“What, is it like?”
“What’s what like Shooting Star?”
“The mindscape. I’ve always kind of wondered.”
“It’s dark and loud, filled with shapes and sounds that run together. It’s neither cold nor warm. It’s not nice but it’s not bad either. It’s a dream Soothing Star, a dream for daemons, where your power in infinite but there’s so much to understand and take in, that it takes all of that power to just stay together. It’s no place a mortal mind could comprehend. I came from there and I suspect when that time comes, I will return completely to it.”
He had never meant for any of it to happen. She had just been that annoying meat-bag girl that didn’t seem to fear him and never stopped asking questions. Perhaps his human form made him seem easier to approach or maybe the unthinkable had happened and he was finally growing soft. Either way, each summer she had her equally annoying yet fascinating brother returned to Gravity Falls she somehow found him and asked him about the creatures she had encountered. It was the summer she turned fourteen before he finally decided to acknowledge her.
“Why don’t you just ask Pine Tree and leave me alone? Geez kid, you’re turning every few months you’re here into a nightmare for me which, I must say, is impressive.”
“Oh come on Bill! You know you could explain it better than him any day mister I-know-lots-of-things. He’s out flirting with Pacifica right now anyways.”
“I thought you two hated her.”
“Nah, she’s not so bad now that she’s over the idea that being a Northwest makes her better than everyone else. Besides, would you want to spend the day watching my brother attempt to flirt?” Bill winced at the thought of the crippling awkwardness that would involve and mentally wished Pacifica luck.
He floated down until he was in front of Mabel and crossed his arms in an annoyed manner. This time she had caught him in the forest while he had been making a deal with a nearby wood nymph (she had wanted more birch, less oak if you caught the meaning) and had proceeded to harass him in a manner that was becoming all too familiar.
“What could you possibly want to know so badly from me?”
“Why do all gnomes wear the same hat for one.” He fixed her with an unamused stare.
“You do realize I am the oldest and most dangerous daemon to ever exist. I could just light you on fire.” He drifted around her and whispered in her ear, “or I could just break your mind into a thousand tiny pieces. I’m sure then you wouldn’t be so bothered by all those questions you’ve got bouncing around up there.” He pulled away and returned to his previous position in front of her with a manic smile stretching his face and showing off all this teeth. She gave a small shudder of apprehension but held his gaze with her determined brown eyes and called his bluff with no fear in her words.
“I know you won’t. That would take energy and effort for something that would have no real payoff. Besides haven’t you been even a little bored lately?” He really didn’t understand this girl, she was right he was a bit bored. That was the first, though not the last, time he gave in to her and began to indulge her questions.
He had had spent the rest of that summer teaching her about the creatures of Gravity Falls and elsewhere, giving her the insights that his multi-millennia existence had granted him. She was very bright and inquisitive and he, being unused to being around a mortal that didn’t seek his power or run from him in fear, couldn’t help but be charmed by her. It was in this way that she became a kind of student to him. She would tell her brother what she had learned from him of course, and after a while, to his surprise, began to relay questions from her brother along with her. This began his first interaction with the boy that wasn’t in some way negative. The new dynamic was strange, but he had been craving a change and so decided to welcome it.
The summer she was fifteen, her questions began to change. She would throw in a couple of questions about him into her endless tirade and then look at him with her big doe eyes, silently pleading for him to answer. At first he had just ignored, then he had threatened to remove her tongue when that hadn’t been enough of a hint. In the end though he had, again, given in to her and he began answer her opening up a little more with each inquiry.
Why was he always wearing yellow? Gold was the conductive metal for his powers. Wasn’t that silver? Hoe dare she imply he utilize something as weak as magic. Well what did he use then? Not that a puny human mind could comprehend it but in layman’s terms he bent the fabric of reality to his whim, it was a power that was unique to him. Well if he could do that, not that this was a suggestion or anything, but why hadn’t he taken over the world yet? Oh he had certainly tried, what did she take him for? However, the crux of his power was that, while they were infinite in the dreamscape, they were limited in reality unless he was summoned for a deal and even then it could be terminated and he would be insubstantial once more. So he was essentially like a genie? What?! No! He was infinitely more powerful than those show ponies! Ignorant mortal she didn’t know what she was saying!
