SO PSYCHED ABOUT THE NEW EPISODE GUYS. THE FANDOM GUESSED IT MAN, WE GUESSED IT AND WE WERE RIGHT.
Honestly, that reveal of the Author puts the rest of this chapter in some weird light, but hey. I wasn't going to change it due to the update, so let's all pretend for a moment we don't know who the author is x]
Wishing-Tree Chapter 2
"Bill," Dipper greeted, simultaneously annoyed and relieved.
"You must be pretty desperate if you're calling on me!"
"It's Mabel. She's cursed!"
"Sure, sure," Bill said, spinning the cane that appeared in his hand. "I know all about it, kiddo. You'd think this would teach you stop using that journal, right?"
"No," Dipper said indignantly. It wasn't the journal's fault for having information – it was his own for using it irresponsibly. "Now, enough messing around. Can you get Mabel back to her usual sweater-loving boy crazy self?"
"Hey, we're in the same boat, kid." Bill snapped his fingers. The nose of a huge blue and white yacht crashed through the triangle window; Dipper threw up his hands against flying glass and wood, but nothing struck him. When he opened his eyes, the boat was gone and the window intact. Bill was drifting lazily in circles. "You and I both want something from each other," the dream demon was saying. There's only one way this works, and that's agreeing to make a deal with me." Bill Cipher drifted in front of Dipper and crossed his tiny arms. "You're not gonna get any freebies just because I like you!"
"What do you want?" grumbled Dipper. Of course he understood the rules, but that didn't make him any happier about it.
"It's simple! Hand over the journal, and you'll have yourself one order of a Shooting Star."
"What!? You're not getting the journal."
Bill shrugged and floated away disinterestedly. Inspecting his nonexistent nails, he said woefully, "It's your sister or the journal. Man, Pine-Tree, I didn't know you were so cold!"
Dipper raked his hand through his hair. There really wasn't anything to it. He'd never choose the journal over his sister, no matter how much he wanted it. No doubt Bill knew that too. But… "Isn't there anything else? There's gotta be something else I can help you with."
Unseen by Dipper, Bill's single eye glowed blue. "Hmmm… I guess there is one thing…"
"What is it?"
"It's a little something personal. That Author of yours had a lotta hide-outs in Gravity Falls. You've come across one. But another of them has some things that are very valuable to me. I'd like them back." Bill said all this placidly, but for 'valuable,' where his body flared red and his fists clenched at his side.
"A hide-out?" Dipper repeated, unable to contain the burst of excitement. Like the bunker they'd come across… but more hidden. More secrets.
"That's what I said, kid! Problem is, the Author didn't want dream demons like me getting in, and he made it-" Bill's eyes twitched, "difficult." With a hint of fiery red lingering at his corners, Bill continued, "it's pretty well demon-proofed, but a scrawny human like you can make it in for me!"
Dipper restrained a smile – he could only imagine how much it burned Bill to encounter something he couldn't readily accomplish himself. Asking a human for help! But Dipper was much more distracted by the savory idea dangled before him. A hide-out, a bunker, of the Author; teeming with knowledge and mysterious artifacts and lore. And if he could get in while Bill could not…
"Hey," the dream demon snapped. "Stop thinking that, before I decide you look better without your skin!"
"It'd be fun! I could keep you alive without your skin, you know."
Dipper didn't doubt it. "How do I know you'll help Mabel?" he asked, narrowing his eyes. "Last time I made a deal with you, you never fulfilled your part of the bargain!"
"'Course I did. If I didn't break your computer, you never would have found out who owned the thing. I gave you a hint! Anyway, if I showed you all the secrets of the universe, it would break your mind!"
"Bygones are bygones! Tell ya what, I'll put Shooting Star back to normal, and then you can help me."
Dipper still didn't trust Bill any further than he could throw him. Which, him being a dream demon, was not at all. The deal was too good to be true. But he didn't have any choice in the matter. It was Bill or nothing.
"Fine. But I'm not helping you until I see that Mabel is okay."
Bill laughed. "Sure, kid! It's not like you'll have a choice to help me anyway."
"Wait, whu-?" before Dipper could protest, Bill grabbed his hand and blue fire erupted over the handshake. With the deal sealed, Dipper jerked back his hand and rubbed his palm.
