Imagining a transfeminine Dipper Pines. CN transantagonism
The music wasn’t as loud as it could have been. The high-school gymnasium had been redone in streamers, conifer branches, refreshment tables, and dimmed lights, which all took a lot of effort that seemed not to have also gone into the sound system. The other students didn’t seem to hear anything unusual, but then, they grew up here.
“I think Mabel’s karaoke set had better acoustics,” Dipper mused aloud as she sipped some raspberry punch. Her green dress snagged on the clamp holding the nearby tablecloth in place and she quickly recovered it. “Did they make these walls out of wool?”
“I think they might have,” Pacifica answered, looking around the room. “There was a year when the school ran out of money and took some…weird shortcuts with the new buildings.”
“That might be the most Gravity Falls thing that has ever happened.”
“And you haven’t even seen the Prom Pine yet,” Pacifica answered, smirking.
Dipper blinked incredulously. “The what?”
It all felt so new. Pacifica was resplendent in her sparkling dress, the rhinestone accents only drawn out farther by her matching statement necklace. Dipper wanted to sink her eyes into her bare shoulders, the high slit on her right leg, the softness of her hands, to just enjoy this moment for the wonder that it was, but her mind never quieted. She fussed endlessly with the fabric of her much simpler gown. Pacifica looked around for her friends, not noticing Dipper’s withdrawal, and Dipper drifted to a fateful conversation from a few years earlier.
“Are you sure you want to do this, Dipper?” Candy asked, undoing the clasp on her left shoe.
“I…I don’t know. Yes. No. Maybe?” Dipper stammered, struggling to undo her own laces and falling in the process. Candy walked over and sat next to her.
“This…isn’t just a game to you, is it?” Candy asked.
“No…no it isn’t,” Dipper confessed.
“So what is it, then?”
“I need to know something,” Dipper squeezed out, eyes welling a little. “About me.”
“Dipper, I’m your friend. I mean, I’ll probably always be more Mabel’s friend, but you know what I mean.”
“I trusted you enough to ask you to come here, I guess.”
Candy waited expectantly.
“I need to know what it feels like…to see if what I feel like as me is normal.”
Candy smiled, stood, and removed her shoes. “Let’s get feeling, then.”
They both rubbed their feet on the experimental rug, and a moment later, Dipper looked at the hidden room through Candy’s eyes, feeling the most beautiful nothing she had ever felt.
“Does,” Dipper asked, starting at the sound of Candy’s voice, “does it always feel this way, to be you?”
Candy rubbed at Dipper’s skin uneasily with Dipper’s hands and pressed her legs together in discomfort. “Is this what it’s like to be you all the time?”
“Every second, ever since my voice started cracking.”
“I think you know what you have to do.”
Dipper rubbed Candy’s feet on the rug once more, at once ebullient and sad. “Thank you, for this.”
Candy smiled, applying the same static to Dipper’s feet. “If friends won’t trade bodies for a bit to help each other with hard problems, are they even friends?”
Pacifica’s friends waved her down and Pacifica excitedly ran to meet them, pulling Dipper along and jerking her out of her reminiscence.
“Girl, you have outdone yourself!” Jennifer announced, arms akimbo, while Cecilia nodded approvingly.
“And look at you! I told you to try the yellow!” Pacifica continued, admiring Jennifer’s slinky yellow minidress. It was true; Jennifer’s deep brown skin positively glowed against the bright fabric. “And those braids are perfect for it.”
Jennifer pulled her waist-length box braids to one side and handled their beaded ends. “They are, aren’t they?”
“And you!” Pacifica gestured at Cecilia’s wine-red ensemble. “You even found a way to keep the earrings. I’m impressed.”
“It wouldn’t be me without my hoops,” Cecilia smiled, turning her head to show one to advantage. She turned to face Dipper. “But the real star of the night is right here.”
“Seriously, girl,” Jennifer insisted, also looking now at Dipper, “…you did good.”
Dipper blushed. “I don’t know about all that,” she responded, shyly turning away, “I’ll never pull of anything like what you two are wearing.”
“Please!” Cecilia answered, “You look amazing tonight. No one gets to take that away from you, not even you.”
Dipper smiled. “You two look pretty great yourselves.”
“I’m going to figure out where Darnell ran off to,” Jennifer answered, beginning to step away already. Cecilia moved to follow. “You girls have fun!”
