Chapter 1: What a Nut
"She did WHAT?!" A shrill voice echoed through the cafeteria.
"Shhhh! Keep your voice down…!" Lincoln hushed his friend as some of the nearby students glanced over.
"S-sorry…" Clyde muttered sheepishly. "But she really kissed you?!"
"Yeah…" Lincoln sighed as he took a bite of his sandwich. He'd decided to tell Clyde about what had happened over the weekend; the prom, the incident with Joanna, the heart-to-heart chat with Leni… the kiss. He'd been reluctant to bring it up, but he felt it necessary to confide in someone… and who better than his closest friend?
"Geez, Lincoln, that's... wow." Clyde said in disbelief. "That's heavy, man. I mean, that's your sister." He seemed shaken by the news, which Lincoln had expected; still, he trusted his friend to keep the matter to himself. "What did you do…?"
"W-well..." Lincoln coughed. "I was kind of freaked out, but… I didn't really try to stop her," He admitted. Granted, that was a half-truth… but Lincoln thought it best to leave out the fact that he had accepted and even returned the kiss. "And it was… kinda nice, I guess."
"Kind of nice?!" Clyde raised his voice again, earning him a nasty glare from Lincoln. "Lincoln, you know how serious this is, right?" He continued in a hushed whisper. "She's your sister. Your older sister. Like, an adult." Clyde hissed. "She could go to jail for that, you know?"
"Clyde, don't even think-"
"I-I'm not going to say anything, but…" Clyde said, looking at his friend intensely. "Lincoln, she hasn't… like, touched you, has she?" He asked in a serious tone.
"W-wha… no!" Lincoln responded, mortified. "Jeez, Clyde…"
"Well I don't know!" Clyde said, throwing up his hands in exasperation. Finally, he groaned and slumped into his seat, massaging his temples. "Alright… alright, let's think about this. This is Leni we're talking about. Maybe she didn't mean anything by it? Like, maybe she was just… I don't know, thanking you or something."
"Well… maybe." Lincoln furrowed his brow. It was a fair question, really… Leni being, well, Leni. But it didn't quite add up… she'd hesitated, after all, and the dreamy gazes she'd kept throwing in his direction hinted at something more. And, as airheaded as his sister may be, he knew her… she was smart enough to know the difference between a platonic kiss and a loving one. "But what if she did? What if, y'know… she's in love with me?"
Clyde sighed. "Then you've got to put a stop to it. You've got to sit her down and explain to her that you're her brother, that it's wrong, and that you love her as family… nothing more than that."
"W-well…" Lincoln coughed before pausing to take another bite of his sandwich.
"Well…?" Clyde cocked an eyebrow.
As Lincoln swallowed, he averted his eyes. "I mean, I'm just saying…"
"Like, let's say… I don't know. Let's say I also kinda felt the same way about her…"
"If we were, y'know... a couple…" Lincoln muttered at last, slightly red-faced. "Would it really be such a big deal?"
Silence. Clyde looked at his friend with a mixture of horror, shock, and disbelief. "…God, Lincoln," Clyde finally stammered, shaking his head. "What do you expect me to say to that?"
"I-I don't know, man!" Lincoln sputtered. "I-I mean… your parents are kinda, y'know, 'unconventional', right?!"
Clyde simply stared at Lincoln with a deadpan expression. "…You want to try that one again?" He asked with the slightest twinge of annoyance to his voice.
"S-sorry…" Lincoln sighed apologetically. "It's just… look Clyde, a week ago I would've agreed with you. But now I'm… I'm not so sure." He admitted.
Clyde frowned, taking a sip of his juice. Part of him wanted to end the conversation and put it out of his mind forever, but he felt he should at least hear Lincoln's reasoning. "…What do you mean?" He asked with some reluctance.
"I mean…" Lincoln mumbled through the last bite, swallowing before continuing. "Look, I've known Leni my whole life… and I've always been close to her. But… talking with her like that made me realize just how little I actually knew her. And I guess… I guess I finally felt like I could see her for who she was. Like I could see her as a person, not just as my sister."
"But she is your sister," Clyde interjected.
"Yeah, I know." Lincoln chewed his lip. "I know she's my sister. I know I'm not supposed to have feelings like this. But at the same time, I feel like… like why should it matter? If you look past the fact that we're related, she's just a girl. She's a wonderful, kind, beautiful girl…" he said a bit dreamily, and had to shake his head to compose himself. "Even if she's a bit slow, even if she's, well, Leni… she's perfect, Clyde. Were she anyone else, I wouldn't even need to think about it. So if she sees me as more than a brother, and I feel the same way as her… is it really so wrong?" He asked, a note of desperation in his voice.
Clyde exhaled softly. He said nothing as he gathered up his trash onto his tray, walked to the garbage bin, dumped it, and set the tray on top. Finally he walked back to his seat and sat down, looking at his best friend with a serious gaze and tented fingers. "You, my friend," He said at last, pointing at Lincoln, "Are thinking with your dick."
"I am not thinking with my dick," Lincoln scowled.
