Fandom: Gravity Falls
Length: 1.8k
Tags: Stanford Pines & Stanley Pines Growing Apart Pre-Canon 5+1 Things Codependency

flotsam and driftwood


Voyages in the cove on Glass Shard Beach.


Written for RoseWithoutTheSun (originally RoseWithAllHerThorns).

They go out to sea, and the boat is rickety and small ("It's us-sized!" Stanley said, defending it; "But what about when we're bigger?" Stanford asked), and the waves of Glass Shard Beach aren't as cruel to their craft as the ocean was once, but they don't treat it with kid gloves either. The rocking turns Stanford's stomach after a while, but he doesn't care, high on the glee of the not-so-open waters and the fragile wood beneath him and his brother's voice, raucous and unintelligible, stripped away into the wind.

The first journey is small, a few haphazard circles in the shallows before they dare anything deeper, sheltered from the wilder currents by the cove's shoreline. Seawater slaps the sides of the patched-up dinghy and Stanford nearly overturns the boat, once, reaching out a fascinated hand to skim the surface. They narrowly avoid running it aground in a tidepool on returning, and Stanley steps on an anemone, but they both laugh and they both walk home with brains full of salt and shoreline.


They go out to sea, and Stanford almost gets seasick again, but he manages, and Stanley is still captured by his first crush on the horizon, so it doesn't really matter. They don't know any real sea shanties, so they make up new ones to tunes they know, and when they're far enough from shore that nobody will hear, Stanley throws in swear words and rude jokes about the teachers at school until Stanford has to sit down to keep the boat from tipping and they're both laughing too hard to keep singing.

They spend lazy hours lying on the deck under the summer sky, floating untethered nearer to the shore, in a quieter sort of talk. They're both young enough the future seems like another country entirely, and they're just imagining what they'd pack for the journey. Stanford wants to study; he's always done well in school, even if the other kids bully him. Stanley wants to go wherever Stanford will.

"I'll sail the sea to follow you, if I have to!" he says, splaying his hands wide in the air so they clip the edges of Stanford's vision. His fingers interrupt the clouds in silhouette, and it's easy for Stanford to pay more attention to that than to the idea of what growing up might mean. "I mean, if you go to some college or something far away, I can just be on our boat and stuff. And you won't have to pay for an apartment or anything, because we can just live on the boat. Like a houseboat! I guess maybe it would have to be bigger though?"

"What if it's somewhere that doesn't have a beach?" Stanford asks. The dark shapes above bend and shrug.

"Then I'll find a lake or something." Stanley seems to think that's the end of that, and Stanford decides it might as well be. They're kids; they still have plenty of time to decide.


They go out to sea, and it's colder, September wind whipping through their hair and chilling through their shirts. The waves are callous today, grey as the sky, and the boat tilts a few too many degrees each way for comfort.

"Maybe we should go back," says Stanford, gripping the railing until the chipped paint starts to break off under his nails. "I can't see the shore right now. I think we might have left the cove."

"I can see it," Stanley counters, but Stanford thinks he's just saying that.

Another wave hits the side, and the boat rocks, and for a horrible sickening moment Stanford can see them capsizing, the ropes and books and everything else they have spilling into the water, the world awash in grey and blue and cold, but he and Stanley both jump and shove the other way to balance it and they fall back to the uneasy middle instead, the deck wobbling indecisively beneath them.

They look at each other for a moment.

"Mom'll want us back for dinner soon, anyway," says Stanley, getting up to adjust the rudder.

"Yeah," Stanford agrees.

The sea shakes the dinghy like a toy in a child's hands, careless and unpredictable. Sailors with more years on their shoulders have drowned on days like these, but a dented compass and whatever luck smiles down on them takes them back to shore without more than a few close calls and, in Stanley's case, a face-full of unruly saltwater.


They go out to sea, and Stanley has to man the boat more than his share, this time, because Stanford wanted to do an extra credit project for one of his classes, and he's spent half the hour with his nose buried in a notebook. It's a new and novel thing, being out of sync this way. Stanley isn't sure how he likes it.

"Give it a rest, will you?" Stanley scowls and adjusts the rudder again. "You haven't even looked up the whole trip. You're missing all the good stuff!"

"I just need to finish this paragraph," Stanford retorts, squinting to reread his own cramped pencil handwriting in the fading afternoon sunlight. "And you showed me the two-headed seagull yesterday, remember? It was just a piece of driftwood."

Stanley grumbles for a while, but Stanford wraps up eventually, and takes over for the last fifteen minutes back to shore.

