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Fan Fic / Drowning In Your Depths

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“You’re cold?” he asked.
“Yes, the water is very cold,” Bill answered.
“But you’re warm,” the siren stated.
“All the more reason to feel cold.”
“I see… We’ll need to fix that."

When his crew mutiny under the magically-empowered leadership of his treacherous first mate, fasten him to the mainmast and blow his ship to a watery doom, Bill believes he's finished. But in the depths of the sea, there is other life, and kinder creatures—one even willing to save a life like his, in exchange for an escape from the Implicit Prison of an overly-restrictive home. Together, infamous pirate Captain William Cipher and siren and new First Mate Dipper Pines raise the ruined shipwreck, hunt for Bill's mutinous crew, and set sail for the secrets of their past and their path towards the future. Standing against them are a maniacal traitor, a well-meaning family, Bill's own possibly disturbed mind, and a conspicuously unnamed pirate of the past who ties all these things together.


Drowning In Your Depths is a Gravity Falls Alternate Universe Fic written by AngstMom. Formerly updating regularly on Fridays, it remains active though updates are sporadic; Word of God claims that sections are being rewritten. Warnings for graphic depictions of violence, major character deaths, and explicit sexual content.

Tropes Appearing in Drowning In Your Depths:

  • Affectionate Nickname: Bill has many for Dipper. Though he often uses Pine Tree (here a joke on Dipper's surname), he also uses Star Fish, Cuddle Fish, and most frequently Angel Fish when he's feeling particularly affectionate or teasy.

  • Alternate Universe Fic: A pirate-and-siren style AU, wherein Bill is the pirate and the Dipper the siren.

  • Almost Kiss: Dipper and Bill attempt one to seal a pact to see each other through to their goals, but they're interrupted by the Blind Eye's Boarding Party.

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  • Ambiguous Disorder: Beginning at the onset of young adulthood, Bill started regularly hearing voices in his head which display contrasting personalities, frequently comment on his actions, and argue with him over his decisions as if they were spectators; Bill also occasionally snaps under extreme emotional stress and loses all inhibitions preventing his anger from spiking into an incredibly violent rage, an Ax-Crazy state he calls "the Beast." This mental condition is the very reason Bill is a pirate: after his first violent snap back when he was still an honest trader, Bill knew he could never stay on the legal side of the sea without being hunted because this "Beast" had remained in his head since its first appearance and continued to periodically "emerge." Though the story gives strong hints that the symptoms are probably tied in with the supernatural, the origins of the problems do not negate the nature of their existence: Bill suffers from persistent mental issues that prevent him from functioning in normal life with complete self-control, which is basically the textbook definition of a mental illness, even if it is one that in some way involves magic.

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  • Ambiguously Human: Dipper notices during the Blind Eye attack that Bill's "Beast" exudes his own magical "tendrils," which is something impossible for humans—implying that Bill's dangerous snap personality is a manifestation of some part of Bill that is inhuman.

  • Artistic License – History:
    • The cocktail-like dress Dipper is given in Port L'Orient is made of a fabric of such a description that, given its sparkly and slinky nature, either required modern polyesters to be brought back by time travelers just to make it or is worth more than the entirety of the Mens Scapus itself. Or both. And its style isn't exactly contemporary with the 17th and early 18th centuries either; wearing such a dress in Real Life probably would have gotten Dipper written off as a prostitute.
    • Although it's minor, the cast occasionally uses modernisms in their language that make no sense for the setting. For example, Dipper uses the word "blocks" during the pirate council meeting to describe the distance between them and the dozens of armed ships at port. Not only does this terminology not make sense for Dipper to know, but "blocks" only exist in areas that have experienced formal community planning, which didn't even begin to be thought about until about sixty years after the Golden Age of Piracy had ended. This type of anachronism is especially prevalent with language referring to sexuality, sex, and gender; specific words on those taboo subjects at the turn of the 18th century were far fewer in number and very different from the words and contexts used in modernity, the latter being what the story uses.
    • Characters like Rezin make mention of the fact that Dipper is still "a child" and thus shouldn't partake in alcoholic beverages with them. However, until the creation of modern health practices and water cleaning processes, most sources of fresh water were potentially dangerous and infamously prone to contamination, especially in cities which were where most of the behavioral standards like drinking ages were set—and water stored for weeks at sea often wasn't much better. Mixing the water with strong alcohols was the most common way of making it safe to drink. It's therefore very unlikely that pirates would refuse Dipper a drink due to being only 17 during the Golden Age of Piracy, considering he likely would have been drinking alcohol throughout his stay on the Mens Scapus in order to avoid the parasites and pathogens in the barrels of stored drinking water. Unless, you know, he magicked it, but even then the others wouldn't have reacted as such, because the consumption of alcohol would have been a culturally accepted and normal thing and acknowledged as necessary for survival for all sailors regardless of age.

  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: A kraken attacks the ship in chapter 24.

