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Safe as Houses

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Gravity Falls is the sort of place that births oddities.

The strange and unusual are drawn here, by some unknown force they cannot deny.

The perfect place for a budding researcher of the paranormal.

He’ll need a house, of course, somewhere closer to his places of study in the woods. But there isn’t one, not one built so close to the treeline.

(The people of Gravity Falls are many things, but at least they know better than to challenge the dark forests surrounding them.)

Stanford Pines is many things and stubborn is one of them. If there is no house to purchase, then, well, he’ll have one built!

A crooked cabin, leaning closer to wildness than civilization. A triangular building, roof pointing towards the sky. It looks musty and old, despite having only been finished a few days ago.

It’s perfect.

As he lays a six-fingered hand against the wood, some of this feeling leaks through, reaching for the spirit of whatever sacred tree was used to build this house.

Something stirs in the strange wood, creaking and groaning as the house faces its first nightfall complete. Nonexistent eyes blink under the raw moonlight. Yes, Gravity Falls births oddities, but the Author makes them real, pinned down on pages of paper and ink.  


 

All the house knows is that it belongs to Stanford Pines. It was built for him, made for him, in a way no other building could match. There is a feeling in this, something called pride. And perhaps, in another life, the house would never learn this, never become anything more a vague impression in the wooden timbers that comprise it. Never truly a normal building, but as normal as it gets when it comes to Gravity Falls.

If not for the Shape.

 

Early in the young house’s existence, there comes a Shape. A form beyond the physical weathers of wind and rain the house knows, that has no physical body like the humans that live inside it. It doesn’t exist where the house does, but it exists, nonetheless.

The Shape comes, visiting Stanford in a place the house cannot follow, when the human closes its eyes and does not move beyond breathing.

Something burns in the house at this, knowing it cannot watch, cannot see all of its owner.

(Jealousy, the house later learns. This is jealousy, this uncomfortable burning feeling like not-real fire. It is jealous of the Shape, for having more of Stanford than itself.)

But the realization of jealousy comes much later. First, the house knows irritation, impatience. It stretches its walls as far as they can go, squeezing at its doors and windows. There is Something in the Ground, Something that must be Completed.

 

(Bill Cipher has always been rather careless. He leaks power like a sieve, having long forgotten a time that he was without it. He’s impatient, getting so close to the end of millions of years of manipulation. A bit of that extra annoyance taints the mindscape of his most recent acquisition, prompting a feeling of “hurry, hurry!”. It encourages the human like it’s supposed to, but it does more than that.

Bill Cipher has never been careful, and as a result, the house tastes his power as well.)

The house stretches out so far, that one day, it snaps. Every room comes together all at once, smashing into some amorphous shaped mass. Luckily, this happens when the humans are gone, exploring the woods. Otherwise, the house is not sure exactly what would have happened to the delicate squishy beings.

Oops. A little bit of moving there, shifting here, and tada! Everything is back to the normal. (At least, as normal it’s ever going to get. That bedroom was always next to the kitchen, right?)

Once the house has realized this new freedom, it never wants to give it up. Moving is something humans do, that Stanford does. To move is to be more than a mere building, maybe enough to challenge Stanford’s interest in the Shape.

 

(Stanford just stares. At the bedroom behind the door he’s just opened. I could have sworn...yes, this is where my study is supposed to be . He closes and opens the door a few times, only for a bedroom to be there each and every time. “Bill?” “ What’s up, Sixer?” Ford gestures helplessly at the door. “I’m awake, correct? This isn’t a dream?”

A pause. Then, his muse’s grating laughter starts up. “ Haha! Yeah, you’re awake.”

“What’s this, then?”

Bill hums. “A bit of this, a bit of that. The portal’s just affecting your house a little. Nothing serious, that’s for sure!”

“Hm.” Ford’s hand tightens around the doorknob. There’s something wrong with that statement, he’s pretty sure, but his tired mind makes no headway in comprehending it. In the end, he shrugs and goes through the doorway, flopping onto messy covers.

Underneath his body, the bed buzzes, pleased with his decision.)

