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Lips Of a Stranger

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A small flashlight sat against the palms of Dippers hands as he flicked at the on/off switch along the plastic spine of the object. He lay with his back pressed firmly to his bed, staring with vibrant and alert eyes at the splintered ceiling above him.

It was just another Friday night in the small town of Gravity Falls. The majority of the town's folk were already nestled into their warm beds, or at least on their way to doing so. The streets were deserted of footsteps, even the woods were quiet and peaceful—or eerie, depends on your view of isolation. The point is, it was quiet, dead, inside and out. There were no lights in the windows, no children shouting along the streets, complete nothingness.

Well, except for within Dipper Pines bedroom.

A burst of light shattered the darkness as he slid the ridged switch towards the on label. His doe eyes scanned quickly over the shadows dancing out from around what little furniture harbored within the small room. But he wasn't paying all that much attention to the optical illusions forming from the device in his hands. He was rather entranced by the voice speaking somberly to him through his headphones.

"Locals have been reporting an increase in little-men-sightings. Said to wear pointy red hats, and occasionally stack each other into human disguises, a woman insists she witnessed them attempting to sneak into a movie theater last Tuesday night. She was standing in line behind them when their right leg handler tripped and they all scattered about like bowling pins—"

Dipper let out a small laugh, being sure to muffle it into the crook of his elbow so as to not wake anyone in the house. It wasn't like Mabel and Stan weren't already used to the boy staying up late to listen to the Dreamscapers radio show, but Dipper had enough audacity to at least be quiet about it. He didn't feel like being yelled at and/or getting his radio taken away like the last time he threw a laughing fit from something the cocky radio host had said—which happens quite often.

The Host—whom no one really knows the name of, he was called Cipher once by a guest and not soon after everyone collectively started calling him by that—was quite the character. If anything he was the biggest mystery out of the whole show, a show that revolves solely around supernatural happenings. It's assumed Cipher is a man, probably in his twenties, and living somewhere in the woods where no one could find him.

Dipper admired the man for his radioing talents as well as being able to keep up this whole façade, but the fanboy inside him really did wish he could meet Cipher. Or at least talk to him for that matter. He had so many questions, like how the man constantly found his stories, if he actually believed any of the things he was saying or if it was all bullshit—which Dipper really hoped wasn't the case.

There were tons of fans out there that listened to the show because Cipher sounded like some hot slice of hunk, but Dipper was more interested in the actual show. The supernatural, the unexplainable, he wanted knowledge of all the things Cipher did. This kind of stuff was practically his life—not only because he lived in the town constantly being broadcast about, but because he was an honest supernatural geek.

Sure he didn't work in some spice shop or was secretly dealing with the black market, but that didn't mean he wouldn't dive face first into it if he was offered the chance.

Till than he'd stick to listening to Cipher through his headphones and absorb all the news.

"Ah what a shame, it appears that this will be the conclusion of our chat tonight," The scratchy voice hummed. "Next week we will be picking from your own strange experiences. There is still a chance for you to submit your tales if you haven't yet, just go on over to and get writing, we'd love to hear from you. Alas, that's it for tonight folks. Don't forget, we're waaaatchiiing!~"

The voice slowly faded out as Everybody's Watching Me by The Neighborhood drowned out the speakers.

Dipper sighed and turned his flashlight off, smiling like a damn near idiot as he rolled over and yanked out his ear-buds. He pulled up the small portable radio—that'd been lying beside him—pushing down the off switch. Once everything was off, he wound his headphones around the device and sat it on his bedside table.

.:.:.

"You look terrible." Mabel mumbled around a mouth full of cheerios as she watched her brother slump onto the chair across from her.

He pulled over the cereal box and started dumping the tinny doughnut shaped treats into his bowl. "Thanks." He grumbled and tossed a few dry kernels into his mouth. Mabel had a point; her twin hadn't gotten much sleep after listening to Dreamscapers last night. He was too overwhelmed with thoughts of the unknown to shut his mind down. Thus, his skin was a bit paler than usual and the bags beneath his eyes were a bit more prominent.

"When do you go to work? You better freshen up a bit beforehand, you seriously look like death." Mabel pointed her spoon at Dipper accusingly.

"Its fine, I am just stacking books today so no one will have to look at my face." He remarked, "And I am supposed to be there in a half hour so I am kind of in a rush."

Mabel leveled the boy with an 'are you kidding me' look as she continued to eat. Obviously she cared a little bit more—a lot more—on appearance than her brother did. Dipper shrugged and poured a good amount of milk over his cereal before shoveling the food into his mouth. He hadn't the time to be bickered at, for fucks sake he barely had time to eat and run. Granted that would be his own fault for both staying up late and ignoring his alarm clock when it first went off.

The girl sighed and leaned back in her old wooden chair, "What did they talk about last night?" Mabel asked, mildly interested. No matter how harshly she denied it, she was also intrigued by strange things much like Dipper. They used to listen to the Dreamscapers show together till Mabel had to start focusing on her school work and social life—two things Dipper didn't have to deal with because he decided on skipping out on college and going straight to work.

"A lot of things, but mostly gnomes. I am pretty sure their gnomes…" Dipper waved his spoon around as he talked. "I mean, their small men with pointy hats! That spells gnome to me. Cipher is so vague about things, though."

Mabel smiled softly as she watched her brother ramble. She would never get tired of the excitement that'd light up in his eyes when she let him talk about his passions. Sure she wasn't all that into what he had to say, but he listened to her ramble about things all the time it was the least she could do to return the favor.

"So basically," Mabel started, slowly getting up with her empty bowl. "What you're saying is that the fan boy within you is getting stronger and you're about five steps away from confessing your undying love for a radio host?" She smirked and twirled around on her heels towards the kitchen sink.

"What the—I am not! How did you get that from gnomes!?" Dipper sputtered, nearly knocking over his bowl of mostly milk.

"To be fair, I don't blame you in the least. Cipher has a nice—maybe nice isn't the right word," She paused and tapped one long finger against her chin, "An almost hypnotic voice!" She finished with a point in her brothers direction.

"Just what's that supposed to mean?" Dipper asked, scooting away from the table and bringing his half eaten bowl of cereal over to the sink as well. He didn't feel very hungry anymore.

"It means he's hot, if his voice says anything to go by. He's like one big mystery just waiting to be unboxed and I know you're into that kind of stuff." Mabel shrugged. She took the bowl from Dippers hands and started cleaning both their dishes. Dipper grabbed a towel to help dry.

"That doesn't mean I am in love with him! I just like the show, god Mabel stop trying to make me your new romance project!"

"All I am saying is, you obsess over that show and are constantly talking about Cipher. From my experience in the field of loooove, that usually means you like someone."

"Or maybe I just like the show!"

"You're being so defensive."

"I am NOT being defensive!"

"Suuuure."

"Mabel!"

"Fine, fine, go take your uptight ass to work before you're late!" Mabel whirled around and flicked a handful of soapy water at her brother.

Dipper hissed and stumbled back like some sort of demon who'd just been hit with holly water. He was about to retort but decided against it, for it would do nothing for him. Instead he simply turned away, grabbed his jacket, keys, and wallet, and marched out of the house. 1000% done with Mabel.

.:.:.

The best part about working in a bookstore was probably the solitude. Everything was always so quiet, save for the occasional whistling of coffee machines from the small café in the corner of the place. It was calm and nice, practically a home away from home.

Dipper had to admit he got lucky snatching up a smooth sailing job like this one right out of high school. He'd been on the borderline about going to college, for he was lacking the knowledge of what exactly he even wanted to go back to school for. There was no career path he had in mind, so when the owner of the bookstore asked if he wanted a job, Dipper was on board.

Besides, he spent the majority of his time scouting out the place before even working there so he knew it like the back of his hand. It was his hang-out place, now it's his work. But he enjoyed it so it didn't really matter.

"Phew, done." Dipper mumbled under his breath as he stacked the last of the books he needed to put out on display. He patted his hands against his thighs, brushing off any dust that managed to cling to his pants while carrying boxes.

After tiding himself up, Dipper started collecting the few empty boxes left behind. He folded them carefully till they were flat, than tucked them beneath his arm and started towards the back again.

'Back and forth. Back and forth.' He thought to himself, eyeing the "employees only" sign hanging above the door in the distance. He walked this path so many times he could have probably done it blind folded and successfully avoided crashing into any bookshelves. Not that he was complaining. This was a job. Jobs may be boring and tiring to some extent but jobs were—

"Good Afternoon."

—jobs.

Dipper squinted at the door he was heading for, momentarily caught off guard as he heard a familiar metallic voice ring through the air. He furrowed his brows, 'someone must have switched radio stations' he thought briefly, because there was no way that voice would be heard from anything but a speaker system.

Granted it was kind of odd since that voice wasn't supposed to be on the radio right now. And more importantly, they didn't have a speaker system in this bookstore. And even more importantly, why does that voice keep ringing in my head with the attitude of an angry costumer?

Stumbling to a complete stop, Dipper turned his head to the side, catching glimpse of a rather annoyed looking man.

He watched with extreme confusing as the lips of the stranger moved in sync with the voice in his head. The voice that belonged on the radio. The voice that belonged to Cipher.

This stranger was…..

{the end.

Chapter Text

‘Today was probably simultaneously the best and worst day of my life’, Dipper thought as he dragged his lifeless body up the stairs. He’d just gotten home from his shift at the bookstore and felt like doing nothing but hide away in his room till the end of time. Maybe no one would notice if he just disappeared from humanity for a little bit, because that’d sure be damn nice after the day he had.

Embarrassment wouldn’t be a strong enough word to describe how he felt towards this day. Humiliation was probably closer but still didn’t fit the bill.

Dipper groaned as he reached his bedroom door, allowing his forehead to plant itself nicely against the rigid wood. He stood there for a long while, unmoving, just leaning there with his eyes closed till his forehead began to ache. He most likely would have been able to fall asleep there if it weren’t for his sister sneaking up and nudging him in the side, causing him to spasm and slam into the door.

“MABEL!”

“That’s my name, don’t wear it out~” Mabel smiled with glee. Her hands were propped behind her back and body was hunched forward towards Dipper. “Whatcha doin?”

“Nothing, just—nothing!” Dipper grouched, rubbing the palm of his hand against his nose.

“Looks like sulking to me. Something happen at work?” Mabel knelt down beside Dipper—whom slid to sit on the floor moments after hitting his face. “Come on bro bro, tell Dr. Mabel what’s bother you~”

Dipper let out a long sigh and proceeded to curl in on himself, wrapping his arms around his legs and burying his face against his knees. “Where do I even begin…”

 

.:Several Hours Early:.

 

“Oi, ain’t yur mama ever tell ya it’s rude to stare at people?” A short and rather stout young man with snow white hair commented dryly.

“Must be enjoying the view with the intensity of that gaze.” The metallic voice snickered from beside the shorter boy.

Dipper gulped at the lump that’d formed in his throat upon turning around. The boxes he’d once been holding were scattered at his feet. He was in a state of utter shock, his jaw was dropped, his eyes were wide, and his body was a stiff as a pole.

“You deaf boy?” Mr. Snow White asked.

“Maybe he’s gone into some sort of shock. Your appearance does have that effect on people.”

“Don’t test me, Cipher.”

Cipher?

“Hahaha don’t get your panties in a twist, Gideon, you know I am just teasing~”

“Uh.” Dipper squeaked idiotically, catching the attention of the two boys before him. ‘Be cool. Be cool.’ He repeated to himself over and over again.

“He speaks!” Cipher shouted, throwing his hands up as if to present a great discovery.

Gideon crossed his arms and rolled his eyes at his friend. “That was hardly speaking.” He objected, sticking his nose into the air like the pretentious man-child he was. “Listen here,” Gideon paused, squinting at Dippers name tag, “Pines. We haven’t the time to play games. We’re lookin fer a book.”

No kidding? I would have never guessed.” Dipper replied in a voice that oozed sarcasm. He felt momentarily victorious as Cipher slapped his knee and burst into a fit of giggles. Good. Good. He could come back from making a total fool out of himself, no worries.

“Heh, I like this kid!” Cipher nudged Gideon with his elbow, wiggling his brows all the while. “Anyone willing enough to sass you is on my good list.”

“Why I otta report you to yer boss!” Gideon’s pasty face flared into a deep shade of angry red. He wasn’t intimidating at all, if anything he looked like a small child who hadn’t gotten their way and resorted to pouting. Dipper could practically see the steam bellowing out from his ears.

“Now, now, don’t be a soccer mom, Gideon.” Cipher chided, patting his friend on the shoulder. He then turned his attention of Dipper, “We’re looking for a book that doesn’t have a name, you can see our predicament in trying to find it, yes?”

Dipper felt his back go stiff as a board again. “Um, yeah I guess.” He muttered nervously.

Cipher nodded, and then began digging in his pocket. He hummed as he yanked out a crumpled up piece of paper and began unfolding it. “We call it Journal 1.” He said and held out the paper once it was to full display. “This is what it looks like, have you seen it?”

Dipper took the paper into his hands, glancing over it slowly. The drawing depicted an older looking book with a strange hand-like symbol on the center of the cover. There was a solid 1 planted on the middle of the hand. Dipper hadn’t seen anything like it before, and was certain they didn’t carry anything similar—not unless it was buried somewhere in back with all the reject books.

“I don’t think so.” Dipper frowned, “There are a lot of older books in back, but I don’t know where you’d even start looking.”

That was the shitty part of working at an older bookstore. They weren’t like Barns&Nobel, they barely had a system. It was basically, popular things go out front and everything else just gets tossed on a shelf somewhere. Than the extra old shit reads and historical books got stored in the basement.  

Cipher watched the boy carefully, looking almost suspicious but his expression did a 360 as he started smiling and taking the paper away. “Well, thanks for—”

“nothing.” Gideon interrupted.

“—the help!”

Dipper shifted from foot to foot, “Yeah,” He glanced towards Gideon, earning a glare in return. ‘What an asshole’ Dipper thought. He reached down to start collecting the boxes he had dropped beforehand, stuffing them beneath his arm again. “Sorry for um… staring before. You just—I thought your were—um… your voice just—”

The boy was cut off abruptly by Cipher, whom raised his hand quickly to press a single finger to his lips in a ‘shhh’ gesture. He grinned from behind his finger and gave a wink before turning around and motioning Gideon to follow.

Dipper was left standing there, feeling confused, frustrated, and annoyed by the fact he still had seven more hours of work ahead of him. Great.

 

.:Present:.

 

“I don’t understand…” Mabel squinted at the space between her and her brother. “Why are you acting like the worlds ending?”

“Because it is!” Dipper threw his hands up, accidently smacking the door behind him. He winced and pulled his fists to rest against his chest. “I acted like a total weirdo!”

“Well, you kind of are a total weirdo.”

“Yeah but I don’t want the person I look up to knowing that!”

“Awww, that’s cute~” Mabel mused, batting her eyes at her brother obnoxiously.

Dipper groaned and shoved Mabel’s face away. “There is nothing cute about any of this.”

“I beg to differ.” Mabel’s eyes lit up and elbow shot up to nudge her brother in the side. “Differ.” She wiggled her brows suggestively.

“What?” Dipper shrugged, not getting what his sister was trying to say.

“Differ! It’s like Dipper and Cipher combined. Differ!”

“Ok, how much Mabel juice have you drunk today?”

Mabel smiled widely and shrugged. She clambered up to her feet, brushing off any dust that might have clung to her skirt while sitting on the floor. “This all sounds like some crazy love story to me, but since you’re you and won’t think as such, my advice would be to not think about it. I doubt you’ll ever run into him again.” The girls eyes softened and hand reached out to pat her brother on the head. “Or, who knows, maybe you will and you’ll become good friends. First impression never go the way you want them, take Wendy and Soos for example, they probably thought we were off our rocker when they first met us. Now we’re all best friends!”

Dipper made a small grunting noise from the back of his throat; he supposed his sister was onto something. Although, he was sure he’d never get over this. He’ll probably be fifty and still have a cringe attack about today. Just one of those events in life you’ll never forget and will haunt you till the end of time.

“Come on, I’ll go make dinner and you can watch one of your silly ghost hunting shows to get your mind off stuff. What do you want to eat?”

{ to be continued.

Chapter Text

A week had buzzed by in a breeze for the Pines family. After the whole Cipher misshape, life went back to its usual uneventful schedule. Day in and day out, Dipper slaved away at the bookstore, only to crash on his bed in a heap of aching bones at night. He was used to the labor by now, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t a mess by the time he got home.

Not to mention, he’d recall at least once a day on his cringe worthy actions the week prior. That only worsened his mood and made his stomach tighten with second-hand embarrassment for his past self.

It wasn’t like he hadn’t done something stupid and embarrassing before all this, but it certainly did take the top. He had a feeling his brain would never let it go, he’d be forever trapped in a loop of recollection.

