Actions

Work Header

Portal Fordal

Chapter Text

Ford ran through the crowded market, cursing as a blast from a rifle hits the ground at his feet. He fiddled with something on his wrist as he ran, typing in a code of coordinates set to land him in another random dimension, this time with the automatic program actually running which locked onto habitable conditions for him. He did not want a repeat of the time he jumped into the vacuum of space -- he had to throw a perfectly good blaster away to move him back to the portal he came through.

 

Another blast grazed his elbow and he flinched, diving into a nearby alleyway where they were likely going to look for him first, but it was better than nothing. He was almost done inputting the code anyways, so it wouldn’t matter if they trapped him in there as long as he stalled for a few more seconds...

 

A shadow appeared in the entrance to the alley, blocking his only means of escaping without a portal. Fortunately, his pursuers didn’t know he had the machine at his wrist working again.

 

“Well, well, well! It seems I’m gonna finally get ya, this time, Ford! I’ve never forgiven you for stealing that die from me, you backstabbing cheat,” the figure growled, shifting shoulders forward into a ready (and intimidating) stance. Ford stood up, straight as he could while still being ready to run.

 

“In my defense, you were planning to turn me into the authorities. I couldn’t just stay there, and I still had the die from when you gave it to me. I didn’t steal it, technically,” Ford countered, pressing a final button and activating the machine on his wrist. It began to buzz quietly. The figure’s expression changed, somehow more angry than before, and leaped to tackle Ford. He was surprisingly agile for such a large species.

 

Ford slipped to the side, dodging the other, then stepped back as a spark of light quickly formed into a small circular portal. He watched it grow, while keeping an eye on his enemy. As the other stood, the portal became large enough to enter, and Ford dove in.

 

“So long, T’aaz! See you never,” he gloated as he passed through. The expression on the other’s face was one of pure rage, but before he could do anything Ford was gone, portal closed close behind him.

“RRRRRRRGH! That stupid human…” T’aaz growled, motioning to the other figure that approached to stand down, “He’s gone,”

 

“Sir… should I track the portal?” they asked, softly, “It’s not too late…”

 

T’aaz looked up, then smiled at the smaller figure.

 

“Yes, do it now. He’s not getting away that easily,”

 

---

 

Ford’s smile faded, and he sat down on the beach he landed at to catch his breath. That chase took a lot out of him, and he wasn’t as confident as he showed himself to be. What if the repairs hadn’t worked? Speaking of…

 

He glanced at his wrist, feeling an unnatural head coming from the machine.

 

Ah… Ford thought, It’s on fire. That’s not good.

 

Easily patting out the fire, he looked around to see where he ended up. It was a beach, the sun just starting to lower, and surprisingly… crunchy sand? No, that wasn’t sand, he had stepped on some shards of glass. He noticed that even though the sun was setting, the sky seemed the tiniest bit more… green than his own home. It must have more nitrogen in the atmosphere compared to his dimension, but evidently not enough to hinder his breathing. Before he could come to any more conclusions, however, his entire thought process jerked to a stop as he saw two children staring at him, most likely having seen him appear out of the portal. Two boys, and most likely twins.

 

They looked like… Ford and Stan, when they were kids.

 

“… Woah, magic portal!” one of the boys gasped as the other stared, wide-eyed. With that, Ford knew without a doubt that these two kids were this dimension’s version of him and his brother.

 

“Ah, hello there…” Ford said slowly.

 

The boy with the glasses, Ford’s young counterpart, stared at the machine on his wrist, possibly trying to figure it out, or at least figure out what it was for. Ford glanced at it, saw it was charred, and looked back to the boys. After an awkward moment, he decided to kneel on one knee and hold out his hand to shake.

 

“Nice to meet you. I am an inter-dimensional traveler,” he figured he might as well tell the truth (well, part of it). Their curiosity knew no bounds, “Apologies for suddenly appearing out of nowhere like that, I was in a bit of a hurry...” Ford trailed off as this dimension’s Stanley eagerly took his offered hand, shaking it with a passion.

“Hey, neato! Poindexter, check it out, this guy’s got six fingers too!” Stanley said, wide-eyed and turning towards his brother, who raised his eyebrows.

 

“Wait, really? I’ve never met someone else with six fingers before,” he said, almost reverently as he stepped up the the older man and took his hand. Ford flinched, expecting the world around him to fall apart as he touched his counterpart, but nothing happened. Looks like that other Fiddleford was not correct, fortunately. He schooled his expression, then looked at the two boys.

 

“Well, neither have I, actually, not even now.” He admitted, adding “I told you I’m an inter-dimensional traveler, didn’t I?” When his counterpart looked confused.

 

Both Stanley’s and Stanford’s eyes widened at that as they realized what Ford’s statement implied.

 

“No… Way! You’re… THAT’S SO COOL!” Stanley shouted, shaking in excitement, as Stanford grinned from ear to ear. Ford chuckled at their expressions, reminded of his childhood.

 

“Yes, I am indeed an alternate version of Stanford here, you guys can call me Ford. I really shouldn’t be… interfering, but,” Ford glanced at his wrist, “It looks like I’m going to be here for a while, for at least a few weeks.” His machine was charred and broken, and he didn’t even want to guess how much damage has been made to the circuits. He really didn’t want to bother this dimension’s flow of events but he knew the two boys wouldn’t just leave him alone if he isolated himself, after appearing through a portal that popped up out nowhere. Stanford’s smile grew even larger, an idea forming in his head.

 

“Hey, you could stay with us! Pa would love you!” He exclaimed, already thinking of sleeping arrangements and introductions. Ford winced.

 

“I do not know if that would be such a good idea…” Ford said. He didn’t want to meet his father, in any dimension,  if he was to be perfectly honest. That man was… well, he wasn’t a good man, but it took a while for Ford to realize that. Too long.  

 

“Nope! Too late, you’re coming with us!” Stanley shouted, grabbing the older version of his brother by his wrist. Ford didn’t resist, he knew there was no stopping his brother once he started.

 

Sometimes he wonders what his brother is doing these days, back in his home dimension.

Chapter Text

“Okay, okay, I know just what we’ll do!” Stanley said excitedly, as the trio walked along the beach, “so first, me and my Poindexter are gonna go inside, like everything’s normal, okay? And then, we’ll say something like -- wait no, actually I have a better idea! First, we’re gonna go inside (but not you, older Ford) and then we’re gonna ask Ma if she--”

 

“Stanley, shush!” his twin interrupted, “We’re almost there, let’s just bring him in with us, okay? It’ll be fine if we do that.”

 

Ford smiled at the two twins, enjoying the children’s innocent banter as they walked.

 

The three Pines arrived at the family pawn shop, and Ford took a moment to look at it, taking in the similarities in addition to the differences. It was a completely different color -- a soft green instead of the red brick. Fascinating. Ma might have had more of an influence in this dimension, since he remembered that color being one of her favorites.

 

Stanley took his brother’s older, dimension-wandering counterpart’s hand and tugged on it, urging him to join them inside. Ford hesitated, feeling a sudden burst of anxiety, of all things. It’s not like these are his actual parents, this is a completely different dimension than his own. Yet, he still felt nervous…

 

“C’mon, older Sixer! It’ll be fine, it’s not like it’s the end of the world or anythin’. It’s just your, uh, alternate-dimension parents?” the young boy said, hesitating on the last words, “That’s how you would say it, right?” Ford unintentionally smiled at his question. Stanley had certainly changed a lot since he last… saw him, compared to when they were kids like these two.

 

“Yes, I suppose that is how you would say it.” Ford said, smile growing bigger. Stanley never failed to cheer him up, even now, apparently.

 

Well. Except for then .

 

Just as fast as Ford’s smile appeared, it faded away. Before he let himself say anything more, however, he shoved that thought to the back of his mind. These two were just kids, perhaps they’ll make different choices in the future , he reasoned.

 

“Well, then what are ya waiting for!” Stanley half-shouted in his excitement. His twin winced, then grinned, his brother's excitement almost contagious.

 

“Yeah, let’s go!” the young Stanford said as he, too, grabbed his older counterpart’s hand and led him closer to the shop. The two of them were certainly eager, and a back corner of Ford’s mind wondered exactly when they lost that childlike eagerness.

 

The twins pulled him forward by both arms, and if Ford had been a bystander witnessing this he supposed it would be a rather heartwarming scene, two young kids encouraging their elder. He would probably think he was their grandfather or some other relative, but that was definitely not the case. The thought amused him, and he let the two boys take him along.

 

Stanford let go of his arm to open the door, but as soon and Ford and Stanley were through he was back. Ford stopped for a brief moment to take stock of his surroundings, some back part of his mind insisting that he needed to make sure the area was safe. The layout was a little different than he remembered as a child, and there was a greater variety of items, but that didn’t stop the wave of nostalgia he was swamped by as he looked around.

Some of Ford’s earliest memories were of him and Stanley playing together in the shop when his father couldn’t step away from the shop and his mother was on the phone. A familiar vase caught his eye, and he frowned slightly, remembering it was broken.

 

Crash!

 

Stanford frowned, dismayed at what happened. He and Stanley were wrestling, and he had accidentally tripped into a shelf, knocking the vase off. It shattered on the ground, and the noise coupled with his panic made tears form in his eyes. Stanley ran up to his brother and gave him a hug before a shadow fell over the two. It was Filbrick, and he did not look happy. Stanford’s panic gave way to dread, fearful of what his father would do. They’ve never broken anything in the shop before…

 

Stanley quickly let go of his brother, and moved in front of him.

 

“I- I’m so sorry Pa! We were- we were playing and-d I pushed Stanford too h-hard and he fell against the sh-shelf and--” Stanley said quickly, close to tears.

