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“Hey, Mabel,” said Wendy, “whatcha doing?”

“I'm making snacks for the sleepover!” said Mabel. She tasted a piece of the triple-chocolate caramel marshmallow popcorn – it had used up all the chocolate chips they had, and Dipper might be mad, but that was what Dipper got for skipping out on sleepover night.

Hmm. Needed something . . . not jam . . . not bananas . . . She squinted around the room until her eyes fell on the sugar bowl. Perfect!

As Mabel dumped more sugar on the popcorn, Wendy reached out and swiped a piece, then leaned back against the counter. “Did you guys decide what movie you're watching?”

“Yeah, we're gonna watch the new Kickpuncher movie,” said Mabel, and tried the popcorn again.

Actually, maybe jam wouldn't be such a bad idea. Or strawberry syrup!

“Dude!” Wendy's eyes fired up. “Seriously? Kickpuncher 6: Jurassic Punch? I thought that wasn't out on DVD yet!”

Mabel's eyes gleamed. “It's not.” She lowered her voice dramatically. “But Grenda has connections.” Mabel wasn't going to be the one to say Grenda's uncle was a mob boss or anything, but he was always up on bootleg video and really liked spaghetti, and it wasn't like there were a lot of other logical conclusions that you could draw from that information.

“Sweet!”

“You can watch with us if you want,” Mabel offered. “There's lots of –” She looked at the bowl, which was approximately the size of her pig Waddles, and re-evaluated. Grenda's iguana had a pretty big stomach for such a little lizard. “I can make more popcorn!”

“Cool,” said Wendy. “I was gonna go to the mall with Tambry, but she's got – uh, her text said she's puking up guys, but that might be an autocorrect thing, I dunno. What time are you guys gonna watch?”

“Eight.” Mabel beamed. “It's gonna be awesome!”

With the addition of the strawberry syrup, the popcorn was exactly right.

“Us?” said Grenda.

“To hang out with Wendy Corduroy?” said Candy.

“Yeah! Sure!” said Mabel. “Wendy's awesome! And she wants to watch Kickpuncher 6: Jurassic Punch and I want to watch Kickpuncher 6: Jurassic Punch and you guys want to watch Kickpuncher 6: Jurassic Punch, so what's the problem?”

“But Wendy's not just older, she's cool,” Grenda informed her. “Everyone at school knows that.”

“She has had approximately one hundred boyfriends,” volunteered Candy, in tones of awe. “And she has dumped all of them. Never the dumpee! Not even once!”

“Sillies, she isn't cool like Pacifica cool, she's cool like I'm cool,” protested Mabel. “Like a cool person that's cool to hang out with! I've never been the dumpee either, you know,” she added, with justifiable pride. Both Gideon and Norman-the-gnomes had begged her to keep going out with them.

. . . did Norman-the-gnomes count?

Norman-the-gnomes totally counted. Norman-the-gnomes probably counted approximately one hundred times, actually, if you wanted to bring math into it. There had been a lot of little people in that teenager suit.

Meanwhile, Candy and Grenda were looking at each other. “You are pretty cool, Mabel,” Candy said eventually. “All right. We will try to be cool for Wendy also.”

“You don't need to be cool for Wendy,” Mabel told them, and put one hand on each of their shoulders. (She had to stretch a little to reach Grenda's, and be extra careful not to accidentally squash the iguana.) “Just be yourselves, and it'll be great. I promise!”

“So where's Dipper?” asked Wendy. She was perched on one edge of the sofa, kicking her legs off into the air. Candy and Grenda and Grenda's lizard sat stiffly on the other end of the sofa, and Mabel and Waddles were scrunched into the middle, with the bowl of popcorn on Mabel's lap. “I thought you guys usually hung out together.

“Dipper's not here because he thinks Kickpuncher 'stopped being an artistically viable franchise after Kickpuncher III: The Final Kickening,'” said Mabel, in pompous Dipper-voice, and made a bleeeurgh-face to express what she thought of this. “But mostly because he's lame.”

“Too bad.” Wendy shrugged. “Well, his loss.”

“Yeah,” said Mabel. “Totally his loss.”

Candy and Grenda said nothing, just smiled awkwardly and nodded, and to be honest Mabel was starting to feel kind of weird. Wendy was awesome! Candy and Grenda were awesome! She didn't know why they couldn't all just relax and have fun together.

“Okay!” she said, loudly, “well, I'm gonna start the movie, I guess!” and pushed play.

As the opening fight scene started up, she waited for the usual squeals from Candy about Don “The Demon” Donaldsen's metal-covered abs, but the Grenda-and-Candy side of the couch stayed courteously silent, and remained silent for the next ten minutes.

“Kickpuncher!” shouted Kickpuncher's love interest. “You've punched a hole . . . in time!”

