Hi there! It's been a while, hasn't it? Time really flies. I apologize for the lack of updates, some life issues came up that needed tending to. Writing for me helps my healing process in ways no other activity can, so here I am, entertaining readers and giving myself an outlet at the same time.

I must note there will be adult content, including a male on male sexual relationship, some violence and language in later chapters; if that isn't your cup of tea, please do not read on.

If this happens to be your first time reading one of my stories, I welcome you to the chaotic, wondrous mess that is my mind. This is a continuation of my story, 13 Steps, which I recommend reading first to grasp the mindset of Mordecai, Rigby and pals. If not, this story should be fairly stand-alone for those just joining this particular adventure. Anyhow, I hope you enjoy the continuation and as always, let your imagination run loose. It's the most important tool any of us have.

Some Assembly Required

Figure 1: Unpack The Pieces

"Man, there's another one!" I sneered in disgust, batting my wing at the pest, which was currently fluttering annoyingly close to my head. I made contact, actually feeling its dusty wings touch my feathers. The moth was undeterred, startled by my attack but still fluttering away. "What is with these things dude? Are you like, their secret Moth King or something?"

Rigby looked up from the handheld he was button-mashing and sighed. I looked over to him and saw those coal-colored eyes roll, bright from the contrasting natural mask he sported. "Of course I am, and I tell them to attack you, and only you."

I let out a sarcastic laugh. "Ha, very funny. Would you mind sending your minions away for a while? I need a break from them."

He laughed at this, stood up from the bed and walked to the window. He lifted it up with some creaking resistance, a small gust of evening, spring air filling the tiny space we shared. He comically motioned his paw toward the open frame. "Come minion, your work here is done…for now," he said, voice lowered, glancing at me to raise one eyebrow. What a doofus.

As if the order actually had an effect, the moth began to change course for the window, fluttering away. Rigby watched as the insect cautiously flew past the frame into the darkness, and made sure it was gone before shutting the window closed once more.

"Dude, you're not just the Moth King, you're the Moth Whisperer!" I pretended to gasp.

"There, any other requests?" he grinned, hands on his hips. My eyes wandered up and down his frame as he stood in front of me and I realized I was getting into a trance I was quite used to by now. Well, the trance I was used to…Rigby, no, that would take a while. The short, pestering raccoon I had always known wasn't so short anymore. I had watched the growth spurt myself, of course, but that didn't make it any more believable. For as long I've known Rigby, he had never been taller than my torso. Stools and tables were his best friends, giving him the ability to talk to me eye level when needed.

It started with just a couple inches, and wow, had he bragged about it. "Mordecai!" he had shouted, waking me up one morning. He had dragged me out of bed and led me to the bathroom, making us stand side-by-side in front of the mirror. His eyes were lit with excitement, looking up at me. "Dude, look! I thought I was seeing things, but I'm totally taller!" I had to rub my eyes, convinced the sleepiness still in them was affecting my vision. I blinked a couple times into focus, and sure enough, his head was almost chest level to me. I actually was dumbfounded.

"You're still a shrimp, Rigby, but I guess you got lucky," I playfully shoved him, and immediately regretted it. I knew Rigby was sensitive about his height and immediately a frown replaced that beaming smile, his ears drooping. "Hey, I'm kidding, you might even get a few more, dude!" I quickly found myself saying, trying to do damage control. A small smile reappeared on his muzzle and I hated to admit it, but it was adorable. Adorable? It still felt foreign on my tongue when referring to Rigby. After everything that had happened, our relationship had evolved through the ups and downs, but I still couldn't grasp what it actually was. We were comfortable enough to share a bed, and show affection, but there was no title. Rigby didn't push it, and I was grateful. Maybe he was just content having me like I was content having him.

The growth spurt just continued as the weeks, and soon months, went by. The day it finally really hit me was during a conversation where we were eye level just a couple weeks ago, and no stool, chair or table was aiding him. Of course I had noticed him growing, but how I could not still see him as my short childhood friend?

It was a surreal situation, one I actually went looking for answers for. It was Don I decided to visit, Rigby reluctantly tagging along, never one to want to spend more than five minutes with his younger sibling.

"So Rigby's not using some weird growth formula he found on the net?" I had asked as we sat in Don's living room, making Rigby shoot me a dirty look.

Don had laughed. "No, some of the guys in our family have pretty late growth spurts, though I have to say I don't think anyone's been as old as Rigby when it happened," he noted as if being the same height as Rigby now didn't matter, patting his older brother. It was creepy in a way, how they were pretty much twins now. Rigby shrugged his paw off at that point; at least when they spoke you could tell, easily.

"Everyone's just going to have to get used to it," he had said smugly. Easier said than done.




I jolted awake from that recent memory, and looked up at Rigby, his expression puzzled. "Dude, what just happened?"

