Rain, Rain, Go Away
Stanford Pines trudged back towards home in the pouring rain, thinking about anomalies.
He had been out cataloging migrating cryptids in the grassy fields above town when inclement weather had rolled in from the West, turning the sunny evening dark and dreary.
Head tucked down into his collar, he clutched his journal close to his chest to protect it from the wind and rain. A chill ran through him as the temperature dropped and the evening grew darker. He raised a six-fingered hand to the top of his head to shield himself from the rain. Of course this would be the day I forget a hat, he thought with a chuckle. Ah well, c’est la vie.
Thunder rumbled in the distance, but no lightning illuminated his path. The windswept grass was soft underfoot. The wind howled and the rain fell in sheets.
At one particularly loud crash of thunder, Stanford looked up and over the town laid out before him. The grassy hill rolled down to the treeline below. Small soft lights that marked homes and business shone through the downpour. Thick fir trees and tall pines and spruce swayed in the wind. In the distance, the crash of waves from the lake could just be heard over the noise of the storm.
Stanford was hit by a wave of nostalgia and memory.
A thousand rainy landscapes flashed across his memory. Purple skies over white forests, dark grey clouds pouring rain so blue it burned your eyes, dark green forests drenched in rain made of light, serene grey skies over a town so similar to this one (but it wasn’t, he knew that at the time, but it was perfect; it was so hard to leave that dimension, and he missed it sometimes), skies that defied explanation and belief and filled a person with wonder and awe and fear.
Skies that were not home.
He stood in the cold and the rain, lost in memory, for a long time. Long enough to get soaked to the bone and start shivering. Long enough for the evening to grow into night. Long enough to remember the family probably waiting anxiously for his return.
Stanford Pines trudged back towards home in the pouring rain, thinking about family.
Everything was so different now from when he had first arrived. When he and Stan had been at each other’s throats and too stubborn and bitter to try and fix things. When Dipper had worshiped him like a hero and he had drunk up the praise and adoration, monopolizing the boy’s attention in a bid to make up for so many years spent alone and unloved. When Mabel had been unsure of herself around him and had been desperate to please him and win his approval.
When he had been closed, and guarded, and alone because of it.
As he neared the Shack, he caught sight of a small brown-haired face in the window. It disappeared, and a moment later the back door burst open with a cry of “Grunkle Ford!” Stanford smiled. Dipper came running towards him, obnoxiously large umbrella open and threatening to lift the boy off the ground in the wind. Huffing and puffing, Dipper finally met him and stood on his tiptoes to hold the umbrella over Ford’s head.
“You forgot to bring an umbrella! I didn’t know if I should have come and gotten you when it started raining, Mabel said you usually bring a hat so it was probably fine, Stan said you were too smart to catch a cold, and—“ The boy continued to ramble as they made their way back to the house.
The umbrella was discarded and the door shut as Dipper pulled Ford into the kitchen. “—reassured her that the power shouldn’t go out, it’s not that big of a storm, but Mabel still insisted on getting all of the candles out and going through and making sure all the flashlights have batteries in them. Anyways, I think she’s making hot—“ Dipper’s rambling was cut short as a squealing Mabel barreled into them.
“Oof – Mabel! Careful!” Dipper said. She ignored him in favor of grabbing Ford’s other hand and beginning to chatter herself.
“You’re just in time, Grunkle Ford! I’ve completed a batch of Mabel’s uber-fantastic marshmallow madness hot chocolate! It’s sure to warm you right up! Waddles even tested it for me, didn’t you?” she grinned at the pig sitting in one of the kitchen tabled. Waddles snuffled happily back at her. “Good pig,” she said.
Stanford was directed to sit in a chair close to the stove. He laid the journal on the table, out of the way of any table traffic. The warm smell of hot milk and melted chocolate drifted over from a pot bubbling merrily on the stovetop. Stanford shivered. His coat left puddles on the floor and the chair.
“Has the nerd finally returned from his quest?” a gruff voiced called out. A moment later, Stan walked into the kitchen.
“Whoa, Poindexter, what did you do – jump in the lake?” He let out a loud laugh and slapped his knee. He wiped a tear from his eye before moving over to Ford. “No but seriously, get outta that wet coat. You’re dripping water all over my floor. Do you WANT to catch a cold?”
Stanford rolled his eyes at Stan but shrugged out of the coat nonetheless. “That is not what causes colds, Stanley. I have told you that a million times.”
“Yeah, yeah, whatever,” Stan blew him off as he took the soaked jacket and disappeared into the other room. Ford rolled his eyes.
A steaming mug of hot chocolate was pushed in front of him. At least six marshmallows floated in the drink. He smiled up at his great-niece as he wrapped cold fingers around the warm mug. “Thank you, Mabel. This is wonderful.” He took a sip. Ah. That hits the spot. Warmth spread through his center.
Mabel laughed. “No problem! And there’s LOTS more where that came from, so drink up!”
“Please do,” Dipper piped up. “She’s already had three cups and she does NOT need any more sugar tonight.” This earned a playful shove from his sister. Dipper just grinned at her.
Shuffling footsteps marked Stan’s return. Before Stanford could turn to greet his brother a large, warm quilt was thrown around his shoulders. A small noise of surprise left Ford.
“Science or no, I’m not having you freeze to death on me,” Stan said. He shuffled over to the counter where Mabel’s hot chocolate supplies sat. “I smell hot chocolate, and where there’s hot chocolate there’s gotta be – AHA! Marshmallows!” Stan scooped up one of the bags and popped three marshmallows in his mouth.
“Hey! Grunkle Stan, save some for the rest of us!” Mabel jumped up from her seat.
A wicked gleam lit Stan’s eyes. “Oh yeah, and what are you gonna do about it, pumpkin?”
“Oh,” Mabel said, cracking her knuckles. “It’s on.”
Stanford looked around the kitchen at the warm, bright, laughing family. Stan and Mabel were using spoons to shoot marshmallows at each other from across the room while Dipper kept score. The small projectiles bounced everywhere, giving the already messy room a fluffy white sprinkling. He pulled the blanket Stan had placed around his shoulders a little bit snugger and took a long sip of hot chocolate. The warmth sitting comfortably in his chest grew, as did the smile on his face.
“What are you grinning at, nerd?” Stan shot in his direction. Mabel used the distraction to bombard him with marshmallows. Stan shouted something about ‘marshmallow war misconduct’ before renewing his siege. Dipper shook his head, grinning, and muttered something along the lines of ‘all is fair in love and marshmallow wars’ as raucous laughter from his brother mingled with his great-niece’s cackles of delight. Ford’s smile grew wider still. The warmth he suspected had nothing to do with the hot chocolate (and everything to do with the people around him) spread to the tips of his fingers and toes.
“Nothing, Stanley. I’m just happy.”
At his words, there was a lull in the festivities before a very warm, very marshmallowy great-niece barreled into him. Dipper set down his notepad in order to hug his other side. Stan chuckled before walking up behind Ford, pulling him into a partial headlock, and giving him a good noogie. Ford protested but could do nothing with his niece and nephew still wrapping him up in identical bear hugs. The headlock soon shifted into a genuine hug from Stan. Ford felt the warmth inside him grow impossibly stronger.
“We’re happy too, Sixer,” Stan whispered.
The cold rain beat down on the roof and windows of the Shack, but inside the family was warm and happy and whole.
Thank you so much for your wonderful artwork. You are an inspiration and a truly gifted individual. Keep being lovely!