South Sudan: Since fighting erupted in Bor, Jonglei State, people have been fleeing to the town of Awerial, in neighboring Lakes State, seeking safety. The area does not have the capacity to absorb all of the new arrivals, and living conditions are near catastrophic. More medical and humanitarian assistance is urgently needed. See a slideshow: http://bit.ly/1bWgOuq
Can’t tell if this is a fic prompt or just general headcanoning but let’s pretend I know what I’m doing
Stan stood tall as he approached the breakfast table, tipping Dipper and Mabel off right away that something was up.
“Grunkle Stan?” Dipper asked suspiciously, absentmindedly tracing circles with his fork in the pool of maple syrup on his plate.
Ford watched him cautiously as well, his breakfast of dry toast and black coffee laid untouched before him. “What’s got you so jazzed at eight o’clock in the morning?”
Stan ignored his tone and stretched out his arms with a smug grin. “Oh, it’s a special day.”
Ford looked around for a calendar. “Happy … birthday?”
Stan rolled his eyes. “No.”
“Shouldn’t you know your own birthday?” Mabel asked quietly, more as an aside to her brother and with a trace of worry in her voice. Dipper simply shrugged. Ford was a weird guy, after all. He could probably rattle off the entire periodic table with molecular mass and classification as easily as someone else could their ABCs, but things like the date often seemed to slip his mind.
“Any other guesses?” Stan teased, eying his great niece and nephew.
“Pines Family Bonding Day?” Mabel asked optimistically. Stan winked.
“All right!” Dipper exclaimed. “We haven’t been fishing in forever.”
“Fishing?!” Soos came barrelling into the room - truth be told, the others hadn’t even known he was in the house. “Oh dude I am so game!”
“What about you Great Uncle Ford?” Dipper asked hopefully. He avoided Stan’s stare. “Are you gonna come fishing with us?”
Ford fidgeted uncomfortably in his seat. “Well …”
Across the table, Stan huffed. “Good luck, Dipper. Ford wouldn’t get in a boat with me if his life depended on it.”
Silence fell at the table. Dipper, Mabel, and Soos reached a silent understanding that Stan had just said something bad. His voice was dripping with residual anger, as if he was referencing some sort of past argument - and a bad one at that. Hadn’t he mentioned something about working on a boat with Ford when they were teenagers? The three of them glanced back and forth between the old men, waiting for one of them to make a move. It was reminiscent of those old Westerns Stan liked so much, with the duels that happened at high noon.
Ford straightened out his back and lifted his chin pridefully. “Dipper, I would love to go fishing with you all. That is, if it’s okay with Stan.” Translation: Draw.
Dipper, Soos, and Mabel watched in silence again, eyes trained on Stan expectantly.
“Fine by me,” Stan replied dangerously. Without taking his glare off Ford, he loaded his plate with a stack of pancakes and began drowning them in syrup.
Ford spent the drive over to the lake desperately clutching at the grab handle above the passenger side door in Stan’s car.
“You okay there?” Stan asked with both mock and concern.
Ford’s face and knuckles were white as a sheet. Unable to unclench his teeth, he nodded stiffly and continued to stare forward. Stan met Dipper and Mabel’s eyes through the rear-view mirror and smiled. “Guess it’s been awhile since ol’ Fordie’s been in a car - ha!”
The twins shrugged.
“Eh.” Mabel made a so-so gesture with her hand, at the same time Dipper said, “I would call this an appropriate reaction to your driving.”
Stan’s smile faded and he glared back at them. “Can it, squirt.”
After a minute or so of silence he muttered quietly to his brother, “seriously, are you okay?”
Ford swallowed hard and managed, “these things can crumble like aluminum foil” and Stan had a similar experience to his niece and nephew’s earlier that morning. It wasn’t Stan’s driving, it wasn’t the bumpy roads, it was - well, he wasn’t sure what, but it was clear something had happened to Ford, at some point, to give him this fear of cars.
Stan thought about the portal. He thought about Ford coming back through wearing goggles and a scarf over his face and hauling a huge gun across his back. Something had happened; a lot of somethings.
