Pacifica thought that as soon as Dipper woke up they could talk about what happened and put an end to the awkwardness she felt. Oh but she was very wrong! The awkwardness had only just begun.
Dipper and Pacifica sat at opposite ends of the cave, avoiding eye contact with one another. The silence was the most frustrating thing for both of them. They knew they should talk about what just happened, they knew the longer they put it off the harder it would be, but both were acting too shy and embarrassed to take that first step. Dried clothes probably would have been a big help if it wasn't for the fact that they were damp at best at the moment.
"I'm sorry..." Dipper chimed in quietly.
"For what?" Pacifica's volume was nearly as quiet as Dipper's. "You saved my life, Dipper. You did what you had to so I could survive right?"
Dipper stared at the floor. "Yeah... but... I could understand if you were upset because I had to... you know..."
Pacifica mimicked Dipper's actions. "Yeah... not a fan of that... but..."
"OH FOR PITY'S SAKE!!! Your both completely hopeless, honestly! You two are the most boring naked people ever! At LEAST have a conversation that lasts more than a couple of sentences!!"
Leaning against the wall of the cave was Jack Frost giving both of them the stink eye.
"Seriously, it's pathetic. You think a man and a woman being naked in a cave together would be more interesting!"
Pacifica immediately covered herself. "How long have you been there?!"
"I think I came in somewhere around 'Screw womanly pride'. Not surprised you didn't notice me, you were too busy getting 'warm'."
Pacifica blushed as she glared furiously at Jack, she curled up her body so he wouldn't see any more of her. She wasn't even okay with Dipper seeing her naked body and Jack Frost was so far away from Dipper in that regard it wasn't even funny. Something was off about him though, she had to calm herself down so she could inspect him rationally. After taking a moment, it was obvious what was wrong. His hair was brown now.
"Hey! Your hair changed color. Are you turning human or something?" she asked.
"No I'm not turning human!!" Jack snapped. "That's stupid!! I'm dying, you jerk!!"
"Wait! What do you mean?" Pacifica was actually taken back by Jack's new attitude. He sounded less like the whimsical free spirited dick she had come to know more like a grumpy old man.
"I'm a Sylph! My very being is constitute of my icy powers, and since I'm losing more of those..." He hung his head sadly. "I'm losing my life."
In all the years Dipper had known Jack Frost, he had never seen him like this. Scared, depressed, sincere, honest,... weak.
"Jack... I've never seen you act this way. Are you okay?"
"NO, I'M NOT OKAY!!!" Jack screamed at him like a mad man on his last leg. The panic and desperation in his eye was like a window in to his very soul. "I JUST SAID I WAS DYING!!! PAY ATTENTION SHERLOCK!!!"
Jack panted out of breath at his outburst. He took a moment to calm down but when he did he looked like he was starting to fall in to a depression of some type. "I don't mean to yell, but I'm running out of time now. Because let me tell you," he pointed at his hair. "This? See this? This isn't healthy."
"Alright then Jack, what do you say you fly down to the RV and get us some fresh clothes?"
Jack suddenly seemed a little nervous. "Uuuuuuuuuum... No."
"What do you mean 'No'?!"
"Yeah... sorry but that's not going to work for a number of reasons. First, I kind of can't fly anymore, hence the whole ice bobsled thing. Second, your RV is sort of filled up with snow since I left the door open so there's probably no dry clothes there either."
"WHAT?!" Dipper and Pacifica yelled in unison.
Jack sunk his head in between his shoulders and laughed uneasily. A little bit of his original whimsy shined through giving him the comparison to that of a guilty child.
"Jack!!! We live there!!!" Dipper hollered.
"Uh well look on the bright side! You have clothes here, you just have to let them dry! Which should be pretty quick given the fire and everything."
"The sooner the better." Pacifica pipped in. "Then maybe I can look Dipper in the eyes."
Jack Frost scrunched his face in confusion. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"I get that Dipper saved my life, and I'm grateful but he's so smart surely he could have figured out another way t..."
"OH NO!" Jack angrily cut in. "Do NOT tell me you're going there right now!! You listen to me, you young whipper snapper!!"
"Whipper snapper? What?!"
"This man saved your life!!" Jack said dramatically as he pointed at Dipper. "A lesser man would have just buried you in the snow and focused on how he could still survive! Not Dipper!! He became downright obsessed with keeping you alive, even if it meant he was probably going to die too!! And even after we got you in to the cave, this cave that I found by the way, you still almost died TWICE!!!"
Pacifica stared at Dipper with shock. "Dipper? Is that true? Did I nearly die more than once when you got me in here?"
Dipper rubbed the back of his neck uneasily. "Yes. It was pretty touch and go for a moment but Jack is telling the truth. We almost lost you for good a couple times."
"Yeah," snapped Jack. "But he wouldn't let you go without a fight!! He fought like a madman to keep you alive!! So I'm 'sorry' if rubbing your naked body all over was a 'great offense' to you or whatever, but it was either THAT or death. He made a choice, knowing full well how you would feel afterwards! He refused to leave you to Death's icy grip!! So say 'Thank You'!"
"Jack, she doesn't have to..."
"Yes she does!! I don't care who she is, when somebody saves your life you say 'Thank You'!"
Dipper grabbed Jack by the scuff of his shirt. "Now you listen to me! I've had just about enough of you treating..."
