Thanks again for Luciles great art for this AU, the chapter and her help as a beta. And of course a huge Thank you to Bahrlies beta work! And last but not least a thank to all my dear readers! You are great! You can also read the fanfiction here on ff.net.
Have fun with the new Chapter ;)
Chapter 3: A Case for Lord Mystery Ham
It wasn’t his alarm clock or the sun that shone through the triangular window that ripped Dipper out of his dreams but something that tugged on his forcefully on his duvet, sending him with a sleep fogged mind and a startled bleat into the new day.
Dipper blinked his eyes, to find himself face to face with his sister. Mabel eyed him with surprise and turned her head to the side, a gesture that Waddles, sitting beside her, copied with ease.
“You’re still all deery…” She reached out to stroke her brother’s flank, as to point out her argument, sending shivers down Dippers spine. He looked down at himself, not surprised at all.
Of course he still was a monster - what else was new? Despite him knowing, he couldn’t stop the dryness in his mouth. It was hard to not tell Mabel that her hopes were for nothing.
He wouldn’t change back.
Not now. Not ever.
But he couldn’t tell her that, she wouldn’t understand, she wouldn’t accept his decision.
So he had to play along. The sigh that escaped him was just as real as the sadness in his voice.
“Seems so…” he said. It was already hard to deal with but Mabel’s next sentence made his chest tighten regardless.
“Don’t worry Dipper.“ He looked up to meet the comforting smile of his optimistic sister who patted his back to calm him down. He let her, as if the soft touch soothed both of their troubled minds while he listened to her. “I’m sure you’ll change back soon!”
´No I won’t.´ His insides were screaming to tell her, to end this dark game he was playing. But instead he was at lost for words while Mabel’s hand brushed softly down his fur. Dipper bit his lips, debating with himself, but in the end it wasn’t the truth that his meek voice formed.
“Yeah… Of course, you’re probably right.” He swallowed.
Silence stretched between them until he was able to face her again.
“Thanks Mabel.” he said.
But his sister’s attention had shifted during his search for words, she didn’t meet his gaze but instead rubbed her cheek in his fur while she made a happy exclamation under her breath.
“So soft.” she cooed.
She looked up to him, slowly lifting her head from his back. “But Dipper, it´s true! You’re super fluffy.” With that Mabel rubbed one of his with spots with her index finger, her smile growing a little sad. “I might miss seeing you look so cute when you change back. And you will, just so you know.”
But Dipper just made an annoyed face to the first part of her comment. Not that that could stop her cheerful voice from breaking the tension.
“So stop looking all mopey and get up! Stan’s waiting for you with breakfast downstairs. Not that your veggies would go cold anyway.” She muttered the last part to herself. Dipper just nodded and got himself out of bed.
“Okay, but I’m going to shower first.” This time it was Mabel´s turn to stare at him in silence, her eyes big as saucers.
“You- what?” she yelled. She ran up to him and laid her hand on his forehead. “Are you ill?”
Dipper groaned, and put her hand away while he spoke. “No it´s just… my fur is kind of itchy, that’s all.” Mabel had a hard time closing her gaping mouth, her gaze went over her brother’s rump until she managed a small nod.
“Alright, then! I’ll be downstairs, so just call if you need help getting to the tough spots with your hairdryer!” she giggled
“No!” Dipper said. But Mabel was already running down the stairs. Dipper sighed, shaking his head as he grabbed a fresh shirt and made his way to the bathroom. Even if Mabel was right, he wasn’t really looking forward to drying his fur out.
After he maneuvered his deer butt into the cramped shower and began to appreciate the warm water pouring down his body, hitting his fur until he was completely soaked. His hand reached out for the knob to shut the rush of water off. Dipper shuddered when he took a deep breath as he steppe out of the shower. The air around him was heavy and smelled like a mix between his manly shampoo, one he filched from Stan, and the scent of wet animal. All in all - disgusting.
He looked down at himself, his wet fur was already creating a puddle on the floor. Dipper took one of the towels, rubbing his hair dry before he turned to his deer half. Three wet towels later Dipper had given up, now fiddling with the hairdryer but even with the warm streams aide he was hours away to be dry again.
´That´s why I don’t like showering in this form!` The half deer sighed, holding the dryer to another spot of his fur, while a bitter taste made itself known in his mouth. ´Well, at least it´s better than licking myself.´ He shuddered but at that very moment the hairdryer decided to abandon it’s work. Dipper just groaned flicked the electric device off and on but nothing happened. His wet fur had killed it… somehow.
“Great.” he grumbled. With a deep breath his hand reached out to grab a new towel when a cold breeze raked through his wet fur, making the pre-teen shiver. But it was more than a simple quiver of his skin. Before Dipper was able to react, his whole body was shaking, fast.
His ears stood up, while every muscle of his body seemed to have a mind of it’s own. And as suddenly as it started it was over again, leaving a startled Dipper behind. Black spots danced before his eyes for a moment, reasoned away by the fast movement of his head. He blinked them away, to meet his own confused gaze in the mirror.
´What the hell was that?` he wondered.
