I don't own squat. Gravity Falls belongs to Alex Hirsch and Disney. Undertale belongs to Toby Fox.
So it's been a while. Like, four years, a while.
I'm sorry folks. Events in my life, and just the world in general, left me in a constant state of physical, mental, and spiritual exhaustion. But now that I'm rewatching the show and replaying the game, and I'm taking a gap year from college to stay healthy and also save up some finances, I finally have my inspiration back! So here I am! To everyone who hasn't given up on me, thank you so so so much for sticking around! To those who left... hey man, I don't blame ya, a lot of new stuff came out while I was gone, not to mention I didn't do any updates for nearly four years, so yeah, totally get where you're coming from.
Before you start this chapter, you should know that the previous chapters have been tweaked a bit. The biggest changes are the Black Journal's opening paragraph in chapter two (honestly all you need to do is reread that, the rest of the chapter is more or less the same), as well as the addition of "Credits Scenes" as a nod to the silly little mini scenes found in the credits sequence for most Gravity Falls episodes. I highly recommend that at the bare minimum you read Chapter 2's updated Black Journal entry. Otherwise, certain parts of this chapter are going to be confusing.
This chapter (and let's be honest, it probably isn't the first, and it won't be the last) takes some liberties with the layout of the Mystery Shack. But since Alex Hirsch has gone on record saying that the interior of the shack is in a constant state of flux, I hope you all can find it in your hearts to forgive me.
Now, the moment you all have (hopefully) been waiting for!
Let the seventh chapter begin!
It was a quiet night in Gravity Falls.
...okay, no it wasn't.
Owls were hooting, bats were shrieking, cults were chanting, the usual stuff.
Most of the townsfolk on the other hand were sound asleep, oblivious to the eerie noises surrounding them outside their living spaces. They took no notice of the gnomes scrounging for food. Of the black cats hissing a warning. Of the wind howling at the moon.
Because of this obliviousness, nobody noticed the pitter patter of a lone critter stumbling down the road, malnourished and shivering from the snow that stuck to it like soot. The critter scuffled down the streets blindly, letting out small ragged huffs of air. Eventually the critter had no strength left. It crawled its way to the nearest shelter it could find. Luck was on its side apparently, as there was a giant spot up ahead. It had lights that could keep the creature warm, and an overhead structure to keep it sheltered. But food... it needed food...
The animal's blurry senses could not pick up any source of food, so it moped along, hoping to at least find a good place to rest.
Then... it saw something in the distance... a large structure, lights shining all around it, inside and out. The obscured figure rushed over to find a way inside. But it's depleted strength made it impossible to find a way in. Feeling sleep overcome themself quickly, the creature huddled over to the softest thing it could feel, and huddled up against it for warmth. Oh... there was food too... it managed to get a few nibbles in before drifting to sleep
It would resume its hunt for other food tomorrow night...
Everybody at the Mystery Shack was dead.
Figuratively, of course.
The Mystery Shack was finally ready to open to the public. But as the last slab of wood was hammered into the ceiling of the gift shop, and the last exhibit burnt in the Tim incident was finally replaced, the whole crew came to a realization.
After all of that work, the last thing anybody wanted to do was spend the day dealing with the mad rush that always comes with the reopening of a popular store.
"All in favor of not opening the shack today, say aye," announced Wendy from her usual spot in the gift shop.
"Aye," replied human and monster alike, except for Sans, who was out cold.
And so that was that. Today was immediately established as a take-it-easy day.
It appeared that Mabel missed the memo.
"What do you mean 'No?'" she griped at Dipper, who was refusing to get out of bed to play with her.
"I mean the phrase that is usually uttered in order to express disagreement, disapproval, and a whole lot of other words that start with 'dis-' that I am way too tired to recite right now," mumbled Dipper in his bed. "And violently shaking my bed is not going to help you change my mind. So cut it out."
Mabel paced around the room, her hands up in exasperation. "It's a sunny winter wonderland outside, and you're telling me I'm the only one eager to get out there and enjoy it?!"
"That's precisely what I'm telling you," Dipper groaned in his pillow. "With all the stress of fixing the shack, and nothing around to fuel me but coffee and Pitt Cola that I'm tired of drinking, I feel like I'm at Death's door. Like, Death has a welcome mat out for me and everything. Maybe he's even making tea."
"Not with your current attitude he wouldn't," grumbled Mabel. "He'd just give you more coffee and Pitt Cola."
"Then let me sleep! The more you keep me awake, the more cranky I'll get from it!" argued Dipper.
But Mabel was quick to shoot back. "If I let you fall asleep now, you're just gonna wake up in the middle of the night while I'm asleep! That's no fun, Dipper! Stop being such a Mr. No-Fun!"
Dipper simply grumbled back at her. "Just drop it Mabel. I'm tired. I'm only getting out of this bed if a future-me teleports in here and demands that I do so."
A second went by. Two seconds. Three seconds. No time machines materialized in the kids' bedroom.
"I rest my case," said Dipper, before pulling the covers over his head. Any further attempts to get him out of bed were futile.
Mabel frowned. "The next time we have a snowball fight, your team is going to get an automatic penalty."
But Dipper was already fast asleep.
Mabel huffed, opening the door to exit the bedroom.
Only to collide right into Frisk.
The collision sent both kids to the ground, landing on their bottoms somewhat painfully.
"Owwwwww," Mabel muttered, before looking up and seeing who it was. "Oh! Hey Frisk!"
"Hi Mabel," greeted Frisk, rubbing their forehead as they stood back up with Mabel's help. "Sorry about that. I should have knocked..."
"Don't worry about it~! I've collided with Dipper's forehead so many times in my life, I barely feel a thing now!" she said while beaming with pride.
"That's... good I suppose," said Frisk with a gentle chuckle of embarrassment.
"So watcha up to?" asked Mabel, causing Frisk to stumble a second, still not used to how quickly Mabel could change subjects.
"I'm um... pretending to look for my dress-up cowboy lasso," said Frisk, looking back with a hint of annoyance towards the stars that lead down to the first floor. "Dad insists it must be somewhere in this shack, but I am almost certain that it was gone before my family and I entered the Mystery Shack for the first time."
"Huh," said Mabel, putting a hand to her chin and looking upwards at nothing. "Perhaps some gnomes snatched it while you weren't looking?"
"That seems very possible, albeit unlikely," said Frisk, ending the topic by tilting their head to see Dipper's slumbering figure and asking, "He still isn't up?"
"Nope," growled Mabel. "He's insistent that he won't change his mind later, either. Ugh, and I had a bunch of winter activities planned for today!"
"Well that's a shame," said Frisk. "But then again, when it came to maintaining order in the shack for the past couple of days, Dipper did do the most work out of all of us."
"Like what?" asked Mabel.
"Papyrus, what are you doing?! Spaghetti is not meant to be baked at that temperature! Grunkle Stan, where do we keep the fire extinguisher again?!"
"No Mettaton, I cannot listen to your historical life of glamour right now, I need to put out another fire in the museum! Now hand over the hose, and stop pouring it all over yourself! And while we're on the subject, how come you don't rust or short circuit by doing that?!"
"Undyne! It's a washing machine! It's not going to hurt you or anyone else, so just put the spear away! Wwwwwwhoawhoawhoa WHOA HEY DON'T AIM IT AT ME!"
"Napstablook, I appreciate it, but I don't think that you are capable of helping me move this piece of furniture. No no no don't cry! I wasn't trying to bring you down, I mean you're LITERALLY incapable of- oh! H-hey Mettaton! Hoo boy... you look like you're ready to kill me..."
"Yeeeeaaaaaahhhh I guess you're right," concluded Mabel.
"I really am sorry that my family can be a handful sometimes," said Frisk somewhat embarrassed.
"Nawwwwww it's alright! It's a lot of fun!" said Mabel, patting Frisk on the back.
"I am pleased you feel that way, but I have a feeling that Dipper would disagree with you," said Frisk in a joking manner.
"Well that's because he would rather suffer from his lack of energy instead of taking some time to drink some Mabel Juice. If he did, he would never complain about being too tired ever again!" countered Mabel, speaking as if she was a superhero addressing a nation.
Frisk laughed. "You know, you keep bringing that drink up. But for a drink that you're always talking about, I don't believe I have had a chance to try it."
Stars twinkled in Mabel's eyes. "Well then let's put a stop to that! TO THE KITCHEN!"
Before Frisk could agree or disagree, Mabel was pulling them down the stairs and into the kitchen.
Mabel pulled out a seat for Frisk, who calmly sat down. After that, Mabel darted for the fridge and cupboards, snatching an unidentifiable liquid, some ice cubes, and a whole lot of sugar. She didn't bother to shut any of the cupboards as she went over to grab a couple of measuring pitchers and measure out more sugar than actual liquid. After that, Mabel poured the sugar and juice into a giant mixing bowl and rushed off to hunt down the other ingredients. All the while, Mabel was eagerly explaining the process to Frisk.
It was during this excited chatter that Frisk observed Mabel open another cupboard and take out a box of... crayons?
"Ummmmmm," said Frisk.
"No interrupting!" hollered Mabel in an off-key sing songy voice, dumping the (yep, those were definitely)crayons into the mixture. "Never disrupt Master Juice Mixer Mabel when she is guiding her newest pupil through the process!"
"I um..." Frisk paused for a second before pushing through "I l-like my drinks without crayons. I er... I don't like the way they taste."
Mabel paused. After an awkward amount of time passed, she looked down at the now-empty box of crayons that was floating at the top of her brew. Her gaze eventually trailed down further, to spot the aforementioned crayons that had sunk to the bottom of the bowl. Frisk still did not know what made Mabel tick, but their guess was that Mabel would simply tell them that the recipe calls for food coloring. As such, Frisk was ready to give her some alternative solutions. Such as using normal food coloring.
So it was a little surprising for Frisk to see Mabel's smile become a concerned frown.
"...was I responsible for this?" asked Mabel.
"...I believe you were," replied Frisk awkwardly.
"That's... pfft, yeah, those crayons are not supposed to be in there. Heh wow, how did I manage get so sidetracked...?" concluded Mabel, dumping the bowl and starting over, her face a little more pink than before.
Well that was... weird. Now the mood of the whole room felt... extremely awkward. It was the same uncomfortable atmosphere that Frisk experienced when they forgot to get hot dogs for Dipper and Monster Kid, during the Bike Romp Race...
Frisk concluded that desperate measures were necessary in order to bring the mood back into a state of normalcy.
It was time to unleash... the puns.
"It's fine Mabel. I'm sure the fruit juice will come out just fine, as long as you concentrate on doing your best~"
Mabel had to halt the process of making the drink just so she could keep a straight face. This sudden pun-attack could not go unpunished, of course. So she retaliated. Hard.
"Ha!" said Mabel, standing up in a pompous stance, her left hand on her hip and her right hand open and hovering a few centimetres in front of her mouth in mock laughter. "A stranger waltzes in and has the gall to coach me on how I concoct my signature drink? You clearly are not one of my staff! You mean to overthrow me! I Vitamin-C right through your pathetic scheme~!"
Frisk snorted. "Why no, what ever gave you that idea~? I beg of you to take a step back and recon-Cider my intentions!"
"How dare you!" reprimanded Mabel, giggles no longer able to be withheld. "I will hear no more from you! Cease this attack, or face Juicetice!"
"Okay! I sugarrender! I sugarrender!" hollered Frisk, holding their hands up in a mock-yielding before flopping down on the table in a fit of laughter, while Mabel was sprawled on the floor cackling.
"That's another swift and powerful victory for me!" said Mabel when she finally regained composure. "Just wait till I tell Undyne!"
"She'll be quite impressed, I'm sure," said Frisk, playfully. "Careful though, she might challenge you to a fight if you boast too much."
After a few minutes, the questionable drink was ready for serving. Mabel grabbed a few translucent mugs and poured out the Mabel Juice, allowing her own glass to have just a little more of the drink than Frisk's. Frisk thanked Mabel as she gave them their drink, despite how uneasy Frisk felt about the whole situation.
"You ready to give your body a giant wake up call?" said Mabel excitedly.
"No time like the present..." said Frisk nervously.
Frisk took a decent sip of the concoction while Mabel downed hers in just a couple of gulps.
"SO!" barked Mabel, slamming her fists on the table and almost spilling the startled Frisk's drink. "What do ya think? It's good, right?"
The lack of crayons definitely helped, thought Frisk.
"Very energizing," spoke Frisk.
Frisk felt that their answer was peasant enough, so they grew a little concerned when Mabel's response was with a slightly slacked jaw accompanied by absolute silence.
"M-Mabel? You oka-?"
"eeeeeeeeeeEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAA!" screamed Mabel, leaping out of her seat and running around the kitchen. "FRISK LIKES MY DRINK! FRISK LIKES MY DRIIIIIIIINK!"
Frisk couldn't help but laugh at the spectacle before them. "I guess so!"
At that point, Stan decided to step in.
"Alright ya trouble makers, I'm gonna have to confiscate these for the time being," said Stanley, carefully yanking the drinks out of the kids' hands and returning them to the mixing bowl, which he put in the fridge. "You're gonna have to wait till tomorrow to finish the rest."
"Awwwwww why?" pouted Mabel.
"Because as we all have established, today is a take-it-easy day," explained Stan, before calling outside. "Right Soos?"
"That's right, Mr. Pines!" answered Soos with a thumbs up. "All dudes within the Mystery Shack are being subjected to a 24 hour stress free environment with no exceptions. I cannot stress this enough. Oh wait, heh, guess that defeats the purpose. Wow, this is harder than I thought..."
"You see?" said Stan, returning his focus to the kids. "You gotta understand, we've all had a giant string of eventful days. New faces, bedding arrangements, the Mystery Shack getting destroyed again, me training for a bike competition and winning it- you folks seeing the pattern here yet?" A single nod from both children was all the man needed. "We've all been running on adrenaline for a good long while now, and we're starting to feel the aftermath of it. So just this once, you're going to have to lower the energy, Mabel. Or at least the volume of it."
"C'monnnnnnnnnnn" guffawed Mabel, one hand giving a wrist flick while the other hand rested on Frisk's shoulder. "It's not like there's other folks here that are as anti-Mabel-Energy as Dipper is today."
It wasn't like she was lying. She saw energetic faces all around the place. Papyrus was as attentive as always, sitting in one of the four living room chairs (since Soos had finally gotten around to adding more seats to the shack from the storage room to accommodate for the monsters) and he seemed to be... knitting. Asgore didn't appear to be exhausted either; the only sigh he gave was one of contentment as he sat on the back porch couch and took in the scent of pine covered in snow. Napstablook was never capable of falling asleep, and as he fazed into the living room, he seemed to have a face that suggested that he felt lucky that ghosts never feel tired. Mettaton had just replenished his battery, so he could be heard loudly singing from the basement. Sans was snoring in the attic, but it's not like Mabel had to worry about waking him up. Stanford was studying in his lab, and it was located deep enough underground that no chaos on the surface floor could distract him, not unless the chaos was catastrophic. So honestly, where was the harm?
Stan shook his head with a slight frown. "I dunno about that, sweet cheeks," he said with a grumble, pointing to the gift shop.
Frisk followed Stan's gaze and scanned the gift shop as well. They then turned back to look at Mabel, their face emanating concern. "He's right, Mabel."
Now Mabel was curious. She peered over to the gift shop to see what kind of fuss was happening over there.
What she found were Toriel and Wendy, who appeared to be having a normal conversation. But Mabel was a dowsing rod when it came to cheerfulness. And boy oh boy were Toriel and Wendy devoid of it.
Toriel seemed especially distant. She still greeted anybody who passed by with a cordial "Hello," and she always gave nods and similar minuscule movements in response to whatever Wendy was talking about. But the Goat Mom's usual cheer and open personality was disturbingly lacking today.
Wendy, while not looking as troubled as Toriel seemed to be, appeared miserably drained. Her complexion was paler than usual, her hair wasn't as brushed, and the bags under her eyes looked heavier than... heavy stuff.
"Whoa," managed Mabel, looking back to Stan and Frisk.
"So yeah," said Stan, "Let's try to keep the noise down, eh kiddos? For their sake if not my own?" He added, ruffling Mabel's hair.