 

“Is that so?” Their father said, unimpressed, but he leaned back a little, “Well then I suppose I will need to talk to Stanley alone,”  His tone gave no indication of his intent, only disapproval.

 

After he motioned Stanley to follow him out of the room, Stanford sat down and began to cry again, tear flowing but no sound coming out. Their father always said crying wasn’t mature, and he was mature! Even though he accidentally broke one of the vases in the shop… He was mature for a seven-year-old. Seven-year-olds have accidents, right?

 

Stanford heard his father’s muffled voice from the other room, the tone slightly angry. He was probably telling Stanley off about roughhousing with his brother, even though it’s wasn’t all his fault. The young boy stifled his tears, thinking that if his brother was brave enough to take all the blame then he certainly didn’t need to cry. Even better, he could clean up the mess.

 

He stood up and started to pick up the large shards of the vase with his hands, careful to not touch any edges, and deposited them in the trash. He then grabbed a broom and swept the remaining shards in a pile, but before he could throw them away as well his father appeared in the doorway. Stanford thought he was going to get a talking-to as well, but the man only watched his son for a moment before nodding in approval and leaving the room again.

 

Before he could realize what happened, his twin shuffled in. He looked like he had been crying, but he refused to make eye contact with Stanford. Instead, he just sniffled as he moved towards Stanford.

 

“Hey,” Stanley said quietly, “lemme help with that, and are you... are you okay? You didn’t get hurt did you?” he asked.

 

Stanford, in lieu of a verbal response, just hugged his brother. Despite being obviously upset, Stanley still tried to help clean up and was concerned about his brother’s wellbeing. He was lucky to have a brother like his own.

 

That thought brought back newer yet still old memories, this time much less sweet.



--The bitter feeling of rejection and confusion being swallowed up by betrayal as he crunched the snack bag in his fist--

 

“--  hey, at least there’s a silver lining, eh? Treasure~ hunting?--”

 

--His panic as he began to be swallowed up by the portal, his brother’s frozen face getting farther and farther away, “Stanley, do something!”--

 

-- when his own face first began to appear on wanted posters throughout the multiverse, and the fear that came with it. He wouldn’t be here if - if it wasn’t for Stanley pushing him in! --

 

A small hand patting Ford’s arm broke him out of the daze he had been in, and he looked down to see both twins gazing up at him with concern. How long had he been staring at nothing? Long enough to concern the two boys, evidently. Nobody had walked into the room as far as he could tell, though, so it wasn’t too terrible of him.

 

“Ah, apologies. I was just… reminiscing. I’ve been in countless dimensions throughout my journeys, but never one as close to my home as this one.” Ford said, “Now, let’s meet your parents, hm?”

 

Stanley’s eyes grew wide, then he smirked at his brother.

 

“Looks like you talk like a total nerd even when you’re old and wrinkly!” He teased, releasing the older man’s arm as he nudged his twin. Stanford only laughed, evidently not bothered by his brother’s teasing.

 

“Haha, you’re just jealous I know how to talk cool, plus his voice is super awesome.” Stanford said, after a moment. My voice sounds ‘awesome’?

 

“Sure, ‘cool’ is the word I would use. You’re supposed to talk normal when you’re talkin’ to each other, not like if you were writing a nerdy paper -- uh, no offense older-Stanford,” Stanley said, glancing guiltily up at Ford. The older man only shook his head in response, hopefully signaling he did not, in fact, take any offense whatsoever.

 

“Don’t worry, boy, it is quite alright. I… do talk like I am writing a formal paper, and that may have gotten me in a little trouble once or twice” or a few more than that, “Perhaps I could, ah, tone it down a little.” Ford admitted, mirth evident as he talked. Stanley only laughed and gave a pointed look to his brother, as if to say ‘I told you so’.

 

As he watched the twins, the feeling of being watched began to niggle at the back of his mind. He looked up at the doorway behind the counter and sure enough, a shockingly familiar figure was standing there.

 

“Boys, yer home earlier than usual!” his mother said as she saw her sons. She walked over to the two boys and put a hand on both their shoulders, then turned to Ford with  look of apology on her face.

 

“I hope my sweet little boys haven't been too much of a trouble for ya, sir. What’s interestin’ ya in this shop?” she asked. Ford hesitated, looking away uncomfortably as he realized she evidently thought he was a customer.

 

“Oh, well, umm--” What was wrong with him? He’s never this hesitant, he had always been able to get some words together but for whatever reason the mere presence of his mother -- this dimension’s version of his mother -- had him completely stuck.

 

“Ma, he’s not a customer,” Stanley interrupted, “He’s with us!”

 

“Oh, really?” She asked, eyebrow raised. Her polite customer service tone completely vanished, replaced by curiosity and suspicion as she sized up Ford, taking in his dark clothing and the large blaster on his back.

 

“What’s a stranger like you, doin’ around my boys, mister ?” She said as she subtly moved the twins behind her, protective instincts taking over.

 

Ford raised his hands in a placating gesture, realizing how intimidating his attire can be. He didn’t even think about it before, the twins probably thought it had looked cool more than anything.

 

“M- ma’am, I can assure you, I have no intention of harming your sons,” ah, there was his ability to speak properly, returning once his mother became threatening. He honestly should have expected this, considering how loving and protective he remembered her to be. The woman straightened her back at his statement, sensing a challenge. The action eerily reminded him of his own twin, but he shoved the impression into the back of his mind. He had a more pressing matter to deal with right now.

 

“Oh, and how do I know I can trust your wor--” she trailed off, catching sight of his hands. Ford was about to move them back to his sides, but as his mother focused on them he kept them up, hoping for the best.

 

Mrs. Pines continued to stare, Stanford and Stanley looking like they were about to explode as they stood as still as possible behind her. She looked at his face, picking out his features and comparing them to her own boys.

 

“Are you…” she began, voice almost imperceptible as disbelief crossed her face, but she stopped herself and turned towards her sons.

 

“You two better explain this, and quick -- I think I might pass out if ya don’t, this is too weird for your Ma,” She said. The twins grinned, equally excited to share the recent events.

 

“So, we said he’s with us but it’s more like--” Stanley began.

 

“He is us!” Stanford interrupted, “Well, not us exactly but he’s like this interdimensional traveller?”

 

“And he’s this other version of Poindexter from another dimension!” his brother clarified. Relatively .

 

“... Ah. Well then,” she said, evidently trying to comprehend what was being said. The two boys had taken it in quite easily, but children are much better at believing this sort of thing. It was quite understandable that his mother was having a more difficult time.

 

“So yeah, he just wants to get his watch thingy fixed but he doesn't have anywhere to stay,”

 

“Naturally, we said he could stay with us!”

 

“We… probably should have asked you and Pa first.” Stanley said, looking down with an embarrassed blush. Ford decided it was time to stop them from overwhelming their poor mother.

 

“Really, ma’am, it is not an issue. I can find somewhere else to stay if this is… too much,” He said, hopefully in a calming tone. She looked at him again, narrowing her eyes.

 

“Now hold on just a moment, you may be from another dimension but you’re still my son. No way am I lettin’ ya go off on your own,” She said, switching from confused to mothering faster than Ford could comprehend.

 

“... Yes ma’am, I understand,” Ford said, raising his hands in a placating gesture. Now that she had her mind set, there was no convincing his mother to do anything other than what she wanted.

 

“Now, what are we gonna do about sleepin’ arrangements…” she said thoughtfully, “And how’s Filbrick gonna take this?”

 

Just then, none other than Filbrick Pines entered through the shop entrance, stopping as he saw the newcomer.

 

“How am I going to take what, Cassandra?”

Chapter Text

Ford sat on the couch in the upstairs family room, letting out a relieved sigh. The encounter with this dimension’s version of his father had turned out much better than he had expected. It seemed that in this dimension, his father wasn’t as… Filbrick as his own father.

 

“Ah, Filbrick! Just in time, we were offerin’ this man a bed while he does… whatever he does. Turns out, he’s our son from another dimension!” his mother said, turning towards the man in the doorway. He raised his eyebrows in surprise.

 

“Another dimension?” he said, turning to look at Ford. A long moment passed as his father continued to stare, slowly taking in his appearance.

 

“If that’s the case then I suppose we can’t refuse giving him a bed while he’s here,” He finally said, turning back to his wife, “I will be in the back room.”

 

With that, he walked past the group and through the doorway Cassandra had originally come through.

 

They had discussed bed arrangements before Ford insisted on sleeping on the couch, saying that he didn’t want to intrude more than he had and they didn’t have any spare beds anyway.

 

The brief interaction with his father was completely unlike what he had expected, quite honestly. Ford thought he would have to at least explain a little more, but the man just accepted it and went on with whatever he had been doing beforehand. Ford suspected this dimension’s Filbrick was not as similar to his own father as he would have thought.

 

He tried to relax as he sat on the couch, but years of running across the multiverse gave him instincts that were hard to ignore. It was even harder to relax in a strange place, unsure of where he could be ambushed and when. Those instincts were responsible for saving his life on multiple occasions. Those same instincts were what was keeping him from fully relaxing, getting in the way of some much-needed rest, and he could almost sense somebody, or some thing , watching.

 

Suddenly, something slammed into his chest, not quite hard enough to hurt but definitely hard enough to wind him. He began to reach for the gun at his waist as he tried to catch his breath but stopped as he realized it was one of the twins, and quickly moved his arm away before the boy could tell what he had been about to do. No use traumatizing the kid, after all…

 

“Hey, Mr. Other Me!” the boy said, raising his head to look at Ford’s face.

