisters. She hated acknowledging that.
"Damn it!" she heard Taylor cursing from the kitchen, and realized that she may have also started a fire, and gulped nervously.
Lucy remained silent as she rested on the bottom bunk, listening to her younger sister grumbling in frustration and throwing more and more crumbled pieces of paper to the floor.
She knew better than to disturb Lisa while she was brainstorming. She had nothing else to do, they couldn't go watch tv so they wouldn`t disturb their slumbering father, and she was quickly growing bored.
She tried to think of something to do to kill time, but her mind would constantly drift back to her brother, as she remained worried knowing his current whereabouts. The thought of being trapped alone in a house with Lynn and the one she didn't want to think of by name sounded like a genuine nightmare to her, and not of the good kind.
She turned her head towards the cage standing next to her and noticed that Fang was missing. Alarmed, she got up, but much to her relief she found him crawling on the bed. It seemed that somehow the small mammal had found a way to squeeze himself out.
"Come here." she whispered and cooped him up with her hands and placed him in her lap.
"I told you that you need to stay put." she whispered sternly. She knew that her father would probably be out cold any moment now, but the young goth couldn't shake away the gnawing paranoia that her unapproved secret pet would be discovered as long as her dad was nearby.
The bat looked at her with his black, soulful eyes which instantly melted her heart. "Sigh. Don't look at me like that, Fang. You know you have to stay hidden." she told him.
Right then she heard Lisa groaning angrily and throwing her clipboard, pencil and earmuffs to the floor. The little genius climbed down the ladder and crossed her arms as she sat down, cursing under her breath.
"Eh....is something bothering you?" Lucy inquired awkwardly. Lisa glared at her, looking agitated.
"Yes." she answered bluntly. "I`ve examined at least a dozen possibilities for solving my current inconveniences, only to quickly run into logical fallacies with every single one of them. Now I`m drawing a blank!"
"Oh....." was Lucy`s response. Lisa narrowed her eyes irritably.
"Oh? What are you insinuating?! You don't think I`m intellectually capable of finding a means to artificially accelerate my biological growth!!!" she asked accusingly, jumping to her feet.
"I never said that." Lucy replied calmly, rolling her eyes inwardly. She might believe in certain things that most people would call baseless superstitions, but even she drew the line at the thought of altering your age with scientific experiments.
But she knew better than to tell Lisa that and subsequently subject herself to the toddlers tantrums. Sometimes it was better to shelter someone`s fragile ego.
"I`m sure you`ll think of something eventually." she said comfortingly. "But maybe you should call it a night and get some rest?"
Lisa spat bitterly and faced away. Eventually she calmed down and spoke up. "Ughh, maybe your suggestion is valid. But what do you propose I should do to keep my mind occupied for the rest of the evening?"
"I dunno. Maybe play some game?" Lucy suggested absentmindedly. "Say....?"
"I know!" the genius suddenly beamed, cutting her off. "We can play "Trivia"!"
She looked at Lucy exuberantly. "I`ll go first. Now try to guess which element on the periodic table I`m thinking off. Here are two hints : its atomic number is 64 and it was discovered in 1880 by Jean Charles Galissard de Marignac!"
Lucy rolled her eyes. "Sigh. Lisa, you can't seriously expect me to know that? I know about such stuff as much as you know about the cast and story arcs from The Vampires of Melancholia."
Lisa pouted irritably. "Oh come on! It's gadolinium! I was offering you an easy question!"
"Sure you were." the goth replied with flat sarcasm before looking away.
"Well, what were you anticipating from me? I can't simply regress my own intellect in order to indulge in tea parties and play excruciatingly simplistic board games!" Lisa lamented frustratingly. But Lucy wasn't really paying attention to her ramblings.
"Do you think Lincoln`s alright?" she suddenly asked, surprising the toddler.
"Eh...I don't believe that I comprehend the context of your question?"