"Listen, buddy. You're 13. Your body is changing, and your hormones are all out of whack… I'm in the same boat, y'know?" Clyde explained. "You're starting to think about girls in ways you hadn't before. And Leni, well… make no mistake, she's a total babe. It's only natural you'd start taking notice, even if she is your sister. Especially, you know, after Ronnie-Anne…" Lincoln cringed slightly at that, but Clyde continued. "You're just confused, Linc. You got close to your attractive sister during a volatile time, she kissed you because she doesn't know any better, and your brain is morphing this into something it's not. You are thinking with your dick."
Lincoln was about to retort, but was suddenly interrupted by the bell signaling the end of lunch. As the other students began filing out, Lincoln could only sulk bitterly.
"Look, what you need to do is calm down, have yourself a good ol' spank session, and get all these crazy thoughts out of your head." Clyde said as he got up. "I know some good sites. I'll link you later, alright?" Lincoln only scoffed, avoiding eye contact. "…What?"
"Hypocrite," Lincoln muttered under his breath.
Clyde frowned. "…'Scuse me?"
"I thought you'd understand," grumbled Lincoln. "Considering you've got two Dads."
Clyde's brow furrowed. "Do you have a problem with my Dads, Lincoln?" He asked, a hint of edge to his voice.
"No, of course not." Lincoln sighed softly. "They're great people. They love each other, and they love you. But… there are lots of people out there that say that's wrong, somehow. They think that it's sick, or evil. There's people that literally devote their whole lives to stopping guys like Harold and Howard from being happy together."
Clyde winced, gritting his teeth. He knew this all too well; it had been the primary reason why his family had moved to Royal Woods in the first place. Even Clyde himself had been bullied relentlessly for his parents' orientation. "What does that have to do with anything…?" He asked somewhat bitterly.
"Because," Lincoln began, "In spite of all that… in spite of the world telling them they can't be the way they are, they didn't let that stop them from being together. It didn't stop them from getting married, and it didn't stop them from raising you. So, I don't know…" Lincoln exhaled deeply. "Look… I can't pretend to be in the same boat as them. But if their love isn't wrong… why is this any different?"
Clyde chewed his lip in thought. He had to admit… Lincoln had a point. It didn't change his opinion on the matter, not by a long shot; however, try as he may, he couldn't think of a worthy rebuke. With a sigh, he sat back down. "Okay. Lincoln. Let's say there is something more between you two. What then?"
"Well, first of all," Clyde said, "Incest aside… you're thirteen. She's eighteen. As far as the law is concerned, she's an adult and you're a child. You do understand that, right?"
"W-well, yeah…" Lincoln mumbled. "But if we waited-"
"Even then, you can't legally get married," Clyde continued, "At least not in America. You can't have kids, not unless you want 'em to come out all messed up. Society would never accept you; you'd be subjecting yourselves to scrutiny for the rest of your lives. You'd be dragging your family's name through the mud, and that's just assuming they don't outright disown you." Clyde could see Lincoln shrinking down in his seat with each point he made, but pressed on regardless. "Even if I agreed with you, which I don't, here's the thing… society has decided that people like my Dads are allowed to be together. Some people may disagree, but that doesn't change the fact that it's allowed. In the best case scenario, you'd forced to hide your relationship from the world."
Lincoln said nothing, his gaze focused somewhere off to the side. Clyde sighed.
"Lincoln, look… all that aside, you still don't even really know for sure why she kissed you. For all you know, this could be a huge misunderstanding. And," he added, "Can you really be sure that you've got feelings for her? Can you assure me, in all certainty, that this isn't just some puberty-induced crush?"
Before he could even think about answering, the bell rang again; Clyde groaned. "Anyway, come on... we're gonna be late." He said. "I don't know about you, but I'd rather not get chewed out by Mrs. Rivers again." With a small grunt of approval, Lincoln got to his feet, hoisting his backpack over his shoulder.
Lincoln didn't pay attention during English, nor the Social Studies class that followed it; instead he simply rested his chin on his palm, staring out the window for the entirety of class. He'd hoped that talking with Clyde would give him some idea of what to do, but he was more uncertain than ever.
Lincoln sighed softly as he idly watched a squirrel eat a pizza crust from the garbage. Clyde was right, of course… in all honesty, he wasn't sure about his feelings for Leni. On one hand, yes, he was a bit sexually confused right now… well, perhaps more than a bit. Leni was his sister, yes, but she was also a stunningly beautiful girl… and considering that he lived with her, it made sense that he would start to take notice of how attractive she was. Plus, he had gotten all worked up over her friend earlier in the night, so perhaps he was just imprinting those feelings onto his sister. And as for Leni, well, she was a kisser. Granted, never on the lips before, but… who knows. Maybe she just thought it was appropriate for the situation. Not to mention that she had been acting pretty normal towards him since then…
On the other hand, however, he couldn't shake the feeling that that wasn't the case. He could still remember the warmth of Leni's body against his, the gentle weight of her head on his lap… it had felt right, somehow. Though Ronnie-Anne had been more of a cuddler than most would expect, there was always that tension, that hint of awkwardness between them, even at the height of their relationship. But with Leni, there was none of that; she was completely at ease in his arms, and Lincoln had felt just as at ease in hers. It was something he had never quite felt before with anyone… not with his parents, not with his sisters, and definitely not with Ronnie-Anne. It had been the same during their private dance outside the school too; her body had just felt right in his arms. The way the delicate curves of her hips had nestled just so into in his hands-
Lincoln's face scrunched up in shame as he forced the thought aside. As much as he found himself thinking about his sister's… assets… there was more to it than that. The time he'd spent with her that night had felt special. He'd learned about her, gotten to know her better than he ever had before. He'd always just seen her as his ditzy, lovable older sister, but now he felt like he knew the real Leni Loud. Beyond the surface was a girl who, he found, actually shared more interests with him than he had ever expected. A girl full of hidden doubts, insecurities, and even self-loathing. A girl that looked to him for guidance and protection, even if he was five years her junior. A girl that relied on him.
