Late Night Talk
Dipper laid on his improvised bed, on the other side of the room, was his father. Once again he was stuck with him in the same room for lack of space. Mabel was sleeping in his old room while Stan was in his own, Dipper and his father got the extra one. Soos was in the living room and Dipper was pretty sure Robbie was staying there too. His dad informed him a while later that Wendy headed back to her home, she left minutes after he went to search for Mabel.
He was staring at the ceiling for what felt like hours now, thinking about his promise. He definitely didn't regret it; in fact he was more sure than ever he did the right thing. But something kept bothering him and even though he was exhausted, he couldn't bring himself to drift off to sleep.
"Dad, are you awake?"
"I am now... What is it, Kid?" His voice came out raspy and lazy.
Dipper gulped. "About that thing of Mabel wanting to stay..."
"What? Did she change her mind? Is that why she tried to escape?"
"No, she definitely doesn't want to go back. And I don't think we should force her to go."
There was a quiet moment, but even though it as dark and silent, Dipper knew his father just smiled and humphed like he always did when he was about to say something obvious.
"Kid, she has no idea what is to be a pirate. Once she really sees it, she'll give up. You'll see."
"Okay, let me rephrase, she definitely doesn't want to go back and I'm not gonna let anyone force her to go."
"Are you falling for her, Son?" The Captain asked in a mocking tone, it was dark, but Dipper just knew he was grinning as he sat up to look at the shape of his son. Dipper remained as calm as possible and instead of jumping to sit up with bright red cheeks, he managed to choke out a disbelieved laugh.
"Come on, Dad, I barely know the girl." Little did Dipper recognize, but he was in denial. "It's just that I know something was wrong in the palace. She doesn't want to go back and I think there's a reason for that… Something happened there."
"And what would that be?"
"I don't know. She never told me. But I'm going to find out."
"Okay, Son. Just don't get too attached. She might want to go back any minute."
"Why do you say that? What if she really wants to stay and live a pirate's life with us? Couldn't we just keep raiding official navy ships and seeking hidden treasures? Wouldn't that be enough?"
"The crew wants the money, Kid. And I say that because I know royalty never really want to leave their pampered lives."
"You know I've traveled a lot during those 14 years of piracy, and I once met a very young and naive man who loved a noble woman, and it turned out that when they got the chance to run away together, she hesitated and she ended up marrying another, equally wealthy man. And he never saw her again. She didn't really want to leave the easy life of the court."
"Oh... And do I know him?"
"No. Now get some sleep. Stan is going to make you work early tomorrow." His father said in a sleepy voice.
"Tell me something I don't know... Well, good night then, Dad." He said turning to get comfortable and go to sleep, his father did the same, dozing off quite quickly. Now, instead of the ceiling, Dipper started staring at the wall, and in his reverie of thoughts, he wondered if he would be able to sleep before he solved the mystery of Mabel.
Dipper sighed, tired and sleepy, hearing his father's soft rhythmic breathing, probably already sleeping. Pulling the covers over himself a bit more as shelter from the cold night, eventually, Dipper started to drift off to sleep. That was when he heard a noise. He groaned, frustrated and sat up, looking at the door for some time before he decided to stand and see what was it since it was too soon for Grunkle Stan to be up and coming to wake him for work.
At first, he saw nothing out of the ordinary. No one was in the corridors; Soos and Robbie were snoring in the living room, loud breathing was coming from Stan's room and he wouldn't dare open that door. And then he went to check on Mabel. He pressed his ear to the door to try and hear something, but there was no sound. He didn't want to wake her up, so he didn't knock, but just in case, he tried to open the door. He expected it to be locked, but it wasn't. As soon as the door opened, he saw that the room was empty. Mabel wasn't there.
"Bloody hell, she didn't do this! Not again!" He cursed himself, marching back to his room so he could grab his boots, sword and a coat to go after her. In the middle of the way, he saw dim candlelight coming downstairs. He hurried there and then he saw the beautiful girl sitting at the kitchen table.
"Geez, Mabel, you nearly scared me half to death!"
She jumped in surprise hearing his voice break the calm silence of the night. The mug filled with tea she was holding, warmed her hands. She was using the white nightgown his father gave her.
"Hm… Could I know why?"
"I heard a noise and woke up, when I came to check on you, you weren't in your room. I thought you had run away again." He took two steps into the kitchen; she was sitting at the table in the middle of it.
Mabel gestured the seat next to her, but he was deciding if he should get so close, he already crossed the line earlier when he kissed her. Just remembering it made his cheeks get warm and red. He was glad that there was only the light of a few candles on the table to illuminate the kitchen.
"Why would I? You promised me you wouldn't take me back, remember? I trust you."
"Then, why are you awake?"
"I couldn't sleep. Turns out this place is much colder than I expected."
"Why didn't you say so? I could get another blanket for you, if that's all."
"No, it's okay, the tea is warming me up. Are you sure you don't want to sit for a moment?"
