The Pines Family of Glass Shard Beach, NJ

As seen from the perspective of their mother

A Gravity Falls Fanfiction by Aoikami Sarah

Chapter Three

1978

Alexander was a handful. Even with his mother and grandparents around to watch him, he was rambunctious, free-spirited, and hard to keep out of trouble. He inherited his grandmother's gift for creative embellishment and displayed prowess in the fine art of lying almost as soon as he could talk. It was also, conversely, almost impossible to successfully lie to him. He could smell a lie like a fart in a car and would call you on it if he felt particularly smarmy right at that moment.

Maud was glad to find that although Alexander was yet young enough to perceive his grandfather's aggression as only strictness, time seemed to have mellowed Filbrick Pines, considerably. Perhaps, she thought, losing one son to an untimely death, another to anger, and a third perhaps thanks to losing the first two, had a sobering effect on him. He remained a hard man who never once showed a sign of weakness or emotion other than anger, but in the last decade she could count the times he'd treated her poorly on her hand.

When Alexander was seven years old, his grandfather got into a heated argument with a patron of Pines Pawns. The middle-aged customer had pawned a watch the week before. It had been sold, but he disagreed with Filbrick regarding compensation. Maud heard the voices raising, rolled her eyes, got up and turned the TV volume louder. "Sheesh, calm yourself Fil, or you'll blow a gasket."

Alexander looked up from the floor where he was coloring and laughed. "Which gasket Gramma?"

Maud put her hand her her chin and thought about it for a moment. "The one up here," she pointed to her forehead. "The one that throbs when you tick him off!"

They both laughed. Linda stuck her head around the kitchen door. "Everything alright?" she asked in a worried tone.

"Grampa's blowin' a gasket!" Alexander chimed and laughed so hard he rolled around on the shag rug in front of the TV.

Maud waved at her daughter-in-law in a dismissive way and smiled on her grandson. So much like her long-lost Stanley, only smart as a whip like Stanford. It had been a few months since last Stanley had called in and even longer for Stanford. They both seemed even further from home than ever before. Her wistful smile fell as her shoulders and back spasmed and she turned away in order to hide her expression from Alexander. "What now?" she whispered inaudibly under the loud TV and laughing child. "What friggin' now?"

Alexander's laughter stopped abruptly as he rolled to the right and saw a man standing at the top of the landing. He was a stranger with a passive posture-hat held in his hands-and his pockmarked face was as white as a sheet. "You got a phone? Guy downstairs hit the deck!"

Maud left Alexander with Linda and rushed downstairs.

When she returned several hours later Maud stopped before the door to the apartment at the top of the stairs and took a deep breath. It didn't matter anymore. The wall she had built up against his anger, his impatience, his inability to tolerate anything other than what he wanted, was no longer needed. Trying to keep from being swatted at or disparaged for saying something he deemed stupid or useless. Playing the sexy housewife, always on, always ready. Everything she'd been since age eighteen was now rendered null and void. What was she now? Mrs. Maud Hazel Kelley Pines. Catholic. Over fifty. Widow.

But she was also a grandmother and mother-in-law and the last two people who counted on her were behind that door, waiting for her. There was only one thing she wanted from them in return, and with the confidence that she would get it, she opened the door.

They were sitting on the couch in the dark watching John Chancellor give the nightly news on channel four. Linda rushed to the set and turned the volume down; the light from the shifting images on the TV flickered and flashed across their faces. "Is he going to be alright?" Linda asked, taking a step back, putting one hand on the arm of the couch, preparing to faint.

"Nope," Maud asserted. Her hair, usually carefully done up, was limp, and her makeup ruined by obvious tears. "He blew a gasket, alright."

Alexander stood suddenly and clenched his fists. "That's not funny," he barked.

"I know, kiddo."

"Then why'd you say it?!"

Maud trembled. "'Cause it's true." She fell to her knees and wept openly for the first time in what must have been a decade, and even then she had been certain she was alone. The force of Linda and Alexander's embrace nearly knocked her over. She hugged them back and clung to them tightly for a long while.

January, 1982

One afternoon, late, Maud was climbing the stairs to the apartment when a chill ran down her spine so violently she stopped dead mid-step and nearly dropped the bag of groceries she'd been carrying. With her free hand, she clung to the hand-rail and steadied herself. Alexander, carrying three bags, was right behind her when it happened. "You ok, Gramma?" the eleven-year-old asked.

"Yeah. Woo. That was a doozy!" She laughed nervously and finished her ascent. Alexander jogged into the kitchen ahead of her, deposited his bags and jogged back to help her.

"You get a 'feeling'?" he asked.

"Sure did." she said, sitting down slowly and carefully on the couch. "I gotta make a call, sweetheart. Go put the stuff away, would ya?"

Alexander nodded and reluctantly did as he was told as quietly as possible in order to eavesdrop. After his grandfather's death, his grandmother had been more open with them about things she'd previously had to keep to herself. He knew from seeing it first-hand that when Maud's ability was triggered, she shivered suddenly, and often the bigger the shiver, the more serious the problem. She told him once that she shivered the day his father died and the day his grandfather died.

