Luck had always been a fickle mistress to Stanley Pines. Such a troubling, oftentimes cruel thing, Stan was only too relieved when he had it prove an ally. As he had set himself out to town, in search for the next ticket item for the Mystery Shack, he had stumbled across something in one of the back-alleys of downtown. There was, to his grandest pleasure, a busted up but repairable metal coin dispenser. All he had to do was rig it up to eat more coins than it dispensed, and he'd be making quarters before long.

Stan, however, did not remember taking a nap.

His eyes were heavy, and he thought back. What had he remembered last? He remembered hearing voices. At first, teenager hooligans whispering felt like nothing he cared, or wanted part of. Then, he had heard Soos? Soos had, admittedly, sounded a little more tired than he remembered. Then, from the voices, he remembered something he had certainly thought he heard. Another voice.

One voice that he had not heard in nearly thirty years. Stan mumbled, as he heard more voices distantly.

His eyes flittered open. There were things around him. Stan grumbled, and realized that his glasses had fallen away.

"Hey," he tried grunting, rubbing his eyes, "Glasses!"

Someone said something like uncle, and Stan squinted. His glasses were handed to him. He slapped a hand to his ears, and shook out the gunk that had blocked them.

"Ah!" Stan barked, and he slipped on his glasses. "There we go!" he cheered, and looked around.

The spitting image of Stanford, his brother, loomed over him.

"H-Hey, Stan," the brother waved.

Stan Pines yelled, and shot up like a bullet out of a gun. He raced away from what appeared to be the doppelganger of his brother and three other people. Panting harshly, his chest heaved. Taking his glasses off to clean quickly, Stan re-applied them. Against his belief, he saw him: his brother.

"Sixer!?" Stanley barked.

"Y-yes," Ford gulped, "It's me, I'm-"

Shoving aside Ford, someone bellowed, "Mister Pines!"

Stanley had barely a moment to defend himself from the incoming hug. Too stunned to react, Stan had little choice but to be swallowed up by the beefy arms of what appeared to be…

"Soos!?" Stan squelched out of his mouth, ninety percent of the air in his body constricted.

"I am so happy to see you again, Mister Pines!" Soos cried out, swinging around the older, but not as old as he remembered, man. Soos, holding him like some sort of cranky teddy bear, gently told Stan, "I am, like, about as happy as I can be. All I need at this point are nachos."

"Let go!" Stan demanded, pulling himself free from the imprisoning grasp. Dropped away, Stan held his chest, and looked around. He eyed the man before him. "Woah," he noted, giving Soos a quick scan, "Did you get, I dunno, taller, and more hairy, since half an hour ago?"

Soos gasped. "Oh! I guess the other me must still be here. Huh. Weird. That wasn't how that worked with Kelly last time."

Ford approached Soos' side, and wove a six-fingered hand about, explaining, "Well, due to the protective charm I enacted, there is a good chance that we are bypassing this Demon's effects."

Soos looked to him, eyes widening. "Wait, double Soos? Woah, dude, the world is not ready."

Stanley pointed at the two. "You two know each other!?" he snapped, and then rounded on them, "What the HELL is going on?!"

From behind Soos and Ford, a young lady cried out, "Woah!"

Stan turned, and saw as none other than a young girl and boy, maybe fourteen, or something, stepped out. They looked weather-worn, and sort of beaten down. Something about them struck Stan as familiar. He could have sworn he had met these two before, but how or when escaped him. Currently, the teen girl tapped her foot and glared at him.

"Grunkle Stan," the brown-haired girl scolded, "Do not swear in front of your grandniece and nephew!"

Stan barked, "My what and what!?"

Then the girl beamed mischievously, and roared "Not until you get a big 'ol Mabel body-slam hug!" She then screeched and leapt into the air, wrapping her arms and legs around his midsection. Stan yelled in fear as the girl cackled, squeezing him tighter than Soos had.

"Mabel!" the boy snapped, and reached up to pull her free from the terrified old man, "I don't think he has met us yet!"

Pried free from Stanley, the girl whined, "Whaaat? No! But I miss him too. Dipper, huuugs."

Stan wove his hands thought the air, desperate to shield himself from any more antics. "Wait, wait," he begged of them, and then placed his hands in a T shape. "Just, time out for a second, okay? Wait." He turned and looked at the four. Then he looked to Sixer. His eyes shimmered. "Sixer. Stanford. Bro," Stanley said, sniffling once, "Tell me I haven't been looking for you for thirty years, and all this time you've been hanging out with freakin' teenagers!"

Ford's mouth dropped open. He scowled. "Stanley, these teenagers, for your information, are family!"

Stan gasped, and pushed himself back into the wall. "You had kids!?" he cried.

"No, idiot!" Ford cried out.

Soos gasped. "Hey!" he shouted at Ford.

Ford pleaded back, "Soos, please, if anyone here can say that, it should be me, to my brother?"

Still ready to defend his beloved father figure, Soos crossed his arms. He warned him, "You're on thin ice, Mister Pines Brother."

Ford looked back to Stanley. "Stan, these are the grandkids of Sherman."

As if his world wasn't already shaken to the foundations, Stanley looked like someone had just drugged him. He wobbled on the spot, and held a hand to his face. "Shermie's kids are that old!?" he cried out. "Wait, what the heck, that was only, like, ten years ago!?"

Dipper snorted. "Wow. Just about got that."

Mabel giggled, and told her brother, "I forget how much of a doofus he was before we stayed up here."

Stan barked at the twins, "You two can't be Jenson's kids! You two look big! I know for a fact that kids don't grow up that fast!" He then eyed Stanford, suspicion growing in his face. "Wait a second. You're younger than you should be. They're older than they should be!" he gasped.

At whatever slight insinuation Stanley was brewing, Stanford sighed. "Stanley, that is the stupidest idea-"

"You robbed them of their age, you time-vampire!" Stan bellowed, and charged at his younger twin.

Stanley was quick to pounce upon his unsuspecting sibling. Soos, desperate to break up the fairly pitiful battle, worried over the two like a frightened mother. "Oh! Mister Pines, don't! Gah, c'mon dawgs!"

Disappointed in his family linage yet again, Dipper grimaced as he watched the battle. "So, this is where our noble blood stems from," he told his sister.

She roared, "RIGHT HOOK! KEEP YOUR ARMS UP!"

"Really?" Dipper asked her.

She winced. "Sorry. It was nice to see them do that again, especially since this Ford isn't evil."

With a kick that pushed away Stanley, Ford cried out, "I'm not a Nosferclocku! And besides Stan, those were only hypothesized! I never found any tangible proof of them!"

Stan chuckled, patting dust off his arms. "Oh, ho hoh, you sure about that? I'm seeing some pretty compelling evidence!"

"Stop it!" Dipper shouted. The two older men, one thirty years older than the other, stalled, and eyed Dipper. He cleared his throat, and said, "Look, Grunkle Stan–"

"A what Stan?" Stan eyed the teen.

"Oh," Dipper did a quick double take, "Sorry. So used to calling you that. Great Uncle. Grunkle."

Stan's eyes widened. He barked out a short laugh. "Hysterical! I love it! I'm totally stealing that for future reference!"

His mind reeling at the possibility that he caused a time paradox, Dipper cleared his throat. He tried again, "We're older looking than you think we should because, well, we're not from this time. We're from the future. I'm Dipper," Dipper then stopped himself, and said, "Well, you'd know me as Mason."

Mabel proudly stepped up, and jabbed a thumb at herself, "And I'm Mabel! The fun twin!"

"I'm fun," Dipper quietly protested.

"At Strongholds and Serpents," Mabel consoled him.

Stan eyed his brother with a knowing look. "You already taught them that time sink?"

Ford rolled his eyes. Reaching out for his brothers' arms, Ford told Stanley very clearly, "Stan. I am very happy to see you again." Before he could continue, Stanley's lip started quivering, and his eyes watered. Ford cleared his throat, looking uncomfortable, "No, I am not a time vampire. We are, in fact, from the future. Sort of. They're from the future. I'm technically from the past. This, actually," he admitted, and dropped his hands, "Is getting confusing."

"Oh, please," Stan laughed, "Sixer, you can explain it to me. I'm not an idiot."

Soos declared, "Darn tootin' you're not!"

"Thanks, Soos," Stan nodded.

Nodding with concern, Ford took Stan on his offer. Rapid-fire style, Ford explained, "Well, twenty-seven years ago, for you, I got lost into the portal. But six years in your future, those three," he pointed to Soos and the twins, "Were connected to an event that allows me to return to our reality. But now we're back, six years into our past, and are currently trying to stop some demon named-"

"Yeah," Stan said, disappointed, "You were right. Confusing."

"Look," Dipper told him, approaching the three older men, "Ford is being honest. We're back in time to save the future. Something awful is going to happen if we don't. Time can be re-written!"

Stan looked between each of them. Slowly, but surely, after doing so twice, he started smiling. Laughter emerged from him, and he slapped his knee. "Ah, you got me good there, for a second, brother."

Ford was baffled. "E-Excuse me!?"