  • Ballroom Blitz: It's a political meeting alongside a far less pretentious type of party, but the same principal applies. In chapter 18, every pirate crew allied with the Pirate Council convenes in Nassau to socialize and discuss the concerns of the day, and Dipper and Bill attend hoping to find information about Gideon's location and destroy any prestige Gideon has built off of supposedly killing the Demon Atop the Sea. No one is allowed to bring weapons into the gathering, so of course, those that have secretly sided with Gideon wait until the Praesul announces the intelligence she's received and the problems facing the community, then decide to reveal their weapons. Chaos Ensues.

  • Berserk Button: Bill's inner "beast" commonly manifests as out-of-control murderous rage originating as protective anger; the times when it's surfaced have all been in response to threats against those he cares for. Of the three "beast" appearances actually known in any detail, one began when pirates threatened Bill's brother, one was provoked but averted after Robbie attempted to sexually assault Dipper, and the most recent was the result of Blind Ivan back-handing Dipper across the face for daring to speak to him like an equal.

  • Bi the Way: In an attempt to show that he can relate to Dipper while the two of them discuss human attitudes towards sexuality and gender, Bill offhandedly mentions that he's bisexual.

  • Black and Grey Morality: Dipper, Bill, and Gideon form a sliding scale of morality from light grey to black:
    • Dipper is kind and generally against killing but limited in his empathy for humans, self-describing to Robbie as "indifferent" to their lives (though he seems to develop out of this the longer he's around humans).
    • Bill is a mentally unstable pirate who slipped into nonchalant murder and thievery, and, despite his beginning to move away from that moral cliff edge, still has no qualms about killing the people he feels he has to for survival. He's characterized like a particularly paranoid and jaded Robin Hood that has wavered around his initially noble intentions.
    • Gideon is a megalomaniac who can control people like puppets and seeks to be the most powerful pirate captain "in all worlds," cheerfully slaughtering any and all in the way of his attaining power. Kept "offscreen" as it were, Gideon is only heard about from sycophantic followers who themselves seek to murder and destroy; the only active presence Gideon's legion has had so far—besides mutinying against Bill—is breaking the no-arms treaty of the pirate council and attempting to kill all of the communities' leaders.

  • Brought Down to Normal: Downplayed. When Dipper takes on a human form after leaving his Mother Waters, he becomes just as vulnerable at sea as any human, though he still maintains his natural magic.

  • Cool Boat: The Mens Scapus, one of only five like her in the world, three of which have permenantly sank.

  • Crossdressing: Dipper is talked into disguising as a woman in Port L'Orient and goes along with it mostly because he really likes the dress.

  • Dangerous Eighteenth Birthday: If the implications in Stan's and Ford's conversations are an accurate interpretation of the "prophecy," Mabel's and Dipper's eighteenth birthday heralds the coming of some terrible event that could cause Stan and Ford to lose one of them forever. Notably, their eighteenth birthday occurs soon after this, and is a day of numerous firsts that may turn out to be harbingers of danger: it's both the day Dipper divines Gideon's location, setting up the long-awaited showdown with Gideon's crew, and the day Dipper becomes officially romantically and sexually involved with Bill, who is very likely connected with both the prophecy and the demon "Cipher." It's also the day the crew of the Stan O'War discover Dipper's current destination, setting every side of the main conflict up for collision in the Ionian Sea.

  • Deal with the Devil: Deals with Davey Jones and similar entities apparently exist in this world; Bill is accused by the Blind Eye Society of making one at the cost of his soul to survive the sinking of his ship. Subverted in that Dipper claims such deals are uncommon because human souls are often more a burden than they're worth; Davey Jones in particular rarely deals for one due to the problems with storage and upkeep. This specific mention of Davey Jones is likely something of tongue-in-cheek humor, considering the accusation's similarity with a certain franchise and that, in terms of folklore, Davey Jones is the only Devil specifically associated with his own actual storage space (his "Locker," an old seafaring euphemism for the seafloor where dead sailors rest).

  • Decomposite Character: Bill Cipher, the antagonistic demon of the Gravity Falls series, has his character split into what appears to be two separate characters: the more affable Chaotic Neutral characterization most fans attributed to Bill post-Dreamscaperers is given to current Pirate Captain Bill Cipher, secondary protagonist and Dipper's friend and eventual lover. The more malevolent characterization of the second half of the series, complete with making prophecies, threatening the lives of the Pines family, and inspiring paranoid tension in Ford, seems to be embodied by "Cipher," who is likely Ford's Evil Former Friend from twenty years ago and also possibly Bill's father.

  • Easy Sex Change: Dipper is male in gender but was born physically female. Among sirens, this is no big deal, especially since Dipper is so talented at magic: having studied siren anatomy, making adjustments magically so that his body matches his gender wasn't too difficult for him. However, this is subverted after Dipper has to drop his personal spells to focus on the extremely complicated spells he has to perform while raising the Mens Scapus and transfiguring both the fish school and himself into humans. This makes Dipper's body default back to female during the transformation, and since he has yet to learn enough about human anatomy to know what to safely change or how, he has yet to change his body's sex back to matching his gender.