And whose fault is that? asked a voice in his head.
Can it, squirt, he thought back.
Soos pulled up next to them in the parking lot at the lake, his fishing poles and sunscreen at the ready on the seat beside him. “Who’s ready to get their casting on?” he asked jubilantly.
He was met with silence and troubled expressions from the Pines. Family Bonding Day was off to a booming start.
When they approached Stan’s boat, the tension between brothers took another hit. ‘Stan o’ War’ had been sloppily painted onto the side of the - er, ‘boat’, which was supporting a generous leak and appeared to be made out of splintered wood and duct tape.
Ford’s eyes went directly to the name and hovered there for a heartbreaking moment. Stan pretended not to notice. Then, dismissing all sentimental depth and regret from his mind, Ford declared the boat unfit for sail.
“What?!” Stan roared. “It’s perfectly safe! Right kids?”
Dipper and Mabel shifted uncomfortably.
“We did go out on it earlier this summer,” Dipper offered.
“It lasted the whole trip … mostly,” Mabel added pleasantly.
“I won’t allow you to endanger the children’s lives - or your own life, for that matter - on this deathtrap. It has ‘death by drowning’ written all over it!” Ford argued.
“Actually, it has ‘Stan o’ War’ written all over it,” Soos supplied naively. Ford winced. Stan opened his mouth, but no words came out. Awkard silence fell yet again.
“I won’t,” Ford repeated finally. “I don’t trust it.”
I don’t trust you.
Stan’s patience was wearing thin - well, thinner. “Tate!” he called to the lake ranger. “Does my boat pass the lake safety inspection?”
Tate didn’t miss a beat. “We don’t have a lake safety inspection, Mr. Pines.”
“So what you’re telling me is, yes.”
“I’m not gonna stop you,” Tate replied apathetically. He looked at Ford for a moment, then turned and left. Ford stared after him, looking dumbstruck.
“Grunkle Ford?” Mabel asked, but before he could answer Stan chuckled triumphantly. “See? Perfectly safe! All aboard.”
He began to step over the edge, beckoning for the others to follow. Dipper and Mabel took a step forward as well.
“Stanley, I said no,” Ford said sternly, and the twins froze. “It’s too dangerous! Someone’s going to get hurt.”
“Since when do you care about safety?!” Stan challenged. Dipper, Mabel, and Soos got that feeling again.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“’Let’s build an interdimensional portal that can be turned on as easily as leaning against a lever, Fiddleford!’” Stan taunted in a whiny impression of his brother’s voice.
“Oh so it’s my fault?! My fault you kept fighting?! My fault you stood there frozen while I - I …” Ford’s voice flattened, all anger draining from his expression. He stared thoughtfully out at the lake for a moment, then without warning dug into his pocket and pulled out a five dollar bill. He handed it to Soos. “Why don’t you three go find a vending machine? I think we forgot to pack snacks.”
They hadn’t, and they all knew they hadn’t, but Dipper and Mabel dragged Soos off anyway. Stan watched them go, knots forming in his stomach. He was hesitant to meet his brother’s eyes.
Ford didn’t wait for him to. “You’re right, Stanley. It was my fault. All of it - the portal, the accident, this town, Dad kicking you out … I’m sorry, Stan.”
Stan looked at his brother, the weight of what he’d just said settling in on his brain. Ford thought - Ford really thought - he was the only one to blame? That was too much. “Ford …”
“I’ll go back home.” Ford stepped forward, head down.
“You go on and take the kids, I’m sure you’ll all be fine.”
He stopped, waiting for Stan to finish. There were agonizing moments of silence that followed - moments which Stan spent trying to form the words he meant to say. The 30-year past due apologies and forgiveness, the I missed you’s and the closure. What came out was
“Why don’t you help me fix it?”
Ford turned. “What?”
The threat of a smile tugged on Ford’s mouth. “Are you sure?”
Stan swatted at nothing. “Ah, the kids can wait another week to go fishing. You’re right, what’s uh - what’s really important is their safety. What d’ya say, Sixer?”
“I’d love to help fix it.” After a pause he added, “the boat.”