I quickly regained my composure, shrugging it off. "Sorry, I'm kinda tired still." I pretended to yawn, stretching my wings over my head.

"It's alright man," he nodded, cautiously. "Do you need a nap?"

I pondered it; it would be a chance to think, to be alone in my thoughts. "Yeah, you know, I might. I should, I guess." I stumbled, flustered. What was wrong with me?

"Alright, I kinda wanted to go for a walk anyway. The breeze felt nice when it came in," he nodded, still watching me intently.

"Oh cool, enjoy it," I replied, not knowing what else to say. I suddenly was thankful that I was already sitting on the bed, quickly lifting my legs up so I could lie down. I turned over towards the wall, away from his stare, away from my embarrassment.

I'm sorry Rigby. I wish I knew what to say.

When I heard the footsteps coming toward the bed, I tensed.

Rigby, please, just go on your-

His large paw found my covered shoulder, rubbing it softly, completely catching me off-guard. It was gentle, comforting, and I found myself relaxing my muscles.

"Sleep well Mordecai."

His paw withdrew and I heard him walk towards the door. He was even careful to open and close it without a sound, probably afraid of waking me.

It was then I realized I wanted his touch. Sleep wouldn't come, even if I wanted it.

I was careful walking down the hall. If Mordecai was tired, I wanted to make sure he got some rest. I let out a small sigh, disappointed I had done something to push him into another distant mood. Maybe my humor was off? I knew I could say some pretty stupid things.

But, I didn't say anything bad! He went into that dream-like state and totally zoned out as usual. Maybe I shouldn't have startled him. I found myself questioning my actions around him more often, carefully choosing what to say. I battled with this, often wondering if it was me or something I couldn't get out of him.

As I walked down the stairs, I realized it was almost a year since I walked away from the park and Mordecai's painful breakup with Margaret. A lot had happened, and yet it was like a giant circle, because here I was back at the park. By all means, Benson didn't have to rehire me, and I wouldn't have blamed him.

I smiled to myself thinking of Pops' speech to our boss, demanding he give me a spot back on the team. He hated speeches and he hated being assertive, yet his broke his own rules just to give me another chance. I owed him a lot.

Yet the only reason I was back here was Mordecai. I remember that night months ago he showed up in the new park I had taken the groundskeeper position in.

We were sitting in a random coffee shop I pretended to be a regular at, to impress him, as if I were making friends and doing fine.

"So you like it here?" he had asked bluntly, mixing his coffee around with a spoon, not quite looking at me.

"It's not bad, man," I had lied, faking a smile. "Co-workers are cool, pay's the same, nice change of scenery."

That felt stupid to say, knowing I hadn't even explored the new town I lived in, and my co-workers knew nothing about me except my name.

Mordecai had nodded. "Cool." Then he had finally looked up. "You know, everyone misses you."

Snickering, I had shaken my head. "You're kidding me, right? Muscle Man, High Five, Skips and Benson couldn't stand me. And no, Pops doesn't count since he loves EVERYBODY."

"I do."

He turned his gaze away again and I saw the blush. That wasn't Mordecai at all. What had happened while I was gone?

"Hey, you don't think I missed you too? We're always tight Mordecai," I had said to him, and finally, both of us had smiled. In that moment, I was convinced we had salvaged everything, that it would be OK.

The night air felt great coursing through my fur, and I leaned into the wind, feeling myself grin. Maybe things weren't perfect, but just to be back with him…well, it meant everything to me.

I let myself stretch, feeling some back muscles pop, and I let out a groan. This new body was taking time to get used to for sure. I tried not to show it, but I felt clumsy half the time. I couldn't run on all fours anymore, which really bummed me out at first. I guess there are worse things, but it WAS an adjustment.

Maybe that's part of the reason Mordecai is still withdrawn. I had wanted to tease him about being just as tall as him now, but my better judgment won. It took a lot of work to get him back and losing him over some dumb comments didn't seem like a good plan.

I smiled again, looking back toward the house. I really wanted to give him a hug in that moment and tell him everything would be just fine.

I cut my walk short, a skip in my step. A certain Yeti would be proud.

My eyes were still wide open, my thoughts wandering all over the place as I thought about the last year. What was the next step in Rigby and I's relationship? My head hurt from the constant battle it was having with my heart.

I heard the door creak open softly and Rigby walked in, apparently thinking I was definitely deep asleep. He slipped next to me, drawing his breath, apparently thinking his weight would wake me.

You don't have to worry about that, Rigby.

I almost tensed as his arm draped over me, drawing me close. Man, I was thankful for darkness, I bet my blush was lighting up our bedroom.

My eyes started to close, and I realized I was truly drifting off to sleep now. I felt safe.

Good night Rigby.

Good night Mordecai.

And there you have it, the end of "Chapter" One! This was a set-up chapter, more of a recap of events but I hope it was still enjoyable. See you next time and thanks for reading!