It shouldn't have happened on a Friday. Fridays were meant to be full of anticipation, fluttering excitement building in the chests of students everywhere until that glorious moment when the final bell announced their freedom.

Monday would've been far more fitting.

But no, it was a brisk Friday morning when the Pines twins walked out the door intent on their usual jaunt to school.

The broader of the two stretched his arms over his head as he groaned. "Look Ford, I get that you have a nerdy reputation to keep up, but there is absolutely no point in planning your science fair project this early. We all know you're gonna win anyway."

Ford pushed his glasses up as they began to slide down his nose. "I only win because I take the time to carefully plan and meticulously craft my projects. If I haven't settled on a concept by next week my entire schedule will be thrown! So just help me brainstorm, okay Lee?"

Lee playfully shoved his brother. "Relax poindexter, it's not like the fate of the universe relies on your project."

Ford didn't respond, his eyes fixed on something over Lee's shoulder.

That was all the warning Stanley Pines got before something tugged him away by his shirt collar.


There was a flash of light, a sensation of heat that made Stan shudder, and the streets of New Jersey were gone. Instead, Stan now found himself in a small clearing surrounded by pine trees. Turning around revealed two figures behind him. One, a weird statue that looked like a cheezy mascot for a geometry textbook, and two, an old man that seemed… oddly familiar.

Stan balled his hands into fists. "I don't know what kinda voodoo you've got up your sleeve, but you're pickin' on the wrong guy if you're hoping I'll go down easy."

The man held up his hands in a gesture of surrender, allowing Stan to count the additional fingers. "I apologize for startling you Stanley, but I have no intention of harming my twin."

"Ford?" Stan didn't need to ask, not really. He could pick out the features that were so distinctly his brother's on the supposed "stranger".

The man, Ford, lowered his hands. "From the future, yes."

Stan gestured to the woods around them. "Is that where we are now?"

"Chronologically speaking yes, geographically speaking we are currently in Oregon."

"Your dorky space shows say time travel's dangerous."

Ford sat on a log facing the statue. "So you know I wouldn't risk this for something trivial." He motioned for Stan to sit next to him. "You're going to want to sit down for this."

Stan took the offered spot on the log. "So what goes wrong?"

Ford chuckled wryly. "A lot. Quite a lot goes wrong. And unfortunately, you're the one who tends to suffer as a result. But I didn't bring you here to talk about what will happen, not entirely at least, but what has happened." He turned from Stan to the statue. "What you don't remember."

"In the timeline as it is the truth is not revealed to you until long after it would do any good. Because of this, the knowledge causes you nothing but undue distress and emotional turmoil. With this conversation, I intend to change that, give you the chance at the better life Stanley Pines deserves."

Stan scuffed his toe in the dirt at the log's base. "You phrased that a little weird."

Ford sighed. "I phrase it that way because you weren't always Stanley Pines." He turned back to Stan. "Have you ever heard the phrase 'pulling yourself up by your bootstraps?'"

Stan shrugged. "I guess."

"It's impossible," Ford blurted. "There is no feasible way to do it without some kind of time travel cycle and that's what you are," he jabbed a finger into Stan's chest. "Part of a cycle."

Stan shifted away from the scientist. "It sounds like you're stalling on this whole truth thing, can we just get it over with?"

Ford's finger moved from Stan to the statue. "See that?"

Stan nodded. "Kinda hard to miss since it's the only other thing here."

Ford thrusted his finger at the statue emphatically. "That is what physically remains of a dream demon known as Bill Cipher. Many years ago he tried to trick me into building a portal that would give him access to our world. I caught on, but only at the last possible minute. Things happened to delay Bill's plans, but he did eventually succeed, bringing his weirdness to our world and threatening the very lives of our family."

He paused, his lips curling into a slight smile as his eyes watered. "But you beat him. You singlehandedly defeat my tormentor of over thirty years, and you save us all. We finally move past our bitterness and, for a time, things are perfect."

"Then what?" Stan asked quietly. "For a time means things changed."

Ford slumped forward. "Then you remembered. Then we learned about the prophecy. Then I had to watch my brother tell himself he didn't deserve happiness after I'd already fought so hard to convince him he did. Then I learned my greatest enemy and my greatest hero were one in the same because Stanley,"

Ford placed a hand on his shoulder and stared intently into his eyes. "You are Bill Cipher."

Stan opened his mouth to protest but Ford cut him off.

"I know you don't really understand, I can't say I would in your position either. You're likely debating whether or not to believe me even as we speak. But I'm not telling you this to shock you, or make you feel bad. I want you to get your memories back, I want you to remember the first half of the cycle so you can break it. Don't let my past self's idiocy push you away, don't let your past self's trickery leave you picking up after my messes. And most importantly, don't let anyone, not even yourself tell you happiness is beyond your reach."

Ford stood, and began fiddling with something that looked a bit like a tape measure. "I'm going to take you back now, please keep this between us. Last thing either of us need is a run in with the Time Police."

"The wha-" Stan couldn't finish his comment before the smothering sensation of heat was back. When the light finally faded from his eyes, his own Ford was standing over him, a relieved expression on his face.

"I thought that man was going to kidnap you," He said in that shaky tone he always got before crying.

Stan pushed himself back onto his feet. "I could take him."

Ford laughed, the sound still a bit broken and breathy. "Of course you could."

He went back to prattling about ideas for his science project, as of the whole interruption never happened.

All the while the words of Ford's older counterpart were slowly being joined by new phrases in Stan's head.

Sixty degrees that come in threes.

Watches from within birch trees.

Saw his own dimension burn.

Misses home and can't return.

Says he's happy. He's a liar.

Blame the arson for the fire.

If he wants to shirk the blame,

He'll have to invoke my name.

One way to absolve his crime.

A different form, a different time.

They were about a block away from the school when he spoke, breaking Ford's current spiel about perpetual motion.

"Hey Ford?"

"Hm?"

"How do you feel about teleportation?"


A little concept that stuck in my brain. If this inspires any of my fellow writers, go nuts, but this is all the farther I felt like developing the idea.