First thing Stan did in the morning was go to Jimmy’s tent.
Jimmy unzipped the tent and took in Stan’s worried expression and haphazardly-tied, thin, red bowtie. The suit was terribly wrinkled and clearly hadn’t been cleaned since he wore it last, if he had taken it off at all.
“I know you don’t like him, but Dipper is missing and I’m worried sick. He ran off with nothing but the clothes he was wearing, and I don’t think he’s eaten for hours, possibly since the day before yesterday. Please, please help me find him. I’ll - I’ll do - !”
Jimmy pressed a finger against Stan’s mouth, and Stan fell silent.
“We have an arrangement, remember? Sure I’ll help find him, kitten.”
A little voice in Stan’s head tried to tell him that this was how it always started with Jimmy, that he’d be the knight in shining armor that he needed and be really great to have around, just enough to get Stan to take him back and let things slide until it was right back where they had left off, complete with broken wrists and bruised skin.
But Stan didn’t give a damn about that voice. Dipper was missing, and he’d do anything to get Dipper back.
And even if Stan knew it wouldn’t last, knowing that Jimmy would take care of him was what had drawn him to the man in the first place.
Jimmy’s thumb brushed against Stan’s bottom lip, and Stan turned away, not willing to go through this right now. Jimmy let him go. For now. He drank from the thermos Stan had brought. He finished the coffee, then took his bike into town to alert the gang.
Meanwhile, Ford finished staring at the ceiling instead of sleeping, then grabbed the Rift and put it into his bag. He also grabbed a magnetic gun, then considered his options.
He climbed the stairs to find Mabel, but there was no one in the children’s bedroom.
Ford lingered in the bedroom for a moment, truly taking in what the room looked like. Mabel’s side looked like what Ford had always assumed a girl’s room would look like. Posters of boy bands and things like that.
But Dipper’s had Journal #3 near the pillow and was littered with paper and pens and had a board hung on the wall that showed all of his work towards solving the mysteries of Gravity Falls.
Ford turned away and hurried down the stairs before he could give it any further thought. He forced his brain to not make the connections. He realized he didn’t want to know just how much he had hurt Dipper.
The boy had dedicated his entire summer to what was in the journal - to who learning who Ford was - and the very man he had invested so much of himself in had turned around and called him - called him that awful word and showed no faith in his ability to -
It didn’t matter right then, Ford thought to himself. His guilty and apologies meant nothing if Dipper wasn’t around to hear them and if the Rift wasn’t sealed shut.
Dipper lost in the forest was bad, but Dipper lost in the forest during Weirdmageddon was horrifying.
Ford comforted himself with the thought that Mabel and Stan were still looking for Dipper. And if Ford thought he had come across Dipper, he would stop his retrieval of the alien adhesive immediately. But the Rift was too dangerous to leave waiting.
Dipper would understand.
It took a few hours, but Ford successfully found the adhesive. He had to fight off a couple alien robots that wanted to take him to Alien Prison, but in the end, he was fine and he had the adhesive.
Ford decided that it’d be safer to apply the adhesive once he got back to the Shack.
When he arrived, Stan, Mabel, Soos, Wendy, Grenda, a little Asian girl he had never met before, and two police officers were standing in the yard between the house and Jimmy’s tent. Stan was pacing, and the fat cop - Ford couldn’t think of a name to attach to the face, so it must not have been a cop from 30 years ago - was talking rather seriously about the search for Dipper.
“We’re still looking, but there’s only so much of the forest that is even accessible to humans, and a lot of it hasn’t really been explored, even by Manly Dan and his family.”
“Has anyone checked Multibear’s cave?” Mabel asked. “I don’t know where it is, ‘cause Dipper’s directions were confusing, but he could be there! He’s friends with Multibear!”
“Dipper encountered the Multibear?” Ford asked.
“Great-Uncle Ford! Did you find Dipper?”
The two policemen raised their eyebrows, and they looked from Stan to Ford then back again. Ford would deal with that later.
“N-no, I didn’t. I got the adhesive for sealing the Rift up, though.”
