It should be illegal to be sick in the summer, really. It should be completely and utterly unlawful for whatever bacteria that had made a home of Mabel to be stuffing up her nose, making her head ache, and causing her body to burn with fever. In fact, the annoyed girl was very tempted to do just that, since she was technically a congressman. She let the thought go, begrudgingly admitting it wouldn't do much good. Microbial life wasn't typically inclined to follow the law.
And it was such a nice day outside too! A terrible day to be stuck indoors when there were sights to see, places to go, and people to meet. Or, more importantly; adventures to have, a twin brother to keep out of trouble, and boys to flirt with. There were a million things Mabel wished she was doing and she couldn't do any of them. She couldn't do much more than whine in annoyance and discomfort, tossing and turning in hopes of sleeping through the illness. Come on, immune system! Summer wasn't going to last forever, you know, and this was wasting precious potential 'summer romance' time! She was so bored.
Her head throbbed and she moaned pitifully, turning to face the wall for the millionth time as if it would be any more comfortable than before. She pulled one of her pillows from under her head, putting it over her ear and pressing down to block out any inkling of sound.
The slightest noise made the head ache worse. She let up only when she was having more trouble breathing than usual, and the sound of her own heartbeat pounding in her ears grow annoying. With a groan, she sat up and plucked a tissue from the box on her bedside table. She wiped her runny, raw nose for the hundredth time since she woke up. Really, she thought, the worst part about all this was that she was getting kinda lonely.
The bubbly, extroverted girl who required near-constant socialization and attention was holed up in her room and had been for a few days now. Needless to say, it was killing her. But when her two best friends had shown up cartoonishly bundled in latex gloves and surgical masks, bottles of hand sanitizer on their belts, to cheer her up and help out, Mabel had simply laughed and told them she'd be fine. It was just a little bug, really, she'd could last a few days alone while she got better. She'd be out hanging with them in no time, scoping out the boys and reading trashy novels. Yes, she was sure.
They had seemed quite relieved to be let go, the threat of also becoming ill now fading away. Mabel didn't mind, really, but she was sorta blue without her girlfriends to talk to. Although, she wasn't completely alone, she still had-
Bang! Mabel flinched as the door smacked into the wall, her clumsy brother tumbling in after it gushing apologies. Speak of the devil, eh? The boy almost lost his footing, very nearly sending the tray in his hands and the bowl of soup on it smashing into a wall, but regained himself at the last second. He grinned sheepishly over at his sister, picking his way over to her bed more carefully.
“Hey, Mabel,” he said, setting the tray on her lap which she welcomed with a small smile, “How are you feeling?”
With that, her smile faded away. The sick girl straightened out the tray on her lap, sighing softly. She picked up her spoon, examining it side to side as her mouth opened to reply. There was a pause. She instead opted to let out a low groan, rolling her eyes to the ceiling as if to ask God why they hated her. Mabel let her upper body slump forward, her face comically landing in her bowl of soup. Dipper jumped back in shock as she continued to groan in annoyance, the sound coming out as a quiet gurgle.
Dipper sighed, pulling a handkerchief out of his pocket and handing it to his sister as she sat back up slowly. “That bad, huh?” he asked as she wiped her face clean, nodding glumly, “Well, it's been a few days now, I'm sure it can't last much longer! Besides, you got me looking after you and I'm not going anywhere. As soon as you're over this bug, we'll go on an adventure, okay?”
Mabel smiled up at her brother; her clammy, flushed face and the dark circles under her eyes only portraying a fraction of her usual cheer. “Thanks, Dip,” she said picking her spoon back up and eating like a normal person, “you're a good brother.” It was nice to have at least one person stick by her without fear of getting sick.
The boy beamed back, scratching his arm as he looked away modestly. “Well...” he drawled, “Yeah. I totally am.” He laughed as Mabel halfheartedly hit him in the arm, calling him a jerk. She was still smiling though, so that was good.
They talked for a while more, Mabel catching up on Dipper's progress with the journal and Dipper reluctantly asking about Mabel's 'boyfriends' in an attempt to cheer her up. Nothing interesting in terms of the supernatural had occurred while Mabel was out of it, which Dipper was silently grateful for. He needed his sister to have his back, and vice versa, if they were to face off against otherworldly creatures. Besides, without Mabel, it seemed like it would be less... Fun.
After Mabel was done, Dipper gathered up her dishes along with the majority of the trash that accumulated around her bed for his next trip downstairs. As he passed by her bed, he kissed the top of her head. He told her, as sternly as he could, that she should get some more sleep. She gave him a deadpan expression, telling him that he looked like a kitten when he tried to act serious. He squawked with indignation and she grinned in triumph as she lay back down.
