China—aka Yao Wang—woke to find something mildly heavy settled on top of him. Still half asleep and not really aware what century it was, he wondered which of his adopted children had had a nightmare this time.

The kid stirred. China opened his eyes to see what child it was. He looked into unfamiliar dark eyes, then noticed the deathly pale skin, dark hair, and general youth of the stranger in his bed.

The child shrieked. China yelped. The kid fell on the floor, and quickly backed away, muttering what China assumed were apologies in a foreign language. China made calming, hushing noises while he tried to identify what language he spoke. It seemed to be a mix of English and Italian.

"Do you speak English?" China asked, soothingly.

The boy nodded. "I'm sorry," he said, again.

"It is all right," China said. "Why are you here?"

"It—it was an accident."

China processed that a moment. "All right. Why don't we go into the kitchen and I will make you some tea and you can tell me how you ended up here."

"You wouldn't believe me."

"I doubt that. I've seen a great many things in my life that would make even the most fantastic things seem mundane." The kid still looked unsure, but followed China into the kitchen. He tended to have a calming, trust-inducing effect on children. China set some tea to boil and started the interrogation.

"What is your name?"

"Nico di Angelo," he said, still not looking at China.


"I guess."

"What's there to guess about it? You either are or you aren't. Unless you've just moved there and you aren't a citizen yet?"

"No, I've been there for a long time. Since before the war started."

"Which war?" China asked. America seemed to be fighting a new country every week.

Nico hesitated. Then he decided to just go for it. "World War Two."

"Ah," China said, pouring the tea. Then he realized what he said and how long ago that actually was. "What?!" He turned around, looking for deceit in the boy's eyes. There was none.

He frowned, and poured another cup of tea as he decided how to proceed. He wouldn't ask if he was a micronation yet. There were other long-lived things in the world, and nations were technically a secret still. He gave the boy some tea and sat down at the other end of the table.

"What are you?" China asked bluntly.

"A demigod," Nico said.

"That's not a word I understand."

"My mother was human. My father was a Greek god." Oh. China knew about those kind of kids. Back when Greece and Rome had been powerful and exploring the furthest reaches of their limits, those brats had been running around everywhere. They'd infiltrated the Zhang family, and the Fa family, and several others of note. Not many had come to China, but enough that sometimes there would be a baby with unnatural powers that nothing could explain. Which probably explained why this one was here.

"You have powers then? Is that what got you here?"

Nico looked shocked that he'd put all that together. Then he nodded. "I'm learning to travel through shadows," he said. "Sometimes I have a hard time reaching my intended destination. And it tires me out really quickly."

"Ah," China said. "Finish your tea. If necessary, take a nap. Then you can go back."

"You believe me?" Nico said, disbelievingly.

"Of course. If you think you're the first child like this to come across my path, you are sorely mistaken." After that, Nico di Angelo wasn't quite as afraid and untrusting, though he was still quite wary. He finished his tea, and it was only with a lot of persistence that China got him to sleep as well. China could tell that he was dead on his feet, but the boy was very stubborn. Once he fell asleep though, the boy didn't wake until noon. China then insisted that he eat lunch, and then managed to keep him around until the sun was setting and the shadows were longest.

China waved as the boy melted into the shadows behind his house, assuming that he would never see the short-life again. That was disproved two days later, when Nico showed up on his doorstep as he was just on his way to work, and then the next week when, without explanation, he fell from the ceiling in China's living room. Eventually though, the accidental trips to China stopped. It was a pity; China was finally starting to enjoy the company of the awkward American. He brought a little life into the old, empty house.