Gravity Falls: Gruncle Stan's Sickness [private]

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  1. Dipper leaned against the hood of his little volkswagon bus. It was a worn down, ugly brown color, but it was his ride and his home through college. The 22 year old checked his watch then, getting an eye for the time. Mabel was supposed to arrive any minute now. They were going to drive the last few miles together, and had coordinated this through e-mail a few days ago.

    The youth scratched his chin lightly, fingering the touch of stubble that had started to form on his chin, then fingered one of the tattoos peaking up out of the color of his shirt. It was a small hand of the Gremgoblin from years ago, copied out of Journal about two years ago. He'd taken to tattooing the pictures and names of things he'd faced somewhere on his body, usually to hide a scar he received from the creature. He'd run into another of the creatures in some woods out in Kansas, and had gotten a cracked collarbone while driving the creature away and back into hiding.

    Man, he had a lot to tell Mabel when they finally met up again. He hadn't seen her since she'd left for college. He should have come and visit, but he'd been traveling so much while he went to an online college, balancing school-work and running a monster-and-paranormal-event-handling business. It wasn't great pay, but it paid for his gas, food, internet, and car tune-ups. Gruncle Stan had paid his tuition and bought all his books, so he hadn't had to worry about that.

    It hadn't been easy, but he'd finally made it, and he had a degree in Cultural Anthropology, minoring in Religious Studies. Now he could charge more for his services and could, eventually, publish his findings involving crypto-zoological creatures and paranormal phenomena. His encounters with Bill were enough to write an entire Thesis on, for Pete's sake.

    He checked his watch again, double-checked his warn vest and cap (Stan had sent him a new one when he'd told him he'd lost it hunting), and let out a sigh...
  2. Mabel smiled as her favorite song kicked on over the speaker in the bus. Humming along to the tune quietly from the back seat she looked out through the window to watch the tree filled valley below meander by. She would have driven but after emailing Dipper she decided this would be better. She didn't want to take her car through the hills to reach Gravity Falls and since Dipper could take her the last leg of the journey she didn't see any reason why she had to. Besides if she had drove she wouldn't have gotten any alone time with Dipper before they saw Grunkle Stan. Mabel wondered how her brother was doing. Dipper had mentioned he was running his own business dealing with the paranormal. It made Mabel a little worried. When she was a kid she didn't really understand the kinds of things they had been dealing with. It had all been a fun little game. Now though she realized exactly how dangerous whatever they stumbled upon in the old logging town could actually be. She had left behind her mystery days when she'd left for University 4 years ago. It had been so long. She'd changed so much too.

    Mabel bit her lip. What if Dipper didn't like her anymore? He certainly didn't sound like he'd changed at all when they talked over email. He was still Dipper. What if her studies made her dull? Suddenly feeling insecure she reached into her purse and pulled out a small bottle. She didn't like the fact that she had started on these medications but she felt like she didn't have a choice. Taking out a pill she quickly swallowed one before putting the lid back on the bottle. It'd be alright. He was her brother after all..

    The bus suddenly came to a stop. Mabel glanced up at the driver and he gave her a small smile.

    "Time to get off little lady." The older man said.

    Mabel smiled, grabbed her things and made her way off the bus. "Thank You!" She waved cheerfully. Her bright smile fell once she saw the driver was no longer looking. She glanced around and noticed the brown Volkswagen her brother had told her about. She smiled again. "Dipper I'm here!"
  3. The lean young man had cracked open a book: one of his old textbooks. He was trying to pin down a connection between these creatures and a specific mythos, but so far he hadn't found one. Either the old myths were all really about the same creatures with slightly different viewpoints on them, or there were so many more creatures out in the world. He didn't entirely understand what either of those would mean, so he was right now just doing his best to find some truth in the historical and cultural analysis texts.

    Then he heard the bus and he straightened up, snapped the book shut, and turned, cocking an eyebrow. He stopped leaning against the curved face of his own little bus, and waited for his sister to arrive, if this was indeed her bus. Then she climbed down the stairs and spoke, and he grinned. He jogged towards her and seemed about ready to throw his arms around her in a powerful hug, but he slowed a little, getting a little nervous. He seemed to be unsure how to approach now, what with both of them being old enough to drink. Does he just swamp her with a big hug? Does he shake her hand?