"What was that about not having a choice?" Dipper said nervously. Maybe he should have told Wendy or Soos or someone about his decision prior to summoning Bill.
"Don't worry 'bout it, Pine-Tree. It's insurance. If I fulfill my part of the deal, you've got no CHOICE but to fulfill yours. It shouldn't be a problem." Bill casually put his hands on his sides and glowed a friendly yellow, as if he hadn't just gotten huge and glared red a mere two seconds ago.
"Uhh…" That sounded ominous and uncomfortable.
"Anyway…" Bill started spinning his cane idly again, "you want Shooting Star to soar again? Done!"
Bill snapped his fingers; the world went black.
"Ahhh!" Dipper's arms and legs flailed, his head cracked against something; his eyes snapped open and abruptly he realize that he was laying on the floor of his bedroom. Wait… had he been dreaming all that? It made sense, seeing that Bill was a dream demon, but he… didn't remember falling asleep.
Tick tock, kid!
Dipper somehow managed to flail his way to his feet. He needed to make sure Mabel was okay before Bill dragged him off to the hide-out.
He couldn't see her anywhere in the room, so he bolted straight down the stairs. Rounding the corner, he stumbled into the kitchen and directly in front of a cheerfully sweatered Mabel. Like – smiling Mabel, Mabel with a bright sweater, Mabel actually genuinely -
"Dipper! Guess what guess what guess what!" Mabel bounded over to him gleefully. "There's a new guy in town and he's so so so sweet. He stopped by the shack just a few minutes ago and I was like 'whoa!' But I know I can get all crazy with guys, so I tried to be like, 'no Mabel, you don't even know him yet, but-'"
"Mabel," Dipper grabbed her shoulders to get her quiet, and then ended up yanking her into a tight, quivering hug.
"D-Dipper?" Mabel patted his back. "Bro-bro, are you okay?"
Dipper clenched his eyes shut. He'd thought… he couldn't have been sure until now… part of him had expected that Bill would twist his words and fail to return Mabel to normal. If… normal could ever be used to refer to her. She was his sister; unique and different and special and oh-so-Mabel and for so many days he'd thought she'd been gone forever.
"Let it out, Dip," Mabel said encouragingly. "It's okay to cry."
Crying? Him? Nope! Dipper let go immediately. "I missed you, Mabel."
"What are you talking about? I've been here all along!" Mabel said.
Maybe she didn't remember what had happened… maybe Bill had wiped her memory of those moments.
"I mean…" Mabel narrowed her eyes. "I didn't feel like myself. I felt awful. But it's all better now, so that's that!"
"It-was-my-fault," Dipper spilled out all in a rush.
"I messed with the journal when I shouldn't have. I'm so sorry, Mabel. I made a wish that you wouldn't keep falling for men left and right, and it went all wrong. You're perfect the way you are, even if you do always find a new crush every week."
Mabel was quiet for a moment – Dipper thought she was angry, until a small, sad smile appeared on her lips. "Dipper, you're a great twin."
"What? But I… I –"
"Nah-ah!" Mabel put her finger over his lips. "Don't get all guilt-trippy on me, Dippy!"
"Did you just call me-"
"Honest," Mabel said, pulling her most serious face of seriousness ever. "You were just looking out for me. And now you know, I'm not me unless I'm me!"
Dipper smiled wanly. "Thanks, Mabel."
There was an awkward silence. This didn't happen too often between the Mystery Twins, but Mabel could always tell when something else was wrong, and she let the silence tick on a few moments more than it should have.
Dipper rubbed his arms. "Um, there's something else…."
"Uh oh. You got that look."
"Mabel, I had to… um…" He shifted. He couldn't go on without telling Mabel about his deal with Bill – the twins had never been any good at secrets. But she wasn't gonna be happy.
"I had to make a deal with Bill Cipher," he said lowly.
"What? Bro, you know better than to trust him! He took your body for a puppet last time!"
Like Dipper had forgotten. "I didn't have any choice. I couldn't find any other way to get you back to normal; I tried!"
"What does he want in return?"