Mabel had giggle at his tirade at her last question and the sound made his usually endless supply of words run dry in his throat. He had never heard her make a sound of joy before, and he found it akin to the warmth of the sun or the call of an evening dove. Perhaps the scent of honeysuckle? Either way he didn’t find it unpleasant and, perhaps, wouldn’t mind if she continued to do so in his presence. For the rest of their time together he had (in the most discreet way he could manage) tried to make her laugh and found that when he succeeded, not only did the thought that the laughter was for him please him immensely, but that the sound was infectious. He also found that he liked the sound of their mingled laughter the best.
He had spotted Dipper a few times and they would acknowledge each other, Dipper with weariness and Bill with amusement. He found out later from Mabel that she hadn’t shared any of the information she had learned about himself with her brother. When he had asked her, her answer both pleased and puzzled him
“It’s personal information Bill. You decided to tell me not him. I’m not going to share that stuff unless you tell me I can.” He had shaken his head and asked her why she was being kind to him.
“I’ve hurt you all before. Why did you decide to talk to me in the first place? Why follow and pester me of all creatures?’ She had blushed at confessed her motivations to him.
“Well, to be honest, I had gotten into a fight with Dipper the first time I ran in to you and it was one of those times you just really want to pick a fight with the first thing you come across. It wasn’t smart but you didn’t do anything in the end except ignore me.” She looked at him then, an emotion he did not recognize in her eyes. “ That was it, I had been expecting something horrible but you did nothing and I thought, maybe there was something else to you. I know it sounds corny but the more I thought about it the more I realized that no one ever talks to you unless they want something so I wondered what would happen if I somehow got you to talk to me.” He stared ahead of him, his face blank.
“You shouldn’t try to analyze me Shooting Star, it’s a dark place and it’s not simple.”
“I’m not trying to.” She sighed, “I guess I wanted to know if you could be a friend. I feel like you are.” He snapped his head around to look at her with wide eyes.
“You realize that sounds insane.”
“Well duh, this whole place is insane.” He chuckled and she smiled that silver smile of hers that always seemed to put him in a better mood.
“You’re secrets are safe with me. Promise.” Privacy, another thing he wasn’t used to being given by mortals, who always seemed to want to be involved in his business whenever they discovered he existed. She was so strange but he found that he was growing more and more fond of her brand of it.
He was beginning to look forward to running in to her in the woods, the Mystery Shack, wherever it was and the more time they spent together the more time he wanted. Time had always been so trivial to him. It passed at a constant rate around but never touching him but with Mabel however, seconds suddenly held meaning as they counted the moments he was able to spend with her.
On the last day of that summer she had looked up at him with a look of rare seriousness on her face and had asked him what the Mindscape was like. It was, by far, the most personal question she had ever asked of him, but instead of brushing it off with a quip like he had intended, he had shocked himself by answering her in the most honest way possible. When he had finished his explanation there was a moment of quiet between them before she had caught him completely off guard by throwing her arms around his chest and pulling him close. The smell of strawberries, bubblegum, and earth had filled up his nose as he realized the name for what she was doing was called a ‘hug’ and recalled it was a sign of affection. Like her laughter, it was strange to him but not unpleasant and even though he did not end up returning it she didn’t seem to mind. She was so soft. Eventually she had let go, and, with a promise to return the next summer, and vanished from his sight like the sprite she was. He didn’t want to identify the empty forlorn feeling he experienced at the thought of having to wait to speak to her again. That could be dangerous.
The summer she was sixteen, he had resolved to put some distance between them. She was learning too much about him and at this rate she would be one of the few people in history with enough knowledge to destroy him. Not that he honestly thought she would do a thing like that to him now. Actually, if he was going to be honest, the real reason they needed distance was he didn’t know how to handle his emotions around her anymore. He was happily caught in a web of the unfamiliar emotions she inspired in him, and he needed to escape before they were both tangled. Then she had appeared before him and his resolve had melted away under her kind smile, and he had begun, against his better judgment, began to notice things about her.
He noticed her straight braces-free teeth that she flashed every time she smiled at him. He noticed how, even though her skin had spots on it that betrayed that she was going through that weird hormone thing meat-bags went through when growing from child to adult, her cheeks still a constant charming natural blush. He noticed how her eyes only seemed to grow brighter and warmer with age, though the more she learned the more joy she felt. He noticed that, in direct sunlight, her hair shone like a new copper penny. He noticed that she wore the most colorful and unusual cloths, and that her ears were pierced in many places, and that she carried herself with a confidence that was at once effortless and attractive. He noticed that she no longer had the figure of a child and could not help remembering the feeling of her pressed against him and how warm and soft she was.
