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Dipper woke up in a cold sweat, crashing into reality as he fell out of his chair and hit the ground, still able to feel the searing heat and the acrid smell of smoke. Panting, he looked around wildly, searching for flames and broken bodies. He found none, and relaxed minutely, running a shaking hand through his hair as he tried to calm his racing heart. He downed the last little bit of the coffee in his thermos and sighed. Without caffeine to keep him awake, there was no way he'd be able to stay up long enough to finish the night stakeout.
He looked around the room, and noticed that the sky had finally turned dark, and checking the time, realized that he had only been asleep for an hour. He got to his feet slowly, a blanket falling to the floor. Dipper stared at it, confused. He hadn't brought a blanket with him, and he certainly hadn't grabbed one before he fell asleep. He leaned down and grabbed it, feeling the soft material, a little spooked by its appearance.
Feeling a little like he was in a horror movie, he looked to all the dark shadows in the room, fear ratcheting up a level when he saw that a small fire was now burning him the previously empty grate. "Is-is anyone there?" There was no response, and he shook his head, feeling silly. "Yeah, Dipper, because the crazy-scary ghost and-or serial killer would totally come out and say 'Yep, I'm right here, intended victim!' and lose the element of surprise."
He dropped his shoulders, and gave up on the search, seeing nothing in the room, not that there was much light to see by, and went back to the computer monitors, seeing that all of the temperatures seemed normal, and nothing was out of place. That was, until he realized that camera number three's visual was out.
Muttering a curse, he grabbed a flashlight and a replacement camera and headed out of the entrance hall, heading up a surprisingly sturdy set of stairs and reaching the second-floor landing, looking past the ornate furniture for the door that led into a large set of bedchambers. Dipper had assumed that they had been the old master of the house's, and had set up more cameras in there than in other places, as experience had taught him that they often stayed attached to their rooms, for some reason or another.
He reached the closed door, and stopped again, hand on the doorknob. He hadn't remembered closing the door, but quickly wrote it off. It was an old house, a draft could have easily shut the door. With that, he swung the door open, looking for any sign that someone could be in the rooms.
There was no one visible to the human eye, so Dipper walked in, only to be hit by a blast of cold air. He swung around, and was looking at a balcony, the doors flung open wide, dark velvet curtains billowing out like bat's wings. Shaking off his fear again, he stepped out onto the balcony, looking out at the woods, the inky, stygian darkness giving him a soul-deep feeling of unease, and he turned, ready to head back in and away from the forest, but stopped dead when he saw a flash of blond hair and dark clothing.
He raced back into the house, looking for the person he could have sworn he had just seen, but found nothing. He checked the rest of the room, looking behind all of the furniture and curtains, but found nothing. Shaking his head and chalking it up to exhaustion, he went to replace the camera's batteries, only to find that they weren't dead. They were completely missing. Dipper ran his hand over his face in disbelief. He did a once over of the room again, now looking for his magical disappearing batteries. He found them sitting in one of the drawers in the nightstand next to the bed. Replacing the previously AWOL batteries, he made sure the power light came back on and let out a weary sigh. Sometimes he wished spirits would be upfront with him. Playing hide-and-seek was far from his favorite thing to do.
He had just reached the bottom of the stairs that returned him to the main room when all of his lights blinked, and he was plunged into darkness. Even the flashlight in his hand went out. None of it made sense to Dipper, seeing as all of his lights were battery-powered. He stood stock-still at the base of the stairs, not moving for fear of tripping. In front of him, he could hear the almost impossibly light sound of footsteps and rustling.
Almost as soon as it began, it was over, and Dipper rushed back to the computers to check his cameras and equipment. He moved his thermos out of the way, freezing when he heard the slosh of liquid inside of it. He had finished off the last of his coffee before he had gone upstairs, but it sounded like his thermos was totally full. He unscrewed the top and looked at the steaming hot liquid in astonishment. The smell told him that it was definitely coffee, but he had no idea where it had come from. He scrutinized the rest of the room, and found the blanket folded neatly, sitting on some of the unused space on his field table.
"Huh," Dipper muttered, "I've never seen a spirit think about anyone else before." Shaking his head, he got back to work, checking the other cameras in the master room, hoping to see the being he thought he had seen on the balcony. Unsurprisingly, there was nothing there. There had also been no temperature drops in any of the rooms, despite the paranormal activity.
That meant whatever it was wasn't a ghost. Dipper collapsed back into the chair, staring at the vaulted ceilings. If it wasn't a ghost, it could literally be anything else. The ability to hide from cameras was a common ability, so it didn't narrow down the search list at all. It would take a lot of work to even create a list of things that it could be, much less even begin to narrow it down. He felt exhausted at the thought of all of the time it would take.
Dipper grabbed the blanket and wrapped it around his shoulders to ward off the chill. At some point during the previous fiasco, the fire had gone out, and the cold was seeping back into the room.
Standing up, Dipper walked over to the fireplace, looking for any way to relight the fire, but there was nothing besides the half-burnt logs in the grate. He shrugged and walked back to monitor the cameras again.
Hours passed and Dipper could already feel his neck aching. It was pushing three in the morning and there was still nothing major to report since the incident with the coffee. He was about to give up and call it a night when he realized that it felt like he wasn't alone. He vaulted out of his seat, frantically searching the room, hoping to catch a glance of the being that had been following him around. Once again, he was greeted with nothing. He laughed despairingly, knowing that Mabel would call him crazy when she heard about how paranoid he was being. He turned around and was about to walk back to his chair, but froze.
There was already someone sitting in it.