"Of course, Mr. Stanley," said Frisk with a nod of understanding, before adding a little more quietly, "Are Mabel and I still allowed to play?"
"Huh," said Stan with a huff. "Looks like someone's trying to find a loophole in my instructions."
Frisk blanched slightly. "Well sir I-"
"I like your style, kid. We'll make a shady businessperson out of you yet!" declared Stanley, hefting Frisk up to give them a noogie. Frisk, having grown accustomed to Undyne's noogies, found Stan's to actually be ticklish.
"Sure, go on and play! Knock yourselves out!" said Stan, setting a softly laughing Frisk back down in their seat. "This is considered a 'me day' after all!"
"Can it really be called a 'me day' when all of us are expected to relax today?" asked Mabel slyly. "Sounds more like an 'everyone day' to me!"
"Mabel, sweetie, I already have my snot nosed smart-alec of a brother criticizing me on my grammar. I don't need my bubbly grand niece chastising me on my word choices. Besides, calling it an 'everyone day' makes you sound like Karl Marx. And we all know what that lead to."
"I dunnooooo," said Mabel, looking off to the side and giving a comical shrug, which gave Frisk a small chuckle. "'Mabel Marx' has a nice ring to it~!"
"Yeah well so does 'Stanley Stalin,' but you don't see me changing my name to that, do ya?" countered Stanley.
"Good point," said Mabel with a nod, before walking up to Frisk, gripping their arm, and pulling them out of their seat. "Welp, I'mma go play with Frisk now! C'mon Frisk! Let's see what Undyne and Alphys are doing! I wanna tell them about my drink!"
"O-okay!" said Frisk, slightly startled but not putting up a fight as they were guided away from the kitchen. "S-see you later, Mr. Stanley!"
"Play nice now!" said Stanley. "Oh, and hey! It'd be best if you left my brother alone for the time being, alright?! He's trying to coax some info out of that weirdo Tim, and I have a feeling it isn't going so well! The runt chucked a globe at me just for startling him!"
"Got it!" Mabel hollered, while Frisk simply gave the man an 'OK' sign. Then they both darted off.
Under his breath, Stanley muttered, "That man really needs to cool his jets sometimes..."
"Is This Action Of Globe Throwing A Habit Of Yours?" asked the metal head of Tim. "If It Is, I Must Urge You To Drop This Habit As It Is Unhealthy To Maintaining Strong Relationships To Friends and Family."
"Argh!" groaned Stanford, pounding his hands on the desk in front of him and darting his head to glare at the talking scrap metal. "No, it is not a habit, and if you would stop freaking out every time I say 'proph-' ... I mean, every time I say that word, I may not feel so inclined to throw things! So why can't you just cooperate?!"
"Sir, This Is No Mere Bug That I Can Just Erase. It Is Elusive As Much As It Is Exclusive. But If It Makes You Feel Better, I Am Able To Bring Up Other Methods Of Destruction Without Being Overpowered By The Error That You Identify As 'Insanity.'"
"That's not going to help me much, Tim. But I suppose it gives you credibility. Alright fine, go ahead," said Stanford, tapping his foot impatiently.
"As You Wish," said Tim. "Storms. Solar Explosion. Volcanoes. Tidal Waves. War. Meteors-"
"Okay that's enough," said Stanford, holding up a finger to halt Tim's explanation. "You made your point."
"Perhaps We Should Save This Conversation For Another Time. Maybe Then, I Will Have Figured How To Delete This Malicious Program. Perhaps With A Proper Wipe Of My Memory Banks, I May-"
"No no no hold on. Your memory of this pro-... omen is important. I just need to find away to coax it out of you without triggering the bug."
Stanford took a long deep breath. "Now then. Let's start from the top again. A couple weeks back, my grand nephew presented me with this black journal that he found. At the end of the first page, it appears to speak of what seems like a proph- let me rephrase that-"
"Stop Thinking About Not Saying 'Prophecy.'"
"Tim, I'm not a helpless buffoon. I can keep myself from saying- wait, how come you have no problem saying 'prophecy?!' Oh shoot-"
"THE ANOMALY WILL DOOM ALL." shrieked Tim, eyes glowing red while sirens blared throughout the lab. "IF THE DOOR STAYS LOCKED, ALL IS LOST! LOST! LOOOOOOOOSSSSST!"
"Sigh... Nice going, Stanford..." cussed the scientist to himself, reaching for his ray gun once again to shut the screaming contraption up.
Mabel was just finishing up explaining her drink, with Frisk alongside her, to Undyne and Alphys in the museum when the shack quivered for a second.
"Whoa, did you feel that Alphys?" said Undyne, standing up straight "Something caused the floor to violently rumble. Another attack? Would people get mad if I said I wanted that to happen?"
"Th-they probably wouldn't get mad at you Undyne," responded Alphys, having also felt the rumble. "B-but I reeeeaally hope we aren't getting attacked again. Stanley would s-surely make us leave if the shack were to be destroyed a second time. Especially after we had j-just finished fixing it."
"No worries, ladies!" chirped Mabel, "It's probably Grunkle Ford. Grunkle Stan said that he's been toying with Tim's head and that the results were leaving him um..."
"Frustrated?" tried Frisk.
"Yeah, frustrated!" said a smiling Mabel. "Grunkle Ford tends to get a little explosive-happy when he's frustrated. But only while working in his lab."
"Why is he trying to get information from the head of a murderous AI? Doesn't that sound a little counterproductive?" questioned Undyne with slight exasperation.
"Y-yes, it is quite improbable that Tim will be willing or able to t-tell us anything," said Alphys, her hands marginally fidgeting. "B-but unfortunately, Tim is the only lead we have to find out if this a-anomaly is simply a glitch in the AI's system or is actually a real-life threat."
"Hm. You have a fair point there babe," said Undyne, satisfied with Alphys's answer. "Well, if that anomaly exists, it better stop existing reeeeaaal soon, or it's gonna have to say hello to my fists! And then it'll immediately have to say goodbye to my fists! BECAUSE I WILL KILL IT! WITH MY FISTS! NNNNNNNGAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!"
"U-undyne, please lower your voice," said Alphys in nervous hushed tones. "Some of our friends are trying to n-nap."
"Pfft. Lower my voice? You know I can't just do that," said Undyne, folding her arms almost in a grumpy pout.
Mabel looked to Frisk. "I connect with this woman on a spiritual level."
Alphys fidgeted with her hands. "W-w-well then how about we go outside for a walk? O-or a run if you prefer? That way you can shout all you want without bothering anybody in the shack?" suggested Alphys, her own cheeks beginning to turn pink.
Frisk caught this and smirked at Undyne. "Undyne, I believe you are being asked out on a date~"
"M-maybe," timidly admitted Alphys, looking down to the ground, smiling despite her embarrassment.
Undyne blushed as well, her normally huge toothy grin shrinking down to a tiny nervous smile, almost cat-like. "No fair Alphys, you know I can't say no when it comes to going on a date with you..."
Alphys shyly chuckled. "It's my ultimate t-trap card."
"Oooh, maybe we'll encounter the anomaly while we're outside!" said Undyne to Alphys, the former's fists clenching in excitement. "And then you can watch me bash its skull in!"
"I fear for the survival of the anomaly's skull," said Frisk, making Mabel giggle.
"W-well if we stumble across it, I'll leave it to you, Undyne" said Alphys, a smile on her face.
"Shall we?" said Undyne, extending her hand with a grin.
"S-sure," said Alphys, taking Undyne's hand bashfully.
Without warning, Undyne flung Alphys onto her shoulders, and they charged out of the exhibit room and out the front door.
"Are they always like this?" asked Mabel to Frisk. "Please tell me the answer is yes."
"The answer is yes," confirmed Frisk, their classic stoic expression never leaving them.
"I have no idea if you are being sincere or just parroting what I said," said Mabel bluntly.
"And thus, I have created the one mystery that shall never ever be solved by either of the Pines Twins," said Frisk, a tiny smirk showing on their face.
"If Dipper was here, he would smack you for that remark," teased Mabel.
"He can try~" said Frisk, the smirk becoming a smile.
Papyrus had just finished putting his knitting needles and scarf away in the small lamp cabinet next to him in order to take a quick break, when he noticed a very peculiar occurrence happening right in front of him.
Toriel had unplugged the television from the wall and was getting ready to pick it up from the floor.
"UM, QUEEN TORIEL?" said Papyrus, cocking his head. "MIGHT I ASK WHAT YOU ARE DOING?"
"What I am doing is none of your concern. And please stop calling me 'Queen' Toriel," said Toriel, in a very harsh, un-Toriel-like tone.
"THE WEIGHT OF THAT TELEVISION SEEMS TO BE AGGRAVATING YOU, MISS TORIEL," incorrectly deduced Papyrus. "NOT TO FEAR, FOR I AM TRAINED IN THE ARTS OF LIFTING TV'S! GENTLY SETTING THEM DOWN, ON THE OTHER HAND, TENDS TO BE MESSY. BECAUSE MY ARMS FALL OFF."
Toriel's took in a very strained inhale of breath, before she released her tension with a deep sigh. "I do not need any help lifting this television, thank you Papyrus. But if you would be so kind as to not look into this matter any further, I would greatly appreciate it."
"OF COURSE, MADAM!" bellowed Papyrus with a hearty salute. The salute then slowly descended as Papyrus's face expressed confusion. "UM... WHAT MATTER ARE WE EVEN TALKING ABOUT?"
"Nothing Papyrus, nothing," said Toriel with a half hearted chuckle as she resumed carrying the heavy television out of the living room.
Mabel and Frisk tiptoed through the gift shop, not wanting to bother a cranky Wendy who was venting to Napstabook. The ghost was, to his credit, listening very attentively.
"Then Undyne says that I should look them all in the eye and yell 'If any of you have a problem with that, I'll suplex you into a mountain!' Which, I mean, I appreciate her willing to help, but nothing she ever suggests to me is a good idea when put into practice. It's frustrating, you know?"
"I'm sorry to hear that..." mumbled Napstablook sincerely. "I would offer you my own advice, but I'm sure you'll only find it worse than Undyne's..."
"Napstablook, you absolute sugarcube, all I need is your listening ear right now."
"I technically don't have ears..."
As soon as Mabel had both of her feet on the living room carpet, she bounded right up to the still-confused Papyrus.
"Hey there Pappy Man!" said Mabel, using her inside voice but vigorously waving hello to make up for it.
"HM?" said Papyrus, Mabel's greeting shaking him out of his stupor. "OH! GREETINGS, MABEL! HAVE YOU ALSO COME TO TAKE A PIECE OF FURNITURE? IF SO, I WILL GLADLY HELP YOU CARRY IT!"
It took a second for the baffled Mabel to realize the TV was missing. "Huh. I was wondering why this room seemed a little roomier than usual..."
"We do not require any furniture, thank you Papyrus," said Frisk, having caught up to Mabel. "May we ask who it was that took the television?"
"I WOULD LOVE TO!" exclaimed Papyrus. "HOWEVER, I WAS ASKED TO NOT LOOK ANY FURTHER INTO THE MATTER!"
"Oh..." said Frisk, hiding their disappointment. "And... who asked you to not do that? Is it somebody we know?"
"OH YES, IT IS SOMEONE YOU KNOW VERY WELL!" said Papyrus with a single solid nod.
"So, not a burglar then?" said Mabel, almost bummed out that there wouldn't be an opportunity to chase a robber down the streets of Gravity Falls. On her list of things to do when she was the only energetic person in the room, chasing a robber was number four. Numbers three, two, and one were classified.
"CORRECT, HUMAN MABEL! MISS TORIEL IS MANY THINGS, BUT A BURGLAR IS NOT ONE OF THOSE THINGS," said Papyrus proudly, before realizing his mistake two seconds later. "NYOO HOO HOO! I PROMISED HER I WOULD NOT LOOK FURTHER INTO THE MATTER, BUT I CANNOT HELP IT! WHAT IS SHE PLANNING TO USE THE TELEVISION FOR?!"
"Mother took the TV?" said Frisk, perplexed by the answer inadvertently given to them by Papyrus. "But why would-"
Frisk's eyebrows rose up in sudden understanding, and they went uncomfortably silent for a few seconds, much to the curiosity of Mabel, and Papyrus to a lesser extent.
"Thank you Papyrus. I appreciate your honesty," said Frisk, ending the subject before anybody could say anything. Just as quickly, Frisk started up a new conversation, having now noticed the knitting needles poking out of the lamp cabinet. "Papyrus, are you knitting something?"
Papyrus beamed, all too eager to talk about what he was currently working on. He opened the lamp cabinet to bring the needles and scarf out and showcase them to the two kids. "INDEED I AM, HUMAN! MISS TORIEL HAD BROUGHT THE IDEA UP TO ME AFTER TASTING MY LATEST (AND DARE I SAY GREATEST) SPAGHETTI DISH! I'M SUPPOSING SHE BELIEVED THAT I HAD ACHIEVED THE MAXIMUM LEVEL OF CULINARY PERFECTION, BECAUSE SHE WAS VERY INSISTENT THAT I PERHAPS MOVE ON TO A NEW HOBBY!"
The kids were pretty certain that Toriel's reasons for doing this were different than from what Papyrus believed them to be.
"SO I DECIDED THAT IF I HAD MASTERED SPAGHETTI AS AN EDIBLE DISH, PERHAPS I COULD MASTER THE ART OF SPAGHETTI THROUGH A DIFFERENT CREATIVE OUTLET!"
Frisk and Mabel realized that the primary colors of the scarf that Papyrus was knitting were faded orange and vibrant red.
"You're making a scarf that looks like spaghetti?!" asked Mabel, her eyes brimming with total awe.
"YOU GOT IT!" said Papyrus excitedly. "I, THE GREAT PAPYRUS, WILL REVOLUTIONIZE THE FASHION INDUSTRY WITH MY AMAZING SPAGHETTI SCARF!"
"Ooh! OOH!" said a bouncing Mabel, a super awesome amazing idea spawning in her head. "Can you knit Teddy bears?! Do you charge for them? What do you require? I'll give you the money from my Brother's secret stash! I'll give you every single one of my friendship wristbands! I'll give you the schematics for the Human Sized Hamster Ball." pleaded Mabel, getting right up to Papyrus's ear-socket to intensely whisper the last part.
"OF COURSE I CAN KNIT TEDDY BEARS, LITTLE MABEL! UNFORTUNATELY I HAVE YET TO MAKE ONE THAT IS RECOGNIZED AS A TEDDY BEAR BY EVERYBODY ELSE. THEY USUALLY MISTAKE THEM FOR OTHER OBJECTS. LIKE A PILE OF LEAVES, FOR EXAMPLE. OR A SMASHED CAKE. OR TRAMPLED FLOWERS. SANS ONCE MISTOOK ONE OF MY KNITTED TEDDY BEARS FOR THIS VERY PECULIAR RESIDUE THAT SPAWNS WHEN A HUMAN 'DRINKS' TOO MUCH... BUT HE ASSURED ME THAT HIS EYES WERE STILL BLURRY FROM JUST WAKING UP AND THAT HE WAS CERTAIN THAT IT WOULD LOOK A LOT BETTER IF HE WAS FULLY AWAKE. WHICH IS WEIRD BECAUSE HE MOST CERTAINLY HAS NO EYES... WHICH LEADS ME TO BELIEVE THAT HE WAS LYING TO ME... WHY WOULD HE FEEL THE NEED TO LIE ABOUT HIS OPINION OF ONE'S ART? ISN'T ART SUPPOSED TO BE OPEN TO THE VIEWER'S INTERPRETATION? THAT'S WHAT UNDYNE TOLD ME ONCE, AFTER SHE HAD ALMOST SET ONE OF FRISK'S DRAWINGS ON FIRE BECAUSE THEY MADE HER FACE LOOK SILLY..."
"Did Undyne really try to do that?" asked Mabel to Frisk, in surprise.
"She did try," confirmed Frisk, with a stoic-faced nod. "She failed though. She left my drawing alone. She used to tell me it was because she wanted to come up with a better punishment for the drawing. But quite recently, she admitted that she caught a glimpse of how upset I was and decided not to go through with torching the drawing I made."