He had not looked at mortals in that way for a nearly uncountable number of years so to suddenly have such thoughts return again after so long was a bit overwhelming. The easiest thing to do would have been to stay away from her but he was, if nothing else, a masochist, and instead spent more time with her than before.
Their conversations became less of a question and answer and more like honest dialogue. She told him about her life back at her home in California, her parents, her sophomore year of high school, her friends, the knitting that she had started herself; essential everything and anything. She also told him about her failed romances of the past year and he found that familiar feeling of jealousy rear its ugly head at the mention of them, but he did his best to suppress it. Shooting Star wore her heart on her sleeve and she was a beautiful young lady, of course there would be romance. Still that didn’t stop him from wanting to incinerate any male that dared to kiss her smiling mouth and then decide that there was anything better.
He spent that summer in the opposite role than he was used to playing, asking her questions and absorbing the answers she offered. He also spent more time around the Shack that summer, so much more that it soon became common to see him locked in a debate with Dipper, hiding from Stanford when the toilet got clogged, helping Soos with a repair job, and trying in vain to stop Waddles from chewing on his pant legs. Also, slowly but surely, his deals with the beings that summoned him became less harsh and he even walked away from some of the darker ones, the thought of having to explain to Mabel what he had done his motivation for doing so. She was influencing him to change, and although it was against his nature to be docile, he found he didn’t mind as much as he thought he would.
She continued to grace him with her hugs, much to his general pleasure and, to his great surprise, even pressed her soft lips to his cheek a few times. The first time she had done this he had frozen in shock and had unconsciously started to float a few inches off the ground, causing her to giggle which, in turn, had caused him to flush a bright red. He had never thought that he would ever feel something like that in all his existence but Mabel seemed to delight in giving him unexpected experiences. However, unlike her laughter and hugs, Bill immediately knew he wanted her to kiss him again, multiple times preferably, and knew he wanted more. He wanted to kiss her mouth fully, to claim her lips away from all those ungrateful idiots that had beaten him to them, because he knew that he would never give them up.
These inclinations had him worried. The girl was an innocent that was obvious and she was the first female in a long time to show him kindness. She was durable and strong but soft and kind. Truly, he concluded, she was one of a kind in a world full of monotony. He would not pull her into something she didn’t need to be involved with, namely him. But again, Mabel appeared to be his true weakness because the week before she was to leave again she had moved to kiss his cheek and he had impulsively turned his head and pressed his lips to hers. She had stiffened in shock and had pulled away after a moment. She turned her back to him, head tilted towards the ground and shoulders trembling. He began to panic. Had he done something wrong? Of course he had, he, a daemon, had kissed her; she was probably horrified and disgusted!
“Bill.” Her voice snapped his attended back to her. She was now facing towards him her eyes shining with and spilling silent tears.
“This… this isn’t some kind of trick is it? I mean, if it is please don’t I can’t… I mean I really do.” He moved towards her, thankful she didn’t back away as he was filled with relief, as he understood what she was trying to say. She cared for him too. Her pure tears burning his hands as he made to wipe them away.
“No Shooting Star, this no trick.” He tucked a lock of hair behind her ear and cupped her face in his hands. “Although I would ask you to not bring back stories about boys next year.” With that he kissed her again and this time she melted into it, throwing her arms around his neck and running her hands through his hair. Bill was the kind of daemon that, when he was offered something, took it, so when he accepted his kiss he deepened it, until it was full of hunger and longing, his goal to wipe her memory of any other kiss before his.
They broke apart and he leaned in again and again and again, unable to get enough of her, running his long fingers through her shining hair as hers slid down to his chest. When they finally parted for the last time, they were both breathing hard and Bill was filled with an emotion he didn’t recognize but whatever it was drove him to proceed to kiss her eyes, forehead, nose, hair, the corner of her mouth, anywhere he could reach, causing her to laugh delightedly.
“No boys. I promise.” And this time, when she left it was both better and worse than the year before, but he was left feeling more solid than he ever had before.
The summer she turned seventeen she had, true to her word, come back with no stories of failed romances but instead had greeted him with a squeal of delight and a kiss when he had appeared before her. Those months were the best he could recall to ever occur to him. He was more or less pleasantly tolerated by the male Pines family members (Waddles included) and the Mystery Shack’s employees but the way Mabel looked at him was far better than toleration.
Still she continued the tradition of asking him questions but like before, their subject had changed.
“What do I do?”
“What do you mean dear?”
“Are there special dating rules for daemons? I’ve got to be prepared for anything you know!” He had smirked and found her extremely endearing at that moment.
