Enjoy the Silence
by Aoikami Sarah
Pacifica Northwest sat in lotus position, her eyes half-lidded and makeup-free. Her hands palm-up on her knees, thumbs touching middle fingers, back erect. Her gaze unfocused somewhere near the end of her mat. "In," she said softly. "And out. Your breath comes in waves. Lapping on the beach. Your energy, flowing, like water."
Twenty diverse people sat in similar positions before her in the open-air pavilion in a park in a Los Angeles suburb. "In…" she said again and drew a breath, slowly, then suddenly stopped. Her eyes snapped wide open, darting around yet unseeing, and a sharp gasp escaped her lips. She muttered unintelligibly and her students murmured and stared at her. An awkward silence held a beat before she cried out and leapt to her feet. "I have to go! Class dismissed!" Grabbing her bag, she dashed off, leaving her mat and other supplies behind. She pulled her phone out and called for a car. Some of her students nodded their heads and explained to the confused ones that this happens sometimes. Guru Northwest has been known to get messages when she meditates, but she's never had to leave class before. It must be something important.
"You have reached the Mystery Shack. Leave a message. I—is that it? I just—I just hit the…BEEP." Pacifica groaned at Stan Pines' gravelly voice on the machine. "Hey, is this thing old enough that you can actually hear my voice? If so pick up, it's Pacifica, what's happening? Something major just happened. Is everyone alright? Pick up, damn it. Pick up! Ugh. Alright, you know what. Forget it. I'm coming. Hang in there." She ended the call, and even though using her smartphone in the back of the car made her queasy, she immediately booked a flight to Portland and barked at the driver to head for LAX.
Mabel covered her mouth with the hand that wasn't bleeding and almost choked on her sobs.
"He did it. I can't believe he actually did it." her great-uncle whispered. There was a note of relief in his voice, but it wavered as tears came to his eyes.
Mabel tried to scramble to her feet but her twisted ankle gave out under her and she crashed back down to the forest floor. Crawling past Stanford who was still shaking stars from his head and leaning against a tree for support, she screamed "Dipper!", terrified of what she would find when she reached him.
Her brother lay in the bottom of a shallow depression in the earth about ten feet in diameter, around the lip of which were ten smoldering wooden totems. The young man lay face-down, his left arm pinned under him at a strange angle, one of his sneakers off, and his vest and tee-shirt torn to shreds. His hat was gone and blood covered his right ear. Mabel reached the edge of the crater and rolled down to come to rest beside him. She cried his name out loud again and pulled him into her lap. He gasped for air and her face lit up. "He's breathing!" she screamed. "Help! Ford! Help!"
Stanley Pines paced back and forth across the porch, worrying his hands behind his back. He wore sweatpants and a sleeveless undershirt with an unbuttoned flannel shirt and his short breath was visible in the crisp autumn air. His hair was more disheveled than usual and he frowned severely until he spied the golf cart come crashing through the woods toward the shack. His expression brightened for only a moment, as, even though his cataracts sufficiently limited his vision, he could see that only two of the three who went in were upright coming out. He drew a deep breath, straightened up (cracking his back loudly) and yanked the front door open before jogging to the cart to help them bring Dipper inside. "Jumped up Christ what happened?" he asked them.
"He did it," Stanford answered as he helped carry his 22-year-old unconscious nephew into the house. "It's over. Ciph—" he started but Mabel shot him a look that could kill. "The triangle is gone."
"WELL, WELL, WELL," a familiar voice echoed in the blackness. "THOUGHT YOU COULD GET RID OF OLD BILL, EH, PINE TREE?" A giant, red, glowing eye ignited and was quickly surrounded by bricks of the same appearance that flew into place, forming a triangle. When the shape solidified it flashed with blue flame then ebbed quickly into its usual yellow aspect. "SO CUTE. SO CUTE!" he shouted. "YOU HAVE ONLY DELAYED THE INEVITABLE AND MADE YOUR LAST DAYS IN THIS EXISTENCE A GUARANTEED HELL FROM WHICH YOU WILL NEVER AWAKEN!"
"No…" Dipper muttered and fell to his knees. He stared at the demon before him with disbelieving eyes. "I'm still alive?"