And Mabel didn’t help ease Dipper’s wounded pride any either. She still picked on him—though lightly and always meaning no harm. There were limits to her poking and prodding but it still ate away at her brothers nerves.

He was happy to put things behind him—even though they were at the forefront of his mind—so when Friday came around again, Dipper was ready to plop down on the floor at the foot of his bed and flick on his portable radio player. He told himself over and over that nothing was different, Cipher was still a radio host, he himself was still going to listen to the show, and there was nothing awkward about any of this.

About ten minutes before Dreamscapers was schedule to start, Mabel popped her head in with a big smile on her face. “Hay, bro bro, mind if we join?” She mused and skid around the door with three bottles of pop in hand. Pacifica was just behind her, carrying a large bowl of freshly popped popcorn—the food and drinks were obviously bribery.

The blonde bumped the door closed with her hip once she was in the room, which led Dipper to believe there was no room for arguing. Not that he really cared that much. If anything he was surprised they actually wanted to listen along—well more so Pacifica than Mabel, Mabel was at least slightly interested in the show. Though, who was he kidding, she probably just followed along with whatever Mabel wanted to do and so long as she didn’t make any snide remarks she was welcome to stay, he supposed.

Mabel hoped over, setting the drinks in an orderly fashion amongst the three, than plopped down on the floor beside her brother. She tucked her oversize pajama shirt over her knees, pressing them close to her chest till she was in an egg shape. Her arms looped around to hold onto her legs, and she slowly began to rock back and forth while humming happily along with the music.

Meanwhile, Pacifica had settled across from the two and sat the bowl diligently in the middle of their circle next to the radio.

Dipper grabbed one of the bottles of Dr. Pepper and cracked it open. He took a good gulp and sighed with delight as the fizzy bubbles attacked his taste-buds. There’s nothing like the first sip of a freshly open bottle of pop to quell your nerves.

“So when’s this shindig start?” Mabel asked, hand reaching out to scoop up a good portion of popcorn. She shoved the food in her mouth and munched away.

Pacifica followed suit, but in a more lady-like fashion, taking a single kernel at a time.

“Any minute now,” Dipper replied. He had to admit this was kind of nice. It’d been a while since he had listened to Dreamscapers with anyone, and it was always better in a group. He just hoped the girls weren’t there to poke fun at him some more. If so they were going to be kicked out in a heartbeat.

It wasn’t like he couldn’t handle it, but his level of patients was wearing thin this week and all he wanted to do was sit back and relax. Listening to his favorite radio show always helped in that department.

The music began to die out, soon replaced with the voice of the notorious radio host, Cipher. Mabel wiggled with excitement, probably happier about this than any of them. And that was saying a lot since Dipper was practically the number one fan over here.

The show started out as per-usual, introductions and the fan story of the week. This time it was about a mysterious lake monster that’d been spotted surfacing the water’s edge. It was large and serpent-like, with blue leathery skin. The tail had disturbed the calm waters, causing ripples and fairly well sized waves to shatter the surface.

The eye-witness said after a few minutes the serpent surfaced again but this time to grab an unsuspecting duck. In sort, the feathery mammal was dragged under and never seen again.

Mabel and Pacifica both gasped dramatically.

Dipper rolled his eyes. “That’s nothing compared to some of the things they’ve talked about on here.” The boy mumbled and grabbed for some popcorn.

Mabel smiled at her brother, than nudged his arm with her elbow. “Dipper’s like an expert on this stuff by now,” She mused to Pacifica. “You should hear the crazy stories he gets from this show.”

Pacifica scoffed and leaned back on her forearms, “Believe me, I’ve heard. I work with him, remember?”

Dipper huffed a sigh, “There not stories, their real.” He argued lightly and plopped another kernel in his mouth.

Pacifica stared at the boy with an ‘are you serious’ look, obviously not buying a minute of this. She was a practical woman and some guy on the radio wasn’t going to sway her opinion of the supernatural being real. Maybe when Waddles flies she’d believe.

“What? It’s true!” Dipper narrowed his eyes to thin slits. “This stuff really happens here.”

Really?” Pacifica challenged.

“Yes, really.” Dipper nearly growled. If there was anything he was defensive about, it was his love and beliefs for the supernatural. And the show.

“Well if you’re so certain, than why haven’t I seen anything out-of-place? I’ve lived here my whole life and haven’t spotted anything strange or wired, aside for you of course.”

Mabel groaned and chucked a hand full of popcorn at the two bickering children. “Would you guys quite it!” She shouted and crossed her arms over her knees. “I am trying to listen to Mr. Cipher.”

Dipper and Pacifica continued to glare at each other, but at least shut their mouths.

“—it was a cute little bookstore; you’ve got to at least admit that.”

The room went still and cold as the voices on the radio suddenly snapped everyone to attention. Dipper shot his head towards the device lying on the floor. “Wait what?” He muttered, feeling like he’d just been punched in the gut with anxiety.

“Woo!” Mabel hooted and threw her hands up to squish her cheeks together excitedly. She turned to her brother, beaming.

“You’re insane, Cipher.” Gideon. Yup, that was definitely Gideon.

“I never claimed not to be,” The host replied in a voice quite chipper.

“The place was a dumb, and the staff was rude as all hell.” Gideon sighed; you could practically hear the eye roll through the speakers.

Cipher hummed but it was in disagreement, “This week on: Gideon-complains-about-everything.” He muttered close to the mike.

“Wha—”

“Mr. Gleeful has a stick up his ass right now; you’ll have to excuse him.” Cipher cut him off, the smile in his voice was very evident. “You see, he’s just mad because he got owned by an adorable sales clerk—”

“Dipper!” Mabel flopped sideways onto her brother’s lap as he grabbed the radio to turn it off.

“I don’t wanna listen to this!” Dipper shouted, turning the dials till the voices cut in and out. This was like some sort of torture and Dipper wasn’t about to subdue himself to it. Besides, the announcement segment never lasted long, and it was at the end anyways. He wouldn’t miss any supernatural talk.

He struggled against his sister’s attempts at grabbing the device back. She was extremely persistent and it didn’t even take a minute for her to overpower Dipper—much to his annoyance. She sat on his back and turned the radio back to its proper settings, giving a small victory cheer when the voices came back.

Dipper groaned and dropped his forehead against the wooden panels bellow him.

“—so basically we’re looking for a book.” Cipher, clear as day now, announced. “It’s really important we find it, and it’d mean a great deal to us if you guys helped us out. So great, in fact, that we’d even reward you for your findings.”

Mabel slapped her brother on the shoulder as he withered a little. “Listen, listen!”

“I am listening!” Dipper hissed.  

“It’s a maroon book, with gold edges and a distinctive six fingered hand print with a number one in the middle, on the center of the cover. There is no name for it; it’s actually more of a journal than anything. You can see why our searching has been coming up so poor.”

“Who goes to this much trouble for a book?” Pacifica mumbled as she examined her nails with disinterest. Dipper tilted his head just enough to give her another glare.

 “So, how about we start a little contest, yeah? The person, who finds this book, will win… oh let’s say, an entire day with yours truly? I will be your personal lap dog for all of 24 hours; we can do whatever it is you like. All you’ve gotta do is bring me the book!”

He must have been really desperate to put his own identity on the line, Dipper thought to himself. If there was anything Cipher had kept under lock-and-key for the past years of doing the show, it was who he was. And giving that all up for a book seemed… reckless.

“I am afraid this concludes out time together everyone. Make sure to tune in next time folks, and remember, we’re always watching~”

The three fell into an oddly heavy silence as the voices flickered out and music began to fill the room again. Mabel slowly scooted over Dipper’s back—after several shoves from the poor boy—allowing him to sit up again. His back would ache like hell in the morning.

“So, you gonna look?” Mabel inquired. She switched off the device, engulfing the room in silence once again.

“For what?” Dipper mumbled, stretching out his back and wincing as his joints screamed.

“The book! Are you gonna look for the book!”

“Why would I? It’s probably not even in town, or the state, for that matter. If he can’t find it on his own than it’s impossible to get your hands on, obviously.” The brunette shrugged. “It’d be a total waste of time, I’d never find it.”

.:.:.

“Are you crazy!?” Gideon shouted the second the mikes were turned off. He whirled around in his chair, face flared red with anger and eyes wide and crazy like. He tossed aside his headphones, letting them tumble onto the table with a loud thud. “A contest? We didn’t agree on that!”

Bill gently pushed the hanging mike away from his face, unfazed by his comrade’s outburst. He swiveled and stood, heading for the small break area across the room. Gideon was quick to follow the blonde, falling into step right beside him.

“I am fine with the contest. I am fine.” The white haired man waved his hands flippantly. “What I am not ok with is the award! You can’t pin yerself up as a trophy, Bill! Yer identity will be exposed!”

Bill meandered around the counter, grabbing a Styrofoam cup from a rack and sat it beneath the sprout of the coffee machine. He hit the button labeled black and leaned back, waiting patiently for both his drink and for Gideon to wear himself out.

“Five years. Five years we’ve kept yer identity secret! And you wanna blow that fer a fucking book? God damn it Cipher, what’s gotten into you!?” Gideon paced back and forth, pulling vigorously at his hair. He stopped short of Bill, dropping his hands at his sides and glared at the man as he reached for his drink and took a lazy sip. “Yer not taking this seriously.”

“Nope.” Bill replied bluntly. He heaved a joyful sigh, smacked his lips, and hoped up to sit on the counter.

Gideon only continued to stare at the man in disbelief.

“You’re always so paranoid, Gideon. No wonder you have white hair, you’ve worried yourself into old age and you’re only twenty.” Bill took another leisure sip of his coffee. He hummed at the hot and bitter taste hitting his pallet. “I’ve got this all planned out, believe me. I know who’s going to find the book, and he’s not going to show me off to the world the second he does.”

Gideon crossed his arms, “He? Fer the love of all that is holly, please tell me yer not talkin about that little shit from the book store?” He scowled.

Bill gave a short laugh, eyes lighting up with both mischief and happiness. He tilted the cup in his hand from side to side, watching the dark liquid inside spin around and distort his reflection.

“Yes I am, Gideon. Yes I am.”

-to be continued-

Chapter Text

Dust. There was dust everywhere. From the floor to the rafters, everything within sight was covered in the annoying substance. It wasn’t all that surprising since the basement doors hadn’t been opened for a few months, but someone could have at least kept the place a little bit tidier than this. Dipper could literally see where his foot prints disturbed the growing layers of dirt across the cement ground.

It was restocking day—which was more or less spring cleaning but in autumn—so all the unpopular and unsellable books had to be taken down to the basement and shelved amongst the other rejects. These days were some Dipper loathed most. Carry fifty pound boxes up and down stairs was pure hell, and the brunette always seemed to get put on the job. Yay.

To make matters worse, Pacifica was supposed to be helping him and they both knew what that meant: Dipper was doing everything himself.

Of course he couldn’t be paired up with someone who’d actually do their job. Nope. He had to get stuck with the single person in the entire store that wouldn’t get within a foot of dust even if her life depended on it. She would stay upstairs and toss books into boxes, that was the extent of her work.

“You could at least bring them to the top of the stairs.” Dipper grumbled as he folded the top to one of the filled boxes at Pacifica’s feet. The girl flipped lazily through one of the reject books, humming once for acknowledgement but otherwise ignored the boy.

Dipper scoffed and hefted the box into his arms. He swayed the first few steps, nearly toppling straight into a bookshelf, but caught his balance before doing so. He sighed with relief. There were a thousand reasons why this job shouldn’t have been assigned to him, and his lack of balance and muscle was number one on the list.

He hurried across the store and by the time he got to the basement door he was tempted to just throw the damn box down the steps. It wasn’t like anyone was going to buy these books anyways. They’d be stacked on dusty shelves again but this time forgotten. It was a bit depressing, to say the least.

The second he was on solid ground, Dipper dropped the box. Large puffs of dust floated out from around the foreign object, clouding the air a hazy shade of grey. It smelt of musk and 100 year old paperbacks—which was more or less the whole stores sent by now.

The brunette hunched over to grip his knees. He was panting like a dog. Manual work and poor air conditions had him on the verge of dying. Well, maybe not dying, but hyperventilate, sure. He staggered over to a nearby box, and plopped down on top of it. He figured he deserved a breather, and it wasn’t like Pacifica was in any rush to fill more boxes.

He sighed and leaned back against the cement wall behind him. It was pretty creepy down here, what with only a few flickering light bulbs hanging from the ceiling to shed light, and all the shelves and desks crammed together like a maze. It reminded him of that library scene in the first Ghostbusters…

Dipper laughed softly at the works of his imagination. Only he would refer to his place of work as a scene from a cinematic classic. Well, Mabel might too—actually she might get a kick out of this. Dipper thought and hurriedly tugged out his phone from his pocket.

He was just about to click on his sister’s name when a notification popped up. It was an email, probably junk, but Dipper decided to open it up out of mild curiosity, anyway.

As expected, it was just a mass email. He flicked it open with every intention of deleting the message, until he noted what the message was actually about. It was a form from Dreamscapers, officially announcing the contest. Dipper furrowed his brows and scrolled through the message. He stopped when he came to a picture of the book.

It was in much more detail than the one Cipher had presented him a week ago. For starters, it was in actual color, and he could make out the six-fingered hand. Even the rips in the cover were visible.

Dipper sighed and closed his phone, dropping it to the side. He glanced over at the rows of shelves in front of him, suddenly getting an itchy feeling. He knew it was stupid but… he could at least take a look around just to make sure the strange journal 1 wasn’t sitting around anywhere.

It was none of his concern to begin with, but something just kept nagging at him to at least look. It didn’t hurt to look. And besides, his other option would be carrying more boxes and he’d much rather mess around in the archives than that.

So it was off into the land of dust and spider webs for him.

Dipper hefted himself up, taking a second to stretch out his aching limbs. All he knew was he was going to need a shower once home. Hot, steaming, shower… that’d be lovely. Dipper thought as he carefully weaved around the few islands of books that sat in pyramid shapes on the floor. He knelt beside a few stacks, eyeing the spines and scanning over the titles briefly before opting to check out the shelves. There were rows and rows of them, all squished together so tight a person could barely move between them. Dipper was scraggly so he fit just fine, but anyone with a normal body mass would hit their shoulders for sure. This was one of the rare moments Dipper thanked himself for never picking up weights.

He started at the front and worked his way to the back, muddling through a vast section of genres. There was history, fantasy, mystery, and even a large portion of romance novels cluttered together. There was apparently no such thing as alphabetical order or order in general down there. It was a real mess.

Dipper was half tempted to start moving things—call it a tick, but organization when it came to books was his biggest pet peeve—but continued moving till he reached the town’s archives.

There were thousands of documents on Gravity Falls aligning the back wall, most probably blue prints of buildings or articles on events. The town’s whole history sat there, dusty and untouched, but there nonetheless.

Dipper eyed the several rows of files and small books. The top shelves were reserved for documents, but the lower ones had actual novel-looking files.

Far in the corner where little light reached sat a row of books. Thick books. One green, one brown, one blue, one red…

Dipper yanked out his phone and unlocked it, using what little light the device gave off in order to look at the titles. He scanned down the row slowly, shaking his head when nothing of interest appeared to be there. Woodland life, Indigenous plants, Dipper rolled his eyes.

That was till he reached the red book.

It had no title on the spine.

Dipper held his breath as he pulled it out, could it be the book? He thought eagerly and flipped the dusty object over and—

“Bird watching 101. Seriously?!” The boy groaned and chucked the book across the floor, causing a cloud of dirt to float into the air. He coughed a few times as he angrily settled into a sitting position on the ground. He really shouldn’t have gotten his hopes up…

“Dipper! There’s a costumer here for you!” A shrill voice shouted from the top of the stairs, causing Dipper to flail and jump to his feet. He was really getting tired of being scared shitless; this was the third time in a span of two days, what the hell?

He knew almost instantly it was Pacifica calling, which settled his sudden adrenaline. Only she would yell from the top of the stairs instead of actually coming down to get him.

Dipper turned around quickly, eyeing the bright entrance way to the stairs. “Ok!”

There was a pause before Pacifica called again, this time a little quieter, “Hurry up, he’s kinda freaking me out!”

Dipper turned off his phone and stuffed it in his back pocket as he hurried towards the stairs. “What do you mean? It’s not Mabel or Stan?” They were the only ones to that ever visited him, so that for starters was a bit odd.

The blondes head popped out from around the corner of the door, glaring down at Dipper as he climbed up. “If it was Mabel I wouldn’t have even called you.”

“True.” Dipper mumbled to himself. He stopped at the top of the stairs, taking a minute to shut the basement door and lock it up again. “Where?”

“Front desk.”