"Do you think he`ll be alright staying at.....You-Know-Who`s house. I`m....I`m worried." she reluctantly admitted. She just had to speak to somebody about it.
Finally getting up to speed, Lisa`s face softened. "Oh, I understand." she replied humbly.
"To be frank, I wasn't any happier than you to learn about his and Lynn's whereabouts....." she said sympathetically "....I too would prefer our brother being here, but I have good faith in Lynn that she wouldn't lead him anywhere where he would come into harm`s way. Lynn may not be the most observant person, but even she couldn't possibly miss Lincoln being mistreated."
Lucy looked away. "It could still happen. Taylor.." she cringed at that name "....is very conniving and deceitfully, if he wants to bully someone...."
"Fair point...." Lisa shrugged "....but from a logical stand point it wouldn't be a very beneficial for him to harm our brother, given that all evidence point towards his infatuation with Lynn being genuine."
"Don`t reminded of that...." Lucy replied with disgust while petting Fang. The mere thought of it was nauseating to her.
"Very true..." Lisa agreed with a slight smile...".... you, me and Lana can count our blessings that we're too young to experience the chemical reaction in our cerebral cortex that makes us crave for the opposite gender."
"Is that what scientists call it?" Lucy asked. "I heard it's a type of curse that befalls girls once they turn twelve."
"You might as well call it that. Either way it's a very disturbing concept." Lisa stated.
"I`ve been pondering for a while about concocting a serum that could prevent that bio-chemical phenomenon. It has to be easier than figuring out a way to-Hold that though!" Lisa`s demeanor changed abruptly, she grabbed her pen and clipboard, and started writting on it.
"Maybe....if I just...." Lucy silently watched her mumble incoherently before she suddenly stopped.
Lisa`s face contorted with anger and she started ripping the paper up, before throwing the clipboard down and stomping on it while uttering an enraged yell.
"Another blank?" Lucy asked intuitively while Fang crouched down in her lamp, the loud noise scaring him.
Lisa grabbed the clipboard and threw it at the door, narrowly missing Luan as she came in, who ducked just in time.
She looked back at the frustrated toddler. "What`s going on here?" she asked as Lana joined her. None of them noticed the tomboy texting on her phone.
"Lisa`s having a "creative block"." Lucy answered plainly. The genius huffed and crossed her arms again.
Lucy then felt her stomach growling. "So, when are we gonna eat?" she asked.
"I ordered a pizza, it should come here.....eventually." Luan shrugged. "I`m sure if we don't get it within forty minutes we`ll get it for free." she added jokingly.
"So how's our patriarch?" a grumpy Lisa interjected.
"Sleeping like a baby." Luan smiled. "For better or worse this apartment belongs to the four of us for the night...................or at least our bedrooms, can't disturb dad." she shrugged sheepishly.
"Mmhm.....so it's no different than any other night, exept we`ll have to dine on junk food." Lisa dryly noted, looking aside.
Lana spoke up. "Hey guys, I was thinkin`...."
"Don`t be such a stiff, Lisa." Luan cut her off. "I know it's been a rough day, but it doesn't mean we can`t have some fun, like playing truth or dare, or charades, or maybe Twister..."
"I think I`ll pass..." Lucy said unenthusiastically "....I think I'll just go to bed early after I eat."
"Hey guys!" Lana stated again.
"You can't be serious, Luce?" Luan tried to lift her spirit. "It`s Friday evening!"
"I think Lucy has the right suggestion." Lisa said tiredly before facing said sister.
"Since you and your Myotis have taken residence in my bunk, mind if I take custody of your sleeping quarters for the night? I`m not feeling the desire for nutrition anyway." she pointed up in a bored tone.
"Fine by me." Lucy shrugged indifferently. Lisa nodded and climbed up the ladder.
"Hopefully a nights rest shall boost my creative thinking." the toddler moaned exasperatedly as she climbed into the bed.
Looking disappointed, Luan shifted her gaze at Lucy, and noticed that something seemed wrong with her. "Is something bothering you, sis?" she asked gently.