Stanley pokes him in the chest as they climb out. "Next time, you go first."


They go out to sea, and Stanford nearly stays home, burdened by advanced classwork now that their paths have long since diverged in junior high, but Stanley doesn't have to work too hard to convince him to come along. It's the most time they spend with each other some days, now; weekends on the water in something not quite unlike silence, Stanford with pencil and notebook, Stanley with the ropes and the rudder. Sometimes they lie on the deck and watch the sky like they're twelve again, but they're in high school, and the future gets closer every day.

"If I went to college somewhere else," Stanford asks one weekend, "what would you do?"

"I guess I'd move there?" Stanley shrugs. "I mean, do you really wanna go anywhere else? We've got all we need right here."

"All we need?"

Stanley gestures around them. "You know. The boat. The beach. Mom and Dad's place. There's a college here too, isn't there?"

"If you can call it that," says Stanford. Nobody talks about people getting their degrees from Glass Shard Technical College like it's a good thing, and he has a pretty good sense these days of why. "I was thinking more of some place like... West Coast Tech, maybe?"

"West Coast Tech? You're joking. That's-- that's on the other side of the country!" Stanley lets go of the rudder a moment to gesture with both hands. "Hey, you're not serious, right?"

"I mean, my chances of getting in are statistically low, and I'd need a scholarship to cover expenses, but--"

"Are you kidding me?! You'd be a thousand miles away!"

Stanford frowns, looking up from his notebook for the first time during the trip that Stanley could remember. "I'd send letters. And couldn't you take the boat, like you always wanted?"

"That was just a stupid thing from when we were kids, and you know it!" Stanley curls his fists like he wants to punch something, and for a second Stanford isn't sure if he's more likely to aim at the deck, the cabin, or him. "What happened to that, anyway? Seems like most times we're out here, it's me steering the Stan-O-War, and you doing school stuff. We barely even talk anymore!"

"I don't--" Stanford stops short. "I can't stay here forever just because you want me to."

"Why not?"

Stanford blinks at him. "What?"

Stanley glares back. "You heard me. What's so important about college that you couldn't stay here? We could make it just fine here, as long as we stick together."

"And what would I do here?" Stanford points out, not really sure how hypothetical the argument is anymore. "I'm not taking this classwork for nothing, Stanley. I'm going to be a scientist, and study the strange and unknown. That's what I've wanted for years. You can't seriously think I'm just going to give up all of that, just to stay here."

Stanley doesn't answer him, but his jaw is stiff and tense with words unsaid.

"Even if I didn't go to West Coast Tech," Stanford continues, "there's only so much weirdness to study on one beach in New Jersey. My research would probably take me all over the state, if not the country. It would be about your willingness to follow me, not mine to follow you." He doesn't go back to his notebook, watching his brother's face instead, uncertain, waiting for him to make a move.

The pause extends from seconds to half a minute to what might be three or four, if Stanford felt inclined to count. Stanley sighs, defeated. "There you go again, picking apart my dumb ideas with your smarty-pants logic."

"I'm glad to be of service," Stanford tells him, and Stanley laughs. It's off around the edges, half-hearted and unresolved, but roughhousing on the boat has ended in swimming on most occasions, so neither of them push it any farther.

The conflict quelled, they start the work of steering back to the beach, something they haven't done together in almost a year. They don't talk much once they get back, though -- Stanford has a project to start on, and Stanley has homework to complete, and both of them are busy in their own ways soon like they always are these days.

(Stanford hides the flier for the science fair scholarship in a filled-up notebook, and doesn't say anything else about college for the rest of the month.)


They go out to sea, except they don't. He has to remind himself of it -- it's easy to forget, after years pulling someone else's weight, but there's no "they" this time. It's just Stanley and the water and the empty deck, and a rudder that likes to creak more than steer, and a space where someone else should be reading a book and answering his jokes when he cracks them into the briny air.

It's near dark, and the boat comes closer to tipping than it has in years, a dozen times over. He keeps trying to counterbalance for a weight that isn't there when the waves hit.

He found one of Stanford's notebooks with a flier in it, buried in the junk in their room, and every word printed on it fills him with the need to scream and curse and yell at something, anything, so he does. Better now than where anyone else will hear. He throws it all overboard when he's done and out of breath, and watches the paper dissolve and bleed cheap ink into the seawater. Just another thing of his brother's he's destroyed.

Sulking, Stanley sails the circle around the cove and lays down to watch the sky, but it's not the same.

It's not the same at all.