“You sure you think you’re ready?” Mabel asks, hopping off the giant dog she just bedazzled and landing on the soft grey grass with ease.
“I’ve had to deal with the most obnoxious mermaids before, Shooting Star. This is going to be a breeze,” Bill sounds confident enough, the look in his eye matching his tone, but Mabel can’t be fooled. She has a feeling that deep down he was worrying about messing up. It made the hopeless romantic in her swoon.
“Dipper’s not a mermaid though. And I remember you telling me last week that you’ve never flirted with a human,” She stares at him, silently challenging the demon to say otherwise.
Bill doesn’t let himself get flustered and meets her challenging gaze head on, “I said I haven’t done this whole flirting thing in a while.”
“How long is a while?” He doesn’t answer, just breaks eye contact and zips out of Shooting Star’s mindscape, a distant good luck following after him as he appears in the familiar surroundings of his own mindscape.
After two weeks of learning all about how human courtships went with Shooting Star’s help, Bill had decided he’s had enough preparation. Not seeing Pine Tree for two weeks was making the potion flowing through him flare up and the not at all fun pain was back. Plus, he was beginning to miss the kid even if Pine Tree looked ready to bolt every time they met, but never mind that.
Remembering the first step to winning someone’s heart – which was not cutting them open as Shooting Star ‘kindly’ corrected him – Bill hops into Pine Tree’s mindscape. He spots Pine Tree standing in front of the ocean with a pile of stones in his hand. Curious about what he was doing, Bill dims his glow and silently creeps up on the human. He watches as Pine Tree takes a stone from the pile, runs his thumb over it, and then tosses it into the water. The stone bounces once, twice, and then it sinks; Pine Tree mumbles under his breath and does it again with a slightly smaller stone.
“What’cha doing, kid?” Bill asks, hovering closer until he’s right next to Pine Tree’s head. He’s obviously startled the other as the pile falls onto the sandy beach and Pine Tree nearly tumbles into the ocean. Luckily, Bill caught the back of his shirt before he could even begin to fall forward.
“Skipping Stones,” Dipper answers, brushing off imaginary dust from his clothes and moving away from Bill’s hand. He turns his head and meets the demon’s single eye, “Why do you wanna know?”
“Eh, you’re always doing something interesting,” Bill says with a shrug as if that was a sufficient answer. Of course, Dipper found it vague as always.
He’d spent the past two weeks buried in research and thinking – so nothing new – about Bill’s sudden change. After finding nothing that could explain why Bill was suddenly friendlier, he figured that in time, and maybe a little interrogation, he’d get to the bottom of this.
For now, all he can do is sigh and wait for Bill to slip up or something.
“What do you want this time, Bill?”
“Oh nothing. Just wanted to let you know that I would gladly bathe in the blood of your enemies if it would keep that bright smile of yours safe,” Bill speaks like he’s reciting a poem, words dripping with sincerity and, oh, he even has a hand over his triangular body where a human heart would be.
Dipper’s absolutely speechless, eyes wide in shock and mouth agape, because how does he respond to this? What was Bill even talking about? Bathing in the blood of his enemies? Keeping his bright smile safe?
What? Dipper’s mind is whirling and he doesn’t have a concrete conclusion as to why Bill just said he’d kill anyone to keep him safe.
So he does the first sensible thing that pops into his head.
He falls backwards, the sand practically swallowing him up, and lays there with his arms spread out. He gazes up into the cloudless sky and doesn’t move an inch, especially when the demon appears in his line of vision; Bill’s soft, yellow light like a beacon in the grey of the mindscape.
“Next time you decide to fall over, let me know so I can yell timber.”
“Shut up.” Dipper shoots him a glare before flinging his arm over them, completely blocking out Bill’s light.
“Seriously though, what was that for?”
“You’re obviously not the real Bill Cipher and just a figment of my imagination. So if I lay here, you’ll disappear eventually.”