"No!" Pacifica cut in. "He's right! If not for you I'd literally be dead right now, it's not right to treat you like you did something immoral. Dipper, thank you for saving my life."
The blush on Dipper's face showed exactly how much her gratitude meant to him. Jack cleared his throat and Dipper let him go out of what was most likely a reflex.
"Well Pacifica I..."
"HEY!!!" shouted Jack. "Sorry to cut off whatever fluff was meant here, but if you don't solve this case soon I'm going to lose my clothes next."
"Y-Your clothes??" Pacifica winced.
"Yeah Blondie, these threads were made by me with magic. I'm pretty sure this is going to be what goes next; I lose my ability for that and the clothes are going to go with it. So if you two don't hurry and stop whoever from stealing my powers then you might find yourselves with a third member to your nudists club!!"
Both Dipper and Pacifica blushed furiously.
"I'm going to go check on our clothes!!" Dipper said quickly.
As he ran off towards the back of the cave, Jack moved himself next to Pacifica who was staring at Dipper's retreating form.
"So? What's the problem?" Jack queried.
"Problem? What problem? We just 'solved' the problem!"
"No. You made peace. There's a difference. Ya dumb kid!"
Pacifica cleared her throat and straightened her standing. "I... don't know what you're talking about."
"Oh please! I may be a dick but I'm not an idiot! The awkward tension in this air is so thick you could cut it with a knife! So why don't you tell ol' Jacky what's wrong?"
"Dipper... He saved my life, but to do so... a line has been crossed today. I know he did it to keep me alive and I'm grateful, I am, but.. now that this line has been crossed there's literally no going back. Not only that, we almost bought the farm out there, thinking it was our last hours. Some things... came to the surface, we both felt them and it's putting a strain on our dynamic. I can feel it. And honestly? I'm not sure we can overcome it."
"Hmm... I see. Oh wait!! I got it! I know how to end it! You should kiss him!!"
Pacifica managed to deal with the tomato red blush she was feeling by quickly slapping her hand over Jack's mouth.
"You know, I was JUST starting to respect you!! And right when I was beginning to think you had some redeeming qualities you had to say something like that!!"
"What?! The romantic tension would just die if you two would just get it over with! You can't say you wouldn't enjoy it neither! Not only did you go back to him for a 'second snuggle' but you've been staring at his naked butt ever since he went to check on the clothes! You two aren't fooling anyone!"
Pacifica turned on him furiously and kicked him in the crotch.
"OWWW!!! MY SNOWBALLS!!!"
She fumed staring down at his curled up body.
"Oh! So pain is a thing with you now, huh?! I'll be sure to remember that!!"
"Pacifica!!" Dipper called. "I'm going to need you to stop bullying Jack for a second! I need both of you over here to see what I've found!"
Pacifica started to walk towards the other side of the cave but when Jack didn't follow she realized she would have to drag him over there. She rolled her eyes and grabbed him by the ankles.
"Geez!" she grunted. "You are heavier than you look! Leave it to Jack Frost to still be a dick even when he's not moving!"
"You shut up!" Jack snapped back in a high pitched voice. "All pain is new to me and you have NO idea what I'm going through right now! So how about some respect for your damn elders!!"
It was a chore, especially since Jack refused to move from the fetus position, but she got him over to Dipper.
He turned to them with a smile. "Okay first, and most importantly, our clothes are dry."
Pacifica didn't think such a simple gesture as the return of her clothes could have ever had the impact it was having on her now. To her it was like finding an oasis in a desert. She took her clothes from Dipper and hugged them dearly. She was surprised Dipper had his trench coat and fedora with him, she had to wonder if he had them under his winter clothes this whole time or if he stored them away in another secret pocket.
They wasted no time putting their clothes back on, they dressed with their backs to one another of course, even though they heard Jack mumble something about it being 'too late for modesty'.
"So you had your hat and trench coat with you, I can believe that, but is all your gadgets and stuff with you too?"
"You mean my equipment? Of course! I'd feel naked without them."
With her shirt on she looked over her shoulder to give him an incredulous look. "Did you just make a nude pun?"
Dipper was halfway dressed but stopped at the realization of her accusation. "Um. Not on purpose. Sorry."
They finished dressing without a further thought, Jack even got to his feet and waited patiently for Dipper to continue.
"Okay, second of all, now that we're all dressed, I'd like to address everyone's attention to this wall!"
Dipper gestured to the wall behind him like it was the best thing ever. Jack and Pacifica exchanged a confused look before giving the wall a harder look. The wall did seem to be a different color from the rest of the cave but outside of that nothing really stood out.
"Th-The wall?" Pacifica stared at Dipper like he was a mad man.
"Don't you see? It's made of permafrost! Finding permafrost inside of a cave at this altitude? There's no way this isn't our first clue!" He turned to Jack wearing a confident smirk. "So Jack, you haven't been telling us the whole truth have you?"
"What do you mean, Dipper?"
"Think about it Pacifica. Permafrost? In a mountain cave? This high up? There's only one person who could have put it there and he's standing in this room. So Jack, who's doing this?"
Dipper's confidence in his clue started to waver as he saw the look of confusion on the slyph's face. The man felt completely lost. "Dipper, I don't..."
