This Is A Lie
A Gravity Falls Fanfiction by Aoikami Sarah
Warning: bad language, adult themes, violence
Note: I’m still of the mind that Grunkle Stan is Stanley (the car’s plate, the faked death, disappeared brother who we saw in the house with the deed in his name in the past, etc.) but this was written 6-19-2015 before S2E12 aired so if that is not the case, maybe I’ll fix it later- aks
However unsure, however unwise
Day after day play out our lives
However confused, pretending to know to the end
But this isn't truth, this isn't right,
this isn't love, this isn't life,
this isn't real.
This is a lie.
- from “This Is A Lie” by The Cure
July, 1981, Gravity Falls, OR
McGucket lifted the receiver to his ear. “Hello?” he asked.
The voice on the other end of the line stumbled, thrown off by the West Virginian’s accent. “Uh, who’s this?” the gruff-sounding man demanded.
He made a face. “Oh, I’m sorry, I’m Mr. Pine’s new assistant. To whom am I speaking?”
“None’a your business. Put him on the line.”
The assistant straightened and frowned, his ears getting warm as his blood boiled. “Sir, that is no way to get what you want. Good-day,” he said quickly and hung up.
Stanford looked up from his notes and cocked an eyebrow at him. “Who was that?”
McGucket shrugged. “He said it was none-a-my business.” He waved his hand and did his best to impersonate the caller. “Serves him right, I say.” He frowned deeper.
Stanford stared at the black rotary desk phone as if willing it to ring again. Not a minute later it did and before his assistant could reach out, Stanford pounced on it. “Hello?” he barked.
“There you are!” the voice exclaimed with relief. McGucket could hear the words, muffled but understandable, from where he stood. “What the hell kind of answering service you got over there?”
“Hang on,” Stanford said. “Fidds, can you give me a moment?”
McGucket couldn't hide his astonishment. “I-I’m sorry, I didn’t realize it was someone you knew…”
Stanford gave him a small smile and shook his head as he guided the younger man out of the room. “You couldn’t have known,” he said and closed the door behind him.
“What do you want?”
“Hell of a way to talk to your only brother.”
“I’m busy, Lee. What is it?”
“Yeah, I gotta keep this short anyway, I just need a little favor.”
“What is it now? Are you in jail again?”
“That was prison, and no, but I am in a little bit of a pinch. I need you to pick me up.”
Stanford narrowed his eyes. “From where, Mexico?”
“No! No.” Stanley’s voice chuckled awkwardly. “Saskatchewan.”
“Aw, come on!”
“No, Stanley. You got yourself in, you can get yourself out of your own mess.”
Stanley became desperate and the sing-song jovial tone he’d been trying to butter up his sibling with disappeared. “Hey, you owe me!” he barked.
“I do not!”
“Do too! In case you forgot, you impregnated my wife!”
“That does not entitle to you call in a favor like this!”
“The hell it doesn’t! I just need a god damn ride, Ford!”
“It’s never just a ride, Lee! I pick you up and then suddenly people are pointing guns in our faces.”
“That only happened the one time…”
Stanford lost his patience. “I can’t jeopardize all my hard work to go joyriding with you, Lee. Get your shit together.”
“I have my shit together! I just need…”
“No, you do not. You know, maybe if you weren’t such fuckup, Kate wouldn’t have left you.” He instantly regretted saying it, but it was too late. It was out there.
His brother’s voice paused then let out a slow breath. “So that’s how it is?”
“I get it. I get it. You're right.” Stanley sighed again, then snarled “I’m sorry I can’t be the brother you always wanted,” and hung up.
The disconnect tone sounded. Stanford slammed the handset down and started at it for a beat before picking up the heavy black telephone in both hands and hurling it at the wall in front of him. The cord was sufficiently long that it met its target and crashed a shelf of oddities down in a jangling heap. Stanford sat heavily in the wooden rolling chair at his desk and put his head in his six-fingered hands.