 

“Hello, Stanford. What brings you to jump onto me?” Ford asked, part curious and part distracting himself from working himself up. Stanford grinned conspiratorially, glancing back the way he came.

 

“I’m playin’ hide-and-seek with Stanley, quick, hide me in your huge coat!”

 

Ford raised his eyebrows. He wasn’t expecting that . Maybe the boy had felt a spontaneous burst of affection, or accidentally ran into him, but not that.

 

“I am afraid that while my coat is big, my boy, it is not big enough to hide a child underneath. You will have to find somewhere else to hide,” he said, smile tugging at the edges of his mouth. Stanford rolled his eyes.

 

“Well, duh! I meant underneath, like behind your legs or somethin’,” he said, as if it were obvious and any other assumptions Ford would have hypothetically made were absolutely absurd. He slid off Ford and stood at his legs, looking up expectantly at him. When Ford only continued to stare, confused, he poked at them and tried to slip behind them. Ford lifted his legs, obliging as he started to follow the boy’s request.

 

Stanford crouched underneath Ford’s legs, and moved his coat to rest over him. Ford realized what Stanford meant now that the boy was hiding underneath his legs. He laid them to gently rest over Stanford, forming a space between his legs and the couch that the boy easily fit in. Ford felt him shift around underneath his legs, likely finding a comfortable position.

 

As the two Fords settled in, they could hear Stanley’s voice from the other room raise in volume as he approached the end of his count.

 

“Ready or not, here I come!” he shouted. A thundering of small footsteps began as he ran through the home, quickly going from room to room.

 

Stanley burst into the family room, stopping suddenly as he saw Ford. His eyes narrowed and he watched Ford suspiciously. He caught the slightly-awkward tilt of his legs and grinned in triumph, moving forward.

 

“Aha! You couldn’t hide from me for long, Sixer!” he lifted Ford’s coat to find…

 

Nothing.

 

“Wha…” Stanley said, echoing Ford’s confusion out loud as he leaned back. Ford tilted his head, curious.

 

“Fascinating,” he said as he stood up, “I’ve never been to any dimension where children could disappear…” Stanley looked up at him, shocked.

 

“But, but… we can’t?”

 

Before either one of them could get more confused, a small laugh emanated from beneath the couch. Both Stanley and Ford twisted their heads quickly at the sound, suprised.

 

“Haha, got you good, this time!” Stanford said triumphantly, voice muffled by the couch.

 

“... How did you get underneath there? How do you fit?” Ford asked. He couldn’t help asking questions, his natural curiosity was too strong. Despite that curiosity getting him in his fair share of trouble many times, it had hardly diminished throughout the many years, the vast variety of everything simply too interesting to be ignored.

 

“There’s actually a lot of space under here! Hey, Stanley, wanna join me?”

 

Stanley’s eyes widened as if Stanford had just offered him the adventure of a lifetime. Ford could almost see the excitement coming off of the boy -- in fact, Stanley was beginning to vibrate. How much sugar did he have before now?

 

Do I?” He darted over to the couch, getting down onto his belly to peer underneath.

 

“... wait, how did you get under there? I don’t think I can fit, this gap is tiny !” He said, sounding offended for whatever reason. He flapped his hand through the gap to show his point.

 

“Come on, just squeeze under here, trust me. I fit, and we’re the same size so you’ll fit too.” Stanford said, reaching out to stop his brother’s hand. Stanley huffed as he pulled his hand back, but shuffled forward still on his belly and stuck his head through the gap.

 

“Huh, I do fit! Neato!” He wiggled through the rest of the gap, fully joining his brother underneath the couch. Ford wasn’t sure how the boys could fit, but he supposed the rules of this dimension were probably different than his own. He’d need to write this down later, once he got some real rest. For now, however, he let the twins play around underneath the couch and left the room. The almost-anxiety he had felt earlier had melted away when the boys came into the room, but it began to return again and Ford hoped he could find something to help relax it away again.  

 

Leaving the boys seemed to only spike his anxiety greater than what he had been feeling before, however. He stopped in the small hallway, debating whether to return or to continue onward. Returning to the room would lessen his anxiety for sure, but for some reason he could tell  it wouldn’t do anything to get rid of it entirely, something about how when he looked out through the window he got the slight feeling of being watched. It was just some pedestrians looking up at him as the bright “phone psychic” light caught their eyes, but the worry the feeling brought had stayed with him.

 

He didn’t stand there for long before he was interrupted in his thoughts by someone approaching. Ford looked up and tensed as he saw this dimension’s version of his father. He couldn’t help but notice the man wasn’t wearing that awful checkered style of suit that seemed to popular when he was young. Thank goodness.

 

Filbrick stopped in front of Ford, folding his arms in front of his chest. Their interaction earlier was too brief, Ford supposed, for the man to really take in this alternate version of his son. Ford waited for him to do something, body rigid as he began to warm up with nervousness. Filbrick stared at Ford for a seemingly endless amount of time before he spoke, face betraying nothing of what he was thinking.

 

“... How did you get here, boy?” He said, tone neutral. Ford blinked. He wasn’t sure what he expected Filbrick to say, but it wasn’t that and he had absolutely no idea how to process or respond.

 

“Here?” He ended up asking. Here could be this house, this dimension, this section of dimensions, or even this hallway, and there was no way of knowing what the man had meant without some clarification. Filbrick tilted his head up slightly.

 

“This… ‘dimension.’” Filbrick responded after a moment, putting a little more emphasis on the first syllable than needed as he tested the word. ah.

 

“Oh, yes. I have been traveling through dimensions for a while, now, almost… almost thirty years. Sometimes I have a way to create portals between dimensions, like how I got to this one, but they are often rather fragile,” he looked at the machine still on his wrist, “so most of the time I just find natural holes in the fabric of the dimension I am in and travel through those.” Ford explained. He watched Filbrick carefully, looking for something in the man’s face, or even body language, that would give at least a hint to what he was thinking, but to no avail. He really was aptly named, his expression as unmoving as a brick wall.

 

“I see. I also have a question. If there was a way to travel between... dimensions, wouldn’t there be an easier way to do so, like how we have roads?” Filbrick asked, after another long pause.

 

The question caught Ford off guard. What was he supposed to say to that? Of course there were interdimensional “roads”, it would be highly unlikely that there wouldn’t be quite honestly, but the people taking care of those “roads” aren’t exactly fond of Ford. For all they know, he is a highly dangerous criminal who’s evaded capture for so long bounty hunters don’t even dare try to catch him. The crimes he has ‘committed’, of course, are either lies spread by a certain demonic triangle or were done for the sake of the greater good (of those, he’s never done anything worse than thievery. Any and all deaths were not intentional.).

 

Or, he could lie about why he travels the way he does. He could say no, there aren't any of these “roads,” he could say that there is something in his biological makeup that renders him unable to safely travel through them, or he just enjoys the randomness of the way he wanders, or any other number of lies and excuses. Filbrick wouldn't be the wiser for it, his knowledge too limited to know any better. But even thinking about lying to the man fills him with an uncomfortable, squelchy feeling he couldn't put any word to. He barely noticed himself moving his left arm up to grab at the other arm, desperately thinking of something to say.

 

“Yes, those ‘roads’ do exist but…” Ford looked anywhere but his father’s stone face, “Well, I cannot travel through them without serious repercussions.” There, a half-truth would do. He didn't technically lie but it was not the full truth, and it almost implied something different than what was true. Filbrick took a moment to process Ford’s answer, then spoke again.

 

“Alright. I have another question. How long have you been traveling?”

 

“About thirty years.”

 

Filbrick raised an eyebrow, the only show of emotion during the entire exchange. Ford felt a twinge of regret, unsure what about his statement made his father react but obviously something about it was out of the ordinary.

 

“... That long. That implies you haven’t stopped. Have you ever gone home?”

 

Ford winced, looking away. That was, to say the least, a sore spot for him. He would love to go home, but somewhere in his travels he learned the walls to his home dimension were unusually strong, and there was no way to get into it without doing significant damage. That might have been why He wanted to take over his home dimension so badly, to be honest. Hard to get in, but hard to break too. It would last relatively long with his ‘partying’. But that also made it almost impossible for Ford to find a way back home, and the way things looked he was probably never going to go home again. The odds of a natural rift forming to one specific dimension were astronomical but added onto the other odds meant it was practically guaranteed he’d never see his home again. The thought was extremely depressing, but Ford managed to put himself past it with the logic that he might as well not dwell on it if he can’t go back.

 

But human emotions don’t like logic. Ford may have convinced himself to not think about it, but when Filbrick asked that question his brain decided to rebel. He might have also been ignoring the problem a little bit, under his logic reasoning, which didn’t help him get over it. So when Filbrick asked his question, Ford couldn’t help feeling things. A lot of things, in fact. Many different things, primarily emotions.

 

He missed his home a lot. He had no idea why he felt that way, either. Sure, there were people he cared about but by this point most of them were probably dead, or close, and it’s not like he could go back. He didn’t have that great of a life, either -- his own family had betrayed him twice, he had to work way too hard to get a degree from a school that no one took seriously, and then all the stuff with Him went down. Even the anomalies he found in Gravity Falls paled in comparison to what he found in the multiverse, which never stopped to amaze him even after thirty years. And yet, his irrational human body and emotions made him miss home more than anything right now, as his father brought it up. He was doing so well at not missing it before now…

 

So much for that.

 

Filbrick shifted on his feet slightly, and Ford realized he didn’t know how long he had been just standing there, likely wearing a strange expression. Oh, boy. He straightened his back, looking back towards this dimension’s version of his father.

