Story Eighteen:

Sequins

a/n: Ugh. This hiatus is killing me. I still love the show, but I'm not as inspired to write fanfiction. Hopefully, this rather short story will inspire me again. This is Reverse!Pines AU and will probably focus more on the Pines and will probably be really short. I just need to get back in the habit of writing for this. Hopefully, I'll be getting more chapters of this and the first chapter of another story out soon. Okay? Enjoy!

The theater is dimmed and cool, even though oppressive June heat surrounds the tent and the night is tangible with humidity. Your vision struggles to adjust to the dramatic change in light; you rely solely on touch to unearth a vacant seat in the teeming rows of anticipant spectators. Finally, popcorn bag clutched in one hand, you settle into the very end of a velvet-cushioned row. Even though the armrest is practically terminating all blood flow below your hip and the man next to you exudes the pungent scent of a lifetime free of deodorant, you could not be more enthusiastic. The show is seconds away from starting.

Everyone in the room, from the locals to the first-time tourists like you, holds their breath and crosses their fingers. Even though you have no knowledge of what you are about to witness, you close your eyes and smile widely. Shivers skitter down your spine; inhalations are shallow, almost a wheeze. The silence is reaching its crescendo, deafening, shrieking in your ears-

Then the piano music begins. You search the areas bordering the stage, but you cannot discern the source. It doesn't matter, though: you are pacified, almost anesthetized, by the mellifluous voice of the instrument. Sweet notes plink delicately, occasionally swelling into measures of eighth-notes that relieves your mind of all of its concerns. You no longer recall debt or death or destruction. The music becomes you.

The vermillion curtains are abruptly drawn apart, revealing a brilliant flash of cyan luminosity that sears your retinas and shatters the piano spell. You feel strange, almost as if you are sitting in the center of a lucid dream, but this only delights you further. Violins and possibly a xylophone join the piano, creating a single voice joyously serenading the scene. A pair of spotlights dance onstage, refracting off every mote of dust, every sequin, every fragment of diamond. Smoke, artificially colored and vaguely fragrant of bonfires, bursts from unseen spigots in the floorboards. Suddenly, everything falls silent and the circles of radiance focus on your hosts for the evening.

They are twins, twins bestowed with unfathomable gifts, delivered from a magnificent heaven you can only dream of ever entering. The girl is blindingly beautiful, with rivulets of chocolate curls and an immaculate complexion and jewel eyes framed by silky lashes. A headband is nestled in her bangs, bearing a large gem. Her brother is quite an eyeful as well: his visage is handsomely set, from his trimmed eyebrows to his strong jaw line, and his dark hair is slicked back to reveal a constellation-shaped birthmark. A bolo tie is knotted around his neck, an identical gem glinting in the center. They are Dipper and Mabel Gleeful, and they are the most powerful twelve-year-olds to ever live.

Mabel grins dazzlingly at her audience, evoking rabid cheers from the male participants. Of course, her sequined leotard and tights are doing her quite the favor. She lifts her thin arms above her head, palms cupped as if accepting another gift from God. The strings voice the mounting tension. While she sways, still enraptured, Dipper scans the audience and you can't help but blush modestly when his piercing corneas catch your own. "There is someone here tonight," he announces, hand clutching the tie, "that has recently lost a loved one. A sister."

You gawp mindlessly at the young mediums, stiff as your week-dead sister. The still steaming sack of popcorn falls from your hand and scatters across the floor. Dipper smiles down at you, leaving you far too spellbound to perceive the smirk twisting Mabel's plump lips as she closes her fists around nothing. "I-I have!" you scream once your voice returns, waving like a mad man despite the fact the boy has his gaze trained on you. "I lost my sister last week!"

"Her name was April!" Mabel adds, the jewel nestled in her tresses twinkling the shade of cyan recurrent in every aspect of their performance. The audience is whooping, hollering, wallowing in the wonder of telepathy (it isn't called the Tent of Telepathy for nothing). "Her name was April, wasn't it?"

"It was April!" You are tearing up, overwhelmed by their ability. The man at your side places a comforting hand on your forearm, steadying you as you rise to your feet. "It was April, it was April! You figured it out!"

