Every step through the house uncovers another memory, and it’s a little like walking through a dream. Fiddleford’s visited this place before, of course, but not since pieces of his past started coming back to him.
Here’s the kitchen where we ate bacon sandwiches and argued about which technology from Star Trek could be replicated. There’s the living room floor where I teased the bugs out of my laptop in the evenings, and tried to teach my partner chords on the banjo. The elevator to the basement used to be over there…
“Hey, McGucket! Just ’cause it’s the apocalypse doesn’t mean you can sneak around where you don’t belong!”
Fiddleford turns around. “My apologies. I was looking around for supplies, and I got me a little lost in the past. I done used to live here, with a friend of mine.” Since he started recovering his old memories, he’s wondered if the Stanford Pines who ran the Mystery Shack was the same man he knew thirty years ago. Before this Weirdmageddon hullabaloo began, he was already starting to doubt it. “You look like him.”
“That’s not exactly news,” Stan growls.
Fiddleford peers closer. “But you ain’t him.”
Stan’s scowl deepens. “That’s been pointed out to me, too.”
“I don’t mean no disrespect,” Fiddleford says quickly. Another memory rises to the surface: There was once a creature in this house that looked like my friend. But his eyes were different, and he said things about us that I thought nobody else knew. I had to hide from him, in the dark...
He wavers on his feet, and Stan puts out a hand to hold him steady. “You all right, there? Don’t have a stroke.”
Fiddleford’s vision clears. “Wasn’t planning on it.”
“What’s your angle, anyway? What do you want?”
Fiddleford doesn’t even have to think about this. “Not sure I got any angles,” he says. “I want to help those stray townsfolk. And I reckon you do, too, or you wouldn’t have let us into your house. It ain’t like you can sell them T-shirts now, or burping bobbley-heads, can you?”
“I could if I wanted to,” Stan mutters.
“And I reckon you’re worried about your family, same as I’m worried about mine.” Even when I was working day and night on that accursed portal, I promised my boy that I’d be home soon, that I’d always be there for him.
Now Tate is either trying to survive in this chaos, frightened and confused, or else he’s already Bill Cipher’s prisoner, or worse. Fiddleford isn’t sure which possibility he’d rather believe. “I hope Dipper and Mabel find their way here, truly I do,” he continues. “Used to be, this was my home, but it’s you three’s home now.”
They stare at each other for a silent minute, until Stan’s shoulders slump. “There’s more blankets in the closet upstairs,” he says. “Should be enough for everybody. I figure, we got plenty of time to swap stories while we wait for the end of the world to catch up with us.”
“I wouldn’t mind,” Fiddleford agrees, and turns toward the stairs.
…I had to hide in a dark closet, from a creature that looked like my Stanford but wasn’t, and I knew I could wipe away my memories of that laugh, those yellow eyes, the names he called me, if I could survive long enough.
A few days back, when the sky cracked open and Cipher’s eye stared down at him again, Fiddleford wanted the same thing: to forget.
Instead, he got to his feet and walked into the storm. It seems right that his path led him here, to the place where his life in Gravity Falls began. But when Fiddleford thinks of his new and old friends, of the ideas that he never got to turn into machines, and especially of his son, he hopes – more than he can remember ever hoping for anything – that this won’t be where it ends.