Note: I apologize for the formatting problems in the first chapter, those have been corrected. There were definitely line breaks in the file that I guess didn't show up when published, so forgive me. Thank you to those who brought it to my attention! PS – Just a reminder, this story has POV shifts!
Some Assembly Required
Figure 2: Some Pieces Not Included
Slowly my eyes began to open, vision blurry from sleep. I blinked rapidly, trying to regain my composure and consciousness, the world slowly coming into view. Morning light was just beginning to fill our room, the shadows of night becoming a memory.
The pressure against my chest feathers, as I looked down, was Rigby's arm holding me in an embrace. Yeah, it was Rigby, but that arm…how could that belong to Rigby, whose arms were once so small and thin? It had been weeks now since I let him touch me like this, but that stupid heat of a blush never failed to appear above my beak every morning.
This time I definitely feel moisture on my feathers, near my shoulders. I let out a soft groan, annoyed; Benson said the plumbing was fixed now! We had even called someone out, to Skips' protests. Immediately, I knew what this would mean: a bucket to collect water and Benson getting angry at US for something we didn't even control. Who knows when it would actually get fixed? I decided to wake Rigby; I wasn't going to face Benson alone with this, I needed backup.
I shifted my body, his paw inadvertently running through my feathers as I moved, making me shiver.
Damn it all.
I pushed the feeling aside, my feathers moving to his chest fur, and began to shake him. I would regret this immediately as a dribble of drool ran down from Rigby's open mouth, and plopped right on me.
There's your plumbing problem.
"Ugh!" I yelped in disgust. I shot up from the sheets, feathers batting at the Rigby drool which had found a nice spot on the bridge of my beak. That was really disgusting.
"Mordecai, are you OK? What's going on?"
I turned to look at him hearing his voice, and just as my beak opened to give him the verbal assault of his life, I saw that worried look. Rigby's eyes were wide, searching my expression wildly. In that moment I was defeated, sighing.
Damn it Rigby.
"You drooled on me in your sleep," I groaned, emphasizing the word 'drooled'. I found a discarded towel by the bed and grabbed it, bringing it to my beak and wiped furiously, making sure every bit was gone.
"Oh," he stated simply, expression dropping a bit as he realized I wasn't dying or something along those lines. "You scared me to death, dude."
"Well, you almost grossed me out to death, so I guess we're even," I shrugged with another sigh, throwing the towel into the corner. I sat down on the edge of the bed, hunched over. This wasn't exactly my preferred method of waking up.
"I'm sorry, it's not like I meant to," he chuckled from behind, and I felt the bed shift as he scooted closer toward me. "And guess what?"
"What?" I asked, turning my head, curious.
"I saved you a shower!" he cried out, suddenly throwing his pillow directly at my head. I blocked it with my wing and let out a disgusted groan, grabbing it and throwing it right back.
"Dude, that's so nasty!" I tried to yell, but found myself starting to smile despite my best efforts not to. I guess Rigby had noticed this and chuckled even louder, pleased. Stupid raccoon and his stupid humor.
"You know you love all of this," he smirked, thumbs extended back toward himself.
"I love not being drooled on like a dog," I retorted, rolling my eyes. Rigby may have been as tall as me now, but his humor sure didn't grow with his body.
I felt the bed creak as he scooted even closer to me, noticing that his body was almost pressed into mine, and I felt that familiar warmth of a blush creep deep into the skin beneath my feathers. The heat increased as his paws found my shoulders, squeezing. He wasn't – no, what?
I felt the tickle of his breath as his muzzle reached the side of my head as he leaned in. I could even feel his nose barely touching my feathers, making them slightly ruffle.
"I'm sorry Mordecai," he purred in a deep, low voice. It was almost seductive and made my entire body shiver. "Maybe I can make it up to you."
"I...uh..." I stammered, lost for words. There was a long pause. It continued, until I thought it would last forever.
Suddenly, his paws left my shoulders and dove right into my hips, his fingers quickly working the feathers there. I almost let out a squawk in surprise, my heart leaping into my throat. He was tickling me!
He completely fooled me!
I started to try and break free, struggling against his grip, but it was no use. "Rig-Rigby, st-stop!" I tried crying out through the laughter that was betraying me, trying to beat at him with my wings. He was persistent, his tickle attack moving through my feathers upward, to my armpits. My laughter continued, and finally my reaching wing found his tail, and pulled hard. Rigby let out a small yip and and I smiled in satisfaction, his attack on my feathers over. I planned to rub this in his face.
"Ha, totally got-" I began, when I felt myself being pushed down on my back, pinned. Rigby's eyes met my own as I looked up, his face inching its way down to mine.
