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I'll Meet You There

Chapter Text

1971

 

Seventeen-year-old Stanley Pines did not know how he had ended up at his school but right now, he was too angry to care. Without Ford, he was just half of a dynamic duo. He was the dumb twin, the one everyone thought of as nothing but a failure who would never make it out of New Jersey. He was about to lose the one person who saw any worth in him, who actually gave a damn about him and it was all that stupid school’s fault.

 

He was like a robot as he walked up the steps of his high-school, too upset to care about where he was going and not even thinking about what he was doing.

 

And then, just as Stan reached for the doorknob, something hit him like a ton of bricks, causing him to stagger backwards, falling down the stairs. He didn’t even notice the pain or the fact that he was now lying flat on the concrete as new thoughts and memories raced through his mind.

 

“Are you sure you want to do this? You understand that you could be changing things for the worse.”

 

“Hey, I know what a no-paradox time wish is. That means certain things like Dipper and Mabel being born won’t change. Look this isn’t just about fixing my mistake, if I go back, there’s a chance I can stop Bill decades earlier.”


“But at what cost?”

 

“I’ve made my decision.”


“Very well, Stanley Pines, your wish will be granted and your mind will be transported back into your seventeen-year-old self’s body. You may take the items in your pockets with you. Good luck.” 

 

As it turned out being thrust into his younger body was not a pleasant experience. Now that he had his bearings back, he could feel the bruises that were most likely forming from his tumble down the stairs.

 

“Ugh, couldn’t they have sent me to when I was on the swings or actually inside the school. Or at the very least at a point where I was standing on even ground,” Stanley groaned as he grabbed the stairs' banister to lift himself up. Not wanting to leave any evidence that he was even here behind, he grabbed his discarded toffee peanuts bag and tossed into a nearby trash can, deciding to walk to the beach so he could collect his thoughts and plan his next move.

 

When he arrived at the beach, a melancholy smile crossed his face as he laid eyes on the old Stan-O-War, still as beautiful as he had remembered. He had never asked Ford, what had happened to her…or what would happen to her. Ugh, time travel was already a pain and he hadn’t even started yet.

 

Stanley sighed as he boarded the sailboat and lay down on it, looking up at the stars.

 

He couldn’t go home. Even if he could fool his parents into thinking everything was all right, his twin would notice something was wrong right away.  When he had returned home in his original timeline, unknowingly having destroyed his brother’s future, Ford had been laughing and joking with him. In hindsight, it was probably his brother’s way of cushioning the blow of his impending departure.

 

If Stanley went home and acted all broody, Ford would want to know what was wrong. If Stan refused to answer, Ford would either not let it go or he would assume that his twin was angry about the whole West Coast Tech college thing and he probably would accuse Stan of being petty and selfish. If he told him the truth, Ford would either not believe him and he would think that this was some sort of ploy to get him to go on an adventure with Stan instead of attending his dream school. If Ford did believe the whole-time travel thing and realized what his brother was planning, he would insist on coming with him which would defeat the entire purpose of going back in time to make sure Ford got into that stupid school in the first place.


Tomorrow morning, Pa and Ma would be out of the house, visiting Shermie while Ford to his science fair which hopefully would give Stanley enough time to go back to the house, get the bag that Pa so helpfully had already packed for him and get out of the house before they returned.

 

Stan gritted his teeth, wishing he could call his father out like he had been wanting to do for years. Unfortunately, by the time he had stopped pretending to be Stanford, Filbrick Pines was already dead and in this timeline, Pa had not kicked him out nor would he get a chance to. He would be out of Glass Shard Beach by tomorrow and then three days later, he would be in Gravity Falls, starting the Mystery Shack ten years early.


“Seriously Stanley, the Mystery Shack?” Ford sounded exasperated, forgetting for a moment that he was trying to talk his brother out of this.

“Well getting myself banned from every state and thrown into prison isn’t gonna help us.”


“Have you ever thought of a different line of work that doesn’t involve scams and tourist traps? Something honest, perhaps?”

 

“I’m gonna stick with what I’m good at, Pointdexter,” Stan told him, a slight edge to his voice but he still smiled at his brother. “Besides, I gotta Bill-proof the shack before you get there.”


“Stanley, if you build the Mystery Shack first, I might not even be able to build my lab underneath it. Not to mention how do you even know that I’ll go to Gravity Falls after going to West Coast Tech?” Ford asked logically.

 

“Because you’ve had an obsession with the supernatural since we were kids,” Stanley pointed out, matter of factly.  

 

“Are you sure you want to do this? You understand that you could be changing things for the worse,” Stanford protested, making one last ditch attempt to change his brother’s mind even though he could tell that Stanley’s mind was made up.

 

“Hey, I know what a no-paradox time wish is. That means certain things like Dipper and Mabel being born won’t change. Look this isn’t just about fixing my mistake, if I go back, there’s a chance I can stop Bill decades earlier,” Stanley reminded him, trying to sound more confident than he felt.

 

“But at what cost?” Ford inquired anxiously. “What if something goes wrong and Bill kills you? Or what if we have to destroy him the same way but this time there will be no scrapbook to repair your mind. I don’t want to lose you again.”


“Same here. Which is why I want to do everything in my power to make sure that Bill doesn’t get a second chance to use you or anyone in this family ever again,” Stanley said gruffly, a determined look in his eyes.

 

Ford sighed but before he could say anything else, it was time to go back to the arena.

 

After he had a brief discussion with the Time Baby, Stanley hugged his niece and nephew goodbye, assuring them that he would still be their Grunkle Stan and he would make sure to invite them to a hopefully less hectic summer.

 

Then he and Ford hugged before doing their usual high six.

 

 “I guess I’ll see you in Gravity Falls, Lee,” Stanford said with a sad smile.

 

“I’ll meet you there, Sixer,” Stanley replied, grinning wolfishly at his family, reminding himself that this wasn’t goodbye. They might not be exactly the same once he had changed the future but they would still be his family.


Stanley had not realized that he had fallen asleep but when his eyes opened, he saw that it was indeed morning or at least he hoped it was because as he recalled, Ma and Pa had brought his little nephew to their house a quarter past noon. 

 

He checked his watch and was relieved when he realized it was only nine-fifteen. His parents had already left and Ford should be on his way to the science fair.

 

Wanting to be in and out of the house without attracting too much attention, Stanley hurried home as fast as he could. The store was closed and there was no sign of anyone in the apartment when he went upstairs. 

 

“Ma! Pa! Ford!” Stanley called out, just in case. He let out a sigh of relief when he received no answer. So far so good.

 

Trying to recall where he had seen his father get the duffel bag from (as that night had yet to fade from his mind, it wasn’t that hard to remember), he grabbed some extra clothes, cash, magazines and cassette tapes that he had not been able to take the last time he had "left" home. 

 

The duffel bag contained a few articles of clothes and a handful of twenties but it was always helpful to have more especially when he would have to pay in order to get the Mystery Shack built not to mention the cost of the gas he would be spending as he drove to Oregon.

 

After counting out all the money he had in his wallet and making sure his driver license wasn’t for an old man in his late fifties, Stanley walked down the stairs again and had almost made it out the door when he spotted a family picture.

 

While ‘Stanford’ had been able to see their mother, she had died without ever learning that all of her sons were alive.  He couldn’t leave without letting her (not to mention both of his brothers) that he was okay and that this wasn’t him cutting off all ties with his family.

 

Stanley put the duffel bag down before finding Ma’s notepad and pen she kept near her phone just in case a client called while she was out.

 

He decided to write two separate notes. The first one was for his father and it took a few tries not to make it sound overly hostile.

 

Dear Pa,

 

I know you think that I’m nothing but a screw-up, riding on Ford’s coattails, that I'm holding him back and judging by the fact that you already got a duffel bag packed for me, I’m guessing that I wouldn’t have been living here much longer anyway.

 

I don’t care what the principal or you think of me. I can make it on my own. I will become a successful business owner and I will prove that I am not going to end up scraping barnacles off of the dock.

 

Find another ticket out of this dump because I guarantee that none of your sons will be sending you a cent. 

 

From Stanley Pines.

 

 

His next note was a lot nicer and less accusatory.

 

Dear, Shermie, Ma and Ford,

 

I want you to know I’m not leaving because of Ford getting into West Coast Tech (there is no way that you won’t get in, Pointdexter and we both know it).

 

I just realized that I’ve been so busy being Ford’s twin, that I never tried doing my own thing. So I'm gonna do something I’m good at and make a living out of it. I know it sounds crazy and impulsive but this is something I have to do. I hope you guys will understand.


I swear that once I’ve gotten my business up and running, I call you guys and let you know I’m okay. Don’t worry about me, I’ll be fine, I promise.

