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Marble Falls

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"HELLO GRAVITY FAAAAALLS!"

Dipper couldn't help but grin at his sister's exclamation as they got off the bus. She raced off to her friends (Waddles at her heels) and was quickly engulfed in hugs from Grenda and Candy. Wendy waved to Dipper and he picked up his pace.

"Hey squirt," she grinned, swiping her hat off his head and shoving his old pine tree hat. "Welcome back."

"Hi Wendy," Dipper grinned back, "Thanks."

The five of them started hiking back into town from the stop, Wendy and Dipper chatting idly about their year as Mable, Grenda, and Candy ran around ahead of them, shouting about their plans for the summer.

"It's totally crazy your parents let you two come back after what happened last summer," Wendy said.

"The rest of the country thinks it was some crazy prank went wrong," Dipper shrugged, "But mom and dad were actually excited to hear that Grunkle Stan and Grunkle Ford were talking to each other again. Guess Grandma Shermie didn't know he whole story."

"Wendy!" Mable shouted, jogging backwards to face them, "Are Grunkle Stan and Ford back yet?"

"I don't know, I haven't been by the Shack yet. I'm not working there this summer--dad needs all the help he can get at the mill since he shipped my little brothers off to survival camp."

"Who'd running the gift shop then?"

"Tambry. Oh!" Wendy clapped her hands together, "You get to meet the new guy too. He drove into town like a few weeks after you guys left and Soos hired him for his old job."

"New guy?" Mable slowed with Grenda and Candy at her side, "Is he cute?"

"He is a major hottie!" Candy said, almost squealing.

"I dunno, the sideburns are a bit much," Grenda shrugged.

"Ooh facial hair!" Mable giggled.

"I think he's kinda creepy," Wendy confessed, "He doesn't talk much, no one knows anything about him, and Soos says he's seen him in the woods near the Shack in the middle of the night."

"He is a mystery waiting to be solved," Candy said, leaning around to wink a Dipper. He laughed nervously and pulled his bag around for a quick subject change away from anything remotely romantic (imagined, implied, or otherwise).

"I do have a journal I've been keeping track of that kind of stuff in. Not a whole lot of mysteries in our hometown though so..." He flicks through the blank pages for Wendy to see.

"You'll fill that journal up this summer bro-bro," Mable says, skipping ahead with her friends in tow as the Mystery Shack came into view. "I bet Grunkle Ford will want to help!"
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"Tim!"

"Yes, Mr. Mystery?"

When he first started the job, Tim thought it was really weird that his boss insisted on being called that. Then he found out that this entire town was really weird.

"The old owners and their niece and nephew are arriving today. We have to make sure this place is spic-and-span."

"Yes sir."

Mr. Mystery (Ramirez) nodded with a big grin on his face. From what Tim had heard of the old owner, they were looked up to a lot.
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"SOOS!" The twins tackled him enthusiastically.

"Soos, you look so dapper!" Mabel exclaimed.

"Doesn't he?"

Dipper and Mable looked around Soos to find Soos's girlfriend beaming at them.

"Melody!" Mable was still full of shouts as she ran forward and hugged her.

"Are Grunkle Stan and Ford here yet?" Dipper asked eagerly.

"They docked earlier today so they should be bussing in soon," Melody replied.

"Lets get you two dudes settled in your room," Soos said gesturing for the group to enter.

Wendy hopped up onto the counter and started chatting with Tambry as Mable and her friends ran up the stairs after Soos. Dipper followed with Melody behind.

"Are you here for the summer too, Melody?" Dipper asked.

"Nope! I moved in last month."

"Really?"

"Yeah," she sighed almost dreamily, "The long distance was fine for a while but we both wanted more."

"That's really cool--oof!" Dipper stumbled back from the person he had run into. "Oh, s-sorry."

"Heading home Tim?"

The guy nodded. He sported the green question mark shirt that Soos used to wear so this must have been the guy the girls were talking about before. Dipper was instantly aware of how little he moved and spoke and he didn't meet Melody's anyone's eyes.

"Stop by tomorrow if you like! We'll be closed for a welcome back party but you're invited."

"Thanks," he mumbled. Suddenly he looked down at Dipper like he realized he had been staring.

"Sorry again!" Dipper said, voice cracking. He rushed on after his sister and the girls, who had settled into the attic room.

"You guys were right! He's like a teddy bear!" Mable squealed.

"I don't know...I think I'm with Wendy on this," Dipper said as he tossed his bag onto his bed.

"Of course you are," Mable said and the girls all snickered. Dipper just rolled his eyes.