“Oh, we will!” Pacifica answered as they left. She turned to Dipper. “Are you okay?”
“Do you remember the day we met?” Dipper asked, motioning to some chairs near the back wall. The pair sat down, Pacifica facing her date.
“The karaoke party? Pioneer Day? Mini-golf?”
“No, not those…the day we met.”
“Oh, you mean…”
“What about it?”
“I was in the pharmacy, trying to figure out the makeup aisle, and you bumped into me, and I dropped what I was holding, and I was so freaked out I almost ran out of the store right then.”
“I remember,” Pacifica answered, smiling warmly.
“That’s kind of what today feels like. All the sound and light and nerves and I just—” Dipper stopped when Pacifica put her hand on her shoulder.
“Do you remember what happened after that?”
“You knelt down in front of me, and helped me pick up the mess, and offered to help me…with me.”
“And I’m never going to stop, because I’m here for you.” Pacifica took Dipper’s hand. “Plus you got me this lovely corsage.”
“Heh, I did do that, didn’t I?”
“It’s local flowers, right?”
“I found them in the woods and brought them to the florist. It felt right, like…I could make myself at home here, with you, if I understood this place enough to do that.” Dipper paused, turning away and rubbing her arm. “I don’t know if I’ll ever feel like I belong here.”
“Don’t say that,” Pacifica reassured. “If there’s anywhere you’ve ever belonged, it’s Gravity Falls.”
“You’re probably right. I’m just overthinking this.”
“You really are.” Pacifica smiled, “and if that ever stops being adorable, I’ll let you know.”
Dipper put her head on Pacifica’s shoulder for a while and watched the dance floor fill. Pacifica put her arm around her. Dipper pulled in close and enjoyed the warmth.
Dipper wasn’t sure how long the two of them stayed like that before Pacifica piped up, “So…feel like dancing?”
Dipper stumbled over her words until some familiar chords replaced the end of the previous song. “Yeah, I think I do.” She rose and took Pacifica’s hand, leading her to the floor.
“You know,” Dipper began as the pair danced, “the last time I heard this song, Mabel, Stan, and I used it to deal with a zombie invasion.”
“Is that how you three got rid of the zombies?” Pacifica asked, eyebrow raised. Dipper gave her a twirl and bit her lip at the sight.
“Yep. Turns out they can’t handle three-person karaoke.”
Pacifica shook her head. “This town is so weird,” She took Dipper’s hands, twirled her, and pulled them behind Dipper’s head. As the bridge to Ampersandra’s “Taking Over Midnight” thrummed across the room, Pacifica pulled Dipper close, hands still restrained, and whisper-sang in her ear: “Oooh-ooooh, girls do what we like…”
Dipper countered, “Oooh-ooooh, we’re taking over midnight.”
They kissed, long and heartfelt, four hands falling into an easy embrace. Just ahead, Dipper saw Candy and Grenda each giving her a thumbs-up before returning their attention to their dates, and smiled. Dipper made sure to end the song with a dip, to Pacifica’s delight.
“Is that why they call you Dipper?” she inquired playfully.
“It’s actually because of—”
“I know, silly,” she answered as she took her partner’s hand. The pair approached the refreshments table, but Dipper stopped short.
“I think I’ll use the bathroom now. Get me a Pitt?”
“Sure,” Pacifica answered. “Do you need me to go with you?”
“No,” Dipper answered, looking faraway, “I think I’ve got it this time.”
At the bathroom mirror, Dipper looked long and hard at herself. She’d made a point to avoid Mabel’s trademark long curls, but the resemblance was uncanny all the same. They weren’t identical twins, but they were always close enough to make people wonder, especially once Dipper tried on her first dress. If it weren’t for Dipper trying out a bob around the same age that Mabel got into pixie cuts, only the Pines flushed nose Mabel didn’t share would have told them apart.
Well, that and Mabel’s two-year head start on puberty.
Dipper was still one of the lucky ones, she told herself, but she nevertheless put her hands on her shoulders and looked at the reflection of her hips in the mirror, and squirmed sadly.
I’m not done yet, she reminded herself. She chuckled. This is what it means to be a girl, isn’t it? To never feel like enough.
Her thoughts moved to the conversation that changed her life forever.
Babba’s Disco Girl played on the old tape deck in the Multi-Bear’s cave. The Multi-Bear lay on his back, where he had fallen after Dipper’s attack.