 

As the Something Underground draws nearer to competition, the house feels...cold. Wooden planks shiver and shrink in response to more than just snow. Subtle impatience slowly edges into uncertainty. What if the Something takes him away? What if the Shape takes him away forever?

The second human is gone now and the house shakes as it recalls the scene. The human had fled like it was on fire, pieces of its mind trailing all over the place. Stanford had retreated after that, mind gone to dark places the house could not see but could sense.

No, the Shape is bad for Stanford, the house decides. The Shape should leave right now.

 

(That night, when the dream demon comes for his nightly visit, there’s a locked door in the way. Bill pauses, evaluating the situation. Of course it’s no trouble at all to a being of his power to break it down, but the fact that the door even exists is interesting.

A simple knock and the door falls right over.

But there’s another one right behind it. GOAWAYGOAWAY screams green lettering.

A cane taps on the floor. “ That’s what we’re playing now? Ooh, I love GAMES! Riddle me this...what’s blue, wooden, and burns all over?” Bill snaps his fingers and the door bursts into blue flame. You!” The mindscape surrounding the triangle trembles, nearly dissolving, and screams. Once the fire goes out, there are no further roadblocks to Bill’s planned destination: Sixer’s mind. Bill thinks no further of the incident. But other things will remember, even if he doesn't.)

 

The house retreats, licking its metaphysical wounds. The Shape is beyond its ken, its small newly-learned grasp of power. There is one new emotion now, to fill the gape a retreating envy and nervousness left behind.

Despair.

Ice floods the house, windows shuddering and pictures bouncing slightly off its walls. Stanford notices nothing, of course, lost in heartfelt betrayal. With his misery on top of its own, the house feels lost. Helpless.

How can it help Stanford against the Shape, when it can’t even protect itself? Faced with this simple truth, the house retreats, curling up on itself. It doesn’t even bother switching the kitchen and the bathroom, or any of the other rooms.

Winter slows the already sluggish pine-water down to a trickle. Frost clings to the windows as a thick white coat. The heating dies down to nearly nothing, air temperature almost matching the weather outside. Wooden joints grind against each other. Even with the harsh weather, Stanford’s living conditions are worse inside than they would be outside.

Blood on the walls, some of it in thick enough the clots the house can almost taste it. Oftentimes, there is screaming. Wild, horrible cries, “No! No! NO! This can’t be real, can’t be...”

The water that comes from Stanford’s eyes is full of salt, seeping into the very foundations themselves.

All the while, the Something Underground sings its haunting song, a tune built not of any earthly sound but instead of longing and desire.  

There are things calling from the other side, and they are hungry for a good time.  


 

A man knocks at the door, coming where no one else has (or will ever) come. To the house’s limited senses, the human feels almost exactly like Stanford.

While the house is puzzling out this mystery, there is a fight. Several fights.

It ends, to say the least, poorly.

The house tries its best, really, it does. But some events are dependent entirely on moving lifeforms, and the house has no legs, no arms to change anything with. Only watching with the eyes it hasn’t got, as the Something Underground attempts to swallow Stanford whole.

The Something Underground wins and both the house and the man are left to quietly despair.

 

The man is like Stanford but Different. Notably, his mind appears a lot more stable than Stanford’s. A gentle poke at his dark mindscape and it wobbles back, ready for a fight.

But the man is far more sensitive to the moving rooms than Stanford ever was, less prepared for the unusual Gravity Falls norm.

 

(Stanley Pines doesn’t know what the hell his brother was doing here, other than building that portal, but he’s pretty sure that the house is haunted . Rooms that were never there before reveal themselves through doorways. Doors open and close by themselves. Curtains make rustling noises from where they cover various mirrors. Eyes and darkness haunt his dreams, an unwelcome change from the usual trapped-in-the-trunk ones.

Worst of all, is the feeling he gets prickling between his shoulder blades of someone watching him. But Stan’s not going to let some house drive him away, not when Ford...is gone.  

One day, he finds a single phrase carved into a wall over and over again. I am Stanford Filbrick Pines. I am Stanford Filbrick Pines. I am Stanford... the neat handwriting grows more and more crooked, until at the very bottom, there’s some sort of stain in the carpet.