 

Ma, I’m serious, if you’re crying, stop. It’s gonna be okay.

 

Shermie, give Jacob a big hug from me and don’t worry your car is in good hands, I promise.

 

Ford, you don’t need it but good luck at your school and make sure you knock ‘em dead for me. 

 

From Stanley.

 

 

Stanley left the second note on the kitchen table before walking to his father’s store and leaving the note meant for him on the counter.

 

He then went and got a winter’s coat, a blanket and two pillows before grabbing his duffel bag and walking to his car. After putting his stuff in the backseat, he glanced back at his home, feeling sad and guilty.

 

This time he wasn't thrown out; instead he was choosing to walk away. This time, it was him who was doing the abandoning. This time he was the one who was turning his back on his family. How the hell had Ford and his father been able to do it without one sliver of regret?

 

As Stanley drove past the familiar buildings, he was hit by a feeling of déjà vu especially when he saw his ex-girlfriend sitting on the front steps of her apartment building.

 

Without even thinking about it, he stopped and stared. While for Carla, it had been only about a year since they broke up, for him it had been forty years.  In fact the last time he had seen her was this very night when he had chosen to ask her to run away with him, hoping that after being kicked out, maybe something could go right for him. Of course, he was wrong and he had never seen her again even at his ‘funeral’---- shows how much she cared about him.

 

Carla must have sensed that someone was staring at her because she turned around and her eyes met his. She frowned for a minute and got up, walking towards him.

 

Every part of Stan was screaming to gun it and get away before she could speak to him. He had been so careful not to run into anybody just in case he slipped up. In fairness, he was almost certain that he might have had the same pause if he had seen his brother and mother both looking younger and happier than they had the last time he had seen them.

 

But before he could make his getaway, Carla rapped her knuckles on the driver door’s window.

Chapter Text

“You look good, Hotpants,” Stanley greeted her after he had rolled down the window, trying his best to sound as casual and calm as possible. “Is that a new flower in your hair? It looks really pretty.”


“What are you up to?” Carla asked with an inquisitive eyebrow raised, knowing immediately that something was up.

 

“Now why would you suspect that I’m up to something?” Stanley inquired rhetorically, desperately hoping that she wouldn’t see the duffel bag, the pillows, the blankets or the winter jacket in the back seat and come to the obvious conclusion. “Why does everyone always assume the worst of me?”

 

“It saves time,” Carla quipped, her lips twitching upwards before it became a frown when she glanced at the back seat of the car--- and if she hadn’t been leaning inside the car through the open window, he would have taken off right then and there. “Going somewhere?” 

 

“Yeah, I’m just taking a trip out of town for a few days----starting my spring break early,” Stanley added, trying to remember if it was March or April. He really wished he had checked the calendar before he left.

 

“Spring break isn’t until the end of March which is almost a month away,” Carla said, her eyebrow rising higher on her forehead.

 

 “Huh. I guess the groundhog didn’t see his shadow after all,” Stanley commented, thinking it was awfully warm for a day in February. Keeping that dumb grin on his face, he added: “Like I said, I’m starting my spring break early.”

 

“Will you stop fooling around and be serious for once,” Carla snapped, rolling her eyes. “Just tell me what’s going on.”

 

Stanley wasn’t sure if it was her tone or his fear that his parents would catch him if he continued to waste time talking to his ex-girlfriend whose mere appearance was bringing up old feelings that he thought he had gotten rid of years ago. Either way, he was growing slightly agitated and irritated.

 

“Since when do you care what I do? Just go be with that mind-controlling hippy,” Stanley grumbled, no longer smiling and now keeping his eyes on the road which coincidentally meant that he wasn’t looking at her.

 

“For the very last time, he didn’t hypnotize me,” Carla said, exasperated. “And don’t change the subject. Are you running away?”

 

“That is none of your business!”

 

“So you are running away. How can you be so selfish?” she demanded.

 

“Are you kidding me, Carla! You cheated----oh I’m sorry, you dumped me five seconds before going off with another guy,” Stanley amended once he saw her open her mouth to quibble over his choice of words, “and you have the nerve to call me selfish.”

 

“Fine, I have no moral ground but dammit, the one good thing about you is that you would never just abandon the people who care about you,” Carla told him, perhaps thinking she was paying him some sort of high compliment.

 

“The one good thing about me,” Stanley repeated through gritted teeth. “Well I guess your opinion is better than most people who think I’m no-good, worthless, dumb, lazy, a clown and that’s just what I heard this week.” 

 

The awkward silence that followed his outburst was deafening. Neither one of them wanted to continue arguing after that statement although the last part was only true because of time travel not that Carla knew that.

 

“Stanley, that’s not what I meant,” Carla assured him, her eyes softening and it looked as she wanted to reach out and stroke his arm but she stopped herself. “Where are you even going to go?” 

 

“Gravity Falls, Oregon. I got a job lined up for me there,” he informed her, feeling rather uncomfortable at the concerned look she was giving him. A part of him wondered why he had even bothered telling her that. Perhaps it was because the way she was looking at him, he was half-afraid that she might think that he was planning on driving off the nearest bridge if he didn’t assure her that he was headed to a destination instead of simply going wherever the road took him.

 

 

“So you actually have a plan.”


“The tone of surprise is not appreciated,” Stanley deadpanned dryly. “And not that it’s any of your business but I am planning on staying in touch with Shermie, Ma and Ford, at least after I get settled. Right now, it’s just better for everyone if I leave.”

 

“Even Ford?” Carla asked doubtfully.

 

“Especially Ford,” he replied.

 

“If you really believed that, you wouldn’t be leaving without saying goodbye,” she pointed out. “How do you think he’s gonna feel when he finds out you just up and left without even having the curtsey to tell him?”


“He’s leaving for that college of his in a couple of months anyway so I’m sure he’ll be fine,” Stanley protested, stubbornly ignoring the small voice in his head, who sounded suspiciously like Dipper, reminding him that at least Ford wouldn’t be leaving for six months, before their birthday and certainly not without saying goodbye.

 

“I know that it’s none of my business but if you really have to leave, I think you should at least say goodbye to your brother so he knows it’s not his fault,” Carla told him, giving him a rather meaningful look before leaning in and kissing his cheek. “Try not to get into too much trouble, Popeye.” With that she went back towards her apartment, glancing over her shoulder at her stunned ex-boyfriend before disappearing inside.


If Stanley didn’t have a mission he needed to get started on, he might have continued to sit in his car, gaping like a codfish. Instead he drove away, trying not to listen to the very Mable-like voice telling him that Carla had a point.

 

Dammit, the kids aren’t even here and yet I still can’t ignore them.

 

You miss them.

 

Oh shut up, Pointdexter, I have to go say goodbye to you without actually tipping you off that I’m leaving. Hopefully you’ll be too busy with those school snobs to actually pay attention to how I’m acting.

 

Stanley stopped the car in front of his old high school and even though he had been there yesterday even if he had been too occupied with the whole arriving in the past, old memories flickered in his mind.

 

His teachers hating him. His principal calling him a clown who would never amount to anything. Those secluded moments he had in the broom closet or an empty classroom with Carla. Coaxing Ford into tricking their obnoxious and borderline sadistic gym teacher with a twin switch. Beating up all of Ford’s bullies---maybe one more detour was needed just to spread the word that despite leaving town, he would be back if Ford ever reported that he was being harassed. According to Ma, they had left his twin alone the last time so that threat would probably work again.

 

With that last thought in mind, Stanley walked inside, nearly running into his principal as he made his way to the gym where the science fair was set up.

 

“Mr. Pines, what on Earth are you doing here! As if I didn’t already know. Always up to no-good. Well I will not stand for you ruining today with your childish pranks. Now go on. Shoo!” Mr. Richards demanded, adjusting his glasses perhaps in an attempt to look intimidating.

 

“I’m just here to support my brother,” Stanley informed him, struggling to keep his temper in check. Although he would love to deck his principal, especially when he was leaving school anyway, he would rather not take the chance that he would be forcibly detained or arrested, ruining his chances of escaping without anyone finding out and trying to stop him.

 

“A likely story. You probably just here to sabotage him.”


“Oh fuck you,” Stanley snarled, furious that what he had prevented himself from doing was still being thrown in his face. Did everyone really believe that he could sabotage his brother? He had always assumed that Ford had simply convinced himself that it had been done on purpose but if he truly thought Stanley was capable of doing something then he might agree with their principal’s assessment that Stanley was only here to cause trouble.

 

“How dare you speak to me like that!” the principal shouted, his face turning a lovely shade of purple. “I am your principal and you will treat me with respect.”