The shape blinked. "WHAT'S THAT? YOU GOT SOMETHING TO SAY, KIDDO? YOU WEREN'T SUPPOSED TO LIVE? HA! WAIT-WAIT-WAIT, THAT WAS YOUR PLAN? DRAW ME IN AND OFF YOURSELF? WHAT A RUBE! WHAT A MAROON! WHAT A SCREWBALL! THAT'S AN AWFULLY BIG GAMBLE YOU MADE THERE, CHUM, AND IT CAME UP SNAKE EYES DIDN'T IT? NOW YOU'RE GONNA WHAT, WAIT TO KICK IT NATURALLY? NO CHANCE. IF I CAN DRIVE YOU INSANE FIRST, I CAN SEEP BACK OUT OF THE DREAMSCAPE NO PROBLEM!" Bill cackled and faded from view. "AND I WILL DRIVE YOU INSANE FIRST." Dipper's mind fell silent and he enjoyed a tense sort of peace for a short while, before the terror began.
The Pines family's usual doctor, Doc Kala (as she was known because no one could pronounce her name properly), a kind young woman who moved to town a few years ago to be a "country doctor", shook her head. "No broken bones, and the head wound is just a laceration, not blunt force trauma, so he should recover with rest. However…" she said and frowned deeper as she put her stethoscope back in her bag. Mabel, Stanley, and Stanford held their breath. "The dislocated shoulder bothers me." Mabel cringed again. The sound of the joint resetting had almost made her throw up. "I got it back in, but he did not so much as flinch."
"What are you sayin', Doc?" Stanley muttered, knowing from experience how much that particular maneuver hurt, but afraid of what she was getting at.
"Dipper's main affliction might be mental. Just what was he doing when he was injured?"
Stanford's face lost all color. Mabel's eyes welled up again, and Stanley pounded a fist on the table they all sat around. No one answered.
Doc Kala sighed. If they were hesitant to answer, it was probably something related to the strange doings in Gravity Falls, and after past experiences with the Pines family, she knew better than to push the issue. "I take it I do not want to know," she muttered then examined Mabel's ankle. It was wrapped and iced and she advised her to stay off of it for a few days at least.
After Doc Kala left, the family sat in silence for a while, no one wanting to put their fears into words. The brothers set up a cot in the living room for Dipper so that Mabel and Stanley could look after him without having to go upstairs to their room. Once he was settled in, Dipper looked fairly comfortable, save the bandage wrapped around his head and the ice pack on his shoulder. Mabel stared at his face, held his hand and tried to think of anything positive she could possibly say or do, but her fear was too great. "What are we gonna do?" she whispered.
"Hey, Mabel!" Stanley's voice called from the entrance to the gift shop. "There's message on the machine!"
Stanford opened the attic door and surveyed the room in which his young relatives had spent every one of their summers for the last decade. Mabel's side on the right was a mess of brightly colored fabric, Tibetan prayer flags, and no less than three lava lamps. Dipper's was equally messy, but dark. Diagrams and papers cluttered the walls, connected by string and covered with post-it notes. The three tables he'd brought up to work on were just as messy. The corner of Stanford's mouth twitched wistfully for a moment as he took in the scene. "Ok, let's see what on Earth you were thinking, my boy," he said, and stepped into the room.
Mabel played the message twice and wiped joyful tears from her face. "Pax is coming!" she beamed at Stanley.
"That rich brat?" he growled. "Thought she only cared about herself?" He lifted a coffee cup to his lips and raised a brow.
"She does not!" Mabel chided him. "She was just heart-broken is all. I can't say I'd have reacted the same way, and yeah I guess I was kind of mad at her for how she sort of destroyed my brother's soul…"
Stanley chuckled darkly "yeah he took that break-up right in the jewels, didn'he?"
She put her hands on her hips and gave him a look. "Stan…"
"What? So the blonde princess that eviscerated your brother somehow knows that something happened to him and is heading here to help and you think she doesn't have an angle?"
Mabel frowned. "No, I don't think so. She hasn't talked to him for two years and I don't think she ever wanted to again, but if she knows something happened…I guess we can use all the help we can get." She looked to Stanley but the old man just shrugged. Their attention was quickly drawn to anguished cries coming from the living room. Mabel leapt up and bolted to her brother's side.
His body was covered in sweat and his limbs twitched as he moaned and muttered incoherently. Mabel clutched his hand and did her best to soothe him but he did not acknowledge her presence.
For an hour or more she watched tears roll down his face and listened intently as he mumbled, whimpered, and cried, but none of his words were clear enough to understand.
Stanley wasn't surprised that he startled her when his right hand patted her shoulder. With his left, he held out a plate with toast and a couple of cookies on it and gave her a weak smile. "Hang in there, kiddo," he said, perhaps to both of them.
Mabel wiped her face on the sleeve of her sweater, nodded, and took the plate from him.
