Work Header


Chapter Text

Cass Hamada paused as she wrote out detailed instructions for her temporary replacement. Hiro had gone to bed much earlier than usual and she'd had Baymax promise to keep an eye on him. It wasn't exactly like his typical routine, though the last few months had been anything but typical for the teen genius. If Cass was being truthful, things hadn't been "normal" for over two years now. It didn't help that he was only now really just recovering from being kidnapped by Hydra and almost dying. Again.

With Tony Stark's, and Phil Coulson's, help, Hiro had managed to avoid getting expelled, along with his friends. His continued education was far too important for that. And since a government agency had basically told the Institute that Hiro had performed some kind of service for them, they couldn't poke into matters without getting into trouble. Hiro had tried to make up for lost time by doubling down on his studies during the summer sessions, even though his professors had assured him he could take whatever time he needed. It helped that he had doctors' notes from some of the most prestigious medical professionals in the city to back him up. But with not much to do besides recover, the teen had become bored quickly, which explained, in part, why he threw himself into his studies so much.

Several months had passed since they'd all returned home. And while Hiro was now back on his feet, more or less, he still had a long way to go. There were several nights when Cass had stayed up late, listening to her nephew call out in his sleep. Now she paused to listen and didn't hear anything, which was a bit disconcerting since she'd thought she'd heard activity only a few minutes ago, knowing the café was closed up tight, with no customers left hiding anywhere. She'd checked.

Hiro was also only just now getting back into doing simple missions, usually taking the less glamorous job of calling the shots from either the garage or their base at Fred's place. He'd insisted on showing her their headquarters after he was up to moving around again. It was only fair, he'd explained, after all the worry he'd caused. She'd felt some relief knowing they had a trauma unit available for their use, along with a pseudo on-call doctor. He'd even gone so far as to promise to let her know if he had to leave to perform any kind of hero work. She'd insisted on having some way to contact him directly should he need to jet off without notice.

Technically speaking, Cass was more than aware that sometimes a person couldn't inform everyone on their list before having to run out and save someone. She accepted that. But the fact that she hadn't heard anything tonight was more than a little disconcerting. Maybe he'd been called out on a mission last second. With that in mind, she headed to the garage to see if he was there. He wasn't. Even the lights were off, a sure sign he hadn't gone there instead of to bed. The computers were also turned off and his extra set of gear, stored there in the off chance he got a call while at home came in, was still sitting in its usual place. That negated the idea he'd been called on a mission.

Cass trudged up the stairs, sure she'd locked the doors and set the alarm, not that such things would stop Hiro from getting around them. He'd found a way around them before he'd even moved on to high school. That was back when he'd first gotten into bot fighting. It was almost ironic he was doing it again, only legally this time, as part of his school's robotics team. As she continued up to Hiro's room, she heard the faint sound of her nephew calling out and hurried up the rest of the stairs.

"Hiro?" She wasn't sure if he was asleep or not, caught in one of those panic-inducing dreams he had much more often than she'd like. But when she looked towards his bed, she only saw rumpled sheets and a few disheveled pillows. And since the windows were firmly closed, she didn't even bother giving them a second thought.

The light to the bathroom was on, the door open so it spilled out into the darkened room. "Hiro?" she called again as she cautiously made her way to the open door. She didn't see Baymax anywhere, hoping the logical side of her brain was being rational in telling her that if there really as a problem, the robot would have come to get her.

Hiro sat next to the toilet, his shoulders heaving as his breath came in almost gasping pants. A sheen of sweat formed across his brow and he looked more pale than usual. He didn't seem to register that someone else had entered the room.

Baymax turned from observing his young charge, his black eyes blinking expressionlessly at the café owner. "Aunt Cass," he greeted before turning back to watch his friend. "Hiro is exhibiting symptoms of physical distress."

Cass shook slightly, bringing her thoughts back into focus. "I can see that," she said as she moved closer to feel Hiro's forehead. It was warmer than usual. "What's going on? Is it anxiety about tomorrow?" While they were indeed going to head out to Los Angeles in the morning, she somehow doubted that was the reason behind her nephew's sudden case of an upset stomach, or the low-grade fever accompanying it.

The teen's body shuddered and he leaned over the toilet bowl, retching. Nothing came up for his efforts, but it was obvious they left him feeling weaker than before. Feeling his aunt's hand pressing against his shoulders, he leaned against her and shivered. "It's so cold," he complained.

Baymax tilted his head, staring at Cass as she turned back to look at him, not needing to hear her ask again before answering. "As I do not detect any signs of infection, I believe Hiro is reacting to one of the many memories he had to reintegrate, though it does not appear to be one I am familiar with. I believe the process is called reactive reintegration." He'd taken the opportunity to discuss it with the two Doctors before they'd left, shortly after the whole Q incident. They'd confessed something like this likely, though the robot had hoped it wouldn't happen. It was more akin to PTSD on steroids and looked far from comfortable for the teen genius. If they were being truthful about matters, this wasn't the first episode of it either.

Part of Cass wanted to get up and go after the heavy quilt Hiro usually used but part of her also didn't want to leave his side. She'd missed a lot of his life through ignorance already and Hiro didn't look like he wanted her to leave. "Has this happened before?"

"Similar incidents have occurred over the last year," Baymax confirmed. "However, this is the first time Hiro has exhibited these exact symptoms. It is important to note that such symptoms usually last no more than two to three hours. The typical amount of time is between ten to fifty minutes while his body and mind readjust."

The idea that her nephew had gone through all this crap without her knowing it, practically alone, wrenched her heart and she couldn't help but pull him closer, wrapping her arms around him. "I wish you'd told me sooner," she whispered as she tried to smooth Hiro's hair.

"I didn't want to worry you," Hiro croaked. "It's not the first time this has happened. Probably won't be the last. Not even my friends know about it."

While they'd had a more open dialogue about his hero work, Hiro had yet to really go into any details about those experiences the others could only hint at. She felt sure this current bout was brought on by recollections of his repeated time lines. Baymax's words strongly suggested that. The truth of the matter was that even though the robot had relayed the repeats that he knew about, there were likely more he didn't. It was possible that Hiro might not even clearly recall them all, even though he'd had to relive them when he'd had to put the universe back together. Reactive reintegration was probably as close a term to him going through them again as anything else.

Cass sighed. "You know I'd do anything for you, right?" She smoothed his hair, pushing a damp strand away from his eyes. He still needed a haircut, she thought as she looked into his pale face. He'd closed his eyes as he leaned his head against her chest.

"Yeah," Hiro replied. "Maybe I've just been pushing myself too hard."

It was a decided possibility. He'd just finished his fifth online course for the summer only a week ago. And even though the new school year hadn't officially started yet, he was signing up for classes that were on a senior level. The fact that he was trying to graduate around the same time as the rest of his friends wasn't lost on his aunt, though she secretly knew they'd graduate at the end of the calendar year instead of the school one. "It's not a race," she reminded him. In fact, the only reason his friends hadn't graduated the school year before was due to the whole kidnapping issue in New York. They all had to make up for the missed class work. They'd all just chosen to take the summer off to focus on recovering and doing hero work.

Hiro opened his eyes to look up into her face. "I know. I just… I can't help but wonder what will happen when they graduate and I'm still stuck in school. It's not something I really want to think about but I have to. I don't want to be left behind."

Cass pulled him closer so he was now practically in her lap while Baymax watched on. "You're not going to be left behind," she assured him. "You're more family than most families are. They won't leave you behind. Besides, they'll all be with us tomorrow. If it still bothers you in the morning, you can tell them your concerns."

The teen chuckled weakly. "Yeah, maybe." He wasn't exactly keen on the idea but knew it should be expressed at some point. Things were going to be different soon and he wasn't sure if he was ready for that. He already knew of some changes coming up, mostly on Fred's end. The mascot had confessed to something he had planned for this coming week while they were in Los Angeles, though why he'd told Hiro was beyond the teen's comprehension. Maybe it was his way of coping, partially seeing Hiro as Tadashi. Either way, it meant Hiro had one more thing to keep quiet.

"You should get back to bed," Cass said, moving so Hiro could stand. "Big day for all of us. I'm just glad Wasabi's letting me drive his precious van, and that I could find someone to take over the café while we're all down there."

Hiro definitely had to laugh at that. "I know you don't want to let me out of your sight," he joked.

"You've got that right," Cass emphasized as she followed him into his bedroom. "The last time I let you leave San Fransokyo, you got kidnapped. Maybe if I'm with you, that won't happen."

Shaking his head just a bit, mostly because his body was still being wonky, Hiro made his way back to his bed. "It's just a bot tournament between different colleges and stuff. What kind of trouble could follow us there?"

"Get some sleep," Cass smiled as she tucked Hiro into bed. "We'll worry about that in the morning. And, hopefully we won't find any."

Baymax shuffled behind them, noting that Hiro's vitals were starting to stabilize. The whole episode hadn't lasted as long as it could have, though part of him wondered if the teen would tell them about it later. He particularly was interested in what kind of memory had triggered the reaction.

Hiro watched his aunt leave the room and head down the stairs. Thoughts of the week-long tournament filled his mind as he caught sight of Megabot sitting across the room. He let out a heavy sigh. "Yeah, I hope nothing happens either." With that, he rolled over to one side and closed his eyes.

Kally couldn't help but feel anxious as she bypassed security at the airport. Thanks to a special permit, mainly because the bag containing her fighter bot wasn't being checked, she didn't have to go through the normal check points. It also helped that, for whatever reason, Tony Stark had offered to fly her and her classmates to Los Angeles on one of his many private jets. She figured he was still trying to apologize for everything that had happened with the student expo, even though none of it was really his fault. Outside of the shrimp part, but not even she'd know about the allergy until it was triggered.

The rest of her bags, including enough clothes to last the week, a few books on programming and robotics, along with some other personal items, and a few other things, were stowed in the cargo hold with the rest of her classmates' stuff. Thankfully, there were only a handful of them, though they all acted like it was Spring Break, even though the official school year had barely started.

There was one good thing about this particular plane. It had two separate cabins, the main cabin and the area usually called first class. Her classmates were back in the main cabin area while she was up front with Stark and Banner in the back. Apparently they were both going to be judges at the tournament. When she set foot in the plane, she couldn't help but look around in awe. The others were already on board and were likely being served something to keep them quiet. It was supposed to be a long flight, after all. She just hoped none of them got drunk. Several of them had a reputation of partying.

"You made it," Tony said as he stood from his seat, which looked more like a super comfy office chair mixed with a recliner, all covered in light tan leather. Or at least what looked like leather. He removed his sunglasses. "I wasn't sure if you would, all things considered."

Kally let out her breath. The last time she'd ridden in any kind of plane, jet or otherwise, was the quinjet as they returned to New York after all that craziness at the Hydra base. And, understandably, she had a bit of anxiety about being trapped in a metal tube for almost five hours, give or take. "Yeah. Me neither."

She set her backpack down in a little area meant for the purpose of stowing such items and took the seat he indicated. After the whole incident, she'd take some time off to wrap her head around everything that had happened. And then she'd enrolled in some martial arts classes to help her hone and better understand her abilities. But she'd maintained contact with Hiro during the summer, and when he mentioned signing up for a bot tournament in L.A., well, she couldn't pass up the opportunity of a sanctioned trip just so she could see him. Well, it wasn't the main reason, but it certainly was high up there. It also looked good on her resume, even though Stark had offered her an internship, when she was ready. That might not happen for some time though. She wanted to finish her schooling first.

"I hope you didn't have any trouble getting through security," Tony said, trying to make conversation as he accepted a glass of liquor from the flight attendant. Whatever it was, it had a darker color, along with a few chunks of cracked ice.

Kally shook her head. "No problem." There were just a few older men who had leered at her in a most uncomfortable way as she'd made her way through the terminal. Even though it was part of the private wing, there were still plenty of people there to give her a look over. And since she didn't dress like a rich girl, many of them probably thought strange things about her being there. She still didn't like being in a crowd, any kind of crowd, and wondered how she'd manage to survive the next week.

Tony nodded. "Good." He pulled out a newspaper and flipped it open, signifying the end of the conversation.

The teen settled into her seat, fastening the belt across her lap. The flight attendant gave her a lemon-lime soda, which she clung to as the lights in the cabin dimmed just a little. She wasn't sure if she'd throw up or not but the soda was a nice gesture.

Sure her young charge was settled, the attendant made her way back to the main cabin area to make sure the other students and faculty advisor were situated. Dr. Banner was also back there to make sure no one got into too much trouble. Once that was done, the attendant returned to the front and took a seat out of sight of the front cabin. Moments later, the pilot announced final instructions as they taxied out to the runway.

Kally swallowed hard, her drink nestled in a cup holder as her hands tightly gripped the armrests. Take off was the worst part of flying and she only had a little notice before the plane began to pick up speed as it headed down the runway. With a sickening sensation in her stomach, the plane's rear wheels left the ground; her heart feeling like it was back on the ground with the rest of her classmates who weren't going.


Chapter Text

The sun hadn't even risen yet as Wasabi parked his van on the side street next to the Lucky Cat Café, giving them easy access to the private entrance of the three story building. The majority of the gang already had their stuff stowed and ready to go. Wasabi was in the process of making sure everything would fit when a very groggy looking Hiro joined him, along with Aunt Cass.

Hiro set his suitcase down and offered a huge yawn, along with a sleepy kind of wave. It had taken him a while to get back to sleep after his little episode, and he was more than ready to go back to bed. The only thing that had persuaded him to leave the warm covers was the promise of being able to doze in the car.

Aunt Cass set her suitcase down next to Hiro's and stood to straighten her back. "This almost feels like a vacation," she admitted as she watched Wasabi take her luggage and stow it with ease. She didn't even question the extra bundles, knowing exactly what was inside them. Hiro's super suit was safely stored in with his Megabot and clothes, with a second duffle for Baymax's armor.

Fred brought over Baymax's case, the robot already deactivated and ready for transport. "We still have room to stow him below the seats?" the mascot inquired as he opened the side door of the van, revealing a dozing GoGo in the back seat. Honey Lemon sat next to her, though she looked more awake.

"There should be plenty of room," Wasabi confirmed as he closed the cargo area of the van and walked around to double check. He'd arranged things so skillfully that any possibility of visual impairment from the baggage was eliminated. He helped his friend slide the red case into place. "Any last minute items?" he asked as he noticed Cass locking up the house. She'd already left the keys to the café with her replacement manager.

Hiro only hoped he'd remembered everything. And thanks to Wasabi's organizational skills, there were a few snacks readily available for when they took breaks. The only stipulation was that they eat any of the more crumbly food outside of the car so he didn't have to vacuum later.

Sure everything was in order, Wasabi slid into the driver's seat of the vehicle. Fred found a place next to Hiro on the middle bench, and Aunt Cass took up the front passenger seat so she could act as navigator. She'd made the trek to Los Angeles before. And, if they got really lost, they could always pull up the GPS.

"Last chance," Wasabi announced as he settled his seat belt and looked back at his passengers. They were all either too sleepy or occupied to comment. Deciding that meant there were no last minute items to take care of, he started the car and headed out onto the still dark streets of San Fransokyo. With luck, they'd be there in about five or six hours.

The flight, compared to most commercial liners, was probably smooth, but Kally was more than ready to be done with it as they waited for permission to exit the plane. It had occurred to her, only after they'd taken off, that she probably should have taken something for motion sickness. It hadn't been a problem before, but then she'd never flown from one side of the country to the other before either. And a lot had happened between the last time she'd flown for any reason that wasn't necessary.

Her only consolation was the ginger ale the flight attendant swapped out for her lemon-lime soda, which helped. But even Tony commented on her paler than usual coloring as she tried to ignore the minor turbulence. Maybe it did have something to do with how she'd been flown via quinjet after a rather traumatic event. Maybe it was just nerves. She'd never done much bot fighting before and wasn't sure how her robot would do. That and she was one step closer to seeing Hiro again.

Once the plane landed, Kally gathered up her belongings from inside the cabin, glad the main cabin had a separate exit. She wasn't sure she wanted to add any more fuel to the fire of her classmates. Not all of them saw her as an equal yet, even though she'd more than proven her ability to keep up with them despite her age. And to have them discover she'd been given special treatment on top of that? There was no way she wanted to deal with that. She knew there was no real to keep it a secret from them and only hoped they'd equate it to her still being a minor.

"Are you coming?" Tony called, breaking through her trepidation. He'd put his sunglasses on again as he headed towards the front exit, pausing only long enough to look back at her and make sure she was coming before continuing down the ramp.

Kally pulled herself together and swung her bag over one shoulder as she followed him out. She'd gotten lost enough in her thoughts that there was no sight of any of her classmates, though she could see a charter bus not too far off from the tarmac. If she didn't hurry, she'd miss it.

Seeing her start to head towards the bus, Tony loudly cleared his throat. "Excuse me," he said even louder when she didn't seem to take the hint. While Dr. Banner was going with the other college students, he had other plans for Kally. "You're riding with me."

The teen looked appropriately shocked as she stared at the billionaire super hero. "I'm sorry? What did you say?" She clutched her phone in her pocket, mentally reminding herself not to squeeze it too hard. It wasn't just any ordinary phone, but the new home of her AI, Sammy. Not only that, but it was more tripped out than a regular phone.

"I said you're riding with me," Tony repeated. He indicated a dark sedan waiting around on the other side of the plane where Happy, his usual chauffeur, waited to collect them. "We've already got your checked luggage stored in the trunk. Unless you'd really like to go with the others and risk being gawked at because you got to ride up front with me..."

The choice was hers and she knew it. Either way, things would get awkward. But at least this way she could at least pretend to have taken a different flight. It wasn't like she'd been visible to those in the back part of the plane, which was a blessing. Deciding to take Stark up on his offer, she followed him around to the car where Happy held the door open for her. At least it wasn't a limo.

The hotel chosen to house all out of town competitors was pretty nice, all things considered. It wasn't as fancy as the one they'd had that welcome dinner in with the NYU Student Technology Expo, but it definitely wasn't a rundown one either. The building was easily ten plus stories tall with pleasing topiary out front. And the lobby was more than sizeable.

Once Aunt Cass had checked both herself and Hiro in, the teen couldn't help but look around in excitement. He felt much like he had upon getting into SFIT, jittery, anxious, and excited beyond belief. It had been a long time since he'd last gone up against outsiders in a bot fight. This would be a whole new crowd, with potentially updated tech and he could only hope that his tried and true Megabot would stand up to the challenge.

Strictly speaking, the bot fights were taking place in a local arena not too far from the hotel. In fact, it was within walking distance. Hiro'd heard rumors that the two buildings, the hotel and the arena, were connected via underground tunnels. It was probably a good thing they were having the fights there, as some could get a little rough. And even though the rules dictated there would be no betting allowed, he felt certain there would be some underground activity going on in that area. He also knew that if his aunt found out he was even contemplating participating in that part, he'd be grounded for life. Old habits died hard.

By the time the others had checked into their respective hotels rooms, Fred with Wasabi, and Honey Lemon sharing with GoGo, they were all ready to head up in the elevator. Thankfully, their rooms were all in close proximity to each other, with Aunt Cass's adjoining Hiro's by a door between the two rooms. She'd insisted on that in case something should happen. It didn't help that, as a minor, he either had to share a room or have an adjoining one. The others were right across the hall.

Fred pushed the luggage cart he'd borrowed to take all their bags upstairs. Any bellhops were currently unavailable so he'd just snagged one and loaded up their stuff while Wasabi registered their names at the desk. But now he talked about potential races down the hall on the thing, making Aunt Cass wince inside. They didn't need to get kicked out of the hotel due to stupid antics.

With a shake of her head, Cass opened her hotel room, retrieved her luggage from the cart, and headed inside. She took the opportunity to make sure the door leading to Hiro's room, at least on her side, was unlocked, knocking on the other door to alert her nephew that she wanted to talk to him now that they were away from the others.

Hiro opened the door after setting Baymax's case down. He activated the robot as his aunt entered the room, moving to sit on one of the queen-sized beds. The robot inflated quickly, refraining from the typical programmed greeting as he shuffled over to where both the teen and his aunt had taken up residence, one on either bed, facing each other.

"Hiro," Cass began, not sure how to go about expressing her thoughts. "About last night, I know you were trying to protect me by keeping me in the dark about it, to keep me from worrying, but you can't do that anymore. We're a team now, remember?" She ran one hand across the back of her neck, much like Tadashi used to do. "I need you to let me know if anything else like that happens so we can deal with it together. No more secrets, okay?"

The teen ran a hand through his hair. She made a good point. It would be easier to just let her know. Not to mention having the support would be more than helpful, even if she wouldn't know what to do to help alleviate his suffering. "Yeah," he said, settling with the easiest answer. "Guess that means I should leave the door unlocked between us, huh. Just in case."

"I'd appreciate it," Cass confirmed, feeling a bit better about the whole situation as she leaned back, her arms bracing her from behind so she was still upright. She let a smile lift the corners of her lips as she caught sight of Megabot, which Hiro had placed on the TV stand across from them. "I know you're going to do great," she praised, hoping to lift the mood.

Baymax tilted his head to one side, measuring the neurotransmitter levels in both teen and guardian. "While I have not seen any practice matches for Hiro's tiny robot, I have heard the others discuss his chances. From what I understand, he should do well."

Hiro couldn't help but laugh. "Thanks." He patted the robot on one vinyl arm. "I just hope no one else has thought about using magnetic bearing servos. If they have, I might actually be in trouble." But there was a glitter of excitement in his eyes that negated any potential worry he might express. He was looking forward to this and it showed. "I just wish we could get right to it instead of having to deal with all the preliminary stuff. I know it's important," he added quickly, seeing a look from his aunt, "but I like getting into the action."

Cass shook her head with a sigh. "That's so like you." She stood, ruffling his hair for good measure before heading to the door between their rooms. "You should try and settle in a bit. And, if I were you, I'd put your gear out of sight, just in case." She looked pointedly at the duffle bags containing both Hiro's and Baymax's armor. Thanks to improved designs, they didn't take up quite as much room, but it still would be a good idea to keep them away from where someone might accidentally look into the bag and see something they shouldn't, namely the hotel cleaning staff.

"Sure thing," Hiro agreed as he stood to shove the bags into the room's small closet. He might move them to the bathroom later, though he somehow doubted that would work out too well since he hadn't seen any kind of cupboard underneath the sink. He supposed the closet would just have to do, for now. He was more worried about how Fred would hide his kaiju suit. It wasn't like they could make that one more compact.

Cass paused at the door. "When you're done, we can go down and see about an early dinner at the restaurant I saw just off the lobby." She continued on into her room, closing the door behind her with a smile. The only real problem would be keeping him out of trouble until the tournament officially started in the morning.

Unpacking was easy. Settling her nerves was much harder, Kally decided. Though why she'd actually unpacked in a hotel room was beyond her. It wasn't like she was staying at NYU campus or anything. She supposed it was more out of habit.

The girl-who she shared a room with-had just dumped her bag on one of the two beds. She'd then changed into her swimsuit and disappeared. Kally hoped she'd headed to the indoor pool she'd noticed while going up the glass-sided elevator. If not, she didn't think she really wanted to know what the young adult was up to.

Mr. Stark wasn't staying in the hotel, but he'd made it quite clear that Kally needed to check in with either Hiro's aunt or Dr. Banner before she went anywhere. Short of putting some kind of tracker on her, it was the best he could do to insure they didn't have a repeat of New York. He'd even managed to arrange for Kally to be on the same floor as the San Fransokyians, making sure she knew exactly which room Cass Hamada was staying in.

With a bit of a hesitant hand, Kally stood outside the hotel room she'd been told was assigned to Cass Hamada. She overcame her nerves and knocked on the door, hoping for a good reception. She hadn't really had much interaction with her and wasn't sure of her reactions, even though they'd probably had more than enough time back at Stark Tower. She'd just not taken advantage of it, preferring to leave Hiro and his aunt to sort things out. It wasn't like it was Kally's fault they'd both gotten kidnapped, but part of her couldn't help but feel anxious about it all the same.

A muffled voice sounded from inside and she almost chickened out but stood her ground. The door opened a moment later and she just stared, sure her mouth was hanging open. It took her a moment to reboot her brain as she tried to stammer something out. "H-Hiro! I wasn't. . . I thought this was your aunt's room."

Hiro gave her an amused smile, more than understanding what she must be feeling. "We switched rooms," he explained as he opened the door wide enough for her to come in. "She wanted the garden-sized tub. And since I don't really care one way or the other, I figured I might as well be nice about it."

Baymax moved into view as Kally entered the room, negating the embarrassment she felt at potential impropriety. "Hello, Kally. It is nice to see you again."

Kally gave the robot a wave as she settled on the nearest mattress. "Mr. Stark told me I had to check in with your aunt or Dr. Banner," she confessed almost lamely, looking more than a little embarrassed.

"It's fine," Hiro assured her. "Actually, I kinda hoped I'd run into you before the tournament began. It's kind of hard to really catch up over email and chat." He gave a nervous twist of his foot, trying not to dig a hole in the carpet as his shoe threatened to rub down into the floorboard. "You look good."

The blush continued on Kally's face as she looked down at her feet. "Thanks. You do too." And even though she knew he wasn't entirely up to the same level as when she'd first met him, he did look a ton better than when she'd last seen him.

Baymax observed the two of them, only looking up when the door between Hiro's room and his aunt's opened. "Aunt Cass," he announced in greeting.

Cass blinked as she saw Kally sitting near Hiro on one of the beds. She knew the girl was supposed to check in with her if Dr. Banner wasn't available, but she hadn't expected to find her in her nephew's room. From what she could tell, they were both embarrassed. And since Baymax was there, she doubted anything had happened, but one could never be sure with teenagers. She wasn't that far away from those years to not know the temptations. "Hello," she replied.

Kally quickly stood from her perch. "Um, hi," she hedged, her embarrassment taking a different turn. "I thought this was your room when I knocked," she tried to explain. "I didn't expect Hiro to—"

But Cass waved her off before she could say anything else. "It's fine. We didn't tell them up front about the switch so there's nothing to worry about. But, if you're hungry, we were just about to head down to the restaurant." She made it almost a question as she looked at the girl with some curiosity. She hadn't had the opportunity to really get to know her, and the fact that Hiro was blushing just as furiously as she was told her all she needed to know about his feelings.

Just as they were about to head to the door, a knock sounded on it. Hiro looked questioningly at his aunt before going to answer it. He let out a sigh of relief upon realizing it was Honey Lemon and the others. "Hey guys," he greeted. "Um . . . look who we ran into."

Kally timidly moved into the line of sight of those in the hallway and waved. "Hi." Once more, she wasn't sure how to interact with the others. She hadn't done much of it after they'd been rescued, minus Honey Lemon, but the blonde decided for her by coming forward and wrapping her up in a big hug. "Uh . . ." She looked a bit like a deer in headlights.

"Um, guys . . ." Hiro said, clearing his throat, "we were, um, heading out to find some food. Did you want to . . . I don't know . . . maybe come with us?" He flashed an almost hopeful, wistful face towards his friends, both asking them to come and begging them not to.

Fred seemed to catch on the quickest and gave a slight nod in response. "About that, little man," he hedged, "I think the girls wanted to go try out this place I was telling them about." He rubbed the back of his beanie with one hand, looking more than a little apologetic. "Maybe next time?" He gave GoGo a meaningful look.

The others gave out their apologies as well, echoing Fred's sentiments. Hiro couldn't help but give them a bit of a relieved grin as both he and his aunt followed Kally out into the hall. He double-checked to make sure he had his room key, just to be safe, and closed the door behind everyone, leaving Baymax to guard the room. "Yeah, next time," he assured, glad Fred had gotten the hint.

"Well, daylight's wasting," Cass said as they headed down the hallway towards the elevator. "If you don't want what's offered, we can always see about ordering out. I hear there are a lot of places that will deliver here." Worse to worse, she had a basket of baked goods from the café she'd intended as fuel for the competition.

Kally assured her anything was fine at this point. She hadn't eaten much on the plane, even though they'd provided a light meal. She just hadn't felt up to it with the motion sickness. But now that she had had a chance to settle a bit, she felt like she was starving.

Chatting, mostly to cover the silence, Cass began talking about the café while Hiro smacked himself in the forehead, glad the ride down in the elevator wouldn't be a long one. Even though he knew his aunt was trying to strike some common ground with Kally, he really felt she was going about it in the wrong way. But since his friend seemed to at least pay some semblance of attention, he hoped it would end well.

Chapter Text

The arena they'd arranged to use for the bot tournament was pretty decent-sized, all things considered. And knowing there would be a lot of spectators, they'd done their best to make it as flashy as possible, with the most amount of seats they could safely fit in the space available. And for those who weren't lucky enough to be in the main arena, there were areas set up with Jumbo tron-style screens, along with the leader board.

Off the main area sat several rooms where the qualifying rounds would take place. As these were likely to be less flashy, they wouldn't be broadcast to the second tier areas, just the main arena, but there was still room for any spectator who wanted to watch the warmup rounds. And further down lay the competitors' locker rooms.

Generally speaking, the locker rooms were used by competing athletic teams, but since they were using the venue for a different purpose, they'd tried to convert these locker rooms into a sort of "kiss and cry" areas where the competitors could cry over loses, recover and repair their bots after the fights, or simply chill until time for their next round. The rules of the tournament hung on the wall in bright, bold letters.

1. Each robot must be inspected by an authorized official before being allowed into the fight ring.

2. No robot is allowed to exceed the specified weight and height limitations.

3. Pilfering parts from downed bots is strictly prohibited

4. Betting is not allowed on any round no matter what.

There were more rules, but that was the one in the biggest text, reminding all participants that while the actual bot fights were good, betting on them was still illegal.

Lucifer Morningstar couldn't help but let out an almost scoffing smirk as he read that rule. Strictly speaking, he was there as a sponsor, but he was more than aware of the "off the books" bets being placed, along with their odds based off of previous performances from the different students around the country. While not on a professional level, there was still a lot of money to be made from such a venue, and he was more than willing to get his share of it. Besides, some of those students went on to the professional arenas.

A shadow fell across part of the room and Lucifer turned quickly to see who had caused it but didn't see anyone. "Hello? Someone there?" He moved towards the doorway, hoping to catch the person responsible but the space was empty. "Amenadiel? Is that you? Maze? Detective?" While less likely it would be Chloe Decker, he had to be sure, but no one responded to his calls.

The fallen angel wandered out into the hall where he saw someone carrying a banner towards the main arena. Deciding it must have been that person's shadow that he'd seen, he let his guard back down. "Getting a bit jumpy," he said to himself, shaking his shoulders to loosen up. Well, there were things he needed to attend to back at Lux. And since the action wasn't due to start until the morning, there wasn't any real reason for him to stick around so he headed towards the exit.

A dark figure watched Lucifer leave from behind a corner. Sure the man in question was out of the way, its owner crossed back into the locker room, carrying something under one arm.

Loki stared out over his domain. Not much had changed since he'd returned to Asgard. What might have been months elsewhere seemed like a blink of an eye to others, though not to him. And there was something to be said about not having to worry about his troublesome brother showing up. And everyone adored him. It was nice. It was quiet. It was paradise. Who was he kidding? He was downright bored. Something had to change.

It wasn't that he didn't have everything he thought he wanted. He did. It just wasn't quite as fun as he'd thought it would be. Well, almost not quite as fun. They were building a statue in his honor, er. . . Loki's honor. And he had them working on creating a play based off of his supposed "death" that last time. They'd be in rehearsals forever though. He supposed he could go out on a tour of all the realms, as his father would, but that just seemed boring. No, there was really only one cure for this and he knew it.

After recent events, he'd sort of adopted two Midgardians . . . humans. Technically. Whatever people wanted to call them. And though they didn't exactly conform to his way of thinking, he could relate to them on a level he couldn't with most people, including his brother. And, if he was being honest, helping them out had been equally rewarding and entertaining. There was really never a dull moment. He had to at least check in on them, make sure they were okay.

With that thought in mind, he told his servants he was not to be disturbed, that he was going into a meditative state that might last days. And since Heimdall had been called a traitor, he didn't need to worry about him "reporting" back to the people about his activities, though he'd still mask his presence from the man, just to be safe. And so, with everything set and sorted, he headed to the Bifrost and a potential adventure.

Sleeping in a hotel room was decidedly different from sleeping in his own bed, or one at Fred's place, or even one at Stark Tower. In fact, it was probably the first time Hiro had slept in a hotel bed, at least as far as he could remember. And while the mattress was nice and firm, and he had a choice of firm or soft pillows, he found it really hard to get to sleep.

Maybe it was the lack of the usual noises of late night traffic, San Fransokyo traffic, or the fact that he knew he'd be going up against some big time baddies in the arena in the morning. It didn't help that he'd only recently gotten back into bot fighting. It had taken a decided back burner to superhero duties and school. But he also somehow doubted that was the real reason behind it all. If he was being honest with himself, he didn't want to sleep because when he did sleep-at least recently-it had allowed his mind to drift back to things he would rather forget.

There was, of course, the advice of the Doctor, which he shouldn't ignore. Those memories were a part of him now, to be embraced, explored, and accepted, not hidden away in some closet in his mind. But, all the same, he couldn't help but want to shy away from them. And on top of the memories of past lifetimes, which he was still dealing with, he now had to deal with the aftermath of his kidnapping and everything that had resulted from that. And he wasn't ready for it. It was just too much to handle.

Yes Aunt Cass had told him he could talk to her about any of it at any time. And Baymax was always there to listen as well. But there was just something about putting it out in the open that somehow made it more real, and he just wasn't sure he wanted to acknowledge that. Maybe Kally would understand, at least to some extent, but he wasn't going to head over to her room to ask her, not in the middle of the night.

"You should try to sleep," Baymax reminded him unnecessarily. Hiro knew he should try to sleep. He just didn't want to. "You will not be able to properly function in the morning if you do not."

Good old, practical Baymax. Sometimes he was far too practical for his programming. Okay, who was he kidding? Since Tadashi had done the initial programming, it only made sense. And, now that he thought about it, Hiro really wished Tadashi was there. He'd know what to do. Except he wasn't there.

What did I tell you, bonehead? I'm always here.

Hiro almost jumped out of his skin. There was just no way he could be hearing Tadashi's voice, mentally or otherwise. He wasn't asleep or otherwise unconscious or in a dreamlike trance state. He should not be hearing his brother's voice.

Come on, Hiro. You're thinking way too hard about all of this.

He could hear his brother rolling his eyes, a potential sigh escaping through his lips. And that was the weirdest thing about it all, because he could see him standing in front of him, hands on his hips, except when he rubbed at the back of his neck in frustration. Well, maybe he was seeing things, but he didn't care. People were haunted by ghosts all the time, right? Why not him? And if he was to be haunted by a ghost, he couldn't think of a better one.


Hey, bonehead.

A rush of euphoria seemed to fill Hiro as his mind almost literally exploded. He raked his fingers through his hair as he got up from the bed, agitatedly spinning in a circle. This was absolutely insane. Part of him couldn't help but wonder what Baymax might think of his behavior, but the other part of him didn't care. "You're here. You're really here!"

He went to go hug his brother but was stopped. Not so fast, Tadashi said, holding out his hands as if to ward him off. I'm not really here in the sense you're thinking. I'm dead, remember?

Hiro had to make himself hit the pause button as grief swelled up inside of him. "It's always going to be like this, isn't it?" he asked. Of course it was too good to be true.

I suppose. But, remember, I'm always here for you, even when you don't remember it. And don't let your fears get the best of you. You're better than that. You can do anything you set your mind to. And sure you've been through a lot, but you're strong. You can handle this, okay?

The teen rubbed a stray tear from his eye as he nodded. "Yeah."

Now go to bed, before Baymax or Aunt Cass really think you've lost it. I'll watch over you tonight.

He couldn't help but chuckle at that. He knew Baymax wouldn't judge. It wasn't the first time he'd had a "conversation" with his brother while the healthcare companion was present. It probably wouldn't be the last. But now he felt a lot better about things. "G'night," he said to the air in general as he gave Baymax a big hug before heading for the bed. The robot tucked him in once he'd slipped under the covers. With Tadashi looking after him from beyond the grave, surely nothing could really go wrong.

The sidewalk outside of the event venue looked packed, causing more than one competitor to feel a bit nervous. However, thanks to a roped off sidewalk, those students participating in the bot fights had a secure entrance into the building in question. But that didn't keep them from seeing the long lines of spectators waiting to get into the arena. It was entirely possible that a good chunk of them were merely curious about what was going on, but no one thought about that.

"I didn't think there'd be so many," Kally gulped. She held her fighter bot close to her chest. It had a rounded head, similar to Baymax's, and a segmented body like a bug's. It wasn't quite as streamlined as Megabot but could potentially do some damage. All the girl really cared was that it lasted long enough to keep her in the running so she could be close to Hiro. But, even if she didn't, she could still hang out with him for however long the event lasted.

Hiro had to nod in agreement, wishing they'd brought Baymax with them but knowing they'd left him behind due to the rules. Even though he'd totally trounced the back alley bot scenes, with their large crowds, he'd only ever been comfortable when he could zone them out. "I didn't think these things were such a big deal." His throat felt decidedly dry as he gawked at the crowd. Part of him had the audacity to wonder if they would get even worse as the event went on.

Wasabi had to nudge him to keep moving. There was a steady stream of combatants moving down the roped off sidewalk, but the two teens had disrupted the flow of traffic when they'd stopped to stare in horror at the people who'd potentially be watching them. "Just try not to think about them," he advised, more than happy he wouldn't be in the spotlight this time. He and the rest of the team were there more for moral support. Thankfully, the officials had agreed to let them go backstage as their "support" team in case of mechanical problems, etc. It also helped that both teens were still considered under age and needed to have a legal guardian accompany them.

Aunt Cass followed behind the students. She hadn't realized what a big deal these events were and it showed on her face. Knowing Hiro's introverted nature, she wasn't sure how well he'd do with this kind of pressure. But, then again, he also saved hundreds of people on an almost daily basis. Maybe it would turn out all right.

Finally, after what felt like forever, they made it to the doors of the event center. Inside was just as chaotic as the outside as various students registered their bots at different stations. Each bot had to be inspected for hidden gimmicks, including artificial intelligence programs, which were illegal. They were also evaluated for their weight and size, among fifty million other things that could possibly disqualify them.

Fred couldn't help but look around. "Man, it's a good thing we got here early," he commented as he checked out the line stretching out behind them. At least there were separate areas for those not competing to wait while the bots were inspected. But it still sucked that they'd have to wait for each one to be looked over. And some judges seemed more stickler than other, at least from comments overheard from further up in line.

Hiro and Kally got in line behind a bunch of much older students, each carrying their individual bots. They had to wave a temporary goodbye to their friends as they went off to wait through a set of doors that led to where they'd eventually end up. "This is going to take forever," Hiro moaned. But at least they weren't in Stark's line. He wasn't sure he wanted the billionaire tech genius to scrutinize his handiwork. As things stood, they'd somehow managed to get in the line where Dr. Banner was evaluating the bots.

Several other judges headed the various lines, none of whom either Hiro or Kally knew. It was a little interesting to note that Krei wasn't there, but the teen super hero supposed the man had better things to worry about, like trying to replicate his tech again. He'd caught the tycoon trying to replicate his neurotransmitter, with some very interesting results, none of which were good.

Kally tapped Hiro on the shoulder. "See that girl over there?" she pointed to a blonde-haired girl a few lines over. "She's from NYU too. I have to share a room with her. I think her name's Rachel."

Hiro looked over and saw the twenty-something girl holding a squared-off looking bot. It had a lot of corners, along with a few spikes along the upper arms of the whole. It looked intimidating, though he sincerely hoped it wouldn't be anywhere near as good as its owner obviously thought it was. And though her clothes weren't too telling, her attitude struck him as reminiscent of some of the elite in San Fransokyo. "She seems . . . nice." Part of him couldn't help but wonder why Kally seemed unsure of her name though, considering she was rooming with her for the duration.

His companion gave him a look. "She's a bit of a prig. Her dad's paying for everything. She probably didn't even make her own bot." She knew that wasn't strictly true but the young woman hadn't exactly been nice to her, not even bothering to say hello since they'd arrived. "I took a look at her bot while she was still sleeping. It's got a lot of hidden surprises." She just hadn't had time to find them all before Rachel had woken up.

That made Hiro give the bot a second look. It was hard to tell from his current distance, but he suspected Kally was right. Like Yama's hidden saws, which he only took out when he knew his "victim" was about ready to cave anyway, he felt sure this bot had a few tricks up its metaphorical sleeves. "I hope I don't have to go up against her," he stated.

After ten or fifteen minutes of trying to evaluate the different bots they saw, it was Kally's turn to have hers examined by Dr. Banner. He motioned her back behind a curtain so any hidden defenses wouldn't be revealed too early to the competition. Hiro wished he could hear what was being said behind that curtain but the nervously waiting students were too loud for that so he just had to patiently wait his turn to have his bot evaluated.

Finally, he was motioned back behind the curtain and almost hesitantly plopped Megabot down on the little table they'd provided. He set his controller down next to it, just so there was no mistaking how the little machine was controlled.

Dr. Banner glanced up for permission before handling the little robot, which was more than some of the other judges did. He carefully turned the machine around to examine every angle, finally weighing it on a baby scale before pronouncing it within the defined parameters for the contest. He didn't so much as hint at knowing the teen.

Hiro breathed a huge sigh of relief. He hadn't had many dealings with the scientist while back in New York, but he got the feeling this man was more than fair, even if he was quieter than he was used to seeing for this kind of event. In fact, it reminded him a lot of himself, conscientious and meticulous at the same time. He'd poked and prodded the bot like any curious explorer would.

An assistant directed Hiro through a door where he was able to reunite with the rest of his friends. "Looks like you made it through the initial round," GoGo teased as she resisted the urge to ruffle his hair. "Kally was kind of hoping you'd flunk so she wouldn't have to go up against you later on." The smile on her face indicated she was teasing but Kally turned red at the suggestion, as did Hiro.

"Come on," Honey Lemon urged. "We should look around before they start posting up the preliminary rounds." She moved towards the far end of the room, making note of important areas, including bathrooms and drinking fountains.

But when they went to go back into the different locker rooms, they were turned away. Apparently only those who made it past the first matches were actually allowed back there. There were plenty of other places to look though, like the main arena, as well as the smaller rooms set up for the initial matches. Already, people were starting to trickle into the main arena and various vendors were setting up portable stands to sell treats to the masses. Hiro thought he even saw a few flutes of champagne floating around.

Hiro couldn't help but blink at how huge the main arena was. "I think I'm going to be sick," he announced as the realization settled in. He might actually make it far enough to compete up on the main platform in front of thousands of people and that idea made his stomach do flip flops. He almost regretted eating breakfast. Almost.

Fred placed an arm around his shoulders. "No you won't," he disagreed. "You'll be so caught up in the moment of your victory that you won't even realize how many people are out there. Besides, they tend to turn the lights down so all you can see is the actual fighting circle, just like in those back alley fights."

Cass gave him a raised eyebrow and Fred quickly shut up. "I didn't know you knew how those fights worked," she commented, still giving him an odd look. "I can understand Hiro knowing, but I didn't think you would."

"Well," Fred began, and then started to splutter. "That is to say… what I mean is…"

It was Hiro's turn to put a comforting arm around Fred. "It's okay, Fred. I know you were there a few times back when I first started. I saw you in the crowd, though it didn't really connect until now." He gave his characteristic crooked grin.

Fred moved to place his hands on his hips. "Was not," he protested. "I never actually went to any, but I heard a lot about them from Tadashi, so there."

GoGo rolled her eyes. "Enough," she admonished the both of them. "We'd probably better get back to the main area before they start the general announcements. You don't want to get disqualified simply because you weren't there to hear all the rules."

Kally watched Hiro's face fall with some amusement. She knew he liked to bend the rules, and as a superhero, she supposed there were times when it was warranted. But now was not one of them. "Come on," she said, taking him by the hand. "I'll keep you company. We can even send coded notes to each other just so you don't get bored if the opening speeches go too long."

Wasabi let out a contented sigh as the two teens moved ahead of them, back towards the main waiting area. "Ah, young love," he said with an almost wistful tone. GoGo had Fred. Honey Lemon had at least had Tadashi. And now Hiro had Kally. He had yet to find someone he could put up with, or who could put up with him. Well, the night was still young, as the saying went and he was more than willing to walk in step with the rest of his friends. He wasn't looking for romance at the moment anyway, though it was amusing to watch the others find it.

Chapter Text

Lucifer smiled graciously at the different patrons as they were allowed to enter the event center. As one of the primary sponsors, he had the right to greet the more prestigious visitors, including having the ability to send those more likely to wager a bet or two to the appropriate locations. He didn't handle any of the transactions himself, of course, but he had people who did. It helped that only the upper crust were allowed in today, giving them a chance to look over the different contenders before the real event started in the morning.

The fallen angel wasn't the only sponsor, of course. Tony Stark had also fronted a good deal of money towards the event, most of which went towards securing the building for the duration, as well as helping offset the cost of housing for the competitors and pay for the officials and other personnel. While there would be a purse for the winner, that money came strictly from the attendees' wallets, mainly the general public.

"Welcome," he said for what might have been the hundredth time as he ushered in another individual with a special pass. Only those with the special passes got in before the actual event started. They then had the opportunity to claim reserved seating before wandering around to try and catch sight of the competitors in the preliminary rounds. And since he'd had word that those would be starting soon, he had no qualms in letting those special guests in early. The general public, again, had to wait until after the first set of beginning fights were over since those wouldn't be show in the central arena.

A man with long dark hair and distinguished features walked towards the door, coming closer and closer to where Lucifer stood. The devil didn't recognize this man at all, but he certainly dressed with distinction, wearing mostly black, with some green accents. If nothing else, this man certainly looked aristocratic, or at least like he belonged with the elite.

"Hello," Lucifer greeted in his usual proper British accent as the man reached him. "I don't think we've met before." He reached out a hand, expecting to receive the man's VIP pass. Instead, he got an almost condescending look mixed heavily with amusement. "I hope you have the proper credentials to enter early," the devil continued, trying to cover his momentary confusion. "The general public won't be admitted until after the initial fights."

Loki gave the man an almost suave smile as he slightly ducked his head in acquiescence. "Of course," he said as he reached into his pocket and pulled out a wad of cash. "How much do you require?" He wasn't strictly going in disguise. He'd left his hair long, just slicked back. And he definitely wasn't wearing his Asgardian attire, especially not the horned helmet. He looked more the guise he'd worn when stealing a certain man's eye for a retinal scan before the Avengers had shown up to try and ruin things.

Lucifer gave a funny sort of laugh as Loki started peeling bills from his wad of cash. "I think that should just about do it," he admitted after several hundred dollars had passed over to him. He pocketed the money and turned to motion one of the personnel inside. "Please do take care of my friend here," he requested before leaning in to whisper something about making sure he had one of the best seats in the house.

The god of mischief slipped the rest of the bills back into his pocket and gave a slight bow. "Thank you," he said as he passed the man at the door. There was something interesting about the guy. He definitely didn't have the usual feel of most Midgardians, though he couldn't put his finger on what or why. The main point, however, was that he'd gotten into the event center where his two favorite humans were about to compete, and all without any sort of violence or real subterfuge. Thor would be so proud, if he ever found out about it, which he hoped would never happen.

Loki followed the man Lucifer had whispered to, accepting a flute of champagne once he was past the general masses. He somehow thought the beverage wouldn't be offered to the general public. The man then led him down a long corridor, towards a room off to one side, where he left him with a group of distinguished looking individuals, all sipping similar flutes of the alcoholic beverage.

Someone had set up a television screen, which showed the current pairings, along with odds attached to them. It only took Loki a moment to realize he'd somehow ended up with those who were expected to bet on the outcomes of the matches. While money wouldn't be a problem, he hadn't come to gamble. Spotting a woman bearing a serving tray, he approached her, setting his glass down on the tray. "Pardon me," he spoke up, "but could you direct me to the gentleman's room?"

The woman didn't seem too surprised by his request and simply gave him directions to the nearest restroom. She'd been trained to deal with the elite and their presumptuous manners, though this man was a bit more courteous than she was used to dealing with. He left her with his untouched drink, ducking out of sight the moment he turned the corner. Now to find where Hiro and Kally were.

Loki transformed his appearance to resemble the personae he'd taken on back when he'd visited Cass Hamada's café all those months ago. His expensive suit changed to jeans and a button-down shirt while his hair shortened, lightening a bit, and a pair of glasses appeared on his nose. Much better, and fair less conspicuous, he decided as he continued on towards the sound of younger voices. Surely this must lead to where the students were. All he had to do was pretend to be a professor and he'd find them in no time.

Loud cheers erupted as the active fight came to an end. Kally couldn't believe she'd actually won as a grin plastered itself across her face. The adrenaline high was amazing. And the fact that she had gotten cheers, not only from her new group of friends, but from people she didn't even know, was more than a little addicting. It was definitely better than any practice round she'd participated in back at NYU.

The young man she'd gone up against looked at his broken bot like he couldn't believe it was the one sitting in pieces. The funny thing was that Kally hadn't even activated any of the hidden skills her bot was capable of performing. After hearing about Hiro's bot's abilities, she'd thought it a good idea to make hers with a few surprises as well. She just hadn't made use of magnetic bearing servos like he had. It wouldn't do to copy his design.

"Good match," Kally said as she collected her bot and headed over to shake the other student's hand. She'd purposely disarmed her opponent in a way that would allow him to at least rebuild his creation. She just hadn't expected it to be quite that easy.

With the match over, the crowd either dispersed or hung around for the next round. Since Kally had totally incapacitated her opponent, they were preparing for a completely new pair to step into the ring, which meant Kally was free to go until her next round was called. Chances were good it would be later on.

Honey Lemon gave her a big hug as she stepped down from the raised platform, careful to not knock the fighting bot from her hands. "You were incredible up there!" she gushed. "I didn't know you were that good! I bet you'd give Hiro a run for his money if you had to go up against him!"

Kally gave a good-natured laugh at that, hoping she wouldn't have to find out. It would be more than a little weird. And even though she wasn't too far behind him in age, she couldn't help but look up to him a bit due to all of his accomplishments. "Speaking of Hiro, where is he?" She looked around but couldn't see their mutual friend.

The Latina ushered her out of the room they were in and began heading down to another one. "His match just started," she explained. "Apparently there was a bit of a mix-up over who his opponent would be and it took them a minute to sort it all out." She'd only heard the basics from GoGo via text but it sounded like someone had been disqualified for copying another competitor's designs. "We'd better hurry or we'll miss it."

More than a little curious, Kally picked up speed as Honey wove her way through the crowd waiting in the main competitors' area. The room in question was on the other side of the space and took some doing to reach. Unfortunately, by the time they'd arrived, people were already leaving the room.

A triumphant Hiro almost ran into Kally as he exited the room just as she reached it. "Hey!" he called out energetically as he moved to one side so the flow of people could still exit the room. "GoGo told me you won your match."

Kally looked a bit embarrassed as she rubbed one toe against the ground. "Yeah." But she looked up at the smiling faces of Hiro's cheering section, including Aunt Cass, realizing they all had grins on their faces. "Looks like you did too."

Looking more than a little cocky now, Hiro posed a bit, Megabot tucked under one arm. "Of course. They didn't know what hit them." Thanks to his repeated timelines, despite the whole space between his giving up illegal bot fights and now, he'd been able to pull out the innocent look long enough to build up a sense of false confidence in his opponent. The kill had been easy from there. They always underestimated the little guy.

Aunt Cass checked her watch. "Looks like we'll have a while before either of you are called back," she observed. "If you want, we can go find the refreshment cart and get something while we wait." She'd thought about bringing the basket of goodies she'd packed from the café but had chosen to save them until later on.

Fred nodded in agreement. "I'm totally down for that." His stomach growled a bit. With all the registration, entrance examinations and all that, several hours had passed and it was getting closer to at least brunch time.

GoGo shook her head. "You're always down for eating," she admonished but gave him a playful nudge in the back, expression neutral at the same time in case anyone was watching.

Wasabi used his burly shape to make a path for them in the crowd as they made their way to the refreshment area. Thankfully, the food was free for competitors and their teammates. Unfortunately, so early in the morning, it was still more just snack food offerings. But it was better than nothing. Once they'd gotten what they wanted, they went to find an empty space along the wall. When that didn't work, they headed outside to find some shade.

"I almost forgot how good it feels to win a fight," Hiro admitted as he leaned against a convenient tree. "Too bad I can't make any money off of doing it."

Cass moved to swat a hand at him but was stopped when Wasabi decided to speak up. "That's not strictly true. Remember, there is a cash prize for the top three performers. It's almost as good as getting a scholarship."

Kally nibbled on her crackers as they bantered back and forth about what they'd do with the money if they won. GoGo wanted to invest in her motor bike. Fred said he'd donate his money to a charity while Honey Lemon thought about research materials. Wasabi then pointed out that none of them were going to get the money, except possibly Hiro or Kally, since they weren't competing.

The teen programmer was not prepared to have all eyes turn to her as Fred spoke up. "So, what would you do if you won the big money?"

Kally looked towards Hiro and then back again as she swallowed the food in her mouth. "Um . . . I don't really know," she hedged. "Maybe make a more permanent body for Sammy?" She indicated the modified phone, which she'd taken out of her pocket the moment they'd sat down. The device was only now just activated, having been turned off earlier in case one of the officials thought the AI controlled her fighter bot. Part of her thought it might have been better to leave her in the hotel room though.

Several of them nodded at her answer. "I think I'd save it," Hiro spoke up. "I mean my schooling is covered by scholarships, and outside of more materials for my 3D printer every now and again, I'm not really sure what I'd spend it on."

Cass reached over to give him a hug. "I'm so proud of you!" she gushed. "You're turning into such a responsible young man!"

But before anyone else could comment, Sammy spoke up from Kally's phone. "After connecting to the online schedule for the competition, I've just learned that the next set of rounds are about to start," she announced. "It would be wise to head back inside." Taking the hint, everyone brushed off their crumbs and made sure to throw out their trash before heading back into the building.

Most people didn't dream about using the underground utility tunnels that laced many of the buildings in the area. They were reserved for those who worked maintenance or custodial jobs, not the general public. And while there were rumors of things happening down in those tunnels, most were not true. And those stories which were true didn't often come to light.

A series of such tunnels ran directly underneath the main room of the events center, as well as down several different intersecting areas. It allowed people quick access from one side of the building to another. That and it connected with the nearest hotel, leading to the basement laundry area. Not that the lone soul walking down those lengths of cement and piping intended on going to that hotel. It had no real association with the one the competitors were staying in, which was just as well.

Instead of heading in that direction, like several other people were, this person headed towards the far end of the building, where the tunnels exited out through a set of double doors. It was in this area that the trash was left in a large dumpster for collection, as well as where food service vehicles could unload any wares that might be used inside the building during major events, such as the one going on above.

Bright yellow flashed as the individual examined something on the outside of the doors. There wasn't much to see, except for an odd smudge that was almost oily to the touch. The person sniffed at the substance, resisting the urge to sneeze. Definitely not the typical discovery, but by no means outside the realm of the unexpected. Satisfied, the lone soul wandered out and around the complex.

Chapter Text

Thanks to another win from both Kally and Hiro, they were now all allowed back in the locker rooms, giving them a more secure place to stash their fighter bots. While the locks provided weren't exactly high tech, they were sturdy, unlike the typical high school lockers both still remembered all too well.

"Reminds me of high school," Honey admitted as she looked around with a bit of nostalgia. So far only about half a dozen contenders had claimed a locker in this particular room. It was anyone's guess how many had gone to the other locker room though. They'd had their pick.

Hiro shook his head. "Yeah, not my most favorite memory," he confessed, thinking about how he'd been small enough to actually fit inside the things, usually all akimbo thanks to some jerk-wad bully who just had to shut him inside the claustrophobia-inducing space. Thankfully, he hadn't had any lasting psychological damage from those events, unlike the last two years. Tadashi had had to come to his rescue more than once during those dark days though.

Kally couldn't help but noticed Hiro's subtle wince at the reminder of those days and she went to sit next to him on one of the benches. Too bad it wasn't quite like the locker rooms they saw in movies for major league teams, though they weren't quite like the typical high school locker rooms either, being a bit more open. Point in fact, they reminded her more of the lockers at the gym where she'd been taking classes over the summer.

"I'm just glad there's more than enough room for Baymax to get around," GoGo spoke up as she blew a gum bubble. "Especially if they'll finally let us bring him." It was true, though. The robot would have more than enough room to move about with the larger than usual corridors between the rows of storage receptacles.

Cass seconded that, happy GoGo had diverted Hiro's attention from memories of high school bullies. She didn't know all the details of those events but knew enough to realize it was better not to revisit them. "Do you think they'll have you participate in any more matches today?" she asked as she glanced at her watch. It was now well after lunch time.

Wasabi went over to a monitor someone had set up to show the different pairings. He scanned down through the list. "Right now, it doesn't look like it. Both Hiro and Kally ranked fairly well and will probably be called to start again tomorrow. From the looks of things, they're not going to finish all the preliminary matches before quitting time tonight."

"Which means we can totally head back to the hotel," Fred spoke up. "I don't know about you, but I could really use a good soak in the Jacuzzi." They'd noticed that the hot tub, along with an outdoor pool, was available on the roof level of the building they were staying in.

Kally's phone chimed and she pulled it out. "I will monitor the rankings board in case this should change," Sammy stated, sure everyone could use a little rest and relaxation, especially Hiro. While she wasn't privy to everything going on with the youth, she had communicated with Baymax while the others were occupied. The healthcare companion had expressed a desire for Sammy to keep an eye on him when possible, and to not let him overdo things.

Aunt Cass was more than willing to head back as well. "I've been meaning to catch up on my cooking shows," she admitted. "So you guys can go catch some sun and I'll be back in my room if you need anything." She somehow doubted Stark or Banner would mind if the others kept an eye on Kally for a while. After all, technically only Kally and Hiro were minors.

With all in agreement, they headed back to the hotel, each going to their respective rooms to change into swim attire. Cass took that opportunity to pull aside both Honey and Wasabi. "I'm leaving you in charge of those two," she stated firmly, sure they know who she meant. "Don't let them out of your sight. I don't want to hear you've lost them."

Wasabi cringed a bit at her stern tone but Honey took it all in stride. "We'll be fine," she assured the adamant woman. "And with Baymax with us, there shouldn't be any problems." While the robot wouldn't be getting into the pool, he could provide valuable insights into everyone's needs, especially Hiro's. They were all a bit worried about him still, knowing this was his first real venture outside of the city since New York. He might choose to shrug it off but they wouldn't.

They were saved from having to make any further comments as both Hiro and Kally joined the others in the hall, along with Baymax. They'd all decided it best to go up in a group, Fred more than willing to bring a credit card to pay for any food they might purchase at the bar supposedly up top.

Hiro waved from the elevator as the doors closed, hoping his aunt would stop worrying so much and go back to her room to unwind. She needed the vacation time as much as any of them did, even if she wouldn't admit it. Her constant worrying over him had not been lost to him, even though he knew she'd tried to downplay it. At least they hadn't had to do anything really crazy on the super hero end, dealing mostly with small local stuff to help the police out. It had been just as much a relief to him as it was to her, he was sure.

The elevator dinged on the top floor and they all filed out, carrying towels and whatever other swim gear they'd brought with them. Though Baymax had insisted Hiro apply sunscreen while back in the room, they'd brought some along, just in case the water washed it away or it simply wore off on its own. Hiro'd been a bit more sensitive to the sun since he'd been kept underground for so long and he didn't want his young charge to get sunburn. The robot felt Kally might have the same sensitivity as well but wasn't going to push it.

Fred stared in total happiness at the size of the swimming pool. It was Olympic in size, and there was more than one there. There were three in total, excluding the hot tub spa, all of which were practically empty. Each varied in size and depth. "Oh yeah!" he exclaimed as he dropped his towel on the nearest chair and made a running leap at the nearest pool. "Cannon ball!"

Everyone else in the party ducked as a spray of water filled the air. "Seriously?" GoGo asked, hands on her hips as Fred emerged, flinging water like a wet dog. Her swim attire was tasteful and sleek, perfect for an athlete. She'd chosen to wear a swim shirt and shorts. But now her hair was drenched from his escapades.

Honey smiled at both of their antics as she set her towel down on another chair and headed for the water. "He's just letting off a little steam," she reasoned. "Come on, guys!" She dove into the pool, pulling with strong strokes, her pink and yellow tankini flashing in the sun.

Wearing something more akin to an old-fashioned swimming suit, Wasabi carefully went over to the pool's edge to check the temperature with one toe before gently sliding into the water. He looked back to see both Hiro and Kally hadn't opted to join them. Maybe it was because they were all currently in the deep end of the pool. "You guys coming?"

Licking his lips, Hiro couldn't help but look a bit like a deer in headlights. Strictly speaking, he wasn't a good swimmer. He'd never really learned how to do any of the really basic stuff, unless one counted doggy paddling. Not to mention, after his one timeline of drowning in the ocean, he felt more than a little hesitant about just diving right in. "Uh, no thanks, guys," he hedge. "I think I'll just head over to the hot tub for a while. My back is killing me."

Baymax seemed momentarily confused by this statement. "I do not see how your back could be killing you," he admitted. "It does not have that capability. However, your back muscles do appear to be tense."

Kally shook her head at that. "What he meant is that his back is hurting a bit," she corrected.

"Ah," the robot said in understanding. "It is another expression. I will file that away for later contemplation."

The teen programmer patted him on one arm before following Hiro over to the hot tub. She never really learned how to swim and wasn't sure she wanted to start. In fact, the idea of having water going over her head made her feel more than a little anxious. She didn't like feeling like she couldn't breathe. The healthcare bot followed after them.

Careful not to slip, Hiro climbed down the steps into the bubbling waters, sitting just off the stairs with a sigh of contentment. "Now that's more like it!" He scooted over a little bit as Kally joined him, sitting on his left side so she was closer to the stairs and the railing bisecting them. He glanced off to one side to see Baymax watching them. "You coming in, buddy?" He patted the top of the water invitingly.

Baymax tilted his head to one side. "I do not feel it wise for me to immerse in water at this time," he confessed. "I can better observe you from here." It wasn't that he feared it would affect his circuitry. Hiro had done a wonderful job of making his outer skin waterproof. It was just easier to keep on eye on everyone from a higher vantage.

"Suit yourself," the teen genius shrugged as he stretched out his legs and arched his back a bit. He adjusted his position once more so he was sitting directly in front of one of the jets. "You have no idea how nice this feels."

Kally echoed his sigh of contentment as she stretched her back. Even though the airplane ride from the day before had been more comfortable than she'd any right to hope for, she'd still been confined in a metal tube for hours on end. Sitting in the hot water, with water shooting at her back in a steady stream, was more than nice.

Before they could get too comfortable, however, a young man with medium-dark hair and gangly limbs entered the hot tub by climbing in on the side opposite them. He wore yellow Bermuda shorts and was decidedly taller than both Kally and Hiro. He gave a goofy grin similar to something Fred might as he leaned back against the lip of the heated pool. Realizing he wasn't the only one in there, he sat up quickly. "Sorry," he apologized in a British accent. "Hope you don't mind me joining you."

Both teens looked at each other and shrugged. "Nope," Hiro said as he looked curiously at the man, not sure exactly how old he was. He looked to be about the age of most of his friends but couldn't be sure that was at all accurate. After all, he still looked a lot younger than he was, something that might get him into trouble if any adult happened their way. Children under sixteen weren't allowed in the hot tub without a parent present. He somehow doubted they'd count Baymax as an adult if anyone questioned his age. And he certainly wasn't going to count this stranger.

"Oh good," the man said as he leaned even further forward, his face getting much closer to the water than it had been a moment before as he reached out a hand across the distance between him and Hiro. "My name's Dirk, Dirk Gently."

Feeling more than a little self-conscious, Hiro gave Kally a sort of confused glance before moving to reach over for Dirk's hand. He had to stand and take a few steps to reach. "Hiro," he supplied. "And this is Kally."

Dirk firmly shook Hiro's hand, perhaps giving him a more pointed glance than was necessary, before returning to a more sedate state against the side of the heated pool. "Now that we've got that all out of the way, do you mind if I ask you something? Have you, by chance, had anything really unusual happen to you lately? Have things just seemed odd or out of place?"

Kally and Hiro exchanged glances again, each trying really hard not to laugh. "Define unusual," Kally quipped, looking more than a little amused. "Our usual is most people's unusual." Her thoughts went back over the past four odd months and she couldn't help but smile.

"Hmm," Dirk said, looking somehow thoughtful and smug at the same time as he leaned his elbows against the lip of the pool, his back resting against the side. "You don't say." He looked far too interested as he glanced from one side of the pool area to the other, almost as if he expected someone to approach or for something to happen.

Baymax contemplated this new individual with a tilt of his head. "I do not understand why you should be interested in Hiro or Kally's activities," he admitted. He didn't detect anything untoward about the individual. In fact, the man seemed in excellent health, with his neurotransmitter levels telling the robot the man felt pretty relaxed, albeit potentially more happy than typical about his current state.

That seemed to make Dirk look thoughtful as he stood, hands held up in what could only be interpreted as some kind of gesture of surprise. "I didn't know you could talk!" He wagged a finger at the robot. "I knew there was a reason I came over to talk to you guys. This is indeed getting very interesting."

"Ooookay," Hiro said slowly, looking more than a little uncomfortable as he edged closer to Kally and the stairs leading out of the hot tub. Technically they'd already been in there for almost ten minutes, which was close to the recommended max time. "We really should be going."

He gave Kally a half pleading look as he went around her to grab at the railing. Not paying enough attention to where he was putting his feet, he accidentally stepped on one of Kally's, causing him to slip. He almost hit his head into the railing but managed to avoid that when Kally thrust out her hands to push him away from the obstacle. Instead, he kind of went backwards at a sideways angle, his head momentarily going under the water, his mouth wide open in shock. He came up with a gasp before succumbing to a coughing fit due to the water trying to force its way down into his lungs.

Baymax was there to pull him out of the water before he could so much as call out, patting him on the back as he coughed, the chlorine burning his throat. "Do you require CPR?" he inquired as the teen continued to splutter, even though Hiro managed to shake his head in the negative.

Kally followed him out of the pool and placed a protective arm around Hiro's other side, glancing back at the strange man who'd joined them. She wasn't at all sure what to make of him, her Valkyrie senses going on the blink, even though she'd worked on honing them over the summer. He seemed to be some kind of enigma and she didn't like that one bit.

Dirk was still sitting in the hot tub, looking as calm and pleased with events as was remotely possible. He gave a little sort of wave as the younger teen and the robot escorted their companion out of the vicinity, heading back towards the lounge chairs where the others had left their towels. "I'll see you again!" he called out cheerfully.

"Just who was that guy?" Kally wondered out loud as they found an empty chair and claimed it for Hiro.

Still coughing a bit, Hiro shook his head once more. "No idea." The burning sensation reminded him too much of drowning in the ocean and he felt his mind slipping back into that memory. He would have done so completely if Honey hadn't come over, dripping cold water on him when she accidentally flung her wet hair around.

Seeing Honey bending over Hiro, accompanied by Kally and Baymax, Fred, GoGo, and Wasabi came up out of the pool to investigate what was going on. "Everything okay?" Fred called out before they'd reached the group surrounding their teen leader.

"I'm good! I'm good!" Hiro protested, shaking like a wet dog, or like someone had run ice down his back. Honey's intervention had been both timely and welcome. He really didn't need to relive that right now. "Just slipped and swallowed some water in the hot tub." He'd managed to pull himself together, his throat now only marginally irritated, reducing his coughing to the occasional need of clearing his throat.

Everyone seemed to crowd around him, making him turn even more red than he'd already been from the near drowning. "Guys! Really!" he protested. "I'm fine!"

GoGo glanced over at Baymax for confirmation. "While Hiro did indeed ingest some water from the pool, his lungs do not appear to be currently distressed," the robot reported. "I will continue to monitor him to be sure."

"That's a relief," Honey sighed, her shoulders relaxing as she took a step back so he could have some more air. "Do you think you got a bit overheated?"

Kally gave him a quick look before answering for him. "Probably. I doubt either of us are used to those things. And with the sun over head..." She let her words trail off.

Wasabi shook his head. "You know you shouldn't stay more than ten minutes at a time in one of those things," he admonished gently. Inside, he was just glad no one would have to perform mouth to mouth on the teen. As things stood, his aunt would be moderately be upset.

Hiro hung his head, making himself appear downcast, even though that wasn't the real reason behind his episode. "Yeah. Sorry about that. The water just felt so good and it was so nice to feel the jets against my back, I guess I just lost track of time." He glanced quickly over at Baymax to give him a mental hint not to say anything about their unusual visitor.

Seeing all was well, GoGo shrugged. "Looks fine to me," she stated. "Just give him some air and he should be good to go in no time. I'm going back into the water." With that she turned and went back to the pool, Fred following right behind her, mostly because she dragged him with her.

"If you're sure you're okay," Honey worried as Hiro lay back in the lounge chair.

The teen waved a somewhat limp hand. "I'm fine. I think I'll just hang out here for a bit to cool down." That way he'd be close enough to other people that, hopefully, that Dirk guy would decide not to come over and harass him or Kally again.

Realizing Hiro just wanted some space, Honey tapped Wasabi on the shoulder and indicated they should go back to their previous activities. Baymax had promised to keep an eye on both Hiro and Kally. And it didn't look like they'd be going anywhere. Besides, Wasabi made the robot promise to inform them before they went anywhere, even if it was to the other side of the pool deck.

Now back down to just the three of them, Hiro peeked out from under the hand he'd thrown over his eyes when leaning back. "They gone yet?" Sure they had, he sat up again. He quickly glanced over towards the hot tub, which was far enough away from them that there was no possibility of them going back over, or anyone else for that matter, without being seen. But, as far as he could tell, the heated pool was now empty. He let out a heavy sigh.

"Do you think we should tell the others about that guy?" Kally spoke up. She also looked over towards the hot tub with the same result. "I mean he was really weird. You don't think he's one of those perverts everyone keeps going on about on the news do you?"

Hiro had to think about that for a moment. He hadn't exactly gotten a pervert vibe from the guy, but he wasn't sure what kind of feeling the guy had given off either. "I don't know," he confessed. "But I think we should just keep it to ourselves for now. He seemed pretty harmless. But if he shows up again, we should be ready to take him down if necessary."

"I do not believe it wise for you to attempt to incapacitate anyone at this time," Baymax informed as he stood next to the teen genius's side. "Though you have made considerable progress, your physical capabilities are still limited. I believe you would only harm yourself in the attempt."

Kally watched as Hiro let out another sigh, this one even longer than the one before. She'd figured he was still not up to par, mostly because he still looked way too underweight. "Don't worry," she assured him. "If that guy does come back around, I'll take care of him for you."

Great, he thought to himself. As if he didn't feel useless enough. Now he had to rely on others, again, to keep him safe. Why couldn't he just get back to normal already? He knew the answer, of course. These things took time. And the fact that he had other things going on, such as that reactive reintegration stuff, didn't help. "I'm going to take a nap," he announced. "Wake me when the others are ready to head back down to our rooms." It was a shame all of this had ruined any chances of talking to and getting to know Kally even more. He was, at least for the moment, just too tired to care.

Seeing him close his eyes, Kally felt sure he intended to stay that way for a while. She chose to find another chair and dragged it over. Part of her knew if she went off anywhere on her own, not only would Aunt Cass get upset, but so would Dr. Banner and Mr. Stark, and that was the last thing she wanted. It was better to stay where they were for now.

Chapter Text

Loki resisted the urge to curse. He'd somehow missed them. Each and every single time. It was almost like the gods were toying with him, or the universe. But instead of allowing it to ruffle his metaphorical feathers, he straightened his suit jacket. He'd changed back to his original attire before heading back to the main arena area where a good number of people were watching the beginning rounds on giant television screens suspended over the rafters. The main matches wouldn't officially start until tomorrow and yet there were still a lot of people gathered to watch. He supposed they were sizing up the competitors.

After some persuading, Loki had managed to get his hands on an all access pass. He knew it would come in handy over the course of the tournament. Unfortunately, while he'd been procuring said item, both Hiro and Kally had left the events center to who knew what destination. Well, he'd run into them at some point or other, he felt sure. In the meantime, he needed to find a place to stay, hoping there would still be a suite available at one of the neighboring hotels.

Unfortunately, before Loki could escape the building, he saw that same man who he'd bribed to get in heading his way. Hiding an eye roll, he made sure he'd safely returned to his more suave demeanor before the man could reach him. Thankfully, nothing had slipped, not that it was likely to happen but he still had to be 'd narrowly avoiding being seen by both Stark and Banner when getting that all access pass. He'd have to be more careful going forward.

Lucifer gave his most charming smile as he caught up with the man he'd let in earlier. "There you are!" he exclaimed. "I was hoping I'd run into you again. I don't believe I caught your name."

In the guise of a gentleman, Loki had no choice but to humor his pseudo host. "No, you didn't," he agreed, his eyes quirking a bit in impatience. This was not on his agenda for the day and he had little tolerance for stupidity. "Nor did I catch yours."

There was something intriguing about the man, the god of mischief admitted as he waited to see what this stranger would do. He certainly didn't feel like the typical mortal. It would not do to underestimate this individual. But, before he gave a name, any name, he wanted to know what he was dealing with.

More than willing to play Loki's little game, Lucifer extended his hand. "The name's Lucifer Morningstar." He gave a devil-may-care kind of grin, waiting to see what kind of reaction that would elicit and he was not disappointed.

"Lucifer," Loki said with some disbelief. Though he hadn't exactly gone by that name before, while on Midgard, he'd gone by the similar Satan. It certainly spoke volumes about the individual claiming the name.

The devil's smile enlarged to show his teeth. "Yes," he confirmed. "God-given and all that. And your name?"

Well, Loki couldn't very well use any of his usual names, not with Stark and Banner running around, so he opted for one he'd used only once or twice before. "William Lawson," he introduced. Strictly speaking, it wasn't one of his favorites, but it would have to do. At least he already had a history of its use, in case anyone tried to look him up.

"Lawson?" Lucifer asked with a hint of surprise. "Such a striking name." His eyebrows rose a bit. "I'm trying to decide if I've heard of you before. You wouldn't, by any chance, be related to a Cristina Lawson, actress, song writer, and comedian?"

Loki affected a bit of a laugh, suddenly wishing he'd used a different name, any name but that one. "I don't really worry about those kinds of things," he confessed. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I have somewhere I need to be."

The fallen angel watched him leave, a hint of amusement lacing his intrigued expression. "I have a feeling you might be one to keep an eye on," he said to no one in particular. He caught a passing waitress and snagged a flute of champagne from her tray, then took a sip as he watched the man in the dark tuxedo disappear from sight. "I think you are indeed worth keeping tabs on." He took one more sip before returning to the other guests in his charge.

"Hiro. Time to wake up."

The teen genius groaned as a shadow loomed over him. "Go away," he grumped, eyes still closed. He wasn't sure who was talking but knew he didn't want to move in any form or fashion.

A loud sigh followed the silence after his words. "You'd better get up or I'm going to have Fred throw you in the pool."

Hearing GoGo's threat, Hiro quickly sat up, almost hitting into the adrenaline junky's leaning frame. "You wouldn't!"

"Told you that'd get him up," GoGo snarked as she stepped back next to Fred's side. "Get up sleepy head. We're heading back down to change. Unless you'd rather stay up here all night without any food. Besides, I hear the crazies come up after dark."

Hearing the mention of food, Hiro's stomach growled. It was only after he glanced at his watch that the young hero realized he'd been out for several hours. Thankfully, Baymax had thought to adjust the large patio umbrella closest to them to keep him out of the sun. Chances were good he'd have burned otherwise since the sunscreen he'd put on earlier had likely worn off.

"Glad I'm not the only one who's starving," Kally spoke up from Hiro's left side. She'd opted to let him sleep, realizing he'd probably needed it. But now that everyone else was ready to head back down, she doubted her temporary guardians would let them both just stay up top without someone to keep an eye out. Baymax didn't exactly count either. She hadn't missed GoGo's comment about the "crazies after dark".

With a bit of an effort, Hiro got up from his lounge chair and slipped his sandals onto his feet. He noticed the others were already ready to head back down, their hair relatively dry. It made him wonder just how long they'd waited for him to wake up, but he'd needed the nap after his near drowning.

Wasabi led the way towards the elevators, sidestepping a few kids who'd burst forth from the waiting car. But instead of pushing the button for their floor, he waited for one of the others to do it for him. One never knew how sanitary those things were, especially after he'd noticed one of the kids who'd exited before them picking his nose.

Once inside the elevator, Hiro yawned, rubbing at his eyes. Despite the need for food, the thought of sleep still beckoned his eyelids closed and he leaned against the healthcare bot for partial support.

"Maybe we shouldn't have let him sleep so long," Honey worried, knowing it was closer to dinner time than it was to early afternoon. Chances were good it might affect his sleep later that night.

But Kally disagreed. "I'm sure he needed it." She'd caught a bit of a cat nap as well, but had then opted to try her hand in one of the more shallow ends of the larger pool for a bit. Hiro'd been out for the count at that point and Baymax had been more than willing to keep an eye on him while she tried to conquer her fear of the swimming pool.

The elevator dinged before anyone else could make a comment. As the doors opened, they all stared in some surprise as Aunt Cass blinked at them. "Oh, hey," she said a bit hesitantly. "I was just going up to find you guys." She caught a glimpse of a very sleepy Hiro. "Looks like you had fun."

Knowing they were working on being more open with his aunt, Baymax shuffled forward, causing Hiro to almost fall as his support moved. "Hiro had a near drowning experience," he announced.

Cass looked over sharply at her nephew, looking for any signs of distress. She noted the fatigue in his eyes but couldn't determine anything else from his general appearance other than that his bathing suit was dry. "How did that happen?"

Hiro moved forward, following the others out of the elevator, which closed behind them. "Slipped in the hot tub," he admitted, partially wishing Baymax hadn't said anything about it but knowing it was probably better that he had.

His aunt took a hold of him by the shoulders. "Are you okay? You didn't stay in there too long and overheat did you?"

The worry in her eyes was more than enough to bring Hiro back to full wakefulness. "Something like that," he hedged. "I guess I got a little dizzy." Mostly because of the weirdness of that random Dirk guy. "When I tried to get out, I accidentally stepped on Kally's foot and slipped. I was so surprised I took a breath under the water."

Cass pulled him into a hug as the others, minus Baymax and Kally, politely retreated to their respective hotel rooms. "But you're okay now, right?"

"I'm fine," he sighed, hoping this was the last time he'd have to reassure anyone on the matter. "I took a nap on the pool deck afterwards so I'm good to go." He stifled another yawn that tried to sneak out.

Not entirely convinced, Cass glanced towards both Baymax and Kally. "Is that what happened?" She ignored the look of protest coming from her nephew. She still had a bit of trouble believing everything and wanted a second opinion.

"Pretty much," Kally confirmed. "We all figured it was a good idea to let him sleep it off."

Baymax shuffled forward, reminding them all it would be better to vacate the hallway as another hotel guest headed towards the elevator. "I monitored Hiro most carefully for complications," he reported as Cass slid her key card into the appropriate door slot. "Aside from fatigue, he should be all right."

Cass nodded, relief flooding her face. "Good. But you two should both shower and get changed. I've ordered in some food that will be here in a few minutes so don't take too long."

Kally ducked towards her shared room, sliding her key card while Hiro ducked into his via the door joining his and his aunt's room. Baymax waddled after Hiro, the door closing behind him.

Loki was in luck. There was a suite left in the hotel, though it was probably the most expensive one there. And even if he'd allowed himself to sink to the level of renting out a normal room, he wouldn't have found any available.

Between tourists and the bot competition, all typical rooms were booked. And thanks to some more prestigious guests, only the honeymoon suite was left by the time Loki asked for what was available. He didn't so much as flinch at the price, paying for the whole week in cash. They did still require him to register a name, and put down some kind of deposit for incidentals, but that was easily done. He continued with the name of William Lawson for continuity, sure that Lucifer guy would check in on him some time down the road.

He was just on his way to his room, after taking the elevator up to the floor in question when someone almost quite literally ran into him. The god of mischief took an involuntary step back as the man who'd knocked into him gave a half apologetic stammer. Despite this, he still couldn't help but look at the man, who wore an ungodly yellow jacket, like he was some kind of idiot.

"Terribly sorry about that," Dirk Gently apologized again, looking every bit the part of a nervous yet apologetic nincompoop. He slowly backed away from the man he'd just bumped into, heading quickly for the elevator.

Loki let out a disgusted sigh as the man disappeared behind the metal doors. "Peasants," he complained as he straightened his suit coat and continued on to the suite he'd originally headed for. He opened the door without difficulty, bypassing the front room and its bouquet of red and white roses. The fruit basket was a nice gesture but he wasn't particularly interested in that right now.

Instead of exploring the many perks of the honeymoon suite, the pseudo Asgardian moved to the balcony overlooking the east side of the structure. Since the building was so high up, he was able to see the roof of the events center with ease. The many people still milling about, both spectators and competitors, looked like ants from his perch, which was just the way he liked it.

A knock sounded at the door, a uniformed waiter standing outside with a cart containing a covered tray. "I have your order, sir," the man said politely. "Would you like me to set it up inside?"