"It's our gift," Mabel answers with a wink, and you have to sink back to the bench, face cradled in your salt-crusted fingers. A sob shudders up your chest, almost choking you when it ascends into your unsuspecting throat. But the piano music begins again, diverting your attention from the agonizing memory of April. The melody swings a bit more this time, inspiring the frequenters to climb out of their seats and clap in harmony. The twins link their arms lovingly, absolutely glowing. Tears stream down your cheeks, but you still stand, determined to become a part of this.

"Oh, we can see what others can't see!" Mabel's voice, smooth and almost seductive, resonates across the tent. You wave your arms sporadically, a fanatic yell scraping the walls of your mouth. This is madness and insanity, but it's so beautiful. "It ain't some sideshow trick, it's innate ability!"

"Where others are blind, we are future-ly inclined!" Dipper, not quite as competent a singer as his sister, still manages to astonish you with his showmanship. He moves to the music, expression earnest and joyous. "And you would make more of a fuss if you were amazing ol' us!"

They address the audience, pointing to random members and declaring their thoughts in tune to their musical number. Eventually, you just have to squeeze your eyes shut, because it's all too overwhelming: the light display, the song, the smoke. There is a tugging in your chest and it keeps you on your feet the entire show. You never want to leave.

::::::

Eventually though, the presentation has to end. After a blinding finale, the viewers file out, raving and beaming like they have just been given religion. Instead of following the uptight redhead out of the tent, you slip behind the drapes acting as doors leading to backstage. You simply must meet these twins.

The dressing area is enormous and littered with enough clothes to open up a modest boutique. Once again, cyan is a definitive theme. Mabel stands at the body-length mirror, brushing out her waist-length locks and humming their song under her breath. Dipper is paging through something on the table, his jacket crumpled at his feet. Before you can brashly interrupt the silence with a squeal of content, he turns to his twin, grinning like the cat who ate the canary. "Remember that tourist?"

Mabel giggles shrilly, replacing her jewel-encrusted headband and studying her reflection intently. "'It was April!'" she mocks, mirroring your voice almost perfectly. A seed of uneasiness plants itself in your chest, but you refuse to give your position away. You have to hear more of this. "'How did you know?' She must have been from way out-of-town."

"Yeah, from Idiots-ville," Dipper condescends, and they laugh uproariously. Cheeks flaming in humiliation, you step backwards, then forwards, miming an eager fan who simply cannot live without acquainting themselves with the siblings. "What the- what are you-?"

"Oh, I'm so sorry, but I simply had to meet you!" you gush, the words tasting gritty in your mouth. You swallow and regard them with a smile more ordinarily found on mental patients. "Do you think you could autograph something for me?"

Mabel approaches you with a silver pen, her grin just as false as yours. "Oh, of course! It's so nice to meet fans!" She doesn't even ask your name; she takes the program from your hand, hastily scrawling her signature across the photograph of her brother. "There you are! I hope you enjoyed the show and will come to visit us again!"

"Thank you!" There is not a single real thing in this room. Before leaving, you pause, as if just remembering it, and turn to Dipper. "By the way, I'm so impressed that you two figured out my sister died. It's been very hard for me and I guess you could sense my grief, huh?"

Another diverting smile from Mabel. You realize that she is the disarming one: all smiles, a gorgeous face, ostentatious outfits. Her brother is darker somehow, the laborer in their plan. She lures them in and he lunges for the kill. "Oh, yes, but it goes deeper than that. We can always tell."

"That's amazing!" You can scarcely tolerate how horrible your voice sounds now. Your eyes skirt past the desk and perceive something that explains everything. Gloating internally, you turn on your heel to step out. "Oh, and thank you for picking up that clipping of my sister's obituary. I didn't even notice it falling out of my bag."

You don't glance back, but you can imagine their horrified expression and you rejoice.

::::::

You hitch the sack of groceries onto your shoulder, a shiver lancing your side as the chill emanated from the frozen lasagna seeps through the plastic. Gravity Falls is surprisingly cold after midnight, even though summer is at its peak and the days are just endless waves of heat. But you don't mind the weather: Maine was even brisker.