 

“Unfortunately, I have not been able to go back h-- to my dimension,” Ford said, forcing his voice to be strong and not give any hint of weakness (he wasn’t sure why he didn’t want to show weakness in front of this man), “There was an… incident which caused me to be trapped on the wrong side of my dimension’s walls.”

 

Filbrick frowned, eyebrows scrunching together in concern. Concern ? That wasn’t right, his father never showed any concern, at least not outwardly. Ford stopped that thought, reminding himself that no matter the similarities, this man wasn’t his father, just an alternate version of his father.

 

Before Filbrick could speak, Ford looked away and began to move past him. The man didn’t need to… worry, he supposed, about what Ford’s life was like right now. This was a different dimension, things could happen wildly differently than in his own. Filbrick always seemed more indifferent to him anyways. He was caught by surprise, however, when the man laid a hand on his shoulder. Ford stopped, confused, as he looked back towards Filbrick.

 

Ford would never admit it, not even to himself, but he squeaked in surprise when Filbrick pulled him into a hug. Filbrick Pines, the very man who never bothered to show affection to his sons, was hugging Ford. He wasn’t sure what to do, so he stood in the man’s grip for a brief moment before he let go. Filbrick stepped back, gave Ford a pat on the arm, then walked back the way he had been heading originally. He stopped at a doorway.

 

“... Good luck.” He said, simply, and without turning around, before continuing on his way.

 

Ford stood, mouth forming a soft ‘o’ in shock. He really didn’t expect that, but he probably should have. If traveling the multiverse taught him anything, it was that anything was possible and more likely than not you were going to find something you weren’t expecting. Expect the unexpected.

 

He shook himself and began to smile. The twins of this dimension have a much better father than he ever did, evidently. He was glad they had more of a positive father figure than he did, unexpected as it may have been. But now was not the time to dwell on that. Now was the time to get to work.

 


 

T’aaz groaned. Why was this taking so long? His companion had said that tracking a portal’s coordinates would need to be done quickly but she looked like she was taking her sweet time.

 

“Hey, I thought you said we needed to hurry.” He growled in frustration. The smaller creature looked up from what she was doing, narrowing her eyes at his tone.

“I am hurrying. This is delicate work. Besides, the most time-sensitive part has been done.” She snapped, then sat down in front of an array of different equipment and started messing around with various buttons and dials.

 

“This is very complicated, keeping open a temporary rift. We don’t want to be too harsh or it will create a permanent rift, but we don’t want it to close either or we’ll lose him.”

 

T’aaz sighed, hoping to release some of his anger. She was right, of course she was right. For most of the time they’d been working together she’s been right. Now wasn’t any different. He glared at the spark that hung in the air motionless, choosing to take out his frustration on it instead.

 

It flashed once, almost quick enough he didn’t notice.

 

“Hey, did you do that?”

 

His companion looked up.

 

“Oh, did it work? Excellent, we’re almost done here,” she said, grinning. She really shouldn’t be excited about what they were doing but it was hard not to.

 

T’aaz grinned in return, watching as the portal hummed back to life, slowly growing in size.

 

Once it was big enough, the smaller creature packed up her stuff and nudged T’aaz through the portal, quickly following behind. They stepped through onto a beach of some sorts. It looked like it was a dimension native to humans, so that will make finding Ford a little more difficult. T’aaz had a hard time telling them apart from each other, they were all so similar with their fuzzy brownish heads and soft skin -- sure there were differences, like how some had lighter skin and some had darker skin or how their hair color varied from browns to blacks to yellows to reds and oranges yet could be artificially colored, but they were still all very similar. He wasn’t looking forward to sorting through them all, and it was probably going to be one of those dimensions that aren’t used to other creatures. He doesn’t want a repeat of the snake dimension...

 

His companion, however, was actually looking forward to the search. It wasn't every day she got to do this sort of thing, so she grinned wider, excited to be on the hunt again.

Chapter Text

Ford hummed, looking over his portal machine. It was charred from overuse -- he shouldn’t have created a portal earlier, it was too close to another portal, but he didn’t really have much of a choice. Hopefully he could fix this, though. The damage looked bad, but a lot of the times something looks bad before you really go in and learn what’s wrong. Then, the problem seems much more simple and easy to solve.

 

Unfortunately, Ford lacked proper tools to investigate the damage. They weren’t necessarily high-tech, but in this dimension they were probably going to be harder to come by than say, a hammer or a chainsaw. He frowned, but settled for clearing off the char on the cover for now. He can hunt down some tools later, after he rested some more. This dimension’s version of his ma would never let him live it down, most likely, if he didn’t let himself get a good night’s sleep.

 

Speaking of, or rather, thinking of… He glanced up at the clock, sighing when he realized he didn’t get carried away again in his work. He’d spent many nights awake, working on some project or another, only realizing what time it was by the light of dawn beginning to show or his own eyelids beginning to droop with tiredness. Even when he was being chased for one reason or another, he still had the unfortunate habit of doing that. Luckily, now when his life depended on it the most, he didn’t get carried away.

 

With that thought, he gently set the machine down on the kitchen counter, pushing himself back as he stretched his spine out. While he normally wouldn’t clean up his workspace while he took a break, not wanting to disturb what he had been working on, he did so today with the thought that this dimension’s Pines family probably would not appreciate it if their kitchen was filled with his equipment and other various supplies he’d used. Well, the boys might but their parents wouldn’t, and Ford didn’t want to get in their way. He would hopefully only be there for a few days at most.

 

He was interrupted in his cleaning when his mother walked through the doorway. She stopped, then looked pointedly at the clock with a smile, as if to suggest he should pay attention to the time. Ford just shrugged in reply and finished cleaning up the last of his equipment, storing everything in his various pockets. His mother watched, somewhat curious.

 

“What’cha doin’?” she asked after Ford stored the last thing away.

 

“Just… working on a dimensional portal machine.” His first instinct was to lie or omit the truth, having to keep things to himself for so long, but this was his mother. She wasn't about to steal his supplies or report him to some interdimensional police. Cassandra raised her eyebrows.

 

“I may be your mother but that doesn't mean i understood what you just said. What’s a dimension-whatsit portal thing?” She said with a smile. Ford didn't understand why she wanted to know that, but after a moment he figured it was her way of trying to start up a conversation with this old alternate version of her little boy. With a start, he realized he was probably older than her in this dimension. That was… weird .

 

“It is… it creates portals between dimensions. Unfortunately, with the sheer size of the multiverse, it’s almost impossible to ‘aim’ for certain dimensions so it is not as handy as it sounds. ” Ford explained. Cassandra nodded slowly, taking a moment to understand.

 

“So, ah, what’s your life like? What do ya do in the ‘multiverse’?” She asked. It was a seemingly innocent enough question, but something in her eyes made it seem she learned what he said to Filbrick earlier and wanted to know more.

 

“Well, I hop from dimension to dimension a lot. It is quite fascinating! There is so much in the multiverse, I always encounter strange and new things.” Ford said with a smile.

 

“Hmm, really? Mind tellin’ me some stories? Sounds pretty interesting, even your un-nerdy ma might enjoy somethin.”

 

Ford raised his eyebrow. What was she trying to do? She most likely didn't want to actually listen to him ramble on about the weirdness he has encountered, but he couldn't figure out what he goals were. He shrugged inwardly to himself.

 

He thought for a moment before remembering a certain dimension he thought his mother might enjoy, which also came with one of the more hilarious stories he could think of.

 

“Alright, let me tell you about dimension 62-=O…”

 

After Ford told a couple of his stories, Cassandra started sharing her own of the twins or of weird clients, and they ended up swapping stories for a few hours, once even comparing one of him when he was a boy (Ford was too uncomfortable talking about it to continue). After a while, she stood up with a smile.

 

“Well, I’ve gotta make sure the boys are actually asleep now. I’ve got some blankets out on that couch for ya, feel free ta use as many as you want.”

 

“Will do.” Ford smiled again as she left,content. Being here made him very uncomfortable, for sure, too many memories of his own childhood,but both Cassandra and Filbrick accepted him in without more than a brief consideration. It was very rare for him to be able to stay at a place like this, surrounded by people who genuinely care about him.

 

After a moment, he followed her out of the kitchen and up to where he would sleep for the night. Somewhat true to her word, there were some blankets, but she had made it out be be she had just left some for him when in reality she practically made the couch into a bed, not to mention the plethora of blankets stacked next to it.

 

Ford hesitated before taking off his cape and overcoat, not wanting to separate himself pretty much all of his possessions but he didn’t want to get all the blankets dirty either. He laid the coat over the armrest on the couch instead, putting it somewhere he could easily reach it in case of emergency.

 

He slid under the covers and focused on the noises outside, listening to the waves come in and out and the constant hum of the semi-distant downtown area. There were no out of place noises, nothing that wouldn’t fit in so it was easy to relax his mind enough to fall asleep.

 

There was a crash from outside. Ford flinched, almost with his entire body, jerking out of the half-asleep haze he had just slipped into. What-- what was that ? He kicked the blankets off, almost falling onto the floor in the process, and slipped his coat back on as he moved to the window. Heart pumping, he peered outside, keeping as much of himself as hidden as possible. There didn’t seem to be anything out of the ordinary, but adrenaline was running through his system and wouldn’t let him calm down.

 

After confirming nothing was amiss out the front, he silently made his way to a window looking down into the small space between this building and its neighbor. It was small, almost too small for anyone to move around in, but it was better to be safe than sorry.

 

He crouched underneath the windowsill, heart beating rapidly as he listened for anything that would suggest hostile movement. There was a shuffling, then another quieter crash followed by an upset shriek. Ford tensed.

 

Slowly, he peeked over the windowsill to try and see what was out there without notifying it to his presence.