Their conversation quickly moved on and Dipper was left to let his mind wander. His eyes drifted to large triangle window and out to the forest. He stared out across the grass and through the tree line. His thoughts drifted through all the adventures they had been through and eventually to the less pleasant ones. He could practically hear the poisoning, maniacal laughter echoing through his head.

"Dips?" Mable set her hand gently on his shoulder. He jumped.

"Uh, sorry. What's up?"

She looked at him concerned for a second. He apparently didn't notice Grenda and Candy leave and had been picking at his cuticles.

"They're here," she said eventually, smiling as Dippers eyes lit up.
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"There's the little monsters!" Stan yelled as Mable and Dipper ran out of the house and leaped into his lap. Ford chuckled behind his wheelchair as he let out a slight "oof".

"Grunkle Stan! Did you loose your legs to a sea monster?" Mable said in awe as she settled into his lap and pet over the arms of the chair.

"Nah, no sea beast could take me down," Stan winked.

Dipper hopped off and hugged Ford who kneeled down and smiled with a twinkle in his eye.

"Wendy said you had started a journal of your own during the school year?"

"Yeah! There's not a whole lot in it yet though."

"We'll fix that won't we?"

Dipper nodded excitedly as he and Ford turned to go inside, following Mable and Soos as they lifted Stan's chair up the steps.
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Tim mentally chastised himself as he drove to his home on the edge of town. He was definitely told about the visitors for the summer but he wasn't sure if he was told about two of them being children. He still had gaps in his memory from the other guy so he couldn't be sure. Worrying about starting it all over with some adults was stressful enough but children. He shuddered in his seat just thinking about it.

But, save for his masked, body snatching companion, Tim hadn't had any issues pertaining to tall, slim, and face-less in almost a year. Everything was normal.

Everything was fine.
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"Hey, I'll be back in a bit," Dipper whispered to Mable as she crafted her mashed potatoes into a mountain. Stan, Ford, Soos, and Melody were all in a very intense conversation about one of their adventures, which would usually hold Dipper's attention like a super magnet, but he was a little preoccupied with other thoughts and he wouldn't be able to focus until he addressed them. Mable nodded absently. Dipper smiled as he slipped away. A year ago they were joined at the hip, but ever since Mable had become the popularity queen at their high school her independence had grown. Which meant Dipper could slip off into the woods on his own easily.

He traversed paths he hadn't seen in a long time but knew like the back of his hand as the sun set. His journal and flashlight bounced comfortingly at his side in his messenger bag. Eventually, he got to the clearing and was met with a familiar...well he wasn't sure he could call a single eye a face.

The stone statue of Bill Cipher sat sunken into the foliage, one hand out stretched like he was still asking innocent folks to make dangerous deals. Dipper approached it slowly. The palm of the outstretched hand was strangely smooth, like people who found it rubbed it for good luck. Dipper was a little concerned with the implications of that.

But he was satisfied. Last summer wasn't some crazy hallucination or bad hoax like the rest of the world thought. And it certainly seemed like this dimension was done with Cipher. Dipper took a deep breath and turned to head back to the Shack just as something snapped in the woods to his left. He spun towards the sound, heart pounding but a grin on his face. These were his woods now. There were plenty of things in here he didn't understand, but he definitely didn't fear them.

"Who's there?" he called out when nothing else made a sound. Nothing replied either. He pulled out his flashlight and stepped forward. "I'm gonna shine a light in your direction. Don't...get spooked." He flicked on the flashlight and at first saw nothing.

Then there was movement--something that looked like a black and white mask and a tan jacket dashed backwards into the woods. And Dipper felt his bravado evaporate. Creatures and shadows he could handle. People though? Weird masked people who hid in the woods? That was a bit more terrifying. Still, he stepped forward again to follow them but someone called his name in the distance.

"Dip-dop where are you?" Mable's voice echoed through the trees.

"I'm on my way back!" He called over his shoulder. He scanned the treeline one last time, saw nothing, and turned back to head home.

Chapter Text

This was a bad idea, Tim was sure of it. But he'd woken up that morning with a scribbled message from the other guy and what was usually just messy drawings of trees and that damned operator symbol was actual words this time. And while it was cool to find out the other guy wasn't illiterate, it was probably a bad sign he was telling Tim to go to the welcome party that Melody had mentioned. Despite that though, Tim was on his way.

"Tim! So happy you could come." Melody hugged him awkwardly around the baby strapped to her chest. "I was a little worried you wouldn't but glad to see you coming out of your shell."

Tim smiled and nodded. He thought about making a joke about the free food but it died in his throat as he saw the crowd of people behind Melody.

"It's like the whole town showed up," he said quietly.

"Yep," Melody nodded brightly, "The Pines Family is well loved here."

"Pines?"