  • Enthralling Siren: Dipper is one, as are the rest of the Pines family. Unlike most versions of sirens, Dipper's pod and town do not use their voices to lure humans; in fact, the Compelling Voice is rarely used, and the sirens prefer to live far away from humans and the shore, to the point where it's very rare for humans to encounter them. Given the rarity of its use on humans, that Ford is the one who taught the twins, and that sirens make note of which sea species are immune, it's possible the Compelling Voice's intended function may instead be a defensive ability against predators in the ocean.

  • Evil Mentor: Played with. Bill is a murderer and a pirate with scores of lives on his hands, but he does have Dipper's best interests at heart and actually doesn't want to lead Dipper astray of his own morality. Bill teaches Dipper to fight because he knows that he'll need it to survive, but Bill is jaded enough about the world and himself to not want Dipper to be like him.

  • Funny Schizophrenia: While Bill exists in a time before psychiatrists and thus does not have a formal diagnosis, and while the underlying causes are probably supernatural rather than entirely mundane, many of Bill's symptoms would probably get him diagnosed with some kind of mood or personality disorder under the umbrella of schizophrenia, although rarely does any version of schizophrenia manifest with violence like Bill's. It should not surprise anyone, therefore, that this story averts Funny Schizophrenia hard: rather than causing anyone humor, Bill's apparent mental illness causes him to fear those around him will flee from him should they find out about his issues, and his inability to function in normal society for a consistent duration is the very reason he's a pirate. Bill's very much characterized as a Reluctant Psycho, and his inability to always be in control of himself is in no way played for laughs.
    • The lack of humor in the situation is actually lampshaded in chapter 18. After Bill suddenly gets out of a long bout of depression and perks up to the point of mischievously poking and prodding Dipper about the ship—a significant and rapid change in mood and behavior, as while personal space has never really been a thing between them, it's usually Dipper who instigates the contact—Dipper jokes that he's finally come to understand Bill, that "when you’re not moping, you’re insane!" Bill immediately flinches, defensively asks “Yeah… I am insane, what’s it to you, kid?” and doesn't relax again until Dipper, aware that he's accidentally caused harm, makes clear that the comment was intended as one of the many teasing quips they exchange between them and that he's glad he's finally getting to see Bill when he's happy.

  • Gratuitous Latin: All of the magical spells use Latin for some reason.
    • The name of the Bill's ship, the Mens Scapus, also supposedly translates to "Mind Scape" in Latin.

  • Hearing Voices: Bill hears a voice that constantly sasses and disagrees with him. While this and other unusual behaviors of Bill's mimic some kind of mental illness, it's unclear to what extent these symptoms are mundane or magic. The voice in particular talks like an entity very independent of Bill and self-aware that it "inhabits" him. At one point, it threatens to possess his "vessel" out of frustration; however, it doesn't appear to mean him harm, instead expressing the desire to keep Bill stable, claiming it's only staying with him to keep him from falling apart out of "love," and its major problem appears to be Bill's self-destructive behavior. It also appears to ship Bill and Dipper.

  • Historical Fantasy: The story basically takes place in The Golden Age of Piracy, except magic and magical creatures are real, widely known about, and criminalized by most countries.

  • Humanity Ensues: Dipper (and later, his siren family)* uses magic to assume the form of a human and sail on the Mens Scapus as Bill's first mate. The adjustment is difficult. On the other hand, Dipper offers magic to a school of fish if they will transform with him and become the ship's crew, and they, he petulantly notes, seem to have no problem.

  • Humans Are Bastards: Bill certainly believes so.

  • Humans Are Special: Refuted hard. Dipper appreciates many of the experiences of the human world but spends quite a lot of time riffing about the disgusting ways the human body functions and the more nonsensical elements of human society. The aspects of humanity usually deemed "special" with this trope are just as commonly found among non-human characters.

  • Humans Through Alien Eyes: Dipper is a Fish out of Water that had never met a human before Bill, and his only knowledge of them comes from his great uncles' stories. This leads to a major Culture Clash as Dipper struggles to interpret the whats, whys, and hows of human life and adapt enough of them to pass for a normal human. This is not helped by the contemporary humans' limiting views on gender identity and sexuality, which Dipper defies through his very existence.

  • I Just Want to Be Free: Dipper dearly and sincerely loves his family with all his heart, but can't stand the sudden control complex they've developed over his life—to the point where he willingly fled home with a pirate, the type of human Ford described as "the worst," just to escape the Implicit Prison his family intended his life to become.

  • Internal Reveal: Dipper's and Bill's stop at Nassau reveals to the majority of the pirate community that Bill's new first mate is an inhuman being powerful enough to summon god-tier entities unseen for thousands of years. Depending on how many of Gideon's followers escaped and what they learned before they did, Gideon now likely also knows.
    • Mabel's bout of Twin Telepathy in Chapter 21 finally clues the Pines in to the fact that Dipper's disappearance may not be the kidnapping they assumed.