Bill Cipher stopped spinning in place and removed the current nightmare with a wave of his hand. "OK, I'M BORED. THIS ISN'T AS FUN AS I THOUGHT IT WOULD BE." He leaned in and tapped his fist against Dipper's forehead making a glassy, knocking sound. The young man lay in the middle of the crater in the clearing in his dream, his eyes were unfocused but he clenched his teeth and breathed heavily. "YOU'RE STILL PRETTY WITH IT, THOUGH IT HAS ONLY BEEN FOUR EARTH HOURS." Cipher's shape flashed with a series of images that flew by too fast to recognize. "OH! WELL, THAT IS INTERESTING, HM..." He cleared his throat. "I GUESS I'LL JUST QUIT FOR NOW, PINE TREE. SEE YOU LATER." His eye curved deviously. "ENJOY THE SILENCE~" he sang, and disappeared.
Dipper was quiet. Too quiet. Mabel stared intently then gasped when he said her name. He pushed himself up on his elbows and blinked at his sister's red-rimmed eyes. A giant smile spread over her face and she hugged him tightly. It hurt, but after what he'd been through, he didn't mind. The room was fuzzy and his hearing dulled.
"Where is everyone?"
"Stan's asleep and Ford's working on trying to find a solution. I'm so glad you're ok!" His sister wept and released him from the hug.
"Mabel, I'm not ok. He's still here. It's only a matter of time before…"
His great-uncle's imposing figure stepped into view from the stairway and approached slowly. His right arm held behind his back. "You were right," Stanford said. "He can't be defeated."
"Yeah, I was afraid of that" Dipper answered, "But if I can keep my sanity, I can keep him contained. I guess I'll just have to live with it."
"No," Stanford shook his head. "You can't." He lunged forward, pushed Mabel out of the way and stabbed him in the chest with the knife he'd been hiding. Mabel fell to the floor and screamed in horror. Blood spurted from the wound and the pain was worse than any he'd ever felt before— like heartburn, broken bones, and lacerations balled up into one agonizing blow. "Ford…?" Dipper tried to say, but the blood was in his windpipe. His vision started to fail but he saw his sister screaming and thrashing at Stanford who stood motionless, the bloodied knife clutched tightly in his red right hand. Dipper's eyes closed and soon there was nothing but silence and the void.
Until there was music.
Depeche Mode? Dipper wondered.
"DUM-DUM, DUM-DUMMMM… DUM-DUM, DUM-DUMMM…" Cipher's voice filtered in, humming a bassline over and over. "WORDS LIKE VIOLENCE, BREAK THE SILENCE, COMING CRASHING IN, INTO MY LITTLE WORLD. PAINFUL TO ME, PIERCE RIGHT THROUGH ME, CAN'T YOU UNDERSTAND, OH MY LITTLE GIRL?" The triangle shrugged. "OK, SO THAT LAST BIT DOESN'T WORK, BUT YOU GET THE PICTURE!" He blinked a few times. "HM. YES. UH-HUH. NO, NO I DON'T THINK I'LL TELL YOU WHAT'S UP NEXT. MAYBE I'LL TAKE A BREAK AND LET YOU TALK TO SHOOTING STAR FOR REALSIES? MAYBE I'LL DROP YOU OFF A CLIFF A FEW HUNDRED MORE TIMES? OR HOW ABOUT THAT DAY YOUR PARENTS DIED, AGAIN? THAT'S A GOODY. YOU NEVER FORGIVE YOURSELF EVERY SINGLE TIME. PRICELESS, REALLY. WELP! I GOTTA RUN. ENJOY THE—OH MAN, THAT'S GETTING TIRED, ISN'T IT? BYE!"
Stanley Pines grumbled to himself as he made another pot of coffee. Although he complained about acting like a servant for his brother and grand-niece, as he measured the grounds and filled the carafe with water he breathed a sigh. "Well, at least you're useful as a coffee maker, old man," he muttered. "Otherwise, you'd feel pretty terrible right now." He paused after flicking the switch and listened to the water heat up and gurgle as it flowed through the machine. In the background his hearing aids just picked up Dipper's plaintive moaning. Stanley considered taking them out, but was afraid that he'd miss the moment when he would actually be needed. The sound of footsteps stomping up the steps and across the porch was sufficiently loud for him to hear as well, and he turned to the door just as it was flung open.
"Ok, what the hell is going on?!" A young woman in yoga pants and a fleece jacket scowled at him from the doorway. She adjusted a large, designer handbag on her shoulder and flipped her long, blonde hair with a shake of her head.
Stanley glared back at her and dead-panned "Dipper went and got himself possessed by Cipher. We can't snap him out of it." The shocked look that replaced her haughty scowl gave him immense satisfaction. "Coffee?"