“Alright, thanks.” Dipper flashed a smile, than hiked off towards the front of the store. He mauled over who it might be, Soos or Wendy maybe? Although Pacifica used a male pronoun so… Soos. Probably Soos.

There were few other male acquaintances he had, Stan and Soos were about it.

As Dipper neared the front of the store he started glancing around for any familiar faces. The store was practically empty aside for employees—whom all wore navy blue polo shirts—so it wasn’t hard to find the odd one out. And man was the single costumer waiting patiently at the front desk a very odd one…

He was leaning against the checkout table, arms folded diligently over his chest and head angled high as he gazed out the window—or Dipper presumed he was looking out the window, for he currently had on a pair of sunglasses and was turned in the other direction so it was hard to tell. He wore a bright yellow cardigan over a white tang-top of sorts, which had black eye patterns speckling it. And lastly, like every other typical young adult, he had on a form-fitting pair of black skinny jeans and boots.

Dipper took a moment to simply look the stranger up and down, because he honestly couldn’t believe his eyes. It hadn’t even been a week and he was being sucked into another midlife crises. All because of the same fucking person.

“Pines!”

Dipper instantly stiffened. He watched as Cipher started weaving his way over to him. The man had a big grin on his face that was almost to the point of unnerving, like an evil cartoon character who’s plan of world domination finally worked. No person could initiate that level of insane but be totally normal like Cipher could.

Dipper found it hard to believe this was the same guy he listened to every Friday night. The one he’d been waiting his whole life to meet. His expectations were off by a land slid, but not completely. Sure Cipher was a character—quite the character—but his appearance and attitude almost made sense. No normal human being would be hosting a supernatural radio show.

But then again, Dipper hadn’t actually talked to this man. He knew little to nothing about him other than he was looking for a book, so he certainly couldn’t judge.

“Um Hi.” Dipper uttered as the blonde came to stand in front of him. He glanced around slowly, wondering where the angry stubby one with white hair was.

As if reading his mind, Cipher started waving a dismissive hand, Gideon isn’t here, it’s just me today.”

“Oh.” Dipper straightened, probably a bit to relieved about that. But could you blame him? As far as Dipper was concerned, Gideon was an annoying creep that needed a sun tan.

There was an awkward pause between the two, both staring at the other as if waiting for them to speak first. “So, can I help you with something?” The brunette asked cautiously.

“When do you get off work?”

Dipper nearly choked on nothing but air at how bluntly the man asked his question. He blinked and opened his mouth a few times, giving multiple different excuse me looks before he settled with actually sputtering out the words. “Huh?”

Cipher apparently found this amusing for his eyes lit up with mischief, he could barely contain the few snickers that fluttered past his lips. “Do you remember the book I talked about last week?”

Dipper nodded slowly.

“Well, I am still looking for it and I hoped you’d lend me your assistance.” The blonde began to rock on his heels. “You see, I am not really acquainted with this town. I live on the outskirts, in the mountains, and I’ve only ever been here for the convenience store. I don’t know what stores to check out or where to even consider looking for this book and since you seem to know this place or at least live here, I assume you’d know where I could find things.”

“And you want me… to help you find this book?” Dipper furrowed his brows in confusion. Didn’t he have a pack of followers on the search for the book? Why did he want Dipper’s help when it was only a matter of time before some lucky fan found it?

“Precisely!” Cipher smiled. “What do you say? Will you lend me a hand?”

Dipper lowered his eyes to the floor, weighing his odds. This seemed all so ridiculously movie like—Mabel would be exploding with excitement by now. He could understand the situation, seeing as he does know Gravity Falls like the back of his hand, but wasn’t it a bit odd? This all felt odd, right? It wasn’t just him?

“Um, I mean…” The brunette began. He lifted a hand to rub at the back of his neck, eyeing Cipher out of the corner of his vision. Even behind his black shades Dipper could tell he was expectant, even a bit hopeful.

On the other hand, Dipper thought, this was someone he has looked up to for years and any sane person would be jumping at the prospect of being able to hang out with him. Hell, Dipper was already shaking in his shoes at the idea of hanging out with the mysterious man. It was just his evaluating side that made him pause and question every little thing. Stanger danger and all that jazz, right?

However, he still came to the same conclusion: it wouldn’t hurt.

“Ah what the hell, alright.” He shrugged and schooled his expression into a look of disinterest—he was probably trying a bit too hard to be chill about this. His insides were practically screaming with joy because holly fuck he was going on a semi-adventure with his idol.

There was no doubt Cipher could see straight past the boys attempts at looking cool. If anything the brunette looked like a total dork, but Cipher appreciated his excitement. There were so few people in this world that were like Dipper. If he asked anyone else they would have told him to go google what he was looking for, not actually be willing to seek adventure with him.

Dipper was quite the lucky find, if Cipher had to say so himself. Quite lucky indeed.

.:.:.

“Mabel, are you even listening to me?” Dipper hissed into his phone. The other end of the line was blowing up with squeals and random bursts of glee. Mabel could barely contain herself after Dipper asked her to cover for him at dinner, for he probably wouldn’t be making it back in time thanks to Cipher’s outing invitation.

He shuffled through the back room with his phone cradled between the side of his face and his shoulder. He walked automatically over to the row of lockers along the wall, stopping in front of the one with his name crudely written on a piece of tape on the door. “Just tell Stan I am hanging out with Pacifica if he asks, ok? Mabel!”

“Ok! Ok!” Mabel mused around her fit of giggles. “Maaaan, I can’t believe you’re going on a dat—”

“If you finish that sentence you can bet your sorry ass you will be waking up with a shaved head tomorrow.” Dipper growled. He flipped open the door and started grabbing for his green parka, stuffing his wallet and keys into the pockets simultaneously. “I am just helping him find a book. That’s it.”

Mabel hummed and Dipper could practically hear her wiggling her brows. “No strings attached.”

“No strings attached.” Dipper repeated sternly. Sometimes Mabel could be a real pain in his ass. “I’ve gotta go. And please, for the love of god, don’t tell Stan, or Soos, or Wendy, or anyone about this.”

“Of course, Bro bro, don’t you trust me?” Mabel sounded almost offended.

“No.” Dipper replied and pulled the phone away from his ear, hitting the ‘end call’ button.

Huffing, Dipper started tugging on his jacket. Once situated, he grabbed the blue and white hat that sat on the top shelf of his locker, slouching it on his head snuggly. He felt much more complete with the accessory.

The boy paused briefly at just the right distance to examining his appearance in the small mirror that hung in his locker. He looked like shit but there wasn’t really anything he could do about that, so he closed the door and started back out into the store again.

Cipher was waiting patiently at the front door, smiling and rocking on his heels all the while.

“Hey,” Dipper called out once within a few feet of the man.

Cipher whirled around, head tilting up and down as if he was eyeing the boy from behind his shades—which in all honesty he probably was. It wasn’t like Dipper cared, might as well get any scrutinizing out beforehand. Most people would agree that the boys style was slopping, and the fact he was gleaming with dirt and sweat from work just added to the belief.

 However, no comment was made—much to Dipper’s dismay. Cipher simply pushed open the store door and let out a cheery, “After you!”

There was a small hesitation in Dipper’s step, but he walked past the man anyways.

He stepped out onto the threshold and instantly shivered. Gravity Falls wide range of weather was something he figured he’d never get used it. It was nearing the middle of autumn so the cold was expected, but not appreciated.

Dipper sunk a little further into his jacket till the collar of his parka covered his mouth. He turned in wait, than followed Cipher was he started walking towards a slick black Mercedes Benz that looked like it’d just been driven out of the lot. It practically sparkled.

“Woah, wait.” Dipper stumbled to a stop, watching as Cipher walked around to the driver’s side.

He paused at the door. “What’s wrong?”

“You own this?” Dipper asked in disbelief. He pointed at the car for emphasis.

“No, I stole it.” Cipher replied so quickly and with such a straight face it had Dipper jutting back in surprise. He was obviously just playing around. But he was being awfully quiet…Dipper opened his mouth to make an attempt at questioning him but loud chirp of laughter a few minutes later assured him everything he needed to know. “Man, you are gullible. You should have seen your face!” Cipher hooted.

“Very funny.” Dipper huffed a sigh and moved to get into the car alongside Cipher. “But seriously, you must be plenty loaded to own this thing.”

The blonde hummed and gave a small shrug as he turned the car on. “I guess. You don’t want to be paid for doing this now, do you?” He quirked a brow.

Dipper’s hands shot up and eyes widened. “No, no! I didn’t mean—”

“Haha jeez, kid, I am just messing with you~”

Dipper was really going to have to get used to this whole messing around thing. Since when had he become so literal and jumpy at every little thing that happened around him? It was beginning to annoy him. Man up, Pines. It’s time to whip out that backbone of yours that’s been kept hidden since middle school.

“So, where to, Pines?” The blonde asked with mild interest as he fiddled with the radio. He hummed a small noise of agreement when the station fell on one Dipper was all too familiar with.

Wasn’t listening to your own radio station a bit egotistical? Probably. But Dipper wasn’t about to comment on it. He had no issues with the music that played, and besides, the guy had good tastes so who was he to complain? Listening to this station was probably like listening to a personal ipod to Cipher.

Dipper dragged his thoughts from the music, mulling over the places they could go. There weren’t that many shops in Gravity Falls, and if this book was so rare than it probably wasn’t going to be sitting around in some bookshop. There was only one place he knew of. An unconventional place, that he hadn’t imagined ever visiting.

“Do you know where the junk yard is?”

.:.:.

“You mean to tell me, an old man living in a trash can is going to know where to find my book?” Cipher grumbled, the look plastered on his face screamed disgust. His nose was scrunched up and he kept his hands secured within his coat pockets, probably trying not to touch any of the trash they were currently trekking through.

He was so damn dainty in his attempts to step around scrap metal and forgotten food wrappers. At one point Dipper was sure he heard the man mumble something along the lines of “these shoes cost more than Gorge Clooney, so help me if they get scratched—”

Dipper had to use a lot of will power in order not to burst into laughter.

He was finding out a lot of strange quirks about Cipher and it had only been a few hours. He was sarcastic and liked messing with people, was visibly wealthy—though didn’t seem to value it much, and now he has a problem with dirt.

Or maybe he just really liked those shoes.

Either way, this guy was just getting stranger by the minute. His personality is something Dipper had never encountered before, and wasn’t really sure how to respond to. That’s not just because the boys social skills were terrible, but he honestly didn’t know what to expect out of Cipher. Being around him felt like being blindfolded and forced to walk through a maze, you just didn’t know what the next turn might bring. What new mystery you might solve about him.

“I give no guarantees, but if there is anyone in this town that knows about rare things it’s this guy.” Dipper assured. He kicked a can from his path lazily, “By the way, what’s this book even about? I mean… why’s it so important you find it?”

Cipher lifted his head slowly to eye the sky. He pursed his lips and squinted, searching for the right words to use no doubt. “Let’s just say, if I don’t find it, I won’t be around much longer.”

Dipper frowned, wishing the man wouldn’t be so vague. But he decided not to pry, he’d find out once they’d find the thing anyways.

They stopped just short of a small shack like structure covered in scraps of metal and trash. It was barely recognizable amongst the rest of the junk yard piles, but Dipper knew.

He walked forward and reached out a hand to knock on the door—or what looked like a door. And not a split second later the metal was whipped to the side and an old grumpy looking hooligan came hurdling out.

“Whad’ya want!” The man shouted. His eyes looked crazed as searched between Dipper and Cipher. “You here for the raccoon add?”

“Wha—no.” Dipper blinked, caught off guard. He shook his head and took a step back, “No. We actually had a few questions for you.”

The man narrowed his eyes and leaned in close, “You the feds?” He whispered while he stroked his wispy white beard.

Cipher was quick to deny the man’s accusations. He threw an arm around Dipper, dragging him in close to his side like best friends would do, then smiled wide and shouted, “No police here, we’re just two guys looking for something!” Dipper flashed a smile and gave a thumbs-up.

There was a small pause as all two waited for the man to react with belated breaths. But after a bit of time, he jumped and twirled back towards his doorway again. “Well come in, come in! Why didn’t yer say so!” He hooted and waved for the two boys to follow. They did eagerly.

The inside of the shack was actually pretty cozy—well as cozy as dirt floors and trash walls could be. There were lanterns set up amongst ratty, used, furniture that looked like it belonged in the 80s, giving the cave-like-room a welcoming glow. Various nick-knacks, old science equipment, and piles of books cluttered half the room. If it weren’t for the constant reminder they were in a junk yard, one might mistake this for a mad scientist’s secret lab.

“So what’re you kids doin way of here?” The old man asked as he shuffled around the room, grabbing three metal cups from a small end table. He scooped them into a large pail of water, filling the cups till they were full, than handed each of the two a cup and one for himself. The boys took the offer, but one glance at the brown liquid had them awkwardly holding their mugs away.  

“We’re in search of something.” Cipher shrugged and reached into his pocket to pull out the picture he’d shown Dipper before. “A book.”

“Well I got plenty of them!” The man mused and took a loud slurp of his mystery water. Dipper cringed and had to resist the urge of puking.

“It’s old, one of a kind, a journal of sorts.” The blonde muttered and unfolded the picture till the old man could see it properly.

“Well let’s just take ya looks-see here.” The man snatched the paper away, examining it.

It took a few minutes of squinting before any recognition appeared in the man’s eyes. And when it did—oh did he burst into a feverish fit. He tossed his cup, water splashing across the ground, and shoved the paper back into Cipher’s hands. He looked like he’d just seen a ghost as he cried, “Ya’ll lookin fer a death wish!?”

Even Cipher and Dipper were a bit startled at the man’s outburst. Sure they were expecting—if not hoping—for some sort of a reaction, but not this. The man practically started shoving them out the door while shouting angry slurs and warnings of: “That books bad news I tell ya! Black magic, raising devils, kinda bad news! Nothin good ever came out of that thing.”

The two boys stumbled out the front door in haste. Confused and a little pissed off, Dipper couldn’t help but wonder what the man was blabbering about. Black magic? Raising devils? Just what kinda book was Cipher looking for that it’d send an old man into panic?

Dipper turned around to shout for answers but Cipher grabbed his shoulder and pulled him back. Whatever the hell he was thinking was beyond reason, wasn’t he the one that was willing to risk it all for this book?

Dipper opened his mouth to voice his question, questions on both the man’s actions and reasons.

“Talk about crazy,” Cipher laughed, cutting Dipper off before he could even get his words out. He ran one hand through his hair, while pulling Dipper by the arm back towards his car with the other. “He was obviously on drugs or something.”

The brunette closed his mouth slowly, feeling his determination slip away and uneasiness settle in. He looked towards the hand gripping his arm, than to Cipher’s nervous—no, annoyed, looking expression… “Yeah.”

.:.:.

The ride to the Pines household was a quiet one to say the least. Dipper still had so many questions, but decided against blurting any of them out. He spent the majority of the time gazing out his window and trying not to seem… awkward.

Cipher hadn’t made many attempts at talking either. He hummed to the music lulling through the speakers every once in a while, but otherwise stayed relatively mute. Getting a read on him was almost impossible. His once annoyed expression had faded the second they got in the car. Now he was just as cheerful as he was at the bookstore.

It was strange.

Once he they turned onto the dirt road that would eventually connect with Dipper’s house, he opted to speak up.

“Sorry that was kind of a…” He paused, tapping his fingers against his knees nervously, “failure.” It was really the only word that fit.

Cipher shrugged nonchalantly, “No problem, kid. In case you’ve forgotten, I’ve had about the same amount of luck as you in my own searching.” He mused, flashing a reassuring smile.

Dipper laughed a breathy chuckle, he had a point there.

“Although, being in a house made of trash, and being kicked out of said house of trash by a crazy old man is a first.” Cipher snickered.

That had a rock solid lump of guilt dropping in Dipper’s stomach. He laughed along bitterly, and went back to look out the window again. The house was insight by now.

Cipher glanced over at the brunette, catching on rather quickly that he was upset. Now he couldn’t have that now, could he? “What I mean is: I had fun.” That caught the kids attention.

The car rolled to a slow stop, parked a small distance from the house. Cipher pulled out the keys from the ignition and turned towards his passenger. “Believe it or not, being a radio host isn’t all that entertaining. Well, Friday nights are, but the rest of the week not so much. I don’t usually do much adventuring in a day or really anything in a day other than researching for the show.”

Dipper smiled shyly. This was the first time Cipher had actually acknowledged he was a radio host…

“So, doing all this stuff with you today was actually really fun for once. And if you don’t believe me, you can ask Gideon and he will sure as hell tell you the most exciting thing I’ve done so far this year was get drunk off Margareta’s while on air.” That had them both breaking out into laughter, because, yes, Dipper did remember that one particular show. No one would let the man live it down after that show aired.