"Got what? Looks like I got you," he chuckled, his muzzle almost pressed against my beak. My heart was pounding a mile a minute, and my mind was racing. I had to think quick.
"Wait! Rigby, I'm hungry," I stammered randomly, the first thing I could think of.
"You're hungry?" he questioned, face now puzzled. He slowly got back up, letting my body free from his pin.
I nodded frantically, maybe a bit too eagerly, trying to sound convincing. "Yeah dude, sorry, my stomach's rumbling so bad. Can we just go have breakfast?" I forced myself to let out a sharp laugh, patting my stomach.
He nodded, and I saw the disappointment clear in his features. "Yeah...of course dude. I guess I'm hungry too."
I cursed myself silently for making him feel bad, it wasn't my intention. I just...needed more time.
This can't go on forever.
It took no effort to get up and give him a hug though, his fur giving me a warmth that made me tingle as our arms wrapped around each other. He gave me a smile when we broke it, but it wasn't the same one I saw just minutes ago. I sighed under my breath, and we walked downstairs to get the breakfast I was so "eager" for.
It was almost painful watching Rigby play with his cereal, the spoon stirring the soggy bits of marshmellows and puffs in endless circles. Of course I knew why, but knowing it was me who was causing him to feel like that felt pretty crappy, to say the least.
"Rigby," I called softly, trying to get his attention. He dropped his spoon with a clang and looked up, staring at me, unsmiling.
I cleared my throat, feeling uncomfortable. "So dude, you wanna, I dunno...hit up the game store? There might be something new in."
"Actually," he started, picking his spoon back up, the stirring resuming. "I thought I'd go see Eileen."
Now, this didn't surprise me. Everyone and their mom knew Eileen had the biggest crush on Rigby even before his growth spurt, and he never did anything to reciprocate those feelings. Even though there wasn't a two-way street of romance, Rigby ended up becoming good friends with her from what I could tell. And truthfully, I was glad for him; even though Eileen was strange, she was loyal. A good friend. Rigby needed more people like her in his life. What threw me off was the fact he wanted to go without me mentioning it.
"Oh, yeah?" I asked, shifting in my seat. "You mean alone?"
His eyebrow raised at this. "Yeah, am I not allowed to go out by myself?" His tone was accusing, and made me feel like some overprotective father.
"No," I backtracked, feeling defensive. "I just meant, like, we usually go together. That's all."
He sighed and slid his chair backwards, standing up. He reached for his bowl and walked to the sink, turning on the water. "I know how it always is, man, you don't have to tell me. I think people think we're jointed at the hip."
"That's the way it's always been, who cares what people think?" I laughed nervously, watching him rinse out his bowl.
After scrubbing it down and rinsing it, he set it on the rack and turned to face me. "You do."
I froze, his words like a blow I wasn't expecting. He stood staring at me, waiting for a reaction.
"Rigby, no I-"
"Mordecai, I'm not mad," he interrupted me, moving back towards the table. "But I'm also not stupid. I think I need to start making new friends and give you some room to breathe, dude. I'm sorry I've been so touchy feely."
Wait, is this Rigby talking?
I wanted to stop him, and tell him I enjoyed him holding me at night. That I enjoyed his playful, teasing games, no matter how annoying I thought they were.
But I couldn't.
"Rigby, it's fine, it's not that bad," I lied through my teeth, pretending to smile. Why, why couldn't I just show affection back?
To my surprise he smiled back. "You suck at lying, remember?"
"So do you," I quirked, punching his arm. He didn't even flinch.
"I'll be back in a while, dude. Try and relax," he said, leaning in to give me a hug. I hugged back, my heart sinking with each step he took until he closed the front door behind him.
Who's the needy one now?
I took a deep breath as the door shut behind me, and exhaled, trying to let it all out. No luck.
My feet were carrying me away from the park into the city streets, but my mind might as well have been a million miles away. I thought of Mordecai just an hour ago pinned under me, looking so relaxed and willing, then out of nowhere panicking. I thought I had him in that moment, closer than all the others.
He said he was hungry.
"Yeah, I'm sure," I said out loud sarcastically, huffing. It was frustrating, that was no lie. He never flat out rejected me when I started to get close, but there was always some excuse. How could I make him comfortable enough to trust me?
There really was no option here, I had to go at his pace, or I would lose him again. And if that happened-
No. Not again. I shrugged off the thought. I was already crossing a thin line.
It still surprised me at how fast I was able to walk to the coffee shop nowadays, as it came into view. Convenient, but something I would have to get used to. The tiny chime rang as I opened the door, only a couple customers glancing my way. Sunday nights weren't that busy. That never changed.