"Well.....I eh...." the goth`s voice trailed off. She thought about telling her what was troubling her, but being aware of Luan`s ever more positive opinion of Taylor, she didn't think her sister would understand.
"I just wish Lincoln was here..." she said half the truth ".....I know he wanted us all to spend some time together, but then...stuff...happened....." her voice trailed off again.
Luan was about to comfort her, when Lana jumped in. "That's what I was thinkin` too!"
The goth and the comedian both looked at her. Lana grinned.
"I was thinkin` we could all go at Ryan`s place too! Maybe stay there for the whole weekend!"
That got Lisa`s attention too. All three looked at her like she was crazy.
"What?" Lucy looked dumbfounded and sounded none too pleased by the idea.
"Yeah, he`s family is away and if Lynn and Lincoln are havin` a sleepover there, why not us too? We can go see Lincoln, and I wanted to see Ryan again for a while. Plus, you remember how big his house is? And his yard? When was the last time we got to play in a yard?"
Luan`s awkward laughter interjected. "Lana, I think you`re being a bit ridiculous here. We can't just drop by uninvited...."
"We won't, I just texted Lynn to ask her if we can? " Lana revealed to them. Luan groaned inwardly.
"I know Ryan likes me, he said so. And didn't you say you guys were friends?"
Luan looked at Lana with uncertainty."Of course we're friends." she laughed. "It`s just we can't just do it, not with the storm..."
"But the storm is passing, look!" Lana pointed at the window. The others did, and saw that it was the case.
"Well I`ll be." Luan was surprised. She thought the storm would last all night.
"See, so can we go?" Lana aked eagerly.
"Lana, don't be ridiculous. We can't just walk around at 8 p.m. And we have no one to drive us, or money for a taxi..."
Luan kneeled down and faced her. "I know you want to see him again, I`m sure Ryan feels the same. Maybe we can visit him tomorrow." she suggested with a smile before glancing at her sisters. "And I doubt Lisa and Lucy are in the mood for a slumber party."
Lucy stayed quiet and withdrawn. Lisa looked at Lana uncomfortably, unsure of what to say.
"It.......it`s okay if you don't want to..." Lana replied saddly before looking at Luan. "... I just thought you and me...."
"I`m sorry Lana, but we just can't go without someone to drive us...." Luan explained to her sullenly. The tomboy looked down, visibly crushed.
"Hey, cheer up, sis. We can have a fun time, right Lucy?"
Lucy felt slightly better at that question, knowing Lana`s ludicrous idea had been cancelled. And no way would Lynn text them back with an invitation.
Lucy smiled weekly. "Eh sure, you can help me feed Fang his evening moths?"
Lana pouted quietly. At that moment the door bell rang.
"Ah, the pizza has arrived!" Luan cheered and coaxed Lana to come with her.
"Come, let's answer the door." she led the crestfallen Lana towards it.
They opened the door to meet the delivery guy, a tired looking, Hispanic teenager wearing a red polo shirt and cap. To their surprise, he was a familiar face.
"Hello, did you order a large pepperoni...." he started before being interrupted by a yawn and rubbing his eyes.
"Bobby, is that you? Haven't seen you in months?" Lana spoke up, pleasantly surprised.
The tired 16 year old took a closer look and recognized the girls. He smiled weakly. "Oh? Hello there.........eh...." he paused, struggling to recall their names ".....Lynn and Lola, was it?"
Luan frowned slightly. "Luan and Lana, actually." she corrected him and took the pizza.
"Eh, so you've got a new job, Bobby?" she asked casually as she gave him his payment, trying not to sound annoyed.
"One of several actually." Bobby stated in friendly tone. "Gotta help mom pay the bills."
"Really? How do you even handle so many jobs? I know juggling alone is a hard task, let alone juggling multiple jobs."
Bobby shrugged. "Dunno, guess I`m just really good at planning my weekly schedule. Isn't one of your sisters part of half a dozen sports teams?"