Alone in the middle of the forest, Dipper panted and bent at the waist, hands on his knees, struggling to stay standing. He'd been running for a long time, but couldn't remember why. Was he running away from something? No, he was running after something. Towards something. Towards nothing. All around him were trees and the sound of wind through their deep, dark branches. He thought he could hear the falls, but no, it was just the wind tricking him. Where was he going? Where had he been? Lucidity crept up and tapped his brain and he crumpled to the ground, balled himself up into the fetal position and clenched his eyes shut. "Help me. Someone, please, help me…"
The wind died down until the boughs softly rustled and he felt warmth on his skin. He could hear the falls now—a soft, constant, pleasant roar in the distance. Opening his eyes, Dipper saw dappled patches of sunlight on the forest floor around him. Hesitantly, he uncurled, sat up, and looked around him. A shimmering trick of the light surrounded him at a radius of about five feet. Inside this bubble, the sunlight touched the ground. Outside, the woods grew darker.
"WHAT KIND OF STUNT ARE YOU TRYING TO PULL, PINE TREE?!" Cipher's voice boomed.
Dipper stood as the bubble expanded to about twenty feet in diameter. He stared at the triangle and tried not to give his ignorance away.
"NO, YOU'RE NOT DOING THIS. THIS ISN'T YOUR BAG AT ALL. WHO'S DOING THIS? WHO'S PROTECTING YOU?!" Cipher set the woods on fire, but the bubble held its tranquility. Dipper let his shoulders relax, sat down, crossed his legs, and closed his eyes.
"East, North, West, South—within these bounds no harm shall trespass." Pacifica said quietly and wafted the smoke billowing from a little bundle of sage over Dipper's body with a large feather. Mabel, Stanley, Stanford, and Soos (who had arrived for work and ruined her first attempt at a blessing) stood around the cot where she had told them to stand and watched with varying degrees of awe and skepticism. A piece of polished hematite rested on Dipper's forehead—right in the ladle of his constellation birth-mark. A shimmering blue aqua-aura quartz crystal was placed in his left hand and an amethyst in his right. "I call upon the moon," Pacifica said, her voice calm, confident, and authoritative. "Protect this man—carry him to the light of the moon to be filled with love. Fill his mind with peace, courage, security, love, joy, and happiness. So be it. It is done." She snuffed out the smudge stick and clapped her hands twice. Collecting the three stones into a shot glass which she placed on the table above his head, she took a deep, cleansing breath and furrowed her brows. "Now, someone tell me why the hell he's like this."
"What a stupid-ass idea!" Pacifica scoffed after Stanford explained to everyone what he'd learned from reading Dipper's notes. They all sat or stood around the young man's prone body. "So he was counting on being able to trap Cipher and kill himself to solve everyone's problems? Brilliant." She lightly kicked the cot he lay on in frustration.
"I dunno, dude," Soos folded his arms. "Maybe he thought he could take him. I can't see him doin' that to us—not on purpose."
Stanford sighed. "I suppose, however, he did include kamikaze in a list of possible solutions to destroy Cipher once he had him contained."
"Idiot," Stanley spat.
"Moron!" Mabel shouted and kicked the cot much harder than Pacifica had done.
Soos made a face. "But he didn't do it, so, now we gotta figure out how to get the triangle guy out, right?"
Stanford nodded and looked to the heiress. "What you've done to help rest Dipper's mind has probably made Cipher incredibly angry. Will it hold?"
Pacifica nodded. "The protection should last until the next moonset. If I do it again before then, it should get extended." She pursed her lips and hoped she was telling the truth. She tried to give Mabel a reassuring look, but the young woman's eyes were locked on her brother's sleeping form.
"I KNOW YOU CAN HEAR ME, PINE TREE," Cipher growled. He sat on the forest floor, mimicking Dipper's meditative pose. "SO SOMEONE KNOWS HOW TO PROTECT YOU. BIG WHOOP. YOU'RE STILL STUCK IN HERE WITH ME. YOU'RE STILL GONNA DIE, AND I'M STILL GONNA GET OUT, THIS CHANGES NOTHING. YOU WILL EXIST, TRAPPED IN HERE UNTIL YOU DON'T. YOU WILL NEVER SEE YOUR FAMILY AGAIN. DOESN'T THAT BOTHER YOU?"
Dipper shook his head. "Nope."
Cipher flared red. "OH COME ON! YOU CAN'T WIN! IT'S IMPOSSIBLE! DON'T YOU GET IT? YOU'RE SCREWED, PAL! THIS ONLY DELAYS THE INEVITABLE!"
He opened an eye and smirked a little at him. "Then why are you so anxious?"
"ANXIOUS? I AM NOT ANXIOUS!"
"Ok, then, you're afraid."
His shape grew to ten times its current size. "I FEAR NOTHING!"
