Before the kids could get too concerned, Candace started to stir. The palms of her hands flattened against the dirt and she slowly eased herself off of the ground. She turned her head towards the kids and Phineas' blue eyes widened at the cut on his sister's left cheek.
"Candace!" he cried. "Are you okay?"
The redhead blinked and took in her surroundings. Her brow furrowed in confusion. The last thing she remembered was collapsing into bed, feeling completely awful. Though, now that she thought about it, she was feeling a bit better, save for the ache in her head.
"Fine," she answered, more out of habit than anything else.
Ferb frowned. "You're in the middle of the forest. We found you lying on the ground."
'Actually…that's a good point. What the heck am I doing all the way out here? How did I get out here?'
'Don't worry about it.'
The second voice was not her own, not the one she was accustomed to hearing in her own mind, anyway. But the urge to freak out at this foreign sensation was not there-in fact, she felt oddly calm. It was as if this second voice in her head was meant to be there…
'You sure?' she responded mentally. 'This is kind of weird…I don't really know what's going on.'
'You need not concern yourself with such things,' the smooth, feminine voice assured. 'But you are fine. Do not let anyone grow suspicious.'
Candace nodded and stood up, brushing the dirt off of her clothing. "I was probably just sleepwalking again," she lied easily, without thinking about it. It was almost as if the words were not her own, but she was still the one speaking them. But she was unable to comprehend what was overtaking her, for now the demon had inhabited her body for enough time to allow her influences on the girl to seem natural.
"Are you sure?" asked Isabella.
Candace rolled her eyes. "Geez, yes I'm sure. Probably has something to do with whatever bug I caught. I appreciate your concern, but really. I don't need it. I'm fine."
She strode past the five kids and her brothers exchanged glances. "Candace, maybe we should tell-"
"No," she snapped without turning around. "I'm not going to ruin their vacation just because I have a little cold. I'll deal with it. Go fishing or something. I'm gonna change clothes and take a walk. I'm feeling a little bit better."
Phineas looked at Ferb. "Do you really think she's okay?"
"She seems fine," replied Ferb.
"She's sleepwalked before, hasn't she?" added Buford. "Besides, she said she was feeling better."
Phineas nodded slowly. "Yeah…I'm probably just worrying too much. She did seem better than she was yesterday."
"She did have a good idea," voiced Isabella. "Let's go fishing! We have the whole afternoon to do it!"
Phineas brightened. "Sure! We could probably rig up some fishing rods so that they go super far, and have radar dials so we can tell if there's any fish in the area. Ooh! We can ask Dipper and Mabel if they want to join!"
"Sounds good," agreed Isabella. "Let's go!"
As the five kids set off to get some fishing gear, Candace was already back at the cabin, getting into a new set of clothes.
'Almost there,' the demon mused, pleased. 'A few more souls, more sunlight and I'll have enough power to take full control of this girl's body permanently. But as it stands, I'll have to do with night spells, when her guard is down while she sleeps. I've gained enough energy for that, at least. Things are getting on track.'
And her ultimate revenge would be exacted.
"Dipper!" hissed Mabel. "Watch his feet!"
The two were in their attic, doing the awkward task of maneuvering the stiff Gideon underneath Dipper's bed. Mabel adamantly refused to have the fake psychic hide beneath hers, for obvious reasons. So with little choices, the boy was forced to keep his enemy hidden underneath his own bed.
"This entire situation is completely ridiculous," grunted Dipper, trying to squeeze the heavyset child into the tight space.
"And creepy," added Mabel, bending over and smoothing down Gideon's tall white hair so that his head could fit. "I mean, what the heck is this?"
"Not a clue, but we need to figure it out before it happens again." Dipper wiped his forehead, letting out a soft sigh of relief when Gideon was snugly hidden beneath his bedframe. "We'll deal with his parents when they actually show signs of concern. Come on, we have to get back out there and keep looking. We need that missing page."
With quiet footsteps, they crept down the attic stairs and into the hallway. They went to the front door and Dipper eased it open. The duo were instantly greeted with the sight of their new friends standing on their porch. Phineas' fist was in the air, poised for a knock. The arm lowered and the redhead grinned.
"Hey," he greeted.
