The daring few who ask Soos about the founder are told that he was just like his dad. Not in the sense, he hastens to explain, that he and his real dad shared anything. He wouldn’t even know, actually, when he has so little on his hands to begin with.

They were nothing like each other, he asserts instead, passionate. He chooses to believe it no matter what. There is no comparing Stan to a ghost of the past he barely ever saw – not when, just as he had given up on waiting for the wrong miracle, Stan had plummeted in his life a like lightning bolt, caring and listening and never going away.

Isn’t it the kind of dad everyone deserves?

Soos sings the founder’s praises to whoever cares to listen. Fewer and fewer visitors comply, he gloomily notices one summer’s evening. The cracking gypsum doesn’t help at all – it plagues his first statue with fallen bits and pieces, making Stan look like a proper monster.

After it scares away one more crowd of little brats, Soos decides the founder deserves better.

It never takes Melody long to find solutions, and their task to revamp Stan’s image is no exception. She brings back a mold Mabel left lying around in the basement, timidly asking if the old thing could do. His eyes light up.

Turns out she is also an excellent painter. Once she is done, Soos uses the wax model as a mirror every morning. He straightens his pose and wears that smile, doing his very best to follow in the founder’s footsteps.

Many more tourists linger there as well. They do not shy away from questions either. More often than not, the children get lost in that cascade of praise, to the point that they ask – so is it true, Mister Mystery, is he your dad or what?

He never has the heart to say no. Sometimes he shrugs, sort of, you know. When he lets himself nod, he does it ever so slightly.

Where is the harm in saying so, in the end. What could go wrong. He is just Stan’s son to a bunch of faces he’ll never see again – harmless, yet better than just him. If he never found the heart to ask to the one person who mattered, he will take what he can get.

Now is Stan’s turn to be far away. He earned it, Soos explains to his own pained heart. Oh, and how.

If he can do anything, it is carrying on in his stead. The true descendant, he proclaims to unimpressed crowds. Because what else to do – what else than the least – for someone who leaves you behind so differently, who walks away to fall, to forget, all in the name of your safety.

That’s what sets them apart, and why Soos chose him. That’s what a father does.

With that idea, the founder in his heart and mind, Soos forwards his mission of dreams come true. He cares little for the workings of the outer world. He never comes to know of the hordes of confused children that spread across the local shops. It is the talk of the town, though drowned in giggles – these young visitors sure blabber a lot about former Mister Mystery and his son.

It isn’t long before they stop laughing it off. Good intentions and style all you like, Stan Pines is remembered as what you would call the shady type. And there is nothing a small town loves better than whispering behind someone’s back, especially when they don’t live there anymore.

Soos never realizes how Gravity Falls turns to that lighter, vain sort of conspiracy, maybe in the hope of leaving the worthwhile questions behind. Months of whispers, sideways glances, prattle of mystery mothers fly above his head – even the day in which the Pines ask about it, roaring with laughter and barely breathing, the whole thing leaves him stricken with disbelief.

He does not see what he cannot understand. The things he cares about are much simpler, rooted in rough, solid ground. He carries a few clear memories, the ones that matter.

When the time comes for the founder to return, Soos pays no mind to the spoiled little visitor, with his sideways cap and a habit of slurping very noisily. He only ever hears his words, full of surprise.

“Hey, Mister Chubby, look! It’s your dad, isn’t he?”

All he sees in the following minutes is how Stan swells with a makeshift anger, struggling against his emotions, just to switch to a Plan B which never worked and hide his tears.

Soos never had any issues with crying. Absolutely no problem at all.

“Dad! You’re finally home!”

The massive hug follows suit. Stan doesn’t even fight back that much. He has been away for quite a long time, to be fair.

“Hey! What was that? Cut it with the sappiness!”

Nothing happens.

Mister Mystery may be overly clingy, but the founder makes no effort to push him away. He surrenders. He is back where he used to belong, and always will.

“Yeah, yeah, I know,” he answers to words that no one said. “I missed you too, kiddo.”