The first thing Stan noticed when he stepped outside was that it was still warm, even with the stars starting to come out and the sun going down.
"Hey," he greeted, moving forward and sitting on the edge of the porch. "Was wonderin' where you'd gotten off to. Dinner goes and then poof, no more Dipper. Mabel said somethin' about you comin' out here sometimes so I decided to listen to her."
"Good," Dipper hunched over his knees. "More people should."
"You keep this up and I'm renaming you 'Flight Risk'," Stan grumbled, patting his grandson on the shoulder. "Those are shoulders I recognize, I know that look. Don't do it, kid. We don't need two generations of people having left home too early for some reason or another."
"I'm just so...So mad at him sometimes!" Dipper groaned, pressing his hands against his face. "We spent hours telling him and mom and-"
"Mabel and I put together a scrapbook. Well, she put it together, I just helped her choose which photos to use. We," Dipper frowned, letting his hands fall into his lap, his eyes going unfocused as he stared at a patch of grass. "We showed them. We showed them pictures and we told them stories and it's been two years and now you're our grandpa and everything is weird and I just- I don't know how much of this I can deal with anymore. He called our photos good photo manipulations, complimented Mabel on her color scheme selection when he saw the photo of the two of you in sweaters she'd made.
"He wants us to act like adults and he said there was a limit to make-believe."
"...Alright, do I gotta beat in my own son's head?" Stan curled one hand into a fist, punching it lightly into the other hand's palm.
Dipper smiled, refocusing on Stan. "I...I just want them to understand. I'm so tired of being afraid of falling asleep because I know Bill is gone, but I still sometimes see him out of the corner of my eye."
"That'll go away eventually, I've been told. The problem is the amount a' time between then and now. Kid," Stan put his hand back on Dipper's back, trying to get the younger Pines' eyes on him again. His sight was drifting and it worried him. "I know it probably doesn't count fer much, but I will always believe you."
"It actually helps a lot."
"Yeah?" Stan snorted, a smile on his own face. "Yeesh, what kind of support does he give you if my old guy kind is a good thing?"
Laughter made Dipper double over, his knees almost clocking him in the face. He was taller than he had been the last time Stan had seen him, his face starting to thin out in a growing up sort of way. "Sorry, sorry," he managed through a few more fits of laughter. "...If I wanted to come stay with you guys, do you think I could?"
"Dipper," Stan started slowly, hurrying when he saw his grandson's face fall. "Hey, hey, hear me out. I have an idea and I might have to convince Ford, but I have an idea. Don't..." he shook his head. "We've already got a couple of sets of twins in this family that are hurtin' for the sort of bond you and Mabel have. Ford and me, we're gettin' along now but you saw how we were. Ma and her sister, they haven't spoken since me and Ford were about...Five, I think? Yeah, that sounds right. Don't separate out your set, you and Mabel are always gonna be some of the best back-ups you both have."
Nodding slowly, Dipper sighed. "Mabel and I stopped fighting. I mean, when it's early in the morning and we have to get to school, sometimes we yell at each other because I'm still sort of asleep and she's in the bathroom too long, but," he nodded again. "But yeah."
Stan chuckled. "See, that's normal sibling stuff. I'd be worried if that didn't happen. Don't let it get bad, kid. I'm what happens when it gets bad."
"So what, am I supposed to use you as a cautionary tale?"
"Yes!" Stan rapped his knuckles against the wood of the porch. "Never end up like me. I spent thirty years livin' out in the woods and pretending to be my brother. I have to wonder how your sister would change to pretend to be you, but that's a thing I never want to actually know."
Dipper smiled, rubbing at his chin. "So what's your plan?"
"Have your parents ever been to Oregon before?"
Ford took a deep breath before curling his knuckles and rapping on the door in front of him.
"Mabel?" he called out, waiting.
The door opened slowly, revealing his niece on the other side. She was holding a pink book, the words, 'Mabel and Dipper's Great Summer Adventure!' written on the front. "Grunkle Ford," she smiled at him, rubbing at her cheek. "What'cha doin' up here? Party is all downstairs, I just needed a few things.
She had been crying. There were tears on her face and her eyes were clouded.
It made him want to hurt someone.
He smiled at her, fidgeting awkwardly before patting the top of her head. "As far as I'm concerned, the party is wherever my favorite people are. And I know where Stan and Dipper are so that just leaves you."
Her smile made him feel less uncomfortable, her eyes bright again. "I was grabbing my scrapbook, I wanted to go over it again with mom and dad. I guess it didn't sink in the first time, so now we have to look again! I mean, what else can we do?" her shoulders drooped. "It's not like they actually understood, we have to talk about it again," she nodded firmly, just once, her voice trailing off as she traced her own careful lettering.
"I think that is a wonderful idea," Ford reassured her. "But I was wondering if we could look through it together, first. I never did get to see it."
"Oh!" Mabel danced on her toes for a second, clutching the book to her chest. "Yes yes yes yes! I forgot entirely about showing you guys! We have to get Grunkle Stan, he needs to see it too."
She paused, about to rush back into her room, then stopped entirely. A frown twisted her mouth downwards. "I guess he's gramp-gramp Stan now?"
Before Ford could answer, she turned around and slipped back into her room, coming back out with two more books. "Anyway, I totally made a whole lot of memories during that first summer and then last year was just as cool, so I have three books now!"
"Well then," Ford offered her his hand, smiling when she took it and started leading him towards the stairs. "We shouldn't delay something like this!"
"No, we shouldn't!" Mabel gleefully answered with her smile back in place.