(I started writing this before the challenge list came up, but it fell under one of the prompts, so I figured I could still post it.)
It was quiet for almost a whole week. Dipper remembered that he had been bored, and he remembered sitting outside, even though it was ridiculously hot.
"That’s good. Do you remember what day that was?"
"Uhh…" Dipper tried to remember, but he told the doctor that he wasn’t sure.
Norman frowned. What had he done? He let Dipper go down that path alone, even though nearly six different ghosts told him to stay away from there. He shouldn’t have given in to Dipper’s pleas about properly investigating and uncovering the unknown. This was the last time he let Dipper do anything alone.
He glanced at Mabel, who was standing on a chair so she could see out the tiny window in the hospital room. He couldn’t even imagine what she was thinking about all this. Granted, she might not be thinking at all, given the look on her face. It was as though she was doing everything to not interact with her brother since they realized he had amnesia.
"Do you know which month it is?" the doctor asked calmly. Dipper sighed,
"July. I know it’s July."
Suddenly, he perked up,
"It’s July 17th, right?"
The doctor smiled,
"Yes, it is. Very good."
The doctor turned to Mabel, even though she had her back turned to him.
"Miss Pines, would you like to try talking to him? He seems to remember the basics just fine, but we should make sure he can recognize family…"
Mabel turned and jumped down from the chair. For the first time, Norman realized Mabel wasn’t smiling.
"Hey, Dipper!" she said in her usual voice, but her face remained smile-less.
The doctor turned back to Dipper, calmly explaining,
"This is your sister, Mabel."
Dipper stared at her for a few seconds, and then turned to the doctor, asking,
"Are you sure?"
"Dipper! We’re twins! Of course, I’m your sister!”
Dipper seemed uncomfortable from the sudden shouting, but he remained rather calm. That was likely the strangest thing about this situation, in fact. Norman stood up, joining Mabel,
"It’s true that you’re t-twins, you know," he told him, "You two look a lot alike."
Dipper scrunched his eyebrows together, looking at Norman in a way that made everything feel so much worse than it already did. He didn’t recognize him, but what was terrible was that he was judging him and he knew it. He was looking at his supposed sister and friend and thinking that they must be crazy.
"This isn’t very uncommon," the doctor noted. He told them that Dipper was suffering from a very mild and nearly acute form of amnesia. He explained that he’d likely get his memory back in no time, anywhere from hours to days.
"If he has trouble remembering anything he currently recalls, or he isn’t back to his old self again in at least one week, send him back here and we’ll do some tests. Okay?"
Mabel and Norman both nodded in response.
"Now, here are his papers," the doctor handed them a pink piece of paper, which Mabel took, "And you can take Dipper and your…uncle to the front desk and they’ll check you out."
Dipper slid down off the hospital bed, and headed out the door. Mabel ran to catch up, but Norman just followed them slowly. Grunkle Stan grumbled from the hallway about the bill for “just telling us the obvious” and they promptly made their way back to the Mystery Shack.
Dipper remembered the store and where his room was, but he seemed confused at the fact that there was another bed and a sleeping bag between the two.
Norman silently watched as Mabel attempted in vain to bring up random past memories, some of them very personal, and he instantly felt out of place. He felt like he shouldn’t be there at all. Would sleeping in the same room as Dipper confuse him? Would it freak him out?
He caught Dipper’s eye as he realized he’d been staring.
"What?" Dipper asked, almost sounding rude.
Norman wished everything would return to normal. He shifted where he stood, his hands clenching at the insides of his sleeves.
"N-nothing," he replied, looking down at the attic floor.
Mabel turned around, and Norman grimaced at the realization that she still wasn’t smiling.
"I’m gonna— I mean, if it’s okay, I’ll just take my stuff and, you know, sleep downstairs…"
He expected Mabel to nod in understanding, or maybe Dipper to ask why he would even have slept up here in the first place. But he hadn’t expected a sudden “No!” from Dipper, let alone the nervous look on his face once the other two looked at him in confusion.
"Wha—what’s wrong?" Norman asked, clearly unsure why Dipper’s behavior seemed to change so drastically. Dipper glanced around, as though trying to remember something important.
"I—I dunno. I just…" he trailed off, not sure of himself.
"Your stuff is already here, though, right? Why can’t you just stay?"
Norman couldn’t help his heart racing in his chest, but he tried to stay calm as he explained that it might be strange for him if he didn’t remember him well enough.
"Well, if you’re my friend, I trust you, man. I can’t go against my own judgment, right?” Dipper said with a smile.
He had a point. Even if he didn’t remember that they were friends, he was aware that they were and that was good enough for him.
He felt a small, very small, grin creep onto his face, and Mabel gave Norman a hopeful look, like she was sure everything was going to be okay.
They all settled down and went to bed silently, unlike ever before. Norman stared up at the ceiling, listening to the wind outside, trying to keep his mind blank. Mabel looked like she had fallen asleep the second her head hit the pillow.
How do people even do that? Norman couldn’t help but glance back and forth at the twins before returning his gaze to the ceiling.
Dipper laid on his side, facing the wall, trying to appear like he was sleeping, at least long enough for the other two to actually fall asleep.