Loki gave him a questioning look, quite sure he'd not ordered room service. "Whose name did you say was on the order?"

The waiter checked the little card. "For Mr. William Lawson, courtesy of Lucifer Morningstar," he read. "With his compliments."

Pursing his lips, Loki moved to let the man inside. He was getting hungry, though he wasn't sure what that strange man had ordered for him, or how he'd found out his current residence so quickly. He was certainly more resourceful than the god of mischief had originally given him credit for.

Not waiting for further invitation, the man wheeled his cart into the room and began setting out a place setting on a small dining table off to one side of the main area. He then slid the tray off the cart and set that on the table as well, removing the dome.

The most amazing smells assaulted Loki's nose and he nodded in appreciation. One thing could be said about this Lucifer character, he had good taste in food. "Thank you," he said by way of dismissal, waving the servant out of the suite.

Loki identified a nicely presented chicken cordon bleu, sliced for presentation as little pin whirls. Sautéed asparagus accompanied the protein, covered lightly with a nice hollandaise sauce, with a side of mashed potatoes and gravy. The accents were nice, giving added fragrance to the whole. And, from what he could tell, the garnishes were all edible as well.

Picking up the card the waiter had left behind, Loki read the same words the servant had moments before. He then turned the card over, noting the imprint for a night club called Lux. Apparently this Lucifer character was just as loaded as he pretended to be. Most interesting. Not wanting to waste food, Loki sat down and tucked into the meal.

With the first day of the competition over, about half of the contenders were essentially going home. Of those still in the event, half were decidedly ranked better than others. Those rankings were based on the time it took to take down the competition, how many preliminary rounds they actually fought in, and how well their fighter bots withstood the onslaught.

The bookie updated the odds board. There were two contenders on there considered to be underdogs simply due to their age, Hiro Hamada and Kally Carmichael. Despite that, they'd both done well in their respective heats. There were, however, older students who were ranked just as high or higher. And, after the officials had decided on the matches for the morning, it was obvious some of them were less than fair.

Kally had been paired against a senior student, easily five years older than her, who'd ranked up in the top ten. She'd been ranked around fifteen. And Hiro was paired against a junior, one Rachel Amesbury, Kally's current roommate. Not that the officials knew that. Rachel had made number 8 on the list, while Hiro was ranked at 13.

Maybe it was because of the decidedly odd mismatch, or the fact that Hiro's rank was considered an unlucky number, but the odds of his winning were considered amazing for anyone looking to win a butt-load of cash. And while any normal person might speculate as to the unusual pairing, those in the betting area didn't care. Those who believed in bad luck steered clear due to his ranking number. Others didn't consider it a worthwhile risk, considering his age.

Most of those putting in early bets were more than willing to stay on the safe side. To their knowledge, Hiro was a relatively unknown and therefore things could go either way. But with such an uneven match, chances were really good he'd lose. There was one or two, however, who chose to bet in favor of the teen, one putting down quite a chunk of change.

With the fighters mostly now gone from the building, those attendees who were there for either the betting or just watching, were encouraged to head home for the evening. The one who'd made the unusually high bet gave the area one last look over before heading out into the evening air. Call it a gut feeling, but one way or another, things would fall into their favor.

Chapter Text

After his rather delicious meal, Loki found he was far from ready to turn in for the night. It had been a while since he'd last enjoyed the night life on Midgard and he was more than willing to slip into one of several night clubs in the area. However, after contemplating the card left with dinner, he felt a burning curiosity to see this Lux place, along with its owner. One could learn a lot about a man by his home, or business, as the case might be.

Hailing a cab, Loki directed the driver to the night club, not entirely surprised to see a line out the door, with velvet ropes partitioning off the line from the rest of the sidewalk. Paying his driver, Loki stepped out of the cab and crossed over to the head of the line, amid protests that were ignored, flipping the card he'd received to the head bouncer. The burly man immediately unlatched the partition to let him in with a nod of thanks from the god of mischief.

The interior of the club had the typical dark lighting, loud music, and a lot of people. There were open tables, with a few more intimate booths, as well as an open bar area lined with stools. The centerpiece of the whole main room, however, was a large grand piano in shiny black. There were also a couple of exotic dancers, primarily women, who didn't quite cross the line of impropriety.

People danced with the typical gyrations while others drank, tried to hit up members of the opposite (and sometimes same) sex. One thing was obvious. The bartender was doing a fantastic job of keeping the libations coming.

Wearing a dark sports jacket and matching pants, having decided on being slightly dressed down from earlier, Loki rambled down the curved stairs leading to the main floor and strode over to an empty stool at the bar. "Martini, dry," he ordered from the male bartender, who poured the drink, setting it on a napkin before turning to fill another order.

While Loki sipped from his glass, a woman with a medium-dark skin tone took up residence in the stool next to his, sitting off to his left. Her dark hair and matching eyes sparkled. And, except for her bright lipstick, her makeup was fairly tame. But her attire was mostly black leather, with artistically arranged cuts and slits to tantalize the most carnal of minds without actually giving anything away. She gave him a calculating glance, nodding at his drink. "I took you for more of a brandy kind of man," she admitted. "But I can see martini too."

Loki gave her an equally calculating glance back, a partial smile gracing his lips. "I don't believe we've met," he admitted. "Or are you always this forward with strangers?"

The woman's lips turned up into an almost Cheshire Cat grin. "I thought you'd have a bit of sass to you." she slapped one hand against the bar top. "Mr. Lawson, wasn't it? Or is that your real name?"

This time Loki gave her an even more in-depth look, sure she was carrying several weapons of a similar nature to his usual blades. "It is the name I prefer to go by," he replied as he set his glass down. "But since you seem to know my name, it's only fair you tell me yours."

"Mazikeen Smith," the woman replied as the bartender brought her a drink before she'd even ordered one. Apparently she was a regular and had a favorite. "But most people just call me Maze."

Loki gave an appreciative nod at that. "It suits you. I'd offer to buy you a drink but you already seem to have one."

Maze laughed at that. And then she did the oddest thing, moving her head close to him, far closer than he'd allow any mortal. Not only she did she come in like she didn't have any inhibitions at all, but she seemed to try to drink in his essence with one long inhalation. "You don't smell like most humans," she commented as she leaned back, her eyes partially closed, an odd expression on her face.

"I should hope not," Loki said in half protest, half intrigue. To be compared to a mortal was simply unacceptable. And yet the way she said it was also a bit of a turn on. If he wasn't careful, he might find himself lusting after her. "Nor do you seem like a typical human."

This seemed to amuse her as she gave an odd chuckle. "That's because I'm not." She took a healthy swig of her drink, almost slamming the sturdy vessel back onto the bar. "I'm a demon. And you, for whatever reason, have caught the attention of my employer."

Loki couldn't help but look surprised. "Your employer?" He chose to ignore the quip about being a demon, not sure if she was being cute or merely up front.

A smattering of applause started up, growing louder as the dance music subsided and a spotlight shone at the top of the stairs Loki had strode down only a few minutes before. And right in that spotlight stood none other than Lucifer Morningstar. Loki couldn't help but notice as the man descended, heading straight for the piano. He'd changed into a similar dark suit, though this one had a few differences from the one he'd worn earlier that day, mostly the red handkerchief in the right front pocket, and the shinier fabric. Even with those subtle differences, Loki could tell the whole ensemble was different, as well as expensive.

"You work for Lucifer Morningstar?" He looked somewhat shocked, though part of him found he wasn't all that surprised as he watched her toy with the stem of the maraschino cherry from her glass, raising her brows in a manner that could only be construed as teasing condescension.

Before he could make any more comments, however, Lucifer made his way to the piano and took a seat at the keyboard. "What should I play for you lovelies tonight?" he asked the audience, getting calls for many different titles. All the while, he ran his fingers over the ivories, playing something smooth and sultry, letting his audience have their moment before breaking out into the opening chords of a song Loki was unfamiliar with.

The god of mischief looked more than a little surprised at the tones escaping Lucifer's mouth. He had to admit the man could sing. Not only could he sing, but he could sing well. And his skills at the piano rivaled many others he'd heard while visiting Earth, which was saying something. He only mingled with the best.

Maze finished her drink as Loki stared, transfixed by his flamboyant host. She gave him a sort of nod that only went half-acknowledged before she sauntered off into the crowd. Loki's applause was polite but no less enthusiastic than the rest of the crowd. Realizing the club owner's performance was over, the DJ took over once more, blasting techno music through the room as Lucifer made his way to the bar.

"I was hoping you'd stop by," Lucifer said as he took over the stool Maze had vacated. He gave a similar Cheshire Cat grin to the one Maze had used. He looked appreciatively at Loki's attire. "My but you do clean up nicely. It's not exactly Burberry but is certainly nicely tailored to show off the essentials."

Feeling more than a little impatient, and a little violated, Loki turned a bit of an impatient glance the devil's way. "Why exactly am I here, Mr. Morningstar?"

Lucifer affected an almost innocent yet playful expression of shock. "Lucifer, please. The only person who calls me Mr. Morningstar is my lawyer." He nodded at the bartender who brought over something blue in a tall, thin glass. "As to why you're here, I can only guess you chose to accept my invitation to get to know me better. I certainly didn't force you to come."

Loki had to concede the point. "Though I'm not sure why I've managed to capture your attention so thoroughly." He finished off his martini. Before he could even think about ordering another one, Lucifer beat him to the punch, signaling the bartender for another.

"You intrigue me," the club owner admitted as he leaned one elbow against the bar, his chin pressed against the accompanying hand. "And that's something really hard to do. After all, I'm far too familiar with the carnal nature of humanity for it to surprise me much these days. But you . . ." he leaned forward. "You aren't like the other mortals."

A sense of déjà vu filled the god of mischief. "You're the second person to tell me that in so many minutes," he said. His tone seemed have a sense of warning half skepticism. Despite his tone, he picked up the second martini glass and took a sip.

"Ah yes," Lucifer seemed to cringe. "That would be Maze. She's a very astute individual." He glanced around the club, almost as if he expected someone to try and eavesdrop on their conversation. Or to spot the demon, a knife in her hand. "What would you say if I invited you up to my private rooms?"

It was hard not to look a bit taken back by this sudden question, nor the intensity he saw in Lucifer's eyes. He felt a sudden sense of unease fill his stomach and quickly put the martini glass down, wiping his hands on his pants. "I hope you're not suggesting what I think you are. And if so, I think you should know I'm not the kind of person to share a bed with just anyone. If such is the case, I must decline."

Lucifer chuckled, almost as if he was covering over some kind of confusion or disappointment. "My dear William, may I call you William? I have no intention of sharing my bed with you. I would like to point out, however, that our current location is hardly suitable for private conversation. But if you prefer to stay where others may overhear us, I won't be the one to tell you no."

Relief washed over the pseudo Asgardian, though he did his best not to let it show. "Why didn't you put it that way from the beginning? It would have saved the both of us a moment of confusion." He picked up his glass and drained it before standing. "If all you want is conversation, I'm more than happy to oblige. But I warn you that if you try anything I don't like, I can't be blamed for the consequences."

"Ooh!" Lucifer looked almost smug and more than a little intrigued as he stood as well. "Feisty. I like that." He then looked around, signaling to Maze with a look before making sure Loki followed him up the stairs and to the elevator to the penthouse level. This was indeed going to be interesting.

Tony Stark stared moodily out of the spacious window of his appointed rooms. Not wishing to mingle with the masses of students and other potentially undesirable individuals, he'd opted to stay at one of several properties he still owned in the area.

Strictly speaking, he didn't often come to this side of the country anymore. At least not since moving to New York, though there were times when it was warranted. The current event dictated the necessity of his being there, but he wasn't going to live in squalor while he was out there. No. Not even the richest suites were good enough, at least not on the security end. He much preferred to stay at one of his own buildings, where he knew who was watching his back.

"And how is everyone settling in?" he asked, blue tooth practically glued to his ear as he paced his living area. "Kally hasn't given you any problems, has she? No? Good." He settled on a couch, a glass of brandy in hand. "And how is Hiro doing? Anything I should worry about? Or anything I can help with? How's his PTSD?"

The man listened to Cass Hamada on the other end as she expressed concern over Hiro's more recent problems, mainly discovering the reactive reintegration issues. He pressed his lips together in a frown as he set his glass down on a convenient side table. "Hmm . . ." he mused. "I'm afraid that's not exactly something I'm familiar with, though I can tell you that having an episode can make you feel like you're reliving the moment. But I somehow get the impression this is somehow more involved."

It stood to reason that Hiro had kept a few things back from his aunt. After all, she'd been bombarded with a slew of information all too recently. He was probably trying to keep her from overloading. All the same, this new development was decidedly something to keep an eye on. "You'll let me know if it happens again, won't you? I'm not exactly sure what we can do about it, but I might have some people who can come up with a few ideas if things don't settle down."

The woman on the phone gave her thanks before he ended the call, slumping back into the sofa. More complications, he sighed. The poor kid had been through enough. And while he wasn't entirely sure yet who he'd have give the teen a look over, someone who he knew wouldn't exploit his or her findings, he was more than ready to give it a go if his aunt gave the okay. "When did life get so complicated?"

"When has life not been complicated, sir?" JARVIS spoke up from one of the integrated wall speakers. While he was technically stationed at Stark Tower, the AI could jump to pretty much any device he chose. And since Tony had a secondary butler looking after the Tower while he was away, he'd been more than willing to join his creator on this little venture.

Tony let out another sigh. "Good point." He retrieved his glass, downed its remaining contents and put the glass back down. "How do things look for tomorrow? Any problems I should be aware of?"

"Not as far as I can tell," JARVIS reported. "According to the camera feeds, everything appears to be in order. I cannot, however, accurately give information on the tunnel levels, as there seem to be fewer cameras in that area."

It was certainly a problem they needed to look into, Tony agreed. "Have a security team do a sweep before the doors open tomorrow," he instructed. "I don't want to have any repeats from earlier." Part of him still felt guilty about Hiro and Kally being kidnapped. He could have, should have, done more. And he'd be damned if he let anything slip again while on his watch.

Loki had to admit the penthouse was decidedly less crowded, less noisy, and definitely a much better place for conversation than the club below them. The fact that the devil went straight for the bar in the main area only confirmed his notion of the man being somewhat of an alcoholic, except it didn't seem to affect him the same way it did most individuals. He watched the man pour himself a drink before moving over to the matching grand piano gracing the center of the large room.

"I hope you don't intend to play me to death," he joked as Lucifer began playing a moving piece that was probably something from the Blues category of music. "I didn't think you invited me here to simply show off your musical talents."

Lucifer left off in the middle of a chord and swung away from the keyboard. "You're right," he agreed as he picked up his glass and moved to the more intimate seating arrangement near a set of windows looking out over the night sky. He sat down on one of the couches, indicating for Loki to join him. "I just happen to like music. It soothes me."

More than a little wary, Loki chose a seat across from his host and leaned towards the man. A coffee table stood between them. It gave them more than ample space between the both of them should anyone decide to make an unwanted advance. "Now, why don't you tell me what you wanted to talk about?" He resisted the urge to smooth back his hair, knowing every strand was in place.

The fallen angel leaned forward as well, staring intently into Loki's eyes. "What is it you desire?" he asked in an almost sultry voice. "What is your deepest, most secret desire?" His eyes seemed to take on an intensity they hadn't before and Loki couldn't help but feel somewhat drawn to them.

And then the moment was over as Loki blinked, offering a wry grin. "Is that supposed to elicit some kind of response? Make me confess my deepest, darkest desire? If so, it's obviously not working."

A look of frustration crossed Lucifer's face before he quickly schooled himself. "It would seem you are like the Detective in that my charms have no effect on you. How very interesting. The only reason I can possibly think of for this is that you were sent by my Father to torment me, or there's much more to you than meets the eye. I wonder which it is." He looked thoughtful as he settled back against the sofa's cushions.

Should he confess, Loki wondered. He was still far from sure about this man. And to think he'd only come down to Midgard to look into the affairs of Hiro and Kally! This particular venture was proving to be even more interesting. And the fact that the man before him had, in a way, tried to get into his head made it even more so. But should he tell him the reason his charms didn't work on him was because he wasn't human? Or should he continue to toy with him and hope to get away with it?

"I had Maze follow you, you know," Lucifer said quietly as he picked up his glass and watched the low light sparkle through its cut surface. "That's how I knew where to find you. She's very good at tracking down different people, though you didn't exactly make it difficult. I do hope you enjoyed the meal I sent you."

Well this was an interesting turn of events, Loki supposed. "I did," he admitted. "Though part of me now wonders if there might be some ulterior motive attached. A desired favor, perhaps?"

Lucifer seemed to contemplate his words before setting his still half-full glass back down on the coffee table. "I suppose it might seem that way," he confessed. "But I assure you I'm not looking for anything more than information. Why you're really here, for example." He crossed one leg over the other, all ease in appearance but business in tone.

"I came to see some friends of mine," Loki stated, sure this wouldn't cause too much trouble. "I know several of the students competing in the bot competition and wanted to cheer them on."

Lucifer uncrossed his legs and he leaned forward once more, elbows on his knees. "Oh!" His face lit up at this revelation. "I see. And which students might those be, if I may ask." Now they were getting somewhere.

It wasn't really a secret, though the god of mischief had hoped to keep a lower profile. Apparently that wasn't likely to happen. Well, so long as he didn't draw the attention of Banner or Stark, he supposed all would be well. "One Hiro Hamada and Kally Carmichael," he stated with only a hint of a smile.

The eyebrows on Lucifer's face rose at that. "Oh my indeed. And how, pray tell, did you make the acquaintance of such young people? I hope you're not some kind of pervert." Though the idea seemed to make him smile more than was perhaps appropriate.

Loki resisted the urge to roll his eyes. "Nothing like what you're thinking, I'm sure." He readjusted his position on the chair he'd taken residence on, possibly checking the position of his hidden knives. "Let us just say we had a mutually beneficial meeting several months back and I wanted to check in on them."

Intrigued, the devil thought to ask more about the inciting incident but wisely chose to leave the topic alone. "Then I take it you'll be betting in their favor."

Even more amused, Loki smiled to himself. "While I don't mind a good bet, I didn't come here to gamble, merely to observe and return home."

"Well that's no fun," Lucifer pouted. "While it's not strictly legal, gambling does have its advantages, and I hear the odds of their winning are quite high, especially for tomorrow's match. And by in their favor I mean for anyone betting on them to win should the heavens see fit to grace them with a miracle. After all, who doesn't like to make a tidy profit?" He laughed after downing the rest of his drink.

Loki managed another wry smile at these antics. Let the man think what he'd like. He had his secrets and intuition too. And from what he'd observed, this man was far from typical. Well, if they were to continually run into each other, he might just figure out why he was so intriguing. But, for the moment, it was probably wiser to call it a night and said as much to his host.

"So soon?" Lucifer protested but didn't move to stop him. He did follow him as far as the bar, where he watched as Loki boarded the elevator, turning away as the doors closed. He would definitely have to keep an eye on that one, he decided.

Chapter Text

After a relatively uneventful night, minus a few weird dreams, Hiro woke feeling refreshed and ready to go. He could still taste the pizza his aunt had ordered the night before and so dutifully scrubbed his teeth with his toothbrush. The pepperoni had been decidedly stronger than he was used to.

"Hiro," Baymax called from just outside the bathroom. "The competition will start in less than half an hour. I advise you to make time to eat a balanced breakfast before heading down to the convention center."

The teen gave a thumb's up from the bathroom as he leaned towards the sink to spit out the toothpaste in his mouth. "Just give me a minute." He moved to close the door for some privacy, exiting the small room several minutes later with slightly damp hands from washing them.

Baymax had laid out a muffin the teen's aunt had brought from the café, along with some fruit she'd thought to include. "Your aunt will be out shortly," he informed the teen as he placed a small carton of milk next to the other offerings.

The only think really missing, Hiro thought, was some kind of protein. Well, he'd get plenty of that later on. They'd booked reservations at one of the local eateries for that evening, once the competition shut down for the night. If his winning streak continued, it would be celebratory. But if he happened to lose, it would still be a nice way to end the day. And the fact that Kally was tagging along also helped.

Having quickly eaten his food, Hiro cleaned up one last time before knocking on the door separating his room from his aunt's. "I'm ready to head down whenever you are," he called out through the closed down on her end. He'd left the door on his side open, just in case.

"Just a minute!" Cass called through the door. Two minutes later, she opened the door, smelling of mint toothpaste and wearing a fresh set of clothes. "You ready for today?" she asked with a smile as she ruffled Hiro's already messy hair. She checked to make sure she had her keys, wallet, and hotel card before ushering her nephew out into the hall where Kally was just about to knock on the door.

Cass looked up with Kally's hand raised as if to knock. "Oh good, you're awake," the café owner said as she made one last check to make sure she had everything she needed.

While she did that, Baymax and Hiro did their best to shuffle around her. Baymax had a bit more trouble as he was decidedly much larger, but Cass seemed to take it all in stride.

"The others said they'd meet us down in the lobby," Kally said as she fell into step with Hiro and the robotic nurse. She glanced back to make sure Cass was following them, which she was.

Hiro nodded. "Sounds good." He felt like something was caught between his teeth and wished he'd taken the time to floss, but there was no time now. Instead, he wiggled whatever piece of fruit was stuck with his tongue while pressing the call button on the elevator. Part of him missed having JARVIS to just send the elevator to them without their having to do anything.

Thankfully, they didn't need to wait long for the car that would take them down. And, even better, it was empty when it arrived. That meant there was more than enough room for Hiro, Kally, Aunt Cass, and Baymax. The robotic nurse did take up more than a third of the available space, but it was nice to know they could bring the huggable robot with them this time around. Tony Stark had managed to convince the other officials the robot couldn't manipulate any of the fighting bots and so they'd finally approved his being there. It helped that they could claim him as a team medic.

"I am curious to see how well your tiny robot does," Baymax admitted as the elevator car descended. While the robot had seen some practice rounds back at SFIT, he hadn't actually seen the teen pit his robot against any serious competition. He thought it might give him better insight as to why the youth had enjoyed the sport long before meeting him, and why it had been such a prevalent event in his many repeated timelines.

Hiro had to laugh at his comment, any nervousness dissipating. "Me too, buddy," he admitted as he patted the robot on one arm. Before anyone else could comment, however, the elevator chimed that they'd reached the ground floor, the doors opening to let them out.

Fred waved from across the lobby. "Over here, guys!" he called out as Honey Lemon and Wasabi turned their direction. GoGo was busy staring at something that had caught her eye out the front window.

The four late comers made their way to the rest of the group, fighting against some foot traffic from other hotel guests and potential competition. By that time, GoGo had given up trying to figure out what had distracted her and turned her attention to her incoming friends. "It's about time," she complained. "We were about to send someone up to find you guys."

The two teens shrugged, exchanging glances with each other. "Baymax insisted I eat something," Hiro said by way of excuse. He wasn't sure why Kally had taken just as long. As for his aunt, he suspected she'd dressed up a bit more than usual, potentially in the off-chance she might meet someone cute. He hadn't missed the extra makeup she'd put on, nor the care with which she'd chosen her clothes or done her hair.

After some more struggles to get through the crowd, they eight friends made their way out of the hotel lobby. From there, they made it to the lined sidewalk reserved for the competitors to get from the hotel to the events center without harassment. Having Baymax with them this time around certainly made it easier, as he stood taller than most, and his size deterred others from getting too close, giving them all plenty of room to move about.

Once they entered the building, security had them pass through a metal detector, something that hadn't been there the day before. "Guys, is it just me, or did something happen between now and yesterday?" Wasabi asked as they waited their turn to pass through the metal gateway.

Cass looked equally confused as they had her open her purse for inspection before allowing her to pass through the detector. "I don't know," she confessed, "but you can bet something did."

Before anyone could ask any further questions, however, Tony Stark appeared in the area behind the security checkpoint. He nodded towards Hiro's group as he talked to someone who looked like a security guard. "Oh good," he said as the group reached him. "You made it. I hope you don't mind the extra precautions." He moved his arms to indicate the additions to the room before waving Baymax through the metal detector. He nodded at the guard when it beeped, telling him to let the bot through.

"Did something happen?" Honey asked, not entirely sure what to make of all this.

Tony gave a slight shake of his head. "No, no," he assured. "Just wanted to make sure everything was secure since the real competition begins today. Amateur hour is over now. There's a lot more at stake than there was yesterday. Besides, can you imagine if we'd had these set up yesterday with all those bots? Nightmare." He rolled his eyes at the idea.

When he didn't offer to explain further, GoGo decided it was time for them to keep moving towards the locker rooms where Hiro's and Kally's fighter bots were stored. "How much you willing to bet he's lying," she asked Fred, who was the closest to her.

In total, there were about twenty fighters left after the initial rounds the day before, ten per locker room. That way no two rooms got overcrowded with the various support personnel in each team. Not everyone had people with them though, which helped keep numbers down. All the same, there were more than enough with cheering fans. And even though not everyone had made it through to the next round, those who'd come from the same school stayed to cheer on those who'd made it through.

Hiro closed the door of his chosen locker, Megabot in hand. He moved to the bench to give the small robot a look over, making sure no one had tampered with it since he'd placed it in the locker. As far as he could tell, no one had. But, just to be safe, he had Baymax scan his creation and compare that scan to the one he'd had him perform before checking in the day before. They were identical; leading him to believe all was well. Kally asked him to do the same for hers.

"Hey," Wasabi called out from the monitor near the center of the room, "looks like they got Kally fighting against a senior from Ohio Tech in about half an hour. And they've got Hiro going up against a Rachel Amesbury a half hour later."

Hearing that name, Kally couldn't help but come over to look. "That's the girl I'm sharing a room with," she stated in some confusion. "She's ranked up in the top ten. And while you're pretty good, I'm a little surprised they stuck you with someone so much higher up in the ranking than you." She gave Hiro a somewhat confused look.

"That does seem a bit weird," GoGo admitted as she stared at the screen, a wad of gum going around in her mouth. She stood leaning against a row of lockers, arms folded across her chest. "Think someone's trying to stack the odds?"

Hiro gulped a bit as he read the board, confirming what Kally had observed. "I heard she did really well," he worried. "I'm honestly not sure if I can take her."

Wasabi came up behind him, clapping him on the back. "Hey, you took out Yama, right?"

The teen couldn't help but look surprised at this as he glanced up at his friend. "How did you know about Yama?"

The physicist chuckled. "Tadashi told us," he confessed. "It made for a great story, though he was still a bit upset about being booked because of it when he told us."

"I didn't know he'd told you," Hiro said thoughtfully, though it made sense. He looked at Megabot, turning the robot a bit as if examining it in a new light. "But he had a right to be upset with me. It did go on our records, though mine's been sealed so..."

Cass shook her head, her expression bemused. "I remember that night all too well. And while I was probably just as upset as he was, I think he was more disappointed than anything."

"Yeah." Hiro felt a lump forming in his throat and quickly cleared it. "We should probably head towards the arena. They'll probably want Kally to check in soon. Personally, I hope you trounce the guy they've got you up against, even if he is a senior." He allowed a hint of his usual sparkle to show as he tried to smile.

Honey bounced a bit. "Photo! Photo!" she exclaimed. "We need to commemorate this event before we go." She whipped out her phone with one hand, using the other to motion everyone closer together. One click later and almost everyone was heading out the door, minus Hiro and Baymax. The chemist looked back. "You coming?"

Hiro nodded. "Yeah, just give me a second, okay?"

The Latina nodded in understanding. She could see the pain behind his eyes, realizing he wished his brother was there just as much as she did. "Take all the time you need." She gave him a quick hug before following after the others.

"You appear to be distressed," Baymax observed. "Is it because they mentioned Tadashi?"

Swallowing, Hiro nodded. "I just wish he could be here in person. In a way, this all kind of reminds me of the student expo when I got into SFIT, except he's not here to cheer me on. And it hurts."

"There is no time limit on grief," Baymax reminded. And before Hiro could think of saying anything in response, the robot had come up behind him, wrapping him in a big hug. "Tadashi is here," he reminded, one vinyl hand tapping the teen above the heart.

Hiro turned around so he could return the hug. "Thanks, Baymax." He wiped at his eyes, just in case the moisture he felt there had decided to fall. It hadn't, but at least it cleared his vision. And, hopefully, his eyes hadn't gone red from the unshed tears. "Let's go cheer Kally on." With that, he released the robot from his embrace and turned to head out of the locker room, Megabot in hand.

The main arena seats were packed. There didn't even seem to be any standing room in the spectator areas. And yet Kally had seen even more people trying to get in as she'd made her way through the competitor's entrance. This was truly insane. She'd had no idea just how big of a spectator sport this was and it made her feel a bit sick to her stomach. At least they'd reserved an area for the others so they could watch without having to go to the nosebleed section.

Just as they'd previously speculated, however, the lights were dimmer than the day before, making it a little more difficult to see the audience, though she could still here them. She had to resist the urge to clutch her bot to her chest like a favored teddy bear.

"You're going to do amazing!" Honey Lemon enthused as she gave the teen a hug. "I just know you will!"

Fred gave her a thumbs up and a big grin while GoGo told her to woman up. Wasabi gave her an encouraging pat on the back. Aunt Cass gave her a rousing cheer. She didn't see Hiro before ascending the steps leading up to the platform where the fighter circle was drawn.

Up on the platform sat two comfy looking pillows, the kind one might find at an Asian restaurant where they expected you to sit on the floor. She didn't know from experience, just from what she'd seen on TV. After the whole incident in Tony's kitchen with the shell fish, she'd kind of avoided even going near such a restaurant just to be safe, even though she now carried an auto injector of epinephrine, just like Hiro did. Even with her Valkyrie genes, she was still half mortal and had to deal with that side of things.

One of the pillows was red, the other blue. And between them lay a three foot wide circle painted on the hard surface of the platform. Above them hung several Jumbo-trons, along with a slew of lights dangling from a series of catwalks. And, if one looked closely, they could see a bunch of bundled cables as well.

Kally gulped as she caught sight of her competition, a young man easily four inches taller than her, a lot more burly, and decidedly older. He wore glasses but his fighter bot looked like it meant business. It had spikes going around its metal arms, another spike coming from its head like it was supposed to be hair. And, judging from the way it was put together, those parts were designed to spin to cause maximum damage. And those were just the features she could see off hand.

Cheers erupted from the crowd, though the blinding lights kept her from seeing more than a few rows of them. Cameras flashed on top of that, making it even harder to see. Kally had to shield her eyes while they adjusted to the change. And while there were video cameras out, they had all been assured that the only ones recording would be those from the audience as the others were simply used for the live broadcast over the giant screens above them.

A judge, one she didn't recognize, motioned for her to join him in the center of the circle where her challenger had stopped. As soon as she joined them, the judge began going over the rules of combat, just in case anyone had forgotten them overnight. It was the first fight of the day. He then loudly announced who was going against who as each competitor raised their hand to acknowledge the challenge. He then motioned them to place their bots inside the circle before going to sit down at a table off to one side, along with several other judges.

Kally felt a moment of panic when the senior pulled out his controller. It looked pretty complicated. Then she reminded herself that simplicity often was better. After that, she felt no qualms pulling out her much simpler controller, making sure it was turned on and connected with her bot.

"Fighters ready!"

She looked up to see Tony Stark looking back at her long enough to confirm she was good to go before he looked the other way. When had he arrived? And why didn't she remember him moving to stand center ring?


Loud cheers filled the arena as everyone urged on their favorite bot. Kally quickly learned that her opponent's bot was more than just fancy and menacing in appearance. The man behind it had a lot of skill and easily swept her bot up with his before she'd registered the start of the fight. Her red enameled bot flew across the circle, but she managed to save it from exiting the bounding lines of the circle by having it flip around.

After that, the fight went on with a frenzy. Kally took a more intuitive role, trying to tie her reactions with her Valkyrie instincts and the skills she'd worked on honing over the summer. Metal clashed time and time again, each giving no quarter.

Sweat began to bead up on Kally's brow as she sent her little fighter across the circle, trying to stay out of reach of the spinning spikes that looked a lot more like saw blades now that she'd knocked the thorns off them. She risked a momentary glance up at her opponent and saw a face filled with absolute concentration, brows furrowed, tongue sticking slightly out of his mouth as he leaned forward.

Kally resisted the urge to chew on the inside of her cheek. She'd been trying to break the habit, though maybe now was not the best time. She gave up the effort and concentrated on keeping her bot intact instead.

The two bots danced around the circle like drunk-crazy ninjas, each trying to take the other out. More parts fell to the wayside, some from Kally's, some from his. And then, in a move that was as unexpected for her as it was for the guy she used it against, she managed to flip the opposing bot onto its back and sliced it cleanly through the torso section.

Sparks flew as the bot let out a death squeal. A thud followed as the senior dropped his impressive controller in shock. Kally looked up in equal shock, her eyes wide at what she'd managed to do, her controller sliding from her fingers to roaring applause.

In the blink of an eye, Tony was lifting her up practically by one arm to declare her the victor. He only had to use enough pressure to get her legs engaged but she still looked like a deer in headlights as the crowd roared its approval, hiding any groans from potentially upset fans. "Winner! Kally Carmichael!"

Realizing her legs were still a bit wobbly from the surprise, Tony led her off the platform while GoGo quickly moved in to scoop up her fighter bot, any lost parts, and the controller for her. "You did good," he said in her ear, having to almost shout to be heard over the crowd. "You should head back to the locker room and see if you can repair your bot before your next match!"

"You did it!" Fred called out as he jumped up and down. He raised her arm in a similar manner to what Tony had done moments earlier. "Yeah!"

Wasabi gave her a high five while both Honey Lemon and Cass gave her a hug. And when she came out of the hug from Cass, she saw Hiro standing there, grinning. "I hope they recorded that fight because it was epic!" he stated as he gave her a high five before hugging her. Even Baymax got in on the action.

GoGo cleared her throat for attention, the sounds of the crowd dying down behind them. "I don't mean to burst in any bubbles or anything, but it looks like you need to do some serious maintenance on your bot before this afternoon." She handed the various pieces to Kally, along with the controller.

Hiro moved to help grab the pieces. "Here, let me help you with that," he offered.

"Hiro, have you forgotten?" Baymax spoke up before he could actually take any of the pieces. When the teen looked up at the robot in confusion, he knew he had. "You are participating in the next match, which should start in ten minutes."

Like the typical deer in headlights, his eyes went wide as he froze. It took him five seconds to pull himself together. "Crap," he uttered, looking quickly over at his aunt to make sure she wasn't going to say anything about his language. She was holding Megabot, along with its controller so he could offer up his congratulations.

Wasabi ruffled Hiro's hair. "Don't worry about it. We'll help her make it as good as new." He nodded at GoGo, who was the most likely to be able to help. "Fred and the others can stay here and cheer you on."

Knowing exactly how he felt, Kally placed a hand on his shoulder. "You'll be fine," she whispered. "We'll come back as soon as we can to catch the end of your match. Just don't lose." She gave him a smile so he'd know she was joking.

"Will Hiro Hamada please report to the arena?" a voice called out over the loudspeaker, causing the teen to jump.

Cass gave him an encouraging smile. "Go. You've got this." She gave him one last hug before sending him off to the competitor's circle.

Chapter Text

High up on the catwalks, a dark shadow flitted between blazing lights and hanging cables. It was almost time. The match in question would soon be starting. The call for Hiro Hamada to report to the arena was proof of that. His competition was already down there, checking in with the judge.

Depending on how the kid did, certain things might happen. The individual up there was more than ready for either outcome, win or lose. Except they wouldn't let Hiro lose. There was too much riding on him winning to leave it to chance. The only real question was how much time did they have left before other things happened.

A long, slender tube hit against the catwalk railing. There was a device very reminiscent to a gun on one end, which would propel whatever was placed in that tube at high speeds. Except it wouldn't be firing out bullets. That would be way too easy.

Black gloves covered long fingers, hiding any prints that might be left on railings or anything that might have been touched. No other items were brought along to be forgotten and left behind. There had to be no traces left if things didn't end well. But chances were good things would go as planned. The Hamada kid's skills were well known and it was less likely the teen would back out without a good fight. Now all that was left was to sit and wait for the kid to win.

Hiro could almost imagine the crowds were nothing more than the masses he'd had to press through before taking down Yama's fighter bot, Little Yama. It was far less intimidating if he thought of it that way, because he thought he recognized some of the people near the front of the ring. And he wasn't really sure why they were there. There was one he decidedly wished wasn't there as Dirk Gently waved up at him with that odd goofy grin of his.

Bile rose in his throat as he only paid half attention to the rules of engagement as they were explained for the millionth time. They were the last thing on his mind. He was more worried about why he saw Loki there, even if he wasn't wearing that typical green getup. And why on earth did he think he saw Captain Jack Harkness on the other side of the stage?

Rachel Amesbury gave him a knowing smirk, staring down at his diminutive height. He still hadn't hit his growth spurt, even though Baymax assured him it was possible it was simply delayed due to all his recent difficulties. In some ways, she reminded him of Yama and his scare tactics, though he definitely was not faking the innocent, way-over-his-head expression currently showing on his face.

This time around, Tony Stark wasn't the one to call the fight. Hiro figured he must have been called away or something. But he didn't see Dr. Banner either. Instead, he'd been given an official he hadn't seen before. The only thing missing was the red umbrella to separate the fighters before the word "fight!" was called.

He also missed the call, his mind traveling back to the last time he'd gone up against Yama, only it wasn't from this timeline but the one where he'd been beaten to a pulp. He mentally yelled at himself, telling himself now was not the time to delve back into those memories. Despite this distraction, he was able to evade the initial attacks of his opponent through sure dumb luck.

Loud cheering filled the arena as he evaded the larger bot, now more of an extension of Megabot than of anything else. It was almost like he was actually a part of the tiny robot instead of just controlling it. He was the one running around out in that circle instead of sending his creation through the motions.

If there was anything that was certain it was the fact that Rachel Amesbury was ruthless. Her bot had tiny saws for hands, though that wasn't too much of a threat for the disjointed body of Megabot. What did pose a threat, however, was the fact that her bot also had a built in plasma cutter, though Hiro wasn't sure how she'd gotten that one past the judges.

When the saw hands didn't seem to work, Rachel switched tactics, calling out the plasma cutter. After that, she essentially had her bot chase Hiro's around the circle, either trying to push the robot out of bounds or melt its casings. Not even going to Destroy Mode seemed to help Hiro's cause.

The audience let out a collective gasp as the plasma cutter actually made contact with the left leg of Hiro's creation, causing the bot to skitter across the floor. Hiro managed to save things before it exited the circle by activating extra magnets inside to draw it towards Rachel's bot instead. There was no mistaking the limping of the small form though and Hiro had to quickly re-calibrate so that one of the middle section switched out for the lower one.

Internally, Hiro tried to go over the rules, wondering if the plasma cutter was actually legal or not, and how Rachel had managed to get it past the initial inspections. His moment of distraction cost him, however, as the tip of one of Megabot's disjointed limbs got hacked off with the cutter.

Another collective gasp escaped the audience and Hiro knew he was in trouble. He could almost feel his robot's pain, like a searing fire burning in his leg. Screams filled the air from his opponent's supporters, urging Rachel to finish him off and he had a hard time tuning them out

A high pitched whistle seemed to sound in the air, barely perceptible as Hiro felt pressure building up inside his head. The next thing he knew, Rachel had slumped over. Instinct kicked in and he threw his controller to one side. "Baymax!" he yelled out before his brain had a chance to catch up with what was happening, calling for his robotic companion to join him.

Rachel had fallen to one side and he pressed two fingers against her neck to check for a pulse, not finding any. He looked up into the horrified faces of the audience, everything suddenly going in slow motion as he turned the woman onto her back so he could try and better assess the situation.

Baymax suddenly seemed to appear by his side, telling him to move back. He noticed the robot's hands glow a blue color and only realized what it meant a moment later as the robot placed his hands against Rachel's chest and side, sending a jolt of electricity through her body. Two more jolts followed in slow succession before the on-call medical team arrived to take over the situation.

One of them looked up as Baymax announced a loss of brain activity in his patient. "I am detecting the presence of an unknown toxin in her blood," he reported, causing further confusion. "Miss Amesbury has been poisoned. The injection site is here." He pointed to a dart sticking out from the back of Rachel's neck where her ponytail held her hair out of the way.

Screams filled the air and security teams rushed to seal off the arena. The whole scene played out on the Jumbo-trons as cameramen tried to zoom in, wishing they had something to record the events with, but Hiro was in too much shock to think. He didn't even resist when one of the security guards pulled him back from the scene.

"Someone call the police!"

"Lock this place down! No one gets in or out without authorization!"


Was that Aunt Cass calling out his name? His brain felt so numb, like it was having a hard time processing. Had he really just almost lost a bot fight? And had his opponent really just been killed right before his eyes?

"Let me through! I'm his aunt!"

Hiro felt Aunt Cass's arms wrap around him and he shuddered, the guard still escorting him out of the main arena and taking him and his aunt to a smaller room.

"Wait here."

Was any of this really happening? Or was this another one of his bad dreams? He would just wake up back at home, Baymax reaching over to take him into his arms, patting his head comfortingly until he calmed back down. Except Baymax wasn't there. Only Aunt Cass was there and she was holding onto him like she was afraid she'd lose him.

Chloe Decker stared at her stack of case files. Strictly speaking, these were ones still waiting for her to file and she just hadn't found time yet. There was always one more case to be solved, not that she was complaining. Solving murders was her bread and butter, so to speak. It helped her feel a sense of connection with her departed father, who had also served the streets of Los Angeles through the police force.

"Detective!" Lucifer Morningstar looked as bright and cheerful as ever as he spun around her desk so he could sit on the edge. "My but don't we look like the epitome of industry this morning!"

The detective blew out her breath. It would be nice if just once, just once! Lucifer would offer to help out with the paperwork. "I thought you were going down to that bot competition," she said instead of voicing her ire. "Aren't you one of the sponsors?" She pulled a stack of papers towards her, intent on trying to get through at least some of the backlog.

Lucifer gave a cheeky kind of smile. "Ah, I thought you'd forgotten about that. After all, I did invite you to join me yesterday."

"Pass," Chloe said with an air of indifference as she searched through the sheaf of paper, looking for a specific report.

Her partner looked incredulous, his confused smile hanging into a pout. "But why ever not? You'd get to see the nation's finest young minds pit their creations against each other in a battle to the death. What's not to enjoy?"

Chloe resisted the urge to roll her eyes. "And risk uncovering your illegal gambling on the side?" She looked up with an eyebrow raised before letting out a sigh. "To be perfectly honest, none of that interests me."

"My but you are singular," Lucifer complained. But he saw Ella, the lab tech, passing by and moved to intercept her. "Miss Lopez, please tell me something. If I were to invite you to the college bot fighting competition, would you have come?"

Ella Lopez practically bounced over. "Oh my gosh! Are you kidding?! I would totally love to go!" she gushed. "Watching those tiny pieces of machinery go at each other in a life or death, no holds barred battle? That would be the single best thing in my life right now!" She glanced over at the detective and quickly schooled her face. "That is I'd have said yes."

Lucifer gave Chloe a look. "See? Not everyone is a backwoods Neanderthal."

The sigh that escaped Chloe's lips was more than audible as she picked up a pen and tapped it against the stack of papers in front of her. "Are you done yet or can I get back to this important paperwork?"

Giving her a slight bow, Lucifer acquiesced. "By all means, Detective. Do go back to your boring paperwork. Ms. Lopez and I will head down to the event center and see what kind of grisly battles we can see." He seemed to perk up at the idea as he took Ella by the arm, hooking his elbow with hers.

But before they could get too far, Chloe's phone rang. She picked it up, pressing it to her ear, l and looked intent as she held up one finger to signal her partner to wait. "Mmhm. Okay. We'll be right there." She hung up the phone, sliding it into her pocket. "Looks like I'll be going to that bot fight of yours after all. Someone's been murdered."

Lucifer's eyes lit up like a kid at Christmas. "Oh really! Do tell!"

This time Chloe did roll her eyes at him but steered him towards the stairs. "You'd better come too, Ella," she added. "We're going to need all hands on deck. We've got a whole building full of suspects and no one's going anywhere until they're all cleared."

Wasabi held the broken pieces of Kally's bot together as the teen applied a soldering iron to seal closed the worst of its wounds. "I never noticed before," he commented, "but you've actually got a really steady hand. I'm impressed."

A smile broke out on Kally's face as she set the soldering iron back down in its cradle. "Thanks." She then leaned forward to inspect her work. Thankfully, the damage was minimal, though it was a near thing. She sat back. "I'm just glad I won't have to back out of the next round due to critical damage."

GoGo blew a gum bubble before sucking it back in. "The way that other guy was going after you, I'd say you were lucky." She pushed off from the locker she'd been leaning against.

They were all currently stationed at the far end of the locker room, still close enough to the nearest row of lockers for GoGo to lean against one, but far enough away from everything else that they wouldn't be disturbed by those coming and going in the room. That and someone had set up a small table near one of the few available electrical outlets for the purpose of repairing broken robots.

Loud noises could be heard faintly from down the hall as someone opened the locker room door. "Sounds like Hiro's doing well," GoGo continued. The sound cut off as the door closed. Apparently someone had thought it a good idea to remove the doorstop earlier so they couldn't just hear what was going on outside.

"Almost done," Kally said as she took up the soldering iron one more time to apply a last bit of solder to the back of her bot. "I think that should do it."

Wasabi handed the bot over as she returned the iron to its cradle once more. "Looks good," he admitted. He couldn't have made a better seal if he'd tried. Kally had definitely developed some amazing skills. "Better put your tools away though, in case someone else comes and tries to claim them as their own."

Reminded of the potential of less than honest competitors, Kally unplugged her iron. They'd have to wait for the metal tip to cool down before she could stow it in her locker, but at least she could move the other tools back. She packed the screwdrivers and other tools into the small case she had for such a purpose, including the role of soft metal used to join parts back together. "I don't know about you but I could use one of those muffins Aunt Cass brought," she confessed.

The physics student gave a huge smile. "Way ahead of you there," he said as he opened another locker they'd taken over for stashing such goodies. He pulled out a wrapped muffin and handed it to her. "Since Hiro's fight's still going on, I'm sure we have some time before it's over. I don't think a little break will be a problem. His matches back at SFIT went on forever."

GoGo nodded as she chose a small coffeecake from the stash, throwing her gum away before eating it. "I don't think he's been going for more than a few minutes. And if your fight is any indication, he'll be kept on his toes for at least a few more. I'm sure one of the others will text us if that changes."

More than a little reassured, Kally bit into her muffin. Crumbs fell from her lips, but she quickly caught them with her other hand. One of the first things she'd learned about Wasabi was that he was a neat freak and she didn't want to make things more difficult for him. Looking for a trash can, she spotted one closer to the shower area and went over to deposit the crumbs and wrapper.

"So, you think Hiro's got a chance against this chick?" GoGo asked Wasabi as she nodded at the screen displaying the bracket pairings. For whatever reason, they weren't televising the fight in the locker room. Maybe it was in an attempt to not make the other competitors nervous. Either way, it made it almost impossible to know what was going on in the main arena.

Wasabi made a sort of snorting noise. "This is Hiro we're talking about," he chided. "Of course he's going to come out on top. Have you seen him at the practice rounds?"

GoGo waved that aside. "You know I was there. But I'm more worried about him going up against an older, more experienced student. Sure he did the whole back alley bot fight thing but these people have been doing this on an almost professional level for years."

"If anyone can beat Rachel, it would be Hiro," Kally defended as she came back from disposing of her trash. She finished off her muffin and went to check on her soldering iron. It was almost cool enough to put away.

Chapter Text

Several squad cars guarded the main entrance of the event center as Chloe drove up with Lucifer riding shotgun. Ella wasn't too far behind with a CSU van. The medical examiner's vehicle was already there and the detective noted they'd already cordoned off a large part of the sidewalk with police tape to keep the curious onlookers at bay.

Walking up to the senior officer, Chloe pulled on a pair of gloves. "What have we got?" she asked as she followed the man inside, Lucifer mostly behind her.

"Right in the middle of one of the fights, someone shoots one of the fighters with a poisoned dart," the man answered as he led her past the crowd of people being detained inside. "Since no one's sure where it came from, they locked down the whole building. No one's been allowed in or out. They did detain a kid who might have had something to do with it though."

Chloe nodded, turning to look for Lucifer. She spotted him as he ducked around a few of the straggling spectators who hadn't quite gotten behind the barriers. "Any idea how they got something like that past security?" She nodded at the metal detectors, knowing no security was perfect.

The officer shook his head. "No idea. It's possible the weapon was smuggled in yesterday before all the extra precautions were set up. They still haven't found the gun that fired the dart but my men are combing the area."

A few more turns, and a corridor later, they were led into the main arena where even more people were being escorted to another holding area in the building. Several guards made sure they kept moving while the medical examiner, along with a white giant balloon-looking thing stood up on the platform. "What is that?" Chloe pointed at the robot.

Shrugging, the officer stopped short of the metal steps leading up to the platform. "Beats me. Far as I can gather, he's some kind of healthcare robot. Might be one of Tony Stark's."

Before Chloe could go up the steps, however, Lucifer put out a restraining hand to block her. "Wait. Did you just say Tony Stark? As in the Tony Stark?"

"That's what I said," the officer shrugged before heading back to the main entrance.

Chloe gave an impatient grunt as she pushed past Lucifer. "What's the big deal?" she asked. "He's probably just some big time tycoon sponsor."

Lucifer followed her up, a frown on his face, though he caught sight of Ella about ready to lose her cool in a squeal. "Tony Stark is a big deal," he countered as he got in front of her once more. "Surely you've heard of him before?" He searched her face for any sign of recognition for the name but didn't get any. "Oh come on, Detective! Tony Stark! Billionaire genius, philanthropist, play boy?" When that didn't seem to ring any bells, he got a bit more irate. "Iron Man! The Avengers! Surely you've heard of them!"

The detective let out an exasperated sigh. "Yes, I've heard of them, but I still don't see what the big deal is. It's not like he's going to be here getting in the way, much like you are." She gave him a look to match her mood and slid past him. "Okay, what have we got?" she asked the medical examiner as she knelt to take in the victim's body.

"I can't believe she doesn't know who Tony Stark is," Lucifer complained as Ella moved to pass him, evidence collecting kit in hand.

"I know, right?" Ella agreed. "Who doesn't know who Iron Man is? He's an American icon!"

Lucifer nodded in agreement. "Exactly." He then paused as one of the men ahead turned towards him. "Hello," he said as he moved forward, not entirely sure he was seeing who he thought he was seeing.

Tony Stark turned at the sound of his name, sunglasses pulled down just a bit so he could see over them. "I hope you're not another reporter," he stated as he took in Lucifer's expensive attire.

The devil stuck out his hand for the billionaire to shake. "Lucifer Morningstar," he introduced. "I'm with the LAPD. My partner, the Detective, is over there."

Iron Man give him a once over before dismissing him. He stepped around Ella's case, which she'd set on the floor. "I wasn't here when it happened. I had an important phone call and had to step out into the hall so someone else was officiating the match."

Lucifer followed him around the scene, pausing when he did. "I see. So who was officiating? And who was the other contestant?"

At that moment, Baymax waddled over to Tony. "I believe I have done all I am capable of doing here," he announced. "Will you tell me where they took Hiro now?" If it weren't for the fact that some of the walls inhibited his usual sensors, he'd probably have been able to find where they'd taken his friend, but he couldn't. It would be another matter entirely if he had his super sensor, but he didn't.

Lucifer mulled over the name, trying to recall where he'd heard. "Hiro. Hiro." He looked up as realization struck. "Do you mean Hiro Hamada? One of the two teenagers competing?"

Baymax swiveled his head so he could look Lucifer in the eye. He performed a quick, non-intrusive scan of the man, as he was programmed to do on any new encounter. "Yes," he confirmed. "They took him away after we tried to resuscitate the patient. I believe he will require my care."

Tony pursed his lips, looking either thoughtful or troubled. It was sometimes hard to tell. "Hiro was the one going up against your victim," he stated as he looked straight at Lucifer. "I heard they took him to a room where they could detain him for questioning. But I want to make myself very clear on something. I do not believe, in any way shape or form, that he had anything to do with this."

"Ooooh," Lucifer all but cooed, looking intrigued. "So you know the young whelp." All he really knew about the teen came from what he'd learned from William Lawson, though he was still convinced that wasn't the man's real name.

Tony shrugged. "He and his friends were my guests this last spring," he admitted. "And while he can be a bit of a troublemaker, he's not the type who would take another person's life."

But before Lucifer could comment on that, Chloe joined them, brushing off her pants. "I hear they're detaining the person she went up against in the fight," she announced. "Since he was right there, either he's the one who did it or he knows something about it."

Lucifer cleared his throat as he gave a less than subtle nudge towards Mr. Stark. "Detective, I don't believe you've met Tony Stark. Mr. Stark, this is my partner, Detective Chloe Decker. He was just telling me how he knows the young man in question, a Hiro Hamada if I remember correctly."

With hands thrust in his pockets, Tony gave a polite nod of greeting. "That's right," he agreed. "And if you're looking for the culprit, he's not your man."

"I'll be the judge of that," Chloe said firmly as she signaled one of the other officers over. She then requested he take her to where Hiro was being held. When she noticed Baymax trying to follow, she had another officer restrain him.

"You're making a mistake by not letting him go with you," Stark called after her. "You'll need him soon enough! Just don't say I didn't warn you!" He shook his head as the detective and her partner disappeared from sight. He glanced over at Baymax. "I've got it from here," he announced to the officer guarding him. "Baymax, let's go."

Getting no further resistance from the officer, Baymax followed Tony out through the opposite door. Hopefully he would soon be reunited with his number one patient. Based off his most recent scans, he felt more than certain the teen needed him.

Hiro felt like the world had turned upside down on him. One moment he was in the arena, the next he was screaming for Baymax as he knelt over his fallen opponent. And he kept replaying that over and over in his head. It was like a song on repeat, going over and over and over again. Why wouldn't it stop?

The teen shuddered as he felt arms wrap around his body. It seemed almost as if he'd woken up, except he wasn't quite awake. And he didn't recognize the room he was in. But he recognized the scent of Aunt Cass, chocolate, cleaning supplies . . . among many others. He turned into her chest and hugged her back like a frightened child.

"Hey," Cass said, trying to smooth his hair. "It's okay. We're going to get through this." She hadn't seen him look this vulnerable in a while, not since he'd first woken up in Stark Tower still completely out of it thanks to the drugs that had run in his system. "I'm sure there's been some kind of mistake."

Realizing he was acting like someone half his age, Hiro pulled back and shook himself in an attempt to more firmly ground his mind. He still felt like he wasn't exactly inside his body, similar to when he'd somehow managed to disconnect his mind in that Hydra base. Except he wasn't sure where his mind was trying to go. It seemed to just be floating in the ether. And where was Baymax? Hadn't he been with him only a moment before? He wasn't sure.

The teen tried to pull himself together but it was difficult. Everything had a sort of hazy quality to it, like he was somehow out of tune with the rest of reality. "Where are we?" he asked. "What happened?" He wasn't sure he could remember what had happened after they'd forcefully ushered him off the stage.

Cass shook her head. "I don't know. They didn't tell me anything after leaving us in here. And I probably wouldn't even be in here with you if you weren't still a minor." She thanked her stars for that. Hiro didn't look in any condition to be left alone. She hadn't seen any of his attacks start up but wondered if he might be close to having another reintegration episode. Or an episode of PTSD.

The door opened and two people entered the room, a man and a woman. Both looked professional, though the man's clothes decidedly looked more expensive than the woman's did. They moved to sit behind a table someone had brought into the room, pulling out a pad of paper and a recorder.

"I'm Detective Chloe Decker and this is my partner, Lucifer Morningstar," the woman introduced as she made herself comfortable. She pulled out a pen. "Please take a seat." She indicated that both Hiro and his aunt should move closer to the table where two folding chairs waited. "I understand you were present when Rachel Amesbury died."

Hiro moved to the nearest chair without thinking, his aunt following behind him. She gave him a comforting squeeze as he tried to not pant. He felt trapped, like he was in a small room with no windows, no doors. And, in a way, he was. Aside from the table and chairs, the room only had a few shelves of random boxes against either wall. An overhead light gave the only light in the room. There were no windows and only the one visible door. It was too much like that cell at the Hydra base for comfort.

When Hiro didn't answer, Chloe pressed again. "You're name is Hiro, right? Hiro Hamada?" She noted how he seemed distracted, like he wasn't entirely mentally there. In a way, she supposed she couldn't blame him. It was a lot to take in for anyone, guilty or not.

After a gentle nudge from his aunt, Hiro focused on the female detective. "Yeah." His throat felt dry, like it was too hot in the room. He resisted the urge to pull at his collar. It was a sure sign of nervousness and he didn't need them thinking anything outside of what was already going on in their heads. He wasn't even sure he wanted to know what they thought either.

"And were you acquainted with the deceased?" Chloe continued while her partner kicked back in his seat to watch the show.

Hiro shook his head. "No," he managed. "It was the first time we'd met. But Kally knew her."

The detective looked at her notes and frowned. "Kally who? I don't have anything about her."

When it looked like her nephew either wouldn't or couldn't answer, Cass spoke up for him. "Kally Carmichael. She's a sixteen-year-old student at NYU. I think she was sharing a hotel room with Rachel."

Chloe noted the information down before looking back up. "Okay, why don't you tell us what happened."

Hiro glanced at his aunt, who gave him a subtle nod. He still wasn't sure how he felt. It was a combination of wanting to puke and still not quite being there. He shook his head to try and clear his thoughts but that only seemed to make things worse. "I was trying to keep her from destroying my bot in the ring," he recalled with an effort. "But she was trouncing mine. Her bot was using a plasma cutter to take mine apart. And-"

Lucifer sat up at that. "What? A plasma cutter? Are you certain?" His expression was unreadable until he frowned, arms folded across his chest in thought. "Sounds like there was more than one foul at play."

Not sure what her partner was talking about, Chloe glanced over at Lucifer. "What do you mean?" She had a basic idea of what a plasma cutter was, though she wasn't sure why he'd reacted that way when Hiro had mentioned it.

"Well," Lucifer began, not sure if he should go on or not, but decided he'd better. "Plasma cutters aren't allowed in the competition. They're considered too dangerous. Someone must have dropped the ball when they let her in with that addition. That or it was added after the bots were examined."

More than a little disturbed at this potential turn of events, the detective schooled her face and turned back to her detainee. "Okay, getting back to the sequence of events, what happened next?"

Hiro blinked rapidly, feeling suddenly light headed. Had he forgotten to breathe again? He must have. And then it didn't matter as he suddenly found himself not in the small room with the detective and her partner, but in the control room on Akuma Island.

There was something wrong with this and he knew it. One side of the control panels were missing. And there was something beeping. "What's making that sound?" He turned his head as if searching for the source.

Unable to hear what Hiro was, Chloe couldn't help but look confused. "What sound? I don't hear anything." She did note that Hiro suddenly seemed a lot more out of it than he had a moment before. He also seemed to look a lot paler than he'd been a moment before. She moved to stand but Lucifer stopped her.

"Allow me, Detective," the devil said as he stood instead and moved around the table so he could look Hiro directly in the eyes. Except the teen didn't meet his eyes, looking more like he was about to puke. In fact, his eyes appeared to be unfocused. "You know, I think he's having some kind of episode."

Cass immediately reached over and took Hiro by the shoulders, turning him to face him. "Hiro?" She didn't miss the unfocused glaze in his eyes. "Hiro, can you hear me?" She could feel his heart thudding pointedly beneath her fingers. Thoughts of two nights ago, before they'd come down to Los Angeles, filled her mind. She looked up at the detective. "Where's Baymax? He looks like a giant inflatable marshmallow."

Images of the vinyl robot filled Chloe's mind. "I had him detained in the main arena," she admitted. "Why?"

"That's Baymax and he's Hiro's healthcare companion," Cass explained with a sense of urgency. "You need to find him right now." She then turned her attention back to her nephew. "Sweetie, can you hear me? Please tell me you can hear me?"

But Hiro couldn't answer her, caught up in the memory of one of his many repeated timelines. He stared in fascinated horror at the small device on the floor, its red light flashing incessantly at him. There was something wrong about that light and his heart gave a lurch as he realized what it was. "Bomb!" he yelled, wrenching himself free from his aunt's arms. He then made as if to run out of the room, except he was heading in the wrong direction. "Run!"

The closest to him, Lucifer tried to restrain him as the teen ran right into him. "Detective!" he called out. "There is something very obviously wrong with this young man! I suggest you do something!"

Almost as if coming out of a trance, Chloe stood from her seat and headed to the door. "Yeah," she said shakily before turning the knob and calling for the officer stationed just outside. "I need you to go find that giant robot that looks like a white balloon. Hurry." She turned back at the sound of Hiro screaming.

It looked like Hiro was having either a seizure or some kind of fit. His body had tensed and he was now on the floor. His limbs had spread out as his back tried to arch away from the ground, except it only made it a few inches before his screams went up in pitch, his skin flushing almost scarlet. "No! Baymax!" he screamed and then his body went limp.

Cass threw herself to the ground by her nephew's side, feeling his neck for a pulse. Thankfully, she found one. "We need a medic in here! Now!" she cried out. And then the building violently shook.

Chapter Text

Kally felt her skin tingle as she shut her designated locker and spun the lock. Something had changed and she didn't know what, but her Valkyrie senses couldn't be lying. She saw a flash of light out of the corner of her eye no more than a second later. "Hit the deck!" she screamed as an explosion erupted from the far side of the locker room.

Flames and debris flew out as the blast expanded, sending lockers and benches tumbling. She was able to push GoGo out of the way but didn't reach Wasabi in time as a set of lockers slammed into him. She turned away as shards of glass, metal, and who knew what else flew past, some of those fragments embedding into her back.

GoGo had managed to dive for cover the moment Kally had pushed her, somehow maintaining her balance. She glanced up to see the teen almost get impaled by a piece of rebar blown from wherever the bomb had originated. She risked reaching out to pull her down out of harm's way as she ducked to avoid more shrapnel.

Seconds later, dust hung thickly in the air, everyone's ears ringing. Firelight illuminated the enclosed room, filling it with smoke. GoGo covered her mouth, trying to stifle the coughs. "You okay?" she asked as she helped Kally to her feet. When she got a nod in answer, she looked around for Wasabi. "Wasabi? Wasabi!?"

Kally coughed as she pointed to the next row down. "Over there!" She could see his feet sticking out from under a row of fallen lockers. "Come on! We gotta get him out of there!"

Together, the two of the managed to move the mostly empty lockers, though it was a bit of a struggle. But, thanks to Kally's extra strength, the teen was able to lift them enough for GoGo to pull the unconscious man free from the wreckage. While GoGo tried to assess the damage, Kally went to try and open the door, but it wouldn't budge. "We're stuck!" she yelled, covering her nose and mouth with one sleeve, almost tripping over chunks of wall.

"I think he's got a concussion," GoGo called back as she tried to pull Wasabi towards the door. One thing was certain, they needed to get out of there or they'd all die of asphyxia. Unfortunately, this room didn't have any windows, and the vents seemed pretty useless at this point.

More debris blocked the door, the frame partially warped from the impact. "Come on!" Kally urged as she tried to push the heavier debris out of the way. Blood trickled down her back from the shrapnel embedded in her muscles. Sweat beaded up on her skin as the heat continued to build in the room, the oxygen quickly being consumed by the fire. She could feel an edge of panic trying to set it.

But nothing they did made the door budge. Not even with the debris out of the way. The frame was too warped.

The two girls slid down next to each other, each trying not to breathe in too deeply and coughing anyway. "I don't want to go out like this," GoGo said as she cursed silently. She slammed one fist against the closed door. Out of the three of them, she'd sustained the least amount of injuries, though that wouldn't help them if they couldn't get out of there. She could feel Kally trembling next to her and slammed one fist against the metal frame.

Both were surprised to hear something thudding back from the other side of the doorway. Not sure what to make of that, they quickly tried to scramble out of the way as something slammed into it from the other side. The next thing they knew, the door flew from its twisted frame and across the dilapidated room. Fresh oxygen flooded in and they made the mistake of trying to breathe in deeply before being cleared of the smoke.

"In here!" Tony Stark called out as he lowered his gauntleted hand. He'd only had a few moment's warning but that had been more than enough to call one of his Iron Man suits. So far only the one gauntlet had made it to him though. He noticed the two girls as they gasped and choked on the fumes. Then he saw Wasabi and decided the unconscious man was the immediate goal.

Three guards ducked into the room, each covering their mouths and noses with one sleeve. Despite this, they helped both Kally and GoGo out of the room while Tony pulled the more burly Wasabi out into the hallway. "We need a medic!" he called out as another team of uniformed personnel ran into the room with fire extinguishers.

Still in the custody of Tony Stark, Baymax waddled forward. He quickly assessed the situation. "Wasabi is in need of immediate medical attention," he announced. "I detect a concussion, massive contusions and burns, along with several broken bones in varying locations." He then turned to Kally and GoGo. "You also require my attention."

Kally groaned as she tried to take shallow breaths. There was still smoke in the hallway and both she and GoGo continued to cough. "Just give me a minute," she requested as she reached around to try and pull some of the shrapnel from her back. Now that she wasn't stuck in a confined space, the panic had receded.

"I highly suggest moving to an area free of smoke," Baymax continued. "You all require oxygen to treat for smoke inhalation."

At a nod from Tony, two of the guards helped Kally and GoGo back to their feet while the robot picked up Wasabi's inert form. With some effort, they staggered down the hall to where it was clearer.

With the initial blast, Loki knew things were not going to end well. He quickly made his way back to where he'd seen them lead Hiro. If anything, he knew he had to get to the teen. Out of the two humans he'd come to see, he somehow suspected Hiro would be the one most in need of his services. Kally was pretty good at taking care of herself, not to mention she had the healing factor of the Valkyrie on her side, something Hiro didn't.

The first bomb appeared to have gone off back near the locker rooms, though he couldn't be sure. He did see people heading in that general direction though. But it was in the opposite direction he now headed, hoping there weren't more surprises in store. He'd noticed something off about the teen when he'd watched the fight and it was only just recently that he'd managed to evade the police trying to corral everyone into one area for questioning.

Now in the guise of a police officer, Loki careened down the hallway. While the bomb hadn't exactly compromised the building, it had shaken the whole like an aftershock from an earthquake. He saw the results in the form of dazed officers as he passed them.

Several officers stood at attention next to a doorway down the hall and Loki had no doubt who he'd find behind that door. In his haste he hadn't bothered changing his face, just his clothes, so when he thrust into the room it was no wonder that Lucifer looked up at him in surprise. "What are you doing here?" the devil asked as he realized who had just entered the room.

Loki didn't pause for formalities, realizing Hiro was down on the floor, his aunt kneeling by his side. "What happened?" he asked as he made his way to their sides.

Cass looked up at his voice, recognizing him as the man she'd thought worked with the Avengers, though now she wasn't so sure. His appearance was similar to the last time she'd seen him, except his hair was decidedly different, slicked back from his face, a bit longer and darker. And he definitely didn't look like any kind of professor she knew. "I don't know," she confessed. "I think he had a reactive episode but without Baymax here I can't be sure."

Having a little more knowledge about Hiro and medical things than almost anyone else in the room, Loki pressed two fingers up against the teen's neck. He then felt for a breath. "He's breathing," he stated. "That's a relief."

Chloe came to her senses after the abrupt intrusion and moved around the table to stare at the new man in the room. "Would you mind telling me who you are and how you got in here when we had officers posted outside the door?"

Loki looked up at her commanding tone, his expression serious. "Not at the moment," he replied. "As you can see, I'm quite busy." He looked over to Cass. "Here, help me straighten his legs. And if you can find something to raise his feet that would be ideal."

"I didn't know you were a doctor," Lucifer said, his face quirking into a surprised smile. He thrust his hands into his pants pockets. "What else don't I know about you?"

Cass gave Lucifer a dirty look as she did as instructed, helping Loki make her nephew more comfortable. "If you're not going to help, would you at least get out of the way?" she asked pointedly as she tried to get around to the shelf behind him.

Realizing what she meant, Lucifer took a step to the side. "So sorry," he said, though his tone wasn't exactly repentant. He watched as she retrieved one of the flatter boxes, one that was maybe four or five inches tall and about ten inches long, six inches wide. He moved again so she could get by him to put the box under Hiro's feet. "Back to the question, if you don't mind."

"Lucifer, are you saying you know this man?" Chloe asked as she watched this whole exchange with some consternation.

Lucifer couldn't help but turn at her tone. "Hmm? Oh yes. Of course. This is William Lawson. I met him yesterday at the start of the competition. Didn't I mention it before?"

"No. No, you didn't." The detective looked less than pleased with what was happening. "Now would someone please tell me what is going on? And what was that shaking I felt earlier?"

Loki checked Hiro's eyes to make sure they dilated properly. They did. "There was a bomb," he said without looking up. "On the other side of the building. And there are likely more."

Chloe almost choked. "What? Why are we just now hearing about this?!" She looked at Lucifer as if it was somehow his fault.

"Don't look at me! I'm as much in the dark as you are!" the devil complained, his hands up in a defensive gesture.

He got a frustrated expression in return for his rants. "You're one of the people charge of this thing so go find out!" the detective ordered.

Lucifer straightened his jacket in a bit of a huff. "Well I can see I'm not wanted here," he said as he all but stomped towards the door. "Just don't come calling for help when another bomb goes off." With that, he disappeared through the door.

Cass stood, brushing off her pants. She'd gotten some dust on them from the box. "Shouldn't you go after him? You're a cop, right?"

In a way, she had her, Chloe had to admit. But there were other things going on as well. "My focus should be right here in this room. Now, can you tell me what's going on? Why did your nephew suddenly . . . do whatever it is he did?"

Loki and Cass exchanged glances. While she knew the man knew at least something about what had happened over the last six odd months, she wasn't sure if she was authorized to talk about it. They had made her promise to keep it all confidential, the whole Hydra thing and all.

"Hiro, along with a girl named Kally Carmichael, was kidnapped this last spring," Loki answered for her. "I was one of the parties who helped retrieve them. Understandably, it left some psychological scars, which were probably triggered by today's events."

Chloe looked like she was trying to process what she'd just been told and was somehow failing. "So you're saying he essentially just suffered a psychotic break because of the trauma of seeing someone killed in front of him," she said slowly, not sure if that was where he was going with things or not.

"Exactly," Loki confirmed. "That and being confined in such a small space while being interrogated by a woman with similar physical characteristics to his captor." He gave Cass a bit of a look, silently promising to explain some of his comments later. She hadn't exactly been privy to just how involved he'd been in her nephew's rescue and knew that his most recent statements would make her ask questions. "And I'm sure if you were to think critically about events, you would be more than aware of how much of a victim he is under these circumstances. I believe you were accusing him of potentially being involved, unless I heard incorrectly." He gave her a piercing look.

Cass looked up sharply at that but wisely held her tongue, though she'd be more than willing to have words with the woman once they were out of a state of crisis.

The detective looked thoughtful as she contemplated the man before her. "All right," she said, folding her arms. "Assuming I believe any of this, how do you fit into the picture? Why, exactly, are you here now? It seems like a really big coincidence, don't you think?"

A sigh escaped Loki's lips as he stood. "Look, I don't expect you to believe anything you don't want to, but I assure you what I've just told you is the truth. For its validity, I suggest consulting with one Tony Stark, though he doesn't exactly know I'm the one who gave them their way into the facility, or its location for that matter." He used his hands to emphasize his point, moving them about as he talked. "If you have your doubts, merely ask him if Hiro was kidnapped this last spring and he will tell you the truth of the matter. As for myself, I came here to check in on him and Kally Carmichael."

The door opened and Lucifer poked his head into the room. "Detective, I think you might want to come out here," he called out. "It seems we have a bit of a situation on our hands."

Chloe scrunched up her face at that, debating. Lucifer's tone was urgent and probably shouldn't be ignored. "Stay here," she instructed. "I want you all to still be here when I get back." She then followed her partner out into the hall, the door closing behind her.

'I was wondering if she'd ever leave," Loki said in a half exasperated, half relieved voice. "Now, if you want me to help your nephew, we have to move quickly." He moved back to Hiro's side. "I can give him a bit of a boost but I'm going to need your word that you won't tell anyone what you're about to see."

More than a little confused, Cass watched the god of mischief warily. "Is everything you said about helping Hiro and Kally true? Were you the one who supplied the others with their location?"

Loki looked up, his expression showing hints of his usual mischievous grin. "Oh much more than that," he stated. "But that can wait until another time. Do you agree or not? I suggest you make up your mind quickly, before someone else comes into the room to check on things."

Cass shook a bit as she came to her senses. "Yes, if it will help Hiro," she said. "What do you need me to do?"

The man placed one hand over Hiro's heart, closing his eyes for about half a minute. "It's as I thought," he said as he opened his eyes once more. "There's a great deal of energy surrounding him. It's very similar to the energy I felt coming from him while inside that Hydra base. It could very well be his inherited abilities trying to form. That or he is experiencing an overload that could cause even more damage. Either way, I highly recommend we try and get him to that healthcare bot of yours. He's probably the only one who understands what's really going on. I'm afraid if I try to give him a boost at the moment, it will only cause more problems."

He slid his arms under Hiro's knees and shoulders, easily lifting him. Vague thoughts of his adopted brother, Thor, picking him up in a similar manner, only to play the stupid game of "get help" filled his mind. Well, if he and his brother could get away with it as children, surely he could reverse the roles a bit to get them out of there.

"They have very likely left some guards at the door. And unless you want to try your hand at rendering them unconscious, I'm going to have to mask you from them with my abilities," he explained. "Since it takes a bit more concentration than when I'm doing it with just myself, I will have to ask you to try and not panic and to simply follow my lead. Do you understand?"

All she could do was nod, though Cass wasn't really sure what he was talking about at all. However, her eyes went wide when, only a moment later, his whole outward appearance seemed to change, his hair growing a bit longer, even if it was still slicked back. And his clothes changed to something more akin to what she'd call a costume, mostly green and black in color, with high boots and a lot of leather. Her eyes almost bugged out as she stared. "What on earth?" she asked without thinking.

Loki moved towards the door, her nephew still firmly in his arms. "Now is not the time or place for such questions," he reminded. "Now, if you would be so kind as to open the door, we might be on our way."

Mutely, Cass moved to the door and turned the knob. She almost had a mild heart attack as her hand seemed to disappear. And when she looked back, she couldn't see either Loki or her nephew either. But, at a gentle nudge from the now invisible man, she opened the door and stepped out into the hall, hoping beyond hope that she was just as invisible as he appeared to be.

Chapter Text

With at least one bomb having already gone off, and not enough information to go around the sequestered masses, there was obviously some amount of panic in the works. The officers in charge of watching the sequestered audience knew it. The possibility of their charges turning into a panicked mob was growing by the moment.

Fred and Honey Lemon stood somewhere near the edge of the crowd, though they were just as stuck as the rest of the people they'd been herded with. "This does not look good," Fred observed, seeing the restlessness around him. He'd been in way too many crowds like this to not know where things were headed. "They gotta do something here real quick or they're really going to have a situation on their hands."

Honey found she had to agree. She waved at one of the officers guarding them. "Excuse me! Officer, can you please tell me if anything's being done about this? If something isn't done soon, you're going to have a mob on your hands." And while they might be able to help them contain said mob, if they had their gear, that didn't look like it was going to happen.

The officer in question turned to her. "We've got some buses coming," he stated. "They're going to take you all away from the building to a more secure location." That said, he turned back to his partner.

While that was a solution, Honey wasn't sure it was the best solution for the situation. She somehow doubted they had whoever they wanted in custody. And she still didn't know where they'd taken Hiro and Aunt Cass. She'd only seen them carting them off before she and Fred were separated from the others. Not only that, but when she'd tried to pull out her cell phone to call the others, one of the officers had confiscated it as potential evidence. She wasn't sure if she'd ever see it again and thanked her lucky stars every photo she'd ever taken was already backed up in her private storage cloud.

Fred bounced up and down on his feet. "I got a feeling we're missing something important," he confessed to his companion. "Like the others might be in trouble. But those guys," he gave a sidelong look at the officers keeping them there, "probably don't even care." His tone suggested strongly that he wasn't thrilled with their current situation and the stress was getting to him. He'd seen the look on Hiro's face as they led him away and he felt sure there was something wrong with him.

Another officer walked over to the two nearest the confined heroes. This one appeared to be wearing heavy riot gear, with a helmet covering his face. But he didn't stop when he reached the two chatting officers. Instead, he breached the crowd and headed directly towards Honey Lemon and Fred. "You two," he called out, his helmet distorting his voice, "come with me."

Not sure what to do about the situation, nor why they were being singled out, the two students did as instructed. Their confusion mirrored on each others' faces as they made their way to the edge where the officer had essentially stonewalled them. He didn't even give them a second glance as they slipped past him. He just kept talking to his partner like he didn't have a care in the world.

"This way," the man in the body armor said, turning to make sure they were following him. There was something vaguely familiar about his voice but neither one of them could place it.

The man led them away from the crowds of corralled people and towards a relatively empty looking hallway off to one side. From there, he led them into an area meant for food service personnel. There were a lot of boxes marked with different soda labels, as well as things like paper cups, lids, straws, and other cartons.

"I hope you don't mind the pretense," the man said as he removed his helmet, "but I didn't think they'd just let you out of there without a formal escort."

Honey all but laughed as she clapped her hands. "Jack!" She jumped up and down a bit. "What are you doing here? We haven't seen you since we had to deal with those exoskeletons!"

Fred's eyes lit up. "Hey! Does this mean the Doctor's here too?!" He ran a hand over his beanie. "Man! There must be something really big going on for that to happen! Are we being invaded by aliens? Someone else using alien tech? What's going on!?"

Captain Jack Harkness put out a hand to curb their enthusiasm. "Whoa. Hold on there a minute. No the Doctor's not here with me, and I don't expect him to show up either. He did, however, ask me to look in on you guys, especially Hiro. He seemed to think there were things going on that needed someone looking into them."

"Don't tell me Torchwood and UNIT's here too," Honey worried. The last time those two groups had shown up, things had not ended well.

The man shook his head. "No. It's just me. But I have a feeling things are about to get even more crazy." He looked out the door, just to make sure they wouldn't be getting any unexpected company. "Did you guys bring your gear?"

Fred and Honey exchanged glances. How should they answer that question? The obvious answer was that they'd brought it. Why wouldn't they? But the last time they'd dealt with Jack, he'd just run off into the sunset, in a manner of speaking, without so much as an actual goodbye. "Ye-es..." the mascot finally answered, pulling the word out like a piece of stretched taffy.

"Good," Jack nodded. "You're going to need it." He pulled off part of his sleeve, which came away easily. Underneath it lay another sleeve and the vortex manipulator he'd worn back when they'd first met him. "I need you to grab my arm and don't let go."

Still not certain about the whole situation, the two heroes did as they were told, each grabbing onto one side of the space captain. The man pressed a few buttons before the device activated, sending them to who knew where.

With the help of several officers, Kally and GoGo made their way to one the nearest exit, which happened to be a service entrance. Once there, firemen rushed past them to quench the flames while several paramedics treated the wounded. They were both given oxygen to combat the smoke inhalation.

Meanwhile, Wasabi was moved to one of the gurneys on scene and evaluated by one of the emergency responders. It helped that they had Baymax's insights to help with the proper cataloguing of his injuries. Another medic tried to encourage Kally to follow in the next available ambulance but she refused. Instead, she requested they remove the shards of glass and metal from her back and then cover it with gauze. She couldn't tell them that her wounds would heal at least five times faster than the average human's would. After their insisting went unheeded, they did as asked and made her sign a waiver.

GoGo felt better after a few minutes on the oxygen and removed her mask. Since she hadn't been anywhere near as injured as any others involved, she was more than willing to surrender her tank to someone who might need it more. Her throat still felt irritated but she'd get over it. They'd all had worse before. "We need to get back in there and find Hiro," she told her companions when no one else was nearby. Tony Stark had gone back into the building to try and help rescue anyone else trapped by the explosion.

Kally resisted the urge to lament her ruined clothes. If nothing else, she needed a change of wardrobe. Her entire backside felt like it was coated with blood. It didn't help that they'd cut the back of her shirt down the middle so they could treat her wounds. "I need something else to wear," she said instead. "I'll stick out like a sore thumb in this."

The adrenaline junky found she had to agree. She wouldn't mind a change of clothes either, though she had a more iconic yellow outfit in mind. "Think we can sneak around the barricade and head back to the hotel?" While Hiro was indeed important, it wouldn't do him any good if they couldn't come to him fully prepared to defend him if need be.


A blur of yellow flashed before Kally's eyes and she had to blink a few times to make sure she wasn't seeing things. But there was no mistaking that British accent. "What are you doing here?" she asked Dirk Gently, wondering why on earth he chose to wear such a brightly colored jacket.

GoGo felt for her mag disks, though they weren't there. "You know this guy?" she asked, her face showing astonishment.

"Yeah," Kally nodded. "Unfortunately. He sort of accosted us at the hotel pool last night. He's the real reason Hiro almost drowned."

That news didn't sit well with GoGo and she immediately inserted her fist into the man's face with a punch that sent him reeling. "That's for being a pervert!"