"Can I see the drawing?" asked Mabel sweetly.
"No," answered Frisk, maintaining their emotionless expression flawlessly. "Undyne's face is too weird. You may develop the urge to light my drawing on fire."
"Nawwwwwwww, no I wouldn't!" said Mabel, jokingly rolling her eyes as she smiled brightly. "I'd put it in my scrapbook!"
"I cannot risk it," said Frisk, clearly joking.
"You cannot hide from Mabel Piiiiiines! No secret is safe from herrrrrrrr! She knows all, and whatever she doesn't know about, she leaaarrrnnns aboooooouuuuut!" said Mabel, moaning and wiggling her outstretched hands like a cliche ghost from any old Saturday morning cartoon.
"That sounds like a massive invasion of privacy," pointed out Frisk.
"No secret is saaaaaaaaafffeeeeee~!" wailed Mabel, completely ignoring Frisk.
"ACTUALLY, WHILE WE ARE STILL ON THE TOPIC OF TEDDY BEARS," chirped up Papyrus, "I BELIEVE THAT THE LAST TIME I SAW KING ASGORE, HE WAS HOLDING WHAT LOOKED LIKE A TEDDY BEAR IN HIS HANDS. HE DIDN'T LOOK TOO EXCITED ABOUT IT THOUGH... PERHAPS HE HAS FORGOTTEN WHAT A TEDDY BEAR LOOKS LIKE?"
"Well then perhaps we shall visit him next?" Frisk asked Mabel.
"Well duh! Of course we are!" said the very excited Mabel, taking Frisk's arm. "Have fun with the knitting, Papyrus!"
"WILL DO!" hollered Papyrus, waving enthusiastically as Mabel and Frisk made their way to the back porch to meet up with Asgore.
Asgore wouldn't say that the object in his hands disturbed him, but he would not say that it didn't unsettle him either.
The Teddy bear that he currently hand in his hands had seen better days. Its dark plum fur was damp from snow and crusty from dirt. There was also a substantial amount of stuffing that was missing from it, but no matter how hard Asgore investigated, he could not find a single tear in the stuffed animal's stitching.
"Strange..." muttered Asgore, for perhaps the fifth time since discovering the stuffed toy curled up next to the tattered couch.
Did it belong to Mabel? Asgore wanted to say yes, but then again, Mabel was a girl who treated stuffed animals like her own children, surely she would not let a Teddy bear become so void of stuffing. And she had a knack for keeping track of her items. If this bear belonged to her, it never would have ended up abandoned outside in the first place...
Maybe the lack of stuffing meant it belonged to Undyne? No, of course not, don't be silly Asgore. Undyne was ferocious, yes, but she is not one to use her own stuffed animal for training practice. And if she did, the Teddy bear would be in tatters...
Maybe Frisk? No, once again. Of the many toys that they had brought up to the surface after their journey in the underground, a Teddy bear was never in Frisk's box. And besides, Frisk is as kind to stuffed animals as Mabel is.
Asgore continued to list off possible owners of the strange toy, and all of them resulted in a no. He was so preoccupied with figuring out this mystery that he never saw Mabel sneaking up on him to scare him. Or so she thought.
Instead, Asgore startled her by jerking his head in her direction, a joyful smile on his face.
"Why howdy Mabel! Trying to give this old soul a scare, are you? I apologize, it will take more than that to catch me by surprise."
"Awwwwww man! Why do you have to be so cool, Goat Dad?!" complimented a pouting Mabel.
Asgore responded with a boisterous laugh, reaching out to scratch Mabel's head with a big warm fluffy paw. "I don't know if I see myself as 'cool'. Just 'prepared.'"
"What are you doing out here, Dad?" asked Frisk, joining Mabel. "I find you sitting on this couch more often than I find you inside. Aren't you cold?"
"Not at all, child!" laughed Asgore. "Winter on the surface is a wonderland compared to the underground. As for what I am currently doing out here..."
Then Asgore held up the malnourished looking Teddy bear for the children to see.
"I found this small toy nestled up next to the couch. I have no idea where it came from or who it may belong to. Would either of you have an idea?"
Frisk took the stuffed animal to inspect it more thoroughly. As they did so, a frown slowly developed on their face.
"There's something about this bear that I don't like..." commented Frisk.
Mabel peaked behind Frisk's shoulders, since Frisk appeared to be too focused on the item to hand it over to her. As she inspected it, her expression turned quizzical.
"It's probably because this poor Teddy is absolutely filthy!" remarked Mabel. "He needs a bath, pronto!"
"Well yes, but that's not what I meant-" Frisk attempted to interject, but the blink of an eye, the Teddy bear was gone from their hands and into Mabel's hands.
"Just look at the poor guy!" said Mabel. "He looks miserable!"
"Are you sure that it's the dirt that's making the Teddy bear look miserable, and not the facial thread itself?" replied Frisk after a few seconds of silence.
They weren't far off. Looking at the toy's face, the stitches and threads definitely gave the Teddy bear a forlorn expression.
"Okay so maybe the designer of this bear hated their job and wanted to let the whole world know," said Mabel, rolling her eyes. "But a clean bear is a happy bear, even if their stitched face does not reflect it!"
"Let her wash the bear Frisk," kindly advised Asgore. "It's best that we have it nice and clean in case its owner shows up to the shack looking for it."
Frisk pouted for a second before conceding with a nod of their head. "Yes Dad."
"Very good," beamed Asgore. He ended the issue by patting Frisk on the head, which managed to coax a smile out of the young ambassador.
"Great! Meet you at the laundry room!" squealed Mabel, darting back inside the house with bear in hand, not feeling the need to drag Frisk with her this time.
This gave Frisk a chance to get up on the couch and sit next to their father. They looked up at him, their stoic expression showing a hint of concern.
"Um... Dad? Mother hasn't been looking too well..."
"I know, Frisk," said Asgore, his voice low and somber. "As much as it hurts though, we need to leave her be. It's what she wants."
"But is she like this every year? Isn't that unhealthy for her?" asked Frisk with growing concern.
Asgore gave a long sigh, sinking into the couch despite his sitting position remaining rigid. "That is probably the case, my child. But you know how bad I am at making the right call when it comes to those who are in distress."
Frisk looked down, not knowing how to reply to that. Instead, they slumped off of the couch, walking over to the back door leading back inside the shack. They turned to Asgore, looking ready to say one last thing, but debating whether or not it will have any effect. Finally, they spoke.
"Then I will."
And they opened the door and walked back inside.
The king let out a downtrodden sigh, unaware of the miniature hole in the side of the couch that appeared to have been bitten into recently.
"And those are the steps involved!" finished Mabel.
"My my! Such a complex system~! Even though I'm sure I could come up with a much better one~ Alas, you beat me to the punch~ I envy you, little Mabel~! "
Mabel had decided to chat with Mettaton, who was in his EX model, while waiting for the loud drying machine to finish drying off the Teddy bear. The discussion had started with Mabel's plans for fixing the Teddy bear, and eventually evolved into discussing an interesting monster from the Underground, named Woshua.
"So wait," said Mabel, "The reason you guys didn't have washing machines in the underground was because you had somebody who was basically their own washing machine? That's wild!"
"Indeed!" confirmed the charming robot. "He was not a fan of it though. At first, the poor fellow was very cross with being one of the very few sources of cleanliness in the underground. And even though they loved to clean, and eventually grew used to their new role in the underground, it was only a matter of time before they began to grow tired of it. Burnout is never to be taken lightly, darling. Remember that~"
"Oh believe me, I'm aware," said Mabel with a wearied huff of laughter. "I've been trying to teach my brother that lesson for the last five years. Actually, for the last forever."
"Oh yes~ The boy gags at the mere thought of taking a break," chuckled Mettaton, before deciding to change the subject. "So, you said that Asgore found this beaten up stuffed toy next to the couch outside? And nobody has seen it prior to today? Sounds like the perfect premise for a B-list horror flick~"
"You mean a flick where the animation is stop-motion and the monsters are made of clay?"
"Well I wouldn't stoop to such shallow effects if I was directing that kind of movie. But yes~"
"Would I be the leading costume designer?!"
"You would splatter bright and loud colors on every single costume, for every single lead and ensemble member, and completely ruin the common color palette of horror movies," said Mettaton. "Of course you would be my leading costume designer~" he added with a smile of delight.
Just then, the dryer emitted a small *ding!* and the machine grew silent.
"Allow me~" said Mettaton, extending his arms to fetch the toy from the dryer without ever having to shift from where he was standing, eyes closed and a glamorous smirk donning his face, like he just finished juggling ten knives flawlessly.
Mabel giggled, rolling her eyes in a teasing manner, and took the bear from the proud robot's hand. "If I could be as glamorous as you are, I don't think my body would be able to handle it. My spirit would break free from this physical vessel and ascend to Glamour Heaven."
"Of course it would! Which is why I, a ghost in the vessel of a robot, am the only one capable of reaching such heights! Although... doing so would mean losing contact with my friends and family, so... I'm going to hold off on that for a while."
"Awwww that's really sweet of you to think of them!" said Mabel, squeezing her bear and swinging it from side to side while keeping it close to her chest.
"Thank you Mabel," said Mettaton, giving the young girl the most genuine smile she had ever seen from him.
Mabel beamed back, and lifted the bear to give it a proper look now that it had been cleaned.
Except for the sullen expression that remained on the toy's face, the bear looked much better. Its fur was radiant and smooth, and its cute beady eyes almost shined. The bear was still somewhat raggedy due to its lack of stuffing, but Mabel decided that she would address that on a later date. Knitting was one thing, but sewing a bear back up was a different beast. A beast she could easily vanquish, but the only weapon in her current arsenal that could slay the beast with was the Mystery Shack's old sewing machine. And that thing was loud. And given the typical luck of the twins, it was probably haunted too.
"I hope this new companion of yours does not spark envy from your pet pig," joked Mettaton, bringing Mabel back to reality.
"Naaah, Waddles is very understanding! Besides, he's lately been very occupied by playing around with Frisk's dog."
"Frisk doesn't own a dog though..."
Suddenly the door for the washing machine burst open, revealing a pig and a Samoyed dog, both sopping wet and smiling. They leaped out of the device, shook themselves clean, yipped and oinked with supposed satisfaction, and trotted out of the laundry room.
"Oh!" exclaimed Mettaton in understanding. "That dog!"
"Yeah, that's the fluff-ruff that I was talking about!" said Mabel, not appearing to be phased by the fact that both the puppy and Waddles managed to get inside an active washing machine and survive. She did know however that there was no collar around the puppy's neck.
"Yeah, he's a curious fellow," admitted Mettaton. "I don't think anybody I know has ownership of that particular puppy. Actually, he has this look in his eyes, like he believes he owns us."
"What, you think we are dealing with a possible puppy dog uprising?!" said Mabel, seeming more excited by the idea than intimidated by it.
"That would be headline-worthy indeed~ Don't let your guard down, my little maple leaf~" joked Mettaton, using the nickname that he had established for Mabel.
"Oh stop," replied Mabel, playfully elbowing Mettaton's leg, since that was as high as her elbow could reach.
"I should probably get going," continued Mabel. "Don't wish to keep you from your singing! Sounds great by the way! The next time I host a karaoke night, remind me to invite you!"
"No need to invite me! I am more than happy to crash your party~" proudly proclaimed Mettaton, which Mabel guessed was his way of expressing gratitude for being invited. "Now run along, darling~!"
When Frisk found Mabel again, it was in the parlor room. She was in a rocking chair, rocking back and forth excitedly, her arms extended forward and wiggling the bear in her hands.
"And I'm gonna call you Mr. SnuggleLots, and you'll be the honorary guest at my next tea party, and I'll introduce you to Waddles, ooh, OOH! And also I'm gonna find a way to get more stuffing for you so you can be all plushy again! GO ME!"
"Hello again, Mabel," greeted Frisk.
"Frisk!" exclaimed an excited Mabel, her face lighting up when she saw them. She sprung out of the rocking chair, shoving the Teddy bear into Frisk's field of vision so it was the only thing that they could see. "Look at this sparkling clean little cub! Isn't he the cuuuuuuutest thing ever!?"
"I admit that he looks a little better now that he is clean," admitted Frisk, "but I'm still unnerved by how abandoned he looks."
"One step at a time, Frisko," soothed Mabel, patting Frisk on their shoulder. "I am going to put Mr. SnuggleLots through Mabel's Rehabiliteddy Program™!"
"Mabel's Rehabiliteddy Program™?" repeated Frisk, subconsciously surprised by their own curiosity. "What is that?"
"A list of steps I've made for abandoned Teddy bears that I find. I would have told you about this earlier if you joined me in the laundry room, but it's okay; I'm telling you now!"
"So what are the daily steps?"
"Day one is washing the bear. Day two is feeding the bear. Day three is a tea party for the bear. For Mr. SnuggleLots, I may need to add a fourth day for emergency surgery to take care of his unsatisfactory level of stuffing."
"Or to locate the owner of the bear," responded Frisk.
Hearing that, a thought crossed Mabel's mind.
"Yeah, but, here's the thing," said Mabel, beginning to lightly pace in a circle, "What if this bear has no owner?"
"What gave you that idea, Mabel?" asked Frisk, tilting their head and raising an eyebrow inquisitively.
"Mettaton and I encountered the white dog again. You know, the one that I saw in the cave full of ice crystals? Ooo that reminds me I still want to make a charm necklace with the crystal that you gave me BUT ANYWAY-! That dog? He had no owner!"
"So you believe we are dealing with a stray Teddy bear?" deduced Frisk, having followed Mabel's line of thinking after deciding that explaining the difference between stuffed animals and pets to her would be futile.
"I'm not saying we are," corrected Mabel, lightly poking Frisk in the center of their chest. "But I'm saying we could be."
"I see," said Frisk.
"So, if need be, day five will be dedicated to finding a home for this little tyke if we can't locate his original owner!" concluded Mabel, squishing the bear one more time before setting it down on the rocking chair. It said in a sitting position for a few seconds before the insufficient amount of stuffing caused it to slump over. "Day four will definitely be for stuffing him up again though."
"That sounds like a plan," concurred Frisk. "I have one more question though."
"Ask away!" said Mabel, folding her arms and taking a proud stance.
"Is there any downside to doing more than one step on the same day?" proposed Frisk.
"Not really..." said Mabel, beginning to gently pace in a circle as she contemplated Frisk's question. "It depends on how the bear is feeling. I can just tell from the fur and the face if they wish to speed up the process or not. But for Mr. SnuggleLots..." she glances to the slouched form of the thin bear, "I believe taking our time is crucial. As much as I don't wish to spread it out, it is better in the long run. Malnourished creatures can easily get sick if you try to take care of them all at once."
"You learned that from Dipper, didn't you?" said Frisk with a knowing smirk.
Mabel blushed slightly. "Yeah..." she admitted, "...but I'm the one who puts his knowledge to good use!" she added, regaining her honor.
"Well that's good," said Frisk, the smirk becoming a smile. Then they walked over to the bear and picked it up. "We should probably get this guy to our bedroom."
The rest of the day went by relatively quickly. Frisk and Mabel enjoyed dinner with the rest of the crew, though Dipper was absent, and Sans as well, strangely. All the while, Mr. SnuggleLots was sitting pretty and piper atop the nightstand that separated Dipper's bed from Mabel's. When Frisk and Mabel returned to the bedroom, Dipper was still fast asleep.
"Wanna draw a mustache on him?" asked Mabel with a devilish grin.
"It's best we don't test him," said Frisk, before adding with a sly smirk "Another time perhaps~"
Mabel giggled once more before stifling a yawn. "Goodnight Frisk."
"Goodnight Mabel," replied Frisk, sleeping into their sleeping bag.
Then the lights went off.
Just as Mabel suspected, the middle of the night had Dipper suddenly turning in his bed. But it wasn't because of how royally messed up his atomic clock was.
It was in fact because his face was being blasted with hot air that smelled like dog breath.
"mmmmf… mmmno… no I don't need anymore candy… mm? chocolate taffy? Mmmmmy favorrriiiite…"
Then there was an audible "huff" and Dipper was wide awake.