 

“Respect! Are you kidding me! I have spent my entire life being stuck in my brother’s shadow because of people like you telling me that I was the dumb twin, the one who was not worth anything. You are supposed to encourage kids to learn and all you have done is belittle those you dislike to the point where they don’t even bother to try. I don’t respect you because you are nothing but a bitter man who lives and dies as a shitty principal of a shitty school!” Stanley roared, storming out before he punched the man escalating things further.

 

He hoped that Ford would come running out after him, either to scold him for making such a loud scene or to find out what was going on.  He sat in his car for ten minutes but no one even peered out the window.

 

Stanley sighed and drove away.

 

I guess I’ll see you in Gravity Falls, Ford.


It had taken all of Ford’s willpower not to punch Mr. Richards in the nose when the man had walked up to him and declared he had successfully stopped his twin from causing any trouble.

 

If Ford were to guess that the only reason Stanley had left without “causing any trouble” was because he was five seconds from punching their principal and even his normally impulsive twin knew that would cause him all sorts of trouble. The only reason he had not intervened the minute he---and the rest of the occupants of the school--- had heard the yelling was because the West Coast Tech people had been in the room and he hadn’t wanted them to know that student yelling and cursing at a principal was his brother.

 

However that didn’t mean he wasn’t on his brother’s side and his tone was just a touch cold when he informed Mr. Richards that he had invited his brother to the science fair because Stanley had been interested in seeing how his project worked.

 

A lie of course but it was enough to embarrass Mr. Richards in front of a member of their high school board who commented on having a talk with the principal after the science fair was over.

 

While Stanley’s bad behavior---both past and present--- would certainly mean that Mr. Richards would not be getting anything aside from a stern talking to, Ford could not help but feel vindicated at getting that man in trouble indirectly.

 

After showing off his machine to the college board and being assured that he would be getting into West Coast Tech, Ford walked home, hoping his brother wouldn’t be too upset with him. He knew that Stanley was not happy with Ford forgoing their childhood dream of sailing around the world to go to his dream college and not standing up to their principal who had no doubt insulted him again because he was too busy trying to impress West Coast people would just add to the betrayal he was feeling.

 

 

Honestly, Ford was surprised that Stanley had showed up at the science fair at all considering he hadn’t even wanted to see him the night before, not even coming home. His brother could never see the big picture but surely if he had gone to support Ford that meant he wasn’t as upset as Ford feared he was.

 

Hopefully when Ford arrived home and shared the story of Mr. Richards getting in trouble with the school board member who was clearly reasonable enough to believe that there was some truth in Stanley’s tirade, his twin might take some pleasure at their principal getting into hot water with his boss. Especially when Mr. Richards would be too embarrassed to call Filbrick and inform him of what Stanley had said to him averting any harsh tongue-lashing or punishment.

 

Maybe just maybe he could convince Stanley that some time apart would be a good thing. They could just become their own people instead of being so dependent on each other.


“Stanley!” his mother cried the minute Ford walked inside their home. Her face fell when she registered that it was Ford before she ran up to him, looking desperate. “Stanford, please tell me you’ve seen your brother.”

 

“No, I haven’t. He’s probably at the beach,” Ford pointed out, wondering why his mother looked so upset. When she had found Stanley’s bed empty this morning, she had assumed that he was sleeping on the Stan-O-War as he had done before.

 

“Caryn, calm down, he’ll be back when he realizes that he won’t make it out there,” Filbrick said before Ford could answer.

 

“Why would he come back when you made it clear that you were kicking him out?” Caryn demanded, whirling around to glare at her husband. She didn’t even wait for a response before she turned back to Ford, handing him two notes. “Did he say anything to you?”

 

“I haven’t seen him since yesterday afternoon,” Ford replied earnestly, a bad feeling in his stomach as he read his brother’s notes.

 

Upon reading what his brother had written, Ford was sure of three things.

 

 Firstly, Stanley had overheard what their principal said about him which made his anger at Mr. Richards even more understandable.

 

Secondly, he had not gone to the science fair to support Ford but to tell him he was leaving either in hopes that Ford would come with him or to just say goodbye before he left.

 

Thirdly, this wasn’t a spur of the moment thing. This was planned. Stanley was impulsive and he certainly wouldn’t have been so careful to wait until he could return to an empty house to pack his things without anyone seeing him, not punch the principal he was clearly angry with, and avoid his brother until he was so busy he would probably only have a few minutes to spare unless he had thought out when the ideal time to leave without much fuss was.

 

Had he been planning on leaving from the moment Ford had told him that he was going to move halfway across the country, deciding that there was no point in staying in Glass Shard Beach anymore?

 

How long had he known that Filbrick had packed a bag for him? From what his brother had written, it seemed like he had just stumbled on the bag without anyone telling him but if that was the case, wouldn’t he have at least told Ford about it?

 

There was something that just wasn’t adding up. Now had Stanley just gotten on their sailboat and sailed off, Ford might have understood that. However, he wrote that he was going to start his own business and while that might have just been him trying to convince his parents and brothers that he would be fine, it still seemed like an out of nowhere statement that had nothing to do with his dream to be a treasure hunter. Becoming a boxer would be more in character for Stanley than a businessman.

 

“He’ll come home eventually. I guarantee that in a few months, he’ll be on that doorstep begging us to take him back. He’s a lazy knucklehead and he’s just throwing a tantrum,” Filbrick said gruffly, staring outside where Stanley’s car was usually parked with an odd expression.


 “He cheated! I’m telling you, he cheated!” Blendin Blandin screamed. “Nobody has ever won Globnar against me.”

 

“Uh, we did,” Mabel reminded him.

 

“And when you think about it, if two preteens can beat you, their grunkle certainly has a chance,” Dipper pointed out.

 

“Grunkle is a stupid made up word,” Blendin shot back, causing Mable to gasp in outrage.

 

“Hey I told you before you challenged me that I could win that stupid competition with my eyes closed and my hands tied behind my back. I don’t know why you didn’t just take my word for it,” Stanley laughed, grinning proudly.  

 

“But you didn’t win with your eyes closed and your hands tied behind your back!”


“Because that would be ludicrous!” Time Baby explained, rolling his eyes. “Almost as ludicrous as challenging someone to a death match simply to prove them wrong.” Blendin’s face reddened but he was silent. “Stanley Pines has won Globnar and spared your life and has chosen to spare your life. He now gets a paradox free time wish to use at his leisure.”

 

“I want to go back in time to when I was seventeen,” Stanley said almost automatically. The minute he had learned what the prize was to win this Globnar challenge, he had known exactly what he wanted to change.

 

“Absolutely not! You are only supposed to get one paradox-free wish if I were to send you back in time, you would certainly create more than one paradox,” Time Baby boomed.

 

“You mean like beating Bill before he gets to Earth and causes Weirdmageddon,” Stanley remarked.

 

After learning about the Time Police, Ford had questioned Blendin extensively about them and the Time Baby. Blendin had let it slip that the Time Baby had tried to stop Bill but was evaporated. Although he apparently could heal himself, Stanley guessed the Time Baby held a grudge. Judging from the murderous expression on the hulking baby’s face, he wasn’t wrong.

 

“I shall think on this,” the Time Baby decided. “But first I need my diaper changed.”

 

With a clap of his hands, the Pines found themselves being transported to a futuristic building.  

 

“Let me guess, you think this is a bad idea,” Stanley remarked as Ford dragged him to a corner of the room, asking the twins if they would like to go explore the building, using it as a pretext to speak to his brother privately.

 

“Well, for one thing, we both know what you are planning on changing and while I thank you for your consideration, me getting into West Coast Tech is not worth it,” Ford told him firmly. “We’ve gotten past it. It doesn’t need to be fixed.”

 

“I know that, Ford but that doesn’t mean I still don’t feel guilty about it. You deserved to get into that school and it wasn’t fair that I messed that up for you,” Stanley said, rubbing his neck and looking away in embarrassment.

 

“Stanley, have you ever seen Back to the Future or really any movie on time travel. It always ends badly,” Ford protested. “There are too many things that could go wrong. Too many variables that you aren’t thinking of.”

 

“For once, Ford, I am thinking,” Stanley replied firmly, feeling just a little annoyed that Ford once again failed to realize that he was trying to help him and instead of thanking him, he insisted on looking at the bigger picture. “Look you’ll get into that dream college, probably do that brainiac thing when you get 12 PHDs before you’re even twenty-two and when you get to Gravity Falls, I’ll be there, running the Mystery Shack.”

 

“Seriously Stanley, the Mystery Shack?” Ford sounded exasperated, forgetting for a moment that he was trying to talk his brother out of this.



“Well getting myself banned from every state and thrown into prison isn’t gonna help us.”


“Have you ever thought of a different line of work that doesn’t involve scams and tourist traps? Something honest, perhaps?”