Dirk felt his jaw with one hand, his expression more than surprised at this sudden turn of events. He tasted blood in his mouth, which wasn't unexpected, though he still couldn't believe what she'd done to him. "You hit me! I can't believe you hit me!" He just stared at GoGo like she was some kind of anomaly.

"And I'll do it again if you don't explain yourself right now," GoGo warned, her fist still ready for action.

The British detective flinched, hands held up to protect his face. "Please don't hurt me!" He hesitantly reached into the inside pocket of his jacket and pulled out a card, holding it out to her like it was a ticking time bomb. "My name's Dirk Gently and I'm a holistic detective!" He flinched again as GoGo took the card. "Just don't hit me again!"

GoGo's eyes widened. "Holistic detective? What's that supposed to mean?" She handed the card over to Kally, who winced as she took it. Her wounds hadn't healed enough to not cause pain. She somehow missed Baymax's voice commenting on that, realizing the healthcare bot had somehow gotten away from them when they weren't looking.

Seeing that GoGo wasn't going to punch him again, at least not immediately, Dirk straightened up, wiping the blood from his mouth. "Instead of focusing on such mundane things as fingerprint powder and those old-school kinds of things, I focus on everything's inter-connectedness. You see there is an inherent pattern in everything we do. I follow that pattern to its logical end by following the stream of the universe. I go where it sends me. And today it has sent me to you."

The look GoGo gave him was more than skeptical but she looked towards Kally who was still studying the card. "That make any sense to you?" Part of her felt inclined to just deck the guy again and leave him in a crumpled heap.

Kally dithered. She wasn't exactly sure what she thought about his declarations. They were certainly strange, but she dealt with strange things on an almost daily basis. And with that explanation in mind, his words from the evening before made so much more sense. "I don't know. Maybe?" She could feel her wounds scabbing over. In another handful of hours, they'd probably be completely healed.

"I heard you were looking for a potential way past the barricade," Dirk said almost conversationally, trying to look as nonchalant as possible. "I could possibly help you out with that, if you like." He looked almost hopefully cautious as he scratched behind one ear; face partially turned away as if he expected to be rejected.

But GoGo surprised him. "Okay. If you can find us a way past all this security, we might believe you about being this holistic whatever you say you are." She popped a gum bubble, having found a fresh piece in her pocket. It helped take the taste of the smoke out of her mouth.

Dirk all but jumped up, energy miraculously restored. "You won't regret it! This way!" he beckoned, heading towards the back of one of the still parked ambulances.

Kally and GoGo followed behind him, both not sure what to make of events. "Is it too late to change my mind?" GoGo asked as they ducked between the ambulance and a parked fire truck when no one was looking. While it was a decided way out, she wasn't sure she liked how things were playing out. Time would tell if it was really a good idea or not though, and time wasn't something they had much of at the moment.

Baymax waddled down one of the corridors. Since he'd been essentially left to his own devices, he thought it time he sought out his number one patient and friend. While Kally and GoGo chose to follow the man called Dirk, he thought his services would be best put to use in finding Hiro.

Emergency personnel seemed to swarm the hall and the robot apologized many times as he navigated through the chaos. This side of the building at least had been evacuated of all civilians, which was probably a good thing. There was still a lot of smoke, even if the fire appeared to be put out.

"Pardon me," the robot said politely as he passed several police officers. And, for whatever reason, they seemed to just ignore him. It was almost as if they couldn't see him or something. Not sure if this was typical behavior for the officers of this district, Baymax chose to ignore it for now in favor of finding Hiro.

The further into the complex he went, the more people he saw. Some were officers. Some appeared to be bomb squad and had bomb sniffing dogs with them. Then there were a few paramedics and a lot more civilians.

There appeared to be a clearing up ahead and the robot made his way towards it. The people around that area seemed to be subconsciously avoiding it, as if it didn't exist. Except there was one decided problem with this because Baymax could detect the presence of Cass Hamada and her nephew. In fact, he could measure the amount of energy coming from that area and identify it as coming from one Hiro Hamada. The real question, then, was why couldn't he see them as anything more than a sort of heat haze?

Still not sure what was going on, Baymax decided that maybe someone was using some kind of device to mask their presence from the rest of the crowd. With that thought in mind, he scanned the immediately area for an out of the way corner where they might be able to properly meet up without drawing unnecessary attention. He noticed a room not too far away that appeared to be empty and headed that way.

Chapter Text

It didn't take long for Loki to realize they were in closer proximity to the healthcare bot than he'd hoped at this point in the game. He nudged Cass with one foot to get her attention and tried to indicate they were in the presence of their intended target. When the robot headed off towards the far end of the open space, he was more than willing to follow him.

The robot seemed to head towards one of areas reserved for food service personnel. And, had they arrived there only a few minutes earlier, they might have found Jack Harkness and two of their friends there, but they were long gone now. Instead, they found the room empty.

As soon as the door closed behind them, Loki released the invisibility spell. "I was hoping we'd run into you," he admitted as he turned to face the healthcare bot. "Though we haven't been officially introduced."

"I am Baymax," the robotic companion stated. He refrained, however, from mentioning that he'd technically run into Loki before, back at Stark Tower. After all, he had scanned everyone who was allowed access to the medical suite. He was just a bit surprised to see Loki in a different guise instead of a security officer. "What happened to Hiro?" He moved a bit closer as he scanned the teen.

Cass let out a sigh of relief. They'd at least made it this far undetected, though she wasn't sure how holing themselves up in another room was going to help matters. "I think he had another reactive reintegration," she confessed as Loki set her nephew on a metal table meant for food preparation. "He shouted something about a bomb before going all rigid and then passed out."

The information in question was compatible with several memories the robot could pull up. "I believe you are correct," he stated, recognizing the typical symptoms. "It is very possible he had another reactive reintegration episode." He looked over at Loki, tilting his head at an angle. Now as probably as good a time as any to give out some information he had on this unusual man, and an explanation for his observations. "My scans indicate you are not human. What are you?"

That got Cass's attention faster than anything else could at the moment, short of her nephew waking up. "Wait. What? What do you mean he's not human?" Though part of her was inclined to believe it thanks to the odd ability the man had shown earlier with making them all invisible.

Well, the cat was out of the bag, Loki supposed as he shrugged. Perhaps the whole clothing ensemble should have given it all away. At least he'd opted to leave the horned helmet out of the picture. He should have known it wouldn't stay a secret for long. The robot was far too clever and had probably been holding that ace up his metaphorical sleeve for some time.

But before he could open his mouth, Hiro sat bolt upright with a bit of a gasp like he'd just woken from a bad dream or come up for air after being underwater. His heart raced and his breathing came far too quickly. Baymax had to put out a hand to keep him from falling off the table. "Ugh," the boy groaned as he leaned forwards, drawing his knees up to his chest. "That was so not my definition of fun."

"Hiro!" Cass gushed as she moved in to give him as big of a hug as the space would allow. "Oh my gosh! I'm so glad you're awake! Do you remember anything that happened?"

The teen rested his head against his knees. "I guess that depends on what you mean by that," he answered. "I remember sitting down for the bot fight and thinking I might not win this one. And then I was floating, like in my body but not really. I was also inside Megabot. And then everything just seems to have blurred."

He could still feel his heart pounding and he willed it to settle down. But at least his breathing wasn't quite so crazy as he took a few deep breathes between, eyes closed as he sat up straighter to allow in more air. "I think someone said my opponent – Rachel? – died? And then someone took me and you to a room where some other people tried to ask me questions but then I was back in the control room on Akuma Island and there was a bomb there. I tried to get away but couldn't get out in time."

"Ah," Baymax said as he moved his hand to point with one finger reaching to the ceiling. "I believe I know which memory you are referring to. I failed to protect you from the explosion and you were vaporized."

Even Loki's eyes went wide as Cass gasped. But it was the Asgardian prince who responded first. "That sounds far from pleasant."

Hiro looked up at the sound of his voice and he blinked in confusion. "Loki? What are you doing here? I thought you weren't coming back. I thought you were-"

"Loki?" Cass looked confused as she stared at the man she'd trusted to get her nephew out of a bind. "I thought they said your name was William Lawson." She put both of her hands on her hips as she glared at him. "Which is it?"

Well, he supposed it was bound to happen eventually as he let his shoulders sag a bit. "It's both, though Loki is the name given me at birth. I have, on occasion, used the name William Lawson while down here in your world, though I usually try to keep a lower profile."

Cass looked like she was about to have a stroke or something, her mouth hanging open. "And what, exactly, are you? Baymax says you're not really human." She refused to think he might be the Loki of Norse mythology. She was a little familiar with the legends but wasn't sure she was ready to accept the possibility that she might be in the presence of a Norse god.

Loki blew out the air from his lungs as he scratched at the back of his neck, looking more than a little uncomfortable. "Actually, I'm not." He dithered for a moment about how much to tell her. Hiro knew who he was and accepted it, but this woman seemed more the practical type and might have a harder time accepting it. "I'm from a place called Asgard, though I was born in the land of the ice giants."

"No way," Cass said with an air of incredulity. And then she decided to scoff at the idea. "And I'm the queen of Sheba. I'll believe you're some mythological god when pigs fly."

Hiro turned so he could dangle his legs over the edge of the table. "Actually, Aunt Cass, he's exactly what he says he is. Just like Kally's a half Valkyrie. He's the one who actually discovered the secret Hydra base we were kept in and then went on to contact Sammy, Kally's AI, to relay those directions to Mr. Stark and the others. He's also the one who helped us out of the clutches of that Ms. Kendrick." He shuddered at the memory of what that woman had done to him.

"If possible," Baymax spoke up, "I believe it would be wise to find some form of sustenance to balance out Hiro's blood sugar levels." He looked around the room for anything readily available and found a working soda machine. While it wasn't ideal, it was better than nothing. If they were back home, he would have a supply of nutritious snacks handy, but the soda would have to do.

Cass moved to help him operate the soda fountain after freeing a cup from one of the long plastic sleeves nearby. She also found a lid after filling the cup with the carbonated beverage. "Here," she said, handing the cup to her nephew. "This'll have to do until we can get back to the hotel room."

The teen took a sip. It wasn't his favorite flavor but at least it wasn't a survival pouch from Davish 7. But he knew he'd want some kind of protein before too long. And by the way his stomach felt, it was probably closer to lunchtime than he'd remembered it being. And then a thought struck him. "Um, hey, where's everyone else? I know Wasabi and GoGo went with Kally to fix her bot but where are Fred and Honey Lemon?"

Loki quirked his brow. "Actually, I saw two of your friends be detained in the massive mob they called an audience. Both were quite tall. Could those be your friends?" While he knew exactly who they were, it wouldn't do to let them know he knew. Strictly speaking, he wasn't supposed to have known since he technically wasn't supposed to ever be at Stark Tower. But that was something that could be dealt with at another time.

"Sounds like Fred and Honey Lemon," Hiro agreed. "Guess that means they're currently out of reach. Unless someone helps them get out of that mess." He didn't even question how Loki had gotten out of the crowd, more than well aware of his abilities. "So, what now?"

"Well, strictly speaking, all three of us are supposed to be holed up in a room, waiting for the detective and her consulting friend to question you in regards to recent events," Loki stated as he folded his arms across his chest with a bit of a frown. "I'm sure once they've discovered we're no longer there, they won't be too pleased."

Hiro had to think about that for a moment. He vaguely remembered the detective and her partner, though he wasn't entirely sure why they'd been questioning him. Unless... "Wait. Don't tell me they think I had something to do with Rachel's death!" He jumped down to the floor and almost fell over, his legs threatening to buckle under him.

"Please refrain from making any drastic movements," Baymax requested. "While you are now conscious, your body may need time to recover from the sensations of your most recent reintegration."

The news was hardly welcome, even if it was accurate. "Ugh. I hate this!" He let one fist slam into the tabletop he'd only recently vacated. He had to use his other elbow to support himself or he'd likely fall over, but he wanted to get his frustration out. "I've been patient. When is my body going to get back to normal?!"

Baymax decided now was as good a time as any to inform them of his other friends' conditions. "I believe you should know that Wasabi, GoGo, and Kally were caught in the force of the bomb."

All three non-robotic individuals made some kind of exclamation of shock as they stared at the robot. "I'm sorry, what?" Loki said, last to voice his concerns.

"Wasabi was severely injured and has been transported to the nearest medical center," Baymax continued. "GoGo and Kally both suffered from smoke inhalation but were treated on the scene. Kally was injured but appears to be recovering rapidly. They are currently trying to return to the hotel room with Dirk Gently."

"What?!" Hiro almost lunged at the healthcare bot but his legs hadn't regained enough strength to hold him up. "What are they doing with Dirk Gently!? And how did Wasabi get hurt?!" The teen felt like his world was falling apart and he reached up to grab his head.

Loki resisted the urge to pound a staff he didn't currently have into the ground. "Enough!" he exclaimed. "Such antics will help no one. What we need to do is decide what we are going to do."

Cass looked at him with some sense of amazement. He suddenly seemed all business and very much like a man of authority. She turned back to her nephew and placed a gentle hand on his shoulder. "Loki's right," she reasoned. "Forcing fits or episodes or whatever you want to call them isn't helping. I know I'm not always the reasonable one, but we need to do something. We can't stay here. So, what's it going to be?"

With almost an air of resignation, Hiro lowered his hands. He'd flashed back to a much younger age for a moment. But both his aunt and Loki were right. That wasn't going to help anyone. "If these detective people think I'm involved with Rachel's murder, we need to find a way to clear my name," he decided. "But I also don't like the idea of GoGo and Kally hanging out with Dirk Gently."

The god of mischief frowned, one hand to his chin. "Excuse me, but is there a reason you don't like this Dirk Gently?"

Baymax inserted himself before Hiro could, sure it would be bad for his companion's health. "Dirk Gently approached both Hiro and Kally while they were using the hot tub at the pool yesterday," he reported. "Uncertain of the man's intentions, Hiro decided to leave and slipped in the pool. This is why he nearly drowned."

Cass gave her nephew a bit of an exasperated look. "Hiro! Why didn't you tell me some strange man accosted you last night? What happened to being open and forthcoming with each other?!"

Hanging his head, Hiro couldn't bring himself to look at her. "I didn't want you to worry," he said, his bangs hiding his face from view. His shoulders slouched in a sense of defeat.

His aunt counted to three in her head before letting out her held breath. "I thought we went over this already," she said quietly. "I want you to worry me. I want to know what's going on in your life! No more secrets! Unless they're the good kind of secrets that lead to surprise parties and awesome gifts! Let me decide if I'm going to worry about it or not! You're not an adult yet and shouldn't have to make those kinds of decisions!"

The teen slouched even lower at her heated words. He knew she was right. It had been wrong to omit that fact. "I'm sorry," he said almost too quietly to hear.

"As long as you are and don't forget it!" Cass said. She had her hands on her hips as she glared at him. The next moment she let her anger drop and gathered him up into a hug. "Oh, Hiro. You just can't keep doing this to me, okay, sweetie?" She gently lifted his chin so she could see his eyes.

Hiro swallowed hard, trying to will away any tears that might threaten to fall from his eyes. "Yeah," he said, absently wondering what he'd done with that soda. His throat felt suddenly dry. He spotted the drink on the table where he'd absently put it.

"As touching as this all is," Loki began, his expression one of long suffering, "we really must decide what we're doing. I'm sure these officers will come looking for us before too long, the results of which will likely be unpleasant."

The god of mischief made a good point. And now that he was more in control of his faculties, Hiro knew what they had to do. He squared his shoulders. "I don't want to run. That will only make us look guilty," he stated, his expression determined. "If I want to clear my name, I need to face this head on."

Cass nodded in agreement. "I think that's probably our best option." She glanced over at Loki. "I'm not going to say what you should do, though if you want to tag along I won't say no. I might even call you William since you introduced yourself that way back when they were trying to question us, though I'm not really sure why you would use a fake name."

Loki knew the decision as up to him. While he was technically on the detective's radar, he didn't think he was currently considered a suspect, though he might be a person of interest now that he'd declared an association with Hiro. "I suppose I should stay with you for the time being," he sighed, though there really wasn't much choice in the matter. Kally was currently out of his reach and Hiro was one of the two he'd come to check in on. The boy obviously still needed his abilities and so he would lend them.

"Well all right then," Cass declared and headed for the door, the others following after her. "Let's go find that detective." She pulled the door open, stepping to one side as Hiro took hold of the door. They were just about to exit the room when another series of bombs went off.

"Detective!" Lucifer had to cover his mouth and nose with one sleeve as he tried to navigate the debris. The smoke and dust filled the air like a poisonous gas, except it was more solid than any vapor. It was almost worse than the hell fires of where he was supposed to be. "Detective! Chloe! Dammit! Answer me!"

Coughing sounded from somewhere within the smoke. "Lucifer?" Chloe answered weakly.

Looking half relieved and half concerned, the devil plunged into the murky area where the detective's voice had come from, glad he'd been far enough away that her unusual ability to make him vulnerable hadn't fully kicked in. He tripped a bit on some debris that got in his way but otherwise made it safely to Chloe's side. Soot smeared her face and it looks like she was bleeding from several gashes to her limbs and head. "Hold on," her companion ordered as he shifted the lose rubble away from her.

Thankfully, there wasn't much to move, but her legs were shaky as he helped her to her feet. "Can you walk?" he asked and she gave a sort of affirmative grunt. She had to pull one arm up to try and filter out the particulates in the air but managed a half limping stride as Lucifer led her to cleaner air.

"What happened?" Chloe asked as soon as they were free from the initial chaos. Blood seeped from her right thigh where something had cut through her pants, though whatever that object had been was there no longer. All the same, it had left a sizeable hole.

Lucifer looked around, noting several other officers making their way out of the smoky area. "Another bomb," he replied, sounding more serious than usual. "William Lawson was right about there being more than one. My guess is the bomb squad either didn't find this one or someone set it off before they could deactivate it."

The hallway was a choked mass of people and broken masonry. And even though the nearest doors to the outside were now propped open, there was still plenty of smoke in the area. Chloe put one hand to her head and then almost seemed to jump inside her skin. "Ella! She was still inside the main arena!"

Several paramedics were making their way into the building from the exit and Lucifer motioned one over. "Don't worry, Detective," he assured her. "I'll find her." He then handed his protesting partner off to one of the medics while he made his way back into the carnage.

Chapter Text

The ground shook and Ella brushed her hair out of face. "What was that?" she asked as she finished bagging the small dart she'd extracted from their victim. When no one seemed able or inclined to answer, she figured it was just a small earthquake and continued on with her evidence gathering.

Both bots went into larger evidence bags, mostly because they had yet to find the murder weapon. And all the various pieces that could be found belonging to each of the bots were also collected. Since there was a lot of material in the actual audience area, Ella left that to the less experienced hands. "I'm going to see if I can find a way up to the catwalk," she said as she pointed at the scaffolding above them.

Leaving the other crime scene techs to finish up in the main arena, Ms. Lopez made her way towards the nearest exit. "Hey," she said, pulling one of the officers guarding the door aside. "Can anyone here tell me how to get up there?" She pointed up once more.

The officer in question merely shrugged and she turned away in some disappointment. "Okay, Ella," she said to herself as she moved into the corridor, luckily on the unaffected side of the building, "If I were a door leading to some way to get up there, where would I be?" She slowly moved down the hallway, checking each door she happened to come across until she found one that looked more utilitarian than the others.

"Aha!" she exclaimed as she opened the door and found a storage area where a steep staircase led up to a metal and cement platform. The room next to it had contained a control room so she figured this had to be what she was looking for.

She shouldered her evidence kit and started up the stairs. At least it wasn't a ladder. That would have totally sucked, but she was optimistic. She had a good feeling about this and made good time going up, leaving her a bit out of breathe. "Woo! That was fun!" she said as she took a moment to collect herself.

The platform housed several reels of cable, along with some boxes of extra lights and oddments. And when she looked towards the far end she saw an open doorway leading out onto what looked like the catwalk. "Bingo!" She swiftly moved to the area in question, the smile returning to her face. "I think I may have hit the jackpot."

The catwalks appeared to be made out of a series of metal platforms, most of which were fixed so they didn't wobble, though a few weren't quite as solid as they appeared. Careful not to knock into anything, Ella made her way down the aisle she'd started on, heading towards the center of the structure. If she looked down, she could see the seats underneath her. And further along stood the raised platform where the murder had taken place.

Judging from the fact that the dart they'd found appeared to have somehow come either from behind their victim, or had been fired when she'd turned her head, Ella decided to check out the side of the walkway facing towards where Rachel's opponent had sat. She had to back up a bit to get a clear view, then decided it would be better to go down one of the branching walks for greater visibility. If someone had fired a weapon from up there, they'd have wanted an area with a clear shot.

While maneuvering around, Ella accidentally knocked a spare bulb with one foot. "Oh no! Look out below!" she yelled as she leaned over the railing. The bulb smashed against the floor, barely missing the raised stage. Thankfully no one was in its way when it fell. "That was close!" she breathed with a sigh of relief.

When she turned back, she was still looking down and thought she saw something that looked out of place with everything else she'd seen. It almost looked like some kind of pipe shoved in with a spool of cable. She made her way over to it and gently removed the item from the bundle. "What have we here?" she asked. If she didn't know any better, she'd say it was some kind of dart gun. "Oh my gosh! I think I just found the murder weapon!"

But before she could celebrate too much, the catwalk began to sway, the whole structure shaking. She almost went down to her knees, barely managing to hold onto the gun as she was flung into the railing. The whole thing seemed to buck a bit. And when she turned back towards where she'd entered the whole system of walkways, she saw a cloud of smoke filling the opening. "No! NO! NO!"

After a few moments, the scaffolding seemed to settle, though several lights had fallen from the structure only to crash to the ground below. Several screams came up from above and she could only hope no one had fallen victim to any of the fallen objects. The next thing on her mind was how she was going to get down from her current perch.

From all appearances, her original entry point was now either blocked or non-existent. She wasn't sure she wanted to make her way over there to make sure. Some of the sections of catwalk now seemed less stable; only staying up thanks to the strong cables holding them in case an earthquake occurred. Something told her, however, that it wasn't an earthquake that had caused the damage.

Ella looked around, trying to find another way down. Unfortunately, there didn't seem to be any other way outside of the one she'd used to get there. "Hey! Anyone down there got a really tall ladder!" she called over the side of the railing. She somehow doubted anyone could hear her from all the way up there but it was worth a shot.

Hiro groaned and then he opened his eyes to see Baymax had saved the day yet again. When the second bomb had gone off, it had sent a chunk of the wall hurtling towards them but the robot had managed to insert himself between that and everyone else. Unfortunately, because he wasn't wearing armor, it had ripped the vinyl, causing him to deflate. But at least he wouldn't need to be dug out from any debris, and he's managed to shield his charges from most of the blast.

Cass had somehow wound up on the floor. She didn't appear to have any outward injuries, though she coughed from the dust and smoke in the air. Chances were good she had several decent bruises, especially on her knees, which had taken the brunt of the impact when she'd gone down. She'd managed to knock her upper body into Loki, who had cushioned most of her fall.

Hiro had been a little less lucky, but since the door opened towards the side away from the blast, he hadn't had to worry about the door hitting him. Instead, he'd flown into the door. Thankfully there hadn't been too far to go, but the impact had still jarred him up enough to make him see stars, and give him a nice welt to the side of his head. The fact that he was still lacking in sufficient muscle tone didn't help either. He knew he'd be feeling that for weeks.

As for Loki, while he was most definitely dazed, and had a good gash or two, he knew he'd be fine soon enough. There was something to be said about not being human and he knew his healing abilities would soon take care of the rest. "Anyone dead?" he asked, trying not to cough as he breathed the resulting dust.

"My scans indicate no one is dead," Baymax answered for everyone. "However, I detect various levels of contusions and abrasions on each of you. I also detect that Hiro has a mild concussion."

Hiro put one hand up to his head, feeling the knot there. "Believe me buddy, I feel it." He closed his eyes against the dizziness. It definitely wasn't as bad as the one he'd gotten during repeated timelines but it still sucked. He thanked his lucky stars it wasn't worse.

Loki helped Cass to her feet, though he had to give her a little more support than she'd have cared for. "I suggest moving away from the wreckage," he spoke up, trying to peer through the dust. "I'm sure these bombs have destabilized the area and I honestly don't want to stay around and find out."

Baymax moved towards the area that once was the doorway. "I believe I can detect a clear path," he stated as he pointed, his vinyl hanging limp on his arm. "I also believe Loki to be correct in that the foundation of this area is no longer quite stable."

"Well that's just great," Cass grumped. If she'd known today would end up like this, she'd have urged everyone to just go back to bed. But she wasn't one to bow down to a challenge either. "Might as well see if this route of yours works." Part of her wished they had her nephew's gear. With Baymax in full out armor, getting out of there would be a piece of cake. However, since Hiro did have a mild concussion it was probably not the best idea after all.

Loki decided to take the lead, transforming back into his business suit attire, just in case anyone were to see them. He didn't want to raise any more suspicions than he had to. He just hoped he would be able to avoid Tony Stark or Bruce Banner, both of whom he'd seen wandering about earlier that morning.

The going was slow though, since both Hiro and Cass were injured. And the sagging vinyl on the robot didn't help matters either. It threatened to get caught in several crevices as they tried to squeeze past them. And all the while they had to cover nose and mouth to keep from breathing in the fine particulates accumulated in the air around them from the explosion.

"Ms. Lopez! Ms. Lopez! Are you in there? Can anyone hear me?"

Cass froze at the sound of that voice, muffled as it was. "Oh crap," she uttered, realizing who it belonged to, the detective's partner. "Why did we have to take a route that will lead us to him?!"

Loki scanned the area ahead of them. Unfortunately, there was a lot of rubble in the way. To make matters even worse, there was no real way they could backtrack due to the damage in that direction. He let out a heavy sigh. "Unless you can come up with any other options, this will have to do," he admitted. And even with that admission, they would still have to move the blockage to continue forward. "You," he pointed at Baymax, "help me shift this debris."

Hiro had to pause as he tried not to pant. The dizziness had not abated. The smoke in the air certainly didn't help either, causing him to cough more than the others as he bent over, grabbing his stomach. "I think I'm going to be sick," he admitted. The teen was good on his word, retching off to one side, his whole body shaking with the effort. His aunt was only able to watch as she tried to keep from breathing in the toxic fumes.

"Hello?" Lucifer's voice called again.

Realizing they'd need more than a little help getting out of this situation, Cass decided to take matters into her own hands. "We're in here!" she yelled, uncovering her face so the sound would be as loud as possible. She almost instantly began coughing as soon as she'd finished calling out for help and sank down to the ground next to her nephew.

For almost half a minute the only sound to be heard, outside of the two Hamadas' coughing, was the occasional grunt from Loki as he and Baymax worked to move the shattered remnants of the wall and ceiling so they could get out of there. That pseudo silence was broken as Lucifer's voice called out again. "I hear you! Hold on!"

The sounds of moving cement blocks and falling debris intensified as the man on the other side tried to do his part in clearing the path. Slowly, the degree of light increased in their area, an opening forming near the top of the pile. And then a dark head of hair appeared over the lip of the largest obstacle. "Think you can fit through this opening?" the devil called out. The opening in question was about five feet above the floor level. All activity on both sides stopped while the question was considered.

Baymax evaluated the space. "The opening is large enough for my patients to navigate," he observed. "However, it will be difficult for me to fit through it without further compromising my body's structural integrity."

Lucifer cursed. "Hold on," he requested again as he wiggled back down onto his side of the pile. "I'd stand back if I were you," he called out.

Loki seemed to realize what was happening sooner than the others and he quickly grabbed the robot, pulling him back towards Hiro and Cass. "Duck!' he called out as what seemed like a second, smaller explosion occurred.

More dust filled the air as the opening widened considerably. Light filtered in like dirty beams in a tomb. "How's that?" the devil called again. "Can you make it out now?"

Baymax straightened from his half crouch over his usual charges and he shook himself to dislodge the dust before looking over towards the opening. "The opening should be sufficient," he announced.

Both Hiro and Cass coughed from the added particles on the air and the robot realized there was no way they'd be able to move without help. "If you will carry Aunt Cass, I will carry Hiro," he said looking directly at Loki. Maybe it was the man's unique DNA, but he somehow didn't seem as fazed by the smoke as the other two obviously were.

Loki gave a sort of dithering shake of the head. "Well, I suppose there are worse ways to get a woman in your arms," he half joked as he slid his hands under Cass's knees and shoulders. "Hold on," he instructed his passenger while Baymax did the same with Hiro. "We're coming out!" he called out louder so Lucifer could hear them.

Debris skittered underfoot but Loki's footing remained mostly firm as he navigated the hallway, climbing up to the opening they'd all had a hand in creating. He emerged into much more open air, sunlight streaming from the exit doors someone had propped open. Baymax was not far behind him.

"Oh my," Lucifer said, realizing who he'd just rescued. "I'd ask what you're doing over here instead of in that room where the Detective left you but part of me thinks it should be obvious. Were you trying to get away?" He gave an almost pleased grin at this turn of events as he moved back so the four rescuees could head into the sunshine and clearer air.

Hiro groaned as Baymax set him down. "We weren't," he protested. His voice cracked and he had to bend over to cough, wishing for the usually dreaded oxygen tank back at Central Command in Fred's house. That coughing turned into more retching while his aunt and the others watched on, helpless to do anything to help. Cass, for her part, was able to control her coughing more, though part of her thought it due to Hiro's further injuries and weakened condition.

"Well, I see he's awake now," Lucifer observed, watching Hiro with some disgust, more at the teen's activities than at the teen himself. He took a few steps back, just to be safe. "Though I'm not exactly sure I wanted to see that today."

Luckily, there wasn't anything to come up with Hiro's heaving. Anything that had been in his stomach previously had been lost inside the building. As soon as he'd regained control of himself, he leaned back against the wall of the building, a sheen of sweat covering his skin. "Ugh! Why can't I be done with this crap already!" he complained.

Cass struggled a bit to get down from Loki's arms. Her knees wobbled a bit as her feet hit the concrete but she stood her ground. With hands on her hips, she stared the devil down. "We weren't trying to escape! We were trying to find Baymax! And after that, we needed to find something for my nephew to eat!"

An almost wry expression crossed Lucifer's face. "Oh my but aren't we the feisty one. Bravo!" He applauded her, looking every bit sincere about his actions. "This is why I find you mortals so fascinating."

Before Cass could comment on that, Baymax stepped forward. "I understand why you might say that," he stated. "According to your DNA, you are not human."

That made the devil's eyes light up even more. "Oh my! But you're all full of surprises! I wasn't expecting that." Part of him wondered if he should be happy about this development or not. After all, he'd always tried to prove to the detective that he wasn't human. "But you are correct. I'm not human. I am, in fact, the devil."

The look Cass gave him was way more than confused as she just kind of stared at him, her jaw going slack. And then it hit her. "Wait, Lucifer Morningstar?" Her shoulders sagged at the realization. "Wow. You weren't kidding."

At her declaration, Lucifer couldn't help but look slightly deflated, though he managed to maintain a puzzled sort of smile, his hands thrust in his pants pockets. "Yes, well, most people do tend to have a more violent reaction when they find out. I'm actually a bit disappointed." It was interesting to note he hadn't had to bring out his "devil face" to convince them.

"Don't take it personally," Hiro said, waving a limp hand from his position on the ground. "We've gotten used to seeing weird stuff. Right, Baymax?"

The robot tilted his head, evaluating just how much he could say. "That is correct," he finally confirmed. "However, I would like to remind you that you are both in need of medical attention and should be treated. It may be difficult for me to treat you in my current state." He refrained from mentioning how Loki's wounds had already pretty much healed.

Reminded of how the robot's vinyl had torn, Hiro tried to stand, using the wall as a support. "If we can get back to the hotel room, I have some duct tape that will do for now." He swayed on his feet and ended up pressing most of his body against the structure.

"Baymax, didn't you say the others were headed to the hotel?" Cass inquired as she turned towards the healthcare bot. While she'd regained her stability, her knees still hurt from the bruises she'd sustained inside. "Maybe we can catch up with them?" With the fresher air from being outside, her coughing had subsided, which was a decidedly good thing, she thought.

Baymax blinked, his head being the only part of him still inflated. "I did," he confirmed. "Kally and GoGo should have arrived at the hotel. However, I still do not know the location of Fred or Honey Lemon."

Lucifer gave an almost funny look, like he was trying to remember something. "Kally. Now where have I heard that name before?" He snapped his fingers a few times, as if that would help conjure up some kind of recollection. "Wait, do you mean Kally Carmichael? Isn't she the roommate of the deceased? Not to mention the same girl who you said was kidnapped at the same time as this young man."

Still wobbly, Hiro tried to move away from the wall. "Yeah," he confirmed just as he almost went down. Baymax was there to help him but he tried to wave it off. "I'm fine," he protested. "I got this." It was bad enough that a stranger had to see him in his moment of weakness, but he wasn't about to let that hold him back.

"My scans indicate you are not fine," Baymax countered. And before the teen could protest, he scooped him up into his arms once more. "I believe it would be wise to head to the hotel room now." He turned towards the appropriate direction.

Lucifer gave Loki and Cass a look. "It would appear that we'd better do as he says," he decided with a bit of wide-eyed expression, which he thought was mirrored in Loki's eyes. He included Cass in his look. "Shall we follow? Or would you prefer I leave you in the custody of one of the officers of the L.A.P.D.?"

Not to be left behind, Cass quickly protested. "No. No. We're good. Right?" She glanced over at Loki. "William?" She almost choked on the name, knowing it wasn't his real one. The god of mischief was quick to agree and moved forward to join the robot and his young charge.

Chapter Text

Dr. Banner couldn't help but look concerned as he saw the smoke rising from the back end of the building. Thankfully the second explosion hadn't been near where he and the other guests were, not that he was exactly there as a guest. He paused in helping herd the various competitors onto the bus, hoping they had them all.

When the first bomb had gone off, he'd been with the group of waiting students, sequestered away from the audience in the main arena while they waited the outcome of the fight. He hadn't even heard that one of the competitors had been murdered until they were instructed to make their way out of the building where they'd be transported to another location via public transit. The fact that they'd confiscated the transportation system to move all those people was certainly an interesting one, but he wasn't going to question it at the moment.

Overhead, he could see Iron Man flying above the area in question. If there were people still stuck down there, he'd be able to get them out. And while he felt the potential rage of transformation, he did his best to quell the Hulk into submission. They didn't need to add more to the chaos already in progress.

Banner checked his clipboard again. The only people missing were those from NYU and SFIT. Since at least one of their numbers had been involved in the most recent round of competition, he wasn't entirely surprised. They were probably all together with some of the officers anyway, as he hadn't heard which student had been murdered, just that they were either from NYU or SFIT. It made sense that they'd been detained.

"All right," he called to the bus driver. "I think that's everyone." He gave one last look around before moving to one of the front seats in the bus while the driver closed the door and put the vehicle in gear. With luck, he'd have a better idea of what was going on. His only regret was not being sure if Kally was with an adult or not but there wasn't much he could do about it. If she was there, Tony would find her.

The room seemed to shimmer as Fred, Honey Lemon, and Jack appeared inside the hotel lobby. Strictly speaking, it wasn't where Jack had aimed for, but since he wasn't sure what rooms belonged to whom, he'd had to do the best he could. "Okay, where is your stuff? We'd better hurry before anything else happens. I'm sure there are a lot of people who will need your help."

Fred led the way to the bank of elevators and pressed the call button. "I have only one question," he said as they waited. "How do you plan on getting us back there once we're in gear? Oh, and what about everyone else?"

"That was two questions," Honey pointed out as the elevator dinged.

They had to wait for a couple to get off before boarding the car. But once the doors closed, Jack turned to them while Honey pressed the appropriate floor button. "I can get you in the same way I got you out," he reminded. "As for the others, I'm not entirely sure what happened to them, but I'm sure we'll find out once we get back."

The elevator slowly rose; the glass sides giving them a view of each floor as they passed it. After several long moments of silence, the chime indicated they'd reached the desired floor and the doors opened. The hallway seemed deserted as they made their way to their respective rooms. "I'll wait outside," Jack decided and took up a defensive position between the two doors.

Fred all but darted into his room and dived for the closet where he and Wasabi had stowed their gear. Unlike Wasabi's neat presentation, Fred had just dumped his kaiju suit in the corner. There really wasn't any viable way to hang it up. And, once he'd pulled it free of the closet, it was easy to just dive right into it.

Honey Lemon took a little more time to don her gear. It was decidedly more form fitting than her companion's, but long practice meant she got it all on much more quickly than she once had. She was out of the room only a minute or two after Fred was, glad to note the hallway was still clear. "Okay, so did you still want to just zap us over there?"

Jack was already programming something into his vortex manipulator and only looked up when she made sure her room's door was firmly closed. "It's the fastest way," he confirmed. "Grab on. Hang on." With each hero taking hold of opposing upper arms, the space captain was free to activate his device, sending them careening through space and away from the hotel.

At that exact same moment, the elevator dinged, announcing the arrival of someone else to that same floor. The doors opened and Kally and GoGo stepped out into the hallway. They were followed by Dirk, who had loaned his jacket to Kally to keep people from staring at her more than usually revealing attire.

"Looks clear," GoGo announced as she took a quick look around. It wasn't that she thought anyone would be there who would cause a problem, but it never hurt to be careful. "Come on." She motioned her group forward, pretending they were on some stealth mission.

Dirk followed behind them, looking far too excited. "Oh goody!" he all but grinned as he pretended to tiptoe in a more than comical manner. When they reached the rooms in question, however, GoGo put up a restraining hand. "You get to be lookout while we change," she announced. "If you see someone suspicious coming, just knock on my door."

Kally ducked into the room she shared with Rachel, still unaware of what had happened to her roommate. She carefully removed the borrowed jacket; glad she hadn't actually gotten any blood on it. As for the shirt, she simply wadded it up and stuffed it into the trash. And then she took that bag and stuffed it into the deepest corner of her suitcase. It wouldn't do to let someone have access to her DNA so willy-nilly. Later on, she'd burn the thing, just to be safe. She then headed for the quickest shower of her life to wash off the blood.

As for GoGo, she went to retrieve her gear, only to find that Honey Lemon's was missing. Well, that answered the question of where she'd gotten to, she supposed. They'd stashed their gear in the same location so there couldn't be any mistake over that. She quickly changed into her iconic yellow outfit, securing the mag-lev disks and skates to her back. With luck, they'd be able to meet up with everyone back at the arena and figure out just what was going on.

The moment GoGo left her room she almost regretted her choice of attire. Dirk almost seemed to have an aneurysm the moment he saw her. "Oh my gosh!" he gushed, all but squealing like a little girl as he bent to a sort of crouching position, his hands up to his mouth as if he couldn't believe what he was seeing. "I think I know who you are!" He reached out to point at her like some rabid fan girl.

GoGo rolled her eyes, one hand on her hips. She was very tempted to deck him again just to put him out of her misery. A quick look down either side of the hallway told her they were still alone, but this was getting out of hand. "Enough already!" she yelled, verbally slapping him. "What is wrong with you?!"

Dirk immediately looked contrite as he straightened from his half crouch. "I'm sorry. I just got excited," he explained. "I haven't actually met any honest to goodness superheroes before. And when you came out looking like that!" he waved his hand to indicate her suit, "I just couldn't help myself." He still seemed inclined to fan over her, which was more than a little annoying.

"Try," GoGo said with a glare, gum mashing between her teeth.

Their little moment was interrupted when Kally opened the door to her room and joined them in the hall. "I heard shouting," she confessed. "Everything okay?" She tucked her phone in her pocket, glad to retrieve it. Since she likely wouldn't be competing again—at least not until they figured things out—she figured it was okay to pull Sammy out of hibernation mode. She'd changed into a loose-fitting pair of pants and a t-shirt. A retractable baton stuck out from her back pocket.

"We're good," GoGo stated firmly, arms now folded. "Now to go back down there and figure out what happened."

Dirk took his jacket back from Kally, who held it out to him after having it slung over one shoulder. "I might be able to give you some insight on that, actually." He had to start walking as GoGo had taken off towards the elevator, thankfully not using her skates. But at his announcement, she stopped, giving him an impatient look so he cleared his throat. "Someone was murdered."

Kally ran to catch up to them as GoGo loudly expressed her shock. "What's going on?" she asked. "Who was murdered?" And why was this the first time they were hearing anything about it?

The detective's expression became serious for the first time since they'd met him. He stared directly at Kally as if delivering the world's worst news. "The victim's name is Rachel Amesbury and she was murdered while fighting with your friend."

Kally's knees felt a bit weak and she staggered a bit towards the nearest wall, which she used for support. "What?" she asked quietly, not sure if she believed what she'd heard or not. "But who would want to kill Rachel?" Sure the older girl was a pain, and didn't exactly follow the rules, but who would benefit from killing her?

"That is the question," Dirk agreed, looking almost sage as he nodded. "Last I heard, the current suspect is your friend, Hiro. That's why they carted him off to some unknown location. They're probably going to question him about it as soon as the chaos with the bomb smooths over."

GoGo looked like she wanted to be sick, or lash out at something. "Hiro wouldn't hurt a fly," she protested. "How could they possibly think he had anything to do with this?"

But Kally had an idea on that. "It was his match," she reminded, still sounding shocked. "He was going up against her. Maybe it wasn't going well and they thought he did something to change that."

"No way," GoGo insisted, her arms flung out in protest before she folded them securely across her chest. "Not Hiro. He's being framed."

At that moment the ground seemed to shake a bit, though it was more like a low rumbling than anything else. "What in the world?" GoGo sprinted back to her room and slid the key card. She then ran to the window to look out. Since the window faced out to the street instead of back towards the events center, she didn't see anything too unusual, except for a congregation of people on the street.

"What's going on?" Kally asked as she entered the room. She'd managed to follow close enough behind the athlete that she'd made it to the door before it closed. Her senses tingled much like they had when the bomb went off in the locker room.

GoGo turned away from the window in disgust. "Nothing." She popped a gum bubble, barely avoiding getting her gum stuck to the inside of her protective visor.

"Oh, hey, GoGo," Fred's voice called over the communications device built into her helmet. "I didn't know you were suiting up. Where are you? And is Wasabi with you?"

A bit surprised, mostly because she hadn't expected her friends to be in gear, GoGo took a moment before answering. "We're back at the hotel. And no, Wasabi isn't with us. Last I knew, he was on his way to the hospital. We got caught up with that bomb. Is Hiro with you?"

Silence followed her question, but the next voice to come over the link belonged to Honey Lemon. "Hiro's been taken into custody," the Latina admitted, confirming what Dirk had already told them. "We're not sure where they took him. But I think another bomb just went off." There was a pause. "What about Kally and Baymax?"

"Kally's here," GoGo answered, looking at the teen in question. "Not sure where Baymax ended up but he was with us before we came back to the hotel. My guess is he found someone who needed medical attention."

Kally waited impatiently while GoGo talked to her fellow super heroes. She felt like something was going on that shouldn't and it made her anxious. "We should head over there," she declared, wishing she could hear the other side of the conversation.

By this time, Dirk decided it would be better to enter the room instead of hang halfway out into the hallway. "Guys," he began, "I don't know about you, but if we're going to clear your friend's name, we should probably go look for the real person responsible. Personally," and he paused to put one hand up to his chest, "I think we should investigate the restaurant across the street."

Both girls looked at him like he was some kind of bug. "Across the street, huh?" GoGo looked skeptical. "You sure you don't want to go over there simply because you're hungry?"

Dirk's stomach growled at that question and he gave a sort of hesitant little laugh. "Maybe just a little?" But when the girls continued to give him that look, he straightened, looking chagrined. "Okay, maybe just a lot. It is lunchtime, and I don't know about you but I find that working on a full stomach tends to go better than working on an empty one." Part of him also didn't really like the idea of going into a zone where more bombs could go off at any moment.

For some odd reason GoGo felt like a babysitter as she gave him a somewhat disgusted eye roll, accompanied by an impatient grunt. "Seriously? Is your stomach all you can think about at a time like this? I know you don't really know any of us, but are you kidding me?"

Looking more than happy with how things were going, Dirk simply smiled. "Well, since we're obviously not on the same page, I suggest you go your way and I go mine. I'm sure we'll come back together again at some point. When that happens, we can compare notes."

"Sounds good to me," GoGo agreed, an edge to her voice that hadn't been there before. That way she wouldn't have to deck him again for impertinence. She wasn't sorry she'd done it earlier either, regardless of how helpful he'd been. The blow she'd given him had been rather satisfying, something she'd needed after the initial chaos.

Kally watched as Dirk sauntered off to the elevator. "You really think we should have let him go off by himself? He seems a bit . . . touched in the head." She couldn't help but stare as the man did some kind of dance while waiting for the elevator doors to open, disappearing behind them once they did with a little wave.

GoGo just shook her head. "Come on. The others probably need our help. Not to mention I'm sure Hiro's gotten himself into more trouble than he can chew." She turned on her heels and headed towards the elevators as well. With luck, they'd reach the arena without running into any more trouble.

Chapter Text

"I told you I'm fine!" Hiro protested as Baymax continued to carry him through the hotel lobby. He thought he caught a flash of yellow out of the corner of his eye but wasn't sure. When he looked towards the side exit once more, it was gone.

Loki rolled his eyes as they made their way to the bank of elevators. "If you keep this up, we'll have every eye in the room looking at us," he warned.

That prospect got Hiro to cease his protests in a hurry. Instead, he folded his arms as best as he could while in Baymax's deflated arms. Thankfully, they didn't have to wait long for the elevator, Cass and Loki getting in first. Lucifer followed behind the healthcare bot and his patient.

"You know, if it were left up to me," Lucifer began as Cass reached around him to hit the appropriate button, "I'd have sent you off to the hospital like I did my partner."

Cass couldn't help but look a bit surprised. "Did something happen to her?" She felt concern for the woman, even though she'd pushed interrogating her nephew when he obviously wasn't doing well.

Lucifer dithered a bit but decided it wouldn't hurt them to know. "Yes, well you weren't the only ones caught in the blast," he explained. "I'm sure she won't be staying there long as there wasn't anything too serious but it's better to be safe than sorry."

The elevator chimed its arrival and Baymax made his way out of the elevator first. "I highly recommend applying ice to your hematoma," he stated, seeing the room reserved for vending machines and ice. "I also recommend applying ice to the bruises on your knees." He paused to look directly at Aunt Cass, who wasn't too far behind them.

Cass let out a sigh, realizing he was probably right as she pulled out her room key. "I'll get some after we get Hiro settled," she promised, glad her nephew wasn't protesting Lucifer's suggestion of sending him to the hospital. She knew it probably wouldn't happen anyway. And with Baymax there to keep an eye on things, she wasn't sure it was immediately necessary. Though ice would be nice. Her knees did hurt.

The two men followed her into her room, and then through the door into Hiro's room, since she hadn't used the extra card key to open that one off the bat. She'd actually left it behind, sure Hiro had his with him. But it was a bit much to ask him to search his pockets for it at the moment.

Baymax waddled into the room in question and gently set Hiro down on the nearest bed while Loki and Lucifer continued further into the room, heading towards the window. "While your concussion appears to be mild, it would be advisable to rest as I detected signs of irritability, decreased motor function, and disorientation."

Hiro let out an exaggerated sigh. "Really? Can we just not?" He'd protested enough already, but to have Baymax insist he rest instead of going back in there to not only clear his good name, but to help those in need? It was a bit much in his opinion. "Besides, I still need to tape you back up." He reached for a duffle between the two beds and almost fell off. If it wasn't for Cass inserting herself at the last moment, he would have.

"If you'll allow me the use of your room key, I'll get some ice," Loki decided as he edged past them towards the mini fridge and its accompanying ice bucket. He somehow thought it might be more productive to get the desired ice while Hiro and his aunt worked out what little tiff was likely to follow.

Cass dug out the key to Hiro's room and handed it over. "I appreciate that," she said as she watched him pick up the provided ice bucket and head out the door with a brief nod before she turned back to her nephew. "You really should do what Baymax says." She let out a sigh of her own as she retrieved the duffle so Hiro wouldn't get into any more trouble.

"This isn't my first concussion, you know," Hiro reminded as he opened the duffle and rummaged around for the duct tape he knew was in there somewhere. At least the nausea had subsided. There was still the residual dizziness and potential crankiness, though he attributed that more to being treated like an invalid than anything else. And a lack of proper sleep. Oh, and the reactive reintegration episode. He was still reeling a bit from that.

Baymax waddled closer so Hiro could have access to his back and the rips in his vinyl. "While this is true," he stated, hand up in the air, "since you have obtain several concussions over the past few years, it is even more advisable that your condition be closely monitored."

The teen rubbed at his brow, resisting the urge to deflate his lungs all in one huff once more. Realizing the damage was a bit more than he could manage alone, he looked around for helpers, his eyes resting on Lucifer. "Hey, can you come hold this for me?" he requested as he pointed at the two sections of parted vinyl. "I need someone to hold them together while I tape them."

A bit surprised to be singled out, Lucifer sauntered over and took the two pieces of vinyl in hand. "Like this?" he asked, getting a nod of approval from the boy. Now that he was up close and personal, he could tell that Hiro was definitely not as well as he tried to pretend. Whether it was from his concussion or his earlier episode was anyone's guess. And though he wasn't exactly keen on dealing with what he deemed a child, he couldn't help but feel a sense of concern. "You probably should listen to your-what did you call him? a robotic companion? I'm sure his advice is well warranted," he asserted.

But Hiro was too busy trying to get the duct tape to do what he wanted to pay much attention. Instead of heeding the devil's advice, he focused on tearing small strips of the metallic tape so he could apply it to his friend's exterior shell. He had to use up a lot more than he was willing to explosion had done a number on the healthcare bot, but it was finally accomplished.

Loki returned with the filled ice bucket just as Hiro applied the last piece of tape. "Sorry I took so long," the Asgardian apologized. "I had to go down a floor as the machine on this level appeared to be malfunctioning." He set the bucket down in the same general area where he'd gotten it and went to the bathroom to find either a towel or washcloth. Or both. He hadn't forgotten both Cass and her nephew required the cold substance.

Cass decided it would be in her best interest to climb up on the other bed and pull her pant legs up enough to investigate the damage she'd done to her knees. The bruises were starting to purple nicely, though they weren't nearly as dark as they could be. "Well that looks fun," she said with a sigh, looking up only when Loki returned with an ice-filled towel. She noticed he'd supplied one for her nephew as well. The goose egg on the side of his head was quite obvious when he turned enough for her to see it.

Now that the initial necessities had been taken care of, Lucifer found it easier to lean against the small dresser with its television, arms crossed over his chest. That way he could look at all the individuals in the room, including Loki, who had taken up residence in the only chair near the window. "Well, now that we've got that all taken care of, I need to decide what to do with you all. You did, after all, just escape police custody."

Hiro winced as Baymax applied the ice to his bump. Now that his tears had been repaired, more or less, the robot had reinflated his body. "Not that it was exactly legal on your part either," the teen quipped. "I don't remember being read my rights."

Cass sat up a bit at that. "You know, I think he's right," she admitted. "There was so much confusion when they took us out of the main arena that I don't think anyone was thinking straight. And then they just shoved us both into that room without as much as a word of explanation about anything."

Lucifer couldn't help but look almost displeased with this turn of events. "If what you say is true, then the police are technically in the wrong. I'm sure the Detective assumed he'd been read his rights, though I'm not entirely sure he was exactly arrested, just detained." He frowned as he thought this over. There were some potential legal ramifications from this mess but he wasn't sure he wanted to contemplate them. "All that aside, we're all here now, even if the Detective isn't."

"I can prove Hiro did not have anything to do with the death of Rachel Amesbury," Baymax spoke up. "As I am programmed to record all interactions with my patients, I recorded the events of the fight and found an irregularity." He moved so he could face almost everyone in the room as he activated his internal projector, leaving the ice pack in Hiro's hand.

The whole bot fight began to show in the robot's stomach, albeit from a slightly lower than usual angle. "As you can see, Hiro was too occupied to be able to send a dart into his opponent. Also, the location where the dart was found is also proof that Hiro could not have done this as Rachel never exposed that part of her body to him."

After watching the whole video, everyone in attendance had to agree. "What was that?" Cass asked as she noticed a slight blur of movement moments before Rachel fell to the ground.

The robot rewound the video and enlarged the area in question, slowing it down. He tilted his head to one side as he contemplated the data. "I believe that may be the dart being fired from a remote location," he admitted.

Before anyone could really comment on that, however, Lucifer's phone rang. He pulled it out, one finger in the air to signify a desire for them to hold off on any further comments. He looked at the name on the caller ID before pressing the answer key. "Ms. Lopez! I wasn't expecting to hear from you."

An almost angry tirade of sounds came from the phone, though they were too low for all but Baymax to hear them. "Ms. Lopez, do calm down. I'm sorry, you're what?" The devil looked almost puzzled as he continued to listen. "You're stuck on the catwalk? How on earth did you manage that? The detective? No, I sent her to the hospital. All right! Calm down! I'll send someone to retrieve you. There's no need for that kind of language!" He ended the call in a bit of a huff.

Hearing the one side of the conversation only, Hiro was more than able to understand what was going on. "Baymax, time to suit up," he said as he threw the ice pack on the mattress and headed, still a bit wobbly, to the closet. He threw the doors open as the robot stood to attention, waiting to see what his young charge would do.

"And just where do you think you're going?" his aunt asked as she went to follow him, placing her ice aside with less enthusiasm.

Hiro had halfway pulled his and Baymax's gear out when his aunt caught up to him. He looked up almost like a deer in headlights before shaking himself back to some semblance of rationality. "Someone has to help," he reminded, using his brother's mantra.

"Are you sure you're in any condition to do that?" Loki spoke up before anyone else could. "After all, you are still recovering from events several months back. Not to mention your more recent injuries."

Leave it to someone to remind him he still wasn't up to snuff after all that craziness with Hydra. "If there are more bombs in that building, we don't have much time," he tried to reason. "And I somehow doubt there's anyone else who can reach her before another one goes off. Do you have any idea how high up those catwalks are?"

"The catwalks are approximately one hundred and seventy nine point six feet above the ground level," Baymax supplied helpfully.

By this time Hiro had pulled most of their gear out and had started changing into his iconic purple armor. "See?" he said. "Even if Fred could jump that high, he wouldn't be able to help her without other potential problems. If the structure was damaged by the bombs, his weight would only make it more likely to fall. It has to be me and Baymax."

Lucifer's frown deepened at this. "What exactly are you talking about?" he asked until he saw the iconic red armor Hiro pulled out and began applying to the robot. "Wait, I feel like I've seen that armor before. Just give me a moment and it'll come to me." He looked deep in thought for a moment while Hiro continued to help his friend don his protective gear. Then the devil snapped his fingers. "Ah! I have it! You're that super hero bunch from up in San Fransokyo! I knew there was something familiar about you!"

Cass couldn't help but feel a sense of panic fill her at this revelation. She moved towards the devil, almost as if to shush him. "Do you mind?" she asked instead. "We can't have everyone knowing about this! Hiro's at enough risk as is without people knowing his identity! As his aunt, I'm begging you to keep this to yourself!" She wasn't at all surprised that Loki didn't say anything. After all, he already knew about her nephew's extra-curricular activities. Or at least she assumed he did. He had to know about the others, which meant chances were good he knew about Hiro's as well.

Seeing the look in her eyes, Lucifer couldn't help but feel affected by it. "You have my word. " He mimed sealing his lips with an invisible key. "Your secret's safe with me," he assured. "Besides, this is far more exciting than telling everyone. Who knew I'd get to see a real life superhero?"

Hiro took advantage of their conversation to finish gearing up. He pressed one hand against his head on the side he didn't have a lump, feeling the headache intensifying a bit. "Um, Aunt Cass, you wouldn't happen to have some pain killers I could take before heading out, would you?"

"I highly recommend ingesting said pain killers with some form of sustenance," Baymax stated while the café owner went to retrieve her first aid kit. "Your blood sugar levels are still low from earlier and I do not wish to risk you losing consciousness while in mid-flight."

The teen had to admit his advice was warranted as he rummaged in the fridge for one of his aunt's protein bars and a bottle of water. "This will have to do for now," he sighed as he took the pain killers his aunt offered. He didn't really feel like eating but knew it would only upset his stomach more if he didn't take the medicine with food. "I don't want to risk waiting too long. Even if the others are down there, I don't think your friend will stay safe if another bomb goes off." He glanced over at Lucifer, who was still staring at him in almost rapt fascination.

Lucifer almost seemed to shake himself as he took a few steps forward. "I appreciate your concerns," he said, sure this was the appropriate thing to say at a time like this. "But don't do anything too extreme. I'm sure you're aunt would prefer you come back in one piece."

"You got that right," Cass said with her usual vigor. "Mr. Stark is down there somewhere and I'm sure he's helping get things under control so don't get too involved. Get this Ms. Lopez and get out." She all but glared at Baymax to make sure he understood that, even if Hiro wished to do more, he was to make sure that didn't happen.

The robot blinked at her. "Do not worry," he assured. "I will keep Hiro safe."

Looking at the robot in full armor, Lucifer couldn't help but see a potential problem. As was, the healthcare companion was going to have a hard time getting out of the room due to his enlarged size. "I hate to be a Debbie Downer, but how exactly do you plan on getting over there without causing more of a scene? I'm sure no one wants to see you punch a hole in the wall to leave this place, nor would I advise you leaving through the lobby."

Hiro placed his gauntleted hand on the doorknob. "I wasn't planning on going out the front door," he countered. "The pool deck's only a few more floors up and should provide more than enough space for takeoff, right buddy?"

"Yes," Baymax agreed.

Not to miss out on this sight, Lucifer followed the teen and his robot into the hallway, along with Cass and Loki. After making sure the next elevator was empty, they all climbed into the car and headed up. "This should be interesting," the devil observed. Even though the pool deck should be mostly empty at this time of day, there was always the possibility it wasn't. This was California, after all. And where there was smoke, there surely would be a slew of spectators to watch for a fire.

No more than a minute later, the elevator deposited them on the open deck and the boy and his robot navigated to a clear space where they'd be out of sight of as many people as possible. Cass tapped him on the shoulder. "Come back in one piece," she said as she gave him a hug, concerned at the paleness of his skin under the helmet. She was still trying to get used to the idea of him actually going out and doing anything dangerous. The last few months hadn't prepared her enough, mostly because he'd stayed behind on most missions.

"I will," Hiro promised as he climbed onto Baymax's back. He waited for the others to take a few steps back before ordering Baymax to extend his wings. The next moment they were off.

Lucifer watched without much of an expression before turning to Cass. "I admit to some surprise at how calm you are," he stated, his respect for her growing.

"I'm not," Cass replied as she watched the cherry red robot disappear from sight. Her knees shook a bit, and not just from the pain of her bruises.

Loki moved to place a hand on her shoulder, taking a liberty he wouldn't normally consider. "Perhaps it would be better to wait down in the room," he suggested, noticing several people taking far too much interest in them.

Realizing what the god of mischief meant, Cass agreed. "We can keep in contact with Hiro using my phone," she admitted. Her nephew had provided the frequency to their comm. system and that was just about as good as it would get in keeping an eye on him. She turned back towards the elevator, not sure if the others were behind her or not.

Ella sat on the catwalk. Part of her felt bad about yelling at Lucifer but no one else was picking up and she was getting sick and tired of being stranded in an area where no one seemed to know where she was or even care that she was missing. But now that Lucifer had promised to send help, she knew it was as good as done. He was a man of his word, even if it did sometimes take him a while to get around to doing whatever it was he said he'd do.

She was prepared to sit for the long haul, though part of her wished she'd thought to pack at least a snack. Maybe she'd have to make that part of her evidence collecting kit. After all, she couldn't very well go eat the evidence she had collected in her bag, the latest of which included a dart gun and some potential prints she'd found near the area. Chances were good they belonged to a tech but one never knew for certain until everything was ruled out.

So when she saw a cherry red, armor-clad, human-ish looking thing with wings slowly rising up from below the catwalk, she couldn't help but feel surprised. Not only was it some kind of giant red-covered thing but there was a smaller, more human-like individual firmly attached to its back. "Hello, Ms. Lopez," the first figure said in a pleasantly cheerful, yet definitely mechanical voice. "We have come to assist you."

Ella slowly stood from her current sitting position. "What are you? Some kind of Stark creation?" Part of her wanted to reach out and inspect this hovering personae but another part of her knew that wouldn't be a good idea. The girders had shifted a bit even with the slight change in position.

The smaller figure laughed. "Hardly." His voice was youthful, matching his smaller frame. "We're members of Big Hero 6 and a man named Lucifer Morningstar asked us to get you down."

Hearing Lucifer's name made everything fall into place. Mostly. "Oh," she said, understanding coming to light. And then her eyes got really large. "Oh. You mean like the Big Heroes from San Fransokyo, right? That is so cool."

Big Hero Number One laughed. "Yeah, that'd be us. So if there's anything you need to grab, I suggest doing it. I don't think that catwalk's going to remain stable for too much longer."

Realizing they might be in a bit of a time crunch, Ella grabbed her evidence bag and slung it over one shoulder. Her motion made the catwalk sway and she had to hold to the railing.

"Please refrain from making any sudden moves," Baymax instructed as he moved to hover the area just next to her. "Would you like me to hold you or would you prefer to ride on my back?"

Ella blinked a bit, debating which would be more comfortable for all involved. During this, she made the mistake of looking down."Oh, um... you know maybe I should just sit here and wait for Lucifer."

Hiro rolled his eyes a bit. It wasn't an unexpected reaction, though he couldn't help but feel a bit impatient. His head was still killing him, despite the pain pills. Not to mention his vision did seem a bit more blurry than before. "I don't think you're going to get another chance," he reasoned. "If it helps, you can close your eyes."

A nearby girder groaned, making a decision all that more necessary, but Ella still dithered. "Oh I don't know," she began before Baymax made deciding unnecessary as he grabbed her around the waist with both hands. Moments later, the section of catwalk pulled free from its moorings and fell to the area below.

Some sort of half scream half squeal escaped Ella's mouth as the catwalk rushed away from them. She then clung tightly to Baymax's gauntleted hands as the robot gently dived towards the doors down below. He changed his mind halfway there, pulling up short. "Oh no."

"What's up, buddy?" Hiro asked, more than a little disoriented by the change in course. He had to close his eyes for a moment, trying to stave off the vertigo the sudden change had caused.

He was answered when another explosion ripped through the floor below them. The force of the blast shoved them towards the girdled walkways above them, which the robot managed to avoid by firing his thrusters at the last moment. He then somehow managed to tuck Ella under one arm as he raised his other arm, releasing his fist in a rocket-powered punch that created an opening in the wall nearest them.

This time Ella did scream as debris flew up from below them, making navigation a bit rocky. She opened her eyes in time to see Baymax dive towards the opening he'd created. "Oh no! No! No! NO!" She tried to cover her head in preparation for smashing into the wall but was pleasantly surprised to find them going through the nicely-sized hole instead.

As they flew over the building, it became clear just what kind of damage this latest bomb had done. The walls of the main area shook like viscous jello. Almost in slow motion, the whole thing seemed to collapse in on itself, leaving just the outward rooms somewhat intact around it.

There were several bright flashes of color as the other Big Heroes managed to make it out of the building just in time. They were followed by Iron Man trying to hold up one wall so it wouldn't fall onto one of the still intact areas. More cop cars and fire engines raced to the scene.

"Guys!" Hiro called out over the link, "you'd better get out of there! Meet you back at you know where and we can catch up." He didn't want to say the exact location, not sure if Ella Lopez was too out of it to listen to him or not. "Baymax, take us down!"

The red-covered robot fired his repulsers, sending them outside the perimeter marked out by law and other emergency personnel. Once at a safe distance, he touched down, releasing his hold on Ella. "You will be all right," he assured her, realizing her heart was pounding like crazy. Before she had a chance to comment on that, however, he jettisoned back into space, flying behind the nearest building for cover.

"Thanks for saving my life!" Ella called out as the red figure, with its smaller purple one, disappeared from view. Then she remembered the evidence kit strung over her shoulders and decided that was more important. She looked around to get her bearings, then headed back towards the action. Chances were good her vehicle was still intact.

Chapter Text

Tony narrowly made it in time to keep a wall from falling in on the still relatively populated parts of the building, not that there were many left. Apparently the bomb squad had missed something. And, if he was being honest, so had he. JARVIS should have been able to pick up on those last bombs, which told him the bombs had been planted, not on the ground level, but on the one below it. The question was who and why.

"I'd get out while the getting's good," he called out over his comm. He'd asked JARVIS to adjust the frequency to match the emergency personnel's radios. Chances were good the rest of the building wasn't going to stay up for much longer, especially not if the foundation had been compromised, which he suspected was the case.

Iron Man had not missed the presence of most of the Big Heroes and decided he might need to have a word with them later about that. The truth of the matter, though, was that they'd helped evacuate a lot of people before that third series of bombs went off. There was no doubt in his mind there had been more than one explosive in that batch. And if it hadn't been for Hiro's group, there probably would have been a lot more people hurt or dead.

Sure that everyone was out now, Tony let the wall go. It crashed epically into the surrounding parts of the building that had been left relatively untouched. He looked up at the sound of buzzing helicopters, glad they hadn't arrived until just now. It was one thing for him to be caught on camera outside of his usual domain of New York. It was something else entirely for the Big Heroes, who had no jurisdiction outside of their home town, yet another reason to get after them for showing up in gear.

Tony landed near the plethora of parked media trucks where various reporters were accosting the officers on scene. Their attention shifted to him the moment they realized he was there. There was something to be said about his iconic armor. It was certainly an attention grabber.

"Iron Man! Iron Man! Can you tell us what's going on?"

"I heard there was a murder?"

"How many bombs went off?"

"Does anyone know who's responsible?"

"Do you know how many people were involved?"

"How many are dead?"

"What can you tell us?"

With so many questions coming in all at once, it was a bit hard to know where to start, but Tony was skilled at this kind of thing from long practice. And, seeing the somewhat harassed look from the officers they'd accosted, he was more than willing to step into the spotlight on their behalf, for now.

"We don't know yet what all is going on other than that someone decided to set off a lot of bombs. No one has come forward yet to claim responsibility and we're not making any speculations until we have more information. Numerous people were hurt in the explosions, and several were killed as well. We're not sure just how many yet. We'll let you know when we have more information."

Having said all he felt at liberty to say, he gave a nod to the regular duty cops who were trying to push the crowd back behind a safety line before flying off. Dr. Banner had taken the students, minus the Big Heroes, away from the area and he needed to check in on him. That and he needed to make sure Kally wasn't somehow missing in all the chaos. If she was, he knew her foster parents would sue the crap out of him, after they took his head. And that was after Cass Hamada took him to town. She might not know the girl well, but it didn't take a rocket scientist to know Cass had already accepted her as family.

As soon as Hiro and Baymax had flown off, Cass, Loki, and Lucifer headed back down to the hotel rooms. There wasn't much they could do from their current vantage. And though Loki probably could have gone and done something to help, his help was probably not the kind the first responders needed.

Cass pulled out her phone as soon as they were all settled, activating the app her nephew had created so she could tune into their frequency. It was mostly one way, unless she activated the microphone function. That way she wouldn't distract them with anything unnecessary but could still contact them if she needed to.

The three adults listened as events unfolded inside the events center. When mention of the third series of bombs came up from different voices, they knew things were not going how they'd hoped. Cass sat with clenched fists, knowing there wasn't much she could do but wait. But waiting was almost as nerve-wracking as being stuck in the chaos no more than an hour earlier. Maybe even more so.

Finally, she heard Hiro call for them all to return to base. Sure that meant he'd have to return to the roof, she quickly grabbed the duffle where he'd stored his and Baymax's gear, along with a change of her nephew's clothes. Who knew how many spectators were up there now. It was a great vantage area to see the chaos, though Cass couldn't help but hope it was far enough away not to be damaged. They had all felt the tremors from that last set of bombs and they were much stronger than the last set. Chances were good there was at least some panic upstairs, though she doubted the building had suffered any structural damage, which was a bonus.

Lucifer managed to find a luggage cart and quickly brought it up while Cass got things together on her end. Loki promised to provide the necessary cover to keep her nephew's identity a secret. All set, they headed up the elevator to the pool deck, hoping the café owner was right about them using that point of entry. She was.

The cherry red-covered robot touched down as close to the same area as they'd used for take-off as possible. Thankfully, most of the people on the deck were actually trying to see over the railing and weren't paying much attention to that corner of the deck. Smoke filtered up into the air from the ruined events center, creating quite the sight. And, thanks to Loki's added spells, the two heroes were able to land without anyone the wiser. There was just a lot of water on the deck thanks to the slight shaking brought on by the explosions.

"Our mission was a success," Baymax announced as soon as he saw Lucifer coming towards them. He lowered down to a crouch so Hiro could easily climb off his back. He turned to scan the boy for signs of complications the moment he was free from the lumbering giant's back. His observations said Hiro was not doing as well as he tried to pretend.

Before Hiro could so much as wobble away from Baymax, his aunt was there to give him a fierce hug. "Can't. Breathe," he protested, his helmet still in place. He thought her hug seemed more intense than usual, though he couldn't really blame her.

Cass let go only a moment or two later. "We thought you might need this," she said, pulling the luggage cart closer. She was only mildly surprised when Hiro threw himself at her for another hug, though part of her suspected it had something to do with balance problems.

While Lucifer and Loki kept watch, Hiro divested Baymax of his armor and stuffed it into the duffle before taking off his own gear and changing into the less damp clothes his aunt had thought to bring. He'd sweated a lot out there, even though he'd only been gone for such a short time. Part of it was the heat from the explosions, though not all of it was either.

"Let's try to not do that again for a while," the teen expressed as he leaned wearily against the healthcare companion. The tired was kicking in and he was more than ready for a nap. He felt relieved to recall their close proximity to the elevators, though he wasn't too thrilled with the idea of having to walk halfway down the floor before they'd reach their rooms.

Still cloaked with Loki's magic, they all made their way into an empty elevator and headed back down. Lucifer looked more than a bit contemplative as the elevator descended. "I think it might be wise for me to check in with the Detective," he admitted as the elevator stopped at the desired floor. Not only did he want to make sure she was okay, but he felt sure she'd want an update on what he knew, minus a few details of course.

Cass made sure the coast was clear before they exited the elevator, pushing the cart ahead of her. Thankfully the corridor was just as empty as when they'd left it only a few minutes earlier. "We'll be here if you need to talk to us again," she promised the consultant. She doubted either she or her nephew would want to go out after such an adventure, forgetting they'd made reservations to eat out earlier.

Hiro stared at the elevator doors as they closed and the car inside the shaft descending. He shook himself and turned to follow his aunt and Loki, but paused when another elevator dinged its arrival. Ever patient, Baymax waited by his side to see what would happen.

The doors to the elevator in question opened and GoGo, Fred, Honey Lemon, and Kally exited the enclosed space, all basically geared up. They paused only when they realized they had an audience. Before anyone could say anything, Honey rushed over to Hiro and gave him a big hug. She only noticed the sizeable lump on the side of his head when she pulled back. "What happened?" she asked, sure he knew what she meant.

"We were caught off guard by the second bomb," Hiro answered. "Thankfully Baymax was there to keep us from being crushed by the debris, but Aunt Cass got bruised up pretty badly. What about you guys?"

GoGo steered them towards the Hamadas' joined rooms before anyone could get into any details. She did glance questioningly at Loki but took it in stride when both Hiro and Kally vouched for him. Sure no one wanted to deal with them in full out gear, Honey, Fred, and GoGo took the opportunity to quickly change before meeting up in Hiro's room. Once they were all safely out of the open, and back in normal clothes, each hero told their version of what had happened since Hiro's fateful match against Rachel.

Honey and Fred proceeded to tell their end of events. When asked about Jack, however, they were unable to tell anyone what he was currently up to. He'd apparently gotten a call or something and had to leave in a hurry. They didn't know why.

All through the conversation, Baymax continued to monitor each of his friends. While GoGo still exhibited the contusions he'd noticed earlier, Kally's wounds appeared to have healed significantly. Fred and Honey didn't seem to have any injuries of note, though they both had elevated neurotransmitter levels when Hiro and Cass told their side of the story.

"I don't know how Wasabi's doing," GoGo admitted when asked. "Last we knew, he wasn't doing so well, though I'm sure Baymax could tell us more." She looked almost expectantly at the robot.

Taking the hint, Baymax straightened. "Attempting to connect local hospital networks now," he announced.

But before Baymax could say anything else, Sammy spoke up from Kally's cell phone. "Wasabi is currently in stable condition with three broken ribs, a moderate concussion and multiple lacerations, contusions and abrasions to his arms, legs, and chest. He is located at the Los Angeles Community Hospital."

Kally gave an almost apologetic wave. "I asked Sammy to check in on him after we went back to the arena," she admitted. She hoped Baymax didn't mind her stealing the spotlight, in a manner of speaking.

"Those injuries are consistent with my observations," the robot agreed, sounding like his usual cheerful self.

Hiro let a sigh escape his lips as he lay back against the pillows. Thankfully someone had thought to move the now soaked towel his ice had been in earlier. If they hadn't he'd have had a nice wet spot on the mattress to deal with. As things stood, he was more than willing to reapply the cold substance to his goose egg. "Well, I suppose it could have been worse." He winced as Fred accidentally jostled the bed more than was absolutely necessary.

"Sorry," Fred apologized; realizing he'd caused their diminutive leader discomfort. "What about you? How are you doing? Honestly, I think you don't look that good."

All eyes seemed to focus on Hiro at Fred's announcement. And, in a way, it was true. Hiro was still decidedly pale and his head was killing him. "I'll live," the teen stated, wishing they'd stop staring.

Baymax shifted so he could observe the teen more fully. "Scans indicate you are experiences a severe headache. Considering that the pain killers you took earlier should have taken effect, this indicates that your concussion is more severe than I had originally thought."

"It's fine," Hiro protested. "I blame the stress. You gotta admit there's been plenty to go around today. Speaking of today's events, any idea what's up with everything?"

Everyone either didn't have any theories or were too afraid to broach them at the moment, including Fred. Loki merely sat back and watched them all with a thoughtful expression on his face, one hand under his chin as he contemplated events. "Typically speaking," he finally spoke up, "such acts of violence are usually a sign of something larger in the works."

That idea sobered everyone, including Fred who was still partially geeking out over meeting Loki, though he'd toned down during their whole debriefing of each other. "I don't like the sound of that," Cass admitted, voicing everyone's thoughts.

"I will monitor police frequencies for potential connections to these incidents," Baymax stated. His sentiments were mirrored by Sammy.

And then Fred's stomach growled loudly, reminding them all that it was way past lunchtime now, and they hadn't exactly taken the opportunity to eat the usual noon meal. The mascot gave an almost nervous kind of laugh, though someone had to bring it up sooner than later. "What?" he asked, hands pointedly on his thin hips. "Someone had to remind you guys about food."

"Partaking of food is highly advisable," Baymax agreed. He purposely did not look in Hiro's direction.

Loki looked around. Judging from the expressions on everyone's faces, they could all use a good meal. And while having something brought to them would be a good alternative, he somehow suspected it would be far too crowded for anyone to enjoy it. "Why don't I take you all out for an early dinner?" he suggested.

"Actually," Fred spoke up, moving around the bed so he was more in the middle of the group, "I should be saying that since you did us a really big favor by helping Hiro out. Am I right, guys?" He looked around at his friends, including Cass in his question.

Cass dithered a bit, her shoulders tilting from one side to the other. "Well, technically speaking, you are right," she admitted. "How about we let Fred take this one? Then, if you really want to later on, you can take me and Hiro out?" Part of her was trying to come up with a reason to exclude Hiro from that potential outing, though that would have to wait and see how things went.

The trickster god gave an almost pleased sort of smile, with hints of mischief in his eyes, having a good idea where her thoughts were going. "Very well. If you insist," he said smoothly with a slight bow.

GoGo nudged Fred in the ribs as she walked past him, heading towards the door. "I'm a little surprised," she admitted. "I really thought you'd just take him up on that offer. After all, you're the one always talking about nothing being better than free food."

The mascot shrugged. "Might as well reward when it's due," he stated as he thrust his hands into his pockets. He felt for the small velvet box he'd been carrying around almost all this time. He'd put it in the room safe during most of the time at the arena, sure that wasn't a good time, but with a potentially nice sit down dinner, who knew?

"Now that I think about it, we did have reservations," Cass recalled. "Why don't you guys take it instead? I'm sure we can change the name without any problems."

Fred nodded. "I guess we could do that. Wouldn't want it to go to waste. What about you?" He glanced pointedly at Hiro.

"You guys can go ahead without me," Hiro stated. His stomach was feeling a bit queasy again and he wasn't sure he wanted to tempt fate.

Baymax shuffled closer to the teen and held out a red lollipop. "Have a lollipop," he said. When Hiro just stared at the treat, he tilted his head to one side. "I believe you are feeling nauseous. If so, it is possible this is caused due to low blood sugar levels. If you prefer, I recommend trying to ingest crackers or some similar form of sustenance instead."

When Hiro continued to just stare at the lollipop, Baymax placed it on the mattress next to him. "Sleep," the teen said. "Sleep sounds better than eating anything."

Sure Hiro's condition had something to do with his earlier adventures, both immediate and longer term, Loki decided to take matters into his own hands. "Why don't the four of you," he pointed to Kally, GoGo, Honey Lemon, and Fred in turn, "go out and eat. I'll stay here and order room service for the three of us. That way Cass can stay in case Hiro needs anything and she won't lack for company. If Hiro doesn't feel like eating now, we can save something for him for later."

Honey Lemon bit her lip, debating. Hiro did look pretty done in. And she knew Cass wouldn't want to leave him alone, even if it was with Baymax. "That's probably the best we're going to get," she admitted. "As long as no one else minds, I'm up for it."

"Sounds good to me," GoGo agreed, looking as uninterested as ever. She just hoped the restaurant they'd reserved was far enough away from the hotel that they wouldn't have to deal with any of the crowds. She was more than ready for a bit of quiet time and really wished she could go out bird watching or something.

Fred nodded, getting the reservation information from Cass. "Sounds like a plan," he agreed. "But let us know if you need anything." He tiptoed to the door in an exaggerated manner, motioning for the others to follow him.

Cass watched them go, remembering something at the last moment. "Make sure you check in with us when you're ready to head back," she said before Honey Lemon slipped out of the room. "I want to be able to tell Mr. Stark where Kally is if he checks in." The Latina gave a nod to acknowledge the request before closing the door gently behind her.

Now that it was just the four of them, counting Baymax, Cass turned to Loki. "I really appreciate you doing this," she gushed. "I really didn't want to leave Hiro like this, just in case."

Loki gave a carefree sweep of his arm as he indicated she precede him into the adjoining room so Hiro could try and sleep in peace. "Nonsense," he said gently as he held the door for her, making sure it was still partially open so they could hear if anything were amiss. "I'm staying in this hotel as well. It seemed only natural to help you out in your time of need."

Whatever else the god of mischief might have said was cut off as they moved away from the door on the other side. Not sure if he cared if Loki had ill intentions or not at this point, Hiro lay back against the pillow. "Hey, Baymax? Could you turn out the light?" he requested as he closed his eyes. Maybe sleep would help make his head stop hurting so much.

The robot complied, moving to a position where he could easily monitor his friend. He did wish Hiro had at least tried some crackers but could understand why he didn't at the same time. He just hoped Aunt Cass would provide some kind of protein for her nephew to help counter all the ill effects of the day.

Chapter Text

Lucifer arrived at the hospital at about the same time Chloe was discharged. Since her injuries were light in comparison to several who had come in the same wave she had, she'd had to wait for treatment. But when she had finally been officially admitted, they were able to quickly repair most of the damage, giving her some antibiotics in case of infection, along with a crutch so she didn't put too much strain on the gash in her left leg.

"Detective!" the devil greeted her, a huge smile on his face. "Looks like I got my timing right. I just knew something like a bomb wouldn't keep you down for long."

Chloe hobbled over on her crutch. She paused to brush some hair out of her face. "I hope you've been staying out of trouble during my absence," she quirked. "Now, I need you to catch me up on everything that's happened since you sent me off in that ambulance because I'm sure you didn't just leave things alone."

Her tone suggested she wasn't entirely happy with recent events and Lucifer was more than happy to comply. So, after escorting her out to his car, he began telling her what all she'd missed while waiting at the hospital. He was able to relay the barest details of almost everything that had happened before they arrived back at the precinct. He omitted a few things, including the involvement of Hiro and his friends, as well as their identity as super heroes. He didn't think she needed to know that just yet.

The precinct was in chaos when they arrived. Officers and detectives were all either on the phone or running about on various errands. Even Ella, who had returned shortly after retrieving her truck, was busy working in her lab.

"Well, looks like someone kicked over the ant pile," Lucifer observed, though it wasn't unexpected, all things considered. He was just glad he wasn't one of the ones behind left to question all those people they'd moved from the arena before all hell broke loose. Apparently they were still working on that, which was just as well.

Chloe made her way to her desk, leaning heavily on the one crutch. The painkillers they'd given her at the hospital were already starting to wear off. "To continue what we were discussing in the car, you said you left Hiro Hamada in the custody of his aunt at their hotel?" she asked, looking for confirmation as she pulled over a note pad and began scribbling on it. While the bombing was potentially somehow connected, they still had to solve the murder of that unfortunate student if they were going to get any answers.