He shrugged. "Ok, then."
"OH…" Cipher took to the air again. "OH I SEE. HA HA. VERY FUNNY. SO CUTE! YOU THINK YOU CAN TURN THIS AROUND AND MESS WITH ME? YOU ACTUALLY THINK YOU CAN PLAY MY GAME?"
"Nope. Now be quiet. I want to 'Enjoy the Silence~'." Dipper sang, mocking him.
Cipher roared and pounded his fists on the outside of the bubble, but it held remarkably well and only gently rippled in response.
Dipper sang to himself a little off-key. "Vows are spoken to be broken. Feelings are intense, words are trivial. Pleasures remain, so does their pain. Words are meaningless and forgettable~."
Early the next morning before the sun had risen, Pacifica stretched and debated opening another of the little energy-shot bottles Soos had gotten for them. In a few hours, Wendy Corduroy would arrive from Portland and maybe help her stay awake. Mabel needed to sleep for as long as Pacifica could allow her to. It had been a few years since last they saw each other, but she could never remember seeing the girl so disheartened.
"You asshole." She gently flicked his nose with her middle finger, but he didn't stir. "Is this a man thing or just a Dipper thing?" she asked. "Taking on the responsibility, thinking that you'll save the rest of us pain? That is not how it works. The people who love you support you. You need to let them in." She took his right hand back in hers again and rubbed her thumb over his scarred knuckles. "I am so mad at you right now but I'm also terrified for you. At least my blessing seems to have worked. Mabel said you were in rough shape. Hang in there. Your uncle's working on something. You just have to hang in there."
Even with slippers on, Stanford Pines' footfalls on the stairs were loud. "Miss Northwest," he said, trying to speak softly but failing—a hint of excitement in his voice. Under his arms were clutched rolls of paper, a few books, and what looked like a star-chart. "Could I get you to consult with me about something of a…metaphysical nature?"
She blinked at him, a little puzzled, but agreed and he hurried over to sit on the edge of the battered armchair. Stanford spread a few pieces of paper that he had taped together on top of the TV tray between them and dumped the rest of the materials on the floor. "I'm not sure what the implications of my calculations are and I want to find out if this is doable." He ran his finger along a pencil drawing of a circle with shapes drawn in ten positions. Around the wheel he had written calculations, diagrams of constellations, the current phase of the moon, and some words written in English and Sanskrit. Pacifica recognized it instantly and sucked in a breath. "Notice the lack of the center image," he said quickly and she relaxed. "Cipher's element is fire. To counter him, we need a triangle pointed in the opposite direction—the alchemical symbol for water." He drew this shape lightly in pencil in the middle. "The apex should always be north, but if the wheel is inverted it's as if it is actually south. If we look to the heavens," he said and opened a book to show her a diagram of the night sky "and we place Polaris, the North Star, at the apex, we should be able to negate his power." He picked another taped-together paper roll up off the floor—a few pieces of onion skin tracing paper with Polaris and dozens of other stars marked on it. When it was laid over top of the wheel, Pacifica's eyes widened. "Can you see what I cannot—what needs to be done?"
Pacifica released Dipper's hand and snatched the pencil from Stanford. She was too focused to comment as Stanley shuffled into the room in his underclothes and cleared his throat as if he were coughing up a cat. He scratched himself and disinterestedly watched her draw a line from the North Star at the point at the bottom of the wheel to Soos' symbol. "Kornephoros," she said. "Hercules' shoulder." She connected this to her own symbol, "Dubhe, in Ursa Major, the big Dipper," then to Wendy "Vega, in Lyra, or in other cultures, the Llama," then to Mabel, "Cor Caroli…blanking on this one…"
"Historically part of Ursa Major," Stanford stated.
She grinned wide and traced the line from Mabel back to the North Star forming a pentacle inside the wheel over the symbol for water. "Strength, Revenge, Love, and Joy. I can do this. We can make this happen." The calculations Stanford made and Pacifica divined could produce a very powerful magic spell that made her heart race with excitement. "This is flipping genius!"
"Oh, actually, it was Stan's idea to use water to negate him."
Stanley shrugged. "All I said is I wanted to drown the bastard."
"Well yes, but Stan, it might have taken me weeks to think so far outside the box!"
"Eh, whatever." He glanced at Dipper for a moment, pursed his lips, then shuffled off toward the kitchen to brew some more coffee.
"I'll have Stan call Soos and Miss Corduroy and tell them to come right away," Stanford said. "Do you require any supplies?"