"Time travel!" Stan barked. "I mean, this is some elaborate prank, isn't it? You probably just got back on your own, and decided to get me good with a highly elaborate scheme! Hah! Just like old times. Like Summerween!"

Despite himself, Ford smirked. "Yes, dressing you like Dracula was fun. But no, Stan, this is serious! The boy is being honest – we all are!"

Stan laughed harder. "Okay, okay, supposing you are from the future. What sorta future stuff you got, huh? Floating cars? Spaceships?"

Mabel answered, "Memes."

Stan leaned closer to her, "Say again, sweety? I didn't quite catch that."

Dipper held out his phone. "Look! Better tech! I don't even need buttons anymore, we just use touch screens."

Stan did eye the phone with a curiosity. "Hm. That's not bad. McGucket make that for you?"

Loudly whining, Dipper groaned, "Oh c'mon, McGucket doesn't do phones!"

Mabel added, "Yeah! Just giant death robots, and impersonating local cryptids!"

"He is a local creep," Stan repeated, mishearing.

Ford cried out, "Well Stanley, I don't know what we can do to convince you that we're really here, from the future! What kind of evidence do we need to–"

Dipper had his finger on the trigger. He was about to list some things Stanley had told him a long time ago, things that, surely, Stan hadn't told many others. Hopefully that would be enough to get the old man to believe them.

However, it wasn't Dipper that cut him off. There was a loud pop, and rush of wind. It almost sound as electric energy might, if the sound arcs of lightning were windy. A bright flash of blue had all five jolt and spin down the alley, where the energy came from.

Glowing blue light silhouetted the figure. It was a large person, with a tiny sprout of hair at the top of a rather round head. The body too was quite round. The light faded, and a man wearing thick goggles, and a solid light-grey bodysuit stood before them. He shot out a hand, and pointed at them.

The man cried out, "S-Stop right there! You're messing up all the time-fabric, you time-fools!"

The five froze. Dipper blinked, rubbing his eyes. He hadn't seen that man in a very long time. Mabel squealed, jogging in place.

Stan turned to Ford, and said, "Okay, so you're from the future. There. Happy?"

Soos waved at the man. "Sup dawg. Still got that rad pizza slice!" he said, and lifted out a slice of pizza from his pocket.


"So, from a shattered time comes a desperate savior."

Among the gentle whispers of roiling winds the voice came upon the ears of only those lost in their memory.

It echoed out like ripples upon a pond, like waves on the shore.

Far away, very far away from that alley with the time-traveling band of people, a voice would whisper off the surface of a pond, a puddle. A cool, southern twang would bubble out from the gurgling streams, from the shore of the lake. In the depths of the deep lake, it said, "He cannot save what has already been broken. The fool. You're far too late, time-traveler."


"Oh, wait a second," the grey wearing man had a double-take, looking to Dipper and Mabel. As he slid his hand to his belt, where a small tape-measure like device clicked on, the man approached, "Oh! Oh man. Oh wow! I didn't think it'd be you two again!"

"Mabel," Dipper turned to his sister, "It's-"

"Blickin' Blingin'!" Mabel cried.

Dipper nodded, "Yeah!" and he turned to the time-traveler, "How are you, man?"

The person who had just appeared in the blue light groaned. "Blendin'. I'm Blendin' Blenjamin Blandin'! I just told you that, like, not even two days ago. C'mon guys!"

Mabel snorted. "Uh, no? Try three years ago, bub."

"For you!" the wide-gutted time traveler declared, "But that was, maybe, a week ago for me! I've been really busy, so I'll settle with not longer than ten days!"

Dipper nodded, and said, "Oh, that's fair. Time perspective, that's confusing."

From behind the twins, Stan pointed at the newcomer. "Is that also someone from your future?" he asked his brother.

Ford shrugged. "No idea. The twins seem to know him. Maybe he's some sort of time-janitor?"

Overhearing the comment, Blendin' snapped a finger back at Ford. "Shut it, you living time paradox!"

As Stanley cackled with glee, Ford guffawed. "Excuse me?! Wait, let me guess, evil past me also wronged you too? I need to have a word with that version of me," he decided, eying Dipper as he spoke.

Dipper smirked. "It couldn't hurt. I'll come along, we can tag-team him."

Like a boiling kettle, Blendin shrilly yelled, "You'll do no such thiiing!" The other five, holding hands to their ears at his outburst, relaxed from their flinch and watched as the time-traveler scowled at Ford. "Stanford Pines, you are under time-arrest!"

The five gasped. Stanley stepped between the two. "Hey! No one is taking away my weirdly young brother! Especially after I just got to see him after nearly thirty years! You go to time-arrest someone else, you walking, unpainted, canvas!"

Mabel hummed. "Yeah, he kind of does give off that vibe, doesn't he?" she asked her brother, eying Blendin'.

Blendin' Blandin' was not having any of their shenanigans. "No! L-Listen here, all of you! There is some seriously bad stuff having in the twenty snyeventy twelve! A-And I've been sent back to look for the source of what is causing the future to unravel, and fix it!"

Chewing on his infinity pizza, Soos nodded. "Fixin' it, huh? Yeah, that sounds bad, dawg."

Blendin' nodded, "Yes! Very bad. It's already bad that Time-baby has vanished! Time-anarchy has begun! Now there is the literal collapse of our universe happening!" He glared at Ford, and proclaimed, "And as far as I can tell, it starts with you, Stanford Pines!"

Ford shouted back, "How on earth is the unraveling if your future my fault? I barely even know what I am doing here!"

Dipper chuckled. "Yeah, we're still trying to fully grasp what is going on with him."

Blendin, running a hand over his small tuft of hair, told them all, "Y-You don't understand! The timeline is a fragile thing! One small thing can change the entire course of history, if things are left unchecked. Stanford Pines, you're a man from thirty-three years ago, sent back six years into the past, which makes you about thirty-nine years of wrong timeline!"

Ford gulped. "Well, I mean, when you put it like that-"

Blendin' made his approach, and took out a pair of glowing, electric-banded handcuffs. "You need to come with me, so we can properly adjust the timeline, and save the future!"

"Wait a second," Dipper leapt in between the two, a hand before Blendin'.

Blendin' whined, "Oh, c'mon kid! I was sounding really cool there. Don't stop me now, I could get a big promotion if I save the universe."

Thinking back to Soos' own interactions with a time demon, Dipper frowned. "Blendin', I think you're missing some details. We might be missing some too."

Giving his word more than a simple thought, Blendin' shrugged. "Yeah. Being time-travelers make picking up on details pretty tough. Tend to look big picture, you know?"

Mabel stepped next to her brother, and asked him, "Tell us exactly what the heck-a-doodle is going on, and we'll explain what we know."

"O-Okay!" Blendin' nodded, and lowered the specialized cuffs. "Just after I got back from helping you all against that dream-demon, I came home to a universe being destroyed!"

"That quickly?" Dipper asked, "By what?"

Blendin' played with his goggles. He looked beyond nervous, and he tried his best to explain, "The fabric of reality itself."

Mabel nodded. "Holy Moses, how cosmic-horrory."

"Something had changed," Blendin' explained, "With our pasts. All our pasts had changed. We sent out time scouts, and only one came back, but was badly hurt. He lived just long enough to tell us that around the late twentieth, or early twentieth century, something big had changed in the timeline!"

The twins looked to each other, both pairs of twins. Soos, to compensate, looked to his slice of food. He told it, "That sounds like big stuff, pizza."

"From what our time-doctors can tell us," Blendin started.

Stan called out, "Okay, look, is everything time-related? Like, do you also have time-cops? Time Presidents?"

Blendin' eyed Stan Pines. "Y-Yeah? What about it?"

Already exhausted, the Man of Mystery rolled his hand through the air. "Oi. Continue," he requested.

"Our time-doctors told us that the reality around us was unable to stand without the past that made it, so it's starting to collapse!" Blendin' shivered at the thought, and wiped a growing wave of sweat on his large forehead. With a large stammer, he told them, "I-I-I don't know exactly what changed the timeline so badly that my entire reality is eating itself, but I sure was able to spot Stanford Pines quickly enough! If he's the cause, I need to put him back where he belongs! Then, my time, your future, is saved!"

Furrowing his brow, Dipper shook his head. "Hold on, you don't exactly know, though. Blendin', what if you're wrong?"

"How could I be wrong!?" he snapped at Dipper, "He's the clearest source of time-travely stuff here! I mean, sure," he looked to Dipper, Mabel, and Soos, "You're not supposed to be here either. Actually… wait…" he paused, and scratched the side of his head, "H-How did you all get here anyway?"

Mabel smiled. "There he goes," she told her brother, "Using another quarter of his brain now."

Letting himself chuckle, Dipper approached the now thoroughly confused Blendin'. "Blendin', I don't want to stop you from saving the timelines. But Ford isn't the problem."

Behind him, Ford let out a small whimper. "Thank you, my boy," he said.

Swallowing down the need to gloat, Dipper continued, "Stanford Pines being here isn't the cause. He's the symptom to a much bigger illness."

