Okay, so here’s the thing: it’s not like Dipper means for it to be a dastardly master plan or anything. It’s not like Dipper means to screw over his sister. It’s just that he’s the one there, at dinner with their parents, when the hospital calls, because it’s a Friday night and Mabel’s always out with her friends on Friday nights, and most of Dipper’s friends are not exactly Friday night people. Dipper tends to gravitate toward the Tuesday afternooners of the world, or sometimes the Eating Cheese And Posting Things To Messageboards On Sunday At 6:45 PM While Listening To Conspiracy Podcasts crowd. They’re more his speed. Friday night people have this uncomfortable tendency to stare at him for a long time after he says anything and then, slowly, say, “Dude… what?”
Anyway. Dipper isn’t a Friday night person, so Dipper is there, that Friday night, when the hospital calls to say that Grunkle Stan fell in the shower. And so it’s Dipper who hears it, when his parents start to hiss things about “hospice” and “never agree to it” and “how many nurses” and “how can we afford” and it’s not like he plans for things to go the way they do. It just — happens. Yeah. That’s it. It just… happens.
“Me and Mabel could go to Gravity Falls!” Dipper says. And then, when both of his parents stare at him: “For the summer, I mean. To — take care of Grunkle Stan! Finals are next week and then, I mean, we don’t have anything to do until school starts, right?”
I’mma be real with you: it took me hours to decide on a fanfic to rec for this week’s post. I read story after story that were good but just didn’t do it for me enough that I wanted to spend time writing about them. Then I remembered this fic exists.
Zen and the Art of Infinite Pizza Maintenance provides a fascinating take on the “older twins return to Gravity Falls” trope. When Dipper volunteers himself and Mabel to spend the summer taking care of the convalescing Grunkle Stan, Mabel is infuriated. It’s not that she doesn’t love Stan—she actually gets on with him better than Dipper does—but the summer between senior year of high school and the start of college is a sacrosanct time to make bad decisions (and drink a lot of daquiris) with your friends. Arriving in Gravity Falls after so many years is strange for both of them and the people they once knew there, and Dipper, Pacifica, Mabel, and Wendy hit it off all over again in unexpected ways. Also, Soos has started a cult that worships his infinite pizza slice, so that’s a thing.
The story makes vague references to something happening at the end of the summer of the twin’s twelfth year, but gyzym’s aim wasn’t to provide a take on the series’s ending, but rather to tell us about some new beginnings. So don’t worry too much about spoilers for the actual cartoon (unless you haven’t seen the episode where Soos gets the slice of infinite pizza. If so… whoops). I particularly liked the way that gyzym turned the Wendy/Dipper relationship on its head, and in a way that isn’t creepy like it would be if show-age Wendy had a relationship with someone a Pines twin’s age. The characterization is delightfully spot on, and the writing’s also full of odd asides and cryptic remarks (especially on Mabel’s part) that strike me as perfectly in line with the way people talk in the actual show.
Zen and the Art of Infinite Pizza Maintenance is funny, heartfelt, and provides a much-needed dose of queer representation into the mix as well. (I could say who, but that would be telling.) It’s a quick read at 6600 words, and you can check it out here at the AO3.