  • I Owe You My Life: Played straight with Bill, who feels he owes Dipper for saving him from drowning when the Mens Scapus went down, for fixing his ship, and for giving him the means to reclaim his crew. Played with in terms of Port L'Orient; though Bill saved the town from perpetual zombie invasion, he initially treats the villagers owing him their lives as a joke—however, he does expect basic respect in turn for his deeds, and is genuinely angry and betrayed when certain individuals within the town reveal themselves to be disrespectful towards those under his protection or to have intentions of treachery against him.

  • In Medias Res: The story opens with Bill tied to the mainmast of the Mens Scapus as it sinks to the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea.

  • Informed Attribute: Dipper and Bill regularly discuss how closed-minded humanity in general is and how hostile they may be to discovering various facets of Dipper's identity, particularly regarding his sexuality and gender—and while this was definitely true during this particular time in history and even true today in many parts of the world, we don't really see a culture-wide discomfort with Dipper as a person; everyone who finds out is generally quite respectful of Dipper's gender identity. After over a dozen chapters, at least four visits to port, and the introduction of a fairly substantial cast of side-characters, the most we see of this close-mindedness is the misogyny displayed by two members of the Blind Eye Society, and two people can hardly be argued to speak for entire cultures or entire species.

  • Innocent Prodigy: Dipper's a bit older than most examples, but fits quite well: he's still rather naive about the world and ignorant as to his own place in it—even as to just how much of a prodigy he is. Along with his prodigal analytical skills, he's extremely naturally gifted with magic.

  • Insane Troll Logic: After discovering that a shipwreck likely crewed by pirates was raised from the seafloor around the time Dipper disappeared, Ford assumes that because pirates are always "the worst kind of human" and Dipper disappeared around the time that the shipwreck was raised, the hypothetical pirates must have: 1). survived the shipwreck, 2). taken Dipper, a magically gifted siren in his natural element, captive against his will, and 3). raised their ship from the bottom of the sea, a line of thought which implies 4). the pirates planned for this, somehow. Thus, Dipper must need rescuing from pirates. This conclusion contradicts and even completely ignores a lot of the actual circumstantial evidence about Dipper's disappearance, and even the semi-accuracy of their assumption is astonishing considering how little evidence they used to get to it—they don't even have concrete evidence that Dipper is or ever was on the raised ship, let alone that he's being held against his will by anyone. The Stan twins appear to have heard a description of the ship's flag and immediately turned their brains off.
    • This has tragic consequences on the Pines family's search for Dipper. Because they assume Dipper is a prisoner and thus that he is likely never allowed above deck or off the ship, they don't bother to ask if anyone's seen him at any of the ports they visit and only have a vague, likely incorrect description of the ship he's thought to be on. This means that even if they go to a port that the Mens Scapus had moored in and talk to people Dipper interacted with personally, they still don't know enough about the situation to even ask the right questions or recognize significant information when they hear it. Until Mabel has her Twin Telepathy vision, their search was functionally dead in the water.

  • It's All About Me: Gideon basically thinks he's the main character, almost literally considering he assumes the prophecy is about him. Whatever he's searching for, he thinks it will make him the "most powerful captain... in all worlds." In short, he's still somehow both a calculating mastermind and a homicidal showboating madman. Hilariously for his ego, Word of God says he's basically a side quest.

  • Just Like Robin Hood: Bill describes that during his crew's slow transition from tradesmen to pirates, they began targeting and pillaging the corrupt. It's implied they drifted away from those vigilante ideals slightly by the time the story began, given Bill's internal monologue in chapter 1.

  • Loveable Rogue: Bill, who is characterized less like an unfeeling monster and more like a Noble Demon.

  • Morality Chain: What Dipper is to Bill. Bill's told Dipper outright that he won't be a good example for a "kid siren," but the fact that Dipper actually trusts him to be a good man regardless seems to drive him to watch his actions and emotions more so as not to scare Dipper off. While this trope is downplayed when Bill's in his right mind, it's in full force when Bill's more demonic "beast" personality emerges during his Rage Breaking Points, as Dipper's mind-altering Siren Song is the only thing able to entrance Bill enough to neutralize this state.

  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: "The Blackness from the Stars." Luckily, it typically doesn't give a damn about the mortal world, and has ignored every attempt to summon it for thousands of years. Horrifyingly, it doesn't ignore Dipper's.

  • Noble Demon: Bill, possibly literally and very ironically given his role in the show's canon. Bill is a pirate—a murderer, thief, cutthroat and renegade. Yet he has a depth and softness to his character that reveals a certain morality and goodness despite these qualities. A lot of what makes Bill sympathetic despite his occupation is his acceptance and respect for others, regardless of sex, gender, sexuality, race, or species, which is heavily contrasted with the misogyny, racism, homophobia, and general bigotry of the general population. Due to his role and the way his life has gone, he's seen the worst of humanity and is disgusted by humanity's cruelty towards themselves and others, though very self-aware about how terribly cruel he himself has become and can be, and very jaded regarding the concept of innocence. He gradually shifted into the pirate role due to circumstances and necessity, rather than original criminal intent. Bill ultimately comes across as a decent person who ended up a pirate due to bad circumstance and thereafter slowly adapted to the more cruel pirate lifestyle in order to survive. On top of this is the heavy implication, given how he describes the change as gradual while talking self-loathingly of his fellow humans and his own behavior, that Bill looked at the people he'd ended up with, looked at how the world saw them, looked at how they and others treated each other, and just gave up on the idea of being good.