"That's correct," he confirmed as he sat on the edge of her desk, something he knew she wasn't really happy about. "Miss Carmichael is staying in the same hotel, in a room right across the hall as a matter of fact. I left her in Ms. Hamada's care as well. As for Hiro's involvement, I'm fairly convinced he had nothing to do with it."

At that exact moment, Ella all but careened out of her lab, heading for Chloe's desk. She'd only just now realized the detective was back from the hospital. "What Lucifer said is the truth," she confirmed a bit out of breath, having overheard his last comment. "Judging from the angle of entry, and the fact that I found the murder weapon up on the catwalk, it's impossible for him to have done it."

The detective looked between the two, Lucifer grinning like the cat who got the canary, and Ella looking worried she'd go after the wrong person. "Okay, I get it," Chloe said, throwing her pencil on top of the notepad. "Did you two get together or something about this?"

"Absolutely not!" Lucifer looked appalled that she'd even consider the idea. "I'm offended you would even consider the possibility! Besides, how would I be able to concoct such a devious plan when I was obviously occupied elsewhere?" He took this opportunity to remove his posterior from her desktop as he moved so he could stare directly at her. "But you do know this means you owe that Hamada boy an apology. And if Ms. Lopez's evidence isn't enough, the boy's healthcare companion caught the moment in question."

Hearing that, Chloe couldn't help but feel more interested in the whole conversation. "Someone in their group managed to catch it on video? In that case, we really do need to go talk to them. Not to mention I need to have a word with whoever is in charge of Kally Carmichael. As a minor, she shouldn't be in her own room. Not to mention that since we know she shared a room with our victim, any of Rachel Amesbury's belongings are now evidence."

She looked at the clock, realizing the afternoon was slowly ticking away. What were the chances that Hiro Hamada and his aunt were still at the hotel? Lucifer did say he'd asked them not to go anywhere, but that didn't necessarily mean anything. And, after learning there was no way Hiro could be their killer, or related to whoever that was—most likely—she wouldn't be surprised if they didn't want to talk to anyone. After all, they had put the teen through a lot of potentially traumatic events, especially if what that William Lawson character said was true about the teen and his friend being kidnapped earlier that year.

All that aside, she still had her duty as a cop to perform. If she didn't apologize before things got out of hand, they might decide to sue, which would be bad for the city. They definitely didn't need that on their hands, on top of the bombings. It was probably only a matter of time before they brought in some kind of federal agency to deal with that. Chances were good it was somehow terrorist related, either homegrown or from overseas. And if that were the case, it would make life that much more complicated. But, since she'd been the officer in charge on the scene, she'd have to deal with that as well. At least until someone took over the whole investigation, murder and all.

Having a sigh, Chloe pushed away from her desk and took up her crutch. "If we're going to get this done before nightfall, we might as well head out now," she reasoned. And then she remembered that her car was still probably at the scene of the crime. Almost reluctantly, she paused. "Um, I'm going to need you to drive, at least to the hotel. After that, we can pick up my car and call it a night. Unless something else comes up."

This idea pleased Lucifer no end and he couldn't help but smile. "Very well. This way, Detective," he said with a half bow and gesture for her to go before him.

But before he could get too far in following the detective, Ella pulled him aside. "I didn't get the chance to thank you for sending help," she said by way of explanation when he gave her a questioning look. "I don't know how you know the big man from Big Hero Six, but if you see him and his friend again, could you say hi? Maybe get an autograph?"

Lucifer couldn't help but realize this was potentially dangerous territory. While he knew the identities of pretty much all the Big Heroes, minus one—Wasabi hadn't been present for him to meet—he couldn't just willy-nilly go letting people know he knew who they were. "I'm sorry," he said, crossing his fingers behind his back. "I'm afraid I don't know what you're talking about. I didn't send the big man from Big Hero Six to rescue you. I asked an officer to look into it." Strictly speaking, it was technically the truth. He hadn't sent "the big man", he'd sent Hiro.

"That's not what they said," Ella countered, not about to back down.

This put Lucifer in a tight spot and he knew it. "It's not exactly like I know them," he countered. "I may have run into one of them and asked for their help, but that doesn't mean I can just as easily run into them again."

Ella looked, understandably, a bit disappointed, her face falling. "Oh." She shuffled her feet, and then realized something. "If you do happen to run into them, could you still tell them thank you for me? Since you're going back over to where everything happened, chances are good you might see them again."

Effecting a bit of a bow, Lucifer nodded. "Of course," he promised. "I'd be more than happy to do that for you. If I see them." Seeing her happiness restored, Lucifer quickly went to catch up to the detective.

Jack hadn't planned on having to duck out on Honey Lemon and Fred. It was just one of those things. One of his other associates needed help and it couldn't wait. But things were set and sorted now, which allowed him to return to his previous activities.

When he'd returned to the area, however, he found the place in chaos. They'd extended the police line and for a good reason. The whole building was pretty much demolished. And when he tried to get more information, the only news he could glean was that more bombs had gone off, though they didn't know who was responsible yet.

Fear filled Jack's heart, not knowing if all of his friends had made it out on time or not. The idea gnawed at him, making him feel a bit queasy. The Doctor had sent him to keep an eye on the Big Heroes, Hiro in particular. He didn't know what he'd do if he'd somehow lost them. But before he started jumping through time, he needed to make sure they hadn't really made it out alive, regardless of what the officers could or couldn't tell him.

Trying to not draw more attention to himself, he decided to walk over to the hotel instead of transporting over as he had before. The walk allowed him to overhear conversations from those he passed, as well as giving him the chance to try and assess the damage. Most of the people he passed were late-arriving spectators, though there were a few who'd been there longer. He even passed some guy wearing a garishly bright yellow jacket. The man was looking around at the foliage like he'd lost something.

Jack dismissed the odd man from his mind and opened the door to the hotel's lobby. He was on the far side, the one the competitors had used to get to the main arena. There was a bank of elevators there, which he chose to use instead of the main ones. It was just easier. They all went to the same floors anyway.

He entered the elevator and pressed the button for the appropriate floor. Having been there before, he'd taken the opportunity to make sure he could find his way there again. It helped that he had a pretty good sense of direction when it came to these kinds of things.

When the elevator chimed his arrival, Jack exited the car and headed towards the two rooms he knew belonged to members of the Big Heroes. Chances were good the others were close by, but he'd start with what he knew. He went up to the room Fred and gone into to get his kaiju outfit and knocked. When no one answered, he went to the one Honey Lemon had disappeared into with the same result. He was about to start knocking on all the doors in the immediate vicinity when the main elevator dinged and the doors slid open.

Two individuals exited the elevator, one an attractive woman with light-ish brown hair and a slight tan, using a crutch of all things. Then the man with her caught his attention with his almost black hair, deep brown eyes, and somewhat darker complexion. His features were decidedly handsome and he couldn't help but feel an intense pull of attraction towards him. So when the two started down the hallway towards him, there was only one thing on his mind. Jack moved down the hall to meet them halfway.

Before Lucifer or his companion could say anything, Jack embraced Lucifer, pulling him in for a rather passionate kiss. The space captain pulled away with a look of intense gratification, a slight gasp escaping his lips. "That was every bit as amazing as I imagined it would be," he stated, still a bit breathless.

A bit surprised by this sudden turn of events, but not really put off by them, Lucifer gave an almost mischievous raise of one eye brow. "Oh my!" he exclaimed. He looked decidedly pleased with this turn of events, if not a bit puzzled. "I can't say as I've ever met anyone quite as forward as you, but if you're willing, so am I."

Chloe pointedly cleared her throat, reminding her partner that he wasn't the only person there. "If you're done flirting with whomever this is, I'd really like to get back to business."

Jack gave Chloe an appreciative grin as he took in her features up close and personal. He took her hand in one of his and kissed it gently with his lips. "Allow me to introduce myself," he said, now all suave. "My name is Jack Harkness and I'd love to conduct business with you any time."

The detective rolled her eyes, feeling a bit impatient with events. "Yes, well, as flattering as that is, we have work to do." She glanced over at her partner, who appeared to be totally enamored, or at least engrossed with their unexpected guest. "Lucifer?"

Feeling her eyes on him, Lucifer gave a sort of half turn like a runway model as he switched his attention back to Detective Decker. "Yes, of course," he agreed, straightening his suit coat. "Allow me to lead the way." He continued on down the hallway, stopping at a door almost across from the one Jack knew belonged to Honey Lemon.

Not sure what the man named Lucifer and his companion were doing, Jack decided to follow. The idea that there existed a woman who wasn't turned on by his charms was intriguing. When he realized what they were doing, he chose to stand back. Chances were good that the room in question belonged to one of the Big Heroes; though it was also possible it was being let out to someone else as well. He was only mildly surprised when no one immediately answered the door.

Chloe gave Lucifer an almost impatient look but the devil put up one hand to ask for patience. "Maybe they didn't hear," he insisted and knocked a bit louder this time.

Sounds came from inside the room in question, something along the lines of a door being opened, though Jack couldn't be sure. He waited to see what would happen all the same, glancing up in surprise when Cass Hamada opened the door.

"Ms. Hamada," Chloe addressed the woman in the doorway as she flashed her badge, making Jack reevaluate her a bit. "Detective Chloe Decker. We spoke earlier today?"

Cass brushed some hair out of her face as she glanced behind her at someone out of sight. "Detective," she greeted coolly. "I hope you haven't come to harass my nephew again. He's currently sleeping and I'm not going to wake him just so you can ask him whatever you want. He's had a long day."

The detective looked down for a moment before meeting the woman's eyes. She had to readjust her hold on the crutch, silently cursing its existence. "About that, I actually came to apologize. We were given incorrect information and wrongly assumed your nephew had something to do with today's incidents."

More than a little surprised by this turn of events, Cass couldn't quite hide her shock. "Oh, well, thank you." When Chloe didn't immediately make any signs of leaving, the woman looked around a bit, realizing that not only was Lucifer there, but Jack as well. Not sure how to handle this sudden turn of events, she simply stared, knowing full well that Loki was waiting for her to rejoin him in the next room over.

"I was wondering if we could come in and discuss something else," Chloe said, trying to unobtrusively see around the woman blocking the doorway. "My partner led me to understand one of your party managed to record the fight and possibly the killer as well. Not to mention I understand you are currently one of three legal guardians of our victim's roommate. And since we can't get a hold of the other two, we need to discuss her housing options."

Jack gave Cass a little wave, a half smile on his face as he patiently waited for his turn. He could at least safely say Hiro and his aunt had survived the chaos earlier. And, if he was any judge of character, he doubted the others had come to any serious harm or she wouldn't look quite so calm, albeit frustrated, or maybe miffed, with the L.A.P.D. detective.

Cass let out a sigh. "Does it have to be now? I was in the middle of eating dinner with a friend." She glanced back into the room and through the partially open door separating her actual hotel room from the current one.

"It will only take a few minutes, I promise," Chloe emphasized, using her free hand to illustrate her point. "Then we'll be on our way for the evening." Part of her thought it a bit early for dinner but supposed some people liked theirs earlier than others.

The café owner seemed more than a little resigned as she let out a heavy sigh. "Fine, but we should meet in my room instead of my nephew's. As I said, he's sleeping and I really don't want to wake him up if I don't have to. Lord knows he doesn't get enough sleep at home."

Cass disappeared, the door closing behind her. Less than a minute later, she came out the neighboring door, holding it open for her three new guests. It was unfortunate they'd chosen now to come by, she thought. She and Loki were just starting to get to know each other and this certainly was not on her agenda. Seeing Jack, on the other hand, was not necessarily unwelcome. In fact, a slight blush crossed her cheeks before she quickly schooled herself. It was hard to forget his charms.

"Please don't mind the mess," she requested as she cleared the chair and tried to quickly straighten up the room. She noticed Jack giving Loki the once over but ignored it as she turned off the television and took up residence on the other double bed in the room. Loki had claimed the first.

Chloe moved into the room, closer to the side with the desk, which currently held a tray filled with a few riffled serving dishes and an extra plate. That way she's have something to lean against if she needed it. They'd definitely interrupted something, she mused as she turned to face the woman. "I was hoping you could tell me who took the video in question, and to ask if we could get a copy of it."

Lucifer leaned against the armoire with its television, much as he had earlier that day in the other room. "I thought I told you it was the boy's healthcare companion," he reminded. "But I admit it would be helpful to have a copy. Speaking of his companions, where are the others? I don't see them here."

That question caught Jack's attention and he stopped staring between Loki and Lucifer. With so many lovely faces in the room, it was a little harder than usual to concentrate. His natural inclination was to flirt with all of them. Well, except for that detective woman. His charms seemed more than lost on her. Her loss.

Cass looked over at Loki before answering. "They went out to eat. We were all going to go together but since Hiro wasn't feeling well, we decided to stay and make sure he was okay."

Relief flooded through the space captain like a radiating sun. He wouldn't have to go jumping back in time to pull anyone out of the building. Such excursions were always costly, even if everything came out right in the end.

Chloe noticed Jack once more. She'd managed to ignore him for a bit but couldn't anymore as she folded her arms across her chest, as best as her crutch would allow, and stared pointedly at him. "Excuse me, but you never told us who you were." She glanced over at Lucifer as if this were an oversight on his part.

"Well don't look at me," Lucifer protested. "I only met the man just now, though you won't hear any complaints from me." He gave Jack a conspiratorial yet appreciative smile.

The door between the two rooms opened wider and the familiar form of Baymax waddled through. "Hello, Jack," the robot greeted. "I heard your voice and thought it best to investigate. We did not realize you made it out of the exoskeleton facility alive. It is good to know you are unharmed."

Jack gave one of his classic grins, hands on his hips as he all but preened. "You know me. I haven't met anything yet that can keep me from coming back."

Seeing the robot, Cass couldn't help but get up. "Everything okay in there? Hiro still sleeping?" Her expression mirrored her concern, her steps only slightly faltering due to her bruised knees.

"Yes," Baymax answered. "I will return to him now." He turned, something that was a bit of a tight fit in the enclosed space but Cass called out, causing him to turn back around. "Did you need my services, Aunt Cass?"

Cass smoothed her clothes out of habit. "Actually, we did need something. These detectives want a copy of the video you took of Hiro's bot fight." She waved absently towards Chloe and Lucifer.

"Of course," Baymax agreed before turning back around, closing the door almost all the way behind him.

Chloe put out a hand in protest. "Wait, isn't he going to give us the video?" She couldn't help but look a bit confused at this behavior.

Returning to her previous perch on the bed, Cass ran a hand through her hair, ignoring the mostly filled plate on the nightstand. "If Baymax says he'll send it, you can be sure he will," she stated. "Now, what about Kally? You said something about guardianship and housing options?"

Jack mouthed the name, a questioning look on his face. He didn't know who this individual was, but apparently she was now a part of the group. He'd definitely have to ask Cass about her later. After he explained how he knew Hiro, and not as some random college professor or someone who hung out with one. The fact that Baymax had casually mentioned the episode of the exoskeletons suggested Hiro's aunt was aware of that adventure.

Now it was Chloe's turn to feel uncomfortable. "We tried to reach the other individuals listed as temporary guardians, Mr. Stark and a Dr. Banner, but neither one of them was available. And since you are listed as a third guardian, I thought it necessary to let you know that California state law doesn't allow a minor to remain unaccompanied, especially in hotels. As much as I'm sure we'd all like to just leave arrangements as they are, Kally will need to either share a room with a legal adult or at least have a joined room with one, like your nephew."

"So you're saying that since her roommate, who was a legal adult, is no longer living, she has to find another hotel room with someone who is," Cass stated, seeking clarification. Well, there were alternatives to that, she supposed. If it came down to it, she could have the teen stay in the same room with her.

Lucifer decided it was time to help his partner out a little. "That and we'll need access to Miss Amesbury's room for potential evidence. We have yet to establish a motive."

Loki looked around the room at all currently involved in the conversation. He'd stayed out of it, mostly because he didn't need to say anything. Part of it, of course, was to get a sense of who he was dealing with. "I'm sure that can be arranged," he stated as he stood from the other bed. "Tomorrow. But, in the meantime, if you have nothing further to discuss, Cass and I were enjoying an early dinner." He gave Lucifer a pointed look.

Taking his look as a bit of a challenge, Lucifer's lips went into an "ooh" shape as he grinned. "I see. Well then, Detective, if we're done, perhaps we should be on our way, so long as we have your assurance," he looked directly at Loki, "that we will have access to that room in the morning."

Not used to Lucifer taking such initial, Chloe struggled to catch up, stuttering a bit. "Th-that should be more than sufficient." Part of her couldn't help but wonder just how close Loki and Cass were, sure there was at least some history there. He almost acted like he was the guardian instead of Cass. "Lucifer's right. We should be going." She swung her crutch into action as she edged her way past Jack and her partner. "Sorry again for bothering you."

Lucifer gave all in the room one last mischievous grin before following after her. He made as if to peek into Hiro's room but didn't quite go that far before heading out the door into the hallway. The latch clicked behind him, leaving the other three adults in the room.

"Well, that was certainly interesting," Jack commented as he took the desk chair and turned it so he could sit more comfortably facing the other two in the room. "And I'm glad the others made it out okay."

Loki gave him a displeased look, having hoped he would leave with the others. But now that he knew they weren't together, he had to reevaluate who he thought this man was. The name Jack was not immediately unfamiliar, though it took him a moment to make the connection. "You're the one Hiro and his friends teamed up with against the exoskeletons when he first came in contact with the Makt."

It was Cass's turn to look at him in surprise. "I didn't know you knew about that," she confessed, turning so she could look at him, her legs crossed underneath her. She left her plate where it was, waiting to see what would happen now that Jack was there and the others weren't.

"Of course," Loki confirmed. "If you recall, I was in Stark Tower when the others gave their explanation of events, though you may not have seen me."

Realization struck the café owner like a ton of bricks as she remembered his abilities. "Oh. Oh!" Her eyes widened as the implications set in. "You're not really with SHIELD then, are you?"

Loki dithered. "Not exactly," he hedged. "That is to say, I am acquainted with them but they are not exactly happy with me. I'm sure you understand why."

Not being privy to all the particulars of the Battle for New York, Cass couldn't say she did and it showed on her face. "Well, if you're not on speaking terms with the others, I suppose I can keep your presence from them." Unless Stark or Banner happened to walk in on them, she amended. She was still waiting for a more detailed response about what had happened in that Hydra base and how Loki was involved. Hiro hadn't mentioned the god of mischief when he'd made his report. For that matter, neither had Kally.

Jack watched this little back and forth with an interesting expression on his face. "So I take it you know about Hiro's exploits with Big Hero Six." He drew his words out slowly, as if he wasn't entirely sure he was reading things correctly.

Cass wasn't sure if she should look guilty or miffed. She decided to be upset. "Yes, I know," she retorted. "And since you obviously knew what was going on, I'm a bit surprised you didn't let me in on it. But, since you're here, did that Doctor person they'd mentioned come along for the ride? If so, I'd like to give him a piece of my mind!"

It was Loki's turn to look disapproving as he surveyed this interloper. "Yes, did this Doctor come along?" He really hoped not. It wasn't that the man in question, alien really, wasn't a good one to have around, but they had more than enough chaos at the moment, more than enough to suit him at least. And he really didn't need more competition for anyone's attention.

Jack shook his head. "No, the Doctor's not coming," he confirmed. "As to why I didn't tell you, I was ordered not to. I'd like to hope at least one of Hiro's friends pointed out the classified nature of what we did."

Only a bit chastened, Cass nodded. "Fred did," she remembered. She let her shoulders sag in defeat. Staying upset was too tiring after everything that had happened. "All right. You've made your point. But that doesn't explain why you're really here."

"I had orders from the Doctor to check in on Hiro," Jack admitted. "Since he can't look in on him as often as he'd like, he wanted me to do it for him. It'd been long enough he began to worry."

While Loki had confessed to wanting to check in on both Hiro and Kally, Cass wasn't really sure why Jack would need to check in on just Hiro. Loki had been there when the two were kidnapped and could understandably have developed a type of concern for them. But she wasn't at all sure why this Doctor character would want Jack Harkness to specifically check in on Hiro. "Why Hiro?" she finally asked.

"I think I understand," Loki said before Jack could res pond. He got up from the bed and crossed over to the desk to retrieve his plate. He had to go around Jack to do so but didn't care. "If what has occurred over the past several months is any indicator, it's possible this Doctor fellow thought Hiro might get into a bit of trouble due to his now unique structure."

Cass looked at him like a math student who didn't get the problem, following him with her eyes as he returned to the bed. "Huh?" Her confusion was no less for the hints he left out in the open. She could see the same confusion mirrored on Jack's face, probably because he wasn't yet privy to what had happened earlier that year.

Loki set his plate down on the bedspread, careful to not let anything spill on the covers. "Let me put it to you this way, hasn't Hiro experienced a plethora of interesting interactions over the past several months? And didn't those Hydra people try to exploit his and Kally's DNA for nefarious means? Not to mention the whole episode of his having to rebuild the Universe after essentially breaking it."

Hearing it put that way, Cass felt like someone had smacked her upside the head and she almost reeled. "Oh." Her eyes went wide, her mouth rounded to show her surprise. "Yes, I can see his point." She looked a little dazed. If some interstellar being was still interested in her nephew because of what had happened, it potentially meant there was a lot more to it than she, or even Hiro, realized.

"I wish you'd let me know what you keep talking about," Jack said with a bit of sigh. "I'm sure you're right on the money with your intent but I'd really like to join everyone else in knowing what's going on."

But before either Cass or Loki could explain, Baymax appeared in the doorway separating his patient's room from the other. "Aunt Cass,' he said almost softly, "I believe Hiro may require your presence."

Chapter Text

Hiro slept fitfully. It was almost as though he couldn't quite get comfortable, which was likely true. Having been thrown, albeit just a short distance, by the blast, his muscles were sore. Not to mention the bump on the side of his head and the throbbing headache.

There was something going on in the great scheme of things and he just couldn't see it. And that bothered him. He tossed and turned, groaning in his sleep as his mind tried to make sense of everything that had happened. It wasn't working very well.

He thought he heard when someone came knocking on the door but wasn't sure. His body wouldn't respond to any commands, his eyes remaining closed as he almost observed himself from outside of his body. He'd done it before, at the bot fight, but that didn't make it any less disorientating than before.

Voices filtered in through his mind like a distant rumble and he couldn't make any sense of it. Part of him knew there was something important about the voices but he couldn't understand what. They weren't something he heard from the next room, but something much more remote. They were like the hissing of snakes, something that made him recoil.

Focus, he heard Tadashi say, but he couldn't see him. Focus.

I'm trying, he replied, not sure exactly how to go about doing that. Distant thoughts of his time in the Hydra based scrolled in the back of his mind, and how he'd somehow managed to connect with the computer network. But he still had no idea how he'd done that. And yet, he'd somehow managed to focus on something there long enough to see out of the connected cameras and get a glimpse of where his friends were and what they were doing.


Like a camera lens turning to bring an image into focus, he tried to refine his mind. It was a kind of non-muscular control he wasn't sure he had just yet, but at least his efforts produced something.

Several voices came into focus, muddy at first but growing more distinct the more he dialed in on them. The unfortunate thing was that he couldn't see them or understand where they were. He could just hear their voices, as though they were somehow distorted with technology.

"Phase One is complete. We're ready to move onto Phase Two whenever you're ready."

"Let them chase their tails a bit longer. I find it somehow amusing, knowing they have no idea what's going on or where we might strike next."

"I'll pass that on down the line. Until then, maybe we should all keep a low profile. Just how long do you plan on waiting?"

"Just long enough for the frenzy to strike its peak. When they are at their weakest is when we strike again."

Unbidden, images of the exoskeletons filled Hiro's mind, though he felt certain they had nothing to do with the words he'd just heard. But now that his attention was diverted, he felt like he was falling, much like had in that dream where Tadashi tossed him over the pit wall, only to land in front of one of those horrifying machines.

Except there weren't any exoskeletons. Instead, he found himself on the ground, still unable to see or really process the scene around him. But he did feel the kicks and punches being inflicted upon his body. He even though he heard a satisfied grunt from Yama but wasn't sure. The most prominent part was just how much it hurt and he cried out in pain.

The next thing he knew, Aunt Cass was shaking him awake and he tensed in shock, not completely sure he wasn't caught up in the memory of Yama's men beating the pulp out of him. He sucked in a harsh lungful of air that almost sent him coughing. "Ow," he uttered, the pings and pangs coming to light, some phantom, some not. He moved one hand to his head as he winced.

"You will be all right," Baymax assured him. "You are likely feeling the remains of another reactive reintegration. This, when added to your current injuries, is sure to cause some difficulty until the effects wear off. This process might be quickened if you were to partake of some form of sustenance as your blood sugar levels are still low."

It wasn't surprising, really. He hadn't eaten since that morning. And if he looked over towards the clock on the nightstand dresser combo, he clearly saw it was now after five in the evening. At least they hadn't turned the light on, he mused. That wouldn't have been good with the way his head pounded. "Maybe," he conceded. And then he tried to sit up, only to fall back against the pillows with a bit of a grunt.

Loki observed this behavior with some concern, his arms folded across his chest. "Perhaps one of us should get something from the other room?" he suggested. They'd purposely ordered something easily consumed using hands knowing Hiro might not be up to much. It certainly beat the soup Cass had originally wanted to order.

"I'll get it," Jack volunteered as he headed for the door between the two rooms.

It was only when Hiro heard Jacks' voice that he realized the man was there. He blinked in some confusion, his body now feeling more stiff than sore. At least there was that, he supposed. Minus the raging headache. But he knew if he wanted to take any kind of painkillers down he'd probably want to eat something to keep his stomach from getting even more upset.

Cass slid onto the bed next to her nephew and helped him to a more upright position, stuffing the extra pillows behind him. "I just hate seeing you like this," she confessed. "It doesn't seem right somehow. You should be running around and making messes, getting into trouble, not constantly getting smacked by the universe."

Hiro cracked a wry grin. "Could be worse," he said before wincing again. The vibration from talking somehow made his head hurt worse. He'd only had a migraine during the one timeline, as far as he could remember, but it sure felt like he had one right now.

Jack returned with part of a sandwich at that exact moment, wrapped in a napkin. "Hope you don't mind I had to tear a piece so it's a bit squished. I didn't think you' manage a whole half after hearing you hadn't eaten in a while. That and I couldn't find a knife."

His aunt took the offered food since Hiro didn't seem inclined, or able, to do so at the moment. She felt him shudder next to her and looked at him with concern in her eyes. "Hiro? Everything okay?" When he didn't answer, she set the napkin-covered sandwich on the nightstand. He certainly didn't look okay but she really wished he'd at least answer her.

"Perhaps it would be better to start with the lollipop from earlier," Baymax mused as he observed his young charge. "It is possible Hiro has developed a migraine, which may make ingesting more substantial food difficult." The main thing was to get his blood sugar levels up enough to at least try and give him a chance to stabilize with something more substantial later.

Hearing this, Cass quickly looked for the lollipop in question, shifting enough to make the bed shake with her efforts. The teen groaned with the vibrations. "Maybe it'd be better if we skip food for now," he moaned, putting both hands up to his head.

Jack glanced over at Baymax. "This a result of one of those reintegrations?" he asked the healthcare bot. He knew the chances were good either way that Hiro was having another episode right after the other. There had been no mistaking the previous one as the robot had to explain why he needed Cass to come into the room in the first place. Either way, things were just as bad as the space captain feared.

The robot tilted his head to one side. "I am uncertain," he admitted. "This is the first time Hiro has exhibited symptoms of migraine without the typical energy spike, which signifies a reactive reintegration episode. However, it is also possible this is a react to the concussion he received earlier."

"I may not be an expert on all things of this world, but might it not be advisable to transport him to a medical facility?" Loki inquired. He hadn't seen Hiro look this bad since back in the Hydra base. His skin was decidedly pale. And the fact that he was still far too skinny didn't help, nor did the sheen of sweat and obvious look of pain in the teen's eyes.

But Hiro shook his head, as much as it hurt to do so. "I'm not going to the hospital," he asserted as firmly as his aching head would allow. "I just need a few minutes and I'll be fine."

Jack let out a sigh as he contemplated the situation. "He's just as stubborn as I remember," he mused, one hand up to his chin. "The problem is knowing whether nor not he's right or if there's more going on."

"Why don't we give him the benefit of the doubt," Cass suggested, against her better judgement. Part of her couldn't help but wonder if any run of the mill doctor would actually be able to help or not. "It has been a long day." Despite her words, she unwrapped the lollipop and slipped it between Hiro's lips before he could protest.

The teen almost glared at her but let out a sigh instead as he took the lollipop's stick between his fingers, making the treat spin in his mouth. "You know I'm right here," he muttered but sucked on the candy anyway. Baymax was right about him needing something in his stomach. At least he didn't have the nausea that had accompanied the last migraine he'd had.

Loki folded his arms as he stared at the two individuals on the bed, one mostly under the covers, the other not. "I suppose it is reasonable to give the benefit of the doubt," he said thoughtfully. "However, if he hasn't improved by the morning, I do highly recommend having someone give a second opinion on the matter."

Cass slid off the bed and went to the mini fridge to retrieve one of several bottles of water, which she placed next to the sandwich she'd left on the nightstand. She then bent to kiss her nephew on the forehead, pushing the hair out of his face. "We'll let you go back to sleep," she promised. "But I really would like you to try and eat something, or at least drink some water." She glanced up at Baymax to make sure he was willing to oversee this request and make sure it happened.

"Fine," Hiro grumped, arms now folded across his chest. The sooner they left the room the sooner he could try and get back to sleep. If the migraine let him. He felt certain he could convince Baymax to provide some form of painkiller to help with that, though he'd likely have to eat something more than the little bit of sugar on a stick.

Jack frowned as he moved towards the door separating the other room from their current one. "I'm not sure I like it," he said as the others followed him. But it was what it was. Cass was Hiro's legal guardian and the one who technically got to make the call. At the very least, he'd like to get caught up on what she knew though. That might help them moving forward. And, if worse came to worse, he could try calling in Dr. Jones. She would at least have a better handle on things than most other doctors would.

Tony felt more than a little worn down by the time he returned to his Las Angeles home. He sent his Iron Man suit for repairs and hit the showers. The hot water was a decidedly nice luxury after the events of the day. He still wasn't sure what to do about the Big Heroes suiting up and could only hope that his hijacking the news conference had allowed them to stay out of the public eye. After all, who didn't have a thing for Iron Man? And it was certainly better than subjecting them to a larger spotlight than they were probably ready for.

Feeling more like himself, Tony left the bathroom in a set of clean yet comfortable clothes. He then went in search of the food he knew waited for him. Out of courtesy, he had stopped by the local police precinct to give them a debrief of events on his end. Perhaps the information he'd been able to provide would help them find the people responsible for the bombing, even if it didn't help identify who had killed Rachel Amesbury.

Thanks to JARVIS, he had a hot meal waiting for him, someone having delivered it only minutes before he'd exited the bathroom. He was halfway through his meal when Dr. Banner called to check in. He was heartened to learn they'd managed to get all the students out of harm's way, reassuring the man that the students from SFIT, along with Kally, had also made it out of the building in time. He felt even more heartened to hear they'd released the students back to the hotel after questioning them at a secure location. The rest of the attendees were another question.

After talking for a bit longer, mostly to reassure the man, Tony ended the call. He threw his phone onto the neighboring couch cushion and let out a sigh. He knew he should make a few calls of his own before the night finished out. Chances were good the news of the bombing would reach New York sooner than later. Not wanting Kally's foster parents to think she was in any danger, he picked up the phone and made the first of several calls.

Chapter Text

The restaurant Cass had made reservations at was a nice, quiet establishment, nothing too fancy or flashy. And since it was a bit further from the hotel than walking would allow, Fred was more than happy to call a taxi to take them there. He'd balked at the idea of using the reservation but Cass had insisted. It was bad form to let something like that go to waste and the mascot knew it.

Kally was more than a little awed by the choice of venue. She'd never been to a real sit-down restaurant before, but she tried to pretend she had. The décor alone made the place seem magical, with the wait staff in uniforms of black pants, white button-down shirts, and matching bow-ties, even for the women. The black half-aprons only added to the effect. The fact that this was technically still more middle class than upper class was totally lost on her.

It took about five to ten minutes before they were seated at a comfortable table, Kally next to Honey Lemon and Fred next to GoGo. Despite the somewhat dim lighting, she could see more than adequately. There was even some kind of Spanish music playing from speakers overhead. And when the waiter placed menus in front of them, she only hoped none of the offerings included seafood, even though she could feel her auto-injector pressing against her thigh in one pocket. To her knowledge, most Spanish cuisine didn't contain the dreaded shellfish, though one could never be sure. That and she felt sure Cass wouldn't haven't made the reservation if she'd thought it would cause problems.

As soon as they were seated, Fred lounged back in his chair. "Just order whatever you guys want. I've got it covered," he said in his usual lazy manner. He was feeling pretty good, the small velvet box in his pocket pressing into his hip. If things went the way he was hoping they would, he'd be doing something significant with that box pretty soon.

Keeping in mind Kally's allergy restrictions, Honey Lemon skipped over any seafood options, just to be safe. Not that there were many. She finally settled on some enchiladas while GoGo ordered fajitas. Fred went for some kind of burrito combo while Kally decided to play it safe with the tacos. Since they were each going to get the traditional sides, there was more than enough food to go around, especially when Fred added an order of homemade tortilla chips and salsa.

With drinks dispersed, everyone began discussing the day's events in detail, minus anything that might get them in trouble if they were overheard. "I can't believe she got away with a plasma cutter in her bot," GoGo complained when Honey Lemon described that particular part of the day. "I thought those were against the rules."

Everyone looked towards the end of the table, where Wasabi might have sat if he were there. Honey sighed. "If Wasabi were here, he'd recite all the rules. But I'm pretty sure you're right. Hiro didn't stand a chance after Rachel brought that out. Do you think she was killed because of that?"

"I don't know," Fred shook his head. "My money's on someone getting mad that Hiro wasn't going to win."

Kally couldn't help but look up at that as she sipped her soda. They all had to take a moment while their server appeared with their orders, but once the man was gone, the teen couldn't help but comment. "Why would someone want to do that?"

GoGo played with her fork, bored expression on her face, with a hint of tired as she leaned against one hand, elbow on the table. "Gambling. Even though it's technically illegal, I'm almost positive there was underground betting going on. And since Hiro's considered some kind of unknown, I'm sure the odds of his winning made any bets more than worthwhile."

Fred nodded. "Exactly. But without knowing who was making the bets, we have no idea who to consider a suspect." He paused to take a few bites of his food while everyone mulled that over.

"It's too bad that one detective thinks Hiro's a potential suspect," Honey mused, completely unaware of the reversal of opinions on the detective's part. "Though I'm not really sure how well she'd like it if we told her there was illegal gambling going on, especially when we're not even sure if it is."

While they knew the chances were probably good, Honey had a point. With the building demolished, and no idea who would even be in on the betting pools, they really didn't have anything to offer. "Too bad we're superheroes and not detectives," Fred piped up before taking another bite of his dinner.

A blur of bright yellow all but flew towards them before the owner of the almost offensive jacket sat in the only vacant chair at their table. "Did I hear someone say they needed a detective?" Dirk Gently asked, looking way too excited at the prospect. It wasn't hard to imagine him like an eager puppy dog hoping to please its master.

GoGo let out a low groan. "Not you again," she sighed, getting odd looks from both Fred and Honey Lemon. "Guys, this is that weird detective we were telling you about earlier."

"Dirk Gently?" Honey asked with wide eyes. GoGo's descriptions of the man had not been exaggerated. His light brown hair and fair complexion would make him a good candidate in any fashion show, if it weren't for his goofy grin and far too casual demeanor. And his choice of colors. Those were a little odd.

Kally resisted the urge to leave the table. She didn't sense anything bad coming from him, but she still wasn't sure she liked him either. His initial greeting was, after all, not exactly the best. "I don't think we asked for a detective," she stated as she folded her arms across her chest.

Dirk shrugged one way and than the other. "Well... technically, you did." He spread his arms out as he spoke, as if to ask "what do you do?"

"I think he's right," Fred agreed. "We did kind of ask for a detective."

GoGo turned to face Dirk more fully, looking far from impressed. "I thought you said you were already looking into something." She missed the usual piece of gum in her mouth, which she'd taken out to eat.

The holistic detective gave a nonchalant shrug. "I did. I am!" he quickly corrected himself before leaning forward, elbows on the table. "I'm investigating Hiro."

"Wait. What?!" Fred exclaimed, almost choking on his beans and rice. Honey had to pound him on the back to help his mouthful of food go down the right way.

And Dirk just sat back in his borrowed chair, looking almost smug. "Yes, Hiro," he confirmed as he folded his arms across his chest.

GoGo slammed her hands against the table, causing more than a few other patrons in the dining room to jump. "What kind of bull crap is this?! Didn't we just get finished saying Hiro wasn't involved in Rachel's murder?"

"Yes," Dirk answered, looking almost amused by this turn of events. "You did. But I'm not investigating him for murder." He made the last word sound almost over-exaggerated while he looked like an over-dramatized puppet as he waved one arm in a circle in front of his chest. His expression turned to an almost incredulous grin.

The adrenaline junky found her patience growing thin. "Then why?" she challenged, resisting the urge to smack him again. They didn't need to get kicked out of the restaurant.

Kally chewed on the inside of her cheek, trying to understand everything. "When we first met, you asked us both if anything unusual had happened to us recently," she said slowly. "You seemed pretty sure we'd say yes."

Dirk nodded sagely. "I did, though I was aiming more for Hiro's reactions."

"Ugh," GoGo complained. "Your emotional roller coaster is giving me whiplash." She put one hand to her forehead to emphasize her point. She then glanced quickly around to see just how far along everyone else was with their meal. She was more than okay with the idea of getting a "to go" box for her leftovers and leaving.

Fred seemed to pick up on her impatience. "I hate to be the downer of the group, but we probably should be getting back. I'm sure the others will be wondering where we are." He signaled for the waiter, quietly asking for some take home containers, along with the check.

The waiter was quick to bring the promised containers and Honey began transferring her uneaten food to hers. "I still want to know what you want with Hiro."

Shaking a bit like he had a cold chill, Dirk watched everyone as they loaded their extra food into the provided cartons. "Oh, not me exactly," he tried to clarify. "The Universe. You see, the universe is interconnected. What effects one affects all. And that goes doubly so for your friend."

Now things were starting to make sense, GoGo thought as she mentally looked back on the past two years. Things had definitely not been the same since their encounter with the Makt. And there had been some comments made about how Hiro could essentially be considered something akin to a god after everything that had happened to him, DNA change and all. "So, what does the Universe want with him?" She'd finished packing up her stuff and now stared at Dirk with arms crossed over her chest while she waited for Fred to pay the check.

"I'm not entirely sure," Dirk admitted, though he didn't look at all put out by the idea. "You see I generally don't know how everything goes together until it all suddenly clicks. It's like a giant puzzle with all the pieces scattered at random. The Universe directs me to each piece. They don't always seem to go together but they all fit in the end."

Kally nodded. It made a certain kind of sense, though she couldn't help but wonder, like GoGo, what the Universe wanted with Hiro. He'd been through enough, from what she could tell. And she didn't even know half of what her friends did about the matter.

Fred signed the receipt with a flourish, showing his usual jovial face as he pocketed his credit card. Inside, he was wincing a bit as the velvet box bit into his thigh once more, reminding him of what he'd planned on doing until Dirk had shown up. Any mood that might have been conducive to his asking a certain question was now ruined. He let out a bit of a sigh, his shoulders slouching over. It was probably just as well. He knew Hiro would want to be there to see it happen. Until then, he had to keep up appearances.

They all made their way to the exit, Dirk following behind them, looking like a little boy trailing behind something entertaining. The others tried to ignore him, though it wasn't easy. Honey hailed a cab while GoGo slipped a piece of gum between her lips. Fred carried a bag with all their "to go" boxes in it.

Thankfully, it didn't take long to hail a taxi. Honey slid in first, Kally right behind her. GoGo had to encourage Fred to get in. And by the time she slid into the last available seat, it became quote obvious there would be no way Dirk could follow them in. Instead, he gave a cheerful little wave, along with a "see you later!"

GoGo let out a sigh of relief as the cab pulled away from the curb. "That was close," she said, not bothering to look back, unlike Kally. "Guess it's back to the hotel and bed. I'm beat."

No one commented as they made their way back through the busy night life.

Jack couldn't help but look a combination of shocked, appalled, impressed, and just incredulous as Cass unfolded the events between when he'd last seen Hiro and the present. To say Hiro had been put through the mill, along with his friends, was an understatement. And now he completely understood why the Doctor had asked him to check in on the lad.

"I wish I had more details I could give you," Cass apologized. She glanced over at the now empty plates, which the others had helped her finish off, and then turned her attention to the other man in the room. "I'm sure Loki can tell you more since he was there with Hiro and Kally, apparently."

Suddenly in the spotlight, Loki froze. He managed to smooth it over with a quick chuckle. "About that, it's true I was able to infiltrate the base without anyone the wiser. And when I found the two of them in dire states, I couldn't very well leave them to fate so I intervened." He found he didn't really want to get into any details while Jack was there. There was just something about him he wasn't quite sure if he liked or not.

He was saved from having to make any further comments by a sound of knocking at the door. Cass straightened from her perch on the first mattress. "Were any of you expecting someone?" she asked, not sure what to make of the sudden intrusion. But when the knocking sound came again, she got up to answer the door. She noticed Loki secreting himself behind the wall nearest the bed, ready to strike if necessary.

Feeling more than a little out of her element, Cass reached for the privacy lock on the door. "Who is it?" Her hand rested on the little latch, unsure if she should release it or not.

"Cass? It's me. Kally."

The woman breathed out a sigh of relief and quickly unbolted the door so she could open it. "Hey, Kally," she said, a little too quickly as she ran one hand through her hair. "I thought you guys were going to call before heading back." She stepped out of the way, indicating the teen should follow her inside.

"About that," GoGo said as she followed behind Kally. The others weren't too far behind, having just stood off to one side. "We were accosted at the restaurant and decided to head back early." Seeing the two men in the room, GoGo blew an impassive gum bubble.

Fred had insisted they stop by hotel rooms to drop off food so he was able to appropriately show his surprise without fear of dropping anything. "Hey, um… Jack. I didn't think we'd see you again. And not here. I mean…"

Jack waved, looking more than a little uncomfortable. "Fred. Honey Lemon. GoGo." He missed seeing Wasabi but remembered that Cass had told him the man was in the hospital with a concussion. "And who is this?" He glanced at Kally, the only member of the party he hadn't been introduced to yet.

Kally gave a bit of a wave. "I'm Kally Carmichael."

The space captain gave her a piercing stare as he tried to evaluate what he'd been told about her with what he saw. "New member of the team?"

But Kally shook her head. "Not really. I'm just a fellow student hanging out for the bot fights." She wasn't sure how much the guy knew and didn't want to give him any more than she absolutely had to. If she was correct, this guy was the space captain who'd abandoned her friends after helping them defeat the exoskeletons. And if that were the case, she wasn't sure she really wanted to get to know him.

Sensing that things were a bit more than awkward, Cass clapped her hands together. "Right. I wanted to talk to you anyway, Kally." She moved closer to the teen. "The detective in charge of the murder of your friend says you can't stay in a hotel room without adult supervision so I offered to share my room with you. I hope that's okay with you."

While not entirely unexpected, it did put Kally in a bit of a spot. She wasn't sure how she felt about sharing a room with Hiro's legal guardian, but the alternatives didn't bare thinking about. Banner wouldn't share a room with someone he wasn't related to. And there was no way Stark would do either. She somehow thought the police probably wanted to keep her close, since she at least sort of knew Rachel before her untimely demise. "I guess that's okay," she sighed.

Honey moved to give her a hug, noting her slack shoulders and down-turned lips. "I'll help you get your stuff," she offered.

There was one upside to sharing a room with Cass, Kally decided as she followed Honey Lemon out into the hall. She'd be that much closer to Hiro, if for no other reason than to help keep an eye on him.

"You handled that a lot more diplomatically than I would have," Loki admitted as he watched the door close behind the two young women. "I still haven't decided if I like that detective or not. Her companion is by far the more interesting of the two." He didn't mention how he'd spent an evening of sorts with the devil only the night before. In retrospect, it seemed like such a long time ago after considering all of the day's events.

Jack laughed like he'd told a joke. "That's Cass Hamada for you." He seemed to preen a bit, like he was trying to show off his muscular structure as he jutted out his chest just a bit, hands on his hips. He gave a bit of a head nod, with a knowing grin.

Loki rolled his eyes in disgust. The longer he knew the man the more he decided he didn't like him. It was like watching a peacock preening in front of a mirror. He was just as stuck up. The only problem was the man was good looking and he knew it.

"Um, hey," Fred spoke up, breaking the sudden silence. "How's Hiro doing? He still asleep?"

Cass, Loki, and Jack exchanged glances, the two men remaining silent. It was up to the aunt, after all, to inform them of whatever she chose. "He was, last I checked," Cass confirmed. "It's probably best to let him keep sleeping."

Fred nodded. "Yeah, you're probably right."

GoGo glanced over at Cass, sure she was holding something back. But her face remained impassive as she popped a gum bubble, her arms crossed over her chest. "I think we should visit Wasabi in the morning," she stated, changing the subject.

"I think that detective and her partner might want to ask you guys a few questions," Jack spoke up, knowing how things worked. "Since you were there, you might have some insights the others missed."

GoGo pushed away from her position against the wall next to the door leading to Hiro's room. "Whatever. I'm going to bed." She gave a bit of a wave before heading out the door.

"Guess that means I should probably turn in for the night too," Fred said with a bit of a frown. He placed one hand in his pocket, fingering the velvet box inside. Things had definitely not turned out how he'd like them to. Part of him wondered if he should just carry the box around until another opportunity presented itself but wasn't sure. Not hearing any comments either way, Fred followed behind GoGo, heading to his room across the hall.

Loki frowned as he stared at the now closed door. "And then there were three, though I can't help but think that it might not be a bad idea for everyone to turn in." He would, of course, wait until after Kally was safely situated with Cass before heading up to his suite near the top floor.

Looking around, Jack debated. He didn't exactly have a place to sleep but somehow doubted Loki would be willing to share a room with him. He could always just zip on back to home base and come back in the morning, though part of him wanted to be close by in case something else interesting happened. "I'm going to see if Fred needs some company," he decided, noting the look of disapproval on Loki's face.

Honey and Kally returned at the same time Jack headed out. There was only a moment's confusion while the two young women entered the room and the space captain left. "Looks like everyone's turning in for the night," the Latina observed. She gave a bit of a wistful smile. "Guess that means I should too." She stayed long enough to make sure Kally was set before heading out.

Now in the presence of both Cass and Loki, Kally clung to her suitcase like a lost child. "Um…" she began, but wasn't sure what to say.

"I think I'll be turning in as well," Loki stated, sure Kally was in good hands. He certainly liked Cass a lot more than he did Jack or even Lucifer. He resisted the urge to pat Kally on the head on his way out, only glancing back once before closing the door behind him.

Cass let out a sigh. "I guess we should follow their example, though I'm sure you'll want to settle in a bit." She bit her lip as she looked around. She'd claimed the bed closest to the bathroom the night before but was more than willing to change if Kally requested it.

Still not sure how to take the situation, Kally put her suitcase on the bed nearest the window. "I just need to change into my pajamas and brush my teeth," she informed.

"Go right ahead," Cass said, indicating for her to take first dibs on the bathroom. "I'm going to go check in on Hiro." While Kally headed to the smaller room, she ducked into Hiro's.

The light was off, as expected. And Baymax stood watch over her sleeping nephew. "Everything all right in here?" Cass inquired. She noticed the sandwich quarter they'd left there earlier was now gone. Hopefully that meant Hiro had actually eaten it and not thrown it away or put it in the fridge.

Baymax blinked at the proprietress. "Yes," he replied. "I made sure Hiro ate something before ingesting more pain medication. He has been asleep ever since."

Cass gave the robot a nod. "Good. Let me know if anything else happens, okay?" When she got an affirmative answer, she ducked back into her room where Kally had already slipped under the covers of her borrowed bed. "Night," she said as she turned off the overhead light before searching for her pajamas as well.

Chapter Text

Morning light tried to filter in through the thick curtains of the hotel room. Despite the thick fabric, the sun's light was still able to lighten the room enough to stir Hiro from sleep. He groaned as he rolled over onto his back, the blanket pulling with his movement. His hair stuck out at all angles and his head throbbed with a dull ache.

"Good morning, Hiro," Baymax greeted as he noticed his young charge was now awake. "On a scale of one to ten, how would you rate your pain?"

Hiro let out a big yawn before scrubbing the sleep from his eyes. "Three?" he replied in a groggy voice as he rolled to a sitting position. One thing was certain. He definitely felt better than he had the night before, even if his head did still hurt.

Baymax waddled a bit closer to observe his patient's vitals. "That is an improvement," he related. "How is your appetite? Would you like something to eat?"

Unlike the night before, Hiro actually felt hungry and his stomach growled to prove it. "I would love something to eat," he replied, sliding his feet onto the floor. He tilted a little too far forward and almost fell into the other bed but Baymax was there to catch him. "Thanks," he said absently as he regained his balance.

The robot observed him as Hiro made his way around the side of the bed and towards the mini fridge near the bathroom. He winced a bit as he knelt to better see what was inside, his muscles sore from the day before. Almost absently, he grabbed at the first thing, which happened to be one of his aunt's fudgy brownies.

"Perhaps it would be wise to start with something more appropriate for a morning meal," Baymax observed. "I recommend oatmeal or a muffin."

Hiro couldn't help but chuckle at the robot's tone. "At this point I should think you'd be happy that I'm actually hungry," he quipped. It had been a bit of a fight to get him to eat even a quarter of a sandwich the night before. But he'd done it, grumpily aware that if he didn't, any pain medicine he took would only make him feel more nausea.

Baymax seemed to contemplate that for a moment, his head, and part of his body, tilted to one side. "I see your point," he finally admitted as he straightened up. He did note that Hiro grabbed a small bottle of milk, which alleviated some of his concerns. Perhaps, with some coaxing, he could later persuade the teen to add some fruit to his morning meal.

Hands now full, Hiro got up and closed the fridge with a nudge from one foot. He then made his way back to the bed, choosing the one he hadn't used for sleep. The comforter was still intact, instead of disheveled all over the place, and would make a better place to eat while watching some television when compared to the other mattress.

Grabbing for the remote, Hiro made sure the volume was turned down low so he wouldn't disturb his aunt next door. He didn't even bother picking a channel, just going with whatever came on first. He then turned his attention to unwrapping the brownie and opening the milk.

A news program showed on the television screen, a female news anchor sitting in front of a squared off video of the bombing from the day before. Since the volume was down so low, Hiro couldn't hear what she was saying but the closed-caption option was activated and he caught the occasional word.

"Looks like they still have no idea who did it," he sighed as he broke off a corner of his brownie. While that was important to note, he still wasn't sure where he stood with the whole investigation. As far as he knew, he was still considered a potential suspect. At least he was as far as the various comments he recalled were concerned. That meant he'd have to face off with the detective again. Hopefully, this time around, he'd be more aware and able to handle himself without having another episode.

Baymax turned to watch the screen as well. "It would appear that no one has yet claimed responsibility for the incident," he agreed.

Hiro ran an agitated hand through his hair, forgetting it was now sticky with fudgy brownie. "Arg! This is so frustrating! There's clearly something going on but I have no idea what or who's behind it! And if I don't know that, how can I fix it?!"

Looking more than patient, Baymax blinked at his patient. "Perhaps it is not something you can fix," he reasoned. He did not the dark crumbs now stuck in the teen's hair. "Perhaps you will feel better after you have had a chance to shower."

The teen finished off the brownie, wiping the excess off on his clothes. He looked down, realizing what he'd done the moment he'd finished. "Ugh. I think you're right," he sighed. "Maybe I'm just thinking too much."

"Order and cleanliness can help bring clarity of thought," Baymax offered.

More than getting the hint, Hiro got up, sweeping excess crumbs into his hand, which he deposited into the trash, along with the wrapper and empty milk container. "I'm going. I'm going," he grumped, not in the mood for much of anything.

The robot watched him as he grabbed a set of clean clothes and headed for the bathroom. He didn't wince or shudder as the door slammed. Though he did turn to scan the adjoining room to see if the noise had disturbed its occupants. He was more than aware of Kally's transition to Cass's room. Well, if Hiro's antics had woken them up, he'd find out soon enough.

Wasabi woke to the sound of a heart monitor and pressure against his face and extremities. His chest also felt tight, and his head throbbed. He moved to press one hand against his aching temple, making the bedding rustle.

A door opened and someone pushed aside the curtain separating him from the rest of the room. "Oh good, you're awake," a brisk female voice stated as a nurse in light blue scrubs appeared. "You had quite the incident. How do you feel?"

The engineer took a moment to evaluate himself, missing the sound of Baymax asking that same question. "I definitely could be better," he answered. "My chest is tight and I'm sore pretty much all over. He looked around the room, certain he was in a hospital, though he wasn't entirely surprised. The last thing he remembered was Kally calling out a warning before something had smashed into his head. "How long have I been out?"

The nurse checked his vitals, including flashing a light in his eyes to make sure they dilated properly. "According to your chart, you've been unconscious since you were admitted yesterday afternoon." She made a few notes on her tablet before helping Wasabi adjust his bed so he was sitting more upright. "The doctor will be in shortly to make sure everything's okay."

Wasabi winced as the nurse left, leaving the curtain open. "Now I know how Hiro felt," he said to himself. Now if only they'd let him go. He felt sure the others would need him.

Morning light filtered in through the windows of the penthouse at Lux. Lucifer sat on one of the many couches, nursing a drink. His five o'clock shadow appeared more untamed than usual. The night had definitely been longer than he was used to, not that he hadn't had a good time. He had.

The night had taken a most unexpected turn when one Jack Harkness had shown up at his door, quite literally. He'd definitely not expected that. And how the man had gotten in past Maze was anyone's guess. But when the man confessed to not having a place to stay for the night, well, he'd been more than accommodating.

Maze twirled one of her demon blades as she contemplated the man. "Looks like you had a fun night." Her smile winked mischievously in her eyes as she toyed with the blade.

Lucifer shook himself, sitting up so he could put his half-finished drink down. "What? Me?" He feigned innocence, feeling more than a little worn out. Not really in the mood to play around, he quickly dropped the act as he slumped back against the cushions. "Yes, well I suppose you could say I had a lovely time. That Jack fellow tells some of the most of interesting tales. Part of me can't help but wonder if any of them are true. Magic blue boxes that travel through time and space? Hah!" he scoffed.

If there was one thing that was certain, Jack Harkness certainly had a flair for storytelling. It was just that Lucifer wasn't sure that he could believe all he'd been told. The man certainly had his share of adventures to be sure. The question was just how much had they been embellished?

"And just where is your little guest now?" Maze inquired, looking only mildly interested. She still fingered her blade, like she wasn't sure if she was going to use it or but that either decision would be more than fine with her.

The devil waved an errant hand towards the bedroom. "Still in bed for all I know." His devil-may-care tone spoke a bit of frustration. The man could certainly hold his liquor. And, for once, Lucifer thought he might have met his match, but the captain had eventually succumbed to the alcohol, though it certainly had taken a lot of shots to get to that point.

Maze let out an amused snort. "You got him stone dead drunk, didn't you?" She nodded slowly, confirming her own words as a snore came from the area in question. "And here I thought you were trying to seduce him."

It was Lucifer's turn to let out a scoffing snort. "While I do find him attractive, I wouldn't dream of being so reckless. After all, if he has been through time and space, one never knows just how many beds he's slept in."

He made a good point, Maze supposed as she dipped her head in a sort of acknowledging shrug. "That hasn't stopped you before."

Lucifer gave her a look of long suffering. "Look, I'm not about to share my bed with someone who may very well have done you know what with pretty much every species in the universe. It would be like having sex with my mum."

Maze laughed. She couldn't help it. The look on Lucifer's face was so absolutely repulsed it was amusing. "The way you went on about him early last night, I would have thought you'd be more than willing to give it a shot." She seemed far too amused by the idea.

The devil got up from the couch in a bit of a huff and reached for his robe, which was strewn over a neighboring chair. "Yes, well that was before I learned just how much he's gotten around. A devil has to have some standards."

"I love it when you pout," Maze gushed, her tone more than condescending. "Reminds me of why I decided to join you up here in the first place. After all, I could have very well stayed in the Under World."

Lucifer rolled his eyes. "You know you would have come anyway," he retorted as he pushed his arms through the sleeves of the silken garment. "But since you are here, would you mind getting rid of that monstrosity currently occupying my bed? I don't care how you do it. Just get it done."

The smile that filled Maze's face could only be described as mischievously devilish. "Of course." She gave a bit of a feigned bow, a look of anticipation crossing her face. "This should be fun."

Chapter Text

Kally woke to the smell of brewing coffee. It wasn't exactly her favorite smell, but was certainly better than others. She stretched as she sat up, yawning. "Morning," she greeted as she rubbed at her eyes.

"Morning," Cass greeting as she poured a cup of the brew into one of the insulated paper cups the hotel had provided. "I hope I didn't wake you."

With the tournament arena pretty much blown to smithereens, they didn't exactly have anywhere they were supposed to be. And no one had yet mentioned travel plans to return back to their respective places. Cass supposed that was more because the police wanted to figure out who had murdered Rachel Amesbury before they let anyone go. That and she knew her nephew wouldn't truly rest until they'd figured out what was going on with the bombing.

Kally shook her head. "No," she assured. "The smell of the coffee woke me." She slid off the bed and headed to the bathroom, toothbrush in hand. If she had her way, she'd get a shower in while she was in there. Even though she'd had a quick shower the day before, she still didn't quite feel clean.

"I can pour you a cup, if you like," Cass offered, tilting the urn just a bit in the direction of her young charge.

But Kally shook her head. "No thanks. I'm not really a coffee kind of person. But if you happen to have any cocoa or tea, that would be nice. But first I need a shower." She headed back to grab some clean clothes before closing the door to the bathroom.

Cass gave a one-shoulder shrug. "Fine by me. Means more coffee for me." She put the urn back on the brewer and sipped at her cup. Not quite satisfied, she added some powdered creamer. It wasn't quite her usual but it would do.

In the bathroom, Kally got in the shower. She was tempted to soak in the tub, mostly since it was so large, but decided it best to just shower. Ten minutes later, she was drying her hair on a towel, wearing a fresh set of clothes. Part of her wished for a blow dryer but wasn't sure she should use the one in the room. One never knew with those things. Well, there was nothing wrong with letting it try naturally, she supposed.

By the time she got out of the bathroom, Hiro and Baymax had joined the party. "Morning," Hiro greeted. He felt much better after having taking his own shower. And he was now eating some breakfast pastries his aunt had provided. Baymax had insisted.

"Morning," Kally returned as she looked at the mix of muffins and pastries still out. There was definitely something to be said for sharing a room with Aunt Cass. She was a wonderful cook and she told the woman as much.

Cass waved an errant hand. "Oh stop it!" she mildly protested, more in jest than anything. "If Gordon Ramsey can do it, so can I."

Hearing the famous chef named, Kally couldn't help but look questioningly at Hiro. "Do you know Gordon Ramsey?" She thought she caught Hiro smirking but wasn't sure because the next moment she looked, he had a straight face.

Hiro's aunt chuckled. "Do I know Gordon Ramsey? I beat him in an underground cooking competition! I got to take his knives. They were really good knives too. His Nana had good taste."

Not able to hold it in any longer, Hiro burst out laughing at the look on Kally's face. He knew his aunt could get all into the tale if he let her. "Oh man!" He wiped away at some laughter tears. "You should see your face!"

Kally rolled her eyes before looking back over at his aunt. "Did you really beat Gordon Ramsey in a cooking competition?" Her expression said she wasn't sure she bought it, but she was willing to give the benefit of the doubt.

"Absolutely," Cass confirmed, looking more earnest. "Along with over a dozen other chefs. I went out one night looking for Hiro. He was probably on one of his missions, though I don't really know which one. I thought he might have gone bot fighting again so I went to Good Luck Alley to see if I could find him and accidentally stumbled onto the venue. The guys guarding the door thought I was competitor so I just rolled with it."

It was a decidedly watered-down version of what had happened but Hiro supposed it could have been worse. "And she's been in contact with him ever since, right, Aunt Cass?" He gave her a knowing look.

The woman nodded. "We swap recipes every now and again. In fact, he's using one of my dessert recipes for his new restaurant." She sipped at her second cup of coffee for the day, stirring in more of the sweetener when it wasn't quite right.

"So…" Hiro drew out the word as he watched Kally eat her muffin, "did we have any plans made while I was out of it? Or are we just hanging tight until something else happens?"

"GoGo, Honey Lemon, and Fred expressed an interesting visiting Wasabi at the hospital," Sammy spoke up from Kally's phone. "As he is currently reported as being awake, now would be an ideal time to visit."

Cass and her nephew exchanged looks. "I suppose it would be a good idea to see how he's doing," she hazarded. "After all, he is one of your team, and a part of this family. I could get his van and we could all drive over, if you wanted."

Strictly speaking, Wasabi might not be too keen on the idea of them driving his van without him being there, but Cass had proven she was a good driver. At least as far as the OCD man was concerned. "We could do that," Hiro hedged. He'd want to check in with the others about that before any decision was made, but it was certainly something high on the priority list. "But what about that detective lady? Won't she want to talk to me again? I don't think we really had a chance to finish our interview."

Hiro wasn't exactly keen on the idea of talking with Detective Decker again but knew it would probably be better to get it done and over with sooner than later. Maybe it would help clear his name, because he'd gotten the impression he was at least considered a person of interest in Rachel's murder.

"About that," Cass said as she put her mug down, "she and her partner actually dropped by last night to offer an apology. Apparently they were misinformed of your involvement. That and they didn't read you your rights so they legally couldn't do anything. I think they also found proof you weren't involved."

This was news to Kally, though she couldn't help but feel a sense of relief. She let the air out of her lungs, wincing only slightly as the scabs on her back pulled. They'd be healed in another day or two but still hurt a bit.

"Your injuries appear to be greatly improved this morning," Baymax observed, witnessing her discomfort.

Kally gave a firm nod. "Yeah. I keep trying to tell everyone I heal faster now but no one seems to believe me."

Cass shook her head. "After everything that happened this last spring, I'm convinced. There's no way you should have healed that quickly." Part of her wished Hiro had developed the same ability. It certainly would have helped speed things along, but she supposed there was a reason for him not having it.

Before they could get too far on this line of thought, however, a knock sounded on the door. "I'll get it," Hiro stated as he finished off his Danish, wiping his hands on his cargo shorts. He opened the door, looking more than surprised at the person behind it. "What are you doing here?!"

Heaving his cry of shock and outrage, both Cass and Kally jumped to their feet to see what was going on.

"Hello!" Dirk greeted cheerfully from the doorway. He gave an exaggerated wave with one hand as his contagious smile quirked at every corner of his face.

Kally let out a heavy sigh. "Oh. It's you again. I wondered when you'd turn up again."

Still not sure what was going on, and quite perplexed about her nephew's reaction to the young man in the yellow jacket, Cass couldn't help but look confused. "What's going on? Who is this man?"

Before either teen could introduce the Brit, Dirk moved into the room, extending his hand. "Dirk Gently. Pleasure to meet you."

Cass's eyes went wide. "Dirk Gently? The same Dirk Gently that accosted my nephew in the pool the other night?" Her voice rose as she spoke, her brows darkening.

"Well, yes," Dirk replied, too late to realize that was the wrong answer. He managed to flinch at the last possible second as yet another fist landed across his face.

To say Cass was livid would be an understatement. Her eyes flashed as she went at him again. "How dare you accost my nephew!? Do you have any idea how much trauma you caused?!"

Hiro stared, appalled by this sudden turn of events. "Aunt Cass! Aunt Cass!" he reached for her arm, trying to keep her from inflicting more damage on the now downed man. "I told you! He didn't actually do anything to me! It's fine! I'm fine!"

Cass snorted in anger, looking more than ready to dish out more physical punishment on the man. "How could you!? Hiro's still just a child!"

Dirk let out an almost girlish wail as he flung his hands up over his head, his knees pressed against the ground in an effort to try and stave off further violence. "Please don't hurt me anymore! I didn't touch your nephew! Honest!"

"What Dirk Gently has said is true," Baymax inserted. "He did not actually touch Hiro."

Only slightly mollified, Cass let out a big harrumph as she straightened her clothes. "That had better be the truth!" she warned. "Or I'll do more than give you a sound beating."

The holistic detective cringed again. "I swear! I didn't touch him!" When nothing immediately happened, he risked looking back up. Cass was still fuming but she now had her hands on her hips so he slowly unfolded himself and stood up. "I really don't know what caused you to have such a violent reaction but I'd really appreciate it if you'd all just stop. I'm only here to help the situation!"

"Your efforts do not appear to be effective," Baymax observed.

Kally just shook her head. "Turns out we might not need you after all," she commented. "From what I understand, they don't think Hiro's a murder suspect anymore."

Hiro gave her a look. "I didn't know I was one." While he'd definitely thought he was considered a person of interest, he certainly hadn't thought they'd think him something more sinister.

"I'm not sure they ever did," Cass spoke up, hoping to defuse the situation. It wasn't good for Hiro's mental health to think things were something more than they were. Besides, they'd already determined he couldn't have been involved.

Dirk gave a funny kind of shrug of his shoulders. "Either way, that's not why I'm here. Didn't I tell you last night? The Universe has business with Hiro. I just don't know what yet. But I'll find out. I always do." He smiled in a rather self-satisfied way, more than pleased with how things were going, aside from the additional red mark on his face. It would go away eventually, though he supposed this one might actually bruise.

For whatever reason, his smile made Hiro feel uncomfortable and it showed on his face as he gave an almost grimacing smile. "Yeah, cuz we can't have the universe plotting new things against me." He swung one arm in front of his chest, hand in a loose fist. "Oh wait, it's already messed with me more than enough, so you can just go tell the Universe to keep whatever plans it has for me to itself. Okay?"

"Hiro!" Cass protested. His tone was far from satisfactory, though she supposed, given the circumstances, it wasn't entirely unwarranted. But that wasn't the point. It was still rude.

Before Hiro had a chance to defend himself, another knock sounded on the door. The teen looked over, his expression almost pained. "Now what?" he said, mostly to himself.

Kally went to answer the door, stepping back in surprise. "Mr. Stark. I didn't know you planned on checking in on me."

Tony stepped into the room, bypassing the anxious teen without as much as an actual invitation to enter. "I didn't exactly," he stated, hearing the door close behind him. "I came to talk to Hiro and his team about yesterday." Spotting the individual in question, he continued into the room. "Just what were you guys thinking? Do you have any idea just how risky a stunt that was you pulled? No one here knows who your group is. Chances are more likely you'll be thrown in jail for being a vigilante than being thanked for saving the day."

Cass cleared her throat to let him know the two teens weren't the only ones in the room with the billionaire.

Hearing the sound, Tony looked over at her location near the end of the second bed. "Oh, hey Cass. Didn't see you there." Then he turned back to Hiro. "What do you have to say for yourself?"

The headache from before was definitely returning, Hiro decided, and he put one hand to the bump on his head, wincing a bit as he did. It was still quite tender. "I can't vouch for the others," he stated. "I wasn't there when they made the decision to go in. As for myself, I was asked to go rescue one of LAPD's people by Lucifer Morningstar so don't even start. Besides, you know our mantra, 'someone has to help'. I don't care if it's in a place where we might get arrested."

Iron Man gave him an incredulous look, his jaw almost hanging down to his chest before he changed his expression to a grim look of disapproval. "And what about your aunt? What would it do to her if you did get arrested? Did you even think this through?"

Cass cleared her throat once more. "I'm still here," she reminded, noting the slight look of pain on her nephew's face. "And I was more than aware of his activities yesterday so don't get all high and mighty on him. He's not your nephew, nor are you his father, so back off."

Tony resisted the urge to cuss, one fist balling up before he made himself relax. Cass was right. He wasn't related to Hiro in any way shape or form. All the same, he still couldn't help but feel some semblance of responsibility for him. He gave her a curt nod before returning his attention to Hiro once more. "I'm sorry," he apologized almost grudgingly. "I just wondered if you had any idea what kind of trouble this could cause in the future. It's not like San Fransokyo. The people in Los Angeles don't play."

Hiro decided it best to ignore the man's remarks. Instead, he moved around him so he could reach the door separating his room from the current one. "Aunt Cass, I think I'm going to go lie down again. And maybe take some more painkillers."

A look of concern filled his aunt's face as she realized just how much he was hurting. "Do you need me to get anything?"

But Hiro just waved his hand as he slipped through the doorway, Baymax following behind him. He closed the door on his side, far more quietly than he might have normally.

Sure her nephew wasn't in the immediate line of fire anymore, Cass rounded on Tony. "Just what do you think you're doing?!" she complained. "How dare you come in here like you own the place? Do you have any idea what he went through yesterday? Did I worry about his going out in gear? Yes! But it's not your place to say anything!"

Tony pinched the bridge of his nose. He knew she was right. Of course she was right, but he wanted to get across the point that they couldn't just go out and about like that, not here. It took him a moment to realize what she'd said about Hiro's day. "Wait. What don't I know about yesterday?"

Dirk chose that moment to move into view, waving. "Hello," he greeted. "Um, maybe I should come back later? It seems like you have a few things to sort out with this chap so I'll just let myself out." He backed up towards the door, running into Kally before correcting himself and heading out the door.

"Who was that?" Tony asked, only now realizing the British man had been there the whole time.

Kally moved to take up a spot on the bed she'd claimed the night before. "Dirk Gently," she answered. "He's taken some kind of weird interest in Hiro, though no one's really sure why."

Cass ignored his confused look, stopping him before he could ask anything else about the man. She wasn't ready to deal with that particular headache yet. "I'm sure you're aware Hiro was accused of potentially being involved with Rachel's… death," she couldn't quite bring herself to say murder, "yesterday." She didn't need to see his nod of affirmation to know he had. "What you may not know is that while he was being detained, he had another episode. And shortly after that, the bombs started going off. In fact, we got caught up in one and he was injured. It was Mr. Morningstar who helped dig us out. As a favor, Hiro went to rescue one of his colleagues. And that is why he was out there. As for the others, you're going to have to ask them because I don't know, other than that they felt a need to help."

Kally chose to remain silent during this whole exchange, knowing that if her involvement had been discovered, she'd more than get an earful from him on the matter. After all, he was technically considered her primary guardian while on this trip, even if she wasn't staying with him.

"I take it Mr. Morningstar is aware of Hiro's superhero identity then," Tony stated.

"Yes," Cass admitted. "Though I somehow doubt he's going to go out and tell everyone. He promised to keep it a secret."

If there was anything Tony could say beyond a shadow of a doubt, it was that Hiro and his aunt were not making things easy on him. "Can you at least promise me to talk to him about keeping a lower profile?" he requested. "I know he thinks he knows what he's doing, but this is a different ballgame. And he's still recovering. I'd hate to see him get hurt."

"You and me both," Cass agreed. She filed his concerns away for later contemplation. "Now, unless you need to talk to me about something else, I think we were going to head out to visit Wasabi in the hospital."

The reminder of the man's fate brought Tony back from whatever thoughts he'd moved onto. "That's right," he recalled. "I remember hearing he'd been caught in the initial blast. How is he?"

"A few cracked ribs, nasty concussion," Kally spoke up. "Lots of bruises. But it could have been worse."

Tony nodded, more than aware of what could have happened. "I'm glad he survived mostly intact then," he said as he looked at his watch. "I should be going. There's another press conference about the bombing and they've requested I be there for it. But before I go, I wanted to let you know we're making plans to send you and the other NYU kids home."

Cass walked him to the door, more than ready to move onto something else. "We don't want you to keep the press waiting," she stated as she opened the door. Part of her thought his idea of sending people home was a good idea. Potential plans started to form in the back of her mind to do the same with her group but were quickly rejected. Wasabi wasn't in any condition to move and she knew her nephew wouldn't rest until they got to the bottom of the matters at hand.

Almost absently, Tony exited the room with only a short goodbye, adding an admonishment for Kally to behave herself until they could send off.

"Thank goodness," Kally breathed as soon as the man was out of sight. "I'm so glad he didn't mention anything about me being out there in that mess. I really don't need my foster parents to know about that. And though I'm sure he means well with his plans, I'm not exactly happy about him wanting to send me away either."

Cass nodded, remembering their original plans. "I'm just going to check on Hiro really quick and then we can get the others before heading to the hospital." She wanted to make sure Hiro wasn't in need of more than Baymax's care before heading out, hoping his headache was more a reflection of Tony's insensitivities than from anything being seriously wrong.

Chapter Text

Sharp pain flashed across Jack's face and his eyes flew open to the sight of a woman in dark leather sitting straddle on his chest. It took him a moment to remember who this woman was, though he had no idea why she was where she was. "Hello, Maze," he greeting in a somewhat bemused tone.

"I wondered how long it would take you to wake up," Maze replied, a gratified smile on her face, with hints of mischief laced into it. "For a human, you're wonderfully resilient." A curved blade flashed in her hand as she spun it on one finger.

Jack put one finger up to the point of pain on his face. It came away bloody, the smile on Maze's face confirming what she had done. "If you wanted to play dirty you should have told me," he said, forcing himself to relax. He had no idea what she had in mind but not angering her seemed like a good idea. He'd seen her hurl a man across the bar only the night before, not even breaking a sweat over it, and wasn't about ready to test her strength against his own.

Maze scoffed. "As if. I was only taking out the trash." With that, she swung her leg back over his chest, freeing him as she got to her feet.

A look of confusion scrolled across Jack's face. "Trash? You make it sound as though I'm not wanted. What happened to all the laughs and drinks? I thought Lucifer and I were getting along."

Now far from amused, Maze moved a good distance away from her captive. "Yeah, you were, until you let slip that you've pretty much done it with every species in the galaxy. He may be the devil but he does have his standards."

Jack propped himself up by his elbows and looked around. "I suppose I can't fault him on that." He definitely was not in the same room he'd fallen asleep in, he decided, which told him he'd been moved. In fact, it kind of reminded him of a seedy motel. The only problem was he was only wearing his boxers and there was no sign of his clothes. But at least he still had his vortex manipulator firmly strapped to his wrist. "One question. Why didn't he tell me this last night?"

Maze scoffed, trying hard not to laugh. "You were so out of it after your fifth tequila that I'm sure no one could have gotten anything through that thick skull of yours."

More confusion filled Jack's face. "I can usually hold my liquor," Jack mused. "That must have been some potent tequila to knock me out." That or someone had laced it with something, which was also possible. He may be "immortal", but his body still reacted to different chemical substances. But it was also possible he'd just had way too much drink. After all, tequila wasn't the only alcohol he'd had last night.

"So now what? Usually when people say they're taking out the trash, it means something a bit more than stripping the person down and leaving them in a seedy hotel." He watched her with more curiosity than wariness. Still a complete unknown, he wasn't sure what to make of her. She definitely was not the typical woman.

Maze shrugged. "Tried that," she admitted, curved blade still in her hands. "More than a few times. After the fifth time, it got kind of old. Though it does make me wonder how you were able to come back from the dead no matter what I did to you."

Jack shrugged. "Beats me. After the Daleks got me on that space station, I didn't think I would come back, but then I did. And I've had a problem with dying ever since." He'd gotten a few more details from the Doctor about the matter but wasn't about to share them.

"Daleks?" That was likely the only space creature the man hadn't mentioned having sex with, which begged to question what made them distasteful to a man who obviously didn't care what he was sharing his bed with.

A sigh escaped the space captain's lips. "Long story. But if you'd be kind enough to return my clothes, I'll be on my way." He looked around, hoping they'd turn up somewhere.

Maze took up a seat on the questionable-looking mattress, legs spread, one on either side of the corner she chose to perch on as she rested her elbows on her knees. "Can't do that," she said in a matter-of-fact tone. "In fact, those boxers aren't even the original ones you were wearing. Those got destroyed when I burned your miserable corpse after slicing her neck. I found those in this hotel room."

Jack got up in a hurry with that announcement. No wonder they didn't quite look familiar. "That's pretty disgusting, you know," he pointed out. But at least he wouldn't have to go out in public naked, not that he minded too much. But he knew there were a lot of people he'd have to answer to if he did. Then again, he needn't deal with them at all.

Maze smiled at his tone. "That's the point." She slipped her weapon back into whatever part of her clothing she kept it hidden. "And while you may know the others Lucifer is interested in, I really suggest keeping your P's and Q's to yourself because he's more than willing to make sure you get a one-way ticket to Hell, even if you aren't actually dead when you get there."

He somehow knew this threat wasn't an empty one but chose to not let it bother him. "I'll keep that in mind, not that I'm into children." He somehow felt he knew who she was referring to. And there was no way he'd go after Hiro's friends, even if they were technically adults. "But speaking of the others, I should probably go check in on them."

Jack edged towards the far end of the room as he spoke, making sure no one was going to jump out at him, which seemed to amuse Maze even more. He flipped open his vortex manipulator, a bit surprised it hadn't been destroyed in the supposed fire that had taken his clothes. Well, he had added a few safety measures so maybe that explained that. All the same, he was more than ready to head back to the hotel to check in on everyone. But first he needed to retrieve some clothes and so put in the desired location as quickly as he could.

"I wish I could say it was a pleasure," Jack said, "but the jury's still out on that. You're not the first person to try and kill me multiple times."

Maze gave him a dry look. "Why am I not surprised?" But before anyone could make any other comments, Jack activated the manipulator and vanished from view. The demon let out a sigh of her own before standing. Well, she could say that, for all intents and purposes, she'd removed the trash. It wasn't her fault if it showed up again later.

Cass tapped her fingers on the steering wheel of Wasabi's van. It was easier to drive it than to call for a taxi, which would likely cost a lot more than she'd care to cover, what with there being five of them going. Hiro hadn't felt up to it so Baymax was staying behind with him. And she'd asked Loki to check in on the two to make sure they were okay.

"You'd think the traffic would have died down a bit," the woman complained. Even though the drive to the hospital wasn't a long one, traffic seemed to be at a standstill as various drivers slowed down as they passed the now destroyed arena. Like a moth to the flame, the destruction still garnered the attention of those who hadn't been there the night before, but this was getting absolutely ridiculous.

The proprietress honked the horn impatiently as the van crawled forward. "It'd almost be faster to have Baymax fly us over," she muttered, getting several looks from her passengers. She glared back at them.

"Maybe you should try taking some calming breaths," Honey Lemon suggested, looking more than a little nervous. It wasn't that she thought Cass would get them into a wreck or anything, but she knew this was most likely the woman trying to get all her frustration out over recent events.

A spot opened up just a few car-lengths down and she took the right hand turn. "I sure hope this gets us out of this mess," Cass confessed. It wasn't strictly in the direction they wanted to go, but they'd hopefully be able to correct that once they'd gotten a few miles away from the hotel.

"Look out!" Fred called out as a pedestrian tried to run across the street right in front of them.

Cass slammed on the brakes. Thankfully, they weren't going fast enough to really cause any whiplash, though it was more than enough to catch half of them off their guard. GoGo let out a bit of a grunt as she almost swallowed her gum. "That was unexpected," she quipped.

"Is everyone okay?" Cass asked, her face showing shock. She wasn't sure if she dared turn around or not, but when the sound of the side door sounded, she couldn't help herself.

Dirk Gently peered into the vehicle. "I'm so glad you stopped for me! Wasn't sure if you would." He slid into the nearest available seat, right next to the door he'd opened, and closed the door. "But now that I'm here, we should be off."

GoGo stared at him like he was some kind of alien. "Did you just seriously do what I think you did?"

The man smiled, giving a little wave to Cass. "If you mean purposely walking in front of a moving vehicle to make sure it stops, then yes. Yes I did. I had to get your attention somehow." He gave her one of his classic "well duh" expressions. "How else was I going to get in this car?"

Someone honked, causing Cass to start. She gave the offending driver a dirty look before moving back into traffic. Now that they were on a side street, the going was much quicker. "Why did you want to get into this car?"

"I should hope that was obvious," Dirk said with a bit of a funny laugh. "To learn more about Hiro, of course."

Fred couldn't help but look confused. "But Hiro's not here."

Dirk nodded. "Oh, I know. But how else can I get to know more about him if I don't investigate properly and talk to his friends?" He waved a finger under Fred's nose, turning to do so as the mascot was sitting in the back row.

Honey wrung her hands. "I know you're trying to be a great detective, but this doesn't exactly follow how you told us you work. I thought you followed the flow of the universe."

"Oh, I do," Dirk agreed, nodding firmly. "And the Universe told me to come with you, wherever it is you're going."

Cass let out an exasperated sigh. "Look, I'm not sure what you intent for my nephew, but I promised myself I'd keep an eye on you. So I guess you can come with us. Just don't get in the way."

Dirk looked more than pleased with this turn of events. "I promise," he said with an assertive nod.

GoGo rolled her eyes and Cass put the car back into the stream of traffic, which seemed to move a lot better now that they'd got everything set and sorted.