“Would you like me to teach you?” She had given him a small teasing kiss and had whispered in his ear that she did, indeed, want to learn, so unable to deny her anything, he had.
He explained how, with her consent in their relationship, they would have a special kind of bond between them, allowing them to communicate with each other. He explained to her that his kind are like fae in the way they chose to love: fully and unconditionally. He explained how he loved her in with the words themselves and his actions. He explained how she had a power over him that none had ever had before. He explained how she could literally ask anything of him and he would make it so. He explained that he must have a heart because it was breaking as she left at the end of that summer. He also, firmly explained that they belonged equally to each other and that daemons were jealous by nature and very possessive of what they considered to be theirs. Then there were no more explanations as his lips were silenced with a reassuring kiss and she left him once more for her life that was separate from his. There was something she didn’t know however, but that was understandable. He hadn’t told her.
At eighteen the Pines twins had decided to spend a year with their great uncle, helping him run the Shack for a time before going to a University that was opening not twenty minutes away from Gravity falls. The Pines twins loved the town so much that they didn’t want to leave it now that they were no longer obligated by school, which was just fine with Bill. He wouldn’t have been able to let her leave again anyway but she didn’t know and it was understandable. He hadn’t told her.
She didn’t know when she asked him if he could try to form some kind of positive relationship with her brother. He had sat with the teen and, after a long and difficult conversation, Dipper truly forgave him. They began to discuss and search for the supernatural together and eventually Bill trusted Dipper with a special orb that would allow him to peer in to other worlds. They became strange partners of sorts and Mabel’s subsequent happiness at that was enough reward for them both. She didn’t know, but that was understandable. He hadn’t told her.
She didn’t know when, one evening in the fall, he had taken her hands in his and asked if he could be allowed know her in that special way only lovers could. Mabel, his sweet innocent Mabel, had so trustingly and happily granted him permission and entrusted him with her virtue, which he jealously guarded. It had been a millennia since he had last taken a lover, and even never a human one so much to his frustration in had taken some trial and error for him to learn how to best pleasure her. However, Bill was nothing if not a fast and eager learner, and soon he knew the quickest way to turn the pink blush of her cheeks to a blood red. He would lay with her in the dead of night, holding her close as she slept and greedily absorbed her pleasant dreams. She didn’t know, but that was understandable. He had never told her.
She didn’t know when one night, he had asked if he could please place his mark on her skin. It was a particular thing with daemons he had explained, it would strengthen their bond and leave a visible symbol that would mark her as untouchable to any creature that knew what it meant. She had let him, in a night filled with raw passion, place what looked like a tattoo of a black brick-patterned triangle over her heart, never to be removed. She didn’t know but that was understandable. He hadn’t told her.
She didn’t know what had happened that Spring with the boy and, for her sake he hopped she never would. Blonde, green eyed, and charming, a boy had walked up to his Shooting Star during her shift at the gift shop and proceeded to blatantly flirt with her. Bill had been helping out by taking inventory at the time and had been one second away from pulling the boy’s teeth out, but he had refrained knowing it would only upset Mabel. Then she had flirted back, and it wasn’t anything inappropriate and Mabel was the last person in the universe to be unfaithful to her loved one, but it did nothing to help his mood. Then, the boy had made a fatal mistake; he had asked his Shooting Star out for a date. Her smile had immediately fallen from her face and she had proceeded to gently but firmly tell him no, but his fate was already sealed. How dare he think he had the right to try and steal her away? By the end of the week the boy was wondering in some far off town, his mind completely broken and living in constant fear of something he couldn’t remember. She would never find out, of that he made certain, and he felt a certain sort of smugness as he held his love in his arms as they sat together that evening. She didn’t know, but that was understandable. He hadn’t told her.
She didn’t know that when you willingly become the beloved of a daemon, the bond that forms is forever and permanent. She didn’t know that even if she no longer wanted to be with him, she was bound to him for the rest of her life. She didn’t know that he would never let her go, that it was the only thing he would not do for her. She didn’t know that he was constantly trying to find ways to cheat her mortality so that he could have her forever. She didn’t know that every night she would lie with a monster. She didn’t know that there was a tapestry in the Northwest Mansion that foretold the end of the world, and depicted him looking down on an endless sea of fire and corpses. She didn’t know that he would never tell her any of this, knowing it would drive her away. A bird that didn’t know it was caged still sang after all.
“You’re so quiet. Whatcha’ thinkin’ bout?”
“I love you Shooting Star.”
“I love you too.”
She didn’t know, but that was understandable.
He hadn’t told her.