"He's gonna take me to one of the author's bunkers, Mabel. All I gotta do is get a few things for him there."
"Whoa, bro-bro. You're not excited about this, are you?"
"N-no!" Dipper crossed his arms. No, of course not. Sure, the bunker was going to be a veritable mine of information, and sure, he never would have otherwise found it, and sure, it might be completely totally awesome.
But he was also obviously concerned Bill's deal might have some twist (although he had fixed Mabel just the way he'd promised), and he obviously wasn't going to be too excited.
"You ARE!" Mabel declared, pointing at him. "Dipper! I don't believe you!"
"What?" Dipper snapped. "I made the deal already. All I'm gonna do is try to learn more."
"I'm coming with you," stated Mabel firmly.
"You heard me. I'm coming with you."
"Mabel, I'm not sure-"
She's not coming. Dipper flinched violently. Jeez… this was the second time. Since when did Bill have the ability to speak in his head?
"Bill wants me to go alone."
A very stern, hard look appeared in Mabel's eyes. "Well, that Dorito is just gonna have to deal with it, because I'm not-"
She continued ranting on, but a low, exasperated sigh in Dipper's ear distracted him.
What a pain… Let's cut a few corners, huh, Pine Tree?
"Cut a few…?" Dipper started, but abruptly found himself entirely unable to continue – probably due to the fact he was suddenly laying face-down, and his mouth was full of grass and dirt. "Pfhfhh!"
"Sorry, kid!" Came Bill's obnoxious voice. "We're working against the clock here, and I didn't want your sister holding you back!"
Spitting out dirt, a very annoyed Dipper struggled to his feet for the second time that day. The Shack was gone. Instead, snarled overgrown bushes and snaggly trees surrounded him. He was somewhere deep in the forest. Really deep. The foliage had formed a knotted bedding over the earth; it didn't look like this place had been touched in a century. Although Dipper had been in the forest a hundred times, he didn't remember ever being so far in.
"You just – blipped me out midconversation?" Dipper yelped.
Bill, floating between two trees, rolled his eye. "Demon, Pine Tree."
"Mhr." Dipper shook his head. Whatever. He wasn't going to convince Bill to take him back. He would just have to explain to Mabel later, and hopefully she wouldn't worry too much in the meantime. "So, this is it?" he said, looking around.
"It's the place!"
"Uh… where is it?"
Bill glowed a brighter yellow; if he had a mouth to smirk, Dipper would bet Stan's money that he was smirking. Drifting down, the demon tapped his cane against the gnarled exposed roots of a tree. These very roots clenched like corded muscle before withdrawing amidst a chorus of cracking and groaning. They parted to reveal a dark chasm beneath, just large enough for a small adult to squeeze through.
"Yeah, that author of yours was quite the architect!"
"So he built that other bunker by himself, didn't he?" Dipper asked, wishing to confirm something he'd suspected but not known.
"Hey," Bill crossed his arms, "No freebies from me. That wasn't part of the deal."
Dipper sighed. Bill Cipher might be an absolute mine of invaluable information, but he should have known the darn triangle wouldn't reveal a single thing. It could be downright infuriating, when he thought about how Bill had all the answers, and yet wouldn't ever reveal them.
"Keep your brain on track, kid!" Bill snipped, and bopped Dipper on the head with his cane.
"Hey!" Dipper rubbed his head.
"So here's the inside scoop, kid," Bill said, making quotation marks with his fingers. "I need two things from this hide-out, all right? One - a book called OZE VSXF. Two –"
"Wait, what book?"
"O-Z-E V-S-X-F," the demon said impatiently. "Now, the second item will be a very small black box, sitting somewhere in that bunker. Give me those two items, yes?"
"Wait wait wait," Dipper broke in. "So the black box, and a book with what name again?"
"This book," snapped Bill, and beside him appeared the blue shadowy imitation of a dark leather-bound volume titled, as he'd said, OZE VSXF. "Jeez, Pine Tree. I thought you were smarter than this."
"Zip it!" Bill snapped his fingers, and Dipper experienced the horrifying tug of stitches weaved into his lips. "Lastly," the demon continued, ignoring Dipper's trembling and whimpering, "And listen closely – somewhere on the walls, or maybe on the bookshelves, there will be a symbol; like a circle around a triangle. Break that circle, however you can."