Pacifica beamed back at him, grabbed her bag and rummaged through it. "I think I'm good. I do need water—you have a well, right? And a stone or clay vessel for it, some salt—kosher if you've got it. A piece of iron of manageable size. Talcum powder. Uh…matches—wooden if you've got them. Oh, and ink! Water-soluble ink."
Stanford grinned and clapped her on the shoulder twice. "Excellent! I have a large roll of paper somewhere, I'll get this transcribed. Water soluble…of course!" he said, bundled the draft up under his arm and hurried to his room.
"Did you hear that, Dipper?" Pacifica said, unable to hide the excitement in her voice. "We might just have a way out of this for you!" Not thinking, she reached out and ran a hand over his forehead, brushing back his hair and exposing his birthmark. Nothing remarkable happened when she did this, but a flutter ran down her spine that she hadn't felt in a long time. She cleared her throat and smoothed the hair back in place. Soon, Soos came to relieve her and she slinked off to the attic to rest.
Dipper opened his eyes and made a face. The forest was still burning. Cipher was still enraged. He suddenly yearned for a rainstorm, but was still glad for the relief afforded by the bubble that surrounded him. He had no idea how they did it, but he was sure his friends and family had a hand in its appearance. Was he really going to weasel his way out of this? What would he tell Mabel and Stan and Ford when he came to? 'Oops?' He was sure someone (probably Ford) went through his papers. They would know what contingencies he'd planned for. They had to know he only wanted to save them from Cipher's schemes, but they would wonder why. Mabel would be devastated if she knew…but maybe he could keep it from her. He'd been keeping it to himself for so long.
He noticed that the warmth he had felt in his right hand started to ebb and focused on that for a few minutes before a ripple of energy washed over him so strongly that he was blinded for a moment. "Whoa, what was that!" he shouted and laughed in surprise. The top of his head felt as if it had been static-shocked in not an unpleasant way.
Cipher quickly appeared before him, wide-eyed and startled. "WHAT WAS WHAT? OH, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD, WHAT DID YOU DO NOW?"
Dipper blinked at him and realized he was floating much further away than before. "The field got bigger…" he whispered. Cipher kicked it and it barely moved this time. "And stronger!" The young man got to his feet and dusted himself off. He folded his arms and glared defiantly at the demon.
Mabel's eyes popped open the moment Pacifica entered the room despite her best efforts to be silent. "It's ok, I was barely asleep." The blonde apologized but she waved and shook her head. "When I did sleep I had a crazy dream that you were building a geodesic dome around Dipper that protected him from a forest fire." She smiled wide. "Pretty nuts, but for some reason it gave me hope."
Pacifica blinked at her. "That…" she began, sat down heavily on Dipper's bed and stared across at her friend. "Mabel, that is exactly what I visualized when I cast the spell of protection on him. I mean, exactly."
"If I could see that, then…?"
"You were in the Dreamscape. They're both trapped in Dipper's dreams but you must have some sort of twin juju that lets you see into it."
"Twin juju!" Mabel shrieked, jumped out of bed and lunged at her friend, giving her a huge hug. "Oh man I want to go back to sleep right now but I so can't that is too exciting! He's really ok!" When she looked at her up close, Mabel could see the exhaustion on Pacifica's face and put her hands on her shoulders. "Wow when did you get up this morning?"
"Yesterday, before five."
"Yeeeeeiiiikes. You should sleep."
"Just an hour or two. Wendy will be here soon so we can get going."
"Get going…?" Mabel cocked her head to one side.
Pacifica grinned and flopped down on Dipper's pillow. "Friends-and-family juju."
Cipher had been circling the bubble dome for what must have been an hour now. Dipper contented himself in counting the revolutions when he felt like it, but kept mum despite the terrible verbal abuse being hurled at him regularly from the irate triangle. He would not give him the satisfaction of a response.
Suddenly Dipper felt an odd sensation and tried very hard to not show it. He covered by faking a sneeze (a real-sounding sneeze, unlike his natural one) which seemed to hide any reaction from Cipher. Someone was tickling the palm of his hand. But it wasn't a tickling sort of motion, it felt deliberate. It felt like someone was trying to communicate but he couldn't make out the code through the ether. He sat back down on the ground, closed his eyes and concentrated. Soon, images started to surface. His sister. She was holding his hand. Nearby he imagined Soos, Stan, Ford, even Wendy, and…The last image threw him for a loop—he saw a ridiculous vision of his ex-girlfriend in a cliché Halloween witch's costume, flicking her hair over her shoulder and taking a selfie as she stirred a cauldron full of bubbling eyeballs. She turned to him and winked.
"WHAT'S SO FUNNY, PINE TREE?" Cipher asked, pressed up against the glassy surface of the dome. "COME ON! TALK TO ME! WAITING FOR YOUR DEATH IS SO BORING!"