Cipher sighed as his fit of giggles died down. “Other than that wildly embarrassing night, I’ve kept to my house and work.” He looked towards Dipper’s house, eyes seemingly distant. “Thus, I appreciated today. Even if we didn’t find the book.”

Dipper lowered his eyes to rest indirectly at Cipher’s hand sitting on the wheel. He could tell Cipher was being genuine, and that alone had him relaxing. Even though the whole book business still nagged at him the wrong way, he felt he could at least trust Cipher to be a good person.

And let’s not ignore that the simple fact Cipher actually enjoyed spending time with him. Dipper could barely contain himself over that tidbit.

He turned away and pushed open his door, scooting to the edge of his seat to get out. He paused as his feet hit dirt, than glance back at Cipher, whose eyes locked with his. “Um…” Dipper began nervously. “We should do this again sometime. I mean, you still don’t have the book and all so…”

Cipher smirked and leaned forward on the steering wheel. “I’d love to, Dipper.” He mused in a voice much too close to the tone he used on the radio.

Dipper’s breath hitched in his throat, but despite that he was able to shout a: “come by the bookstore whenever you want!” as he jumped out the car, slammed the door behind him, and hurriedly started towards the house.

He didn’t dare look back, for fear of Cipher spotting the red tint that was bound to be overpowering Dipper’s face at the moment.

A loud and shaky sigh escaped the poor boy as he gingerly walked into the house. He kicked off his shoes and tossed his jacket on the coat rack sitting near the door. It was time for a long shower and a goodnights rest. However, he didn’t even take a step towards the stairs before noticing all the smug faces staring back at him from the living room.

There was Mabel, Stan, Wendy, and Soos, all sitting around the living room with the tv lighting up their silhouettes.

Mabel was smiling the widest out of them all, next to Wendy and Soos who were snickering in the corner of the room. Stan looked unamused but much to Dipper’s surprise was the only one to speak up. And oh how Dipper wished he hadn’t.

“Judging by the tomato face, I’d say somebody got laid.”

In that moment Dipper could have sworn he’d seen his soul leave his body, only to return with a vengeance for Mabel’s blood.

The cackling girl caught on quickly and bolted for the stairs, knowing she’d sealed her fate.

“You’re so dead Mabel Pines!” Dipper shouted as he ran after his sister.

All the while, a soft hum of an engine could be heard driving off down the Pines driveway.

-to be continued-

Chapter Text

“I want allll the details!” Mabel nearly vibrated in her chair. It was the following morning, and everyone had gathered for breakfast at the dining table—and by everyone, that included Wendy and Soos who both decided to swing by extra early for work. But Dipper knew everyone’s early risings were for one reason and one reason only: to snoop on his escapades from yesterday.

Or at least Mabel was.

To be honest, she was just lucky she was alive and with all her hair. Dipper had been very adamant on giving her a stern talking to the night prior after being humiliated. But before he could get his hands on her, she had locked herself in her room and blasted some shitty pop music till Dipper couldn’t take it anymore and left.

She was really testing her fates by continuing with this talk of nonsense not even a full 24 hours later.

“There are no details, Mabel. I’ve told you already, we just went looking around town for the book.” Dipper snapped. This was the fifth time the girl had tried getting information out of the boy and Dipper was beginning to get annoyed. Today was his day off, which meant he refused to be bugged in any way shape or form. And so far, he had been able to keep Mabel’s antics at bay, but she was getting jittery and it was only a matter of time before she’d get Dipper to explode.

“Oh you’re lying through your teeth, Dipper Pines!” Mabel shouted, flicking her spoon in her brothers direction. “We’re twins; I can practically read your mind. Just tell me, I know you’re hiding things!”

“Yeah, spill the beans dude.” Wendy called from the counter where she sat with a bowl of cereal in her hands. “Even Stan’s interested. He wouldn’t wake up this early if he wasn’t.”

“Don’t pull me into this.” Stan grumbled against the rim of his coffee cup.

“Face it, we all wanna know and it’s only a matter of time before we get it out of you!” Mabel argued. She munched slowly on her fruit-loops as she glared at her brother.

Dipper groaned loudly and rested his face in his hands. He pulled lightly at what strands of hair fell between the tips of his fingers. “Don’t you guys have anything better to do than harass an innocent nineteen year old!?” He shouted, though it was muffled against his palms.

All three of the others replied with a series of no’s simultaneously, further fueling to Dipper’s displeasure. He dropped his hands from his face and straight onto the table, “Alright, fine. You wanna know so badly, well here goes. It had started as a civilized stroll through the junk yard, than I got bitched at by an old man, and finally I had a lovely chat with Cipher that resulted in me being an awkward human like always.” By the end of Dipper’s rant he was standing and moving to drop his dishes in the sink. “Believe it or not, Mabel, there is nothing and will never be anything between Cipher and I.”

Mabel opened her mouth to retort but reconsidered it once her brother started for the stairs. She sighed and dropped her spoon in her bowl of mushy cereal and milk, knowing this little game over.

.:.:.

It was nearing noon when Mabel deiced she’d pay Dipper a little visit. He’d barricaded himself in his room since breakfast—which wasn’t all that uncommon when he had days off—and hadn’t made a single peep. It was almost like he wasn’t even there.

She figured he was brooding, or burying himself in a book, or both. Any logical part of her said not to go bother him, but truth be told she felt bad for her earlier ramblings and wanted to make sure he was ok. That’s besides that fact that she still believed Dipper was withholding information. Either way it was more likely Dipper would talk about personal things with Mabel when it was just the two of them, so Mabel was hopping a private conversation would be accepted. And if that didn’t work, a little bribery couldn’t hurt.

Thus, she quietly hiked up the stairs to her brother’s bedroom with a few snack in hand. Cool Ranch Doritos and a Cosmic Brownie was bound to do the trick, and if it didn’t she could always whip out the puppy eyes.

It took little to no time before Mabel reached her brothers door. She knocked twice—if only to be polite—than propped open the door and peeked her head inside.

Dipper was seated at his desk, legs tucked beneath him and eyes locked on the computer screen in front of him. He looked insanely focused on whatever it was he was looking at. Mabel debated sneaking up behind him to get a look-see at what he was working on, but decided to go about this the civilized way. She cleared her throat and watched as Dipper jumped. He moved with expert precision, closing each tab he had open till all that was left was his homepage.

Mabel caught the movement; frowning for a moment at the fact Dipper was being so secretive. It only fueled her worries. “Hay, mind if I come in?” She questioned, though the way she walked in and shut the door behind her left little room for argument. Dipper was getting used to her invasions though.

“I brought fooood~ You didn’t eat much at breakfast so I figured you be hungry.” She walked over and tossed the treats onto Dipper’s desk. He eyed them for a moment before his hand slowly started inching towards the brownie. Mabel grinned.

Maybe this would go well, yet.

“Sooo,” Mabel mused and hoped up to sit on a nearby file cabinet that sat next to Dipper’s study. “Whatcha doing?”

“Nothing much,” Dipper replied as he began ripping the see-through plastic covering his treat. He was still acting reserved and cold. Dipper was a class A pouter, it’d probably take all day before he fully stopped acting like a brooding five year old.

Mabel hummed, slowly nodding her head. “Cool, cool.” She kicked her feet lazily, not buying her brothers words for one second.

The silence was tense as Dipper ate at the sugar filled desert quietly while Mabel awkwardly sat a few feet away, staring at the ground. A battle plan would probably have been a good idea; Mabel thought and took a glance around the room. She noted the array of books scattered across the floor around Dipper’s chair, as well as the note pads and worn out pencils. It wasn’t uncommon for the boy to have clutter around his work area, but today seemed kind of excessive. The only way Mabel could describe the mess would be it looking like Dipper was back in high school and had a single night to finish a research paper.

“Is there something you need, or was this visit just to fatten me?” Dipper’s voice suddenly broke through the silence, diverting his sisters attention from his clutter.

Mabel leaned back against the wall. “Oh you’ve got me; I did come for other reasons.” She shrugged and waved her hand flippantly.

Dipper raised a brow, giving off a silent “what?” as he munched slowly on his brownie.

“Maybe I am being an overbearing sister but you seemed tense at breakfast and I wanted to make sure you were alright.” The brunette’s eyes downcast as she picked at a loose strand of thread on the cuff of her sleeve. Dipper was could have his moody spells, and maybe he was just annoyed with her, but Mabel felt like there was something else. Like a mood swing wasn’t all that her brother was going through.

Dipper crumbled up his wrapper in one swift motion, “Well maybe if you guys weren’t so nosey about my personal life, I wouldn’t be so tense.” He grumbled, narrowing his eyes at the girl. But not a moment later he let out a sigh and tossed his wrapper on his desk as if admitting defeat. “I am worried.”

“About?” Mabel perked up, back straightening and eyes shooting straight to her brother.

“Cipher.” Dipper shifted in his chair. The metal squeaked lightly as he leaned back and folded his arms tightly over his chest. “I get the feeling he’s hiding things… the old man in the junk yard said this book, the book Cipher is looking for, was dangerous and bad news. When I went to ask Cipher about it he changed the topic before I could even get my words out.”

Mabel stayed silent, squinting at her hands. All funny business seemed to wipe off her face. She knew when to take things seriously.

“I asked what the book was about, thinking it was a normal enough question to ask since the whole state is now on a witch hunt for it, but he didn’t answer. He said he needed it in order to stay here. What’s that even mean?!” Dipper tossed his hands up angrily. “And now that I think about it, the things he said in the car were probably all just words to string me along. What the hell, what’s he even need me for?”

“I think,” Mabel began, grabbing Dipper’s attention from his little outburst. “That you are reading way too far into things, as per usual of you.” Dipper opened his mouth to argue but Mabel held up a stern finger. “The only thing you’ve said is that he’s keep information. Obviously the book must be worth something, hence why he’s probably being secretive about it. I mean, if you knew of something valuable and rare and wanted it, would you go blabbering to the world, spilling all the juicy details about it?”

Dipper’s mouth slowly fell shut as he appeared to contemplate what his sister was saying.

“No. You’d say as little as possible, just enough to earn trust and get help. Don’t go dismissing someone’s kind words or motives just because of one little flaw.”

“I just… was worried.” Dipper admitted after a moment of silence.

Mabel smiled softly and reached over to pat him on the shoulder. “Let your anxiety take the backseat, bro bro. Cipher seems like a nice guy. A guy who likes everything you do and is basically your idol, must I remind you, so don’t be all paranoid and start coming up with theories and reasons why he’s a bad guy. Social interaction is good for you, Dipper!”

The boy scoffed and lazily pushed Mabel’s hand from his shoulder. He still looked conflicted, and Mabel had a feeling he’d be that way for a while, but he also seemed a little less tense. So long as Dipper was feeling at least a little better than Mabel’s job was done. She grinned and hoped off the file cabinet, grabbing the bag a chips still left of her brothers desk. “Come on, bro bro, let’s go do something with your day off.”

Dipper swiveled around in his chair, watching his sister. “Like what?”

“Like a horror movie marathon with as much junk food as our stomachs can hold?”

Dipper grinned and meandered after his sister as she wiggled the bag of chips in her hands.

-to be continued-

Chapter Text

“So it’s about a scary dog who kills people? Man, the chills. I am already shaking in my boots.”

“Ya know, when I said you could come by the shop anytime you wanted, I didn’t mean that you could sit here every day ripping on my favorite books while I work.” Dipper whirled around on the blonde who sat comfortably on the ground with sarcasm oozing from his expression. He had his legs drawn to his chest with the award winning novel Cujo by Stephen King sitting atop his knees.

Two weeks had passed by since Mabel had slapped the crazy out of Dipper’s worried mind, which oddly enough felt like no time at all. Things had settled into routine again, although this time around there was a new face to Dipper’s schedule.

At first, Dipper found it kind of awkward to leave work directly with Cipher to go book hunting. It wasn’t like it wasn’t fun, half the time they ended up going out for food after wandering around store after store. And when they weren’t eating or searching, they were messing around like the best of friends. Dare he say, he was actually enjoying himself. Dipper hadn’t hung out with anyone but Mabel for the longest time, so a change of scenery was nice.

Dipper wasn’t quite sure when exactly having Cipher show up every day became normal for him. If anything he expected it, almost relied on the man showing up as per-usual. It felt so mundane to have Cipher come by every shift he had and plop down on the floor wherever Dipper was stationed. They’d talk about the most random of things, while trying to discreetly keep up the façade the Cipher was just a costumer and not averting Dipper’s attention from his work.

At some point, Cipher would usually wander off for a half hour, only to return with some sort of drink from the café and a book of choice. Dipper didn’t know how, but Cipher always managed to grab books that he enjoyed. Stephen King was on the list today.

“What can I say? It’s not like I intentionally pick books that you enjoy. I just saw it lying over there and thought to myself ‘what a ridiculous cover, Dipper probably loves this’ and what do ya know, you do!” Cipher mused as if he’d just accomplished his greatest achievement.

“I am beginning to think you’re a psychic.” Dipper mumbled. He grabbed for a few more books on his cart, shoving them onto spaces of the shelf before him.

“Nah, I just saw that check list of books in your locker and figured they were your favorites… or too read maybe?” Cipher slapped the book closed and sat it to the side. He then wrapped his arms around his legs and rested his chin on top of his knees.

Dipper paused mid reach and furrowed his brows. “That’s a long list how could you remember all that?”

“I know all.” Cipher’s lips tugged into a big goofy smirk. “I also have a photographic memory.”

“Really?” Dipper scoffed, not believing the man for a second.

“Yes, really! I can remember every person I’ve ever met, I can also recite every movie or book I’ve ever seen, and let’s just say there is long list of things I wish I hadn’t seen up here.” The man knocked his knuckles against the side of his head as if to prove his point.

Dipper flicked through the pages of a book in his hands, unimpressed with Cipher’s attempts at seeming all-that—which was just another thing he’s gotten used to while being around the man. He had a knack for showing off and putting himself in the spot light, two things Dipper wasn’t going to feed into. The man had a large enough ego as is.

“Fine, don’t believe me; I’ll just prove it to you!” Cipher crossed his arms stubbornly. “Give me a question.”

The brunette sighed and tilted his head up to stare at the ceiling. He tapped his fingers against the book in his hands, thinking of someway the man could possibly prove it. “Alright, describe in detail, the person that you asked to get me from the basement the day you came to ask me about the book.”

Cipher stared at the boy for a moment. He squinted, most likely trying to remember, than sat up straight and dropped his knees into a crisscross fashion. “She had long blonde hair, bangs cut straight across just barely above her light blue eyes. She was wearing white pants, with brown boots, and an excessive amount of jewelry if you ask me. Her name was… Pacifica!”

Dipper’s smug expression slowly turned grim with each description Cipher said. He huffed a sigh and shook his head, “That’s too easy; you’ve probably seen her several times since then. Besides, she wears a lot of wired and expensive things that could be committed to memory easily.”

Cipher’s eyes shifted to the side for a fraction of a second, than slid back to Dipper—whom caught the movement and thought it strange until someone suddenly cleared their throat rather loudly from behind him.

Dipper winced, freezing to his stop. “D-did I say wired? I meant unique—”

“You’re damn right, Pines!” Pacifica growled as she stepped into view. “My wardrobe is more expensive than you and freak-show over there, combined—”

“Actually!” Cipher threw up a hand, pointing at Pacifica. “A human body costs upwards of $810,381 on the black market. If you combined Dipper and me, that’d be around $1,620,762 which isn’t counting our skin and blood so I find it very unlikely your clothes would cost more than we would.”

Pacifica’s upper lip twitched in mild disgust. “Ok, that’s disturbing.” She spat and took a tentative step back, shooting a glance at Dipper who was snickering lightly to himself. “Is this a normal thing you two do? If so, you’re one messed you couple.”

Dipper’s small laughter caught sharply in his throat, causing him to cough harshly. His mouth dropped open, ready to deny that statement but Pacifica swiftly threw up a hand to stop him. 

“I know, he’s not my boyfriend,” She grouched, using her best Dipper voice. “But honestly, if you guys spend every waking moment together being creepy as hell, just tie the knot already.”

Dipper felt his face growing redder by the moment. Meanwhile, Cipher was dying from laughter on the floor. How he could be so chill about such an embarrassing situation, Dipper couldn’t be sure.

“Well I could say the same thing about you and Mabel!” Dipper retort. He turned away quickly, grabbing more books from his cart and moved off down the row to stack them on the shelf. He ignored the fact Cipher was lying on his side clutching his stomach.

“Wait, wait!” Cipher perked up, whipping off an imaginary tear from the corner of his eye. He sat up slowly, eyes shifting between Dipper and Pacifica. “Who’s Mabel?”

Dipper threw a glance over his shoulder at Cipher, wondering if the blonde was being serious. He looked serious.

