GF - Timestuck AU: The Power of Mabel ch.6
While fighting over a time machine so one twin can win a pig or the other can win the heart of a girl, Mabel is left stranded in a snowy forest with no time machine and no brother. Oops.
The air was still quite nippy and crisp, but the afternoon sun sparkled on the white snow and made the atmosphere pleasant to stand in if the Main Sequence Star was shining directly on a living organism, like it was on Stan from where he stood on the porch. He sighed tiredly as he dug into his hoodie’s pocket for a fresh cigar and lit it with his Zippo-style lighter. He knew he probably shouldn’t smoke with a kid in the house, but after the few days he’s had, he needed and had well earned a smoke-break.
The door opened and Stan hid his cigar by his side, his right arm glued to his hip to hide the newcomer on his left, but when he saw it was an adult, he relaxed and took another puff. “M’trying to quit.” He mumbled.
Ford snickered. “Yeah, it looks like you’re trying really hard.”
“Don’t be shitty.” Stan said casually.
“Mind if I lend one? I can replenish you in a few minutes.”
Stan stared at his goody two-shoes of a twin and handed him a cigar and the lighter. “You smoke?”
“Not often. For a celebration or after a long day.” Ford answered as he lit his borrowed cigar. “Maybe twice a month. Thrice?”
Ford looked down at the lighter in his hand, and he was surprised when he recognized it. He can clearly remember seeing the tiny silver box in a store and thinking Stanley would like it as a Only One More Year of High-School present. “I gave this to you.”
Stan smiled as he took it back and pocketed it. “Yeah, it’s a good lighter. Only needed to change the flint a few times.”
“Hey guys!” A small voice called from inside the house. “Do you like vanilla or chocolate?”
The twins looked at each other, smiled, and called back. “Both. Both is good!”
“Both it is!”
Stan chuckled and shook his head. “Knucklehead… I knew she had to be family just by looking at her!” He bragged proudly.
“I suppose I was too distracted by the fact that a cold girl was at my doorstep to recognize the family resemblance.” Ford reasoned, shrugging. “I wanted to make sure I did the right thing. I didn’t exactly feel like getting arrested for kidnapping.”
Stan barked a laugh. “Yeah, you got a good point.” The conman yawned and stretched his arms over his head. “Guess I’ll head out tomorrow.” He mentioned offhandedly.
Ford stared at him, a little saddened and disheartened by this fact that was news to him. “You’re leaving?”
“I mean, yeah?” Stan equally stared at his brother, confused and not daring to be hopeful, but still. “What?”
“I just…” Ford hesitated and busied his mouth by taking a hit of his cigar. With everything that has been said and how well he and Stan have been communicating, he really didn’t feel like ruining it now. He relaxed his shoulders and said with his eyes on the snowy woods. “I was really hoping you would stay.”
Stan looked dumbfounded, like a child discovering candy for the first time, but he looked away and down at the porch floor. “Oh.”
“I’ll of course be taking care of Mabel until Dipper comes back in time for her…”
“He might not.”
“We got over our grudges. They can do the same.” Ford said firmly. “Still, you have a point. Dipper might not be able to come back. Regardless, whether it’s for a short time, a long time, or for the rest of my life, I will take care of her. I might not be the best for her, I can acknowledge that…”
“C’mon, Sixer, don’t be like that.” Stan scolded lightly, giving a sympathetic look to the nerd. “What else can you do, y’know? There’s no way in hell you’re gonna give her up, I’ll kidnap her and run away to Canada before I let you…”
Ford laughed and waved a hand as he smiled. “No no, I promise I won’t.”
“The point is, she loves you. Clearly. And it takes two, and I’ll be busy with my research, especially once the snow melts and the anomalies become more active in the spring and summer, but…” Ford bit his lip. This was a bad idea. If he makes it seem that the only reason why Stan needs to be here is because of Mabel, if or when she’s gone, then Stan will have no reason to stay. And there were many reasons why Ford wanted Stan to stay.