The cabin you're renting for the month is only a few blocks away from the supermarket, a quick walk to and back. You didn't mean to do your errands so late, but insomnia has been toying with your sleep schedule the past week and you had to escape the suffocating walls of your bedroom. Thus, groceries.

A full moon glimmers in the starless heavens like a mint coin, even brighter than the streetlamps. You can easily navigate the streets, which is good for your sleep-deprived brain. It really is strange: you had always been able to rest easily until arriving in this town. Oh, sure, aside from that strange show you attended two weeks ago, everything else had been perfectly nominal. It is a peaceful town, with picturesque scenery and kind citizens, the sort of town you have been seeking since April's death. You can breathe here.

The streetlamp you pass under flickers and dims without warning. You would have forgotten the incident if the remaining lights hadn't darkened simultaneously. You shudder and press the sack close to your chest, increasing your pace tenfold. The cabin is on the next street over. Everything will be all right.

The music begins.

You instantly recognize the tune (how can you forget, you hear it in your dreams). Someone has recorded the score to the Gleeful's performance and is playing it over a static-riddled radio. Four dark haloes shimmer in the darkness of an alleyway. Head bowed down, you attempt to pass the alley without making contact with those eyes.

A cyan corona engulfs your groceries, yanking them effortlessly out of your hands and spilling its contents across the pavement. That cursed color ignites the void playing your nightmare music, casting an eerie glow on the Gleeful twins. Mabel smiles at you, her mane meticulously styled and every rhinestone on her skirt sparkling. "April."

You run.

At least, you bound forward before an aura surrounds your body, suspending you above the concrete. A frigid swell of desperation surges through you, motivating you to struggle against the telepathic hand clutching you. You can't even move your toes, but acting out is preventing you from descending into hysterics.

"Reading minds isn't the only thing we can do, friend," Mabel titters. She gestures grandly to Dipper, who is gripping his bolo tie. The tie. Or, rather, the gem. He raises his hand, which sends you hurtling toward them; you grind to a halt just short of their feet. You fight tears and nail.

"How long have you been living in this town? A week? Two?" Dipper inquires casually, tapping his foot rhythmically against the cement. You've never been this close to him: his birthmark, a rather unsightly blemish, is a flawless image of the Big Dipper. You don't answer, partially because you're terrified and partially because you can't open your jaws further than an inch.

"You see, we don't like strangers. Not that you're strange or anything, darling, it's just a turn off of ours." She is holding something behind her back, something that opens and closes with an almost imperceptible squeal. "And it seems that you've gotten a bit too close to us. You've seen a few things you probably shouldn't have. That's all right. We all make mistakes. But lying is something we don't enjoy."

"We heard you talking to the waitress at the diner," he declares, terse where his sister is cryptic. You recall yesterday's lunch, discussing the Gleeful twins with an obese, one-eyed waitress, explaining how they discovered your sister's death. Had they been there listening? Had someone working for them been listening? You feel sick and close to the precipice of insanity. "We don't deal well with liars or strangers. Lying strangers are the worse."

"We're just gonna make sure you never lie again," Mabel simpers. Dipper continues to tap his foot maddeningly and you recognize the beat as a pulse. Lub-dub. Lub-dub. She tosses the item behind her back into the air; he grabs it with a cyan hand, levitating up to your level. A pair of scissors. Large craft scissors.

A wisp of a scream squeaks past your vocal cords, so pathetic in your own ears. The scissors swing precariously towards you, the blades opening and closing in synchronization with the boy's feet. As the two auras meet and become one, Mabel begins to sing. "Oh, we can see what others can't see…"

Your last word with a tongue is "amulet".

::::::

Dawn breaks a few short hours later. As you lay in an alleyway, slowly bleeding into April, a bus pulls up to a dilapidated tourist trap. A twelve-year-old boy with brilliant white hair stuffed into a baseball cap steps off and gazes up at the Mystery Shack. This is his home for the summer. This is his town for the summer. He'll have to adapt quickly to his new surroundings.

Maybe he'll go and see a show.

a/n: I don't even… I don't… what?