Two Gingers and a Goat
Throughout the course of the night, Perry had attempted to wiggle himself out of Mabel's grip and walk home. But the girl had an iron hold and after watching the platypus thrash a bit in her arms, Waddles informed him with amusement that he might as well just stay until morning.
And so Perry did, but he did not get much sleep. The worries of the unknown terror Doofenshmirtz released, the dangers of the forest and Candace's current condition plagued his mind. Now that he knew there was much more to Gravity Falls than he initially imagined, it was going to be difficult, searching for a way to stop the demon and keeping his kids safe.
The platypus stared blankly at the poster-covered wall for most of the night. He only moved his head when the first morning rays spilled through the window pane, casting a warm glow over the room and its inhabitants. Dipper yawned and rolled over, pulling the covers over his head with sleepy irritation.
Mabel opened her eyes slowly, big brown orbs blinking away the sleep. She tilted her head and gave her pet pig a kiss on the snout. "Morning, Waddles," she mumbled. Perry, who had somehow been gathered into her arms at some point during the night, received a tight hug. "Morning, Perry."
The attic door suddenly slammed open, causing Dipper to roll out of his bed in shock and Mabel to jerk upwards. Waddles quickly stood up, giving a snort of warning the same time Perry unconsciously let out a threatening growl.
"Aw, so cute," Mabel cooed, quickly disregarding her great-uncle, who was framed in the doorway, and focussing her attention on the animals. "They thought you were an intruder and were trying to protect us! Aren't they just the smartest wittle cuties in the world?"
Stan frowned in response, a mixture of exasperation and annoyance flicking across his face upon spotting the platypus wrapped securely in Mabel's arms. "Mabel, I told you that thing was to sleep on the floor."
"Grunkle Stan, you need to chill." Mabel held out Perry, who tried to look as unthreatening as possible. He knew the knowledge of his poisonous barb often set discomfort in some people. "This little guy wouldn't hurt a fly."
"Yeah, Grunkle Stan." Dipper rubbed his head and peered up at his caretaker from his position on the floor. "He's domesticated. He won't hurt anyone."
"Whatever." Stan rolled his eyes. "Just bring that thing back to his owners and get back in time for your afternoon shift."
"No problem," Mabel assured. She set the platypus down and got out of bed. "We'll be down for breakfast in a few. Are we having pancakes?"
Stan stared at their hopeful expressions and gave a sigh. "Yeah, we're having pancakes. But if you're not downstairs in the next fifteen minutes I'm giving them all to Soos."
He disappeared back downstairs and the twins quickly got ready. Ten minutes later they descended down the wooden steps and into the kitchen, where a glass plate of flapjacks rested in the middle of the table along with a bottle of syrup, butter, three glasses and a carton of milk. "Flapjacks!" Mabel whooped.
"A creation of pure perfection," Dipper agreed. The two took their seats and Waddles went over to his food bowl, which was filled with a variety of leftovers.
"Do you want some?" Waddles oinked.
"No thanks," Perry declined politely. "I'll eat something back at my cabin."
"Alright twerps, eat up," Stan said, setting the last batch on the table. The twins eagerly began filling their plates just as a large man with hamster-like teeth entered, a baseball cap positioned loosely on his head.
"Aw, pancakes. A cake made in a pan. Genius," the man declared, snagging a silver fork from the counter and spearing three fluffy cakes from the dish.
"Hey, hey, you get to eat my food when you start paying rent," Stan snapped. But he made no move to stop the man from eating the pancakes.
"Here, Soos." Dipper pushed a package of butter across the table. "It's better with butter and syrup-ew, Mabel! Stop that!"
Everyone turned to see Mabel guzzling the sweet, viscous liquid straight from the plastic bottle. Stan dropped his spatula into the sink and strode over, plucking the bottle from Mabel's grasp. The girl swayed a bit and glanced up at him. "I wasn't finished," she said thickly. "I'm still thirsty!"
"You, kid, are absolutely insane," Stan informed. He handed the syrup to Dipper and grabbed a cloth from the counter. "Here, wipe your face. You look like you swam in a tub of syrup."
A thoughtful expression crossed her face and she glanced at her brother. "Make a note of that," she whispered.
Soos glanced down and noticed for the first time Perry, who was sitting by Mabel's feet. "Whoa, dudes, when did you get a duck?"
"He's not a duck. He's a platypus," Mabel informed. "And he's not ours."
"Oh. Can I have him, then?"
Dipper laughed. "Sorry, Soos. He already has an owner."
"Every duck or duck-like animal I come across is taken." Soos gave a sigh of disappointment and finished off his pancakes. "Anything you want me to do before the Shack opens, Mr. Pines?"
"Yeah, switch the snow globes out for the Bigfoot slippers. I want those babies front and center."
Dipper rolled his eyes and finished off his milk. "Sometimes I can't believe the stuff people will buy," he muttered under his breath. "Come on, Perry. I bet Phineas and Ferb are worried about you."