 

“I’m gonna stick with what I’m good at, Pointdexter,” Stan told him, a slight edge to his voice but he still smiled at his brother. “Besides, I gotta Bill-proof the shack before you get there.”


“Stanley, if you build the Mystery Shack first, I might not even be able to build my lab underneath it. Not to mention how do you even know that I’ll go to Gravity Falls after going to West Coast Tech?” Ford asked logically.

 

“Because you’ve had an obsession with the supernatural since we were kids,” Stanley pointed out, matter of factly.  

 

“Are you sure you want to do this? You understand that you could be changing things for the worse,” Stanford protested, making one last ditch attempt to change his brother’s mind even though he could tell that Stanley’s mind was made up.

 

“Hey, I know what a no-paradox time wish is. That means certain things like Dipper and Mabel being born won’t change. Look this isn’t just about fixing my mistake, if I go back, there’s a chance I can stop Bill decades earlier,” Stanley reminded him, trying to sound more confident than he felt.

 

“But at what cost?” Ford inquired anxiously. “What if something goes wrong and Bill kills you? Or what if we have to destroy him the same way but this time there will be no scrapbook to repair your mind. I don’t want to lose you again.”


“Same here. Which is why I want to do everything in my power to make sure that Bill doesn’t get a second chance to use you or anyone in this family ever again,” Stanley said gruffly, a determined look in his eyes.

 

Chapter Text

Of course everything would be different. Forty-two years was a long time and he was eleven years ahead of schedule. So of course Gravity Falls would feel less familiar.

 

And yet despite knowing that, Stanley was still thrown for a loop when he saw Soos’ abuelita, looking decades younger, carrying her three-year-old daughter out of her car. The only reason he recognized her was because of the Spanish curse words she used and the death glare she shot him when he nearly hit her as he parked his car in front of Greasy Diner.


When he entered Greasy Diner, Stanley half-expected to see the teenaged version of Lazy Susan---well now it would be just Susan---in a waitress’ outfit. Instead his waiter was a bald man who looked like he was sizing Stanley up.

 

“Are you just passing through, stranger?” he asked in low growly tone.

 

“No sir,” Stanley replied, wondering why that voice sounded so familiar. Had he met this man before? “I’m hoping to settle down here.”

 

“Why?” the man demanded, narrowing his eyes suspiciously.

 

“Why not?” Stanley retorted.

 

“Oh for goodness sake, Harold, leave the boy alone,” a woman barked from behind the counter. Her voice just as gravely and gruff as the man she seemed to resemble. “He just wants to eat. What can I get you, hun?”

 

Then it clicked. On their disaster of a date, Susan had mentioned buying Greasy Diner from a Mr. Grendinator. Days later, Mabel had mentioned that Grenda had gone to visit her “Grauntie” Lily.

 

 

Aw, Grunkle Stan, you do listen.

 

No I don’t, it’s just that sometimes I can’t tune you out.

 

“Uh, just some pancakes and black coffee would be fine,” Stanley replied, as he pretended to look at the menu but really peering at the people in the dinner, trying to figure out who they were or who they would be related to.

 

The family of tall and muscular red-heads could be no one but the Corduroys. The freakishly large kid was probably Manly Dan.

 

The man in his seventies who wore the mayor sash was clearly a younger Mayer Befufftlefumpter. He was talking to Ma and Pa Duskerton who thankfully looked exactly the same.

 

“Howdy mister, you must be new in town. I don’t reckon I know you,” a very familiar annoying voice broke Stanley’s concentration.

 

“Bud Gleeful,” Stanley groaned without thinking.

 

The kid with that big round nose stared at him in awe, not all fazed by the annoyance on the face of the man he had just walked up to. “That is my name, how did you know that? Are you psychic or something?”

 

“Go aw---I mean yes I am, kid,” Stanley assured him, switching his tone to his suave Mr. Mystery voice. “Don’t go spreading it around but I am Mr. Mystery, man of many talents including one to see the future. For example I predict that you will ignore what I just said and tell everyone about my powers.”


“Whoa you really are psychic,” Bud declared his eyes wide, before running off presumably to tell everyone what he had just learned.

 

Not even fifteen minutes later, there was a line at Stanley’s table with people clamoring for their fortunes to be told.

 

Grunkle Stan, did you just steal Gideon’s thing?

 

Hey his dad was the one that gave me the idea in the first place. So that little twerp can go blame him.

 

Seriously, you’re going blame the five-year-old. That’s low even for you.

 

He sires a tiny tyrant who nearly killed----why am I defending myself to the voices in my head?

 

By the end of his breakfast, Stanley had managed to make a hundred bucks with his future knowledge, a few guesses and one or two blatant lies.

 

Not a bad start. 

 

After claiming that his connection with spirits was getting fuzzy (a trick his ma used to pull whenever she was trying to get off the phone), he finished his breakfast before going over to the Corduroy’s table.

 

“We don’t want our fortunes told,” the woman said before Stanley could open his mouth. She gave him a look that Wendy usually gave him when she wanted him to cut the bullshit.  

 

“Oh no, something tells me that I would have better luck convincing Mr Grendinator that I’m psychic,” Stanley laughed, glancing over at the burly man who was guarding the front door, shooting him a fierce glare, just daring him to try to dine and dash. “I was actually hoping to buy some lumber. You see I’m gonna be building my Mystery Shack myself and chopping down trees will take forever.”

 

“Do you need any help building it?” the kid asked before his parents’ could reply. He looked genuinely hopeful that Stanley would say yes.

 

“I’m only buying the lumber. I don’t want to have to pay anyone to help me build it,” Stanley told him firmly. Even though he could make some extra money by making more phony predictions while his shack was being built, he still didn’t want to spend more money than he had to.

 

“If you think our son is too young and inexperienced, I can assure you that Dan has been building things since he was eight,” Mr. Corduroy informed him, clapping his son on the shoulder. “He is a natural builder as well as a fine lumberjack.”

 

“Well that might be true but I still would prefer---” Stanley began.

 

“He will bring his own tools and we’ll give you a discount on the wood,” Mrs. Corduroy interjected.

 

After a few minutes of thought, Stanley decided it might be a good idea if Dan helped. That way he could build the Mystery Shack twice as fast. Besides the kid did build the shack for Ford the last time.

 

“Okay but he’s being paid by the day not by the hour and I get to use his tools,” Stanley told them.


“Deal,” Boyish Dan agreed, extending his hand for Stanley to shake. Amazingly, his handshakes were still as tough as they were when he was an adult.


After the bruising but thankfully not bone crushing handshake and a discussion of how much Dan would get paid, Stanley collected his stuff and moved towards the exit only to meekly go back to his table and pay for his meal when Harold Grendinator actually growled at him when he approached the door.

 

“I gave you a nice tip for your excellent service,” Stanley promised before he left the diner. The man just glared and grunted.

 

Geez, maybe he should be glad that he never crossed paths with Grenda’s grandfather when he first came to Gravity Falls. That guy would have probably seen through him the minute Stanley started posing as his brother.


There had to be something. Some sort of hidden message that only he could find. Some sort of clue that could help him understand his brother deciding to get up and leave.

 

Ford needed to just keep looking until he found whatever it was.

 

Pa, Ma and even Shermie had agreed that Stanley had left abruptly because he felt if he didn’t leave, he would be kicked out or because he wanted to prove that he could make it by himself.

 

He had heard his school counselor telling the other teachers that in his professional opinion, Stanley leaving was a clear case of impulsivity, feelings of inadequacy and fear of loosing the twin he was so dependent on.

Why the teachers were gossiping about his brother, Stanford didn’t know. But it seemed that everyone had a theory and unlike the teachers, the students were not so careful to voice their theories on why Stanley had abruptly left when they thought Ford was out of earshot.

One guy even came up to Ford and asked if it was true that before Stanley left, he tried to set the school on fire.  

 

“I mean the other day I was walking by the school and saw him running down the steps and towards the beach like something was chasing him,” the student explained, not at all deterred by Stanford doing his homework, pointedly ignoring the interloper who decided to sit at his table for no other reason but to bug him. “Maybe he tried burning your science project but---"

 

Ford’s head snapped up. “Wait what day was this?”


“I dunno. The day before the science fair. It’s a pity he didn’t just burn the whole school down or blow it up. That would have been an awesome way to leave,” the student continued, grinning stupidly.

 

“Yes leaving town as either an arsonist or a terrorist would certainly be awesome,” Ford drawled, his tone dripping with sarcasm. “Can you tell me what his demeanor was like?” He pinched the bridge of his nose when the student shot him a confused look. “When you saw him, what was his expression or body language like? Scared? Excited? Angry? Confused?”