"An illness," Mabel dramatically stepped forward, "Named…" she turned to Soos.

Halfway chewing through the infinite slice, Soos realized he was being beckoned to. He tried swallowing, but only ended up choking. Pounding his chest for a moment, bits of half-eaten pizza flew out onto the alley. Clearing his throat, he asked Mabel, "Sorry, hambone. Wassup?"

She groaned, and turned back to Blendin', "A demon named-"

"Kelly Yore!?" Soos gasped.

As Mabel gave a disappointed scowl back at Soos, Blendin' processed the information. Even while hiding his eyes behind his goggles, the eyebrow he cocked up in response was well visible. "A demon? R-Really? You two keep coming across these things, you know that?"

The twins looked to each other, and chuckled.

"Yeah, I guess we do."

"Never thought of it that way."

Dipper focused back on the time traveler. "Look, Blendin'. Try trusting me, okay? I any of us really thought that Stanford being here was going to ruin the timeline, and I'm speaking for him as well-"

"Which I approve of!" Stanford piped in.

"-Then we'd send him back with you," Dipper confirmed. "But it's not him! It's Kelly Yore! She's altering timelines, or at least trying to. This is the second one we've come across this summer alone! We, my sister, Soos, and Ford, are all here because of her!"

At this news, the time traveler gasped. He clawed at his jowls. "A-A-A demon who can change the past!? Oh no! Oh no, oh no, oh no! That has got to be it!" He started pacing back and forth, stumbling about in his bumbling way. "W-We have to stop her! Demons are all magical, right?"

The twins, uncertain to the answer, turned to Ford. Having five people all look at him, Ford adjusted his glasses, and nodded. "In a manner of speaking, they are only magic. They persist through a medium in the realm they inhabit, which, until recently, I believed was dreams. Now knowing there is also the past, I can safely ascertain that they use vast amounts of Arcana to-"

"NERD!" Stanley howled. Flinching from the outburst, Ford glared at Stan, who beamed, proud of himself. After a long sigh, Stan said, "I can't tell you how long I wanted to do that."

Dipper looked back to Blendin'. "So, yeah, they're magical."

Blendin' grinned. "That's gotta be it! Magic is what is causing my time to collapse in on itself! A time demon is changing the past! I have to stop her!" he said, and spun about. Directly behind him was a large, half-crumpled trash can that Stanley had collapsed into, and not seeing it, Blendin' tripped over it immediately. "Ah! Oh no! The demon is changing minute details in the timeline to stall me! Help!"

Soos, stuffing away his pizza, told him, "That's the trash, dawg."

"Trash! Huaah! Help me!" Blendin' cried aloud, flailing about like some massive, time-traveling baby.

From Ford and Stan, to Soos, to each other, Dipper and Mabel scanned around. At first, the two had every intention to have Blendin' help with their battle against Yore. After all, who better to assist versus a time-based demon than a time traveler? From his little spill, however, the twins had second thoughts. They had, after all, defeated him in a massive gladiator-style battle, three years ago. When they were twelve. How competent could this man possibly be?

Dipper felt the urge to plan, to discuss, with his sister. Maybe they could take the tools off of Blendin', and go about this themselves, like they did before? As he turned to Mabel, he found that she walked forward, and grasped the time-traveler by the arm. With one strong pull, he was lifted back to his feet.

"Woah!" Blendin' cried, "Th-thank you! You're really strong, especially for how you look."

Mabel sized the man up. "Blendin', we want you to help us out, but you need to understand," Mabel told him, pulling out from her pockets, a pair of fairly dinged up sunglasses with pink rims, "That we are in fer'-serious mode. We can't be tripping over trashcans and made loud squeals. Not unless you find a really cute pig named waddles. Then you must squeal!"

Agreeing with the point, Dipper came over, and pulled a banana peel off Blendin'. "Point is," he told the round man, "If we want to work together, you need to be on your A-game. If not for us, for your future."

As the older twins and Soos approached, and the five observed Blendin', the time traveler nervously played with his fingertips. "W-Well, I usually reserve a little focus for my time-recipes back home, to be honest."

Ford squinted. "The heck is a time-recipe?"

Stan chuckled. "Yeah, see? He understands the confusion. Time that, time this. Ugh."

Ignoring the two, Blendin' told the twins, "I-I will help you! I will put in my all! I'm going to save my timeline!"

"Great," Dipper smirked, and stepped aside with his sister, allowing the six to huddle, "Now, listen up. We've got a lot of ground to cover between you, and our Grunkle Stan."

"Hah!" Stan barked, "Still love it. Also, they call me Grunkle Stan, and not Grunkle Lee?" The twins, stunned, turned to the younger version of Grunkle Stan. Noticing their stares, he recoiled. "What? He's Ford, but could also be Grunkle Stan! Stan-Ford? Stan-Lee? You know?"

What followed was a rapid-fire explanation of all that had happened, leading up to the deal Wendy had made with Yore. Dipper and Ford did their absolute best to concisely detail all that mattered, even if Soos and Mabel felt it necessary to explain inane things.

"And Pacifica was my friend, for some reason, in that timeline," Soos had said.

Mabel, when Wendy had come up, explained, "She's an adorable dork right now, but grows up to be a Martian warrior princess!"

Dipper had looked to his sister, trying not to chuckle. "Martian? Not space?"

Mabel had shrugged. "I felt with time being used in every other word, space could also lose its effect. So, Martian."

Ford then had to clarify, "But she isn't actually a Martian. Just a tenacious, reliable local. As far as I know, at least…"

When Stan had his answers sated, and Blendin' was minimally confused, the six turned back to Dipper. Ford asked him, "So, what is the plan, then?"

"Me?" Dipper repeated, ensuring that everyone really meant him. Ford nodded, his eyes sparkling.

Stan shrugged. "Sure, sixer thinks you're the brains, or whatever. Let's hear it, kiddo. What do you think?"

Hearing not one, but both of his beloved Great-Uncles, tell him to lead the charge, Dipper felt like his chest would burst from swelling. Mabel patted his shoulder, aware of the immense pride that filled his body. Dipper, clearing his throat, decided aloud. Dipper informed them, "Right now, the first task we need to do, is get Wendy back."

Stan nodded, rubbing his unshaven face. "Right, the corduroy girl. Who comes to work for me in two-ish years."

"Yup!" Soos excitedly agreed, and tapped Stan's shoulder, "And try not to forget it, Mister Pines. Wendy was an invaluable employee!"

"Really?" Stan asked him, "Always looked like she'd just lounge about, doing nothing."

As Soos relented on either falsely correcting his employer, or down-talking Wendy, Dipper took his chance to speak more. "As far as we know, this is all happening because Kelly manipulated her into making a deal. So, if we take away from her family, maybe Kelly will be forced to undo her deal, since we'd be ruining it? Or something?"

Blendin' stared at Dipper. "That's your theory? Just take a girl away from her family?"

Dipper shrugged. He protested, "Look, we know that her mother died years ago, but she's back suddenly. Something wrong there. So, if not to ruin Kelly's plans, to keep Wendy safe. And she's with us, so we look out for her, regardless how old she is."

"Or how dorky she looks with those braces," Mabel snickered. Dipper back-handed Mabel's gut, and Mabel let out a meaty 'Woof'.

"The trouble," Dipper eyed them all, "Is that we don't know where the family will be next. They could be anywhere in town, or at their place. Now, since we have six people working together, I have a simple idea, one that I wouldn't normally suggest in recent times."

Mabel gasped, and looked to her brother. "Wait," she exclaimed, "You don't mean–"

"Yes," Dipper nodded solemnly, and turned to others, "We split the party."

Ford and Soos gasped. Stanley looked between them and Mabel, scratching his arm. "Did I miss something? Did someone's parent die while party-splitting?"

Ford glared at his brother. "Stan. S and S?"

"OH!" Stan exclaimed, "Oh, wow. You're all nerds."

Blendin', forever lost to the references, shrugged. "I think it's a great idea. Who am I time-walking with?"

Soos raised a hand. "Oh, I'll go-"

Dipper cut in quickly, "Ah, no, Soos, I think you shouldn't go with Blendin'. You two, uh, need a little guidance when it comes to these things."

Entirely complimented, Soos chuckled, "Wow! I'm just like a time-traveler! Rad, dudes!"

Ford sighed, and raised a hand. "I'll go with Mister Blandin'. Besides, he wanted to keep an eye on me. Now, you can see," he told the time-traveler, "That I am serious when I say I do not mean to cause time anomalies."

Soos' eyes bugged out, and sparkled like they were watching fireworks. "W-Wait, does that mean I get to go with–"

"Me, Soos," Stanley told him, a hand on his shoulder, "Just like old times. Well, for you. For me, I saw you earlier today. So… like normal, I guess." What holidays Soos celebrated must have come early. His eyes shimmered like the night sky, and he looked about to cry. Stan, eying the man, mumbled, "Jeesh, Soos, calm down. It's not a big deal."