"No I… Wait a minute." He said as he turned around and walked pretty swiftly out of the kitchen. She looked, puzzled, at the entrance for some time until he reappeared with a blanket in his hands and he practically threw it over her shoulders. "There. So you can't complain about feeling cold anymore."
"Now let's go to bed." He said and then something snapped in his mid that made him very red and antsy, he quickly raised his hands in a surrender gesture. "I mean, not together. I meant you in your room and me in mine."
Mabel laughed. "I figured."
"I mean… Let's just go, okay? Gruncle Stan will wake us up pretty early to work in the shop, staying here has its price."
"It's okay. You can go. I'll be up as soon as I finish my tea."
"You don't understand. There are men under this roof, you know? I don't like the idea of leaving a girl as beautiful as you alone in this house."
"You think I'm beautiful?" She asked with a very pretty smile and he made a mental note to stop getting red around her because he was starting to look pathetic when all he wanted was to look at least a little bit manly for her. Or at least less ridiculous.
"Was that the only part you paid attention to?" His shoulders fell.
"No. But it was the part I liked most." She said as she drank a sip of her tea so she could hide the satisfied smile on her lips. "But it's okay. I mean, there is only you, your Gruncle Stan and your father, right?"
"Robbie is here too. He drank a lot more rum than he should have and, if he wakes up, he's considerably less of a gentleman than I am. And that's why, out of all of the crew, I have to take care of you."
"Oh, yes… I remember you saying he usually stays here… And Soos as well? I forgot to ask before; doesn't he have a home to go to?
"Not anymore… His grandma was the last family member he had that lived around here, but she passed away long ago. Since then, Stan kinda took him in. I guess Soos always looked at him as some sort of father figure. His father left him when he was a kid. He met Stan when he was young and Stan needed help in the shop." Dipper summarized Soos's life quite quickly, he might explain it better for her, but when he was not so groggy and exhausted.
"Really? That is so sad. But I'm glad that he's happy here."
"Yeah, but we'll be up very early, so just drink it already…"
"I'll be in bed soon, then. I don't want to disturb you."
He sighed heavily and found the strength to go sit by her side, resting his chin on his left hand. "No need to hurry, just drink it up."
"Okay." She said taking another sip and the room became deadly silent for a moment or two while Dipper looked from side to side as if he was desperately searching for something to say. He didn't really like silence and he didn't really like the uncomfortable stillness with her.
"So… Is tea a princess-y-thing?"
"I don't know. I suppose it's different for everyone. I don't drink it because I'm a princess."
"Then why do you? You like the taste of it?"
"I don't even know what to say." He uttered, confused.
"My aunt said it was something my mom did when she couldn't sleep. I guess I do it so I can feel closer to her somehow. You know we don't have a queen, currently. My mom died when I was born." She shrugged "And I guess my dad kinda blames me for that."
"It's definitely not your fault. Those things happen once in a while. It's a tragedy that no one can prevent from happening."
"I know. That's what my aunt tells me. And I know it's true. I'm a big girl and I'm not mad at him because of that anymore. I think he loved her too much, and it was just too painful to lose her. My aunt also always told me I look exactly like her so it also must be painful for him, so I'm not mad."
"You're so nice. I think I'd be mad at someone like that. I'm not that agreeable."
"There's no reason to just hold a grudge because of it. Besides, I was happy there, too. I have two ladies that…" She trailed of as she noticed his blank expression. "You know, people that accompany the princess and help me get dressed and all that stuff, they're not poor but they usually don't have a high position at the court."
"Oh, okay. What about them?"
"They're like the best friends ever. One is named Candy and the other is named Grenda. Like me, they're not afraid to break a few rules, etiquettes and protocols so we usually like to make a mess at all the balls my dad hosts. And they always try to cheer me up when I'm dragged back to the palace after attempting to run away."
"They seem to be funny."
"They are a lot! We do all the girly stuff, they help me get dressed, brush my hair and that kind of stuff. But what we like to do the most during parties is guess what people are saying from afar and the second is to flirt with all the cute boys at the hall."
"Oh… And you do it a lot?" Dipper didn't know why he was suddenly so insecure.
"Sometimes, it's fun to just joke about it. But it's usually nothing more than that. And we also like to guess which cute boys are going to talk to us." Mabel laughed as if she was remembering funny situations that had happened. "But we're talking too much about me. What about you?"
"What do you mean?"
"Tell me something about you, Silly."
"There's not much to tell." He shrugged. "I don't even know where to start."
"Didn't anyone teach you the start is at the beginning? But of course the beginning doesn't mandatorily mean the beginning. It could just be some important point for you."
"You do realize you're not making any sense, don't you?"
"Oh, Dipperon, puh-leeze. I make all the sense in the world. Maybe you're off the tune here, but I'll help you. Let me see… What about your mother? I haven't seen her in the ship or in Grunkle Stan's place."
"She passed away."
"Oh, I'm so sorry."
"It's okay. I was just a baby, so I never got to meet her, but my dad told me he loved her very much; he'd do anything for her. He told me she was killed because of a horrible, ruthless man."