Despite how much of a social-cripple Ford was, he knew that Stan was homeless. His frequent traveling and how full his car was right now was enough proof of that. And Ford hated that for his brother.
But there was another, bigger reason why Ford wanted Stan to stay. So he better just say it.
“Do you know why I went to Backupsmore?” Ford asked.
Stan’s facial expression darkened as he looked away and he shrugged. “Cuz I fucked up your project?”
“No,” Ford answered plainly. “I may not have been accepted into West Coast Tech, but there were so many other colleges that wanted me. I could apply to Yale or Harvard or any college from New York to California and instantly be accepted.
“But I didn’t.” The author added grimly. “Stanley, when you left… When you were gone, I was a mess. So many days I just lied in bed without meals or sleep. Ma was hysterical. I failed most of my exams and only barely scraped a C in the ones I didn’t fail. My GPA dropped significantly and I even lost my Honor Roll. Thankfully my past grades were enough to let me graduate with a 3.2, but my clean record was stained and a lot of prestigious colleges didn’t want me.
“All I wanted at that point was to get as far away from Glass Shard as possible. Luckily there was a small college outside of San Francisco that practically accepted everyone and had a wide range of studies to offer, so I applied and was accepted by graduation day.”
“Good for you.” Stan grunted.
“No! The point is, I…” Ford groaned, feeling like he was failing, but he had to try. “I understand if you don’t want to stay. I understand you have your own life and things you want to do, and I can live without you again if I have to, but… I really, really don’t want to. Yes, I know that part of growing up is going in different directions and being independent and all the other bells and whistles, but it doesn’t have to be. So, if you can tolerate living under the same roof as me again, and if you’re okay with it, I want to offer you a job.”
Stan raised an eyebrow at the six-fingered man. “What kinda job?”
“The committee gives me monthly boosts so I can continue my research. As long as I prove to them once a year that progress is being made, I have a good income coming in. It is a big job, exploring the large woods, climbing mountains and waterfalls, combing the lake, mapping the Enchanted Forest, and hunting down monsters and anomalies to learn more about them. I’ve always managed to make it out of trouble alright, but… I need a partner, and I want to keep it in the family.” Ford smiled at the last sentence.
“What are you saying?” Stan sneered, not daring to believe, not daring to hope, but that stupid smile Ford had…
“I’m saying I want you to do this with me, Stanley.” Ford said matter-of-factly. “I can share the grant with you after bills are paid and groceries are purchased. We can renovate the small room on the ground floor to be Mabel’s bedroom and you can have the entire attic as your own space.
“I know it’s not sailing around the world, but… Please. Will you give me another chance?” Ford pleaded with a soft smile.
Stan grinned and shook his head. “Shit, Sixer, you’re a better salesman than me.” He looked him in the eyes. “Okay. Yes. I’ll stay.”
Ford’s cheeks puffed with happiness as he smiled, his lips pressed together, and he looked ahead, happily daydreaming his future. Being surrounded by weirdness for a living was amazing by itself; doing it with his twin and raising their niece together on top of it was better than anything he could have imagined.
Stan was watching him and laughed good-naturedly, then held out a hand to him. Ford blinked at it like a startled owl, but then returned the smile and sealed the deal with a high-six.
Both brothers stood contently outside with their cigars for a minute, but then heard a bowl clatter on the floor. Mabel must be making a mess in the kitchen, which was fine.
What wasn’t fine was the sound that followed of a body falling on the floor.
Ford raised an eyebrow and called calmly, “Mabel, are you alright?”
They both expected a quick “yeah, sorry, I’m okay,” and maybe an explanation to follow, like she tripped getting down from a chair or something. But there was no reply.
“Mabel, sweetie?” Stan hollered, trying not to sound mad or scared or anything but cool-under-pressure, but this voice trembled with fear.
Still no answer.
Ford and Stan quickly discarded their cigars and bolted inside. Racing like children for cookies, they soon stood at the doorway of the kitchen and were horrified to find Mabel sprawled on the floor on her front, her hair scattered over her face to hide her expression, and her legs and bottom-half of her body slowly fading.