Sniffling, Soos said, "Whatever you say, Mister Pines." Then, very quietly, Soos told himself, "This is a very big deal. Cherish it, Soos. Cherish your time with dad."

Stan asked, "Huh?"

"What?" Soos asked back.

"Focus!" Dipper called out, "Listen, everyone. I want us to try to minimize our interactions with people. Don't tell them anything about the future. Don't tell them anything truthful about yourselves! If Blendin' is right, we could alter the timeline even more if we change what happened in this past. So, look around, stay subtle, and if you spot Wendy, try to get her away from her family. Don't endanger yourself, or her. Clear?" He asked to each of them.

"As the sky!" Mabel cheered.

Soos gave Dipper a thumbs up. Ford beamed and told Stanley, "He's getting really good at that, isn't he?"

Stan shrugged. "Yeah, pretty good."

Blendin' nodded. "O-Okay! Let's get this girl, fix the timelines, and save your future and my present! Let's go team!"

Mabel hollered, "Operation Time-trouble, part dos, is a go!"

From one group departed three pairs. Looking back at the other duos, Dipper tried consoling his own worries. There were, to his hopes, in each group at least one person who knew well enough about the town to guide the other. With Stanley and Soos, there were two who knew the town well. Dipper would just have to trust Ford to guide Blendin' correctly. So far, Ford had, admittedly, been very helpful and able in these sorts of dealings. Still, Blendin' was not the most competent of opponents the twins had dealt with. Him deciding to help wasn't much help to sooth his nerves.

"They'll be fine," Mabel suddenly told him.

Looking to her, shaken from his circular thoughts, Dipper nodded. "Yeah," he quietly agreed, "I think you're right."

"Duh!" she smirked, "Always am."

Cocking an eyebrow, Dipper asked, "Like with Gideon being a friend?"

She glared at him. "Low blow, Broxecutor." Awarding Dipper his own moment to chuckle, Mabel then asked, "So, where do we check first?"

"Their house, I think," he suggested, "It's fairly close by, and with what happened in the park, they'd probably want to go home."

"I know I would," Mabel sneered, "Especially if some wierdo started peeping on the mom."

"I- Mabel!" Dipper scowled at her, pink in the face.

Giggling like a gremlin, Mabel skipped on ahead. Reluctant with his bruised pride, Dipper made sure to follow. He would not need to sulk for long though. True to his word, the log-cabin built home that housed the Corduroys was only two streets away. Once in sight of the lumber-built structure, the twins paused.

"Woodlands?" Mabel asked.

Dipper nodded, and started climbing into the low-hanging brush of the wilds. The two would make a large perimeter sweep of the land around the backyard. The half-circle they made led them by a pair of fairly gnarled trees, which bore all the love and care that kids given axes and sharp objects might. From the three, the twins saw the home, and a large window. Beyond said window, was the family they had sought.

"Yes," Dipper quietly murmured.

Mabel added, "Command, targets in sight."

"Roger that," Dipper snickered.

"Orders?" Mabel asked, and cracked her knuckles.

Pushing his hand out to lower her fists, Dipper asked of her, "To not start fights with Manly Dan? Let's start there."

Mabel frowned. "I could take him."

"Even if you could," Dipper scoffed, "Why would you? It doesn't help the mission."

"Curiosity?" Mabel shrugged.

With a shake of his head, Dipper told his sister, "You're more and more like Grunkle Stan each passing week."

"Ew!" she snapped, and slapped his shoulder, "I am not hairy!"

The backdoors of the house swung open. The twins ducked down low, to avoid any chance of being seen. Peering around the tree, they both spied the family of six coming out of the building. First were the boys, rambunctious and eager to run about the yard, arms sprawled open like airplanes. The newly returned Melissa Corduroy followed, chuckling as she watched the kids. She called to them, "Don't go into the woods, please."

Crashing out from the door, the imposing figure of Manly Dan shattered his own doorframe. "If you do go into the woods, bring back your fallen enemies!" he roared at his boys.

As a young girl snuck out behind her father, Melissa Corduroy spun to her husband, hands at her hips. "Daniel," she scolded.

Flinching at the wrath of a cold reminder, Daniel Corduroy added, "Err, but try to stay nearby. What your mother said. Yeah."

From the tree, Mabel nodded, and seemed to take notes. "So, she's in charge," Mabel smirked, "Just the way it should be."

Dipper looked to his sister, shaking his head. "It is weird, though, isn't it?"

Mabel scoffed at him. "What? That a woman is in charge of a family!?"

"No!" Dipper hissed, trying to quiet his sister, "Mabel, really? It's weird that she was gone for so long, and Manly Dan seems perfectly fine. He's acting like nothing has happened."

Simmering down slightly, Mabel nodded. "I… guess so. You think Dan is in on whatever is going on?"

"Doubtful," Dipper told her, eying the massive man with red-rose hair, "Kelly Yore seems to be able influence, and prefers subtly. If it was Bill, I'd say yes – he'd use Dan. He's brute force and chaos. But this demon seems to want to quietly change things. Dan is just too much of a noisy piece on the board to control subtly."

They turned back to the family. The boys had taken to several wooden toys, all axes, and started to wail upon each other. Each, including the tiniest, took swings at once another, cackling like maniacs. Daniel roared, "Yeah! YEAH! Use your might! Destroy your brothers!"

The young girl that was Wendy Corduroy scoffed. She walked up to her mother, and tugged at her hand. The woman spun and faced her only daughter, a gentle smile on her face. "Sweety?"

Grouchy and exhausted, Wendy Corduroy told her mother, "Mom, I need a break from these idiots."

"Wendy!" Melissa knelt down to her daughter. "They're not stupid." As one of the kids cried out, having somehow wedged the haft of his toy axe down his throat, Melissa grumbled, "Okay, well, they're not idiots. Total idiots, at least. Be patient."

Wendy grumbled. "Mom, I'm tired of being patient. I want to go on a walk. Alone."

The eyes of the woman shimmered. "Alone?" she asked her daughter. Wendy firmly nodded; an inner strength displayed that could easily match all three boys at once. The woman before Wendy twisted her lip, thinking. She told Wendy, after a moment, "You know how we feel about you going alone in the woods."

"I'm twelve, mom," Wendy puffed, "I'm not a little kid anymore."

Melissa Corduroy smiled, and patted her daughter's head. "No, I suppose you are not. Well, how about this – you can go into the woods, but only for an hour, okay?"

"One hour?" Wendy whined.

"Yes, dear," Melissa said, eying her daughter, "One. And before you start-"

"Two?" Wendy begged.

"You want forty-five minutes?" Melissa warned. Wendy deflated, and shuffled her feet. Behind Melissa, one of the boys gagged as Manly Dan reached over and pulled out the axe from his throat. As he roughly patted the boy's chest, Melissa cringed at the scene. She turned back to Wendy, and sighed. "Okay, Wendy, just because your brothers are a little wound up from me being back, two hours. After that, we can go play that new game you bought."

"Mega Bash Siblings!?" Wendy gasped; her eyes alight.

"Yeah, that one, with the cute little Italian person," Melissa chuckled, "On the Minpendo."

With a hop, Wendy wrapped her arms tightly around her mom. Sweetly, her mother held Wendy tightly, and let her back down as she stood up. Wendy turned, and darted towards the woods. Dipper and Mabel leapt behind cover, as Wendy was heading right for them! Just in time, they had cover as the twelve-year-old rushed past them. They followed her with their eyes, and then looked to each other.

Mabel asked, "What do you think?"

"I didn't know she liked Mega Bash," Dipper mused, smiling, "I wonder who she main's as."

"Dipper," Mabel whined, poking his nose, "Focus. And besides, it's clearly a swordsman."

Dipper scowled. "Swordsman. Yeah, that tracks." He turned to the path that Wendy had taken. She was still visible, but making headway. She would be out of their sight in a minute of they didn't move. With a pat to Mabel's shoulder, Dipper told her, "We should follow her. This is a great chance to talk to her without getting parental interference."

"Massage received, command," Mabel told her brother, and staying low, she crept forward, "Initiating mission."

As they made to follow, it became increasingly difficult to locate Wendy. During the first five minutes, Wendy's trail was simple enough. The woods were a familiar place to the twins by now, and they had been around once or twice. Just after that, though, it became clear that, however familiar the twins were with the woodlands, they had nothing on young Wendy Corduroy. She had grown up with these forests, and her mastery over them was clear.

Ten minutes since following her into the woods, the twins were starting to lose her. They made more desperate measures to locate her. Mabel suggested, "Maybe we just, I dunno, approach her now?"

"I'd like to," Dipper told his sister, "But she's fast. Unless we want her to think we're trying to kidnap her, we shouldn't just charge at her."

Mabel eyed her brother. "It's not much better, you know. Staying behind and keeping distance isn't going to be all too much better than just rushing at her. If she spots us, we'd be just as creepy as some dude rushing at her. Girls gotta be aware of their surroundings."

True as it was, Dipper frowned. "Then there isn't a best way to approach this?" he asked.

"Oh contraire," Mabel smirked, wiggling her head a little, "I should approach!"

"You?"