“Uh, well I didn’t get a good look at him because it was getting kind of dark. But he definitely seemed agitated like something bad had happened and he wanted to get as far away as he could. That’s why I think he was trying to blow the school up,” the student explained, sounding far too calm when talking about Stanley blowing something up.  Ford made a mental note to write down this student’s name just in case there ever was a real fire at school.

 

“Okay. Well I can assure you that my brother would never blow something up or set anything on fire,” Ford told him as he collected his things, adding a silent on purpose to his last statement.  

 

“Is it true he punched Mr. Richards?” the student called after Ford who hurriedly walked out of the library, deciding he might as well finish his homework at home where he knew he wouldn’t be bothered.

 

As he did so, he mentally went through the timeline he had composed leading up to Stan leaving New Jersey.

 

First, Stan had overheard what Mr. Richards had said about him.

 

Second, Ford had told Stan that instead of doing their childhood dream, he wanted to go to West Coast Tech. Hedidnotfeelguiltyaboutthathedidn’t.

 

And now, he knew that Stan had been seen at school despite it being closed for the night, running away from the building, clearly freaked out about something.

 

From there he had spent the night on the Stan-O-War.

 

Then after he was sure Ford and their parents were out of their house, he had gone inside, had time to grab his stuff, write two notes before getting in his car.

 

At about eleven o’clock, he arrived at school to say goodbye to his brother, only to get into an argument with Mr. Richards.

 

Then he drove out of New Jersey to parts unknown, promising to call when he got his business up and running. Whenever that was.

 

This new part of the puzzle was enough to convince Ford that he was right that something was going on with Stanley. That there was more to the story of his brother simply getting up and disappearing. 

 

“Dammit Stanley, what the hell have you gotten yourself into?” Ford muttered as he turned onto their street.  “And why wouldn’t you tell me?”

With more questions than answers, Ford walked into his dad’s shop.

 

“I thought you doing your homework in the library,” Filbrick grunted, neither his tone nor his expression made him seem particularly interested in his son’s answer but he got one anyway.

 

“Unfortunately, one of my classmates decided to track me down for the sole reason of asking if Stanley was an attempted arsonist or terrorist,” Ford replied blandly, wondering not for the first time why his brother running away was so interesting to people.

Perhaps it had to do with him indirectly getting Mr. Richards in trouble or the fact that he had gotten in an argument with the principal before leaving. Either way, rumors were flying and getting more outlandish by the day.

 

“One of the neighbors drove your mother to tears because she asked her if Stanley had any suicidal tendencies,” Filbrick remarked, still stoic as ever. “I told her that my son would never take the coward’s way out.”

 

Ford’s stomach churned at the thought of his twin committing suicide or getting himself killed.

 

“I’m sure that’s not it. He clearly was headed somewhere,” Ford pointed out. “I just have to figure out where.”


He expected his father to ignore him or to tell him to not waste anytime looking for his knucklehead twin. Stanley had made his own choice and there was nothing they could do about it. That Ford was better off focusing on his studies, graduating high school and college with honors and let Stanley live his own life as he was not their problem any longer.

 

“Oregon,” his father stated casually as if he had known the answer this whole time.

 

Ford blinked in surprise. “What do you mean Oregon?” he prompted.  

 

“That’s where Stanley was headed. Or at least that’s what Mrs. McCorkle’s daughter said he told her,” Filbrick explained, still not elaborating on how he had come across that particular information.

 

“Stanley told Carla McCorkle where he was going,” Ford repeated, dumbfounded.

 

Stanley had chosen to tell Carla McCorkle, the girl who ripped out his heart and stomped on it, where he was going over his own brother. Had he also told her why he was leaving? Did he decide that saying goodbye to his ex-girlfriend in person was more important than showing the same curtsey to his own family? 

 

A part of Ford wanted to march over to the McCorkles and ask Carla what exactly she and Stan had talked about.

 

The other part of him was too busy wondering what on Earth was in Oregon that Stanley would go there for. They had never been to Oregon and nobody they knew lived there.  So why of all the states in America would Stanley choose Oregon.

 

Another part of the mystery solved but it still answered absolutely nothing.  


Stanley had been expecting him to show up during his first night in Gravity Falls and had he not needed to be well rested to build the Mystery Shack which even with Dan’s help it would take at least six months if not longer, he would have tried staying awake until it was done. Despite the Corduroys kind offer of the spare room of their cabin, Stan had felt more comfortable sleeping in his car. However, he did ask if he could use their shower, finding that there would be fewer embarrassing incidents of people finding him bathing in a creek that way.

 

When he first took a shower at their cabin, he found his clothes had mysteriously been washed and dried. The next time he went over to their house, he brought a bag full of laundry which mysteriously disappeared, forcing him to stay for a homecooked meal.

 

The reason why he preferred to sleep in his car was because of his nightmares. When Stanley had nightmares, he was very loud. The first night of that fateful summer, Mabel had thought his screams from a particularly vivid nightmare was him being murdered. His great-niece had refused to leave his bed after that, insisting that she and Dipper should stay with him for the night just in case he had another scary dream. It was the first time Stanley had felt peaceful after a nightmare, holding the twins close as he drifted off to sleep.

 

Although his nightmares were a normal occurrence, Stanly didn’t usually have them every single night. He wasn’t sure if it was being in Gravity Falls or his anxieties or perhaps some sort of tactic of his, but he kept having nightmares of getting his loved ones killed or sometimes a bad memory he would have preferred to have forgotten every night for an entire month.   

 

One night, he dreamed of being in the Fearamid. Bill had not fallen for the twin switch this time and taken over Ford’s body. Stan watched in horror as the Bill possessed Ford strangled the twins to death. He struggled against his bounds, screaming for the kids and his brother until he was horse.

 

“Did you really think you could beat me? Well you could have if you had held your brother’s hand. But then again who wants to hold this freak’s hand. But don’t worry, I can fix him,” Bill jeered cruelly, producing a knife from nowhere and proceeding to slice off the sixth digit from Ford’s hands. “But then again, now that I have everything that I want, why do I need old Sixer anyway!”

 

With that, Bill plunged the knife into Ford’s chest before leaving the mutilated body and returning to his own. He snapped his fingers, freeing Stanley so he could run to his brother’s side.

 

Stanley cradled his twin’s broken body. “Ford, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I failed you. I failed the kids. I failed Wendy and Soos. I failed everyone,” he whispered.

 

“I hate you,” Ford rasped as he struggled to breath. “You were always so needy, so suffocating. Always dragging me down. I couldn’t wait to get rid of you even before you destroyed my future. You destroyed all our future because of your own selfishness. Look at what you have done, Stanley. You killed us, you killed us all.”

 

Then the hairs stood up on the back of Stanley’s neck and suddenly he knew.

 

He was only dreaming. The bloodied, mutilated, hateful man in his arms was not real. The two small precious unmoving bodies nearby were not real.

 

More importantly, the laughing Bill was not real but the one behind Stanley was.

 

“Aw, ‘don’t need old Sixer anymore’, I am a riot,” Bill laughed as he floated over to the not real Bill who was now frozen in mid cackle. “Although you are pretty good yourself with your pathetic screams and all.”

 

“Glad I could be entertaining,” Stan growled, looking at Bill so he didn’t have to see the dead bodies notrealnotrealnotreal  of his family or their blood that now stained the Fearamid’s floor. 

 

“Oh you are, I’ve been having such a kick watching your nightmares this past week,” Bill laughed. “The one where you are in Colombia prison is quite fun. Tell me, were you Jorge or Rico’s bitch?”

“Cut to the chase, demon,” the teenager snarled through gritted teeth. He wasn’t sure where exactly Bill had learned that term but that was not a memory he felt like reliving or talking about especially with the likes of Bill.

 

A nauseating thought occurred to him. What if Bill had…? No, Ford would have told him. He had been forthcoming about the torture he endured at that triangle demon’s hands which was more than enough reason for Stanley to want to tear Bill limb from limb.

 

“Fair enough. I’m just wondering why I don’t remember any of this. Not to mention in these nightmares you seem a lot older,” Bill remarked. He didn’t have a mouth but Stanley could almost picture the smug Cheshire grin.

 

“Really. I hadn’t noticed,” Stanley drawled, rolling his eyes. “Are you just here to state the obvious or what?”

 

 

“You got spirit, kid, I HATE SPIRIT!” Bill shouted in a demonic voice as he grew three times his size and turned red.

 

“This is a dream world, Bill, you can’t hurt me here,” Stanley pointed out, smirking slightly. Maybe he was courting danger by intentionally angering the dream demon but honestly he couldn’t care less. “Sure, you can send me a few terrifying nightmares. However, my nightmares are just as bad without your manipulation so I’m used to the trauma that comes with it.”

 

“I know why you are here. You are trying to undo this,” Bill said, gesturing the carnage in the Fearamid. Notrealnotrealnotrealnotreal. “You didn’t beat me the last time. What makes you think you’ll beat me this time?”