“Aw Pine Tree, have you thought up fake me’s to keep you company before?”
Dipper can feel his cheeks heating up in embarrassment and he flips onto his stomach, burying his face into his arms. Bill’s usual high-pitched laughter echoes all around him and frankly, it was starting to annoy him.
“Why the hell would I do that!?” He shouts, head shooting up and nearly colliding with Bill who was hovering over him. Dipper shuffles backwards in the sand to put space between them whilst pushing down the paranoia that spiked in his heart when the waves lap at his toes and tries his best to stare the demon down.
“’Cause you missed me,” Bill replies, his glow bright and his eye grinning, “Admit it, kid; you missed me, didn’t ya?”
“Hardly,” Dipper replies, elbows digging into the sand and chin resting in his hand. He can clearly see an emotion akin to happiness in Bill’s eye and it confuses him momentarily. His mind provides memories of a late night spent on the roof of the mystery shack, the moon turning into a gigantic eye, and the constant buzzing of an old computer. Right, they said those exact same words to each other six years ago. The other events that happened afterward flash before his eyes like a movie and he abruptly sits up.
“Nope, not going down that road,” Dipper says aloud, not caring that Bill was right in front of him still, “I’m going to wake up now…bye.” He doesn’t give Bill any time to process his sentence; the ocean fades and the world is alive with color once again. Glancing over at the digital clock sitting on his bedside table, the numbers read 4:00 AM. Dipper groans and gets out of bed, running a hand over his face and through his hair as he heads down the stairs.
Taking a seat in Grunkle Stan’s chair, he closes his eyes and does his own version of meditation – something he’d found helped when working with magic.
Memory lane… was a place he wasn’t prepared to visit again, not with the cluttered mess that is his mind.
Bill’s booted out of Pine Tree’s mindscape when the human forcefully wakes himself up.
“Sheesh, what’s wrong with the kid now?” Bill hovers over the empty Pine Tree page, words laced with worry as he simply stares. A small part of him was screaming, swearing and saying how he shouldn’t care about the damn kid so much, but the potion kept that part of himself at bay and amplified his more human emotions.
Which is why he immediately dives into Shooting Star’s mind.
“So, how’d it go?” she asks when she spots him, her body shaking in anticipation.
“Good, I think,” he replies, “He thought I was imaginary and then woke himself up.”
“Bill… what exactly did you tell him?” Mabel’s eyes narrow and she has a gut feeling that she’s not going to like what she hears.
“That I’d bathe in the blood of his enemies to keep him safe,” Bill says confidently like what he told Dipper was perfectly normal.
“Bill!” Mabel yells with a groan, the palm of her hand smacking her forehead, “I thought I said violence wasn’t an attractive quality!”
“I’m a demon, Shooting Star; violence is one of my main qualities.”
“Ugh, never mind. We’ll work on it.”
They spend the rest of the time in Mabel’s mindscape coming up with phase two of operation: epic summer romance. Phase one had been more bold attempts at flirting – and she still couldn’t tell if it went well or not; knowing her brother, it could’ve gone either way – so it only made sense that phase two would be going on a date.
They bounce date ideas off of each other with Mabel shooting down most of Bill’s ideas; he needed to understand that animal mutilation wasn’t romantic at all. Not to mention Dipper would probably never go out with him ever again. That shut Bill right up, leaving Mabel to come up with a nice night of stargazing.
Bill’s a bit apprehensive about it, but warms up to the date idea when Mabel tells him about how much Dipper actually likes to sit underneath the stars and look at them all night long.
The demon sets off to get the most important part of the date ready and Mabel leans back against the fluffy leg of the large, yellow dog that roamed her dreams. She stares off into the distance and sighs, pulling a pig onto her lap.
“You think they’re going to be okay, Waddles?”
Waddles oinks and she takes that as a positive answer. A smile tugs at her lips and she hugs the pig to her chest.
“Yeah, I think so too.”