Dipper nodded wildly, and the stitches vanished from his lips. "That was not okay!" He protested heatedly.
"Now, get yourself down to that bunker and get me those things! Ten minutes, and then we'll talk about the remainder of the deal!"
"See ya later, kid!" Bill Cipher tapped his cane over the ground again, and the cave yawned open to swallow Dipper whole.
He plunged into the earth, screaming in a very unmanly way, which he would afterwards pretend had never happened. His body flopped awkwardly through a tunnel of dirt and darkness and musk, before ending crunched in an awkward heap against some kind of barrier. Ughh…" It reeked strongly of thick, dark earth. His eyes refused to work properly without any sort of light to guide them.
How far down am I?
His chest clenched. He wasn't claustrophobic, no, no – but it was impossible to not get a little panicky in this situation. Not to mention that Bill could have just tricked him and purposefully left him here. Maybe there was no bunker at all. Maybe this really was just a deep hole into the bowels of the earth. And neither Stan nor Mabel nor anyone else would be able to find hi-
"Oh," Bill's voice echoed down the passage, "I should give you a fair warning, Pine Tree. That ten-minute time limit isn't debatable. I'm gonna destroy this place after ten minutes, so you better be out by then!"
Dipper scowled at his own fearful thoughts. There must be some way deeper in, some way that would lead… Patting along the walls, he found a smooth round object that had to be a doorknob; with a twist, it gave.
The door swung up with a creak. Dipper's jaw dropped. This was the place. The bunker. But as soon as Dipper saw it, bathed in warm yellow light (likely courtesy of Bill, seeing that there were no visible lights or windows), he knew it wasn't just a bunker. Not just one of many. Not just a place for storing trinkets or experiments or stacks of theories. This was more like the author's heart. It was the place.
A single wooden bed frame leaned cordially against the wall; beneath all the age and dust, the bed-sheets were neatly folded and of a friendly, deep mossy green. Beside the bed perched an amber candlestick caked with dried wax. A quaint hand-crafted bookshelf squatted expectantly nearby. Even now, years from the time it had ever been in use, Dipper could imagine the author propped against the headboard, a book in his hand, reading by the flickering candlelight.
Dipper shivered. This was too weird. His eyes slipped past the bed, to another shelf cozily crammed with pots, pans, lamps, rolls of paper, a tarnished dish that held several cakes of soap, oil, yellowing leaflets covered in scrawling symbols, some bottles and a pair of glasses, neatly folded clothes.
The author hadn't just lived here. He'd made it his home. He'd carefully arranged everything to give it a semblance of comfort. It looked like he'd even dragged in a rug – once fine, now bare – to be draped beside the bed.
Seeing everything that the author had so lovingly tended, Dipper felt something hurt in his chest. The whole scene was so lonely.
And then, of course, there were the walls; walls of bare damp dungeon-like concrete. Across every grey surface, the author had carved in countless incomprehensible symbols. Jagged vicious lines, arrayed in triangles and hexagons, dispersed by foreign syllables and marching text that resembled chants.
The wards… Dipper thought. The trick to keeping Bill out. The author had gone to such lengths to protect his home, and now…
Bill was going to destroy this place. All of it. After only ten minutes.
Dipper expected to be overjoyed by the wealth of knowledge he would find in the bunker – instead, he was equally horrified by how little of it he could take with him. For all he knew, everything he'd been trying to find could be here. All of the answers, lovingly stored in this very bunker, which had stood safe and undisturbed for years.
It was like a test. Bill knew this place would tempt him, and he'd brought him here…. Why? Sure, he wanted a few things from the Author, but why bring Dipper here and not some unsuspecting soul who would fetch the items and return them like a good cooperative human? And if Dipper happened to be the only one willing to make a deal (doubtful), then why set a ten minute time limit and not a five or two minute limit? Wouldn't that be more efficient for getting Dipper in and out without the risk of him discovering anything?
But unsurprisingly, there also wasn't any time for debating the why's and how's.
There was nothing for it. He had to gather as much information with him as was humanely possible.
