A young man with dark red hair, wearing a black coat fell through the sky. This was not the first time the ninja had been in this particular situation. In fact, it had become somewhat mundane to him. He thought to himself, "At least this time I can see where I'm falling. Woah, it's a city. Hopefully this time I don't get any ancient Chinese curses."

The ground rose to greet the teenager with terrifying speed. Despite the impending doom, the ninja calmly flexed his fingers together in various positions, channeling his internal energies in preparation as he readied to brace himself from the fall. Instead of dying to a mortal splatter, the teen splashed into the ground which met him with a gelatinous ripple.

When the ground ceased quivering, the young man rose from being waist deep in dirt as if he were standing on an elevating platform. Looking around, he saw three teenage girls staring at him with expressions ranging from awe to wariness.

"Yo, can you tell me where I am?" he asked in Japanese.

One of the braver girls, attractive and dark skinned, ventured to speak, "Hello? Do you speak English."

This surprised the male teen who rarely needed to speak his first language. "Oh, yeah, do you speak English? Well, it's obvious you do. Sorry, I'm just a little disoriented."

"Are you a cape?" another of the attractive teenage girls asked.

"What? This is just a coat. What?" the boy said in confusion while dusting off said coat.

"Are you a cape? You know, powers and stuff," she repeated, annoyance clear in her voice this time.

"I don't know what you're talking about." He turned toward the nearby building. "Is someone screaming in there?"

The last of the trio meekly offered, "I dunno. I can't hear anything." She then spoke to her friends, "Let's get out of here."

The three girls backed away from the disheveled dirt that radiated from the boy and left, walking briskly toward the gate of the property. Suddenly alone, the teen decided to head toward the screaming he could faintly hear. Opening the nearest door, he found himself in what was obviously an American high school, judging from the row of lockers lining the sides of the hallway. At the end of the hallway, it sounded like someone was trying to escape one of the lockers.

By the time he reached the locker, there was an overwhelmingly foul smell pervading the area, almost as disgusting as the sobbing and screaming coming from inside the padlocked locker.

"Are you...okay in there?" he asked.

Whoever was occupying the locker began to desperately pound against the thin metal. "Please...please let me out," she sobbed in a hoarse, tired voice.

Reaching into the sleeve of his long black coat, the boy retrieved a sharp metal kunai and sliced the hinges off the locker door. A lanky teenage girl fell out, covered in used female hygiene products. She was crying into the floor, unable to stand. The boy knew that her various cuts and scrapes were probably already infected.

He spoke, "Ew. That's really gross." He stepped back from the crying girl who was covered in vomit, trash, and menstrual blood. "This is a school, right? Are there showers or something that you can use?"

The girl managed to nod, her sobbing slowing down as she regained a tiny amount of composure.

The boy reached into his sleeve and pulled out a handkerchief that he never wanted back. The girl received it solemnly and began to wipe her face and glasses. She coughed and spit onto the floor before asking, "Who are you?"

"I'm no one of importance. I don't really think I belong here but it's not like I got anywhere better to be. Can you stand? Cause I'm not getting my coat dirty if you can't walk on your own."

The girl stared at the boy speechlessly, frozen in disbelief. She only snapped out of it when the male offered her a bo staff that he had pulled out of his sleeve.

"You've been in there a long time."

"Shut up."

"Do you need help? It's not like you have anything I haven't seen before," the young man shouted at the girl over the sound of the shower running. He sat alone in the girls' locker room to await the girl.

Eventually, the water shut off and the girl spoke again, "I don't have anything to wear."

The boy unzipped his coat down the middle and pulled out a red cheongsam with gold filigree, solid pieces of metal ornamenting the silk dress. The dress was wrapped in plastic, having been dry cleaned a long time ago. It left the boy's hands and floated around a corner to levitate in place in front of the girl. The boy shouted, "It's probably a going to be too big for you. If it doesn't fit, I have some guy clothes somewhere that you could try on."

After the girl dried herself with a towel, she tried on the dress. She noted that the water from her hair was dripping onto the silk, that it was far nicer than anything she typically wore. "It's short. And the chest is too big."

"Well, I'm sorry for being short. Not sorry for the other thing," he shouted back.

The girl stepped out, pulling the skirt down as far as possible. "My name is Taylor."

"Fascinating," the boy said sarcastically.