I made my way to the main counter and plopped down on one of the stools. The girls must have been in the back, putting in orders.
After a couple minutes, Eileen popped into view, deep in a concentrated trance. It seemed like she was flying solo without Margaret tonight. When she finally noticed me, I gave her a smile, the coffee mug in her hand almost slipping as her concentration broke.
"Oh crud!" she muttered, as a bit of coffee sloshed onto her apron, yet managing to keep a hold. Her cheeks became bright red, smiling weakly back.
"Rigby, I-I'm sorry!" she exclaimed, turning her head away. "Let me go serve this." She shuffled away and I couldn't help but laugh when she wasn't looking. I remember when I couldn't stand this shy girl who was still blushing over me after all this time. In time, though, I found out we had a lot in common. We formed a bond and I really enjoyed talking to her, and opening up. She was one of the few people who never judged me.
Finally she returned, a dried brown patch on the top of her apron from where the coffee spilled. "Sorry about that," she said sheepishly, smiling. "You, uh, it's kind of hard to...you know..."
"Get used to my height?" I finished for her, chuckling. "Yeah, I know the feeling."
She nodded, and I noticed she was starting to relax a bit. "I don't think anyone expected it. But you're still you right?"
"Last time I checked!" I noted, pretending to look all over my body for something strange. She giggled and walked over, giving me a hug. Well, as best a hug as she could give at her height.
"So, where's Mordecai?" she asked teasingly, knowing full well the situation we were in.
"Well..." I trailed off, looking away.
As if one word answered everything, she seemed to understand. "Oh, I totally get it. Alright. I'm off in an hour if that helps."
I nodded, honestly relieved.
"...and it's like, every time I get too close, he makes up an excuse to get away," I sighed, finishing up my story. Eileen and I were walking side by side on a more remote trail of the park, enjoying the blooming trees and spring air, the sun reflecting rays of light onto the trail ahead of us. It actually took effort for me to keep my pace slower for Eileen, even though she seemed completely interested and keep up just fine.
We saw a bench ahead and decided to sit, stretching our legs.
"From what you're saying, it sounds like even after all these months he's still confused about everything," she explained, brushing back her hair as the breeze blew through it. "You guys DID go through a lot. Even Margaret is still trying to piece everything together."
"Yeah?" I asked, intrigued. The robin hardly worked at the coffee shop anymore; I had found out through Eileen that she had gotten a job interning at a record company.
"The four of us are bonded pretty well, I mean, we've had some pretty high highs and some pretty low lows. It's not like she completely forgot about him," she said, looking up at the cherry tree above us, its pedals circling in the wind. "I think she's waiting for you to handle things...you know, before they can be close again. She wants you two to be together."
I noticed a trace of sadness in her last sentence and couldn't help but feel a little guilty. Here I was, asking for relationship advice, from a girl who wouldn't hesitate to date me if I asked.
She looked at me again, a reflective smile on her face, eyes shining brightly through her large rimmed glasses. "I think you should just give Mordecai time, Rigby. I really think, deep down, he loves you. It's just hard for someone to adjust to something they've never gone through before. He must really care for you if he's still here. I think there's a reason you're back in the city."
I nodded and gave her a smile back. "Yeah."
We sat in silence, not awkward, just absorbing it all. I leaned back, taking in the scenery of blue sky and green grass. The birds chirping, the wind blowing through my fur, the sound of a boombox in the distance...I never really appreciated these things before. I did now.
I sighed contently, patting on my knees. "Wanna keep walking?"
"Sure," she smiled, as we both stood up, starting to walk back onto the trail.
I turned and looked down, a blush across her cheeks. "Would you...well, you wouldn't mind holding my hand, would you? That wouldn't be bad, would it?"
"Not at all," I smiled, interlacing my fingers with hers, as we continued our walk.
I was relieved to see Mordecai on the couch, concentrating on a game, the screen lighting up brightly with color.
"I'm back," I called, closing the door behind me. I walked over to the couch, placing my paws on it, near his head. The screen suddenly read PAUSED as his finger pushed down on the controller, setting it down on the couch.
"How was it?" He sounded hesitant.
"Really good, it helped me decide some things," I replied, moving to the other side of the couch to sit next to him. He didn't move but looked cautious.
"Yeah? Like what?"
"That you're a dork and I'm an idiot," I laughed, giving him a gentle shove. It was a risk, and I held my breath silently, but he ended up laughing too.
"I'm no dork, but you're an idiot, I agree," he smirked, reaching for the controller.
As he settled back into the game, something happened I didn't expect: his head leaned into my shoulder, as if to get comfortable. I kept the smile hidden.
Maybe there is hope after all.
Thanks for reading! See you next chapter!