It's the second time in a week and a half that he's found himself running from something trying to eat, maim, or tear the soul from his body, and at this point Dipper is considering spending the rest of the summer inside the Shack. Not that it's any safer, but he can barely see with his cracked flashlight several hundred feet behind him and only the thin silver light of an ominously large full moon to light his way. There are things that might be branches but also might be claws poking him in the side or forearms or legs and a hulking, slavering hellbeast that used to be a guy hot on his heels; listening to Mabel ramble about what she and Pacifica did the other day or watching Stan partake of the joys of YouTube (introducing him to it might have been a bad decision for a number of reasons) is far preferable to this.
The wolf-like creature is close enough for him to smell its rank hide, and its inhuman cacophony of growls and short, clipped barks that sound more like grunts of exertion from a human throat instead of that of a canine fill his ears in the absence of any other noises. The crickets and frogs and other nocturnal creatures have silenced themselves, anticipating bloodshed and not wanting to be a part of it. Dipper doesn't want to be a part of it either, but from the moment he stumbled upon the seemingly human figure crouched on the ground, shuddering in pain, and ran over to see if he could help only to be met with a furry muzzle smeared with fresh gore and bloodshot eyes the night's been rapidly going downhill.
He isn't sure if it's worse that those eyes were human, and the low, condescending snicker that of something intelligent instead of a mere animal.
Whatever the case, he's pretty sure it doesn't just want to engage in pleasant conversation.
It's a constant source of consternation for him and his extended family. The woods around the Mystery Shack may be interesting and full of wonder, but they are by no means safe, especially for a lanky, geeky teenager whose battles usually take place on the intellectual playing field instead of the physical. Not that he can't handle himself in a fight with another human being, depending on height and level of aggression, but mythological creatures with more legs and eyes than necessary and half-formed werewolves are a completely different story.
He's too panicked to get his bearings, so he may or may not even be headed in the direction of home, but there's no time to stop and think with the monster pursuing him drawing nearer with every passing second. Twigs and dry leaves crackle beneath his sneakers as he tears through a stand of bushes, hoping to find a clearing or the like on the other side-
- which is blocked by a patch of brambles interlacing the spaces between the trees. The irregularity he'd expect from such a natural phenomenon isn't present, almost as if the barrier was created through artificial means...
...and the triumphant howl from behind him, followed by a clearly spoken word unmistakable as anything else but English confirms his suspicions. "Gotcha."
Casting frantic glances around the fenced in area also confirms what he already knows: he's trapped.
There's nothing left but to look the beast in the eye, so Dipper turns around slowly, hoping to see enough humanity in the figure to appeal to. It's an immediate disappointment. Whether the creature is actually a werewolf or not, it's still horrifying to behold - a twisted amalgamation of man and canine with matted black fur and mottled, sickly flesh in the areas not covered by its mangy pelt. It's clear that he interrupted a meal, as the lips and teeth are stained red; there is both intelligence and malevolence in the yellowed eyes lined with small, swollen bloody vessels. Whatever this thing is, it would be just as pants-shittingly terrifying if he'd encountered it during the day. Why does he always find the really creepy shit when he's alone?
It might have something to do with wondering around in the woods in the middle of the night, but this is no time for self-recrimination.
The beast pads forward across the grass with less noise than a body of its mass and bulk should make, and despite his desire to try and put up a fight, punch it or do anything besides just let it eat him with no resistance whatsoever, Dipper backs away from it until his back rests solidly against the thick trunk of a large evergreen, unable to do anything except stare into those eyes as the panic attack slowly takes hold. Somewhere in the rational part of his mind he's really disappointed in himself for giving up so easily, but that part is drowned out by the collective shrieking of his frayed nerves and the sound of his heart thrumming out of control in his chest.
"Such a foolish child," the beast sneers, moving in close enough to slice through his stomach with a single swipe of its wicked claws, "Walking beneath the eye of the blood moon alone."
"You don't want to do this." Dipper's voice is insubstantial; it wavers in unison with the uncontrollable trembling that's seized his body. "People will come looking for me, and-"
"They will find nothing, young one," the beast snarls. "As with those before you, I will make sure of it."
The meaning couldn't be clearer, and Dipper's heart falters in his chest, screeching to a halt as the beast raises a paw to strike him; he squeezes his eyes shut, hoping it's at least courteous enough not to drag it out.
The blow never lands. Instead there is a horrid, unnatural scream that echoes throughout the woods around him, and his eyes pop open immediately -- where he's graced by the sight of the beast foaming with rage and spitting abuse in a foreign tongue at the well-dressed figure standing a few feet away. He's clearly livid, considering his eyes -- the one that's visible, as usual -- are vivid red instead of the usual gold, and also he's holding the wolf-thing's severed tail in the hand not holding a cane that's probably going right through the creature's skull in a second.