  • No Name Given: The exposition during the Pirate Council is entirely about a specific and controversial pirate who disappeared some twenty years ago and once wrote a prophecy about how the Vagueness Is Coming in a book he left behind. Everyone seems to know who this is but no one ever gives his name, making the conversation about him both extremely unnatural-sounding and extremely difficult to follow. Even the details people shout out about him are contradictory, with some insisting he's a hero who died to warn others and others insisting he turned into a monster—quite literally. It is heavily implied that this pirate may be Bill's mysterious father, given the clear connections between him and current events as established within the story: first, Bill's father is connected to piracy through his conviction of it in absentia by the crown, to demons via his son's displays of unexplained demonic tendencies, and to the "prophecy" through the stained glass window he had installed onto his ship; second, Ford definitely saw at least one human become a demon and currently knows a "Cipher" who is a demon (and isn't Bill) who spoke of what may happen to Dipper when he turns 18; and third, No Name was a pirate who possibly became a monster who wrote a prophecy directed at Ford about danger coming for someone close to him when they reach "18 years," a prophecy that, again, is probably the same one Bill's father artistically depicted in stained glass on the Mens Scapus.

  • No Periods, Period: Averted. Dipper, having taken the form of a physically female human, does experience a period, and just adds it to his reasons for why being human is awful.

  • No Sense of Personal Space: Sirens in general are like this, according to Dipper. Sirens, being very social creatures who live in relatively cold environments, use physical contact to share heat and maintain a sense of emotional security. Dipper, unused to the concept of personal space, begins the story pretty constantly in physical contact with Bill; Bill eventually opens up enough to reciprocate and even instigate the contact. By the time they become romantically involved, they're a Cuddle Bug Couple.

  • Our Mermaids Are Different: the Sirens in this story seem to be a fusion of merfolk and siren folklore; though the sirens have the classic Compelling Voice, the sirens are closer to a benevolent merfolk archetype then the predatory nature hinted at by the label "siren"—with most outright avoiding humans and the surface altogether. Also, many seem to mimic the forms of different aquatic species ranging from octopi to sharks. They're also naturally magical creatures and can thus perceive the different kinds of magic in the world through their normal senses.

  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: Played with. Characters talk quite a lot about the pirating Bill has committed prior to the story, but due to the focus on hunting Gideon, none of that has so far gone on during the story proper. The characterization of Bill in the first chapter sounds far more like a pirate than the softer character we see him be around Dipper and Rezin.
    • The Pirate Council in the story act more like a gathering of small mafia bosses than pirates: they've formed a paralegal governmental structure applying to all the captains under their allegiance and have power to the point where even the majority of those who aren't under their control do not dare to interfere with their policies; they've also created their own laws and do not abide by those of the official local governments. They are criminals, but they act like a confederacy of organized crime families under the leadership of their captains (the bosses). Neviah, current Praesul of the Council, even refers to their brand of piracy as "Organized piracy." Notably, the "bad" pirates are the ones that rebel against even pirate laws. In Real Life, the European colonies-centric pirates of the Golden Age did have their codes and laws, but they were usually only agreed upon between members of a single crew or temporary fleet as each man's conditions of service. The story possibly justifies this difference between real pirates and the pirates in the story by implying a major disruption in the pirate community changed the course of events during the beginning of the Golden Age and led to the formation of the first version of the pirate council, thereafter creating more a widely applicable code amongst pirates in general.
    • What we hear of Gideon since he mutinied against Bill completely subverts this trope entirely: he's invaded, slaughtered, and looted towns; acquired ships; order the attack on (and attempted murders of) the Pirate Council and its allied captains; and seeks to be seen as "the most fearless and powerful captain to sail the seas of this world... of all worlds.”

  • Plot-Based Photograph Obfuscation: It's not a photograph, but the stained glass window in the captain's quarters on the Mens Scapus has been mentioned repeatedly in significant character moments, yet each time alludes description beyond a vague connection to "some prophecy." Considering everyone and their grandmother has repeatedly mentioned some ambiguous prophecy, particularly in relation to Dipper and Bill, it's not a stretch of the imagination to conclude that the contents of the stain glass image are plot-relevant and revealing.