    She could see the tattoos sticking up out of his collar or out of the sleeves of his shirt, could even see one winding around his calf below one of the legs of his shorts. His hair was still the same, tucked into a slightly-larger version of the same hat he'd always worn, and the heavy-duty blue vest he wore was covered in patches and sloppily-sewed seams. In all, it looked like he was either some kind of street-person with only one pair of clothes, or he had been in so many scrapes and tussles that he no longer bothered buying new stuff, just slapped a patch on whatever was damaged.
  4. Mabel straightened her dress a little and looked up at her brother. God she had missed him. She bit her lip and walked over quickly throwing her arms around his neck. "Dipper, god you look like crap. Did you even think about putting on something nice to meet your sister?"
    Tears sprung to her eyes and she pulled away looking at him with a watery smile. "I'm buying you some new clothes before we go see Grunkle Stan."
    She laughed. "What's been going on? I see you got inked a bit. She brushed her fingers over one of her brother's tattoos."
  5. Dipper looked a bit sheepish. The truth was...this was as nice as they came. His other vest had a huge gash down the back and still had some blood-stains he had yet to get out, and most of his other shirts had holes in them that he hadn't fixed yet. This was about as together as any of his outfits. He didn't want to say that, though, so he just said "I'm seeing my sister, not the President of the United States. I figured she'd be excited to see me even if I wore a pair of Gruncle Stan's swim-trunks."

    He smiled and hugged her back, crushing her against him for a moment before he patted her awkwardly on the back. "O, you don't have to do that, Mabel. I don't think Stan's going to care what we are wearing when he get there. He's probably going to order us to dust something as a "sign of his affection.'" He put air-quotes around those last few words, since that was an actual argument he'd used on occasion.

    "I tell you what to do because it's how I show my affection for you kids. Now, lift that piano higher, Dipper, you're holding it...well...I can't say you're carrying it like a girl, cuz Mabel's picking her end up higher. You're carrying it like an old man!"

    He smiled at the memory, then looked down at the tattoo she was playing with. "Oh, yeah, I get tattoos whenever I solve a case! Come on, lets get going, I'll tell you about how it is to live out of my car, and you can tell me how it is to go to a fancy college."
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  6. Mabel laughed punching her brother in the shoulder playfully. "Sure Dipper, and I am happy to see you." She puffed out her cheeks a little and stared her brother down indignantly. "Those aren't Grunkle Stan's swim trunks are they?" She let out a breath and shook her head before heading over to the passenger side of Dipper's old van. "I don't want to know."

    Mabel opened the door and climbed in. Honestly she thought it was kind of cool. He had a bed made up in the back, an old hotplate that looked like it came straight from a high school science class, books and a bunch of other stuff. It felt kinda weird too, like she was stepping in on his bedroom. They did share a bedroom for most of their childhood though.. It shouldn't feel so weird seeing him again but it was a little surreal. After she set off for school it was a little like Dipper just dropped off the face of the planet.

    Mabel watched as Dipper got into the drivers seat and started the van. She felt a small twinge in her heart. Was she a bad sister? She had barely talked to her brother during her freshman and sophomore years of college. Her Junior year is wasn't much better and it wasn't til near the end of her senior year that she really started messaging him. It wasn't that she didn't want to talk to him. More then anything she was afraid. She didn't know why exactly. She just felt like something would go wrong and then Dipper... Mabel played with the fabric of her skirt.

    "I missed you a lot Dipper.."
  7. It was pretty cool, he figured. He had everything he needed crammed into one place, like a small bedroom, and didn't smell that bad! He made sure not to eat in there and to clean up any spills or anything. He had one part of the side of his little home/ride papered with photos: pics of him, Mabel, Wendy, Soos, Gruncle Stan, and their other friends back in Gravity Falls, as well as pictures from their time NOT spent there. Photos from their High-School Prom, The one time they'd gone to a football game together, just to try it out, Mabel winning the state championship in mini-golf (against Pacifica, no less).

    But if she looked, she'd see a bit of the things he should have kept a little better hidden. Tacked next to a photo of the Mystery Shack crew in a group hug was a hand-written, step-by-step list, with the words "Blood-Stain Removal Mix" written across the top. She'd notice the pommel of a heavy sword resting on the edge of an open trunk. She'd see one of his vests that was punctured with about half-a-dozen holes that looked suspiciously like bullet-holes.