“The Manotaurs told you that you had to bring them my head to become a man?” the Multi-Bear asked, his deep voice issuing only from the topmost of his many heads.
“That’s what they told me,” Dipper answered, clad only in dirt, war paint, and a loincloth.
The Multi-Bear laughed. “How like them, to promise you something they can’t give you, in exchange for getting rid of a challenging idea.”
“Something they can’t give me…”
“Manhood isn’t something you earn, or prove, or win.” The Multi-Bear rolled over and sat on his haunches. “The Manotaurs act like only certain kinds of people get to be men, and they’re totally wrong about what kinds.”
“I’m not sure what you mean.” Dipper sat opposite the composite monstrosity, pensive.
“Being a man is something you find in your own heart.” The Multi-Bear gestured at his chest, around the ring of bear heads that surrounded his shoulders. “That’s all it takes. You’ll find it if that’s who you need to be.”
“I don’t…” Dipper drifted into silence, “Disco Girl” playing itself to static at the end of the tape. “I don’t think it’s in me.”
“Then maybe you need to be something else.” The Multi-Bear tapped the tape player, and a different Babba song began. Dipper recognized the name. “A New Life.”
“Your new life is out there, child, and the person who is going to live it,” the Multi-Bear announced, putting a paw gently on Dipper’s chest, “is right here waiting for you.”
Dipper collected the spear that the Manotaurs had meant for the Multi-Bear and made for the cave entrance. “Thank you, Multi-Bear.”
“You are most welcome. I do what I can to keep the Manotaurs on their toes, after all.”
“They have hooves.” Dipper observed. “They’re always on their toes.”
The Multi-Bear raised an eyebrow and smiled. “Right.”
Dipper’s reminiscing ended abruptly when someone slid onto the bathroom counter and leaned back, turning to face her.
“Looks like they let just anyone into the women’s washroom these days,” the young woman sniped, absently inspecting her pointed fingernails.
“Seems like,” Dipper answered resignedly while moving for a stall. The girl interposed herself.
“You’d better get moving, before someone hears that a BOY was in here,” she threatened, raising her voice at the word she knew would sting most.
“You don’t want to do that,” Dipper informed her, right hand twisted into a strange gesture at her side.
“Oh really, Dipper Pines?” The girl continued, arms akimbo. “I shouldn’t tell people that a BOY is in the WOMEN’S WASHROOM right now, Dipper Pines? Is that what you’re telling me?”
“I meant keeping your feet on the floor in here. They use something weird to clean the floors, and when you’re as slimy as you…non relinquam vos muscum.”
As Dipper intoned the ancient phrase, the floor itself crept over her attacker’s feet, forming a mound at her ankles. She struggled, trapped in place.
“What is this, you freak!?” she shouted. “What did you do!?”
“Try being less slimy,” Dipper answered as she entered the stall. “That might help.”
“What does that even mean, you freak!?”
“Can’t talk. Pooping.”
Dipper gave the girl two finger-guns and a wink as she exited the bathroom, ignoring her ongoing, ineffectual rage, and joined Pacifica at the refreshment table. Candy, Mabel, and Grenda were there, chatting excitedly over cups of grape soda. Pacifica handed Dipper a can of Pitt and sipped from her cup of Fruitopia.
“Thanks,” Dipper answered, a bit more shaken than her display in the bathroom let on.
“Did you ever imagine this is what high school would look like?” Grenda asked. Her purple dress seemed tailored to show off her impressive musculature, and she wore a brooch commemorating her recent win for the school wrestling team.
“Honestly, this is pretty much what I pictured,” Candy answered. Her hair was done up in an impressive pompadour accentuated by her trademark glasses, and she wore a two-piece dress in white and lavender. The gap between the two pieces revealed part of a long hangul script tattoo running up the curve of her right side.
“Seriously, Candy?” Mabel asked, hands on her hips, resplendent in white gloves and a pink tulle dress with shooting-star motifs.
“A few years ago, I was playing with a laser gun and a jetpack. You two moving back to Gravity Falls and Dipper looking so good in that dress I can’t see straight is normal next to that.”
Dipper blushed. Pacifica clutched Dipper’s arm and gave Candy a sly wink. Dipper overheard Wendy muttering into her chaperone walkie-talkie and then shouting “Dipper what did you do!?” upon opening the bathroom door, and snickered. When she looked back at Candy, Candy blushed in turn.