"Well, of course, Dipper!" she exclaimed, "I'm a woman! Girls trust other girls!"

"Girls trust girls they meet in the woods?" Dipper asked, "Girls they saw talking with their mom earlier, right before they freaked out?"

Mabel squinted at her brother. "Hm. Might have burnt that bridge, you're right."

"Then what do we do?" he asked, "We don't want to freak her out so much that she thinks we're going to hurt her, but we can't just not approach her."

Looking ahead to where they had last seen her, Mabel suggested with a tense hiss, "Maybe we just bight the bullet and grab her?"

Taking the suggestion into account, Dipper frowned. He didn't hate the plan, but it wasn't, at all, the best they had. He had tried calm and slow before, and it had made Wendy suspicious before. If they played hard and fast, maybe it was the speed Wendy was used to?

Taking in a long breath, Dipper told his sister, "Okay – we take the 'seek forgiveness, not permission' approach."

"Bro," Mabel scolded him, "Always ask for permission!"

Dipper flinched. "M-Mabel!"

"That's a requirement!"

"I – that's – You –"

"Like, c'mon bro!"

"She's twelve!" Dipper snapped at his sister, "That sort of stuff is so far in the back of my mind it's not even seeing daylight!"

"Okay, okay," Mabel rolled her eyes, hands up in defense, "Whatever. Also, you see her, right?" she asked, scanning ahead.

Dipper, ready to further round on his sister's crimes against his humanity, turned to the direction they had been moving. There was, to his horror, no sign of Wendy. Marching ahead with Mabel, he approached the last spot he saw them. They were in a small clearing. An oblong circle was formed out of several tree roots that had freed the ground from fern or bush.

"Huh," Dipper turned on his heel, looking around, "Where did she go?"

Mabel whined, "I know, right? Hard to miss those pigtails bouncing around."

"Yeah, they are kinda hard to lose," Dipper snorted. He squinted, seeing several directions they could take. "Okay, so, mushrooms, creek, or grotto – where do we check?"

Looking to him, Mabel suggested, "Split up?"

"No way," he chuckled, "We're already weak enough as is without the full party."

Mabel chuckled, "Weak? You've got your strongest fighter right here! Are you afraid of going alone?" To her quest, Dipper scowled at her. Mabel, at his heated glare, snickered. "Besides," she asked, "What is she going to do? Jump out and attack us?"

From the tree canopy above, someone screamed, "Surprise attack!"

Mabel cried out as a small girl dive-bombed into her gut. The red-headed attacker landed atop Mabel. Flattened to the earth, the young girl, wielding a branch started to whack at Mabel's face, again and again. Mabel yelped, holding her arms above her head, "I was wrong, bro! Help! She's got a stick!"

Wendy roared, "You won't take me alive!"

Dipper took to action. He rushed behind Wendy, and scooped his hands under her arms, and pulled her off his sister. The redhead would not go willingly. She tightly wove her legs around Mabel, and Dipper felt the weight of both ladies in his arms now. Straining, he shook Wendy side to side, trying to pry her from Mabel.

"Wendy!" Dipper snapped, "Let go of her! We're not trying to hurt you!" Wendy found a new target: Dipper. She whirled herself around in his hands, and bashed his face with the stick. Dipper, flinching from the assault, dropped her; holding a hand to his face. Yelping, "Ow!" Dipper was unprepared for the young girls next choice.

"Never surrender!" Wendy cried, and tackled Dipper's midsection. Though she was smaller and certainly skinnier than Dipper, there was enough gusto and force that Dipper was floored. Wendy was above him, and threw a punch. This time, he caught her hand. Then she slammed down the stick, and Dipper caught that too. Wendy scowled, trying to free herself.

"Wendy!" Dipper snapped, "Let us explain!"

Indignant and furious, the young lady, who was pink in the face as she looked at Dipper, shouted, "You followed me into the woods! You were asking weird questions about mom! You and her know me by name and look! I know what you are – professional kidnappers!" she shouted.

A hand reached over Wendy's shoulder, and yanked away the stick. Mabel was back on her feet, and tossed the branch into the woods. As Wendy paused, aware she was flanked, Dipper took his chance, and jolted up. Wendy was tossed into the air, and Mabel was there to receive her.

"Gotcha," Mabel cheered, and wrapped her arms around the girl in a big, soft hug. "Can't escape the power of love, young Corduroy."

Wendy certainly wanted to try. "Get off!" she demanded, attempting to elbow Mabel.

"Nope! I am a disciple of the love god," Mabel declared, pinning the arms of Wendy to her side, "You can't defeat me when I'm hugging you."

Standing back to his feet, Dipper chuckled. "Yeah, that about summarizes you. Defeating others via hugs."

"And punches!" Mabel eagerly added.

Despite her predicament, Wendy struggled for freedom. Seeing Dipper stand back up, she eyed the two, and scowled. "I will never give into your demands!"

Brought to laughter, Dipper asked, "What demands?!"

The redhead shook her head. "Don't play dumb, dude. You tried that earlier, but now I know you're actually some sort of agent, sent to spy on my family and me! Why else would you and her follow me into the woods?" Wendy snapped.

Mabel chortled. "Daw, she's feisty and cute! Sure is the Wendy we know and love!"

At that, Wendy slowed her struggling down. "Wait," she turned to Mabel, "Know and love?"

Dipper did all he could to prevent himself from shouting at Mabel. He looked to his sister, heat boring out of his eyes like deadly lasers. Mabel, already aware of her slip-up, winced. She still held to Wendy, but clenched her face tightly. She mumbled, "Nope. Say no more. Nada."

Dipper took his chance, and stepped up to Wendy, and kneeled before her, getting just below eye-level. "Wendy, look," Dipper started, "If we wanted to hurt you, wouldn't we have already started dragging you away somewhere? Or demanded something of you?"

Wendy glared back at him. "You could be trying to lull me in with your charm," she stated.

Pinker in the cheeks, and trying to ignore Mabel's chattering giggles, Dipper stated, "I'm not. I know you have no reason to trust me, or her, but I promise you that all we are trying to do is keep you safe."

Quick on the reply, Wendy shouted, "Then why were you following me?"

Mabel took her turn in the conversation, "Because we don't know exactly how close to the danger you are."

At that, Wendy craned her head around, trying to get a look at the girl who had her pinned. Wendy mumbled, "What does that even mean? I don't get you."

Leaning in a tad closer, Dipper spoke quietly to Wendy, "Look, how about this? What would help us earn your trust? I'll tell her to let you go if you give us a chance."

Hearing that from Dipper, Wendy turned and saw how closer he was. The pink in her cheeks flushed out across her face, and the little freckles had become darker against her rosy cheeks. Wendy gulped, and then, stammering at first, she suggested, "What are your names?"

"Oh," Dipper looked up to Mabel. She looked back at him, eyes wide. What did they say here? Dipper wasn't sure. They wanted her trust, sure, but was it worth the possibility of altering the timeline? Dipper bit on his lips. He needed a decision, and one quick. He came across one easier than he had expected.

With a warm smile, he looked up to his sister, "Mary, you can let go of her," he said, and then extended his hand to Wendy, "I'm Mason."

Mabel, eying her brother, slowly stood back up fully, allowing her arms to fall away from the redhead. Wendy, hearing the names, and keeping her eyes on Dipper the whole time, reached forward and took the hand. With her hands meeting Dippers, she smiled back. "Wendy. You know that, though."

"Sure did," Dipper told her happily.

Mabel declared, "I'm Mary! Yup! That's my name!"

Wendy looked over her shoulder, telling Mabel, "Yeah, he said that," and then looked to 'Mason', "So, uh, what is going on, then?"

Now that things had calmed, Dipper tried what he had attempted, and failed, before. He took a deep breath, and told her, "Wendy, we think something weird is going on with your mom."

Wendy frowned. Her nose crinkled. She looked a little more upset again. "Stop it," she told him.

Uncertain to what she meant, Dipper asked, "Stop what?"

"Going at my mom," Wendy asked, quietly, "She just came back. I don't want you to hurt her."

Mabel rushed around to face Wendy. "No!" she whined, "We'd never hurt her! We're not trying to hurt anyone!" She then quietly added, despite herself, "Even if we're pretty good at it now."

"Mab-Mary," Dipper corrected himself, scolding his sister, "Maybe, Mary, don't say that?"

"Sorry Mason," Mabel said, much more naturally.

Dipper, looking to the perturbed twelve-year-old, explained, "We think something is going on. But right now, Wendy, we don't know for sure. See, We have a hunch, and that's it. We need evidence. Until we have evidence, I promise you that we won't do anything, harmful or otherwise, to your mom. Or you."

Mabel added, "But it is important we figure out what is going on real heckin' soon."

"Why?" Wendy asked.

Mabel shrugged. "Oh, you know," she casually stated, "Fate of the universe, that sort of thing."

Wendy snorted. "Fate of the universe? Hah, right. Sure."

"She's being honest," Dipper told her, giving his sincere streak a much-needed workout. "Wendy, your mom could be a keystone in helping us. That's why we need your help."

