As the bus approached Gravity Falls, Dipper started to pay more attention to his surroundings. It had been such a long time since he last visited this town. The memories he made all those years ago started to flood his mind. The good ones, and the bad ones.
He stood up and walked to the exit in advance, out of anxiety to miss the stop. The bus wasn't even that full, and it was perfectly on schedule. It was not going to just drive off without dropping Dipper to his destination. That didn't stop Dipper from feeling the dread.
The busdriver slowly hit the breaks and the bus slowed down. As the doors opened, Dipper and the man exchanged a polite smile, and he wished him a nice day.
The smell of wet pine trees hit Dippers face, and he inhaled the scent as deeply as he could.
It was a rainy late summer morning, and it was kind of cold. Dipper zipped up his jacket, and put one hand in his pocket. With his other hand, Dipper dragged along a small suitcase. He tried to remember the way back to the mystery shack from this bus stop. Shortly after he decided to just grab his phone and open google maps, he spotted Soos and his wife Melody, waving at him.
Dipper sped up his pace, and Soos stretched his arms wide open, inviting Dipper for a hug. After Soos wrapped his arms around the young man, he started jumping up and down.
"Dipper! It has been so long! You're finally here!" The big bear exclaimed, and he grabbed him by the shoulders. The somewhat dissoriented boy smiled at Soos and took a step back.
"It has been a while alright." He moved his gaze towards Melody, who was smiling sweetly. "Welcome back Dipper."
They all walked back to the Mystery Shack, while Soos explained everything that had stayed the same, and everything that had changed.
"Almost nothing has changed." He started off, as they made their way around to the back door. "I just have new employees. Wendy started working for her father." Soos opened the door, and let Dipper in.
Dipper looked around and witnessed how almost everything had stayed the same, except the place wasn't dirty anymore.
Soos saw the look on Dippers face, and laughed. "I also fixed the sign, and it hasn't broken yet." Melody placed a hand on Dippers shoulder. "We cleaned up the attic too. It must've been a long journey for you, so if you want you can go up there and settle."
Dipper thanked her, and took his suitcase upstairs. The door to his old bedroom was still creaky, and the floor was still cold. The rest of the room had completely changed. It wasn't the rustic attic that was turned into a temporary bedroom he remembered, It was an actual bedroom now. The walls were a blue-ish grey, and there was a round brown carpet on the ground, near the bed. The bed was big, and looked comfortable. The room was cozy, and he liked it that way. Dipper sighed, and started to unpack his clothes. He wasn't supposed to stay here for long. He had bought a little cabin in the middle of the woods, and he was planning on moving in there as soon as possible, but the place is getting renovated right now.
He heard a knock on his door, shortly after he was done unpacking his clothes, and installing his laptop on the desk.
"Dipper?" it was Melody. "We're heading out for lunch, you can come if you want, but it's okay if you prefer to stay here and rest a bit." She said, and directed a soft smile at him.
Dipper shook his head, and thanked her for asking. He wasn't too tired to go, but he felt the need to rest anyway. Besides, he had a deadline coming up, and he had to finish a few chapters before then. The whole moving thing had slowed him down a lot, and there was a lot of catching up to do. He reread some bits what he had written, and went straight back to writing.
While typing out the words, he couldnt stop thinking about all the memories he made here. Sure, it hasnt been 10 years since he last visited. Two summers after the apocolypse Dipper had come back to meet up with his friends. After that it stopped. For 8 years in a row he wanted to return, but he couldn't bring himself to.
After an hour or two, he could hear Soos and Melody walk in again.
He decided to take a break from writing, and take a long walk outside. So, he saved his work, closed his laptop and walked downstairs.
When he walked into the living room, he noticed that Soos and Melody weren't alone. Soos was talking to a man, just a little older than Dipper was. He was a lot taller than Dipper, it was almost intimidating, but the kind green eyes behind the big round glasses made him much more accessable.
Dipper walked over and waved awkwardly.
"Dipper! This is Leo. He is the replacement for Wendy."
"Have been for 3 years now." The boy added. Dipper could tell from Leo's face that he didn't like to be called Wendy's replacement.
