Another perfect performance from the Mystic Pines Twins. Everyone in the crowd thought so, even the twins themselves to a point.
Dipper Pines wore a pressed black dress shirt under a turquoise vest. His half of the blue amulet glowed in the spotlight, even when it was shadowed. He raised his arms and streams of blue air rose with them. They filled the air in the shapes of stars, of animals and hunters that chased them.
Mabel Pines, in a teal jacket and black singlet underneath, gave the crowd a dazzling smile as the blue air rushed upward around her. Her perfect hair streamed around her as if she was underwater and her feet lifted off the ground. The crowd gasped in surprise, everyone holding their breath. Mabel stepped on invisible stairs, her heels clicking on air, before she spread out her arms and did an extremely perfect flip.
Dipper's raised arm had yet to falter as his sister landed on his hand. He held her effortlessly, as if her weight meant nothing. The twins spread out their arms as the music finally ended with a clang of drums.
The crowd stood up and applauded as loud as they possibly could--even the staff who had seen the performance before clapped and wiped tears from their eyes. Mabel did another flip back onto the stage and the twins bowed in sync.
They stood up straight again and smiled, thanking the crowd. Even though Dipper had a pristine smile, a tang of wrong hit his chest. He couldn't put his finger on it but something was bothering him. And then he found it.
In the very back of the crowd, not even in a chair, a boy leaned against a support beam. His hair was spiked yet smoothed down, his dark green sweater helping him blend into the shadow of the tent. His eyes reflected yellow. He had no smile, not even an amused look.
How dare he?
A twinge of rage filled Dipper's chest. The twins’ act was the best performance in the world--it had to be. The magic in the room made everyone in that tent love it.
And yet this boy stared at Dipper from across the cavernous tent and Dipper felt as if his chest was filled with ice. The magician ignored the boy for now, walking offstage with his sister instead. As soon as they vanished from public eye, their award winning smiles dropped to almost matching scowls and they went to their changing room.
“Sister,” Dipper spoke as he watched Mabel brush her hair. She hummed lightly in response. “Did you see the strange boy? The one at the rear of the tent.”
“I did not, brother. Perhaps he snuck in near the end,” she said without emotion. As usual. Dipper clicked his tongue and watched her in the mirror. He crossed his arms and pressed then to his chest.
“Are you sure? It felt as if he was using his own magic. He wasn't even smiling.” He tried again. Mabel stopped and set her brush down on the surface of her vanity. She turned and gave Dipper a cross look.
“If you are so insistent that the boy was there, brother, perhaps you should look for him. And work on your manners while you're at it--stop interrupting me.” Her voice was sharp.
Dipper sucked in a breath and turned on his heel. He was not in the mood for her scolding at the moment so maybe a search would be the best option. He had been inside all day, after all, maybe the night air would be helpful.
The magician was about to brush the tent door away to exit when he almost ran into someone. Dipper blinked in surprise--he hadn't sensed anyone's presence, especially not one with so much magic surrounding them.
“Good show,” the boy from earlier that night said sarcastically. “If you try harder, you may be within the top millions with attractions in the United States. Maybe.”
“You shouldn't be back here, sir.” Dipper forced a grin, though he felt a grimace growing pulling on his lips. “Maybe I could help you back to the--”
“Back up, Pines.” The boy said without even feigning reason for being behind the scenes. Although he felt like protesting, as he normally did, he found himself stumbling back into their changing room. They boy's glowing yellow eyes hadn't been a trick of the light, Dipper found up close.
“Are you about to annoy me again, brother?” Mabel was about to take off her heavy makeup when she saw the boy in front of her brother. She was immediately to her feet, her amulet glowing dangerously as she was about to threaten him. Blue streams of magic radiated around her fists.
“Let's talk privately.” The boy said simply.
“... Mabel, a moment alone, could you?” Dipper didn't bother even pretending everything was alright. His sister kept her glare focused on the stranger and her brother, slowly stalking out of the changing room.
“She seems as exciting as a dead worm,” the boy almost said in an almost admiring tone.
“I'm afraid you have me at a disadvantage, I don't know your name.” Dipper stopped smiling.
“And yours is plastered everywhere. Dipper Pines, magician of wonder…” The boy couldn't look more bored.
“Most people would be running over themselves to meet me, you know.” Dipper huffed, practically embarrassed for this stranger. If this ever so strange boy heard him, he didn't act like it. His fingers brushed up Dipper's chest before he took his amulet between his fingers. Dipper stumbled back when the boys magic clashed against his own. The boy stepped forward to meet him.
“Pathetic that you act on this amulet. Your magic is much stronger without it… oh. Norman Babcock.” Dipper backed up until he felt the edge of the vanity pressing into his back. His hands went to the surface to stable himself--if need be, there was a knife in his sister's hairbrush she thought he didn't know about.
“Well, Norman, this is hardly the way to offer a business preposition,” Dipper said matter-of-factly. Norman rolled his glowing eyes. The lights in the tent flickered and Dipper felt as if his breath was taken away.
“Stop playing stupid, Dipper. I want to help you, per say.” Norman spread his hands.
“I don't need help,” the magician growled back. Norman stepped up to him again.
“You want to be more than this amulet and you can be, with my help.” Norman was so close to Dipper's face, he could feel his breath. Yellow electricity seemed to emit from the strange boy and it made Dipper's skin sting.
“Is-is that so?” Dipper felt almost… scared at this point. He'd never felt more nervous, never thought so highly of someone already. It was threatening, nd yet oddly intriguing. Norman reached up and brushed the hair out of Dipper's face, revealing his birthmark in the process.
“I know about your stolen journal, about what you've done. In fact, I think it's better you take advantage of this situation than let yourself fall behind with the crowd.” Norman raised his hand and in it, a ball of yellow lightning sprouted. The lights flickered above them, and Dipper could vaguely hear people outside the tent complaining about the darkness. “I could show you how to be more. ”
Dipper's lips turned up into a grin. He held eye contact with the boy, a shudder of excitement running through his body, feeling the almost irresistible urge to just lean forward and--
“You're a very interesting man, Dipper Pines.” The boy had stepped away from him without Dipper noticing. The lightning had disappeared and his eyes were a cold blue instead of the yellow they were before. Finally, the boy had an amused look, as if he were watching a dog do tricks. Dipper felt his heart jump and his chest freeze. He wanted to rush forward to meet Norman but knew it wasn't the time. No, not yet.
“And will we meet up again? Or will you simply break my security again when you wish to speak?” Dipper felt a smile--a real one--grow on his face. Norman snorted, partially returning one.
“I'll come to you when I need to,” was all the boy said before he turned and exited the tent. Dipper let out a deep breath he hadn't realized he was holding and tried to recover from whatever that was.
“That's it, time's up! Brother, are you all--” Mabel had began to storm back into the room. She looked around the room for any hint of the intruder but gave a satisfied huff when she saw none. “How rude of him, interrupting us like that. I dare say we call security.”
“No need, sister.” Dipper's skin felt cold wherever the boy's fingers had once remained. His heart was pounding in his ears. His fingers reached up and rubbed his amulet between his fingers. The cool thing still had remnants of Norman's evil magic, and it was very… attractive.
Mabel looked skeptical. “Who was that, brother? Was he a threat?”
“... Yes. In the best way possible,” Dipper said in an almost loving tone. Mabel gave a disgusted look and shoved him away from her vanity.
“Be pathetic somewhere else,” she declared, lifting her chin. Dipper laughed and rubbed his arm where she had pushed him.
“It is only the beginning of something, dear sister. I do say you'll look forward to the end.”