He regained his composure, totally not pouting, and headed back down stairs. After Dipper had flicked off the light, his footsteps receding down the stairs, Mabel could hear him grumbling under his breath about not being cute. She smiled to herself as she fell asleep.
It seemed only a moment until her eyes opened again, the girl not even recognizing that she'd been asleep for several hours at first. As she blinked in the sudden darkness, her confusion faded away after a few dismayed seconds. She figured that she'd must have been asleep, although it hadn't felt like it, and it was around dusk. The last touches of sunlight clung desperately to the sky, and her brother wasn't in his bed yet, so it couldn't have been that late.
She sat up slowly, sniffling in an attempt to clear her nose enough to breathe. Mabel's throat was dry from sleeping with her mouth open, and she briefly debated heading downstairs for a glass of water. A sudden tiredness wiped the idea from her head, the girl not even bothering to fight as she lay back down. Her face was hot and her head hurt, too sleepy to even call out for her brother. He must still be awake, she could hear the television downstairs. It was either that or he'd fallen asleep in Grunkle Stan's chair again.
She turned onto her side, swallowing passed her sore throat as she resolved to get a glass of water in the morning. She felt she'd be better after just a little more sleep. She closed her eyes, lulled by the distant sounds of a 'Why you Ackin' So Cray-Cray?' rerun and her own pounding headache throbbing with her pulse.
But that wasn't her pulse. No, after a few groggy and confused moments of thought, she placed the soft tapping sound out of her head entirely. It was coming from across the room, in the wall above her brother's bed. It was quiet, quiet enough to be mistaken for the girl's own heartbeat and to fade into the background while she slept, but it was there. It was slow enough not to seem deliberate, but it didn't stop after a few minutes. It just kept going.
Tap... Tap... Tap... Almost like a tree branch against a window, but with a bit more 'click'. Maybe it was the pipes in the wall settling? Would there even be pipes there? Mabel didn't know, she didn't build houses for a living, all she knew was that it was weird and she'd never heard it before. She slowly sat up, clearing her dry throat. The tapping seemed to pause, but continued without an inclination that it might have stopped a moment later. Mabel furrowed her brow, pulling the blankets off her legs and standing shakily.
She should go get her brother, she knew. She wasn't a damsel in distress from a horror movie, or someone who died in the first five minutes of a ghost show; she knew there were otherworldly things in this town, and she knew they were dangerous. Still, this was her home. This was the room her brother and her shared. She felt safe here, and if she needed Dipper she could always call out. She shuffled over to the other side of the room, following the tapping sound, and sat at the edge of her brother's bed.
Now that she was here, it became apparent that the sound was coming from deep within the wall. She crawled over Dipper's bed to get close to the sound, face scrunched up from the throbbing in her head and concentration. After a moment, she carefully pressed her ear to the wall. Yes, it did sound like from it was further back and it did sound like the clink of a pipe or something hard against wood. She didn't know why a pipe would be up here if all the plumbing was on the ground floor, but it seemed the mostly likely answer to her muddled brain. Nothing to be worried about. Maybe it wasn't even a pipe, but a heating vent. Yes, that would make more sense.
She started to move away from the wall, wriggling to get back to the floor and back to her own bed. She was tired, and she really shouldn't be getting up when she didn't have to. She paused once again as a shiver ran down her spine, causing the girl to twitch with a sudden rush of heebie-jeebies. Oh, that felt weird and not good. She looked back to the wall. She felt that something was watching her. She swallowed again, her spit doing nothing against her dry mouth, and shifted back towards the wall.
She'd gone from simply curious to serious, but if it turned out to be nothing and she ran to her brother... Well, she'd just feel silly and not the good kind of silly. There was nothing wrong with investigating though, nothing bad-silly about that, just to make sure there was something to actually be worried about.
She pressed her ear back to the wall, hearing the heating vent within tapping steadily as if chills hadn't just ran down Mabel's spine. It didn't react to her feelings, it was an inanimate object for god's sake. Maybe they had rats, she thought, the Mystery Shack wasn't exactly up to code after all. She let herself be grossed out about the thought of a rat watching her for a second before returning to the task at hand.
She listened for a few minutes more, the steady tapping almost putting her to sleep before she seemed to move on her own. She lifted her hand, fingers wrapped into a loose fist. It was tapping, not knocking. The work of some part of the house or some pest, but not a conscious action! She had to be sure, though, and hell, maybe hearing actual knocking would let her see how bad-silly she was being.
She rapped on the wall firmly, like she was knocking on a door. Knock, knock.
There was no answer, no anything actually. Silence. The tapping had stopped. Mabel breathed a sigh of relief, maybe the heater had turned off for the time being and she could get some sleep. She was moving away from the wall when she stopped.