 

There were two metal trash cans, both tipped over with contents spilling into the tiny alleyway. A raccoon was rummaging through one pile of trash.

 

Ford sighed in relief. It was just an animal, nothing to worry himself over. He stood back up and walked back to the couch, still a little on edge but he was beginning to relax after he confirmed there was no threat.

 

Once he settled back into the couch-turned-bed he fell back asleep in no time, and there were no more interruptions that night.

 

 

 

Ford spent the next day “supervising” the twins on their outing at the beach. Before they left he insisted on stopping at a watch shop so he could get some tools he needed to fix his machine, and they boys surprisingly tagged along rather willingly.

After that, he left them to their own devices on the beach as he settled down on a nearby picnic table and pulled out the stuff he needed to work on his machine. Admittedly, he wasn’t really paying much attention to them, but he stayed close enough to help if they needed him so he figured it would be okay.

 

He laid a thick cloth down on the table to create an actually workable surface and pulled out the machine and his new tools. They may have been specifically for fixing watches, but they would work excellently for what he needed. The small, fine-tuned tools were perfect for this job.

 

Ford pulled out a pair of tweezers and ever-so-gently pried open one of the sides of the machine, grimacing as he finally was able to look inside. When he thought to himself that the damage wouldn’t be as bad as it looked, he was very wrong.

 

The tiny, complex machinery and circuits were completely fried, which could be fixed with time, but they were covered in a strange, translucent grey goo. Ford had a hunch on what it was and as he probed further he was dismayed to have it proven true. The crystal he used to power the machine had atomized, then reformed as a gooey substance all over the inside of the machine. It had probably happened because he used it too much in too short a time.

 

This certain type of crystal wouldn’t exist in a dimension like this, unfortunately, and he couldn’t just adapt the machine for another power source. Without the unique properties of the crystal, which allowed one to safely punch a temporary hole in a dimension’s walls, any other power source would be useless.

 

Ford sighed, then slowly set the machine down in defeat. He packed away the watchmaker’s tools, slipping them into a pocket, and rolled up the machine parts in the cloth he set on the table. He sat there, staring at the rolled-up cloth, for a while, thinking of what he would do now. He couldn’t make any new portals, so he was almost certainly going to go back to his old method of traveling -- by tracking natural rifts and using those. They were much more unstable, and often nauseating, but he didn’t have much of a choice.

 

He could repurpose the machine to scan for rifts, then. That would be a relatively simple task, as the technology used for it was all about dimensional travel it searched for weak spots to go through. He could do that later, though. He had already put all the stuff away, and some part of him didn't want to leave anyways… 

 

He was shaken out of his thoughts as he realized he hadn’t seen nor hear the two boys for a while. He jerked his head up, quickly scanning the area but he couldn’t see any sign of them.

 

A strange noise drew his attention to somewhere behind and to the side of him. He turned, facing the table again, and looked for the source. When he realized what it was he let out a deep breath, relaxing slightly as he began to walk towards the cave.

 

Stanford and Stanley had wandered into the dilapidated cave near the beach, and had managed to start pulling out the skeletal remains of a boat. Why they didn’t ask Ford for help was a mystery, but it was apparent they didn’t really need it anyways, as they had already dragged the boat into the sunlight.

 

Ford wandered over to the two boys, sitting down on a small grassy hill of sand near where they had stopped. When they saw him, he just waved at them with a smile, content to watch them mess around together. After a while, he grabbed some paint for them to use on the boat. They were elated to get the paint and immediately got to work, whispering to each other before deciding on what to name the boat.

 

“Ow! What the heck?”

 

A rock had been thrown to hit Stanford in the head. He flinched, rubbing his hair where the rock had hit him as he and his brother turned to the source of the rock. Stanley immediately frowned as he saw who threw it, which was none other than Ford’s childhood bullies, Crampelter and his gang. Some back part of Ford’s mind noted that this dimension’s Crampelter had light brown hair instead of blonde. That haircut he had looked even worse with the brown hair.

 

“Hey, nice boat! Where’d ya get it, at the dump?”

 

Ford stood up, but none of the others noticed him since they were too focused on each other.

 

“You would know, Crampelter. Get lost!”

 

He couldn’t stand seeing those horrible teenagers picking on an alternate version of him and his brother. Before he even realized what he was doing, he pulled out his blaster and shot at the space in front of Crampelter and his gang.

 

They jumped back in surprise, and twin expressions of shock and relief grew on Stanley and Stanford’s faces as they saw Ford. Crampelter paled even more than he already was as he stared at the smoking spot of sand-turned-glass in front of him. His two goons recovered quickly from the shock and ran away but Ford let them go. He wasn’t going to hunt down children, despite how easily he was willing to threaten them. They were, after all, still children.

 

“Ford! That was awesome!” Stanley shouted.

 

Crampelter looked up at the boy’s voice, shock clearly written on his face. He turned to see who they were addressing and finally saw Ford, gun still in hand.

 

“Wh… what just happened? Who are you?” the bully asked.

 

Ford took a step forward. Crampelter froze, but when Ford took another step he ran faster than he had probably ever ran before.

 

“Woah, nice! Ford that was amazing! That dumb jerk ran away faster than I could say ‘buttface’,” Stanford laughed. Stanley punched him lightheartedly in the arm.

 

“Stanford, did you just say ‘butt’? You’re a nerd, you’re not allowed to be gross!” he teased. Stanford punched him back.

 

Ford stood up straight and slipped his gun back into its place on his belt. He smiled as the twins continued their playful banter, even when they began to gather scrap wood from the beach.

 

This was nice. He almost… didn’t want to leave this dimension. It was peaceful, and he could protect the twins if there was trouble. He’d obviously have to move out of his parents home -- he was older than them, that was still really weird -- and get a job of some kind, but he would be pretty content to stay in this dimension since he didn’t have a reliable way to leave anymore.

 

He frowned at his own thoughts. No, he couldn’t stay, he was on a mission. Besides, who knew what the consequences would be if two versions of himself were in the same dimension for an extended period of time, what strain it would put on the makeup of this dimension. And, if he had to admit, he still missed his own dimension even though there were many unpleasant memories attached.

 

Before he could get any further, however, he was interrupted in his musings when Stanley and Stanford ran up to him with a rather interesting looking seashell, asking if it was alien or not. He put his hand on his chin as if in deep thought and hummed, then started making up a story of how snails are actually aliens who have been trapped on this planet for fifteen years.

 

As he suspected, the boys ate it right up. Their eyes widened as they looked at the shell again, seeing it in a new light. They pressed for more details, but he didn’t know what else to say so he decided on mentioning how this dimension is probably different than his own.

 

Once noon came around, he brought them back to their home and made them lunch, with the help of their mother. His earlier thoughts were still there, how he had to leave one day, but for now he allowed himself to relax in the presence of this dimension’s version of his family. The rest of the day was spent inside, relaxing during the peak hours of the daytime summer heat.

 


 

They were this close to catching their target, but they lost the chance when a stupid native trash mammal almost got them caught with its stupid native trash mammal trash-rooting habits. The next day wasn't great either -- they had to get him alone but he never was, some way or another always with a native.

 

Those dumb human children were the ones spending the most time with him. He seemed to care about them quite a lot… She might be able to use that against him. Or rather, she would if it wasn't for her companion, unwilling to bring any of the locals (especially the children) into this for some reason she honestly didn't bother listening to. Just more trouble for her, another roadblock she had to get over. Then again, her job is filled with such roadblocks, it wasn't too much of a big deal. They just had to wait for the perfect moment to strike.


She would have left him and gone on this hunt by herself but she needed him, needed to use his determination. She had found through her various jobs in her career that if people are strongly motivated, they get things done faster. And then, there was that other reason -- why not get two bounties for the effort of one?

Chapter Text

After a few hours of relaxation on the boys’ part, at around five o'clock, Filbrick closed up the pawn shop for the day and came into the family room. He nodded in Ford’s general direction before he grabbed the daily newspaper he apparently hadn’t had time to read this morning, simultaneously sitting down and straightening the paper in a practiced motion. He grumbled at one of the headlines, seemingly comfortable with Ford’s presence even though he had barely been here for a whole twenty-four hours.

 

That night, Ford had a difficult time sleeping. There were just too many thoughts crowding his mind to relax enough. He could have made himself sleep, through any number of ways, but all those options would leave him either unable to awaken until the morning or too groggy if he did have to wake up suddenly.

 

The loudest thoughts were ones of what might happen next. He easily adjusted the broken machine to something that would scan for natural rifts but so far there wasn’t even a sign of any. Usually, he could pick up one beginning to form within about an hour but this particular dimension proved to have stronger natural walls than he expected.

 

He let out a long sigh before slowly sitting up. If he wasn’t going to be able to sleep, he might as well go outside and take a walk on the beach, or something else like that. It wouldn’t hurt to clear his head a little. He wouldn’t likely get much sleep, but he’d gone without sleep before.

 

He slipped out of the house easily, most of its occupants fast asleep by now. The street was quiet, street lamps giving off a glaring orange light that contrasted with the cool light of the full moon. He walked down it slowly, resisting the swift pace he usually walked at to go for a more relaxing speed.

 

The tide was high, but the waves did little more than lap gently against the sand in the still air. Ford found a bench near the waterline and sat down, staring at the night sky and taking in the dim stars. He thought about what he was going to do now -- it was looking more and more like he would have to stay in this dimension longer than he usually did, since there wasn’t any natural rifts forming (at least, not any close enough to detect or any he could get to before they closed up again), but what would he do when a rift did form? Would he leave, or would he have grown too fond of this dimension by then? Was he already too fond?

