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Title: A Tale of One Shermie
Author: chilibreath
X-posted to: Tumblr / FF.net / AO3
Rating: T
Summary: Shermie shares his side of the Pines family lore.

A Tale of One Shermie

Ben slid open the door to the living room and blinked.

“Seems like Mabel’s sleepover skillset is being put to good use,” he said, sounding impressed.

Some of the furniture were rearranged in order to accommodate two sleeping bags next to the sofa. After dinner, the kids managed to convince all three Pines brothers to have a “sleepover” in one room. The kids raided the linen closet in order to add a camping ambience to the room by tying them together and making a tent over the sofa and the sleeping bags.
“Hey! She had help!” Dipper declared as he handed the box to his grandfather sitting on the sofa.

“Dad, can we borrow the fondue fountain?” Mabel asked. She was sitting between Stan and Ford on the sleeping bags. Waddles was snuggling next to Stan, who was scratching that hard-to-reach spot behind the pig’s neck.

“Sweetie, we already discussed this,” Ben said firmly, lifting a portion of blanket and settling down by the foot of the sleeping bags. “No sweets after you brushed your teeth.”

“But how are we gonna make smores?” Mabel asked as she raised a large bag of marshmallows into the air.

“Mabel, you won’t be able to sleep if you have any more sugar at this hour.” Ben looked at the box on Shermie’s lap. “What’s that you have there, Dad?”

Shermie placed a hand on the top. “It’s a box of pictures that Ma—your Grandma—gave to me before she passed away,” he said gruffly. “I’ve been meaning to set them in a nice photo album, but I kept putting it off and hid them somewhere in the house. When you told me you and Sarah were expecting twins, I went and found the box again.”

He looked up and smiled at Dipper and Mabel. “Since you were born, I’ve been waiting for the perfect time to share this with you. I even started planning on what to tell Stan—when I thought he was Ford—when I decide to get around to it. When you kids called me over here, I decided today would be the perfect time.” Shermie started to chuckle. “I never thought you’d surprise me!”

Stan and Ford chuckled.

“Our timing is impeccable,” Dipper said proudly. He turned to Mabel and pumped fists with her. “BOOSH!”

“We could have had this reunion earlier, but we got stuck in Greenland,” Ford explained. “After that, Dipper and Mabel started booking our schedule months ago.”

Everyone’s schedule,” Ben emphasized as Shermie opened the box and picked up the first picture.

“OH MY GOSH, BABY GRUNKLES!” Mabel squealed as she crept up close to look at it. It was a picture of a young boy in a checkered shirt sitting between two chubby babies wearing poofy onesies and bonnets. “You guys were so CUTE! Look Dipper: GRUNKLETS!”

“Of course we were babies! Didja think we were born with grey hair and a grudge against the world?” asked Stan.
The younger twins looked at each other.

“Yes,” said Mabel.

“Definitely,” said Dipper.

“Absolutely!” Mabel added.

“Hey!” Ford said in mock indignation.

“I can confirm that they used to be wrinkly when they were brought home from the hospital, but then they smoothed out,” said Shermie, chuckling. “The wrinkles you see now are permanent.”

“YOU’RE WRINKLY!” Stan yelled, throwing a pillow at Shermie. Shermie ducked and continued chortling. Dipper and Mabel started cheering.

“Wrinklier than the both of us combined,” Ford added. He turned around at Stan’s “High-six!” and slapped his hand.

“Dad was right; Dipper does look kind of like the two of you when you were babies,” Ben commented, taking a closer look at the picture. “Good thing he inherited Sarah’s nose!”

“A small mercy,” Shermie chuckled. “Ma used to tell me that I kept wishing for a baby brother so hard, I got two of ‘em.”
More pictures came out of the box: Shermie making faces at the babies to make them laugh. Shermie play-wrestling with 3-year-old Stan and Ford in the living room (little Stan had Shermie in a headlock). All three of them with their faces covered in ice cream. Another picture of all three of them standing near a crater with their hair standing on end (“I miscalculated mixing together the contents of the fireworks before Stan dumped it into the campfire,” Ford explained.) But then, there were less pictures of all three of them as they got older. More pictures of Stan and Ford together. Pictures of Shermie standing next to his prom date wearing a checkered suit and graduating from high school.

Ford picked one picture from the box and stared at it. It was a picture of two shirtless, sunburned boys standing on a wreck of a sailboat. Painted on the side were the words “STAN O’ WAR”.

“I thought I had the only copy of this picture,” Ford said in surprise, showing it to Stan.

“Ma made a duplicate of it when she found the film,” Shermie explained. “You were so excited with your discovery, you raced back home and dragged me out to the beach to take your picture. You were lucky I was home from college!”

“It was lucky,” Stan said slowly. “When we got back to the boat, Crampelter and his goons were there trying to wreck it.”
Ford looked at Stan. “You remember,” he whispered.

“It was a wreck, Stan,” said Shermie, who didn’t notice this. “And that Crampelter was being a punk. It was worth the sunburn chasing them away from the boat with a stick.”

“Thanks, Shermie!” said Stan, grinning.

