Authors Note: Well, I never would have guessed a story like this would be the first fanfiction I ever published, yet here we are. So, obviously fairly new to this, feel free to let me know your thoughts. Also, not sure if T is the right category for this so happy to change if it's inappropriate. Literally no idea what I'm doing right now, but hopefully you enjoy :) Cross posted on Ao3


Stan walked away from his brother and towards his bedroom, fists clenched in anger from the ultimatum he'd just received from his twin.

"You can stay until the end of the summer..."

'Until the end of the summer.' Hah! It's not like Stan had spent 30 years of his life working tirelessly to bring his brother back from the other dimension, not like he'd cared enough to spend all his free time trying everything to get the machine working again, barely eating, barely sleeping, forcing himself to keep going just a little bit more in the hopes that the next thing he tried would work, not like he'd thought when he saw the figure come through the portal and land on the floor of the basement that this was their second chance, their chance to be a family again. Unwarranted tears came to his eyes as he remembered the joy he'd felt at seeing his brother again after so long, the feeling that everything would be okay now that they were together again, and he quickly tried to force them away. After everything Stan had been through, the hurt, the loneliness, the anger and frustration, to try and bring his brother back, only to have it all thrown back in his face, Ford did not deserve Stan to shed tears over him once more, he'd already done that enough over the last 30 years. His hand came up unconsciously to rub at his jaw as he remembered the 'reward' he'd received for his tireless efforts, the bruise only just having faded.

But as Stan reached the door to his room, the anger passed as quickly as it had come, and the feeling was replaced with desolation at having to leave this Shack that he'd known as his abode for the last 30 years. He'd almost go as far as to call it his home. Sure, it was Ford's house, but this place was as close as he'd got to a permanent home since the night 40 years ago when he'd been kicked out of his own. Stan let out his breath with a sigh. It was only reasonable, he considered, that Ford would want his life back on his return to this dimension, and that life had been without Stan in it for the 10 years before he was lost to the portal, Stan didn't know why he'd imagined it to be anything but different on his return. He could only imagine the horrors Ford must have faced on the other side of the portal, everything he must have seen and done.

"And it's all your fault," an insidious voice whispered in the back of his head. He didn't even try and argue, he knew it was true.

He was the one that pushed Ford into the portal after refusing to do the one act that Ford had requested of him, never mind his justification at the time. He had been overjoyed when he received the post card asking him to Gravity Falls, hoping he could make up with his brother after their long period of isolation. Yes, he had been bitter when Ford closed the curtains on him, shunning Stan from his life, and at that time nothing could have made Stan go back to Ford after that betrayal, not that Ford would have tried anyway. But the 10 years had dulled the hurt and increased the longing to simply be with his brother again, and he'd immediately set off to fulfill his request. He'd been so angry when he'd discovered it was simply to be sent away again, like a faceless courier rather than the person who at one point had been closer to Ford than anyone else on Earth. He'd let his anger overcome him, and it had ended with disastrous consequences.

Heck, it was his fault Ford was even out there in the first place instead of earning accolades and recognition at the prestigious West Coast Tech.

Stan sighed once more resignedly, thinking about what he could do. He wasn't up to the life of an aimless grifter anymore, and after being here with the kids and fulfilling his purpose of the last 30 years, he didn't want to either. So that left few choices for what else he could do when the end of Summer arrived. And there was only one option that really stood out as viable.

He really didn't want to leave Gravity Falls. As strange as the place was, and as much as the townsfolk more put up with the Mystery Shack and it's gimmicks than appreciated his presence, Gravity Falls was were some of his best memories were, especially after this Summer, and he knew that there was some people here who did truly appreciate his presence (he didn't let his mind drift to the person several rooms away who made it very clear that he didn't). But he also knew there was no way he could set up his own place in Gravity Falls. Forgoing the multitude of personal reasons for a start, Stanley Pines was legally dead, had been for 30 years, meaning there was no way he could set up his own place. False identities were out of the question too as everybody already knew him here. So he couldn't stay in Gravity Falls, but he couldn't leave either. Which resulted in his conclusion as to his option. He didn't really want to, in all the times despair had gripped him over the years he'd never once seriously considered it, but times had changed, and if there was only one Stan Pines legally, he could safely assume there wouldn't be any difference if there was only one Stan Pines physically. His heart sank at his choice, there was still more he wished he had had the chance to do with his life, especially with the kids, watching them grow up and make something of their own lives. He smiled briefly at the potential those two had. They'd brought energy back to an old miser's life that had been on standstill for 30 years, and he was sure there was nothing that would hold them back from whatever it was they were going to do. He hoped they'd be together for all of it, their bond as strong as it is now, like how he and his brother should have been, until he'd irrevocably ruined all of that. But, his decision was made and he was resolute. It was clear Ford was not going to change his mind, so neither was he. He set about making the preparations for what he was going to do.