 

No, he would have to leave. He may like it here, but it was not his home, no matter how much this dimension’s version of his Ma and Pa tried to make it feel that way. Heck, if he stayed here longer than he had to, there was the chance the very fabric of this dimension could become unstable, since he did not come from here, and he didn’t want to endanger the lives of anyone without good reason.

 

He was so focused on his thoughts, he almost didn’t hear the sound of faint footsteps approaching. Almost . He tensed up, but didn’t move, opting to keep his relaxed pose to look like he hadn’t heard anything. He did, however, reach for his blaster, using the arm farther away from the source of the sound and scratching his side at an attempt to disguise his movement.

 

“Stanford Pines.” A familiar voice said, from right behind his ear. He jumped up, heart racing as he pulled his gun out. He did not expect whoever he heard to be so close, their footsteps sounded so far away. He looked at the creature that whispered in his ear.

 

Taking in the large stature and mottled, reptilian skin he realized it wasn’t just any creature, it was a fellow traveler he knew quite well. “T’aaz. How did you-- how did you follow me?” Ford asked, half curious and half stalling, trying to think of a plan.

 

Out of the corner of his eye, he glimpsed another creature approaching. He spared a quick glance to look-- they were much smaller than T’aaz, and slimmer as well, with a more avian body shape including wings. He knew this species, they were renowned for being ruthless despite their slight frames, and often were seen in the bounty hunting industry. Crap . (-- they also has a notoriously hard to pronounce name for their species: Yriwyizrmh.)

 

“Hey, look at me, Stanford!” T’aaz growled. Ford complied, but kept part of his attention on the Yriwyizrm. He didn’t want to get cornered, especially when he had something to lose like now.

 

“Alright, T’aaz. I’m looking at you.”

 

The reptilian (Ford never asked what species he was, now that he thought about it.) straightened his back and nodded. He held a hand up and his companion stopped moving. Good.

 

“Ford. You traitor. We need to talk, and when we’re done, well…” He left it unsaid, but Ford could easily pick up what he was implying. He wouldn’t have a bounty hunter following him around for nothing.

 

“Okay,” Ford said, slowly, “What do we need to talk about?” He kept his gun up, subtly flipping off the safety and switching it to something a little stronger than ‘stun’. He wasn’t going to be taking any chances.

 

“You know what. You betrayed us to the authorities! We would have made it outta there scot free if it weren’t for you. That, and I want my infinity-sided die back.” T’aaz said, adding on the last bit as almost an afterthought.

 

“... What?” Ford asked. He subconsciously lowered his gun, confused at what T’aaz was saying. ‘Betrayed’? “I never-- I never betrayed anyone, what are you talking about?”

 

“You-- what, of course you did! They, they told me themselves!” T’aaz half-growled. He was beginning to sound desperate and confused. Neither he nor Ford noticed his companion beginning to move.

 

Ford sighed, then lowered his gun completely.

 

“T’aaz, what happened ?” he asked, tone soft. T’aaz bared his teeth, a deep growl forming in the back of his throat.

 

“You-- we-- they captured us, Ford, and you were gone! When they started questioning us, I asked how they knew and they said you ratted us out!” T’aaz shouted, a hint of desperation in his voice as he talked, as if he wanted to believe Ford maybe didn’t betray them but wasn’t letting himself.

 

“What? I was captured too, T’aaz! They said you all got away…” Ford trailed off as both he and T’aaz came to a realization.

 

“They were tricking us…” T’aaz said softly.

 

“But, why? We didn’t have any information they needed.” Ford mused.

 

T’aaz froze, eyes wide. “Oh, sh--”

 

The Yriwyizrm appeared seemingly out of nowhere, bursting into the space between T’aaz and Ford from above. She pointed two large and dangerous-looking guns at both of them, giving each a glare in turn.

 

“Do. Not. Move. I will not hesitate to shoot -- I would kill you both but you are worth more alive than dead.” She said in a low tone.

 

Ford froze. His mind was racing -- wasn’t this Yriwyizrm teaming up with T’aaz? Unless, she was using him… which was a likely happenstance, quite honestly. Bounty hunters would do anything to be more efficient in getting their bounties, after all. Using one bounty to catch another, then turning them both in, wasn’t out of the realm of possibility.

 

But, he was getting distracted. There was a possibly ruthless bounty hunter pointing a gun at his face, and he would rather not get shot. He had to do something and do it now , or he’d spend the rest of the days in who-knows-where space prison or other. He hadn’t even found a power source for his quantum destabilizer yet, nor defeated Bill once and for all as had been his goal for the past thirty years…

 

If this was a situation where it was just Ford alone, he wouldn’t know what to do. But, he had a chance to turn the odds towards his favor -- it could be two versus one, if he could communicate this to T’aaz. He looked past the Yriwyizrm, directly at the reptilian, locking eyes for a moment before quickly ducking underneath the aim of the blaster and lunging forward.

 

T’aaz ducked as well, caught by surprise by Ford’s sudden movement but catching on almost instantly. A shot flew over his head, and Ford’s as well. T’aaz was almost hit, but it missed by the tiniest amount, and he didn’t escape being singed a little by the passing heat. The Yriwyizrm cursed as she lost her advantage before leaping up back into the air just in time to avoid Ford’s tackle.

 

Ford crouched and grabbed his blaster, pointing it above him. T’aaz pulled out a blaster of his own and crouched under cover of a nearby gazebo. They exchanged a look, one that communicated something along the lines of “fight for our lives now, talk and possibly fight each other later.”

 

The Yriwyizrm dived at Ford, dual blasters aimed directly at his face. He easily dodged out of the way of the blaster shots, rolling to behind the bench he had been seated on previously. She landed where he had been the moment before but kept herself out of line of fire of T’aaz’s weapon.

 

“Why must you make my job so hard?” She asked, groaning in mock-annoyance. “Is that some unsaid rule of bounty hunting? Must targets always make the hunters’ job difficult?”

 

Ford rolled his eyes, “I believe it is less about making the hunters’ job difficult and more about surviving , Bounty Hunter.”  

 

“Yes, yes, well you still aren’t making it easy.” She looked at where Ford and T’aaz were hiding in turn, “We can do something a little different, this time, and make it a little easier for both me and you.”

 

She raised a remote. “While you two were having that little chat about past experiences, I set up a field around the area. It is designed to incapacitate any species other than us Yriwyizrmh. Unfortunately, it’s a one-time-use thing and new ones are rather expensive, so let me capture you or I will activate this.” The remote was held in clear view of the two, and Ford could see her thumb was very close to pressing a large button of which the intent was clear: surrender or else.

 

“Never! I trusted you, and this is how you repay me? As if I’d let you get me that easily.” T’aaz half growled, half shouted.

 

Ford began to scramble through his coat, quickly thinking through what he had on him, searching for something that could possibly help. His hand touched a cheap plastic rectangular case and he almost ignored it to continue searching before he stopped, realizing exactly what could help.

 

He pulled out the case and threw it right at the Yriwyizrm. It hit her but bounced off, landing on the ground. She didn’t notice it pop open, and she didn’t notice the suspiciously infinite-sided die roll out.

Ford groaned. It rolled a 1. A 1 of all things. Nothing helpful like he had hoped, or nothing arguably unhelpful which he also may not have objected to, as long as it got the bounty hunter off his tail  -- no worlds turning into eggs or faces turning into jelly, just a 1. A critical miss, if you will.

 

“Is that all you could do? Seriously? You must really be desperate.” she sighed, rolling her eyes in an almost bored expression, before pressing the remote.

 

A flash of light, a crackling in the air, and Ford could feel…

 

Nothing, apparently.

 

Ford could only watch in surprise as she looked at her remote with a shocked expression on her face, pressing the button over and over again in frustration. “What?! No! Come on , you stupid piece of junk!”

 

“Wait, no, ugh. This better not be a dimension where this specific device doesn’t work or so help me...” She began muttering to herself, sorting through some pockets on her person as if looking for something. Ford and T’aaz exchanged a look of surprise, both seeing the opening. They quickly, but silently, ran up to the bounty hunter while she was otherwise distracted.

 

Ford raised his blaster up to her head, and T’aaz did the same on the other side, blocking any feasible methods of escape. He didn’t like doing this sort of thing, being on the other side of the gun one too many times and the moral implications alone, but he had to do what had to be done. He wasn’t an outlaw for no reason, after all.

 

“Bounty hunter.” She froze, quickly realizing her mistake before she even looked up.

 

“Leave now, bounty hunter, leave us alone, or never leave again.” T’aaz said. Holy-- Ford wasn’t planning on saying something as drastic as that, he wasn’t going to imply murder, but apparently the reptilian had other plans. More threatening and dramatic plans, for sure.

 

She nodded. Her expression betrayed no fear, but Ford could see her feathers poofing up and shivering, and her wings were drawn in close.

 

“I… I will leave. I don’t know what you did to stop this, but I will go.” she said, voice slightly raspy.

 

T’aaz pulled out a machine very similar to Ford’s -- a portal creator. He kept his blaster trained on the Yriwyizrm as he input something into the machine with one hand, coordinates to a dimension that didn’t take kindly to bounty hunters, most likely. He pressed a button, and a portal began to form behind the group.

 

“I’ll need you to drop your weapons, and anything you use to travel between dimensions, if you will.” Ford asked, politely. Everyone could hear the undertone in his voice, and even if they didn’t they would know that he wouldn’t take no for an answer.

 

She shakily pulled off the cloak she had draped around her shoulders, extracting several blasters and two different machines. She handed them to T’aaz.

 

“Now, go.” T’aaz insisted. The portal had fully formed, now, and was casting a eerie reddish light over the area.