Stanley grinned, he could not help himself. “Who says I didn’t beat you the last time?”  he asked, finding himself deliriously happy that his nightmares had given Bill the impression that Stanley had no idea how to stop him.

 

“You’re lying. Why would you be here if you beat me?” Bill asked, his eye narrowed, slightly unnerved by Stanley’s confidence.

 

“Because I liked it so much the first time, I wanted to try again,” Stanley laughed. “And do you know what the best part is, I don’t have a plan yet which means even if you could get into my mind, there is nothing there for you to dig out.”


“You cannot be this stupid,” Bill growled.


“Wanna bet?” Stanley jeered, enjoying rubbing his future knowledge in Bill’s face.

 

“It doesn’t matter if you are lying or not, I don’t like unknowns in my game and I will find a way to kill you,” Bill snarled.

 

“Good luck. As Jorge and Rico would tell ya, I’m a very persistent cockroach,” Stanley told him. “I am extremely hard to kill.”

 

“Challenge accepted,” Bill hissed before picking up the bodies of Ford, Mabel and Dipper. “Just remember what happens when you fail.”


“You will never mess with my family again, Bill,” Stanley assured him, trying to ignore the mangled bodies of his brother and the niblings.

 

NOTREALNOTREALNOTREALNOTREAL

 

The dream began to fade and Stanley heard a tapping as he woke up.


“Mr. Pines?” Still half-asleep, Stanley barely heard the muffled voice but he did hear the tapping on his window.

 

“Go away, Soos,” he grumbled, pulling the blanket over his head.

 

Knucklehead, you are in the past, remember.

 

Right. It was Boyish Dan knocking on his car window, not Soos. Stanley yawned and rolled down his window.

 

“My mom made you breakfast,” the red-head told him, handing him a plate with eggs and bacon. He waited until Stanley had accepted the plate before handing him utensils wrapped up in a napkin. “I’ll continue working while you are eating.” 

 

“Thanks, kid and say thanks to your mom for me as well,” Stanley said gratefully, wolfing down the bacon and eggs.  “My compliments to the chef.”

 

“I need the plans,” Dan reminded him, standing patiently by the car.

 

Stanley put his half-finished breakfast on the passenger seat before reaching back to his jacket and pulled out the folded plans from his inside pocket. He had drawn them up from memory best he could.


He made sure to include Ford’s secret basement---lying to Dan and saying it would be used to make his exabits without anyone seeing him---so when his brother arrived, he would have a place to put his lab. 

 

Dan grimaced as Stan got grease stains on the paper but he didn’t say anything more than a polite thank you before leaving Stan to finish his breakfast.

 

As Stanley ate, he thought about what he should do. The Mystery Shack would hopefully be up and running by the summer of next year but he might want to start working on the shield spell that would protect the shack and its occupants from Bill.

 

After all, he was building his house first and the actually tourist attraction second. Not only would he prefer to get some sleep without Bill messing with his mind but he would like to be able to contact his family without worrying that Bill might somehow be listening in.

 

Then again, if he did the spell before the entire shack was finished, something might go wrong. It would be better to be safe than sorry.

 

Looking out the window, making sure that Dan had started working and was not near the car, Stanley put the empty plate back on the passenger seat and opened the glove department where he hid the objects Time Baby had allowed him to bring from the future on the grounds that they would help him defeat Bill.

 

In reality only the drawing of the Zodiac and the instructions on where to find the ingredients for the shield spell were useful to defeat Bill.

 

The four other items were just tokens of sentimental value. 


“You realize that half of these people aren’t even born in the seventies,” Stanley reminded his brother when he saw the drawing of the Zodiac.

 

“And the memory gun hasn’t even been made. You are going to have to improvise, Stanley,” Ford remarked, before smiling fondly. “It’s a good thing, you are good at improvising.”  

 

“Grunkle Stan, I brought you a going away present,” Mabel told him, looking as though she was about to cry.

 

“Hey Pumpkin, don’t look at it like that,” Stanley implored him, kneeling down. “You won’t even know I’m gone. Heck, you won’t even remember me being gone in the first place.”


“But that’s the point, what if you change everything and I’m not your pumpkin anymore? What if Dipper and I don’t even go to Gravity Falls and we don’t bound and become your favorite niblings,” Mabel asked, her eyes shinning with unshed tears. “Ugh, I know that you are doing a great thing and I don’t want to selfish but I don’t want to lose the good memories just to get rid of the bad ones.”

 

“Mabel, Mom and Dad sent us to Gravity Falls because they wanted us to get fresh air. Unless they decide that we shouldn’t get out of the city than I think we will always go to Gravity Falls no matter what Grunkle Stan changes,” Dipper pointed out, giving his twin a one-armed hug. “And then we can make new good memories and they’ll be even better than our old ones. Right?”


Dipper looked up to his Grunkles for confirmation.

 

“I am certain we will,” Ford said firmly, despite the fact that he had been trying to talk Stanley out of this an hour before.

 

“And if it makes you feel any better, Pumpkin, I’ll remember all those old good memories for you,” Stan assured her, ruffling her hair before doing the same to Dipper. Then he pulled them into a hug. “Come here you knuckleheads.”

 

Once there separated, Mabel handed over the two items she had held in her hand. “It’s not a scrapbook but it will have to do,” she said with a tearful smile.

 

One was a picture of Stanley, Mabel, Wendy, Soos and Dipper. The other was of Ford, Stanley, Mabel, Soos, Dipper, Waddles and Gompers.

 

“It’s getting a little dusty in here,” Stanley mumbled, wiping his eyes.

 

“And here, Mr. Mystery just wouldn’t be the same without it,” Dipper declared, handing Stanley his old fez.

 

“Where did you get that from?” Stanley wondered before a memory hit him of being unable to find his fez and having to use his backup fez. “Never mind.” He had a feeling that when Ford had talked to him alone, Dipper and Mabel decided to steal his fez from his past self.

 

“Well if we are giving gifts, I should probably give you this,” Ford decided. “To put in Mabel’s scrapbook. A reminder that while you will change the future, I’m certain we will still end up here.”

 

It was a picture of them on the Stan-o-War II.

 

“Geez, I gotta get going before you people turn me into a blubbering mess,” Stanley grumbled, wiping his eyes on his sleeve before he took Ford’s picture.


Stanley held the three pictures in his hand, smiling as he committed them to memory.

 

“Just forty-one years to go,” he joked.

Chapter Text

1975

 

“Mr. Mystery at your service, ladies and germs,” Stanley greeted his customers with a wide smile, flourishing his cane as he made his grand entrance. He glanced over the crowd, sizing them up. If there was one thing Stanley prided himself in doing, it was knowing how to charm the tourists.

 

There were three kinds of tourists that usually visited the Mystery Shack. There were some people who excitable easily impressed and downright gullible types who Stanley could con without breaking a sweat. They just bought everything Stan was selling (one time, a couple of them literally bought everything Stan was selling; he had to cancel the three days’ worth of tours in order to restock the gift shop).

 

Then there were the tourists who were just there to have a good time or were just curious about what Stan had to offer; these ones didn’t usually fall for the fakes but they were often entertained enough to the point where they enjoyed themselves anyway.

 

And lastly there were the skeptics and the no fun type who were usually dragged to the Mystery Shack by someone else and they would waste no time loudly proclaiming how lame the exhibits were and how stupid everyone else was for liking and/or believing them to be real. It always gave Stanley a warm and fuzzy feeling in his chest when he got those buzzkills to buy a ridiculously overpriced knick-knack. 

 

The tourists for today looked like they were type one with a few type twos mixed among them. Excellent, an easy crowd.

 

Suddenly Stanley froze when he saw three familiar faces in the crowd. He swallowed thickly when he locked eyes with his brother. Of all the people to find him, he didn’t think it would be Shermie.

 

Well to be fair the only person he thought would find him was Ford because why would anyone else he knew from New Jersey be in Oregon let alone Gravity Falls? Of course now that he thought about it, he had mentioned the town name to Carla before he left four years ago so perhaps he should have realized she might tell someone. However, Shermie and his wife looked just as surprised to see him as he was to see them so he assumed that they had no idea that they would run into him.

 

“Follow me to see the mysterious sights within the mysterious Mystery Shack,” Stanley continued, keeping a wide grin on his face as he turned to go inside. If Shermie wanted to talk to him than he could do so after he showed off his exhibits to the crowd.


 After the tour, he led the group into the gift shop where he quickly moved to the register, keeping his eyes on it as he waited for the inevitable tirade that was sure to come when his brother walked over.