~gf~

Several rooms away there was a man with an identical face and an extra finger on each hand who was once more contemplating his request of Stanley, and wondering if it was too harsh, before remembering the danger he'd placed everyone in in bringing him back and confirming his decision that, despite how much he wished he and his twin could be like a family again, there was too much history for that to happen. He was better off on his own. He'd done it for 30 years, he could do it again, despite how something in his chest fractured slightly every time he thought that.

He focused on his intellect and went back to his project.


Ford walked into the small kitchen on the Stan O' War, putting on the kettle to make himself a cup of coffee, when he noticed the inconspicuous-looking sheet of white paper, apparently torn from a notebook, sitting on the table. There was nothing to immediately indicate what this paper was, he could see some words had been scrawled across in his brother's loopy script, but a feeling of dread settled in the pit of his stomach as he looked at it.

He walked closer to read what his brother had written, and panic immidiately filled him as he read the contents, quickly dashing outside to try and find where his brother was located.

But as soon as he opened the door outside, he stopped in his tracks, observing his brother sitting peacefully in front of him, not 4 metres away, and Ford tentatively approached his twin.

Stan was sitting on the deck of the Stan O' War in the cool night air, his gaze upturned to the endless sea of stars overhead, the image mirrored on the crystal sea below, creating the illusion of floating in an endless sky. Ford sat cautiously down beside him, not sure how to start the conversation, instead mirroring his brother's pose, looking up at the endless sky of stars overhead twinkling down on them.

Ford could tell his brother was feeling... something, but despite how good he'd become at reading his brother over the past few months, this time Stan's feelings were completely masked to him, so he simply sat beside his brother in a show of support, but the silence provided by his brother did nothing to quell the storm of worry that was growing steadily in his stomach. At least if he was sitting here Ford knew he wasn't doing anything irreversible.

After a few minutes of sitting peacefully, Stan started speaking from Ford's right.

"I, uh... I remembered something just before." It was said so quietly Ford had to strain to hear it clearly, despite the silence of their surroundings. The listless, desolate edge to Stan's voice only increased the internal worry that was starting to turn into panic, but his voice and posture remained calm as he questioned Stan on his memory.

There was much that Stan had recovered from the erasure by the memory gun, but every so often they'd discover something that had previously remained dormant in the recovery process, and unfortunately most were not good memories, more like ones Stan wished he could forget, probably as to why the memory gun worked more effectively on them than the ones filled with happiness and joy, which he'd recovered earliest. It had been hard for Ford to watch as his brother, whose mind had only been filled with happy memories bringing out the innocent and cheerful side to Stan, become harder and more confused as the darker memories trickled in, piece by piece, but Stan had reassured him by saying these memories were who he was, good or bad, and as he gained a more complete picture of who he was and why these things had happened to him, Stan had accepted who he was and was now just happy to live out whatever happened to him next, surrounded by his family. It brought a small smile to Ford's face when he could safely say that he and Stan were family again, and he had suddenly had an urge to give his brother a big hug. He settled for putting his arm over Stan's shoulders, although far from the effect he thought it would have, it seemed to make Stan shrink further into himself, bringing a frown to Ford's face.

"Would you like to talk about it?" He asked just as gently as Stan had spoken, his voice not betraying the intense concern he had for Stan in this moment.

"Well, er..." The stuttering only heightened Ford's worry. Even when talking about being tied up in the boot of a car and having to chew his way out, Stan never stuttered, so to stutter now meant something was seriously wrong, although Ford already knew that from the paper.

With a sigh, Stan seemed to resign himself to his fate, and in a detached voice began to speak about what was troubling him.

"It was about you," he finally started. "It was about, about after I'd just rescued you from the portal. You told me I had to leave by the end of the Summer." And suddenly everything clicked into place in Ford's head with sickening clarity, and he couldn't control the quick gasp that left his lips at what he'd almost forced Stan to do.

"That's why the paper?" Ford asked in distress, teeth clenched and arm tightened around Stan's shoulders.

Stan seemed surprised Ford knew what he was talking about, before remembering he'd left it on the table in the kitchen and nodding silently to confirm Ford's question.

"I found it tucked in my safe before we left, didn't read it, just shoved it in my bag with everything else. And then, I was looking for something in my bag, and I found it. So I read it, and everything came back in a rush and I just... I just..." He trailed off.

"I'm so sorry, Sixer!" he burst out, before bursting into tears.