"Hey!" Dipper exclaimed. "Hey, hi, um, what a surprise to see you guys here."
"We're going fishing." Isabella held up her pink, Phineas-and-Ferb modified fishing rod. "Wanna come?"
Mabel brightened. "Sure-!"
Dipper nudged her sharply in the side. "Surely we'd love to," he said quickly, "but we…we…"
Dipper shot a look over his shoulder, heart falling when he heard the heavy footsteps of his great-uncle heading towards them. "Ugh."
Stan appeared in front hall, catching sight of his niece and nephew standing by an open front door, where there were five other kids on his porch. "Why is there an invasion of pipsqueaks on my property?"
"Grunkle Stan, this Phineas and Ferb and their friends," said Mabel cheerfully. "We've talked about them, remember?"
"Vaguely." Stan crossed his arms and glared at his charges. "Are you trying to skip out on me?"
"No," muttered Dipper, seeing his chances of slipping out into the forest flying away. He turned back to his friends. "Sorry, guys. We'd love to go fishing, but we have the afternoon shift at the Shack."
"That's okay," said Phineas, hoisting his red fishing rod over his shoulder with an understanding smile. "We'll do something tomorrow, if you're free."
"Uh, yeah, sounds good." Dipper nodded. "Thanks. See you later."
"To the water!" boomed Buford, and the five kids took off running.
"Do we really have to work this afternoon?" asked Dipper, shutting the door firmly.
Feeling slightly bad, Stan clapped his nephew on the back. "Sorry, kid. But your mean old Grunkle has work that needs to be done and you need to do it. You have the morning shift tomorrow, so you can play with your friends after that."
"Alright," he conceded. He knew there was no getting out of work, and he wasn't entirely disappointed with the fact. He could envision the hundreds of trees that surrounded Gravity Falls, and his heart fell at the impossible task they hadn't even made a dent in. Tomorrow was yet another day, and he'd much rather hang out with Phineas' gang than blister his knuckles by knocking on bark repeatedly.
"Can we have ice-cream sundaes for dinner?" asked Mabel, tugging on her great-uncle's hand pleadingly. After their unsettling discovery, she figured a sugar boost would be exactly what they needed.
Stan was hard-pressed to deny the wide puppy-dog stare aimed at him. "Sure, why not? But don't tell your parents. Now c'mon, you got floors to sweep and dusting to do."
Dipper followed after his great-uncle and sister, brow furrowed as his mind whirled. He fingered the shape of Journal Three through his blue vest. He had flipped through it countless times, and though he knew there was nothing of use to help him solve their current mystery, the urge to go through it was still there.
'There has to be an easier way to do this,' he thought in frustration. 'Whatever happened to Gideon might happen again. That last page is our only clue at solving whatever is going on. But how are we supposed to find it quickly?'
He knew exactly what Mabel would say. She would suggest clueing in Phineas and Ferb, and now he was starting to think that perhaps it wasn't a bad idea. It was obvious they were geniuses, and they probably could come up with some sort of invention to help them out. But he was wary of getting the five involved. While they said they had experienced some weird things, he doubted it was anything close to what he dealt with on daily basis.
'Maybe I'll give it one more day…if I feel it's just more time wasted, then I'll ask for their help.'
"Hey, kid, you okay?"
Dipper quickly looked up to see his great-uncle staring over his shoulder at him in concern. "Yeah, fine!" he said quickly. "Sorry. Just thinking."
"You should give that noggin a rest," teased Stan, giving Dipper a playful noogie. "It's gonna burn out one of these days."
Dipper snorted and latched onto his hand. "Yeah, right. Better than just letting it sit still and gather dust like yours."
"Rotten twerp." Stan aimed a kick at his behind but the boy dodged it. "Don't backtalk your elders."
The three entered the Mystery Shack hand-in-hand. As he held onto his great-uncle's familiar strong, calloused grip, Dipper felt comforted and at ease. But in the back of his mind, he knew he had to figure out what was out there, what was waiting for them, so that he could stop it and save his loved ones from danger.
But for now, he was content to let up and goof around in the Shack with his sister and Stan. Fretting about the recent supernatural occurrence in Gravity Falls could wait a couple hours.