“You haven’t even told him about your twin sister?” Pacifica asked in utter disbelief.

“You have a twin?” Cipher tilted his head.

“Yeah, ya know, Mabel… I’ve talked about her! Like that one time— about the… thing.” Dipper slowly trailed off, brows furrowing in concern. “Man, I can’t believe I’ve never mentioned Mabel before. I talk about you to her all the time…”

“Oh really?” The blonde smirked, eyes sparkling with mischief and a little something Dipper couldn’t make out before his embarrassment took over.

“Wait I didn’t mean—” Dipper fumbled with the books he was holding till a few from the top of the stack ended up falling to the floor. He jumped and cringed as the books flopped against the hard tile, probably bending pages or ruining them in some sort of fashion. He cursed under his breath and knelt down, dropping the stack onto the ground alongside the fallen novels. “It’s just— she likes the show! We talk about that, so in a sense we kinda, like, talk about you!”

Cipher’s smirk only continued to grow; he was acting way to prideful over this new information—while Dipper was desperately trying to salvage what little pride he had left.

Of all the things I could have accidently blabbered out… Mabel would be having a hay-day if she were here. Dipper thought scornfully. He had to look away just to keep from feeling like his insides weren’t tightening into a tangled mess. He focused on gathering his books, instead, which thankfully weren’t too damaged.

“Well I must say, I am flattered!” Cipher wiggled a little, almost like a happy puppy.

Pacifica continued to roll her eyes at the two. She looked a thousand percent done and ready to throw up. “Well.” She cleared her throat, cutting off the two boys. “The reason I came over here was to tell you Mabel and I are going to the movies tonight so don’t expect her to be home when you get there.”

“Just have her home at a reasonable time.” Dipper paused in his cleaning to throw a glare the girls way. “And in the same condition I saw her in this morning.”

“Jeez, calm down mama bear.” Pacifica scoffed and began examining her nails. “It’s just two friends hanging out.”

“Two friends? HA!” Dipper slapped a book against his knee, “is that your code name for a date?”

“Ya know what, Pines—!”

“No wait, let me guess. Mabel thinks this is just a friendly get-together but it’s secretly a date?” The brunette smirked triumphantly at Pacifica’s murderous expression. “That’s so High School Musical if you ask me.”

“You don’t know anything Dipper!” The blonde hissed, fists curling at her sides. “It’s just hanging out.”

“If you’re so sure about that, why don’t we join them?” Cipher suddenly asked, causing the two to turn and stare wide-eyed at the blonde. Pacifica seemed just as taken aback as Dipper did.

“Huh?” Dipper lamely replied.

“Well, I haven’t met this Mabel person but I certainly would love to if she’s your sister and since you don’t believe blondie, let’s see for ourselves. I mean, you obviously wouldn’t mind us joining since it’s not a date, right Pacifica?” Cipher batted his devilish eyes Pacifica’s way.

The girl looked torn, but mostly pissed off. She pushed back a glare to instead smile—though it looked like she was just gritting her teeth—and muttered: “Fine.”

“Great!” Cipher mused, clasping his hands together.

Dipper sat down beside Cipher, grinning. The three talked for a few minutes longer, rambling on about what to wear and when to meet and what movie to see. Dipper concluded this was either going to go very well or end very terribly. Only the future could tell.

.:.:.

“Dipper Pines, you are not wearing sweatpants to a get-together!” Mabel shouted the second she stepped into her brothers room.

Dipper was sitting at his computer, lazily typing away at whatever website he was on. He had called to Mabel minutes prior saying he was ready whenever she was, but he was obviously not put together to the woman’s standards, for the second her eyes landed on the boy she cringed and began shaking her head sadly.

“What? Their comfortable, aren’t you supposed to wear comfortable clothes when hanging out with friends?” Dipper argued, tugging at the stretchy fabric in wonder. This was just a get-together; there was no need to look fancy in Dipper’s opinion. Now, if it were a date, things would be different. However, this was nothing of the sorts.

Mabel groaned and slapped her forehead. “Where did I go wrong with you?” She mumbled mostly to herself, and then walked over to her brother’s dresser. “You have to at least try to look nice.” 

“You guys have all seen me before, what’s the difference if I am wearing jeans or if I am wearing these?” Dipper whined.

“Because it’s a date, you’re not supposed to look like your usual self.”

Dipper snorted and leaned back in his chair, tossing his hands behind his head. “No, you’re on a date. Cipher and I are just infiltrating it.”

“You’re so thick headed.” Mabel pulled out an unscathed pair of dark blue jeans. She eyed them up and down before chucking them straight at her brother’s face. “Do you really think Cipher would suggest tagging along on my date just because he wants to meet me? While I am flattered by the notion, he could always just come in whenever he drops you off to say hello. There is really no need for you guys to come along. The reason he brought it up was because it was an opportunity to—”

“And you say I read too far into things? Mabel, please, we’re just messing with Pacifica. It’s our favorite activity; of course we’re going to tag along if it means getting under blondies skin.” Dipper interrupted abruptly. His cheeks were faintly dusted pink, but he looked otherwise amused. There was no way Cipher had any other motives for tonight. It was a ridiculous idea.

“Oh Dipper, just be ready to hear me rub it in your face when this turns out to be a date!” Mabel turned to shuffle through Dipper’s shirts as he changed into the jeans. She pulled out a plaid button down, along with one of Dipper’s favorite jean jackets, than ushered him to change into those as well.

“Is all this really necessary?” Dipper frowned, staring at himself in the mirror. “I feel like a hipster… What have you done Mabel? I’ll have to start drinking coffee and wearing fake glasses—” Dipper barked a sharp laugh as Mabel elbowed him in the side. He stumbled away, clutching his stomach.

“Shut up, you look good!” Mabel huffed. “Be happy I am not throwing a scarf on you.” She pointed a stern finger at her wheezing brother, though not soon after she joined in on the laughing. “You’re such a dork.”

Dipper smiled brightly and grabbed his wallet from atop his dresser. “I can’t deny that.” He shrugged.

“Come on, we’re gonna be late if we dilly dally any longer!” Mabel sighed and threw an arm around her brothers neck, dragging him off down the hall. “We’ve got a pair of hot blondes awaiting us!”

“Ugh gross, Mabel, don’t be wired!”

.:.:.

“I was beginning to think you stood us up.” Were the first words Dipper was greeted with as he exited the car.  Cipher stood not a few feet away, looking dapper as ever in his black pea coat and yellow scarf. His hands were stuffed in his pockets and he looked absolutely chilled to the bone. The two blondes had both been waiting for the twins no less than ten minutes, but they simply had to make a big deal about it.

Dipper rolled his eyes as he walked up to Cipher. “Quit your complaining, to achieve this beauty takes time.” The brunette mused and waved a hand down the length of his body, presenting his fairly-put-together-self off. They both broke into a small laugh at the end, knowing damn well Dipper would never care to take time on his appearance. 

“I am guessing you planned on wearing sweatpants but Mabel wouldn’t allow it.” Cipher raised a brow and when Dipper nodded he nodded as well. “You’re so predictable. Though I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt, you do clean up nice.”

“Wow, thanks. That’s like, the nicest thing you’ve ever said to me.” Dipper crossed his arms over his chest diligently, smirking all the while.

“I have my moments.” The blonde replied, sticking his nose in the air with mock annoyance.

Dipper opened his mouth to counter, but an arm falling harshly onto his shoulder shut him up. He looked to his side, mildly annoyed, only to find Mabel leaning off him with a goofy grin on her face.

“Hello, I am Mabel!” She began, a gleeful glint in her eyes. “You must be Cipher, I’ve heard a lot about you!”

Oh right, this was the reason we came here. Dipper thought bitterly. Looking back on it, he really regretted not bantering Mabel into not saying anything embarrassing about him. Not that she wouldn’t do that anyways, but a little whining could have had her at least going easy on him.

Cipher blinked, glancing between Dipper and Mabel as if trying the piece together the fact they are twins before giving a small smile. “Well, looks like somebody forgot to inform me I’d be meeting such a stunning young lady tonight. You couldn’t possibly be Dipper’s twin, you’re practically polar opposites.”  

Dipper rolled his eyes, knowing exactly what the man was pulling. The-charming-man-act never worked on him, but Mabel was eating it up like candy on Halloween. She giggled and waved a dismissive hand, mumbling a soft “oh you” around her bashful smile.

Cipher took her hand—and like any gentlemen—pressed his lips firmly to the back of her fingers. His eyes stayed locked on hers as he mused, “It’s a pleasure to meet you Mrs. Pines” against her clothed hand.

Dipper was on the verge of washing his eyes out with bleach. He groaned dramatically and slithered away from the two to greet Pacifica—who, by the way, was tapping her foot in mild annoyance. She looked ready to strangle Cipher. Dipper couldn’t help but find that slightly amusing.

“Jealousy doesn’t suit you.” Dipper commented as he came to stand beside the girl. She scoffed and crossed her arms tightly over her chest.

“I am not jealous, I am just cold.” Pacifica replied with ease. As if to prove her point, her body began to shake with chills.

“Cold hearted, you mean?” Dipper smirked and nudged the girls shoulder, though he only received a glare. He pursed his lips and looked around to avoid the death stare. “Don’t worry. Cipher is just trying to ruffle your feathers; he’s not actually interested in Mabel. It’s an act he does, trying to be a gentlemen.”

“Obviously.” The blonde sighed. Her eyes kept forward, watching the two chat about god knows what. “You know how I know he’s not interested in her?” She asked, tilting her head Dipper’s way.

Dipper furrowed his brows, confused at her sudden question. “How?” He slowly followed her gaze back towards the two.

“Because he’s trying too hard. He’s acting posh, standing straight, using fancy words, being rich.” Pacifica jutted her chin out towards the two. “If you like someone, you be yourself. You don’t flaunt what you have and try to act like a showcase doll. What he’s trying to do is impress her, not woo her.”

Dipper watched carefully at Cipher, noting that she had a point. He looked like a totally different person just by the way he was presenting himself. Anyone would be impressed by the way he acted, Dipper figured. Even he found it kind of impressive how easily Cipher could change his attitude and make people think differently of him.

“How do you know that?” Dipper wondered aloud. He tore his eyes away from Cipher and Mabel to look at Pacifica.

She almost smirked as she looked to meet his gaze. “Because I do the same thing when I meet my parents important friends. People I need to like me, but that I don’t necessarily find enjoyable.”

“That’s pretty sneaky…” Dipper muttered.

“But it works.”

Dipper hummed and gave a small nod. “But, why would Cipher need to impress Mabel?” He suddenly thought. A small laugh escaped him at the idea of Cipher wanting Mabel to like him. Mabel liked everybody; it really wasn’t all that hard of a thing to accomplish. He didn’t have to put on a show to win the girls favor.

Pacifica stayed silent for a moment as she watched Dipper. She furrowed her brows, trying to get a read on the boy to know if he was being serious or just wanting an answer for shits and giggles. She really couldn’t believe Dipper could be so thick, but alas this was Dipper she was considering. She sighed and turned her eyes back on the blonde and Mabel. “Because he likes you.”

-to be continued-

Chapter Text

It was nearing 10pm by the time the group emerged from the movie theater. The sun had drawn closed a long while ago, leaving the air outside bitterly cold. It was almost refreshing in comparison to the crowded room they’d been sitting in for two hours.

They collectively agreed that the movie was pretty lame in its attempts to be scary. It was just another horror movie with one too many unnecessary sex scenes and capacious amounts of gore that really only left you wondering if a single body actually held that much blood. Cipher and Dipper both agreed that the answer was: no.

However, the majority of the show went unwatched for the group simply couldn’t stop laughing at the witty comments Cipher kept making throughout the film. Even when he wasn’t trying to be funny, he somehow made the other three of the group spit out their soda and hunch over snickering. It was a miracle they didn’t get kicked out for causing such ruckus. Though, the others in the theater did keep throwing dirty looks their way. Sadly for them, that only fueled to amuse the four.

Dipper decided that even though the show was a bust, the night was a blast. He couldn’t help wishing the outing would go on longer.

“Well, I better get going.” Pacifica announced as the four moved away from the crowded building. “The folks will get angsty if I stay out too late.”

“Aww, already?” Mabel whined and threw her arms around Pacifica’s neck, hanging onto her from the back. She buried her face against the girl’s fluffy blonde hair, somehow not choking on all the hair product that was bound to be in it.

“Yeah,” Pacifica sighed and patted the girl’s hands that linked under her chin.

Mable’s lower lip jutted out as she began to pout. “Alright, but text me when you get home!” She ordered, squeezing the girl one last time before letting go. Dipper had to contain a chuckle for she looked like a lost puppy sitting out in the rain.

Despite their original plans of getting under Pacifica’s skin for the night, Dipper and Cipher ended up letting the two be for the most part. Sure, they teased the girls a little bit every now and again, but it was nothing drastic. So they silently hung back as the two girls exchanged goodbyes.

As Pacifica started towards her car, she paused and threw a wary glance back at the boys. She looked torn as she shouted, “This was… dare I say, fun.” The blonde fiddled with her keys out of annoyance. The struggle was very much evident. “We should do this again some time.”

“Awe, did you hear that Dip, she’s not all that heartless after all.” Cipher gasped dramatically.

Dipper’s eyes widened and hand flew to his chest while his other rose to the sky, “Lord Jesus, it’s a miracle!” He shouted out in a mock southern accent. Cipher raised both his arms up as well, gasping and fake crying all the while. They looked like a pair of buffoons as they flaunted over each other like they’d just witnessed God descended from the clouds. Their fake sobs soon turned into cackling, however, as they couldn’t hold up the act without sputtering into laughter.

Pacifica huffed and shook her head, “Forget it; you’re both idiots and I hate you!” She hissed while the pair hunched over from laughing so hard. Cipher held his knees as Dipper leaned his forehead against the man’s back, shoulders shaking with each jolt of laughter.

Dipper straightened out after a moment, whipping the small tears that’d beaded in the corner of his eyes. “Oh, oh.” He coughed, regaining his composure. His sides ached lightly with every move he made.  

Mabel walked over and slapped him on the back, a mild look of disapproval etched across her face, though there was no doubt she was snickering along as well. Messing with Pacifica was just as fun to her as it was to the boys; however she was a bit less ruthless about it.

“I-” Dipper started, but paused to take a good gulp of air. He coughed again. “I am sorry,” He said, not sounding sincere in the least.

Pacifica rolled her eyes and crossed her arms tightly over her chest. “Whatever, Pines.” She looked completely done with the brunette as she unlocked her car and swung open the driver’s side door. She was about to get in when she paused again, throwing a look straight at Dipper—who was patting Cipher on the back as the blonde recovered from his fit. “Oh and Dipper, don’t forget what I said earlier!” She said sternly, squinting.

Dipper’s goofy smile twitched for a second. He cleared his throat and stuffed his hands in his pockets awkwardly. “Yeah.” He nodded, avoiding the prying eyes from Mabel and Cipher.

Pacifica nodded back before disappearing into her car and taking off.

The air fell silent quickly once Pacifica was gone, only the hushed sound of the occasional traffic was swishing through the night. Dipper was all too aware of his sister and Cipher’s gaze on him, probably wishing to implore what Pacifica had shouted about. He spun around to face the two, and found his suspicions were correct.

Mabel was eyeing her brother with a curious brow raised, and Cipher looked… well he looked ready for all the juicy secrets that Dipper wasn’t spilling.

“What was thaaat about?” The blonde implored in a sing-song tone. The smile that never seemed to fade on the man’s face grew ten-fold when he spotted Dipper’s quite obvious nerves. He was twitching like a dog that had just been caught doing something wrong.

Well shit, Dipper thought, floundering at the thought of trying to pull off a lie. He was never good at lying, and if Cipher didn’t catch it, Mabel would. He gulped and let out a nervous laugh, trying to sound calm.

He sounded anything but calm.

“Oh-ha-ya know, just…” His throat tightened and he tossed a glanced towards Mabel. She just looked even more curious, but there was a small grin forming on her lips. “We uh, discussed earlier that…”

Like a miracle, Dipper was suddenly cut off at the sound of Cipher’s phone buzzing loudly in his pocket. The brunet mentally sighed with so much relief that his shoulders even sagged. That was one way to dodge a bullet.

“Ah,” Cipher’s smile deflated a bit as he dug into his jean pocket to retrieve the singing device. He took one glance at the screen before flicking the answer button and pressed the phone to his ear swiftly.

“Gideon!” Cipher shouted, happy voice a little too forced. He lifted his head to stare up at the sky as Gideon rambled into his ear.

Mabel and Dipper took a step back, giving the man some privacy. The air was still tense but Mabel didn’t appear to be interested in asking Dipper any further questions. Instead, she was smirking and rocking on her heels as she eyed her brother like she knew something he didn’t. And that was almost worse.