 

She obliged to his demand quite willingly, though right before she walked through the portal she did say one final thing, as if one last opposition out of spite.

 

“One day, Human, there will come a day you will have to pay a terrible price for what you have done.” And with that, she vanished through the portal.

 

He knew she way saying those words to get to him, but something about them rang true, almost prophetic. Which was ridiculous, since accurately predicting the future was hardly accurate or even likely. Yet, something about the phrase shook him, down to his very core, as if she was talking about more than recent events. He remembered his home dimension, and his plethora of mistakes that led to his situation now. He vanished, leaving behind his research and the portal. Who knows what could be happening to it now.

 

“... Well.” T’aaz said from behind him. Ford turned around quickly, surprised by the sudden noise and realization that there still might be some fighting yet. “I think we were both a little wrong about certain events that happened, don’t you?”

 

The infinity-sided die was sitting in his hand, relatively safely enclosed in its case. The reptilian had a small smile on his face, and Ford realized this was an offer of mutual agreement, or even friendship like they once had. Ford smiled back.

 

“We did, didn’t we. For the record, I was going to return the die to you, I just wasn’t… able to.” He said, adding the last part almost as an afterthought.

 

“Yeah, I figured. I was just… angry , you know? I guess believing that you betrayed us and was alive was better than you being dead.” T’aaz’s tone was soft and a little sheepish.

 

“Then it’s a good thing neither one of those situations proved the be the case, eh, old friend?”

 

“Yes, it is.”

 

They sat there for a long while, reminiscing about old times, before the sun began to rise. Ford realized he had no idea what time it was, and he never told anyone he was leaving for a walk. He stood up from the bench suddenly and with a burst of energy.

 

“Oh, shoot! I never told them I’d be gone!” He half-shouted to no one in particular. T’aaz jumped up as well, not knowing what just happened.

 

“What? Who? Those natives you were staying with?”

 

Ford took in a deep breath, relaxing his shoulders. “Yes, them. I must return to them, I believe I’ve been tasked to supervising the boys again today.” He explained.

 

“Wh… Well, I guess that means you aren’t gonna want to leave this dimension just yet.” T’aaz said. “Because I have to leave soon. My species doesn’t exist here, and it’s getting closer and closer to daytime, and I doubt the locals will react well to me.” Most sentient species found it odd when confronted with another sentient species they had never known about before, or even theorised existing, so he did have a point there. Ford would leave with T’aaz as well, had this been any other time, but he couldn’t vanish on this dimension’s version of his family. He couldn’t leave whenever he wanted, either, since natural rifts were few and far between.

 

Ford nodded with a sigh. “Yes, I must stay, if not for my sake then theirs.” I can continue my work later on, I’ve had thirty years after all. A few more can wait.

 

With a nod in return, T’aaz activated his portal machine. He said another goodbye as it formed, then jumped through just as the first rays of sunlight appeared over the ocean.

 


 

A few weeks later, and Ford still had yet to leave this dimension. He had gotten himself a job and was paying rent to Filbrick and Cassandra, despite his mother’s attempt to refuse. Once, late at night, he even confided in his mother some more basic details of his life, from vaguely saying what happened to make him leave his home dimension to what he’d been doing for the past thirty years.

 

“Knowing my little Stanley, he’s gonna get you back one day, you know that right?” She’d said after he told her why he couldn’t return even if he wanted to. “Even if it means the end of your world or whatever, he’d do anything to get ya back. He loves ya too much, he’s so soft when it comes to his family and I doubt that’s gonna change when he grows up.”

 

“I… I know that. I hate to admit it, but I know that.” Ford said, reluctantly. “I just… It makes me angry, angry at him , for endangering the universe like that just for one person, and I don’t want to be angry at him so I ignore it.” He thinks, I don’t understand, but maybe… maybe he does, just a little.

 

“Well, everyone’s got issues. Knowing you two, you’ll sort it out, I’m sure, and the world as well.” She said, smiling. It was a bittersweet smile, but a smile nonetheless.

 

After that, he spent a lot of time thinking about his brother, trying to wrap his mind around why he did what he did. Why, especially, did he get so irrationally mad at Ford right before he fell through the portal? It wasn’t like Ford had done or said anything to upset him. Had he?

 

“I want you to take this book, get on a boat, and sail as far away from here as you can!”

 

Oh.

 

Ford mentally kicked himself. He brought up their childhood dream, one Ford even had caught himself thinking about from time to time, and told Stan to leave, living that that dream without him -- they dream they had, together, the dream that was meant to be both of them. In light of what his mother said, about Stan being entirely too sentimental and loving with his family, he could see why that had caused Stan to get so upset. The rest of the fight he could chalk up to his own frayed nerves and lack of sleep and his brother’s own hot-headedness. Stan had never been able to back down from a fight.

 

Ford put his head in his hands. How had he only realized this now , after a whole thirty years? He was too busy trying to survive, he supposed, in the multiverse, and didn’t have a real chance to talk about it with someone who had even an inkling of what happened.

 

The next few days were spent with the twins, with Ford actually trying a little harder to really get to know them. Sure, this dimension wasn’t even close to his Stan, but it felt nice watching the boys play together and he caught himself thinking about his own childhood many times.

 

He didn’t realize how much he had become used to living in this dimension until one day, during a family outing to the beach, he felt a prickling go down his spine and the smell of ozone begin to fill the air.

He looked up from his seat on the blanket they had brought, set down on a small grassy hill, and saw a portal begin to form near the family.

 

“Woah, is that another portal?” Stanford asked, the game he had been playing with Stanley forgotten entirely. This portal wasn’t just any portal, though. He could tell, even now at the beginning stages of its formation, that it was just like the one he had fallen through originally.

 

“It’s… not just any portal, Stanford.” he said, slowly. He couldn’t believe it, wouldn’t believe it.

 

After a reasonable amount of surprised gaping, Cassandra turned to Ford with a sly smile.

 

“I told ya he’d do it.” She said as she nudged him with her elbow.

 

“Yes. Yes, I supposed he did.” he said, quietly. He noticed that Filbrick was staring at the portal, with the most expression he had seen on his face in his entire life. He couldn’t tell what is was, exactly, but it was there. The rainbow lights of the portal glinted off his sunglasses as they began to drown out the light from the setting sun around them.

 

Ford stood up, hefting the case that he always carried with him onto his back. He was fully prepared to leave, even though he has been here for a while and there was belongings of his at their home -- he wouldn’t mind leaving a few things, he’s had worse. Stanley must have realized what his intent was, because he grabbed Ford’s hand before he even stepped forward.

 

“W-wait, where are you going? Don’t leave us, please?” He asked, voice wavering slightly. Ford looked down into his eyes. The boy didn’t want him to go, him , the old man that suddenly appeared out of thin air. Cassandra wasn’t lying about that irrational attachment.

 

Speaking of Cassandra, she reached over and tugged on Stanley’s hand.

 

“Sweetie, he’s gotta go. If I’m correct, and you know I always am,” She poked Stanley’s belly, eliciting a weak giggle from the boy, “Then that right there is his ticket home.”

 

Ford nodded, confirming her statement. Stanford and Stanley both frowned, not wanting their newest friend to leave them.

 

“As much as I have enjoyed staying here, I must go. This dimension is not where I belong, boys, and through that portal is the dimension where I do belong. If I don’t leave now, well… bad things may happen.” He didn’t elaborate on the fact that the fabric of this dimension could potentially unravel if he spent too long here. There was no need to unnecessarily traumatize the children.

 

The twins looked at each other for a moment, seemingly conversing with facial expressions alone, before suddenly jumping forward and hugging Ford. He shifted his feet to accommodate for the extra, unexpected weight of two small boys practically hanging off his body.

 

“We’ll--” Stanley sniffed, “We’ll miss you!”

“Even though we only knew you for a little bit.”

 

And even though you’re another version of my brother…”

 

Ford couldn’t help but smile at their affection. “I think I might just miss you too, boys. But I have my own brother to get back to, I can’t just… leave him hanging, can I?” He realized the irony of that as he said it, but ignored it for the time being in favor of more pressing matters.

 

“Now, I really must go. The portal will overpower itself soon, and collapse, so I must hurry.” He said. The twins let go accordingly, Stanley hanging on for the briefest of moments. He left a big glob of snot on the sleeve of Ford’s coat, and an evil grin on his face. He… meant to do that. Ford guessed he deserved that.

 

Cassandra gave him a quick hug, whispering a word of advice in his ear before letting go. She pulled Filbrick forward, moving him in front of Ford as if forcing them to communicate.

 

Ford gave him a small smile and a simple, “Thank you,” before shaking his hand.

 

With one last farewell to this dimension’s Pines family, he turned and stepped through the portal, ending his thirty-year journey in a single step. He just hoped whatever happened next, his dimension would be safe.

Chapter Text

The swirling bright lights that are perceived by humans when one travels between dimensions are not actually any kind of visual input -- in fact, one could say there is absolutely no visual input at all. Instead, they are how the human brain interprets the sheer amount of information forced into it. That raw information is not in any sort of format the human brain can understand, so it tries its best at changing it to something it can understand. It doesn’t get anywhere close, but it is fascinating nonetheless. Other species may interpret it differently, or even different individuals of the same species.

 

Ford was reminded of a lecture he had had years ago in some far-off, intellectually-inclined dimension. It was, by far, one of his favorite dimensions, and the inhabitants had been more than willing to share the information they had on dimensional travel once he had asked. He, personally, didn’t experience the “swirling bright lights” as much -- his experiences were always accompanied with temporary nausea (at least, at first) and a tingling feeling in his extremities, and the “swirling bright lights” were more muted.