"Hang on, brosif!" Mabel shoved the last half of her pancake into her mouth and jumped from her chair, cheeks bulging. "Let's go!" she said, her voice muffled.
"Good luck, Perry!" Waddles called as the threesome headed for the door. "And if you need any help, let me know."
"I'll do that. Thanks Waddles." Perry shot a quick smile in the pig's direction before leaving the room.
But without any knowledge on what he was going to be fighting, nothing would be effective enough to stop it.
"So what's the plan for today?" Isabella asked, shrugging on her purple sweater.
Phineas scratched his head, a worried frown on his face. "Well, look for Perry, first of all. I checked in with Candace and he isn't with her."
"I'm sure he's fine," Buford said dismissively. "I mean, if he can travel all the way to Africa and not get a scratch on him then he can take a walk through the woods."
"I feel the need to remind you that those woods have gnomes in them," Baljeet said flatly.
Isabella shuddered. "I don't think I'll ever be able to look at a garden gnome the same way again."
A sudden rap came on the door and Phineas went to answer it. The second the door swung open Mabel charged in, a bright smile on her face. "Hello all!" she said cheerfully. "I bear gifts of great joy!"
"Actually, it's only one gift," Dipper corrected, holding out the teal platypus. Phineas and Ferb brightened and took their pet from his arms.
"Thanks, Dipper!" Phineas said, embracing Perry. "We were worried he might have gotten out into the woods during the night."
"Which would not be an ideal place to be," Baljeet said feelingly. "Especially with those gnomes."
Dipper jolted in shock while Mabel blurted, "You've seen Jeff?!"
Surprised, the younger kids exchanged glances. "Yeah," Buford said slowly. "How did you know his name?"
"Because that freak's been trying to kidnap me and make me his queen." Mabel rolled her eyes. "Seriously, he needs to get over himself. I have my eyes set on some other guys."
Her eyes strayed flirtatiously to the three not-spoken-for males crowded behind Phineas. Baljeet turned red and glared at the floor. Buford simply arched an eyebrow and Ferb gave no facial response.
"If you've encountered the gnomes before why didn't you warn us about them?" Isabella demanded. "They tried to make me their queen!"
"That two-timer…" Mabel whispered under her breath. Dipper shot her a glare and turned back to his friends with an ashamed expression.
"I wasn't sure if you'd ever believe me," he admitted. "I mean, I've seen things that even I can't believe. And sometimes…in this town, it's safer if you don't know what really goes on."
"Considering I was kidnapped by a bunch of tiny people that reach my knees, I think it's better to be prepared," Isabella remarked, mildly annoyed.
"Trust us, we've seen some pretty crazy things ourselves," Phineas assured the boy. "We won't think you're crazy."
"Maybe," Buford added. "My mind is still willing to accept some things as being impossible."
Dipper hesitated for a moment. He was not sure if he should divulge secrets to kids he had met a few days ago. The book did, after all, say to trust no one.
'But you trusted Mabel.'
And it wasn't just because she was his sister, Dipper realized. It was because he knew that through thick and thin she had his back. And he knew in the few short hours of meeting Phineas, Ferb and the others that they were a tight-knit group. They were willing to do anything for each other. They would never betray each other or anyone else they cared about.
"Ooh! Ooh! I want to tell the story about the time Gideon tried to kill us!" Mabel cried.
Stricken expressions crossed the faces of the ten-year olds. "Wait, what?" Phineas asked in disbelief.
Dipper's eyes narrowed and he clenched his fists together. "There are many dangerous creatures in Gravity Falls. But the person you want to stay away from at all costs is Lil' Gideon."
Candace felt like crap.
Her hopes of sleeping the flu off were out the window the second she roused. Her stomach felt as if it were on fire and a sheen of sweat glistened on her brow. "So much for a relaxing vacation," she moaned, burrowing her face into her pillow.
A soft knock came on her cabin door. "Come in if you dare," she joked weakly.
Linda pushed the wooden door open a crack and peered at her daughter in concern. "Sweetie, how are you feeling?"
"Not so good," Candace admitted.
"My stomach. It hurts."
"It might have been something you ate at the diner yesterday," Linda mused. "Are you sure you don't want to go home?"
"I'm positive," Candace said firmly. She knew her brothers and their friends were having a blast and had even met some new kids who lived in the area. "It'll go away soon, I'm sure of it. I just need to take it easy."
"I guess that means you won't want to come on a nature hike with your father and I?"
Candace wrinkled her nose. "No way. I don't really do camping or forests."
"It's not in the forest, per se. It's a trail that curls around it and leads to the lake, where we'll be having a picnic."
"Yeah, I'm gonna have to go with no."
Linda smiled slightly. "You can't be feeling too bad. You still have your teenager attitude."
"Very funny," Candace mumbled into her pillow. "I'll see you later."
"Bye, dear. Try to get better."
The door shut once more and Candace laid still. After a few minutes in the darkness she knew that she wouldn't be able to just stay there all day. She would fall into a depression. "Okay, Candace," she coaxed herself. "You're going to get up, get dressed and talk a walk through town. The fresh air will do you some good."