Mabel reached into the box and pulled out another photo. It was a group photo taken outside a red-bricked building. Teenaged Stan and Ford stood on one side, dressed in long-sleeved shirts and with their hairs slicked back. On the other side were their parents, Filbrick and Cassandra; Mabel felt a chill as she looked at Filbrick’s impassive face. In the middle of the group was Shermie wearing a nice suit and a short blonde woman in a white dress and a flower crown on her head.
“It’s your wedding picture!” Mabel gushed. “Oh, Grandma Ruthie looked so pretty!”

Shermie smiled fondly as he looked at it. “Happiest day of my life. We couldn’t afford a big fancy wedding, but Ma insisted we get hitched because…”

To Dipper and Mabel’s confusion, Shermie seemed to choke on his explanation while Ben coughed.

“They were nuts for each other,” Stan supplied gruffly; he was trying hard not to laugh. Ford cleared his throat and nodded.
“THAT is the truth!” Shermie said loudly, looking at Stan in relief. “And also I got drafted for the war.” He looked at Ben and smiled. “I stuck around long enough to see you born before I left.”

Ben smiled back as he picked up a picture of Ruth holding him as a baby, with Shermie behind them smiling broadly.
“That’s where you got injured,” said Dipper. “You must have done a lot of fighting while you were there.”

“Honestly, I didn’t see much action,” Shermie said candidly. “Did some guard duty and chauffeuring new recruits and supplies to the base. Barely there for a year when I walked out of the barracks and got shot in the leg.”

Stan and Ford knew what was coming next; they busied themselves looking at the other pictures when Dipper asked in a hushed voice, “The enemy shot you?”

Shermie looked both sheepish and disgruntled. “Nope; some rookie was cleaning out his rifle when it discharged. Last I heard, they demoted the guy to potato-peeling while I got discharged.”

Here, Shermie looked down at his hands and sighed. “Then I went back to New Jersey and found out what happened to Stan...”

XXXXX

After fussing over Shermie, Ma ushered him to the kitchen.

“I didn’t get the letter, Ma,” he said gruffly as he carefully sat down. “Probably arrived just as I got flown outta there. What happened? Ruthie told me to get here and get the story from you.”

Cassandra’s lower lip trembled. “I feel so horrible, Shermie!” she whispered. “I couldn’t stop ‘im. He—he had Stanley’s bag packed and ready when he threw him outta the house…”

Shermie stared at her.

“He did WHAT?!”

“You heard her,” Filbrick growled. He was standing by the frame of the kitchen door. “That ingrate cost this family a fortune! Ridin’ on his brother’s coattails and being a lazy bum…”

Shermie pushed himself up from the chair with his crutches, looking at his father like he had never seen him before.

“You sunavabitch!” Shermie snarled. “Stan’s just a kid, and you threw him outta the house like he was garbage!”

“What did you call me?!” Filbrick roared. “You come into MY house, ya disrespectful…”

“I’m not the monster who kicked his own son out on the streets!” Shermie shouted back. “What the hell were you thinking?! He’s just a kid!”

Cassandra joined in the shouting match, trying to get them to stop fighting. Minutes later, Shermie slammed the door behind him and hobbled away to his small apartment.

XXXXX

“That was the last time I saw Filbrick.” Shermie said as he took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes. “It hurt like hell, but I hobbled back to our apartment and hugged Ruthie and Ben and started making plans. Ruthie had a cousin who moved out to California and we decided to move there after Ben’s first birthday.”

He looked at Stan sadly. “I asked around, trying to find you, Stan. Ruthie agreed that we could take you with us if we found you. I heard something about you getting banned from New Jersey or somethin’…”

“I was tryin’ to find my big break and ended up rilin’ the state by selling stuff that seem too good to be true,” Stan explained. He gave a start and looked at Shermie. “Wait, you were gonna take me in?”

His oldest brother nodded. “And then I tried to talk to Ford,” Shermie continued, looking at his brother. “You shut down when I brought up Stan…”

Ford shook his head. “I was young, angry, and full of myself, Shermie. Took me forty years and nearly losing Stan to realize that.”

“It hurt a lot, seeing you two separate like that,” Shermie said quietly. “Ma had to live with the guilt of letting Filbrick kick Stan outta the house for years. I called her from time to time, and even asked her to live with us after Filbrick passed away. And then…and then I got the call from Oregon...”

XXXXX

It was a closed-casket service attended by three people.

“My little free spirit,” Cassandra said heavily as she sprinkled a handful of soil on top of the lowered casket. “No mother should have to bury her child. I failed him, I failed my baby…”

“It’s not your fault, Ma,” Shermie said consolingly, brushing the earth from his hands before putting an arm around his frail mother. “Someone did this to him.” He looked at the man standing next to him. “Any update from the law enforcement here, Ford?” he asked grimly.

Ford cleared his throat. “Last I heard, they were still investigating,” he said, sounding a bit gravelly. “Though I wouldn’t trust them with finding my glasses while they’re on my face.”

When Shermie asked him about his voice, Ford waved off his concern and explained that one of his experiments left him with a sore throat and a scrape on his chin that he had to hide with dressing. Shermie was tempted to inquire what experiment caused the mullet, but he held back.