Whatever Jack was about to say died as something from deep inside his memory came to the surface. "... Oh yeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaahhhhhhh."
Dipper let out a breath he hadn't known he was holding. For a minute it looked like he was going to be wrong and back to square one.
Pacifica face palmed. "I can't believe this guy!"
"Jaaaaaack!" Dipper's condescending tone earned himself a small smile on Pacifica's face. "Exactly what did you do?!"
"Well it's actually a little embarrassing, what I did. What's more embarrassing is forgetting about it but I can't help it. You gotta cut me little slack here, I've been around for a long time! Even I can't be expected to remember everything I've ever done!"
The dirty glare they sent him told him they weren't happy with his answer. He threw up his hands peacefully in an attempt to quell their anger.
"What's important here is that we're closer to solving this case than we thought. At least now we know we got only one culprit and it's behind this sphere of permafrost!"
Pacifica looked between the wall and Jack. "Wait, 'sphere'? It's a wall isn't it?"
"Doesn't matter! Our guy is trapped behind it."
"Jack!!" Dipper snapped before taking a breath and relaxing. "Jack, help us help you. You're still not telling us everything! You're being too vague! What happened?"
"Well I could go in to detail about over arcing embarrassing act I committed one hundred fifty years ago..."
"A hundred and fifty years ago?! Seriously?!"
Jack waited a moment for Pacifica to politely close Dipper's hanging jaw.
"Or," Jack continued. "I could use what powers I still have left to make an opening for you two to go and arrest that asshole! Tick tock, kiddies!"
Pacifica looked to Dipper. "What's the compass say?"
Dipper took it out and found that the compass' little arrow was pointing at Jack while the big one was point at the wall of permafrost.
"It says Jack is telling the truth."
"Well I guess that settles it then. Get your umbrella Blondie, you're going under ground!" Jack cheered.
"Now hold on a second, Jack!! There's still some crucial information you're denying us!! Would you just..."
"Sorry Dippy, no time!!" Jack tapped his foot on the ground twice and threw his arms out forward. A hole appeared in the permafrost wall but it wasn't a permanent fix as it was already starting to shrink. "Okay, time's a wastin'!" He got himself behind the two of them and started to push them towards the hole.
"Jack!!" Pacifica protested. "You can't just push us through a hole and expect us to deal with it!!"
"Sure I can! That's your job!"
With a final shove, Dipper and Pacifica fell through the hole screaming.
"Hmmm...guess there's a drop."
Out of curiosity, Jack poked his head through the hole and saw they were still falling.
"Awww. They're holding each other out of fear! Falling together! Cute!"
As the two continued to fall, screaming for their lives, Jack frowned.
"This IS a lot of falling. If I want them to survive this, I should probably help them out."
Jack rolled up his sleeves, stuck both arms down the hole, and blue rays of light shot out from his hands. The rays intersected, combining in to one larger ray which shot pass Dipper and Pacifica.
Dipper closed his eyes, this was going to hurt but there was a way he could make sure Pacifica survives. Turning in midair, Dipper places himself under Pacifica with his back towards the speeding ground. He was going to take the blunt of the fall, he'd die but Pacifica would survive... Hopefully.
Pacifica's eyes widened as she realized what Dipper was trying to do. "Dipper NO!!! You can't do this!!"
"I nearly lost you once!! I'm not going to lose you now!!!"
He held her close and closed his eyes, bracing himself for impact.
Cold. Dipper was cold. Not the sensation he was expecting. He wasn't even hurt; which didn't make any sense. He decided to give the ground underneath him an experimental touch. *CRUNCH!*
He opened his eyes only to see Pacifica's staring back at him. Given how they had fallen, she was laying on top of him. It took a moment longer than either one of them would like to admit for them to separate. Sitting separate from each other now, Dipper saw that they were saved by a giant mound of fresh snow.
"So, at least Jack conjured up some fresh snow to act as our cushion."
"How much snow is even here?"
"Enough. Looks like we can at least get down without hurting ourselves."
"I can't believe that worked."
"Worked in Frozen."
"Wait!" Pacifica, now having a moment to breath and let the gravity of the pass few seconds settle in, was starting to realize a very important fact. "Did he KNOW how far we were going to fall?!"
Dipper braced himself, he knew no matter what answer he gave her that she was going to get upset. "Probably not."
"STUPID JACK!!! NEXT TIME I SEE HIM, I'M GOING TO TASER HIM IN THE NUTS!!!"
"Pacifica, he probably just saved our lives!"
"AFTER PUTTING THEM IN DANGER IN THE FIRST PLACE?!"
Dipper shrugged. "Fair point."
The light from Jack's hole shined down on them, illuminating their snow drift and the cave around them. However, with the hole shrinking they knew they were going to have to act swiftly if they wanted to get down safely. He moved himself towards the descent of the mound and slid himself down. Landing on his feet, he held out his arms out in a cradle position as he called up to Pacifica. "Come on, I'll catch you!"
"I can get down by myself!"
As she slid herself down, Dipper found himself frowning with disappointment. 'I guess she's still mad at me after all. Man, how can I fix this?'
Pacifica stood up and picked up Dipper's hat off the ground. "We're pretty lucky this didn't fly off too far." She offered it back to him as Dipper searched his pockets for a flashlight. He dusted it off his fedora before putting it on his head.