But he kept hearing every shift Norman made, and he bit his lip before flipping over. Turning on his other side, he found Norman staring right at him. For a moment, they both paused, but then immediately looked away.
"S-sorry," Norman told him in a hushed tone. He had thought Dipper was asleep.
Dipper glanced back at him,
"It’s alright," he told him. It was his fault for looking at him in the first place. He knew he wasn’t asleep, but he felt the urge to turn and look anyway…
Their eyes eventually met again, but this time, Dipper didn’t bother looking away. It was odd, trying to sleep in a room with two strangers, even though he was apparently so close to them. Mabel was weird, but it didn’t surprise him, somehow. And Norman…
He blinked. There was something about Norman that just made everything else feel completely…unworthy of his attention, almost. He wasn’t sure what that was, but it was there. Norman was obviously very important, he just really wish he knew why…
"Uhh…" Norman had shifted around again, lying more on his side, still looking up at Dipper.
"Is something—uhh, is everything, like, okay? Or…uhm—"
"I’m just trying to remember something," Dipper told him with a small smile. Norman smiled back,
"What are you trying to remember?"
Dipper paused, before glancing over at his sister and then across the room.
"Well…at the moment," he replied, "You."
Norman blinked, and he could just feel all the blood rushing to his head. Why was it that knowing Dipper was thinking about him made him feel like this? Not that it felt bad.
“Uhm, w-what exactly are you… uhh… trying to remember?” he asked, his face feeling exceptionally warm.
Dipper finally looked away again, pulling his blanket up over his arms.
“It’s…” he paused, not really sure what to say, “I guess I’m just trying to figure out who you are, or something. To me, I mean.”
Norman stared at Dipper, hoping for more of an explanation, but it never came. What did he mean? Who he was?
The two continued for about an hour, just mindlessly talking back and forth, with long periods of silence throughout. Norman kept catching himself dozing off, and he rubbed his eyes to keep himself awake. Dipper didn’t try so hard, however.
“Dipper?” Norman whispered. After a moment of no reply, he titled his head to see Dipper’s face more clearly. Even in the dark, he could see that Dipper had finally fallen asleep. He sighed quietly to himself and laid back to gaze up at the ceiling again.
It was strange, everything that had happened that day. He honestly wouldn’t have thought that Dipper would forget who he was when he woke up this morning. He was going to have to do something about all this. He was going to have to make it better. Even if Dipper never remembered him, he needed him to remember Mabel. And their Grunkle Stan. And Wendy. Everybody. He didn’t have to remember him. If there was some way to do that, then he’d do it. He knew he would.
He heard someone groaning loudly and the sound stirred him awake. He immediately shot up, unaware he had fallen asleep. He looked over at Dipper, who was sitting up and clutching at his head in pain. Norman slipped out of the sleeping bag and over to Dipper’s bed in a flash.
“Wha—Dipper? Are you okay?” he asked, his voice cracking.
Dipper opened one eye to look over at Norman.
“My head. It feels like… like somebody dropped a piano on me or something,” he groaned, rubbing at his forehead.
Norman frowned, not knowing what to do.
“What?” Dipper asked, obviously noting the look of pure dread on Norman’s face.
“I was just kidding, geez…” he remarked, finally opening both eyes.
“Seriously, what’s wrong, Norman? You look the same as when you let Mabel talk you into letting her braid your hair. What’s up?”
Norman just stared at Dipper for a moment, before asking,
“Wait, you remember that?”
“Uhh, yeah, it was only, like, a week ago.”
He was probably going to regret it later, but Norman hastily hugged Dipper so fast that the boy didn’t know how to react.
“Uhh, N-norman, what are you—“ he stopped once he realized his sister had woken up, as well. She stretched and looked over at the boys, almost instantly jumping off her bed to see what was happening.
Norman refuses to let go, and the smile on his face is hidden in Dipper’s shirt, but he couldn’t care less about that right now.
“What’s going on?” Mabel asked, that hopefulness in her voice. Dipper shrugs, trying to push Norman away, but failing due to his noodle arms.
“He looked at me all weird and I said that it made me think of that time when you braided his hair, you know, with those weird beads and stuff, too? And now, he’s suddenly hugging me, and—“
He was cut off by Mabel gasping and rushing to hug him tighter than Norman already was.
“Okay, SERIOUSLY, you guys! What are you doing?!” he shouts, completely confused.
“Oh, my god, you remember! Oh, Dippy, you’re okay!” Mabel smiled so wide, it was a wonder if it wasn’t painful, “I was so scared yesterday, and I had no idea what happened, but that doesn’t matter ‘cause you’re okay! Oh, God, you’re okay! YOU’RE OKAY!”
She squeezed him tighter, and Norman finally let go, looking up at Dipper with a big smile that Dipper swore he’d never even seen before. He blinked.
“Okay, I missed something,” Dipper muttered, looking straight at Norman.
Mabel and Norman both laughed, but Mabel just continued to snuggle against her twin brother like nothing else could possibly matter. Dipper finally just rolled his eyes,
“Geez, you guys are weird.”