There was a long pause. Its existence confused Ford.
“You - you weren’t out looking for Dipper?” Mabel said.
Her face was starting to remind Ford very strongly of how Dipper had looked at him when he had caught him trying to convince Mabel to go adventuring without him.
“Mabel, I explained why sealing up the Rift is important. Dipper being gone would be a lot worse of a situation if it broke.”
“But - but you know the weird stuff around here better than anybody! What if Dipper was nearby but hurt and couldn’t yell for you and - !”
“It wasn’t like I wasn’t keeping an eye out, I just wasn’t actively - !”
“What could you possibly have been doing that was more important than Dipper!?” Stan interrupted.
Ford was struck by exactly how much like Filbrick Pines Stan had grown up to look like. He wondered if he looked the same when he was angry. He probably did.
“Stanley, you don’t understand! The Rift is what would cause the Apocalypse if it broke! It has to stay contained!”
“What do you mean it’ll cause the Apocalypse?!”
“Dipper thinks you hate him, and you weren’t looking for him! You love Dipper, don’t you!?”
“Of course I do, Mabel, but - !”
“Ford, what about the apocalypse and what does it have to do with this Rift you’re talking about!?”
“Oh, will you relax!? The Apocalypse won’t happen, not now that I have the adhesive! Look!”
Ford took the Rift out and the piece of alien machinery that had the adhesive on it.
“All I have to do is apply the adhesive, and it’ll be fine! Then we’ll all be able to look for Dipper without worrying about the world ending and Jimmy Snakes can get the hell off my front lawn!”
“He’s only onour front lawn because you had to anger his boss!”
“I wouldn’t have angered Mephistopheles if he hadn’t come around breaking his deal with Dipper in the first place!”
“He was only here so he could warn me about this world-ending bullshit you apparently know so much about!”
“Well, he wouldn’t have had to do that if someone hadn’t re-started the portal!”
“I saved your life!”
“You’re the one who pushed me in in the first place!”
“It was an accident, you jerk! And you started that fight!”
“There wouldn’t have been a fight if you hadn’t tried to burn my research!”
“You were the one who told me to get rid of it!”
“And none of this changed the fact that you weren’t looking for Dipper!” Mabel screamed.
Both adults stopped yelled, and Mabel had to take a few deep breaths after she finished.
“Dipper’s all alone and upset and thinks his favorite person in the world hates him! And he said that bad word when he hates that word, and I don’t understand what’s going on, but you hurt Dipper and you’re not even trying to make it up to him! I don’t care if that thing determines the fate of the world, he thinks you don’t want him around, and you aren’t doing anything to prove him wrong!”
Ford genuinely balked at the lack of logic the last statement held. Didn’t care about the fate of the world? Objectively speaking, the fate of the world was more important than a child’s feelings, and Dipper would understand that. Ford was confident Dipper would understand that.
But she hit where it hurt.
“I don’t mean it like that!” Ford pleaded.
“It doesn’t matter what you mean! Dipper could be starving to death! I might never see my brother again, and it’s all your fault!”
Tears had started to well up in Mabel’s eyes as she said it. She quickly turned and ran into the Shack.
Ford ran after her, but he misjudged the step leading up to the front porch.
Ford tripped. The Rift flew from his hand.
The Rift bounced off the wall and flew into the front lawn.
Ford turned around only to watch as the Rift shattered.
“Everyone in the house now!” Ford ordered, quickly getting to his feet. Soos, Wendy, Stan, and the two police officers ran into the Shack. Ford slammed the door behind them and locked it.
He could hear Bill Cipher’s laughter through the wood.
“Ahead stretched a broad expanse of pea-green water rippled like a sheet of colored glass. From its wet heart arose a city proper, a great sprawl of domes and towers and bridges, grey and gold and red. The hundred isles of Braavos in the sea.”
The Iron Bank of Braavos
“Each of the Nine Free Cities had its bank, and some had more than one, fighting over every coin like dogs over a bone, but the Iron Bank was richer and more powerful than all the rest combined.”