"I would assume," Bill says coldly, tossing the tail on the ground in front of its former owner, "That you'd lived here long enough to know that I don't like other people touching my things."
There are sometimes when having a dysfunctional yet loving relationship with a murderous dream demon seems like a terrible idea, but it definitely comes in handy at times like this.
The beast doesn't appear to share the same sentiments, and it claws at the ground in a near apoplectic fit. When it does speak again the words are no longer smooth but jagged and feral. "You own nothing. I've feasted on these pathetic creatures for many moons, and I shall continue to do so." It's perhaps the wrong thing to say.
"So I'm going to also assume you're not from around here," Bill sighs, tossing the cane out of sight into some subspace pocket or wherever the hell he keeps it. "Consider this a learning experience, then."
It's unclear if the beast leaps first or not, because everything has gone gray and there's a sudden spray of blood and the monster is shrieking in pain, this awful mixture of canine whine and the rasping cries of another human being and Dipper isn't sure which one is the monster any longer, with the beast's agonized howls assaulting his ears as another set of claws tear into its sickly hide, splattering bits of things he doesn't want to identify left and right. The sound that fills the small clearing is speech, but it’s composed and delivered with such an otherworldly quality that he's rendered too frightened to even whimper. "Everything in these woods is mine, everything in this town is mine. You and your kind walk free because I allow it."
It's not the jokingly sarcastic tone he's used to, or the lascivious purr or feigned irritation, not even close. All traces of the playful Bill that he knows (or at least sees through his rose-colored glasses) are gone in favor of a force of destruction and chaos far more unnerving than the one menacing him no less than five minutes before. It's a reminder that the being he shares his bed with is more powerful than he wants to acknowledge.
The fallen beast continues screaming, the sound escalating to an intolerable pitch; a limb (a hind leg, perhaps?) hits the ground next to Dipper, and it's a good thing the world around him is washed in shades of grey because he's pretty sure the entire clearing has been quite literally painted red. He wants to shut his eyes again, but he can't tear them away from the abhorrent performance unfolding only a few feet away.
"Furthermore," the demon continues, still casually ripping off body parts and throwing them around willy nilly as if he's weeding a fucking garden, "Of the things that are mind that you are not allowed to touch, this one is off-limits. Do not look at him." Punctuated with yet another severed limb. "Do not approach him." Yet another, landing in the patch of brambles. "Do not let his name pass your lips. Do I make myself clear?" Another harsh, pained wail from the beast, followed by a sickening ripping sound - and everything falls silent. The crickets don't pipe up again, and neither do the frogs, or any of the other creatures, because there's still a monster on the prowl.
When Bill turns around, he's holding what appears to be the beast's heart -- which he then squeezes into a mangled mash of pulp and drops unceremoniously on the ground. The body behind him can't even be considered a body any longer, really; more so a collection of eviscerated parts that once formed a whole. And there's blood everywhere, the ground and the trees and his once pristine clothing that now looks like a relic from a slasher film.
Dipper is torn between vomiting and passing out, but considering that he's surrounded by wolf pieces and either action will likely involve coming into contact with said pieces he relegates himself to simply staring in disgusted awe. His grim fascination at the scene of destruction before him doesn't waver as the demon brushes the remnants of the beast's heart off and kneels down in front of him. His eye is no longer red and has returned to its former brilliant gold, but the look in it is feral and unhinged in a way that both makes Dipper tremble with fear and arousal, because fuck it, he's probably just as crazy as Bill is. A gloved hand cups his cheek, drawing his attention to the surprisingly severe expression on the demon's face, inspecting his own for some sign of injury. Insanity or not, there's so much genuine affection in the gesture that the tight knot of fear in Dipper's chest begins to loosen.
"I meant it, you know," the thumb running along his cheekbone does so with a gentleness that is an odd juxtaposition against the blood covering it. "I will rip every living creature in these woods apart to get to you. The only one allowed to hurt you is me."
It's alarming and frightening and more than a little insane, but it's the purest expression of whatever their relationship is, in all its unsteady intensity, and it's good enough for Dipper, who finally breathes a sigh of relief and leans into the touch fondly. "Would you?" he whispers, somewhat reverently.
"Only if you asked me to, Pine Tree." And then there are lips pressed against his in a kiss that is equal parts passionate and possessive, and for a while Dipper forgets that he's out in the middle of the woods at maybe 1 o'clock in the morning, surrounded by the remains of what might have been a werewolf, making out with a demon covered in entrails.
It's not the strangest thing that's ever happened.