A month after Fiddleford McGucket arrived in Gravity Falls, he sat on the porch at Stanford’s little A-frame house in the woods and watched his young son play in the yard. The two of them had found accommodation in town, but it was nice to be able to bring him out into the woods--it reminded him of the Smokey Mountains he used to call home. Stanford emerged from the house having exchanged his lab coat for a pair of beers and handed one to his assistant. He watched the boy run across the grass trying to fly a kite without much success and smiled.
“Looks like he’s adjusting well,” Stanford said taking a long pull from his beer.
“It’s getting better. He still misses his mom quite a bit, but he’s made friends, so that helps.”
“Sometimes I wish he could have stayed with her family, because I just don’t feel like I have the time to devote to being a good dad.”
“I hear ya,” the taller man let slip and cleared his throat. “I mean, yeah, it must be tough. Can I ask why he’s not with his mom?” he asked and sat on the arm of the wooden chair next to McGucket.
“She’s a danger to herself and others,” he said with a grimace. “So I got custody.”
“I’m sorry to hear that.”
McGucket nodded. “Not so bad. He’s a good kid, Jonas. The experience made him a bit more sensitive I think, but he’s ok. It’s nice to have a little family with me.” He looked up as he heard the aluminum can in his boss’s hand crinkle slightly and saw him looking off at Jonas in a rather wistful and sad manner. “How ‘bout you, Stanford,” he asked, cautiously. “Any family?”
Stanford’s eyes moved from the boy to the beer in his oversized hand. “I have a twin brother. If he comes around, let me know. He’s not exactly trustworthy.”
“A twin?” McGucket asked in wonder.
“Fraternal. I have a cleft, chin. Stanley doesn’t. And he’s got a proper number of these,” he said and wiggled his unusual fingers at him.
The assistant drew a breath but successfully hid his surprise by taking a drink. Stanley, he had gathered by inadvertently overhearing, was the name of the gruff-voiced man who called about a week into McGucket’s employment. His boss had been so upset by whatever they were discussing that he trashed his office. “Ah. I’ll do that. Wait, his name is...?” he asked, pushing his luck a little.
“Stanley. Yes, our father hated us.”
“I see… What was his name?”
“Originally, Stanislaw Pinewski,” he said, making a face. “We are, however, thankful for his anglicization.” Stanford narrowed his eyes as he looked back up at Jonas who had finally caught a breeze. The boy beamed as he guided the little yellow bit of paper and wood through the air.
He called out “Dad, dad! Look!” and McGucket clapped and cheered.
“My son lives with his mother in California,” Stanford said. “He’s nine, name’s Alex. His mother’s name is Katherine Pines, so if she ever calls, please put her through.”
McGucket stared at him and stammered in agreement. It would be the only time he ever heard his employer mention either of those two names.
It was raining pretty hard that day a decade prior, and had it not been for the fact that Stanford was passing by the porch door, he might never have heard the knocking. He opened the door to reveal a woman standing in the shelter of the corrugated metal overhang. Her Gremlin was parked fairly close by but the rain was so heavy that she was fairly wet. “Hello, Stanford. May I come in?” she asked. Her eyes were red-rimmed and she hugged her raincoat tightly to curvaceous frame.
“Kate!” he exclaimed. “O-of course.”
After he took her coat and made her a cup of tea, Stanford sat down across the table from her under the stained glass lamp and asked her if everything was alright. He guess that if she had come all the way from Portland, that it wasn’t.
“I can’t do it anymore, Ford. He’s… he’s always hiding things from me and whenever I confront him about it we get into the worst arguments!”
“He hasn’t hit you, has he?” he asked, alarmed.
“Oh, no! Never. Though, we’ve broken a ton of stuff… dishes, chairs…”
“Chairs? Jesus, Kate.”
“I’m gonna file for divorce. It’s for the best.”
“Yeah, maybe it is. I’m sorry. For both of you.”
Kate Pines smiled at him softly. “Say, Stanford,” she said, lifting her large brown eyes up and pushing the mug of tea away from her. “Do you got anything stronger?”
Many months later, the Mystery Twins were reunited as Stanley needed a place to crash after his wife kicked him out. Their divorce would be finalized in the coming months and the two would rarely speak again. In the meantime, Stanley helped his brother out with experiments and research as best he could. It was a good distraction, he said, until work picked up again. Stanford would roll his eyes at the word “work” but never pressured him to find any. He was glad to have his brother around, again, and glad to be able to help him recover.