"Thanks Swee- I mean, thanks Pacifica."
In his left inside pocket he finally found the fool thing and gave it a couple of test flicks. Luckily it looked like he remembered to put in new batteries before they left. Shining his flashlight around the area they were in it appeared to be large cave of some sort, surprisingly open save for a few stalagmites on the ground. Something still felt off though so he shined his flashlight toward the wall and up the ceiling, he even spotted the hole Jack pushed them out of. Speaking of Jack, he didn't lie, the walls and ceiling were covered with permafrost quite completely. There was even permafrost connecting the wall to the ceiling in a curvaceous shape slightly suggesting a sphere shape in total. However, it was the rest of the cave that interested Dipper. There was a rock tunnel which looked like it lead someplace downwards but outside of that there wasn't anything else; which bothered him. As he knelt down to investigate some carvings in the floor, he completely missed the look of disappointment Pacifica was giving him.
'He didn't call me 'Sweetheart'. I can't believe how much this bothers me! When Mabel said this role was going to get emotionally taxing this was not what I thought she had in mind!' She sighed mentally. 'This is going to get worse before it gets any better, isn't it?'
"Yep. Just as I thought. This place has been carved out." Dipper announced.
"What do you mean 'carved out'?"
"This cave, or at least this part of it, isn't natural, it's man made. Somebody wanted out bad! And they had a hundred and fifty years to try and dig through solid rock to do it. They were desperate to get out of here."
"So why didn't they just dig through the permafrost?"
"Hm... Let's find out!"
Dipper walked over to the wall and took out a pen, he tried to scrape off a piece with it but couldn't even scratch it. He inspected the pen and found frost starting to grow on the pen. He immediately dropped it.
"Glad I didn't use my dagger."
"So where's our miner now?"
"Well," Dipper shined his flashlight on the tunnel. "The way I see it, there's only one way our perp could come or leave."
"Let's go then."
Dipper tensed up as Pacifica spear headed their trek to the tunnel. His grip on his flashlight tightened as he ran past her to the mouth of the tunnel. "Um... I should probably lead the way! I got the flashlight after all."
Pacifica gave him an unamused look before snatching the flashlight out of his hand and heading inside. Dipper face palmed before following after her.
'I just can't win with her today!! I know she says she forgives me but I can feel she's still mad at me! And everything I do just makes this awkward tension worse!!' Dipper sighed as he followed Pacifica. He had to duck in head when there was a low in the ceiling. 'Who are you kidding, Dipper? As bad as that is, you know what the real problem is, you're scared!! Scared of losing her forever! You nearly lost it back in the blizzard and you know why; it's time to face the truth!' Dipper stopped following her for a second and tightened his fist as he came to terms with the problem. 'Pacifica Northwest has become important to me!'
Meanwhile, Pacifica Northwest was facing some inner demons of her own.
'Two steps forward, three steps back. That's the way it seems to be working lately. Just when I finally feel like I'm starting to carry my own weight on this team, all this stupid crap happens! Something tries to kill Dipper and what do I do? I freeze!! I thought I got over my fear!! Then I chase after our attacker in to a blizzard LIKE AN IDIOT and nearly kill both me and Dipper! All because I wanted to make up for freezing on him! I'm not getting better at this, I'm getting worse!'
The little tunnel they were in was starting to widen a bit. She shined the flashlight around but there wasn't anything worth noting. 'Face it girl, you just weren't thinking! Keep making mistakes like that and both Dipper and yourself are going to end up dead! You gotta up your game or else Dipper's going to end carrying you your entire career! You gotta prove to him and yourself you belong on this team!!'
The roof in the tunnel was starting to get lower, but it never got to be a problem as the tunnel opened out in to an open area. Unlike the cave on the other end, where they were now seemed to be all natural. There was stalagmites and stalactites everywhere you looked along with other rock formations. It didn't take long for Dipper to catch up with her, he took off his hat as he took in his surroundings.
"Well this is definitely different from where we came in. Everything looks natural here."
Dipper started to chew on his pen in thought. He was supposed to be thinking about the case but his thoughts were clouded with how he could patch things up with Pacifica. It bothered him to no end.
"You know you're chewing your pen right?"
"It's a bad habit of mine. I do it when I'm stuck with a problem, if I get to the point where I don't get enough sleep I start chewing on my shirt."
'And now she thinks I'm gross! Terrific!! Wait...what was that?!"
"Pacifica, I think somebody's coming! Hide!! Quick!! And turn off the flashlight!"
Ducking quickly behind a rock formation, they turned off their flashlight and waited quietly. The rock formation was no bigger than a couch, long and square but tall enough for both Dipper and Pacifica to hide behind comfortably.
If the sound of hooves hitting the stone floor wasn't peculiar enough, a strange yellow light seemed to accompany it.
"Where are going now?!" called a voice.
"I thought I heard something!" answered another voice.
There was something off about the voice though, it had a certain flavor to it. Perhaps Dipper hit his head on the landing but he could've sworn it was a Brooklyn accent. (A/N: Okay, now I have tried to type accents in the past as people have heard them and you know what? It has yet to not bite me in the butt!! So all of you readers are just going to have to pretend the Brooklyn flair is there. Okay?)
