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Measuring Tape

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Juuru woke up with a yawn. He'd drawn before sleep, utterly captivated by the idea. Wouldn't it be amazing? To have something like that, so soft and - and feathery!

He woke up with his sketchbook clutched close to him. And that wasn't the only surprise.

Uh oh...

***

"He's hiding something," Tametomo said to himself, watching as Juuru pelted past him. Their 'leader', who sometimes even deserved to be called leader instead of 'leader' (but not all the time, let's not go crazy here) was not good at schoolwork, but he was careful enough about getting to school on time.

This, though, was way before on time. He only had to leave in about forty-three minutes to be five minutes early for school, even if he caught a tailwind of those idiots coming out of the all night soccer match (soccer, really).

Tametomo himself was just strolling around, looking for a good place to buy coffee. Coffee was more grown up than energy drinks, right? Energy drinks made him feel seedy, and he didn't like the taste, so he was trying to make himself like coffee. Juuru had sprinted out of the CARAT entrance like his ass was on fire. And he kept grabbing at the air behind himself. Did he think he'd forgotten his backpack? Maybe it wasn't sitting right.

***

Juuru checked the time on his phone, then yelped and ran off, stammering about needing to be somewhere.

"He's hiding something," Sayo said to Sheena, frowning.

Sheena came at her again, growling like an adorable tiny kitten, and Sayo let her flip her this time. It was good for students to get one up on their teachers now and then. She lay there on the grass for a moment and stared up at the sky. Not seeing it. She was thinking about how Juuru's run was so awkward. Maybe constipation? She should arrange some kind of medicine for him.

***

Sena said to Shiguru, "He's hiding something."

Shiguru nodded. Somehow Juuru had swept everything off the table at the park when he'd only turned. It seemed impossible, Shiguru thought as he knelt to help Sena pick up their papers. They had been talking about new strategies.

"Perhaps his behind is getting bigger," he theorised solemnly. "It happens sometimes when you train a lot."

"Did it happen to you?"

There was a small green presence suddenly at his left hip. She moved so fast-! Shiguru twitched, then sighed, letting her inspect his rear.

"I didn't measure it before I started training. I don't know."

"We could get him measuring tape!"

***

Juuru was very surprised the next morning, horrifyingly early, when he pushed open his bedroom window to see his friends all outside on the grass, smiling and waving at him. The sun was barely up! What were they doing?!

"We're here to help you, leader!" Sayo called, and next to her Tametomo nodded most emphatically. "I have medicine!"

They were more surprised when he twitched suddenly, and fell out - and two enormous white wings, rippled with red and pink and orange, burst open on his back. He glided to an awkward stop on the grass, just beyond them. He gulped, drawing himself up to his feet. Hoping the wings would retract again. They didn't. Just folded themselves back into place on his back, around his little white and red pajamas. He turned, smiling even more awkwardly.

"I didn't mean this to happen," he said.

"Beautiful," Sayo breathed, streaking towards him. She outstripped Sena, for once, and in a moment the two of them were on either side of him. "May I touch?"

A paper bag had been pressed into his hands.

"I drew them one night. I didn't mean to make them real! Uh, sure," he said, opening the bag. Constipation medicine.

Shiguru approached next. He kept his voice down, but he was so manly and booming that Juuru was pretty sure that the entire neighbourhood would wake up anyway. "They're impressive," he said. He pressed something else into Juuru's hands, but then Tametomo was throwing a backpack at him and racing around behind him.

The four of them, with Mabushina making excited noises on Sayo's phone, were now stroking his wings. He shivered, feeling the thrill of it racing through him. The sun was bursting on the horizon. He wanted to fly. He wanted to do something so he would never have these silly ungainly things on his back ever again. He wanted to fly. He wanted to draw wings for each of his friends who wanted them. He wanted to fly.

He looked at the other thing he'd been given, at last.

"A tape measure?"

"To measure your behind," Shiguru told him, and everything was so strange and wonderful that Juuru just laughed.

He'd have to be careful. He didn't have entire control over when they manifested and when they disappeared.

"Who wants to come for a flight with me?"

Everyone said, "Me!" in unison.