"Uuugggh..." Another low moan filled the drafty attic bedroom, followed by the chatter of teeth. Dipper curled up tightly in a little ball beneath his sheets in a desperate attempt to stave off the chills. Whatever twenty-four-hour bug it was that he had caught, it was showing absolutely no mercy on his system. As his scrawny body coursed with violent shivers, he prayed fervently for sleep to come and give him a much-craved respite.
He wasn't the only one snarled fast in misery's clutches. Across the room, Mabel winced as her brother let out yet another sickly groan. Sleep was proving just as elusive for her, if not more so as she listened to her twin suffer. The feeling of helplessness weighed uncomfortably on her like a wet blanket, and she despised every moment of it.
The girl fiddled with her stuffed tiger as she pondered furiously. Suddenly, it became almost so overwhelmingly obvious, she wondered why she hadn't thought of it already. In a flash a grin had bounced its way across her face. Without a moment's delay she kicked off her covers, hopped onto the floor and plodded across the room, though not without making a quick stop along the way.
"Pssst! Dipper!" She approached her brother's bedside and softly jabbed a finger into his back.
"Huh? Oh...don't worry...I-I'm okay." He immediately lied, even as the fierce inner chills sent him trembling again. Being sick was dreadful enough, but knowing that he was upsetting his sister certainly didn't make things any easier. He curled up tighter and hoped she'd go back to bed.
"Dipper! Dipper! Pssst!" She whispered again, as the soft pokes steadily rained down.
"I'm fine, just...j-just not feelin' so great." Dipper raised a hand and tried to clumsily bat her away. However, his twin sister was a cheery rock who would not be moved.
"Pssst! Dipper! Dipper!" She stubbornly prodded him over and over. "Pssst! Dipper! Hey, Dipper! Dipper! Hey, Dipper!"
"What?" He struggled upright and met her gaze with bleary eyes. Now that she had his attention, the girl was nothing but smiles as she went to work.
"Arms up." She ordered. "Up!"
Confused, her ill brother sluggishly did a commanded. "Why? What's-ommph!"
Mabel's hands became twins blurs as she hurled something down over him, He instinctively struggled, but in his condition he was absolutely no match for his aggressively helpful sister. In a few moments he found himself bundled in the warm confines of one of her handmade sweaters. Her smile immediately grew by at least an inch with delight. "See? No more chillies, right?"
Dipper took stock of himself. On one hand, he did feel a bit silly wearing a bright blue garment with an image of a cartoonish frog lounging on a beach towel. Then again, it was already helping to keep the accursed chills at bay. Dipper managed a feeble smile. "Hey, thanks-"
"Okay, now move over!" She clapped her hands and ordered sharply. He was sorely mistaken if he thought that she was through here. Again though, he had trouble catching on and gazed back expressionlessly until she repeated the command. "Scootch! Scootch! Scootch over!"
Still puzzled, Dipper nevertheless did as bossily bid, and Mabel plopped herself down. Once properly settled, she took a deep breath before she started to flex her creative muscles. "Okay...so once upon a time there was a-"
"Wait...are you telling me a story?" He asked. Mabel waited until he finished talking, and then launched right back in without a moment more of delay.
"Once upon a time, there was a beautiful-" She didn't get much further this time before Dipper groaned disapprovingly. Considering that he currently felt like death warmed up, he couldn't see how being treated like a little kid was going to help. In spite of his obvious resistance, his sister made another enthusiastic go at it. "So once upon a time, there was a beautiful girl who went-"
"Once upon a time there-"
"Once upon a time there was a-"
"Once upon-" she was absolutely relentless.
"Pleeeeease, stop." Dipper practically pled as he flopped onto his back. "Seriously, what are you doing?"
"Mabel's prescribing you a big dose of Feeling-All-Better!" She slapped her hands against the bed and giggled with excitement. "Remember? Just like a certain someone used to do when I got sick? A certain someone who used to come up with awesome stories off the top of his head because his sister was feeling gross and disgusting? A certain someone whose name starts with 'D' and ends in '-ipper?' Hmmm?"
She giggled as she whirled her finger in the air, and brought it for a landing square on his nose. "Boop!"
Dipper was in little mood to trek back down memory lane. "Yeah...I did that until we were like, six."
"And it worked!" She grinned slyly. "It always helped, and that's because stories are the best medicine!"
"Until we were just six, maybe seven-" Dipper stressed fruitlessly.
"The best medicine!" She was all too happy to repeat herself. "You were so good at it, remember? It was the best medicine!"
"It's the best medicine, and you just forgot that it was!"
"We are so not doing this-"
"Ding ding!" She enthusiastically rang an invisible bell. "Last call! All aboard the Reminder Express!"
"I'm not a little kid anymore." He buried his face in his pillow with a chagrined huff.
The feeble objections were as effective as a thimbleful of water against a wildfire. Mabel had made up her mind, and there was absolutely no force on earth capable of stopping her. "Story time commencing in three, two...once upon a time, there was a beautiful girl, with long gorgeous hair as...as red as ripe strawberries. Yeah, that's it, now we're cooking!"