Lincoln furrowed his brow in thought as the teacher droned on, trying to collect his thoughts. He could pick things apart all he wanted, but one thing was clear: he was developing feelings for his sister. Whether those feelings were romantic or not, he wasn't sure… but after Clyde's warnings, he couldn't help but hope for the latter. He knew his friend was right; the age gap, the social stigma, the harsh realities of an incestuous relationship. And the more he thought about it, the more he hated himself for feeling this way. She was his sister. He'd known her since the moment he was born… she'd held him, fed him, cared for him, practically raised him just as much as his mother had. He couldn't really be falling for her, could he…?
"Maybe I am thinking with my dick," he thought out loud. Then, he became subtly aware that the room had gone silent; glancing away from the window, he found to his chagrin that every eye in the classroom was on him, their expressions ranging from stunned to confused. Were he to turn around, he would have seen Clyde's face buried in his palms in second-hand embarrassment.
"W-well, that's very unfortunate, Mr. Loud," His teacher spoke at last, clearing his throat. "But this is a school, and we prefer students think with their brains here. See me after class."
"Y-yes sir," Lincoln muttered, red-faced as his classmates snickered in amusement. Well, that was embarrassing. As the teacher continued with the lecture, Lincoln forced himself to follow along; clearly, this wasn't the time for daydreaming.
Soon enough the bell rang, signaling the end of class for the day. Thank GOD, Lincoln thought. After a thankfully brief scolding from his teacher, Lincoln left the class to find Clyde waiting for him in the hallway.
"Was it bad…?" Clyde asked hesitantly.
"Nah," Lincoln replied. "He just let me off with a warning. Good thing, too… that's a conversation with my folks I'd rather not have." Lincoln sighed softly as he and Clyde walked to their lockers. Few words were exchanged between the two as they put away their books.
"…I'm sorry." Clyde said at last as he shut his locker. His voice was gentle and genuinely apologetic.
"What for?" Asked Lincoln.
"For upsetting you," Clyde answered. "I wasn't trying to be hard on you or anything, I just-"
"Clyde, it's cool." Lincoln assured him, motioning for his friend to follow him as he finished with his locker. "You were right… I'm not sure about anything. In fact, I'm more confused than before…" Lincoln admitted with a sigh. "…But, if anything, that's good. It gives me more time to think before I do something stupid."
"So… what are you going to do?" Clyde asked as they stepped out the school entrance and began their walk home.
"Well… I dunno yet." Lincoln muttered, scratching the back of his head. "I need to talk to her about it, that's for sure…" Lincoln noticed Clyde's uncertain expression out of the corner of his eye. "I-I mean, not about everything. I just… I need to understand how she feels before I can really figure myself out, you know?"
"I guess…" Clyde mumbled. "I just hope you know what you're doing, man. I mean, Jaime Lannister hooked up with his sister and look how bad that turned out."
"…That's a TV show, Clyde."
"Book series first," His friend corrected him. "Shame it never got finished though."
"Poor George R. Martin…" Lincoln frowned. "Choked on an entire pork chop. RIP in peace."
"RIP in peace," Clyde concurred solemnly. The two hung their heads in respect for a few moments before snickering at the absurdity of it all. "A-anyway… in all seriousness, I'm just worried about you, man. You're playing with fire here, and the last thing I want is for you to get burned."
"I know. Thanks, Clyde." Lincoln said with a smirk. "And sorry I called you a hypocrite. I know you're just looking out for me."
"Ah, don't worry about it," Clyde replied with a dismissive wave of his hand. "Look, Lincoln… I may not agree with it, but whatever happens I've always got your back."
"It is kind of funny, though," mused Lincoln. "Considering you always used to chase after Lori…"
"Hey man, she's not my sister. Plus she was seventeen then. Totally different." Clyde huffed, before adding, "…why, has she mentioned me?"
"Linken! Linken!" Three-year-old Lily shouted happily as her brother arrived home. She ran up to him excitedly, clutching a piece of white construction paper in her hands.
"Hey there Lily!" Lincoln replied, bending over and ruffling her hair gently. "How was your day?"
"Good," She giggled. "Look!" She said, holding up the piece of paper for him to see. "For you!" On the paper was a crayon drawing of Lincoln; he smiled as he took it from her.