“So, Dipper, what did you do?” Mabel asked, pointing her head at the bathroom when Dipper didn’t understand.
“Nadine tried to stop me from using the bathroom. She’ll be using it for a while now!” Dipper laughed. The others looked worried. “Relax, I picked one that turns itself off in about an hour.”
“I don’t understand why they don’t leave you alone,” Mabel continued, brow furrowed.
“I do,” Grenda answered, putting a powerful hand on Dipper’s shoulder. “I’m here for you, girl, if you need someone suplexed.”
“I will definitely keep that in mind,” Dipper answered. “I think it’s time for a toast.”
“Oh?” Pacifica asked.
Dipper raised her Pitt. “To old friends, new lives, makeovers, little black dresses, and this weird place called Gravity Falls.”
“Hear, hear!” The group announced, clinking their vessels.
“Oooh, it’s almost time for the Prom Pine!” Candy shouted excitedly.
“I still don’t know what that is,” Dipper admitted.
“Shhhh, it’s starting!”
Without any announcement, a tree tall enough to graze the ceiling was pushed through a not-quite-big-enough loading door. Once on its wheeled base, the porters pushed it to the center of the room.
“That is clearly a Douglas fir,” Dipper observed with a hint of annoyance. Mabel snickered. School officials rushed around the room, handing a small plastic graduation cap to each student. The caps were too small to wear, and had loops of string opposite the tassels. Inside each was a scrap of paper and a tiny pencil. Ahead of them, Wendy stood, clad in what could only be described as her formal flannel. She received a microphone and began speaking.
“As long as there has been a Gravity Falls, there has been a Prom Pine.”
“That is clearly a Douglas fir,” Dipper repeated, and Pacifica put her arm around her, smiling warmly.
“Just as this tree grew into a massive timber, so too will you grow into strength, endurance, and towering pride. Today, you celebrate the end of one chapter, and soon the next begins. But like the Prom Pine, this place remains here, for next year’s students. So hang your hats on her mighty branches, and leave a note for the people who come after you. You’ve earned it, graduating class of Gravity Falls!”
The rush started as soon as the applause, with students fighting for the choicest branches. Grenda and Candy likewise plowed and dove into the crowd, respectively, while Dipper seemed stuck on one point.
“But once they cut it down, it doesn’t grow anymore,” she mused aloud.
“It’s better to not think about that in a small town,” Pacifica answered, directing Dipper to a table where they could write their recollections away from the uproar.
Pacifica’s note, florid with heart-shaped dots on her i’s, read, Hey, next year’s fashionista. You have a lot to live up to, after Pacifica Northwest made her mark on this place. Here’s some advice: leggings are always in style, and you should contrast your necklace with your neckline for best results. And a little more…when your rival has a sister you’ve never really thought about, think about her. She’ll teach you a few things about who you want to be and how good you could really have it. Love, None Other Than Pacifica Northwest Herself
Dipper, in turn, left the future this message: Hello. I don’t know who you are, what you’re like, or whether you even like Gravity Falls all that much, but…give this place a chance. It’ll blow you away with generosity, beauty, kindness, paranormal peril fantastic diner food, and so much nature that you’ll forget you’re in a town at all. And who knows…you just might meet someone who makes you want to stay. Dipper Pines
Dipper offered to show Pacifica her message, but Pacifica put a hand up to refuse. “They’re not for us.” As the crowd around the Prom Pine thinned, Dipper and Pacifica approached its imposing size. All of the lower branches were full, so Dipper gave Pacifica a boost, and she hung both caps on a higher twig, messages furled into the hanging loops. As they descended, the DJ dimmed the lights and put on one last slow song.
Dipper put out her hand, and Pacifica took it. They stepped and swayed in each other’s arms, Pacifica pulling in close and putting her head on Dipper’s shoulder.
“Thank you, for this,” Dipper spoke quietly.
“For what?” Pacifica asked, keeping her eyes closed on Dipper’s shoulder.
“For…all of this. For you.”
Pacifica lifted off Dipper’s shoulder and looked her in the eyes. “I assure you, my motives are entirely selfish,” she responded with a smirk.
“It occurred to me…next year…neither of us might still be in Gravity Falls.”
“We can figure the future out later,” Pacifica answered, pushing Dipper’s hair away from her ear. Moving in for a kiss, she whispered, “For now…never mind all that.”