Literally. Fading. Mabel was fading away. She was disappearing like a stain on cloth.
“MABEL!” The men screamed and were immediately on their knees beside her. Ford scooped her up into his arms and felt her pulse and looked over her.
“What happened to her?!” Stan cried out. “Pumpkin, what’s wrong?!”
Ford’s eyes widened in panic as a horrifying realization slapped him in the face. “Mabel… You changed history.”
The tired girl nodded with her eyes closed. “If… If you guys had a fight… and never made up… in my timeline, then I guess…” Mabel paused to yawn tiredly. It didn’t hurt, but she was really sleepy now.“I guess that timeline doesn’t exist anymore, huh? I guess I don’t exist anymore.”
“WHAT?!” Stan yelled and took Mabel’s hand and squeezed it. “We have to do something! You’re family! You’re… We can’t just let you d- not exist!”
Ford held Mabel tighter and closer to his warm chest, making her smile. She swore she could hear his heartbeat. It was too fast. She would have to fix that. Poor Ford was also shaking like a leaf. Mabel could fix that, too.
“I’ll exist.” She smiled up at her uncles. “In a few years.”
Ford bit his lip. He shouldn’t ask this, it was probably dangerous to learn about the future, but the worst was already happening. What else could possibly happen that was worse than losing his girl? Ford couldn’t help but ask, “When?”
“August 31st, 1999.” Mabel’s eyes dazzled. “You’ll meet Dipper, too.” She shifted her eyes to only Stan and whispered, “Did you know you were there? You came to see us when we were born?”
Stan’s eyes watered as he smiled at the new piece of information. “I did?”
“You did. I came out first. You were so proud when I kicked the doctor in the jaw.”
Stan made a watery chuckle and wiped at his eye. “That’s my girl.”
“Dipper came next. He was blue. Umbilical cord wrapped around his neck.”
“Was he okay?” Stan asked.
“He was fine. You knew he would be. You never doubted.”
“I never will, pumpkin. I swear.”
The fading is now much worse. It was spreading over Mabel like a virus. Her legs were hardly visible to the naked eye, and even her shoulders were losing color. This Mabel is almost completely gone.
Ford, pressed for time, bit his lip as tears flooded his eyes and he cupped Mabel’s cheek and cradled her. “I… I can’t let you go! We just started to become a real family! Wh-What am I going to do without you?!”
Mabel smiled and used the free hand not holding Stan’s trembling hand to caress Ford’s jaw and lower cheek, then cupping his face so her fingertips grazed his sideburn. “It’s okay, really. I’ll see you again, and next time it’ll be when both of you come to see us. Totally worth it.”
Ford held his breath, and shut his eyes, a tear escaping from each eye and sitting comfortably in the corners of his windows to his soul. Stan hiccuped a laugh and rubbed her hand between both of his. Both of them were doing everything in their power not to cry.
To that, Mabel laughed and said, “Boys are stupid. It’s okay to cry.”
The cursed power of Mabel. Making people be honest and breaking dams.
Ford curled into his niece, his face sloe to her heart, and cried gently. He wasn’t ready, but he didn’t think he could ever be ready for this.
Stan laughed with tears streaming down his face and he kissed Mabel’s tiny fingers trapped in his hold, then held their hands close to his bowed forehead and just focused on feeling her pulse between his palms.
It only lasted another minute.
Ford was mortified when his chest sank and his arms were empty. He threw himself back and stared at his lap and felt sick to his stomach to find his little girl missing.
Stan’s hands also clasped together and he squeezed tightly, his fists against his trembling lips as he cried.
The genius who always seemed to know what to do didn’t have a damn clue what to do with himself. He growled in his throat, squeezing his eyes shut and gritting his teeth, then let out a painful howl and moan that most definitely disturbed birds and made a deer or two gallop farther away.