Slowly, she got up and got dressed. Her head pounded and her legs wobbled. It was an odd feeling, as if she were clinging to keep control of her own body. Candace gave a soft snort as she tugged her favourite red tank top over her head. "Yeah, like someone would want to try and claim my body as their own. Talk about my own horror movie."
The teen stepped outside and it came as a surprise when she didn't flinch against the sunlight. In fact, it seemed to empower her, the warm rays sinking into her skin. Taking this as a sign that the fresh air was actually helping her, Candace headed in the direction of the Mystery Shack, figuring she might as well grab some tacky souvenirs for Stacy and Jenny. And maybe Jeremy, if she found one that would make him laugh with her rather than at her.
A minute or two later Candace came across the wooden shack. She eyed the flood of people crowding the entryway and hesitated, not really wanting to spend an hour in line just to buy some dumb snow globe or tacky stick-on license plate.
Candace yelped as something clamped down on the leg of her jeans. She whirled around and glared at the goat that was chewing contentedly on her (expensive) denim material. "Hey! Let go!"
The goat gazed at her lazily and gave a slight tug, causing the right cuff of her jeans to tear.
A sudden rage consumed her, as if the amount of anger she should have been feeling was increased tenfold. "I said, let go!"
Her hand raised in the air just as a voice called out, "Come on, G, let the poor girl go."
The voice seemed to register with the animal and it stopped, letting go of Candace's jeans and trotting towards the approaching redheaded girl. Candace's anger ebbed away and she lowered her hand, heat filling her cheeks. Had she really been about to strike a goat?
"Sorry about that," the girl apologized, petting the top of the goat's head with one hand and adjusting the green ushanka perched on her head. "Gompers tends to try to eat anything within range."
"Is he yours?" Candace asked.
"Nah, he pretty much just chills here. He's always coming into the Shack and eating the stuff."
Bafflement crossed Candace's face. "And the owner just lets it happen?"
The girl burst into laughter. "You're new around here, aren't you?"
"Is it obvious?"
"Well, everyone in this town knows Stanford Pines." She jerked a thumb at the Mystery Shack. "And how much he loves his money. Gompers here has been eating some of his profits for a long time and he's tried everything he can think of to scare him away. Nothing's worked. I'm Wendy, by the way. The sarcastic teenage cashier of the Mystery Shack."
"Candace," the teen introduced with a small smile. "A big town girl who happens to be vacationing in a smaller town."
"Gravity Falls can be more exciting than you think." Wendy winked. "So are you coming in or what?"
"I was going to. But I don't want to stand in line for a tacky knick-knack." Candace shrugged.
"Finally, a smart tourist!" Wendy flung her arms and tilted her head towards the sky dramatically. "Someone who won't fall for Stan's rip-off gimmicks and overpriced junk."
"I was planning on buying something," Candace admitted. "A souvenir or two for my friends."
"Ah, but you're not just going to buy any old thing, are you?"
"Well, I'm not going to spend twenty bucks on a bobblehead, if that's what you mean."
Wendy slung an arm around Candace's shoulder. "I like you. And because I like you, I'll get you through this mad crowd."
"You can do that?" Candace asked.
"I dunno. I guess we'll see." Wendy steered Candace over to the flood of people and hollered, "Hey! Step aside, tourists! Employee and plus one coming through!"
To Candace's surprise, the crowd parted and allowed the two girls through. Candace was immediately greeted by dozens of wooden shelves stocked with all types of souvenirs. People clawed for the register, waving their purchases in the air.
"It's about time!" a man in a suit and an eye-patch snapped, glowering over the register at Wendy. "You're late."
"Yeah, but I brought you a customer." Wendy clapped Candace on the back and made her way to the register.
The girl made her way over to a table that held knitted sweaters. An amused smile crossed her face upon spotting one that had a peace sign stitched onto the front. It definitely screamed Jenny. She glanced at the price tag and winced. Thirty bucks.
She stood for a moment, debating on whether or not she wanted to spend that much money. Finally deciding that she might as well get something somewhat cool she reached for it, only to have the sweater be swiped by another customer.
"Hey, I was going to buy that!" Candace snapped, only to flinch inwardly when she realized she was snapping at a child.
The blonde-haired, heavily eye-shadowed girl cast Candace a sneer. "You snooze, you lose. And that's exactly what you look like-a loser."
The anger came again, fast and without warning. The brat turned her back and Candace felt her hand raise again. But before she could do anything (and she didn't know why she kept lifting her hand) a sudden darkness fell over the Mystery Shack as the clouds chose that moment to cover the sun.
The fury was quickly replaced by a violent ache in her head and stomach. Unable to handle it, Candace allowed her eyes to roll back into her head and she crumpled to the floor. Before she blacked out completely she could vaguely make out a distant voice, seemingly coming from her own mind.
'Hmm…so close. A little more sunlight, a little more anger, a little less stubbornness, and her body will be mine for the taking.'