Until it remained a game, it was a lot of fun.

Their stay in Gravity Falls was a treasure hunt like many – only bigger, truer, and the size of a whole town. Comparing it with their courtyard was enough to make their eyes shine.

They were used to small spaces, and flashy paper signs of MYSTERY TWINS as their only property claim. To leave their fingerprints all over a city, inside and outside its secrets, was newer and fresher than anything they had tried before.

In a place like this, there was no need to stretch their imagination. It was already strange, and they loved it.

Even with danger always in their wake, their blood kept burning with curiosity for a long while. As long as it all ended well, it was a real blast. There was always time to laugh it off – a night of rest, then a new day of adventure.

At last, the Mystery Twins could live up to their name. The bad thing was how easily they got caught in it.

By the time they found out, it was too late. A string darkness had twined everything they loved. It hit Mabel much harder than one of their mock fights – she was the first to open her eyes, and she first met the truth.

The whole thing wasn’t a game anymore. The rules of grown-ups held no easy penalty to make up for mistakes. The monsters looming from afar were no longer cardboard figures – they were sorrow, experience, things of the past no power in the world could fix.

No treasure, no glittery paper coins this time around. All they had unearthed was the regret of a whole life.

Mabel thought of the town, and what their chase after its secrets had led to. She couldn’t help plunging into rage. What good had it been?

What was the point, when they were playing with fire?

She knew Dipper always took things too seriously. She should have predicted it from the start. They had insisted on being curious, nosy, independent – and there they were, forced to stay like that.

To be a smart adult was a game he had always liked. Mabel got proof that day – all along, she had been right to disagree.

Because, if that was the cost, they were better off as children.

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