The phone rang in the house one evening and Stanley raised a brow. “I ain’t pickin’ it up again.”
“Lee, it could be important!” Stanford chided him, leaping across the room and fumbling with the receiver.
“Three hang ups in a row--they’re just gonna hang up again!”
“Stanford Pines,” he said, narrowing his eyes. “Yes, you’ve reached him. No, that was my brother. I see. Yes. That’s alright.” he shook his head in answer to Stanley’s frustrated gestures. “No problem, you’ve got me now. I’ll need to call you back on my lab line though--my notes are nowhere near this phone.” He jotted down a phone number and said he’d call right back. “Hold down the fort, Lee,” Stanford said and rushed off to the elevator to the basement lab.
He raced across the room and with shaking hands called the number back on the red rotary phone near the desk on which he would soon start constructing a computer console. “Kate?”
“Boy are you good, Ford. I bet he had no idea who was calling.”
Stanford did not have the patience to take a compliment. Her tone when he had picked up the line was frighteningly urgent. “What’s wrong?”
She took a deep breath. “I’m pregnant.”
“Well, that’s…” he started, then realized what she was implying. “By me?!”
“Are you sure?”
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to yell, I’m just… that one night?”
“Oh god what do I tell Lee?”
“Nothing! Not a thing! He cannot know.”
Stanford made a face. “He will eventually, Kate.”
“Ok, well, at least not until the divorce is final.”
“I just thought you should know. I don’t expect nothin’ from you. I’m gonna keep it--live with my folks for a while and make due. I want to give all my love to this baby. I hope you understand.”
Stanford looked into the glass partition between the would-be console and the still vacant chamber and was startled by his own reflection, looking back at him, lost and devastated. “If you need anything, you let me know.”
Stanford received another call from Katherine Pines. He picked up the call in the kitchen himself, but as usual, his brother was within earshot. He used the same excuse and went to the lab.
Stanley watched him go. He noted the same anxious look in his eye that he had seen before and waited until he had descended to the lab before getting out of his chair. “Ford, there’s only one phone line to this shack,” he muttered and pulled a cloth towel from a kitchen drawer. “Let’s find out what you’re hiding, shall we?” Slowly and carefully he lifted the receiver and muffled the mouthpiece with the towel.
“...pounds, 7 ounces,” she said. “His name is Alexander and he’s perfect!”
“Oh what a relief. I’m so glad you’re both ok.”
“We are. And I’ve never been so happy. It’s really amazing, Ford. He’s just amazing.” Her voice wavered. “Thank you so much.”
Stanford laughed lightly. “Um, you’re welcome, I guess.”
The sound of a crying infant could be heard over the line. She laughed back. “Well I have to go!”
“Sounds like it. Again, if there is anything at all I can do.”
“Nuh-uh,” she said with an audible smile. “We’re good. Like I said, I wanna do this myself. I know you said you don’t wanna do the daddy-thing, but, I’ll let him know when the time’s right. I’ll keep in touch.”
Stanley waited until he heard dial tone before taking the receiver from his ear, but kept it in his hand until his brother emerged from the elevator. When Stanford saw him standing there in the kitchen doorway, shoulders hunched, staring at the phone, all the blood went into his feet.
He turned his head and his face was contorted with pain. “You fucked my wife?”
“Stanley, I can explain.”
“No need,” he said and crushed the plastic receiver in his hand. “No. I get it. I see it. You been lyin’ to me this whole time. She’s been callin’ here… and she came to you when we were fightin’, and you fucked her and she had your god damn kid!” Stanley shouted and launched himself at his twin, raining blows down on him relentlessly, screaming and crying at the same time. Stanford brought his arms up to block and backed away, only defending. Although they had both taken boxing lessons as children, Stanley had gone on to get an amateur heavyweight title a few years ago; Stanford had only put on some weight. The attack lasted only fifteen seconds or more and when he fell down, Stanley kicked him once in the gut for good measure then finally calmed down. “Fuck you,” he said and spat on his curled up form. “And fuck this. I’m gone.”