"Wow, is that me? It looks so good!" He said, making her grin brightly. It wasn't a lie, either… it was quite good, at least for a child her age. It was a bit crude and unsteady, but it was still instantly recognizable as him, right down to the placement of the freckles. He could only expect that she'd continue to improve with age, and he couldn't help but feel a slight twinge of shame at the fact that even his baby sister had discovered her talent before he had. Nonetheless, he was proud of her. "I'll hang it in my room right away."
Lily smiled, nodding before scampering off to return to her doodling. Lincoln could smell dinner cooking from the kitchen, and figured his Dad must be hard at work; even with Lori gone, preparing a meal for twelve people was a rough job. "Hey Dad, I'm home!" He called out.
"Hey there Sport," Lynn Sr. responded from the kitchen. "Can you come give me a hand?"
"Sure," Lincoln replied as he headed for the stairs. "Lemme just get changed!"
The upstairs hallway was noisy as per usual; Luna was rocking out especially hard today, which either meant that she was in a bad mood or that her time of the month had begun… either way, he made a mental note to stay on her good side for the rest of the night. He could hear the telltale thumping of Lynn's basketball against the wall of her room, and Lana and Lola were arguing loudly about… something or other. With a sigh, Lincoln stepped into the former linen closet that served as his bedroom and shut the door.
Lincoln took off his backpack and hung it from the hook on the wall before unbuttoning his shirt and throwing it aside; his pants soon followed. Lincoln had maintained a fairly consistent look over the years… though the specifics varied, and he had mostly taken to wearing black jeans as of late, he was almost never without an orange shirt of some kind. Orange was his favorite color, of course, but it was also one he wore well. Leni had told him that orange was a difficult color to pull off, but his white hair went well with it. For Lincoln, that was enough… after all, who knows more about fashion than Leni?
"…Lincoln." Lincoln shrieked like a little girl as a dull voice broke the silence without warning. It was Lucy, seated on his bed with her notebook in her lap, looking at him with slightly flushed cheeks.
"L-Lucy?!" He stammered, doing his best to cover himself. "W-why didn't you say anything?!"
"I did. Several times." She muttered, deadpan as ever, before hopping off his bed. "…Nice underwear." She said with what he could only assume was sarcasm, taking note of the highly worn-out 'victory undies' he still wore to this day.
"S-shush," Lincoln grumbled, red-faced. "What are you even doing in my room…"
"I come in here to write, sometimes." Lucy admitted, slinking past him. "It inspires me."
"It… inspires you?" Lincoln asked, cocking an eyebrow. "Why?"
"Because," she said as she opened the door. "Your room is depressing, Lincoln." And with that, she was gone. Lincoln frowned; she wasn't wrong, really. Being the only boy in a house full of girls, Lincoln needed to have a room to himself, and unfortunately the best his parents could manage was this old linen closet. Still, it wasn't so bad… he'd had a lot of good times in this room. With a shrug, Lincoln finished changing into a pair of dark grey sweatpants and an Ace Savvy t-shirt before heading back out to the hall.
Lincoln was about to head back downstairs when he realized he needed to pee, badly, and so he scurried off to the bathroom at the end of the hall. He swung the door open and-
Leni stood at the sink, clad in nothing but a towel as she blow-dried her hair. She was humming to herself, apparently oblivious to his presence; Lincoln, however, was frozen in place, face red as a tomato. He knew he should back out, shut the door, pretend this never happened, but he couldn't look away. He wasn't fully sure why… it wasn't like he could actually see anything, and heck, he'd seen Leni wearing nothing but a towel plenty of times. But now, with the situation being as it was… Lincoln couldn't help but thank the heavens that he had chosen to wear loose-fitting pants.
Then, Leni's eyes fluttered open and she spotted him through the mirror. "Oh, hello Linky~!" She said happily, her lips spreading into a wide grin. "How was school today?"
"U-uh… it was good," He stammered, his heart pounding in his chest. "Yours…?"
"Ugh, it was totes boring." Leni sighed, apparently having no issue with Lincoln seeing her in this state. "Mr. Fletcher gave us all a surprise quiz, and it was, like, really hard!"
"That, uh… that sucks." Lincoln muttered.
"I know, right? So I was like, 'Mr. Fletcher, why are we learning English if we already speak English?' And he was like… well actually I don't remember what he said, but it was really confusing and… Linky? Are you alright?" Leni asked with a hint of concern in her voice as she noticed how flustered he was.
"Y-yeah! Just, uh…" He coughed. "Just needed the bathroom." Well, it technically wasn't a lie.
"Oh! Sorry~" Leni apologized. "Aaaalmost done… there." She shut off the blow-dryer and flipped her hair, letting it cascade naturally around her head. "How do I look?" She asked, turning to Lincoln with a sweet smile.
"Looks good," He said honestly, forcing a grin. In truth, she looked absolutely adorable right now, with her slightly disheveled hair only serving to enhance her natural charm. And with her perfect body barely covered by a pale blue towel… it was taking everything Lincoln had in him to keep it together.