    "I missed you too, Mabel," he said with a sincere smile. He really did, and it showed. He started his bus and they started to drive down the dirt road. If he held it against her that they hadn't talked much, he didn't show it, because, in reality, he didn't. He sort of blamed himself. He was the one constantly moving around. He should have made more of an effort to reach out to her whenever he could. But he hadn't, and they were together again now. "So, tell me all about going to fancy-pantsy smartsy school? Did Gruncle Stan send you the same grumpy e-mails about you using up all his money?" Gruncle Stan had offered to pay for both of their college expenses, after all. He figured that Gruncle Stan only sent those to him, though. He'd always cracked down a bit harder on him than her.
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  8. Mabel made a conscious effort not to mention some of the more unsavory aspects of his room until later. She didn't want to start this off on a bad note. Mabel smiled at her brother. She felt a small weight being lifted. If he had missed her it meant he still cared. Mabel looked out the window for a moment and tried to calm her emotions a little.

    With a small grimace she looked over at the brother. "He did in the beginning actually.. at least until I got a part time job working retail." Mabel shrugged a little with a slight chuckle.

    "Working so much was actually really hard. I didn't have much of a social life at all. In fact during the last few weeks of school I only talked to customers and teachers." Mabel scrunched the fabric of her skirt a little more a small blush overcoming her face. She didn't exactly know why she was embarrassed but she was. What she said wasn't exactly true either. She had talked to her therapist on Thursdays, when she was off work.

    "I guess it was worth it though. I have a law degree now. It just feels so weird. I never thought I would be a lawyer but I guess I am." She was always so carefree as a kid. Dealing with trials and having to go to work in a suit everyday was so weird. It did bring in a lot of money when a case went well though. In fact that was why she was able to come to see Dipper in the first place. She had enough money saved to take a whole month's vacation. It was actually her doctor that recommended she see Dipper.
  9. He laughed a little when he thought about Mabel actually working and actually studying. She'd always been sort of kind of girl, or seat-of-the-skirt in this case. Did skirts even have seats? What was that called, exactly? The back? Or the bottom? He shook the random thought away, and focused on her again.

    He noticed something then, listening to her talk. Her speech was...different. It was much more even and controlled. Before, when they'd been kids, she'd had a bit of a pitch-control problem that had always exaggerated every emotion and sensation of every word. It had been an interesting thing about his sister that seemed gone now, or at least subdued. Odd. But no matter. He figured she'd just grown up a little. It happened to everyone. Then again, he still sounded mostly the same, as far as he could tell. his voice still cracked far too much, it was still a bit too high for his liking, and when he'd started making audio-logs on his lap-top he was loathe to share them online or anything for fear it sounded like some preteen runt of a kid playing pretend.

    "Man, a Lawyer? What made you want to do that? I remember when you left you hadn't quite decided yet. And did you ask Stan to stop paying, or what?"
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  10. Mabel sighed softly. "Its a long story... It wasn't exactly ideal either. Grunkle Stan said he was running into some financial trouble with the mystery shack he had to do some renovations about halfway through my freshman year. At that point my major was actually in art. I had been enjoying the classes quite a bit but I had trouble taking it seriously. Every time I was given a canvas it annoyed me that I was told what to paint and how to paint it. Mostly I ignored my teachers and did what I wanted. Needless to say that doesn't get you very good grades. Art doesn't pay very well even if you are good at it anyway. It was kind of a stupid choice. I felt bad making Grunkle Stan pay for my schooling at that point because I wasn't taking it seriously. I changed my major the following Monday. I could have gone with something else but I don't really like the idea of any professional type job. Out of all of my choices the most logical one was a law degree and since I didn't like any of my choices to well I took the one that made the most sense. I got the part time job then too. Grunkle Stan still helped with tuition some months but I wanted to do as much as I could myself."

    Mabel shrugged, feeling a little self conscious before looking out the window. "I've won a couple of cases for clients now. My last one brought in nearly 6 grand."
    She smiled a little at Dipper but the grin didn't quite reach her eyes.
  11. " gave up art?" That seemed to be the thing that had stuck in his mind throughout her dialogue detailing her school years. She'd given up art, for money? That was probably his first clue that something was very, very different about his sister, and as she spoke his mind shifted into a bit of a clinical mind-set he'd found himself going into. He scanned everything, from her hair to her posture to her clothes, trying to catch a sign of...something.