 

Now, however, was different, likely because of the nature of the portal he was traveling through. There was a kaleidoscope of colors, a few of which he suspected weren’t actually visible to the human eye, and they were swirling so fast he begun to get dizzy despite the fact his entire being was stretched across the space between dimensions. It was nothing he couldn’t deal with, though, unlike his first trip through.

 

The colors stopped and faded to a faint cyan, enabling him to walk through the edge of the portal. The space beyond it was dark and it took a moment for his eyes to adjust. He glanced around the room for a moment, recognizing his former basement lab. It looked like gravity decided to stop working, large chunks of debris scattered throughout the room, but he supposed that was likely exactly what happened, if Stan never fixed that issue.

 

A glint of light on the ground caught his eye, reflected off the gold-leaf handprint he had pasted onto the journals he created during his research in Gravity Falls. He stepped forward and picked it up, after pressing his own six-fingered hand against it as if to confirm it was, indeed, his, although for whom he was confirming that fact he wasn’t quite sure.

 

After placing the journal in a perfectly-shaped pocket in his coat, he finally pulled off the scarf and goggles he had been wearing. The absence of the dark-tinted goggles finally revealed the darkest corners of the room, in which he immediately caught sight of Stanley and a few other figures. His brother had the biggest grin he had seen on him since his first date with Carla McCorkle, Stan’s biggest highschool crush.

 

Ford’s resting frown deepened almost imperceptibly as he realized that Stanley endangered the entire world by restarting the portal and had the audacity to be happy about it. Excited , even.

 

Stan moved forward with a happy shout, arms open as if expecting a hug -- a hug, after what he just pulled -- and before Ford himself realized what he was doing he lunged forward and punched his brother right in the jaw.

 

“Ow! What the heck was that for?!” He sounded indignant, as if he had no idea why Ford would do such a thing. Okay, so maybe that was a little harsh, but Ford was too angry at the moment to care.

 

“This was an insanely risky move, restarting the portal.” Ford waved his arm vaguely in front of him, “Didn’t you read my warnings ?” He was sure he put warnings in the journal he had given to Stan somewhere, he could distinctly remember writing them down, more than once.

 

Stan, of course, just waved it off as if it didn’t really matter, “Warnings, Shmarnings. How’s about a thanks for saving you from some--” he gestured at Ford’s face “-- sci-fi sideburns dimension?”

 

Thank you? ” Ford asked, incredulous. Why, of all things, would Stanley want Ford to thank him? He’d literally just said that restarting the portal was dangerous and Stan was expecting gratitude . Did he really not realize what is at stake --

 

The words of his mother from the other dimension came back to him in a sudden rush, almost as if she were speaking directly into his ear, “Even if it means the end of your world or whatever, he’d do anything to get ya back. He loves ya too much.”

 

  That’s… that’s right. He promised he wouldn’t get too angry at his brother. Ford sighed and relaxed his shoulders, releasing the tension that had built up.

 

“Yes… I suppose a thanks may be in order.” He said after a moment. The tension in the room he hadn’t realized was there dissolve a little at that. “But -- I am very upset that you restarted the portal, Stan. The ramifications of that are enormous .”

 

Stan rolled his eyes, “Yeah, yeah, Poindexter, but we can get to that later. I missed ya, okay?” He held his arms out again and pulled Ford into a hug. After a moment of surprise (and another moment of hesitation) Ford slowly wrapped his arms around Stan, returning the hug. Okay, so maybe he did miss his brother as well, a lot more than he let on or even let himself think.

 

The moment was ruined by an excited squealing coming from somewhere down and behind Stanley.

 

“OHMYGOSH! This is so cute ! I have no idea what the heck is going on, but this is so cute!” said a childish voice. Ford peeked over Stan’s shoulder at the other occupants in the room, two children around ten or so years old and some kind of large hairless rodent/man-baby. What an odd group of people, especially for Stan… Ford released his brother and took a step back, adjusting his glasses for a moment.

 

“Stan, you didn’t tell me there were children down here.” The more he looked, the more he was sure that other person was probably not human. And probably not from this dimension either.

 

“They’re your family , poindexter.” Stan had childre-- “Shermie’s grandkids.” Oh, nevermind.  Ford was surprised, though he really shouldn’t have been. He didn’t expect that when he came back, the family would have grown, but it had been thirty years since he’d disappeared. Of course there would be more family. Maybe it was the fact that they weren’t Stan’s grandkids that threw him off -- growing up, Stan seemed like he would have had a family of his own.

 

“I have a niece, and nephew?” He asked, a smile growing on his face.

 

“YEAH! Apparently!” the girl shouted. She had familiar curly brown hair and was wearing a pink sweater, smiling brightly (so brightly that her braces glinted directly into his eyes). “Hi! I’m Mabel Pines, your niece who has no idea what is going on !”

 

“Ah, greetings, Mabel.” Do kids still say ‘greetings’ in this dimension? He kneeled down and held out his hand. She eagerly shook it, somehow grinning even more as she did so.

 

“Woah, a six-fingered handshake! That’s one finger friendlier than normal!” She said. Her grin was contagious.

 

“Hah! I like this kid. She’s weird.” It wasn’t often that he was complimented on his extra fingers, or someone reacted positively to them. It was odd, but nice.

 

Another young voice interrupted their conversation, “Ooooh my gosh. Oh my gosh. I can’t believe this -- you’re the Author!”

 

Ford looked over to the other child in the room. He was obviously Mabel’s brother, which he would be able to guess even if they didn’t look so similar. The symbol on his hat looked somewhat familiar. His statement seemed off. The author of what? It’s not like the boy could immediately and correctly guess he wrote a specific book before he even knew Ford’s name. Unless…

 

“You’ve… read my journals?” he asked, pulling the one he had picked up earlier out of his coat.

 

“I haven’t just read them, I’ve lived them!” He began to hyperventilate, and Mabel immediately came over to comfort him as he started to gag as well. This boy was odd, but not in the same way as his sister. It was a little unnerving, how much he reacted to Ford’s presence.

 

After introductions and a bit of panic about the fact that there was apparently the US government crawling all over his house above them and some confusion on who was named what, Mabel insisted that he and Stan clarify everything .

 

Then, after that, it was a surprisingly simple matter of getting the government agents off their backs, Dipper proving to be more helpful than Ford might have thought as he pulled out a memory gun ( how , exactly, did he manage to get a hold of one of those, Ford wondered) and offered it to him.

 

Even later after that, when the two old men had put the kids to bed and finally were alone, Stan and Ford stood in front of a mirror, staring at each other’s reflections. Ford took the time in the silence between the two to take in his brother’s appearance, noting the changes and aging that had occured through the years. The first thing he noticed was that Stan didn’t age as well as he did through the years. He probably wasn’t taking care of himself that much, and/or Ford had a much stricter and health-encouraging way of life than he did.

 

Stan sighed, “When did we become old men?” his tone was filled with something Ford couldn’t place, along with nostalgia.

 

He nudged Stan in the side gently, “You look like Dad,” he said playfully.

 

“What? Don’t say that!” Stan replied, recoiling as if he had been greatly offended. He smiled despite that.

 

The light-hearted teasing atmosphere quickly faded away, however, as Ford sighed. However much he enjoyed ignoring his problems, doing so wouldn’t make them go away and the constant reminders would only serve to do more harm than good.

 

“Look, Stan.” What was he going to say? It looked like Stan already knew what Ford was about to say, judging by the expression on his face, so he didn’t need to add any unnecessary prose and could get right into the meat of the subject.

 

“The kids can stay here until the end of the summer and I’ll try to contain any remaining damage,” He gave Stan a pointed look before looking back to the mirror, “but then they have to go home, and when that happens I want my name back, I want my house back, and this Mystery Shack junk is-- well...” Remember what Cassandra said, Ford, don’t get too angry at him. He was only trying to save you, Ford told himself in his head. Now was really not the time to get into another argument, despite how angry he may or may not have been at Stan. He didn’t look at his brother, not wanting to see his reaction, but instead opted to stare at some imaginary distant point.

 

“When the kids leave, I want my name back. Maybe even before then, okay?” He can bring up the subject of ownership of the house later, but if he gets his name back then the house would still technically be owned by ‘Stanford Pines’, just a different one than before. Not that the law had to know.

 

Ford looked up. Stan seemed relieved, as if he had been ready for worse, though Ford didn’t know what he had been expecting, “Alright. It’s only fair, after all. Right? I took your identity for thirty years, you deserve to have it back now that you’re home.”

 

Home . Now, that wasn’t a word he had heard in this sort of context in a long, long while. The fact that Stan was willing to call it Ford’s home, even subconsciously, took a great metaphorical weight off of Ford’s shoulders. He didn’t notice it had been there, quite honestly, beforehand and probably could have lived the rest of his natural life without noticing, but now that Stan had all but said Ford had a true home again relieved him to no end. (The dimension before this didn’t count. They had all known Ford was going to leave eventually, and he never actually even belonged in that dimension. It could never have been a true home no matter how kind that version of his family had been. Ford couldn’t help but miss them despite that, though.)

 

He got the feeling that no matter what dimension he was in, he would never feel as grounded as he did here, in his home dimension.

 

“There could still be serious repercussions of restarting the portal that we have not yet foreseen.” Ford said, quietly, voicing one part of his full thought process. It sounded odd, and he realized Stan wouldn’t understand the argument he was having in his own head. He didn’t elaborate on it, however, opting to voice the question-that-wasn’t-really-a-question he had come to.

 

“Home... yes, I am home now, aren’t I?” He asked, turning to Stanley with a small smile. His brother returned the smile twice as big. 

 

“Yup. You’re home, Nerd.”