The source of light finally stopped in front of their cover. Feeling brave, both Dipper and Pacifica peeked over their rock to get a good look. A rainbow Mohawk was the first thing that stood out to them, but this was soon followed by four hoofed legs and a horn.
"A unicorn?" Pacifica whispered. "A unicorn is behind all this?!"
Dipper placed his finger against her lips in a shushing way and gave her a shrug for an answer.
"Well there's nothing here." said the second voice.
The fact that the second voice sounded so close but still wasn't visible at all bothered Dipper. Were they dealing with some type of invisible foe?
"Hm... I suppose. I guess I just wanted to get away from your chatter for a little bit."
"What's that supposed to mean?!"
"It means there's only so much 'Hey! Look! Listen!' I can take in one day!"
Pacifica failed to hold back a snicker which didn't go unnoticed. Dipper sent her a quick glare which she flinched under.
"Did you hear that? Quick! Activate your black light mode!"
The yellow light clicked off and a black light covered the area. With the shadows gone their hiding place was compromised, so Dipper started to sneak away before they were spotted. To his surprise, Pacifica was still crouched down behind the rock. He tried to wordlessly get her attention but it was all in vain as she was trying to peek over the rock more for a better look.
'Wow! Trying to get someone's attention silently is really frustrating! I wonder if anybody else has had this problem...'
He played with the idea of tossing something at her to get her attention but he knew that would just expose them both.
"Aha!" the second voice chimed triumphantly. "I found you!!"
Standing on top of the rock, shining pink, was a pixie. She had a couple of miniature daggers strapped to each side of her waist, her dress looked like it was made from a dishrag with it's single shoulder strap. Her pink glow was only obvious now because of the black light, most likely it was swallowed up by the unicorn's regular light from before.
"Looks like we got ourselves a little intruder, Bart!" she declared.
"Ohh..." The unicorn propped himself up over the rock formation with his front hooves on top to look over and down on Pacifica. "Is that so? Well lil' lady it looks like you just got yourself in a whole mess load of trouble. The boss is going to want to know about this!"
The pixie, now known as Ruth, was about to reply when her whole world became shrouded in darkness. "Hey!! What the... What's going on here?!"
With Dipper's hat covering the pixie in it's entirety Dipper shouted to the still recovering Pacifica "RUUUUUNNN!!!"
She quickly scrambled to Dipper's direction but the unicorn known as Bart quickly jumped in front of her. "You aint going anywhere, ya Mook!!"
Pacifica aimed her umbrella and fired off the taser tip hitting the unicorn right in the head, underneath the horn. The effect of the electricity was almost instant; the unicorn was down writhing on the ground as his horn turned every color imaginable. This included the colors green, orange, pink, blue, red, lavender, yellow, white, and flannel.
As soon as he finally stopped she ran to Dipper and they ran off in to the darkness together. Turning on the flashlight, Pacifica took point unaware they were holding hands as they ran.
"Where are we going?!"
"To get some distance between us, then we got to hide!!"
A small knife poked itself through Dipper's hat and started to cut out a circle. Ruth kicked the hole out and looked around furiously for their human intruders. A painful moan caught her attention, she flew up to survey the area and find the source. She spotted Bart laying on the ground unmoving with his tongue out.
"Bart!!" She flew down to him and started to lift his head off the ground by his hair. "You're okay! Up and at'em! Rub some dirt in it, you're fine! Walk it off!"
Ruth had Bart's head upright now but only thanks to her pulling. Just when it was starting to look like some sense was starting to return to the unicorn, his head started to fall in the other direction landing right on top of Ruth.
"OOF!!!" Ruth struggled to pull herself out from under Bart's head. "Well that backfired! I was hoping it wouldn't have to come to this but I guess I have no choice!"
She managed to prop Bart's head up against the stone Pacifica had been hiding behind, taking careful aim so that his horn aligns with the ceiling.
"Okay." She breathed calmly.
She kicked Bart's horn and it glowed with the color blue. "Some unicorn light mixed with pixie dust magic..." She pulled out her daggers, glimmering with pixie dust, and struck Bart's horn with them in a pincer move. A blue and pink beam shot out of his horn and hit the roof. Upon impact it created blue and pink ripples of light spreading across the roof, but it was the sound that had come with which echoed through the cave. A ringing chime could be heard coming from every direction. "And we've sounded the alarm!"
Turns out the cave wasn't quite as open as Dipper thought when he first laid eyes upon it. Now there was rock formations for every five steps they took, some were even much larger than Dipper and Pacifica themselves. If Dipper didn't know any better he'd say they were starting to close in on themselves, or perhaps the chiming ring was messing with their heads in some way.
"What is that?!" shouted Pacifica.
"If I had to wager a guess, I'd say it was an alarm of some kind."
"Okay, so here's another question; why did Jack lie to us?! There's clearly more than one suspect down here!"
"I wouldn't say he lied, it was more likely he was just wrong! Now I have a question!! Why didn't you move with me when they started to search the area?!"
Dipper's question caught her off guard. It was a little embarrassing but the anger in his voice made her feel like a lead ball of guilt fall right in to her stomach.
"I... Well... I guess I just didn't think!" It was pitiful excuse, she knew it, but it was only excuse she had to offer.
'Didn't think! Seems to be a popular trend with me lately!' she thought bitterly.
Dipper growled in frustration as they rounded another corner.
"We are seriously out of sync!"