Dipper kept his eyes shut and sang. "All I ever wanted, all I ever needed is here, in my arms. Words are very unnecessary, they can only do harm~."
Soos and Wendy looked on anxiously as Pacifica and Stanford painted a large piece of paper with a lopsided star shape, which to a lay-person looked downright satanic. Soos made a face. "Is this gonna hurt him?"
"No. My protections will hold until moonset," the young witch said without looking up from her task.
Wendy folded her arms tighter. "Will it hurt us?"
She looked up and pursed her lips. "I don't know. Perhaps."
Mabel waved her hands as if waving a magic wand. "Maybe you can cast a protection spell on us, too, Pax!"
She shook her head. "If I do that, there's a good chance we won't be able to connect to each other in the Dreamscape. If we can't connect, we can't form the pentacle and our one shot at this could be ruined."
"We only got one shot?" Stanley asked, alarmed.
His brother nodded. "We have to surprise him. If we fail, Cipher won't let us try it again." He looked to Pacifica and she nodded and asked everyone but Stanley to join hands around the table and the drawing of the wheel they'd placed over Dipper's body. She reminded them again of their corresponding stars: Wendy was the aspect of Vega that symbolized love, Soos was Kornephoros and strength, Mabel was Cor Caroli symbolizing joy, Pacifica was the aspect of Dubhe symbolizing vengeance, and Stanford would stand at the helm as Polaris—leading the way as the North Star. Stanley stood at the ready, charged with the responsibility of completing the spell so that the circle could remain unbroken throughout. Stanford led the incantation and after a few minutes passed without much success, Mabel opened one eye. "Soos," she asked. "Are you picturing Disney's Hercules?"
He hung his head. "Yeah. I can't seem to get it out of my head, dude."
Pacifica took a deep, calming breath. "Think of the star in his shoulder. You don't have to remember the name, just think strength and the star in Hercules' shoulder." Dropping her voice to a whisper, she added "Dipper's life depends on this."
He raised his head and the hands that clasped Wendy's and Mabel's "Can I let go for a sec?" he asked. They nodded. "Which shoulder?" he asked. His right, Pacifica told him, and he quickly made a fist with his left hand and punched his own right shoulder, very hard. Soos took his friends' hands again. "Ok. I got it. Let's do this."
Stanford began the incantation again and almost immediately the five of them glowed blue with spiritual energy. Stanley took a few steps back and marveled as the room pulsed with aura waves.
Dipper jumped to his feet. Cipher was laughing. Never a good sign. The bubble around him was shrinking. The demon gloated, still locked in his angry, glowing red aspect and circled the young man, closer and closer. When the shield had shrunk to almost three feet in diameter, a lightning bolt cracked down and struck the top of the dome, sending Cipher tumbling. Dipper flinched and closed his eyes, expecting the worst.
"Dipper!" his sister cried. She, Pacifica, Stanford, Wendy, and Soos were standing around him, hands held in a circle just outside the bubble.
"Oh my god it's a forest fire!" Wendy shouted.
"We're in the dreamscape—it can't really hurt us!" Stanford barked.
"Then why does it hurt?!"
"Hang in there, Wendy!" Soos shouted, clutching her hand tighter.
Cipher roared with rage as his shape enlarged and glared furiously over them. "YOU CANNOT WIN! THIS IS MY DOMAIN! THE NIGHTMARE WILL RULE ALL!" He raised his hands, stoking the flames and burning their skin. Wendy and Mabel screamed in pain, but clutched their hands ever tighter. Pacifica glanced at Dipper, relieved to see he was in fact being protected as her hair started to burn. The devastated look on his face made her heart hurt. "Hurry, Mr. Pines, finish it!"
Stanford glared at the demon. "Hands together, number five; rend asunder demon's hive. Blessed thunder which we strive, quench the fire—let rain arrive!"
At his command, the thunder rolled and the clouds opened up, drenching them with a downpour so intense they could barely see. Cipher had only a moment to glance up before he was inundated and extinguished. Relief came immediately to the five. They gasped as they opened their eyes to find that they were dry, unhurt, and returned to the middle of the Pines' living room.
"Now, Stan!" Stanford barked and his brother grabbed the paper from the table. The center of the wheel now bore the likeness of Bill Cipher layered over top of the inverted triangle that stood for water. He shoved it into the pottery bowl of pure water he'd been waiting beside and agitated it, washing the ink from its surface, clouding the water grey. "His ties to this reality are now severed," Stanford breathed. "It's over."