Stanford lay on the floor staring at the dangling crushed telephone receiver in the kitchen doorway until he heard the sound of a car peeling out of the driveway then slowly got up, made sure he didn’t need to go to the hospital, taped his glasses back together and got back to work.
Stanford shuffled dozens of pages of notes and chewed his pencil. His body screamed for a cigarette. “Gah! So close!” he shouted and slapped the papers down on his desk. The portal was finished, the computer ready and able, but something was still missing. He squinted at the inverted triangular shape in the center of the device and shook his head. “I can do this myself. I can. I will!” he cried and the words echoed in the subterranean chamber. “All by myself.” He slumped in his chair, chewed the pencil, and was deep in thought when the telephone rang, jarring him back to reality. “Stanford Pines,” he answered.
“Hey, it’s me, please don’t hang up.”
If not for the word ‘please’, his hand would have done just that. “Lee?”
“Yeah,” he said with not even a hint of smarm in his voice. “You around? I wanna talk to ya.”
Stanley let himself in the front door and found his brother in the kitchen, pouring what was probably not his first cup of coffee for the day from an aluminum percolator. He tried to hide his surprise to see the man he’d grown up with now ten years older. Stanley was fit, as usual, but leaner and his hair was buzzed high-and-tight. He had his hands in the pockets of a bomber jacket and wore blue jeans and converse sneakers. His brother was disheveled, unshaven and a brown (presumably coffee) stain adorned his flannel shirt. He wore corduroys and slippers on his feet. “Stanley,” his brother acknowledged and left his coffee mug on the counter as he turned to face him. He frowned but motioned to the table, offering him a seat.
Stanley shook his head, left his jacket on and stood in the doorway exactly where he had stood more than a decade before. The telephone he’d destroyed then had been replaced, but otherwise the room was the same, albeit dirtier. “Stanford. Thanks for seeing me. I wanted to apologize. In person.”
Stanford raised a brow and folded his arms. “Oh?”
“Yeah. I mean, I’m still sore at you for what happened. I might never be a hundred percent ok with that--for I think understandable reasons--but it is what it is. I got a nephew--who, for now I can’t talk to really, but one day, maybe!” he smiled awkwardly for a moment. “I’m sorry I beat the crap outta ya, Ford. I don’t want us to be like that. I don’t wanna not have my brother in my life. It's been almost a decade. Can you forgive me?”
“What about Saskatchewan?” he asked, coldly.
“What about it?”
“You want to be in my life--you can’t behave like that anymore.”
“So the gettin’ beat up is no thing, but askin’ for a ride is? Oh, I get it.” Stanley sighed and slowly crossed to the kitchen table. He pulled out a chair, turned it around and sat so he could rest his arms on the back. “I’ve been lying to you,” he said. “To everyone. But I can’t tell you the whole truth. I can’t put you in danger.”
Stanford was struck by his pleading look and soft voice. He picked up his coffee mug, offered some to Stanley (who thanked him but passed) and took the seat opposite him. He stared at his twin and asked him to explain what he meant.
“For the last dozen years or more I been workin’ for a certain organization that will remain nameless. I do things for them from time to time. The pay is crazy good. It’s super dangerous and exciting and sometimes not real legal. Ok, a lot a times not real legal. But I’m in. It’s my thing and I love it. I can’t do nothin’ else! Katie never believed I was anything more than a crook when she figured out I was lyin’ about havin’ a regular job. Guess you won’t either.”
“So you’re saying you’re not a crook? What, do you work for the FBI or something?” he asked, jokingly.
Stanley frowned. “I’m afraid I can neither confirm nor deny that.”
His brother straightened up and broke out in a cold sweat. “Lee--would your ‘employer’ want to interfere in any way with my ‘endeavor’?” he asked, making air-quotes with his hands.
“Not as such.”
“What does that mean!” he shouted and leapt up from the table.
“I can’t tell you! But, I can say that the stuff I do for the Or- er… the organization--it doesn’t have any jurisdiction over stuff like what you do--does that make sense?”
