Mabel prided herself on being a great chef. She also prided herself on other things, such as being a talented artist, a not-really-overachieving student, a wonderful niece, and the world’s bestest sister.
So for things to not go exactly how she wanted them to really made her sympathize with Dipper. “At least I don’t overcomplicate things with dumb lists and stuff,” she rationalized as she set about clearing up her latest creative disaster. If it were Dipper trying to make homemade chocolates and candy for Valentines’ Day, then he would have a whole ton of graphs laid out to perfectly detail every little thing that could go wrong and would go wrong.
“It’s called livin’ in the moment, Dip,” Mabel had insisted whenever her latest experiment backfired spectacularly. Such as when she tried inventing a brand new perfume called “Rainbow Dewdrops”. It ended up dyeing whatever it touched bright pink. Skin, clothes, hair, you name it. So being a beautician was definitely scratched off Mabel’s list as a potential career choice.
Then there was the time she tried becoming a wildlife photographer.
Thing was, she was a wildlife photographer in Gravity Falls, a place where grizzly bears were the least of your worries.
She still had tiny scars from where angry pixies had poked her with their tiny swords, and several bite-marks from disturbed pond-monsters whose territory she accidentally stumbled into when escaping the gnomes yet again.
Seriously, she had been tormented by Jeff and the other gnomes for years now, always pestering her to be their colony’s Queen because nobody else would.
But she was getting off track. The point was that Mabel’s experiments always had the goodness of her heart as their driving force, but that wasn’t enough most of the time.
This time was no different.
Mabel stood in the kitchen of the Mystery Shack - rather, what used to be the kitchen. Now, it was a battlefield of melted chocolate, neon-coloured confectionary, and surreal-looking messes that she was sure would gain sentience at any moment. Just about every surface was covered in ruined cutlery and failed attempts at making a new and unique type of food. Maybe she added too much glitter.
Everything sparkled. Everything was painstakingly neon. It was like being stuck in Mabelan-
Nope nope nope nuh-uh not that mm-hmm nope bye.
She was NOT gonna ruin today of all days with her emotional baggage from her preteens.
She set out to make this day as amazing as she could, and by God she was gonna do just that. Ain’t no creepy triangle bitch gonna ruin one of her favourite holidays. No way, no how.
Mabel set out across the room towards the table. It was burdened by all the different containers and ingredients Mabel had hauled out from wherever she could reach her glitter-sticky hands. She tossed packets of flour, bowls of pulsating green sludge and smelly pieces of failed chocolate over her shoulders as she searched for some semblance of normalcy.
In Gravity Falls, that was very hard to come by.
Upon finding an untainted block of chocolate hidden underneath the rubble of her last few failed attempts at making food, Mabel snatched it up victoriously and headed straight for the counter beside the oven. Not wasting a second, she tore off the wrapper, broke the chocolate up into sizeable chunks, and dropped them all into a bowl. There were very few pieces of cutlery in the kitchen that had survived the last explosion, which had splattered the walls with glittery gunk. Hopefully, it wouldn’t eat away at the foundation of the Shack.
“Cleaning up is gonna be a nightmare,” Mabel grumbled as she started breaking the chocolate into even smaller pieces using a spoon. Hopefully, she would have made something edible by the time the others returned from their trip into town.
As soon as the chocolate had been reduced to several tiny pieces, Mabel took the bowl and scampered over to one of the cupboards. Glancing around warily to make sure the coast was still clear (she’d been doing this all day, but she could never be too sure), and being satisfied with the absence of anyone looking in, she reached into the cupboard and revealed...her stash of Smile Dip.
If Dipper had been there with her, he would have made a lunge for the contraband candy. Both of them knew how Mabel got when she was riding a sugar high; much less one brought on by a candy that had been rightfully outlawed in all 50 states. She had sworn off her guilty pleasure for years, but that didn’t stop her from indulging in its sweet, zangy, acid-trip of a taste.
“I’m a filthy criminal,” Mabel lamented forlornly; before hastefully tearing open the packets and dumping their rainbow contents into the bowl of chocolate. Taking her spoon, Mabel stirred the two together, simultaneously adding a couple spoonfuls of sugar to the potion. It was a sickeningly-sweet conglomeration of everything that dentists and dermatologists hated. Mabel was certain that one mouthful alone would result in a lifetime of cavities.
Either that or a perpetual acid trip brought on by the Smile Dip.
Mabel had to gnaw her inner cheek to resist the temptation from going ham on the mixture of sugar and chocolate, and scurried over to the microwave instead. Nimbly hopping around the dirtied pots and pans lying all over the kitchen, Mabel made a mental note to at least try and clear this place up while her food was in the microwave. She’d rather not have her brother and Grunkles walk into her unconscious body.
