Dipper stepped forward, his feet crunching on the ground. The smell of hotdogs and hamburgers cooking filled his nose, and the chatter of children filled his ears. Looking ahead, he saw two children - twins - running around and chasing fireflies.
"Dipper, you can borrow my bug net!"
"I'm fine, Polaris."
Polaris - the name given to Mabel that was never really hers at all. Though it was dark, he could still make out the younger form of his sister. She didn't have braces, not at this time, and rather than wearing her usual sweater, she wore instead a matching baseball T-shirt. With her brown hair cut short, it was hard to differentiate her from her brother by looks alone. It was the bug net she carried that gave herself away, and Dipper would recognize himself - even when he was younger - anywhere.
"Hey, you little gremlins!" Gruncle Stan called. "The hotdogs are almost ready!"
Just like Dipper remembered, the two young twins burst into giggles, and Dipper himself couldn't help but chuckle. Stepping further into the shadows of nearby trees, he watched the two twins run towards The Mystery Shack.
"You're the real gremlin!" Mabel said. She ran ahead of her brother.
"No way!" Dipper replied as he tried to get his legs to move faster. "Everyone knows you aren't allowed to eat after midnight!"
At the front, Gruncle Stan was standing by a grill, a spatula raised and a Kiss the Cook apron (which he remembered Mabel following, giving her great uncle a kiss on the nose) wrapped around his waist.
Walking through the trees, Dipper edged closer and closer to the Shack. It was almost funny how little the place had changed in six years. Soos was around, though younger, and Stan still had a number of ridiculous, truth bending signs set up directing unsuspecting tourists to come and visit. At the time, neither twin had paid much attention to it. When Dipper was six, mysteries had come second place to hotdogs.
He supposed if there wasn't a gaping hole in his chest (all the more reason for his past self not to see him) then his stomach would rumble. The food smelled as delicious as ever; though his uncle was by no means a completely honest man, it was no lie that he was a great at the grill.
"I want mustard on mine!" Mabel said. "I want ketchup too and pickles!"
"I want my hotdog first!" Dipper jumped up, his small, pale hands clenching and unclenching
Dipper gave a low chuckle. He had never been one for waiting when he was a kid.
"What's so funny, Pine Tree?"
Dipper froze for a moment, his eyes trapped on the happy family in front of him, yet his mind stuck on the demon behind him.
"Looks a bit too cheery to me. No one's broken a leg or worse!"
"Bill!" Before Dipper could even move, the words left his lip. He turned, meeting the demon in his one eye. "What are you doing here?"
"I should be asking the same of you." The demon chuckled and absently waved his small black cane around. "Seriously, don't you already know?"
"The code." Dipper's voice was monotone. His eyes slitted and a scowl crossed his face.
"Bingo!" The demon pointed at him, and surely would have smirked had he had a mouth. "Seriously, kid, do you think I'd invade your great uncle's brain for fun?"
"That doesn't matter!" Dipper's voice rose, and he looked back towards his great uncle and younger selves. He sighed when he saw that they were still focused on getting their food. "Look," Dipper continued on, looking back towards Bill, "whatever you want, it's not here."
"And why should I believe you?" Bill's eye lowered.
Dipper frantically looked ahead of him for the door. Whatever he had wanted to see, he wouldn't see now, at least not with Bill around.
"What's wrong, Pine Tree?"
"Can you just get out of here? The code isn't in this memory."
"It isn't?" Bill's voice only rose. He raised a small black finger and snapped.
In less than it took the time to blink, Dipper found himself on the roof. A far less than manly shriek left his lips, and he quickly moved up until his back was against the roof's letters. Funnily enough, it was the "S", the only letter that wasn't still up in his own times.
"What's going on down there?"
"None of your business!" Dipper squeezed the "S", but then just as quickly stepped away from it. With his luck, he'd accidentally knock it over.
"Hot dogs!" Mabel yelled again, though her cheery voice was further away from the roof.
"Hot dogs?" Bill turned to look at Dipper. "What did that man feed you?"
Dipper wanted to respond with an angry reply, but he could only laugh.
"Hey, Pine Tree, what's so funny? You never did tell me."
"Nothing," Dipper replied. "Except, you know, an all powerful dream demon doesn't even know what a hot dog is." Dipper's journal had made the guy seem like a living nightmare (and yes, a Dipper had to admit, in some ways he was).
"What is it?"
Before Dipper could reply, fireworks went off. Everyone quieted, and just like he remembered, all eyes went up to the sky. The fireworks were even more beautiful than Dipper remembered, most of his memory having gone with the time. When he had been six, it wasn't the mysteries of Gravity Falls that had amazed him, but the fireworks.
"Hot dogs," Dipper finally said after a huge green firework exploded, scattering across the air like a thousand lime covered stars, "are delicious meat. And no, they aren't made of actual dogs. My family can only eat the kind made solely from cows."
"Huh," Bill replied.
Dipper expected the demon to move on, to continue his hunt for the code, but he remained at Dipper's side instead. The two kept their eyes on the sky. With his curiosity satisfied, Bill turned silent, asking no more questions about hot dogs or their contests. Instead, he kept his one eye on the sky, looking at the fireworks with the same childish wonder that Dipper felt.