Leo directed a cheeky smile at him, and extended his hand. "I assume your name is Dipper then. Soos has been talking about you for weeks now." Dipper shook Leo's hand, and nodded. "Dipper Pines, yes."
"Well, I'm off to the gift shop." Leo said, and he did the fingerguns. He actually managed to make it look cool.
Soos smiled, and turned to Dipper. "He's really cool." Dipper didn't want to admit it, but Leo was pretty cool.
"He doesn't just help at the gift shop. He's an artist, he does a lot of designs for new attractions." Melody added, she almost sounded proud. Dipper looked over towards the gift shop, as if he could see through the closed door. "An artist huh." He said, and he raised an eyebrow.
"I'm going to take a walk outside." Dipper said, and he turned towards the door. Without looking back he told them he would be back soon.
He wasn't used to the cold autumn air that the season had brought to Gravity Falls. He was still very much acustomed to the warm weather from the West-Coast. He wasn't complaining though. He liked it.
He thought about nothing for a while until he came to a point he didn't recognize anymore. In those eight years of absense nothing much had changed besides his memory. It had faded a little. There were times Dipper tried so hard to forget everything, and succeeded. His twin sister, on the other hand, made sure he didn't lose everything. The mental souvenirs were important to her, and she made sure they were to him.
That might also be the reason that he hasn't gotten rid of his journals yet. They were far too great in sentimental value, but also filled with important knowlegde. Dipper wasn't sure if he wanted ever to go on a mystery hunt again, but he kept them, just in case.
Dipper had decided to make a U-turn, and head back the exact way he got there. The writer didn't want to get lost on his first day back, that would both be embarrasing and scary. Though most of the mysteries of these woods had been reduced to the minimum, he didn't want to risk it. Who knows what happened in the past summers.
It seemed to be working. He slowly started to recognize some bits and pieces of what seemed to be an endless sea of trees, decorated with fiery reds and warm oranges. Autumn must be Dippers favourite season. Everything about it was just, so magical. Besides, it hosts the best holiday of the year: Halloween. Which was going to be here soon.
The brunette wasn't sure what to do with Halloween this year. His twin won't be able to make it to celebrate it with him, and most of his halloween-crazy friends were far back on the West-Coast.
He was going to think of a way to celebrate it, until he noticed a figure way into the distance. Dipper didn't think much of it, until he was a little closer to the shape. He couldn't recognize much of it. It was shaped like a man that stood a little bit higher from the ground than him. If it was actually a man, Dipper couldn't figure out.
The boy was going to go around it, with his head down and his hands in his pockets, grasping the keys he had left in there. The figure, however, soon dissapeared. Dipper looked around to find it, but it was almost like it was never there.
In total, the sniff of fresh air had taken him around an hour or so, which was a little longer than he intended. It was fine though, he felt refreshed and ready to finally finish that chapter.
The first few days back in the mystery shack were like this. Dipper focussed a lot on getting back on schedule. He felt bad for not being around Soos much, but it was simply something he had to do. Besides, Soos seemed busy too. Dipper had never known how busy it actually gets during this season.
But after a week, writer stopped locking himself inside his bedroom, and decided to either help out, or to just socialize a bit.
Dipper entered the gift shop, which was empty except for Leo, and a tourist looking at trashy souvenirs.
Leo immediatly turned to Dipper and waved him over.
"Man, I've been bored all morning. Where were you?" Leo talked as if he had known Dipper for a long time, which in some weird way, made Dipper feel really comfortable.
"Working." Dipper tried acting the same way as Leo, but it was much less natural and it felt way more awkward. Leo's attitude was very forgiving. He simply directed a smile at him, and leaned with his forearms on the counter.
"You're done working now, right? What was it that you did? Writing? Forgive me, I can't remember half of what Soos told me about you."
Dipper nodded, and leaned on the counter, mirroring the much taller man. "I'm back on schedule and should be done a little before the deadline. Im taking today off to relax." Dipper explained.
"Then you should help me around here. I'm starting to run out of reasons why people should buy all this crap." Leo said, a little too loudly.
