Hello! It's been quite a while. Things are quite a bit different since I wrote the other stories on this site. After binging on Gravity Falls and recently seeing "A Tale of Two Stans" though, I wanted to get back into the game. And here it is!
It was over. Ten years led up to this moment, the moment where he should have been celebrating a family reunion, reminiscing about happy memories and forgiving past mistakes. Instead he was alone with yet another regret. There was no celebrating now, not with something of this scale, not with Ford... gone.
Again, he had lost his brother. But this time... there wasn't a chance at redemption. He had screwed up bigger than he ever had before. And now there was no clear fix.
Stanley shivered in the darkness, afraid to move lest he cause more damage than he had already done. The journal he and his brother had fought over lay before him, the silhouette of his brother's hand dull and lifeless. He had to do something, but everything he touched turned into a disaster. Then again, his life had already been ruined, so what more damage could he do?
Gingerly Stan opened the book, a dull pain settling into his chest. His brother was a genius, there was no doubt, but what was he doing out here in the middle of nowhere? And what was this... this thing before him? A portal, Ford had said. A portal to another dimension. Stan stared at the empty circle surrounded by symbols. Unfamiliar symbols, another language that he couldn't begin to try and understand. Slowly he stood to get a better look.
A bolt of pain shot through his shoulder, bringing him back to his knees. He dropped the book and stifled a cry of agony. It took an eternity to ride out the worst of it, and when it had subsided he was covered in sweat. This was bad. He had to treat whatever it was that Ford did to him before he could do anything else.
Again Stan tried to get up, and again, he was brought back down. This time he stayed down, laying on the cold basement floor in an attempt to cool his burning skin. What had been branded into his skin? Some kind of curse? Who knew what Ford had gotten up to in ten years. Ghosts and curses suddenly sounded a lot more real after seeing your own flesh and blood disappear into another dimension.
The memory of Ford's body disappearing into the abyss drove Stan to his knees again. He couldn't be weak anymore. Not when he was responsible for fixing what he had done. But he was so tired... His eyes slid over to the book, then to the glasses still cradled in the palm of his hand. Now was not the time to be a screw up. He had to do something.
Finally, agonizingly, he brought his feet under him and pushed. His shoulder erupted in pain, but this time he did not fall. Any other time of day Stan would have been pleased with himself for overcoming such a blow. For now he settled with grim satisfaction that he was upright and walking away from what he considered a literal hellhole.
It was weird being surrounded by his twin brother's belongings. A lifetime ago he and Ford shared everything. Now there was nothing they had in common. Stan tried to keep from knocking things over as he made his way to where he hoped the bathroom was, and where he hoped a first aid kit lay. He wasn't a doctor, but enough close calls with the wrong side of the law taught him a thing or two.
A couple of times he had to pause to catch his breath and ride out the worst of the pain, giving him a chance to look at what Ford had been up to all these years. Not a lot of it made sense to him, Stan had to admit, and a lot of it looked like something straight out of the terrible monster movies the twins had been obsessed with as kids. His eyes roamed over the chaos of it all, disturbed by the haphazard piles of research and materials scattered about.
Something wasn't right. Well, nothing was right about the whole situation, but Stan found himself wondering what had happened to make Ford so careless. The nerd had been incredibly meticulous about his research, even as a kid, and was always the tidier of the two boys. This mess made Stan look like the neat one, which meant that something was very wrong. Also, the boarded up windows and doors were seriously giving him the creeps.
Ford was paranoid, but about what? Stan pushed past an enormous skull and lurched around the corner to the bathroom. Who had he pissed off this badly? Or what? A quick rummage through his medicine cabinet provided flimsy band-aids (nowhere near as sturdy as the Rip Off brand he used to sell) and a couple of painkillers. Stan downed the pills and continued to look for a first aid kit. When nothing made itself readily apparent he turned to the mirror to look at just what he was trying to patch up.
It was horrible. His coat and shirt had been burned away, revealing the burned skin underneath. Just looking at it hurt, but he couldn't look away. What was it? The red, swollen skin definitely resembled a mark, but it wasn't any like he had seen before. If Ford were here he would know... or would keep the knowledge to himself and hurt him some more.
Stan shook his head. No matter how much anger and hurt he still held towards his brother, he knew that Ford wasn't a monster. Vaguely he could recall the concern in Ford's voice after he had been branded, but it was shrouded in memories of rage. All Stan wanted in that moment was to hurt the cause of his grief, and that had cost him everything.
He shook himself out of his self pity and looked away from his reflection. There was nothing there he wanted to look at. After fruitlessly searching he gave up and fashioned a crude bandage out of a towel and some tape. The adrenaline had long since faded and he was starting to crash. Vaguely he was aware that without proper treatment he was risking infection and permanent scarring, but he didn't care. He was numb.
Somehow he found himself in what looked to be Ford's study. Surprisingly it was cleaner than the rest of the house, and carefully he made a spot for himself on the couch without disrupting too much. He forced himself to lay down, exhaustion and painkillers reducing the burning in his shoulder to a manageable ache. Already he knew he wasn't going to get any sleep, not in the dead silence of his brother's house.
Stan's breath hitched in his throat as he clutched the book and glasses to his chest. If he tried not to think too much he could pretend that Ford was just around the corner, doing whatever it was that he did these days. He couldn't even muster up enough thought to imagine what sorts of things those could be. Any familiarity he had with his brother was buried.
Finally he closed his eyes, trying to rest a bit before opening the journal again. But the second he closed his eyes he saw himself looking into Ford's panicked ones, and relived the moment of sheer terror both felt as they were pulled away from each other. Never would he be able to forget that moment. Nor would he be able to forgive himself until he brought Ford back.
That's it so far. I plan this to be a multi chapter story, but not a terribly long one. Keep an eye out for updates!