Ford removed his glasses and held his knees, sobbing his heart out. Stan blinked his tears off his eyes, resulting in them rolling down his face, as he watched his brother completely shatter to pieces. He had seen him upset before, sure; all those years of bullying, of Pa’s outbursts and sometimes physical punishments, hopelessness that he was actually worth something. You don’t spend seventeen years with a person and not see them break every so often, granted the blessing to help them put themselves back together again.
But Ford didn’t need Stan to swoop in and fix it. There were no bullies to punch or parents to stand against or jokes to crack that would make this okay. All Stan could do was throw his arms around him and bury his face into Ford’s shoulder and cry, too.
So that’s what they did on the kitchen floor for over an hour.
Dipper blinked to try to see, but all he saw around him was inky blackness for miles. His heart raced as he looked around for his sister. “Mabel? Mabel! Mabel, answer me!”
The boy scrambled and collapsed out of a portable potty at the fair. He blinked his eyes rapidly to adjust to the sunlight, scurrying off his hands and knees, clutching the warm time-machine in his hands. Wendy was still admiring her price and Robbie was still sulking, and Waddles was still trying to get away from Pacifica.
That didn’t matter! Mabel was stranded back in time! But how far back?! When was Mabel?! Dipper started jamming the button, but the machine wasn’t working, and it was soon swiped from him by a black-gloved hand.
“Mason Pines,” A gruff voice commanded above him and Dipper looked up to find two new guys with that Blendin guy. The two other guys were muscular and guarded with high-tech armor.
“You are under arrest for violating the Time-Traveler's Code of Conduct and for jeopardizing the timestream.” The man labeled as Dundgren stated as serious as death.
“Do you have any idea how many rules you just broke?!” Blendin squawked. “I’m asking. I wasn’t there with you. It was probably a lot, right?”
“Wait, wait please!” Dipper begged as the two members of the Time Paradox Avoidance Enforcement Squadrent each grabbed the boy by an arm. “My sister! She’s still back there! We have to get her!”
“You have the right to remain silent.” The man labeled as Lolph informed robotically. “Anything you say can and already has been used in the Court of Time-Law.”
“Let me go, Mabel needs-...” And Dipper and the three time-travelers were blasted forward in time.
In the endless space of time, Dipper was levitated off the ground by a giant baby using the power of his forehead-hourglass to trap him in a baby-blue field. Members of the the Time Paradox Avoidance Enforcement Squadrent circled the two, and Blendin stood with his arms crossed over his chest and smiling smugly as the kid who caused so much trouble was getting what he deserved.
“You and your sister have broken the eternal laws of space-time.”
“I’m sorry!” Dipper cried out, trying to fight the energy circling him, but it was futile. “I’m sorry! Do what you want to me, just help my sister!”
“Your sister does not require help, nor do you require punishment.” Time Baby informed as he held his feet. “You are lucky the events that occurred do not change anything drastically. However, your timeline has shifted and therefore this reality’s version of you and your sister are no longer viable and will cease to exist.”
“What?!” Dipper squeaked and looked down at his body to find his legs disappearing. “No no NO! What’s happening to me?!”
“You and your twin sister will be born again on August 31st, 1999, but too many things are different in your timeline for this version of you to continue to exist.”
“W-W-What did I do wrong?! What did I change?!” Dipper cried out as his whole body was drained of color. “What changed in our timeline?!”
“Your uncles have amended their bond thirty-four years ahead of schedule. As unfortunate as this is, your sister miraculously delayed the plans of Bill Cipher by an entire millennia.”
“What uncles?!” Dipper asked, panicked as the fading reached his neck. “Who’s Bill Cipher?!”
“If you wanted the answers you sought out, you should have been patient.” Time Baby scolded. “We all get the answers we seek… in time.”
“P-P-Please!” Dipper begged as he appeared as a ghost. “Please! What did Mabel do?!”
Time Baby cruelly stayed silent, testing Dipper’s strengths, but he was dying, anyways. Might as well.
“She met the Author of the Journals. Your missing uncle.”
Dipper’s eyes widened. “Mabel…” He rasped, and then he ceased to exist.