"Oh c'mon." His pale cheeks lit up with a faint trace of crimson. "You're not going to make this about-"
"Princess Wendy was ruler of the magical Forest Kingdom." Mabel continued on, effectively answering his question. "She was well loved by her loyal subjects for being the absolute coolest of all in the northwest lands."
So far, her brother was less than pleased with her choice of character, if his blush was any indicator. She of course noticed that her audience of one was anything but into it. That was fine with her. After all, she hadn't even gotten to any of the good parts yet. "One day though, the dark Pimplebeast left his mountain lair-"
"Pimplebeast?" Dipper tried to keep up the disinterested facade, but couldn't help but pry, "Is that who I think you're talking about?"
The young girl tittered and nodded as she went to work reeling him in. "Now the Pimplebeast was one of the ugliest monsters, with a big pink nose, tight, tight dragon-skin jeans, and the greasiest black hair in all the land. But he was tricky too, and he used his evil magic guitar to hypnotize and kidnap the awesome princess. The people of the land were distraught; what were they going to do without their awesome ruler to guide them? However, just when it felt like all hope was lost, out of the distance rode..."
"Oh, great." Dipper shook his head, but nonetheless rolled over towards her. He had to admit, he was curious to see where was going to go with this.
"...The great and legendary adventurer, Sir Dippingsauce of the House of Pines! Many a foe had taken one look at his skinny noodly arms or heard his scratchy voice and laughed, only to find out too late what absolute fools they had been!" She took on a more dramatic tone as she delved deeper into the absurd tale. "With his big brain and mighty sword, he was a hero among heroes, and of course he was just the one to save the princess, who should have never been with the hideous Pimplebeast ever in the very first place."
"All right." Dipper found himself fast warming up to the specifically tailored taler and let out a soft laugh. "So then what?"
Eagerly she went on, becoming increasingly wrapped up in her yarn with its myriad of ridiculous details, constant plot twists and appropriate sound effects. Soon, the girl had lost total track of time as she delved into the furtherest recesses of her own colorful imagination.
"...And then he fired his eye-lasers like this! ZZZZZAP! But Sir Dippingsauce dodged every single blast with ease, and then delivered a mighty punch! POW!" The girl smacked a clenched fist into the palm of her hand. "Teeth went flying everywhere as he socked that stupid monster right in his big ugly jerk face, and then..."
Mabel finally glanced down to her twin for what was the first time in the last several minutes. Dipper's eyes had tumbled shut, and his chest now rhythmically raised and fell as he slumbered. To top the sight off, the corners of his mouth were curled into an unmistakable grin. The preteen sighed in relief and hopped onto the floor. Before retreating back to her own bed, she took a few moments to tuck him in and bring her tale to a rushed end.
"And once the monster was defeated, the brave hero and the princess lived happily ever after together. Because that's the way it should be." She added matter-of-factly, then added with a satisfied chuckle, "Sweet dreams, bro..."
"...Lousy...dumb...aaauuuggghh, stoppit! Stoppit! Stop being stupid, hands!"
The little brunette wrestled furiously with the tangle of yarn and needles. So much for trying to take her mind off things with a bit of knitting. Quaking fingers were doing an excellent job of ensuring that she wasn't making progress anytime soon. Also, thanks to a bout of foggy-headedness Mabel couldn't even remember what she was trying to make, and the mangled mess before her wasn't giving any clues. With a huff, she hurled the craftwork atrocity to the floor and pulled up her sheets.
It was unpleasant enough that she had caught whatever bug had been ravaging her twin only a few days earlier. Now that she couldn't even get some arts and crafts of any sort done, her normally sunny mood was starting to seriously sour. With an over-exaggerated sigh she flopped back into bed.
"Sick...sick...sick of bein' siiiick..." She murmured to herself in tuneless singsong before a gentle knock at the door interrupted her.
"Mabel?" A familiar face peered pried in. Mabel rolled over and wiped a few sweat-dampened locks from her face.
"Huh? Oh. H-hey."
"Hey." Dipper greeted back as he entered. "Feeling any better?"
"Thhbbt!" She flopped her arms limply at her sides blew a wet raspberry. "Feeling about as good as poop right now."
"Sorry." He grimaced as he hovered by her bedside.
Mabel pointed weakly at the half-eaten bowl of soup sitting on the table. "So you're here to take care of this stuff?"
"Well...actually..." Her brother scratched the back of his neck and idled awkwardly for a bit. She just gazed up confusedly until he coughed and flashed a sheepish smile. "Do you think that you could...move over? Just a little bit?"
Addled by illness, it took her a few moments to figure out what was going. However, once realization sunk in, the ends of her mouth automatically popped up into an enormous toothy grin, and she gladly made some space. Dipper clambered up and tucked his legs beneath him as he began to wrack his brain for a plot. He hoped it hadn't been too long since he had last done this.
Mabel squirmed, barely able to hold onto so much as a shred of patience. As he continued pondering, he plucked her stuffed tiger from the end of the bed, and just as he passed it into her hands the beginings of a tale stirred to life in his mind. He smiled nervously, took a deep breath and began a specially tailored story. "All right, so...once upon a time, in the land of Pinesylvania, all was peaceful and well...until one day, when someone stole the magic Knitting Needles of Power..."
As she took in every single word with utter relish, his sister giggled and murmured knowingly under her breath. "Best. Medicine. Ever."