Jerking the microwave open, she hauled out the still-smoking bowl that she’d put in there a while ago and replaced it with her newest concoction. After setting it on a timer and allowing the chocolate to melt and the Smile Dip to pop and fizz and crackle loudly, Mabel set about cleaning up the kitchen as best she could.
After a short while of scrubbing away at the walls to get rid of the congealing splatter from earlier, the microwave PINGED! Loudly, and Mabel hopped off the small stepping stool and bounced over. The moment she yanked open the microwave, she was met with a faceful of hot, sweet-smelling steam. Waving her hand so as to clear it away, Mabel impulsively reached out and clasped hold of the bowl. It was still pretty hot, however. Not hot enough to burn her unprotected, glittery palms, but enough to make her squeal loudly and drop it onto the counter.
“At least it wasn’t the floor,” Mabel rationalized as she carefully eased the bowl along the messy counter with small nudges.
Inside the bowl, the chocolate had melted into a thick and delicious mix with the Smile Dip. The candy was sparkling in tiny radiant patches around the bowl, and Mabel resisted the temptation to sample a taste. She knew that if she did, then she wouldn’t stop until she was sick and aching.
Alternatively, Mabel grabbed a mould tray, all of which were shapes she’d picked out herself: hearts, clouds, geometric shapes (intentionally leaving out triangles, however), and other small and cute things that brought a dimpled smile to her chocolate-streaked face.
Mabel was a pro when it came to presentation and decoration, especially food. So after she used her trusty spoon to scoop up thick blobs of chocolate (making sure that each spoonful had more than enough Smile Dip in each one), she dribbled them into the different moulds. She had enough mixture to fill each one, plus quite a lot more than that so she dared herself to add a little bit more chocolate to each.
As soon as all of that was done, Mabel produced a tiny shaker full of glitter from nowhere and unabashedly sprinkled some on each tray.
“Health hazard, my butt,” she cackled, making sure to cover every confection with the stuff.
Mabel stepped back and admired her handiwork. Four trays of chocolate and Smile Dip, all glittery and pretty in the fading afternoon light. Upon taking notice of the orange sunset beginning to peek between the pines through the kitchen window, Mabel decided to make haste and start tidying up before her family returned home.
She was determined to make this Valentines’ Day the best any of them ever had, or ever will have.
Mabel hastily put the chocolates away on one of the furthest counters from the chaos, and immediately turned to survey the destruction she’d unleashed in the name of Valentines’ Day. Hands on hips, she set her jaw.
“Waddles!” she squawked abruptly. Only one thing could clean up a mess like this, and that was her trusty pig.
The sound of hammering trotters on the stairs lasted a few seconds, until a large pink shape blurred into the kitchen with a piercing squeal.
“Mabel, we’re back!” Dipper called as he stepped through the front door of the Shack. He shrugged off his coat as he peered around, confused by the silence that had befallen the usually deafeningly-loud house. “Mabel?” he called again, expecting to hear her footsteps pounding down the stairs to greet them. Nothing. “You there?”
No explosions. No fire. No nothing. Just a comfortable silence that was very odd, given that Mabel had been home alone all day and hadn’t thrown a party in their absence.
“Where is tha’ liddle squirt?” Stan grunted, brushing past Dipper and heading straight for the living room, clearly intending to just laze around after spending the day hassling business owners for undeserved discounts and such. “She’d bettah not be over at some boy’s house. If she is I’ll-”
“I’m sure she’s fine, Stan,” Ford insisted calmly. “She might just be resting.” He checked his watch. “It is pretty late, after all. It wouldn’t be surprising if she’s asle-”
“GUYS!” The shriek came from the kitchen, followed by the hammering of footsteps that had been absent on the stairs.
“I stand corrected,” Ford said with a smile.
Dipper grinned cheerily as Mabel came bursting out of the kitchen in all her rainbow, sparkling glory, trailing the scent of chocolate and several glitter specks. Her face was equally as gleeful to see him, her brace-lined grin dimpling her rosy cheeks and contrasting the scorch-marks on her clothes and skin.
“Hey, Mabes!” Dipper greeted, before taking notice of the aforementioned scorch-marks. “What happened to you?”
“Didja get in a fight with them Gnomes again?” Stan barked from the living room over the blare of the old TV. “I told ya; just sock ‘em and they’ll leave ya alone!”
“No, no!” Mabel squawked, clearly excited despite the dark bags under her eyes. “It’s nothing like that! Guess what day it is, guys?”
“Yup!” Mabel screeched. “And I doubt any of you fine bachelors have any dates for tonight!” She teasingly prodded Dipper’s cheek, who playfully swatted her hand away. “Am I right? I’m right, aren’t I?!”