It was a relief to go into the other room where Tony wasn't. Sure the man was trying to help, but he was going about it in the completely wrong way. And his comments about needing to tone things done didn't help much either. It wasn't like he was unaware of the consequences, or his own physical condition. As much as everyone kept reminding him about it, it was hard to ignore, even if he wanted to.

Hiro did have a bit of a hard time ignoring Tony's voice as it came through the wall. He was surprised everyone on the floor couldn't hear him. He was being quite loud in his adamant way. And even though Hiro knew the man was just trying to help, to make sure they were taken care of and out of harm's way, he also knew that wasn't going to happen. For one, Hiro's group wasn't going to back down from what had happened. Too many people had been hurt. And for another, Kally wasn't the type to back down either. No, they weren't going to allow Tony to send any of them away, nor where they going to let him cow them into submission in the guise of "keeping them safe."

The teen let out a sigh of relief when he heard the door close, signifying that Mr. Stark had left his aunt's room. He was only mildly prepared to see his aunt enter his room to check in on him. Even though he'd said he needed to lie down more as a way to get away from Tony, he knew his aunt wouldn't be able to keep herself from checking on him, just in case. He hadn't been lying about needing to take something for the returning headache.

Cass didn't stay long, just long enough to assure herself that Hiro was okay. She then promised to have Loki look in on him, mostly because Baymax didn't count as an adult and they couldn't just leave him to his own devices. There were rules about those kinds of things, apparently, that were more strictly enforced in Las Angeles than back home.

As soon as the door closed, Hiro got to his feet. He still felt a bit off from the day before, though it wasn't unexpected. Baymax watched him as he began to pace. "Can you believe that guy's nerve? Trying to tell me what to do as if he was…. "He let out a sigh, not wanting to finish the sentence. He'd been about to say 'my dad' but the thought of Tadashi had overruled that, because Tadashi was pretty much the only father figure he could really remember.

He slumped back down onto the bed, back bent so his chest hung over his knees, feet dangling from the mattress. "I'm not a kid anymore," he stated. "And if you count all those repeated timelines, I'm technically a lot older than he is, so how does he get the idea he can order me and my team around?"

"Annoying, isn't it?" Loki spoke up from the corner. He'd come into the room without anyone the wiser, except for maybe Baymax. And he now sat in the chair on the other side of the room, wearing a similar dark suit to the one he'd worn the day before. "He thinks he knows a lot more than he actually does, much like my brother, Thor." He let out an ironic laugh, cutting it short as he leaned forward. "I was thinking that, if you're up to it, we could go and look into a few things."

Hiro looked up at that, somehow not surprised the god of mischief had landed in his room without so much as a knock on the door. This was Loki, after all. "What kind of things?"

Loki tilted his head to one side. "Well, there is the small matter of who really murdered your opponent from the tournament." He looked almost thoughtful as he mentioned that incident. "And then, of course, there is the potentially completely unrelated bombing of the same building. The two could be related, mind you. But there's no way to know for sure if you continue to sit in the dark, feeling sorry for yourself."

"I wasn't feeling sorry for myself!" Hiro protested.

But Baymax moved back into prominence. "I would have to disagree," he inserted. "Your body language would indicate a sense of guilt over recent events. This may have been brought about by Mr. Stark's words reminding you of your actions."

Hiro rolled his eyes. "Thanks a lot, Baymax." He let his body fall back against the bed. "He had no right to essentially chew me out for helping. It doesn't matter that this isn't San Fransokyo. Someone had to help and he sure wasn't in any position to do it."

A slow smile spread across Loki's lips. "But you're forgetting that he's living with his own sense of guilt over what happened the last time you were together. I'm not condoning what he said. And while I can't believe I'm saying this, it wouldn't hurt to look at it from his perspective. To be perfectly honest, I do think you went a little overboard. But then Tony has an uncanny way of making you feel guilty about doing the right thing as well."

The teen snorted as he propped himself up with one elbow. "Just whose side are you on, anyway?"

"At the moment?" Loki gave him a knowing smile. "Whichever best suits my needs. And right now my need is to understand what is going. I'm sure you need the same thing. So are you coming or not? I say we start with this Lucifer character. I happen to know he owns a club not too far from here. Since the streets are likely to be filled with the morbidly curious, it might be easiest to walk. I'd suggest flying, but that would put you and your team at greater risk as people will be looking for oddities. Anonymity is a powerful ally."

Chapter Text

Tony resisted the urge to snort loudly, not in mirth but in anger. He stared at the detective with one part determination, one part disbelieve, and one part incredulity. "What do you mean you won't authorize the removal of the NYU students? I thought I made myself quite clear as to my reasons for sending them home."

Chloe Decker stood from her desk, her face showing a resolve she hadn't felt moments before, but now couldn't help but encouraging due to the irritation this man caused. "And thought I just told you the answer was no." Her tone was no less decisive. Part of her had the temerity to compare this man to Lucifer and his stubbornness, though she supposed the man was more used to getting his way simply because he was a national icon than because he seemed oblivious to how the real world worked.

"I'll go all the way to the top over this," Tony warned, his expression mirroring his sentiments. He actually pointed a finger at her as his mouth turned down into a deeper frown.

The detective looked up from the paperwork she'd momentarily glanced up, hands smacking against her desk. "Go as high up as you want," she all but taunted. "But it won't do you any good. Those students are key witnesses in an ongoing investigation. And if you think you're veiled attempts to remove Kally Carmichael from the area are lost on me, then you obviously need to reevaluate who you're dealing with. The answer is no. The Mayor will tell you no. Even the president of the United States will tell you no."

"We'll see about that," the Iron Man warned as he waved his finger at her before turning on his heels and storming out of the precinct.

Slow clapping came from behind the nearest partition as Lucifer walked around it. "Bravo, Detective. That was quite the performance. You certainly showed him."

Chloe rolled her eyes as she straightened up the papers on her desk before resuming her seat. "I'm not sure what he's trying to pull with a stunt like that. He should know I can't just let anyone go who is part of an active investigation. Just who does he think he is anyway?"

Lucifer found her anger endearing and it showed in his smile. "But, Detective, I thought I told you, a billionaire, genius, playboy. Weren't you paying attention?"

"I kind of had a lot of other things on my mind," she reminded him. "Such as a murder investigation. Oh, and then there were the bombs." She gave him that special look reserved just for him when he was being more than impertinent. "You'd better not forget that. And we're still no closer to figuring out what's going on than we were before."

The Devil's smile turned to a look of concern. "No clues, I take it. Nothing at all? You'd think someone would have tried to take responsibility for something like that by now." His attention turned inward as he thought about this more than a little troubled with the possibilities.

Chloe let out a heavy sigh. "Ella dusted the weapon for prints a million times and hasn't been able to find a single one. Not only that but the prints she was able to lift from that scaffolding came from the same person who's been maintaining the facility for years. So unless he's involved, we're back to square one, with no real understand as to why. Unless you know something I don't." She gave him a pointed look.

Lucifer set down a paperweight he'd idly grabbed. "I don't think I like your tone," he admonished, looking more than a little hurt. "What could I possibly be hiding that would help with this investigation?"

Her expression only seemed to intensify as she looked up at him. "Just because I didn't say anything about the underground betting going on at that competition doesn't mean I wasn't aware of it," she stated, arms now crossed over her chest. "Just what were the odds that Hiro Hamada would win?"

A bit taken back by this sudden line of questioning, Lucifer straightened his clothes. "If you must know, the odds were not exactly in his favor. For winning, that is. In fact, his odds were placed at about ten thousand to one."

"Meaning..." Chloe couldn't help bot look thoughtful as she digested this information, "someone stood to make a great deal of money if he won." She stood abruptly. "Lucifer, I need to see a record of all those who bet on that match."

Lucifer took a large step back. "What makes you think I have them? You know I don't like to get my hands dirty."

She gave him a meaningful look. "Yes, but you likely know who has them. There's no need to hide it. I'm not ignorant to your extracurricular activities."

The Devil let out a sigh of his own. "Very well, Detective." He swept an arm outward, indicating she should precede him. "Let's get this over with."

The room was a bit crowded with all of the well-wishers, but Wasabi was more than pleased to find he'd been remembered. He just wasn't sure about the strange man who'd somehow managed to tag along with the rest of his friends. He did notice the absence of Hiro and Baymax but was reassured the teen was back at the hotel, resting.

"Are you going to introduce your new friend?" the physicist asked as he watched Dirk messing around with something on a neighboring bed table.

GoGo gave an over-exaggerated roll of her eyes as she glanced over at the man in question. "Ugh. I'd almost managed to forget he was here," she admitted as she slumped over Wasabi's bed table. Thankfully, they'd basically ordered him to do nothing more than say hello before entering the hospital. It made it easier that way.

"That's Dirk Gently," Fred introduced with a bit of a grimace.

Dirk looked up with a wave and a smile. "Hello!"

Honey gave an almost pained smile. "We're not exactly sure what to make of him yet," she admitted.

Wasabi could tell there was more going on than what they were sharing. "So, what about what happened back at the arena?" he asked, hoping that would cause less emotional distress for his friends.

Cass looked around at the Big Heroes this time, biting her lip. Just how much should they tell him about events? A lot had happened in such a short amount of time. Not only that, but she remembered when Hiro had broken his ribs, among many other injuries, and how giving him bad news hadn't helped with his recovery. "Well," she began, "I'm sure you know there was a bomb."

"Kinda hard to miss that one," GoGo muttered under her breath, having been there with Wasabi and Kally when the first bomb had gone off.

The café owner paused to give GoGo a look. "After that, there were a few more bombs, which the team helped with when it came to evacuating people. Oh, and Kally's roommate was murdered."

Wasabi's eyes went large at that and his breath hitched in his chest. "What?!" The monitor gave an almost alarming jump in its displayed numbers, reminding them all that if Wasabi didn't keep relatively calm, they'd all get kicked out for overexciting the patient.

GoGo gave him an impassive look. "Oh, believe me, it gets worse," she assured him. "At first they thought Hiro was the one who killed her so they took him in for questioning. Luckily," she held up one hand to stop anyone else from interrupting, "they decided he was innocent. But I'm sure he's still on the hook because he was a witness. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't want any of us going anywhere."

Kally looked up at that. "Um, that might be a problem," she hedged, glancing over at Cass. "Cuz Mr. Stark came by this morning to tell us he's trying to find a way to send at least me home. That and he told Hiro he needs to be more careful about letting the team out in the open. He seems to think it a bad idea for people to see you guys." Part of her wanted to include herself in that number but since she hadn't been made an actual member of the Big Heroes, she didn't feel right doing so.

"Is that true?" Honey asked as she also looked towards the café owner.

Cass exhaled loudly as she nodded. "Yes, it's true. He did say that, though Hiro didn't exactly take it well. That's really why he decided not to come, though I'm sure the resulting headache was excuse enough."

Hearing that, Wasabi couldn't help but try sitting up more, which only caused him more pain. "I can't believe this guy," he said as he settled back against the pillows. "Just who does he think he is?"

"Iron Man," GoGo said with a roll of her eyes. "It was the same thing when we were out in New York. Remember?" She struck a pose, both hands on her hips. "You guys are too young for this. You should leave it to the professionals," she mimicked.

Fred gave her a bit of a look. "You know he didn't say that."

Honey worried her lip. "Maybe not in so many words, but that's the basic idea, isn't it? The only reason they let us help rescue Hiro and Kally was because we refused to be left out."

It was hard to not give a bit of a mirthless laugh. "You're darn right we refused," GoGo stated with an emphatic bob of a gum bubble. "As much as he's got this great reputation, we still really don't know much about him and how he operates."

Cass listened to this exchange with some amusement and it showed on her face. "You know, you might be able to say the same of him. He doesn't know you guys very well. He hasn't had the same opportunity I've had to get to know you guys. All he's had to go off of it what he's heard or read in the news. It's a two-way street."

"You're so right!" Dirk exclaimed, all but jumping in his excitement. "It is a two way street! Maybe that's the answer I need!" And before anyone else could comment, he ran out of the room and down the hall.

Wasabi's mouth went slack and it took him a moment to restart his brain before he glanced around at his friends' almost disinterested reactions to the man's hasty exit. "Is there something wrong with that guy?" he finally asked.

"You have no idea," GoGo replied as she popped another gum bubble.

In the end, Loki saw the logic of calling for a cab. With Baymax more than insistent that he join them, something Loki admitted was probably a good idea, he'd decided it was probably a good idea to keep the due out of the limelight as much as possible. Baymax was anything but hide-able, and it would take too much effort to camouflage him as something else, knowing people would still probably bump into the balloon-like marshmallow. No, it was easier to just take a taxi instead.

Thankfully, by the time the trio were ready to head out, traffic had thinned a bit. The police had barricaded a larger stretch in an attempt to keep the traffic manageable. Only those staying in the hotel, or working in the immediate area, were allowed, minus a few cab drivers sent to pick up a fair. All the same, they did have to walk down the block to meet their ride. But it could have been worse. They could have had to walk the entire way there, which might have been a bit of overkill considering Hiro's head really did still hurt.

"I still think it would be wiser to have some kind of medical practitioner take a look at you," Loki commented while they rode in the back seat of the slightly larger than usual taxi. This one was actually a minivan of some kind, though it decidedly looked smaller from the outside than it did inside.

But Hiro shook his head. "I'll be fine," he sighed. "If there really was anything to worry about, Baymax would let the both of us know. Right, Baymax?" he turned slightly to look at the robotic nurse.

The robot blinked expressionlessly at the two males. "Of course. Aunt Cass has asked that I add a fail safe to my protocols. In the event I do not deem you physically, or mentally, capable of determining your ability to function normally, I am to alert her immediately."

"A wise woman," Loki nodded in approval. "No doubt it stems from having to deal with such a trouble-making nephew." He gave Hiro a knowing look.

Resisting the urge to squirm, Hiro glanced up at the driver, who seemed to be ignoring them, but one could never be sure. "Remind me again what we hope to accomplish by visiting this friend of yours?" He didn't want to mention names, or potential connections, in the off-chance the driver wasn't legit.

Loki dithered a bit. While it was a bit on the curiosity side, he did hope to gain some further insight, feeling that Lucifer Morningstar might hold some kind of means to helping them get to the bottom of the matter. "I'd like your perspective on the matter," he finally answered. "You have such an unusual way of looking at things that I thought it might help." He glanced meaningfully at the driver, feeling the man was paying far more attention to his passengers than was necessary.

Taking the hint, Hiro settled back against the seat, arms folded across his chest. "Yeah, I guess. I mean, for an old guy like you, you do tend to miss some things." He gave the god of mischief a partial smirk. "Just so long as your friend doesn't offer to buy me a drink, I think we'll stay out of my aunt's cross hairs."

"Old?" Loki was so very tempted to be mortally offended by that comment. By Asgardian standards, he was actually quite young, a teenager almost, pending on who you asked. But he caught the glint of mischief and decided not to rise to the bait. "It's not like we're actually going to stay long," he sighed.

Baymax didn't say anything, not entirely sure where this exchange was going. But, like the Asgardian prince, he'd noticed the driver's attention diverting more than was typical. Deducting that the others didn't want to give anything away about why they were visiting a night club in the middle of the day, he wisely decided to keep his thoughts to himself. At least for the time being.

The first order of business for Jack Harkness was to find a set of clothes. And since he had his vortex manipulator, it wasn't all that hard to achieve. He just quickly nipped over to his usual place of residence, grabbed the easiest and quickest change at hand, and nipped back over to Las Angeles, albeit in a different location than the one he'd woken up in.

It was unfortunate that the clothes Maze had disposed of, in whatever manner, had been some of his favorites, but he'd had many a favorite over the years and supposed there was no helping it. He'd have had to replace them at some point in the future anyway. That did mean he needed to do a bit of shopping though. Unfortunately, that meant he had to decide which was the more important, shopping or figuring out what was going on.

Taking a moment, Jack realized he hadn't exactly materialized where he thought he would. Instead of appearing at the hotel, or even Lux, he'd somehow managed to pop up near a shopping center. And standing not too far away from him was a man dressed in a shockingly yellow jacket. "Now who on earth would wear something like that?" he wondered out loud. Curious, he decided to investigate.

The man in question appeared to be looking for something, or was, at the very least, puzzled about something. "Can I help you with something?" Jack asked. When the stranger looked up, he couldn't help but nod in appreciation at the young, almost boyish face.

"Oh, hello," Dirk Gently greeted. He looked from side to side as if trying to decide which way to go before settling a more even gaze in Jack's direction. "I don't suppose you know the way to the hotel where those bot fighters are staying would you? You see, I seem to be a bit lost and can't figure out which way to go."

Almost, but not quite as good as a damsel in distress, Jack was more than willing to step in. "The hotel where the bot fighters are staying? You don't happen to mean the one next to the arena that got bombed yesterday, do you?" He gave him a calculating look, not sure what he wanted with such a place.

Dirk's eyes lit up like a kid at Christmas. "Yes!" he gave a little excited jump. "That's the one! I've been trying to find my way back there ever since I left the hospital but it's been a bit difficult. No one seems to either know what I'm talking about or have been willing to give me directions. Some of them even called me some rather not nice names questioning my intelligence." He looked almost affronted at this admission.

"You were just at the hospital?" Well, that might explain a few things, Jack thought as he eyed the unusual behavior this man exhibited. But who was he to leave someone in distress? Especially if they had some kind of connection to Hiro and his group, no matter how tenuous. "I do happen to know the way," he admitted after Dirk nodded. Maybe he'd hit his head and was still confused from the blast the day before. In which case, it was his duty to help the man out. And since he was obviously not exactly in his right mind, he wouldn't try any funny business. "Were you one of the competitors?" He knew they'd been sequestered inside, well, at least those staying at the hotel had been asked not to leave just yet.

Dirk gave a funny hunch of his shoulders as he laughed. "Oh no. I'm not that good with those kinds of things. I'm actually an acquaintance with several people staying there, one Hiro Hamada and his friends."

Jack had begun to lead them in the right direction, stirring his new companion to the sidewalk when he had to stop upon hearing that name. "You know Hiro Hamada?"

The holistic detective gave an almost giddy conspiratorial look. "Well it does only make sense since I am investigating him." He gave a knowing look, as if Jack should know what he was talking about, momentarily forgetting that this was the first time he'd met the man. "Oh! But I haven't introduced myself!" he realized as he straightened up, fumbling for a card inside his jacket pocket. When he couldn't seem to find one, he simply offered his hand instead. "Dirk Gently, Holistic Detective."

Not sure what to make of this turn of events, Jack gave him a more calculating look from head to toe. "Holistic detective?" He couldn't help but look skeptical, somewhat familiar with the term. "And what does a holistic detective have to do with Hiro and his friends?"

Dirk smiled happily, like he was having the time of his life, as he shrugged his shoulders. "Oh, nothing much. I'm just investigating a little matter for the Universe."

Jack looked from side to side without moving his head, not sure if this guy was touched in the head or not. Either way, it would probably be safer to keep an eye on him. "Okay," he said slowly. "I'm not exactly sure I know what that means but I'm more than willing to listen while we walk."

Reminded that they were standing in the middle of the sidewalk, and possibly making a spectacle of themselves, Dirk gave a little start. "Right!" He fell into step as Jack moved forward once more. "It all started five days ago when I got the sudden urge to visit California."

Chapter Text

Tony fumed. There was no other way of putting it. Things were definitely not going his way. After stopping by the precinct to politely request the reasonable removal of his college-age charges, he'd been oh so firmly, and rather rudely, been denied. And, following through with his threat of taking things to a higher power, he'd headed to the city offices, demanding an audience with the mayor.

He supposed he could have just called, but it was so much easier to not be ignored when he was standing right there in his full billionaire glory. And it had worked. Not only did he remind the mayor that they owed him for helping with the whole bomb debacle, but he emphasized the necessity of removing the students in his charge. It didn't help that the woman in charge insisted on calling up the police chief to verify the facts.

The end result was that Tony was more than frustrated with the results. After careful negotiations, they'd agreed to release all of the students, minus one, the one he really wanted to get out of there. The others, even the police chief could agree, had nothing valuable to offer to the investigation. All he had to do was wait for Bruce to pick up the release papers verifying the students in question were free to go. Why they insisted on doing that was beyond him, but someone had to sign for them, he supposed, even if those in question weren't minors anymore.

"Sir," JARVIS spoke up from the car speakers as the man made a sharp right turn into a less busy street. "May I remind you they are perfectly in their right to deny your removing Kally Carmichael from the area? While she was not there to witness her roommate's murder, it is possible word got out that she was somehow involved in rescuing people from the building before it was demolished."

Tony scowled. "That's what I'm afraid of," he admitted through grit teeth. "That and what her foster parents will say if anything else happens to her."

"Those are valid concerns," JARVIS had to admit. "However, until the authorities have cleared her to leave the area, there is no point in worrying further about it."

A loud sigh escaped the billionaire's lips. "The last time I "didn't worry" about her, she and Hiro got kidnapped. While that's not exactly likely to happen, I still want to make sure nothing like it ever happens again. She's currently my responsibility and I intend to make sure she stays out of harm's way."

JARVIS knew it was pointless to argue. Trouble would come and go regardless of what Tony tried or didn't try to do. That was just how life worked. But at least he'd gained a small victory and the AI reminded his creator of such.

Tony pulled up to his apartments and shut off the car's engine. "JARVIS, I know you're trying to help, but just stop, okay? If you really want to help, you can contact my pilot and tell him to get the plane ready so we can take at least most of those students back to New York before anything else happens."

"Of course, sir."

Leaning back against the headrest, Tony closed his eyes, hoping nothing else would go wrong before he could at least get that bunch back home.

Thanks to traffic, it took a little longer than originally planned to reach Lux, but they finally arrived. Loki made a mental note to not travel again during rush hour traffic, at least not by car. But it was still morning, which meant there shouldn't be any other patrons around to cause problems.

Hiro couldn't help but look in awe at how tall the building was. "Mr. Morningstar owns this entire building?" If that were the case, it would certainly put the man up there in his estimation of wealth.

"To be perfectly honest, I couldn't tell you," Loki replied as he made sure the cabbie was well on his way. He was half tempted to try a memory charm on the man but decided against it. "This way, please." He headed towards the side entrance instead.

Unlike the night he'd visited the establishment, no bouncer or long line of potential club goers stood in their way. Instead, Loki charmed the lock open, forgoing Hiro having to pick it. It was better if the youth didn't leave fingerprints on anything like that. It might get him into more trouble.

Navigating the hallway and stairs, Loki led Hiro and his robot down to the club floor. The lights were dim, with none of the strobes going off, though there were some giant projection screens showing the silhouettes of curvy women sensuously dancing placed nearer the bar. The teen tried to avert his eyes, glad there were no actual details on the dancing projections. Baymax made no comment.

A woman stood behind the bar, her back turned as she wiped off a glass. "Bar's closed," she stated in an almost resigned voice. But when she turned around, a smile split her face. "Oh, I didn't realize it was you at first." She gave Loki a meaningful look, which he ignored. "And you brought a friend." She looked a little less approvingly at Hiro before turning back to put the glass away. "Lucifer's not here, if that's who you're looking for."

"Perhaps," Loki responded, as suave as ever. "But would it be possible to have him come here? I do have some business I need to discuss with him."

Maze rolled her eyes as she set her cleaning cloth down. "I suppose I could call him, but he's out with that detective woman so it might be a while."

Loki took up residence on one of the stools facing the bar, indicating for Hiro to do the same. "We'll wait."

"Suit yourselves," Maze replied, trying to sound disinterested. She took the opportunity to glance at the marshmallow robot, rolling her eyes. She'd never seen anything quite like it but supposed there was no helping it. The thing seemed attached to the teen. Judging from the close proximity it kept to him, she couldn't help but wonder what its purpose was. Maybe it was like a teddy bear. "I'll be back."

If there was one thing that was certain, the kid smelled unusual. Not like how Loki smelled, but definitely not classically human either. She needed to make sure Lucifer was more than aware of this development, though she wasn't sure who the kid was just yet. But she'd find out. She was good at finding things out.

Chloe pursed her lips, looking less than pleased with events. True to his word, Lucifer had taken her to the bookie they'd used at the student bot fight. The man wasn't entirely happy about the intrusion as he nursed something that smelled of vodka. The fact that the man hadn't exactly escaped the arena unscathed probably hadn't improved his temper either. And now to have Lucifer essentially betray his anonymity, well, Chloe couldn't exactly blame the man for not wanting to cooperate.

"Look," she sighed, "I'm not interested in throwing a racketeering charge at you. All I want are the names of the people who bet on the fight between Hiro Hamada and Rachel Amesbury."

The bookie gave Lucifer a wry glance as he set his glass down on a nearby table. "I really thought we wouldn't have to do this," he admitted. "I thought you were looking out for me. I thought you were—"

"Save it," Chloe said in her best stern cop voice. "All I want are those names and I'll forget you even exist."

Lucifer gave his pseudo friend a sincere nod. "The Detective is a woman of her word. I'd take her up on that offer if I were you." He had his arms folded across his dark, Burberry suit jacket, looking as dashing as ever, even though he tried to look just as stern as the detective.

The man let out an over-exaggerated sigh and wormed his way to his feet, bypassing the coffee table in his living room. Lucifer really ought to have known better than to bring a cop to his actual digs. "All right! All right! Let me get my book." He strode into the back room, closing the door behind him.

"Should I follow him in there?" Chloe wondered aloud. "He might try to run."

But the Devil scoffed at the idea. "Bernard, run? Did you not notice the considerable size of his girth, Detective? No, if he wanted to get away, he'd simply pull a disappearing rabbit trick. But, if you're really worried, I can go back there and make sure."

Chloe didn't have to answer as the door opened once more and Bernard came back through with a little black book in his hands. She noted he was careful to close the door behind him in such a manner as to make getting an accidental peek inside impossible. "Does that have the names?"

The bookie ignored her as he shuffled back to his chair, settling back into it with a grunt. He then began flipping through the pages until he finally came to the one he wanted. "Hamada and Amesbury was it? Good odds there. No one expected the kid to win. Well, almost no one." He gave a rough chuckle that turned into coughing. When it looked like Lucifer might be leaning over to offer assistant, however, he waved him away.

"The actual betters don't give me their names," Bernard explained. "And since it was at such an unusual venue, security cameras all over the place, we had them turn in their bets using little slips of unmarked paper through a system of runners."

Chloe nodded. "That way no one could tie the betting back to you or to them." It made sense. And with all the cameras they'd had installed, it made it a little less likely someone would catch them. But, if they knew what they were looking for, someone might be able to identify someone in that network of racketeering, and hopefully the person who'd made that fateful bet. It was the best lead they had so far in figuring out who had killed the girl.

Bernard reached for a small pad of paper and a pencil and began copying down the information from his book. He then snapped the book closed before anyone could get any ideas, slipping it between himself and the seat cushion. "Here," he said begrudgingly. "And no, I can't give you the original slip of paper used to make the bet. Once the bet was acknowledged, the slip was signed and returned to the initiator."

"Convenient," Chloe nodded. So much for the possibility of getting fingerprints on the culprit. If the person was involved. There was always the chance the person in question had just chosen to go against the odds in hopes of a big payout. But when she looked at the slip of paper Bernard turned over to her, her eyes widened. "A hundred grand?"

The bookie shrugged. "As you can tell, I'm actually quite glad they didn't win. I honestly don't have that kind of money readily available and somehow doubt they'd have taken an I.O.U., if you know what I mean." He gave Lucifer a bit of a wink that quickly turned into another fit of coughing.

Lucifer straightened his jacket. "Yes, well, if we're quite done, Detective, I would prefer we retire from this place." He gave a meaningful glance at the still coughing man in the chair.

"I take your point," she agreed as she slid the paper into an inner pocket on her own jacket. "Thank you for your time," she said, mostly to be polite, as she headed towards the door. Bernard, she noticed, didn't answer as Lucifer followed her out into the hallway of the decrepit apartment building. "Well, that didn't go exactly as I'd anticipated," she admitted.

Lucifer was about to answer when he felt a vibration coming from his pocket. He looked up in surprise but held up a finger as he slid the phone from its resting place. "Excuse me a moment, Detective," he requested as he accepted the call, turning to face away from his partner. "Yes, Maze? What is it?"

The club owner was silent for a good minute as he digested what Maze was telling him. "And you're sure? There's no mistake?" He paused for her to respond, a smile turning up the corners of his lips. "Oh! Well that is an interesting development. I'll be right there." He turned back to the detective as he ended the call, slipping the phone back into his pocket. "Maze needs me back at the club. I trust you can handle things from here?"

Chloe raised an eyebrow at him, arms itching to fold across her chest. "I take it something happened?" While it was true she could handle things, her curiosity was trying to get the better of her.

Looking a bit distracted, Lucifer blinked before answering. "Hm? Oh, yes. Someone showed up at Lux who needs to see me about a business arrangement. I'm afraid it really can't wait."

Still not sure what to make of this turn of events, not that it was uncommon, just interesting on the timing, Chloe gave a curt nod. "Fine. I'm heading back to the precinct to work on this lead. Do you need me to drop you off?"

The Devil shook his head. "Don't worry about me, Detective." He gave her one of his most charming smiles. "I'm perfectly capable of finding my own way back home."

Not wanting to push the subject, more because it would cause more frustration on her part, Chloe merely rolled her eyes. "I'll call you if anything comes of this," she promised before heading down the corridor. The case was primary. Besides, she needed to check in with her daughter, who'd been spending a lot of quality time with her grandma over the last few days.

Sure Chloe was well on her way, Lucifer checked his watch. While he'd ridden to the current scene with the detective, he was more than capable of hailing a taxi. Not wanting to lose another potentially delicious moment, he quickly headed in the opposite direction, knowing it led to the nearest taxi stand.

Tony looked back at the precinct with an air of annoyance. Sure he'd been able to get the paperwork promised, but it still didn't erase the unease and ire he felt that Kally was not to be included in his intended evacuation. He'd tried one last time to get the police chief to see reason, but to no avail. She sided with the detective and wouldn't budge no matter what he tried.

"Yeah," the billionaire said into his blue tooth, not bothering to pull out the actual cell phone. "I've got the paperwork. If you could get everyone together, I'd appreciate it. I've already arranged for the bus to pick everyone up and the plane should be ready by the time we all get there."

It wasn't the most ideal plan, but at least he could get the majority of the students back home. The flight plan had already been filed. He'd made sure of that before setting foot in the precinct. So long as they were there before noon, all would be well. It helped that Bruce was still at the hotel and had been on standby for this exact event. He'd probably already instructed the students in his charge to pack up their bags. Which meant he needed to get over there as soon as possible.

Happy stood outside the car, the back door wide open, waiting for his employer. "I hope you were able to get everything taken care of," he offered as Iron Man strode towards him. He got a grunt in reply, assuming things were status quo as his client slid into the vehicle. He quickly shut the door and headed for the driver's side. "To the hotel?" he inquired, just to be safe.

Tony gave a non-committal grunt. Where else would they head to at a time like this? He let out a sigh as Happy engaged the drive function and smoothly pulled out of the parking lot. Why did everyone in Los Angeles have to be so difficult?

Chapter Text

"And you're sure we can't get you anything?" Cass asked Wasabi as she sort of tried to herd his friends out the door. Hiro might be waking from his nap and she wanted to be there in case he needed her. "I still have half a basket full of baked goods if the food here isn't up to standard."

Wasabi waved, wincing a bit. "Nah. I'll be fine. At least they have the decency to make sure everything is separated." He didn't want to think of how that might affect his recovery if he had to deal with that disorder on top of everything else. "I'm sure they'll let me out in a day or two anyway. I can last that long."

GoGo gave him an impassive look as she chewed her gum, arms folded across her arms. Chances were good the man would be more than grateful to be released from the hospital back into his friends' care. "You heard the man," she announced with a nod of her head. "Let's get out of here before he changes his mind."

The others gave little waves as they left the room, Fred resisting the urge to try and give their OCD friend a big hug. Chances were good it would not be appreciated.

Honey let out her breath as the door to Wasabi's room closed. "Now what do we do? I have a feeling the police won't want us to go too far." She glanced over at Cass for confirmation.

"I don't know what they want you to do, but I think you'll be fine to go do some touristy stuff if you like," Cass responded. "I understand there are some really nice art museums nearby. So long as you all check in, I'm sure it won't be a problem." She smiled at her adopted family, well aware of Honey's artistic tendencies.

Fred nodded slowly. "We could totally go to a museum or two," he said thoughtfully. "And since none of us are really on the suspect list, I'm sure no one will mind." He glanced over at GoGo. "What do you think?"

The adrenaline junky popped a gum bubble as she leaned against the wall of the corridor so a nurse could get by with a tray of meds. "I could do a museum," she said in her usual noncommittal voice. "It's not quite the same without everyone there but it'll pass the time."

"Since I somehow don't think Wasabi would like any of you to drive his van, I'll just take it back to the hotel," Cass decided. "Do you need money for a taxi or a transit pass?" She'd seen the various bus stops on their way over.

Trying to make sure Cass Hamada wasn't putting out unnecessary money, Fred help up a hand, shaking his head. "I got this," he announced. "You don't need to worry about spending a dime on us, okay?" With luck, he might even come across an opportune moment to pull out that ring he still carried in his pocket. It wouldn't be the same without Hiro there to witness it, but he was sure Honey would catch the details on her phone for later perusal. If the opportunity arose that was.

Cass gave them a smile. "All right then. I hope you guys have fun." She gave a wave as she headed towards the parking garage where she'd parked the van. She only looked back once to make sure they were really okay before heading out of eyesight.

"Let's go find a taxi," Honey suggested. "It might be easier than trying to buy a bus pass. At least until we get back to the hotel and decide what else we're going to do while we're here."

Fred nodded. "I think I saw one this way," he indicated as he spun to face the opposite direction from which they'd come.

The two women shrugged as Fred moved off. Either the man was right or they'd have an adventure getting lost in the hospital, until someone could point them in the right direction.

Hiro resisted the urge to tap impatiently on the counter. They'd been there for a good ten minutes already. And sure, Loki didn't' seem to be bothered by the wait, but Hiro was getting more than a little antsy. At least Baymax was commenting on it, choosing to remain silent.

The teen hoped down from the bar stool and began to pace, trying to think through everything that had happened since they'd left San Fransokyo, not sure if it would all be related or not. But things had an interesting way of shaking out into some kind of pattern if he allowed all the pieces to kind of just mill around. In a way, it wasn't too dissimilar to a gold prospector sieving through tons of dirt to find the little nuggets of gold he so desired. Hiro just had to sift through information instead of dirt, though the two seemed almost the same in his mind, at least for the moment.

Footsteps sounded as Hiro went back and forth across the tiled floor. Every time he came to one end, he'd pause for a moment, hand to chin, before turning to face the opposite direction. Every now and again, he caught sight of Maze out of the corner of his eye. She was still behind the bar, wiping out glasses. And though she looked busy, he knew she was watching his every move.

"Why don't you tell me a bit more about your employer," Loki suggested, realizing where Maze's attention was focused. Knowing a bit about Hiro's process, he felt sure the scrutiny would not help him figure out whatever he was mulling over.

Maze set down the cup she'd been polishing, along with the cloth she'd been using. "What's to tell?" she asked in a somewhat brisk manner. "I followed him here from Hell and he keeps me busy with you mortals." She paused, reminded that Loki wasn't quite mortal. "Most mortals," she corrected.

The demon decided now was as good a time as any to go do a bit of research. If she wasn't too far off on her senses, she felt certain Lucifer had entered the building and would be joining them shortly. "Excuse me," she said before heading out from behind the bar and into a door leading into the back area.

"Of course," Loki said, watching her go. He could also sense the presence of their unusual host, wondering why he didn't just come straight to the club first. Well, gods were fickle things, not that Lucifer was a god, though it was almost as good.

Hiro paused mid stride, a look of confusion crossing his face, which was followed by a grimace of pain. Baymax immediately waddled over to his side. "Hiro?"

Hearing the teen's name called, Loki looked over at the youth, noting his sudden pensive stance and wrinkled expression. He was about to slide off his stool and head over when the sound of Lucifer's shoes filled the sudden silence, clacking down the stairs.

"When Maze told me I had guests waiting at the club, I wasn't entirely sure who all she meant," the fallen angel admitted as he took the stairs at a quick pace. "To what do I owe the pleasure of your company?" He paused at the bottom of the stairs, his expression changing as he caught a glimpse of Hiro out of the corner of his eye. "What's wrong with the whelp?"

The teen genius had decidedly gone pale and was visibly shaking. "I think I need to sit down," he admitted in a voice just as uncertain as his legs had suddenly become. Thankfully, Baymax was right there to assist him to the nearest booth, where he sank down into the cushioned leather. He winced as he put one hand to his head.

A look of concern on his face, Lucifer continued towards the boy, his stride not quite as buoyant as before. "Is this a result of that concussion from the other day? Do you think I should call for an ambulance?"

Baymax looked up from attending to his number one patience. "This is not a reaction to recent injuries," he stated. "Hiro is experiencing an unexplained phenomenon."

There was no other way to explain what was going on either. Hiro was not exhibiting the classic symptoms of a reintegrating episode. He was far too lucid for that. Nor was he reacting to any of his more recent injuries, as the robot had stated. But what Baymax could say was that the energy around Hiro had increased dramatically, much like it had when Q's energy had run rampant throughout the city of San Fransokyo.

Sensing the change, Loki jumped from his stool and strode over. "I can feel the difference," he agreed, closing his eyes briefly as Hiro began to pant. It was very much like that time back in the Hydra base. "It might be one of his abilities trying to activate."

"Activate?" Lucifer asked, not sure he understood what was going on. "Would you mind explaining what you mean by that?" Whatever was going on, Loki apparently had a better grasp on it than he did.

Hiro groaned as he moved to a more comfortable position, lying down so his feet stuck out from the curved bench he was on. His other hand went to his head as well as a spasm passed through his body. He was suddenly very dizzy, like he'd spun around too quickly and couldn't quite catch his balance. "Please don't be sick," he said aloud, talking more to himself than anyone as he closed his eyes.

It felt like he was suddenly in a tunnel, but not one made of any kind of physical substance. He'd done this often enough to realize it was energy, though it seemed far from stable. The whole quality of it felt fuzzy, like it was vibrating. And just as things had been the night before, he thought he could hear a sort of buzzing that was actually supposed to be words.

The sounds echoed down the long tunnel of nothing. And, just like the night before, he tried to focus on them, finding it more difficult than before. Maybe it was on a different frequency and he hadn't quite figured out which yet. Maybe there was too much interference. But, like he had last night, he pressed past the discomfort in his mind and tried to mentally turn the tuning knob to clear up the message. The effort left him feeling weak and drained, but he thought he got the message.

"Here," Maze said out of nowhere, thrusting what looked like a small trash can towards Loki. "Thought you might need this if he makes good on the symptoms he's displaying." She'd seen far too many people about to hurl to count. Usually those people had had a bit too much to drink, but the signs were unmistakable.

Almost as if prove her right, Hiro suddenly sat up, reached for the trash can without thinking, and proceeded to empty the contents of his stomach into it.

Lucifer took a step or two back, trying to control the look of revulsion on his face. It wasn't that he wasn't used to such things either, but the expressions passing over the boy's face were ones he didn't recognize, nor was the energy he felt coming off of him. The unfortunate thing was he knew there was absolutely nothing he could do about it but sit and wait for the teen to finish.

Baymax leaned towards his young charge as the stomach spasms eased. "Hiro?" he inquired, his black eyes looking more earnest than usual.

Still not focusing on the world around him, Hiro just kind of stared into space like he was looking at something else that required all of his attention. His breath still came in panting gasps, though he was doing his best to manage that. "I need to warn Stark," he said between breaths. "He can't leave."

Loki looked confused. "Why would that matter?" Part of him liked the idea of Tony leaving. It would make things easier on him.

Hiro just shook his head, something that did the headache behind his eyes no favors. "He… can't… leave. Something's wrong." He looked towards Loki with a steady gaze that was still not focused on anything in the visible world.

The god of mischief almost took a step back to join Lucifer, but he didn't. There was something wrong with Hiro's eyes, and it wasn't just the glazed over look. They'd changed colors. Instead of the usual muddy brown, they were now almost as blue as the tesseract. He absently reached for his cell phone, forgetting he didn't have the number for Tony, nor would he use it if he did have it. There was just something behind those eyes that made him want to obey.

"I will contact Mr. Stark," Baymax announced. Since he didn't exactly have the man's number, he could at least send out a message to JARVIS. He'd talked with the AI more times than he wanted to immediately process, knowing he would have no problem connecting with the artificial butler. And if that didn't work, he could always work through Sammy, who was really good at hacking.

Hiro blinked, his eyes returning to their normal color. He felt drained as he blinked rapidly a few times before slumping back into his previous position on the bench, his head dipping below the small table there. His breathing was a little more under control but still on the raspy side. And there was sweat beading up on his skin.

Lucifer frowned. "What just happened?" he inquired, not sure he understood at all. This was certainly not typical behavior. And though he could sense the basic nature of the energy Hiro had somehow attracted, it wasn't like anything he'd ever encountered before. But, judging from the look on Loki's face, it wasn't entirely knew.

The god of mischief had moved one hand to his chin and looked more than thoughtful as he contemplated the youth. "Though I would be loathed to do anything, I think Hiro is right." He then turned to Baymax. "Were you able to contact Mr. Stark?"

Baymax looked up, shuffling a bit so he could keep everyone in his line of sight. "I was," he confirmed. "He wishes to know why he shouldn't leave."

"I'm sorry. What?" Tony asked, his eyes incredulously wide as he asked JARVIS to repeat what he'd just told him.

The artificial butler dispensed with clearing a non-existent throat before repeating himself. "I said Hiro Hamada's robot, Baymax, has told us, most urgently, that you can't leave."

Everything was ready to go. The plane was fueled and the luggage loaded. There should have been absolutely no reason for the delay, but Tony couldn't give the go head to fly if JARVIS said something was wrong. "Why? Why now?" he asked the air "Can you at least ask for a reason?" he added as an afterthought, knowing JARVIS would know he was talking to him.

"I am doing so now," the AI confirmed, well aware that they only need clearance from the tower to head to the runway. It was probably just as well that Tony hadn't quite settled down into his seat just yet. "Baymax says the reason is due to something being wrong. He is unable to elaborate, but says the message came from Hiro."

Tony resisted the urge to cuss. Instead, he muttered incomprehensible words under his breath as he pulled out his cell phone. He didn't have Hiro's number, but he did have Cass Hamada's. Chances were good she was with him and might be able to give them some answers. "Pick up. Pick up," he uttered impatiently as he waited for the line to connect.

After about five rings, the café owner answered the line. "Hey, Cass," Tony began the moment they connected. "I was wondering if you could do me a favor. JARVIS is saying that Baymax told him that Hiro says I shouldn't leave the area because something's wrong. Do you think you could see if you could get him to give me a little clarification? I assume he's with you."

Something that sounded like a door opening came over the line; along wither a bit of shuffling, then another door opening. Then there was absolute silence for several long seconds before Cass spoke again.

Tony's eyes went wide. "What do you mean he's not there? Where on earth could he have gone?!"

"Sir, the control tower has given the pilot permission to taxi to the runway," JARVIS spoke up. "In light of recent events, I did warn the pilot we may not be able to take off as planned. Should I tell him to go on regardless of the warning?"

Iron Man shook his head. "Tell him to wait," he all but barked. "I want to get to the bottom of this. And ask that robot just where he and Hiro are." He hung up the phone in a huff, not bothering to actually say goodbye to the proprietress. "Just to be safe, I want everyone off the plane and back to the bus. That hasn't left yet, has it?"

"No, I do not believe so, sir," JARVIS replied, ignoring Tony's impatient tones. "I will inform the pilot and driver. Should I have someone unload the luggage?"

A heavy sigh escaped the billionaire's mouth as he paced the cabin of the plane. "No. I'm just having everyone get off as a precaution until we get to the bottom of whatever this is. Have you figured out where those two are yet? They're obviously not with the aunt."

Silence filled the air as the engines powered down. "Not yet," JARVIS replied.

At that moment, Bruce Banner came through the small doorway separating the two cabins of the jet. "Everything okay up here?" He'd fully expected them to be on their way by now.

Tony all but scowled now, his dark glasses hiding his eyes. "No. Everything's not okay up here," he retorted. "We have to get everyone off the plane. At least until we figure out what is going on."

Deciding it was probably best to not ask anything further of the irate man, Bruce ducked back into the secondary cabin to deliver the news. Groans could be heard coming from the various students back there and the flight attendant assigned to them opened the side door.

"Sir, Baymax informs me that both he and Hiro are at a night club called Lux."

Tony turned the word over in his mind. "Lux?" And why in the world were the two in a night club? For one, it was still daylight hours. And, for another, there was no way Hiro should have gotten in, since most nightclubs he was aware of didn't allow minors inside.

"Yes sir."

Well, chances were good he wasn't going to get any answers by standing there. Since the others were evacuating the plan, he probably should as well. He let out another sigh and headed for the now open door from his cabin leading down to the tarmac. As a show of solidarity, and since Bruce didn't know what was going on either, he decided to follow the students back to the bus as well, instructing the pilot and flight attendants to do whatever they felt best in the situation, like go on a coffee break or something.

He glanced back at the plane as his feet hit the tarmac. What was he missing? Or was Hiro, or some hacker, having a go at them? He looked towards the bus. The students were already getting on. Well, he'd better hurry up if he was going to catch up to them and let them know why plans had changed, not that he knew why either, but it was the principle of the matter. He could already hear their mumbled conversations and confusion, even though he was technically too far away to hear it. They did have to park the bus far enough away to allow any planes room to reach the various hangers and terminals.

Walking at a brisk pace, Tony let out yet another sigh of frustration. "JARVIS, I want you to make absolutely sure that message came from Baymax. I really don't need someone making me look like a fool."

About halfway across the tarmac, a low rumbling sound filled the air, causing Tony to pause mid-step. He half turned around, eyes going wide under his dark glasses. His body took over before his mind could even process what was going on as a wall of flame came out of nowhere behind the jet, pressing a wall of compressed air his way.

The air caught up to him before he'd made it more than two or three steps, shoving him forward. His feet momentarily left the tarmac as his body flew through the air, only to crash land on the hard ground, forcing all the air from his lungs, and breaking his sunglasses. The air was followed by a roar of flames, and something that might have been a sonic boom, except all Tony heard was an intense ringing in his ears.

Across the lot, Bruce looked up in time to see the wave of flames engulf the plane, as well as Tony going down. He yelled out his friend's name, ordering the students to stay where they were as he flung himself from the open doorway of the bus. For whatever reason, he felt no desire to transform, which was probably a blessing. Outside of trying to smash the now burning jet into a pulp, there wasn't much the Big Guy could do.

"Tony!" Bruce yelled as he made his way to the downed hero. "Tony!" He skidded to a halt as he reached his friend's side, going down to his knees to try and assess the damage. As far as he could tell, Tony seemed more dazed than damaged, though it was hard to tell without any kind of x-rays or other diagnostic tools.

Eyes blinking, Tony felt the world kind of teeter around him, until his eyes came back into focus. He tried to press himself up, though that made the dizziness worse. Not to mention his hands had started to sting. It took him a moment to realize he'd put them out as he'd flown and they were now essentially sanded raw from sliding across the rough surface.

At least nothing felt like it was broken. He'd broken enough things to know when something was, so there was that. But his ears continued to ring. And even though he could see Bruce out of the corner of his eye, calling out something, he couldn't, for the life of him, hear what the man was trying to say. He somehow managed to flop over to his back, grunting from the impact. He was definitely going to be feeling that one for a while.

Flames licked up from the hanger and jet next to it and part of the billionaire wondered if the flight attendants and pilot had gotten off in time. Chances were good he wouldn't find out for a while. He should probably get checked out at a hospital but didn't have time, or so he told himself as he tried to sit up, the dizziness still threatening to make his vision swim.

"Are you sure you should be moving around?" Bruce asked, not sure if he could hear him. Tony looked more than a little dazed and the scientist felt glad knowing emergency personnel were already responding to the incident. He could see the flashing lights of emergency vehicles heading their way at that exact moment. "Just stay put for now," he instructed, again not sure if the man could hear him.

Blood trickled from Tony's forehead, possibly from when the sunglasses broke, or maybe from hitting the ground. It was a little hard to tell at the moment, but chances were good the billionaire might have a concussion. There were bruises at the very least.

"JARVIS, can you tell me what happened?" Bruce asked the AI the moment he located Tony's phone. The man was too dazed to notice.

"It would appear an explosive device detonated inside the hanger," JARVIS replied. "This may be what Hiro Hamada was trying to warn Mr. Stark about earlier."

Bruce looked thoughtful. "Hiro sent a warning?"

"That would be correct."

How the teen had known to send any kind of warning was beyond him. Sure he'd been there for the whole long explanation of what had happened to the teen after they'd rescued him from Hydra, but there really didn't seem to be any empirical evidence to suggest he was psychic. "How did he know?" he asked, thinking out loud more out of habit than to actually get an answer.

"I do not know," JARVIS responded. "I believe Mr. Stark intended to find him and ask."

By that time the emergency responders had arrived and were helping Tony to a gurney. He seemed too dazed to refuse the help, even though the man had been through much worse before. "I need to take the students somewhere safe," Bruce said, again thinking out loud. "I'm going to leave this phone with the EMT's, but you're welcome to tag along with me while I try to get to the bottom of this."

"Of course."

Bruce handed off the phone and headed towards the bus. One of the responding police officers followed him, trying to take his statement. But Bruce was far too focused on getting to the bus and making sure everything was secure there. They'd have to take everyone back to the hotel. Thankfully they'd not actually checked out due to the rush of getting to the airport in the first place, so their rooms should still be available. He'd wanted to point out that bit earlier but decided Tony hadn't been in the mood. Now he was glad for the oversight. He just hoped Tony would understand why he was leaving him behind.

After assuring the officer he was more than willing to give a statement once he made sure his charges were safe, the scientist boarded the bus and instructed the driver to take them back to the hotel. Once there, he'd find a taxi and look into this Lux place JARVIS had mentioned on the way across the tarmac. Having a Bluetooth had helped tune out the police officers and keep him on track, as well as giving him the necessary Intel without tipping off the police before he was ready. He just had to find the teen before anything else happened.

Chapter Text

Cass hung up the phone, a frown on her face. She'd only just gotten back to the hotel when the call came in. And now knowing that Hiro wasn't where she'd left him filled her concern. But she also remembered Loki saying he'd check in on him. She just didn't know which room was his, though she supposed she could find out.

If memory served, chances were good the god of mischief had checked in under the first name he'd given her, William Lawson. She picked up the corded phone on the nightstand between the two beds and dialed the front desk. "Yes, could you call another guest for me? William Lawson?" Chances were good they wouldn't just give her the room number, though she thought she remembered him saying something about having a suite near the top floor.

When the front counter clerk told her no one answered the call, she hung up with an even deeper frown. Just where had the two of them gone? She pulled out her phone and dialed her nephew's phone, realizing she probably should have done that in the first place. Unfortunately, it went straight to voice mail, which meant either it was off or out of range.

"Where did you, Hiro?" she wondered out loud, getting more than a little irritated. He should have told her he was heading out. It was a shame she didn't have Loki's cell number on top of it all. She hadn't thought to ask for it, nor was she sure if he actually had one. Did Norse gods now how to use modern technology like that?

The next best thing was to call Kally and see if she could get her Ai, Sammy, to contact Baymax. She at least had that avenue, since she felt certain her nephew had not told anyone else where he was going. And she could only assume he was with Loki and Baymax. Baymax never left his side if he could help it so chances were good she'd find the missing teen if she could have Sammy ping the medical robot.

Decision made, Cass dialed the other teen genius's cell phone number.

Hiro screamed and would have bashed his head into the small table of the booth he was lying on if it hadn't been for Loki quickly ripping it out of the way. The thing was bolted to the floor, which added an element of difficulty for most humans, but not for the god of mischief. He threw the offending table to one side, narrowly missing the piano in the middle of the open floor.

"Hey now!" Lucifer protested, momentarily distracted from Hiro's outcry by the sudden destruction of his property. He took a moment to reconsider his reaction as he noted Loki cradling Hiro in his arms, Baymax pushing in closer. "What's going on now?" He felt inclined to sound petulant, really unsure of what was going on other than that it reminded him of the fit the youth had had back at the arena.

The teen panted in Loki's arms, his legs dangling over the god's knees. Sweat ran down his body, but it was a cold sweat and made him shiver. And his eyes were just as unfocused as they were during the previous episode. Except this didn't seem like the previous episode.

Maze tensed at the reaction, her hands instinctively going for the knives hidden on her person. She looked around, her eyes all but darting from side to side in an attempt to discover the threat. And even though she knew there weren't any others in the building with them, at least not on that floor, she didn't relax her stance.

"Hiro?" Baymax inquired, carefully monitoring the teen's vitals. Judging from what his sensors took in, this was also not another reactive reintegration, only whatever it was was on a much stronger level than the previous event. "Can you hear me?"

Instinctively, Hiro grabbed Loki's arm, the one not holding him against the man's chest. As his fingers dug into the man's flesh, he let out another scream that defied the previous one. "I'm burning!" he yelled as soon as the intense noise faded from his throat. "I'm burning!"

It took the robot a moment to understand what was going on. Hiro had somehow detached his consciousness, just like in the Hydra base, and it was still wherever it had wandered. What he was feeling was what someone else must be feeling. But the sooner he could call the boy back to his own body, the better it would be for them all. "Hiro, if you can hear me, it is time to come home."

Sobs broke out in gasps from Hiro's throat as he continued to shiver violently. "I'm burning," he said with less intensity, but still breathless from the emotional reaction flowing through him.

"Hiro," Baymax said in a more firm voice, "It is time to come home."

The teen's grip on Loki's arms tightened just a fraction more before it released and his body slumped back against the god of mischief's chest. His chest still heaved, but his eyes seemed to be regaining their focus. He shivered again, but this time from the cold of the air conditioner and from the ordeal his mind had gone through. He turned into Loki's chest and let the sobs take him, unable to control them any more than he could his physical reaction.

For his part, Loki merely did his best to stay still, realizing these events were not meant to cause him pain, but were beyond the youth's control. The fingers digging into his skin had decidedly not been pleasant, and if it weren't for his healing ability, they would leave quite a good set of bruises. As things stood, he shook out his now free arm, flexing his fingers as if to restore lost circulation.

"Would someone please explain to me what just happened?" Lucifer asked in a somewhat shaky but somehow concerned voice. He'd never seen anything like that before, not even with some kind of demon possession, and it shook him a lot more than he cared to admit.

Maze felt much the same way Lucifer did, though her muscles relaxed a bit now that the threat, whatever it had been, was over. She carefully returned her knives to where she'd gotten them, moving to a more neutral stance. "What he said."

Loki and Baymax seemed to exchange looks, though it was hard to tell as the robot's eyes didn't so much as blink, though they did seem to momentarily focus on the Asgardian's face. "What I told you the other day about Hiro is true," he finally said, looking up so Lucifer could see there was no deception in his eyes. "He and his friend were kidnapped earlier this year. What I didn't tell you is that this group tried to use Hiro's unique abilities to their own end. What they didn't realize is that he's far more special than just some technological genius."

Not sure if this was supposed to explain what had just happened or not, Lucifer continued to stare, his expression a mix of shock and concern. He thrust his hands into his pockets for something to do. "Are you saying whoever these people are did this to him?"

The Asgardian shook his head impatiently. "No. What I'm saying is that if they'd known his true potential, we probably never would have gotten him out. And, to be perfectly honest, I'm not entirely sure what all that entails either. Though I have heard the stories leading up to what transpired, I can't say I have a real grasp of what all happened to him."

Lucifer moved one hand to his temple where he felt a headache forming. "I'm not sure I understand what you're trying to say," he admitted.

"That makes two of us," Maze offered, starting to look a bit impatient. "Get to the point."

Loki let out his breath. Just how much should he tell them? Information was, of course, a valuable asset. And he didn't want to give everything away. But this man before him wasn't exactly a mortal, even if he wasn't a god either. "Very well," he conceded. But before he continued, he looked down to check on Hiro, noting he'd fallen asleep in his arms. "But first, allow me to move Hiro to some place more comfortable."

Realizing some of his staff might be coming in soon, and that Loki probably didn't want just anyone hearing things, Lucifer made a snap decision. "We can go upstairs and you can let him sleep whatever this is off on my bed."It wasn't ideal, but it would at least allow them the opportunity to get to the bottom of this mess without someone who shouldn't be involved barging in on them.

"That would be ideal," Baymax answered before Loki could. Getting Hiro to some kind of environment where he could recover would be best.

"This way then," Lucifer directed, knowing the robot didn't know where to go. Loki, on the other hand, knew where to find the elevator, but he couldn't help but look back as the mischief god took the boy into his arms as gently as any father would. It was definitely not in with the typical character of what he remembered about the man. He'd done some research about him over the last twelve hours. There definitely had to be a lot more going on than either cared to admit.

Baymax shuffled behind the group as they headed towards the elevator, though Maze did stay behind to make sure no one would bother them. That and it gave her a chance to look into this Hiro Hamada more. Perhaps her sources could confirm what Loki was about to tell Lucifer upstairs.

Chloe tapped her fingers impatiently at her desk. Having returned to the precinct without her partner wasn't unusual, but the circumstances of their case were. And, unfortunately, they were no closer to figuring things out than they were earlier that morning. Well, almost. She'd given the card collected at the bookie's place over to Ella and hoped she'd come up with something, anything, they could work from. Chances weren't good, since it wasn't the original card, but doing something was better than doing nothing.

The detective's phone buzzed on her desk where she'd left it and she made a dive for it, forgetting the crutch she'd left propped against the side. The crutch went to the ground with a crash, almost taking her with it. She'd neglected to take it with her to that Bernard character's place, something she regretted, but now she wanted to curse the thing to high heaven.

She let out a grunt of pain as she slammed her injured thigh into the desk as she swiped the phone up into one hand. At least the thing was still buzzing as she activated it, whoever was calling her deciding not to hang up after only a few rings. "Detective Decker," she answered, trying to mask the pain from her voice. That pain was all but forgotten as the speaker on the other end divulged his information.

"What?!" She almost dropped the phone, but managed to keep her hold on it. Ignoring the looks of the others in the precinct, she quickly jotted down what she could before limping towards Ella's lab. More phones were ringing behind her, probably for the same reason, which meant she needed to get moving if she was going to be the first on scene. "Ella! Drop everything. We have another crime scene!"

More than a little startled by the sudden intrusion, Ella almost dropped the slide she was working on. "Don't do that!" she admonished, one hand going to her chest. She still managed to safely put the slide down before reaching for her evidence kit. "Where's the fire?"

Chloe, not for the first time, wondered if Ella didn't have some kind of extra sense. "Airport," she replied tersely. "There's been another bomb."

Ella's mouth hung open but she quickly gathered her wits and gear and headed out after her friend.

They had just entered the art museum of choice when Kally's cell phone rang. She'd forgotten to turn the ringer to vibrate and her mistake was noticed by several other museum goers who gave her dirty looks. She quickly shushed the phone by answering it. "Hello? Oh, Hey, Aunt Cass. What's wrong?"

The other three members of her group patiently waited to see what was going on before moving further into the building. They did step to one side to let a few elderly patrons enter the foyer, watching Kally's expressions with rapt attention.

"Did something happen?" Honey asked the moment Kally hung up the phone and slipped it back into her pocket.

Kally let out a heavy sigh, shaking her head. "Not exactly. Hiro's gone off on his own again and Cass wanted me to have Sammy ping Baymax's location."

A gum bubble popped as GoGo rolled her eyes. "I swear," she said under her breath. "That kid is just looking for trouble. She say why she was looking?"

Again, Kally shook her head. "No idea. Just that when she got back to the hotel, both he and Baymax were gone. She figured he went off somewhere with Loki but didn't have his number." She shrugged. "I'm sure it's nothing." Except a part of her couldn't help but feel that wasn't true. Something was going on and her senses tingled with it. She just didn't know what.

"Do you think we should head back to the hotel?" Fred asked, his face mirroring Honey's concern. "I mean if Hiro's missing, maybe we should send out a search party or something."

GoGo shook her head. "Hiro's probably just gone off with that Loki guy, like Kally said. Sure he'll get into trouble when Cass catches up with him, but I doubt it's anything serious. Besides, I kind of wanted to see what they have here."

Honey couldn't help but look a bit nervous. Sure Hiro went off on his own sometimes, but this was different. They were in a much larger city, one which he didn't know. Not to mention he was still considered some kind of person of interest in everything. "I don't know," she hedged.

"If it makes you worry that much, we can have Sammy send us an alarm or something," GoGo drawled, one hand hanging slack out in front of her. "If he were really in trouble you know Baymax would be exploding our phones with texts or something."

The chemist bit her lip. "That's true," she admitted. She teetered a bit in her thinking before replacing her frown with a smile. "No, I'm sure you're right. If there really was something going we needed to know about, I'm sure Baymax would contact us. You're right, GoGo."

Her friend gave a bit of a shoulder shrug as if to say "see?", before grabbing Fred by his collar and turning him towards the first gallery. "I don't know about you, but I'd rather get in what sightseeing we can before something does come up. Let's go."

Taking her lead, the others followed, Kally not quite as sure as the others.

Cass ground her teeth a bit as she got the promised text from Sammy. True to Kally's word, her AI had pinged Baymax's location. And unless something had happened to separate him from Hiro, chances were really good the two were still together. "Why a night club?' she wondered out loud. Of all the places her nephew could go, especially during daylight hours, why a night club?

Hailing a taxi, Cass narrowly missed seeing the bus full of college students returning to the hotel. She was too busy cursing under her breath to pay it much attention and therefore missed it entirely. "When I catch up to that young man!"

Part of her tried to be rational, remembering that Hiro rarely did anything without a reason. That and he was supposedly with Loki, not that that fact was too comforting based on what she knew about the man. But his behavior did give her more reason to trust him than not. And it wasn't just because of his good looks and suave demeanor. "Just what were you thinking?" she muttered. "You better not have gotten into any kind of trouble!"

Chapter Text

Having reached the penthouse level without any further trouble, Baymax followed Lucifer into the bedroom area, where he gently laid Hiro down on the covered mattress. Taking in the layout of the whole floor, he felt more than comfortable with leaving the teen to sleep while he joined the others. There was nothing to impede his sensor, and it would probably be a good idea to be on hand for what Loki had to say to their host.

Lucifer poured himself a drink before joining Loki on the couch where they'd shared a discussion only two nights before. "My how things have changed," he commented idly as he took the same seat across from the Asgardian god. "Now, what is this about Hiro and this Hydra business? What is it about this boy that they didn't know? Aside from the admittedly unusual fits, he seems fairly ordinary to me." That wasn't strictly true, but he hoped the slight goad would help get the ball rolling.

Loki didn't immediately sit down. Instead, he stuffed his hands into his pockets and began to pace, debating just how much to tell his host. While it was true this man was no ordinary man, he wasn't exactly sure just how much of what he suspected was merely pure conjecture or correct guessing on his part. He let out a bit of a sigh. "Very well," he said as he sat on the edge of the same seat he'd occupied that other night. Chances were good he wouldn't stay seated though.

"Are you familiar with Norse mythology?" he used the term loosely, knowing there was more truth to it than most people cared to believe. He paused only long enough to get a confirming nod from Lucifer. "In that particular line, I am considered a god. And though I'm not an actual son of Odin, being adopted, I have seen and learned a great deal, thanks to my adoptive mother. She taught me much of the deep magic."

The devil shifted his position momentarily, setting his drink down. "I'm not sure I understand where you're going with this," he admitted. "What does this have to do with Hiro and this group called Hydra?"

It didn't take a genius to realize Lucifer wasn't exactly following, and Loki couldn't blame him. There was so much more involved than even he could begin to fathom. "I'm trying to explain to you why these Hydra people wouldn't have let Hiro go, under any circumstances, had they known what I suspect."

Surprise reflected up from the depths of Lucifer's eyes. "Suspect? I thought you said you knew." This was certainly unsettling. Were they always to deal with the unknown? Well, maybe that wasn't such a bad thing. "All right," he said after a moment's pause, "what do you suspect then? And then maybe we can get to the why later."

Loki rubbed at one eyebrow, debating. Then he cleared a space on the coffee table in front of him. "I'm not sure how familiar you are with the different levels of beings in the universe so allow me to give you a basic introduction." He began to trace out a set of circles on the table. Thanks to his magic, those circles glowed with faint energy. "Odin, though a god in his own right, and quite powerful, is not the most powerful being in the universe. Above him are the Celestials, the Titans, and a race we know only as the Ancients."

Lucifer leaned forward. "Ah yes, I've heard about some of them before," he admitted. "The term Celestials is probably as close to my Father as anything. As to the Titans and Ancients… I can't say I'm as familiar. I do know they and the Celestials are on a similar playing field, sometimes taking turns as to who's on top. The lore tends to be a bit murky on the details."

The Asgardian nodded. "There are several veins of lore in my realm as well that make it difficult to tell." He painted a line between the three circles he'd created. "What is known is that each group was created by Life, which was created by Infinity. And if there is anything beyond that, neither I nor any other in Asgard seems to know."

"As fascinating as that bit of mythology is, I don't see how it comes into play with our current discussion," Lucifer admitted. He took up his glass and sipped the liquid inside, trying hard to not feel impatient. He knew the basics of the lore, mostly from personal study, but that didn't explain how it related to the subject at hand.

Loki nodded. He supposed the connection was not immediately apparent to those who didn't know the basics of what the boy had been through. Teen, he corrected, though there was the decided possibility, thanks to those repeated timelines, that Hiro was actually older than either he or Lucifer combined. There was just no real way of knowing for sure since no one seemed to know exactly how many times Hiro had repeated his timeline. At the very least, enough to break the universe into tiny little pieces before bringing them all back together into a cohesive whole. What that must have been like was beyond the god of mischief and the idea of experiencing it made him shudder ever so slightly, though part of him still would have liked to see it in action.

"Allow me to give you the basics of events Hiro has experienced over the last few years," Loki continued, now settling back into his chosen seat. "A few years ago, an alien entity, known only as the Makt, somehow made its way into the known universe. And by known universe I mean this realm. No one seemed to really know where it came from, except that it appears to have come from the Rift, as the Time Lords call it."

Lucifer held up a hand. "Now just hold on a moment. Are you saying this is all somehow connected to that Jack fellow?" Now it was his turn to resist a bit of a shudder at the thought. "He mentioned something about Time Lords and what they do. But I'm not sure I follow how that's involved with current events."

The god dithered a bit. "Allow me to go back a bit further. Several months prior to the Makt showing up, one of Hiro's college professors was arrested for trying to use a teleportation device another man had tried to develop for a government entity. Unfortunately, neither realized the technology was stolen from aliens and then mishandled." He put up a hand to stave off any comments. "It did what it was supposed to do, but the calibration was incorrect for organic transportation. Their one test subject was trapped inside the space known as the area between time and space. "

He then went on to explain how Hiro had managed to discover this human subject hadn't died as originally thought, and went into save her, completely unprotected from the energy inside this Rift. "I'm sure you might better know of it as the Void."

The devil pursed his lips in thought. It certainly rang some bells, though he wasn't about to admit to it. "Are you saying this energy somehow transformed Hiro into what he is now?"

Loki resisted the urge to snort. "Of course not! But it was the beginning." He then went on to explain how Hiro had become attracted to the Makt, or the other way around, and how they'd used him as a vessel to return home. He then had to explain how the Makt had promised to give Hiro a do-over, resulting in many repeated timelines, which broke the universe like a pane of dropped glass.

"When that opened up fissures to other dimensions, a few travelers managed to slip through the cracks, including a man called Q, who appeared to have similar powers to a Celestial." Loki stood at this point and began to pace, still working it all out for himself. "Having that much raw power in one realm was sure to cause problems and the universe tried to strip Q of his abilities. But since Hiro had been tainted by the Rift, he attracted that energy to himself like lightning to a lightning rod, which only pressed the breaking of the universe into prominence. In order to fix his mistake, Hiro had to go inside the Heart of the TARDIS, another entity similar to the Celestials, to fix it. However, while he was inside this energy stream, his body was infused with the life force and energy of the TARDIS, Q, and the Makt."

Lucifer's mouth slowly turned down into a frown as he leaned forward. "Are you saying this child, this… whelp, is somehow a mutation of three ancient beings, all of which are on a higher level than your or my father?"

Loki gave a quirk of the shoulders in response. "Well, more or less. That is the working theory. Except for one small detail I forgot to mention. "You see, after careful research, I've discovered that the Makt aren't on the same level of the Celestials, Time Lords, and this Q entity at all. In fact, the Makt are perhaps one of the first and relatively unknown creations of Life, which means he's technically a combination of everything older than anything we could ever hope to encounter. For all we know, he might be as powerful as Life itself."

The devil felt something funny settle into the pit of his stomach and he had to swallow hard. "So you're saying he's a genetic hybrid of every ancient power in the universe, except for Infinity? A direct, through mutation, descendant of Life?" If he'd had any liquid in his mouth, he would have surely chocked on it at that point, though there was the possibility his pants might be a bit more damp now than they were before.

Loki nodded grimly. "That is what I suspect, though I have no real way of proving it." He returned to his seat. "However, if what I suspect is true, and Hydra had known about it, they would have made it impossible to rescue him. As things stood, they were near impossible. All they knew is that Hiro's DNA was unlike any they'd seen before, and they were bent on exploiting it."

Before anyone could make any further comments, including Baymax, who had remained silent this whole time, the elevator doors opened and Maze stepped out into the penthouse. "Sorry for the interruption, but I found Hiro's aunt out in the lobby." She motioned for the woman behind her to join her outside of the elevator.

Cass, looking a bit more rattled than before, cautiously stepped onto the tiled floor, one arm across her chest in a self-conscious gesture. "I heard my nephew was here," she admitted, all the indignation she'd felt from before quelled at the sight of the place she was now in.

The god of mischief uttered a brief epithet under his breath. "I should have known she'd find her way here," he said to himself before standing. "Cass," he soothed as he moved towards her. "I can explain."

Hearing his tone, a bit of her previous ire came back and both arms crossed over Cass's chest. "I should hope so. Where's my nephew? And why did you bring him to a night club in the first place?"

Maze moved to join her employer, looking more than a little anticipatory at this exchange. Chances were good she'd get to see a bit of a fight before too long and she wondered how that would turn out, knowing who Loki was.

Loki hung his head a bit, though only enough to look resigned. "I meant to let you know," he continued to sooth. "I had promised Lucifer an explanation of certain recent events and couldn't, in good conscience, leave Hiro alone, so I brought him with me. I admit, neither of us thought about contacting you at the time, as it was going to be just a quick errand." He winced a bit inside at her sharp look.

"I thought you knew Hiro and I have a strict policy of openness between us," she frowned.

Sensing the tension rising, Lucifer nervously moved between the two adults. "Now, now," he said, looking a bit worried. "There's no need to be upset. The boy is fine. He was merely so tired we decided it best to let him sleep." He swung an arm towards his bedroom area to indicate the teen's whereabouts.

Cass turned her attention to Baymax. "Is that true, Baymax?" She knew the robot wouldn't lie to her.

Baymax waddled a few steps forward, putting one hand into the air, finger pointing up. "What Lucifer said is true," he stated. "However, what he refrained from mentioning is that Hiro had an unexplained phenomenon prior to his succumbing to sleep."

The woman ground her teeth. "Care to explain that?"

Loki moved closer, physically escorting her to a chair. "Of course," he continued in his smooth voice. "Not long after Lucifer joined us, Hiro had another fit, similar to the one at the arena. We think he was able to somehow connect with the people involved with the bombings long enough to give Mr. Stark a warning before his plane blew up."

Cass felt more than glad they'd reached the couches as Loki finished. She felt her legs turn to jelly under her and she had to sit down, hard. "What?!"

When Lucifer looked like he was about to talk, Loki silenced him with a look. "We believe that what happened to Hiro during his incarceration at the Hydra base has made him more sensitive to certain types of energy. It's possible he subconsciously tapped into the intent of the bombers long enough to send out a warning."

While there were hints of truth in the explanation, Lucifer couldn't help but wonder why Loki had refrained from giving her all the juicy details. Then it hit him. While he and Loki were essentially immortal, gods in their own right, Cass was still just a regular, run-of-the-mill mortal. To introduce her to such existences would be to change her life forever. And that was probably a change she was far from ready for.

"So you're telling me you were talking about what happened in that Hydra base without me?" Cass inquired, her voice rising in pitch.

Loki sat down beside her, his thigh right against hers as he tried to offer comfort by placing one hand on her nearest knee. "Believe me when I say we didn't get far in any explanation. The conversation simply turned to that direction only moments before you showed up."

Only slightly mollified, Cass bit chewed the inside of her lip as she refolded her arms across her chest. "Okay, so why don't you continue with that conversation. You did promise to give me the details."

Now that the moment had come, Loki couldn't help but feel a bit reluctant. "Very well," he finally agreed. And with that, he began to give a very truncated version of his involvement in Hiro's rescue, leaving out anything that might hint at what he'd discussed with Lucifer earlier.

It took a lot longer to get the bus back to the hotel than Bruce would have liked, but it was done. And the students were back in their rooms, with the added warning that if any of them so much as set foot outside of their rooms, they'd be suspended from school. While Banner might not exactly have that kind of authority, the serious nature of so many events in such rapid succession was more than enough to cow most of the students into obedience. Aside from which, they didn't want to spend another long afternoon being questioned by the police.

After making sure everyone was securely in their rooms, Bruce headed to the one he knew had been assigned to Cass. But when he knocked on the door, no one answered. Thanks to JARVIS, he knew where Hiro was, but had thought it a good idea to check in with his aunt first, mostly since he was already there. But realizing she was out, he felt no qualms about heading out to find out what was going on and how Hiro had known to warn Stark about the bombs.

The physicist hailed a taxi that happened to be waiting for a fair, giving the address for Lux, which he'd looked up while on the bus. He was only mildly surprised he hadn't gotten a call from Tony yet, giving him an earful. That told him the medical personnel either thought him in worse condition than he'd supposed, or they'd taken his phone away. Either was possible. And the man was sure to hear even more about it when Tony was finally free to call. Might as well have some answers to give him when it happened.

The cab he'd taken wasn't the cleanest, but by New York standards, was almost sanitary. There was that at least. And with the recent explosion out near the airport, the previous crowd of onlookers had moved on to newer, juicier pastures of thought. He didn't envy those who had to deal with them.

In no time at all, he'd arrived at his destination, feeling a bit awed by the tall building he was about to storm into. More than a little cowed by the sheer magnificence of the place, he didn't even contemplate pulling out the Big Guy, which was probably the best decision, given the circumstances. It helped that the Hulk didn't feel inclined to come out either.

The first real hurdle was when he found his way to the club floor. There was an exotic-looking woman behind the bar, and she looked more than capable of handling herself. "Uh, hi," he said, wishing he could look a bit more intimidating as his usual self.

"Bar's closed," Maze stated straight from the get go. She didn't look amused, a slight frown on her face as she contemplated the man. He definitely didn't smell normal either, which meant he was somehow associated with the group upstairs. Instead of heading up there using the elevator, she gave her boss a quick text over the phone.

Looking more than a little flustered, Bruce cleared his throat as he walked over to the bar. "Um, excuse me, but I'm looking for someone."

"Aren't we all," Maze drawled, still looking far from helpful. She hadn't gotten a return message yet but felt sure she would.

Bruce decided to try again as he slid onto one of the stools, taking a nervous look around to see if they really were alone. "A friend of mine was supposed to be here and I told his aunt I'd come and pick him up." It definitely wasn't true, but there was no helping it. He didn't know where Cass was and he needed to ask the teen how he'd known about the bomb.

Maze gave him a knowing, yet skeptical look. "Uh huh." She threw her towel down onto the bar and folded her arms across her chest. "Is that so?" She took pleasure in seeing him squirm, careful not to provoke him too much. There was no telling what he was capable of doing. If her intel was sound, which she had no reason to doubt, this man was Bruce Banner. And there was no way she wanted to bring out the Hulk in the bar. He might smash Lucifer's piano, and then there'd really be hell to pay.

The doctor nodded uncomfortably. "I really need to talk to him. Is he still here?"

"You're a friend of that Stark guy, aren't you?" It wasn't really a question, but it was fun to see his reaction. "You're probably here to find out why Hiro knew about that bomb. Am I right?" She flashed him a glinting, predatory grin.

"How did you know about that?" The surprise on Bruce's face was hard to hide, even if he'd wanted to hide it.

Maze scoffed. "You'd be surprised at what all I know. Like I know you're Dr. Bruce Banner, friend of Tony Stark and all those Avengers. It was only a matter of time before you showed up, what with everything going on and you being in the area."

That comment caught him off guard. "Tony's here?!"

Now where had he gotten that idea? Maze wondered. Well, whatever. "No. but it would be like him, wouldn't it?" She gave a great sigh before turning away from the bar, finally having gotten word from Lucifer. "Come on. I'll take you up to him."

Bruce took a moment to understand what she meant, but when he did, he quickly scrambled off the stool to follow her to an elevator he hadn't noticed earlier. He only hoped she wasn't pulling his chain.

Chapter Text

Jack paused across from the hotel. Dirk's story didn't make a whole lot of sense to him but he was trying to comprehend it. Well, sort of. He'd only partially listened to the man's ramblings as they seemed to ramble around as much as a drunk gazelle trying to pin its horns into the side of a barn and missing horribly. "Well, we're here," he said to keep the man from going off on some other tangent he didn't want to listen to.

"Hurray!" Dirk said, resisting the urge to give him a hug. "Now to find out if they're all still here or not."

Jack took a moment to process that, recalling how the man had mentioned leaving the majority of the Big Heroes back at the hospital. While it was possible they'd managed to get back to the hotel before them – the walk had been a long one – chances were good they weren't even heading in that direction. "Whatever you say," he responded, deciding to just go with it. He still wasn't sure what this weirdo wanted with Hiro, and the answer had become even less clear the longer he'd listened to him.

Still wanting to keep an eye on the guy, Jack followed him into the hotel lobby. But instead of heading towards the elevators, Dirk kept on going to the other exit, the one leading towards the ruined arena. "Um…" he was about to point out the guy was headed in the wrong direction but decided to just go with it.

Dirk continued on out the far exit and towards the ruined arena. He kept muttering to himself as he went, nothing coherent though. If Jack wondered about his sanity, he was as close to verifying his lack as anything.

Though there was still police activity near the hole in the ground, there weren't as many there as the day before. The whole area was still cordoned off with the hard-to-miss yellow and black tape. And just as he'd observed from the other side, there were fewer spectators this go around. Jack couldn't help but wonder at that, until he overhead one of the radios mentioning a secondary site. That certainly made things interesting. He'd have to look into it, when he had a chance. Until then, he had to make sure this strange bloke didn't end up getting arrested, or killing himself. He wasn't sure why but he somehow felt it important to make sure that didn't happen.

Dirk nodded to himself as he stopped to stare at the rubble-filled crater. "Just as I thought. I knew I should have said something back then." He then turned on his heels and headed in the opposite direction.

Sure the Brit wasn't about to head into an active crime scene, Jack felt more than okay with leaving him to his own devices. It was time to figure out what was going on with this other site. The best way to do that was to impersonate another officer. And if he was going to do that, he needed to nip back to his place for a quick wardrobe change. But first he needed to find out where this new incident had occurred.

When Maze texted, telling him he had another visitor, Lucifer was about ready to have a pouting fest. It wasn't that he disliked being popular, but they were finally getting somewhere and the interruption was most unwelcome. And, knowing a bit of the history between Loki and Dr. Banner, he wasn't sure if he should have the man brought up or not.

"Something wrong?" Cass asked as their host held a hesitant finger over his phone's keyboard. She didn't know who the text came from, only that it caused him a moment of consternation.

Lucifer looked up almost absentmindedly. "Hmmm? Oh. Well, in a manner of speaking, I suppose you could say that."

Loki gave him a look, not sure what to make of this sudden change either. "Would you mind sharing with the rest of us? Or is it a personal matter?"

The devil let out a sigh as he stood from his perch on the couch. "Not personal," he clarified. "It's only that Maze just told me a Dr. Bruce Banner is looking for Hiro. He's currently down in the club and she wanted to know if I wanted him brought up."

Loki couldn't help but tense, Cass right along with him, though for different reasons. "You are aware of our recent history, are you not?" he asked carefully.

"I am," Lucifer answered. "Which is why I'm not really sure what to do about the whole situation. Chances are good he's merely here to find out how Hiro knew about that bomb, as I'm assuming he was with Mr. Stark when they got the announcement."

Cass nodded. "Sounds reasonable." She glanced over at Loki, "But I can understand the conflict of interest." Banner didn't yet know, as far as she knew, about Hiro's extra abilities, or episodes, or whatever anyone might want to call them. The truth of the matter was that he'd successfully predicted, albeit within close proximity, the two bombing incidents. If she were in his shoes, she'd want to know what was going on too. "Maybe you could hide?"

That comment earned her an eye roll and a heavy sigh. "Unless I'm willing to leave the area, which I'm not, I suppose that's the best course of action." He turned back to Lucifer. "We might as well find out what he really wants."

Before Lucifer could nod one way or the other, Loki used his magic to become invisible. He blinked a few times in confusion before recalling some of Loki's abilities. "Very well," he agreed as he took the phone in hand and texted the okay. "Chances are good she'll be fairly prompt about bringing him up so if there's anything you don't think he should know, now would be the time to tell me."