    As he scanned, his gaze flicking from the lonely, empty, dirt road to his twin, he did still talk. "But I guess that is cool about the money. I've been living out of laundromats and instant noodles for the last year, even with Stan paying for my schooling. Turns out monster hunting doesn't pay well."
  12. Mabel laughed. Dipper was still Dipper for sure. To some degree Mabel understood why he was driven to pursue understanding the supernatural like he did. It was something no one else had truly been able to before. It was dangerous but if Dipper could actually get to the bottom of some of these things he would know. Mabel thought his drive for understanding was noble in some sense. He didn't have to but he did it anyway. Not many people were like that. Mabel knew she wasn't.

    With one hand she pulled her purse up off the floorboards and started ruffling through her bag. She pulled out a small book with a ribbon on the front. She smiled at Dipper this time the smile was more genuine. "I got you a present. You can look at it later if you want."

    She set it down behind her seat near some of Dipper's other things. "Its a book on Celtic mythos. I was hanging out at a bookstore during my lunch break last week and thought you might like it."
  13. "Nice!" He said, momentarily distracted. But they were getting into the forest, and he had to slow down so he could slalom safely around the trees. He couldn't even focus on her, and try and figure out what was so...different. She seemed a bit more subdued. Not vacant or void of personality, just...subdued. That was the best word. The Mabel he remembered, the shouting, loud, energetic Mabel seemed to be napping a little. Or maybe she was just more focused? He still wasn't sure. "Thanks Mabel. I don't have much to give you, outside of some clothes to knit up, if you want, or a rusty sword with blood on the wraps."

    He tried not to wince when he brought up the blood. He didn't want to break into the more dangerous stuff right off the bat. He didn't want her to worry about him. Luckily, they were getting close to the shack, and Dipper couldn't help but speed up just a touch. He'd gotten to be a decent driver (starting young with the golf-cart had helped out a lot), and it had been so long since they'd seen Stan. As he swerved back and forth, he said "But I'll get you something, even if I have to send it to wherever you are staying at. Maybe a pair of knitting needles? You do still knit, right"
  14. Mabel smiled. "You don't have to do that Dipper. I've got everything I need and seeing you is more then present enough. Oh and yeah I still knit. If you want me to fix some sweaters or something I'd be more then happy to." She felt completely sincere about that when she said it too. Her seclusion had been eating at her for a while and just being with her brother made her feel a lot better. Something about hanging around her brother just put her at ease. She wasn't sure what it was but she felt like she could really just be who she was around him. More so then with anyone else she'd ever met.

    As Dipper began to navigate the progressively windier and rougher road Mabel closed her eyes and leaned back in her seat feeling a little nauseous. She used to not get car sick but after all the time she'd spent in the city where she hadn't been subjected to the rougher roads she'd lost her immunity to it. She took a few breaths before opening her eyes again. She looked over through the window and immediately regretted it. Below them was a deep ravine. "Dipper could you slow down a bit?"
  15. Okay, that did it. He did slow down, almost to a crawl, and he looked at her intently, taking his eyes from the road almost completely.

    "Okay, sis, I've only been with you for around ten, maybe fifteen minutes, seem off." He stopped his bus and abruptly started poking her in the face. "You never got car-sick before. You aren't possessed by Bill, are you? You better not be." Every sentence was punctuated with another light poke on her cheek, her forehead, her temple. "Because you've been talking different and you quit doing art because of money, which was never something you cared about, something either of us cared about, hell, the only person we know who really cared about it was Stan, and he only cared because he wanted us to have a future. So what-" poke "is" poke "up?"

    This was not a very Dipper-like thing to do. It was a very Mabel thing to do. The Mabel he'd known would start poking him back and demand to know why he had a bloody sword leaning against a bullet-holed vest, why he had books on sword-fighting and krav maga and emergency medical trauma textbooks.
  16. "Dipper! I grew up ok?" Mabel swallowed and looked at her brother for a moment before pulling her eyes away. She couldn't look at him. She wasn't proud of what she did exactly. She felt like she didn't really have a choice though. Having to be supported by Stan made her feel useless. She thought that moving to the city and going to school would suddenly make her self sufficient and successful but she soon learned wasn't at all that simple.

    "It wasn't about the money Dipper. It was about freedom. If I didn't take the law degree I wouldn't have ever been able to come back to Gravity Falls. I would still be working a job I hate in a city I hate only to come home for a few hours a night and contemplate the fact that none of my art had been recognized. I couldn't bare a reality like that."