And there, atop of Dipper's chest, face hovering over his...
Was a plum furred, hungry bear. One that was very much alive. And Drooling.
Mabel was stolen away from her fluffy-animal-infested dream when she heard what could only be described as... a Dipper Scream.
Mabel quickly shot up, standing on her bed and getting into a crane stance. "WHO GOES THERE!? SPEAK NOW OR FOREVER LOSE YOUR TEETH!"
Frisk was quick to follow, mumbling incoherently as they slowly sat up from their sleeping position in the sleeping bag. They covered their left ear as Mabel bellowed. "Mmmmgh not so loud, Mabel... Whatsssss going on?"
Then they saw it.
There, sitting in a ball position at the left leg of Dipper's headboard, was a familiar plum-furred bear.
The whole thing with it actually breathing? And making bear noises? And eating Dipper's left sock? Those were definitely unfamiliar territory.
"Oh dear," was all that Frisk could manage.
For what felt like too long of an amount of time, nobody else spoke. All they could do was focus on the bear that was devouring the poor sock like it was nothing but an ice cream sandwich. Finally Dipper spoke up. Or tried to, at least. "B- ba- b-b-bear.. ee…eeeeee… eatinggggg… mmmmmmy sock. It just… it was up in my face and-"
Mabel finally found her voice, and the first thing she did with it was shout "Mr. SnuggleLots?! How are you alive? And... what are you doing with my brother's sock?! That's not healthy for you at all! Any sock that's on Dipper's feet must be washed, sterilized, and quarantined for a week! And you have it in your mouth?!"
Frisk blanched. "Dipper, is that actually true?"
"Wha- no!" said the dumbfounded Dipper. "At least... good god, I hope not...!"
"Mr. SnuggleLots, drop that sock this instant!" said Mabel, dropping down from the bed and beginning to march towards the Teddy.
In response, the plum bear gave a disgruntled huff and turned itself... or, himself away from Mabel. Dipper and Frisk watched in shock and awe (but mostly shock) as the bear finished scarfing down the no doubt toxic sock and swallowing it. He then gave a sigh of satisfaction.
"Nooooooooooooo..." moaned Dipper, sounding like he just watched a brand new car that he purchased go careening off a cliff. "I lose enough socks in the laundry as is..."
"That was one hungry Mr. SnuggleLots," commented Frisk, having yet to get out of their sitting position in their sleeping bag. That quickly changed though when the bear made his way to the sleeping bag and started to gnaw on it. "Hey!" said Frisk, mildly perturbed.
"Alright Mr. SnuggleLots, t-that was your last warning!" said Mabel, who was honestly adapting to this situation remarkably fast. Not that it made things any less weird. Mabel walked right up behind the bear and lifted him up from the ground. "What am I going to do with you?! ...Seriously guys, what am I going to do with him? Mabel's Rehabiliteddy Program™ was never prepared to handle Teddy bears that went sentient!"
Before anybody could answer her though, the Teddy bear very rudely latched his mouth onto Mabel's pajama sleeve and began to chew.
"AAACK!" Hollered Mabel, making the other kids wince. The fact that nobody had barged into their room yet to demand some peace and quiet was honestly more miraculous than the sentient Teddy bear. And if that bear didn't let go soon, Mabel was just going to keep on shouting.
The bear refused to let go, and Mabel began running around the room on top of shouting, forcing Frisk to get out of their sleeping bag so they didn't get trampled.
"Not the pajama sweater!" Mabel cried out. "Anything but the pajama sweater! Mr. SnuggleLots let go! LET GO LET GO LET GO!
"Hold still, Mabel! I'll get him!" announced Dipper, looking poised and ready to leap out of his bed and natch the pesky plushie.
What happened next happened in slow motion.
Having realized that she was getting nowhere by shouting or running around, Mabel took her franticness up one more notch. She started spinning around like a ferocious helicopter-propeller. Around and around she went, getting dizzier with each passing second. But she never relented. Nobody was eating her sweater tonight!
Then, finally, she felt the extra weight on her sleeve disappear. She gave a sigh of dizzy relief.
Dipper and Frisk looked on in speechless horror as Mr. SnuggleLots had been flung off of Mabel's sleeve and straight through the bedroom window. The kids only barely registered the audible thud of the bear hitting the ground. Then huffing. Then scampering away.
"Whoops," squeaked Mabel
"Hoo boy," added Frisk.
"Mabel, what on earth was that thing?! And why is its name 'Mr. SnuggleLots?!'" barked Dipper.
"Three..." mumbled Frisk gloomily, like they were counting down to Ragnarok.
"Excuse me?! If you didn't spend all day sleeping away in bed," snapped Mabel in response, "we could already be heading out after him instead of playing catch up!"
"Let the thing go, for all I care!" snarled Dipper, leaning against the door and gesturing to the broken window."Cursed or not, that Teddy bear was never yours! Bet you $50 a witch owns that toy!"
"No deal!" declared Mabel, crossing her arms in an "X" formation. "There's no guarantee that the bear has an owner to begin with! This is all laid out in the Rehabiliteddy Program™ which, once again, you wouldn't have missed if you didn't waste the day away in your bed!"
Dipper scowled. "Listen Mabel-!"
The door suddenly swung open violently, painfully sandwiching Dipper between the door and the wall. There, standing rigid and fuming, was Toriel.
"You all have five seconds to explain yourselves for this racket before I officially lose my temper. Starting now."
"And that's why we need to go after him!" finished Mabel, waiting patiently as her scarf was wrapped around her.
"Goodness..." said Toriel, finishing Mabel's scarf and moving on to Frisk now that Mabel was all bundled up. "I will admit I still find the whole thing to be far fetched, but after the encounter you three had with that Blind Biker a few days ago, I'm inclined to believe any type of weird phenomena story that comes out of the mouths of you three."
Everyone was still in the bedroom. It didn't take to long to explain the situation to Toriel, even though the trio well exceeded the five second time limit. By the time she had learned that Mr. SnuggleLots was still out there, Toriel immediately went to work on dressing the kids up in extra layers, mittens, and scarves.
"What were you doing up this late, Ms. Toriel?" asked Dipper. "If you don't mind me asking, that is."
"I've spent all day looking for something that I cannot seem to find," Toriel answered while fastening a beanie cap onto Frisk. "A videotape. Perhaps one of you three saw it earlier this morning and it's currently in your possession?"
"Nope, sorry" said Dipper.
"I have not," added Frisk, their voice muffled by the scarf.
"Me neither," rounded off Mabel, pulling her scarf down to speak clearly. "Unfortunately all I have with me right now is candy. But I'm happy to share it with the coolest mom to ever walk the earth!"
Toriel was just about to start with Dipper when Mabel said that. Much to the twins' alarm, she started to weep.
Mabel panicked. "W-what did I say?! Oh god is that considered an insult in monster-culture?! I didn't mean it Miss Toriel I swear-!"
"You *sniff* you did *sniff* n-nothing wrong at all sweetheart," reassured Toriel, collecting herself. "It's just been a very lousy day for me it seems..."
Mabel and Frisk seemed at a loss for words.
"Hhhhhow about we put a pin on that for now, Ms Toriel?" Dipper butted in, before attempting to lighten the mood by adding, "Besides, we still need to track down a rogue Teddy bear."
Toriel gave a sad chuckle. "Please... no formalities are necessary. Toriel is... just fine. And yes, if we could save my troubles for later on, that would be great. I'm more concerned about you three pursuing this critter in the bitter cold of midnight winter."
"It's really not that bad-" started Dipper.
"Don't ever argue with the Goat Mom, Dipper," hissed Mabel, getting right in Dipper's face.
"Whoa hey there, personal space please," said Dipper, waving her away.
Toriel nodded. "It doesn't matter to me if winter on the surface is less brutal than winter in the Underground, you three are my responsibility right now, and that means you bundle up."
"Understood Mom," acknowledged Frisk.
"Of course Mis- I mean, Toriel," said Dipper, lifting his arms as Toriel started to apply his scarf.
Mabel suddenly had an idea. "Dipper, I can't believe I'm asking this, but do you think the black journal has anything about Mr. SnuggleLots?"
"It's worth checking," said Dipper, his voice muffled as well, now that the scarf was on. He pulled it down gently. "Toriel, if you don't mind, could you hold off on the mittens for a second? This is important."
"Just don't take too long. The further that bear gets, the longer you three have to be out there in the cold," reminded Toriel.
"Again, we've dealt with much worse-"
"Don't argue with Mom/The-Goat-Mother," said Frisk and Mabel at the same time.
"Right, right," said Dipper, grabbing the book and skimming through the pages. "Hmmm... not having much luck here. Maybe this author didn't encounter him. Gravity Falls is a big place-"
"Hang on," said Frisk, putting their hand on Dipper's shoulder. "I think I saw it. A few pages back."
Dipper flipped back a couple of pages, and eventually found a page with a very detailed illustration of Mr. SnuggleLots.
"Wow, dunno how I missed that," said an embarrassed Dipper.
"It's because you were rambling again!" teased Mabel, waving her arms from side to side. "Ramble ramble ramble!"
"Oh knock it off, Mabel. Thanks for catching that, Frisk," said Dipper, Frisk smiling in response. "Alright, lets see what we have here."
the nocturnal teddy bear
this peculiar stuffed animal holds a dark and not-that-deadly secret. every night, from sundown to sunrise, this bear comes to life and prowls the streets if it is without an owner. despite being a bear, not all of its behavior matches that of an average grizzly bear, so as far as advantages and weaknesses go, it is hard to pinpoint what works with this creature and what doesn't. one thing is for certain though: its diet is solely fabric. bed sheets, clothes, boxers, this bear will tear through it all until it is nice and full. once it is satisfied, it refrains from eating. if you are tracking down a starving nocturnal teddy bear, be wary or well armed. Or, bring along an outfit that you wouldn't mind if it got eaten. that is heavily ill advised, though.
An awkward silence befell the group as they all looked to each other and the new layers that Toriel had just finished putting on them.
"That certainly would have been nice to know beforehand," said Toriel, pinching the bridge of her snout.
"Sorry..." said Dipper sheepishly.
"But on the bright side," Mabel pointed out, "the book mentions nothing about a taste for human flesh! Just fabric! Which means we won't die!"
"Yeah, sure. Instead, we all will run the risk of committing public indecency," said Dipper, his winter coat's hood casting a shadow over his eyes. "I honestly would prefer death."
"It's not like anybody would see you this late at night," said Mabel, deadpanning.
"I will make sure to look away if such an event happens to you," Toriel promised Dipper.
"You'd probably die of Hypothermia before the embarrassment set in, Dipper," Frisk was polite to add.
"Let's just make sure it doesn't happen, okay?!" Dipper yelled.
"WAIT!" Mabel suddenly shrieked, an entire Christmas tree's worth of lights going off in her head. "I know how we can arm ourselves! We have to be suuuuuuuuuuuuper quiet though~"
It took a few seconds to leave the bedroom, Frisk having decided to bring their backpack with them before setting out, but soon afterwards, the trio and Toriel were standing in front of...
"The attic?" said Dipper incredulously, as he walked up to the attic entrance. "Why do we need to be quiet here? That's where Sans sleeps! We could kill a goat in there and it wouldn't wake him up!"
Hearing no response, Dipper turned around to see a Mabel who looked ready to punch him, a Frisk who looked beyond upset, and a Toriel that- oh.
"Shoot, I'm sorry," said Dipper to Toriel who looked downright uncomfortable. "I meant like, you know- we could make... an equivalent to that much noise... and Sans wouldn't... wake up."
"Let's just put a pin on it, like you suggested before," said Toriel. "Now please open the door so we can move on from this awkward situation."
Slowly, silently, all three children slunk into the attic, stepping onto the creaky floor. If Sans caught them, it would take forever to explain the situation. Mabel worried that she'd be even further away from Mr. SnuggleLots. Frisk worried about having to explain why Toriel was with them. Dipper worried about Sans growing suspicious from all the snooping that Dipper had been trying to do on him.
Except, there was no Sans. Instead, there was a simple note on the window seat that read "be back later."
All three children groaned at how pointless all of that super awesome stealth turned out to be.
"He's not even here? Then where is he?!" said Dipper, exasperated. "Frisk, is this disappearing act common for Sans?"
"Only during the daytime..." said Frisk, scratching their head in confusion while also adjusting the straps on their backpack. "I don't think I've ever seen him vanish at night though. Though to be fair, he never let me into his bedroom when I was in the underground..."
"You were snooping around in Sans's bedroom?"
"No. I just said that he never let me in. How could I possibly snoop in his room if I'm locked out of it? All jesting aside, yes I tried to do that. I failed miserably though."
"Well at any rate," said Dipper, eyes narrowing. "This skeleton is not helping his case. Everything he does only makes me grow more and more suspicious of him."
"Suspicious of what?" asked Toriel, approaching Dipper and Frisk.
Shoot... Should I tell her? Dipper cursed internally. She's a good friend of his, isn't she? And it's not like I have any concrete evidence of Sans being the time anomaly that the author is talking about... Think of something else, Dipper! Say something! Anything!
"Suspicious of him stealing your videotape," Dipper went with.
Toriel looked absolutely horror-stricken. "He did what?"
Whoa, that was not the reaction that Dipper was anticipating. He was ready to defend his lie, but she just went with it? How important was this videotape to her? What was on it?
"I haven't found any evidence yet!" Dipper backpedaled. "I-it's just a hypothesis! I don't want to be right about it, believe me!"
Toriel did her best to calm down. "I certainly hope that that tape wasn't stolen in the first place. If it was, I... I don't know how I'd be able to handle it."
Dipper and Frisk gulped. The air in the room had gotten quite stagnated. If someone really had stolen it, Dipper had just basically sentenced him or her to death. So now, Dipper could be arrested tonight for arbitrarily committing public indecency or incitement. Hooraaaaaaaaay...
"Guess that's one obstacle out of the way!" said Mabel, her voice immediately vaporizing the suspense that she was oblivious to. She waltzed over to the stained glass window and opened it, paying no mind to the noise it made. Immediately the quartet was overcome by the intense chill of winter at midnight. Finally the kids saw the value of the extra clothes provided by Toriel.
"Now for the tough part..." shivered Mabel.
The kids climbed out of the window and onto the roof, all three bracing the cold current. One by one, the Mystery Trio tip toed along the roof.
"Still don't understand why we didn't just use the ladder from the gift shop," griped Dipper, a burst of wind making him shiver.
"We'd be climbing down those noisy stairs. We'd risk Undyne waking up," said Mabel. "I doubt you're eager to know what she's like if she's rudely woken up."
"Just to enlighten you," began Frisk, "she begins every day by chucking a spear at her alarm clock. She has an entire closet dedicated to alarm clocks because of all the ones she breaks. Now, imagine her mistaking you for an alarm clock because you woke her up-"
"I would rather not imagine something so horrifying while also balancing on a roof and enduring the bitter cold," said a trembling Dipper. "I get it. Ladder was a bad idea. Let's keep moving."
A few more minutes of sneaking, and they reached their destination: Wendy's platform. There, sleeping soundly, was Papyrus, with his newly knitted, and extremely long, "spaghetti scarf" draped around his shoulders.
Mabel looked to Dipper. Then she looked to Frisk. She put two fingers closed together in the air, waited three seconds, then pointed them to Papyrus and whispered, "Go!"
Dipper and Frisk fanned out, each approaching the opposite side of Papyrus. They gripped the scarf, and gently lifted it up and over. The scarf was now hovering in front of the sleeping skeleton, being held tight by the smiling Dipper and Frisk.
"Mission accomplished!" whisper-screamed Mabel.
It was at that moment that one little roof shingle had decided that it couldn't handle having Dipper's foot on top of it any longer.
Dipper slipped backwards, yanking the scarf. Frisk, who was still holding it, felt themself jolted forward, unable to keep themself from slamming into the panicking Pines brother. Dipper tried to right himself, but (surprise!) only managed to trip on the long scarf, making him fall backwards even further, Frisk lurching further forward as they were too riled up to remember to let go of the doggone scarf. This time, the delirious duo collided heads, resulting in an unceremonious CONK! as the blasted scarf continued to entangle them. Frisk and Dipper became a ball of yarn as they teetered off of the roof platform and landed on the snow covered grass with an obnoxious thud.