“I think I am gonna head back home,” The girl began, faking a yawn. “I am feeling a bit tired and all.”

“Oh,” Dipper muttered dumbly. He glanced over at Bill, who had taken to pacing along the sidewalk while he talked to Gideon. He didn’t look too happy with whatever they were discussing. “Well, let me just say bye and we can go—”

“Oh, no no, I don’t want to ruin your night. You don’t even look tired, so you guys should go book hunting or whatever you two do when you’re alone. You can hitch a ride off Cipher, right? Right.” With each word, Mabel would back up further towards their car. Her argument didn’t even sound legit, like she was just spewing out words to further prolong whatever was happening.

Dipper furrowed his brows and opened his mouth to state different but Mabel had already thrown open the driver’s door and hoped in. She obviously didn’t want any debate to happen, which further confused Dipper. He stepped to the edge of the sidewalk, leaning over to look towards the passenger side window.

“Mabel, come on, it’s pretty rude to just dump me on Cipher without asking him first, ya know.” Dipper knocked against the glass, which rolled down only an inch.

The top portion of Mabel’s head came into view but only long enough for her to say: “Trust me, bro bro, he’ll be cool with it.” She winked and not a second later was skidding off onto the empty streets.

She disappeared so quickly that Dipper stood with his hand still reached out, now looking like he was about to knock on the air since the car was no longer in its place. He straightened after a second, letting out a sigh. He would never understand his sister, the brunet concluded as he glanced over at the blonde still jabbering on the phone. He looked progressively pissed off, no longer just annoyed.

“Gide—I am not. No you listen!” Cipher hissed, glaring at the ground like it had personally offended him. It was like he was imagining Gideon’s face as the sidewalk, honestly. “I don’t care about your petty issues, there is no way I am coming in tonight— your Gam Gam can hold off dying for till midnight when you get off. I am not taking your shift again!”

Dipper swayed on his heels, awkwardly glancing around the emptying parking lot. The lack of conversation allowed his mind to wander to Pacifica’s words. He mentally cringed at the thought.

Don’t forget what I said earlier.”

 Oh, he had every intention of forgetting what she had said earlier, because she was completely nuts and off her rocker. There was no way in hell that Cipher liked him. It was absurd. Nonsense. Complete and utter nonsense. Mabel had just gotten into Pacifica’s head with her romantic gushy stuff and now the blonde was seeing things that weren’t there as was his sister.

Mabel was enough of a hassle; he didn’t need Pacifica breathing down his back about romance to.

Because there was nothing romantic going on.

Dipper flushed lightly and bit at the edge of his inner cheek. Deep down he knew that was a lie, maybe not a full lie, but a white lie in the least. He wanted to avoid the thought, though. The second he’d start letting Mabel’s ramblings into his head would be the second he crashes, because it was obvious there was something fluttering in the pit of his stomach. Something very much unwelcome. He didn’t want to make this awkward.

Who’s to say he wasn’t just a little star-stuck? Maybe that’s all it was. Cipher was his idol, it was no doubt he’d feel unconventional happiness and adoration towards the guys.

And as for Cipher’s feelings towards Dipper, well, maybe a taste of reality felt refreshing to him and he wanted to latch on? He probably spent all his time being this big fancy figure that everyone loved… well secretly loved. It was more of a behind-the-scenes-love since no one knew his true identity. But popular and loved, nonetheless.

There wasn’t anything going on between them and Dipper was certain of it.

So why did the thought… hurt?

Dipper lowered his eyes to a small pebble beside his feet. He lifted a foot forward and rolled the rock slowly, a strange sadness tugging at his heart. Just as he was about to kick the little mineral across the sidewalk, a pair of familiar black shoes interrupted his vision. He blinked and lifted his head, eyes following the figure till they landed on a silently fuming Cipher.

“Ah, I take it that wasn’t a happy phone call?” Dipper smiled weakly and shoved his hands into his pockets.

Cipher growled, actually growled, and threw a hand up to pinch the bridge of his nose. “No. Stupid Gideon’s stupid Gam Gam is dying or whatever and he wants me to take over his shift at the radio station right now.”

Dipper’s eyes widened a small fraction at Cipher’s bluntness. He was a bit taken aback by the whole person-is-dying bit that he hardly registered what that inclined.

“So I have to get going pretty soon here before Gideon gives himself an aneurism.” Cipher bit out, ending with a heavy sigh.

Dipper frowned a bit dejectedly, “Oh… well shit, Mabel already left.” He glanced around as if he’d spot her somewhere. “But uh, I can just call her quick to turn around and pick me up.”

Cipher lowered his hand from his face, slowly looking back to the brunet—who’d made himself busy at pulling out his phone and scrolling through his very few contacts. The blonde quickly slapped a hand over Dipper’s phone, looking a bit panicked all of the sudden. “No, wait!” He snapped, gaining the boys attention. “Why don’t you come with me?”

The air stilled, and Dipper suddenly felt like his ears were ringing. He looked up, meeting Cipher’s gaze. “Huh?” Once again his conversation skills were simply thrilling.

“You can come hang out with me at the station! It’d be way better than sitting around that place alone all night. It gets pretty boring when it’s just you and the speaker.” Bill grinned as he spoke, hopeful glint in his eyes that didn’t disappear even when he corrected his pushiness and stated: “I mean, if you want to, otherwise I can just drop you off at home—”

“No, I’d love to!” Dipper interrupted. A goofy smile had found its way across his face easily at the idea of seeing where Cipher worked. Where Dreamscapers magic happened! He clutched his phone a little tighter and brought it to hug against his chest, looking like the fanboy he really was deep down.

Cipher paused a brief moment till he too was smiling like a dork. “Great!” He beamed and grabbed Dipper’s arm, pulling him off in the direction of his sleek black ride. Originally he would be grumbling in annoyance at the prospect of having to go into work so late, and on his day off nonetheless. However, now that Dipper was with him… well he couldn’t deny he wasn’t at least a little bit excited.

.:.:.

The ride to the radio station was surprisingly a pretty long one. The building was up high in the mountains surrounding Gravity Falls, which meant they had to take quite a few winding back roads that Dipper’s stomach didn’t appreciate in the least. Although despite that, the two boys had passed the time pretty easily through chatter and music.

They rambled about everything from the terrible roads they were driving on, to the shitty meal Dipper had for dinner last night. Not once did the car fill with silence, and even if it did it was not an awkward one. They’d gotten pretty comfortable around each other since the time they met about a month ago. It was almost alarming how quickly they got along and how simple it was for them. And while Dipper had his doubts in the beginning, he had come to enjoy their time spent together, maybe even depend on it.

Cipher slowed the car as they turned along a final curve in the path, leading out onto a large flat mesa. Nestled in between thick pine trees and shrubs was a parking lot and further back was a small building with a towering antenna attached to the roof. Dipper’s eyes widened with curiosity as his brown orbs took in the small patch of man-made work hidden expertly within the mountains.

“Wow, I would have never guessed there would be anything way up here.” Dipper thought aloud. The blonde next to him chuckled as he pulled right up to the building and parked.

“Yeah, I prefer it that way.” Cipher shrugged, yanking out his keys.

They both quickly exited the car, Cipher a bit faster than Dipper who was casually taking in all his eyes could see. His eyes were blown wide and mouth hung agape in slight wonder. It amused Cipher to no end, for him this place had gotten pretty dull over the years, thus Dipper’s excitement was a bit confusing to the blonde.

“Come on, let me show you around~” Cipher mused and swung open the front door.

Dipper was quick to follow. He stepped in and was instantly greeted with a quaint little seating area. Everything was dressed in gray and white, from the paint of the walls, to the color of the furniture. Not a speck of color was visible throughout the entire area. Dipper raised a brow at the color scheme but somehow felt that it was almost fitting.

As he eyed everything, Dipper noticed there was a front desk a little further in against the back wall where a dark haired figure sat typing away at a computer; the man paused briefly at the sound of the front door opening, blank expression unchanging. He was either bored or expressionless, Dipper figured.

As he and Cipher approached the desk, Dipper noted the man was certainly dressed to impress. He had on a perfectly pressed black suit accompanied by a slick dark purple tie. He was an utter contrast to the casual clothing Dipper was wearing.

“Strange,” Cipher suddenly greeted, causing Dipper to jump slightly at the disturbance of silence. He eyed the blonde warily, about to question what he meant when the man at the desk replied with: “Cipher” in a monotone voice.

“Gideon’s been pacing a rut in the ground waiting for you.” Strange muttered. His violet eyes strayed to Dipper for all of two seconds before turned back to the computer screen sitting in front of him, his fingers quickly picked up where they’d left off before.

Cipher sighed, tossing his head back dramatically. “Wonderful.” He grumbled, annoyance back in his voice as it had been when he was talking on the phone. “Well, we best release him of his duty I suppose.” The blonde glanced over his shoulder at Dipper, who nodded mutely.

Cipher spun on his heels, heading down a little hallway off to the right. He motioned for Dipper to follow, which he did eagerly.

“Who was that?” Dipper whispered, head nodding back towards the guy they left behind.

“Hmmm?” Cipher hummed, “Oh, Tad? He’s the secretary, keeps all the schedules and business affairs in order, boring stuff really.” He waved a hand as if brushing the statement off. “He’s a real square, if you ask me.”

Dipper snorted at the comment, “He did seem kind of… dull.”

“Oh yeah! I don’t think he’s ever smiled, or shown emotion of any kind, actually. His last name fits him well, Strange.” Cipher mused, light bubbles of laughter escaping his lips.

They came to a pause outside one of the three doors in the hallway and Cipher causally shoved it open. His smile never faltered even when an angry looking Gideon shoved off the headphones he had on and tossed them recklessly onto the table before him.

“Where have you been?!” The white-haired-ball-of-anger-issues shouted.

Dipper winced at the harsh tone.                        

“Driving, what do you think I’ve been doing?” Cipher shrugged and walked briskly over to the set up that Dipper thought looked a lot like some space ship control panels.

“It took ya long enough!” Gideon hissed and shoved himself up to his feet. He was quick to grab his jacket, which hung lazily over a chair off to the side. “I have a playlist already set up, so don’t worry about music. Really all yer have to do is update the website and answer cal—” Gideon’s words died in his throat as his eyes locked on Dipper.

The boy had quietly stayed back towards the door and break area, looking around shyly. A small smile was toying at his lips while he traced over every detail of the place with his eyes. Only when the talking stopped did he looked over at the other two in the room.

“What. The hell.” Gideon’s teeth clenched and eyes narrowed in on Cipher. “Is he doing here!?” He swung out a sharp hand, gesturing wildly towards the brunet.

Cipher turned from looking over the tracks currently playing. He looked between Dipper and Gideon, bored by the white haired man’s outburst. “I invited him.” He shrugged and in one swift movement dropped himself on one of the two swivel chairs available. He spun around a few times before the chair settled to a stop and allowed the man to toss his feet up onto the table and lean back lazily.

“Invit—he doesn’t work here, he can’t be here!”

Dipper sunk a little into himself, suddenly feeling he was treading on dangerous water.

“Oh put a cork in it, Gideon. If you’re making me work on my day off, then I am allowed to bring a guest.” Cipher waved the man off, then rested his arms comfortably behind his head. “Besides, what’s he gonna do? Document our actions and foil our secret plan for world domination? Yeah. I am sure that’s it.”

“But—”

“I thought you had a dying grandmother to attend to?” Cipher’s eyes snapped open and shot directly at Gideon. There was a silent warning there that Dipper didn’t notice, but Gideon sure did. He gulped back any complaints and nodded.

“Right.” Gideon bit out.

Cipher nodded back and grabbed the headphones from off the table, situating them comfortably over his ears as he got to work on making sure everything was in order.

Gideon stomped away and towards the door, visible scowl in place. He paused before passing Dipper, however, and muttered in a voice low enough that Cipher wouldn’t hear: “Don’t think just because Cipher likes you, that means ya can do anything you want here or that yer even welcome here. Things place is big and needs to be kept a secret. One slip up and you might not make it down this mountain in one piece.”

Dipper shifted back, throat feeling all too tight. “O-ok.” He breathed out nervously.

Gideon straightened and leveled his gaze, “Good. Have a nice night, Pines.” He spat the words like they were poison on his tongue than quickly exited the room without a second glance.

Dipper stood there briefly, wondering to himself just what the hell he got himself into.

-to be continued-

Chapter Text

It took a minute or two… or twenty, for Dipper to regain the excitement and spunk he had going into the radio station. Gideon’s words hung heavy in the back of his mind, but the logical part of him continued to remind himself Gideon was a drama queen who was probably just trying to get a reaction out of him. Although threatening Dipper seemed like a bit of overkill and pretty unnecessary. It wasn’t like he was just going to up and leave.

If Cipher noticed any change in Dipper, he didn’t mention it. Then again he had his head buried in work for the first bit of their stay, unaware of the brunet silently worrying his lip. He was halfway through polishing off the website when he decided it was a bit too quiet and wondered what Dipper was doing.

He practically snorted when he spotted the brunet still standing awkwardly near the doorway. “You can sit down, ya know.” Cipher smirked and nudged the swivel chair parked next to him.

Dipper eyed the light grey seat, fingers fiddle with the hems of his sleeves. “Right.” He mumbled under his breath and tentatively made his way over to sit down. “What’re you working on?”

“Updating the webpage and replying to some messages.” Cipher hummed, fingers dancing over the keys in quick, sharp movements. He paused only to scoot closer to Dipper, shoving the computer in his direction. “Here, wanna reply to some fans?” He grinned.

“Pft, trying to shove your work onto me, huh?” Dipper smirked and raised an accusing brow at the blonde. Turning the vile worries gnawing at his stomach into jokes seemed to ease Dipper at least a little. He could distract himself from the floating voices in his head, easy. All that required was for Cipher to act as his usual cheeky self—which he did wholeheartedly.

“What of course, I am not gonna waste a perfect good mule! Why do you think I brought you here? Chop, chop,” Cipher clapped with each chop. The sarcasm was heavy in his voice, and he could barely hold back the goofiest of smirks.

Dipper rolled his eyes and shoved the blonde playfully by the shoulder. “You dweeb, I am not working without pay.”

Light bubbles of laughter fluttered past Cipher’s lips as he was shoved to the side. He swayed a little in his chair till his feet dropped down onto solid ground to slow his motions. “I figured coming here was pay enough.” He said slyly. “But alright, alright, you greedy dog! Forget the work, let’s have some fun!”

“Fun?” Dipper leaned back, crossing his arms over his chest lazily. “You’re supposed to be on the job.” He stated flatly, but all the while his insides twisted with excitement.

“Ah that’s the point.” Cipher pointed a finger at the door, “Wanna see something cool that happens when you slack off?”

“Uh, ok?” Dipper furrowed his brows, confusion heavy in his voice.

Cipher hoped up to his feet but after a few strides towards the door, he dropped down onto his hands and knees to shimmy across the floor till he was lying in the entrance way. He motioned quickly for Dipper to follow suit, which the boy did a bit awkwardly.

“What’re you doing?” The brunet asked once he was flat on the ground beside the grinning blonde.

Cipher nodded down the hallway, “Showing you what happens when you slack off!” He whisper-yelled and grabbed Dipper’s wrist. “See that door way down there?”

“Yeah.” Dipper mumbled in a hushed tone. He eyed the only other door in the hallway carefully, wondering what was so grand about it.

“Well, that’s where the higher ups work. Which is remotely normal, right? But what if I told you no one has ever seen or heard from the higher ups?” Cipher didn’t take his eyes away from the black colored door as he spoke. “None of us remember even being interviewed by them; honestly I feel I just ended up here one day.”

Dipper squinted at the side of Cipher’s head, “What do you mean? You’ve never met your bosses?”

“That’s exactly what I mean.”

“How do you get paid and get told what to do then?” Dipper accused, finding this strange and hard to believe but not a second after he asked, his question was answered. Shooting out from under the blackened door was a pristine white envelope pressed into the crispest rectangular shape.

Cipher’s smirk began to grow and he finally turned to look at the brunet beside him. “Like that. We just get these mysterious letters that tell us what to do, just orders, nothing else is ever left on the letters.”

“Wha- have you ever just tried to knock on the door or go in to actually see these people?” Dipper stared between the letter, the door, and the blonde.

“Nah, it’s against the rules.” Cipher shrugged as if that was reason enough. For Dipper, it certainly wasn’t. He was a man who needed answers, and was very tempted to just march on into that room himself. “Even if we could, I don’t think I would. There are some strange sounds that come from that room, lights too. And I am pretty sure I saw purple smoke coming out from the cracks in the door once.”