~gf~

Stan had remained relatively calm, if detached, as he had been telling Ford the memory, but as he thought of the paper, he was swept up once more by the memory of Ford giving him a deadline and remembered all he'd been feeling in that moment. He had been so... so overwhelmed with everything! He was angry, upset, trying to come up with a different solution, but no matter what he thought of it always boiled down to one thing: this was all his fault, he deserved to pay the consequences. Yes, he was angry at Ford and the world for putting him in this position, but mostly at himself. None of this would have happened without him.

He grabbed onto Ford's shoulder and shook as the words tumbled out of him, tears streaking down his face.

"I'm so sorry. I never meant for you to get sucked up into the portal. I just wanted t-to be accepted again. I tried immediately to get you back, but it was all too complicated and days turned into weeks and then it was 30 years, and then I had you back but you still hated me a-and wanted me to leave and I just, I-I couldn't do it. One more request by you and I still couldn't fulfill it. And you wouldn't have even been lost if I didn't break your project. Everyone's been right about me, I do nothing but screw everything up and blame others for my own mistakes. Dad was right to kick me out," he said with a sob. His voice trailed down to a whisper as he finished his outburst. "I just, I just wanted to be worth something," he finished quietly. Stan thought about all that had happened in his life. He knew he could never atone for all his mistakes no matter how much he tried. He would stay by Ford's side for as long as he would allow, but he wasn't idiotic enough to think he'd been totally forgiven, and it ached whenever he thought about Ford forcing him away, reminding him why he'd written the plan in the first place.

He'd been content that he and Ford were in a place where they both agreed they'd made mistakes and were moving on from pettily holding on to old grudges, but that memory had trawled up all the insecurities that Stan had been battling for years, and he was now convinced that he was just waiting for the time when Ford would cast him away again, when Ford would realise that there was no place for a mistake like him to be around, especially when he kept ruining his life. Usually it wouldn't effect Stan so much, he'd call the idiot a loser or something and move on, but to hear his failures from his brother, to be told to go away, it hurt in a way nothing had for years.

~gf~

Ford listened silently during Stan's outburst, but inside he was screaming that they'd both made mistakes and no, he had nothing to be sorry for, and there was nothing Stan could have done that should have made Dad kick him out. But at his last broken sentance, Ford could feel an intense anger overcome him that Stan felt he wasn't worth anything.

"Stan," Ford began in a voice that surprised even him with the strength. Stan looked away, expecting to be told that yes, that was all true, and the next time we make port you can find your own way, but of course that was about as far as what Ford said next as was possible.

"You are worth more than anything I can think of on this planet," he began, and Stan's eyes quickly darted back to Ford's face in shock to see the earnestly shining out of his eyes.

"I'm so sorry that your experiences have made you believe you're not worth anything" (he couldn't bring himself to use the word worthless) "but those people couldn't see the kind, hopeful, now slightly jaded," his said with a slight smile, "and intelligent man you are. You have shown beyond a shadow of a doubt you are caring, determined and have more love for your family than anyone else I've ever known." Stan's eyes started welling up with tears as Ford spoke, the insecurities of the past fading from his mind as he listened to Ford speak.

"I do not know anyone else who would spend 30 years trying to rescue their brother from somewhere beyond most people's imagining and not giving up hope, who could teach themselves enough quantum mechanics and advanced physics to repair a machine only previously held in the realms of science fiction, who would spend so much time trying to give their great niece and nephew a summer holiday to remember forever. I am eternally sorry that I ever drove you to consider going through with that option, and I will spend the rest of my life making it up to you," Ford knitted his and Stan's hands together, "I love you."

Here the tears started rolling down Stan's cheek, but the watery smile he gave Ford belied that he did truly believe all that Ford had said to him, and gripped Ford's hand tighter.

"I love you too, Poindexter," he said, his smile growing wider "even when you are cheesy," he laughed, wiping the tear tracks from his face. They sat in silence for a few more moments, content with each other's presence, the intense atmosphere settling back into casually relaxed.

"Now, I think I heard the kettle before, how's about we go and have a cup of coffee and talk about our route for the next few days?" Stan suggested.

"There are sea dragons in the water ahead!" Ford answered, an excited smile overtaking his face. "I want to monitor one of their eggs to see what conditions cause them to hatch," he enthusiastically declared. Stan smile grew fond at seeing his brother so excited about the anomolies he loved so much.

"Fine by me, Poindexter. Just don't go complaining to me when you have a baby see dragon following you around and imprinting on you like its mother," Stan laughed heartily.

Ford laughed to, before standing up and bring Stan up with him.

"For now, a cup of coffee sounds good," he agreed happily, "but first, I think there's a piece of paper that needs to be torn up," he informed.

"Couldn't agree more, Sixer." And they both walked back inside to discuss their next adventures and if where they made port next would have any babes.