"Huh, good point I guess?" Luan mused. How did Lynn juggle playing and training with so many teams at the same time?
"So how have you guys been doing?" Bobby asked casually, not seeming to be in any hurry.
"Heard you went trough.......some rough times." he added sympathetically, growing slightly awkward and withdrawn. He too had heard about how Lori`s siblings had some unfortunate run-ins.
The sisters were both quiet, but Lana suddenly heard a beeping sound and pulled out her phone.
"And....eh.....not to be rude, but I think you have a bit of a skin condition?" Bobby noted, noticing Luan`s rash.
Luan sighed and touched her neck. "Yeah.....eh....I have some allergies." she lied, not wanting to talk about the real cause of her rash.
"And yeah....it hasn't been sunshine and rainbows since mom and dad broke up, but we`ve been hanging on and trying to stay optimistic. Things have been getting better lately."
"Oh, well I`m glad to hear it....." Bobby didn't want to peek in and disturb their privacy, but even from his position he could easily see Mr.Loud sleeping on the couch, as well as hear his snoring.
"Eh, rough day at work I presume?" Bobby asked.
Lana nodded " Yeah, and dad also...." Luan lightly bumped her in the shoulder and laughed nervously. For once, Lana got the memo not to talk, and instead took the time to read her phone message. What she read made her smile.
"Yeah, works all day long, from Monday to Friday, he`s completely pooped once he comes back home." she explained hastily, not wanting to spread word that their father had drunk himself into a stupor.
Bobby made a small chukle. "Well I can definitely relate to his pain." he said with an understanding look.
"The fast food joint I work at was supposed to close early today cuz of the storm, but my boss forced me to stay behind to mop the floor, clean the tables and wash the dishes, and once I finished it all the weather suddenly cleared and I was the only one left to make a bunch of late night deliveries." he lamented exasperatedly.
"Yikes! Am I ever glad to be self-employed." Luan replied with a pittying look. "I have the luxury to perform at parties when I like, where I like. Having a job sounds like a real chore."
"It is, it is..." Bobby shook his head with a weak smile. "I`m just glad that this is my last delivery for the day and I have the weekend to look foward to." he added absentmindedly.
Lana tuned back in into the conversation, hearing that made an idea form in her head.
"So you don`t have any more work for tonight?" she asked eagerly. Her sister gave her an odd look.
"Nope." Bobby smiled. "And am I glad to...." he was cut off as Lana suddenly hugged his leg and looked up at him with pleading, sparkling eyes.
"So can you pleeeeaassse do us favor?" she asked briskly.
"Huh?" a consufed Luan uttered, as did Bobby.
"Yeah!" Lana smiled. "You see, Lynn and Lincoln are at this slumber party and we don't have anyone to drive us there, so can you please drive us, Bobby?" the tomboy pleaded speedily. Luan facepalmed.
"Wut? I.....eh....I...." Bobby stammered uncomfortably. He wanted to say no, he was exhausted and wanted to go home. But seeing Lana`s big, soulful eyes, he found himself unable to utter that simple response.
"Bobby, you don't have to...." an embarrassed Luan tried to intervene, but it was too late.
"Well....I...suppose I can." he blurted out, immediately hating himself for it.
"Thank you so much!" Lana beamed, only to be dragged away by Luan.
"Can you and me have a word? Privately!" Luan sternly told her little sister.
"Sure!" Lana replied before turning to Bobby. "You can take a seat and make yourself at home while we pack."
"Eh...sure...I will....." Bobby answered miserably, cursing silently how he let himself get roped into playing chauffeur for these kids.
Once they were alone in the older siblings room, Luan confronted Lana.
"Look Lana, we can't just guilt trip Bobby into driving us!" she tried to explain. "He`s tired and exhausted from work and school, and probably wants to go home."
Lana pouted, feeling confused. "But he said he could do it?" she said innocently. "Besides, it's just a short drive to Ryan`s place."