 

“Do you give family discounts?” Shermie asked, causing Stanley’s head to snap up in surprise. He wasn’t expecting that. His brother gestured downwards as he continued talking casually as if there was absolutely nothing unusual about this conversation. “Jacob really wants a bobblehead of Mr. Mystery and question mark t-shirt. I’m sure you would take a few dollars off for your favorite nephew, wouldn’t you?”

 

Stan glanced down at the boy in question and noted that he looked exactly like Dipper. Maybe he should throw in a pine tree hat. Nah. Best not tempt fate for the small things, just in case Time Baby decided Stan was causing too many paradoxes and erased everything Stanley had already changed, throwing him back into his older body.

 

“I really liked the tour, Uncle Stan,” Jacob complimented him earnestly. “Dad thought it would be boring but it wasn’t boring at all, it was really cool.”

 

“Sounds like you got good taste, kiddo,” Stanley said, grinning down at his six -year-old nephew. “Tell you what, if you promise not to spread this around, I’ll let you have the bobblehead and the shirt for free.”

 

Jacob grinned at him before he was ushered away by his mother, giving the two Pines brothers some privacy.

 

“Do you have a piece of paper and a pen?” Shermie inquired, his tone was still pleasant enough even if his expression betrayed his irritation. When Stanley handed him the two items, the oldest Pines son wrote down a number. “Here. Ford’s dorm’s number. Call him, you knucklehead and while you’re at it, call Ma. Do you know how worried we’ve all been about you?”

 

“I’m fine. I can handle myself,” Stan stated firmly, trying to act as though he wasn’t feeling guilty.

 

The Mystery Shack had been up and running for the past four years with business doing well enough as it could without the advertising he would have in the future. He just kept putting off calling home for one reason or another. He even started thinking it might be better if he just stayed away until Ford got to Gravity Falls and they defeated Bill once and for all.

 

The incident with the late Mr. Northwest had not helped matters.

 

“Stan, Ma’s been answering every phone call with ‘Stanley?’ and Ford has made a list of all the reasons you might have left. I know you can handle yourself and judging from the fact that the Mystery Shack was recommended to both me and Cecily by three different coworkers, I’m guessing your business is thriving but that doesn’t mean you can just cut off all communication from your family,” Shermie admonished him sternly.

 

Had Shermie not made it clear when Stanley spoke to him for the first time after Pa had kicked him out that Stan was more than welcome to stay with him and Cecily, he might have actually laughed at the irony of him being the one who had cut off all communication.

 

“All right, I’ll call as soon as this group leaves,” Stan assured his brother. “Can you do me a favor though? Don’t tell anyone that you found me. I’d rather not have any more surprise visitors.”


The idea of his judgmental father coming to the Mystery Shack was a daunting one. Filbrick made his opinions on tourist attractions known---calling those who owned them nothing but glorified scammers---- and Stan could only guess what choice words he’d have for his youngest son’s chosen business.

 

“I promise I won’t tell anyone as long as you promise to call Ma and Ford. And just so you know, a call to your non-twin brother every once in a while would be nice,” Shermie told him, his eyes narrowed.

 

“Okay, okay. I’ll call. No need to nag,” Stanley grumble defensively albeit with a grin. 

 

“Had you kept in touch for the past four years, I wouldn’t have to nag,” Shermie pointed out before reaching over the cash register and giving his surprised brother a hug. “It’s good to see you, Stanley.”


“It’s good to see you, Stanley.”

 

Stan blinked at the man in the hospital bed, infusing concern in his voice to mask his panic. “I think old age has affected your eyesight, Shermie, or maybe you do have a concession. I’m Ford. Six fingers, see,” he said, wiggling his six-fingered gloves to sell the part.

 

“I’m only seven years older than you. Furthermore, it’s the middle of the summer, can you give me a reason why you won’t take off your gloves?” Shermie asked, an eyebrow raised.

 

“I’m cold,” Stanley lied lamely, mentally kicking himself for not being able to think of a better one.

 

“Right. Come off it, Stan, you can fool a lot of people but not me or Ma. You might have fooled Pa but honestly that says more about him than it does you,” Shermie remarked with a sardonic chuckle before putting his hand on Stan’s shoulder. “I don’t know why you faked your death or where Ford is but I know that whatever is going on, you will fix it.”

 

“I don’t know if he’s even alive or dead but I can’t stop working until I get him back,” Stanley whispered, not even bothering to continue the charade. It had been twenty years and he felt so tired. “I’m really glad you’re okay, Shermie, Ford’s gonna want to see you.”

 

“He had ten years to see me,” Shermie grumbled, ignoring his brother’s thinly veiled reference to the near fatal car crash he had been in; thankfully he had only suffered from a few broken bones. “I mean you were kicked out and you still managed to stay in contact with me and Ma. Hell, I think the only reason Jacob’s wife and kids have met his Uncle Ford is because you’ve been pretending to be him.”

 

“Come on, that’s not fair. You know how Ford can get about his work,” Stan protested. “When we were kids, I used to have to drag him outside because he got caught up in some big project we all knew he could ace in his sleep.”

 

“Something tells me that it was Ford’s work that got him in trouble in the first place,” Shermie said with a heavy sigh. 

 

Before Stanley could reply, Jacob and his wife entered, holding two toddlers. Wanting to get out of there before he broke down completely, Stan decided to let Shermie have some alone time with his grandkids.


“Take care of yourself, little brother,” Shermie said softly, patting Stanley’s back before he let go.

 

“You too and, uh, drive safely,” Stanley told him, feeling slightly embarrassed by the affection especially in front of people he didn’t know.

 

With their free souvenirs, Shermie, his wife and son left the Mystery Shack with one last goodbye before they drove away. Soon the rest of the crowd began to depart, leaving Stan alone in his house which suddenly felt so big and empty that a wave of loneliness hit him, a feeling he had become accustomed to in the past forty years.


“Pines Residence. State your business,” Filbrick said gruffly as soon as he picked up the phone. Stanley could have kicked himself for calling the house phone instead of Ma’s business phone. He silently debated whether he should just ask for Ma or just hang up and save his father the trouble of hanging up on him. “Is that you, Stanley?” his father asked after a few minutes of silence passed.

 

“Yeah, Pa, it’s me,” Stanley replied, deciding he might as well get this over with.

 

“Are you in some kind of trouble that you need to be bailed out of?” Filbrick inquired coolly as if that was the only reason his screw-up of a son would ever call home.  

 

“No, I just thought I’d give you and Ma a call,” Stan lied, trying to keep the annoyance out of his voice. He wasn’t a teenager anymore---even if he hadn’t time traveled--- he had spent years becoming a man without Filbrick so who the hell was he to think badly about his son? In fact, the Mystery Shack was Stan’s pride and joy so why should he be ashamed of it just because his father wouldn’t approve? “Shermie, Cecily and Jacob dropped by my Mystery Shack and he told me that Ford and Ma were missing me so I decided I should call them.”


There was a pause on the other end and Stanley wondered if just maybe his father missed him too and was actually hurt by the fact that Stan was more concerned about his mother and brother than Filbrick.

 

“Well? Aren’t you gonna tell me what this Mystery Shack business is all about?” Filbrick asked, sounding as if he didn’t care either way. But then again, why would he ask about it at all if he didn’t truly care about it out of curiosity if nothing else?

 

“It’s an establishment that displays the oddities and mysteries of the world,” Stanley explained, wincing as he knew exactly what his father would say to that.

 

“So you bought a tourist trap and are scamming people of the money by showing them cheap and fake things that you slapped together in five seconds,” Filbrick guessed in a nonplussed tone. While that tone was definitely not unusual, Stan could almost hear his father thinking that it figured that Stan would choose a job he didn’t actually have to work hard at.

 

“I didn’t buy a tourist trap, I built it and those cheap and fake displays actually take a lot of time to make especially when I never reuse my exhibits and I have to come up with fascinating stories for each one to keep people coming back,” Stan explained hotly. Sure Mystery Shack wasn’t exactly a noble institution and legal as it may be, it still was a scam but that didn’t mean Stan hadn’t put a lot of his blood, sweat and tears into making it. In fact, the only thing he had worked harder on during those thirty years was fixing that portal to get Ford back.

 

“Are you telling me you built your own business from the ground up and are actually putting the effort into running it?” Filbrick inquired, his tone deceptively bland.

 

“Yes, Sir,” Stan replied, trying to focus on his anger at Filbrick so he could stomp down that feeling of despair at his father’s disapproval.

 

“Huh. I’m impressed.”


Stanley’s jaw dropped and his breath got caught in his throat.  Was his mind playing tricks on him? Did he just hear what he thought he heard?

 

“Could you repeat that? I think I misheard you,” Stanley remarked, hoping that Filbrick did not notice the slight tremor in his voice. He struggled to remind himself that his father’s opinion didn’t matter but it was really hard to stick to that after hearing two words that he never thought anyone let alone his father would say about something he did.