Everyone panted with exhaustion and when Pacifica said it was alright, they let go of each other's hands and Soos removed the table that had stood over Dipper's body. His sister reached out her hand tentatively and touched his face, softly calling his name. His eyes flickered open when he said her name she burst into tears and hugged him. He winced as she squeezed his wounded shoulder, but said nothing of it as his grateful tears rolled down. The room was full of activity as his friends expressed their relief and the blonde witch in the designer clothes wafted sage smoke over everyone in turn, cleansing them. When she got to Dipper she performed the action gravely but gave him a small smile and whispered "welcome back" before excusing herself to properly dispose of the inky ritual water. Quietly, Pacifica gathered her things, snuck outside, and drove her rental car to the Smiling Valley motel.
When at last Pacifica flopped down on the creaky, dusty bed in her motel room, she stared at the ceiling for only a moment. It was around noon and she had been awake for almost thirty hours minus the two she'd caught in the Mystery Shack attic that morning. Sleep came quickly and the dream she entered was calming and cool.
The grass under her bare feet was wet with dew and the sky colored purple by the end of what must have been a spectacular sunset. She breathed a sigh and was about to sit and take in the beauty when she noticed that she wasn't alone. His silhouette was unmistakable and her blood boiled as she stomped over and brought her fist down on his head.
"Ow! What the…?" Dipper shouted, twisted around to see what hit him and clutched his hat to his head. He stared at her, slack jawed.
Pacifica leaned over him, put her fists on her hips and let loose. "You are such an idiot! This stunt you pulled is so typical of you! You march on ahead thinking you're gonna save everyone with your sacrifice without thinking about how much pain you'll leave in your wake! It's the same thing you did to me when I had to move. It wasn't my fault my folks got divorced and I had to move away with my mom, but it killed me that you were the one to break it off. I figured out why you did it a few years ago—you knew it hurt me so much to leave you, so you decided to take the burden of being the one to inflict the pain on yourself—well, it didn't work! I cried over you for months! All the while I was going through this crazy crap with realizing I had psychic powers and the one person who knew me and could have helped me told me he never wanted to see me ever again!" Pacifica shouted, getting red in the face. "You can't go it alone! You can't do that to the people who love you! And despite my better judgement I still love you, you little shit!" She took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "Wow! That felt good."
The young man lowered his chin and looked to the left at the moon and the fading glow of the sun. "I'm sorry," he said softly. "I just… Even now, I can't…There are things that I…" Dipper's eyes welled up and he shivered.
Pacifica's eyes widened and she glanced up at the horizon. The moon in her dream was in the same position as it was in the night sky at the moment. She dropped to her knees in front of him and put her hands on his shoulders. He flinched. "Oh my god, you're real! Dipper I'm so sorry, I thought you were a dream! Our Dreamscapes must still linked until the moon sets, I am so sorry I dumped all of that on you!"
He gave her a slightly relieved look, having thought that she was a dream as well, but then lowered his head. "It's ok. I deserve it. I just…" He clutched the grass on either side of his folded knees. "Even before you left, sometimes, I…" Dipper's shoulders slumped and he grimaced. "Sometimes I don't feel like there's a reason I'm here. That no matter how hard I work, or how many people I love tell me how much they need me, I feel like everyone would be better off if I weren't here. Not all the time—sometimes I'm downright happy, but it always comes creeping back. So when I was trying to find a way to destroy Cipher, taking us both out made sense." Dipper hazarded a glance up and the pity in her eyes crushed him. His shoulders shook and he put his hands to his face. "I know it's selfish and horrible, but sometimes I just don't think I'm worth anything!" As Pacifica's arms wrapped around him he gasped in shock before bawling into her shoulder like a lost child.
She whispered softly to him. "You've never told anyone that before, have you?"
He shook his head. "Mabel yelled at me like you did, before I went to sleep, but I just couldn't tell her. I didn't want to make her sadder than she already was. She said I should talk to you, that maybe with your magic or whatever you could help me." He raised his arms and gave her a trembling hug. "Please, help me, Pax. I don't know what to do."
Wordlessly, the young woman loosened her grip on him and coaxed him to let her go. She folded her legs under her and showed him how to sit, back straight, palms up, eyes forward. "I bet you feel a little bit better already from just what you've let out here in the Dreamscape, don't you?"
"I…guess. I…the words are…hard to say." The soft roar of the falls could be heard in the distance, constant and calming. The moon, almost set and looming large on the horizon, bathed them in soft, bluish-white light.
"You do need to talk about your feelings, but, you're right, it's hard. Most people can't do it easily. Opening up starts from within. Breathe in," she said softly. "And out. Imagine your breath coming in waves. Lapping on the beach. Your energy, flowing the negativity away, like water."
6/5/2015 rev 11/26/15