"Pretty much everything we talked about," Cass stated. While the Hulk had been there during Hiro's rescue, he didn't know, like the other Avengers, that Loki had been involved. And if the god of mischief wanted to keep it that way, she wasn't going to argue. His hiding told her he wasn't willing to let that cat out of the bag just yet. "My only concern is the reason behind Hiro being here prior to my being here. Bruce knows we didn't come together."

Lucifer put one hand to his chin as he began to pace. "Yes, that does present a problem."

Baymax, for the first time, took a waddling step forward to interrupt the conversation. "It is a known fact that Hiro likes to go off on his own," he announced. "Perhaps it would be wise to state that this was another such instance and that Lucifer found him here."

Cass definitely had to take a step back at that. Baymax wasn't the lying type, not that it was strictly lying. But she supposed he had practice from all those years of keeping quiet about Hiro's superhero work. "That could work. Hiro does like to do things on his own, especially when he gets a bee in his bonnet."

Further contemplation was interrupted as the elevator doors opened and Maze stepped out onto the floor, much like she had no more than an hour previously. "Dr. Banner," she announced as she stepped to one side and the nervous looking man followed her into the large, open area. Even though there was some fun to be had, the demon didn't stay, instead stepping back into the elevator with a knowing look directed at her employer before the doors closed once more.

Lucifer moved towards his new guest with a pleasant smile. "Dr. Banner! It's such a pleasure to finally make your acquaintance. I've heard so much about you and how you helped Cass's nephew."

Cass resisted the urge to do a head smack. Instead, she schooled her face into a welcoming smile. "That's right!" she agreed. "I suppose it was only a matter of time before you caught up to us, but if you're looking for my nephew, you should know he's currently sleeping."

Bruce gave the whole place a bit of a furtive look around, noticing a bed off in more secluded area. "I see," he said by way of reply. "I was hoping maybe he could tell me how he knew there would be a bomb at the airport."

"Straight to the point," Lucifer noted. "Exactly what I like in a man." He put an arm around Bruce's shoulders, ushering him towards the sitting area they'd only recently vacated. "We were just discussing that exact topic."

Cass resisted the urge to give him a dirty look, wondering if he'd heard anything they'd discussed before Bruce arrived. But seeing as the man had already announced it, she supposed they had to go with it. "That's right," she agreed quickly, noting Banner's uncomfortable stance as Lucifer all but pushed him down onto the couch before heading back to his usual seat.

Bruce looked from Cass to Lucifer with a hint of confusion. "Is there something going on I should know about?" he asked slowly, noting the presence of Baymax.

"We are uncertain," the robotic companion decided to announce. "It is possible this is a result of experiments implemented while Hiro was kidnapped by the Hydra agents." He blinked as Cass gave him a look. "It is merely a speculation." And since Loki and Lucifer had at least toyed with the potential, completely untrue, he didn't feel he was lying by stating it.

The astrophysicist blinked a few times. "I wasn't… I didn't know they'd experimented on him."

"We're not sure," Cass hurried in. "It's just that he sometimes has dreams, PTSD I'm told, and it makes one wonder." Her eyes darkened a bit as she continued to stare at the robot. She gave an almost nervous laugh at the end.

Bruce looked thoughtful. "Makes sense," he mused. "Tony went through his own bout of PTSD after New York." There was obviously more to it than they were willing to admit or let on, but he supposed it could explain what had happened. Especially if they'd used the energy of the teseract for any potential experiments. Hiro might not have mentioned those in the debriefing, brief as it was, and Kally might not have known about them to mention them, though she'd hinted at the potential as well, giving the idea some credibility.

"I would like to know where Mr. Stark is," Baymax spoke up again. "As he is not with you, is it possible he did not make it out of the plane in time?" It wasn't likely, but there was always the chance.

The doctor fell back against the cushions, finally relaxing in an almost resigned way. "No. He made it out. But he got thrown by the explosion so I left him to the doctors there."

"Ah." Baymax seemed appeased by that answer. "I will now go and check on Hiro." That said, he waddled back around to the bedroom portion of the penthouse.

Bruce leaned forward to watch the robot until it moved out of sight. "Is that normal? I mean for Hiro."

Cass gave a hesitant shrug. "Well, you know the past few days have been really difficult for him. And he's still recovering from a concussion."

"Huh." Well, it was as good an excuse as any, he supposed. Bruce had heard how the boy and his aunt were caught up in one of the explosions, only making it out because of Lucifer's assistance. He drummed his fingers on his knees, suddenly more uncomfortable than he'd been before as his host stared at him. "Well, um… I should probably be going. Gotta check in on the other students." He quickly stood and started towards the elevator, swinging his hands together then apart again, over and over as he hedged his way towards escape.

Lucifer made the token gesture of following to the door but didn't get more than a few steps before Bruce activated the call button. And since the elevator was only a floor down, it quickly responded to his call. He gave a bit of a shrug as the man disappeared behind the doors. "Well, at least that's out of the way," he said as he turned back. He was only mildly surprised to see Loki back in the visible spectrum once more.

"I would call that an understatement," Loki replied, his arms folded across his chest. At least they hadn't given away anything pertinent, though he might have to have words with Baymax later.

Slight groaning sounds came from the direction of the bedroom. Only a moment or two later, Hiro appeared around the corner, rubbing sleep-crusted eyes. "Where am I?" he asked, sounding more than a little confused.

Cass quickly rushed over to her nephew, barely missing running into Baymax, who had waddled into view. "Hey sweetie. How are you feeling?"

"On a scale from one to ten, I'd say I'm about a three," Hiro tried to joke, finally managing to clear his vision. Vague memories of what had transpired before he passed out floated up behind his eyes and he shuddered. "Make that a four, at least emotionally."

Cass took him into her arms, giving him a big hug as she smoothed his hair. "I really wish I understood what's going on and why this keeps happening."

"You and me both," Hiro answered.

Loki and Lucifer exchanged glances before Lucifer's phone buzzed again. The fallen angel looked at the caller ID. "It's the detective," he announced. "I really should answer this." And he stepped to one side to do just that.

Hiro looked around again, now that he was less distracted, his mind clearing a bit from the after images of what he'd experienced. "Um… Aunt Cass, where exactly are we?" He definitely didn't recognize the place and that was more than a bit disconcerting, mostly because it had happened a lot more lately than he cared to admit.

But before Cass could answer, Loki moved forward. "We're still at Lux, just in the penthouse where we brought you to sleep off your most recent adventure." Knowing it would sound bad to anyone not aware of the situation, Loki didn't offer to take back his words. Instead, he motioned for them to move closer to the piano and further away from the bedroom area.

"I'm sorry, what?" Lucifer said from his new location near the large glass doors leading out to the balcony. "Of course. I'll be right there." He hung up his phone and quickly pocketed it, heading their direction. "I'm sorry but it looks like the detective needs me at the airport. The bomb squad seems to have found something quite interesting and she wants me to come take a look at it."

Cass and Loki exchanged glances. "I think that's our cue to head back to the hotel," the proprietress reasoned. She looked back at Baymax to confirm he was ready to join them.

They all quickly followed Lucifer towards the elevator, having to wait for it to return to their floor. "This is most distressing," Lucifer continued, not caring if the others were listening or not. "I only wonder how long it will take before someone mentions you knowing about the bomb moments before it went off or not. You're already in the lime light as is."

His comments caught Hiro off guard for a bit. "But I had nothing to do with that! Baymax can vouch for my whereabouts!"

"No one's accusing you," Cass comforted, her arm still around his shoulders. "I think he's just saying the detective, among others, might want to talk to you about that later on, if they find out."

Baymax tilted his head from one side to the other. "If it helps, I know JARVIS was occupying Dr. Banner's phone and overheard the entire conversation. He could be called upon to recall the conversation should the need arise. That way Hiro would not have to go through a potentially stressful ordeal."

Hiro looked mildly surprised at this announcement. Apparently a few things had happened while he was out and he'd have to ask the robot about them later, in the off chance Cass either couldn't or wouldn't share. "Not a bad idea," he nodded. "Think it could work?" He glanced specifically at Lucifer, since he was the one most associated with the police.

Lucifer shrugged. "I don't see why not," he agreed. "Though I'm sure both you and your aunt hope it won't."

Loki nodded in silent agreement. Chances were good that if such came up, other information he didn't want Cass to hear might come up as well. And if there wasn't an absolute need for it, he'd rather avoid that potential altogether.

The elevator opened and Lucifer stepped out. "I'd offer to give you a ride back to your hotel but the detective did seem rather insistent that I join her as soon as possible. Will you be able to make your way back without help or should I have Maze call a cab?"

Maze sauntered over from a shadow where she'd been hiding. "Already called one," she announced. "They're outside waiting for you."

Cass tried to give her thanks but Lucifer simply ushered her along, knowing such gestures weren't necessary. Part of her thought about the possibility of sharing some cooking with her later, as a thank you, but she was distracted from such thoughts as her party transferred to the inside of the waiting taxi.

Loki let out a sigh as he watched the sidewalk slide away as the driver headed out. Though he was still trying to work out the details, he couldn't help but feel he was on the right track about what had happened to Hiro and why he was able to do some of the things he could now do. He just wasn't sure if he wanted to contemplate any other potential abilities the youth might have.

Chapter Text

Tony still couldn't believe Bruce had just left him there. It wasn't entirely surprising, given the circumstances, but it was the principle of the matter. And to find the hospital staff had confiscated his phone on top of all that, making giving the man a stern lecture impossible, he wasn't the most happy of men.

"Just how much longer do you plan on keeping me here?" he demanded when the nurse came back in to check his vitals. He knew he was being stubborn, impertinent, and a touch childish, but he also didn't really care. Something was going on. Hiro was somehow involved, and there was no way he was going to just let matters stay as they were.

The nurse checked his temperature, noting it down on his tablet. "As soon as the doctor clears you," he answered, sounding more patient than his patient deserved. "You took quite the beating. He just wants to make sure everything checks out."

At least they'd put him up in a private suite, Tony sighed. There was that small mercy. They'd gotten him right in from moment one, giving him the VIP treatment. Well, as far as hospitals went that was. Part of him wondered if this was the same hospital Wasabi was in but dismissed the idea. There were too many hospitals in the area to really know for sure without asking, and he wasn't about to ask.

"You do know I've been through much worse, right?" he quipped. He found the beeping of the monitors around him annoying at best as he shifted enough to try and drink some of the water left on the little table next to his bed. At least they hadn't forbidden him to drink something, though, again, part of him wished it was something else in the cup besides water.

Still bent on following doctor's orders, the nurse merely gave a noncommittal grunt. "I'll still let the doctor decide."

Tony had half a mind to check himself out. If it weren't for that fact that his ears still rung like a sonic device getting ready to detonate, and the raging headache he was trying to ignore, he'd be inclined to do just that. But the explosion had shaken him more than he cared to admit. He just wanted to know what was going on and why. "Can I at least have my phone back?" he asked in resignation. "Promise I won't call for someone to spring me out of this place."

The nurse gave him a wry glance, not quite sure he believed him. "We'll see," he finally said as he took Tony's water cup to refill it from the bathroom sink.

It was probably as good as he was going to get at the moment. Someone probably had told the guy he might be difficult. The question was should he wonder who had told them that or not. He didn't even have a regular phone in his room he could use to call someone, which seemed hardly fair. Not that people seemed to use them anymore. But the fact that he couldn't even get JARVIS to go out and contact someone was less than awesome. If only he'd been wearing his suit! But he hadn't been and now he had to deal with the consequences of someone else's actions. He hoped to bring them to justice soon, before anything else happened.

Despite the fantastic art, most of which was actually quite interesting, Kally couldn't help but continue to feel that something was off. So, while they took a moment to sit down, she pulled out her phone and had Sammy scan the various frequencies to see if she could find anything out of place. The answer popped up as Honey Lemon was bending over a drinking fountain to get a drink.

"Crap!" the half Valkyrie exclaimed, causing Honey to choke on her mouthful of water.

GoGo looked over from the bench where she'd plopped down. "What's up?" she asked wile popping a gum bubble. Despite the looks from various museum goers, and a few workers, she'd refused to dispose of the pink wad.

Kally let out her breath, taking in more air before answering. "Someone set up some bombs at the airport. And, according to the pictures, they took out Tony's plane, along with a good chunk of the private hangers."

Fred looked like he was about to be sick while GoGo shot to her feet. "Please tell me no one was in the plane when it happened."

Looking more than uncomfortable, Kally wasn't sure what to say at first. "Actually, they were planning on flying everyone home today. Tony tried to convince the police to let me go with them but only got permission to take the others back. If what Sammy found is correct, they were supposed to fly out only moments before the explosion."

GoGo frowned while Honey gasped. "Not good," the adrenaline junky said as she reached for her phone and pulled up a news app. The explosion was headlining, with pictures of firefighters fighting to put out the blaze. She quickly scanned through the article, pausing to catch her breath. "Sounds like they're not sure how many were caught in the blaze yet," she paraphrased. "But at least the other students got out of there before anything happened. Seems like someone was able to put in an anonymous tips minutes before it happened, allowing them to get almost everyone evacuated from the plane."

Honey clenched her hands together in front of her chest. "But what about the others? Those people working at the airport? Did they make it out okay? Is there anything we can do?"

"The police are on scene," Sammy spoke up from the phone. "As well as the bomb squad. I don't see how going there would be of any help at the moment."

A few patrons looked their way, disapproving looks on their faces. A few even put fingers to their lips in an almost warning manner.

"Maybe we should take this outside," Honey worried, not wanting to be kicked out of a museum. They might not ever be allowed back in if that happened.

Fred agreed to that and began leading the way back to main entrance. "Do you think that might be why Aunt Cass called about Hiro? Think he might have gone there to investigate? You know he probably had Baymax scanning for those kinds of things."

But Kally shook her head. "According to Sammy, he hasn't been anywhere near the airport, though he did go to a nightclub called Lux. Not sure why though." Part of her felt sure he'd gone there with Loki. But, again, she wasn't sure why. Except that when she'd quickly looked up the club, she'd noticed its owner was one Lucifer Morningstar. That couldn't be a coincidence.

Reaching the main doors, GoGo held it open. "Think we should head over there just to make sure?"

"Hiro is no longer at Lux," Sammy announced. "According to Baymax's GPS signal, they are now headed in a direction coinciding with the hotel."

Honey worried her lip. "Then maybe that's where we should go too."

Fred nodded in agreement. "Maybe he knows something. Maybe he doesn't. But at the very least, he should know what's going on."

"Maybe we should just call him first," Honey suggested. "We don't know why he was there in the first place."

Before anyone else could comment on that suggestion, Fred had whipped out his phone and hit the speed dial for Hiro's cell. Putting it on speaker, they waited to hear Hiro's voice coming over the other end but all they got was his voice mail. "Well, so much for that," he commented.

GoGo decided to take matters into her own hands and headed towards the street. Letting out a piercing whistle, she hailed a taxi. "Let's go!" she ordered as the cab pulled up to the curb. Thankfully the cab was large enough to accommodate them all, not that it was hard with there only being four of them. GoGo had given the address of the hotel before they'd finished closing all the doors.

The moment Chloe pulled up on the tarmac, she knew it was bad. There were several bomb squad vehicles in the area, along with a plethora of fire trucks and other emergency vehicles. As things stood, all traffic in and out of the complex had been suspended, with the exception of emergency vehicles. And all flights were at least temporarily canceled or rerouted to land elsewhere.

Ella pulled up right behind her, a bit giddy inside about being able to drive directly onto the tarmac, even though her professional side kept things calm on the outside. She quickly grabbed her kit and followed the detective in.

"What have we got?" Chloe asked the first officer she came in contact with. She knew that as soon as any federal authority showed up, she'd be pushed out of the investigation and wanted to push her way in as much as possible before that happened. Chances were really good they were related to the incident the other day and she wanted answers.

The man she'd tapped turned around and gave her a winning grin. "Well if it isn't Detective Decker." Jack, even though he'd been spurned by the woman before, couldn't help but give her a dashing smile. "How's the leg?" He'd noticed her lack of a crutch, as well as the limping and potential blood spotting her pants. Part of him couldn't help but feel concerned at that.

Chloe paused on her mental tracks, not sure what to think of this new development. It took her a moment to restart her brain. "Um…" she cleared her throat. "It's fine," she finally answered. "What I'd really like to know is why you're here and why you didn't tell me you were with law enforcement."

Jack continued to give her his trademark smile, noticing Ella just out of range behind his current target. "You didn't ask," he replied almost cheekily. "As to why I'm here, its part of my investigation in regards to the recent bombings."

Though Jack decidedly wore some kind of official uniform, Chloe wasn't entirely sure which division he belonged to. The insignia wasn't exactly familiar to her. "What's this UNIT? I've never heard of it?"

Meanwhile, Ella caught sight of the space captain and found her heart palpitating almost painfully in her chest. Without thinking about what she was doing, she brushed past Chloe to hold out her hand in an almost fawning manner. "I'm Ella," she introduced, looking more enamored than was absolutely necessary.

"Captain Jack Harkness," Jack replied in kind, taking her hand in his and giving it a gentle kiss before turning his attention back to the still unimpressed Chloe Decker. "As to UNIT, it stands for United Nations Intelligence Task force, or at least used to. They now call us the Unified Intelligence Taskforce. We're a worldwide military intelligence agency, though I'm not surprised if you haven't heard of us before. After all, we're pretty clandestine."

Strictly speaking, he wasn't officially a part of UNIT, at least not currently. But Torchwood was just as good, even if it had some potentially negative connotations. He didn't think it a good idea to drag them any further into things than necessary. And by using the UNIT name, he garnered more authority outside of alien involvement. Not that UNIT was supposed to be doing anything outside of alien involvement, but the name garnered enough weight to cancel out that consideration, especially with all the people he knew who owed him favors.

"The Unified Intelligence Task force you say?" Chloe asked with more than a little skepticism. "I haven't heard of it before. If it's a real thing."

But Ella interrupted again, still looking all dreamy-eyed. "I've heard of it," she announced. "Though they're usually connected with things over in England."

Chloe resisted the urge to smack her head into something. It wouldn't do anyone any favors. That and her leg was already hurting more than enough to discourage the attempt. "First the Avengers and now some international organization trying to encroach on my investigation. Now all I need is the FBI and CIA to try and take over and my life couldn't get any worse."

Jack gave her a bemused look. "Believe me when I say they tried already. The CIA has no jurisdiction with domestic events. And since no one's sure if this is a terrorist act yet or not, "he held up a hand to stave off any comments, "the FBI isn't sure if they want to try and muscle in or not. Strictly speaking, since my organization is higher up the food chain, I'm in charge here."

"Just great," Chloe said under her breath. She wasn't sure which was worse, dealing with the FBI or with this creep.

Ella looked a bit confused by her comment but quickly brushed it aside. "So, I was wondering if I could still go in and check the scene out. I mean if it's safe and everything. It is safe, isn't it?"

The space captain gave a wave of his hand to indicate she could proceed. "Even though I'm in charge, I'm still relying on local units, and I'd rather work with the L.A.P.D. on this one since I know you already have a leg up over the other agencies. So, by all means, go ahead. The bomb squad's already cleared the area in question and found the remains of five incendiary devices, which I can have sent over if you prefer to give them a look over yourself."

Chloe wasn't prepared for this level of cooperation and it showed in her confused expression. "I'd like that," she answered once she'd gathered herself together. "I'd also still like to walk the scene and talk to anyone who may have seen anything."

"Of course," Jack agreed. "I know there was a bus full of students who were in the area when it happened. One of the airport police informed me they were sent back to their original hotel and can be found there. I didn't send anyone over, knowing you'd probably be around and would want to question them yourself."

Again, Chloe wasn't prepared for that concession and it showed. She quickly schooled herself back to the professional outer appearance she'd cultivated over the years as she fell into step with the captain and her evidence technician. "I appreciate your consideration. I'll send someone over as soon as we finish here. Was there anyone else involved who might give us some information?"

Jack debated on mentioning the billionaire Avenger, but decided it best. "If it helps, it was Tony Stark's plane. He was caught up in the blast radius and was sent to the hospital. Apparently the pilot and attendants didn't make it out in time. They're still trying to track down any other airport personnel to get a full tally of those caught in the blast, but I've got people working on that. And there are a few fires still being put out further down, as you can see by the smoke."

For the first time, Chloe realized some of the fire engines weren't just sitting around but were actively in use, just as Jack said, only further down along the private wing of the airport. "What about everyone else inside? Those in the main terminals?"

"We're keeping them on lock down until we can clear the whole structure," Jack said with a shrug as they came up on the wreckage of Stark's plane. "But the main blast seems to have originated in the private hanger just over there." He pointed at the ruins in question. Only the walls and ceiling remained of the structure. Anything else that might have been inside was reduced to slag, though Chloe noticed Ella running ahead to talk to some of the bomb squad members removing something from the scene.

Chloe paused, wishing she'd thought to bring her crutch after all. She'd just been in too much of a hurry to think about it. That or some pain pills. "Do you think it possible Mr. Stark was the target all along?"

Jack shrugged. "It's possible," he agreed. "But unless we hear otherwise, we're going on the working theory they were simply trying to create as much chaos as possible, which is why—"

"You're having the bomb squad check the rest of the complex," Chloe finished for him. "Makes sense." Chances were good it had been placed in that area of the airport on purpose, but it never hurt to be thorough. "I'm going to call in my colleague and see what his take is on all that."

"Be my guest," Jack agreed, noting the pain on her face. "If you like, I can have a little office set up for you on the ground so you can at least sit down."

Chloe thought about taking him up on the offer but her determined spirit said no. "Thanks, but I'm fine." She pulled out her phone and dialed Lucifer's number, requesting he join her as soon as possible. She wasn't sure if she'd interrupted something important on his end or not but didn't feel bad about it. But it probably wouldn't be bad to find a place to sit down for a moment, and maybe see if someone had some painkillers she could have. She'd probably be better off having one of the EMTs still on hand giving her thigh a look over but decided against it. There was too much to do at the moment to worry about herself.

Chapter Text

Cass was more than happy to close the hotel room door. The day wasn't even half over yet and they'd already had more adventures than she'd care to have in a whole week, let alone a few hours. Of course it didn't help that this wasn't actually her or Hiro's hotel room, but Loki's. Why she'd allowed herself to be convinced to head up to the honeymoon suite, of all places, was beyond her, but there were things that needed explaining and it was less likely they would be interrupted this way, since no one seemed to know this was Loki's current abode, outside of a handful of people.

There was something to be said about the suite, though. It was large, had a nice sitting area, the dining area, and the bedroom was separate from the rest of the whole area. There was even a nice little kitchenette area, should its occupants feel inclined to make their own food.

Hiro headed towards the couch, which faced an impressively-sized television screen. He flopped down onto the cushy surface of the nearest section, releasing a heavy sigh. They hadn't talked much the entire ride back to the hotel, outside of deciding to head up here instead of immediately back to their designated rooms. Baymax wasn't far behind him, opting to stand off to one side of his young charge. The couch looked like it would swallow him whole and not easily let him out again.

Loki, for his part, began to pace the room, deep in thought. There was so much going on that it didn't help with the larger picture, and that bothered him. There was decidedly something going on. Maybe they just didn't have enough pieces to the puzzle yet. Or maybe they weren't looking at all of the pieces available to them. That idea brought him up short and he stopped in his tracks, looking even more thoughtful.

Cass had taken up one of the chairs at the dining table and had watched Loki as he paced. Since he was technically the oldest of the group, even if he didn't exactly look it, and probably had more knowledge on what was going on with Hiro than she did, she was more than willing to defer to him for now. But when she noticed him stopping so quickly, and the expression on his face, she couldn't help but wonder what was going through his mind. "Something wrong?" she inquired, not sure if she wanted the answer or not.

"I just had a thought," Loki confessed, still not sure if he wanted to go in that direction or not. He frowned as he thought it over. There were decided risks involved but it was one way of getting at least a better idea of what might be going on. It wouldn't be comfortable for him, or for Hiro for that matter, but it could shed some light on a few things.

Hiro's aunt stood from her chair and moved to stand right in front of him. She had to look up a bit, as he was the taller of the two, arms folded across her chest, frown in place. "Care to share with the rest of us?"

Looking more than a little uncomfortable, Loki forced himself to relax. "There is a way I can delve into some of Hiro's memories and see if that will give us a better idea of what's going, or at least why he's having these unusual episodes." He still wasn't sure if that was the best course of action but it was better than doing nothing. "The only problem is that would likely be very uncomfortable for both parties." He turned his gaze to Baymax, not willing to announce other potential side effects.

The robot took a few waddling footsteps closer. "I do not understand."

But Hiro sat up, moving towards the edge of the cushion he occupied. "Uncomfortable how?"

"It could possibly trigger another episode of what you call reactive reintegration," the Asgardian admitted. "It's not something I do often," he defended. "Basically speaking, I would delve into your mind, accessing the memories in question. In order to do so, both of us would have to essentially relive the memory."

Hiro looked decidedly nervous about the idea. "I don't know…" he hedged. "I really don't like the sound of that." The last time he'd had to purposely relive any memories, he'd only done so to put the universe back together, and the experience was definitely not something he cared to repeat. It was one of those things he didn't really know how to talk about and so hadn't really shared with anyone.

Baymax tilted his head to one side. "From what little knowledge I have of this procedure, I can only deduce that it may be similar to when Hiro made mental contact with the Makt. If such is the case, there are many risk factors that need to be taken into account."

"What he said," Cass chimed in. She wasn't sure what all had occurred as a result of Hiro's adventures, only what she'd observed afterwards. "I'm not going to force him to do anything he doesn't feel up to handling, especially not after everything that's has happened recently."

All eyes seemed to focus on Hiro and he looked like a deer caught in headlights. In the end, even though Aunt Cass was his legal guardian, he knew the decision was his. There was no real way of knowing what would happen. The fact that Loki was an entity unto himself was something he was more than aware of, though he wasn't sure how that kind of energy would affect whatever energy that had, for better or worse, decided to bond with him. "I guess we could give it a try," he finally managed, looking a bit sick at the idea. "But if anything happens, and Baymax says to stop..."

"I'll abort the attempt immediately," Loki promised. What he didn't tell him was that it might not be something the robot could communicate to him once the process was started. It would take a great deal of concentration on his part to find the right memories, let alone to stay with them and try to protect Hiro's mind against the backlash. He might not be able to hear the robot at all and they'd just have to let things run their course and deal with the consequences afterwards.

Cass still didn't look sure about this course of action and it showed as she nervously chewed on her nails. "Maybe we should take a few precautions," she suggested. "You know, just in case something happens. Like maybe having a trash can handy or something." She'd only seen Hiro be sick the once but it made sense that it could happen again.

"That is an excellent idea," Baymax complimented. "I would also advise having some form of liquid nutritional substance at hand to counter any potential lowering of Hiro's blood sugar and electrolyte levels." He'd seen it happen far too many times to want to take any chances. It was a pity they didn't have any of those survival pouches from Davish 7 handy. He'd have to ask the Doctor for some the next time they met, if they met.

Loki nodded at both suggestions. "I can have room service send something up," he agreed. "We should also try to make you as comfortable as possible should you pass out. Perhaps we should move to the bedroom where there are fewer obstacles in case you should have an episode." He'd only seen the one real episode, but he'd heard about some of the others and thought it best to limit the potential of Hiro knocking into something that might worsen the physical damage already inflicted on his body. And by association, it might keep him from injuring himself any more than necessary as well.

It was hard to not want to protest that particular change in venue, but Cass could see the reasoning behind it. She hadn't seen many of Hiro's episodes either, but it would also put them closer to the bathroom, in case they needed anything from it, like wash clothes or towels. "If we're going to do that, I think I should get the first aid kit from our room too, just to be safe."

"Agreed," Loki said as he moved to the in-room phone. "I'll call up room service for the beverage suggested while you retrieve whatever supplies from your room you feel necessary. Baymax can try and help Hiro calm his nerves. Even from here, I can sense his trepidation." Not that he blamed him at all for it. He'd likely feel the same way if he were in the teen's shoes.

Both the Asgardian and the aunt looked over at Hiro, who did indeed look more than a little nervous about the whole prospect. The teen gave a bit of a nervous laugh before gulping heavily. "I'll be fine," he said in mild protest to their looks of thoughtful concern. "We need this information, right?" Chances were good he couldn't do it on his own, not without other complication setting in. At least this way, the exploration would be guided.

Cass had to nod as Loki did the same. "Yes." A heavy sigh released from her lips. "Well, I guess that means I need to get going if I want to beat room service." Loki had already placed the order and it was only a matter of time before they brought it up. She quickly headed to the door.

"You might need this," Loki said as he quickly joined her, handing her the secondary key card to his suite. Cass nodded her thanks before slipping out of the room, allowing Loki's attention to return to Hiro. "I can't promise things will go well," he admitted. "But I'll do my best to be careful when the time comes."

Hiro could only nod as a lump formed in his throat.

The taxi pulled up in front of the hotel and Honey Lemon, Fred, GoGo, and Kally exited it. Fred quickly paid the driver while the others started towards the main doors. He quickly caught up to them. "So, guys, are we just going to storm up there and ask what's going on or do we have a plan?"

"I figured we could just ask if they know what's going on and why Hiro was at that club," GoGo admitted as she opened the front door.

The others followed her inside, heading towards the elevator. "Makes as much as anything does," Honey commented as they boarded the car heading up. "It's not like we know if he knows anything. I mean he might not even be aware that something happened at the airport."

They'd hashed through variations of that conversation the entire ride back to the hotel, but that didn't change the facts. Kally wasn't sure what to do about the whole situation but slid her key card over her pocket as the elevator arrived at the appropriate floor. "I guess we're about to find out," she sighed.

After walking down to the appropriate door, Kally slid the card and the green light flashed, giving them access to the room. Everyone seemed to crowd in around her, but the room was empty. "I'm just going to check in Hiro's room," Kally stated as she pushed open the door separating her and Cass's shared room from Hiro's. But the room was just as devoid of their target as the other had been. "He's not here," she admitted as she closed the door once more.

Honey sat down on one of the mattresses. "Where do you think they've gone?" she wondered out loud.

"You're guess is as good as mine," GoGo stated with a popping gum bubble.

"Maybe they were abducted by aliens," Fred theorized. "It is possible." His stance changed to a bit of a defensive one as the ladies all gave him odd looks.

Kally pulled her phone out of her pocket. "Sammy, any ideas?"

The phone's screen lit up as the AI began to speak. "According to my last ping, Baymax should be in the hotel. As his GPS locator appears to be deactivated, I can't be sure he's still here."

"Great," GoGo griped as she dropped down beside Honey Lemon. "Now what do we do? For all we know, they've somehow gotten in trouble but we can't do a think about it."

Fred shrugged. "I guess the only thing we can do is wait and see. In the meantime, maybe we could have another dip in the pool to cool off before lunch. I don't know about you, but I'd really like a go at that hot tub."

After some dithering on the subject, the girls agreed it was probably the best course of action. It would keep them at the hotel, in close proximity to the last known location of their query as possible, and would allow them to distress a bit. Each headed to their respective rooms to change into swim attire, with Fred following suit.

Bruce only popped back at the hotel long enough to ensure himself that the students hadn't gone off on their own. Satisfied, he'd at least granted them permission to use the pool and other onsite facilities if they so desired. Sure that would keep them out of trouble for the time being, he decided to have JARVIS track down where they'd taken Tony and head in that direction. He wasn't sure how his fellow Avenger would react when he got there, but he knew it had to be done.

Feeling more than a little nervous about the potential outcome, Banner hailed a second cab, giving the address to the hospital in question. With luck, he'd be able to appease the billionaire with what information he'd been able to glean while at Lux.

Cass returned a few minutes before room service arrived with the requested items. She placed the first aid kit on the table and rummaged through it, looking for things they might need. Outside of some painkillers, she wasn't really sure what to grab. Any further consideration was interrupted when Loki's order arrived. He'd thought to include enough sandwiches for everyone, as well as the requested drink, a fancier version of a sports drink served in a tall glass.

"Well, looks like we've got everything we need," Cass commented as she accepted the tray, pushing her kit out of the way so the food could sit next to it. "I'd say we should eat first but I'm not sure if that's a good idea or not."

Hiro nodded in agreement. The lump in his throat had grown a bit, or at least it felt like it had, as his nervousness had increased. He hadn't felt this nervous when he'd asked the Doctor to help him reestablish contact with the Makt. Maybe it was because he had a better idea of what all it might entail this time. Or that there was a larger possibility of undesirable results. It was hard to pinpoint the exact reason, but if there was one thing he was sure about it was that he wouldn't be able to force himself to eat anything until after it was all over with.

"Probably best to wait and see how things go," Loki agreed, seeing the look on Hiro's face. He doubted the teen could eat anything now, even if he'd wanted. And even if he could, chances were good whatever he ate wouldn't stay down. "If you're ready," he said, indicating they should move into the bedroom. Not only would it give them a less harmful environment, but it would give them more privacy should anyone try barging into the suite uninvited.

With a bit of help, Hiro got to his feet, Baymax waddling by his side in case he should be needed. The robot let him to through the bedroom doorway first, followed by Aunt Cass and Loki The healthcare companion followed after while Hiro took a seat on the king-sized mattress, scooting far enough back that he wouldn't easily fall off. It didn't look like the bed had been slept in at all, though that could just be because the maid had remade it earlier.

"Okay, so what do I need to do?" Hiro asked as he looked from Cass to Loki, his tongue threatening to stick to the top of his mouth. He knew he'd needed some kind of foreknowledge in what he was supposed to do when he'd forced contact with the Makt. Now he had absolutely no idea.

Loki closed the bedroom door before moving closer to the bed, noting that Cass had taken up a position on the mattress, far enough away that she wouldn't get in the way. "The only thing I need you to do is try and relax." Deciding it might also be better if Hiro was already in a prone position, he added the instruction to lie down.

Hiro moved to comply with the request, making sure he was a good foot away from the edge of the mattress. In a way, he supposed it made sense. If he passed out, for whatever reason, he'd already be down and wouldn't have the added jolt of falling, which would likely not do his head any favors. "I guess I'm as ready as I'll ever be," he announced.

"Perhaps it would be wise to go through some calming breathing exercises," Baymax suggested. "Please close your eyes and breathe in and hold your breath for five seconds. And now exhale. Breathe in and hold your breath." He continued to coach his charge until Hiro's vitals had calmed down at least a little bit before he nodded to Loki to proceed.

Taking the utmost care possible, Loki moved in to lean over the teen and reached out one hand to press against Hiro's forehead, the other hand supporting his weight against the mattress. An almost jolt of energy seemed to go through both of them and they both tensed as Loki's eyes closed, his head tilting back without permission.

For the briefest of moments, Loki wasn't sure if trying to enter Hiro's mind had worked or not. He felt like was back in the halls of Odin's palace, with doors off in all directions. The next thing he knew all the doors slammed open and he almost felt as though he was drowning in energy.

Knowing this process could cause all kinds of consequences, the god of mischief did his best to try and sort through all the information there, but it was difficult. There didn't seem to be much rhyme or reason to how things were organized. It was like a giant nest of knotted string and other oddments. But, after some careful searching, he found the memory he thought most pressing, Hiro's experience back at Lux before he'd passed out only a few hours ago.

Chapter Text

Cass wasn't sure what was going on and it worried her. Sure she'd agreed to go along with this whole memory exploration thing, mostly because it was really Hiro's decision and he'd said yes, but she couldn't help but feel concerned. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad, or worrisome if she had more of an idea of what all the process entailed. It was just that both her nephew and Loki had stiffened like they were being zapped by an electrical current the moment Loki had touched Hiro's forehead. And even though both had started with closed eyes, both of their eyes were now open. The only problem was that they were glowing with blue energy and she wasn't sure if that was supposed to happen or not. "Uh, Baymax? Is that supposed to happen?" she finally asked

Baymax didn't so much as turn his attention away from the two males. "I do not know," he admitted. "However, I can tell you that they are both emitting energy on the same frequency."

Not sure what that meant, Cass could only sit back and wait to see what would happen next.

The contents of the memory seemed to fly by like a movie in fast motion. The mental strain alone was almost enough to throw his mind into an uncontrolled spin, but Loki hung on for dear life. And just as quickly as it had started, the memory closed to him at around the same point that Hiro had passed out in his arms.

Now back in the replica of a vast hall, Loki panted, his astral eyes wide in shock. There was almost too much information in that one memory to process. But there were a few others he wanted to look at before he severed the connection. "Forgive me for looking, but I must know," he said to Hiro's subconscious mind before delving into the next memory in question.

Something had to be wrong, Cass decided as she inched closer to Hiro and Loki. For whatever reason, Loki's skin had changed colors, now turning a blue color that almost matched the color of his eyes. And there were tears leaking out from the corners. "This can't be right," she said aloud, mostly because Baymax wasn't saying anything. "This needs to stop."

"I do not recommend attempting to sever the connection," Baymax interrupted, moving a few more waddling steps closer to the corner of the bed. "While both of their vital signs are elevated, I do not detect any cause for alarm."

But Cass wasn't having any of that and she slid forward to reach over her nephew and almost hesitantly reached out a hand to touch Loki on the shoulder, hoping that would give him enough of a signal to stop whatever it was he was doing. Static electricity ran up the length of her arm, making it tingle almost painfully, even after she quickly removed her hand. She grimaced as she shook out the affected appendage, moving a few feet back just to be safe. "I don't like this," she admitted. She felt like her hair must be standing on end and almost wanted a mirror to confirm this, even though her probing hand told her otherwise.

At that precise instant, both Loki and Hiro's teeth clenched together as if holding back a scream. The next moment, Loki staggered back, almost falling off the bed as Baymax quickly moved to intercept him. "I have got you," the robot said as the Asgardian panted like he'd just run a marathon, his eyes wide in shock as his heart raced.

For Hiro's part, he arched his back away from the mattress, much like he had back in that back room at the arena. A strangled cry of pain escaped his lips before he went limp, eyes closed, chest rising and falling in a manner similar to Loki's. A few tears leaked from his eyes as well.

An almost electric burst of energy seemed to momentarily engulf the room before it just as quickly dissipated and Cass couldn't help but look a bit stunned. "What...just...happened?" she asked, not sure she wanted to know the answer.

Baymax continued to hold Loki up as the man threatened to sag to the floor, still trying to recover himself. "It would appear that there was a surge of energy that prematurely ended the procedure." There was really no other way of describing it, at least not as far as he could process. The released energy had decidedly felt similar to the usual energy Hiro emitted when experiencing some kind of unusual event. He just wasn't sure what to do about Loki's reactions, mostly because he wasn't as familiar as he'd like with how the frost giant's biology worked.

It took Loki several long moments to pull his mind back from whatever void it had been pushed into when he'd tried to touch an innocent-looking memory. Judging from the reaction, that particularly memory was nowhere near as unassuming as he'd originally supposed. And now that his faculties were back with the waking world, he realized that most of his body felt an odd sort of numbness unlike anything he'd ever experienced before. He was more than grateful for the supporting arms of the robot behind him. "Well, that was unexpected," he finally managed, thankful they hadn't decided to eat beforehand.

The robot gently escorted Loki towards a clear portion of the bed, helping him onto the mattress where he kind of flopped over until he was lying next to Hiro. He noted the blue tint of the Asgardian's skin was changing back to the more familiar tones, taking that as a good sign. His vitals were still a bit erratic, but so were Hiro's. "It would appear that your blood sugar levels have decreased significantly," he observed. "Perhaps it would be wise to ingest some of the liquid nourishment intended for Hiro."

Since the boy was unconscious, chances were good he wouldn't be drinking any of the electrolyte mix any time soon. And Loki looked like he could decidedly use it. As for Hiro, according to Baymax's scans, he was in no danger, exhibiting symptoms similar to the end of any of his reactive reintegrations. He'd have to encourage him to drink something once he regained consciousness but didn't feel a need to worry until he did, unless something changed.

"I just need a moment," Loki informed both the robot and a very anxious-looking Cass. He'd somehow managed to flop between the aunt and her nephew, though part of him thought she'd scooted out of the way when she'd realized where Baymax was carrying him. It didn't help that he had yet to regain sensation in most of his body, let alone motor control.

Cass let out a bemused sigh. "I think you might need more than a moment," she commented. "I mean if what you're going through is anything like what Hiro usually does. Not that I've seen too many such reactions or anything but it seems par for the course."

"It is," Baymax confirmed. "During such occurrences, it typically takes Hiro between one to three hours to fully recover." If Hiro was willing to cooperate with Baymax's suggestions, the robot mentally amended.

Loki continued to stare up at the ceiling. "Now I know why he still looks so frail." Images flashed behind his eyes as he closed them again, images from what he'd been able to see in Hiro's mind. They were far from comforting but explained more than he'd dared hope. And, judging from the quality of those he'd touched, some were decidedly more painful than others.

"Did you see what you wanted?" Cass asked, not sure if now was a good time to ask or not. "Did you figure out how he knew about the bombs?"

Wishing he could shake his head, Loki merely remained silent for a moment. "In a way," he admitted. He still wasn't sure how the teen had managed to mentally connect with the bombers, nor did he think Hiro knew either. Not that that was strictly right either. "I think Hiro somehow managed to connect with the surveillance equipment at the airport, though I have no idea how. And without even knowing, he stumbled across someone planting the bombs before anyone else could become aware of them."

Cass looked confused at this announcement. "How in the world did he manage that?" she wondered aloud, not really expecting an answer.

What Loki didn't tell her was that he'd also discovered that Hiro had somehow managed to merge with the plane's electrical system long enough to know that the pilot, copilot, and flight attendants had still been onboard when the bombs went off. That explained why he'd cried out about burning. And, in a way, his ability to merge with the energy of mechanical, technological entities didn't seem too farfetched, not after he'd managed to at least catch a glimpse of the memories of Hiro being merged with the computer system at the Hydra base. There were many other memories he'd managed to catch a glimpse of, or more, but he wasn't willing to acknowledge them just yet.

Baymax took the opportunity to go into the main room of the hotel suite and retrieve a glass of the high-octane sports drink. He'd poured a decent amount into a smaller, more manageable glass. "Perhaps it would be wise to use something to prop yourself up until your motor functions return," he observed, noting that Loki still seemed unable to move.

Hearing that, Cass gave the god of mischief an odd look. "You can't move?"

"At the moment?" Loki asked with a hint of irony as he tried and failed. "No. But I'm hoping that will be of short duration."

At Baymax's persistent advice, Cass slid closer to Loki's side and slipped her arms under his back to help him into a sitting position. And, after some jostling, both she and Baymax managed to get Loki closer to the headboard. That meant Hiro had to be moved a bit to lie closer to the foot of the bed, but it was finally done and the god of mischief was able to at least sit up, with a few pillows for added support stuffed behind his back.

"I haven't felt this vulnerable in some time," Loki confessed as Cass moved to the other side, now no longer on the mattress so she could accept the cup of liquid from Baymax. "I can't help but feel like an invalid incapable of doing anything." He supposed Hiro had had his fair share of the same feeling and could only feel a bit more empathy towards the youth.

Cass carefully held the cup of to Loki's lips so he could try and drink from it. "I'm not really good at these kinds of things," she confessed as some of the drink spilled onto his shirt. But at least some of it made it into his mouth and he swallowed gratefully.

Loki gave her a crinkle-eyed smile meant to try and defuse the air, though it looked more pained than cheerful. "It could be worse," he admitted. "You could be spoon feeding me, much as Dr. Bosch had to do with your nephew."

Being reminded of Hiro's time in the clutches of Hydra, Cass couldn't help but feel a sense of helplessness creeping upon her. "Was it really that bad?" she asked quietly.

"I'm sure your nephew tried to downplay the details," Loki said, "to try and ease any worry you might feel. But I can confirm that it was indeed that bad, if not worse, for him."

An involuntary shudder went down the proprietress's back. "Still trying to protect me," she said to herself as she glanced over at Hiro.

With at least some of the liquid now in his stomach, Loki did feel a bit of life returning to his limbs. He could at least now bend his fingers. "I don't believe it was out of an attempt to protect you," he corrected. "But more out of the sense that, without having gone through something similar yourself, there was no way for you to fully understand the depth of his experiences."

Cass had to agree that was true. There really wasn't any way she could fully understand what he'd been through, but she'd try to the best of her abilities. "I just wish he hadn't kept so much of that to himself," she said with a sigh as she held the cup up to Loki's lips once more.

Baymax watched the whole exchange with interest, "Hiro has not told me the whole of his experiences either." He probably knew more than Cass did, mostly since he'd been there during more of the reactive reintegration episodes. That and Hiro used Baymax as a sort of counselor, knowing any normal therapist would probably think him more than crazy with everything that had happened. The truth of the matter was that there probably wasn't really anyone out there, at least not in their usual circles, who could understand what all he'd been through, including Baymax. The only exception might be Kally, who had also been kidnapped, but with much different results and experiences.

Loki finally managed to move one arm enough to at least take hold of the cup Cass still held. There wasn't much strength in the grip, but it was a decided improvement from a minute ago. "I'm not surprised," he said in response to Baymax's comment. "There are a great many things I don't discuss with others for the main reason that they wouldn't be able to understand."

Cass supposed that made sense and decided to let the topic drop. She'd always known there would be things difficult for Hiro to explain to her, things she wouldn't understand, long before any of this happened. Science wasn't really her cup of tea. And she supposed that if she treated all of these experiences in a similar manner, she could find more peace with the whole when he seemed unable to explain something. "So, do you think Hiro was somehow able to do whatever he did there and see someone planting those other bombs back at the arena?"

That caught Loki off guard, though he'd taken a peek at that memory as well. "Unfortunately, no," he had to admit. "If what I've heard is correct, those bombs were likely placed a day or two prior to the event. With all the extra security precautions put in place, it would have been impossible to smuggle them in after that. I think we must chalk that one up to coincidence."

One more mystery for the universe, Cass supposed. She was only mildly surprised when Loki's other hand managed to meet his other one, closing around hers. A hint of red crept up her cheeks and she almost tried to pull her hands free, but the strength behind Loki's touch was still feeble at best. "Maybe you should eat something. It might give you your strength back faster," she suggested, speaking a bit more quickly than normal as she moved the cup towards the nightstand nearest them.

"I find I would agree," Baymax chimed in, noting the change in Cass's vital signs, a slight increase in heart rate, blood pressure, and temperature. He wisely chose not to mention it.

Looking more than a little nervous, Cass slid her hands from Loki's. "I'm going to go get those sandwiches," she announced, abruptly turning towards the door.

A small smile lifted the corners of Loki's lips as he watched her go.

Chapter Text

Unlike the day before, the pool area was actually pretty empty. Most of the spectators were gone, either having checked out of the hotel or just not coming up at all. Not all who had used the pool deck as a viewing platform had been staying at the hotel. But now there area was relatively free of individuals. And those that were there seemed more intent on enjoying the facilities instead of using the high vantage to check out the wreckage down the block.

Fred gave a gratified smile as he sank down into the heated whirlpool tub, the jets pressing against his back. "Now that's more like it." And while the day hadn't exactly gone s planned, it was a nice note to just sit back and relax.

"Still nothing new on Hiro or Aunt Cass?" Honey asked Kally as she set her towel on a nearby lounge chair.

Kally shook her head. She had her phone next to her, secure in a waterproof baggy. "Not yet, but Sammy will let us know if anything changes."

GoGo stepped down into the hot tub. "Just try not to worry about," she admonished. "It's not like we can do anything to remedy the situation."

Fred slid over to give GoGo access to the nearest jets. "So true," he agreed. "Might as well make the best of it." He leaned back against the wall of the small pool, resting his head on the cooler concrete.

Honey had to admit it was probably better to not worry about it until they had to. She removed her sandals and headed towards the stairs leading into the hot tub, feeling the bubbles wash over her skin as she entered the water. "This is nice," she had to admit as she settled onto the built in seat circling the entire pool. "You should really join us," she added, glancing over at Kally, who had taken up the lounge chair next to the one Honey's things occupied.

But Kally shook her head. "Once was more than enough for me." Instead, she held up a book she'd brought with her. "I can still get some sun while I'm out here though. And someone needs to keep the time so you guys aren't in there too long."

Fred found he had to agree with that. "I do tend to stay in the tub too long," he confessed. "It just feels so good!"

GoGo just shook her head at him. But the water was relaxing, even if the jets didn't quite hit where she wanted them to without slouching.

A sudden wave of almost vertigo seemed to ripple through the air, radiating out from below them and Kally found that every hair on her body felt like it was standing on end. Her senses kicked into overdrive and her muscles tensed. Just as suddenly as it appeared, the energy wave washed away, like a rippled in a pond moving away from its center. "What in the world? Did you guys feel that?"

"Feel what?" GoGo asked as she looked over at the teen. "I didn't feel anything. Did you guys feel anything?"

Fred looked a bit embarrassed. "Um, sorry guys… I may have… um... you know…"

GoGo gave him a look. "No, we don't know. You may have done what?"

The mascot gave a nervous kind of laugh. "I may have passed a bit of gas."

This comment caused GoGo to roll her eyes and Honey's eyes to go wide, though neither girl volunteered to get out of the hot tub.

Kally resisted the urge to smack herself in the head. "Not what I meant." But it became apparent they hadn't, and it was probably just as well. There had been a hint of the same energy from back at the Hydra base, though she wasn't sure if that was important or not. But that thought led her to Hiro. If it had come from him, chances were good he was still in the immediate area. Part of her wanted to go and look around but she knew she'd get in trouble without an adult with her.

The two girls in the hot tub continued their soak while Fred got out, dripping water as he moved towards Kally's lounge chair. "Something up?" he wondered, trying to be quiet as he sat on the other side of her.

But she just shook her head. "Must have just been a cold chill from the breeze."

Fred nodded. There was a bit of a breeze that had picked up. "That or you're hungry. I know I am." He turned to face the hot tub. "How about it, guys? You hungry yet? Cuz I'm starving!"

"When are you never hungry?" GoGo quipped but decided to get out of the hot tub anyway, followed closely by Honey. There was no sense in wasting the opportunity to eat good food.

Lucifer pulled up onto the airport tarmac and couldn't help but notice the various emergency vehicles still present, including the bomb squad. He supposed it only stood to reason, though none of the fire engines seemed to currently be in use. The devil couldn't help but feel a bit lucky to have gotten past security at all, without Chloe having to be there or vouching for him that was. He supposed that only meant he was well enough known that he'd gotten by on that alone. Until he realized who was actually leading the investigation.

"Jack Harkness," Lucifer greeting in an almost ironic ton. "I somehow felt I hadn't seen the last of you." He gave him a meaningful smile, with hints of his devil face underneath. "If you'd be so kind, I'd like to find my partner."

The space captain was there to greet him the moment he'd parked his car, something that was meant to be a little disconcerting. He was sure Maze had already told him the man was still alive, despite many attempts to "take out the garbage", as it were. "In a moment," Jack replied as he took the man aside, next to one of the still intact hangers. "I wanted to have a word with you about her."

Lucifer rolled his eyes, letting out a bit of an impatient sigh. "If you want to know if you can date and or otherwise sleep with her, the answer is no. She's not interested. I thought she'd already made that abundantly clear at our first meeting."

Jack shook his head, resisting the urge to roll his own eyes. "I wasn't even thinking of asking that, but thank you for making it quite clear where the detective stands."

"You're welcome," Lucifer returned with a bit of a stiff bow. "Now, if you don't mind, I'd really like to get to work." He moved to go around the hanger and to the area where most of the activity seemed to be happening but was stopped by Jack grabbing onto his arm. He looked down at the offending appendage and back up. "Unless you want to lose that arm, I highly recommend letting me go."

Counting to ten in his head, Jack refused to comply. He just chose to count quickly, lest the devil actually attempt to make good on his threat. "I wanted to ask just how badly she was injured in that blast."

He now had his attention and it showed as Lucifer just stared at him, trying to comprehend what he'd just been asked. Was that concern he saw in the cocky man's eyes? Yes, perhaps it was. "I'm not privy to the exact amount of damage inflicted, but I believe it sufficient to cause her difficulties," he answered hesitantly. Just where was the space captain going with this? Not to mention, how on earth had he managed to become the man in charge? Just judging from the way the others in the area treated him told him that the man was definitely seen as the ultimate authority. "I did send her to the hospital shortly after she sustained her injury."

Jack nodded to himself. It didn't exclude the possibility that Chloe was downplaying it far more than she should. "All right then," he said in a sudden change of emotion, rubbing his hands together. "Let's go find your detective, shall we?"

Lucifer eyed him with some misgivings, wondering why he'd thought it important enough to ask. Well, as soon as he found the detective, he'd see for himself, if she was willing to cooperate, which wasn't always the case. "Very well," he sighed in resignation. "Lead on."

Wasabi was not happy. And by not happy he meant less than enthusiastic at the way things had turned out. Why on earth had that Dirk guy decided to come back, and without the others there to act as some kind of buffer? It wasn't like he knew him or anything. "Now why are you here again?" Wasabi asked as he tried to eat some of the lovely green jello one of the nurses had brought him.

Dirk sat on one of the chairs in the room, grinning like the cat that ate the canary. "I thought I told you," he replied. "Out of all of Hiro's friends, you're the only one I haven't really gotten to know just yet. Besides, it will help me with my investigation."

The physicist gave him a look. "Okay," he said slowly as he set his jello cup down. "I'm not sure I know what that means." He winced as he took in too large of a breath, making his ribs send out a sharp stabbing pain. "Just why are you investigating Hiro again?" It took some effort to not wheeze out his words but he managed.

The holistic detective waved an errant hand. "Not for anything you might be thinking," he decided to supply. "And, to be perfectly honest, I'm not entirely sure, other than that the Universe told me to look into him for some reason. It could be I need to tell him something or he holds the key to something else. But I'll figure it out in the end. I always do."

A look of confusion crossed Wasabi's face. "So wait. You're telling me you don't even know why you're investigating him? Just that some entity calling itself the Universe told you?"

"Exactly." Dirk beamed, looking rather pleased with himself.

Wasabi resisted the urge to throw his jello at the man. It wasn't something he'd normally do, but he was getting more than a little frustrated. "You know that's now how things work, right? There is order for a reason! You can't just go investigating someone because some entity tells you to!"

Before Dirk could answer that, however, a nurse entered the room to check in on things. "Visiting hours are over," she announced as she double-checked Wasabi's heart rate. "And if you can't calm down, I'm going to have to sedate you." She gave both men an admonishing look.

"I am calm," Wasabi said through clenched teeth, his muscles tensing so that every ache and pain pinged in a most uncomfortable manner.

The nurse gave him a look, one hand on her hip. "The monitor would say otherwise." She slipped one hand into her pocket, pulling out an already prepared needle. "You can't recover if you can't rest." And before her patient could protest further, she injected the sedating serum right into Wasabi's IV line. "As for you," she gave Dirk a look, "out."

Dirk stood without further prompting. "I'm going," he said, sounding slightly like a sulky child. "There's no point talking to him. He seems completely unable to give me the information I need anyway." And with that he walked out of the room.

Wasabi wanted to utter some kind of protest, either directed at Dirk or the nurse, he wasn't sure, but his thoughts started to cloud over as the medication took effect. "Now I really know how Hiro felt," he drawled before sleep claimed him.

Hiro felt like he was swimming in black ink, much like that one time he'd passed out in Tadashi's lab during one of those repeated timelines. And just like at that time, he saw random fragments of memory floating around in the excess of space. And then everything honed in on the memory of that less than awesome event where he'd somehow known there was a bomb at the airport. He wasn't exactly thrilled to be reliving it but knew it was all in the name of getting answers.

An almost electric jolt of energy seemed to pass through him, though nowhere near as strong as some of the others he'd felt over the past few years. But it was enough to make his breath catch in his figurative throat for just a moment before he resumed normal functions. And then the memory was over.

But, instead of just stopping there, as he thought Loki would, he heard the man say, "Forgive me for looking, but I must know."

He wasn't sure what Loki meant but then his memories seemed to cascade around like a flood, a flood that threatened to wash him away with it. "No!" he protested, unable to do anything to stop it. Just like that time inside the Hydra computer, he felt his mind being pulled further and further way. Except, instead of being pulled deeper into a data stream, he was being pulled deeper and deeper into his own mind.


It hurt, on so many levels, having to at least look at those memories once more, some of which he'd already reintegrated for a second time, cementing his acceptance of them. Until Loki seemed to settle, by chance or choice, on a specific memory, one that Hiro didn't want anyone to touch. He pushed back with everything he had and everything suddenly seemed to shatter around him like fireworks going off and fading into the inky blackness, leaving him alone in a void of nothing.

Hiro panted, trying to catch his breath after the whirlwind of information he'd been caught up in. "Why does this keep happening!" he yelled, getting not so much as an echo in return. "Why?" he asked, with less energy this time as he metaphorically went down to his knees, shoulders slumping over, head bowed.

"Hey, none of that," Tadashi's voice admonished. "You're better than that."

The teen looked up, half expecting to see nothing. After all, half of the time Tadashi didn't even materialize for him. But this was one of those times where he did. "Tadashi?" he asked, still not sure if he should trust his metaphorical eyes.

"We really need to stop meeting like this," Tadashi responded, rubbing Hiro's hair in a manner similar to how he used to when he was alive. "What's got you down now?"

Hiro ran a hand down his face, momentarily covering his eyes, nose, and mouth. "I don't even know," he confessed. "Loki wanted to try something to see if he could figure out how I knew about those bombs and I'm not exactly sure what happened after that."

Tadashi's hands went to his hips. "Huh. Sounds like you experienced an overload to me. I take it he wanted to poke around a little."

Giving a bit of a dry laugh, Hiro nodded. "You could say that. He did apologize, but I somehow doubt what he was looking for is related to recent events."


Tadashi looked—Well, Hiro wasn't sure what expression was on his face, if he was being honest. "He just said he had to know."

"That could mean a lot of things," Tadashi reasoned, looking thoughtful.

Hiro shook his head. "I don't know. Seems like there are a lot of people who want to know things I can't even begin to tell them. He's just the first to really do something about it I guess. It's not like I could exactly stop him."

Few words could describe the look Tadashi gave him, though disapproving and disbelieving might come close. "And yet you did," he reminded.

Now that he thought about it, Hiro had to admit that was the truth. "I just didn't want him to see that memory," he confessed, head downcast again. It was a memory he didn't want anyone but himself to see ever again. It wasn't that it was bad or anything. It was just too painful, that first time he'd lost his brother after realizing he'd been given the chance to save him and failed.

"Hey," Tadashi said, more gentle in tone this time. "It's okay. Everyone has something they want to forget."

But Hiro shook his head. "It's not that I want to forget," he countered. "It's just that… I don't know." He impatiently raked his fingers through his hair. "I just don't want to share that moment of weakness, I guess. If only I'd realized what was going on, I could have stopped and none of this would have ever happened."

Now Tadashi looked more disbelieving again. "Uh huh. I somehow doubt that. Like any scientist, you had to try, over and over again until you realized you'd only keep getting similar results. It just proves you're human."

"Am I though?" Hiro countered, his face showing doubt. "My DNA isn't the same anymore. I'm not the same anymore. I know I'm different. I know I'm something… something more."

Tadashi let out a deep sigh. "And there's nothing wrong with that. It's understanding and accepting that difference that will help you the most."

Hiro threw his hands up in the air, now more frustrated than anything. "And how on earth am I supposed to that?! When not even those few powerful people around, who aren't 'quite human'," he applied air quotes, "don't even know what I am?!"

"Hey! Just calm down a minute," Tadashi soothed. "We'll figure this out together. But trust me when I say it's important we do. You do want to understand why all of this is happening, don't you?"

"Yes," Hiro pouted.

Tadashi lifted Hiro's chin so he could look him in the eye once more. "Then we'll figure it out. I have a pretty good idea that this Loki friend of yours is on the right track. You could do worse than believe in him, just as you could do worse than to believe in yourself. It's all about balance."

Hiro had to laugh at that. "How did I know you'd somehow sneak that in there?"

"Because I'm your brother," Tadashi answered as he pulled him close to give him a noogie. "And no matter what, I'm always here for you."

Chapter Text

Loki had to say he felt immensely better after getting some actual food into his stomach. Sure he'd only gotten a few mouthfuls in before he had to stop and make sure it would all stay there, but he definitely felt his strength returning and it showed. He could now successfully sit up on his own and move his arms freely, even though his legs still felt a bit on the numb side.

For her part, Cass sat on the other side of the bed, nibbling on her own sandwich, the plate between them. Hiro still lay near the foot of the bed, not having moved since they'd put him there. "I can't help but wonder how much longer he's going to be out," she said with a sigh. It was anyone's guess, she knew, but it still concerned her. He'd already been out once earlier today, for at least a good hour or two. If this kept up, there was no way he'd be able to sleep later that night.

"I'm sure he'll wake when he's ready," Loki answered as he risked taking another bite of his sandwich. So far so good, but he didn't want to overdo things, having seen what happened to Hiro upon earlier occasions. Now he knew why the youth had practically starved himself while at the Hydra base and couldn't say he blamed him. There were, indeed, very few people who could probably understand what he'd been through. And, having lost his adoptive mother while in custody, Loki felt himself more qualified than most.

Baymax tilted his head to one side, blinking his robotic eyes. "I have been constantly bombarded with inquiries as to our whereabouts by Sammy," he informed. "Apparently Kally and the others are worried about recent events and wish to know where we are. Should I inform her of our location?"


Loki answered so quickly and decisively that Cass didn't even think about protesting. She simply looked at him with a bit of a frown.

"I will continue to refrain from informing her," the robot decided, feeling Loki had his reasons. "I will, however, pass on the assurance that we are all well. Is that acceptable?"

Cass nodded, not waiting for Loki to veto that one. "I'd like to know where they are though," she admitted. "I am, after all, one of Kally's legal guardians and should know where she's at."

Baymax seemed to nod as he straightened up. "Kally and the others are located on the pool deck," he informed. He decided to omit the detail that Sammy had tried to hack her way into his system to reactivate his GPS function, only to fail. JARVIS had taught him a thing or two about those kinds of things and it had certainly come in handy. "According to Sammy, they are having lunch."

"Well, at least there's that," Loki commented as he risked another bite of his sandwich. "We shouldn't have to worry about anyone intruding until we're ready to face the others." It was unfortunate that he still wasn't sure about the use of his legs just yet.

That earned him a bemused expression from Cass, though she couldn't exactly argue with the idea. She wasn't ready to face the others yet, nor the questions they might ask. And she was sure Hiro wasn't, mostly because he was still out for the count. "So what do you suggest we do while we wait?"

Loki shook his head. "I haven't the slightest idea, outside of waiting for a certain young man to rejoin the world of the living. I have some questions I'd like clarification on."

You and me both, Cass thought, though she didn't say it aloud. Chances were good she wouldn't get any of those answers any time soon, but she was willing to wait and see how things played out.

At that moment, Hiro mumbled in his sleep. He went to roll to one side. The only problem was that it was towards the edge of the bed, and his momentum didn't just stop at one partial turn. Instead, his momentum took him right off the bed, where he ran into the floor. "Ow," the teen said through a slightly groggy voice.

Baymax immediately waddled towards his charge. "I heard a sound of distress. On a scale of one to ten, how would you rate your pain?" The various faces of happy to agony showed on his belly as he spoke.

Hiro poked his head up above the mattress edge, looking slightly out of it as he rubbed at one eye. "Zero," he stated. "I'm okay. Honest."

"I will scan you now," Baymax said, despite the teen's protests. "Scan complete. You have sustained no new injuries. "

Loki gave a wry look their way. "Well, at least there's that."

"I also detect that your previous injuries appear to be further along in the healing process than previously observed," Baymax continued, now looking puzzled, despite his usual inexpressive fave. "Your blood sugar levels are also within an acceptable range. I do not understand."

Hiro used the mattress for leverage to get back to his feet, only stumbling a bit because Baymax was too close to him. He ran a hand through his hair with a bit of a funny grin on his face. "It's as surprising to me as it is to you, buddy," he admitted as he gave the robot a pat on the arm. "But it's most definitely a welcome change." He then took the opportunity to look around the room, realizing Cass and Loki were sharing a plate of sandwiches, which sat between them. "Those look amazing," he admitted as his stomach growled.

Cass gave him a bit smile, patting at a spot between her and the Asgardian. "Well, get up here then," she admonished in a teasing tone. "It's nice to know your appetite wasn't affected. Loki wasn't so lucky."

The teen paused halfway to the indicated spot so he could give Loki a closer look. He had to admit the god of mischief did look a bit more pale than usual. "What happened to you?" The only explanation he could muster was that Loki might have somehow suffered the backlash instead of him.

Loki gave an almost uneasy smile, not sure what to make of the matter either. "Let us just say the experience rendered me far more vulnerable than I care to admit."

"Loki's blood sugar levels dropped dramatically," Baymax supplied helpfully as he returned to his position near the bathroom door. He could more easily observe everyone from that angle, while still staying out of the line of sight to the main part of the hotel suite. They'd left the bedroom door open this time around. "He also lost all motor function for a short duration."

Loki's expression changed to an almost sulky pout. "Did you have to mention that particular point?" he asked as he glared at the robot, who seemed no more phased by the reprimand than he did anything.

"Huh," Hiro said before Baymax could answer. "Sounds like a rebound to me."

The Asgardian blinked rapidly a few times while Hiro settled himself between them, within easy reach of the sandwich plate. "I'm sorry?"

Hiro grabbed a sandwich, taking a bit bite. "You know, rebound," he said while chewing. He took a quick swallow at his aunt's look of dismay. "When to entities come in contact with each other, the stronger force generally neutralizes the force of the lesser entity, or sends that energy back at it, causing a rebounding effect. The lesser entity has an overcharge, which essentially drains the batteries, while the stronger entity remains mostly unfazed."

"I'm not sure I get what you're saying," Cass admitted as she looked between her nephew and Loki. "It almost sounds like you're saying your energy is stronger than Loki's."

Before Hiro could respond to that, however, Loki merely gave a curt nod. "I assume it had more to do with a strength of wills at the time," he soothed. "While I did enter Hiro's mind with permission, I may have inadvertently touched a few memories that triggered an automatic defense system I was not expecting. That would more than account for this rebounding theory he has."

"Oh." Cass sat back, mollified, at least for the moment. She noticed Hiro shrug as he continued to munch on his food. "Well, at least we only have to deal with one person being out of commission."

Loki gave Hiro a contemplative look as he thought about what the teen had said. In a way, it made sense on so many levels, despite what he'd said to ease Cass's concerns. The truth of the matter was that Hiro likely was a hundred times more powerful than he was, and simply just didn't know it. Though, after that comment, he wasn't entirely sure that was the truth. He might have some sense of his potential, though he doubted he had any idea of the whole. "Be that as it may, I'm sure the others will want some kind of explanation as to why we disappeared so thoroughly on them. Perhaps we should discuss a potential excuse?"

Reminded that the others didn't know what had occurred, both Cass and Hiro looked thoughtful. "Just tell them I was taking a nap," Hiro suggested.

But Cass shook her head. "I'm sure they knew you were at Lux," she countered. "And they also probably know you weren't in your hotel room. They'd had Sammy try and ping Baymax's whereabouts for a while now."

Hiro turned to his robotic companion. "Is that true, Baymax?"

The robot seemed to nod. "That is correct. They seem concerned about recent activities."

"Understandable," Hiro sighed. "I'm concerned myself." He took another sandwich in hand. "So, what are we going to tell them?" He looked from one adult to the other, neither looking like they had any idea.

Lucifer wasn't sure what to make of the scene before him. To say the hanger looked like someone had taken a ton of ash and just flung it everywhere would be an understatement. There was some slag on the floor, where something metal had melted. But, outside of that, there really wasn't anything recognizable, outside of the personnel running around. "And this is where the center of the blast took place?"

Jack nodded solemnly as the devil took in the scene. "As far as we can tell. I'm not sure if it was luck or planning that kept it from being near any of the main terminals. As is, the damage is going to be well into the millions, not to mention the loss of life."

The devastation was more than impressive, but the devil couldn't smile about it. Instead, horror washed over his features as he just stared at the wreckage around him. "And what about the detective? You said you'd take me to see her."

"Over here," Jack pointed as he headed in the appropriate direction.

Since it had taken Lucifer some time to get to the area in question, he'd set Chloe up with a pseudo office on the other side of the hanger in question. It wasn't much, but it at least gave the woman a place to sit down and look over the photos he'd had taken.

"Detective!" Lucifer called out as they came into view. "I came as quickly as possible. I hope I didn't miss much."

Chloe looked up from the set of photos she was going over at the sound of her partner's voice. She set the evidence down on the makeshift desk Jack had provided, quickly adjusting her set to hide the slight bloodstain on her thigh as she crossed her arms over her chest. "It's about time," she complained as she looked up, refusing to stand.

Lucifer resisted the urge to lean against the desk she was using; sure it wasn't as stable as it looked. "Traffic," he said by way of explanation. "You wouldn't believe the amount of pedestrian sycophants vying for a view of the destruction."

"You might be surprised," she said, giving him a wry expression. She then noticed Jack was with her partner. "Hey, while you're here, think you could shed a little light on this photo?" she picked up one from the pile and handed it over. "I can't seem t place where it was taken."

The photo in question was actually a surveillance photo they'd pulled from the system. It showed an almost ghostly blur near what was once a joining corridor.

Jack studied the photo for a moment, glad it was grainier than it probably could be. There was something familiar about the slight shadow she had pointed out as she handed the photo over. "It's a surveillance photo from the corridor leading to the hanger," he admitted. "One of my men pulled it from the security offices. If you'll notice, that man looks like he's carrying a suspicious package." He pointed at a man, whose back was to the camera, a hat low over his head to hide any features.

Chloe took the photo back and studied it. "You're right," she agreed, having already come to the same conclusion. "But I want to know about that shadow there. It almost looks like a person, or a double-exposure on the film, which I know is impossible since this was taken from a digital camera." She looked up at him, a hint of suspicion in her eyes. "That's not just a shadow, is it," she stated.

Jack looked again, holding the photo closer as he examined the shadow in question. The figure was small, gangly, only a little over five feet tall, with what could be called a messy mop of hair. And, if he really squinted, he could make out a pair of wide eyes staring directly at the camera. "No," he said in disbelief.

"Let me have a look," Lucifer said, a bit impatient at being left out as he snatched the photo from Jack's slightly limp fingers. He sniffed a bit before bringing the photo closer to his eyes level to catch every detail. He quickly let his hand holding the photo drop down to his side. "Detective, I know what you're thinking, but there was no way he was actually there."

Chloe pursed her lips as she frowned, arms once more crossed over her chest. "How else do you explain Hiro Hamada being in that picture? He does look a bit weird, I'll admit, like he's somehow a bit transparent, but that could be a trick of the lighting."

Lucifer couldn't look any more adamant if he tried. "Detective, I can assure with you with every ounce of my being that there is no possible way that could be Hiro Hamada. Why, the idea is absolutely preposterous!" He now folded his arms across his chest in an almost defensive stand, the photo still in hand.

The detective didn't so much as flinch. "Then explain to me how he appeared in this photo."

"I can't." And the idea troubled him more than anything. "But I can assure you that at the time, he was nowhere near this place. In fact, he was at my club most of the morning."

That caught Jack's attention and he looked up sharply. "At Lux? What was he doing there?"

Lucifer let out his breath in a huff as he put the photo down and stuffed his hands in his pockets. "Remember how I left you earlier this morning to attend to a business matter back at my place?" He waited for Chloe to nod. "Well when I got there, I found both William Lawson and Hiro Hamada waiting to talk to me. We were there until just after you called me out here. I have video evidence if you doubt me. And Maze can vouch for that as well. Not to mention a Dr. Bruce Banner paid a visit while Mr. Lawson was otherwise occupied. I'm sure he can tell you the boy was there during the time in question. And I'm sure you're aware that there is absolutely no way he could have traveled from the airport to my club in so short an amount of time. It's just not physically possible."

Chloe mulled this over, still not convinced. "I still want to talk to him," he decided. "Whether he was there or not, he's somehow involved in all of this. How else would his image appear in a photo minutes before the explosion happened?"

"I have absolutely no idea," Lucifer stated, still upset. "But I can assure you that we were at Lux when the explosions took place." He pulled out his phone, accessing the security app for his club. He sifted quickly through the footage from that morning, showing her the moment when Loki and Hiro had arrived at the club with Baymax in tow.

Chloe grabbed the phone to scroll through the footage, much to Lucifer's protest. He knew there would be no way to hide the fact that Hiro had reacted to the explosion, even though he'd been across town when it occurred. And even though the video didn't include sound, there could be no mistaking the agony on the teen's face as he had another fit.

The detective let out her breath. "There still has to be some kind of connection," she mused as she handed the phone back. The action caused her to stretch her stitches once more and she resisted the urge to grimace, hoping Lucifer wouldn't catch the momentary expression of pain that crossed her face. "I want to talk to him."

"I'm sure that can be arranged," Lucifer agreed. Thankfully, he had Loki's cell number, thanks to their recent visit. And, if their intentions had remained the same, Cass and her small party should still be at the hotel. "Last I heard, they were headed back to the hotel. I can make sure if you like."

This time Chloe did stand, holding a file to cover her thigh from view. "Why wait? We can just head over there now. I'd rather catch them by surprise, just in case they have something to hide."

Lucifer rolled his eyes as he looked heavenward, briefly murmuring an epithet or two. "Detective, I promise they're not hiding anything. The boy did have another fit, like the one at the arena, but that's all there is to it."

But Chloe shook her head. "No," she disagreed. "There's a lot more to all of this. And Hiro's somehow involved. I don't know how yet, but I plan on finding out. Let's go." She slipped the photo into her file.

Jack had remained thoughtful the entire exchange, not bothering to get caught in the cross hairs. "Hiro's not the kind of guy to lie about things," he stated. "I've known him for a few years now, since I visited his campus back in the day, and I can assure you he's not the kind of kid who would purposely hinder an investigation."

"I'll be the judge of that," Chloe said briskly as she passed the man, heading towards her car in a manner she hoped hid her limp. "Now, are you going to ride with me or meet me there? Either way, I'd prefer you not give them any kind of head's up about this, understood?"

Lucifer almost guiltily put his phone away. He'd already sent out a warning. "Wouldn't dream of it," he said instead. "And for that reason, I'll ride with you. That way you can be sure I'm not doing anything you disagree with."

"Fine," Chloe agreed as she continued to charge ahead. They would soon find out, one way or another, what was going on. They had to.

Chapter Text

Bruce almost hesitated to enter Tony's hospital room, not sure how he'd be received. After all, he had technically just left him there. Admittedly, he'd had good reason, needing to take care of the rest of the students, getting them away from the carnage. But he wasn't sure if the billionaire would see it that way.

"Are you going to skulk there are day or are you actually coming in?" Tony quipped, noticing Bruce outside his door.

Looking more than a little sheepish, Bruce entered the room, running one hand through his hair. "Hi, Tony," he greeted hesitantly.

Tony tried to sit up a bit and ended up using the bed's controls to make it tilt higher. "I was expecting you much sooner. Doesn't take that long to take a bus full of kids back to a hotel, even if they're inclined to disagree." He looked more than a little disgruntled.

"I decided to give the Hamada kid a visit," Bruce confessed, "since I wasn't sure how long they'd try and keep you."

Iron Man looked a bit impatient as he waved an arm for him to continue. "And? What did you find out?"

Bruce pulled up a rolling stool he found near the back counter, keeping far enough away that Tony couldn't lunge at him if he decided to get irate. The fact that the man had a few wire leads covering his chest, and an IV plugged into his arm did soothe him a bit, but he knew they wouldn't keep the man back if he were truly determined. "Well, I found him at that Lux place. I hope you don't mind but JARVIS decided to tag along." He pulled out his cell phone, cautiously setting it on the moveable table.

"I'm not sure how to explain what happened," the physicist continued. "But when I got there, I found that Lucifer Morningstar character and Hiro's aunt. Hiro was asleep so I couldn't ask him, and his aunt wouldn't let me wake him to ask. The best I can gather is that Hiro somehow managed to connect with the computer system at the airport, and that's how he knew the bomb was there."

Tony forced himself to relax. He supposed it made sense. After all, Hiro had somehow managed to merge with the computer system at Hydra. It was entirely possible, even if not probable, that he'd somehow managed to do it again with a completely different system. "Hmm," he mused.

Bruce looked down at the floor, twiddling his fingers together between his knees. "Without running some kind of test, I don't know if there's really a way we can find out how he did that. It would mean hooking him up to an EEG machine while he's somehow connected to another system, which I somehow doubt is going to happen."

The billionaire somehow doubted it as well. "Guess I'll have to talk to him myself," he decided as he started to remove the electrodes stuck to his chest. The monitor started to beep in protest but he ignored it. "Mind shutting that thing up for me?" he asked instead.

Bruce moved to comply with the request, turning off the monitor. He turned around just as a nurse entered the room.

"Just what do you think you're doing?" the nurse said, hands on his hips as he glared at Bruce.

"I uh…" Bruce looked far from comfortable as the male nurse stared him down.

Tony continued to remove the electrodes, sliding the IV line out from under his skin. "I'm checking myself out," he announced. "And no, I didn't call him to come rescue me. I was planning on doing this from the beginning. Now bring me my clothes."

The nurse left the room in a huff.

"You really didn't have to be that mean to him," Bruce admonished in a worried tone. "Who knows what he'll do?"

But Tony just ignored him as he slid off the mattress. "Nothing I can't handle. Now find me my shoes. We're going to get to the bottom of this."

Loki's phone vibrated and it took a bit to reach for it, but he was decidedly getting stronger. He activated the touch screen, frowning. "That is going to put a damper on things," he commented as he read the text message. "According to Lucifer, he and the detective are on their way over to talk to Hiro about the airport bombing. If I were you, I'd head down to your rooms before they get there."

Cass stood from the bed, brushing off crumbs. "What about you? You can still barely move!"

Hiro took the plate of sandwiches and set it on the bedside table. "How did they know I know anything about that?" he asked, not sure he wanted to know.

"Lucifer had to have told her," Cass said with a scowl.

But Loki shook his head. "I somehow don't see him as the type to tell tales without a reason," he countered. "But it's probably best to be in your rooms when they arrive. I really don't need more people knowing where I sleep."

"He will be all right," Baymax assured. "Loki is making remarkable progress." In comparison to Hiro's usual recovery times, he amended. "I believe he will be back to full function in less than an hour."

Only slightly reassured, Cass moved to smooth the covering near her friend. "Are you sure you'll be alright?"

Loki tried hard to not look a bit impatient. "Yes, I'm sure," he said with a bit more emphasis than was probably necessary. "Now go!"

With only one last back, Cass left Loki to his own devices. She only hoped Baymax was right about that, vowing to go check in on him the moment the detective left.

"Come on!" Hiro urged as they left the suite and entered the hallway. The elevator wasn't too far away but they had several floors to go down before reaching their room, not to mention a long walk as they were halfway down the long corridor. "We should be back in time to make it look like we were there the whole time."

Baymax waddled behind them both, not making any comments about the elevated vital signs in both of them. They were understandable, given the circumstances. Chances were good they'd need at least a moment to calm down before the detective and her partner arrived. And since Baymax was more privy to some of the things that had transpired that day, he hoped Lucifer would keep to his word about not mentioning them to anyone.

The pool deck had been relatively nice and relaxing, until the other students from NYU showed up that was. They came out of the elevator like a herd of cattle on stampede, yelling and running towards the nearest pool, only a few wearing swimsuits that were likely borrowed from the hotel, or purchased in a rush as they didn't all seem to fit correctly.

"Looks like the others made it back," GoGo observed as she finished off her soda. "And I don't know about you, but I really don't want to be around a bunch of brats who've been pent up for hours on end."

Honey found she had to agree. Most people didn't do well in any kind of captivity, for good reasons or ill. She knew from their previous experiences in New York what cabin fever could do to a person. "I think you're right. We should head back down."

Fred nodded as the students engaged in some kind of war game in the main pool, splashing and throwing water at each other so that it sloshed up on the deck. "Let's get out of here," he stated as he took his trash to a receptacle set aside for that purpose. His gaze didn't leave the rambunctious students as he walked, almost causing him to run into a lounge chair.

Kally followed behind them, clearing out the rest of their trash. She pocketed her phone in the shorts she'd thought to bring, only slightly mollified by Sammy's declaration that Baymax said they were still in the hotel and doing fine. She wasn't exactly keen on watching her fellow classmates making fools of themselves, acting more like kids on Spring Break than responsible young adults at a serious competition.

Thankfully, no one else had called the elevator so they didn't have to wait for a car. Instead, it answered the call button the moment it was pressed, allowing them all to shuffle into the small metal box before the doors closed.

"So much for a nice, quiet afternoon," Honey lamented as the elevator started to head down. GoGo had pressed the appropriate button to take them to their floor. Part of her wished they'd been able to stay up top a bit longer, but understood the others needed to get out too. She was just glad they'd made it back to the hotel without incident.

The elevator dinged their floor and the doors opened. Ahead, a flash of color filled the hallway, until it disappeared behind a door. Kally pursed her lips; sure she'd just witnessed Hiro and his aunt returning to their hotel room. But since there were a lot of rooms on that floor, she couldn't say it was them with one hundred percent certainty, and could only wonder if the others had seen them as well. Well, she'd find out in a moment, since she was headed there anyway.