"Mission... accomplished?" repeated Mabel, worried that Papyrus had been woken up from all of that noise.
"ZzzzzzzzzzzznnnnNNNYEH I WILL MAKE IT INTO THE ROYAL GUUAARRDDDDDDZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz"
"Whew," Mabel sighed before making her way back down to untangle the pair.
But not before taking a photo of the pair sprawled in the snow and entangled in that giant scarf.
"Oh dear, I never expected that he would actually take my advice to heart," Toriel chortled. "An actual spaghetti scarf. I really want to know what goes on in that skeleton's head. It must be fascinating."
With the scarf now acquired, it had been strategically wrapped by Mabel around the already scarfed necks of Dipper, Frisk, and and herself, before setting off into Gravity Falls to hunt down Mr. SnuggleLots. Silhouetted by the moon, the children looked like a paper-people-chain come to life.
Toriel insisted on coming along, not liking the idea of three kids being out at night without a grownup. The trio argued with her a bit, but they were quick to admit defeat when she gave them all a glare that only a mother could perfect.
"I'm shocked we didn't wake Papyrus up," quietly commented Frisk, who was at the front end of the line. "Especially after that humiliating descent."
"Look, I said I was sorry," mumbled Dipper in the middle, rubbing his forehead on instinct.
"It made a fun memory for me too look back on, though!" giggled Mabel from the back as she put her newly developed photo into her scrapbook.
"I'm glad to know that you still find pleasure from my pain," grumbled Dipper.
"Let's try to stay on task here," reminded Toriel, having decided to walk alongside the line rather than behind or in front of it. "So, you three are going to be using this scarf to lure the bear out?"
"In a way, yes" explained Frisk "But for the most part, it's to give Mr. SnuggleLots something to chew on that isn't our clothes."
"Hopefully the guy isn't hungry enough to eat the whole scarf," said Dipper worriedly.
"Yeah, Papyrus would not be happy with us," said Mabel.
"That's not what I'm- okay, that too," conceded Dipper, before turning his head back to the path. "Now then... if I were a hungry Teddy bear... where would I go..."
There was a rustling of leaves. Immediately, all four heads darted to the source of the sound. Right in front of them were two bushes, shaking up a storm.
"Oooooooooooo!" squeaked Mabel, putting her hands to her cheeks. "Guys, I think maybe we found Mr. SnuggleLots's parents!"
"Everybody be absolutely still..." whispered Frisk.
"Ummmm, guys?" said Dipper as quietly as he could. "Mr. SnuggleLots is in fact a Teddy bear, right? Do Nocturnal Teddy Bears have parents?"
"That's..." said Mabel
"...a good question..." finished Frisk, tensing up.
Was it a pair of Nocturnal Teddy Bears? Gnomes? Goblins?! Eldritch Horrors?!
The rustles got louder.
The sigh of relief was unanimous as the heads of Waddles and the Samoyed popped out of the bushes.
"Waddllleeeeeeees! What are you doing outside this late at night? Get over here, mister!" cooed Mabel, rushing over to Waddles. Having forgotten that she was tied to the scarf, Dipper and Frisk were lurched forward and dragged through the snow by Mabel. She scooped up her prized pig and nuzzled him vigorously, Waddles lapping up the snowflakes on her cheeks. "Were you giving the dog a tour of the town? Were you? You were, weren't you, you cute little... cutie!"
"Oh hey! It's that dog from the mountain!" said Dipper in recognition of the other critter. "...what's his name again?"
"I don't think he has one," Toriel pitched in. "Frisk, you really should consider putting a collar on that puppy or at least giving him a name, what with how frequently I see him."
"This dog cannot be restrained by a collar," said Frisk, suddenly looking at an imaginary sunset. Dipper found it weird. Mabel was captivated. Then the moment was over as quickly as it began. "But I like the idea of giving him a name."
The child suddenly pointed at the white dog, who cocked his head.
"Your name is Toby."
"...may I call you Toby?"
"Toby it is."
In the end, Toby and Waddles started following the group, the head count growing from four to six. And those six were lead on a wild tour of Gravity Falls at night in order to find this furball. If this fiasco was a scripted sequence for some TV show, this would have been the moment when the montage music started playing.
They went to Soos's house, where a groggy Abuelita pointed towards where she saw the bear head off to after it took a chomp out of her sofa. One round of cookies later, the group was back on the trail.
Next was the Valentino Funeral Home, where Greg and Janice spoke about how Mr. SnuggleLots made their night. Not too long ago, one of the buried corpses rose out of the ground as a zombie, only to have the tux it was buried in torn off and devoured by the tiny menace. The zombie was so embarrassed that it sank right back into its coffin and never rose up again. Mabel slipped a spare cookie underneath the door to Robbie's room before returning to the scarf-line and heading out.
The group passed by McGucket's new mansion for a brief moment, unable to enter because of the locked gate barring them from the courtyard. They shrugged and continued past the mansion. Toby and Waddles, who were falling behind, were the only ones who spotted a crow fly over the gate easily, only for the crow to be vaporized by a red laser beam courtesy of the new security features that McGucket had installed in the front yard. Bug-eyed, traumatized, and holding knowledge that no one else will ever learn, Toby and Waddles slowly trotted away from the estate.
The Pines Twins even dared to visit the Tent of Telepathy. They didn't need to get too close though: the tent had holes everywhere. Mr. SnuggleLots had definitely been there. They slowly snuck away, slowly enough for Frisk to spot a poster announcing that the Tent of Telepathy was closed indefinitely. Well, at least nobody was inconvenienced. So why were Dipper and Mabel so spooked about approaching it...?
Each location they visited showed that Mr. SnuggleLots had stopped by. But they just couldn't seem to catch up to him.
"Maybe we should stop by Candy or Grenda's house next!" suggested Mabel.
"Absolutely not," said Dipper. "I understand that you want to get back together with them, but if we do that tonight, there's no way we'll be able to avoid them inviting you for a sleepover. And we have bigger things to worry about."
"I like the sound of a sleepover," admitted Frisk.
"Really?! Awesome! I'll be sure to let Candy and Grenda know!" squealed Mabel, paying no attention to Dipper who was frantically waving his hands at Frisk and begging them to not be enticed by a sleepover with Mabel's friend group.
"Focus, children," said Toriel with a gentle huff. "I understand the want to socialize, but I would prefer to relocate this bear as quickly as possible. I need to be back at the shack before sunrise. I'm sure that tape is somewhere I haven't checked yet. Perhaps I'll check the lab next..."
Dipper's curiosity had finally had enough. He leaned forward to whisper to Frisk. "Frisk, do you have any idea what's up with your mom? She's usually so calm and down to earth, but tonight... I dunno, she just seems especially stressed. Just what is on that videotape that she's searching for so feverishly?"
"I understand your concern, and I wish I could answer your questions immediately," Frisk whispered back. "However, I would prefer that we wait until we have retrieved the Nocturnal Teddy Bear before we discuss this any further. It is rather personal."
"Well okay..." said Dipper, looking down to the snow covered ground. "I honestly don't know how much longer I can go looking for this bear's whereabouts though-"
That's when he saw it. Paw prints. Specifically, prints of paws that looked patched-on. And they lead up to...
This way to the Corduroy Cabin. Follow the signs.
A sign that gave directions to Wendy's house? But why would the paw prints lead to...
Dipper called to the group. "Do you think Mr. SnuggleLots knows English? All this time, I assumed he didn't, based on our initial encounter."
"Maybe he was just too hungry to listen?" suggested Mabel.
Frisk nodded. "Why do you ask, Dipper?"
"Okay... this may sound extreme to everyone but Mabel. But I think Mr. SnuggleLots understands English enough to read it... and he mistook Wendy's family's home for a Fabric store."
Mabel, Frisk, and Toriel all looked to the sign that Dipper was gesturing at.
Then to the fresh trail of paw prints seemed to be doing exactly what the sign had suggested.
"FOLLOW THAT TRAIL!" announced Mabel.
"Hush!" hissed Toriel. "The town is asleep!"
"Oop, sorry Goat Mom," said Mabel meekly, before whispering, "Follow that trail!"
They had hit the jackpot. By following the signs (and the paw prints in the snow), the trio, the pets, and Toriel had managed to locate the cabin that housed Wendy and her testosterone-buzzed brothers and dad.
The first sign of trouble was that the lights were on. The second was that the sounds of war cries and glass shattering could be heard all the way from the house to where the group was standing. The third was that the front door had been jerked open, and a bewildered Wendy Corduroy was sprinting towards them, kicking up snow everywhere.
"We can explain-" started Dipper.
"Oh my god I couldn't care less about the explanation right now-" growled Wendy, her voice having an especially ragged quality to it. Dipper didn't have a lot of time to ponder that though as suddenly the redhead had an iron grip on both of his shoulders and was staring right through him with baggy eyelids and bloodshot eyes.
"Oh dear..." said Toriel in the back, Mabel and Frisk cringing as well. It appeared that all three of them had just put together why Wendy had been so drowsy lately.
Wendy croaked, "Every December, my family gets more and more fired up about the New Year, and it results in them screaming throughout the night. It does not help that Gravity Falls has its own New Year that ignores the yearly calendar. Long story short, I haven't slept in six days you guys."
A gasp was shared by all who were capable of doing so.
"And that- that- that toy freak in there?" continued the delirious Wendy, raising a trembling hand and pointing behind her to her home. "NOT HELPING MATTERS!"
"I am so sorry that you've had to deal with this," said Toriel. "I promise you, that bear will be out of your home before sunrise."
"Oh jeez, is that you, Toriel?" said Wendy, her vision finally clearing from the tired rage. Her cheeks flushed with massive embarrassment and she scratched the back of her head. "Did- did I just shout right in your face? I am so sorry, I didn't... mmm- mmmmmean to..." Wendy suddenly arched back and gave a massive yawn. The three children winced, realizing how tired she must have been for the past few days.
"You've been deprived of sleep. It's more than understandable that you would be cranky," said Toriel gently.
"I dunno if we'll be able to help with Wendy's personal conundrum," pondered Frisk.
"We can try to, once we have Mr. SnuggleLots back!" said Mabel proudly, before suddenly shrinking and asking nervously. "How um... how is your family dealing with his intrusion?"
"Meh, the same way they handle any other bear that invades our property," explained Wendy. "With violence. And probably rifles."
The change in Mabel's velocity was so intense that the scarf was torn in two as she charged towards the house, howling with worry.
"Wait," said Wendy, suddenly noticing the scarf. "Is that Papyrus's-"
"Explanation afterwords, right?!" said Dipper, frantically taking the scarf off of Frisk so he could don the other half of the scarf by himself. "Come on Frisk, we need to catch her before she rips someone's ear off!"
"Affirmative!" nodded Frisk, following Dipper as he sprinted toward the cabin, leaving Wendy and Toriel out in the snow.
An awkward silence befell on the two of them.
"Um... Aren't you going to follow them?" asked Toriel.
Much to Toriel's alarm, Wendy let out a snore.
"OH MY GOODNESS! WENDY YOU CAN'T FALL ASLEEP OUT HERE, YOU'LL FREEZE!"
In a panic, Toriel hoisted Wendy up. With the pets following close behind, Toriel quickly carried Wendy back into the noisy, but warm, cabin.
Two figures, polar opposites of each other, were in a current face off. On one side of the room was a small animal, covered in soft fur, trembling with fear. On the other side of the room was a big animal, strapped in lumberjack work clothes, covered in red hair on his head, face, arms, and chest. He was trembling with anger and testosterone.
...aaaaaaaand a little bit of fear, to be honest.
Mr. Manly Dan wiped the sweat from his brow, regaining his focus. He had finally managed to trap the little furry menace in a corner of the living room, its plum fur not doing much to camouflage it amongst the red plaid wallpaper.
"You took a bite out of Marcus's hat, Kevin's shorts, and Gus's shirt... and then... you went for my underwear."
Mr. SnuggleLots only growled in return.
"Them's fighting words..." snarled Manly Dan. "So be it! BY MY HAND, YOU SHALL LEARN OF WHAT YOUR OWN BLOOD TASTES LIKE!"
Everything that followed happened in a manner of seconds.
Dan shouted in alarm as Mabel lunged onto his back and covered his eyes. The gorilla of a man flailed about wildly, making the trio of boys duck to avoid getting smacked by his meaty arms. Mr. SnuggleLots took the chance to dart out of the corner, only for Frisk to block his path. In the hallway, few feet behind Frisk, was Dipper, ready to face against Mr. SnuggleLots if he managed to get past Frisk.
Mabel and Dan continued to spin around the living room, Marcus, Gus, and Kevin all trying their best to stay away. From the entrance way appeared Toby, Waddles, and Toriel, still carrying Wendy. Toby was immediately intrigued by the space and climbed atop of the stairway rail, climbing all the way to the top of the first row of stairs to get a good vantage point. Waddles went the opposite way, hugging himself against the wall comfortably. Toriel spotted the dining room and quickly sat Wendy down in a seat at the dining room table. With all the noise going on, Wendy was soon roused from her sleep.
Mr. SnuggleLots managed to dart under Frisk's legs and latch his teeth onto their backpack. Frisk yelped, which alerted Marcus to the bear. Giving a battle cry, Marcus charged towards the bear, wrestling the back pack off of Frisk, which only made the poor child fall flat on their face. Seeing this, Mabel finally let go of Dan and ran over to the fallen child. Meanwhile, Marcus began to spin the bag around. Mr. SnuggleLots, remembering what happened last time he was spun around, let go before the momentum could grow too much. The backpack was flung in a random direction, hitting the (thankfully unlit) fireplace. With Marcus dizzy, Mr. SnuggleLots was free to escape, bolting for the hallway. Dipper, noticing the Teddy bear heading his way, readied himself. He grew a massive scowl and held the spaghetti scarf like a muleta. But in all his preparation to look threatening, Dipper forgot to remove the scarf from his neck.
Dan regained his balance with the help of Kevin and Gus, and headed outside with a growl to get some shears from the tool shed. Waddles entered the living room and spotted the now abandoned backpack near the fireplace. Toriel approached Dipper and the bear, while Toby climbed the second row of stairs out of three and gave himself a bigger vantage point- not that he was actively seeking it out- just as Mr. SnuggleLots lurched forward, bit the end of Dipper's half of the spaghetti scarf, and kept running.
Frisk, Mabel, Toriel, and Wendy watched in alarm as Dipper was yanked backwards and dragged behind Mr. SnuggleLots, who took off with the scarf still in his mouth.
-Toriel charges forward to save Dipper but just missed her mark, falling down on the floor and having right herself back up into a sitting position, leaning against the fridge in the kitchen adjacent to the hallway. Dipper was further dragged, following Mr. SnuggleLots into the bathroom at the end of the hallway. Frisk, Mabel, and Wendy collectively panicked and raced toward the bathroom. Mabel outran both of the others, Frisk making sure their mom was okay, and Wendy spotting that the boys had head into their bedroom to search for a bear trap to ensnare Mr. SnuggleLots with.
Soon after the bear had entered the bathroom, Mr. SnuggleLots started freaking out because the space was a lot smaller. He darted around the bathroom, throwing Dipper against the sink, the toilet, and the bathtub, which was when the bear finally let go of the half eaten scarf in his panic, Dipper getting shot-putted into the bathtub. Dipper spent the next few seconds just sitting there, dazed enough to not even bother righting his lopsided cap.
Mabel barged into the bathroom.
"Hey Mr. SnuggleLots! Look what I have for ya!"
Mabel waved the other half of the spaghetti scarf in her attempt to lure the bear away from Dipper and out of the bathroom. Mr. SnuggleLots took the bait, and Mabel calmly dragged him out of the bathroom. Dipper finally stopped seeing stars, and gripped his head as the headache set in. Wendy had just finished convincing the boys why a bear trap would be more danger than its worth, as Mabel passed by the bedroom doorway. Wendy realized Dipper was still in the bathroom and head over there to check on him. The boys shrugged and left the bedroom.