Dipper stilled, fingers tapping against the tile floors. “What do you thinks in there?” He whispered near Cipher’s ear. The excitement was back in his stomach again, twisting and tugging relentlessly at his nerves. This was like living, breathing, Dreamscapers. He was experiencing the strange things Cipher would talk about on air, not listening in his bedroom, but living it.

Oh god, he could barely handle this. He felt like squealing, like a teenage girl who just got asked out to prom or something. His feet kicked in the air behind him.

“My best bet would be aliens.” Cipher nodded in agreement with himself.

“Aliens?” Dipper snorted, “You see flashing lights and smoke and your first thought is aliens?”

“What? You got a better idea?” Cipher shot the boy a dirty look, though it was less annoyed as it was intrigued.

Dipper hummed softly and gave a small shrug, “I can’t dismiss the idea of them being aliens, heck, they could be illuminati in there for all I know. I just find it amusing you picked such a… cliché force to pin your bosses to. You’ve seen crazy things and yet you call aliens.”

Cipher stared at the brunet for a moment. He contemplated arguing that he felt his assumption was pretty good, but everything fell down his throat as he watched the boy laughing softly. His lips tugged into a small smile and eyes filled with mirth. “You’ve got me there, Pines.” He quickly pressed his palms flat against the cool ground and pushed himself up to his feet. “But my theory is a little more justified than just lights and smoke.” He said, placing his hands on his hips in a display of cockiness.

Dipper raised a curious brow, “How so?”

The blonde pursed his lips and wiggled his own brows as he slowly turned on his heels. With a few quick strides, Cipher snatched up the waiting letter outside the door and returned to Dipper. He motioned for the boy to follow him into the room again, which the brunet did eagerly.

“Does it have to do with the letter?” Dipper asked as he found his footing and followed after Cipher to sit down on the swivel chairs in the middle of the room.

The blonde ripped open the envelope and pulled out the creamy note inside. The smirk across his face never left as he flipped the piece of paper around with just his pointer and middle finger.

Dipper leaned forward on his chair, eyes widening with surprise and curiosity as he took in the words—or what Dipper figured were words—scrawled across the note. He didn’t understand it in the least. “What?” He spoke quietly under his breath as his eyes scanned over the swirling, cryptic letters. Dipper had never seen a language such as this before, like a strange mix of Hieroglyphics and Kanji, or maybe Russian. He traced a finger over the ink, “What language is this? How do you even read it!?”

Cipher chuckled and swiped the letter back before leaning into his chair again. “That’d take too long to explain.” He waved his hand dismissively. “But as for what is says…” The blonde paused, eyeing the foreign letters carefully. There was a hint of hesitation as he glanced up at Dipper’s happy, waiting face, than back down at the note and let out an awkward laugh. “Just says to get back to work.” He shrugged, playing it off easily.

Dipper continued to smile and when Cipher folded the note and stuffed it into his breast pocket, he decided to let it be. “Well, I’ll admit, an alien does sound a bit more realistic now. You think they stay behind closed doors because they look crazy? I like to think extraterrestrials would look different from what media portrays them as. Maybe they got tentacles and blotting bodies, or maybe their small enough to fit in the palm of your hand.” Dipper held out his hand, clenching and unclenching his fingers excitedly. “Or maybe they look like us and they’ve been among us all along.”

Bright golden eyes watched brown, quietly observing. Dipper was so passionate about this stuff, so happy and filled with mirth. Cipher’s heart lurched for more reasons than one over this information. Sure, he always had an inkling that the kid was a nerd over this stuff, it was obvious if not for the fact Dipper watched Dreamscapers religiously. But, the way he spoke about the supernatural like it was a fine woman, had Cipher a bit surprised. Not much, but a bit.

It was the small part of him that Dipper had been keeping a pretty good lock on, if only because he didn’t want to sound like an obsessive fan to his idol. Cipher had been waiting for the flood gates to break, for the kid to fully open up and speak freely… to trust Cipher.

Too bad that’d be the worst decision Dipper could make.

Cipher shifted against the plush back of his chair. He could feel the stiff paper in his pocket crinkle against his chest, screaming silently at the man. He shook his head and put on a smile, “You’re not off about that. I met a man once—well man probably isn’t the right term, more like hundreds of little men… Ah, well, details. The man looked like your average Joe, but with a strange tick about him. You could only ever see one side of him. He never turned or walked in any other direction other than forward and backwards. I found out later he was a robot made up of hundreds of these little alien guys.”

Dipper listened intently, like a child being told the wonders of the world for the first time. His eyes practically glistened. “You talk about this stuff like its normal; you must see a lot of strange things.” Dipper thought aloud.

Cipher nodded, “With this job, yes.”

“That’s so cool!” Dipper hoped in his seat, smile growing wide and bright. Cipher couldn’t help but feel his own face morphing into that of pure happiness. The kids smile was contagious. Damn him.

The night progressed on with a continuation of supernatural talk. Cipher shared a hand full of stories and Dipper sat there absorbing in all the information like a sponge. He could listen to the guy talk for hours without getting tired of his metallic voice. Although, Dipper already knew that much from spending so many long nights listening to Dreamscapers. He had to admit that Ciphers voice was easy to listen to, even with its odd, scratchy tone.

Cipher of course still had to work between bouts of chatting it up gossip girl style. He answered calls and replied to the messages on the stations webpage like instructed. He even got Dipper to speak at one point, though very reluctantly. He had to bribe the boy with the promise of treated lunch for the next week, and only then did Dipper say a few words.

“Give a warm welcoming to the cute bookstore clerk Gideon and I spoke about the other week, Pines!” Cipher had exclaimed and threw the microphone towards the flustering brunet.

Dipper gawked at the blonde and regrettably let out a very unmanly squeak straight into the speaker. He felt like his soul had receded from his body when Cipher burst out into laughter and told the audience his little sapling appeared to have a bit of stage fright. Dipper punched him square in the shoulder for that, and he would have done more if it weren’t for the fact he felt like his face had been lit aflame from Cipher’s choice of words. Cute, sapling, where were all these pet names coming from!?

Despite feeling like he was dying inside, Dipper was having the time of his life. He couldn’t think of a better way to spend this night. He’d been slowly realizing that all time spent at Cipher’s side was time well spent. The blondes company was nice, to say the least. When he wasn’t being an asshole, of course.

Things had begun to slow down nearing three in the morning. The calls had quieted and Cipher had let the music take over his job. He stretched his arms out behind his head, muscles and joints popping from sitting for so long. “Well, that’s about it for tonight, kid.” He mumbled, voice strained as he stretched. He let out a long sigh as he let his arms fall to his sides again.

Dipper yawned loudly into the palm of his hands, looking a bit worn out and in need of some sleep. Cipher couldn’t blame him; he probably wasn’t used to late hours like the blonde was. “Mh, cool. Mabel’s probably wondering where the hell I am.” He mumbled off handedly.

Cipher chuckled, “I wouldn’t worry about her.” He waved a hand lazily. “I doubt she even expects you home tonight.”

“Why do you say that?” Dipper inquired innocently. He obviously didn’t hear the undertone in the radio hosts voice, or maybe he was ignoring it.

Cipher grinned and dropped back against his seat, head hanging over the plastic. “Please tell me you aren’t that blind.” He eyed the kid up and down. “Never mind, don’t answer that. I just mean, you sister seems very… persuasive that we spend time together.”

Dipper nearly chocked on his own breath, cheeks lighting up brighter than a Christmas tree. “O-oh! Yeah, she’s um…” He paused, lowering his eyes to the floor as if he’d find words he could speak there. “Really into the whole, match making thing.”

“No, really?” Cipher snickered, kicking out his foot to spin himself around.

“Sorry.” Dipper muttered. An odd weight of guilt fell onto his chest. Guilt and a little disappointment, for whatever reason. “I am kind of her project so unfortunately for you that means you’re a candidate.” He laughed nervously.

There was a quiet pause, only the soft sound of music vibrating in the background being heard amongst the occasional creek or bump of the building settling. Dipper continued to stare at the ground, unaware of the blonde slowing his spinning to stare intently at the boy.

“Why is that unfortunate?” Cipher suddenly asked, voice firm without any hint of joking. It cut through the awkward silence like a sharp knife.

Dipper looked up to meet the blondes golden irises. He blinked a few times, brows knitting together. “Cause…” He began, shifting a bit uncomfortably in his chair. “Now you have to deal with Mabel trying to hook us up.” He tried to sound lighthearted, but Dipper was certain he sounded nervous and stiff. “That’s gotta be annoying, I mean, she tries to push me onto people and completely disregards other peoples say on the matter. She’s just trying to help and doesn’t mean harm, but she’s pushy and has wired tastes and ugh I am rambling now, great.”

Cipher let out a cheeky laugh and swayed forward so he was sitting up properly again. “I think your sister has good tastes.” He mused, eyelids lowering just a fraction.

Dipper’s lips parted, an exasperated what ready on the tip of his tongue, but the door opening rather loudly cut him off.

“Ciiipher, daaarling!” A petite girl with wildly pink hair came buzzing into the room with a big grin on her face. Her arms were spread wide and feet moved swiftly towards the two boys.

Dipper nearly jumped out of his skin at the sudden loud interruption. He was almost thankful for the cut-in which allowed his mind to halt all movement. No need to think about things that probably meant nothing, good.

“Giffany, get your ass over here, I am done with this bullshit tonight.” Cipher threw his hands up, a total drama queen.

“The sleaze bag skip out again?” The pink haired girl’s voice sounded.

Dipper turned around just as Cipher briskly glided past him and towards his jacket. “Yeah, claimed his grandma was dying or something.”

“Why are we paying him, again?”

“Well it certainly isn’t for his good looks.” Cipher cackled. He swiped up his coat, tossing it over his shoulder, than grabbed Dipper’s and threw it at the boy. “Hay, kid, come on, let’s go before Gif puts us to work.”

Dipper fumbled a bit with the article of clothing. He gripped it tight and held it close to his chest as he stumbled to his feet and after the waiting blonde. Cipher seemed to be in quite the rush.

Giffany smiled like a crazed lunatic as he large eyes followed the brunets movements. When her pink irises found Cipher’s, gold, she all but burst out into laughter at the warning she noted there. She bit her tongue and stuffed her hands into the pockets of her leather jacket, knowing very well not to hold the two up. “Have a nice night you two; don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.” She cooed.

Cipher tossed an arm around Dipper’s shoulders broadly and tugged him towards the door. “Never!” He shouted over his shoulder and waved obnoxiously to the girl. Once they were out of ear shot, Cipher leaned into Dipper and muttered: “You don’t wanna be around there when she starts blasting heavy metal.” As if to justify his reasons for flying out of there like a bat out of hell.

Dipper laughed softly. He listened as Cipher spoke about the girls bodacious attitude but could honestly careless about the conversation. He had other things on his mind…

“I think your sister has good tastes.”

What was that supposed to mean?!

Chapter Text

The drive home was a relatively quiet one. Dipper blamed it on the fact they were both tired and Cipher had to focus on the road for fear of accidently taking one of the sharp mountain turns to quickly. Not a single word was shared between them till they got into town and even then it was mindless chatter.

It started with a yawn, long and jaw aching to the point of making Cipher’s eyes water, then—like a chain reaction—another one, shorter and belonging to the brunet sitting silently in the passenger seat.

Dipper shot Cipher a dirty look as he rested the back of his hand against his lips, “Jerk.” He mumbled childishly as his teeth clattered together again.

Cipher chuckled, “Whoops.” He mused, not sorry in the least. The rest of the ride was filled with the contagious yawning from both parties, a never ending cycle, and every time Dipper would slap Cipher’s arm and accuse him for starting this.

As they strolled to a stop outside the rustic shack Dipper called home, Bill all but collapsed against the steering wheel. His eyes drooped, blinking slowly at the brunet. “Well, this was fun!” He mused, voice sounding a bit groggy.

Dipper gave a small smile and rubbed at his watery eyes. “Yeah, thanks for having me.” He glanced sideways and scoffed at the blonde’s posture. “You look like shit.”

“How flattering.” Cipher replied sarcastically. He dropped back against his seat, rolling his shoulders and stretching his lengthy arms out before him. Each generous pop of joints shifting was like music to his ears. “Really, so sweet of you, especially after I drove you a whole half hour home. I could have left you on the mountain, you know.” He muttered in a strained voice.

“I just mean, you look really tired.” Dipper rolled his eyes and shook his head a little. He discreetly watched the radio host bend like a cat for a moment before taking on: “I do appreciate not having to hitch hike, though.” as a second thought and tore his brown orbs away.

He glanced at the clock—which read a daunting 3:40am—than towards the large house sitting silently amongst towering pine trees. There weren’t any lights coming from the windows, not even a faint glow from the tv could be seen. Everyone was probably asleep already. Dipper wondered briefly if Mabel had told Stan he’d be out for the night. She must have, otherwise the man probably would have been sitting on the porch, waiting to rip him a new one for staying out so late. Dipper mentally chuckled at the thought.

On the outside, Stan didn’t really look like he cared about much of anything, but deep down he could turn into a big overprotective teddy bear if pushed. Dipper recalled a time when Mabel and him were still in high school and Mabel came home five minutes late from a date, Stan was already waiting at the door with his arms crossed and a disappointed scowl on his face. That was the night the twins learned to be on time.

Dipper knew, of course, Stan’s rules were only in the twins best interest and safety. As much of a lawbreaker as the guy was, he did prefer keeping his niece and nephew out of trouble, and most importantly out of harm’s way.

Even though Mabel vouching for Dipper’s whereabouts tonight might have dismissed Stan’s worries, that didn’t mean the boy wasn’t going to be scolded at least a little in the morning for his unplanned nightly escapades.  

Dipper sighed lightly at the thought and shifted into a better position to face Cipher. The guy really did look like he was about to pass out at any given moment. His eyes were lowered, shoulders sagging, and head lolling to the side as if on the brink of slipping into a dreaming state. His bright hair, usually neat to some standards, was falling in wavy chunks over his porcelain face. Dipper felt the urge to reach out and brush the stray strands away, but kept his hands down with a bit of restraint.

Honestly, the guy really didn’t look like he should be driving much less being anywhere but in a bed. ‘Preferably my bed.’ Dipper thought in a haze. His cheeks instantly flared a deep shade of red as he registered what he just thought. Apparently he should very much be in a bed as well, where he couldn’t spew nonsense. Unfortunately, there seemed to be no filter on the boy’s mouth in that moment and before his brain could catch up with what words his tongue was forming, Dipper blurted out: “You should stay the night.”

Somehow the words sounded clear as day despite Dipper feeling half asleep. He blinked long and hard, only briefly aware of what the hell he had just said. It was like his head was moving through molasses and everything else was moving at top speed.

Cipher blinked once, twice, then slowly turned his head in Dipper’s direction. That was when the brunet really realized his voice had carried further than just his thoughts. His eyes widened as a rush of realization and extreme embarrassment gushed through his veins. He immediately began back tracking. 

“I mean! You look really worn out and you probably shouldn’t be driving in your condition.” He sat up straight, arms beginning to flail a little. “We don’t have a guest room but I’ve got plenty of pillows and you can sleep on the floor—what am I saying, that’s rude! I’ll sleep on the floor! You can sleep in my bed or—”

Cipher reached out and placed a hand on Dipper’s shoulder, getting the boy to stop his nervous rambling. He searched those chocolate eyes for a few seconds, watching the many different emotions flash by before regret and fear began settling in. He smiled brightly and squeezed Dipper’s shoulder, trying to rid the boy of his worries. Gosh, he was so innocent sometimes.

“I am gonna be honest, I would love to crash here for the night instead of driving more.” Cipher laughed. He could feel Dipper relax ever so slightly under his hold. “But I wouldn’t want to intrude.”

“You wouldn’t be intruding.” Dipper answered quickly. “I mean, hell, I was the one that brought it up.” He smiled a bit nervously, cheeks twitching under the moonlight. He moved a bit back to push open his door and nodded his head towards the house. “Come on, it’s fine.”

Cipher hummed softly and carefully followed suit. “If you’re sure.” He grabbed his keys and made sure to lock the door behind him before trailing after the brunet towards the house.

“Positive. I would feel terrible if I woke up tomorrow to find out you fell asleep while driving and died in a car crash or something.” Dipper threw a glance over his shoulder at the blonde. He had a feeling this was going to be a terrible idea, but part of him didn’t even care. Adventure, right? Sure, Stan might have a hissy fit when he finds a stranger in the house in the morning, but Dipper could deal with that. Mabel’s gonna have a hay day with this, though.

“Try to be quiet, I am pretty sure Mabel and my great uncle are sleeping.” Dipper muttered in a low voice as he clambered up the few porch stairs. He noted Cipher nodding in his peripheral vision and carefully twisted the doorknob, cringing at every loud squeak and ear ringing creak that the wood screamed.