Luan pinched the bridge of her nose. "Lana, try to understand, we can't just drop in unannounced, I mean he and Lynn probably want to be alone and...."
"But Lynn said we could come!"
"Wut?!" Luan starred at her slack-jawed. Lana showed her the phone message she had received.
"Gret idea Lana Ryan is dieing to see you I would love for you all to come. But wholl drive ya"
"See, they want us to come!" Lana was bouncing enthusiastically.
Luan was speechless. All she could do is reply with an answer, and a question if her sister was joking with them. A few minutes later they got a response.
"Boby? What are the ods!XD Of course Im serius! We will have a huge slumber party all together! Get your buts over! I will wake Linc up XD Lynn Out!"
"See Luan! Told ya!" Lana boasted proudly.
Luan was still speechless. This didn`t make sense. Why would Lynn or Taylor want all of them over there? Was Lynn chickening out? Was she scared to spend quality time alone with Taylor and messing her "date" up? This was all so confusing.
And they had been officially invited and Lana had basically guilt-tripped an exhausted acquaintance of theirs into being their driver. She was stuck in an awkward situation.
The teen looked at her overjoyed little sister. Clearly this meant a lot to her.
"See, isn't this awesome? Ryan`s house is so big! You remember how Lincoln wanted us to spend time together? We can now! And Ryan can join us!" Lana pointed out.
"Well yeah, but....." Luan rubbed her neck, actually considering all of that.
"And you always wanted to go to a sleepover, didn't you?"
"Well I never got the chance on account of not having friends." Luan pointed out sullenly.
"But now you have Ryan. I he`ll be so happy to see us again!" Lana said cheerfully. "Lynn said how he`s always alone with no friends, but now he has us. And I`ve really missed him." Lana pointed out, a bit more somberly.
"Well....I guess we're going after all." Luan tried to smile. This was strange and suspicious to her, but she couldn't back out of it now.
"So let me get this straight." Lisa said dryly from the top bunk.
"You two propose that we intrude on Taylor`s property uninvited? And you expect him, or Lynn for that matter, to react positively to this?" her tone betrayed a rather condescending view of their idea.
Luan and Lana both looked irked by her attitude. "Lisa, I`ve told you already, we are invited! As strange as this may sound." Luan clarified to them.
"All things considered, I don't thik this is a bad idea. As they say : opportunity knocks but once. And when are we gonna get the chance for a sleepover minus any adults spoiling our fun again? And can't forget this little coincide."
Lisa rolled her eyes. This had bad idea written all over it. She thought Lana and Luan were delusional, and even after seeing the message she couldn't believe that it was for real. But Lisa felt too tired and disinterested to argue.
Luan flipped trough Lynn`s note book and found Taylor`s address. "Turns out my latest clients live around the same block as Ryan, making it all the easier to prepare for my act. If that's not a sign that we should go then I don't know what is. So are you in?"
"Your offer is very gracious, but unfortunately I`m inclined to decline. I greatly prefer resting in my own home." the genius said plainly.
Luan put her hands on her hips. "Did I mention that the Helmandollar`s kid and her guests will all be around the same age as you. This might be a golden opportunity for you to make friends. Who knows? Some of them might end being your classmates in kindergarten?"
Lisa shuddered with horror after being reminded of that. Unconvinced, she layed on her back and out of sight. "Sounds fascinating, but I must pass." she replied flatly, barely hidding her utter lack of enthusiasm.
"Besides that, someone must remain at our household to keep an on eye on our father once he inevitably wakes up. Someone will need to explain events to him and "cover" for the rest of you." she quickly added the first thing she could think of to get her sister to let her sleep.
"Whatever. If ya don't wanna then fine by us. It's your loss, egghead." Lana retorted irritably.
Honestly, in her mind, not having a killjoy like Lisa tag along wasn't much of a loss. Luan, on the other hand, was more disappointed. Once again Lisa was ignoring the chance to socialize in favor of working on some futile experiment.