The tourist turned around, and looked at him with pinched eyes. "I, of course, was talking about the shelf you were looking at. There is much better stuff over here." Leo pointed at the shelf closer to the exit, which had much more expensive crap on it.
Much more expensive, not much better.
The tourist bought it anyway. Dipper was amazed at how easily he had just done that, and his face showed it.
"It gets easier everytime." Leo said, as if he had messed up and fixed it many times.
"You made it look very easy." Dipper admitted. He had worked for his great uncle a lot, but his anxiety had always held him back.
Leo just shrugged, and casually leaned on the counter with his back. "This job stopped being challenging a long time ago."
"Melody told me you were an artist. Why are you still working here?" Dipper asked.
Leo laughed softly, but it sounded slightly sad to those who listened closely.
"I'm an artist, but not a very well known one. People are not very willing to pay for my art."
Another tourist walked into the giftshop. Well, Dipper thought it was a tourist. Leo's reaction told him otherwise.
"Bill!" He exclaimed, not very casually.
"Leo!" The man responded.
"Bill?" Dipper mumbled in confusion.
"Yes, Bill." The man confirmed. "That is my name."
"Bill, meet Dipper. The man Soos has been talking about."
"Ah. Dipper." Bill said, and he stepped towards the duo behind the counter. He extended his hand, and gave him a smile.
"The name's Bill, short for William Chain." Dipper hesitantly grabbed Bills hand to shake it, and inspected him closely.
Bill was a blonde man, taller than Dipper, but not as tall as Leo. His eyes were a golden hazel, and his smile was thin. He was wearing black sweater, which didn't do his pale skin wonders, but looked really good on him nonetheless.
"Dipper Pines." Dipper simply responded and stepped back.
"Bill is my best friend." Leo added to this slightly tense situation, to lighten it. "Has been for 8 years now." Did that mean Bill has lived in Gravity Falls for 8 years? Or had Dipper never come across the blonde when he was here.
"Is anything wrong?" Bill asked after Dipper had looked at him for a while without saying anything. A red flush rose to Dippers face as he excused himself.
"I knew a Bill once. You remind me of him." Bill smiled and leaned on the other side of the counter with his forearms.
"And what did you think of him?" His face read playfulness but also curiosity.
Dipper didn't want to tell him the truth. Bill Cipher had left a mark on him that probably was never going to fade. It wasn't something he wanted to talk about. Some of it he can't explain to get people to ubderstand.
"Let's just say I'm glad he's out of my life." Dipper then said, and sighed deeply.
Bill didn't respond to that, but Leo did.
"What happened to him?" He asked, invested in this weird past Dipper had.
"Not sure. I guess he vanished."
Leo felt the air tense up again, and he decided to change the subject.
"Anyway. Is there a reason you came here Will?"
Bill shrugged. "Not really. The weather was nice and I was bored. What else was there to do for me." He grinned and jumped up.
"I have an idea. How about you abandon your post, and come with me to Greasy's."
Leo laughed and shook his head. "I can't."
"Can't mister Pines here just take it over?" "No Bill. You know what happened last time."
Bill sighed, and rolled his eyes. "Fine." He hissed, and looked around for anything that could entertain him.
He rested his eyes on Dipper and grinned. "Dipdop. Go to Greasy's with me?" He asked in a very playful manner. Dipper didn't want to, but he was scared to say no.
Fortunatly, he was saved by a phone going off in Bill's pocket. Bill's expression immediatly dropped, and once he hung up the phone he rolled his eyes.
"Save that for later, my client just called and he needs my help. I'll see you around." He said, and he left without saying anything else. Dipper wasn't sure what to think of him.
"He's really funny." Leo said, reading Dippers expression. "If you were wondering why we're friends."
Dipper was still looking at the exit when Leo was talking to him. There was a debate going inside his head and he could barely hear what Leo was saying.
The writer and the artist passionately talked about their ambitions and found lots of similarities.
At the end of the day, after Leo left, Dipper sat on the porch and enjoyed the sky that shared the same colors as the tops of the trees.
He was glad to be back.