  • Port Town: Given that most of the story takes place on the sea, a port town features any time the Mens Scapus heads to land. Unless something plot-significant happens while they're in town, it's hardly glanced over—the two major ones named so far have been Port l'Orient (in France) and the real-life Caribbean Port Town Nassau, which once upon a time really was a major pirate port, second only to Port Royal. A third unnamed port features in Chapter 17, described only as "off the coast of the Pearl Keys," which would place it east of Nicaragua. Port L'Orient crosses into Not-So-Safe Harbor, given just how much conspiracy and exploitation was going on there. Gravity Falls is kind of an inversion of this - it's a town beneath the sea, rather than beside it; an offhand comment by the Grunkles imply that it does apparently trade secretly with surface communities.

  • The Prophecy: Multiple individuals have discussed a "prophecy" at varying points. Bill offhandedly mentions that one is visually depicted on a stained glass window in the captain's quarters, First Scale fondly implies that she knows one relating to Dipper's and Bill's relationship, and Stan and Ford imply knowledge of one during their conversations when searching for Dipper. The only instance of any such prophecy being given in full for the reader is during the Pirate Council meeting at Nassau, in which the Praesul presents two passages supposedly predicting the future that were written by a conspicuously unnamed pirate twenty years ago. It should be noted that though this is called a prophecy, the actual passages, when paired with the name the passages are addressed to, read more like a promise of revenge, or a curse. The prophecy seems to have been written for Ford and to be about some sort of revenge the writer will enact upon his "lass" after a period of eighteen years.

  • The Quest: Dipper and Bill agree to travel together to hunt Gideon and rescue the loyal members of Bill's crew. Unlike most versions of this trope, this is heavily implied to be something of a Red Herring plot, as a more important conflict seems to be lingering just on the horizon—that being the origins of Bill's demonic aspect and the curse/warning "Cipher" gave Ford presumably about Mabel or Dipper.

  • Rage Breaking Point: Blind Ivan should not have slapped Dipper. Hurting someone Bill considers his Protectorate, especially in such a deliberately demeaning way, guarantees his Soft-Spoken Sadist side will come out.

  • Rape, Pillage, and Burn: What Gideon and those who willingly follow him have been doing to everyone they come across. Bill as a pirate is confirmed to have done the "pillage and burn" parts, but it's described in Robin Hood-style so it's unclear if the third ever happened on his watch.

  • Reality Ensues: Though pirates can be violent and merciless criminals and tend to meet hostile greeting parties in richer, well-governed ports, this is not true for smaller ports, who—given that they need the trade and business the visiting ships bring—tend to welcome all ships without much question as long as their crews don't cause them trouble.

  • Red Baron: Though Bill doesn't use it often, he claims he's known as "the Demon atop the Seas," as opposed to Davey Jones, who we learn is the Demon below the seas. References to his "demon" nickname are made by characters throughout the story, and become increasingly ironic as the story progresses.

  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Bill's eyes normally have blue irises and white sclera, but when "the Beast" makes a show of things, his sclera turns black and his irises flash between white and red, emphasizing his Ambiguously Human nature.

  • Red Herring: Used initially to distract from the hints that Bill actually isn't entirely human. Dipper assumes from meeting Bill that some humans have natural, innate magic, and the perspective choices in the first dozen chapters lean towards implying this to be true: Bill's perspective when describing magic at times mirrors what Dipper's perspective is, implying that magically inclined humans can also sense magic. However, after seeing Bill's "beast" naturally use an instinctive kind of magic to paralyze the Blind Eye Society, we learn that humans do not have innate magic, should not be able to sense magic like Dipper does, and that those humans that use magic have instead learned to manipulate magic around them—and thus, that Bill's magical perceptiveness as described is actually demonstrative of innately inhuman qualities. Because Bill was the only non-sea magic user character prior to this point, it was impossible to gauge what was truly "normal" for humans, creating the assumption of normalcy where none actually existed.

  • Reluctant Psycho: On the surface Bill appears to revel in his fearsome and intimidating reputation as the Demon Atop the Seas, but it's heavily implied this trope is more accurate of Bill underneath his veneer of careless suave. We find out during the events at Port L'Orient that not only does Bill have very real mental health issues that have essentially hijacked control of his life at many instances, but that Bill has spent the entirety of the story so far trying to downplay and hide these issues so as not to scare Dipper off.

  • Reports of My Death Were Greatly Exaggerated: But not by much! When Bill went down with the sinking Mens Scapus while tied to her mainmast, all present thought his death was so thorough and assured that they spread the word of his death far among the pirate community. As such, pretty much everyone who sees Bill is stunned that he's alive, and their reactions range from hysterical laughter to literally thinking he sold his soul in a bargain with Davey Jones.

  • Sickeningly Sweethearts: Subverted. Dipper and Bill were already very affectionate before getting together and are very affectionate afterwards, but the only people around to react are the fish crew who tend to think they're adorable—especially Soos, who's an open romantic.

  • Sinking Ship Scenario: The In Medias Res Cold Open of the story begins with this, as Bill and the Mens Scapus sink to the bottom of the Mediterranean sea.