They tip toed into the darkened house, Dipper quickly leading the way up the stairs to his room.

Cipher followed a bit slower, unfamiliar with the territory and wishing silently that he could spend a little more time just to look around. He told himself he could do that in the morning, however, when they weren’t at risk of waking unsuspecting patrons.

When they finally arrived at the attic, Dipper let Cipher in first, then shut the door quietly behind him. He flicked on the light switch and let out a rather loud sigh. “Phew.”

“Interesting set up you got here.” Cipher mused as he scanned the room with amusement in his eyes.

Dipper gulped and looked discreetly towards his mounds of books and papers sprawled just about everywhere. “Er sorry about the mess.” He uttered quietly and began fiddling with the buttons of his shirt out of nerves. “I would have cleaned up a little if I’d known I was having company.”

Cipher waved the boy off and took towards the bed. He dropped down onto the fluffy comforter, bouncing lightly as he settled onto the surface. The soft fabric was a great welcome compared to the hard leather seats he’d been sitting on all night. “I don’t mind so long as I have a pillow under my head.” He yawned, throwing a hand up to cup his mouth. “You do have quite the collection of books, though.”

Dipper chuckled nervously as he pushed some of said books and clutter closer to his desk till there was a significant amount of space for sleeping on the floor. It was far from a lie, Dipper did have a libraries worth of books shoved in just about every visible space in his room. If they weren’t on his wall length bookshelf, then they were strewn across his floor, his desk, and most definitely under his bed. Mabel and Stan had always chided that the brunet had issues and really needed to clean out his stash, but they figured it was better he be obsessed with books rather than drugs or something of the sorts. Everyone had their fixes, and books were Dipper’s.

“Do you expect any less from someone who works at a bookstore for a living?” Dipper snidely remarked as he wandered over to his closet and started gathering the few extra pillows he had stashed for emergencies. At least he wouldn’t have to make a trip to Mabel’s room for bedding.

He tossed them onto the floor carelessly, then yanked off a loose shirt from a hanger for sleeping in. With that in mind, the brunet glanced towards Cipher, wondering briefly if the man would want to barrow some clothes to sleep in. His question caught in his throat however, as his eyes graced over the already sleeping radio host. He was lying on his side, still completely clothed and looking very uncomfortable.

Dipper scoffed, a small smile toying at his lips as he gently tossed aside the shirt in his hands. He walked over to the edge of his bed and nudged at Cipher’s leg with his knee. When he didn’t stir, the brunet sighed and looked the man up and down. “Well you’re not sleeping with your shoes on in my bed, no matter how pristine they may be.” He mumbled under his breath and made quick work at tugging off the man’s boots. He sat them beside the bed, each hitting the wood with a soft thunk.

It was mildly impressive that the blonde hadn’t even moved a muscle at the action. Dipper figured he must have been pretty damn tiered to have not been disturbed. With careful precision, Dipper also managed to undo the scarf wrapped around Cipher’s neck. He tried his best at removing anything constricting, which soon enough left the man in only his shirt and pants, other accessories having been set aside.

He stood there for a moment, contemplating if he should do anything more. Obviously sleeping in jeans wasn’t a great thing to do, but it was borderline creepy to just take them off an unconscious man. Just the idea had Dipper flushing red like a teenage girl and really considering his sanity. It was much too late for him to be dealing with such awkward situations, and so he pushed the thoughts aside, grabbed a blanket, and haphazardly tossed it over Cipher’s resting form.

He looked comfortable enough, Dipper thought. His usually sharp features were relaxed; eye resting closed and lashes brushing gently against his skin. Thin lips moved ever so slightly with each intake of breath, followed by the fall of a few strands of blonde hair. Anyone who witnessed this sight would have to wholeheartedly agree that Cipher was a pretty handsome man.

Dipper’s hand twitched at his side, inching up to push a few fallen locks from Cipher’s face. He could feel his chest tighten and heart pound hard against his ribcage when his fingers skimmed across the man’s soft skin. He gently tucked the blonde hair behind Cipher’s ear and eased his hand away slowly. Only when he got about an inch away, a hand snapped out, grabbing his wrist and stopping from in his tracks.

“Ah!” Dipper’s squeaked, air leaving his lungs as he realized Cipher—still sound asleep—had his hand wrapped tightly around his own. In one flail swoop, Cipher rolled onto his other side, dragging the brunet harshly down onto the small space beside him. Dipper’s arm was forced to bend so that he lay practically spooning the radio host.

Unable to move, and now completely breathless, Dipper lay stiffened with his face burning at a temperature that could counter the sun. He gulped but his throat protested and only tightened into an uncomfortable knot, warranting him to cough and choke on his own saliva but he held it in.

Being this close to Cipher was sending his body into red alert. He could practically hear the sirens wailing in his head: ABORT, MISSION FAIL. But all he could do was lay there, paralyzed like a deer caught in the headlights, awaiting a fateful death. This was the pure definition of being fucked.

The worst thought was that if he could get past the initial awkwardness of the situation, Dipper kinda figured he could actually enjoy this. Being able to feel Cipher’s warm back pressed against his chest, the soft hair tickling his nose, and hand clutching his so sweetly the scene could cause diabetes. There was nothing more sickeningly romantic-movie-scene-cliché then accidently falling asleep with your crush and Dipper’s heart could barely handle it. He tried so hard, really, but getting his heart to calm down would be a futile mission with the constant reminder that in his arms was someone he, not only looked up to, but also possibly had the biggest of crushes on.

Dipper’s fingers twitched within Cipher’s unyielding hand. He was fixated on the warm feeling and butterflies that arose with each finger that adjusted to tangle around his own, tightening the hold.

Once the initial wave of surprise and the near-heart-attack started to subside, Dipper was able to relax just a little. He let himself sink into that foreign warmth and indulge in the odd connection that’d probably never be built again after tonight. His mind told him to be selfish, and it wasn’t like this was such a bad thing. All this was, was mindless cuddling if you really thought about it.

Dipper shifted a bit closer to Cipher’s back till he was able to press his face into the crook of the man’s neck. He closed his eyes and left himself get carried away, leaving whatever regrets he might have to be dealt with in the morning.

.:.:.

The first thing Dipper registered as consciousness took hold of his mind was how cold it was. Any blankets that might have once been on the bed were gone, letting the chilled morning air bite ruthlessly at Dipper’s skin. He cracked open his mocha eyes, squinting at the sun seeping in through the large triangular shaped window at the head of his bed.

“Mh.” Dipper grumbled, pulling himself up into a sitting position. He rubbed at the goose bumps sprawled out across his arms.  The warmth he once bathed in was completely missing now and on further inspection, so was the blonde radio host that was supposed to be in his arms. This realization had Dipper’s mind stirring awake far quicker then it normal would at this hour.

He glanced over the room, taking in the empty atmosphere that lacked a blonde. The makeshift bed Dipper had thrown together was still there in a lump on the floor, and Cipher’s clothes laid neatly collected in a small pile at the foot of the bed. That was enough confirmation to assure the night prior hadn’t been some wired dream his mind had made up, but that didn’t explain where Cipher was.

Extracting himself from the crumpled up blankets that sat tangled at the end of the bed, Dipper heaved himself up to his unsteady feet. He swayed back and forth a moment, body tempted to fall over and return to the slumber it so graciously wished for. He pushed forward, however, rubbing his hands through his messy hair in the process of wandering out of his bedroom.

Down the hall from Dipper’s room, Mabel’s door was wide open. As he passed, he noted that the girl was not inside—and neither Cipher for that matter. She was probably already downstairs, eating breakfast.

The bathroom door was open as well, leaving no indication that anyone had been in there for a while.

Dipper paused at the top of the stairs, brows furrowed in confusion. Cipher wouldn’t have just left without his clothes, right? That would have been stupid. But if he wasn’t in the bathroom, or Dipper’s room then where would he be?

His answer came in the form of laughter, loud and joyful, coming from the kitchen.

Dipper stiffened for a fraction of a second before he was flying down the stairs and rounding through the living room and into the kitchen like a bat out of hell. He stumbled to a stop in the arched entry way, eyes falling on the image of three laughing figures, each seated around the room with fits of giggles falling from their lips.

There was Stan, leaning against the counter with a cup of coffee in hand.

Mabel, hunched over a bowl of cereal and smiling like a dork.

And finally, Cipher, sitting across Mabel with a cup of coffee cradled in his hands—which was all fine and dandy except for the fact he was currently lounging in one of Dipper’s hoddies and sweatpants, looking like an adorable mess that had just rolled out of bed with his significant other.

Dipper’s heart hammered in his chest for two reasons. Reason one being that Cipher was talking to Mabel and Stan—who knows what embarrassing stories they had been sharing. And reason two, Cipher was wearing his clothes, and actually pulling them off. What alternative universe had he landed in? Dipper was certain he could never look that good in his Illuminati sweatshirt and bright yellow sweatpants—which freakishly matched Cipher’s hair almost perfectly.

“Well look who finally decided to join us.” Mabel announced, breaking Dipper’s reeling thoughts. He blinked, eyes shifting from Cipher to meet his sister. She was grinning knowingly around the Cheerios she had shoved into her mouth. “Long night?”

Dipper narrowed his eyes and pushed away from the doorway, gracefully ignoring Mabel’s innuendos. “You could have woken me up.” He mumbled and took a seat at the head of the table.

“You looked so peaceful; I didn’t want to wake you.” Cipher shrugged. He took a short sip from his drink before setting it down on the table and shimming his sleeves down till the cuffs covered his hands. He dropped them against his legs, which he was currently sitting on in a crisscrossed fashion. He looked like a toddler. “I hope you don’t mind, I barrowed some of your clothes.”

Across the room, Stan snorted mid-drink and Mabel made sure to crunch on her cereal slowly with extra volume.

“It’s fine.” Dipper smiled despite the two other occupants of the room. “I was going to ask if you wanted to use some anyways.”

Cipher nodded; if he noticed the other Pines he didn’t mention their actions. If anything, he seemed delighted with this whole ordeal.

“So, whatcha guys talking about?” Dipper leaned forward, elbows resting lazily on the table as his eyes shifted between each person.

“Oh! Cipher was just telling us all about his work.” Mabel mused, twirling her spoon about all the while.

“Ah.” Dipper nodded slowly. He shot a questioning glace at the radio host but only received a small smile in return.

“You should have told me sooner you had a walking story book full of great scamming material, Dipper. I might have to borrow him one of these days.” Stan commented and took a long swig of his coffee.

Dipper forced a laugh, which ended up coming out sounding a little nervous. “Sorry but he’s mine.” He muttered.

A few seconds passed with no replies, and by the time Dipper realized why Mabel was smirking at him he had already effectively caused the whole situation to become even weirder. ‘Thank you for gracing me with no filter, God.’ Dipper thought bitterly. “My friend! He’s my friend. So you shouldn’t badger him about that kinda stuff.” He clarified quickly.

Stan eyed him suspiciously but nodded nonetheless.

“Well.” Cipher clapped his hands loudly, drawing the attention his way. He smiled brightly between Mabel and Stan, “It was a pleasure to meet you both,” he began shifting off the chair in order to stand. “But I am afraid I should be going.”

“Aww so soon?” Mabel stuck out her bottom lip, pouting.

Cipher chuckled at her attempts of getting him to stay but nodded anyways. “As much as I would love to chat further, I’ve got work. And I am sure you all have things to do as well.”

“Well stop to say hi soon!” Mabel shot back, all smiles and giggles.

Cipher smiled back, giving a small wave as he took his leave towards the door.

“I’ll walk you out.” Dipper mumbled and skillfully avoided both Mabel and Stan watching the two of them leave.

Once outside, Dipper let out a long sigh of relief. It felt much better getting away from his family, sure he loved them but he was practically suffocating in there. He focused on the sound of his feet rolling over stones and scuffing against dirt. The sound of pure nature was a relaxing one.

“Sorry about them.” Dipper mumbled as he wrapped his arms around himself, highly aware that winter was steadily approaching and t-shirts weren’t appropriate attire for this time of year. “I mean, you know how Mabel is and Stan is… well I don’t really know of a word to describe Stan, but you get it.”

Cipher stood at the edge of the porch with his hands stuffed in the pockets of his sweatshirt—or well, Dipper’s sweatshirt. “Don’t be, their interesting people.” He mused, sounding actually genuine. “As I’ve said before, I like Mabel, she has good tastes and is pretty chaotic.”

Dipper raised a brow, not buying the radio hosts words for a second. “They aren’t… off putting? You can say their wired, I know their wired.” He shook his head at the simple thought of his crazy little family.

“No, no I am serious!” Cipher chuckled. “I’ve seen some crazy things, Dipper, and your family sure isn’t on that list. Their sweet.”

“Sweet?”

“…I couldn’t think of another word.” Cipher admitted.

Dipper snorted and rolled his eyes. “My point exactly!”

The two fell into a comfortable silence as they walked across the dirt lot towards Cipher’s sleek black car. Dipper spotted Cipher out of the corner of his eye sinking into the collar of his hoodie, looking like a turtle receding into its shell. The sight brought a laugh bubbling from his lips.

“You like the sweatshirt?” Dipper asked as they paused beside the car.

“I’ll admit it is very comfortable.” He wiggled his shoulders a little for emphasis. “I’ll give you these back next time we meet.” Cipher dug out the keys from his pocket and began fiddling with the door while Dipper moved to stand closer to the tree line.

Dipper tossed his hand up, giving a dismissive wave, “Oh no, it’s alright. I mean, it looks better on you anyways.” He cringed at his wording but laughed it off. There was time to curse himself for his stupid mouth later.

Cipher hummed, yanking open the door and turning to face the brunet again. His golden eyes lingered up and down Dipper for a fraction of a second before meeting his mocha eyes. A small smile pulled at the radio hosts lips, “Well aren’t you just a gentlemen.” He teased, leaning his arm against the roof of his car.

Dipper rolled his eyes and crossed his own arms against his shivering chest. “I have my moments.” He smirked.

The two stood there in silence for a while, both staring at the other with silly smiles plastering their faces. The soft look in Cipher’s eyes was doing things to Dipper’s poor heart. He could feel a rush of heat attack his cheeks, most likely leaving a bright shade of pink behind. When the quiet atmosphere stretched on a little too long, Dipper shifted and readied a farewell. However, before he could even being to form his words, a blur of blonde shoved him against a tree perched perfectly behind him. He winced slightly as his head hit the wood a bit hard, but any complaints he had dissipated the second he felt soft lips press sloppily against his own.

His eyes widened in shock but slowly fluttered closed as his body practically melted against Cipher. The constricting feeling that had been progressively getting tighter inside Dipper’s chest over the past few weeks, had just snapped completely, overflowing with emotions he couldn’t even begin comprehend.

As if on instinct, Dipper’s hands reached up to grip at the fabric covering Cipher’s chest. He leaned greedily into the kiss, taking in every sweet sensation that sparked to life within him. He barely even registered the hand holding him at the waist, and the other tangling into his hair with a needy want.

The kiss was messy to say the least, they ended up bumping noses and clattering their teeth together, but it was sweet nonetheless.

After what felt like minutes, but was probably only seconds, the two parted. Both gasped for air as they leaned their foreheads together and tried to make sense of what just happened.

Dipper was the first to open his eyes, taking the moment to stare over Cipher’s flawless features. A tint of pink was shaded across his cheeks adorably; causing a shy but goofy smile to split across Dipper’s face. When golden orbs found his, Dipper felt his heartbeat pick up. He was sure he shared the same blush, if not more so.

They stared at each other for a moment, both searching for any hint of regret or disgust within the others eyes but both coming up with none. Cipher took in a small breath and parted his lips as if ready to break the small silence that had stretched between them. However, just as words started fluttering to life, a loud and obnoxious ringtone—sounding oddly similar to The X Files theme song, Dipper noted—began blaring from within Cipher’s pocket.

They quickly fumbled apart, Cipher reaching for his screeching phone and Dipper leaning back awkwardly into the tree.

Honey eyes implored the lock screen, seeing the name Gideon scribbled across the device. Cipher sighed and shot Dipper an apologetic look. “I gotta go, but I’ll call you!” With each word he took a step towards his car and with each step Dipper could feel his stomach drop sadly. All he could do was nod and give a half-hearted wave to the man quickly retreating.

He stood there, leaning against the tree even after the radio host was driving away, the spark like sensation still fresh on his lips. He tried not to feel upset, knowing Cipher was a busy person and wasting time kissing a person he hardly knew wasn’t something the man should be doing.

Dipper sighed and dropped his head back against the tree. “Ow!” He hissed, bouncing back to cradle his suddenly throbbing head as a round of smacked metal echoed in his ears. He turned around, narrowing his eyes at the place his head once occupied, only to notice something slightly off about the patch of bark around the area.

It wasn’t bark.

It was metal.