The deertaur looked back to his furred half, his pelt fuzzy and still a little damp but his skin finally felt dry again. Dipper swallowed, his gaze moving through the small bathroom, well, he might be dry again but the same couldn’t be said for the room around him. The walls, floor, mirror, cupboards, even the ceiling, everything was sprinkled and dotted with water.
His ears flopped down in guilt and distress while his eyes again wandered to his picture in the mirror.
He just had shook himself dry.
Like a dog, or any animal would have done.
An animal. Not a human.
Dipper could feel the panic crawling into his veins, but he tried to focus himself, brushing his hand against his fur and forcing a strained smile to his lips to fight the fear of his core.
´At least that´s a useful instinct.´ he tried to reason. The boy swallowed, searching for his now damp shirt.
´Alright, Dipper, no need to go haywire about all of this. You need to get used to it… after all, that’s what you are now.` But the brave expression Dipper tried to manifest on his face broke in the very moment when he tried to slip into his shirt and his eyes cached a glimpse of his human back. He took the shirt off again, slowly turning around to get a full image of his spine in the mirror while his face slowly lost his color.
But not just on his deer half, but all over his back, stretching over his shoulders until it vanished beneath his hairline.
Dipper’s heart stopped for a second, the panic was back as he looked at the new addition which matched his deer end perfectly, merging more of his human self with the animal.
´Okay, Dipper, breathe. There must be a logical conclusion to all of this.´ he swallowed and looked back into the mirror again. ´Maybe it´s just puberty finally hitting you.` A hysterical laugh escaped his trembling lips.
“Yeah, that must be it. Just puberty.” He reached out for his shirt again, throwing it on. But the itchy feeling of his new fur beneath the more and more useless fabric couldn’t fool his calming thoughts.
Something was wrong.
“What´s your brother doing up there?” Mabel looked up from her second bowl of Froot Loops, murmuring with milk in the corner of her mouth.
“Hepf pfobapfly stuck impfide the shower, pmfcause of himf cute fluff buf.” she tried to choke out. Stan just rolled his eyes with a dry laugh.
“Really kid, I didn’t get half of what you said.” With an elegant flip he turned one of the ‘Stan’-cakes in the pan, looking up again catching a glimpse of the kitchen window. The pancake forgotten, so that a bitter burned scent filled his nose while his brows knitted together. The picture before him made his chest tighten, his voice firm as he spoke to Mabel.
“Mabel, get your brother inside here. I want him to eat with us. Why else would I be burning all this disgusting green stuff for?”
Mabel blinked in surprise, running around to peek out of the window herself and, indeed, there was Dipper, grazing peacefully in the morning sun.
Her confused face met her Grunkle’s before she left the table and made her way outside.
“Dipper? What are you doing out here?” His ears shot up to the sudden sound of her voice. For a few seconds Dipper watched her with wide eyes, like a deer in the headlight. Then he blinked and swallowed the rest of the grass and walked up to Mabel with a shy grin on his face. Dippers voice shook and Mabel noticed that his eyes never met hers.
“Ah, sorry Mabel I- Um, my fur was still a bit wet and I thought the sun would help and then, well…” Mabel eyed him suspiciously, but at least Dipper’s high pitched voice told her that he’d been lying to her. But maybe he was just embarrassed, or scared that his instincts betrayed him. To Dipper the whole monster situation was always the most bothering compared to the rest of them. A small smile made it to her lips as she led her brother back to the Shack.
“No problem, bro-bro. Now get your fuzzy butt to the table before Stan throws half of your breakfast away!”
Dipper ducked his head, his ears brushing his cheeks when Stan eyed him as they reentered the kitchen but without a word or an stupid comment Stan placed his plate, filled with salad, fruit and vegetables in front of him before he seated himself in front of his scrambled eggs. He spared the fried ham this time, for his nephew’s sake. His eyes scanned Dipper skeptically, he used his growling voice to get the answers he wanted by an other way.
“So what´s up with you today? Are you going to look for a cure again, kid?” he asked.
But even that seemed to started Dipper, so maybe it wasn’t such an indirect question after all.
Dipper’s ears shot up. Not meeting his eyes he played with his food instead. “I- yes. Yes, I mean probably, but only if you’re sure you don’t need me or Mabel to help out in the gift shop?”
Dipper offering his help in the shop? Yeah, there definitely was something off here. But he wouldn’t make it so easy to him.
“Nah.” The old man waved Dipper’s question away. “It’ll be fine with Soos and Wendy back to work.”
Dipper’s mouth was already opening to answer his Grunkle but Mabel was faster than him. The thoughts of looking for a cure that didn’t exist made him feel itchy all over.
With a wide smile she spoke up. “Yeah! That´s going to be great! You’ll see, Dipper, we’ll find out why you’re still like this and before you can say ‘Dippingdots’, you’ll be your old, nerdy self again.”
But her brother hadn’t been listening to her but instead scratching furiously behind his ear.
“Darn, this itchs! I´ll bet Wendy’s fleas moved on to me now!”
He seen Mabel’s and Stan’s mouth wide open when he looked back up again.
“What?” he questioned.