They stopped just outside Honey and GoGo's room, Fred looking uncertain. "So uh… what should we do next?" he asked. "I mean, we obviously gotta get changed but we still need to find Hiro and let him know what's going on."

"I think he already knows," Kally spoke up. "I'm sure Baymax has told him by now."

Fred nodded slowly. "You're probably right."

Honey slid the key card to her room. "I don't know about you but I'm thinking of taking a nap. Maybe we could all meet up for dinner later?"

Everyone agreed to this suggestion and headed into their respective rooms, leaving Kally standing outside the one she shared with Cass. Should she bring up how they'd all worried about Hiro or just let matters be? She wasn't sure. The feeling she'd had earlier had dissipated a bit and she wasn't sure now if it had anything to do with the bombing at the airport or something else. Either was possible. With a shrug, she slid her key card and opened the door.

"Oh hey, "Cass spoke up as she came around from the sleep area of the hotel room. "I thought you guys were up at the pool."

Kally closed the door behind her as she headed towards her bed and a change of clothes. Even though she hadn't joined her friends in the pool, she'd still changed into swim attire in the off chance they could convince her to get wet. "We were but the other students came in and things got a bit rowdy."

Cass nodded, knowing exactly what she probably meant. She let out a sigh. "Ah, college," she mused. She hadn't graduated, but she'd been on campus more times than she could recall when her brother had been in school.

"So, what were you guys up to?" Kally asked as she moved to the bathroom to change. She left the door partially open so she could still chat. "I noticed you guys weren't here earlier."

Of course she'd notice, Cass thought, mentally smacking herself. It was hard not to. "We decided to visit Loki in his room," she said, deciding the truth was better than lying.

At that moment, Hiro tapped on the door between his and his aunt's room, entering a bit hesitantly. "Hey, Aunt Cass, did you move the muffins from my mini fridge? I was going to snag one."

Cass gave a bit of a shoulder nudge, indicating the partially open bathroom door and Hiro turned a bit red as he quickly turned around just in case Kally wasn't decent. "No," she replied to his question. "Maybe Baymax moved them."

Baymax shuffled back a still blushing Hiro. "I did not remove the items in question from the refrigerator," he informed.

Kally exited the bathroom, thankfully fully clothes, her bathing suit in hand. She paused, blinking as she saw Hiro with his back turned to the room in general. "Hey, Hiro," she greeted, not sure why she caught a hint of red in his cheeks.

Hiro waved from where he stood, not daring to turn around, just in case. "Hey, Kally." He sounded a bit nervous, though it was understandable. "Are you decent?"

The girl laughed. "Yes, I'm decent." She put her swim things away, moving to sit on the edge of her bed while Hiro slowly turned around.

Letting out a sigh of relief, Hiro felt his face returning to a more normal color. "I still want to know who moved those muffins." And then he smacked himself in the head. "Oh wait. I ate the last one this morning."

Kally winced, knowing he'd knocked himself around pretty good the day before. "Didn't that hurt?" she inquired, trying to see if she could still see the bump on the side of his head. Either his hair was hiding it or she was looking in the wrong location.

But Hiro just shrugged. "Not really."

She gave him an odd look, not sure if she believed him or not.

"Hiro no longer is suffering from a concussion or any other side effects caused by his concussion," Baymax announced, causing Kally to look up.

"And before you ask, now I haven't developed the ability to rapidly heal like you have," Hiro said, holding up a hand to stave off any comments. "I had a little help from Loki. That's why we were visiting him. He felt bad and offered to help out." Not strictly true, but enough to count, he told himself.

Kally looked thoughtful. "I didn't know he could do that," she confessed. But she supposed, with the right runes, it was possible. She at least couldn't dismiss the possibility.

Someone knocked on the door and all three humans turned to look at the entryway. Cass pursed her lips. "I was hoping it would take them a little longer," she confessed as she went to answer the door. "Oh well."

The woman called out in surprise as she opened the door. "Oh, Mr. Stark, Tony. I wasn't expecting to see you." She moved to one side as the man, followed by Bruce Banner, strode into the room. "Come on in," she added as an afterthought.

"I'm looking for Hiro," Tony said as he strode into the main area of the hotel room, all but bee lining towards Hiro, who had decided to take a seat next to Kally on her bed.

Hiro gave a bit of a wave. "I'm here. What's up?" He gave his characteristic crook-toothed grin, trying to look as innocent as possible. He had no idea what Tony was there for and wasn't sure he really wanted to know either, especially not if it was another lecture on how he should be careful.

Seeing his cheerful smile, Tony checked himself. He'd heard the encounter with Banner and Lucifer, thanks to JARVIS recording the event, but there were still too many questions left unanswered.

But before he could get into any of those, the sound of someone else knocking came from the door. Cass had barely closed it and started towards the rest of them when the sound came. She gave a funny kind of look as she turned back around and answered the door. "Oh, detective. What a surprise."

Chapter Text

Out of habit, Chloe flashed her badge the moment Cass Hamada opened the hotel room door. "Ms. Hamada, I wondered if we could come in. we have a few questions we'd like to ask your nephew."

Lucifer stood a pace or two back, waiting to see what Cass would say about this intrusion. She'd already been quite upset about the earlier ones, and with ample reason. And since he knew a lot more about what was going on than he'd let on, he wondered how this recent development would pan out.

Cass looked from Chloe to Lucifer and back to the detective. She frowned a bit as she purposely made them wait a few extra seconds, then she let out a sigh. "I supposed. But I still stand by my previous words. Hiro is innocent. He wasn't involved in anything illegal and unless you have proof, we really have nothing to say."

Lucifer decided to insert himself at that moment, sliding in front of his partner. "There actually has been a new development that does need some explaining," he admitted, ignoring the glare from the detective.

"Fine," Cass said with resignation in her voice. She moved to one side to let them both in, only giving a hint of a satisfied smile when Chloe paused at the sight of Tony Stark and Bruce Banner. She quickly smoothed it over as she closed the door one more time.

Chloe headed straight towards Hiro, ignoring both Banner and Stark as she resisted the urge to bend slightly to shake his hand. She still held out her hand, but kept the other firmly holding her file to hide the growing stain on her pants. "Hiro Hamada, I'm Detective Chloe Decker. I wondered if I could ask you a few questions."

Hiro glanced over at his aunt, who now stood against the far wall, arms crossed over her chest. "Sure, I guess. So long as you're not still accusing me of killing that one competitor, or setting any bombs at the arena, cuz there's no way that was me." He wasn't sure why he said that last part but it somehow felt like it needed to be said.

"Should I be calling up a lawyer?" Tony asked as he took in the detective. If he recalled correctly, she was the same one who tried to accuse Hiro of murdering his opponent. Last he'd heard, there was doubt shed on that possibility but there was always also the possibility that she'd "found" something else that might disprove that as well.

The detective glanced over at Tony, not sure how he fit into everything, except that he somehow knew Hiro and seemed to be on at least friendly terms with him and his aunt. "I don't think will be necessary. I just have a few questions, nothing formal."

Tony raised his brows. "That's what they usually say before heading into dangerous territory." He pulled out his phone but didn't immediately activate the screen. Instead, he spoke at it, something that confused the detective, since she hadn't seen him do anything besides take it from his pocket. "JARVIS, have my lawyer on standby, would you? I want him ready to come over should the questions go in a direction I don't like."

"Of course, sir."

Cass didn't comment, silently approving Tony's move. It certainly put the detective on her toes, something she could see from the woman's posture. That or she just didn't like Stark, which she could also appreciate. The man was charming, helpful, and just outright infuriating in turns.

Only slightly taken back by this turn of events, Chloe dropped her out held hand and took the photo from the airport from her file instead. "I just wondered if you could explain how your image showed up on a photo taken from the airport surveillance system only minutes before the explosions there."

Hiro almost hesitantly took the photo, wondering the same. He didn't immediately see where they thought he was in the frame but realized where after a moment's study. "Hey, Baymax," he motioned the robot over. "Can you scan and enhance this for me?" Since he didn't have his usual computer, and other tools, Baymax was the best he could do.

Baymax waddled forward, noting Chloe's injury but choosing not to say anything at the moment. Now was not the time to bring it up. Instead, he gingerly took the photo from Hiro and scanned it into his internal memory. From there, he enhanced the photo, showing the enlarged section in question. "It would appear that your image does indeed appear in this photo. However, I cannot explain why as I know you were in a different location at the time suggested."

"Could you let me take a look at that?" Tony asked as he took the photo from Baymax's hand. He used his own phone to scan the image, asking JARVIS to project it into the air so he could get a better idea of what he was looking at. "Doesn't look like a holographic projection," he mused as he used his fingers to make the image larger.

"I tend to agree," JARVIS said. "While holographic projectors have come a long way in the last few years, the quality is not consistent with any known model on the market."

Lucifer put one hand to his chin as he studied the image floating in front of them all. "That expression does look similar to the one h was making while back at Lux, although he did have his eyes closed most of the time."

Hiro shook his head at the whole situation. "This is impossible. The last time anything like this happened was back when that meteor broke up over San Fransokyo." He purposely didn't reference the Makt, not wanting to explain that to either Lucifer or Chloe. "You remember, right, Aunt Cass? That one jogger who disappeared in front of the café? The only difference is that guy wasn't transparent."

Cass pushed away from the wall to take a closer look. "I think you're right," she agreed, not entirely sure she knew if she was on the same page as her nephew or not. But it was close enough to count. She noticed Kally looking over from her perch on the bed. "What do you think?" she asked the other teen genius.

Kally took that as invitation enough and moved closer, standing to do so. "May I?" she asked Tony before moving the image around. She made it rotate from one side to the other, wishing it were a 3D image, but it wasn't. "I got nothing," she admitted after a moment. "What about the rest of the security footage?"

Chloe looked a bit resigned. "I wasn't given access to the whole feed," she admitted. "But what I did see only showed him for a few seconds."

Hiro shook his head again. "How is that even possible? There's no projection equipment visible. I know I wasn't there. There's no way it was a photo or an image ghosted over the frame." He sat down on the bed again.

Baymax decided it was time to change their focus as he turned to look at Chloe Decker. "Perhaps you should sit down," he advised the detective. "I am detecting that you have pulled your stitches and should therefore not be standing."

Lucifer immediately looked at his partner. "I know Jack hinted at something, by why didn't you tell me?" he asked as he pulled out the desk chair for her. "You should have said something!"

"It's nothing," Chloe protested, even though she did take the offered chair.

The devil let out an impatient huff of breath. "Detective, I can see the blood on your pants. You can't tell me that's nothing. Why don't you have your crutch? You know you should be using that!"

Chloe resisted the urge to grind her teeth. She'd hoped to avoid any attention on that matter but supposed it was inevitable. "I was going to stop by the hospital when we were finished here."

Lucifer raised one eyebrow at that. "Were you really? Or are you just saying that to try and placate me? Either way, it is now my duty to make sure you are properly taken care of. Heaven knows you need it." He seemed to mentally cross himself at his last comment.

Tony frowned at the detective. "You might want to listen to your partner," he admonished, still mulling over the photo and what it might mean. Hiro had somehow been there, and part of him wondered if it had anything to do with the whole Hydra incident, as Bruce had suggested, or something much bigger.

"Can't this wait?" Chloe protested, sounding more than a little impatient. "We still don't know why Hiro showed up in that photo."

But Lucifer clucked his tongue at her. "Detective, your health is more important than some mystery that may never be solved. We both know he was not there in person. The only explanation that fits is that either someone is messing with us, or Hiro somehow managed to slip his soul from his body and went gallivanting halfway across the city, appearing only briefly in that form to torment us over the details." Admittedly, part of him wondered if it weren't really that simple.

The detective let out her held breath. "Fine. Since we do have proof he wasn't there, I can't charge him with anything, though I'm not sure I agree with your theory. I'll have Ella give it a look over back at the precinct" She reached out a hand to take the photo back.

Realizing what she was doing, Tony handed the photo over. "I can personally assure you that Hiro and his aunt won't be going anywhere until we all get down to the bottom of this." He ignored a look from Cass, who wasn't pleased he was taking charge of the situation. It wasn't his call to make but he was making it anyway. "But if you have any further questions, you will need to talk to my lawyer. "He slipped a card into her hand with the photo. "His number is on that card. And since we have nothing else to say to you, and you have a pressing matter to take care of, I suggest you leave."

Chloe abruptly stood, wishing a second later that she hadn't, and made her limping way to the door in a bit of anger. "Let's go, Lucifer," she ordered, her fingers bending the file in her hand as her partner followed.

Cass gave Tony a disapproving look. "You didn't need to be quite so rude," she admonished the man. Even though he was older, and taller, and a lot more famous than she'd ever be, there was no way she could allow him to use that tone. "Aside from which, you're not in charge here."

Tony towered over her, though she didn't look all that impressed as she glared up at him. "I took charge because no one else seemed inclined," he retorted.

""We shouldn't argue," Bruce spoke up in a hesitant voice. "The important thing is they're gone now so we can talk about what we came for."

Not willing to beat around the bush anymore, Hiro cleared his throat. "Let me guess. You want more information on how I somehow knew there was a bomb, outside of possibly being there moments before one went off at the airport, something I didn't even know happened until just a few minutes ago. The photo bit, I mean, not the bomb. And, to be perfectly honest, I have no idea how I knew. I just knew."

Lips curved down, Tony gave Hiro the once over. "I hope you don't mind when I call bull on that. According to Dr. Banner here, you potentially "dreamed" the event before it happened in some kind of Post Traumatic fit, potentially made possible due to your time at the Hydra base."

"Is that what they think?" Hiro asked, not at all looking certain as he glanced from his aunt to Baymax, who had both been there, to his knowledge, when Dr. Banner had come visiting at Lux. In a way, he supposed it could be construed as true because it had felt like a dream, a really horrible dream.

Baymax tilted his head to one side. "It was merely a speculation," he answered. "There is no definitive way to prove or disprove this theory."

The teen scratched at the back of his neck, just behind his ear, catching sight of Kally out of the corner of his eye. She was being uncharacteristically quiet, all things considered. Wouldn't she normally be loading him up on various questions, just like Tony and Bruce, essentially, were? Or maybe she'd chosen to let her inner scientist sit back and observe, which would be the more prudent action, he supposed. It's what he'd do if the roles were reversed.

"I guess it's possible," he admitted, still glancing at Kally out of the corner of his eye. "I mean it did feel pretty dreamlike when I saw everything unfolding. Well, except for the burning part. That wasn't fun."

Tony couldn't help but look confused. "Burning? You want to explain what you meant by that?"

It took Hiro only a moment to realize he may have given out a bit more information than was wise at the moment. "Oh, um… well, I guess I was so caught up in the moment that I imagined what it would be like if I'd been trapped on the plane, burning up in the explosion." He gave a noncommittal shrug. "Sometimes my imagination gets carried away because it felt a lot more real than I cared for."

"Uh huh." Tony looked thoughtful as he contemplated the youth. Chances were good there really was no way to describe what had happened, but it was still interesting. He'd heard enough about events at the tournament to suspect that something similar had happened there, though he had nothing to prove it. And maybe it was something that happened in the Hydra based that triggered a somewhat unreliable ability to see into the future. He'd heard of crazier things happening to trauma victims, and Hiro's crises could put most of those people's experiences to shame. Not that he was comparing them, or trying to at any rate.

Cass moved between the two males, clasping her hands together. "Now that we've got that all settled, shouldn't you be somewhere else? Last we heard, you were in the hospital."

Looking more than a little absent-minded, Tony looked up into Cass's face at her comment. "I was. I checked myself out."

"A must unwise decisions if you ask me," JARVIS spoke up.

Tony rolled his eyes as he took his phone in hand once more. "No one asked for your opinion."

Bruce cleared his throat. "Technically speaking, we should probably go check in with the other students. I gave them permission to use the pool and other recreational facilities in the hotel but you never know if any of them decided to try and sneak out while I was gone."

That caught Tony's attention better than Cass's comments had and he made to head to the door. "You're probably right." He paused to look back at Hiro and his aunt, still contemplating recent events. "I'd be really interesting in any other information you can give me on today's incidents," he added as he fixated on Hiro for a brief moment. "Any at all."

Hiro gave a nervous kind of laugh. "I'll keep that in mind. But at the moment, that's all I can think of. But I'll let you know if that changes." He mentally crossed his fingers behind his back.

"You do that," Tony responded before nodding at Bruce. "Come on. Let's go. Like you said, we should check in on the others." He opened the door, ushering his colleague out before following suit. The door closed behind them, leaving the original four in the room.

Hiro's shoulders sagged in relief as he let out a sigh. "That was close. I'd really hate to have to hash through all that again. Once was enough." He glanced up at his aunt, who looked thoughtful.

"Hmm?" Cass started at the intensity behind his gaze. "Oh. Right. You two stay here with Baymax," she suddenly decided. "I'm going out."

Kally looked at Hiro as his aunt gathered up her key card and headed out the door. "What was that all about?"

Hiro shook his head. "No clue." Though he did have a pretty good idea. He'd noticed her grabbing both her room key and Loki's. Chances were good she was going up to check on him. And since there was nothing he could do about, Hiro grabbed the remote and turned on the TV. "So, want to watch anything in particular while we wait for her to come back?" He gave Kally a grin.

Chapter Text

Jack stared at his copy of the photo of Hiro at the airport. He'd had several copies made, in fact, just to be safe. And he was no closer to understanding how his friend had ended up on the footage than he had been earlier. It just didn't make sense. He was so engrossed in his scrutiny that he didn't notice someone approaching him until the last possible moment.


The space captain almost jumped out of his skin. He shook himself before looking up. "Please don't do that," he requested, looking less than happy until he realized just who had interrupted his reverie. "Miss Lopez." His expression turned into a huge grin. "I wasn't expecting to see you there."

Ella gave a bit of a cheerful wave. "Sorry about that. Didn't think you'd startle that easily." She did look apologetic, despite the slightly enamored smile on her face. Jack had seen it too many times not to recognize it for what it was.

Giving her his classic grin, Jack put down what he was looking at to give her his undivided attention. "What can I do for you?"

"Well, actually," Ella kind of hedged, looking more embarrassed than nervous, "it's more like what I can do to help the investigation. See, while the others were focused on looking for bomb fragments, I went in a completely different direction." She waved her arm in the air as she spoke, blue-gloved hands making a striking image for the space captain against her dark jacket.

More than a little intrigued, Jack nodded for her to continue. "I take it you found something."

She let out an exaggerated sound of excitement. "Boy did I ever!" She reached into her pocket and pulled out a sealed evidence bag. "Take a look at this."

Jack took the bag with cautious hands. If he wasn't mistaken, this was part of one of the bombs, though how she'd gotten her hands on it was beyond him. He'd thought the initial party had cleared out all the debris and recognizable pieces. Well, anything was possible, as he was more than aware. "What is it?" he finally asked, not immediately recognizing what part it might play.

Ella took it back. "Best as I can tell, it's some kind of timing device. At least that's what I think it is. I won't know for sure until I get it back to the lab. But it reminds me of something from a case a year or so back. It was another bombing, a one off thing. Maybe they're connected."

That made Jack more thoughtful than before. "Another bombing, you say? Did they ever find out who was behind it?"

Shaking her head, Ella made sure she placed the evidence back in her evidence kit. "Not as far as I know." She zipped up the bag just to make sure everything inside was secured. "I like to go through evidence on unsolved cases every now and again. Guess you could say it's kind of a hobby. And I remember going through some evidence that reminded me of this. That's why I brought it up."

"Miss Lopez," Jack said, taking her by the shoulders. "This is very important. I need you to go back to the precinct and pull up the evidence and compare it to what we've got here. If it's a match, I want everything on that case you've got. It might help is figure out who's behind all this and why."

Ella looked up with an air of distraction but nodded at his instructions. She was only slightly fazed by his more formal tone. "Yes sir. Not a problem. I just need to know how to contact you directly. Oh! And what about Detective Decker and Lucifer?"

Jack took a card out of his pocket when she mentioned contact details but paused in thought at the added question at the end. He did have the detective essentially working under him, as much as she hated it. And part of him thought it would be wise to stay on her good side. "Yes, the Detective and Lucifer too," he decided, with only some misgivings. He still wasn't exactly happy about Lucifer's final decision regarding their potential future relationships, but it was what it was and there were many other fish in the sea, as the saying went. "And Ella," he added as she turned to head out, "please hurry."

Ella accepted the card, slipping it into her pocket. She felt a small thrill go down her back knowing she could call him up at any moment, but now was not the time. She dutifully headed back to her vehicle and from there, back to the precinct. She had work to do. Time outside of work could wait until later, if it happened at all.

Lucifer sat in the waiting room of the hospital. It went without saying that he was more than a little bored as he waited for his partner to finish with the doctor, or, rather, the other way around. There were a few good looking nurses, but most of them didn't seem willing or able to give him the time of day. He wasn't about to take attention away from someone who truly deserved it, though there were a few in the immediate area who probably didn't.

After what felt like forever, though was only about an hour, Chloe exited the examination room, sporting a new crutch. She had a piece of paper clutched in one hand. From all indications, the paper was a prescription of some kind, though Lucifer chose not to pry.

"I say, it's about time," the devil said as he stood, straightening his suit as she approached. "They certainly weren't in any hurry now were they?"

Chloe gave him a look as she hobbled past him. "They were doing what they needed to do," she retorted, more than aware when he fell into step with her. "And what were you doing while I was in there?"

The two made their way to the reception desk where the detective signed a few additional forms, before being directed to the in-hospital pharmacy. "I was contemplating recent events, if you must know," Lucifer said in a somewhat bitter tone. "Unlike some people, I haven't forgotten that we still need to send someone over to collect the recently deceased's belongings. I thought I'd call up Miss Lopez for the purpose but she claims to be working on something much more important."

Blowing a strand of hair out of her face, Chloe handed the pharmacist on duty her prescription note. "I'm sure she's working with that Captain Jack whatever his name was."

"Harkness," Lucifer supplied in a less than happy voice. "And that's what she said she was doing. I somehow get the impression that if he asked her to walk on the moon, she'd be more than willing to do it."

Chloe rolled her eyes at him as she leaned against the counter. It meant she didn't have to rely quite so much on the crutch. It was a miracle they hadn't decided to make her use two, though it had been a near thing. The downside was that if she had to come back in for that same injury, the doctor promised to inform her captain that she needed some down time until she recovered. The detective had no intention of allowing that to happen and so made a mental promise to herself to at least try and use the crutch more consistently.

Lucifer returned her look with a similar one, though with a hint of protest. "Well it's true. The way she was fawning all over him. Jack this. Jack that. You'd think he was the only important person in her life. And she just barely met him too!"

The pharmacist returned with Chloe's prescription and she signed for it before turning back to her partner. "If I didn't know any better, I'd say you're jealous."

"Of that Neanderthal?" Lucifer scoffed. "As if!"

She gave him a knowing look before tucking the crutch more firmly under arm. "Uh huh." She gave a bit of a smirk as she started off without him, making him have to catch up as she headed towards the parking garage. It was only a slight irritation that she had to rely on him to drive once more but it couldn't be helped. "Well, since Ella's too busy to gather evidence, and collect Rachel Amesbury's things, I guess that just means you and I will have to do it."

Lucifer stopped short at the door. "Are you suggesting I sift through the things of a woman deceased?"

"Hasn't stopped you before," Chloe quirked as she waited for him to hold the door for her. It took him a moment to take the hint, though she couldn't help but look amused when he did.

Only a bit more flustered than before, Lucifer held the door for her. "But those women were actually interesting! It's not like someone with such a name could possibly have anything that would garner my attention."

"Only one way to find out," Chloe shrugged as she stopped in front of her car. "Are you going to open the door for me or do I have to climb over it to get in?" She wisely knew he wouldn't let her drive, just as he had insisted on driving her to the hospital in the first place. It wasn't ideal, but she decided to continue to humor him, at least for now.

Reminded of her handicap, Lucifer quickly moved to open the passenger side door so she could slide onto the seat. They had a bit of a moment managing the crutch, but it was safely towed in the backseat and the devil quickly moved to take his place behind the wheel. He let out a heavy sigh as he glanced over at his partner. "Well, I suppose since I'm the one who brought it up, I might as well accompany you in this endeavor. That does mean we'll have to stop by the Hamadas' room to get the key, unless you want to just have housekeeping let us in." He looked almost hopeful.

But Chloe wasn't about to let him off the hook. "I think asking Cass Hamada, or one of the others, for the key should be more than sufficient. There's no need to bother the staff unless we have to." She gave him a sarcastic smile as he put the car in gear. It made her feel a little warm inside to see him squirm.

Cass resisted the urge to smooth her hair as she stood outside of Loki's hotel suite. Technically, she could just let herself in. she did still have the key card, after all. But part of her thought that a little presumptuous on her part. And she wasn't sure how Loki would view such an intrusion, expected or not. So, instead of using the card, she knocked on the door.

Stumbling noises could be heard from inside the suite, though they didn't start until after the second set of knocking. At the very least, they told Cass that Loki wasn't quite as far along in his recovery as Baymax had theorized he would be. That or there were other complications the healthcare companion hadn't foreseen. The only other option she could see was that someone else was in the room, possibly holding the god of mischief against his will. That idea made her feel all the more antsy as she knocked for the third time, just a bit more urgently.

By the time she started fumbling for the key card in her pocket, the door opened. She looked up into the very exhausted eyes of one Loki of Asgard. Seeing him, she practically threw herself at him as she enveloped him into a hug. The force pushed them both into the room, the door closing behind them.

Loki let out an almost hesitant chuckle as he tried to not fall over. "If I'd known I would receive this kind of greeting, I would have tried to hurry all the more to open the door," he admitted. His feet faltered a bit despite his efforts and Cass had to hold on so he wouldn't fall over. What he didn't tell her was that he'd almost decided not to answer in the first place, sure she'd have used the key card to enter instead of knocking.

Cass gave an answering laugh that was interrupted as Loki's knees buckled, making them both go down. Though she was strong, she wasn't strong enough to hold up the man in her arms. Unfortunately, as they went down, she banged her already bruised knees into the floor and she gasped in pain, her arms sliding away from him as she rolled to one side.

The Asgardian let out a grunt as the air was knocked from his lungs, the both of them lying there on the floor next to each other for several long moments. Cass was the first to roll to a sitting position, sucking in her breath as her knees throbbed. But her immediate concern was Loki, who looked more than a little like a fish out of water. "Breathe!" she ordered as she leaned over him.

It took several more seconds for Loki to suck in a lungful of air, still looking stunned. "Not exactly what I had in mind," he admitted, sounding more than a little oxygen-deprived. He turned his head to glance up at her, noting the pain in her eyes. "What about you?"

Hints of moisture filled the corners of Cass's eyes as she bit her lip. "Oh, I'll live," she managed, resisting the urge to pull her pant legs up enough to investigate the damage. Chances were good her already purpling knees had gone a shade or two darker. "I thought you were doing better when we left you," she added, trying to avert his attention.

"Yes, well," Loki began, drawing in another slightly painful breath," I was trying to not make you worry." Though the idea that she might have done that anyway was more than a little flattering. "But, if you feel up to the challenge, I would be more than grateful if you would help me to one of the chairs, or even the couch."

Cass winced as she got to her feet, resisting the urge to press against her knees as ballast s she returned to a standing position. It hurt, but she'd felt at least similar pain before. It wasn't insurmountable, just annoyingly persistent. Before she could have any second thoughts on the matter, she moved in to try and grasp Loki from one side. After a few more uncomfortable moments, and a lot of huffing and puffing on her part, the two staggered towards the coach, where they fell onto the cushions, side by side, more than happy to just sit there for a while.

Several minutes passed while each tried to recover from this unexpected turn of events, at which point Loki turned to her. "Now why don't you tell me just how badly you've injured yourself this time? And please do try not to downplay it for my sake."

"And here I was coming to check in on you," Cass said with a sigh. Her words came out just as breathless as she felt. Loki wasn't exactly as light as her nephew, even though he'd tried his best to help with things. And even with the few minutes to rest, she still felt more than a little out of breath.

Loki managed to lean towards her, looking a bit more in control of himself than before, though things were certainly coming along a lot more slowly than he'd hoped, simply based off of what he'd heard of Hiro's experiences. Apparently his body had yet to accommodate the unexpected differences in energy. "Please don't take this the wrong way, but I feel someone needs to look after you as much as you look out for your nephew. With that in mind, I want to see what damage you have inflicted on your already injured knees."

Still more than a bit hesitant, and more than a little embarrassed, Cass pulled the fabric up and away from her lower legs, revealing the nicely darkened flesh around her joints. "I don't think I chipped the bone or anything," she stated, sure she'd be able to feel the difference. "I should be fine in a day or two."

He gave her a knowing look. "And just how long did it take for your nephew's bruised knee to heal that one time after the earthquakes? I saw that much in his memories before he pushed me out. I admit that might be because I overstepped my promise a bit to only look at the memories in question. In my defense, it was difficult not to catch a glimpse of some of the others while I was poking around."

Cass fell back against the back of the couch, letting out her breath in a heavy sigh. "Weeks," she answered, knowing she probably would have the same time frame to look forward to. He'd even worn a knee brace for part of the time, something she hoped to avoid. Then the rest of his comments caught up with her and she sat back up again. "Wait, you got a look at some of his other memories too?"

Loki looked a bit uncomfortable at this line of questioning and looked away. "Yes, well, his mind is perhaps a bit more disorganized than others. Or, rather, I should say differently organized. I wasn't exactly expecting for his memories to come at me like a hoard of swarming bees. I'm sure it was no more comfortable for him than it was for me. At most, I only caught glimpses of those memories." While not strictly true, it was close enough to count. He'd just tried focusing on a few that he probably shouldn't have while sifting through it all. That had resulted in consequences he really hoped to never repeat.

That comment stayed any further questions Cass might have on the matter, at least for the moment. "What about you?" she asked instead. "Did you eat anything while I was gone? I know Baymax said part of the problem was low blood sugar levels."

A laugh escaped Loki's lips. "While I trust your healthcare companion to know things pertaining to human bodies, I think I can safely say he is only guessing where it comes to mine. It is not so much a matter of low blood sugar as of low energy all around. I'm sure your nephew didn't intend for that energy to rebound inside his body, but until my own can replenish what was lost, I'm just as stuck in my situation as you are."

Cass frowned as she thought about that. He probably knew more about it than either she or Baymax did, but it didn't negate the possibility that food would help either. Then thoughts of the conversation with the others only a half hour earlier filtered into her thoughts. "About those memories…" she hesitated to continue but knew if anyone had any idea, Loki probably did. "The detective printed a photo from the airport off of their surveillance equipment and it showed an outline of Hiro in it from only moments before the bombs went off. Any ideas?"

Loki frowned as he thought about the possible implications this might present. "I do hope they don't think he was the culprit, or physically there when it happened." His expression showed his slight disdain for authority.

Waving her hands a bit, Cass quickly assured him, giving him a quick rundown of the conversation, including ideas tossed around by Stark and Banner. "They don't seem to have any more idea than Hiro or I do, though I'm not entirely Hiro doesn't have any ideas about this."

The god of chaos looked thoughtful as he contemplated this new information. "It is possible he somehow managed an astral projection," he mused. "It's not unlike a similar ability I'm rather fond of." Thoughts of all the times he'd essentially doubled himself to fool his brother, or others, filled his mind. "Of course, without seeing the image in question, I couldn't tell you for sure. What I can tell you is what you've heard before, that Hiro did somehow manage to connect with the equipment there. It is possible he somehow manifested that energy in a physical form without realizing it."

"Can he really do that?" Cass asked, looking more than a little surprised. She recalled hearing that Hiro was no longer quite human, thanks to mutated DNA, but she'd no idea what all that meant.

Loki shrugged. "At this point I think it safe to say anything's possible as far as Hiro's concerned. I am no more closer to understanding what has happened to him than he likely is."

Cass couldn't help but look more thoughtful at that. "Well that makes two of us, I guess," she sighed as she turned to face him more fully, one foot tucking under the opposite leg. "But what about you? How are we going to get your energy back? It's been a couple hours now. You'd think you'd at least have some of it back by now."

"I'm as in the dark as you are," he confessed. "I can't say I've ever experienced anything like this before so your guess is as good as mine." He reached for her closest hand and brought it to his lips. "But I don't mind you waiting with me for a while, just to make sure nothing else happens."

A hint of color crept up Cass's neck and cheeks, but she didn't pull away. There was something sincere and vulnerable about him, and not just because of the whole lack of energy thing. He'd had a hard life and she could sense it. "I'm not going anywhere," she confirmed as she looked into his eyes.

Chapter Text

Only a minute or two had passed since Cass had left the room when someone knocked on the door. Looking more than a little confused, Hiro went to answer it. He noticed Kally didn't really look surprised when Honey Lemon and GoGo entered the room, followed by Fred. "Oh, hey guys," Hiro said as the entered. He rubbed at the back of his neck. "What brings you over?"

GoGo blew an impassive gum bubble as she leaned against the dresser, arms folded. "Sammy sent a message asking us to come over to keep an eye on you two since Cass is out."

Fred gave Hiro a knowing look, adding in a bit of a comic hint of overkill as he circled the teen. "Yeah, she wanted to make sure you two weren't… canoodling."

"Canoodling? Really?" GoGo gave him a look.

Honey moved to defuse the situation as she came to sit on the edge of Cass's chosen bed. "Actually, she was worried that if those detectives came back you might get into trouble since the one cited the law about unaccompanied minors last night."

Of course Sammy would think it only prudent they have more than just a few AIs as escorts. He wanted to smack himself in the head, not that he'd planned on doing anything he shouldn't, but Honey was right. He was in enough hot water as things stood. And even though the detective hadn't been gone too long, there was always the chance she'd come back sooner than later with some other ludicrous something or other to shove in his face. The last thing they needed was to add more fuel to her fire so he shrugged and went to sit next to Kally on the other mattress. "So, what do you propose we do in the meantime?"

Chances were good Cass wouldn't like it if he left the area, even if he wasn't alone. At least she wouldn't like it if he didn't let her know where he was going. Not that he planned on going anywhere but he didn't know what the others had in mind.

GoGo moved to flop on the mattress next to Honey Lemon. "I'm cool with just watching whatever's on," she replied as she reached for the remote and turned the television on. A news station began playing, even though the volume was muted. "Ugh! Can't they talk about anything besides that stupid explosion!" she complained as images of the airport fire filled the background.

Honey wrung her hands. "Actually, maybe now would be a good time to talk about that. I'd also like to know what you were doing at Lux when it all happened." She glanced over at Hiro.

The teen let out a sigh. He supposed now was as good a time as any to let them in on his little "problem" as it were. "So, that's actually a funny story. Remember how I was somehow connected to that computer in the Hydra base?" He paused at their looks, some more impatient than others as he swallowed hard. "Well, um… you see, Loki and I went to Lux to see that Lucifer guy and while we were there, I somehow managed to connect with the computer system at the airport and witnessed the whole thing."

"You're the one who gave them the anonymous tip!" Fred realized. "And it's probably a good thing you did or everyone who was on that plane would quite literally be toast, including Tony."

Honey gave him a look. "Not everyone made it out in time," she reminded but gave Hiro a sympathetic look. "But I'm sure you tried."

"What I want to know is what you meant when you mentioned the whole burning bit earlier," Kally spoke up. "I didn't say anything while Tony and Bruce were here because it really didn't look like you wanted to talk about it. But I really think you should."

Hearing that, all three Big Heroes turned their attention on a rather uncomfortable looking Hiro. "About that," he hedged. "I'm not really sure what happened. I mean what I said about it being like a really bad dream was true. I just didn't mention that it felt more like I was really there in that plane when the bombs went off."

"Just like you weren't really there but your image showed up on the airport security footage?" Kally pressed.

This was news to the others and they couldn't help but look confused until Kally explained what she meant. "You gotta admit that's pretty weird," GoGo spoke up, muting the television. Chances were good she'd just turn it off in a minute.

Honey looked thoughtful. "Maybe your image showed up on that surveillance because you were somehow connected to the system. It's possible it wasn't so much you being there in any physical sense but that your mental presence somehow overlapped into the footage for the briefest of moments."

Well, it was about as good a theory as any anyone else had thrown around, Hiro supposed. And it made a lot more sense, when he took in all the other factors. "Maybe. But what I'd really like to know is why this keeps happening to me."

Fred nodded. "Yeah, it does beg to question why it's always you." He paused at the looks from his companions. "I mean there is a decided pattern here. The Makt go after him. The whole redoing time lines thing. Q's energy. Not to mention the Hydra stuff. My theory is that whatever mutation happened to your DNA has somehow made you a magnet for weird things, like that one character from Maxamillion's Delima."

GoGo raised a brow at him, arms folded. "Do I even want to know?"

"Only if you want to learn about one of the forgotten treasures of the comic book world," Fred retorted at her tone. "Maxamillion is a totally underrated story lost to the passage of time. And, of course, I own one of the only remaining copies."

"Figures," GoGo quipped as she blew a gum bubble. "But I gotta admit it's possible, though I think there's a lot more to it than that."

Hiro rolled his eyes. "Keep up on that line of thought and I might think you want to use me as a human guinea pig like you did with the whole Q business. My answer to anything related to that hasn't changed. No way." He flung out one arm to emphasize his point.

"We have to get down to the bottom of whatever this is somehow," Honey admitted. "And I honestly don't know how else we can."

Kally began to pace the limited space in the room, one hand to her chin in thought as she chewed the inside of her cheek. "Maybe it's not so much as a need for experimentation as it is observation. But, if we really want to get back to the matter at hand, the real question is why is he somehow picking up on what's going on with all this bombing stuff. It's not like at the Hydra base where he was plugged into the computer."

"Thank you!" Hiro said with a heavy dose of sarcasm. "I needed another reminder of just how messed up I am." He flung himself into Kally's vacated space on the mattress. "If you really want to know, the real reason we disappeared off the map for the last few hours, it's because Loki was trying to help me figure out what was going on and we didn't want to be disturbed. And believe me when I say we came up with nothing."

It wasn't strictly true, but also was at the same time. He was no closer to understanding how or why he was able to do any of that, though part of him thought he could chalk up that first experience at the events center to coincidence. He was having a reactive reintegration episode. It just happened to be one involving a bomb shortly before a real one had gone off. Surely the two incidents weren't related. Unless he somehow could sense trouble through a subconscious level. But that still didn't explain why only this series of events, why only the whole bombing thing and not the myriad of other things probably going on in the area. There had to be more to it than that. And maybe Loki was the only one who could help him find out. Then again, maybe not.

Honey let out a sigh. "Maybe we just all need to take some time away from the subject, give it a bit of breathing room." She could tell that Hiro was feeling more than a little stressed and overwhelmed by this whole ordeal and correctly guessed that he wanted the subject dropped. "Why don't we find a movie to watch while we wait?"

The others quickly picked up on what she meant and seemed to all but jump at the idea. "I got some microwaveable popcorn in my room!" Fred volunteered, heading to the door before anyone could protest while GoGo started flipping through the TV Guide channel in search of something decent to watch.

Chloe impatiently waited while Lucifer slipped inside Cass Hamada's hotel room. She'd thought it best to let him get the room key since she'd already made a less than stellar impression on the café owner. She just hadn't expected Lucifer to take quite so long to get one little card. She shifted her weight on her crutch. It was certainly better than having to go on leave, or worse, desk duty, but it was still a pain to deal with.

A small pile of boxes sat at her feet, not yet folded into shape. She wasn't sure just how much evidence there was to collect and wanted to be safe. Next to that sat a smaller box filled with evidence collecting bags and tools. It never hurt to be prepared. It helped that Lucifer was more than willing to haul it all around due to her injury. In that light, she felt the crutch wasn't a bad thing after all.

The door across the hall finally opened to reveal her partner and she let out an impatient sigh. "Took you long enough," she complained as she moved a piece of hair out of her face. "I hope you weren't trying to do anything unnecessary in there."

Lucifer made his way over to her side, wielding the key car. "Nothing of the kind," he protested. "I merely had to wait while Ms. Carmichael retrieved her copy of the key. Apparently she'd forgotten to take it out of the pocket of her pants from the day before."

Chloe rolled her eyes. "I don't care where it was so long as we have it now," she quipped as she took the key from him and slid it into the key reader on the door. The light flashed green and she turned the knob, pushing the door open. Before she could do anything else, however, Lucifer held it open for her.

"After you, Detective," Lucifer said in a more courteous tone.

She didn't need a second invitation to take him up on the offer, only once glancing at the evidence gathering materials on her way inside. She did take the liberty of standing with her back to hold the door for him though, since he'd have his hands full with everything they'd brought.

The hotel room they'd entered was almost an exact replica of Cass Hamada's room, except it was a mirror opposite, and the painting between the beds was different. Chloe let the door close behind her as she hobbled into the room and stopped to pull out a pair of gloves. Things certainly would have been easier with Ella there but she understood why the crime lab expert wasn't.

One bed was mussed up a bit, while the other looked as if it had never been slept in. "That one's Ms. Carmichael's," Lucifer pointed at the rumpled bed. "Well, at least we know the maid hasn't come and displaced anything." He took put on a pair of gloves as he moved around the further of the two beds, the one that was still made. "Hello. Hello. What have we here?" He held up a small suitcase by its handle, the wheels dangling just over the mattress.

"Let's see what's inside," Chloe decided as she moved over to join him, settling her crutch out of the way so she could use both her hands without trouble.

Lucifer placed the suitcase on the mattress and stood back a bit so Chloe could have the honors. He watched as she carefully unzipped the front pouch and removed several pencils, a few pocket packs of tissues, and a few cords that probably went to a charger or mp3 player.

"Not much in that one is there," Lucifer observed as he carefully placed like items in an evidence bag and labeled them. He somehow felt it best to be more professional than usual, possibly because his partner was injured, or maybe because of the unusual nature of the case.

Chloe shook her head a bit impatiently. "I wasn't expecting much in the front," she admitted. "Time to check the main compartment." She unzipped the main area and flipped the front panel out of the way.

A couple shirts lay near the bottom, rolled to conserve space, along with a few pairs of pants. There were also a few pairs of socks, some ladies unmentionables, and notebooks. Chloe picked up the small stack of notebooks and began turning the pates while Lucifer unpacked the clothes, just to be safe.

"Looks like schematics for a robot, maybe her fighting bot?" Chloe continued to flip through what were obviously a set of specs on something. And when she saw notations for an optional plasma cutter option, she felt sure of her deduction. The rest of the first notebook was filled with more of the same, along with mathematical calculations and other similar formulas she knew she'd have to have someone else look at to understand. She set that notebook aside.

Lucifer continued to go through the clothes from the suitcase, going so far as to actually look in the pants pockets. Most were empty, until he came across one with a lump bulging from a front pocket as he unrolled the blue fabric. "What's this?" he wondered aloud as he fished in the pocket and pulled out what looked like a lumpy sock.

Chloe looked up at his exclamation. "Got something?" she asked as she put the other notebooks down on top of the first. She moved to get a better look as Lucifer carefully eased whatever was inside out into the open.

"Not sure," Lucifer said as he worked on freeing whatever was in the sock. "But I didn't know any better, I believe Miss Amesbury didn't want anyone to find this." He finally freed the object and held it up with one gloved hand.

The detective tilted her head for a better angle before taking the silver chunk of metal from her partner. It was suspended in some kind of thick liquid material in what appeared to be a sealed plastic container. "Is this what I think it is?" she asked as she looked at the nugget. The luster couldn't be ignored, though she'd never seen a lump quite like this before. It could be something else, but she felt fairly confident in her original thought.

Lucifer carefully took the metal back and scrutinized it. "It's hard to tell definitively without someone to confirm it, but I do believe this to be some kind of metal, possibly magnesium or something similar." He looked somehow troubled, or at least confused. "How on earth did she come across something like that? And what was she going to do with it?"

Chloe shook her head. "Maybe the answer's in one of these notebooks." She indicated the abandoned stack before reaching for the next in line from the schematic-filled one. She began leafing through it, looking more and more conflicted as she went. "Lucifer," she said as she almost hesitantly handed the open notebook over. "Please tell me that's not what I think it is."

The devil took the offered papers in hand and scrutinized the drawings for no more than a few seconds before looking up with the same shock in his eyes that was all over the detective's face. "My dear detective, did we just irrefutably tie together the two cases?"

Chloe swallowed hard, wondering just what Rachel Amesbury had gotten herself into and why she'd had plans for several different types of bombs in her possession.

Chapter Text

Hushed voices filled the silence of an abandoned structure just outside of the main part of the city. Technically, this was Skid Row, and definitely not the most ideal place to be, but it suited their purposes. Don't bother the locals and they left one alone. Mostly. And those who did end up sticking their noses where they didn't belong didn't stick around long.

"This is going too far," one said as he paced the dilapidated room. It wasn't their headquarters, by any means, but it suited their purpose. "We can't risk being found out because of this little hiccup. We should have taken care of it before the airport."

A woman stretched her neck one way and then the other. "You're probably right, but there was a reason for it. It did give those cops something else to chase for a while. But that time is past and so is his usefulness to us. If I'd known he was going to put up a wager with her, I'd never have let him in on it. But it did give them a dead end to chase down."

"Not dead yet," a third reminded a bit impatiently. "You know what needs to be done. We can't afford to wait any longer."

The woman laughed. "Why do you think I had you all come down here? It certainly wasn't for the décor." She gave an errant wave of her hand at the walls around them. "Don't worry so much! It's all taken care of. He'll be here soon, and then he won't be."

A fourth figure moved out of the shadows. "I wondered if you'd had something devious in mind," the figure admitted as he played with the edge of a sharp knife. By trade, he usually used his blades to cut wires, but not tonight.

The woman shrugged. "Why not kill two birds with one stone? Hand them their killer and point them in the wrong direction?"

"I like the way you think," the first man agreed with a smile. "Set out a false trail that will lead them far away from us and anything we're involved with."


Footsteps sounded in the hall as a fifth person joined the party. "Sorry I'm late." He smelled of cheap booze and cigarette smoke.

The woman sauntered up to him, caressing his face. "That's all right. We were only just getting started." She flashed a look at the man with the first man, who began to move towards the door. "It's time we planned the next phase of our mission. The troops are getting restless and want in on the fun." She directed her target towards a ramshackle table where a rough map of the city lay. "I was thinking we could start here." She pointed at a random spot on the map while using her other hand to motion the man with the knife forward.

Sure steps approached the two. "Why not there?" the man in question suggested as he came up behind their victim. "More casualties."

The fifth in the party seemed to consider that for a moment, nodding in appreciation. He was so caught up in the idea that he didn't notice the thin blade slide between his ribs until it was too late. He turned to look up at the man behind him in surprise.

A smile filled the attacker's face as he roughly pulled the blade from the other man's body. "You got in the way," he said in response to the question in the dying man's eyes. "Nothing personal."

The woman let out a derisive laugh. "Oh I do love it when you're being cold!" She gave him a peck on the cheek. She turned to the man slowly sinking to the ground in a pool of his own blood. "But that was for killing off our golden goose just so you wouldn't lose a bet, jeopardizing our mission. Like he said. Nothing personal." Her eyes glittered with the setting sun as it slanted through the boarded windows.

Ella ran around her lab like a crazy person, going from one point to another. Chloe and Lucifer had just returned with their evidence gathered from Rachel Amesbury's room. And, upon seeing the silver-colored metal, along with the bomb plans in one of the notebooks, Ella had gone into a tizzy of experiments and comparisons to what she'd been working on for Jack Harkness.

"There's no doubt that at least some of these plans match what I found earlier," the lab tech stated as she compared one sketch to what she'd found from the bomb remains sent over earlier. "But I can safely say that not all of them are the same. And until they unearth any bomb fragments from that arena, I can't even begin to compare them."

Chloe nodded, looking less than happy. "Well, that pretty much settles it," she decided. "The two are decidedly connected."

Ella continued to putter about her chemistry equipment. She'd opened the container the metal came in, realizing it was in a suspension of oil. That led her to believe a need for extreme caution necessary as she managed to take a small sample from the chunk of metal inside. "Based on this alone, I'd say you're on the right track with your killer, but I have to correct you about this being magnesium."

That comment made Lucifer pause in his perusal of the other notebooks. Thankfully, they'd already tested that one for prints so the fact that he wasn't wearing gloves didn't matter as much. "Are you quite sure? I could have sworn I was right."

The Latina blew some hair out of her face as her hands were currently occupied. "Pretty sure. In fact, if I had to venture a guess, without further testing, I'd say you've got enough lithium here to make the same number of bombs used at the airport, which makes sense due to the material used there."

"I thought they weren't sure what was in the bombs," Chloe spoke up as she swatted at Lucifer's hands when they wandered over to a notebook not yet dusted for prints.

Ella wavered a bit on what to tell them. "Well, you're not wrong. They didn't know, but I did find parts of one of them in the wreckage. And after getting all the fragments from the bomb squad, I was able to find trace amounts of lithium in the mix. That and the bomb type shown on that page," she pointed to the open notebook in question," confirms it. As I was telling Jack earlier, I've actually seen this kind before."

Chloe's brows rose at the casual use of the captain's name. But instead of commenting on it, she folded her arms around her crutch. "And why didn't we know there were other bombs like this used before now?"

Eyes rolling, Ella waved her hand. "That's old news. I just noticed that today's incident fit the same M.O. of a few other bombing incidents that were never solved. So I came back here and compared them."

"Let me guess," Chloe interrupted, waving a hand of her own while she used the other to steady herself. "You think whoever these people were might have been working on perfecting these bombs and those previous ones were what? Trail runs?"

Ella shrugged. "Well yeah, if I had to venture a guess. But I'm not the detective." She moved to put a hand on Chloe's shoulder. "That's your job. I just get to play with all the fun toys."

Lucifer let out a sigh at this. "You do know what this means, don't you, Detective?' He paused to see if she'd react in the affirmative. "Why, it means there are likely going to be more incidents! If those previous occurrences Miss Lopez unconverted were only trial runs, this may only be the beginning."

"Which means chances are good this is a terrorist act," Chloe finished for him, looking more serious than she had all day. "Just my luck." She sighed heavily, wondering if it wasn't too late to hand the case off to Jack Harkness, lock, stock, and barrel.

Laughter filled the honeymoon suite as both Loki and Cass shared a joke. A few hours had passed since Cass had joined Loki in his room. And the god of mischief was slowly progressing back to a more normal energy level, not that Cass was in a hurry to leave. Her knees still stung from reinjuring them upon her arrival. That and it was more than fun to share some of the more amusing stories from her childhood.

"And my brother took a good ten minutes to figure out that I'd put glue in his shoes!" Cass wiped away laughter tears. "Those were the days." She let herself sink further into the cushy cushions. She let out a heavy sigh as her laughter subsided. "I still miss them. I can only imagine how Hiro feels, if he even remembers them."

Loki placed a comforting hand on her thigh, avoiding her still sensitive knees. "I'm sure he does, deep down somewhere." He looked off into the distance. "I remember the day I learned my mother died as if it were only yesterday."

It was Cass's turn to offer a gesture of comfort. "I'm sorry." She gave him a sympathetic smile. "How old were you?"

The god of mischief managed to hold back any tears. It wasn't that he feared to show such emotions in front of Cass. It was more that he wasn't sure he'd be able to make himself stop if he let it start. "It's been almost a year."

Cass leaned towards him, awkwardly hugging him around the shoulders. "Hiro was only three when his parents died. And he suffered a lot of trauma. I thought he remembered when he was younger, but comments Tadashi made," she paused to swallow hard, "make me wonder if those memories have faded."

But Loki shook his head. "Not truly gone," he contradicted. "They're never truly gone, just locked up inside somewhere." He turned to face Cass once more, smiling slightly at how she kept her arm around his shoulders. He moved to put his around hers as well. "And what about Tadashi? I saw a few snippets of memory while I was looking around Hiro's memories earlier, but I haven't really heard you mention him until now."

She let out a bit of a half hiccuping laugh. "Hiro's older brother. He died in an explosion at the university. But he was just as smart as Hiro is, if not smarter. He's the one who created Baymax."

Loki refrained from letting her in on what he already knew about the older Hamada boy, wanting her to just talk about him instead. It helped him understand Hiro, and her, a bit better. "It's all right," he soothed as he saw the emotions welling up in her again, pulling her against him once more. "You don't have to tell me about him if it's too painful."

Cass let out a funny kind of laugh. "Only parts of it are painful," she admitted. "And I'm a lot better about it than I used to be. But Hiro… I still can't believe he kept going back in time to try and save him. I can't even begin to imagine what that must have done to him, seeing his brother die over and over again, helpless to stop it from happening."

"We all have our crosses to bear," Loki reminded, not releasing his hold on her shoulders, pleased she didn't resist the gesture. He contemplated playing with her hair but decided against it. He wasn't sure how long he'd be staying on Midgard and didn't need to start something he couldn't finish. Part of him wondered if it wasn't already too late but he dismissed the idea.

A notification made Cass's phone beep and she absently rummaged for it in her pocket. She sat up a bit when she saw lock screen. "Is that the time?!" Realizing she'd been there a lot longer than originally intended, she could only hope Hiro hadn't gotten himself into trouble while she was gone.

Loki blinked back mild surprise at her sudden change in emotion, realizing what she had. He did notice she had a bit of trouble getting to her feet and smoothly got to his to help her up. He'd refrained from telling her he felt much stronger an hour ago. In fact, he was probably as close to normal as he'd get without a little alone time. "Allow me to escort you back to your room."

Cass looked up in a bit of shock, still more than a little wobbly from the pain. "But aren't you still a bit…" she trailed off at the look in his eyes, seeing hints of humor there.

"I'm more worried about you," he assured her. "I'll be fine. Besides, I'm sure the exercise will do me some good." He took a step back and formally offered her his arm. "My lady."

The proprietress blushed from the roots of her hair down to her toes. "Oh! Um. Sure." She took his offered arm with only a hint of hesitation, more than grateful for his support as he led her towards the door. She quickly looked back to make sure she hadn't forgotten anything.

Chapter Text

Honey Lemon looked up as the door to Kally's hotel room opened. She stood upon seeing Cass, accompanied by Loki. She made hushing gestures and then pointed at the bed. The others had left to find food an hour ago, leaving her to chaperone the two teens. Baymax was out of sight, keeping an eye on everyone in the room.

"Are they asleep?" Cass asked as she closed the door behind her and Loki, making sure he didn't just leave her the moment she fully entered the room. She moved towards the main part of the room, surprised to see both Hiro and Kally sacked out on one bed, Loki not too far behind her, in case she needed his help.

The chemist nodded. "They both kind of dozed off in the middle of the third movie." She indicated the television, which was currently muted. She reached for the remote and turned it off.

Loki noted that Hiro lay on one side of the bed, while Kally on the other. "Perhaps it would be best for Hiro to be moved to his own room," he mused, wondering if he had enough strength saved up to perform the task.

"I will take care of moving Hiro," Baymax spoke up as he gently slid his arms under the sleeping youth. He'd noted that Loki still wasn't quite up to par and didn't want him to overdo things. He politely moved past the god of mischief, waiting a moment for Cass to open the door connecting the adjoining room to their current one.

Honey walked around to the other side of the bed to pull the covers around Kally's inert form. She gave an almost maternal smile as she then brushed a loose strand of hair away from the teen's face.

Cass observed this from her spot near the door, waiting for Baymax to rejoin them. "They didn't give you any trouble, did they?"

But the Latino shook her head, still smiling. "Not at all. I hope you don't mind we ordered some room service. I didn't think you'd like them wandering off in search of food."

"Thank you," Cass said as Honey approached her. "Let me know what I owe you and I'll pay you back. I assume you didn't charge it to the room."

Honey shook her head. "Fred already took care of it. He probably ate the largest portion before he and GoGo headed out."

This somehow didn't surprise the café owner and she resisted the urge to let out a bit of a snort as Baymax returned, waiting patiently in the doorway. "Hiro is safely in bed," he reported. "I do not believe he will wake until morning." His report given, he turned back into the darker room, leaving the door on his side open.

Cass managed to close the door on her side, leaving enough of a sliver of space so she could hear if Hiro should call out his sleep. "Guess it's time to turn in for the night," she observed, wishing Honey a good night as the chemist left the room.

Loki escorted her to the empty bed and had her sit down. "I wasn't going to say anything while the others were here," he began, "but I really do think you should put more ice on your knees." He gently pushed the fabric up on her pant legs to show the darkened flesh. "I'm actually a little surprised Baymax didn't say anything about it."

"Thank you," Cass said, feeling a bit embarrassed but pleased. "I appreciate it, but I'll be fine. I'll take some painkillers and be good to go in the morning."

Before she could get up, Loki took it upon himself to find her a cup and fill it with water from the sink so she could take the pills. "Are you quite sure you don't wish me to get some ice for you?"

She resisted the urge to laugh at the expression on his face, feeling a giddy sense of euphoria bubbling up in her stomach. If he didn't leave soon, she'd never get to sleep. "I'll be fine," she assured him, only momentarily thinking of her nephew and his continued insistence on being okay. There was probably some irony in the moment but she brushed it aside. "You need sleep too."

Loki gave a slight bow of acknowledgement. "I suppose you are right," he agreed with a hint of reluctance. "Please do let me know if you change your mind though." He then glanced towards Hiro's room. "Or if anything else occurs."

Cass promised, hoping he didn't expect her to walk him to the door. She wasn't sure she could make it the way her knees were throbbing. Part of her wondered how Hiro had managed with that one bruise she'd later learned came from a ricocheted bullet. Well, she was a tough cookie too and would deal.

The god of mischief took her hand in his and gently pressed his lips to the back of it. "I'm only a few floors away," he reminded as he released her fingers from his. Almost reluctantly, it seemed, he turned and left the room.

Cass let out a bit of a sigh as the door closed. She quickly gathered her wits and reached for the bottle of pain medicine, having to squirm a bit to reach it on the nightstand. But she managed and quickly downed the recommended dose. She then turned off the lights with the convenient switch just to the side of her headboard, kicking off her shoes. It would be too much of a hassle to bother changing into pajamas, but she wasn't going to sleep in sneakers.

Settled for the night, she pulled one of the pillows into her arms, hugging it to her body. A slight thrill ran the length of her body when she thought of Loki, but she calmed herself and closed her eyes. After such an eventful day, and with the help of the medicine, she soon drifted off to sleep.

Despite the late hour, Ella Lopez continued to work in her lab. She'd gone over the metal samples Chloe and Lucifer had brought in, poured over the bomb diagrams, and triple-checked everything Jack had asked her about. And yet, she still felt like she was missing something.

She looked over the evidence piling up on her desk, still in neat areas to keep any cross contamination at bay, but still very much accumulating in vast quantities. At least she hadn't left the bomb fragments out, sending those back to the bomb squad since they'd said they weren't quite finished with them yet.

Ella slowly walked around the central table, one hand to her chin as she contemplated each piece of evidence they'd collected so far. "Done. Done. Done," she said to herself as she mentally pointed at various articles. And then the silver length of pipe attached to the dart gun winked at her and she paused. She tilted her head to one side as her other hand slowly reached for the item in question. "I don't think I'm quite done with you though."

Carefully, hands still gloved from previous projects, she picked up the dart gun, barrel and all, and moved towards a separate station. She unscrewed the added length and began dismantling the whole thing. If her gut was right, there was something important in that whole contraption she'd missed and she wouldn't allow herself to stop for the night until she figured out what it was.

Wasabi groaned as he returned to consciousness. It certainly wasn't sporting or fair for that nurse to sedate him. There probably had been a good reason for it, but at least there shouldn't be a repeat of the incident. At least not for a while. The main reason being that Dirk Gently was nowhere to be seen in the room. In fact, he thought it might be night time instead of daytime.

He tried to sit up in an effort to get a better view of the clock across the room. The fact that it was in shadow didn't help, but he realized the digital numbers weren't much help in giving him the actual part of the day, just a general time. They weren't using military time, unless he was in the wee hours of the morning instead of early afternoon. Well, it was what it was, he supposed.

Part of him wondered if the others had tried to visit him again and then he dismissed the idea. Chances were good they hadn't. Once was probably enough, especially if Hiro wasn't feeling well, as they'd told him that one visit.

The door opened to his room and he turned a bit to try and see past the curtain someone had drawn around his bed. "Someone there?" he asked in a gravelly voice. His throat felt in decided need of some water.

Fully expecting a nurse, or maybe the doctor, Wasabi was not prepared to see Jack Harkness enter the room. He felt his heart momentarily stutter before going back to a more normal pace. "Jack! What are you doing here?"

Captain Harkness gave him his best thoughtful stance as he evaluated the situation. "One might say I'm currently in charge," he said in reply. "I thought the others would have told you I was in town but it looks like they didn't. How are you doing?"

Wasabi winced as he adjusted his position, seeing a mug of what he hoped was water off on the side table. His mouth tried to water at the prospect. For whatever reason, the sedating agent they'd given him had left him feeling more than a little thirsty. "I've been better."

Jack saw the direction of his attention and moved to bring the vessel in question closer. He watched as the physicist took a long, slow pull at the straw. "From what I understand, you've certainly had your fair share of recent events."

"I have a better appreciation for what Hiro went through, if that's what you mean," Wasabi replied as he settled the cup where it wouldn't tip over and possibly wet the sheets.

Harkness nodded. "You didn't happen to see, hear, or smell anything before the bomb went off, did you?" Chances were good he didn't but it never hurt to ask.

Wasabi tried to think back to the chaos of that moment. He remembered Kally shouting out a warning before something smashed into him and everything went black. If there had been anything to smell, see, or hear, he couldn't remember it. "Sorry," he said with a shake of his head. He didn't move as much as he normally would, mostly because his head was still killing him in the pain department.

Jack was a bit disappointed but not surprised and it showed on his face. "Fair enough." He started pacing. "I'm not sure if the others told you, but there's been another bombing." He winced in sympathy at the gasp of pain that came from Wasabi's lips due to his reaction. "We think it's the same people who bombed the arena and I've got someone looking into that connection. But that's not why I came by."

"It's not?' Wasabi couldn't help but look confused at this change in direction. "Then why did you come?"

The space captain slid a photo out of his pocket and handed it over to the recovering student. "Airport surveillance caught this on one of their cameras. I wondered f you had any ideas how Hiro's image somehow managed to appear on it when we know he was at least a dozen odd miles away from the location in question."

Wasabi studied the image, not aware that it was an enhanced version of the one Chloe Decker had in her possession. "Looks like a hologram," he said upon first inspection. "But I take it that's already been looked into." He didn't need to look up at Jack's face to know he was right. "The only other thing I can think of is some kind of astral projection."

Jack looked thoughtful at that. "I was thinking along the same lines," he admitted. "I heard Hiro had a bit of an out of body experience recently and wondered if you think that could somehow be related."

This was news to Wasabi, at least that Jack knew about the Hydra bit, and it showed on his face. "Um…" He took a moment to gather his thoughts. "To be perfectly honest, I have no idea what that was all about or how it happened. That's something you're going to have to ask Hiro."

"Fair enough," Jack said with a sigh. Chances were good Wasabi couldn't explain it any more than he could. And he was from the future, for crying out loud! If he couldn't explain it, who could? Maybe the Doctor, but he wasn't there and probably wouldn't show up, which meant he was on his own on this one. Well, it wouldn't be the first time, nor was it likely to be the last. "Get better, okay?" He gave Wasabi a pat on the knee, looking distracted as he left the room.

The sun hadn't even risen yet and Chloe Decker found herself right in the middle of yet another crime scene. She blew hair from out of her face, having only had time to pull it back into a ponytail before calling up her partner and heading out. Her blue-encased hands picked through some of the garbage around them, wondering if it was relevant to the case or not.

Lucifer stood off to one side, looking over the scene with a thoughtful expression, one hand to his chin. Unlike the detective, he was immaculately dressed in a black Burberry suit with a silk button-down shirt. "Well, this certainly wasn't what I was expecting to see when you called me up this morning," he commented.

Ella had already done the preliminary photos and was working on bagging various items that might prove interesting when he spoke. She looked up with a hint of surprise. "If it hadn't been for the partial I found on that dart gun last night, we probably wouldn't even know about this," she stated.

And it was true. Thanks to that partial print she'd found, the cops who'd responded to the scene knew it was somehow connected with Chloe's case. It helped that they found a spare dart or two inside the man's back pocket. It was probably a bit too convenient, making the connection a little more obvious, though the darts were of the variety that could be found at most shops that sold those kinds of things.

Chloe stood from crouching over the body, having to use her crutch as ballast. It probably hadn't been a good idea to crouch like that but she'd wanted to get closer to the body. "I think it safe to say this isn't the original crime scene." Her thoughts mirrored the lab tech's thoughts. "Not enough blood for the type of injuries sustained. I just hope we can find some clue as to where that original scene is."

The devil thrust his hands into his pockets, waiting for her to stand clear of the body. He didn't generally get too close to the deceased if he could help it. Once they'd passed on, there wasn't much for him to do outside of find justice for them. "No offense, but that just might take a miracle," he said, looking far from happy at the idea. "But if I were to conclude anything, I think it safe to say that this chap either killed our other victim, or was at least somehow involved."

Gloves snapped as Chloe removed them from her hands. "I think you're right," she sighed. The evidence didn't really preclude any actual conclusion, but it certainly lead to at least a circumstantial substantiation that they were connected either. She shook her head. "It's too bad that robot didn't get a better angle at the arena."

"Hmm." Lucifer contemplated the idea. They'd been over the footage from Baymax, with nothing more than a shadow to suggest the presence of the killer. And any other footage that might have been taken was still being processed. They had no idea if any of the many cell phones used for video had gotten anything more than the healthcare companion had, but they had people working on it. It didn't help that there were so many of them, most focused on the actual fight or showing off who whoever had run into at the fight. There had been some celebrities of various natures there.

Chloe led her partner towards the police line, waiting as he held up the bright yellow tape so she could move out of the cordoned off area with her crutch in hand. "There are still too many questions and not enough answers to go around." And part of her wondered if they'd ever have all the answers. Perhaps the problem was too big to solve.

"Oh, I don't know about that," Lucifer countered. "I think we just need to change how we look at things. There are a few things I think we can safely say."

The detective gave him a look, not sure where he was going with this. "Such as?"

Lucifer shrugged as they walked back to their various vehicles. "Well, for one, Hiro and his group seem to be somehow connected to it all. Don't ask me how, but it's no coincidence that the somehow saw or knew some of those things would happen before they did. Call it supernatural or something else if you like, but there's something about that boy that begs to question what else he might know."

"Supernatural?" Chloe's expression changed to disbelief. "I hope you're not saying he's an angel or something."

Shaking his head, and looking a bit hurt at the hinted barb, Lucifer put a hand on her car to keep her from opening the door. "I'm not saying he's an angel, but there is certainly more to him than meets the eye." He knew he couldn't tell her what Loki had about the boy. She had a hard enough time processing that he was the devil as things stood. He didn't know how she'd react to the idea that Hiro might have somehow evolved into something much more.

Chloe looked thoughtful, though it was hard to say where those thoughts went. "It's not enough of a reason to talk to him again," she decided. Unless something else happened to prove his connection to everything, they didn't have any ground to stand on. And the Hamada pair had more than enough grounds to potentially cry police harassment as things were.

"Perhaps you're right," Lucifer appeased, secretly planning on visiting the boy in question later on, when he wasn't under the detective's thumb. Maybe he could come up with something. Or maybe he should talk to Loki again and see if he had any ideas. That man seemed more in tune with what was going on with Hiro than Hiro was.

Chloe brushed past her partner and opened her car door, shoving the crutch into the back seat. "I should get back to the precinct and write up my report." There was the subtle hint that he should probably join her but she didn't really expect it. More often than not, he went and did his own thing.

Reminded of her more recent adventures by the sound of the crutch hitting against the back window, Lucifer decided it might be best to keep an eye on her for a bit longer. He didn't detect any hints of blood or anything but her most recent activity probably hadn't done her thigh any favors. "I think I'll actually meet you there. That way my car won't be stuck out in the middle of nowhere." He looked around at the back alley they had only recently occupied. It was certainly not the cleanest of locations, what with the dumpsters and other trash around.

The detective nodded. "Okay," she agreed. "Just don't take too long getting there. I hear that Harkness guy is supposed to show up and he'll probably want to put in his two cents." She somehow wanted to dismiss the idea that Jack was technically in charge. He just didn't seem capable of being serious and it irked her.

Lucifer gave a slight bow as he helped her into the car. "I will join you shortly," he promised before closing the door. He then swiftly headed to his own, sexier vehicle.

Chapter Text

Hiro woke with a start, though he wasn't sure what exactly had woken him. He'd just been asleep one moment and awake the next, like someone had rung a bell. Except no one had. He felt sure of that, which left the question: what had woken him?

Something rustled in the dark and Hiro groggily sat up, trying to see in the dim lighting. "Baymax? Is that you, buddy?"

"Afraid not," Jack said from the chair at the desk near the window.

Hiro threw the covers off his body and turned to slide his feet to the floor. "Jack! What are you doing in my room? Where's Baymax?" Now that his eyes had adjusted to the gloom, he couldn't see the healthcare bot anywhere.

The telltale sound of shuffling vinyl came from the open doorway leading to his aunt's room and Baymax's white face peered into the room. "I am here," he announced softly. "Your aunt needed some assistance. Did you need something?"

Not sure what kind of assistance his aunt might need, Hiro waved the bot off. "It's okay," he said in reply. He'd only felt a momentary sense of panic that the healthcare companion wasn't there. But, now that he knew Baymax hadn't abandoned him, he was fine.

"We'll let you know if we need anything," Jack added as he moved to shut the door between them. He then turned towards the teen, looking thoughtful.

Hiro found he felt somehow uncomfortable with this situation and he began to pace in an almost agitated manner. "I wasn't expecting to see you," he admitted. Out of all the people he'd expect to pull something like that, Jack wasn't one of them. He stopped in front of the space captain, looking up into his eyes. "What do you want, Jack?" He just hoped it wasn't an explanation of why he could see things that had happened right before or during them happening. He had no more idea than the next person.

Jack took up residence on the bed closest to the window; the one Hiro hadn't been sleeping in. "Why don't you sit down for a minute?" he offered, patting the spot next to him.

With a raised brow, Hiro chose to sit across from him. That way he could scramble away if necessary. He still wasn't sure what he thought about the space captain, especially not after he'd abandoned them after the exoskeleton incident. Not to mention his not trusting them to be able to handle it. He did have to concede that it had been a near thing, especially since the Doctor had essentially saved the day, but still! "I'm sitting. What do you want?"

The space captain frowned at his less than friendly tone, and then decided to dismiss it. Chances were good Hiro was still not quite awake. And he'd witnessed that before, knowing the teen didn't like being woken prematurely. That was his bad there, but he'd felt a need to talk to the lad before joining the detective at the precinct a bit later on. "First off, how are you doing? It's been a while and I didn't really get a chance to talk to you when I dropped by the other night."

The teen gave him one raised brow in reply. So that's who they were going to play it, was it? Well, he would play along, for a little bit. "Better than I should be," he stated. Let the man take that any way he wanted.

His reply seemed to give Jack a moment of hesitation before he proceeded. "That's good." Last he'd heard, the teen hadn't been doing as well as he could have been. But since the reply wasn't an outright dismissal, even if the tone was, he felt reason enough to press on. "So, I understand you've had a lot of crazy things happen to you lately. Any ideas behind why?"

An almost smirk touched Hiro's lips, but he quickly replaced it with a frown. Bingo. Just like everyone else, outside of Loki and his aunt, Jack was trying to figure out how he'd known things he shouldn't know. "Not a clue," he said in a glib tone as he swung his legs and stood up once more. The only person who might wasn't there at the moment, and he wasn't about to give in to Jack's obvious desires and speculate.

Jack, understandably, didn't look happy about this answer as he stood to follow Hiro around to the mini fridge. "You'd think, as a time traveler, I'd have more of an idea," he confessed. "If the Doctor were here, he'd probably knock me upside the head for being obtuse."

Hiro shrugged at that as he dug in the fridge, looking for something to snack on. It wasn't strictly time to get up, but since he'd had his sleep interrupted, he might as well eat something. "I wouldn't know." He closed the fridge, a wrapped, iced cookie in hand. "I'd offer you one but this is the last one," he stated with his usual conman's innocence.

This was going nowhere and fast, the space captain thought. Either Hiro really didn't know how any of that happened or he wasn't telling. And with that blank expression, it was hard to tell which might be true. Jack let out a sigh, not quite willing to give into frustration. "Well, if you can think of anything, let me know. I've got to head over to the police station. Apparently they found a body that might be connected to the current cast."

A hint of surprise colored Hiro's expression. This was certainly news to him and he wondered who the poor person was. But he was not going to give Jack the satisfaction of looking or sounding curious about the whole situation. "Then I guess you'd better get going," he said instead as he went to open the door into the hallway.

So much for that, Jack thought. He'd potentially caught a moment of curiosity in the teen's eyes but couldn't be sure. But there was no way to ignore the dismissal. Besides, all the teen had to do was call out to his aunt and this interview would be all over anyway. Best to end it on his terms, he decided. "You'll let me know if you come up with any ideas, won't you?"

"For sure," Hiro said a bit too quickly. It was the same answer, in the same tone, he'd give his aunt when he didn't want her to know something but didn't want to sound like he was disagreeing with her.

Jack gave him one last look before exiting the room. He wasn't sure if he expected to catch Hiro giving him an odd look or not, but it was more out of habit. If he'd hoped to catch any deceit, he was disappointed, as Hiro had already turned to go back to the bed with his cookie in hand.

Cass hadn't meant to call Baymax, but it was just one of those things. Her knees weren't doing her any favors and she'd wanted a second opinion before doing anything. To say they were tender would be an understatement. She could barely bend them; they hurt so much, not to mention the stiffness. She definitely had a new appreciation for when Hiro had bruised just the one. She now knew why he'd bruised it, wishing she'd known it had been caused by a ricocheted bullet sooner, but such was life.

"Your knees require my attention," Baymax informed her the moment he finished his scan. "I do not recommend trying to walk. However, it would be advisable to apply ice, elevation, and compression." And to help with that situation, he pulled one of the unused pillows towards her knees, gently lifting the afflicted appendages so he could slide the pillow underneath them.

The proprietress let out a hiss of pain during this operation, gritting her teeth against the pain. If she turned to one side, she could almost reach the pain pills on the little bedside table. It was a shame Kally wasn't awake to help her, but it was still pretty early in the morning and she didn't want to wake her.

Seeing her look longingly at the bottle of pain pills, Baymax took it upon himself to bring it within her reach. He then went for a cup of water so she could more easily swallow them. "I feel it may be wise to contact Loki," he admitted. He'd noticed how protective the man had been the night before and correctly guessed an attachment had formed. So, without asking for actual permission, he sent the man a text message using contact info he'd given Cass the day before.

"You don't need to do that!" Cass protested a second too late. She realized the protest was futile as the image of Loki's face flashed on the robot's stomach, along with a text icon, which just as quickly disappeared. She let out a sigh. Well, it would be nice to see him again, but he probably hadn't fully recovered from the day before. Or at least she wasn't sure if he would have or not. Chances were good he was still sleeping.

Baymax turned towards the door leading to her nephew's room and spoke quietly for a few moments before turning back to her. She correctly assumed Hiro had woken up, looking for the healthcare companion. He must have given a satisfactory answer since he didn't feel the need to go in and actually check in on the teen.

"Everything okay over there?" Cass asked, just to be safe. One never knew if her nephew needed something and was just pretending he didn't. He was stubborn that way, even with their new understanding.

The robot waddled back towards her, stopping at the edge of the bed. "Hiro is fine," he assured. "I believe he will soon go back to sleep." Everyone knew Hiro didn't like getting up early if he could help it. He refrained from mentioning Jack's presence, not sure if that would cause Cass to try and get up or not. It certainly wouldn't help her current condition and so he simply chose not to mention it for that reason. His immediate patient came first, unless something really horrible happened to Hiro. If that happened, all bets were off.

Cass nodded. She hoped he was right. Hiro didn't need to be up, worrying about her. That was her job, to worry about him. But, hopefully, the pain meds would kick in soon, though they'd probably work faster if she ate something. Unfortunately, the chances of her being able to get something from the mini fridge for that purpose were minimal, and she didn't know if she wanted to ask Baymax to get her something.

Before she could contemplate that thought too much, a knock sounded on the door. It wasn't a heavy pounding, but a light, almost tentative sound that came with a hint of apology. The robot waddled over to open the door, looking confident, or at least unconcerned about the person behind the solid surface.

Slightly out of breath, Loki all but stumbled into the room. "I came as soon as I got your message," he stated as he brushed past the healthcare bot. "How is she?"

This was definitely not something Cass had expected, though she'd secretly kind of hoped it might happen. It didn't exactly help that her heart skipped a beat before deciding to continue on, albeit a bit faster than normal. "Oh, hey!" she said, trying to sound bright despite the pain.

Loki decidedly looked concerned as he approached her, seeing the pain in her eyes she tried to conceal. He knew all too much about doing just that, which only made it easier for him to detect. "Is it your knees?" He noticed they were propped up with a pillow, the joints hidden under pajama pants so he couldn't see the actual damage.

"Unfortunately," Cass said with a sigh. She knew there could be no pretense on that end with him. But at least the thought that he looked more his usual self bolstered her up a bit. His energy and vitality seemed to have returned, even though he still seemed a bit out of breath. He had to have run to get there so fast.

Carefully, the Asgardian sat on the edge of the bed. "May I?" he inquired as he gently lifted one of her feet. With a nod of permission given, he slowly moved the hem of her pajama pants up past her knee so he could examine the discoloration. He then stood back to contemplate the damage, one hand to his chin. "It certainly looks worse than it did yesterday," he observed. The coloring had a decided darker tone than the night before.

Cass gave a short laugh. "Well, I certainly feel it," she said with a hint of her usual spirit. "I somehow doubt I'll be doing much of anything today."

Loki nodded. "I find I tend to agree, which does present a bit of a problem." He frowned. "I'm sure your nephew won't wish to stay put for long. He has too much of me in him."

The proprietress ignored the potential hint in his words but found she had to agree. "He never did like staying still. The only real times he has are when he's sick and when his brother died."

That was something Loki could understand. When news had reached him of his mother's death, he'd felt such a depression overcome him that he hadn't wanted to do much of anything either. As painful as that had been, he wasn't sure he could quite understand what it would feel like to lose a sibling in such a way, though part of him felt losing the one parent you related to the most probably trumped that a bit. His mother had taught him most of everything he knew as a sorcerer. "It certainly does pose a problem."

"You could look after him," Cass said, looking directly at his face, since he wasn't quite looking her way. "You've done it before," she added, seeing the hint of doubt in his eyes.

He had to admit that was true, in a manner of speaking, not that he'd exactly had to watch him that closely with his being out of commission. It was more like watching those who might do him more harm, but he supposed it counted. "I could at that," he mused, still unsure of what all that might entail. Hiro, at least for the present, seemed to be at the peak of physical health, especially after the rebound episode the day before.

Chances were good the teen would want to try and get down to the bottom of what was going though, and that meant potential danger. It's just the way the teen was, though Loki couldn't blame him. Something told him he'd want to at least figure out why he was mentally connected to the whole. Admittedly, Loki wanted to learn the same thing, so maybe it would be better to keep up the partnership. And maybe he could gain a better understanding of Cass while he was at it, via information from her nephew.

Still looking like he was thinking it over, Loki paced a bit. There were potential consequences, though he'd never seemed to mind them in the past, so why should he now? He stopped abruptly and turned to face the aunt. "If you're quite sure, I accept the position of temporary guardian while you recover."

Relieved, Cass nodded. Hiro needed someone to keep an eye on him, especially where they were. That detective had made it quite clear that minors shouldn't be allowed to go about unaccompanied, and she really didn't need to have to bail Hiro out of jail or something. She'd already done it once and wasn't exactly keen on the idea of repeating the experience. "Thank you." Her eyes shown with gratitude.

Loki glanced at the clock, realizing it was just after five in the morning. Something told him Hiro likely wouldn't be awake but he debated on the idea of going back to his room or staying there. Chances were good Cass would try to go back to sleep, something he could help her with if she wanted, which meant he'd either have to sit in a chair and look creepy for being in a girl's room, or he'd have to head into Hiro's room and hope not to disturb the youth. He momentarily glanced over at Kally's sleeping form.

"Hiro is currently sleeping," Baymax announced, as if he could somehow detect what the god of mischief was thinking. "Perhaps it would be wise to use the other bed in his hotel room and try to get some more sleep." He didn't necessarily detect that Loki needed more, but after what had happened yesterday, he wouldn't be upset about the Asgardian trying to rest at least a bit longer.

Nodding, Loki moved to brush an almost absent-minded kiss on Cass's forehead. "Yes, I think that would be wise." His fingers traced down her arm before giving her hand a brief squeeze. "Please do try to get some more sleep." He then looked towards Baymax. "Do call me if anything else should happen before Hiro wakes up." He knew the healthcare companion would wish to accompany them anywhere they went simply because Hiro was his number one patient and there wasn't much he could do for Cass besides stand by her bed and wait.

"Of course," Baymax agreed as he stationed himself so he could observe the aunt and Hiro's room without difficulty.