Looking over her shoulder, Pacifica saw Bart galloping towards them with Ruth on his head. Or rather he was 'trying' to gallop, he still must not have been feeling right after Pacifica's tasering as he kept crashing in to the rock formations.
"I don't like the way you're galloping!!" barked Ruth. "Are you sure that lightning thingy didn't fry your brain?"
"Shut up ya stupid Mook!!" Bart barked back. "I'm fine!! It's the stupid cave that keeps spinning!!"
"YOW!!! That rock came out of nowhere!!"
"That does it! I'm driving!! They're turning again so take a left here... no a left! A left!! YOUR OTHER LEFT YOU RETARDED MUTANT DONKEY!!!"
Pacifica relaxed as she saw the unicorn stumble away taking a right turn. "Dipper, we can stop now! We've lost them!"
Dipper slowed his pace to a stop so he and Pacifica could take a moment to catch their breath.
"How can we all see so well? What happened to all the darkness?"
"Well," Dipper paused for a breath. "I'd say it would probably have something to do with that!"
Dipper pointed up at ceiling where rainbow lights still raced about illuminating the cave. It was even starting to pour down the walls.
"So what should we do now? Look for clues? Hide?" queried Pacifica. She turned off her flashlight, wasn't much of a point to it now.
"Well from what we've learned about those two there's obviously somebody else down here too. So I think we should..."
Dipper trailed off as he saw something rising out of the ground behind Pacifica and quickly pointed to it. Looking over her shoulder she saw a monster similar to the one which casted a shadow over Dipper in the pine tree. It's arms were elongated to a point with three flat sides giving it the image of a triangle. However, it may have been as tall as their snow storm attacker but 'lanky' wouldn't be an appropriate word to describe the rest of it's body. The legs were thick and bulky made up of clumped dirt and stalagmites giving them an appearance of heavy clumsiness. The head was shaped like a pointed diamond; Pacifica would almost guess it was the same monster which had attacked them outside if wasn't for one thing: A tree root was sticking out of it's head, long and large enough to the point where it would promise to cast a shadow of it's own.
Pacifica actually felt disappointed. As near as she could tell it was just some blatant rip off of Edna's statue strategy, she was honestly expecting something more original. Remembering the statues' weakness, she looked to Dipper and brought a finger to her lip in a shushing manner. He seemed to instantly understand what she was getting at nodded in agreement.
The 'statue' remained still for a moment, Dipper and Pacifica shared a grin of confidence with each other, but then charged straight forward in their direction.
All Pacifica could get out was an "OH SHI-!!!" before being dragged off by Dipper away from the monster's beeline. Now running on her own, she actually found herself outpacing Dipper in their retreat of the monster. They were quickly approaching a cave wall and Pacifica was starting to gain some confidence. She was sure she and Dipper had the same idea, run to the wall and then go in separate directions so the monster would crash in to the wall. However, this plan was cancelled as the monster fired off one of it's arms as a projectile. This landed in the cave wall in front of her just as she was making her turn. She probably would have smacked in to it face first if Dipper hadn't swooped her up bridal style and proceeded to run carrying her.
Pacifica screamed as Dipper ran as fast as he could with her; and if she didn't know any better, she could have sworn he was screaming as well. Looking back she could swear that monster was getting bigger with each step. They managed to spot another rock tunnel and Dipper made a mad dash for it but he desperately scrambled to come to a stop as Bart and Ruth came charging out of it.
"PREPARE TO EAT HOOF, BITCH!!!"
Dipper looked desperately for a way out, but with the enemy's pincer movement closing in he knew there was only one thing he could do. He held Pacifica close, crouching down to protect her with his body and shouted the words "WE SURREEEENDEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEERRRRRRRRRRR!!!"
He waited silently for the pain to come, it never came, he looked up to find his attackers circled around him waiting patiently. The evil grins from Bart and Ruth hurt on some level, because he knew it reflected their victory over him.
He looked down at Pacifica to find her staring back up at him. She looked at him as if he just betrayed her, it felt like a knife to the gut for him.
'There's them doe eyes again.'
Their captors were not gentle with detaining them, the giant monster had shot his arms in to the ground next to them. The ends opened up and shot out a geyser of pebbles (of all things) in to the air, small bits of lightning flowed in between them as they turned in mid air and started to surround Dipper and Pacifica. Individually circling around each of them until they shined a blinding flash, when it disappeared Pacifica and Dipper found themselves with rings of solid rock covering their torsos.
"The boss is probably going to want to speak with you! Personallly," Ruth started. "I would just CUT OPEN YOUR THROAT AND CRAWL DOWN YOUR INNARDS SO I COULD GUT YOU FROM THE INSIDE OUT!!!"
"But you're not in charge!" Bart cut in. "The boss is going to have questions and you two are going to answer them. Now march you dumb palookas!"
The two sent the unicorn a sharp glare before begrudgingly starting their way. Bart lead the way through a stone archway leading in to a hollowed out hallway; Ruth sat on the back of Bart's neck while the stone monster followed behind the prisoners in the rear. They all walked in silence but Dipper could feel the hate radiating off of Pacifica, she was angry at before but now he had reached a whole new level of anger with her. Dipper knew however, with feelings this strong Pacifica would have to either act on them or voice her concerns.