"Great!" She chirped happily, slipping past him to her room. "See you at dinner, Linky~!" She gently shut her door and Lincoln dove into the bathroom, practically slamming the door behind him. He exhaled deeply, taking a moment to calm his frazzled nerves before another wave of discomfort reminded him of why he had come in here in the first place.
As he relieved himself for what felt like at least a full minute and a half, it dawned on Lincoln that he hadn't gone to the bathroom since before lunch. He must have been too lost in thought to even acknowledge the call of nature. And now that that was gone, he felt himself confronted with another urge thanks to Leni's surprise appearance. He frowned, chewing his lip slightly. He had the bathroom to himself. The door was locked. Maybe he could just-
"Lincoln!" Lynn suddenly cried out, frantically pounding on the door. "Hurry up! It's an emergency!" Lincoln groaned. Of course. He flushed, washed his hands, and then opened the door to a very desperate Lynn Loud.
"Move!" She shouted, pushing roughly past him. "This meatball sub ain't waiting a second longer!" With that, she slammed the door, and Lincoln cringed as the bathroom echoed with the kinds of vile sounds only Lynn could provide. Well, at least he wasn't turned on anymore.
Dinner was boring, as always. Now that he was thirteen, Lincoln had officially joined the grown-up table. Though he'd grown to appreciate the peace and quiet somewhat, he still couldn't help but miss the chaos of the kids' table a little bit… especially tonight, when he really could have used something to distract him from his thoughts. He couldn't help but sigh under his breath as he picked idly at his food.
Leni frowned slightly as she noticed this out of the corner of her eye. As airheaded as Leni may be, she could still tell when something was bothering one of her siblings, especially Lincoln. She was about to ask him what was wrong, but thought the better of it; she knew fully well that would simply be opening a can of worms to the rest of the family. Well, no matter… she knew better than anyone how to get a smile out of Lincoln.
Lincoln glanced up from his plate as he felt Leni's foot nudge his, and almost spit out his mashed potatoes at the sight; Leni had two string beans sticking out from beneath her lip like a pair of walrus tusks, with her eyes crossed and a goofy smirk on her face. He covered his mouth and let the snickering subside as he planned his counterattack. Not one to be one-upped in mealtime shenanigans, he placed two carrot slices over his eyes and furrowed his brow to keep them in place, grimacing and sticking out his tongue like some sort of zombie. Leni giggled in return; if it was a war he wanted, it was a war he'd get.
"Ahem." Lynn Sr. finally chimed in just as Lincoln was sticking a string bean into his nose, startling him enough to make him inhale it and start coughing. "Knock it off, you two. And Luan, no phones at the table."
"S-sorry Dad," Luan wheezed out between snorts of laughter as she finished recording the two sibling's gag war. Lincoln and Leni sheepishly returned to their food, though not before shooting each other an amused grin.
After dinner, Lincoln helped clean up and then returned to his room to do his homework. Thankfully, there wasn't much of it… and absolutely none in Math, his most hated subject. In barely over half an hour, he had finished.
And now, he stood awkwardly in front of Leni's bedroom door, finding himself struck with an intense feeling of déjà vu. Whereas last Sunday he had simply been reluctant to accept Leni's prom invitation, this time he found himself legitimately dreading the conversation to come. Still, he had to know; he had to know why she had kissed him. He had to know if she just saw him as a brother, or as something more.
Somehow, he found himself equally dreading either answer.
Sucking in a deep breath, he knocked on his sister's door. "Come in~!" came the reply, chipper as ever; he released his breath and entered.
Leni was at the far end of the room, sitting at her desk in her seafoam green nightgown. At first he figured she must be working on a dress or something, but upon closer inspection he noticed that her sewing machine had been set aside on the ground. Instead, she had a bunch of papers splayed out in front of her. He couldn't help but notice how the sheer fabric of her nightgown flowed along the contours of her body, tracing the curve of her back down to her perfectly round- Whoa, Lincoln told himself. Easy there, chief.
"H-hey, Leni." He said nervously.
"Hey Linky!" She said happily, turning to greet him; however, he could pick up just a hint of stress in her voice. "How are you?"
"Good… are you doing your homework?" Lincoln asked.
"Kind of… I'm studying for the finals." Leni replied. "Our teachers gave us all these really tricky questions to do. To, like… repair us."
"You're studying alone?" Lincoln asked, surprised. It was highly unusual for Leni to be doing any sort of schoolwork alone… usually she would get Luna or Lisa to help.
"No…" Leni frowned. "Well… yes. I mean, I'm trying." She sounded a bit upset. Lincoln walked over and took a closer look.
"Leni, you haven't even started." Lincoln said, cocking an eyebrow.
"Yes I have!" Leni said with a pout. "I did the first question, see?" She pointed at the worksheet to show him.
"…That's your name, Leni."
"That totes counts as a question, Lincoln," Leni huffed. Lincoln smirked; he couldn't help but find it cute when Leni got annoyed like this.
"Well, why didn't you ask anyone for help?" Lincoln asked. To his surprise, Leni's face fell slightly.
