Repeatedly sneaking out of school to fend off a secret alien invasion was wreaking havoc on Bin’s grades, and he hadn’t been that great a student to start with. He could remember the disappointed look on Teacher Kang’s face as she handed Eunwoo his latest report card, and the way Rocky and Sanha had looked so pained, kneeling in the hallway with their hands over their heads as punishment for skipping their after school cleaning chores again.
It was MJ who suggested they acquire each other’s forms as morphs so they could cover for each other in emergencies. Sanha, because he liked to court death, patted Jinjin on the shoulder and said,
“Now you can finally know what it feels like to be tall.”
The idea seemed like less of a good one when Eunwoo showed up at their secret meeting place, which was the room where they’d practiced their song for the school festival, with a stack of folders in hand.
“Are you giving us homework?” Bin demanded.
Eunwoo cut him a sharp look. “If we’re going to pass as each other, we need to know the basics - our teachers, our subjects, our classmates, our families. So I’ve prepared questionnaires for everyone to fill out. If we want to be successful and help each other instead of getting each other into more trouble when we cover for each other, this is information we need to know.”
MJ stared at the stack of paper. “But -”
“We don’t have telepathy in human form,” Eunwoo said. “So we can’t just give each other the answers across long distances.”
“We have telepathy in all our other forms, though,” Rocky said. “Even the ones that have voices.”
“Not in human form. I experimented the other night.” Eunwoo distributed copies of the very lengthy questionnaire.
“Hyung,” Sanha whined.
Eunwoo glared at him.
Sanha picked up a pen and started writing as neatly as he could.
“Who did you experiment with?” Bin asked.
A moment later, Jinjin snickered.
Rocky raised his eyebrows.
Sanha looked confused.
Eunwoo said, “You, since we’re the same height and have about the same center of gravity. I didn’t want to injure myself by being too clumsy.”
Bin bit back his next question, which was, Did you see me naked?
“Also we need to plan another trip to the petting zoo, to acquire more forms,” Eunwoo said. “Everyone needs to have at least one large-sized combat form, one mid-sized recon form, and one small-sized infiltration and escape form.”
Rocky hummed thoughtfully. “I’m getting pretty good at working as a wolf. Especially since most people think I’m just a really big dog.”
“Jinjin’s puppy form is better for distractions, though,” Eunwoo said. “Although, some people are cat people, so someone needs to get a kitten form.”
“Me!” Sanha waved a hand like he was desperate to ask a question in class. “I love kittens.”
“I’m allergic to kittens, but I already have a kitten form. My sister adopted a cat.” Bin rubbed his nose.
“There’s a section of the survey about pets and also about allergies,” Eunwoo said.
“You’ll need a different distraction form, Sanha,” MJ said. “Maybe a bunny? Bunnies are cute, too. And fast.”
Sanha considered. “Okay! I like petting bunnies.”
“We probably need aquatic forms as well, both freshwater and saltwater,” Eunwoo continued. “We could probably get some of those at the fish market.”
“MJ should be a dolphin. He’s loud,” Rocky said.
MJ threw a pen at him.
But it was decided. They’d learn the details of each other’s lives, and they’d skip Saturday study to go to the zoo. The good thing about all of them being students at the same school and four of them being in the same grade and homeroom meant that the older four had less to learn, and also Bin could sell his mother on the lie that he was studying with friends. After all, Eunwoo had a reputation as an excellent student.
Once again, it was MJ who had the bright idea that they should practice being in each other’s forms, so that if they did have to switch, they wouldn’t be clumsy and falling all over themselves. It was decided that Sanha and Eunwoo should switch, being the two tallest, and Bin and Rocky should switch, being the next two tallest and also longtime friends who’d be better able to impersonate each other, leaving Jinjin and MJ to switch with each other, as they were the shortest.
“Maybe next time you’ll get to experience my awesome height,” Sanha said, patting Jinjin-as-MJ on the head.
Jinjin tried to lunge at him and promptly tripped over his own feet. He spun around and glared at MJ. “Yah!” he yelled. “Your feet are massive for your size!”
“Not like Rocky’s.” It was so strange, to hear MJ’s light and sing-song tone in Jinjin’s deep voice.
Eunwoo’s flat, unimpressed expression on Sanha’s cute baby face was just wrong.
“I do have big feet for my size,” Rocky admitted.
Bin didn’t feel too bad in Rocky’s body. He patted himself down gingerly. “You have massive hands, though. And really long arms.”
“That’s why I look beautiful when I dance,” Rocky said easily.
Eunwoo-as-Sanha reached for Sanha’s jacket. “To the zoo. Let’s go!”
“We should all set two-hour timers on our phones,” Jinjin said. “In case we split up.”
“We should set timers for less than two hours, to give ourselves time to find someplace private to morph back,” Eunwoo said.
“You know,” MJ said, “what’s to stop us from, say, borrowing Eunwoo’s face to flirt with girls?”
“I don’t know, morals?” Eunwoo asked.
MJ-as-Jinjin tapped his chin thoughtfully. “It would be an interesting social experiment, don’t you think? To see if girls really dislike my personality or if they’d be okay with my personality as long as I looked like Eunwoo.”
“Under no circumstances are we to use other forms for anything that isn’t mission-related,” Jinjin said.
It was kind of hard to take him seriously when he was wearing MJ’s face.
MJ said, “Sometimes I go flying. Just for fun.”
“You what?” Eunwoo demanded, rounding on him. With Sanha’s narrow shoulders and curly hair (but no braces, could they fake up braces?) he didn’t look nearly as intimidating as he had during arguments in times past.
MJ said, “I never lose track of time, don’t worry. But it feels nice. To be free. And to be away from - everything. The war we’re fighting.”
The fact that it was his older brother who’d been taken as a host, who was leading the invasion against Earth.
“As long as you never lose track of time,” Eunwoo said, gaze softening.
The bus arrived, and all of them clambered on, paid the driver, and shuffled to find seats.
It was Sanha who said quietly, “I think I’ll get a bird form, too. So I can fly.”
Jinjin said, “We should all be able to fly.”
Bin nodded and looked out the window. But we can never fly away from this war.