Said cheek was hued pink at her insinuation. “You got me there, Mabes,” Dipper chuckled, clearly embarrassed by his clear lack of a Valentines’.
Ford didn’t respond one way or the other, neither did Stan. Mabel didn’t pay much attention.
“Well, I don’t either!” Mabel hollered. For once, it was true; she had nobody to call her Valentine, even though she had set herself up with a guy for Valentine’s Day pretty much every year. This year, however, it was different. She’d decided to make sure her beloved family know that she loved and appreciated them, even if nobody else did.
“But none of us have to be bummed out about it! Becauuuuuuuseeeeee…”
Mabel whipped out four boxes from behind her back that she’d somehow concealed. Each one was secured with a pretty ribbon that she’d clearly spent a lot of time making sure looked pretty. Only the best for her favourite people in the world.
“I made you all something to make up for it!”
Dipper and Ford’s faces lit up with awe and appreciation.
“Aw, Mabel!” Dipper cooed, taking his and tenderly running a finger across the ribbon. “Thanks! You really didn’t have to!”
“I agree with Dipper,” Ford responded, though he still accepted his Valentine’s gift regardless. “You really didn’t have to go to all this trouble for such a commercialized holiday. We would have been satisfied with just spending the day with one another.”
Mabel was positively glowing at their compliments.
“Ah, shush!” she laughed, waving her hand at them. “I spent the whole day on these - the least you all could do is enjoy them!”
Stan slunked out of the living room, shamelessly scratching himself while doing so. He rubbed his old calloused hands together excitedly. “Whaddya get us, sweetie?” he croaked enthusiastically. “Money? Gold? Cruise tickets?”
Mabel shook her head, handing him one of the two remaining boxes of chocolates. “Excellent and shallow guesses, Grunkle Stan, but no!” she replied, still as cheery and as chipper as ever. “I didn’t get you anything; I made you something instead?”
Stan took the gift and eyed it suspiciously. “Aren’t getting and making basically the same thing?”
“Well, then,” was all Stan mumbled.
Nobody made a move to actually open the beautifully-wrapped gifts, which irked Mabel slightly. “Come on, guys, these aren’t gonna unwrap themselves!” she yelled, hoping to take the initiative by tearing the ribbon off her own gift and completely disregarding all the time she spent making them look as pretty as possible. “Dig in!”
The boys unwrapped them, and were all met with small boxes full of chocolates. They were all in different shapes, such as hearts and stars and moons.
“Yup!” Mabel cheered, already chewing on one. She had somehow resisted the temptation to eat one earlier, and now the taste of milk chocolate and the blinding, sensory overload that accompanied Smile Dip was making her shoot straight up on a sugar high.
“I made them all myself!”
That made the boys take pause. As much as they appreciated Mabel’s efforts, they all knew better than to trust Mabel’s cooking. Yes, creative liberty was a thing, but with Mabel, that included adding energy shots to lemonade and literal toys hidden inside mounds of buttercream on homemade cupcakes. If Mabel Juice was anything to go by, then they were better off not risking constipation or major diarrhoea.
“Are they edible?” Ford asked cautiously, squinting at the confection he held in his six-fingered hand.
“I’m eating them, aren’t I?” Mabel said matter-of-factly.
“You once ate a whole tube of cherry toothpaste,” Dipper replied, deadpan. It was of no consolation.
Mabel merely shrugged in response.
“That was ages ago. Now, just eat! I didn’t spend my whole day slaving away for you NOT to appreciate my hard work!”
She had a point. Begrudgingly, each of the boys took tender bites of their chocolates, apparently fearful of them attaining sentience and biting back. Technically, Stan ate a fistful, but that was just Stan being himself.
Mabel waited while chomping aggressively on her own candy, expecting them to start bouncing off the walls the moment the contraband Smile Dip kicked in.
“These are actually really good,” Ford admitted, sounding surprised despite himself.
Dipper nodded enthusiastically in agreement, already eating his second.
“Yeah. What’s in them?”
“Tastes supah sweet.” Stan belched.
Mabel couldn’t help but grin wickedly from ear to ear.
“Oh, just chocolate, glitter-”
Ford spluttered a little at that.
“-and Smile Dip.”
Dip stopped eating, the chocolate just barely touching his lips. The realization dawned on him, and the memories of being stuck in the Dusk 2 Dawn convenience store during their first summer in Gravity Falls returned.
“What’s that?” Stan inquired, still chomping away noisily.
“You’ll find out soon,” Mabel smirked cheekily. “Happy Valentines’, you guys.”
The sound of Waddles retching into Stan’s slippers reached their ears.
Things were just going from bad to worse - but Mabel was loving it.