"Because I was trying to do it myself for once." Leni mumbled sadly. "I'm eighteen. I should, like… be able to do something on my own, right…?" Lincoln could hear that familiar note of pain laced through her words; it pierced his heart.
"Scoot over," He said, giving her a gentle nudge. "I'll help."
"I told you, remember?" He said with a gentle smirk. "There's nothing wrong with needing some help. Now, come on. Scoot."
Leni smiled sweetly and gave Lincoln some room. The old wooden stool was long gone; it had since been replaced with a comfortable ottoman built by Leni herself. It was a bit small, but there was just enough room for Lincoln and her to sit together… close together. "T-thank you Lincoln…" She said a bit apologetically. "But are you sure? You're in, like… center school."
"Middle school, Leni," Lincoln corrected her with a chuckle. "And sure. How much harder could it be?"
"W-well… okay." She nudged the worksheet between the two of them. It was Math, to Lincoln's disappointment. "See, it's like… this, here. I don't get it." She said, pointing to the first problem.
"Let's see… 'Leeroy has a box of twenty-two cookies. If Leeroy eats two cookies in the morning, gives one to each of his five friends at school, and eats three himself on the way home, how many does he have left?'" Lincoln said, reading the question aloud. It was… remarkably simple, to tell the truth. He could only assume that they were reviewing things from the beginning in preparation for the finals. "Well, which part don't you get?"
"Like, any of it!" Leni whined. "Like… who's Leeroy?"
"Leni…" Lincoln groaned. "Leeroy isn't important, it's-"
"Well, he must be if they made a math problem about him." Leni concluded. "And like, why'd he bring a whole box of cookies with him if he was only gonna give away five?"
"Leni, that's not-"
"And," She continued, "You should never eat cookies in the morning! That's totes bad for you-"
"Leni, please…" Lincoln muttered, burying his face in his hands. Well, no wonder she was having issues. Leni was actually surprisingly good with numbers… she needed to be, considering all the measurements she needed to take for her dressmaking. But word problems were another matter entirely. Leni took things extremely literally, to the point where at times she would stubbornly refuse to look past the hypothetical situation presented by the question.
Leni sunk down in her seat a bit. "…Sorry." She mumbled softly, as though she'd done something wrong. Lincoln sighed.
"N-no, don't apologize. Listen, you just need to…" An idea came to him. "Leni, let's say you had twenty-two feet of fabric..."
Leni gasped. "Why… that's not enough at all…!"
"Leni, focus. Let's say you had twenty-two feet of fabric. You use two feet to make a trim for a dress."
Leni thought for a moment. "…I can work with that."
"Great." Lincoln said. "And then later, you use five one-foot pieces to make… uh… I dunno, something for five of your friends."
"Omigosh! I have five friends!" Leni shouted excitedly.
"Right." Lincoln chuckled. "And then after that, you use three more feet to make a skirt."
"Wow, that'd be a really tiny skirt…" Leni giggled. "…Is that what you like, Linky~?"
"W-wha…" Lincoln stammered, red-faced. "N-no, I… look, never mind! How many feet of fabric would you have left?"
"Twelve," Leni said without hesitation. "But Linky, what that that have to do with anything?"
"That's… that's it, Leni." He responded, breathing a small sigh of relief. "That's the answer, see?" He nudged the worksheet closer to her.
"…Huh…?" Leni cocked her head in confusion. She picked up the worksheet and read the question again… and then again… and then again. For two minutes she said nothing, simply staring at the worksheet with narrowed eyes. Then, she gasped. "It's just numbers!"
"That's right!" Lincoln said with a grin. "You see now?"
"But, Linky…" Leni whined, "Why do they need to write it all out like that with words and Leeroys and cookies?"
"Well… I guess because they want you to think about it." Lincoln shrugged.
"But… but I'm no good with thinky things, Lincoln…" Leni sighed as she set down the worksheet. "What if the finals are all like that?"
"I doubt they will be," Lincoln assured her. "Besides… you're better than you think, Leni. If anything, your problem is you think too much."
"How do I not do that…?"
"Well…" Lincoln scratched his chin in thought. "How about we keep going? Maybe you'll start getting the hang of it."
Leni perked up a bit. "You really don't mind? You don't have, like… more important stuff to do?" She asked somewhat timidly.
Lincoln smiled warmly. "Nothing's more important than you, Leni."
Lincoln's eyes went wide. Wait, what did he just say?
"U-uh… I mean…" He sputtered, his cheeks red as a tomato; Leni, for her part, looked almost as flustered as he did. "A-anyway…" Lincoln cleared his throat and quickly diverted his attention back to the worksheet.
"Right…" Leni murmured softlly, following suit. However, he could distinctly feel her body nestle slightly into his side. He didn't mind; just as before, the heat and presence of her body against his was incredibly comfortable. "Um… can I try the next one first?" She said, pointing to what seemed like a simple 'find x' equation.
"Go right ahead." Lincoln replied.
"It's right here~!" Leni said happily, pointing to the literal 'x' on the equation. Lincoln gave her an unimpressed glare.