Waddles had been spending all this time rummaging through Frisk's backpack, unbothered by anybody. By that time, Dan returned with the shears, noticed the pig, considered dinner, but then remembered that the pig is Mabel's pet and thought against it, not wanting to be attacked by her again. He entered the hallway, ready to tear that bear into ribbons with the shears. At that point nearly everyone else was in the hallway, which meant that Frisk and Mabel got a perfect view of the rusty shears that Dan was holding. They both gasp, Mabel's shock giving her hand enough slack for Mr. SnuggleLots to snatch the scarf out of Mabel's hand and eat it happily, the rest of the Corduroys surrounding him cautiously while Dan was forced into a heated discussion spearheaded by Frisk and Mabel as to why the bear shouldn't be harmed. It was at this point that Toby spotted Waddles, who was still playing around with Frisk's backpack.
Toby leapt onto Mabel's head, then Frisk's, then lunged at Dan's face, hitting him with enough force that he dropped the shears and tilted backwards, falling down on the floor with a thud. Frisk quickly grabbed the shears and put them on the kitchen counter, away from Dan. Toriel followed Frisk as they left the kitchen to return to Mabel and Dan. Toby finally leapt off of Dan and bolted for the back pack, the pets now in a tug of war. Wendy and Dipper exited the bathroom, encountering the boys and the bear. The bear, who was still surrounded, payed no mind and finished eating Mabel's portion of the scarf, swallowing it, and looking very much stuffed. He gave everyone a very cute smile, and Mabel noticed he was finally acting like a Teddy bear. It made no attempts to bolt.
That's when the bear was grabbed by the throat, and lifted from the ground by a meaty hand. It was Dan, who had gotten back up. "Got you!"
There was the sound of something ripping.
For a second, a collective panic swarmed through the group, worried that Mr. SnuggleLots had torn himself open in his attempt to get out of Dan's grip. But he was fine and unharmed.
The group turned to look at Toby and Waddles, who had gone silent. The backpack had been ripped open, its contents flying through the air like candy from a pinata. One giant object, rectangular in shape, caught the eyes of Toriel and Frisk. It hit the floor hard enough to bounce and spin like a hamster wheel, before sliding on the floor and skidding to a halt at Toriel's feet.
There, lying motionless on the wooden floor, was a videotape.
With ear-ringing silence, Toriel reached down and picked up the tape. She flipped it to the front, and read the title that was written on it in faded crayon. She read it a second time. A third time.
"Frisk Dreemurr..." said Toriel with a disturbingly calm voice. "What was this tape doing in your bag? Did you put it in there?"
"Just answer the question," snapped Toriel. "Were you the one who put this videotape in your bag? Yes or no?"
"Did you do so, knowing that I was looking for it?"
"Yes... Yes Mother, I did."
The room was silent.
"...I am disappointed in you, Frisk. Severely disappointed. Not to mention angry. You should not steal anything, from anyone, period. But to think that you would deliberately try and hide this videotape from me..."
Toriel caught herself, realizing she was slipping. She breathed in...she breathed out. In... and out.
Suddenly, a hand was gently wrapped around Toriel's shoulder. It belonged to Wendy.
"Listen um... My bedroom, it... it has a TV and VCR. I know it might be a little odd but... you've clearly spent all day and night looking for this tape and wanting to watch whatever is on it. So... why don't you go on up to my room and watch it? It'll... give you and the rest of us some time to mull things over."
Toriel looked ready to argue, but after a tense couple of seconds, she sighed and deflated. "Some solitude would do me well right now, I suppose..."
She took Wendy's hand in her paws in a silent display of gratitude before letting go, picking up the videotape once again and heading for the staircase. She paused after climbing the first step. The room went quiet again.
"You are by no means off the hook, little one. We will talk once this is all over."
Then, she climbed up the stairs, vanishing from everyone's line of sight.
Dipper fidgeted with his hands. We was never good at handling the pressure of only being a bystander during a very tense encounter.
Wendy let out a deep sigh, no doubt wishing that this night wasn't so... eventful.
Mabel looked to Frisk with worry. Their hair was casting a shadow over their eyes, and their hands were hanging loosely at their side. Mabel frowned, wanting to help, but not knowing how to. She thought back to when she was younger, when Dipper would come home crying because the bullies at the park found him again, how all she had to do was invite him to her Teddy bear tea party as a guest...
Just as Mabel had begun to come to a realization, Mr. SnuggleLots had gotten sick and tired of being held by the neck so firmly.
"YYYYYYOW!" hollered Dan, letting go of the bear to waggle his hand and stave off the pain from having his index finger being bitten into by a bear cub. "Noooooooo come on! I finally had him! BOYS! GET HI-"
Mabel spoke without thinking. "MR. SNUGGLELOTS, I TOLD YOU TO BRING A BIB WITH YOU TO THE TEA PARTY! WHERE IS IT?!"
Everyone, Teddy bear included, froze in their tracks. Mr. SnuggleLots looked up to Mabel, his cute beady eyes expressing pure, non-artificial confusion.
"Rule number five hundred and sixty eight of Mabel's Rehabiliteddy Program™!" barked Mabel, pointing at the stupefied stuffed animal. "Any and all critters that are invited to partake in Mabel's Complimentary Tea Party must bring their own bib! To forget one is poor hospitality! What do you have to say for yourself!?"
At the bear's obvious silence, Mabel looked to the others for support, hands outward in an utter display of 'Just play along!'
Frisk was silent, but their head lifted up slightly. They appeared to be curious.
As the Corduroys whispered to each other, Dipper walked right up to Mabel.
"You agree, don't you bro?" said Mabel, jokingly - but also rather forcefully and painfully - elbowing her brother in the side.
"Owwwww..." groaned Dipper, rubbing the spot that got jabbed. "Mabel, are you seriously trying to have a tea party with a bear that only eats sheets and clothing? Furthermore, you're trying to convince Wendy's family to host this tea party? Are you out of your mind?"
"Just hear me out," said Mabel, whispering in Dipper's ear. "I just remembered that point where you suggested that Mr. SnuggleLots might be able to read, and I thought 'heh, well that doesn't seem very bearish of him!' and then, the clouds parted."
"Mabel, what are you talking about." said Dipper flatly.
"All this time, we've been treating this Teddy bear as, well, a regular bear. And I think we just assumed that that was typical behavior for him. But look at him now!"
The kids glanced over to Mr. SnuggleLots. He was sucking on his paw and looking around the room with interest.
"Doesn't he seem a lot more Teddy bearish to you?" concluded Mabel.
"Huh... yeah, I think I see what you're getting at," said Dipper, starting to follow Mabel's train of thought. "You think we should approach him as the Teddy bear he is, and have a tea party with him. Am I on the right track here?"
"Right track, right train, right everything!" said Mabel, proudly patting Dipper on the back. Dipper smiled without realizing it.
He quickly regained his focus. "But even if that's the case, there's no way that Daniel Corduroy, the same Daniel Corduroy that snapped a tree in half by punching it, is going to let you host a tea party inside his h-"
"So what're you kids thinking?" boomed Manly Dan, stepping in the middle of the discussion. "Chamomile or Oolong?"
The twins looked up to see that in his hands were two different boxes of tea flavors.
"Huh...?" said Dipper in a stupor.
"You got any Candyleaf?" replied Mabel.
"BOYS!" shouted Dan to Marcus, Kevin, and Gus, all three in the living room. "GET TO THE CONVENIENCE STORE AND GET YOUR DAD SOME CANDYLEAF TEA! BE BACK IN TEN MINUTES, OR NONE OF YOU ARE ALLOWED TO GO OUT HUNTING TOMORROW!"
"YES DAD!" screamed the boys in unison, scrambling out the door.
"Huh?!" said Dipper.
"Hey Dipper Kid," boomed Manly Dan, getting up in Dipper's face. "You still haven't told me what you want."
"I- I don't-"
"Whaddya mean you don't?! You don't drink tea?! Well young man, in this house, you don't get to abstain from drinking tea! Now pick a flavor, or I'll pick one FOR YOU, AND I'LL MAKE IT AS SCALDING AND AS TASTELESS AS POSSIBLE! YOU DON'T WANT THAT, DO YOU?!"
"Just pick one, Dipper," said Mabel, putting her hand on her brother's shoulder.
"Ummmm..." mulled Dipper. "Oo-...Oolong...? I guess...?"
"Good choice," said Dan and Mabel together, with Dan adding, "I'll fire up the kettle!"
"Mabel what is happening right now," sputtered Dipper. The poor boy was certain that he was losing his mind.
"I don't know honestly!" said Mabel laughing. "But I like it!"
"We'll talk about it later," said Wendy, walking up to the pair with Frisk close behind her. "Right now, we gotta focus on setting the dining room up for a round of tea."
"Right!" said Mabel enthusiastically.
"Dipper, Frisk, you're helping out too," instructed Wendy.
"Of course," said Dipper and Frisk with a nod.
With the sudden task to redecorate the dining room for a tea party materializing in front of everyone, an aura of calmness had settled within the Corduroy household, much to Wendy's relief, Mabel's joy, and Dipper's confusion.
First off, the winter garb finally came off, now that there was no longer the threat of a bear running away while the coats were being removed. Dan was more than happy to house them in the closet located near the entrance. The closet, which originally was only keeping plaid colored jackets in there, now had a splash of color with the trio's coats added to the rack.
The three Corduroy brothers returned in record time with a box of Candyleaf, and whole bunch of other boxes of tea flavors. They all talked over each other with excitement, talking about how the ghostly couple were so thankful for the boy's good manners that they were allowed to the other boxes for free. Dan roared with good natured laughter and got a second kettle of water boiling.
Wendy and Mabel were taking turns between keeping an eye on Mr. SnuggleLots and setting the table up. Mabel made sure to throw a bunch of cute stickers on the tea cups. Wendy taught the bear how to play card games, and thankfully, cards were not in Mr. SnuggleLots's diet.
Dipper and Frisk were taking a break, sitting at the bottom steps of the stairway and watching Mabel, Wendy, and everyone else running around and transforming the dining room into a top quality tea set for Mabel's wild tea party plan. Dipper and Frisk were also using this opportunity to keep an eye on the pets, with Dipper holding onto Waddles, and Frisk giving lovely head scritches to Toby
"Back in the summer, I bet I would've chopped the poor bear's head off by this point or something," joked Dipper.
"I have a feeling you would've faced some resistance from Mabel if you tried that," replied Frisk, holding the torn scarf in their hands and making sure that Toby was far away enough to not consider biting it.
Dipper laughed, setting Waddles down to give himself a moment to stretch his arms. "Yeah, probably. Still though... I don't know if she would have come to this crazy conclusion to throw a tea party if she hadn't met you. Maybe instead, she'd have... pfft, I dunno, encased him in ice and shipped him off to the North Pole?"
"It feels like any scenario is possible if Mabel is behind it," teased Frisk.
"Just her, huh? Sounds like someone's picking favorites," laughed Dipper, giving the child ambassador a playful shove on the shoulder.
"Maybe I am~ Are you willing to prove to me that you are the sibling who's worth more of my attention than your sister?"
"Ohhhhhh no, don't go there. Last time Mabel and I had that kind of dispute, things got... pretty ridiculous. I've hated carpets ever since..."
"If you're going to continue being secret about your stories, you should stop hooking people in like that. I was all down for letting your story remain untold, and then you bring up this sudden hatred for carpets? You have captivated me, Dipper."
The stairway softly echoed with the barks of Toby, the snorts of Waddles, and the chuckles of Dipper and Frisk... when another sound made its way to Dipper's ears.
It sounded like... sobbing. From upstairs.
"Everything okay, Dipper?" asked Frisk with a tilt of the head. "You got awfully quiet."
"I'm going to check up on Toriel. Call me if Mabel needs me," Dipper suddenly declared, making his way up the stairs.
"Huh? Dipper, wait-" began Frisk, but Dipper was already gone. Giving a sigh of uncertainty, Frisk resumed watching the rest of the group set up the table while the pets messed around.
Dipper was able to find Wendy's room pretty quickly, having memorized to route to get there, which he was embarrassed to admit. Without thinking, we twisted the knob and opened the door.
"Toriel, what's wrong? I heard... sobbing..."
The room was almost completely dark, the only light source in the room coming from the paused image on Wendy's television. And there, sitting on Wendy's bed, legs folded and drawn in to her chest, was Toriel; her eyes were puffy and red, there was a prominent trail of tears on both of her cheeks. Even Papyrus could have deduced that the Ex-Queen had been crying.
Not wanting to stare, Dipper shifted his attention to the television set. The image on the screen appeared to be a home recording of some sort, the kind taken with a big vintage video camera. The background depicted a well maintained house with a wooden floor and fireplace. In the foreground...
There was a little goat kid, eyes wide with wonder, and tears welling up at the bottom of those eyes. He had white soft-looking fur, a tinge of pink to his cheeks, and just... the purest smile that Dipper had ever seen. Pure enough to rival Mabel's 1000-watt grins.
Toriel's yelp of shock jolted Dipper back to the present moment.
"Dipper! I- I wasn't- that is, I didn't... I didn't anticipate that anybody would need me so soon-"
"Nonono, it's my fault, I... I thought you were in trouble and I came running in-"
They both eventually stopped talking over one another and a thick silence fell on them.
"...I- I'll go-" Dipper started.
"No, it's-" began Toriel, her voice hitching.
Toriel continued. "Frisk has... told me about you. How your curiosity tends to drive you."
"Well um... it's not something I'm proud of exactly... but yeah, I'd say that description fits me."
The awkward silence returned, but this time the intensity was a little lighter.
Dipper was the one to break it this time. "Listen, you don't need to tell me anything, my curiosity should not be a factor in this-"
"I appreciate that, Dipper. But let's be honest. If I had you leave now, things will be awkward afterwards, and they'll stay awkward for who knows how long. I... I might as well tell you, now that you've already seen it."
For one last moment, silence filled the room, the only audible sound being the buzz of the old television set.
"...please come in," finished Toriel.
Not a word was spoken as Dipper warily entered Wendy's room and shut the door behind him, submerging the room in near-total darkness once more, minus the light shining from the TV. Toriel looked down to the floor. She said nothing, but slowly lifted the paw that held the remote... and hit 'play.'
"M-mom?! You made this for me?! It's gigantic! I want it! I WANT IT I WANT IT I WANT IT!"
"Ha ha ha ha! I know, it looks delicious, doesn't it! But that's no excuse to forget your manners. How do you ask for things that you want, my child?"
"Mom, may I please eat the cake?"
"What?! B-but you said... you said that I-!"
"Aha ha ha ha! I'm just teasing you my child! Before I can let you dig in though, your father and I need to sing for you!"
"That song again? You sing it every year though, ha ha!"
"Maybe. But it is a tradition~ And it's worth singing for you, my bundle of sunshine~"
"Stoppit mommmmmm! You're embarrassing me!"
"Hush now, little one~ And close your eyes~"
The image suddenly went dark, and Dipper realized that the lights had been switched off in the household... then the screen lit up again, by candles being lit on the cake. The light gave the goat child a very calming orange glow. He looked so... happy.
"Okay! You can open them now!"
And he did. Dipper watched him gasp... somehow, the goat child's smile managed to get even bigger.
" Happy Birthday to you ... Happy Birthday to you ... Happy Birthday dear-"
"Asriel" mouthed Dipper.
His lips had moved before his brain, or heart, or even his voice could process it. But he just knew. This was him. This... was Asriel. The child that Frisk had tried to save... and lost.
Dipper vaguely noted that at some point, tears had welled up in his eyes and they were currently trailing down his cheeks.
"...Happy Birthday tooooooo yooouuuuuuuuu~ Make a wish, little one!"
The video went still again. Dipper looked up to see that Toriel had hit the remote's pause button once more, the small box silently trembling in her paw. She dropped the remote, buried her face in her tear-stained sleeves, and let out the most gut wrenching wail that Dipper had ever heard. Instinctively he wrapped his arms around her. And bless her heart, she let him.