“How are you doing that?” Mabel asked. But Dipper just flicked an ear in confusion.
“Scratching like that.”
“Huh?” But he paused his movements only to see his hind leg right beside his head. Dipper could feel the panic creeping back into his vines, with a loud thud did put his leg down again, his ears lying flat against his head. “I- um, instinct?”
But Dipper’s fake smile and suddenly pale face couldn’t fool them any longer, leaving Mabel and Stan exchanging worried glances.
Above all, it couldn’t fool Mabel any more.
They were twins after all, and she was sensing that something strange was going on here.
Her suspicions grew when these events increased over the next three days she watched her like a hawk. And Dipper stayed the way he was.
The only ‘monster’ in a normal - well, no, not ordinary - town.
It was no wonder that even the otherwise blind people of Gravity Falls noticed that something was off. They began to wonder and pity the small boy who had been working so hard to change them back. Maybe the whole curse thing had been his mistake in the first place, but this was Gravity Falls after all, sometime or another something like that would have happened anyway, with or without the young Pines twin.
The whole town had been watching him peel the bark from one of Lazy Susan’s trees in front of the Diner until his sister shooed him away. But the one that worried the most about Dipper Pines’ behavior was definitely Mabel.
Mabel watched every step he took between searching for a cure and working in the Shack. She encouraged him to try this and that, but the imagined spark of hope her brother’s eyes faded with every failed attempt.
Instead his strange behavior got worse, no matter who was nearby.
Even in front of Wendy, who Mabel knew Dipper had a crush on, he couldn’t hold back any longer. It was this morning when they worked in the Shack helping to stock the new merch in the proper places, when the redhead suddenly poked her in the side, nodding towards Dipper.
Her brother had been helping Wendy with the new mugs, until his gaze had fallen on axe on Wendy´s belt.
And now Dipper was-
He was chewing on the wooden handle of the sharp tool.
Drool already covered the bottom of the handle, just starting to drip on the floor. Wendy shot his twin an alarmed glance.
“I just got to say tahat that’s not normal. Not even for him the way he is.” Wendy said. Mabel just nodded and observed her brother’s ears and how they moved, his animal side obviously heard them but his human brain wasn’t listening.
“No, it´s not. Eww…” She watched how Dipper nibbled on a few of the splinters he had chewed up.
“Well, we can’t let him keep doing that. That´s my favorite axe - or, it was my favourite.” Wendy grumbled, slowly turning to the deertaur beside her.
“Wait!” Mabel hissed, while she snatched her phone out of her sweater pocket, taking a fast picture of her brother nibbling on the ax of his crush. Wendy looked at her questionably, but Mabel just winked with her eyebrows, a wide sinister smile formed on her face.
“I´m sure that will be useful one day.” A dry laugh escaped Wendy’s lips.
“That’s brilliant. Brilliant, but cruel.”
But when they brought Dipper back to reality, all humor was gone because he reacted the same way he had for days. With a pale face and red cheeks, he muttered quiet apology under his breath and fled the room before any of them had the time to ask questions.
Dipper had avoided her for the rest of the day, he had gone to bed early but she had watched his trouble to find sleep, so that Mabel was somewhat relieved now that his chest finally was slowly rising and falling under his blanket.
Dipper was asleep, finally.
With a last glance to her brother she got herself out of bed, tiptoeing down the stairs with Waddles at her side and Sergeant Carrot tugged under her arm. Mabel’s goal was the old abandoned room she and Dipper had been fighting for a few weeks before this whole monster stuff had happened. She placed the stuffed animal in front of the door and gave him a grim look.
“It´s up to you to keep the cost clear, Sergeant carrot. I´m counting on you!” The old, faded stuffed rabbit looked up at her with it’s one bead eye and a button where the other should have been.
“You know the password? It´s sweet-chocolate-strawberry-cheesecake-with-sprinkles-on-top.”
“Fine. Wish us good luck. We´ll be back… hopefully.”
With that she closed the door and flicked the light on, before she turned to waddles with a pen and a paper pet in her hand.
“We all know why we are here right?” The pink animal blinked.
“We need to solve the riddle of… Deerper Falls.” she intoned. Waddles squealed in response.
“To the facts.” She pointed to the glittery picture of her deer brother on paper, counting down the list of her work over the last days.
“He is half deer.
“The river changed all of us but we all turned back, except him.
“It seems to be getting worse.
“How do we know that? Good question Sir.” The pick ripped his head on the edge of a locker but Mabel just flipped the pages of her pet, showing the fitting drawn pictures of Dipper, to prove her words.
“We’ve seen him grazing, mumble at his own pillow, shaking himself dry after the rain like a puppy, eat Lazy Suzan´s trees, chew on Wendy´s axe and, ewww, even though he denies it, licking himself.” She brought the pen to her mouth, chewing on it thoughtfully.
“Something strange is going on here and I´m sure Dipper knows about it.” She looked back to Waddles and the pig gave her a low grunt, making the smile appear on her face and lifting him up.
“You’re right, we need to get to the bottom of that and that means-“ She turned around and raised the pic as height as she could. “A new case for Lord Mystery Ham!”