  • Shipshape Shipwreck: The story's averting of this is a plot point. Despite only having sunk a few hours prior, the Mens Scapus is in absolutely terrible condition by the time Dipper and Bill return to repair it, with its masts and hull broken, the keel—its foundation—suffering what would normally be permanent damage, and its timber and ropes swollen into conditions that would have been utterly unsalvageable by mundane means. Without rare and powerful magic, it would have been a total loss. Its destruction is so complete that Bill's survival and the raising of the Mens Scapus was thought impossible, and it's only due to a powerful one-in-a-million-chance Spanner in the Works that the ship and Bill weren't doomed to wreck and watery grave there and then.

  • Shout-Out: Blind Ivan assumes that Bill and the Mens Scapus returned from the bottom of the sea via Bill selling his soul to Davey Jones (an idea Dipper finds to be utterly ridiculous and spectacularly uninformed).

  • Sirens Are Mermaids: Dipper and his kind are portrayed more similarly to the folklore of merfolk, except with Compelling Voices.

  • Slowly Slipping Into Evil: Bill pre-story began his career at sea as a merchant, then turned to vigilante pirating when "the Beast" made him too unstable to remain entirely on the right side of the law, and from there is implied to have sunk further and further away from any real moral justification for his actions as he slowly gave up on the idea of human morality altogether, even within himself. Judging by his internal narration in the first few chapters and his shame at his previous actions in later ones, he seems to have been on his way to becoming a Misanthrope Supreme before Dipper began pulling him away from the cliff edge.

  • Small Role, Big Impact: Someone named "Cipher" had a very negative encounter with the elder Pines Twins back when they sailed the ocean's surface on the Stan O'War two+ decades ago. If this person is the same as Bill's father and the unnamed pirate who recorded the Siren prophecy, then "Cipher" is responsible for a good half of the events that have defined the main characters' lives.

  • Soft-Spoken Sadist: How the "Beast" behaves: it's eerily quiet, unstoppable yet slow, and perpetually, silently, viciously enraged. When we see this personality shiift from Bill's perspective, it functions like Bill's normal condescension towards humanity in general multiplied by his sudden spike of hate for those who attack the few he cares for, a suddenly exceedingly violent temper and lust for the suffering of those who have managed to make him snap, and the loss of all consequence-based inhibitions towards extreme behavior—all of which is accompanied by the instinctual realization in that moment that Bill has the power to make them suffer as much as he wants and they can't do anything about it. In his show-stopping appearance chapter, Bill's inner beast is characterized, above all, by an intense, violent stillness, punctuated by the squelch of human organs being forced into places and shapes they shouldn't. Bill in this state of mind is basically the homicidal version of Cold Ham.

  • Stick 'em Up: A tree nymph working for Gideon tries to force Dipper at gunpoint to summon a monster, with the intention of forcing Dipper to kill everyone in the room through this. It doesn't work out exactly as he wished.

  • Summon Magic: One of Dipper's talents, to his varying horror. In chapter 18, Dipper, with a gun pointed at his head, is forced to attempt a summons that will result in the deaths of all those around him. In his attempts to prevent this, Dipper instead recites the spell for summoning a different entity, a dark god that has refused to be summoned for thousands of years, planning for nothing to happen in an attempt to bide time and figure out how to defuse the situation. Instead, the entity he insincerely summoned, the Blackness from the Stars, actually shows up, devours the person pointing a gun at Dipper's head, and this terrifies the rest of the aggressors into fleeing for their lives. Dipper manages to keep his head in the immediate aftermath until the summoning book is destroyed and the danger has been mitigated, but afterwards is utterly shaken by the fact that he killed someone, especially via summoning a being that supposedly never answers.

  • Sword and Gun: Bill begins to train Dipper to use these weapons early on in the story, believing he's probably going to need to fight when they confront Gideon.

  • The Golden Age of Piracy: The story's time period, though no specific year is mentioned.

  • Transformation at the Speed of Plot: For some reason, sirens are forced into human form when outside their "mother waters," an ambiguously-defined but small area of water that apparently excludes the Atlantic Ocean. Aside from contradicting Dipper's previous implications that he actively had to concentrate on the transformation, this means that Dipper cannot return to siren form until he returns to these Mother Waters and is therefore at risk of drowning just like any human. Oddly he still has access to his other siren abilities, such as his natural magic and Compelling Voice.

  • Transgender: Dipper was born physically female like his hatchmate Mabel, but identifies as male and used magic to enable his sex to match his gender. Unfortunately, as Dipper has no idea how the human body works, he doesn't know how to transfigure his sex while in the form of a human, making his identity as a trans male obvious if those around him pay attention. To the credit of the human sidecast, many treat the difference between Dipper's physical sex and gender identity as utterly irrelevant to their interactions with him—but not all, as Bill's and Dipper's encounter with the Blind Eye Society can attest to.
    • One of Bill's former crew that he speaks of fondly is a trans woman. She's presumably one of the captives on Gideon's ship.

