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After the New Members Come

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Ryuu spent entirely too much time fussing over his wings, and he knew that, but could you really blame him? Girls love a guy with well-maintained wings, and his were stunning—white, with an iridescent shine that looked almost holographic. They had only come in fully in the last year, and so as a third year, Ryuu could finally enjoy the effect of his adult wings. The time he spent preening was worth it for all the compliments he got.

What it was not worth was the way that Io made fun of him in the club room in the afternoons, but some sacrifices had to be made. Anyway, Io’s wings had come in before their first year of high school ( so unfair!), and they were a nice warm brown, a few shades darker than his hair, which did not show every speck of dust like Ryuu’s did.

Keeping white wings clean was a pain .

“Ryuu, you’re muttering to yourself again. Is there something wrong with your wings?” Yumoto’s question startled Ryuu out of his musings and back into the clubroom, where Yumoto was standing just a feather too close and looking up innocently. Of course he wouldn’t understand—he still had fledgling wings, not yet full-size or their adult colouring. Downy and soft, they were simple to maintain, and Yumoto likely had Gora’s help. Ryuu though… There weren’t a lot of people he trusted to touch his wings or help him groom, but his two club members were among them.

“Ah, I just can’t quite see if the back of my wings are clean, near the joint. At home I have a floor-length mirror to help with this.” Ryuu shrugged, feathers ruffling with the motion.

“I can help with that! I help Gora with that same spot!”

Gora’s wings reached almost to the ground when folded up, and his wingspan was immense, black feathers looking like the night sky. “That’s really impressive, Yumoto.” Ryuu turned his back on his junior, “Could you help me?”

Yumoto squealed an affirmative and began picking through Ryuu’s wings with surprisingly delicate fingers. Ryuu settled into the calming feeling of the grooming, and drifted off in daydreams.

A few minutes later, Io walked into the club room, their club president looking quite satisfied with himself. Ryuu met his grin with one of his own, asking what was up .

Io settled into his favourite nook near the window, wings folded gently around himself. “Ah, I finally got the Student Council off our back about members…”

“But how!” Yumoto shouted, tugging on one of Ryuu’s feathers. Ryuu yelped, and Yumoto hastily apologised as he smoothed the feathers out.

Io went on, “Well, I found two new members for us.” He gestured lazily to the doorway and Ryuu looked back to see two boys—first years, he thought—standing there nervously.

Ryuu flashed a winning grin and waved them in, “Hi boys, welcome to the Earth Defense Club! Come on in!”

“Thanks,” the shorter of the two said, adjusting his glasses nervously. He pushed his friend gently on the shoulder and they walked into the room, settling themselves on cushions near Ryuu and Yumoto.

“I’m Ryuu Zaou, and this is Yumoto Hakone, helping me.”

Ryuu couldn’t see it, but he could picture Yumoto smiling over his shoulder as he said, “Hi! I’m so excited to have two new members! What are your names!”

The same boy who had spoken before spoke again. “I’m Atsushi Kinugawa, and this is my best friend En Yufuin.”

“Yep,” the other boy stated, stretching out on his cushion. Atsushi was short, so it was hard to tell, but it seemed like En might be taller than even Ryuu and Io. “We’re both first years, and we don’t really fit in any of the other clubs.” En, like Io had, already had his adult wings, a brown that faded into a shimmering purple. It was an unusual colouring, but somehow seemed suited to his lazy confidence.

Atsushi still had downy soft wings, a warm grey, but the size told Ryuu that he’d probably be growing into his adult wings soon. He was stupidly good at guessing these things.

“What do you do here anyway?” Atsushi looked around the club room curiously, taking in the eclectic paraphernalia on the shelves.

“Defend the earth of course!” Yumoto exclaimed, fingers still petting through Ryuu’s wings. Ryuu was pretty sure they were clean by now, but Yumoto was a tactile person, and well, Ryuu wasn’t complaining. Grooming was nice.

“Pretty much whatever we want. I’m usually messaging girls, and Io is taking over the world. Yumoto reads manga.” Ryuu watched the first years’ eyes go wide and they looked over at Io again.

He poked away at his tablet without looking up, “I trade stocks, I’m not aiming for world domination. Just money. We also study and things. Mostly this is just a club to say we have a club. Our history teacher, Mr. Tawarayama stops by sometimes, he’s the advisor. But we do whatever we want, really.”

“Huh.” Atsushi looked around again, considering, but a slow grin spread across En’s face.

“I think this place is gonna be just fine for us,” En said, leaning further into the cushion. “Thanks for letting us join.”

“We’re so glad you’re here!” Yumoto exclaimed again, “It will be so fun to have more people in the club!”