This decision made, Dipper launched into action – he bolted to the bookcase and swiped several blank pages. Tearing around the room, he eventually found a pencil stub and he hurriedly began copying down the symbols from the walls to the paper. After all, wards able to keep away that evil triangle would undoubtedly come very much in handy.
This done, Dipper darted back to the book shelves and crammed used paper into his pockets, without looking at the content – despite his aching curiosity. He scanned the titles of the books; not a single one was familiar; most were written in codes he didn't recognize. All, he guessed, were infinitely valuable and connected with the journals. Dipper stood there for a full minute, sweat dripping down the back of his neck, unable to select the tomes of greatest importance. In the end, he snatched the OZE book Bill had demanded, along with three other novels that he tucked under his arm. From there, he located the particular black box asked for (some weird colorful aura surrounded it, but there was no time to examine its properties now). The box he tucked into his jacket, along with a collection of mysterious instruments he intended to investigate later.
Next he scrambled around trying to find the symbol Bill had mentioned. As soon as he'd seen the writing on the walls, he expected the circle-triangle symbol to be easily found there, but none of the symbols on the walls related to that. He scattered techy gadgets over the table searching, he upturned a chair, he looked under the pillows – at last he found the symbol carved on the underside of one of the shelves on the bookcase. Using a small pocket knife, he gouged a slice through the seal. That would count as breaking it, right?
He couldn't dwell on it. He had no way of telling just how much time had passed, but he needed to learn or gather as much as he could before leaving.
He first noticed the heat while rummaging through the desk drawers. It was subtle at first; a prickling at the back of his neck, sweat sticking his shirt to his body. Just a bit of heat, since he was so harried to learn all he could. Nothing serious. He shuffled deeper into the drawers: the more he searched, the wealthier things he found.
Burrowing past broken glass and metal fragments from an assortment of forgotten inventions, he found countless pages of elaborate sketches… but not ones of monsters and mystical creatures. No, this was… he gasped. The top page depicted the same triangle-circle pattern he remembered from the laptop, before "access denied" had flashed on the screen. And again hadn't he seen it, in that video of Old Man McGucket's memories? Helped him build a machine….
On the following pages, diagrams, blueprints, designs, concepts, of… some sort of portal? He squinted, leaned closer, what were those words at the corne-
Before his very eyes, the paper burst into flames.
Reeling backward, Dipper dropped the pages, all now aflame; and had the sudden realization that everything was on fire: the bed, so lovingly tended, a thick pillar of flame. The precious books, becoming ash.
Dipper's eyes stung along with the smoke: how had the fire spread so quickly?
I'm gonna destroy this place after ten minutes, so you better be out by then!
He bolted to the door, only to find it shut and locked tight. In an instant, he knew, he was certain – Bill wanted him killed. Bill trapped him on purpose and everything, everything had been a ruse to get him right here. Dipper threw himself against the door and scrabbled at the latch, his mind whirring with solutions and ideas now that he'd figured out his fate. He swore he wasn't panicking, but heat was scalding against his back and his hands were trembling and -
"Sheesh kid, relax! It's like you think I would betray you or something. Haha! Hang on, Pine Tree." Then everything went black.
"Dipper! Bro-bro, don't do this to me, don't-"
"Khfhfff!" Dipper's body spasmed; with a short gasp, he lurched into a sitting position and swung his gaze around. He sat in an open clearing. Mabel was hunched worriedly over him. "What…?"
"Dipper, you idiot!" Mabel whacked his arm.
"Don't ever do something stupid like that again!"
"Why wouldn't you get out the moment you knew it was on fire? Idiot!" She hit him again, and Dipper yelped.
"What!? Oh. The bunker." It had been burning. Bill was destroying it – he needed to get back- Dipper scrambled up and instantly a wave of dizziness washed over him. Groaning, he leaned against Mabel's helpful grasp.
"Oh, you're aren't going anywhere," Mabel said firmly. "I just got you out of there, you're definitely not going back!"
"You got me out of the bunker?"
"Yes, dumb-y! I don't know how I knew, but… I just got this awful, awful feeling, and instantly I knew right where to go. I took the golf cart for as long as I could and then ran and then…" She looked like she was fighting off tears.