She turned to Lucy. "And what about you, Luce?" she smiled hopefully.
Gently stroking Fang, the goth gazed down at him to avoid eye contact. "No, don't feel like it." she answered simply and quietly.
"Why not, Luce?" Lana wondered. "What do ya got to do in this crummy ol`place?"
Lucy was hesitant to answer. "He`s Lynn`s friends, part of her circle of companions. I have no reason to intrude on their business."
"What do ya mean "intrude"?" the tomboy asked.
Lucy finally looked at them. "Sigh. Lana, hasn't it occurred to you that they wouldn't want little kids like me or you to bother them? That we would just be nuisances to them. As would you, Luan?" she turned towards the teen, sounding more bitter with every word.
"Lucy, I think you're being a tad pessimistic?" Luan replied lightly. "Ryan isn't as bad I you might think and he and Lynn did invite us. If anything, Ryan needs more companionship. And you think he would be "annoyed" by the same kids he risked life and limb to save?" she asked rhetorically.
Lucy stayed quiet. Lana moved closer. "Yeah, you act like he's the bad guy, but he's just misunderstood and lonely." she said innocently.
That remark got Lucy annoyed. "Have you forgotten what he had done to Lincoln." she said tensely, trying to hide her anger.
The tomboy was taken aback by the reminder. "No.....but....he said he was sorry, what more can he do?"
Lucy didn't answer and averted eye contact. Luan tapped Lana`s shoulder. "Lana, maybe you should go pack, if Lucy doesn't feel like going we shouldn't force her." she said gently.
Lana looked at her, then gave Lucy a saddened look. "Okay...." she muttered, looking severely disappointed, ".....but if you change your mind tell us, okay?" she told the goth with a glimmer of hope, before leaving.
Luan turned towards her younger sister. "Lucy, you don't have to go if you don't want to, but I think you`ll leave Lana disappointed. We can't really spend the night as a family if part of the family is missing." she said softly while simultaneously sending Lisa a look. The genius shrunk back, looking conflicted.
"If Taylor`s there I wouldn't exactly call it a family evening." Lucy replied plainly.
"I guess you still haven't forgiven him, huh?" Luan mused as she sat next to her.
The goth sighed. "I haven't really thought about that, I just don't want to see him again." she admitted, still looking away.
"I know he apologized and all, but why can't we just go our separate ways? Why would you want anything to do with someone who hurt and bullied your family for fun?" she finally faced Luan with a challenging glare.
Luan stayed silent.
"And did you forget how he had struck you without a second thought." Lucy bitterly added.
"No, I did not, Lucy." Luan replied softly.
"But I have forgiven him, we can't hang on to past feuds forever. And it's not just because he helped us once. I did it cuz I really do feel sorry for him, because in the end he was a victim as much as you and me, he is more like us than...."
"I know, I know....." Lucy cut in irritably. "He was made fun of too, but you and me never went around bullying others!"
"Well, you and me didn't have the muscle to do it." Luan joked, only for Lucy to send her a disapproving glare.
"And I`m not saying it was right for him to bully others, it wasn't! But when the world turns its back on you and you have nowhere to escape all you can sometimes do is give in and lash out at the world. You fight the bullies, you become the bully, it's a vicious cycle."
Lucy stayed quiet. "But maybe if someone shows him understanding and compassion, he can climb out of it." Luan continued.
"And I thought Lynn was the one crushing on him." the goth muttered snidely.
Luan blushed. "Lucy, be serious now! My point is, since we've been going to school together I have been nice to him, and Lynn has been nice to him, and he has shown us that there`s more to him than just being a bully."
"Fine." Lucy muttered. "But he's Lynn`s friend, you can call him your friend, but I don't want anything to do with him. He`s not my concern."
"If you feel that way then it's okay." Luan said understandably. "Just......eh.....think about what I`ve said, okay?"