"M-My help?" she stammered. "But, why not… my… dad…" she asked, her eyes narrowing. Wendy played with her chin, thinking about her choice in words. "And my bros are idiots too," she muttered. With a heavy sigh, Wendy shrugged, "Okay, I get it, I see why I'm the girl you chose."

While Dipper smirked, Mabel looked a little lost "Yeah?" she asked.

"Well, duh!" Wendy chuckled, "Dad wouldn't help you," she pointed to Dipper, "He thinks you were peeping on mom. Sorry about that," she admitted as Dipper scowled. Wendy added, "And my brothers would be as helpful as a squirrel."

Mabel snorted. "Helpful when climbing trees and foraging for nuts. Gotcha."

"So," Wendy summarized, standing to her tallest height as she beamed, "That means me. I'm the girl who you need help from."

"Acute," Dipper remarked, and patted her shoulder, "And correct. Wendy, how can we find out if your mom is acting strange or not?"

Dipper had to withhold a smile as he saw the blush growing on Wendy's face as his hand touched her shoulder. He removed it, not wanting to force any more awkwardness upon the young lady. She looked silently to him, eyes shimmering. She was in thought, or dazing off. Dipper was used to a much older person than this young lady. It was hard to tell that she, the twelve-year old before him, would become the pinnacle of cool. Wendy let out a small sigh.

She told the twins, "I don't know if mom is acting strange or not. She's acting the exact way I remember. So… look, if I help you, and nothing is wrong with mom, you'll leave her alone?"

Dipper lifted a hand into the air, and told her, "I swear that if my sister and I, with your help, find nothing wrong with your mother, we will leave her alone."

"Me too," Mabel chuckled, "Just not as fancy as bro over here."

The younger woman between the twins eyed the both of them. From certain danger became uncertain friendship. She looked from 'Mary' to 'Mason', quick to not let her eyes linger on the teenager boy before her. Clearing her throat, she asked him, "Well… okay. So, uh, what do we look for?"

Dipper stood back up. "Anything. Everything that seems odd, or out of place," he told Wendy.

The younger lady before the twins nodded. Scratching at her chin seemed to gain some sort of result. She looked excited, and told them, "I think I have an idea. What if I went back and asked her to come outside, and talk to her about stuff?"

Mabel, uncertain, asked, "Stuff?"

Dipper, on the other hand, was quite enthused with her idea. "Wait, that's a great idea! Your mom would be more likely to act natural around you. If we're nearby–"

Catching on, Mabel added, "We can overhear what she tells you, and maybe we'll notice something off!"

Smiling, and seemingly happy with her contribution, Wendy added, "Yeah! And again," she glared at the older twins, "Don't hurt my mom."

"Never," Mabel assured her.

Dipper told Wendy, "I won't unless I think it would help me save you or my sister."

"Then," Wendy turned about, and started walking through the woods, "Let's go. I'll take her to sit outside, and you two just listen."

"Oh, Dip- err," Mabel caught herself, and Dipper whacked the back of her head, "Ow, er, Mason is really good at listening to things."

"Yeah, but Mary still struggles," Dipper scowled.

As Mabel silently apologized to her angered brother, Wendy led them forward. She seemed entirely unaware of the potential slip-up. In fact, as the twins followed her, they noticed she seemed about as eager to contribute into the mystery before her as older counterpart. Dipper found himself shocked at how quick she was to jump to action when the time suited her. He supposed it had been partially genetic, as he tried to imagine a moment in Manly Dan's life where he was ever capable of being jumped.

They strolled past many of the trees that the twins dimly recognized from years in the future. Dipper would occasionally pat on, giving it a feel with his palm. It was nice to be back in Gravity Falls, even the strange, weird, woods. At one point, he spotted Wendy having stopped, and looking over her shoulder at him.

"Why do you keep touching them?" She asked Dipper, as he had paused to touch such a tree.

A tad rad in the face, Dipper was slow to answer. Mabel snickered, and told Wendy, "Oh, he's part tree, you see. Makes him feel at home."

"MAB- ugh, MARY!" Dipper yapped at his sister. Mabel devilishly smirked, and fluttered her eyelashes. Dipper demanded of her, "Do not go putting ideas into her head!"

"You're a what!?" Wendy said, her eyes glittering.

"No, no," Dipper rolled his eyes, approaching her, "I just, uh, have been here before. It's kind of hard for my sister and I to come back nowadays."

Despite her teasing, Mabel deflated. "Yeah. Gravity Falls is more in the past thing than normal."

Wendy eyed them both. "What does that even mean? You're here now, aren't you?"

The twins shared a solemn look. Dipper, able to swallow away the pain of the very place around them being totally erased from history, told Wendy, "Let's just say that this might be the last time in a long time that my sister and I come here."

Wendy looked devastated. "What?" she whined.

Mabel, hearing that sadness, leaned in towards the younger girl, "Oh? Why? Does that bother you?" she asked, smirking.

A little pink in the cheeks, Wendy pouted, and turned away. "N-no," she insisted, marching away, "It just sounded sad, that's all. Don't be weird, Mary."

"That's my middle name!" Mabel cackled. "Mary Weird Shmeckldorf."

Before Wendy could ask, Dipper told the younger redhead, "That is not our last name."

Snickering, Mabel said, "Yeah! It's Conifer."

Prepared to correct again, Dipper held back his remark. He pondered the name. "Huh. Mary and Mason Conifer?" Wendy asked over her shoulder. She shrugged, and noted, "Cool."

Dipper, despite the ridiculousness of it all, turned to his sister, and quietly said, "Great choice."

"Thank you, brosef."


Deeper in town, a duo was leaving the Mall. Stan Pines, looking like he had already aged several years, was trying his best to hold it together. He dearly trusted the man he employed, and much more had, since hiring him years ago, come to rely on him. However, the man from the future, future Soos, hadn't stopped talking since they left.

Soos wrapped up the latest of maybe a dozen stories, all supposedly about the future. "And then, you wouldn't believe it, my bet was right! Thirteen days, Mister Pines!"

Stan, rubbing a thick finger into his ear, turned to the large man. Desperate to get the low-key ringing out, he told his future-tense handyman, "Soos, wonderful. Really. Good for you."

"Thanks, Mister Pines!" Soos beamed. "Oh!" Soos suddenly grimaced, "But, uh, do me a favor, and don't remember anything I just told you. Could change timelines, or whatever."

Despite the small headache, Stan smirked. "Don't worry, Soos," Stan assured him, "If there is one thing you can trust me on, is that I am going to forget everything you just told me. By tomorrow."

Soos sighed. "Phew. Well, glad I'm not doing more damage than Miss Yore is."

Stan quietly grumbled, "Except to my eardrums."

As per usual, Soos didn't catch Stan's snide remark. He instead smiled at his father figure like it was the long-lost sun itself. Soos explained, "Sorry for chatting so much, mister Pines. I just haven't had a good chance to talk to you…"

From a previously elated man soon followed a downcast Soos. The look in Soos' eye, thinking back to the times before coming to this earlier Gravity Falls; it hurt. Stan noticed. He was, despite his best intentions to protest otherwise, worried for the big guy. Taking matters into his hands, he did what he was often good at: distracting.

Clearing his throat, Stan asked Soos, "So. This Corduroy brat."

"Oh, Wendy?" Soos immediately lifted himself up.

Stan sked, "How did you and that gremlin come to be friends?"

Soos chuckled. "Oh, dude, you hire her!"

"I what?!" Stan barked.

Soos put a hand to his mouth. "Whoops. Don't know if I should say any more," he said, quietly as he grimaced.

"So," Stan gave news a bit of thinking, "I hire her. What for? She's spends most of her time avoiding family and climbing trees. Why did I need that?"

"Ah, well," Soos looked uncomfortable, pulling on his hands in a small fidget.

"C'mon, Soos," Stan chuckled, wrapping an arm around his employee, "Give me a teaser – what does she have that makes me say 'I'll throw money at you'?" Even coming from Stan's own mouth, the request was met with silence. Soos had zipped his mouth tightly shut. Stan rolled his eyes, "Oh, c'mon Soos! That's not going to, I dunno, destroy timelines, or whatever."

"B-but it could, Mister Pines!" Soos protested, "If I tell you, and you don't like it, if you never end up hiring her, then you could do some time paradox-y stuff."

Grumbling, Stan held up a hand, as if he was on a court stand. "Soos, I swear that I will hire Wendy, and will try to hire her at the right time, if you tell me when that is. Now let's hear it!" he pleaded, "I'm itching with curiosity."

"R-Really?" Soos asked, "More than usual?"

Stan grumbled, "Okay, maybe it's the normal amount of itching. Soos, just tell me already!"

With the quietest gulp her could, Soos refrained. "Sorry, Mister Pines. I don't wanna risk it. It could endanger the twins. I can't break my promise to future-you."

Stan stopped in his walk with Soos. He fully turned, hands at his hips. Soos wilted under the scrutiny. If Stan had indeed been Soos' sun, this was the effect of a magnifying glass being aimed at him. Heat rushed into the poor handyman's body. Now he felt terribly itchy as sweat started to form everywhere.