"I want to thank you...for saving me...for everything," she said into the floor. A million things were running through the girl's mind at the moment and it was hard to formulate sentences. She wished she could be more eloquent to her savior.

"Don't bother. Come sit here and let me check out your wounds before they get infected."

The girl acquiesced and let the boy run his hands over her limbs. She was only slightly surprised when the boy's palms began to glow and the scratches began to disappear from her skin. "Are you a cape?"

"A what?"

"A cape. Like a hero or villain," she explained.

"Um...no?" he ventured an answer.

"So you're a rogue then. How...how did you know where I was? Who told you..."

"You were screaming kind of loudly. It was getting annoying," the boy said frankly.

"No one else...no one came. Even though everyone saw them put me in that...that..." Taylor grabbed her head, as if trying to shake away a headache.

"So what are you going to do now?"

"I...I don't know...this isn't the first time they did something like this...but it was never...it was never this bad..." The girl was again on the verge of tears.

"Hey, uh, if you're going to start crying again..." he warned, standing up.

"Arggh, why won't it stop? I can feel them moving, I can feel them. Them," she muttered through her teeth.

"Okay, lady, you are creeping me out now. You can cry if you want to. Just go back to 'not insane' please."

Bugs of all sorts began to emerge from ventilation ducts and cracks in the frosted windows and from under the door. Silverfish and ants and spiders and cockroaches and flies and the boy freaked out. He summoned fire in his hands and sent it against the hoards of insects. "Mother fucking bugs in this motherfucking locker room. You fucking stay away from me you fucking bugs."

"I can feel them..." the girl muttered.

"Well, fucking tell them to stay the hell away from me! I don't do bugs. Fucking Aburame..."

The small swarm began to dissipate, leaving in the same manner that it came except for the bugs that had been burnt to a crisp.

"I think I got it now," the girl said, no longer having a psychotic episode.

"That was you?! You did that?!" the red haired boy shouted at the black haired girl.

"I think I just triggered."

"Uh, okay. What does that have to do with a million bugs attacking us?"

"No, I think that's my power. I think I can control them."

"Just keep them away from me, okay? Taylor, right?"

"Yeah, Taylor Hebert."

"Taylor, can you tell me where I am?" This place was definitely unfamiliar to the boy.

"Um, we're at Winslow High," Taylor answered.

"Yeah, but where is that?" the boy specified.

"Winslow High in Brockton Bay?"

"And Brockton Bay is a city?"

"Yeah, Brockton Bay, Massachusetts."

"So I'm in the United States?"

"Yeah. Where did you come from?"

"Tokyo-3. I was only there for a while though."


"Don't worry about it. So, you can control bugs?"

"Apparently. I'm kinda new to this."

"I've met people who can control bugs. You do not want to make them your enemies," he said with a shudder.

Taylor made a contemplative noise. She looked down and realized what she was wearing. "Do you want this back?" she asked, wondering why the boy would have such a dress.

"Nah, I've got more of them. If you want to wear it again, you should get it adjusted though."

"Okay," the girl said. "I kind of want to go home now. Thank you for everything but I think I should go. Are you on PHO? Can I contact you?"

"What's PHO? Is that some kind of game?" the boy asked ignorantly.

"The Parahumans Online forum. Do you have a cape name I can find you under?"

"Like the internet? What year is this?"

"Year? It's 2011."

"Huh. Trippy. I can get internet access at a library, right?"

"Yeah. So, Trippy, if I wanted to talk to you again..."

The boy sighed. "No, I was just remarking on something interesting. My name is Haru. I'll look up that website later. Hey, you aren't going to get stuffed into any more lockers are you? Cause that was really..."


"Okay, take care of yourself then," he politely said, backpedaling out of the girls' locker room.

"Haru..." the teenage girl repeated to herself as she stared at the short Asian dress she was wearing. Her long curly black hair fell against the red and gold in stark contrast. "He was so nice. Kinda weird. But nice." She didn't think she'd be saved by a cape, much less one as weird as Haru. What powers did he have anyways?

Elsewhere, the boy in the black coat stood on a rooftop and stared out into the bay at the floating tower that loomed over the city. "2011. Right." At least he could speak the language. He planned on looking up this 'PHO' as soon as possible. And maybe trading some of his ryo for dollars. Hopefully solid gold was still worth something in this universe.