Stan’s spent enough time trying to get blood out of his car seating to know what it is. A sense of failure fills him. His brother had needed him, and what had he done? Shoved him into a space hole.

His fingers trace the six-finger hand on the cover of the book. Of the last thing Ford had given him, before the portal. Before his next great mistake. But he was going to fix it. That was all that mattered, wasn’t it? For once in his life, Stanley Pines was going to fix his mistakes.)

 

Stanley Pines. That’s the man’s name, the name he whispered to the book in his hands. Stanley. The house likes this name, the way it reminds the house of Stanford.

Stanley is different but that is not necessarily bad. The Shape’s influence does not taint him, does not stalk his footsteps. But the house knows that with the Something Underground still here, the Shape will be back. This time, the house will not let the Shape take its person.

One of the first actions the house takes to protect its new owner is to shore up the walls in Stanley’s mindscape.

Nice sturdy walls. The house looks at them, satisfied. This will stop the Shape.

But it doesn’t. That very night, Stanley’s own mind floods to the very top and the resulting pressure washes the carefully crafted barriers away.

 

(Stan wakes up that morning with a headache and a faintly recalled dream of drowning. He shrugs it off and goes downstairs for the day’s work.)

 

Hm. How could the house protect Stanley from the Shape if his mind refused to cooperate? The Shape hasn’t returned in quite some time, as far as the house can tell, gone with Stanford. But the Something Underground will draw the Shape back, the house is certain.

The next few ‘sleep’ periods, the house experiments. Various attempts include, but are not limited to, forming semi-sentient dream guards, flooding the house’s own mindscape as an extra barrier, and twisting the entranceway to Stanley’s mindscape just ever so slightly.

Nothing works.

Stanley wiggles, crawls, and bashes his way through every barrier without realizing what he’s doing. At this point, there must be some consideration paid to the thought of giving up this endeavor. This has to stop.

 

(For the last week, he’s been having terrible headaches. Stan groans, kneading at his forehead, feeling something throb behind his eyes. The nightmares having been getting worse too, bad enough he can’t get a wink of sleep. This has to stop. )


 

Everything comes to a head during the biggest blizzard of the year.

The wooden walls whine under the pressure of both heavy snow and extreme temperatures. Sleep, should Stanley choose to pursue it, would be a death sentence. The house has seen enough frozen squirrels to know this much about organic bodies. But Stanley tries sleeping, a strange twist from Stanford who always avoided sleep. The house has no choice: for the first time, it directly enters the human’s mind in person.

 

( Bigger than an elephant, part of Stan thinks. The rest of him rages at the whatever-it-is sitting right in front of the Stan-o-War. “Get out!” he yells, punching the thing right in the side. A big blue eye watches him, blinking once. The thing doesn’t move. Not an inch.

“So that’s what we’re going to play, huh?” Somehow, he’s not sure how, the beach under the thing dissolves. The eye barely has enough time to widen in shock before falling into the resulting abyss.

Stan huffs, turning to the Stan-o-War. But the dream is no longer as nice as he recalls, the ocean waves looking...flat, and the Stan-o-War is empty of any brothers. Stan turns away, because what else can he do, at this point, other than try to save Ford?

When he wakes up, he remembers nothing. Only curses and rushes to turn the heat on, teeth chattering all the while. “Seriously, Ford, what the hell.” )

 

Even when Stanley forgets, the house remembers. Stanley had defended himself, quite well, in the most impossible way. Were mindscapes supposed to be manipulated like that? The house could kind of do it for its own territory, but humans were a different kettle of fish entirely.

The house, for the first time in months, rests peacefully.

Stanley would be safe. Stanley could protect himself.

The Shape wouldn’t come.

 

Snow melts, ice disappears, losing its death-grip on Gravity Falls. Flowers sprout everywhere there’s room, grass looking greener and greener. The house, for its part, resigns itself to the burrowing gnomes that come with the thawed earth.

“Come one, come all, welcome to...the Murder Hut!”

Doors spring open, ready for a new age and new owner.

Wherever Stanford may be, Stanley was here now.

And the house couldn’t be happier.