Stan, with a smirk, told Soos, "Heh. Look at you. Standing up to me, huh? You've really grown up, Soos," he then cackled, and patted Soos' shoulder, "No wonder future me let you take care of my family."

Stan walked onwards, content with the moment. Soos, however, stayed rooted to the ground. It was akin to hearing the ghost of a loved one tell you that they're proud. Soos had tears welling into his eyes, and he had no clue what to do about it. Stan seemed to realize the absence of Mister Ramirez from his side. He turned, and spotted the emotionally raw man.

"Oh, c'mon, Soos!" Stan barked, rushing back over, "Take it easy! Why are you acting like it's such a big de-" Stan froze before Soos, his eyes wide. With slow, heavy words, Stan started to say, "Wait a second. Wait a gosh-darn second. Soos, why is it such a big deal?"

Soos, shaken from his torpor, stammered, "I – ah – uh –"

Stan started to grow pale. Even while Soos rubbed away the tears from his eyes, Stan studied Soos closely, carefully. "Soos," he calmly asked, "What happened to me in the future?"

Saved by the brother, Soos didn't need to answer. Someone cried out, "Stanley!"

Stan reeled about; eyes wide. He saw his younger brother approaching, along with the large, weird, time-traveling man. He sighed, "Oh, right. Bro is back." He smirked. "That'll take some time to adjust," Stan grumbled.

Soos waved back to Ford and Blendin'. "Sup, dawgs!" He passed by a fairly shaken looking Stanley Pines. Never before had Soos felt happy to have someone else interrupt a moment between him and Stan before. First time for everything, he supposed. To the other two men, Soos asked, "Any luck finding Wendy and her family?"

Ford, crossing his arms tightly, stated, "Sadly, no. We both had aptly guessed, and failed, where they might be. We tried the lumberyards, and then the beach. Neither had the family, nor young Miss Corduroy."

Holding out a strange-looking scanner of a gizmo, Blendin' whined, "And there are little bits of time-radiation that are making it difficult to pinpoint where she might be!"

Worriedly, Soos asked, "Time radiation?"

Ford rolled his eyes, and explained, "Also known as chrono-radiation. It is a byproduct of my portal being misused in the future. You see, when a transversal-"

Stan, marching over, barked out, "Hard stop! No geekery explanations! Just tell us the down to earth, normal joe, stuff."

Frowning slightly, Ford summarized, "Timey-whimey."

Stan nodded, "Gotcha."

"Speaking of," Ford asked, eying Soos, "Might I and Soos have a moment aside?"

"Huh?" Stan raised an eyebrow, "You want my handyman to chat? Why? Going to gossip like ladies at the salon?" he chuckled. Several ladies, presumably, on their way to the salon, glared at Stan as they passed. He yapped back, "Oh, go on! I know it's some weird ritual you all do! Go on a gossip! See if I care!"

Ford smirked. "Well, seeing as he isn't your employee currently–"

Stan whipped his head back to Ford, and asked, "And why is that?!"

A bit of sweat formed on Ford's brow. "Uh, well," he quickly pieced together a lie, "Well, obviously this Soos is employed to future you! You simply lack jurisdiction," Ford told to Stan, and pushed Soos away.

Stan, shouting at the two as they took themselves to the side, yelled, "I never do jury-duty, bro!"

A good thirty feet from Stan and Blendin', Ford rounded on Soos. "Now, Soos," he started calmly, "I understand that you are very eager to speak to my brother. Potentially ad nauseum."

Soos chuckled, "Oh no, I'm not feeling sick at all."

Holding back a frown, Ford pressed forward, "But I need to know – have you told my brother much of the future?" Soos' zipped his mouth shut, but his eyes shone with worry. Ford scowled, "Soos! We all agreed to not attempt to alter timelines! That could be an enormous breach in timeline continuity!"

"I know! I know, Mister Pines brother," Soos insisted, and then added with a wistful tone, "I just, you know, miss him."

From reprimanding to sympathetic, Ford let the man before him be, just for a moment. He glanced over his shoulder, eying Stan and Blendin'. Quietly, he admitted, "I suppose I know what you mean."

"Well, yeah," Soos nodded, "You haven't seen him-"

"No, time is not my issue, here," Ford looked back to Soos, and shook his head, "Remember Soos, for me, it's been only a month, and the last time he and I spoke, it wasn't, well, under the best of terms."

Soos chewed on his cheek. "Oh. Then what do you mean?"

"I suppose it's more to do with knowing what Stan has done," Ford tried explaining, "Opposed to the time apart I have felt. Soos," Ford stepped to his side, and admitted, "After Stan and I had our last fight, I thought I might never see him again. After all, the only other time someone had entered my portal, they came back someone addled."

"Ah, right – Mister Fiddleford!" Soos recalled.

"Yes. Poor man," Ford hissed, and rubbed his shoulder, "Perhaps there is something I can do later to make up for what I did. Hm. Anyway," He focused back on Soos, and offered him a forlorn smile, "But try to imagine what was going on through my head? I was about to never see Stan again, and I saw how upset he was as I floated away. It was my fault. I had let things get that far."

Soos shrugged. "Aw, dude, it's okay. Not everyone is perfect at handling Mister Pines, like I am," he smirked.

Ford grumbled, "Truly. When I came back to the woods, I had no idea what to think. Until you and Dipper, and the girls explained to me what I had missed, all I could think of was 'Oh, that darn, dumb Stan! Sent me to the future'. Now, seeing how relieved he was to see me," Ford sunk into himself, "I want to tell him how much it means to me – to see someone do that, keep trying to help me."

"Even if it ends up hurting him," Soos pointed out.

Glaring at the handyman, Ford admitted, "You know, you're not fantastic at these pep-talks."

"Not one bit!" Soos chuckled.

Ford sighed. "Bottom line – we both feel gratitude for Stan. But we can't just tell him things, even if our heart longs to. We could endanger him if we did."

"Which is saying a lot," Soos nodded, "He lived dangerously."

"Yes," Ford snickered, "He certainly does." He patted Soos' shoulder. "So. No more spilling secrets to my brother, or anyone from this timeline. No matter how hard he asks us."

"Oh, don't worry," Soos straightened up proudly, "He already tried figuring out why he hired Wendy, and I wouldn't tell him."

Nodding gently in approval, Ford congratulated Soos, "Very well done. Let's just hope I have as strong convictions as you. He hasn't tried to wiggle things out of me. Yet," he added with a worried look back to his older twin. As Ford looked back, he realized Stan was waving them over. "Oh," Ford nudged Soos, "I think they need us. Do you have any questions, Soos?"

Soos, wide eyed, shook his head. "Oh, tons of questions. But I don't think you'd wanna answer them. Like, the classification of sandwich versus tacos versus hotdogs. Where do the lines meet?"

Ford nodded. "A discussion I would be pleased to share with you later. For now," he then turned and lead himself and Soos to Stan and Blendin'. The two marched back over, and there, awaiting them, the time-traveler had started to pace.

Stan was quick to tell them, "His thingy started beeping."

True to his word, the gizmo that Blendin' held was emitting loud, harsh beeps. He held it around, spinning in controlled circles. "It-It's beginning to pick up a reading!"

"A reading?" Ford asked.

"Wow!" Soos clapped a hand to his head, "It can read!"

Blendin' focused towards the woods, and pointed. "There," he exclaimed, "That's the location of the large time-energy signal!"

"Chrono-radiation," Ford muttered.

Rushing to Blendin's side, Soos asked, "Is that where Wendy is?"

"Maybe?" Blendin' said, "I don't know! I haven't had a chance to see if she has a signal herself!"

"Either way!" Ford declared loudly, "We should go. I have a hunch that what we find will, invariably, lead us to answers!"

"Yeah, alright," Stan rolled his eyes, "Dramatics and stuff aside, let's get hustling!"

As the four prepared to rush, a young, blond girl, maybe eight or nine, with a beautiful purple sun walked closer to the four men. "Oh cool! Mister Mystery!" she cried out, her blue eyes excited by the appearance of the reclusive hermit.

Right behind her, a mustached man with an immaculate suit pulled his daughter back. "No, no, Pacifica. Stay away from the poor people. They're diseased," Preston Northwest told Pacifica. Deflated, the young lady was led off, upset with the lesson learned.

Soos leaned over to Blendin', and assured him, "Don't worry, dawg. I don't think you're that diseased."


Before long, the three had made it back within eyesight of the log cabin of the Corduroy family. It was, to their luck, empty; the family having gone inside. Wendy was quick to get low, squatting as she darted from tree to tree. The twins followed suit, Mabel even going so far as to cartwheel herself from one hiding spot to another. As the three came to the very same tree the twins had hid behind before, they huddled. Dipper couldn't help but smirk as Wendy seemed very happy to be right next to Dipper.

"So," Mabel said to Wendy, "Go in, get mom, bring mom out, and chat."

"Yeah," Wendy agreed.

Dipper asked of Wendy, "Try to start about casual stuff. You're great with casual."