"The previous owners." Melody gestured to the middle of the crowd where two older men who definitely looked related (identical, really) were being greeted and talked to by almost everyone. The one in the wheel chair had a teenaged girl and a pig in his lap and a boy that looked nearly identical to her stood between the older men.

"The kid's are..."

"Their great-niece and nephew. You met them yesterday, remember?"

"Right, yeah."

"You should go say hi," Melody smiled reassuringly, "They are sweethearts and their gruncles would be happy to know the Mystery Shack is in capable hands."

Tim nodded, not used to praise like that. Melody nodded back, seemingly satisfied as she moved back into the fray of the party. Tim took a deep breath and moved in himself. No one really acknowledged him--he had taken to being the odd hermit on the edge of town (a role this town had a surplus in) so he wasn't expecting much. He nearly dropped his plate of pizza when his name was called out.

"Tim! Hey! Mr. Cute Sideburns!"

"Mable, oh my god."

Time turned and sure enough the girl with the pig was shouting at him from her gruncle's lap. He brother had his face in his hands. Tim shifted awkwardly for a moment before deciding there was no way out of this one and making his way over.

"You called?" he said dryly. Mable giggled.

"My weirdo brother was wondering if you maybe saw anything weeeird in the woods last night."

"Mable please."

Tim looked down at the boy.

"Weird?" he asked, "In this town? I don't know what you're talking about."

That got a smile from the boy.

"I'm real sorry about her. She's...loud," he said sheepishly. His statement was punctuated with a whoop from the girl. "My name's Dipper," he continued, "I wanted to ask you about that myself since you've been working here all year. Last summer, well, it got really weird. Like. Really. Weird."

"So I've heard," Tim said, taking a seat as Dipper sat as well, "Not from anyone here but I've heard."

"It wasn't hoax," Dipper said insistently.

"Hey, I believe you." Tim could see the distrust in Dipper's eyes. It was there in every traumatized kid who had an adult say they believed him. Tim kinda wished he could show Dipper just what he had seen so that this small, freaked out kid could know he had an ally. But that was too risky.

"Well, I-I was just wondering if...you knew anything about...masked guys?" Dipper said nervously.

Tim stiffened.

"Because I went out last night to--to check on something--nothing important really--but I saw--well I don't know what exactly I saw but it looked like--"

"I think I know who you mean," Tim said carefully, "He's...well...It's complicated. But I know him. And he'd weird alright but he shouldn't be an issue."

Dipper let out a sigh and smiled in obvious relief.

"Okay, well, if you see him, can you ask him not to hang around where he was last night. I-I mean it's not really anything important, like I said, but just to be safe."

"Sure, will do--" Tim's words were cut short by a violent cough.

"Are you okay, young man?" One of the older men, the one in the big coat, looked at him in concern. Tim tried to answer but he was wracked with another fit of coughs and panic. Pure panic. He couldn't front, not now. And if it wasn't him then--no! He had to leave. Tim tried to stand but another coughing fit hit him and his body convulsed and his vision blurred and he though he heard people shouting but it was so distant. Someone's hands were on him, maybe, or maybe it was just that Thing, finally here for him, finally taking him away to wherever it had taken his friends.

"Tim!"

Was that Jay? He could tasted copper in his mouth.

"Tim!"

Maybe it was Brian...he missed Brian.

"Tim!"

He was suddenly aware that his was blinking rapidly. His vision cleared and it looked like most everyone from the party had left. Had he been out that long? Melody was on the phone with someone. The older guy from before was holding him on his side. The kids, Dipper and Mable, were looking on in worry from their other gruncle's side.

"I'm sorry," Tim slurred out.

"It's alright, son, we've got you," the man above him said gently, "Dipper get me a glass of water and a plastic bag--make sure it has no holes."

"Yes Grunkle Ford!"

"I'm going too!"

The young twins dashed off.

"Tim, dear, we called your friend Jessica," Melody said as she knelt down next to him. Her baby and boyfriend were gone. Tim hoped they were inside. "Tim?" Melody looked worried.

"I'm sorry. I'm here." He tried to sit up but his arms felt weak.

"Careful there," the older man--Ford?--helped him up just as Dipper and Mable returned with the water and bag. And Tim really needed that bag. He snatched it from Mable's hands and vomited, groaning.

"I'm sorry," he said again.

"You don't have to apologize, son, it's alright."

"Tim, Jessica would like to speak with you if that's okay," Melody held the phone out to him once he was done with the water. He nodded and took the phone.

"They said you had a seizure," Jessica said. No room for pleasantries. "Is it--"

"Everything's fine," he insisted, "They said relapses would happen but...it doesn't meant anything unless it happens more...I'll call you if it does."