“Oh, rock,” said Wendy, as Kickpuncher raged through a herd of angry dinosaurs. “Velociraptors!”

“Actually, an interesting fact,” Candy piped up, “velociraptors did not live in the Jurassic –” Grenda elbowed her in the ribs, and Candy squeaked and muttered, “It does not really matter.” Then she grabbed the triple-chocolate-caramel-marshmallow-strawberry popcorn and firmly stuck her teeth together with it. Mabel noticed with dismay that Candy did not have any forks stuck to her fingers.

“Oh huh,” said Wendy, politely.

Mabel sighed. There had to be a way to pop this awkward bubble!

. . . maybe if they had some bubble wrap . . .

. . . maybe if someone made a suit out of bubble wrap, and then you could walk around in it and just like pop things wherever you went all the time. Wow. Brilliant. Mabel Pines was a bona fide genius.

“Uh,” said Wendy. “Mabel?"

“Hm?” Mabel jumped to attention so fast she nearly spilled the popcorn.

“I think maybe something's wrong with the DVD,” said Wendy, which was when Kickpuncher punched his way out through the television, followed by a horde of angry possibly-velociraptors.

“Kickpuncher!” shrieked Kickpuncher's love interest. “You've punched a hole . . . in the fourth wall!”

“Oh, fudge,” muttered Mabel. She threw the bowl of popcorn at the leading velociraptor, and grabbed for her grappling hook. Someone had to get Waddles out of velociraptor range fast, or her pig was going to end up as bacon!

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Candy reach into her bag and pull out some forks.

An hour later, the room was littered with unconscious velociraptors and triple-chocolate-caramel-marshmallow-strawberry popcorn, and all four girls were collapsed in a pile on the sofa.

(Waddles was still grappling-hooked to the ceiling. Mabel would have get him down eventually, but for now he seemed like he was having enough of a good time that she decided to let him stay.)

“Well,” wheezed Grenda, “sorry about that, guys. My uncle totally promised this wouldn't happen again after the last time.”

“It's cool, man,” said Wendy, and gave Grenda's shoulder a weak punch. “Five velociraptors to my three. You totally win.”

“I wouldn't have gotten the fifth,” said Grenda, modestly, “if it wasn't for this little guy.” She patted her iguana, whose muzzle was red with velociraptor blood – or possibly with strawberry syrup, it was kind of hard to tell.

“But you were also impressive, Wendy,” Candy put in. “Very ingenious use of a blender!”

Kickpuncher had been busy tying the tails of the velociraptors together into a knot. Now he looked up. “You-have-fought-valiantly,” he intoned. “Your-puny-human-punches-have-been-surprisingly-effective.”

“Well, mostly we didn't use punches,” Mabel told him cheerfully, “so I bet that helped.”

Kickpuncher ignored her, slinging the bundle of velociraptors over one shoulder. “Now-I-must-depart. The-only-thing-beyond-the-reach-of-my-fists . . .” He posed, and stared nobly off into the distance. “. . . is-humanity.”

“Wait!” said Candy, hastily putting away her forks.

Kickpuncher tilted his head.

“First,” said Candy, blushing furiously, “can I please give you a hug?”

“You-may,” agreed Kickpuncher, graciously.

Candy jumped up and wrapped her arms around Kickpuncher's abs, careful to avoid stepping on any of the velociraptors. Then she turned around and mouthed to the others, oh my God!

Mabel, Grenda and Wendy all gave her discreet thumbs-ups.

“Farewell,” declared Kickpuncher, and aimed a mighty punch at the television screen. Then he leaped into the ensuing flash of light, dragging the vaguely stirring velociraptors behind him.

The screen fizzled with static for a moment and faded into the closing credits. Grenda's lizard climbed down from her arm and started eating the popcorn off the carpet.

“So,” Mabel said hopefully, after a minute, “you guys want to watch something else?”

“My uncle also gave me The Magic School Bus Goes To Hell,” offered Grenda.

Candy patted her on the arm. “While that was a very fulfilling experience for me, all the same, I do not think we want any more movies from your uncle just at present.”

“Okay, wait, guys,” said Wendy. “I've got this movie on my laptop, you have got to see it. It's called Body and it has Daniel Henney as a bodyguard and this other skinny guy as a kindergarten teacher and they fight crime and then they make out.”

“Sold!” said Candy, immediately.

“I'm in,” agreed Grenda.

“Okay,” said Wendy, “let me go get it, it's on my computer.”

“I am going to get my special glasses,” said Candy. “They are made out of Coke bottles to bring your eyes closer to the screen.”

“I'm going to make some more popcorn!” said Mabel, beaming, and bounced off the sofa into the kitchen.

This sleepover was totally awesome. Dipper was going to freak out when he heard about what he'd missed, and it served him right.

Also, now she knew the secret to social success:

Velociraptors.

Yep, definitely the coolest sleepover ever.

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