"I-I am?" she asked, stunned at Dipper's insistence.

Mabel reached forward for Wendy's shoulder. "Trust him. You're the best at appearing casual."

"Oh," Wendy frowned, and after a moment, jostled herself. She nodded, and started trying off a causal attitude. She relaxed, and looked between the twins. "Wassup," she asked them. Mabel beamed and Dipper snickered. To Dipper, Wendy poked him, "You said I was good at this!"

"You are," he told her, unoffended by her poking, "Trust me, it's just, uh," Dipper eyed his sister. The Wendy he knew was very good at the act-chill procedure. This Wendy was, apparently, pretty good, but still putting some hefty effort into it. Dipper thought back to his own Wendy, and then to this younger woman before him. "Breathe it out," he told her, "Nothing bothers you."

Wendy stared at him. "Have you met my family?" she asked.

"Ah," Mabel assured her, "Chill is a status of mind. You can totally do it, even if your dad and bros are crazy."

From Dipper to Mabel, Wendy stared. She was about to try again, when the backdoor opened. The three pushed themselves against the tree, and craned their faces to just peer past the edge of bark. From the home, they saw a woman step out.

"Yes, dear," Melissa Corduroy called into the home, "I'll be right back. I think Wendy had it right, a walk through the woods is a great idea. I think I'll collect some wildflowers!"

From inside, they heard Manly Dan Corduroy shout back, "YOU GOT IT, HUN! STAY STRONG!"

The three, close against the tree, watched as Melissa Corduroy approached the border of the forest. Wearing her nice dress, she stepped under the canopy. She took in a nice, long breath. From a gentle, pleased smile, she suddenly sighed. She looked over her shoulder, back to the home. Without noticing the twins or Wendy, she turned back to the woods, a glum expression on her face. She then stepped into the shadows, gracefully waltzing into the woodlands.

Wendy, first to whisper, announced, "That's weird."

"No kidding," Mabel agreed, and told her brother, "Didn't even need to get her to talk – just watching for a minute was enough."

Dipper frowned. He watched the path the Melissa Corduroy was taking. He quietly told the other two, keeping his eyes on the mother, "She said she was going to collect flowers. Why is she going that way then?"

Mabel tilted her head. "Huh? Whatchu mean, bro?"

Gasping in surprise, Wendy looked to Dipper. She said, "He's right. There aren't good patches of flowers that way. There's a creek, but it's mostly mushrooms that way!" she gave dipper a small shove, "You really do know this area."

An eyebrow raised, Mabel told Dipper, "I wonder, since Mason here knows about all the good flower spots, he wouldn't care to spill who he was getting flowers for?"

Like it was the hottest gossip she had ever heard, Wendy looked between them. She was eager to hear such things. Dipper, however, slowly turned to his sister, looking like he would flay her. He merely said, "For your grave."

"Oh, spoilers!" Mabel giggled.

Tired of her antics, Dipper motioned for the girls to follow, "Let's keep an eye on her. Maybe there's something else your mom is doing in the woods," he told Wendy.

"Like what?" she asked, "She wasn't the nature type. That's more dad's thing."

What precisely wouldn't be answered immediately. With Wendy at their side, and the target of worry ahead of them, the twins marched onwards. They made sure to stay in constant eyesight of the woman, but did their absolute best to remain low to the ground and as quiet as possible. Perhaps with Wendy having already gotten the twins at their worst, the twins only had their best to offer; even in drier patches of woods, they remained silent.

What felt like twenty minutes of walking later, they saw the woman ahead of them, approaching a pond. It was a decent sized puddle in the woods, which deer and other creatures often came to drink from. Dipper had followed strange tracks here once or twice, for sadly inconclusive results. The three dared passing a few more trees, closing the distance between them and the woman.

Melissa Corduroy seemed to look to the water with a deeply troubled expression. She furrowed her brow and looked almost ill. Now, maybe twenty feet from her, the trio found a bush to hide behind. They could hear the woman taking a deep sigh, and fidgeting with the hem of her dress.

Mabel looked to the other two. Then, Melissa Corduroy, very suddenly, said aloud, "What do you want?"

The trio froze in their spot. They had been silent. They had been unseen. Did Melissa Corduroy really know they were already there?

Then, the water before the woman churned. An image appeared in it, rippling into reality like waves from a pebble. Above the head of the reflection of Melissa Corduroy was a large pendulum of a clock. It swung back and forward, so large that even the trio could see it. They could hear the 'tick-tock' it made, as if there was some sort of unseen pendulum. As the pendulum swung again, a strange image appeared before them all.

A triangle of blue and silver, decorated with a frilly top-hat and parasol at her side, appeared above the woman, floating in the air. The parasol was flicked open. The image of the triangle floated closer into the reflection until Kelly Yore herself slid out from the water. Separated from the cursed reflection, she floated before Melissa Corduroy.

To say the twins, and Wendy, were stunned, was an understatement. It was just like Soos had described. They could also see her now. She was just like Bill, only upside-down. And blue. And silver.

Mabel turned to her brother, and said, "Weirdness detected, command."

Dipper whispered to her, "Standby."

Wendy mouthed, "Mom?"

Ahead of them, Kelly Yore spoke, each word sort of flashing out from her as a mote of silvery humming glow, "We have trouble."

"We?" Melissa demanded of the woman.

The triangle did not like that. "Yes, we, you scampering, leaf-munching little suck-up," Kelly said, her tones just as drawn and unflapping as Dipper and Mabel remembered. She had a twang that just slightly reminded them of Gideon. Kelly told her, "My actions assist you, and you are helping me. That means when something hurts me, it hurts you. Does your dumb, head-light hating brain understand!?" Kelly snapped.

Melissa Corduroy snarled at the demon. "Watch it with the derogatory talk, demon."

Kelly rolled an eye, "Oh please. Like you care. Honestly, I am not even sure why you are wearing that ridiculous disguise right now. Not like anyone will see you."

At the suggestion, the woman known as Melissa Corduroy stiffened. She then reached up to her head, by the top of her hairline.

Next to Dipper, Wendy shook her head. She could not move her eyes away from the image of her mother and the strange entity, yet her eyes shone like she was about to tear up. She whispered, pleading, "Mom, no!"

The woman out in the woods pulled her hand down her face. Like a flower opening up for the coming dawn, Melissa Corduroy seemed to unfold outward. Her dress splintered into a long mossy cloak, woven with flowers and berries throughout. Her shoes were replaced with deer-legs and hooves. From the forehead, two massive antlers protruded out. Her skin was entirely soft fur. Her eyes were darker.

She was, needless to say, not human.

Kelly seemed pleased, "There, isn't that better? Suit off, after a long day of impersonating humans?"

The woman that, despite the disguise gone, still looked remarkably like Melissa Corduroy, told the demon, "I suppose so. Now, what do you want?"

Dipper couldn't believe it. He was looking at a mythological being that he had only heard of. He had, long ago, thought he'd see one of them; foolishly believing he could capture it. Now it stood, less than a hundred feet from him, in clear view! That meant it was time to take notes. He needed his journal. He reached for it, and as he turned, he saw the state of Wendy next to him.

Tears ran down her face.

Stunned and entirely distracted from his desire to study, Dipper whispered to her, "Wendy?"

She shook her head, and put her hands over her eyes. "Just for once," she told Dipper, "I wanted to feel normal. I just," she whimpered, and started to sob as quietly as she could let herself, "Wanted to have mom back."


Oh boy, her we are! New update, and the second of this year! Chapter 100! WOOOH!

This whole arch of the story has been a long-planned thing. Since, I want to say, before I new there would be more than one season, certain events had always been stuck into my mind. This is one such event. I would have been its own short story, had I not gone on to write this series. So, eh, hope you're liking it!

We've got a BIG part 2 coming up. It's a bit longer than this one, nearing 30 ish pages by my reckoning. If you'd like a teaser for the episode after this one (not chapter, remember - EPISODE), then by all means, have at it:

Episode 18 of Season 3 - Tzfmgvi Szfmgvi

Some spookiness may be on the horizon for you, my good reader. I hope you're in for some out of spookiness season scares ^_^

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have someone I need to go scold.

(EZB lifts out a strange looking tape measure, and pulls it taught.) Oh, he's gonna get it bad. (EZB lets go and suddenly flashes away with a blast of blue light.)

TWO YEARS AGO

Younger EZB: (Sitting by his desk, looking at the first three pages of content for Tears of Corduroy, part 2) Hm. I dunno. This just isn't... hitting the way it should. Maybe I should -

(Blue light zaps the image of older EZB into reality) STOP RIGHT THERE, FOOL! You just need to take a deep breath, and go write another part of the story! You can do it!

Young EZB: (looks at old EZB) Wow. You got fat.

Fat THIS! (Older EZB drop-kicks his younger self. The two begin an epic battle of mild proportions. Eventually the two drop the time-traveling device, and roll over it, rushing it.)

Young EZB: Uh oh.

Oh yeah, bud. That ain't good.

(The two are vaporized by a blast of severe time-radiation.)