"You know, courtesy says that you thank someone when they do something for you." Dipper could have sworn he jumped a foot in the air when the being spoke. He stared, wide-eyed and slack-jawed at humanoid sitting in front of him. "What's wrong, Pine Tree, ghost got your tongue?"
Dipper took a could of deep breaths, trying to will away the man sitting in the chair. However, he had no such luck, and he remained, his one-eyed visage boring into Dipper's skull. "Can I help you?" He asked, sarcasm bleeding into his voice. It occurred to him afterward that sarcasm wasn't the best thing to use against something so powerful.
"Why, yes, there are a lot of things you could help me with, but I highly doubt ritual sacrifice is on your to-do list!" The man laughed, and Dipper caught sight of slightly pointed teeth. Cooling his panic, Dipper focused on the being. For all intents and purposes, he looked human enough. A single golden eye cast its glow on the rest of his dark-skinned face, illuminating his black and blonde hair. His clothes were old, yeah, but weren't out of place in the setting. Other than his eye and his disappearing acts, he could have been a regular guy.
"Yeah, there's a definite 'no' on that. Uh, who are you?" Dipper was excited by the mystery being's sudden presence, but wary of the possible trouble he could cause.
"You don't remember me, Pine Tree? I find that hard to believe, seeing as we met rather recently." The man was smirking arrogantly, and Dipper felt a rush of familiarity, but he couldn't recall where it had come from.
"I have no idea who you are...or what you are." He backpedaled when the being shifted to stand right in front of him. But he only held out a hand expectantly, the grin still firmly on his face. Still hesitant, Dipper clasped his hand in the man's in a brief handshake.
The man returned the handshake happily. "I already like you more than before, now that you're being less rude." He managed to wink, despite being missing an eye. "Bill Cipher, at your service. And of course, I know who you are. Dipper Pines ghost hunter extraordinaire." He moved past Dipper gliding towards the fireplace, which was lit with glowing blue flames. "Please have a seat, I insist." As he was speaking, he summoned two armchairs, and sat down in one, crossing his legs neatly. He motioned to the other and Dipper sighed, walking forwards to take a seat in the other.
There was a moment of silence, before Bill leaned forward, resting his clasped hands on his cane. "Listen, kid, let's get down to business. I need some… assistance and I think you might be the right man for the job."
Dipper stared at Bill in disbelief. "How am I the right person for whatever plan you have? I'm not taking part in ritual sacrifice!"
"And I don't want you to. Geez, Pine Tree, don't you know a joke when you see one?" Bill rolled his eyes and looked to the fire, a blue glow cast on his face. "I have a problem, and seeing as you don't run screaming at the first appearance of danger, you're my best bet."
"What type of problem?"
"I'm glad you asked, as I'm sure you've noticed it as well. A monster seems to have found its way into this area. You can tell by the sheer amount of dead children it leaves in it's wake." Bill sighed dramatically. "And therein our problem lies. This is my territory. I'm rather possessive of it. Having this creature here is bad for business. Less children means less dreams to feed off of. Which is rather problematic seeing as I happen to be a being that feeds off of dreams."
Dipper narrowed down the list of possible creatures in his mind and asked, "So what exactly are you, Cipher?"
Bill smirked again, seeming more arrogant than before. "Well, I think that's obvious." Ignoring the human's comment that it was definitely not obvious, he continued. " I am an incubus. A dream demon, of sorts."
Dipper cocked his head to the side, confused. "I thought incubi fed off of, you know, sex. " He blushed fairly heavily as the incubus laughed.
"Well, yes. But mostly we feed off of emotion, which, being the creatures of dreams that we are, we can get from many other places." He grinned at Dipper, "No need to be shy anyway, we're all adults here. Besides, I prefer keeping as far away from humans as possible. I mainly feed off of dreams and imagination. But that's the problem. I've spent too long in a dream form, and I'm having a hard time focusing my energies long enough to manifest outside of this old house. That's where you come in."
"I come in and do what, exactly?" Dipper asked, wary of what the demon could possibly propose.
"If I could bind my energy to another being, I would be free to explore this little backwoods town for the crazy little critter that seems to have gotten loose." Bill leered at Dipper. "You would be a great help in making this plan come into action."
Dipper paused, staring at the demon, "So what, you want to possess me or something? Because that's definitely not going to happen."
Bill laughed, sounding just that side of sane, "No, Pine Tree, that's way too much work. I just want to hitch a ride, there'd be almost no effects whatsoever. I'd just have to stay close to you for a little bit."
"No way!" Dipper shouted. The last thing he wanted to do was have some demon following him around everywhere , especially one as annoying as Bill.
"Really? You'd say that even if it meant stopping a creature that's killing this town's children?" Bill's face had become serious, his voice grim.
Dipper froze, unsure of what to say. "Well, there has to be another way. One that doesn't involve you moving in, preferably."
"Well, yes, there is. But that could take weeks. These children don't have weeks." Bill met Dipper's eyes. "Think about it, the children could be saved, you'd be the hero of this rinky dink town. You'd really risk children's lives because you're incapable of sharing living space?"
Dipper thought about it. Bill was right, they didn't have weeks to wait. And maybe it wouldn't be so bad to have a demonic roommate around to help. "...Fine. But if you start causing trouble, I'm kicking you to the curb."
Bill smiled triumphantly, "Swell! So, we have a deal then?" He held out his hand which was now lit with the same blue flame as the fire. "Let's shake on it then, to make it more official."
Dipper stared warily at the hand, but there were really no better options for him to take. "Alright then," he said, and reached forward to take the demon's hand.