I do not own Gravity Falls.

Might make a companion to this that has Ford bonding with the twins. We shall see.

(And the Stans need to hug it out seriously I JUST WANT THEM TO BE HAPPY)

have I ever mentioned how much I love this show?

Empty Feeling

It was late by the time Stanford ventured out of the basement, stomach rumbling insistently. He had skipped dinner, since there were some things that needed to be taken care of (and afterwards a nasty green cut that needed tending before something freaky happened). Sealing the vending machine tightly into place, Ford went into the kitchen and opened the fridge. On the second shelf was a plate, neatly made up. On top of the plastic wrap that protected the large piece of casserole was a sticky note that read, 'Missed you at dinner. But I saved a piece for you! It's filled with love!'

A soft smile crossed his face as he took the plate out. He hadn't interacted with the kids much, due to Stanley's firm insistence that he stay away from them. But from the small glimpses he got, he could tell Mabel was the type of kid who could make friends with anyone. She was also weird, and he liked weird.

Dipper, on the other hand, reminded him a lot of himself, and he wasn't sure how he felt about that. The twelve-year-old would come to him any chance he got, loaded with questions about the journals and mysteries that surrounded Gravity Falls. But Ford normally dismissed him, because as far as he was concerned, Dipper knew more than he should, especially at a young age.

Heaving a slight sigh, Ford exited the kitchen. To get back to the vending machine he had to pass the living room, and he could not help but pause as he spotted his brother sitting in an armchair, staring at the television. Stan's eyes were dull and his mouth was set in a tight line. It didn't look like he was paying much attention to the program on the screen.

It'd been awkward between them since he emerged from the portal (and that didn't even seem like the proper word-it was more than awkward). The guilt, bitterness and grudges went both ways, and the problem they were both too stubborn to accept or even attempt to apologize to the other. So for the time being, Ford resorted to coming upstairs as little as possible, though it was odd, considering it was his house.

He was about to continue on his way when a purple blur burst into the living room from the second doorway. Mabel stumbled to a stop near the armchair, her ever-present smile on her face, displaying her silver braces. "Grunkle Staaaaaaaan!"

The change in Stan's disposition was immediate. His dark expression melted into one of tenderness, a smile curling across his lips. "Whaaaaat?" he shot back teasingly.

"I don't wanna go to bed." She climbed into her great-uncle's lap and got comfortable, snuggling into Stan's chest. "So I'm gonna stay here with you."

"Excuse you, I think I make the rules around here." Stan tugged at her hair playfully.

Mabel tilted her head back with a sweet smile. "But it's summer. There shouldn't be bedtimes in the summer."

"There are bedtimes so I can get some rest from you dorks. But I guess there can be an exception now and then."

Ford stared at the dazzling smile that filled the girl's face. Something tingled in his stomach, something he couldn't identify. But it wasn't a good feeling. Gripping the wrapped plate between his hands, he watched as Stan wrapped his bulky arms around the small girl, a contented aura surrounding him.

"Where's your brother?" he asked, suddenly suspicious. "He isn't doing something weird, is he?"

"He's always doing something weird," replied Mabel. "But I think he's coming down soon. He had to get something."

Just as the words left her mouth Dipper entered in his pajamas, a DVD clutched in his hands. "Can we watch a movie?" he asked, holding it out.

Stan squinted at the cover. "It's not one of your documentaries that give you nightmares, is it?"

The boy pouted. "No. It's a mystery movie. Please?"

Stan looked at Mabel. "Is it good?"

"Yup," she answered cheerfully. "You'll like it lots!"

"Alright, put it in."

Grinning, Dipper hurried over and stuck the disc into the player. As the previews started up, he went over and climbed beside his sister. Stan adjusted his position, arms circling around his niece and nephew, bringing them closer.

This was a side to his brother that few people got to see. Ford could remember countless times where Stan comforted him and joked around with him. There was a great amount of affection that he displayed towards the kids, and despite the recent shake-up, it was obvious they loved him just as much.

Ducking his head, Ford finally moved. He went quietly down the hallway, a pang in his stomach that he didn't like, because he understood what it was.

It was longing.

He was seeing what he missed out on, all those years lost from reality. He saw what Stan had with Mabel and Dipper, and he longed to be able to have those bonds as well. He saw how his niece and nephew interacted with each other, and it reminded him so badly of the times he shared with Stan before everything soured.

And as much as he blamed his brother for what happened, he knew it went both ways. They both made mistakes, both did things they regretted, and their shattered relationship was the result of their stubbornness and resentment.

He spent thirty years trying to get you back. Does that mean nothing?

Squeezing his eyes shut, he rested his forehead against the vending machine and banged on the metal in frustration. He felt too many conflicting emotions, and he didn't know what to do, what to say.

But he did know what he wanted.

He wanted to be able to spend time with his niece and nephew. He wanted to fix his prior mistakes.

But above all, he wanted to repair the relationship with his brother.

It was all a matter of getting the courage and pride to figure out how to do it.

He was tired of feeling like something was missing.