With that she leaped off the bed. "Well, I better go pack some things, don't want to leave Bobby waiting forever. And we`ll leave half the pizza for you two on the kitchen table, just so you know."
Lucy didn't respond, she just nodded. And so she left Lucy and Lisa alone.
"You made an inteligent choice, sister." Lisa spoke up approvingly. "This whole exploit of theirs is an abysmal idea in every conceivable way."
Lucy stayed quiet, unsure how to answer.
Lisa continued. "I suppose letting bygones be bygones is more beneficial to an individual if they are no longer being antagonized by the other party, but I`m befuddled by our sisters inexplicable new fondness for that ruffian."
"I guess we can agree on that one." Lucy replied underneath the bunk, her gaze directed towards Fang who was still lying in her lap. It was weird that Lisa of all sisters, in Lucy`s mind, was the only one thinking rationally right now.
"Indeed, and I believe our sole brother shares our frankly more rational opinion. It's sad that he`s trapped in that unsavory vagrant`s home, with the latter and his league of admirers."
"Lincoln?" Lucy remembered. Suddenly she started having second thoughts about staying.
"And don`t forget to pack your toothbrush, Lana!" Luan reminded her sister while they were packing.
"Aww, why?" Lana moaned. "My baby teeth are fallin` out anyway."
She opened her mouth and pointed at the gap where her two incisors should have been, as well as most of her teeth being smudged with pizza bits, to prove her point.
Luan rolled her eyes. "Still, brushing three times a day keeps the bad, old dentist away." she quipped.
"Hey guys..." Lucy entered the room.
"Lucy, what's up?" Luan asked. She didn't expect her to come to them at all.
"Well I was thinking....." she started shyly.
"So you're goin` after all?" Lana asked excitedly.
Lucy shifted uneasily. "Well.....I got nothing else to do..........so I thought "why not", so I left Fang out of the window and........"
"That`s great, sis!" Lana beamed. "It wouldn't be half as fun without you!"
Lana jumped and gave her sister a hug. Lucy forced an awkward smile and hugged her back.
Luan noticed her discomfort. "Lucy, you don't have to force yourself to go out of guilt."
"No, it's not that." Lucy answered quickly as Lana let her go. "I just really want to see Lincoln, and spend the night with you girls."
"Well, kay." Luan replied with uncertainty. "If you really want to go, the more the merrier. I promise you, you won't regret it." she smiled warmly.
"Now hurry up and pack your essentials. Bobby is waiting in his car."
Lucy obeyed, and didn't exchange any more words with them. Luan found her sister`s rapid change of mind to be rather odd, but she didn't overthink it.
"Ehh......sorry about that." Lynn apologized sheepishly and coughed as Taylor dumped the scorched popcorn into the trash can.
He let out a long exhale. At least the microwave was undamaged, leaving no evidence of the near fire. The smoke that was encasing the kitchen would soon clear out trough the window.
"You know, Renee asked me not to set the house ablaze. I intended to at least fulfill that request." he told her flatly.
Looking ashamed, Lynn stood silent. Relaxing, Taylor shook his head, growing more amused.
"Alright Lynn. You made your point, I give in." he spoke in a jaunty manner. "Clearly if we wanna avoid more accidents, were gonna have to appease your needs first. We`ll have a match."
"Huh?" the girl looked confused.
Taylor shrugged. "Movies can wait. But I don't wanna risk any more potential injuries, so I`ll have to let you let out some steam." he snarked.
Lynn smirked and punched him in the arm. "Vey funny, wise guy." she replied snidely.
But then she grew an appreciative smile. "You really mean it?"
"Of course, we can play basketball.."
"Basketball? Huh! That's easy. I wanna do somethin` that requires a little more muscle, speed and coordination!" Lynn told him in a challenging tone.
Taylor sighed exhasperatedly. "Very well, but I don't have a tone of sports equipment. We`ll just have to make do with what we can scramble together from the attic."
"No problem, I like improvising!" Lynn exclaimed.