"But what happened?"
Dipper slowly shrugged, "I don't know. He never gave me details. I've always wanted to know but I noticed that deep down he didn't want to talk about it, and soon after that he became a pirate, it makes me wonder if it was a pirate who killed her. It was very difficult for him. He had to raise me on his own. It was quite hard, you know?"
"Well, I think he did a good job, in the end."
"A great part of the credit goes to Grunkle Stan, actually. Believe it or not, he might look harsh on the outside, but in fact, he's a big softie beneath all those layers of roughness."
"He seems like an interesting man."
"He is. And he used to be a pirate. I guess it runs in the family."
"I guess it does. But how did he just stop being a pirate?"
"That's kind of a long and boring story…" She rested her chin on both hands and looked at him anxiously as an invitation for him to continue. He sighed and shrugged. "But I'll tell you the short version, if you insist… As I said, my mom was killed when I was a baby and my dad had to raise me. Back then; he lived in a city quite near the capitol, where we kidnapped you. He didn't have any relatives anymore to help him except for his father Stanford who lived here. Unfortunately, He was already very sick and couldn't make it."
"But… I thought Stanford was your Grunkle Stan?"
"Nops. He's his twin brother. When Grunkle Stan ported back then and discovered his brother had died, he was really sad, he actually thought about retiring, but he didn't really want to leave his crew and ship for anyone. So he ended up finding my father who needed money and he was mad with the crown, he wanted to go against it. So Grunkle Stan decided to train my dad to be a pirate while he took his recently deceased brother's place at the shop. My dad obviously visited a lot and he was sad to leave me, but he always told me this was the kind of life he wanted to live and I respected that."
"And I bet you wanted to follow his footsteps, didn't you?"
"Of course. Who wouldn't? Since I was six, my Grunkle started teaching me how to swordfight. I couldn't be more exited. And then, when I turned 12, my dad finally decided to take me on a few raids and stuff. Though he only took me as a member of the crew for real after I turned 14."
"So you've been a proper pirate for what, two years? You're not much older than me."
"Something like that." He shrugged. "Have you finished your tea now?"
"I'm just about to." She said taking one last sip and putting the cup down on the table. "Okay, I'm ready."
"You know my Grunkle will have a stroke if he finds that mug in here, right? He might not exactly be tidy or anything, but one thing he hates is the trouble of cleaning up after people.
"Oh, right. I'm sorry. It's just that I'm used to the servants cleaning stuff for me…"
"I bet you are…" Dipper mumbled more to himself; here were the traces of the spoiled little brat he thought he'd find when he met her.
However, before she had time to stand up and try to figure out how to clean her mug, he caught a glimpse of something he didn't notice before. Something around her neck was glowing in the dim light of the candles. And he couldn't help but reach for it curiously. Turned out it was her necklace. He looked at it carefully and didn't even notice the girl blush when his hand brushed too close to her chest.
There was another moment of silence, but this time, Dipper didn't find it uncomfortable. In fact, he was feeling quite at ease with her presence, even if they weren't talking or anything. For a moment, it was like he'd known her their whole lives. He wondered if it was because learning about something they had in common, like the lack of mother, made him feel closer to her.
Looking at the rectangular pendant, he noticed it had an opening mechanism. It was a similar to the ones on pocket watches, but smaller. He had never seen one so close before, so he tried to open it without even asking. Dipper only stopped when her hand gently covered his.
"It won't open."
"Sorry, I didn't mean to peak…"
"It's not like that. It's broken, it doesn't open anymore."
"Isn't that the necklace you insisted on going back for the night I kidnapped you?"
"Yes, it is."
"Why go back and risk my neck and your freedom for a broken necklace?" He asked releasing the pendant back in place, right in front of her heart.
"Because it is the only thing I've got left from my mom. My aunt said she got it from someone special and it was one of her most treasured possessions. And so now it's mine."
"Oh… That makes sense…" He mumbled in agreement. "But don't you take it off, even to sleep? Aren't you scared of it hanging you in your sleep or something?"
"Not really. And I just don't like to take it off. That's all." She explained. "Well, let me just wash the mug so you can escort me back to my room."
Dipper watched Mabel stand up wrapped up in the blanket he clumsily gave her and she quickly washed the dish with the cold water from the bucket. The mug probably wasn't clean enough, but he was just too tired to care about details. When she finished, she walked to him, stopping right beside his chair and pushing her own chair back to its rightful place under the table.
He stood up after hearing her soft voice whispering something like, "Shall we?" and put his own chair in its spot beneath the table. Waving a hand, he gestured for her to go first and he followed right behind. They went up the stairs and she gave him a good night kiss on the cheek before she shut the door and disappeared into his former room.
Dipper slowly blinked, flabbergasted, reaching for his kissed cheek for a few seconds before he groaned to himself, looking up at the ceiling "Oh, come on, really?" He whispered to himself covering his mouth immediately. With a relieved sigh, he noticed no one was around to hear his low complaint.