"Okay, who are you? And what have you done with Dipper? Because the Dipper I know, never would have surrendered!"
At least she was speaking to him, that was a start. He rolled his eyes at her criticism, he had to protect her and he didn't have any other choice.
"It's still me Pacifica. There was nothing else I could have done! Anything else would have run the chance of you getting hurt! Besides, what's it matter? We're going to meet the big boss anyways!"
"Sigh. You always have an answer for everything don't you Dipper? Except for when you don't of course!"
"Wh-What's that supposed to mean?"
"It means you're not as smart as you think you are! So maybe you should pay a little more attention to just the case then maybe you could realize your associate might have something important to add!"
"Are you trying to say I don't treat you like an equal?!"
"I'm saying you need to remember you aren't working alone!"
"That's a yes!"
"No it isn't! You just surrendered, you didn't even think about what I had to offer!"
"Oh really?! Did you have a solution for that situation?!"
Pacifica hadn't expected to be put on the spotlight like that and was a bit taken back. They had actually stopped walking so they could have their little heated argument, even their jailers had stopped to watch as Pacifica searched for an answer. She hesitated for a moment; she knew Dipper was waiting for an answer but all she could come up with was the raw truth. "Well...no. I didn't, but I still would have liked to be consulted!"
"Oh please!! Let's just cut to the chase shall we?! About why you're really upset with me!!"
"Okay, fine!! Let's be completely honest about it then!!"
"Fine!! You're still mad at me for what I had to do to save your life!!"
"No, I'm not!! I already said that I forgive you for that!!"
"Really?! Because that's not how it feels!!"
Bart and Ruth continued to watch as the two adult intruders continued to argue like a couple of children. Even the monster was captivated by the fight although it did seem to understand what EXACTLY it was watching, as it was scratching dirt off it's head in confusion.
The fairy and unicorn weren't exactly doing a lot better.
"Wow. They're bickering like an old married couple."
"I'll be completely honest... I have no idea what we should do here." confessed Bart.
"And what about you?!" Dipper snapped. "You've been downright reckless!! Are you trying to get yourself killed?!"
"What?! Of course not!! If anything I've been trying to do the opposite!!"
"What?! Pacifica you're not making any sen..."
"I NEED TO GAIN YOUR TRUST BACK!!!" she screamed at the top of her lungs.
Dipper was taken back at first, he knew she was mad but he didn't think she was mad at herself. His face softened as they looked at each other, inviting her to continue. She deep some deep breathing for a moment. Dipper wasn't sure if it was because she was trying to calm down or gather up her courage though.
"This has been the worst case of my life." she confessed. "On top of the whole naked thing, I've just been making one mistake after another. I thought after the adventure with Edna I was getting better, tougher ya know? Instead I've found myself just as afraid as ever been only now it's becoming a liability which has gotten both of us nearly killed. As much as I've become afraid of this job the thing I've found which is even more terrifying is the idea of having it taken away from me, because a part of me has come to enjoy it. Obviously not the scary monsters roaring in my face promising to kill me... but solving mysteries, outsmarting villains, improvising in dangerous situations, or even just the simple things like..." she blushed just enough so that it was noticeable to everyone who was watching. "Traveling with you, playing chess with you, and getting a bite to eat with you. But I know you don't just give this job to anyone, I know I've screwed up big time more than once today and, like, I know how you need someone to depend on in this job and I thought I needed to prove myself so you wouldn't think this job was too dangerous for me! That I could keep up ya know? I knew once I needed to change in to a better person but now, I need to change in to a stronger one too!"
Dipper was real quiet as Pacifica waited for him to give her a response. Any type of response really; she just poured her heart out and silence was quite possibly the worst answer he could give her. Slowly, a shy smile developed on Dipper's face and started to grow.
"That's why you've been acting like this? To prove yourself? To 'gain back trust'?"
"I need to be more like you, Dipper. I can't keep getting afraid, it's going to get us killed!!"
"I already told you it's okay to be afrai...sigh... Listen Pacifica, I have a secret I need to share with you. I know I always seem cool and collected but the truth is, whenever I have a monster roaring in my face or running from pretty much anything that trying to kill me... I'm terrified."
"What, really? I didn't think that registered with you."
"I already told you once, only an idiot isn't afraid of this stuff. When I was a kid, Candy was called me a baby because of how I was running from this spider monster Darlene. As far as trust goes though, you've never really lost mine."
"R-Really? Prove it."
"Okay, uh let's see... I ever tell you about why people call me Dipper? It's just a nickname because of my..."
"Birthmark on your forehead?"
"Wha-Yes! How'd you know?"
"We were naked together Dipper. I've literally seen everything you have."
Dipper blushed awkwardly. As hard as it was to believe, he had actually forgotten about their naked episode with everything that had happened.
"Oh! Right! Well have I told you my real name yet?"
"No!" The change in her tone told Dipper she really interested in this information, he relaxed a little bit because of this. "You haven't hinted one word at what your real name is."
"It's Mason. My real name is Mason. I don't like to use it that often because everyone always calls me 'Dipper'. Even I call myself Dipper."
Pacifica smiled and leaned her head back. "Mason huh? Hmm. I like that."
"Really. Makes you sound sturdy. Now I should tell you a secret of my own so we're even."
"You don't have to do that. I know you trust me."