"He... he was everything..." whimpered Toriel after what felt like hours of weeping in Dipper's arms. "He was full of life... every day was filled with his cries and his laughter... the plan was when he was old enough to become a prince, we were going to surprise him with a throne that was just... covered with honey suckles. Asriel always... always loved those honey suckles..."
Dipper could not say a word. What could he say? He had never endured the loss of a loved one. He came awfully close to losing Mabel at the hands of him,but unlike Toriel, Dipper got lucky. He had his great uncles to thank for protecting him and his sister. But it appeared that Toriel did not have such luck...
Toriel sniffled. "You remember earlier when Mabel said she was willing to share her candy with the coolest mom to ever walk the earth, right Dipper?"
She gave a sad laugh. "Well... this is the day when I remember how lousy of a mother I was. I should have seen the signs. I should have stopped him... and I didn't. I'm no cool mother. I'm not even a good one... I... I was powerless, Dipper."
All Dipper could do was tighten the hug. Nothing could be said. Toriel Dreemurr was going through something that Dipper could never fathom, and part of him hoped that he would never come to learn it.
There was suddenly a gentle creeeeeeeeeaaaaaaak that shook the two out of their hug.
It was Frisk.
Nobody said anything for a while. All that could be heard was the clinking and clattering of silverware downstairs.
"...The tea is ready," finally spoke Frisk. "Mabel is expecting all of us to attend. I can let her know if you need more time th-"
Toriel shook her head. "N-no, I'm alright. You said tea is ready?"
"Yes, correct," affirmed Frisk. They watched as Toriel remained tense. They gave a quick glance to the television screen, before looking back to their mother.
"...The plan was to talk once this was all over, correct?" said Frisk reassuringly. "I'll tell you everything then, I promise. But first, I'd like to have some tea. Mabel will be furious if anyone lets their cup get cold."
"R-right... Yes... Yes of course," said Toriel, standing up from the bed and dusting herself off. "Tell Mabel I'll be right down."
"Yes Mom," said Frisk with a hint of a smile, disappearing from view as they climbed back down the stairs.
"Well... I'll see you downstairs Dipper," said Toriel, wiping her eyes. "Mind shutting the TV off for me?"
"I don't mind at all, Toriel. See you down there," said Dipper with a wave, watching as Toriel disappeared from his view.
There was... a lot to process from that exchange. But it would have to wait for now. Dipper reached forward to press the TV's on/off switch...
...when something on the monitor caught his eye.
The dim background made it hard to see, but Dipper swore that there, sitting in a chair, was another child.
A human child.
Dipper hit 'play.'
"I wish that I can stay best friends forever with-!"
"Oh come on Asriel, you wished for that last year. Wish for something else this time, sheesh."
"Hey! That was rude!" said Asriel, seeming to be both shocked and tickled by the remark. "You're such a meanie sometimes, Cha-"
And then there was static. The videotape had reached its end.
Filled with questions that he knew he'd have to wait until the right moment to ask about, Dipper turned the TV off and finally left Wendy's room.
Dipper was met with a very lively spectacle.
Dan was pouring cup after cup of various tea flavors, handing them to Mabel and Wendy (both wearing heat resistant gloves) who fanned out to place each cup in front of 11 different seats at the dining room table. Toriel had already sit herself down at one of the seats, but had opted to wait until everyone was seated before she began sipping her tea. Toby and Waddles were running around underneath the table, darting under some chairs and darting around others. The boys and Frisk were gathered in the living room, Frisk eagerly listening to a story that Marcus was telling about how he once managed get himself a gigantic fish from the lake (while Kevin and Gus acted it out in the background to hype up the tale) and all four of them were smiling and laughing. Sitting at the end of the table, his beady eyes taking in the entire scene, was Mr. SnuggleLots.
"Dipper! Welcome back!" said Mabel as she noticed her awestruck brother. She walked up to him and took him by the hands. "Welcome to the tea party! Your seat is right over here next to Mr. SnuggleLots! Don't worry, he hasn't been biting anything since he ate my half of Papyrus's scarf. Come on, this way!"
Dipper let himself be guided by Mabel as she sat him down at his seat. Now that he was at the table, he noticed all of them had a designated name. Starting from Dan's seat, and working clockwise, the seats were as follows.
...Francine? Who was-?
"ALRIGHT EVERYONE!" Hollered Dan, clinking a glass so hard that it sounded like swords clashing. "THE TEA PARTY HAS OFFICIALLY BEGUN! THANK YOU ALL FOR COMING, AND ON BEHALF OF THE MABEL PINES ORGANIZATION-"
"Yes my friends, that is actually a thing!" piped Mabel.
"-WE HOPE YOU ALL ENJOY YOUR TIME HERE! NOW, DRINK UP!"
Everybody swarmed the table, plopping down in their designated seats and engaging in lively conversation. The Corduroys, minus Wendy, clashed their mugs together like they were beer mugs, then blew on their cups and gently sipped on them because they were actually hot mugs of tea, not cold jugs of beer. Toriel was giggling as Frisk had managed to get roped into another story that Mabel was telling to Mr. SnuggleLots, whose reactions were proving that he could always understand English like Dipper hypothesized. Looking elsewhere, the boy was pleased to notice that Toriel was looking more and more like her old self, and Wendy seemed to be lighting up from the calm but animated gathering. Dipper couldn't help but smile, happy to see that Wendy was starting to recover from her frustration from the recent lack of sleep.
But in the midst of this discussion, Dipper noticed that the seat of Francine was still vacant.
"Wondering about the empty seat, kiddo?" Wendy spoke up, Dipper tearing his gaze away from the seat to look at her.
"Um... y-yeah I suppose," said Dipper, cheeks turning the faintest shade of pink. "Is it..."
"A seat for my mom? I'm afraid so, champ," said Wendy, giving a gentle smile and taking a hearty sip of her tea now that it had cooled down enough. "Francine Corduroy. Better known by her nickname, Manly Fran."
Dipper looked down, not knowing how to reply. As he looked up, he saw Toriel on the other side. She appeared to have overheard the conversation.
"Manly Fran?" repeated Dipper.
"Yep, believe it or not, my dad was always a fan of tea time. His masculine attitude was a rather late addition. It's how he makes sure that her legacy lives on, I suppose. Though I bet that most of what he does nowadays would just make my Mom howl."
"Did she enjoy tea?" Toriel blurted, before putting a paw to her mouth. It seems she didn't mean to speak out loud.
"Oh she loved it, especially if Dad was the one who made it," Wendy gave a warm laugh. "Her adoration for it is the reason my dad didn't abandon it when she passed..." she takes her napkin and gently dabs at her eyes. "It's our way of honoring her. We do this every memorial. It is... one of my favorite nights every year. It's cool that we managed to find an excuse to do it tonight, but... it just wouldn't feel right to have it without that one empty seat, even if this one isn't for her, you know?"
"I assume that the atmosphere here is... a lot less lively during the day of her passing..." Toriel's voice quivered near the end.
"Oh, you couldn't be further from the truth," snorted Wendy in laughter. "If anything, tonight's positive vibes are subdued compared to the anniversary of her passing. The whole day is filled with stories, memories, laughs, and endless tea for anyone who asked for it. I know it seems backwards to be that jovial during a day of remembrance for a dead family member who was a part of all of our lives- and don't get me wrong, there is a fair share of crying as well- but hey... if we're gonna remember her every year, we all knew that it would be better, and healthier in the long run, to fill the day with as many smiles as there are tears."
Wendy tilted her eyes towards the ceiling. She gave a kiss to the air, gestured her mug to it, and finished the rest of her tea. "Ahhhhhh..."
"That's... that's incredible," said Toriel, wiping her eyes.
"Oh, the tea was cold enough at this point," Wendy assured. "If it was fresh from the kettle, there's no way that-"
"No, I mean... the way your family honors your late mother. It's... I've never thought of it that way. 'As many smiles as there are tears...'"
"Words straight from my Old Lady," said Wendy, leaning back in her seat.
Toriel looked down, silent. She witnessed her reflection in the steaming liquid. She managed a smile. "Wise words to be sure. I would've loved to meet her."
"She would've loved to meet everyone here," said Wendy with a courteous smirk, before heading out of her seat to quickly pour herself a second mug.
The topic of Francine drifted off soon after, and eventually everyone was back to jovial discussions that were occasionally sprinkled with a bark or a yip. All the while, the smile on Mr. SnuggleLots's face never wavered.
About an hour and a half passed before the mood died down enough to declare that the table should be cleared off. The kids had reconvened to discuss the night.
"I guess we managed to check off almost all the boxes on your Rehabiliteddy Program™, Mabel," said Frisk.
"Oh right, I forgot that that program had multiple steps," said Dipper, proving that Mabel had relied on this program before.
"Right... we still have no idea if this guy has an owner out looking for him," reminded Mabel.
"Or whether or not the owner ever want's him back," cautioned Frisk.
"Or even whether or not the owner is a human, or a bear, or something else entirely," added Dipper.
The kids went silent, stewing in all the questions that were unanswered.
KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK!
Everybody in the house froze. Toby started growling at the front door.
"Helloooo?!" came a muffled, ragged voice of an elder woman from the other side of the door. "Pardon the disturbance! I just need to know if something passed this way! A Teddy bear to be specific! One that's alive, to be more specific!"
The kids shared a glance at Mr. SnuggleLots who was being playfully tossed around by the Corduroy brothers. Did the voice truly belong to the bear's owner?
Frisk shimmered orange for a second, deciding that there was only one way to find out. "I'll get the door."
"Wait, hang on a second, Frisk-!" tried Dipper.
But Frisk had already marched toward the door and opened it.
On the other side was a heavily hunching, stubby old woman. Her skin was heavily wrinkled and had a sickly green complexion. Her hair was gray to the point of looking white, and there was a cobweb or two that was nestled in her shabby locks. And she was wearing a tattered cloak that was decorated with two giant shadows of disembodied hands.
"Hand Witch!" cheered Mabel, recognizing the kind hag.
"Well welllllllllll! If it isn't the lady who helped redecorate my caaaaaaave!" dragged the delighted witch. "And the boy as welllllllll! Good to see you! I don't recognize the kid in the striped sweater though..."
"Wait, the Hand Witch?" said Wendy, cocking an eyebrow in bafflement. "I thought you were just some myth that Stanley cooked up to sell his overpriced molds of decapitated hands."
"Nope, he and I go way back!" said the Hand Witch proudly. "Thanks to the kind metal-teethed lady, I finally know what it's like to have a sweet heart!"
"You have a boyfriend!?" squealed Mabel in excitement, slapping her hands to her cheeks.
"Hm? Oh no, he broke things off with me weeks ago," explained the Hand Witch, cheerfully adding, "So I boiled him up and ate his heart! Hearts are surprisingly sugary after you cook them!"
Mabel looked like her own mom told her that Santa Claus got killed in a sleigh accident. "W... What...?"
The Hand Witch laughed awkwardly. "That was a joke. I thought I was being obvious about that, sorry. We're still together!" she continued, holding up a photo of herself smiling happily and holding hands with... a pale skinned, wrinkly man with unfocused yellow eyes, crooked brown teeth, shaggy dirty hair, and a giant gaping hole in his chest. "I did eat his heart for real, though. He's a ghoul now."
"Oh, okay then!" said Mabel, calming down quite a bit, not appearing to care about the whole eating-hearts thing. Dipper probably did though, considering how creeped out he looked.
Frisk on the other hand marched straight up to the witch and stuck their hand out. "Frisk Dreemurr, Ambassador of Monsters from the Underground. Pleased to meet you."
"Ooooooooooooooo, such delicate haaaaaaaaaaannnnnnnnds~! Um, I mean, the pleasure is all mine!" said the Hand Witch, eagerly shaking Frisk's hand with both of hers.
"Am I to understand that you are the owner of this Nocturnal Teddy Bear?" asked Frisk, seemingly unphased by the Hand Witch dragging the hand shake on for a little too long.
"Yep!" nodded the Hand Witch. "Good ol' Beelzecub is my own creation! Did you kids cross paths with him by any chance?"
"Beelze-what?" Mabel stumbled over her words, when suddenly she felt something land on her head. It was Mr. SnuggleLots, recognizing the witch.
"Ah! There he is!" exclaimed the witch. "Beelzecub! You sure gave me a work out that is only sure to worsen my distorted spine! Why'd you run off?! Was it something I said? Or did? Was it something I didn't say or do? Speak to me Beelzecub! Speak to me, even though I know you can't talk! Was it because you thought I couldn't handle raising you when you turned out to be more of a bear than I intended?!
"What do you mean by him being more of a bear than you intended?" asked Toriel, approaching the group.
"My goal was to create the most Teddy Bearish sentient Teddy Bear to ever roam Gravity Falls!" bellowed the witch, imaginary thunder and lightning booming behind her. "But what came out... acted a lot more like your average bear cub."
"So you abandoned him?!" realized Toriel.
"Absolutely not! I raised him like any well-respected mother should do! Anyone who abandons a child if they don't come out exactly like they intended was never meant to be a parent at all!"
"I mean... do the rules of parenting apply here?" said Dipper, a little perplexed by this strange scenario. "What do you think, Frisk? ...Frisk?"
Frisk suddenly shook out of their stupor. "Hm?"
"Do you think the Hand Witch should treat Mr. SnuggleLots like he's her son?" said Dipper.
"Oh um, I suppose so. She did create him and all."
"See Dipper?!" said Mabel, nudging him. "I knew that Necromancy could be used for good!"
"I'm pretty sure necromancy doesn't apply here," grumbled Dipper.
"If he knows I created him, then why did my boy run away from home?" said a downtrodden Hand Witch. "I did my best to raise him right in the three weeks that I had him..."
There was silence among the group, nobody knowing how to approach this extremely weird conundrum. Even Waddles and Toby were silent.
The silence was broken by a familiar growl from a stomach made of stuffing.
"Oh!" said the Hand Witch, noticing the Teddy bear. "Are you still hungry, Beelzecub? I have a nice plate of fresh fish waiting for you at home!"
The bear said nothing.
Mabel got up to the hag's ear. "Try calling him Mr. SnuggleLots."
"Hm? That's a weird name..." nevertheless, the Hand Witch cleared her dry throat. "Oh Mr. SnuggleLoooooooootssssssss! There's a plate of fish with your name on it if you accompany Mama back to the caaaaaaaaaaave!"
The Trio, the pets, the Corduroys, and Toriel all watched as Mr. SnuggleLots's face turned a sickly green at the mention of fish, the poor bear looking absolutely nauseous.
And everything made sense.
"Mrs. Hand Witch," said Mabel, standing straight. "I believe we know why your pet Teddy ran away from home."
Dipper stood up next. "The reason for him leaving you was not because you were a bad role model, but rather..."
"You were feeding your child literal garbage," finished Frisk.
"B-but, look at him!" pleaded the Hand Witch. "He clearly acts like a... well... huh, actually he's acting pretty much how I envisioned him to act when I made him."
Dipper paced the room, stroking his chin. "I believe that what you had been dealing with was simply a side effect of a hungry Mr. SnuggleLots. It would appear, based on our experience, that the hungrier that Mr. SnuggleLots gets, the more animalistic he becomes. And this is not unheard of; I know a great number of people who display similar behavior when they're hungry. Take Mabel for example. Mabel!"
"Present!" said Mabel, raising her hand.
"Answer honestly! Do you, or do you not, start to growl like gremlin whenever breakfast takes longer than usual to be served?"
"I do!" said Mabel. "I also start biting the table legs!"
"Now then, Ms. Hand Witch," said Dipper, pointing at the witch who was taking notes. "Would you say that Mabel's behavior is well mannered, or not?"
"It isn't," Frisk chimed in. "But it is very much a quality that defines Mabel, and should never be corrected."
Mabel couldn't help but smile at that.
"So wait, hang on," said Wendy. "You mean to tell me that all of this crazy behavior was happening because Mr. SnuggleLots was hangry?"
"You are absolutely correct, Wendy." said Dipper, before returning his focus to the friendly crone. "The point we're trying to make here, Mrs. Hand Witch, is that when you created Mr. SnuggleLots, he was born without any food in his belly. He was starving. And he left your cave because what you were feeding him is not what he eats. It isn't fish, or bugs, or even honey. It is-!"