Stan would have loved ribbing Ford about his hair and wouldn’t hold back.

“Ford, honey, take off those things,” Cassandra said kindly. “It’s just us…”

Ford shoved his mittened hands into his pockets and looked away. “Force of habit, Ma,” he muttered. He looked at the casket below and asked, “Can you all do me a favor?”

Shermie looked at his brother—his remaining brother—and replied, “Sure. What is it?”

Ford adjusted his glasses and looked at them. “Call me Stan from now on…please?”

XXXXX

“So that’s how you convinced Ma and Shermie that you were me,” Ford said, sounding impressed.

“And I managed to convince Shermie that my voice continued changing because of the ‘experiment’,” Stan added. “I couldn’t go on copying your voice forever.”

Shermie nodded. “That reminds me: what did we bury in that cemetery?”

“Sandbags,” Stan replied.

Dipper looked up at his grandfather. “And you never once got suspicious? Even when ‘Ford’ went and turned his house into a tourist trap?”

Shermie shrugged. “Honestly, I thought Ford got tired of all the mystery hunting and decided to tap into a business that shared his love for the weird.”

Ford bowed his head. “Shermie, I thought you’d know me better than to display a ‘Ham-Pire’ or sell figurines of myself that burp.”

“I did say weird, Ford,” said Shermie, grinning and holding up his hands while Ford glared at him.

“I rather liked the Sascrotch,” Ben said thoughtfully. “I mean, I helped put the underwear on him when I spent a summer at the Shack before heading off to college. Made for an interesting conversation starter with Sarah before I asked her out.”
“Aww, that’s so romantic!” Mabel gushed.

“Maybe I should have said something when Stan visited the hospital,” Shermie mused.

XXXXX

“Come in here Stan and meet my grandchildren!” Shermie said loudly. He hadn’t stopped smiling since Dr. Terrance dropped by with the news that his grandson was out of harm’s way.

Stan walked slowly into the room. Shermie met him halfway holding a bundle wrapped in a blue blanket.

“Stan, this is my grandson, Mason,” Shermie said softly as he placed the baby into Stan’s arms.

“And this is his sister, Mabel,” Ben added, walking up to his uncle and putting the pink bundle into his other arm.

Stan looked at the newest members of the Pines family, completely lost for words. Shermie stood back and motioned for his son to take a picture. He wondered what was running inside his brother’s mind as he shifted his stance to hold the babies more securely. Another set of twins in the family; after Ben told him, he immediately called his brother Stanford in Gravity Falls to share the news. He wished Stanley was here to see this…

And then his gaze shifted to his brother’s hand. One, two, three, four, five…

Shermie blinked and counted again; four fingers and one thumb.

It couldn’t be…

“Hey, Earth to Shermie!”

Shermie shook his head and looked at his brother. “Sorry, what did you say?”

Stan rolled his eyes. “I said ‘what kind of guy wears a bow tie to the hospital?’”

Shermie looked down. “Hey, it’s a special occasion! My first week as a grandfather!” he muttered. He cleared his throat and approached his brother. “Say, do you want to sit down and…?”

As he advanced, Stan started backing away. “Gimme five more minutes, Shermie.”

“Stan, I asked if you wanted to—wait, WHERE ARE YOU GOING WITH MY GRANDCHILDREN?!”

Sarah could only watch from her bed as she saw her husband go after her father-in-law, who went hobbling after his brother when he ran out of the room with her newborns.

XXXXX

“I lost track of what I wanted to say to you when you stopped at the elevators. You didn’t know what to do when Mabel started wailing.”

“I really enjoyed the part where Grunkle Stan tried to kidnap us,” Dipper remarked. He turned to his father and asked, “Aren’t there any security tapes we could borrow from the hospital?”

“Grunkle Stan loved us!” Mabel cooed, leaning her head on Stan’s arm.

“What did you think when you noticed Stan’s fingers?” Ford asked Shermie.

Shermie rubbed the back of his head, looking sheepish. “The first thing I realized, honestly, was that I was looking and talking to Stanley all this time,” he admitted. “Then I wondered what the heck was going on: why was he pretending to be Stanford? Did he set up the car crash? What happened to Stanford? Those kinds of questions.” He ran a hand through his thinning gray hair. “Again, I probably should have said something when I noticed his hands at the hospital, but I suppose I wasn’t ready for what the answer could be. Or I was waiting for Stan to open up to me with the truth.”

The room became quiet after Shermie’s admission for a few moments.

“Man, what is it with this family and communicating?!” Mabel huffed angrily. “We all need to start talking some more, you guys!”

“I agree,” Dipper said, nodding. “I think we should set them all up with Skype accounts so that they can talk some more. There’s about forty years of missed conversations you guys need to work on.”

“Well, you kids are going to have to help me,” said Shermie. “Because I forgot my password.”

XXXXX

Author’s Note: I imagined that Shermie is older than the Stans by six years. Based on fordtato’s computations, that would make Shermie about 66 years old in 2012. Many thanks to thesnadger for the “wrinkles” portion of the conversation.