"You better. You're all I've got left, dumbass."

Tim smiled at that. He handed the phone back to Melody once Jessica hung up.

"How are you feeling?" Ford asked.

"Better, but I should go home." He struggled to stand and Ford helped him up again. "Sorry for, uh, spazzing out in the middle of your Welcome Back party."

"Think nothing of it," For said.

"Yeah, trust us, kid. We've had weirder things happen at parties here at the Shack." The other older man wheeled his way up to Tim. "I'm Stan, by the way, this here is my pointdexter brother Ford."

"It's a pleasure to meet you." Tim almost apologized again but he had probably stayed long enough. He turned to leave but stumbled and would have fallen if Ford hadn't been there. He sure had a strong grip for his apparent age.

"I don't think you should be going anywhere on your own right now, let alone on the road," Ford said.

"You can stay here for the night, Tim, it's okay," Melody said. She had her baby in her arms again and Tim wondered when he had missed Soos coming outside.

"In fact, we insist, dude," Soos said.

Tim didn't have the energy to argue and allowed himself to be led inside.

Chapter Text

Tim blinked blearily around his bedroom, which was odd. Everything was where it should be, including the crumpled pieces of paper that the other guy left scattered across the desk in the corner of the room. It was odd because he could have sworn he'd fallen asleep in the guest room of the Mystery Shack. In Gravity Falls Oregon. Not in his old house in Helena Alabama. He sat up slowly and looked around. He felt like he maybe should have been panicking but he didn't feel much of anything.

He felt more than heard the shuffling in the hallway beyond his door.

He didn't remember moving at all but suddenly Tim was on his back porch. It looked considerably less burnt than he remembered it being the last time he was there. Alex's voice echoed in the house behind him but he paid it no mind and stepped out into the night.

The trees closed in around Tim and that's when his panic mounted. Doors that didn't belong swung open and shut and passed him by as he seemed to fly through the thicket, away from his home, now a blazing fire, deeper and deeper into the dark forest. Water splashed around him and a familiar but distant voice whispered past, only mentioning the ark.

Then everything was much clearer.

Tim looked around his new surroundings; it was still a forest, but sparser. Everything was in a cool greyscale and, though he was still on edge, he felt like he could calm down. Like this place was safe.

"It is, Tim. Very safe."

He spun around at the voice and what he saw, he couldn't quite comprehend.

"Who are you?" he asked the white faced person. It's black lips pulled into a smile, sharp teeth poking past what Tim could have sworn was plastic.

"You have had this kind of dream before," it said, "You just do not remember. You know who I am."

"The...the 'Masked Man.'" Jay's title for his alter felt unnatural even in the place where everything seemed unnatural. It nodded.

"Watchers called me Masky." It grinned. "I liked that."

"Okay." Tim couldn't help but huff a laugh. That name seemed almost childish. But then again, so did the creature in front of him. "What are we doing here?" he asked eventually.

"A warning," Masky hissed, "Things are going wrong like they did before. The demon is His friend."

"Wh-what?" Tim's breath hitched. It couldn't happen again. "What demon? Who's friend?"

"Be careful," it whispered, fading into the misty tree line, "I will protect you, Tim."
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Dipper knew immediately where he was when his dreams cleared to reveal the grey and misty forest. The Mindscape was about as unfamiliar to him as the woods around the Mystery Shack were--which is to say, he felt pretty confidant he could handle himself in it. Though, it was a little worrying that he was there in the first place. The only person who had ever gave him reason to be there was, well, he didn't even want to think the name.

"But if it's not him..." Dipper looked around carefully, "Then why am I here?"

Nothing seemed too out of the ordinary for the Mindscape; it was always eerily silent and grey. If he squinted through the mist, he could see the Mystery Shack through the trees. He wondered if that place had become a staple for the Pines family minds given how much time they all spent there.

Wait.

Dipper looked again at the Mystery Shack for the movement he almost missed and--there! He started off, getting to the wooden front steps much quicker than seemed possible and peering around the porch. But the movement had moved. Dipper's stomach dropped at the flash of yellow in the trees. Fear gripped his chest as he tried to force himself to breathe normally.

"Remember the counting," he told himself, "Counting helps. Ten."

He took a step off the porch.

"Nine." He took another step towards the woods.

"Eight." Another step. "Seven." Another. "Six" Another. "Five. Four. Three." Another and another and another. "Two." He was at the tree line now.

"One!"

The terrifyingly familiar voice ghosted across his neck. Dipper spun around. Maniacal laughter filled his ears. All he could see was yellow, drowning in panic and filthy yellow fabric and--

Dipper jolted awake in his attic bed, sunlight filtering through the large, triangle shaped window.