"Fabric!" said Mabel from behind Dipper, throwing confetti out of her hands. Where she got the confetti from was information that only she knew about.
"So, all that you need to do is change what you feed him," informed Frisk with their index finger up. "If you can't get over feeding him bear-food, then do it in the form of fabric. Knit a fish-doll. Use a yellow spool of yarn in place of a beehive. Things like that. Do that on top of everything else you've been doing for him, and you should be fine."
"I see, I see!" said the Hand Witch, enchanted by the new information. "I shall update his meal planner right away! Whaddya say to that, Beelz- um, I mean, Mr. SnuggleLots? Wow, that's going to take some getting used to... Ahem, well, Mr. SnuggleLots, how 'bout it? Ready to head back to our sweet little cave?"
Mr. SnuggleLots slowly crawled up to the Hand Witch... and gently chewed on her robe. Not eating it. Just chewing it.
"Looks like he's willing to give you another chance," said Frisk smiling.
The hag cackled with glee, picking the bear up and spinning him around. "Mama has missed you sooooooooooooo much!"
Mabel smiled at the happy reunion... but try as she may, she couldn't stop herself from choking up. "I'm gonna miss you, *sniff* Mr. SnuggleLots! Don't forget about me, you- you hear me?! I forbid it!"
"There there, sis," soothed Dipper, patting his sister on the back. He looked back to the bear, and gave a gentle yell. "Stay out of trouble from now on, okay buddy?"
"Your mother loves you very much! You're very blessed to have someone like her!" Frisk chimed in. "Don't forget to thank her occasionally!"
The sentient Teddy smiled and nodded, giving one final wave to the kids before the door to the cabin gently shut behind him and the hag.
"Bwaaaaaaaaaaaaah!" came the over-the-top wails of Mabel Pines.
"And here come the post-Teddy-bear Blues," sighed Dipper, giving his sister a big hug.
"Ah, so this is a normal occurrence?" asked Frisk.
"Yep," nodded the capped twin. "She is incredibly loyal to any Teddy bear she encounters. You would not believe the number of times I've had to drag her away from various Lost and Found departments because she gave them a lost Teddy bear and couldn't will herself to part with it."
"Heh," chuckled Wendy. "I guess she couldn't bear saying goodbye to any of them, huh?"
The whole room went silent. Well, almost silent; Toriel took everyone by surprise with her giggles.
"You've been hanging out with Sans too much," snarled Dipper at Wendy.
"The guy's a hoot! Shut up!" laughed Wendy.
"At- at any rate," said Toriel, composing herself, "We should be heading out."
"Wait! We should try to help Wendy out with her sleeping problems!" said Mabel, having snapped out of her state of weeping. "I was going to suggest Mr. SnuggleLots but... he's gone now..." annnnnnnnnnnd the tears resumed.
"Meh, that wouldn't have worked out," said Wendy. "It's right in his species' name: Nocturnal. He'd be up all night, and I'd be spending the whole time taking care of him, instead of getting any sleep. But... it did give me an idea. I think having a stuffed animal would help me get to sleep."
"You want a what?" called Dan, his voice becoming a calm growl.
Wendy sighed and tightened her fists. No backing out now. She was a daughter of Francine Corduroy, and dang it, she was going to act like one.
"You heard me, Dad! You all heard me! I am done with the December noise! You all wanna holler about the upcoming New Year, do it outside! The pub, the woods, the sewers, I don't care! Just do it away from me when I'm trying to sleep! As for the stuffed animal, heck yeah I want one! I've always wanted one, why not!? They're soft, they're quiet, they'll help me sleep, and they don't even cost that much, Dad!"
"Dang, she's going off," said Dipper, almost mesmerized.
"'Tis the wrath of the teenager," said Mabel with deep respect towards the red-haired girl. "A power that you and I will soon acquire for ourselves, brother."
"And... A-and...!" Wendy stammered.
The room went quiet from bated breath.
"AND IF ANY OF YOU HAVE A PROBLEM WITH THAT, I'LL SUPLEX YOU INTO A MOUNTAIN!"
There was silence. Not a peep was uttered from any of the Corduroys. Wendy simply waited, puffing and panting...
"BWAAAAAAAAAH HAH HAH HAH!" Dan howled with laughter. "THAT'S MY GIRL~!"
"Pardon?" said Wendy.
"First thing tomorrow, we'll stop by the local toy store. You can pick out whichever one you want! The boys wouldn't stop pestering me about it anyway. As for the New Years noise..."
Wendy tensed up.
"Baby girl, I'm gonna be honest, it completely slipped my mind how busy you are with the shack. I promise to take the noise elsewhere. And if you ever catch me forgetting that promise, you have permission to wack me upside the head with your late mother's favorite frying pan."
"You're kidding," said Wendy with a flabbergasted smile.
"Nope, you know I don't kid around with you or any of the boys," said Dan with pride.
"Heh... thanks Dad," said Wendy sheepishly, thinking to herself, Looks like Undyne isn't boasting around when she's giving advice. I keep forgetting that she was a Captain during her time underground.
"Victory for Wendy!" cheered Mabel, throwing more confetti from seemingly out of nowhere.
"And with th-thaaaaaattttttt..." Toriel said before letting out a massive yawn of her own. "I believe it's time that we headed home."
As the kids, the pets, and Toriel made their way back home in their winter garb (Mabel now donning a decently lengthed spaghetti scarf thanks to Mr. SnuggleLots biting it down to size), Frisk slowed their pace, drifting away from the kids until the stoic faced child was side by side with their mother.
"Frisk?" said Toriel, curious as to why her child fell behind.
"I knew that today was Asriel's birthday. I knew the whole time."
"And when I found out that you stole the living room TV, I realized it was because you were planning to spend the day alone in your room with the videotape of his birthday. I... I wanted his birthday to be a day of celebration. A day where you and Dad could come together, if only for the one day. I..."
Toriel said nothing. She just picked her child up and held them close to her as she walked. Frisk buried their face in her shoulder, their tiny hands gripping onto her robe.
"I got..." whimpered the child. "...I got so mad when I found out that you were planning to spend the day away from me... from Dad... from everyone. If anything, we could've at least helped you carry the burden of all the grief the day brings you. So... So I stole the videotape in the hope that you would abandon looking for it and spend time with us instead. I should've told you, I know... but... I was scared you'd just turn me away... I'm sorry..."
"Oh, Frisk," comforted the remorseful mother. "You don't have to apologize for anything..."
"...except for stealing."
That earned her a muffled chuckle. Okay, good.
"I'm the one who needs to apologize here. I should have never secluded myself from the group, from Asgore, and especially from you. If you knew that today was his birthday, you must've been grieving a bit yourself. And there is no doubt that Asgore was coping with his own grief as well."
She felt Frisk silently nod against her.
"Did you overhear the conversation I was having with Wendy, Frisk?"
"Well," said Toriel, giving a murmur of a giggle as she ran a paw through Frisk's hair soothingly, "She told me something that I feel silly for not considering sooner. About how the anniversary of a lost loved one should be filled with laughter, not just grief. I promise you, this is the last night where I suffer in a room by myself on my dear Asriel's birthday."
"I swear it, my child."
Frisk pulled back to look their mom in the eyes and smile. "Thanks, Mom."
"You're welcome, my dear sweet Frisk," cooed Toriel, brushing her snout against Frisk's nose endearingly. "Would you like me to set you down?"
"Please," said Frisk. "I just remembered something I want to tell Mabel."
"Of course, sweetie," said Toriel, setting Frisk back down on the snowy ground. "I suppose we can consider this to be the end of the conversation that we both promised earlier to continue."
"Okay, Mom," said a beaming Frisk, before running up to rejoin the group and say...
"Hey Mabel, don't you owe your brother fifty dollars now or something? The owner of the bear turned out to be a witch after all."
"Huh... that's right! Alright, Mabel! Hand over the dough!"
"I don't owe you squat! I refused that deal, remember?! Frisk, you're my witness! Back me up here!"
"I plead the fifth~"
The next day was a whirlwind of activity. The Mystery Shack finally reopened, and it turned out that everyone's fear of a swarm was unwarranted, as there was no swarm. But, there was something new about the visitors that kept things interesting.
Monsters were beginning to visit the shack. Of all shapes and sizes, inhabitants of the underground were stopping buy to peruse the gift shop or experience a tour of the museum. Of notice, there was a dummy that was very brash and loud, but was very respectful when asked to shush. There was a purple spider humanoid that was creepily polite as she bought herself a few Mystery Shack Mugs™ and left a flyer on the counter for the 'First Spider Bake Sale on the Surface!' before tittering and leaving the store. There was even a humanoid cat and alligator that stopped by that Wendy just knew her ragtag of friends would get along with.
Wendy looked like she had a face lift with how much better she looked. At Mabel's curiosity, Wendy spoke about how once this shift is over, she's heading out with her family to visit the toy store and get a toy for each of the kids, and that's when she'll be able to pick out her stuffed animal to sleep with.
"But honestly, I still have no idea what kind of stuffed animal I want right now..."
That's when a peculiar critter, with the cutest face and voice that Wendy had ever seen, passed through the door, followed by 19 lookalikes.
"Hoi! I'm Temmie! Is this the Mystewy Shack?"
Wendy knew exactly what kind of stuffed animal she wanted now.
But it wasn't just monsters showing up. Candy and Grenda finally passed through now that they could, and Mabel nearly knocked Grenda over with her pounce-hug. They spent the whole time preparing sleepovers, catching up, and promising other times to meet up that weren't sleepover-related.
Old Man McGucket passed by as well! He needed a batch of normal AA batteries. When Dipper asked him what invention he needed the batteries for, he hooted and hollered, saying they weren't for him. They were for the alarm clock for his new lab assistant, simply named 'P.N.' Something about that name struck Dipper as familiar, but McGucket had left the store before the boy could ask him anything else.
Frisk had bumped into someone roughly their size. The other kid was in very suspicious clothing: A tiny trench coat, a fedora, and sunglasses. The only thing Frisk heard from the kid was a simple phrase spoken in a boyish, and ridiculously southern, voice. "If anyone asks, I was never here. Good day."
The Mystery Trio was certain the day was over when Wendy left with her family, flipping the sign from 'Got money? We're Open!' to 'Begone from this cursed place! We're Closed!' on her way out. But it wasn't over.
Toriel had been missing for most of the day, much to the Trio's confusion, the only clue given to them was that she had asked Stanley if there was any flour left over from the errands he was running when Tim attacked. Now, they were about to find out why.
"LADIES AND GENTLEMAN," rang Papyrus's voice. "THE EX-QUEEN OF THE UNDERGROUND HAS AN ANNOUNCEMENT TO MAKE! THE GREAT PAPYRUS ORDERS YOU TO PLEASE HALT WHATEVER IT IS YOU'RE DOING AND PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT SHE HAS TO SAY! ALSO IF SOMEONE COULD TELL WHY MY SCARF GOT SO MUCH SHORTER OVERNIGHT, THAT WOULD BE FANTASTIC-"
"As I told you, I will explain everything to you soon," a giggling Toriel promised the uptight skeleton, waiting until everyone had congregated in the living room and kitchen before continuing. "My friends, I owe you all an apology."
The whole crew went quiet as Toriel went on.
"Some of you know- and for those that don't, I apologize for holding this secret from you- that yesterday was the birthday of our departed prince of the underground, Asriel Dreemurr."
Gasps were heard all around.
"I spoke nothing of this occasion previously because I didn't want anybody to know. I wanted to grieve alone. I wasn't even willing to share the grief with my ex-husband, Asriel's father, Asgore. My time of grieving for all these years had made me grow distant and selfish."
She spared a glance to Asgore before closing her eyes, sighing, and proceeding.
"Yesterday, a chance encounter with Wendy's family opened my eyes to something. If I'm going to remember Asriel's passing for every year when his birthday comes around, I'm doing my poor child a horrible disservice by not celebrating. By not smiling. By not laughing. By not spending it with those who were close to him and the friends of those close to him.
She looked to everyone. The misty eyed Stan twins. The Papyrus who was trying his best not to shriek like a dog whistle. The Sans who looked lively for once. The Undyne and Alphys who were looking pumped as all heck. The joyous Mettaton. The smiling Napstablook. The Asgore grinning from ear to ear. And the Mystery Trio, who were slowly realizing what she was about to say next.
"So who wants to help me bake a cake?!"
As pandemonium continued to ensue in the kitchen, Toriel found a moment to pull Asgore aside. They both were now sitting quietly on the couch of the back porch.
"Everything alright?" asked Asgore.
"In the grand scheme of things, absolutely not," answered Toriel with brutal honesty. "Our child is still dead. And with him, 6 other children fell. By your cursed trident."
Asgore could only look down, well acquainted with the crushing shame that coursed through him.
"But... today is a tribute to Asriel's birthday. And you were... are... his father."
Toriel finally looked the ex-King in the eyes. "I may never forgive you for what you did after we lost Asriel. However... you were the best father a boy like him could've ever hoped for. And you continue to be that father for our little Frisk. For that... I cannot thank you enough."
"...that's all the thanks I could ever ask of you, Toriel." said Asgore with a sad smile. "I appreciate you telling me."
Despite herself, Toriel gave a small smile. "Come inside. Cake is almost ready, and I'm not going to sit and listen to your whining if you aren't quick enough to nab a piece."
"Ha ha ha, of course," beamed Asgore.
" HAPPY BIRTHDAY TOOOOOOOOOOOOOO YOOOOOOOOOOOUUUUUUUUUUUU! "
The band of misfits finished the terribly sung rendition of the ancient tune. And yet, it was music to Toriel's ears.
She looked up to the ceiling, wiping her eyes and smiling.
"Make a wish, little one~"
"Mabel, Frisk, you guys go on ahead. I'll be right behind you as soon as I'm done with something!"
"Understood. See you in the morning, Dipper."
Dipper was just on his way to a long needed nightly rest, when he remembered a very important question he wanted to ask Toriel. This was why he approached her as she was getting ready to settle into her bed with a good book.
"In all the excitement from last night and today, I forgot that there was something I wanted to ask."
"Ha ha ha, and what would that be?"
"Yesterday night... I was watching the tape after you left, and... I couldn't help but notice that there was another child in the background."
"Yeah! They were looking away from the camera a lot but I think they looked like a human... Who were they?"
Toriel gave a bemused smile. Her face was one of pure honesty, and when she answered, her words came straight from the heart. And that's why what she said next did not sit right with Dipper at all.
"Dipper, sweetheart, I'm afraid I don't understand. Asriel was the only child we had in our family. I don't remember raising anyone alongside him. Who is this this other child that you claim to see?"
A day spent remembering the passing of a loved one is better went it's filled with laughter and good company. Solitude and grief is necessary, but extended doses of it can be harmful.
"Tadaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!" cheered the Hand Witch. "I present to you, my dearest Mr. SnuggleLots, with the first round of your new meals!"
The Teddy bear was currently seated at the table, the latter donned with a table cloth and three covered platters.
The first platter unveiled a perfectly crocheted fish, with light-blue scales made of yarn and beads for eyes.
The second platter revealed a giant spool of yellow and brown yarn, representing a beehive.
The third platter showcased a plethora of colorful beads, which symbolized different berries and bugs.
"So which one will it beeeeeeeeee?" dramatized the Hand Witch excitedly. "Take your pick! It's all up to you!"
Mr. SnuggleLots took a very decent amount of time examining all three tasty fabric-treats...
Before eating the tablecloth.
"Ah, I see," said the witch, dumbstruck. "You are... quite the picky eater."
Mr. SnuggleLots only smiled at her, his cheeks puffed up from the tablecloth currently in his mouth.
.- / - - .- ... - / - - / - ... . / ..-. .- - .. .-.. -.- -. / - - / - ... . / .-. .-. .. -. -.-. . -..- / - - ..- .-. -. . -.. / -... -.- / .- .-.. .-.. -. .-.-.. .- -. -.. / - -. . / - - / - ... . / -.-. ... .. .-.. -.. / - ... .- - / -. - / - -. . / -.-. .- -. / .-. . -.-. .- .-.. .-.. -.