This summer, they were going to Gravity Falls, Oregon.
This summer, they were going somewhere where no-one would know his name except Mabel.
This summer, Dipper could be himself.
“Mabel,” he said, while they were packing for their trip to the middle of nowhere. “Can you call me Dipper this summer?”
“I already do.”
Dipper watched as his sister took a pile of sweaters out of her closet and dumped them all in her suitcase.
“But…” he sighed. “Just… don’t tell anyone my deadname, okay?”
Mabel blew a raspberry. “You know I won’t.”
She pulled Dipper into a hug. He smiled.
“I know you won’t,” he said. “I just want to be a boy, for real.”
Dipper wasn’t out to their parents yet. He was still working on making his voice drop the way he wanted it to. He was still working on learning how to bind… puberty was coming for him too fast, and it was pulling him in the wrong direction.
“Dipper, you are a real boy.”
“It just… doesn’t feel like it, sometimes.”
The bus ride to Gravity Falls, Oregon, was a lonely one. Or it would have been a lonely one, if Mabel and Dipper hadn’t had each other for company. They were the only ones on the bus the entire ride up. Dipper brought a deck of cards and some pens with them, so they could play games or doodle in notebooks. Mabel brought snacks and a board game (which was slightly impractical to play on a bus, but they made it work) and she made sure to always have a conversation going, even if it was occasionally just a monologue to herself. Dipper was wearing his binder, and a blue vest and jean shorts, and a baseball cap that hid his embarrassing birthmark.
Mabel had picked the hat out for him. He enjoyed it more than he let on.
When one of them got tired, they napped on their sibling’s shoulder. They took shifts napping. When Mabel was sleeping, Dipper took the time to read a book and look out the window as signs of human civilization lessened. When Dipper was sleeping, Mabel scrapbooked and listened to music, occasionally humming along.
The ride up to Gravity Falls wasn't lonely at all. Dipper had Mabel.
Their Great Uncle Stan wasn’t exactly the most fun. His idea of ‘family time’ was creating counterfeit cash in undisclosed locations, and he liked to make Dipper and Mabel work hours in the gift shop that probably violated child labor laws. But Stan didn’t ask questions when a boy stepped off the bus instead of the girl that had been promised by Dipper’s parents, and Stan always called Dipper by his nickname, not his birth name, and Stan never asked about why Dipper took some time out of his day, every day, to work on getting his voice to drop. And eventually, Stan even bought Dipper a binder- a real binder, because he noticed that Dipper was using Ace bandages and was constantly winded. Sure, Stan probably bought the binder with that counterfeit money they made earlier, but Dipper didn’t care. And Stan figured out stretches for Dipper to do, too, so that he wouldn’t get tired so quickly, and all of that was just the best.
And Wendy and Soos didn’t even notice that Dipper was trans, and if they did, they didn’t say anything, and Dipper would go to bed each night happy because “Oh my god, Mabel, I’m passing!” and Mabel would be happy for him and they were happy together, even if summer was boring and Dipper was on edge because the town was a little weirder than towns are supposed to be.
The beginning of summer was like this. Uneventful. Exciting, nonetheless. And Dipper was passing.
He liked it.
Life in Gravity Falls fell into a mundane routine. Work shifts in the gift shop. Hang out with Mabel. Sometimes chat with Soos and Wendy. Have some ‘family time’ with Grunkle Stan that often resulted in the arrest of at least one person. Mabel invented Mabel Juice™ and she shared it with everyone in the Mystery Shack, occasionally selling it to tourists. Grunkle Stan was rubbing off on her, just a little. Still, the beginning of the summer was mundane.
And then Dipper found the journal.
It was hiding in a (metal?) tree in the middle of the woods near the Shack. And when he found it, when he read it, all of his suspicions about the town were confirmed. All of them. All of them, and more. Finally, Dipper had a purpose. He had a quest. He had something to do, something other than just restocking shelves of tchotchkes. Mabel thought it was funny, how much Dipper obsessed over the journal. But she didn’t say much of it, other than the teasing she’d do every now and again. She knew that the journal made Dipper feel more like himself, somehow.
He was really starting to feel like himself.
Dipper lost the hat Mabel got him the same day he found the journal. But that was fine, because he was saving Mabel from a gnome monster (about that: WHAT?) and she wasn’t hurt that he lost the hat because, well, gnome monster. And Dipper missed his hat, but Stan let him get a new one. From the Shack. Mabel got a grappling hook. It suited her.
Sometimes, Dipper was dysphoric. He became anxious. Depressed. Mabel helped him through it, as best as she could. Stan helped him through it, which was funny, because Dipper would never have seen Stan as supportive. But he was. Stan cared. He wouldn’t say it, but he cared.
In Gravity Falls, no-one cared that Dipper was trans.
In Gravity Falls, there was nothing but mystery-solving and twin shenanigans and general summer fun.
Dipper wanted to stay there forever.
He knew that wouldn’t happen. It couldn’t happen. But he wanted it to.