“Can you promise me that you won’t betray me?”
Now Stanley was on his feet. “Oh my god, yes I promise, Ford!”
Stanford frowned. “How can I possibly believe you?”
His brother took a deep breath, his eyes still pleading with him. He stretched his arms out at his sides to show his open hands. “I swear on our mother’s grave, Stanford. I will never, ever betray you.”
Stanford clenched his jaw. “Lee, I don’t care if you’re telling me the truth about this organization of yours or not,” he said and let his shoulders relax. His expression softened--brows raised, the right corner of his mouth crooked up in a compassionate smirk. “You’re my brother. I love you, and no matter what you’re involved in and how dangerous it might be, and despite all reason, I trust you.” Stanford opened his own arms and his brother embraced him in a tight hug. “Are you looking for a place to stay for a while?” he asked, releasing him.
“Only if you’re offering.”
Stanford beamed. “I am! It’s good timing, actually. My assistant quit last month.”
“The guy on the phone with the southern accent?”
Stanford nodded. “He was deeply disturbed by an aspect of the project…” he hesitated. “I’ll tell you all about it later, it’s a long story--but he up and quit. The weird part is, I saw him at the grocery store a week later and he seemed to have forgotten all about it. When I asked him to come back he had a sort of breakdown in the store and ran out. A little while after that I interviewed someone in town about the cliffs and they said they heard about a new secret society that helps people forget painful memories.”
Stanley raised a brow. “You think he’s behind it?”
“Pretty sure. I don’t have time to investigate, though.” Stanford shook his head and his brother started to grin from ear to ear. “You, wanna… look into--”
“Hell yeah, I do!” Stanley extended his right arm and made a fist. “Mystery Twins?” he asked.
Stanford touched his own fist to his brother’s. “Mystery Twins!”
Katherine Pines shut off the vacuum and tilted her head toward the kitchen of her tiny apartment. Just as she thought she heard over the noise, the telephone was ringing.
She sucked in a quick breath. “Stanley?”
“Is Alex there?”
She narrowed her eyes. “He’s at school, why? This better be quick, I gotta get to work, Stanley.”
“Good,” he sighed. “Are ya sittin’ down? I got somethin’ I gotta tell ya.” His voice trembled.
The tone of his voice turned her stomach. She grasped the back of a chrome and pleather kitchen chair. “What is it?”
“You sittin’ yet?”
“Yes! Fine! I’m sittin’,” she barked and took a seat. “Christ, Stanley what is it?”
“Before you see it in the paper or someone else tells you… I gotta tell you the truth.”
“What have you gotten yourself into now?”
“It ain’t me, damn it! It’s Stanford!” The hurt that came across the wire was electric and made her chest tighten.
“You know how he was into all this science stuff and what not? Well, he was up to something big and he faked his own death before getting sucked into an interdimensional portal.”
She frowned severely and clenched her right hand into a fist. “I don’t have time for your games, Stanley.”
“I‘m not playing any fucking games, Katie, my brother is gone!” he shouted. “He knew he was going and he didn’t tell either of us! I just wanted you to hear it from me rather than have some dumb newspaper tell you the father of your kid went up in flames because he didn’t, god damnit. I’m gonna do everything I can to get him back. I don’t even know if it’s possible, but I’m gonna try and I’m not gonna give up and I don’t care if you hate me forever I just wanted to maybe spare you a little pain!”
Katherine had only heard him cry like that once before, when she told him she was leaving. She squeezed her eyes shut and covered her mouth with her free hand. Ever how impassioned his words were, she just shook her head. “You need help, Stanley. You’re sick, is what. Sick in the head! What kind of bullshit is that! You think you can make it easier by concocting some insane story? No more lies, Stanley. No more! Never, ever, call here again!”
“But Katie, it’s true!”
“Never!” she screamed and slammed the handset down. Three days later she would receive a Gravity Falls newspaper mailed to her with no return address featuring the story about “Stan Pines” having been killed in a rather suspicious automobile accident. In the margin in rough ball point ink was written ‘I’m sorry. This is a lie.’