  • Traveling at the Speed of Plot: The two main protagonists do an incredible amount of traveling, none of which they have the actual time for. The Mens Scapus sails from the spot it sunk in the Mediteranean just off the coast of Africa, travels around Spain and Portugal to Port L'Orient on the Northwest coast of France, over to the Pearl Cays off Nicaragua in Central America, up to Nassau for the meeting with the Pirate Council, and then back across the ocean towards Greece to catch Gideon—all in about a month. In absolute ideal conditions at a consistent speed of about 20 knots—the top speed a 1700s vessel could go—it would take nine and a half days to go straight from Port L'Orient to the Pearl Cays, and it would take approximately 22 days to make it from the Mediterranean to Nassau via this route with absolutely no actual stops anywhere. But the actual average speed of a ship at the time was 4-5 knots—more than four times slower—and the Real Life amount of time it would take to complete this route on a period accurate ship would be between three and five months. Like with the biological impediments to Bill seeing, hearing, and speaking properly under the water, the author handwaves the travel time issues through Bill suspecting that Dipper's magic is affecting the actual functions of the ship.

  • Twin Telepathy: Dipper's magic is powerful enough to have an echo effect that carries across to Mabel with enough strength that she can sense his emotions and occasionally what spell he's using. When Dipper divines Gideon's location using a searching spell that extends its power outwards across the entire ocean, it passes over the Stan O'War and Mabel is able to sense Dipper's results, allowing the Pines to figure out that Dipper is headed to the Ionian Sea.

  • Underestimating Badassery: Dipper in human form is described as quite small, rather pretty, and physically female despite his male gender identity—and as such, he's treated as a woman sometimes despite not being one. Given that this is the Golden Age of Piracy and neither women nor trans individuals were very highly thought of or even well understood, there have been occasions when characters are particularly rude or cruel to Dipper while operating on the assumption that he has no power to do anything about it. They would be wrong.
    • Bill takes the cake on this, having forgotten that Dipper was powerful and had power over him while Dipper was still in siren form. He takes his teasing a bit too far and forgets, due to how innocent and gentle Dipper acts, that Dipper is a powerful ocean predator who's literally the only thing keeping him alive at that moment. Dipper grabs him by the face, locks eyes, and swiftly corrects him.

  • Unstoppable Rage: Well, nearly unstoppable. Once Bill's provoked into "Beast" mode, those that provoked him usually end up brutally eviscerated—this is particularly true if the Beast was provoked by attacking someone Bill cares for. After smacking Dipper for daring to stand up to them while being "female," the majority of the Blind Eye Society was only spared because Dipper's Siren Song managed to enchant Bill into ceasing his attack. It's heavily implied that Dipper's magic is much more powerful than the average siren's, so it's unclear if another siren could even pull off such a feat.

  • Villain Team-Up: Inverted. Despite murderous pirates and sirens with Compelling Voices usually being the villains of stories, the whole plot of this one is that the pirate and siren that team up are the relative good guys.

  • Was Once a Man: It's rumored that the unnamed pirate who founded the first Pirate Council and left behind a cryptic prophecy was somehow turned into a monster. That there is truth behind the rumor is made more likely by the fact that Ford apparently knew a human who did so, and the prophecy this pirate left behind was not only written in a journal identical to Ford's, but also addressed to Ford in code.

  • Water Is Air: Bill lampshades how strange it is that he can talk and converse with Dipper after Dipper temporarily gives him the ability to breathe underwater—which should have, logically, affected the actual acoustics of their voices and made human-style linguistics almost impossible, as sound waves travel very differently in the denser water than in air and the human ear is not adapted to pick up sounds accurately in those conditions. Similarly, Bill can also see perfectly clearly despite being submerged in salt water, despite the human eyes not being adapted to the refractive indices of water and despite salt water generally being very painful for the human eyeball. Though it's never confirmed, there's always the out that these effects were tied in with the spell Dipper cast to enable Bill to breath. It is actually implied that the merfolk's natural magic enables them to speak and sing like humans even under the sea, so the idea that some of these attributes would carry over in the temporary spell isn't that far of a stretch. Of course, the fact that Bill himself likely isn't entirely human and has his own natural magic may also contribute.
    • On the other hand, the story averts this trope in most other ways. Water pressure and temperature are mentioned and become concerns for the human's health (though oddly not nearly as much as they should have been), and the thermal vents on the ocean floor spew realistic heat, mud, chemicals, and nutrients that do mess with the water. Similarly, it's constantly lampshaded that Bill's body is not adequate for any sort of efficient movement underwater, much to his chagrin.

  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: What does Dipper mean by his "mother waters"? Does he just mean salt water, the ocean, the Mediterranean, or a specific part of the sea that he lived in?

  • Wholesome Crossdresser: Dipper dresses as a woman in Port L'Orient as a favor to Robbie, since Robbie wants him to sing with his band but Dipper is wary of humans discovering he's transgendered.

  • Wooden Ships and Iron Men: Subverted. You definitely need to have a certain hardness about you to get through battles, but due to a combination of magic and Bill's completely historically unrealistic hygiene standards, life aboard the Mens Scapus is described as just about as comfortable as living on land, if not moreso due to a lack of all the untrustworthy people at port.

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