"Mabel…" He pulled her into a hug. "It's okay, I'm safe, I'm - …. The journal!" Tearing away from her, he patted all his pockets… but the weight of the journal was, without a doubt, missing from his side.
"Mabel, the journal, it's gone!"
"Dipper!" She yelled. Mabel yelling like that – it wasn't a usual thing, so Dipper knew the moment she did that she was very very unhappy with him… which meant she was really worried about him. "You can't go back," she stood up and stomped her foot. "Journal or no, you're not going back. My brother's worth more than some stupid journal."
He slumped. The laptop had been bad enough. Now the journal was destroyed, too… Bill Cipher had gotten everything he'd wanted. Mabel was right, of course… he couldn't go back to get it now (even if he wasn't worried about himself, she would follow him and something might happen to her). Still… thinking of never having that journal again… it was like a huge part of him was suddenly missing.
A harsh laugh rang in the air. A very very familiar laugh. "Bill!" Dipper screamed, yelling at nowhere in particular, "that wasn't part of the deal!"
"'Course it was! I said I needed a few items from the author, right? This journal is his. And now it's mine!"
"Give it back!" growled Dipper.
"Oh, I'm sure that'll work," laughed the dream demon as he appeared, floating happily several feet away. "Now, you got Shooting Star back, and I got what I wanted. Man, it's nice to have a deal go well for once! Just like old times!"
"Bill," Dipper ground out, stepping forward – but Mabel caught his arm and shook her head. Without her saying a single word, Dipper understood. They were not going to convince Bill to just hand over the journal, especially not with how determined he'd been to get it. Honestly, it was probably partially Dipper's fault, for not better monitoring the deal for loopholes in the first place. And beyond that, for wishing for things he shouldn't have wished for.
Yeah, the loss of the journal hurt. It hurt really bad. Since the beginning of summer, the journal had barely left his side. He'd used it to get out of a dozen tight situations, he'd stayed up long nights reading its words, he'd dedicated endless time to cracking its codes and deciphering its secrets. Saying that he relied upon it was an understatement.
And now it floated tauntingly beside that damn triangular demon.
But that was just the thing. Bill Cipher wasn't going to give it back no matter what Dipper said.
He sighed. "Any deal I can make to get it back?"
"Dipper!" Mabel smacked him.
"Sell me your soul, Pine Tree, and I might consider it," Bill said with a slow blink that may have passed as a wink.
"We'll get that journal back," Mabel sternly told Bill, "we'll get it back without any of your help! Dipper would never sell his soul for that journal." This statement was accompanied by a pointed glare in Dipper's direction.
He cringed; that look was unmistakable. You better not try to do something stupid like that.
"We'll see about that, Shooting Star. Now – I've got a journal to destroy and a world to rule – oops, did I let that slip? Haha! Buy gold, kids – it might save you! Bye!"
With a flash, the demon was gone. Mabel and Dipper were left standing alone in the clearing.
"We'll get it back, Dip," she said, turning to him with a soft smile.
"He took everything," Dipper answered quietly. All the books, trinkets, instruments… all of it was gone from his pockets. The only thing left…. Dipper pulled out a crumbled piece of paper. The wards. All the symbols copied from the walls. Maybe… maybe Bill hadn't been able to touch them.
"He didn't take you," Mabel smiled.
Dipper smiled back. "True. And I might have a way to get the journal back."
A/N: Woo! So this is the second and final part to the 'episode' I intended to write. As I mentioned in the first part, I do have ideas for other episodes. However, seeing that we now know the author, I'm not sure how those are gonna go. If I continue writing 'episodes,' I may just have the story continue as a branch from the series continuity [AKA Dipper doesn't know the author yet].
Anyway, we'll see. I may or may not continue. Wishing-Tree was an effort on my part to write a solid episode-like story of Gravity Falls without it turning all dark like most of my stories do. If I do continue writing 'episodes,' they will very likely get very dark. As in, Bill gonna fuck shit up.
Writing for Gravity Falls is strange. The character interactions are pretty different than those from my other stories, so I still feel a little choppy writing these guys. But... hopefully it'll get easier. This was pretty fun to write, even if I had to make a strong effort to avoid anything too dark x]