    Mabel took a few steadying breaths and dried her eyes. "Its not like your perfect either. I didn't want to say anything this early yet but your choice in career isn't exactly healthy Dipper."

    Mabel bit her lip. God she hoped Dipper wouldn't be angry. This was all going so wrong. Mabel felt a sudden urge to take once of her anxiety pills again. She couldn't do that in front of Dipper though. That would only upset him further.
  17. If Dipper was angry, he didn't show it. In truth, he was anything BUT angry. He was just...confused. He slowly leaned back and sat in his chair properly, looking at her for a few moments in silence. Nothing was wrong with her. She was still his sister, and he loved her. Would always love her. But she was different. Growing up was one thing, but this drastic shift was giving him whiplash. After a few moments of silence, he spoke.

    "I know it isn't healthy, sis. But its what I love. Maybe I won't ever make enough money to do anything great, but everyday I go to bed with a smile. Yeah, sometimes it turns into a grimace when I roll over and pull a stitch, or pull my foot out of the sling, but...I love it. Pointing it out isn't going to change anything." He turned away from her a little to look into the woods that they'd grown up in.

    He was quiet for a bit, the bus idling, then he looked back over at her, smiling slightly. "I'm sorry if I pushed you the wrong way, Mabel. I just get the feeling that you are doing this because you are trying to prove yourself to a world that doesn't matter, that doesn't care, and that instead of muscling through and doing what you love, you changed gears, took a different path. You didn't steam-roll through the obstacles, you turned away from them."

    He reached out and awkwardly put a hand on her shoulder, and patted her a few times. "I...I don't want you to think I'm not proud of you. You got a degree in something very difficult, and are already working and getting on with your life." He looked over his shoulder and almost sheepishly said "While I'm still wearing the same stupid vest and chasing ghosts. But I'm happy."

    He looked back over to her, locking his eyes on hers. "Are you?"
  18. Mabel grimaced. "I'm sorry for lashing out like that. I can understand why you might be a little suspicious after what I told you. I don't know how to be happy Dipper. I thought that maybe I might be able to figure it out when I was going to school but now I don't know anymore. Art didn't do anything for me. Well at least not the serious art that you can make a "living" off of."

    Mabel shook her head. Suddenly overcome by so many of the insecurities that had been eating at her for the past several years. Maybe she didn't deserve to be happy. Maybe she wasn't smart enough, strong enough or.. she didn't know.

    "I should know what I want by now but I... maybe nothing can make me happy." She was horrified by the thought but the more the thought about it the more she thought it could be true. She'd told her therapist and the doctor kind of brushed it off and said she was just depressed.

    "I'm glad you've found something you love Dipper. I might even be a little jealous." Mabel gave a short mirthless laugh.
  19. Okay, now something was definitely wrong with her. She didn't know how to be happy? Mabel had always been happy. Yeah, she'd get sad for a time, but she always knew what to do to cheer herself up. She'd tease Dipper, or they'd play or watch something, or she'd hang out with Waddles or Soos (when they were here). The worry could be seen on his face, and he returned to a driving position.

    "Its...its okay, Mabel. You don't have to apologize." He accelerated, moving closer to Gruncle Stan's place. He didn't know what to say to that statement, though. She didn't know how to be happy? She didn't deserve to be happy? What...what did that even mean? How could someone who'd always been so cheerful, full of life and energy, be so...quiet. He wished he knew more, but he didn't know what to ask...

    "We'll be there in a few minutes. Maybe seeing Waddles and Stan will cheer us up."
  20. Mabel nodded. "How old is Waddles now anyway?" She murmured softly. In her mind she began to work out the numbers and she was a little startled by the answer. He was 10. How long did pigs live? A whole new worry suddenly plagued her mind. How much time did Waddles have left? How about Stan? Mabel squeezed her eyes shut. She couldn't deal with all of this stress. Why couldn't she just be normal and be excited about seeing everyone. Why did she always expect the worst to happen?

    She looked over at Dipper for a moment to insure he wasn't looking her way before she pulled out a second pill. She knew she should have taken the full dosage before she saw Dipper but she was hoping that maybe she would be OK without it. She was clearly wrong. She quickly knocked back the medication with a lot of nervousness.
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