Maud's hands trembled as she pulled out her pad of paper, looked up a pair of numbers and dialed the first one. The call connected and rang. And rang. And rang. She let it go fifteen times before she hung up, her face ashen and hands still shaking. She tried the second number. "Hello? Please connect me with room 168, Stanley Pines. He did? Any forwarding number or address? This is his mother. No, really. Why would he have more than one? Nevermind. Thanks for nothin' pal." She slammed the receiver down and sighed heavily.

"You ok, Gramma?" Alexander asked, startling her.

She nodded, rubbed her arms and gave him a half-smile. "It's ok. It'll resolve itself."

Maud called Stanford's number in Oregon several times a day for a week straight. On about the seventh day (she lost track), she was alone in the apartment in the early evening when someone answered the phone.

"Sta… Stanford Pines!" the man on the other end said, sounding a little like her son, but not quite.

"Who is this? Where's Stanford?!" she shouted.

"This is Stawait, Ma?"

"Stanley? What the hell are you doin' callin' yourself Stanford? Where is he? What's happened? I'm a wreck over here! For a week I been callin' and no answer! Is he dead? Oh god, Stanley, what's happened?"

"Ma, Ma! Calm down! It's... he's... He's not dead, I don't think… I…"

"You don't think?" she screamed. "Stanley Pines, if you love me, for once in your life you gotta be straight with me!" There was a pause and Maud's blood pressure was so high she could feel her heart pounding in her chest. She was on her feet, clutching the desk phone in one hand and the handset to her ear with the other.

"Ok, Ma. You better sit down for this. I was gonna call you soon-I'm not totally ready yet-but I'll tell ya anyway. You sittin'?"

She frowned and capitulated. "I'm sittin'. Spill."

"You know Stanford was into all this crazy science stuff with physics and inter-di-mensional whoosits, right? Well, he made this sort of hole that was supposed to go to another place. And… He asked me to come help him hide stuff about it because it scared him. He said he got in too deep. And, well, we had a fight. And the thing turned on and it sucked him in and then it ran outta juice and he's gone. But I don't think he's dead! He left some of his notes behind, so I'm gonna try to get it goin' again and get him back. I ain't leavin' until I do. I figured I can run a tourist trap outta half the house. People came here the other day and paid me fifteen friggin' bucks just to see a bunch a junk! It's totally legit! So I can pay his mortgage and bills and crap and I can stay here and work on this stupid portal thing and try and get him back." He paused. "You still there?"

"Yeah."

"You think I'm lyin'?"
"I ain't sure."

"I'm not," he said gravely. "It's the God's honest truth, Ma."
"I know he's gone. I felt it."

"You did?" he asked with astonishment in his voice. "You really psychic?"

"Yeah."

"Wow. When? When'd ya feel it?"

"About a week ago, four-ish our time."

There was a pause. She imagined him counting on his fingers. "That's right."

"So what happens now?"

"You're not gonna like this, but I got a plan, and I wanted to tell you before you found out somehow else."

Maud raised a brow and put the phone she'd been holding in her lap on the coffee table. "Go on."

"I ain't been truthful with you, Ma. I'm not a good person. I been in prison and I got run outta almost every state in the Union."

"I know," she said, sadly.

"You know? Seriously?"

"Of course. Psychic, remember?" she joked.

"Ha. Well, then I guess if one day you found out I was dead and you didn't feel that shimmy you get, you wouldn't believe it, right?"

"That is not even funny, Stanley."

"It ain't suppose' ta be. I'm gonna kill off my identity and live as my brother in order to protect this house and all his secret science crap in the basement. So when or if you hear I'm dead, make sure you call me to see if it's real before you panic."

Maud was on her feet again. "Jesus Christ, Stanley that is ludicrous!"

"It's what I gotta do! For the first time in my life I can actually try to make up for all the crap I done to this family! Stanley Pines ain't never done a worthwhile thing in is life so if he's gotta die to save Stanford, that's ok with me! I'm sorry if you don't like it, Ma, but I gotta do this! I gotta get him back!"

Her face glowed red and she stomped a foot down. "You want me to tell Linda and Alexander that you're dead?"

He paused. "Yeah. You're gonna have ta. The less people know about this, the safer it is. I seen his notes, Ma. This crap made him nutso. It's intense!"

"What's to say it won't make you nutso?"

"'Cause I'm a fathead and he was a huge nerd, that's why. I got this. You gotta believe me."

Maud sighed and sat back down again. "Stanley. Jesus." She let her head fall onto the back of the couch and looked up at the popcorn ceiling. Several moments passed in which they listened to the sound of their breathing. Finally, she sighed. "Ok. Sure. Stanford."

"Just call me Stan. It works." She laughed a little and his voice became soft. "What's so funny?"

Maud smiled and let the tears roll down the sides of her face into her hair. "Stan, I think maybe your dad would be impressed."

.x. Epilogue .x.

Maud Pines would not live to find out if her son Stanford made it back from the other world alive, but she would get meet her grandson Alexander's children-her great-grandchildren Dipper and Mabel. In 2007, the year before she died, she made it out to see them in California and to visit Stanley in Oregon for the first time. Stanley gave her a tour of the Mystery Shack and the basement labs and portal room. When she touched the metal triangle she felt a small psychic shock that left her warm inside. "He's out there," she said to her only remaining son. "You'll bring him home, I feel it."

END

2015-07-29