 

“You always were a slacker riding off of your brother’s coattails and when you left home, I didn’t think you would make it out there. I figured you’d be back in a week. Instead you went and started up your own business without any help. I might not approve of tourist traps but the fact remains you still have a steady job that you are working hard for once in your life so I’m impressed,” Filbrick told him.


“I didn’t do it to impress you,” was all Stanley could say to that.

 

“I know,” Filbrick replied. More awkward silence passed before it was broken again by Filbrick. “Your mother won’t be home for another hour so why don’t you give me your number and she can call you when she gets here.”

After getting the phone number, Filbrick hung up without another word, leaving Stanley sitting in his kitchen, wondering if that conversation really just happened.

 

It didn’t change anything, Stanley knew that much. At the end of the day, his father was still a grumpy old miser who thought a game of catch with his sons was a waste of time and had belittled him for years.

 

And yet, Stan couldn’t help but feel jubilant that after all this time, he had finally managed to impress his father.

 

With a grin on his face, Stan walked over to the counter and grabbed the scrap of paper where Shermie had written Ford’s number and dialed it.

 

It took two tries before someone actually picked up.

 

“Hello? You are disturbing our studying. Please state your name and business,” an arrogant voice demanded.

 

“May I, Stanley Pines, please speak to my brother, Stanford Pines?” Stanley inquired, making his tone just as hoity-toity.

 

“I’m afraid that the charity case has locked himself in the room, working on some sort of project as if we all don’t have important things to do,” the boy sneered.

 

Stanley wished he could reach through the phone and punch that little twerp.

 

“Well in my opinion, it’s far better to be a charity case as that would mean he was smart enough to get in instead of oh say having their daddy pay for them to get in,” Stan mocked, taking a shot in the dark.

 

“No one asked you,” the student sneered, causing Stanley to grin.

 

Someone must have gone to get Ford because Stan could hear him ask for the phone. A few minutes later, Stan heard his brother’s voice.

 

“Stanley, is that you?” Ford asked, knowingly echoing their father’s words.

 

“Yep it’s me. How’s West Coast Tech been treating you?” Stan questioned curiously. “I hope not all of your classmates are like that jerk.”

 

“No just him and his cronies who thankfully don’t live at our dorm. Honestly it’s a breath of fresh air to be mocked for my background rather than my appearance,” Ford deadpanned, a sardonic chuckle escaping from his lips. “Aside from him, it’s actually nice to be among so many people who share my same interests.”

 

Unlike Glass Shard Beach, where you only had your dumb twin to talk to. Stanley couldn’t help but think bitterly.

 

“Well I’m glad that my nerdy brother has found his nerd people and I’m sure that they will one day proclaim you as their king. Long live the King of the Nerds,” Stan teased. “May he bring peace to the kingdom of Nerdia so they can continue their work as nerds and raise their little nerdlings to become super smart nerds themselves.”



“Are you quite done?” Ford drawled, sounding both annoyed and amused at the same time.

 

“Right, sorry, I’m done, Stanley laughed. “Seriously Ford, I’m sure you’re excelling like you always do and one day, I’m gonna be showing my customers the framed newspaper of this famous scientist guy and when they ask if that’s me in the picture, I’ll be like, ‘nah that’s my super smart brother, Stanford Pines, he got the brains, I got the devilishly handsome looks.’”

 

“Customers? So you really did start a business,” Ford said in surprise.

 

“Yep, I finally found something I was good at, Pointdexter.  You know when we would go on vacation and Ma and I would drag you and Pa to this places that showed off things like the world’s biggest ball of yarn or something like that,” Stanley explained excitedly. “Well I created the Mystery Shack which is full of mysteries for everyone to see. It’s nice because I can put my gift of gab to use, spinning tales about whatever new display I’ve crafted.” 

 

“So you decided to leave home to become lie and cheat people for a living,” Ford stated flippantly.

 

“I think that snob school is rubbing off on you,” Stan growled through gritted teeth. A vindictive side of him wanted to point out that their father had actually been impressed with him.

 

“I’m sorry, Stan, but it just shocks me that you decided to just pack up and leave without even talking to me about it---” Ford began.

 

“Hey you were planning on leaving too. I just beat you to it,” Stan interjected angrily.

 

“Only if I got into West Coast Tech. Otherwise I would have gone through with our treasure hunter plan,” Ford protested as if that made everything better.

 

“Oh gee, Fordsie, really? Our childhood dream was your backup plan. I’m so happy that you would be willing to settle for hanging out with your twin if only your dreams crashed and burned,” Stan jeered, sarcasm coloring his tone. “Look Ford, we both know you wanted space from me so I gave you space.”

 

“There is a big difference than leaving for college, intending to stay in touch than just taking off, only telling your ex-girlfriend where you were going and not bothering to talk to anyone for four years,” Ford pointed out logically.

 

Had Ford not insulted him by disparaging the Mystery Shack, Stanley might have conceded that point. Had Stan not been certain that his twin would be far too busy with his schoolwork to be able to visit or even call home, Stan might have understood his point.

 

“Really? You would have wanted to leave your awesome school to spend time with your suffocating brother?” Stanley blurted out before he could stop himself.

 

“I never said you were suffocating,” Ford said in a quiet voice.

 

“But you thought it, didn’t you? You felt like I was dragging you down. You felt like you needed to get away from me so you could live up to your potential,” Stanley guessed. “I was deadweight and you just cut me loose.”

 

“So that’s it then. Everyone was right about you. You just left because I was leaving, not once thinking about how your actions could affect others,” Ford snapped, sounding furious and almost disappointed. “I thought there had to be more to you leaving but I guess you really are that self-centered.”

 

Something in Stanley snapped and when he spoke, his voice was shaking with a deathly calm tremor.

 

“Do you know how many times I have dropped everything to rush over when you needed me? Do you know that I deliberately avoided you the night before I left because I was afraid that you would either try to convince me not to leave or you would insist on coming with me? I have done nothing but support you. But I guess I can’t expect you to show me the same curtsey. You know what, Ford, I’ve spent so much time in your shadow, I thought sailing around the world with you was all I was ever going to do. Now I’m doing something else that I’m actually good at. The best part is, I don’t need you or anyone else. I’m fine on my own!”

 

With that, Stanley slammed the receiver down and punched the counter, causing an empty beer bottle to roll off and shatter on the ground.

 

“Well fuck my life,” Stanley grumbled, finding it irritating and ironic that after another fight with Ford, he had managed to accidentally break something.

 

But then again, when had he ever done something right?


Weirdmageddon was going strong with the Mystery Shack being the only safe haven from Bill’s reign of terror. But instead of hiding there for the rest of their lives, surviving on canned food and gnomes, they were planning on fighting Bill which as far as Stanley was concerned was a suicide mission.

 

However, for the moment he decided not to dwell on idiotic plans that were sure to get them killed. He wanted answers and with Ford getting himself captured, the only other person who could give these answers was his great-nephew.

 

He managed to convince Dipper to come with him to the attic so they could talk for a minute. Once he was sure no one had followed them, he demanded Dipper tell him everything starting he and Ford had gotten up to the point where he, Mabel, Wendy and Soos returned to the shack.

 

“There is no way your parents would have let you do that, kid,” Stanley pointed out when Dipper got to the point where Ford had offered him an internship. “Even if Gravity Falls was a normal town and all this craziness hadn’t happened, I doubt your folks would have let you drop out of school to study under a great-uncle they barely know. Did Ford even think about how Mabel would react to something like this.” For someone who claimed that Stan was selfish, Ford had a hard time factoring in other people’s feelings.

 

“Well Grunkle Ford thought that twins always being together was suffocating and he thought some time about could be good for us,” Dipper explained, his tone doubtful, making it clear for once he wasn’t taking the oh so great Author’s word for it.

 

Stan frowned, guessing it wasn’t Dipper and Mabel’s relationship that Ford was talking about and he wanted to punch his knuckleheaded twin for projecting his feelings on a pair of twins he had only known for a few weeks.

 

After Dipper finished explaining everything, he asked to go back with helping turning the Mystery Shack into a fighting machine.

 

He left his grunkle to fume about the situation they were in. The situation Ford blamed him for because he “selfishly” rescued Ford from the portal when in reality none of this would have happened if it weren’t for his twin. It infuriated Stanley that his brother was so quick to point out his faults but seemed to forget all about his. They wouldn’t be in the mess had Ford not built that stupid portal and having read the second journal, Stan knew all bout his muse, the same muse who had turned Gravity Falls into his playground.

 

“I swear, Ford, if we come and recuse you and you don’t at least apologize for getting us into this mess let alone thank me for saving your ungrateful butt, I am going to strangle you!” Stanley hissed.