"Yes, but I want to. After Weirdmaggedon I had to pick only one of my six ponies to keep. I know it sounds like just some thick drama but I loved them all so much it nearly broke my heart to pick one over the others. Their names were Shutter Fly, Rainbow Crash, Rawrity, Apple Smacks, Stinkie Pie, and Sparklight Twinikle. Sending the other five away was one of the saddest days of my life but at least I had Stinkie Pie."
"Seriously? You chose the pony named Stinkie Pie?" Dipper laughed.
"Hey!! Stinkie Pie was always able to make me laugh, and on that sad day that made her the best pony!!"
"I'm sorry, I don't mean to laugh."
"Yes you do!" Pacifica laughed.
"Okay, I take back everything I've said about your beloved pony HA HA 'Stinkie'!"
"Okay, now they're just getting mushy!" Bart growled.
Ruth put two fingers in to her mouth and whistled sharply capturing everybody's attention. "Okay that's enough, we got to get moving now. Otherwise I'm going to gouge your eyes out just to put a stop to that mush!"
With a quick tap from their rear guard Dipper and Pacifica begrudgingly continued their march. Finally exiting the stone hallway they entered an open area of the cave, the pathway they were walking on stretched onward up a narrow cliff. On the end of the cliff was a marble cottage sitting there with an eerie calmness.
"How did you guys make a stone cottage down here?" Dipper asked.
"Heh. You'd be surprised the things our boss can pull off." answered Bart.
Once inside, they saw the insides left a lot to be desired. Save for a fireplace and a wooden desk suffering from some serious wood rot the place was completely barren.
"Kneel on the floor," Ruth barked. "Bart and I already sent word to the boss and he should be joining us soon. If it were up to me I would've already cut your kneecaps out but I'm not 'in charge'."
As they knelt on the ground Dipper took a look at Pacifica. She was doing better by the looks of it, she wasn't angry anymore but she did seem concerned with their situation. Not to the point of the fear she was talking about earlier but enough for it to stay on her mind. An idea popped in to his head, he knew exactly what to do.
"Hey Pacifica, we certainly do have a colorful group of baddies this time around, don't ya think?"
A hopeful smile from the blonde showed Dipper that she was picking up on what he was trying to do. "Oh? Well compared to the other ones from our past adventures how well do you think they stand up?"
"Well let's see here. We got My Brooklyn Pony..."
Bart snorted angrily at the nickname.
"The secret love child of Jack the Ripper and Tinkerbell."
Ruth didn't voice her objections other than sticking up her nose and harrumphing.
"And um..." Dipper struggled to find an appropriate word to describe their dirty/wooden captor but ultimately failed. "Groot!"
"Groot? What's a Groot?! I don't know what that is but whatever it is it aint him, got it?!" snapped Bart.
"Yeah!" Ruth added. "He is not Groot!"
The door kicked open startling everyone in the room.A stout man entered bringing an icy chill to the air. His feet never actually touched the ground though, he hovered a good bit off the ground not unlike a certain lumberjack ghost they knew of from when they were kids. He had on a business tuxedo which looked like it had seen some better days what with the patches and holes everywhere. The top of his head was completely bald, but for every strand of hair that was missing it was compensated in his beard. The beard was not just big but long too as it ran all the way down to his waist; the eerie thing about it though was there was large bits of ice sticking out frozen to the hair.
"Well now..." From his coat pocket he pulled our a monocle and placed it carefully over his eye. "Let's talk this out like proper businessmen, shall we?"
Jack sat on the cave floor as he waited for Dipper and Pacifica to solve his problem. He was starting to get sleepy but couldn't decide if he could risk a nap.
Coming from the cave's entrance walked in an ice version of stone monster which chased Dipper and Pacifica. Of course it was a great deal smaller as it could actually fit inside this cave. It had a long triangular head, it's arms long and bladed just like the stone monster. It waited silently for Jack to respond to it's presence.
"I see. He wants to kidnap me now, doesn't he? Well you won't be getting me without a fight!"
He grunted and groaned as he struggled to stand up. The ice monster stomped his foot on the ground twice and a layer of ice spread out from underneath it's foot across the cave floor.
Jack Frost, the legendary ice sylph, had hit a new low. He had slipped on the ice. "Oh using my powers against me when I can't defend myself eh? Well it will take more than-OOF!!" He had slipped once again as he tried to stand up only to fall flat on his back. "It's okay, I know just what to do!" He clapped his hands together and then slowly separated them forming an ice cane in between them. However, there was still something embarrassing about it. "Um... it's usually bigger than this I swear!" He tried to use it to stand up only for it snap making him fall flat on his face. "I swear this doesn't normally happen to me!"
The ice monster stood silently as he watched Jack fail time and again to stand on the ice. It did cock it's head to the side in confusion however when started to slide across the floor as well. "Okay, I think I have this figured out now! I just have to use the wall to- AAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHH!!!"
Now spinning violently across the floor, the ice monster cocked it's head to the other side as it witness Jack ricochet off the walls across the floor. Finally stopping at the ice monster's he let out a sigh of defeat.
"Okay, you know what? I think it would be more merciful to myself if I just let you take me captive!"
The ice monster shrugged and dragged Jack to the wall of permafrost by his leg.
"I know you can't talk but please don't tell anyone I was slipping on the ice."