It all began with a simple question, one that the twins simply did not know how to answer.
“Who am I?”
Before Mabel could give another not-so-serious answer to another victim of their memory-erasing spree, Dipper clapped a hand over her mouth. “Come again?”
“I,” the boy murmured, looking embarrassed as he looked down at his ill-fitting clothes, “I don't know who I am. Do you?”
The tint in the boy's dark cheeks indicated just how embarrassed he was to have to ask. He looked to be Mabel's and Dipper's age. Dipper squinted. He did not remember seeing him amongst the society members. As he looked the boy over, he continued not to recognize him. No, he hadn't seen him once.
Yet his memory had clearly been erased. “What do you know?” The boy was still for a moment, then shook his head. “Nothing?” The boy nodded.
Dipper looked to Wendy, Mabel, and Soos, all of whom looked just as confused as he felt. None of them remembered seeing this kid before, but couldn't very well leave him like this. It was Wendy who stepped forward and said, “Wanna try to find someone who does know you?”
The kid nodded, Wendy putting a hand on his shoulder and leading him out to speak with the other former society members. The twins and Soos followed, curious. To their astonishment, no one else knew the kid either. No one recognized him or even called him by name. What was his name? No one knew.
“What do we do?” Mabel asked.
Dipper shrugged, holding up his hands. “I have no idea.”
“It's not like he's an adult and can just pick up a new life. He's just a kid,” she observed.
Like them, Dipper thought. Looking over at the boy, who was steadily talking to Wendy and trying desperately to remember any small detail about his identity, Dipper struggled to find a solution. Soos had started seeing the other former members of the society off, trying to keep things running smoothly. Dipper wracked his brain, but eventually gave up. “Maybe we can take him around town and ask anyone else if they know him.”
Mabel agreed. “Is he staying with us?”
Dipper saw no other alternative. “I guess so.” He didn't want to subject a kid suffering from amnesia to Wendy's family and Soos's grandma was slightly creepy. Creepier than Grunkle Stan. Grunkle Stan didn't go around stalking them, treating their lives like sitcoms. The very thought made Dipper check over his shoulder just in case. Nope. No Grunkle Stan. Come to think of it, Stan might not even notice there was another kid in the house. One never knew what Grunkle Stan noticed.
Mabel interrupted his thoughts with, “Guess you gotta clean your side of the room now.”
“Well, he's not sleeping with me. And it's about time you took care of that mess of yours.”
Dipper groaned. She had a point, but there was no way in heck he was going to admit that.
On their way back to the shack, Wendy asked the kid, “Do you have an idea of what your name sounded like?” The boy shook his head. She'd been trying to figure out as much as she could about him since they'd encountered him, but had determined excruciatingly little. About all she'd discovered was that he had an odd habit of closing one eye at a time rather than blinking normally, like he wasn't used to having two working eyes.
“Let's name him!” Mabel cried.
“He's not a pet, Mabel,” Dipper corrected.
She hardly noticed. “What about Jeff?”
The kid shook his head. “What's a Jeff?”
“It's a name, silly. We're trying to name you,” Mabel said. “What about Xander. That's an awesome name!”
“No. Doesn't feel right.”
“Really, Mabel?” Dipper murmured irritably.
“Just kidding. Okay,” and she continued listing off names as they made their way home. Wendy and Soos had long gone home and Dipper had managed to kick his dirty clothes into a single pile at the foot of his bed. As predicted, Grunkle Stan hardly noticed there was another person under his roof. While the boys sat on Dipper's bed and Mabel sat on hers, she continued her attempts at naming him. By then, Dipper had cracked open the journal and was reading that rather than paying attention. “Stanley?”
The no was not immediate this time. In fact, it didn't come at all. Dipper glanced over at the kid to see him straightening up and tilting his head at the sound of the name, as though it seemed familiar. “Do you recognize it?” Dipper asked.
“It feels . . . close,” he responded.
Mabel pressed, “What about Will? Does that sound right?”
The kid's eyes widened. “That sounds closer.”
Mabel's eyes went wide and Dipper's stomach took a turn he wasn't quite expecting. “What about,” don't say it, he thought at Mabel, though he knew she couldn't hear his thoughts, “Bill?”
The kid looked up. “That sounds right.”
Dipper slammed the journal shut at that, intrinsically knowing that he was not going to get a lick of sleep that night.
The following day Dipper watched Bill closely the whole time they were going through town, looking and praying someone knew the kid and that every theory in his head was wrong. But each time someone shook their head, claiming to have never seen the kid before, the theories intensified. Mabel was a little more optimistic, saying it couldn't possibly be Bill Cipher walking around with them. After all, he needed a vessel and clearly no one knew who this individual was. He couldn't have possibly left Gravity Falls to possess someone else either. There was just no way Bill was . . . Bill.
That didn't stop Dipper from suspecting. And after a few days of speaking to everyone in town, tourists included, he realized there wasn't a single person to claim the kid. Not even the police knew who he was, or Toby Determined for that matter. Not even the former society members. Granted that wasn't so surprising as the authorities. Dipper had thought for certain that they might have a clue. There weren't even reports of a missing child.
By the end of the week, the twins and Bill had come up with nothing. Sitting at the kitchen table Saturday morning, Grunkle Stan served them breakfast and for the first time commented, “I see there has been an additional member of this household for a while, now.”
“Yeah,” Mabel sighed, head hitting the table. “He may or may not be a fictional person.”
“Explain,” Grunkle Stan said, squinting at them. Bill stayed quiet and just listened, as he tended to do.
“Something happened,” Dipper began, pointing to Bill, “he has amnesia,” he made a sweeping gesture, “and nobody in town knows who he is. At all.”
“Do you have any ideas Grunkle Stan? Maybe he came in with some tourists?” Mabel asked.
“I wouldn't know. When I look at tourists, all I see is money.”
Bill let out a quick chuckle that made Dipper shiver and stare at him. “Gold, right? You see gold?”
Mabel looked up, confused but suspicious. Not as suspicious as Dipper, however. Then Grunkle Stan guffawed, setting the hot pan down on the table unintentionally. “Yeah kid. I like you.” Proceeding to serve up food to the three children, Grunkle Stan offered, “Look, you earn your keep here and I don't care how long you stay. The police here aren't worth a crap. I should know, I've been lying on my taxes for years. So if you expect them to help you, I got bad news for you.”
“How do I earn . . . my keep?” Bill asked.
“Just come work in the shop with the others. It's not hard. And don't listen to any of Mabel's ideas about how to run a company.”
“Hey!” Mabel whined. “I thought we settled that.”
“Yeah, and you got the video to prove it. I'm not talking about it.” Sitting down, Grunkle Stan asked, “Whataya say, kid?” Without a moment's hesitation, Bill nodded.
And so began Bill's long-term stay with the Pines family.