"Leni, that's not-"
"Got you, Linky~" Leni teased, sticking out her tongue cutely. "Even I know how to do this."
The impromptu tutoring session continued for nearly an hour. He helped only as needed, mostly giving her advice and hints as needed, at least for the word problems; however the questions got more and more difficult each time, and by the time they reached the fifth page Lincoln had no idea what he was even looking at. Everything just looked like a jumble of letters, numbers, and symbols.
"Linky, this is too haaaaaard!" Leni whimpered, laying her head on the desk. "I give up."
Lincoln wanted to argue, but in truth she was right… he couldn't even begin to fathom how these equations worked. Is this really what high school's' gonna be like? He thought with a shudder. Without waiting for a response, Leni got up and shambled over to her bed, flopping facedown onto it with a groan. Lincoln sighed. "Just one more?" He asked.
"Nuh," Replied Leni, mumbling into her blanket.
"Don't you need to get this done?"
"No," Said Leni, turning her head enough to speak freely. "It's studying, Linky… I, like, don't even need to do it at all." Leni yawned loudly before turning on to her side. "…I will though." She added, as though anticipating his follow-up question. "I want to pass."
Lincoln simply smiled, taking a moment to organize Leni's papers a bit before getting to his feet. He walked over to her bed and sat down on the edge of her bed. "I'm sure you'll do fine, Leni." He assured her. "You got this far, didn't you?"
Leni didn't respond to that. She simply stared at the wall for a few moments, mulling over something in her head. "Lincoln," she began, in a low, serious tone, "What's it like being smart…?
Well. Whatever Lincoln had been expecting, that hadn't been it. "…Huh?"
"What's it like being smart?" She asked again.
Lincoln blinked. "I-I mean…" He mumbled, scratching at the back of his head. "I don't think I'm particularly smart…"
"You are!" Leni replied matter-of-factly, suddenly getting up into a kneeling position and leaning in close to him. "You're totes smart, Linky! Like… you understand stuff, and you pass all your classes, and you're not…" Leni frowned. "You're not stupid like me." That word. The way she said it, laced with so much venom, directed at herself… it made Lincoln sick to his stomach.
"Leni." Lincoln said sternly, turning to face her. "You're not stupid."
"I am, Lincoln." Leni replied quietly, barely above a whisper. "I know I am. And it's not like… it's not like I don't try, you know?" Leni sighed softly, lying back down and staring up at the ceiling. "I try. But it's hard, and no matter how hard I try I never get any better."
A deep frown crossed Lincoln's face. He scooted himself over to her and laid down next to her. "You're not stupid." He affirmed, sliding his arm beneath her shoulders and pulling her close to him. She didn't resist, and shut her eyes peacefully as her body rested against his.
"…What am I, then?" She asked.
"You're Leni." Lincoln replied without hesitation. "You're my big sister."
"Your favorite sister?" Leni asked playfully.
"C'mon, Leni," Lincoln said with a small chuckle. "You know I can't pick a favorite."
"But if you had to it'd totes be me, right?"
"…Maybe." Lincoln admitted. "You'd at least be in the top fifteen."
"That's good, I- wait a minute!" Leni pouted, giving her brother a gentle shove. "Don't tease me, Lincoln."
"Sorry!" Lincoln laughed, eliciting a giggle from Leni as well. She nuzzled into his neck happily.
"You always make me feel better, Linky." Leni murmured softly. "Why do you have to be such a good guy…?" She added under her breath, just a hint of sadness to her voice.
"Hmm?" Lincoln asked, glancing at her with a raised eyebrow. "Did you say something…?" But she had already fallen asleep, her chest gently rising and falling with each breath. He smiled as he saw her sleeping face; she really was beautiful. He carefully slid his arm out from under her and got up. Since she was lying on top of her comforter already, he pulled the blanket from Lori's bed and covered her with it. He spent a few moments just watching her sleep. Part of him wanted to stay, but he knew that would be a bad idea… it'd be hard to explain to the others if they happened to get caught, not to mention what other issues could… arise from the situation.
He leant down and gently brushed a stray hair from her face before planting a quick kiss on her forehead, then turned off the light and left the room.
Just as Lincoln shut his bedroom door behind him, it dawned on him that he had completely forgotten to ask Leni about the kiss. He mentally kicked himself before flopping down on the bed with a sigh. Can't be helped, he thought. I'll just have to ask her tomorrow. Besides, he figured, tonight had been nice, if a bit dull. He glanced over at the clock; damn, it was already 10. Lincoln knew he should probably go to sleep, but he was a bit too wired right now.
Lincoln grabbed his laptop off the dresser and flopped onto his bed, getting himself comfortable. He lazily browsed social media for a while, sharing a few cute cat posts from Clyde that caught his attention; he vaguely noticed that Ronnie-Anne had finally set her status to 'in a relationship', but found that it didn't really bother him anymore. After a few minutes he received a PM from Clyde.
Hey man, here's that stuff I promised you. Enjoy ;D
P.S. Wear headphones! #killmenow #nosydads #epiccringe
He would never understand why Clyde found it necessary to include hashtags in private messages, but he ignored that for now; beneath the message were three links. He could tell from the URLs exactly what kind of content awaited him within. Lincoln gulped. It was late… but there was no denying that he could use a bit of 'me time', especially after tonight.
Lincoln took a quick glance around the room to be sure Lucy wasn't lurking around anywhere, even peeking under the bed; you could never be sure with her. Satisfied, he fished out his headphones and plugged them in, his heart racing with nervous excitement. Lincoln was still fairly new to this sort of thing… new enough that each time felt like an adventure fraught with peril. Privacy was a hot commodity in the Loud house, and he dreaded the thought of his parents catching him in the act… or, God forbid, one of his sisters. He would never be able to live it down. Still, it was late, he was alone, and quite frankly, he deserved this. So with that in mind he clicked the first link, slid down his sweatpants, lowered a hand beneath the sheets, and began his dark work.
As per usual, Clyde did not hold back at all. Literally from the moment the page loaded Lincoln was bombarded by pure, shameless smut. The days of easing into things with a few nudie mags were long gone… the digital age had opened a gateway to the abyss, and Clyde had dove in without hesitation. More power to him, Lincoln figured, but for Lincoln it was just a bit too much. Hell, half the time the girls didn't even look like they were enjoying it. Where was the pleasure? Where was the love?
With a sigh, Lincoln gave the second link a try… and then closed it an instant later. Jesus, Clyde, Lincoln thought with a cringe. You need to pace yourself. That's just savagery. Perhaps it was Lincoln's gentle nature, but he just didn't have a taste for the rough stuff. He supposed he could see the appeal, and perhaps he'd even get there eventually… but he liked his porn a little more tasteful.
Well, the third time's the charm, I guess. Lincoln clicked the third link, and already it was an improvement; everything was neatly categorized and tagged, allowing him to browse specifically for what he liked.
And boy, did he find what he liked.
He'd have to thank Clyde tomorrow. This site was a treasure trove… gorgeous young women in all kinds of enticing situations, and not a tear or bruise in sight. Within minutes, Lincoln was already going at it harder than he ever had before.
…So why couldn't he cross that line?
Oh, he'd come close, sure. In fact he'd been close for the past ten minutes or so. But alas… nothing. The relief never came. It was insanely frustrating; it was at the point where he was already starting to wear himself out, and yet if he stopped now he'd never be able to get to sleep. All he'd done is get himself even more worked up.
Dammit, Lincoln…! He grit his teeth in annoyance as he began quickly scrolling through the page for something, anything to bring him over the edge. There's gotta be-
Lincoln's heart stopped.
No. There's no way. He scrolled back up slowly, fearfully… it couldn't be, he thought. His throat ran dry as he neared the photo. She wouldn't… Lincoln told himself. She COULDN'T.
Lincoln breathed a sigh of relief, bonking his head against the headboard for being so stupid. Of course not, you idiot. On his screen was a photo of a beautiful young woman, no older than twenty… fair skin, youthful face, tastefully applied makeup.
Long platinum blonde hair.
In his frenzied state, his brain had morphed the photo into something else as it flew by. Well… someone else. She was far from identical, of course… but there was definitely a slight resemblance. The hair, though a bit longer and styled differently, was almost the exact same shade as hers. Her skin was a similar light shade of peach. Her body was just a bit shapelier, her face nicely rounded and, despite the erotic nature of her pose… strangely innocent. All in all, not an uncanny likeness… but fairly close.
Close enough, perhaps.
Lincoln swallowed. Had it finally come to this? Was he really about to blow his top to a girl just because she happened to look vaguely similar to his sister? Wow, Lincoln. Wow. He scolded himself. You really are messed up, you know that?
Yeah, he knew.
Right now, he didn't care.
'Andrea Shepherd' was the girl's name. He clicked the tag and began browsing. Seemed like she got around a lot, for lack of a better term… there were tons of photos and videos from several different studios, and some of the content was pushing it a bit too far for his liking. But nonetheless, he found himself transfixed. She was good. She was doing the trick.
But he needed more.
Lincoln bit his lip. Screw it, he thought as he scrolled up to the search bar. No backing out now. He clicked the bar and, hand trembling with excitement, typed in 'andrea shepherd pov'. Enter. Searching.
Nine results found.
Lincoln glanced through the thumbnails. There was one that caught his eye; though normally Lincoln had no interest in the men in these videos, in this situation it was almost as important as the girl herself. Fifth video down. Fair skin, faintest hint of musculature beneath his scrawny build. Again, not an exact match… but more than close enough. Lincoln clicked the video and maximized the view.
This was what he had needed. Lincoln lost himself in the video; before long he was panting heavily, rocking his body in sync with the action, his body slick with sweat. In his mind, he was there. He was there and that girl was-
"L-Len-iii...!" He groaned as sweet, glorious relief finally overtook him, his body arching forward before slumping back against his mattress. For a full minute his mind was completely blank as he came down from his high; Goddamn had he needed that. He took a few deep breaths before slowly cracking open his eyes…
…And finding the bespectacled, analytical gaze of Lisa Loud staring back at him.