With one last look back, mostly to assure himself that Cass didn't need anything, Loki slipped into Hiro's room. He stumbled a bit in the dark, mostly from the unexpected change in lighting, before finding the unoccupied bed. Of Jack, there was no sign, since he'd left a minute or two earlier. With a hint of a sigh, Loki lay down on the bed, on top of the covers, and contemplated the ceiling, hoping Hiro wouldn't be out for too long.

Chapter Text

Wasabi woke once more to the same hospital room. This time he'd come to not because some drug had worn off, but because a nurse had come in to check his vitals. He submitted the blood pressure cuff, the oxygen sensor, and thermometer in decent humor after he'd been informed he would likely be released later on that morning. They just had to get the final okay from his doctor.

Heartened, Wasabi was more than willing to eat the breakfast provided him, even if it wasn't something he'd normally order. At least the items weren't mixed together, a definite plus over other places he'd stayed at before. And he was decidedly more than ready to head back to a more-or-less stable environment, even if that meant he had to stick it out in the hotel room. He could at least do it on his terms, without constantly being interrupted by visitors, nurses, therapists, and so forth. He could vegetate as much as he wanted, sleep as much as he wanted, or just stare at the television, watching whatever he wanted.

Then it hit him. Unless he had some way of contacting the rest of the gang, he'd either have to get a taxi or find a bus to get back to the hotel. He wasn't sure what had happened to his cell phone but hadn't seen it since the day of the bomb. Part of him wasn't sure how long ago that was, but it was possible it wasn't quite as long ago as his brain tried to tell him. Chances were good his phone hadn't survived the blast. That meant he'd either have to rely on his memory for one of the gang's phone numbers, or hope Baymax was monitoring the hospital chatter.

There really was only one way of finding out if he still had all of his personal affects, and that was to get out of bed and look in the small closet provided for storing them. He wasn't sure how his clothes had faired, but if his wallet and phone were still intact, that gave him a leg up he hadn't had earlier. He couldn't, in good conscious, rely on Baymax, or even Sammy, to make sure the others knew what was going. They might be too busy to keep tabs. Anything was possible. It was best to have a backup plan just in case.

It took a bit of doing, mostly because he hadn't been up much, but Wasabi managed to swing his legs over the side of the bed. It was a good thing they had disconnected the monitors and IV tubing earlier or he'd be in trouble. He probably should ask for a nurse to come in and help him but didn't want to bother them. There were probably others who needed them just as much, if not more, as he did.

A grunt of pain escaped his lips as he managed to, a bit wobbly, get to his feet. He had to hold onto the bed for support until his legs settled. Once that happened, he shuffled slowly over to the cupboard-sized cubbie and opened the door. His clothes, definitely worse for wear, were folded up and sat on the bottom shelf. And on top of them lay his phone and wallet.

With shaky fingers, Wasabi took up the phone and tried to turn it on. Nothing happened. The cracked screen probably should have told him it wouldn't work but he couldn't help but try. With a sigh, he decided he'd have to either rely on his friends to hopefully get the memo through either AI, or find a bus or Taxi and hope people didn't stare at him too much as he went out in public with burned and soiled clothes on.

Dirk had lost track of time. He hadn't meant to do it. It was just one of those things that occasionally happened. Maybe he shouldn't have taken the opportunity to stop for a bite to eat. That had led to the notion that it might not be a bad idea for him to actually get some sleep. And that, of course, had led to him taking a longer nap than he'd planned, but boy had he needed it!

Now completely refreshed, the holistic detective strolled the early morning streets of Las Angeles. Ahead, he saw an area still swarming with cops and yellow police tape. And, for whatever reason, he couldn't help but feel drawn to the area. It was only natural that he'd feel drawn to it, considering he was a detective, though there were likely other reasons as well.

Apparently another murder had taken place. That or an accident. He could tell thanks to the coroner's van with the occupied gurney sliding into the back of the truck. The telltale black body bag was a dead giveaway. In fact, the only people still in the area were the beat cops holding back the early curious crowds, and a few techs checking for clues that might have been missed.

"It's all connected," Dirk told himself with a smile as he ducked under a section of caution tape not being guarded. He then sauntered over to a young woman in a dark blue jacket, his own yellow showing in stark contrast. "Hello," he said in greeting to the woman with medium-skin tone and brown hair.

Ella looked up from collecting a questionable-looking piece of debris. "Can I help you?" she asked as the stranger greeted her. She couldn't help but wonder how he'd gotten past the parameter but chose to ignore that for now as she swept hair out of her face.

"Oh, I hope so," Dirk replied as he bent to kneel at her level. "You see, I'm investigating a rather unusual set of circumstances and wondered if you might somehow be able to help me. You see, I've gotten rather stuck and am not sure where I should go next. But then I saw you here and felt it would be a good idea to talk to you about it."

Completely surprised by this unexpected turn of events, Ella stood, bagging her trash sample before handing it off to another tech. "I don't believe we've met," she said in reply to his interesting speech, not sure what to make of it any more than she was sure of what to make of him.

Realizing his break in manners, Dirk held out an apologetic hand. "Sorry about that. My name's Dirk Gently and I am a holistic detective. And you are?"

Hands still gloved, Ella reached out to return the gesture. "Ella Lopez with the LAPD. What's a holistic detective doing all the way out here? Aren't you guys usually looking into more metaphysical stuff?"

Dirk smiled engagingly. "Well, you see, I'm actually on a case right now, concerning one Hiro Hamada."

Hearing that name, Ella couldn't help but pay more attention. "Hiro Hamada?" She had to tell herself to calm down a bit, not sure what this guy was looking into Hiro for, not that she'd really met the teen, just sort of investigated him.

The man thrust his hands into his pockets and rocked back and forth a bit. "Yes, Hiro Hamada," he confirmed. "You see, I've been trying to figure out some very interesting circumstances that seem to keep occurring around him. There's a specific reason behind it all and I'm somehow supposed to figure out what that is."

Once more, Ella found herself unsure of what to think of the situation as the other officers and techs finished up around her. She'd need to head back to the lab before too long. "Interesting circumstances might be putting it lightly," she agreed. At least if they were talking about the same person, though she somehow thought they were. How many Hiro Hamadas were there in the world?

Dirk had to admit she made a point. "Well, there certainly have been a lot of them," he conceded. "And that's the problem. If I'm not mistaken, this is somehow connected to all of it." He swept one hand to encompass the most recent crime scene. "At least that's what I feel is the case."

Ella put a hand up to the cross pendant she wore around her neck, looking more than earnest as she nodded. "I can totally dig that. I mean, this whole case has just felt wonky from the start. And I know Hiro's name has come up a lot about all of it." She pulled him to one side, out of hearing of the other investigators. "I can't prove anything," she continued in a more secretive voice, "but I think you might be right. He's somehow involved in all of this and I know I'm not the only one who'd like to understand how and why."

He gave her an appreciative nod. "Well then, as one professional to another, do you think you could give me a bit more information as to what's going on?"

She looked from side to side, as if what she was about to do wasn't exactly legal. In general terms, she probably shouldn't, but she felt she could trust this guy. "I can't talk right now," she admitted, "but if you want to meet me later at this address…" she took out a piece of paper and scribbled an address, "we might be able to talk more freely. Say around noon?"

Dirk took the paper and slid it into his pocket with a knowing look. "I think I can manage that."

Ella gave him a smile, noting that her crew was finishing up. "I gotta head back to the precinct but will be there waiting later so don't be late." She gave him one last look before heading to pick up her gear, leaving him to whatever other tasks he might have between their scheduled meeting.

Kally woke like someone had called her name, except she didn't think someone had actually called her. She turned towards Cass to see if maybe she was awake but saw the café owner had her eyes closed. The woman's knees were propped up as well, and she had one hand thrown up over her head as if in defeat. But her eyes were decidedly closed and the faint sound of breathing escaped her lips and nose.

Sure whatever had woken her hadn't come from her roommate; Kally sat up and looked around. The room looked the same as it had the night before. The only difference was that the door between their room and Hiro's was actually closed. That and Baymax was standing to attention near the foot of Cass's bed.

The teen rolled to the side of the bed, slipping her legs out from under the bedding. "Baymax? What are you doing in here? I thought you were supposed to be keeping an eye on Hiro."

Baymax turned his head to look her way. "Good morning, Kally," he greeted softly. "Aunt Cass required my assistance earlier. Loki is sitting in with Hiro."

More than a little surprised by this news, Kally blinked a few times as she made her way past the healthcare companion and towards the bathroom. "Loki? Why would he be in with Hiro?"

The idea wasn't exactly a foreign on. Loki had kept tabs on both of them during the whole Hydra thing, and, to some extent, during the current events as well. But to hear he was currently in Hiro's room was more than a little odd. Something must have changed during the night to warrant it.

"Aunt Cass asked Loki to keep an eye on Hiro," Baymax supplied as he turned to follow her progress across the room. A quick scan indicated any previous injuries had now fully healed. "Her injuries appear to hinder her ability to move around and she asked Loki to act has his, and your, temporary guardian until she is suitably recovered."

It made sense, Kally decided as she slipped into the bathroom and closed the door. She quickly took care of business, returning to the main room only a few minutes later with brushed teeth and hair. She then slipped past the robot to retrieve some fresh clothes, changing on the spot. With the door closed, and Baymax not really counting as anyone to worry about, she felt no qualms changing in the main area.

"Did you hear someone call my name?" she inquired as she pulled a shirt on over her head.

Baymax had wisely turned his head to maintain some semblance e of privacy for her while she changed. "I heard Sammy indicate she desired your attention," he replied.

Now that Kally looked towards her phone, she could see that the usually dark screen occasionally flashed as if for attention. "Got it. Thanks, Baymax." She finished putting her clothes on before reaching for the flashing phone. "What's up, Sammy?" she asked as she activated the screen, disconnecting the charging cable.

"I have an update on Wasabi," Sammy informed as Kally checked her messages and email. "It looks like he will be discharged from the hospital today, sometime around noon."

That announcement caused Kally to pause. "You're sure?" She continued to look through her daily barrage of junk mail.

"Absolutely. I haven't disconnected from the hospital's database yet. He is scheduled for discharge later this morning, pending final approval from his primary care provider."

Kally glanced over at Aunt Cass, noting she still appeared to be asleep. "Guess I'd better go tell the others," she said with a sigh as she headed towards the door to Hiro's room.

Baymax shuffled a bit to block the door. "Hiro did not sleep well last night," he stated. "Please do not disturb him."

Another sigh escaped Kally's lips as she reached for her wallet and room key. "Then I'll just slip over to Honey Lemon and GoGo's room and let them know." She glanced over at the clock to make sure it wasn't too early. The digital display read a few minutes past nine, and her stomach rumbled a bit. "And maybe see if they want to get some breakfast on the way," she added.

The robot moved so she could pass him, blinking. He could easily monitor her from his position, even in the hallway. "I will let Honey Lemon know you are coming," he said as she opened the door into the hallway. It wasn't that he didn't trust her. That wasn't an issue. But he knew there were people who would want to make sure Kally didn't go off on her own, much like Hiro often did. At least he could confirm that his usual charge was still asleep. Chances were good he'd stay that way for a while longer.

Even though it was a decent time, Honey didn't expect to hear someone knocking on her door. She got a text from Baymax the moment she pushed free of the comforter to go answer the door. "GoGo," she called up, "time to wake up." The adrenaline junky kind of gave a grunt as she rolled over to one side, waving her hand in an errant fashion.

Shrugging, Honey double-checked the text before answering the door. "Morning," she greeted the dark-haired teen with a yawn. With nothing on the agenda, she'd hoped to sleep in a bit more, but wasn't displeased with the amount of sleep she'd gotten. GoGo had been out by the time she'd returned to the room the night before.

Kally entered the room, realizing the other two girls were just getting up, more or less. "Sorry," she apologized. "I didn't mean to wake you guys, but Sammy just told me they plan on releasing Wasabi from the hospital in a few hours."

That got both college girls up in a bit more of a hurry as GoGo sat up amid disheveled covers. "About time," she grumped as she slid off the mattress and headed towards the bathroom.

Honey gave Kally a smile as she invited her to sit on the edge of her bed. "Do the others know yet?" she wondered, getting a head shake in response from her guest. "Maybe we should tell them."

"Baymax say's Hiro's still asleep," Kally reported. "And I didn't exactly feel comfortable seeing if Fred was up." She wasn't as familiar with the mascot, and wasn't sure how kosher it would be to go into an older guy's room alone. It might look funny, even if she knew he wouldn't do anything.

GoGo exited the bathroom at that moment, quickly taking care of whatever she'd needed doing in there. "I'll get Fred," she stated as she headed for the door, grabbing her key card on the way out.

At that moment, Kally's stomach rumbled. The teen turned red with embarrassment. She gave a hesitant little smile, not unlike one Hiro might have given, causing Honey to look maternal. "Sounds like we should find some breakfast before heading out," she reasoned.

Kally gave a bit of a nervous laugh. "Yeah, that would be nice," she admitted. It was a shame she hadn't thought of grabbing something from Cass's stock of baked goodies, but it was what it was. She didn't feel comfortable taking anything without permission and, since Cass was still out for the count, she couldn't ask.

Honey picked out an outfit for the day from her suitcase and headed to the bathroom, keeping the door ajar so she could keep talking to her young friend as she changed and got ready for the day. "What kind of food would you like? I remember seeing a lot of different fast food places on the way there from yesterday."

The teen had to think about that for a moment. In all honesty, she probably didn't really care as long as there was a lot of it. "Whichever we come across first?" she hazarded. Healing took a lot of energy, and with her Valkyrie side fully activated, she found she had to eat a lot more just to keep up.

Honey mentally went through the places she thought she'd seen on their trip over the day before. Chances were good everyone would be just as hungry and it would be best to look for a place that gave them the most for their money. And since they'd be picking up Wasabi, it would probably be better if she were the one driving. "I'm sure Hiro won't want to get up any time soon so we can just leave him here with Baymax and Aunt Cass," Honey reasoned as she pulled her hair back into a pony tail.

Kally felt more than willing to go with that suggestion. She'd seen Hiro woken from sleep a few times, with less than awesome results. It was like a game of Russian roulette. One never knew if you would get cranky Hiro or "ready to go" Hiro.

By the time they'd decided on a basic plan of action, GoGo had returned, dragging a dressed Fred with her. The engineer took that opportunity to shut herself into the bathroom to get ready while the others brought Fred up to speed on what was going on. And, in only a matter of half dozen minutes, they were heading out the door, Kally leaving a note for Cass to let her know where she was going. She'd written it on the memo pad, just in case Baymax had to leave her before she woke, on top of texting her just to be safe. She added a quick text to Dr. Banner as well, so he would know where to find her if he needed to.

All that taken care of, Honey brandished the keys to Wasabi's van as they exited into the parking structure next to the hotel. They all got into their respective seats before heading out, a fast food joint location plugged into the GPS, just to be safe. Fingers crossed, they had more than enough time to go inside and sit down, ordering more food if necessary, before Wasabi needed a ride.

Chapter Text

Light played around the curtain by the time Hiro finally regained consciousness for the day. Unlike earlier, in the wee hours of the morning, Hiro wasn't surprised to not see the hulking form of Baymax in the shadows. He was, however, surprised to see Loki sitting on the other bed, staring at him.

He slowly sat up, thrusting the covers aside and he turned to face the god of mischief. "Hello," he greeted a bit warily, not sure what the man was doing in his room.

Loki gave a similar greeting in return before glancing towards the door separating the two rooms. "Your aunt asked that I keep an eye on you today since she isn't feeling up to moving around. It wouldn't surprise me if she thought you intended to go off on your own again, in which case I'll be following you like a second shadow."

Hiro supposed it made sense as he got up and headed to the bathroom. The Detective's words still ran in the background about unaccompanied minors. And since there was a chance they still felt him somehow involved, especially now that his face was on the security footage from the airport, it wouldn't do to just run off on his own like he usually would. He finished his business and came out to find a clean change of clothes.

"So, yesterday you wanted to go talk to that Lucifer guy," Hiro hedged, not sure if Loki had anywhere in mind. Part of him wanted to go down to the police station and see what was going on there, especially since Jack had hinted that's where he'd be. If there was any way he could prove his innocence once and for all, he was willing to do it, even if he had to have a babysitter. "Did you have some other place you wanted to go today?"

Loki hadn't moved from his perch on the second mattress as he watched the teen get ready for the day. "Not particularly," he answered, accepting a muffin when it was offered. "Though I'm sure you'll come up with some place to visit before too long."

Before Hiro could respond to that, the door between his and his aunt's rooms opened and Baymax waddled in. "Good morning, Hiro,' the robot greeted. "I have just received some information that may determine your actions for the day."

Hearing that, Hiro couldn't help but feel intrigued. He'd just reached for the television remote and turned the set on, albeit without sound, before the robot has spoken. Now he ignored the news broadcast in favor of focusing on Baymax. "What kind of information?"

Baymax shuffled a bit closer, closing the door between the two rooms. "While scanning the police frequencies, I learned that a man potentially connected to recent events was found earlier this morning. It would appear he was found in a neighboring suburb, deceased."

"Are you saying someone murdered him?" Hiro asked before Loki could think to speak. His voice broke a bit on the last word, still not having completely settled, for whatever reason.

The robot nodded. "That is correct. According to the records I was able to locate, his fingerprints are a partial match to those found on the weapon used to murder Rachel Amesbury."

Not sure how to take that news, Hiro began to pace, muffin in hand. "Maybe that's what Jack was talking about earlier this morning," he mused. "And if that's the case, maybe we should go down there and figure out just what is going on." He paused. "Not that they're likely to tell a teen anything, but maybe it will lead to clearing any doubts in their heads that I'm somehow involved."

Loki watched him think things through, occasionally glancing over at the news broadcast. "If Stark is there, I can't go in my usual guise," he stated. "And chances are quite good he'll be there."

"Hmm," Hiro frowned. "And I definitely can't just go there alone." He momentarily glanced at Baymax, knowing the robot would follow him wherever he went. He then looked up at the television screen, reaching for the remote to up the volume.

"In response to recent events, Alistair Krei of Krei Tech Industries has pledged to send several employees to help guard the students from the San Fransokyo Area until they are able to safely return to the Institute."

It only took Hiro a moment to filter though the possibilities this new bit of information presented and he turned to Loki with a hint of mischievous grin on his face. "You could always come along as my bodyguard, courtesy of Krei. I'm sure he's sending people down more as a publicity stunt, and to protect his "assets", as it were." He applied air quotes, knowing the tech giant still wanted to recruit him, not to mention his knowing their secret identities as heroes.

Loki nodded. "Using that information, I can always pretend to have been in the area as an excuse for being here before the others," he added. "That way I can still stay close, with the understanding that I was assigned as your personal bodyguard by this individual. All I would have to do is change my physical appearance, which is of little consequence."

Hiro definitely liked the direction this was going as he chewed on his breakfast before swallowing. "I'd just need to leave word with Aunt Cass that we're going on out so she doesn't worry. I'm sure Krei will call her before too long to let her know what he's doing. He was interested in dating her, after all, and would want to make sure she's protected."

The idea that another man was interested in Cass made his chest feel a bit funny and the Asgardian frowned slightly at the notion. "I'm not sure I like the man," he admitted. He'd done some research on him before.

"I don't really care for him either," Hiro admitted. "But he does know about our identities. And even though he did try to date my aunt, she decided he was too full of himself to keep her interested."

Somewhat appeased, Loki relaxed a bit. "There is one question we should take into consideration before going this route," he reasoned. "If he does indeed contact your aunt, should she be let in on the notion that I'll be masquerading as one of his security people? Or should she be kept in the dark?"

Hiro pursed his lips as he thought about that. Part of him was decidedly tempted to keep it from her but he decided against that. "I think it's better to let her know the plan," he said. "We're trying to be more open, remember? The last thing we need is for her to get mad at me for keeping more secrets."

It was reasonable, Loki supposed. "Very well. Allow me to inform her of our plans while you finish cleaning up." He looked at the mass of crumbs on Hiro's shirt, sure the teen should at least brush his teeth before they headed out.

"Allow me to accompany you," Baymax requested while Hiro headed back to the bathroom. "I would like to make sure Aunt Cass is situated before we leave."

Loki nodded for the robot to follow him into the next room, hoping she was awake enough to understand what they had in mind.

The precinct buzzed with voices, the tension gradually mounting as various individuals assembled in the conference room. Outside of the Bullpen, this was the best place to allow all individuals involved to be present.

Chloe looked around at those assembled, including a few from her department. Added to that number were Jack Harkness and Tony Stark. Stark had been called in more out of respect for his position as an Avenger and general politics than for any other reason. There were even a few random agents from the local FBI office, among others. Banner, who had been invited as well, had opted to stay with the other students back at the hotel.

"Everything just keeps going around in circles," Chloe said under her breath to her partner. They'd hashed out any number of possibilities over the last hour or so, pausing only long enough for a coffee and bathroom break before going back over what they did know.

In the back of her mind, Chloe couldn't help but wonder if they weren't overlooking something, though she had yet to decide on bringing up Hiro Hamada's continued apparent involvement with everything. Jack hadn't seen fit to pull out the photo from the airport surveillance, showing the teen there, probably because they couldn't prove it was actually him. But the fact that he was in there, provable or not, certainly didn't bode well. It left too much to question, even if Lucifer could vouch for his being somewhere completely different at the time. The teen was somehow everywhere things had happened, with the exception of finding that body earlier that morning. There were too many incidents to be just coincidence.

Lucifer leaned back in his chair, feeling about as bored as he imagined his partner to be. "Right? It would certainly be nice if we could somehow move things along."

Jack called Ella to the front to explain what she'd found inside the notebooks from Rachel Amesbury's hotel room. With some help, she'd prepared a Power Point presentation to show how the bombs they'd used followed some of the blueprints they'd found among the various drawings. That on top of them showing similarities to bombs used in those cold cases she'd looked up for Jack earlier.

An officer slipped into the room and tapped Chloe on the shoulder. "Detective Decker, there's a Hiro Hamada out here who wants to see you," he whispered loud enough for her and Lucifer to hear.

Looking more than a little surprised, Chloe got up from her chair, giving a brief nod towards Ella and Jack, before following the officer out. Lucifer was not far behind her, looking more than a little curious about this new development. The presentation continued on without them.

"This should be interesting," Lucifer stated as they followed the officer back to Chloe's desk, where he'd left the teen and his temporary guardian.

Chloe resisted the urge to look back at him, choosing to focus on their destination instead. A million thoughts ran through her head as she wondered just what the teen thought he was doing. If he was somehow involved in all this, he was certainly making an interesting gamble. Part of her couldn't help but wonder what his end game was and how this all played into it.

Hearing the sound of the detective approaching, mainly from the telltale sound of her crutch, Hiro turned in his borrowed chair, Loki following suit. He caught a glimpse of the Asgardian out of the corner of his eye, relieved to see the façade still in place. Loki had chosen to go with a face sporting a more square structure, brown hair that was almost military in style and a more bulky build in general. There would be no mistaking his role in things, especially not with the dark sunglasses currently tucked into the front pocket of his suit coat. Baymax stood off to one side.

"Detective," Hiro greeted with just the right tone as he stood out of respect to her position. He reached out a tentative hand, not sure if she'd take it or not. Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed the office who'd been left to keep an eye on them taking a few steps back.

Chloe gave him a scrutinizing look before accepting the short handshake. "Mr. Hamada," she returned the greeting. "I don't see your aunt with you today." She glanced questioningly at Loki, not sure if she recognized him or not. He didn't look like anyone she knew, but there was something familiar about his stance. Maybe it was just because he had some kind of military or police training.

Loki extended his hand in greeting. "Samuel Jackson," he introduced. "Alastair Krei sent me to keep an eye on Hiro after everything that happened."

The detective remembered hearing something about the tech giant sending people down but made a mental memo to double-check that later. It would certainly help free up some of her officers to do other things. And she knew the chief wasn't about to say no to some extra help, nor would Jack, based off of what she knew about him. They were already spread thinner than she cared for. "What can I do for you?" she inquired as she moved to sit behind her desk.

Hiro wasn't sure how to go about pumping her for information. His initial impressions of her weren't exactly on the best of terms, but he felt she was a pretty decent cop. "I heard you might have found Rachel's murderer," he stated, letting out before he could think too much about the implications of his words.

Lucifer looked up sharply at this announcement, voicing his partner's thoughts before she could. "Now how on earth did you learn that when not even half of this precinct knows?"

"What he said," Chloe mimicked, folding her arms almost defensively across her chest.

If they thought to put him off his guard, Hiro wasn't about to let them have the satisfaction as he refrained from looking smug. "I heard one of the other officers mention it." He glanced briefly at Loki again to see if he'd given away too much or not. He knew Loki would step in if necessary but didn't see any signs that he planned on doing that just yet.

Chloe blinked a few times as she tried to gather herself together. "Yes," she began in a hesitant tone, one she often used before trying to get more information from a potentially unwilling source. "We found him this morning." She wasn't about to say under what circumstances though, wondering just how much they knew and how they really knew it. "Though we're still trying to confirm he was involved. Evidence is currently only circumstantial."

Hiro nodded. If she wanted to play it close to the vest, he couldn't say he blamed her. He would too if he were in her shoes. "Okay." He licked his lips, hoping to look more like a somewhat scared teen than a devious mastermind. "So does that mean we can go home soon?"

That brought the detective up short. It certainly wasn't the direction she'd thought he'd go, but she decided to be frank with him. "Until we know for sure what all's going on, no one is going anywhere. We still have to figure out the bomb incidents. And until we do, it's not safe for anyone to travel far."

Well, it made sense, Hiro supposed, though it certainly wasn't what he was hoping she'd say. He'd had enough experience talking to various criminals that he'd hoped to use some of those tactics to get more information, but they apparently didn't work the same way on actual officers of the law. He'd have to change tactics.

"It's just that my friend, Wasabi, is getting out of the hospital today," he began. Baymax had informed him of the change on the way over. That and he's seen Kally's note explaining where she was headed. "And we just wanted to have an idea of when we could actually go home. Aunt Cass would totally be here with me if it weren't for her injuries from the explosions at the arena."

Chloe couldn't help but evaluate the expression on his face, the earnestness of his eyes, right down to the clasping of his hands in his lap. Either this kid was legit or he was one heck of a con artist. She wasn't sure just which was the case. And until she knew for sure, she didn't want him leaving town. "I don't know," she admitted. "We'll just have to wait and see."

Honey navigated the hallways of the hospital like a pro, the others trailing behind her. They'd taken a little longer at the restaurant than was probably necessary, but it had been nice to get out of the hotel for a bit and do something different for a change. Even one night had felt like one too many given the circumstances. That and they'd gotten there in the middle of the menu changing over from breakfast to lunch.

"Over here," Honey called as she located Wasabi's room. She knocked on the door, out of courtesy, before entering. Everyone crowded in behind her in time to see Wasabi getting one final checkup.

Wasabi looked up from having his vitals checked, still wearing the dreaded hospital gown. He couldn't quite bring himself to change back into the clothes he'd worn at the arena. "Boy am I glad to see you!" he exclaimed. "Please tell me you brought a fresh change of clothes."

Fred held out a pair of Wasabi's clothes, complete with fresh socks and underpants. "Figured you might want the whole package," he said with a shrug as he set them down on the edge of the bed.

The physicist resisted the urge to immediately grab the clothes, mostly since the nurse was taking his blood pressure, the doctor standing off to one side while she worked. "Looks like you've got someone to take you home after all," he noted as he looked up at Wasabi's friends.

"The best of friends," Wasabi agreed, more than happy to hear about the fresh underpants, even if the subject was a bit embarrassing in front of strangers.

After comparing notes, the doctor nodded. "Everything looks good. I've got a prescription for pain pills, and an antibiotic to stave off potential infection. You can fill those here at the hospital's pharmacy, or use any pharmacy you like. The nurse will print off the forms." That said, he left the room with a slight nod to the others still there.

The nurse put the blood pressure cuff away, putting any last minute info into the tablet she carried. "I'll be right back with the official discharge papers and those prescription forms." She gave Wasabi one more glance before also leaving the room.

As the door closed behind her, the others began talking almost all at once so that Wasabi had to wave a hand, albeit painfully, to get their attention. "Do you mind if I change before we get too crazy?" he asked, indicating the clothes.

Honey and GoGo stepped back to give him room while Fred picked up the clothes and followed him into the bathroom. He quickly left the smaller room when Wasabi decidedly indicated he didn't need any help changing, thank you very much.

While Wasabi changed, the others looked around the room, taking in the small details, not really talking. A few grunts and groans came from the bathroom and Fred called out to ask if Wasabi had changed his mind about help but didn't get much of an answer in return. Several minutes passed before the bathroom door opened and Wasabi exited the tiled room, looking for his shoes.

By that time, the nurse had returned with the documents in question. She quickly explained the information in the packet, just to make sure it got across, including the injunction to continue breathing exercises to stave off potential pneumonia. She ended with a charge to come back should any new symptoms crop up.

Ten minutes later, a relieved Wasabi shakily stood from the wheel chair they'd used to cart him down to the main lobby where they could find the pharmacy. "I'm so ready for a nap," he admitted as he headed into the in-house pharmacy and gave his scrip to the man behind the counter. At least they didn't have to go hunting for a place to fill the prescriptions, which meant one less obstacle between him and a somewhat more comfortable hotel bed. The others trailed behind him, waiting a respectful distance while the pharmacist did his thing.

Chapter Text

A low buzz seemed to fill the air, one that had nothing to do with the idle talk around them. It prompted Hiro to tug at the collar of his shirt as he sat in front of the detective who may or may not believe he was somehow involved with everything. Breathing had become a bit more difficult, reminding him of that one bout of anaphylaxis. And he knew it wasn't from nerves.

Baymax tilted his head as he contemplated his primary patient. "Hiro, you appear to be exhibiting adverse reactions similar to anaphylaxis, though I do not detect any known allergens in the area."

This comment caused all eyes to turn towards the teen in varying shades of concern, some more wary than others. For his part, Lucifer backed up a few steps, wondering if this might be like that episode at his club.

Hiro continued to tug at his collar, his lungs working harder and harder to bring air into his body until he was almost hyperventilating. He knew it wasn't an allergic reaction because he couldn't feel his throat closing off, but everything else seemed spot on with Baymax's observation. "Is it getting hot in here?" he asked between almost gasping breaths.

Loki felt energy gather around the teen as though it was being pulled towards him with every heaving breath. He quickly vacated his chair and knelt to be at Hiro's level, just in case he needed to catch the youth. Is it another premonition? Do you see anything? He didn't dare speak out loud for fear or being found out, but there was nothing stopping him from speaking to Hiro, mind to mind. And since he'd already had a taste of how Hiro's mind worked, it made things a bit easier than they would have been otherwise.

Red started to creep up Hiro's neck as he continued to tug at his shirt collar. And then his hand went limp as his eyes seemed to glaze over. A shudder ran through his entire body, reminding Chloe of watching someone have a seizure, except the quivering only happened once instead of in a continual shaking motion. "What's wrong with him?' she asked before the thought had even had a chance to register. In the back corner of her mind, she couldn't help but realize there was decidedly something off about everything that had happened to this teen. She just couldn't understand what or why she felt that way.

The energy continued to gather, making even Lucifer cringe a bit from the intensity. His skin felt like someone had rubbed a balloon against his tailored suit, making the hairs on his body stand on end in a most uncomfortable fashion. "What in the world?" he asked, his eyes going wide.

Loki was there to steady Hiro as his body seemed to turn into spaghetti in his arms. "Stand back," he ordered in a gruff voice as several officers in the area appeared to move closer. "Give him some air."

Hiro let out a strangled cry as he almost fell off the chair and onto the floor. If it hadn't been for Loki's quick movements, he would have, possibly hitting his head against the tiles. His eyes closed as a second shudder ran the length of his body, his breath still coming in panting gasps. When he opened his eyes again, they appeared blue in color, and they were glowing like sapphires with light shining through them.

The god of mischief resisted the temptation to enter Hiro's thoughts to try and see what was going. If just poking around while the teen was in a more normal state had the ability to throw him for such a loop, he wasn't sure he wanted to know what would happen if he tried invading his mind while in the throes of such an episode. All he could do was hold on and hope it would be of short duration. The only constant between was the inevitable crash Hiro seemed to have every time something like this happened, though the duration of other symptoms did appear to decrease each time he'd observed.

Out of the corner of his eye, Lucifer saw an officer appear to slow down as he knocked into a neighboring desk. A coffee mug slid towards the edge of the desk and began to fall, except it moved much slower, as if time itself had stopped around him. He looked around in some confusion, feeling somehow apart from everything else. "Amenadiel?" he asked with furrowed brows, not seeing his angelic brother in all the chaos of various officers coming and going. And yet, despite that absence, he couldn't deny the obvious sign of his brother's ability to slow down, and even stop, time in its tracks.

The devil blinked and time seemed to return to a normal speed as the coffee cup smashed into the floor, shattering. The sound seemed to jar everyone within hearing distance, including Hiro who suddenly sat up like he'd been jolted by electricity. He even thought he could smell hints of smoke in the air but wasn't sure. It reminded him of the smell of burnt ozone.

Hiro continued to pant, his eyes still an odd color as he stared into space, though they no longer appeared to be glowing. "They're going to blow up the hotel!" he exclaimed in a loud voice. And before anyone could react to that declaration, the teen began scrambling to get to his feet, even though his legs refused to actually hold his weight. "I gotta get to Aunt Cass!" His voice cracked.

Surprised at the sudden motion of his young charge, Loki didn't restrain him in time to keep him from falling out of his arms and towards the tiles, in a manner similar to when he'd suffered a reactive episode back in the Hydra medical suite.

A loud crack sounded as Hiro's palms slammed into the tiles, allowing him to narrowly avoid smashing his head into the floor as well. And even though the force made his hands sting, and the muscles in his arms tingled painfully, he didn't respond to that pain as he still saw whatever vision the whole episode had triggered. "Look out!" he shouted, drawing more attention from those around him. "Get out! Get out now!" His face contorted with his words, now screaming in an almost frenzied state.

Loki looked up at Baymax's down-turned face. As quietly as he could, he asked the robot to contact the others in the hopes they'd be closer to the hotel. If they were, at least one of them could help start the evacuation process by either pulling the fire alarm or some other means.

"What's going on?" Chloe demanded, more than a little unnerved by events. The initial onset had certainly caught her by surprise and she was just as clueless about what was going on as she'd been that first incident back at the arena.

Lucifer stared at Hiro in a bit of shock. He blinked, shaking his head as if to clear his vision,, which seemed momentarily marred by static. "Detective, I think we should send someone over to the hotel right away. If I'm not mistaken, I think Hiro just predicted that another bomb is about to go off at that location."

Chloe took a moment to digest what her partner had said before she was yelling at officers loitering near her desk, all but yanking her phone free to order Dispatch to send those in the field to the hotel in question on the double. Her actions were automatic and without actual thought, her eyes still wide.

"It's just like at Lux," Lucifer said in awe. "The same expression. The same voice." His own limbs felt a bit wobbly and he stumbled slightly until his thigh pressed against the detective's desk. It almost felt as though energy had somehow drained from his body, though he had no idea how that was possible.

With Baymax's help, Loki lifted Hiro back into the chair, his body swaying in an almost drunken manner, the teen's eyes drooping. A brief flash of light lit up the robot's stomach area before it disappeared. "I believe Hiro will need some place to lie down," he stated. "I detect lowered blood sugar levels and muscle fatigue."

At least he wasn't sobbing this time, Loki thought as Hiro seemed to melt towards him. He was able to catch him in a supporting hold but found he had to agree with the robot. "Do you have a place where he can rest?" he asked as he looked up at Chloe, who had returned to staring at the two of them as if she'd just seen something horrific, a moth drawn to the flame and not quite escaping unscathed.

Chloe shook like a wet dog, wondering if she'd just been played or not. There were no reports of a bombing anywhere near the hotel, though that didn't negate the possibility of one being imminent. Just to be safe, she called the bomb squad to send them over, almost reacting automatically before staring back at the youth.

Before things really got in motion, she found herself switching her attention to Jack Harkness. Only a minute or two had passed since Hiro's initial outcry, maybe less, but the whole floor seemed filled with curious spectators wanting to know what was going on. Without looking Hiro's way, she motioned towards the interrogation rooms. "You can take him over there," she instructed.

"What happened?" Jack asked as he tried to take in the entire scene. He saw Loki trying to carry Hiro towards the designated area, though he didn't recognize the Asgardian thanks to his disguise. Noticing Chloe's discarded crutch, he picked it up and handed it to the detective while she tried to explain what had just happened, still trying to process it herself.

As soon as the man had some understanding of what was going on, Jack began calling out more orders, using every ounce of authority in his voice to get through the din of exclamations and murmuring comments. With his instruction, they cleared enough space for Loki to carry Hiro over to the room in question, Baymax trailing behind him. He hadn't seen the episode but had a decent idea of what might have happened thanks to previous descriptions.

More out of a sense of curiosity, Lucifer decided to follow the trio to the interrogation room, where Loki placed Hiro on the long table inside. "Do I know you?" he inquired as he looked at Loki, squinting as if to see through a mirage. "You feel and smell quite familiar."

For the briefest of moments, Loki let his façade slip, causing Lucifer to take a quick step back. In fact, the slip was so quick he wasn't sure he'd actually seen it as he tried to process what was going on. "How long?" he asked instead, going with what his gut told him. "How long until the bombs go off?"

"No idea," Loki answered as he checked Hiro's eyes. With the momentary distraction, he sent off an astral projection of himself to try and reach Cass before anything could happen to her. He couldn't bank on the notion that the others were close enough to get her safely out before everything went down. "Last time seemed only a matter of minutes, but the original time appeared to happen simultaneously. Your guess is as good as mine." He felt no need to hide his identity from the devil, sure the man had already guessed at who he was, despite the glamour. He only kept up appearances for the sake of any cameras that might be in use in the room.

Lucifer debated between staying with them and heading out with the others to try and head off this potential catastrophe. The former won when he heard Chloe's voice calling his name. He paused long enough to note Chloe making sure an officer was there to guard the door, just in case. He'd question Loki about all of this later.

Honey couldn't help but feel antsy. Traffic had increased significantly since they'd first headed out. There were a lot more cop cars around as well, with lights flashing and sirens blaring. She wasn't sure what to make of that but knew it probably couldn't be good.

"I have just received word from Baymax that there's another attack imminent," Sammy spoke up from Kally's phone. "According to the information he's given me, someone is targeting the hotel you're staying in."

Wasabi's eyes went wide and his breathing accelerated. Since Fred was the closest to him, he noticed first. "Uh, guys, I think Wasabi's going into some kind of shock." He glanced at his friend with a worried expression. "Or maybe a panic attack?"

Since Honey was usually the one who talked him down from such events, their position became even more precarious. "We're almost there," the chemist said in a forced voice. "I suppose we'll see soon enough." Since Hiro had already accurately predicted at least one bombing, they had no reason to doubt the accuracy of the information, but she still hoped it was wrong.

"Aunt Cass was still in her room when I left," Kally informed, looking more than a little worried. "Do you think she's still up there?"

Hearing that, Honey put on more speed, wishing they had their gear with them, and Baymax, to fly them all over. "Try calling her," Honey suggested.

GoGo whipped out her phone and was already dialing the number before Honey finished speaking. For whatever reason, the call went straight to voice mail. "Either her phone's off or something's wrong," she stated as she tried again. When that didn't work, she pressed speed dial for another number. "I'm going to try Hiro to see if he'll answer."

The engineering student put the phone on speaker so everyone could hear, doing her best to ignore Wasabi's hyperventilating behind her. The phone rang a few times before cutting off. "That's weird," she commented before looking back towards Kally, who was currently in the back seat. "Can you have Sammy try and get more details?"

"I'll try," Kally responded, sure her AI had already heard the request. She looked around, her senses prickling. There was certainly something going on.

The closer they got to the building, the slower traffic became. "I'm going to pull over," Honey said in a tight voice. Wasabi was coming unglued, despite Fred's best efforts, and there was no way they were going to get any closer with all the cop cars and spectators.

GoGo felt an irrational desire to slap Wasabi but refrained. The bruises still showed quite visibly on his skin, like discolored blobs. Not to mention the bandage still on his head. "Get a hold of yourself!" she yelled instead, hoping her harsh tone would shock him back to some semblance of rationality.

That seemed to do the trick, at least for a moment, as Wasabi's breath caught painfully in his chest and he had to gasp before bringing his breathing to a more acceptable level. Instead, he began talking to himself. "It's just another bomb. Nothing to worry about. It's probably just a prank. There probably isn't really one there."

Seeing that this kind of talk was helping the irate man, Fred and the others were more than willing to let him continue on that line as they exited the vehicle, pulling him behind them. They were only a block away from being able to see the building. Ahead, they could already see a police line around the block in question, keeping anyone from entering the immediate area.

"I don't mean to be a Debbie Downer, but if Aunt Cass is still up there, how do we get her out?" Fred asked as he stared at the building. They could go no further due to the yellow taped perimeter, the cops stationed around it to keep spectators back, and the press of curious onlookers.

Honey pointed towards the front entrance of the hotel. As the tallest of the group, she had a better vantage than most. "Look! It looks like they're evacuating people right now." She breathed a silent prayer of thanks for that miracle.

And it was true. People were being escorted out of the building and led off to one side. Officers in dark suits and helmets ranged around the building while a few more suited up in thick suits of puke green-colored material.

"Bomb squad," GoGo stated as she popped a gum bubble, her hands crossed over her chest. "At least they're taking this seriously, though I doubt they've actually gone in yet."

Loud explosions suddenly filled the air and the ground shook as debris rained down from the sides of the building. Cracks formed up and down the outer structure as the bright flashes of light continued down the length of the building. The fire alarm blared its shrill voice over the chaos.

Screams filled the air as various spectators ducked or reeled away, shaking by the force of the . Many started running in panic, nearly trampling the five heroes straining to see what was going on. More explosions filled the air with smoke and dust and they began coughing from it.

"I sure hope Aunt Cass made it out in time!" GoGo called over the confusion, covering her ears now in a bid to protect them from the noise.

Honey noticed Wasabi decidedly having a bad go of it and she quickly made her way over to him, forcing him towards the nearest building and out of the crowd. "Just breathe," she instructed, seeing that his expression had gone blank. "Just breathe! And don't go catatonic on me!" she added under her breath.

More screams filled the air, along with some cries of pain as the rumbling settled. Either someone cut the alarm or something else did because it also stopped, though several car alarms were going off nearby. Kally looked up towards the building, now having a clearer view. She let out a gasp at the visible damage.

Cracks ran up and down the sides of the building, with some windows shattered from the pressure. The signage and stuccoed facades lay on the ground in crumpled ruins, looking like some kind of nightmare maze of slag. "I hope no one was under there," she whispered in shock.

Ahead, several evacuees were led away from the building, bent over and coughing. Among them stumbled the familiar form of Cass Hamada. She decidedly looked worse for wear as she was led to one of several ambulances already on scene.

More men in hard gear and bomb squad attire descended on the building with bomb-sniffing dogs and robots. "Clear the area!" someone yelled in an authoritative voice. "If this building goes down, there's no way of knowing which way it will go."

Under the direction of more cops, the crowd was pressed back, at least those who hadn't gone running as if the gates of Hell had opened up on them, releasing hell hounds to chase them to death.

"In here!" Fred called as he held his sleeve over his nose and mouth to try and keep out the fine particulates still in the air. He indicated the entrance to what was possibly a restaurant only a few yards down from their current location. It would at least get them out of the open, and hopefully into cleaner air.

Kally had to help Honey drag Wasabi towards the door in question but they all finally made it inside, finding an empty booth to plop down into. Honey continued to coach Wasabi to breathe normally, marginally succeeding. Part of her really wished Baymax was there, or that they had an oxygen tank for the man to use. Chances were good all this chaos wasn't doing his recovery any favors.

Chapter Text

A hiss of breath escaped Hiro's lips as he sat up too fast. He put one hand to his head in the vain hope of staving the throbbing behind his temples. Thankfully Loki was there to steady him or he'd have fallen back against the hard surface of the interrogation room table, which definitely wouldn't have done his head any good. He hadn't quite regained all of his strength just yet.

"Try not to move too much," Loki advised. "Baymax says you're going to be weak for a bit and I really don't want to have to tell your aunt you were injured again."

Hiro opened his eyes, a bit blurry from the pain, but he managed to focus on the two faces staring down at him, Baymax and Loki in disguise. "What happened?" he asked in a groggy manner. "I remember seeing another explosion…" he trailed off, trying to recall all the details, before straightening like he'd been struck by lightning. "Aunt Cass!"

Baymax put out a restraining arm. "Aunt Cass is safe," he assured. "I received word from Honey Lemon and the others that they saw her being escorted from the building."

"I can confirm that," Loki added in a quiet voice, hoping any cameras employed in that room couldn't pick up on his comment. "You should take it easy," he said more loudly. "Perhaps I can persuade one of the guards they left behind to find you something to eat."

The teen hadn't been out long, maybe ten minutes, but Baymax had expressed more than once the need to find something for Hiro when he woke.

But Hiro shook his head, at least as much as the throbbing would allow. "I think if I ate anything right now I'd only throw it back up." He winced at the pain in his head, bending over a bit as if that would ease the pressure, knees drawn up to his chest. "This is wrong on so many levels," he said under his breath. "Why does this keep happening?"

A dizzy swirl of energy filled his vision and he almost swooned, using one arm to steady himself against the table top. "I feel like I'm caught in a whirlpool or something. Everything just keeps spinning. Ugh. Maybe I should just lie down."

Loki agreed and helped him back to a prone position on the table as he frowned in thought. This episode didn't seem quite like the others and that worried him. Of course he'd only really seen the one and wasn't sure there was any "normal" to all this anyway. But it definitely didn't go along with what he'd previously observed or heard. He wasn't sure if it was worse or not for the teen, though some aspects certainly seemed that way.

"I will ask the guard for some water," Baymax stated as he waddled towards the door. Since the door wasn't locked, he was able to easily open the door enough to peer out and request some form of liquid for his young charge before returning to Loki's side.

Hiro rolled over to one side. "Well, at least they can't say I was at the hotel, setting off any bombs," he quipped, though there wasn't much energy to his words. He had both hands up to his temples in an attempt to suppress the pain.

"Yes, but that doesn't mean they might not suspect you of planting them in advance," Loki reasoned quietly. He used some of his magic to trick the cameras and hidden microphones so they couldn't hear the conversation, just to be safe. "It would not surprise me if they decided you are more involved than they previously assumed. At the very least, your continued predictions will cause suspicion."

The teen groaned. "Great. That's the last thing I need, more suspicions thrown my way. I didn't do it."

"You and I may be aware of that but I'm not sure if others will draw the same conclusion," the Asgardian reasoned. "Trust me. I know from previous experience."

Hiro had no doubt the man knew what he was talking about, though he couldn't help but hope he was wrong. "What about the others? Are they okay?"

Baymax tilted his head to one side as he made the inquiry. "According to Sammy, the others are fine," he stated. "Wasabi suffered a panic attack as a result of the explosions but seems to have improved. She reports mild smoke inhalation, but no serious injuries. They appear to be waiting in a restaurant near the hotel for more information."

"Well, at least we have eyes on the ground," Hiro tried to joke, only to curl up even tighter in a bid to ward off the added stress it caused his aching head. "Ugh, I think I have a migraine."

The healthcare bot nodded. "My scans indicate this to be the case," he agreed. "Unfortunately, I do not have access to any medications that could alleviate your symptoms."

Thoughts of the migraine Kally had had at the Hydra based filled his mind. If it weren't for his more than aware state, he'd be tempted to say this was another reactive reintegration, but since he was all too aware of his surroundings, he thought better of the idea. He just hoped it didn't get as bad as hers had. It was probably a good thing he hadn't had more than a muffin for breakfast.

Cass hadn't expected to hear Loki's voice urgently calling her from sleep. He didn't touch her, but stood over her so he was the first thing she saw as she started from slumber. Out of pure instinct, she swatted at the intruder, gasping when her hand went through him.

"Please do get up," Loki admonished in a slightly impatient voice. "There's not a moment to lose."

But Cass just stared at him like he was a ghost. "How? What? Why did my hand go through you?"

Loki let out a sigh of impatience. "I could take the time to explain to you or you could try and hurry. The hotel is under attack and you need to leave immediately."

Hearing that, Cass got to her feet as quickly as she could, only slightly embarrassed to still be in her pajamas. She couldn't remember changing into them. Her knees made things difficult, but she doggedly made her way to her shoes, slipping them as she grabbed her purse. "What kind of attack? And where's Hiro?" Shouldn't she be seeing him and his friends trying to evacuate the building?

Loud knocking sounded on the door, more pounding than actual knocking. "Hurry!" Loki hissed as he faded from sight.

Cass wrenched the door open at the same moment the whole building violently shook. Not prepared for the sudden motion, Cass went to the floor in a gasp of pain as her knees smacked into the floor once more, her head narrowly missing the door jam, though her shoulder wasn't quite so lucky.

A man in full gear stooped to shield her from any falling debris as the building continued to shake around them. Loud explosions sounded from outside her hotel window, the glass shattering from the concussive blasts, scattering the broken shards inside and out of the frame.

"What is going on!?" Cass cried out as she tried to protect her head with her arms. It probably helped that they were still under the protective mantle of the doorway. As things stood, she almost had her leg pinched by the man's boot as he struggled to stay upright despite the shaking.

Dust filtered down from the walls, shaken loose by the blasts and Cass coughed. She noted the man had a breathing filter in place and wished she had one as well, but she didn't resist as he pulled her to her feet, her purse still firmly over one arm.

With the man's help, he began escorting her towards the area where the elevators and stairs met in a little hallway. "We'll take the stairs down," the man said through his breathing mask, not surprised to see her bending over to cough. While the whole structure might be compromised, it was the lesser of two evils to take the stairs. There was always the possibility the elevators had been compromised and wouldn't work anyway.

Still shielding her from further potential falling debris, the man led Cass down the many flights of stairs, avoiding moving near the outer wall as much as possible. Visible cracks ran up and down that wall, along with shattered glass where windows marked the end of each level.

Cass felt glad she'd managed to slip her shoes on before all the chaos broke loose. With all the broken glass, there was no way she would have been able to navigate the course they were taking without further injury. As things stood, she had a hard enough time with her knees and the jarring of her shoulder as they descended each step.

Both seemed to breathe a sigh of relief when they reached the ground level. More dust filled the air as they neared the doors and Cass had to pause to cough violently. The man gave her a moment before encouraging her to continue out into the afternoon sun and towards a series of ambulances on standby.

One of the paramedics jumped to take charge of the café owner, making her sit on the rear bumper while he checked her vitals and applied oxygen. A second medic tried to assess her injuries.

All around them, various cries, moans, groans, and grumblings filled the air as the emergency responders tried to evacuate the remaining individuals from the building. Cass could see a large group off to one side who she vaguely remembered from the hotel. Some included the college students from NYU, along with Dr. Banner, who had thankfully refrained from turning into the Hulk.

"Looks like you've dislocated your shoulder," one of the medics observed, distracting her from the masses around them. The other pulled out some braces and wrapped them around her knees, applied an ice pack to each afflicted appendage. "Best to get you to the hospital to make sure there's nothing else."

The two medics got Cass situated in the back of the ambulance before heading off to the hospital.

Lucifer felt a decided need to hold onto the "oh crap" handle of the car as Chloe navigated the streets of Los Angeles, her siren blaring. Despite it being an unmarked car, the thing certainly had enough bells and whistles, literally, to draw attention.

"Would you mind slowing down, Detective?" Lucifer asked as he clenched his teeth. Usually he could handle her driving. Frankly speaking, his driving was usually more robust, especially when it came to speed. But the way she was turning corners almost sent half the car off the road and into the air, leaving them fishtailing a bit as they straightened out with more of a jolt than he cared for.

Chloe gripped the steering wheel as if her life depended on it. "Not a chance," she replied, concentrating on weaving through the traffic. "You heard the scanner. Bomb squad is on scene. I don't want to miss anything. If what that Hamada kid said is right, those bombs could go off at any moment. If he's not the one who set them off," she added under her breath.

The devil pressed himself more firmly into his seat. "Surely that doesn't mean you need to fly like a bat out of Hell," he protested. He barely caught her veiled comment over the sound of the engine but chose to ignore it for the more pressing issue of not puking in the Detective's car. She'd never forgive him if he did.

"Almost there," Chloe stated as she swerved around a few parked cars, narrowly avoiding a group of onlookers in the process. The tires squealed in protest as she put the car in park and threw the door open.

Lucifer gratefully exited the vehicle and was in the process of dry heaving when the ground violently shook. He almost lost his balance but managed to look up as various small explosions filled the area in front of them.

Still not over the police line, they were out of any immediate danger, but the dust still filled the air like a thick cloud as sheets of plaster rained down into the sidewalk and adjoining parking lot. It was a miracle it didn't seem to affect the parking garage next door, though that area seemed free of any actual explosions. That didn't keep it entirely safe from falling debris, but the majority of the cars there were protected. Unfortunately, it set up quite a din of car alarms as the ground shook like a quake.

Chloe stumbled towards Lucifer. She'd taken the time to pull her crutch from the back of the car and was glad she had as she used it to steady herself.

"Well, at least we made good time," Lucifer quipped as he noticed her moving to join him. Thankfully the dry heaving hadn't last long, especially with a bit of distance from the vehicle and driver in question.

The detective rolled her eyes at him as she had to pause or fall and risk further injury to her thigh. She was only mildly surprised when Lucifer offered a supporting shoulder, wrapping one arm around her waist to keep her from falling over.

A few minutes passed before the explosions seemed to stop and any immediate danger had passed. Trying to be stern, Chloe pushed away from Lucifer and brushed off her clothes as best as she could with one arm. She kept the crutch firmly under the other.

Before either of them could head towards the wreckage, however, Jack seemed to appear from nowhere. "Took you guys long enough," the space captain said as he escorted them through the maze of debris and emergency personnel. "This way. I've got a command post set up over here."

Chloe almost asked how he'd gotten there before them but decided it would be better not to give him the satisfaction. Even though the man didn't look smug or anything, she still didn't like him. At least he was currently all down to business with his attitude, which was a nice change.

Various bomb squad officers and other police officers littered the scene as they moved about, but Jack just ignored them as he continued forward. "We've got people searching floor by floor for anyone still stuck inside but I think most of them were evacuated before the bombs actually went off. Thankfully, no fatalities, though we did have to send a few to the hospital, including Hiro's aunt."

That comment brought Chloe up short. Some of Hiro's words made more sense now, shedding a silver more of doubt on her suspicions that he might really be involved and was just a good con man. "Nothing too serious, I hope," she offered, trying to be solicitous.

"Too soon to tell," Jack shrugged as he stopped near an open-sided canvas tent filled with various equipment, chairs, and a few tables. "How are we looking?" he asked a lieutenant checking out a laptop.

Looking up, the officer resisted the urge to salute. "We've coordinated a larger perimeter to keep back the crowds. A lot of them went into a panic when the bombs went off. A few got trampled, but no reports of anything serious there."

Jack nodded, taking in the report as the man continued about how they were reviewing traffic cam footage and any other footage they could get their hands on. "Keep up the good work," he said as he clapped the man on the back before turning back to Chloe and Lucifer. "As you can see, we've already got things well under control here."

Lucifer glanced curiously around. "That you certainly do," he commented with hints of surprise and pride in his voice. "I don't believe I've seen such an efficiently run operation put together in such a short amount of time." He gave Chloe an apologetic grimace when she nudged him with one elbow.

"I've also got someone on the way over to inspect the building's structural integrity," Jack added. "The outside looks a mess but, when I took a quick peek inside, it didn't seem too bad. Hopefully we can at least get everyone's things out in time to get them situated at another location."

Iron Man took that opportunity to land next to the command tent, his helmet sliding away from his face as he landed. "I've got people setting up temporary shelter at the Memorial Sports Arena," he stated as he walked over, joining the conversation as if he'd been there the entire time. "I had JARVIS check the local hotels for openings, just in case you wanted to go that route, but I figured you'd want to keep them all together. No one hotel has enough room to accommodate them all."

Chloe found a vacant chair and sat down, tapping her fingers on her crutch. "Something doesn't feel right." She continued to think things through. "Three separate attacks, and all three of them seemed focused on areas that have two groups in common."

Lucifer cocked his head to one side as if trying to catch onto her line of thought. "You know, I think you're right," he agreed. "There were several of the same people at all three locations, either physically or in some other form." He refrained from bringing up Hiro's name for obvious reasons.

"The Avengers," Jack supplied, catching onto their tone, almost pensive. "The students from New York, and Hiro Hamada. And if any of those three are the targets, I really think they shouldn't be sheltered with the others who don't share those commonalities. In fact, it might be better to split them all up."

Nodding, Chloe couldn't help but feel glad someone else had seen the connection. "I think we should call up one of the local colleges and have them take in the students, at least until we can rule them out as possible targets. And since school isn't quite in session yet, it shouldn't be a problem."

"I'll take care of it," Tony stated before asking JARVIS to make the necessary arrangements. "I'll have some of my private security patrol the campus, just to be safe. And we probably shouldn't let the students leave without some kind of police escort, just in case."

Jack found he had to agree with this course of action. "We should have the bomb squad sweep whatever campus you have in mind beforehand too. Gotta make sure there won't be any other problems. And have constant patrols to make sure no one tries to sneak any in. I'm sure we can have the other hotel guests hole up at the convention center near here."

"One more thing," Tony spoke up, taking a step forward, "Hiro and his friends are going to stay with me. Los Angeles may not be my home base anymore, but my place is more secure than any other in the area. And the same goes for Kally Carmichael since I'm her temporary guardian. I can have Dr. Banner stay with the other students as added backup. And if these people are targeting us Avengers, that will split their forces, making it easier to catch them." He didn't add it but thought there might be the possibility Hydra was involved with everything. And if they were, it was always possible they would try to nab the two teens again. He wanted to be there to nip that in the bud if it were the case.

Chloe almost protested this demand but chose to let it go. But there was something she was forgetting about the whole situation. She just couldn't quite pin her finger on it. And then it came to her. "Alistair Krei sent some bodyguards," she announced. "I left one of them with Hiro at the precinct."

Tony's face seemed to rankle at that, though it could have been from the sunburn under his helmet. "I don't doubt Krei's people but I'd feel more comfortable having my people watch them."

"I somehow got that it wasn't up for negotiation," Chloe stated, arms folded across her chest as she looked up at the Avenger from her seat. Her crutch temporarily rested against a nearby table. "The man assigned to watch over Hiro seems quite attached. But I'm sure you two tech giants can work something out." Her tone hinted it unlikely, a bit of a challenge in there. She'd at least insist an officer be on duty outside the billionaire's home, just in case.

Exhaling, Tony nodded. "Fine. I'll call him and we'll arrange something. In the meantime, I'm going to make sure the University of Southern California is safe and ready for those students. JARVIS says that's the best choice since it's the closest. I don't need any more parents calling me up to make sure their kids are fine." He'd had more than enough from Kally's foster parents. He was just surprised Chloe Decker was okay with the teen staying at his place instead of a secure safe house under police protection. Well, he'd take what victories he could. After all, they still had to figure out what was going on and why. "And I'll have someone look into that convention center idea." With that, he jettisoned off into the afternoon sky.

"A bit flashy isn't he," Lucifer said as he watched the iconic suit disappear into the horizon. "Well, at least we've got those arrangements taken care of. Now to determine the how and why of the bombings."

Jack scratched at the back of his head, the usual grin scrolling across his face. "Actually, I think we might want to focus on finding the rest of Hiro's party," he stated. "Word is they were headed back from the hospital when the explosions went off." He didn't tell them how he knew and hoped they wouldn't ask. "They could be anywhere in this crowd, though one of your people did find Wasabi's van not too far from here. If nothing else, someone should keep an eye on them in case they're on the target list."

Chloe glanced over at Lucifer and then back at Jack. "You make a good point," she sighed. "I guess that means we should start looking for them. Maybe they took shelter in one of the neighboring businesses, if they didn't get swept away by the crowd that is."

"Are you sure you should do that much walking?" Lucifer asked, all his concern turning to his partner as she struggled to her feet, crutch back in hand. "We have no idea where they may have sheltered or if they even did as Captain Harkness suggested."

The detective couldn't help but feel a bit impatient with his concern. "I'll be fine," she said in a shorter tone than she'd intended. "I'm sure it will do me good to move around."

Lucifer gave her an uncertain look. "All right, but if you get tired, or your thigh starts to trouble you, we're taking a break."

"Deal," Chloe agreed with a firm nod of her head as she swung into motion, heading towards the nearest business.

Jack and Lucifer exchanged glances before the devil went after his partner. The space captain wished them both well but soon found his attention pulled elsewhere as an officer came up to offer a new report.

Chapter Text

Someone knocked on the door before opening it, the officer left to guard Hiro entering with a paper cup filled with water. He wordlessly set it down on the table Hiro still occupied and left the room, closing the door behind him.

Loki let out his breath. "Well, it looks like they've taken your aunt to the hospital, more as a precaution," he added quickly, holding up a hand to keep Hiro from jolting to a sitting position. The last time hadn't ended well. He didn't have to mention how he had one of his many simulacrums following the woman around, mostly to make sure she stayed out of trouble. Part of him approved of the change in venue for her, hoping they could give her some real relief from her pain. He just hoped any additional injuries weren't as bad as they appeared.

Hiro closed his eyes once more, wincing at the throbbing his sudden, albeit terminated, move had caused. "I am sick and tired of this happening," he complained. But at least he hadn't passed out for long this time around. He wasn't sure if that was really a blessing or not though, as he certainly could have lived without the jackhammer going off inside his head.

"I do not blame you," Baymax spoke up. "The continued occurrences do not appear to be comfortable. However, the current episode does seem to be of shorter duration and less volatile than previous incidents."

Brows raised a bit, Loki definitely agreed. "I wasn't aware you were keeping track," he admitted. "But I think you're right."

The robot seemed to bow without moving, though his camera eyes focused on Loki. "I am programmed to record all interactions. I have also kept a constant record of all incidents and their resulting symptoms for further analysis in the hopes of detecting a pattern or other useful information that might help alleviate future suffering."

"Believe me, I appreciate it," Hiro spoke up. Even without the use of painkillers, the throbbing was starting to subside, even if just barely. At least it wasn't like the last time he'd had a migraine, his entire body basically shutting down on him. He'd needed more than a little rest to recover from that one. All the same, it was less than enjoyable and he hoped it would continue to subside in a decent amount of time. That might happen sooner with some kind of painkiller, but he doubted he'd get one any time soon.

Loki looked thoughtful for a moment, almost distant, before straightening up a bit. "I think they're making arrangements for our future housing problems," he announced. He'd split off another mental fragment of himself to keep an eye on Lucifer and company and had done so in time to hear Stark and the others' plans for Hiro's group, as well as the others involved. "I'm not exactly keen on the idea of being in close quarters with Stark, but I suppose we can make due."

Hiro groaned at that. "Great. Just what we needed, being babysat by Tony and JARVIS, because you know that means he won't want to let me or the others out of his sight. He's already lectured me about letting my team help with the evacuations at the arena. I can't even begin to imagine what he'd say if we tried to fly out and help with something else."

"That certainly presents a problem," Loki agreed as he frowned, arms now folded across his chest. "Not insurmountable, but certainly a problem." Then his eyes lit up like he'd had a minor epiphany. "By any chance, does Stark know that Krei is aware of your identities behind the mask?"

Not sure where the god of mischief was going with this line of thought, Hiro warily answered. "No… I don't think so. I mean I haven't told him. But that doesn't mean he doesn't. I heard the others gave him the basics of everything since Tadashi died so maybe? I'm not sure how detailed they got into their explanation."

Loki had to think about that for a moment, as Hiro made a good point. He'd sort of been there when the whole explanation bit happened back at Stark Tower, but he couldn't seem to recall if they'd mentioned that Krei knew or not. It seemed to have been glossed over so it was a gamble to assume one way or another. "Hmmm…"

"What were you thinking?" Hiro asked as he cautiously returned to a sitting position. He winced slightly but any previous dizziness seemed to have faded so he reached for the cup of water, taking a careful sip. "I really should keep a backup stash of gummy bears or something," he sighed.

Before Loki could answer, Baymax held out a lollipop. "While I have yet to keep a supply of gummy bears on hand, I still have one of lollipops available."

Hiro couldn't help but smile at that as he accepted the sweet and took off the wrapper. "Better than nothing," he agreed, though he would have preferred gummy bears to the hard candy, but it would do for now.

Meanwhile, Loki began to pace ever so slightly. "Even if Stark isn't aware of Krei's knowledge, as an acting guard under his name," he paused to emphasize the irony of that, "I can say I'm under orders to let you "do your thing" when it comes to any superhero involvement you and your team may decide to provide."

"Hmm," Hiro mirrored, looked a bit impressed by this logic. "That could work." He nodded slightly to himself, careful not to move to quickly lest he jostle his head too much. The sucker stick stuck out from between his lips as he contemplated the suggestion. "That definitely could work. As things stand, I'm sure the two will have to dicker out some kind of agreement since Krei supposedly got here first with the whole bodyguard thing." He couldn't help but smile at that. Both men could be quite stubborn and he wondered how that might iron out.

With the sugar from the lollipop now running through his system, Hiro found he felt a lot better and it showed in his overall coloring. He no longer looked like death warmed over. "Speaking of arrangements, any word on the others? They still holed up near the hotel?"

Baymax tilted his head to one side as he made contact with Sammy. It took a moment but he straightened as soon as he had an answer. "According to Sammy, they are still waiting for things to die down."

"That might be the best thing for them to do at the moment," Loki stated. "Better than having them running around without any rhyme or reason. Aside from which, I believe the detective and her partner are currently trying to figure out their location. Personally, I wonder how long it will take them."

Hiro resisted the urge to sneeze. Despite the improvements in his overall condition, he didn't want to risk acerbating the lingering headache. "Might as well tell them to sit tight and expect Lucifer and that detective then," he said, looking directly at Baymax.

"I will inform them now," Baymax agreed with a slight nod of his head. Hopefully it wouldn't take the officer long to find them and they could all get situated in a place not associated with the precinct. He felt sure Hiro would do better in a more stable location.

"Baymax says we should sit tight," Sammy announced quietly as Honey Lemon, Kally, Wasabi, and Fred sank their teeth into gourmet sandwiches. GoGo had opted for a salad.

Having decided it wouldn't be nice to just take shelter, the small group opted to order lunch. With the various craziness going on, they made up the largest group of customers currently inside. And the others were fewer in number than was probably usual for this time of day. With that in mind, and Fred's stomach rumbling, they couldn't just sit there and do nothing.

"Sounds good to me," Fred said around a mouthful of his turkey club. He let out a contented sigh after swallowing that first mouthful. The bread was toasted to perfect, lightly buttered for that extra bit of taste. And the meat was deli in a good way, with cheese that was to die for. The dressing on the sandwich was also a nice touch, not too tangy, not too sweet. The house made chips were also a nice surprise.

Honey glanced up and towards the window. They could still see the hotel from their vantage, though only just. And with the debris in the way, it was anyone's guess what was actually going on over there. At least they could still see the flashing of red and blue lights and the occasional officer passing view. She wiped her mouth daintily with a napkin. "Not that I'm complaining, but did he say why?"

"It would seem that Detective Decker and her partner are looking for you," Sammy responded, still keeping her voice low so as not to disturb the other customers. That and they really didn't want anyone learning they had an AI. Even though the idea was more accepted, having an actual working one wasn't, especially not for a bunch of college-aged kids and one teen. "Beyond that, I have no further details."

Wasabi slowly closed his eyes as he savored the flavors of his ham sandwich. Hospital food had nothing on this. And now that he was a lot calmer than he had been earlier, he could enjoy himself a bit. "Personally, I don't care as long as I can finish this heavenly food."

GoGo rolled her eyes as she took a bit of salad. She'd had to dispose of her gum, but there was always another piece ready to pop between her teeth should she so choose. "I'm willing to bet they either want to ask us more questions or Stark wants them to find us for some reason."

Kally almost choked on her chips and had to cough a bit to get the tiny fragments back out from the back of her mouth. Fred, the closest to her, pounded on her back in the hopes of helping, but she indicated she was fine with a shake of her head.

"You good?" Wasabi asked, not sure if she'd sprayed crumbs or not, though he felt she probably hadn't as she'd moved a napkin to her lips the moment the coughing started. All the same, it never paid to be too careful. He really wished he had a bottle of hand sanitizer though.

The teen nodded then cleared her throat. 'I just had the thought that maybe Tony was looking for me specifically," she rasped as she reached for her lemonade. As far as she could tell, it was hand-squeezed, or at least freshly squeezed in-house., which made it miles better than anything a fast food joint had to offer.

Looking bored, GoGo shook her head. "With another explosion going off, and several different groups connecting them, it wouldn't surprise me if they wanted to keep closer tabs on us." She waved her fork, which currently had a cherry tomato stuck in the tines.

"It makes sense," Honey said in an almost hesitant voice. "After all, we were at least two of the venues hit, with Hiro's image, I guess, appearing on airport surveillance. For all we know, they are targeting one or more of us."

Wasabi let out a sigh, the mood instantly ruined. "It's just like New York all over again." Part of him looked longingly at the sandwich, wondering if taking another bite would return him to that state of Nirvana he'd enjoyed only a moment before, but he somehow doubted it. His friends' comments had ruined the mood just as surely as pickled jalapenos ruined a great piece of sushi. Maybe that would change if he cleansed his palette with a few of the chips, but he doubted it.

Before anyone else could make any further comments, the bell over the door jingled, signifying a potential new customer. Except, when the group of students looked over, they didn't see hungry diners but the detective and her partner. "Well, at least we didn't have to wait long," GoGo said with a hint of a sigh as she put her fork down.

"Ah! Detective!" Lucifer called out as he looked around the room. "Over here!" He strode towards the large table with a sense of purpose, a grin all but lighting up his face.

The telltale clacking of one crutch followed the brisk steps of the night club owner, along with a slight grunt as Chloe tried to keep up with her partner. "I can see that," she huffed. "But could you please slow down?"

Seeing them coming, Fred snagged an extra chair from a neighboring table, pulling it towards an empty spot. "Hey!" he greeted as he stood and offered the detective the chair in question. "You look like you could use a break." He courteously helped her sit wile Lucifer stared, only taken her crutch when she made a little noise in her throat.

Not wanting to miss out on the fun, Lucifer snagged another nearby chair and settled for the next best position on Chloe's right side, putting him also next to Kally. "Well, isn't this just cozy," he all but purred. "What do you think, Detective? Should we order some lunch too? I must say I'm rather famished after all this morning's excitement."

Chloe looked more than a little put out, though it might have been due to the physical exertion of using her crutch and dodging debris while searching for the group they know sat with. "Water," she said curtly. "And then maybe food."

A waiter had moved towards their table as soon as he saw them sitting down. "And for you, sir?" he asked as he noted down Chloe's drink order.

Lucifer accepted a menu and quickly perused the offerings. "I'm thinking the day's special," he decided. "And a cola, if you don't mind." He would have preferred some kind of alcoholic drink but the establishment didn't seem to offer any so he'd make do with the sugary goodness available.

The man nodded as he scribbled something down on his bad. He then quickly checked to make sure the others were still good before heading back to the kitchen.

"You could have ordered something," Lucifer chided the detective. "I'm more than willing to pay."

Chloe resisted the urge to roll her eyes. Money wasn't the problem. Feeling less than her usual was, but she wasn't about to admit it. "I already said maybe in a minute." Her tone was perhaps a bit more waspish than intended but she couldn't take it back. "We didn't come here to eat."

Hands under her chin as she contemplated the newcomers, GoGo blinked expressively at them. More an expression of indifference hiding anything, though there was a hint of annoyance for those who knew her well. "So, why did you come?"

"GoGo!" Honey admonished. She quickly took a sip of her soda to keep herself from adding that they really did need to know, even if it would have been in a less harsh manner.

Lucifer looked at his partner. "Well, Detective? Shall you tell them or do I have the honors?"

The waiter brought out their drinks at that moment, carefully placing the water in front of Chloe before giving Lucifer his coke. "Did you change your mind?" he asked the detective.

"I'll let you know," Chloe replied, silently wishing the man would just leave them alone. She was more than ready to get back to her desk, or maybe her couch, and take a nap.

Seeing the exhaustion in her eyes, Lucifer made a snap decision. He turned his attention towards the students sitting around them. "Yes, well, the reason we came searching for you is to make sure you're kept in protective custody."

Several eyebrows went up at that announcement but he quickly held up a hand to stave off any comments. "It would seem there are three possible target groups in all this bomb business, and your group happens to be one of them. So, to be safe, and in light of this recent bombing, Tony Stark has offered to let you stay with him."

"Oh goody," GoGo said in as bored a tone as she could manage. She speared another tomato and popped it into her mouth.

The others had started eating again, though almost reluctantly. It was a bit rude to eat in front of those who hadn't gotten their food yet. Not to mention the whole situation was just awkward.

Wasabi cleared his throat. "So, when exactly did they want us to head over there?" He wasn't sure where Stark kept a house in L.A., but he supposed someone would know. "Do we get to get our stuff first or what?" He had to hitch in his breath a bit, wincing as his ribs pinched. He was more than ready to be done with this nonsense. But, at least at Tony's house, chances were good they wouldn't have to deal with any more bombs. Well, he at least wouldn't have to. The others would do whatever they wanted. He just wanted to get home to his own bed.

"We've got someone making sure the building is safe enough to retrieve your belongings," Chloe answered. "Once that's established, we'll go from there, though I'm sure it might not be a bad idea to take you to the precinct while we wait. Your friend, Hiro, is already there."

Kally looked up at that. "What's Hiro doing there?" she wondered out loud. Sammy hadn't said anything about the teen being at the police station.

Lucifer chose to answer that one. "He wanted to follow up on that photo from the airport." It wasn't strictly the truth but close enough to count. It had been mentioned in there. He ignored the slight jab Chloe gave him with her elbow. "That and he somehow found out we'd discovered Rachel Amesbury's killer."

"Makes sense," GoGo stated. "Either Baymax found it from listening to police scanners, or someone else tipped him off. My bet's on Jack."

Chloe resisted the urge to grind her teeth. She somehow wouldn't put it past Jack to mention something, though how he found the time to do everything he'd done that morning was beyond her. She still wasn't sure how he'd beaten them to the hotel. Despite him being a superior, she couldn't help but wonder if she shouldn't look a bit more into him and his history. She'd have to ask someone else to do it though, maybe Dan, though he'd been temporarily reassigned and wasn't exactly available. Well, she'd think of something.

The waiter returned with Lucifer's order and smoothly placed it in front of the devil. Seeing the look on Chloe's face, he didn't offer even the suggestion that he thought she might have changed her mind. He did make sure no one needed refills before leaving though.

Lucifer picked up his sandwich and took a large bite, his eyes lighting up with surprise. "Detective," he said around his food, "you really should try this." He took the opportunity to finish chewing and swallow before continuing. "It's really quite good."

"I'll get something to do," Chloe promised with a sigh. A headache had started to develop and she was more than ready to head back to headquarters.

Sensing things might be getting out of hand, Fred waved for the waiter, asking for some to-go boxes. "Hey, we can eat at the precinct just as easily as we can eat here," he defended when some of his classmates looked incredulously at him. "That and I'm sure someone should bring Hiro something."

Honey excused herself from the table to place an order for Hiro, sure she had a better handle on what he'd eat than Fred did. She was only mildly surprised to find Chloe Decker following her and courteously stood to one side to let the detective order first.

Once the orders were placed, both women returned to the table to pack up their respective lunches. The waiter even brought over disposable cups and lids so they could take their drinks with them. The cup holder was an added bonus. And by the time everyone was ready to head out, the waiter had returned with Chloe's and Honey's orders.

Thankfully, traffic had died down and they were able to return to Wasabi's van without problem. They even gave Chloe and Lucifer a ride to their car. The detective insisted they stay close and ended up escorting them to the police station, minus the siren and flashing lights.

Chapter Text

Cass wasn't sure what all the fuss was about, but she was more than grateful when one of the doctors reset her arm, which she'd dislocated. They'd then taken her back for x-rays and a CT-scan, just to make sure she hadn't damaged any of the muscles around her knees or shoulder. She hadn't; just some massive bruising that would likely take weeks to heal. She knew the drill though.

Getting heavy duty painkiller was a decided bonus, the café owner thought as a nurse filled the prescription for her. Walking was difficult enough as things stood, especially with the new braces they'd strapped to her legs. Those things covered a good three quarters of her calf and thigh, offering much needed support. The unfortunate thing was that it made bending her legs more difficult, let alone walking. She'd be hobbling for weeks without the added benefit of crutches. Having her arm in a sling certainly made that impossible, at least as far as function went.

Now that everything was set and sorted, and she felt more than a little high from the medication they'd injected, along with a bit of saline for dehydration, Cass wasn't sure what to do next. They'd officially discharged her with orders to take things easy, go light duty as it were, and find someone who could give her some physical therapy once she got back home. And since she didn't have a car, or her wallet, she wasn't sure how she'd get back to some general meeting place since the hotel was obviously out.

Luck was with her, or maybe some intervention, because Stark's driver, Happy, was there to pick her up from the main waiting room where she'd settled into a chair. He courteously helped her to her feet, being more than patient as she sort of stick-leg walked behind him. She was sure she made quite the sight, but it couldn't be helped. Others had certainly received worse injuries than her own and she could only thank her lucky stars none of her charges had been caught in the devastation she'd endured.

With more than a little difficulty, Cass made it into the back of the black sedan Happy had driven over. She slid as far over as she felt comfortable with, the bag of prescription medication in one hand. She didn't need to take any, at least not for now, and it might not be until well after dinner time that she'd need to take any more, if she needed it that night at all. They'd given her some pretty powerful stuff, though it did threatened to make her a bit motion sick as Happy directed the car out into traffic.

"Where are we going?" she asked, hoping she didn't sound as drunk as she thought she did. She felt grateful for the seat belt that kept her upright, sure she'd be flopping all over the place without it.

Happy looked back in the rear view mirror, wondering if he should give his boss a head's up as to his passenger's condition. She certainly looked more than a little out of it, though he wasn't surprise. "Mr. Stark asked that I take you to the police station," he said in answer to her question. "They've gathered the others from your group there. Someone's checking the hotel to make sure it's safe enough to collect your things, and then I'm to transport all of you to a safe location."

Cass's brows rose in surprise at that announcement, though she couldn't say she blamed them for the precaution. They did have to find somewhere else. It was just the idea they needed a "safe" location that caught her off guard. Well, she'd worry about that later as her thoughts seemed a bit of a dizzy mess, part of her feeling an almost uncontrollable urge to bite the headrest in front of her. It had to be the medication's influence because she knew she'd never want to do that under normal circumstances.

Time seemed to flow by in a blur and before she knew it, Happy had pulled into a parking garage next to a more industrial, yet still functionally attractive building. He exited the vehicle to help her out, deciding it best to escort her into the building. For her part, Cass was more than happy to accept his help, feeling more than a little woozy as she got out of the vehicle. She had to lean against him, using her good side, as she followed him into the building, glad there was an elevator to take them down to the appropriate level.

It hadn't taken Honey Lemon long to follow the detective and devil to the police precinct. She'd managed to park next to them in the garage next door to the building in question and everyone piled out of the van in varying degrees of agitation and relief. Fred had accidentally jostled Wasabi on the way out of the vehicle and the physics student had to take a moment to get his breathing, and pain, under control.

Lucifer offered to carry Chloe's lunch so she could manage her crutch. She wasn't about to mention her helpful that was but thought it all the same. With only a bit of difficulty, she led her charged towards the proper department, using the elevator instead of the wide set of stairs. She knew it would take forever with her crutch, even though she was getting the hang of it. That and Wasabi didn't look like he could handle the stairs at the moment.

Safely at the appropriate level, the detective continued towards the interrogation room where she'd left Hiro and his guardians. The officer she'd ordered to keep watch was still dutifully there and he quickly gave her an update on events. She nodded in response while the others caught up to her.

Honey clutched the bag with the extra sandwich in one hand, the cup of soda in her other hand. "I don't see Hiro," she observed as she looked around. It might have surprised her to learn that the now relatively quiet floor had been a hive of rampantly running officers no more than an hour or two earlier.

Before anyone could respond to that, Chloe opened the door to the interrogation room and ushered them in. They all paused to see Hiro lying on the table inside, looking like he was taking a nap.

The bag of food rustled, repeated by the larger bag containing the other hastily packaged meals. Hearing the sound, Hiro rolled over to face the new group. He looked a bit groggy, like he'd been sleeping hard and only now just woke up. He tried to give a smile but it came out pained. "Hey guys," he said in a gravelly voice. "Where've you been?"

GoGo frowned as she rolled her gum around the top of her mouth, arms folded across her chest. "I'd be tempted to ask the same question but we already know the answer."

"We got back to the hotel just in time to see it explode," Fred answered, a bit more helpful in his answer. "And we saw your aunt get carted off to the hospital. Then we holed up in a nearby restaurant until the detective found us." He indicated the woman with his thumb.

"We thought you might be hungry," Honey added as she set the bag she'd carried down on the table, along with the soda. "We weren't sure if someone would remember to give you something."

Hiro resisted the urge to press a palm against his head as he moved to a more upright position, glad to see Fred start to unpack other boxed lunches. The migraine hadn't completely subsided, though sleep had helped a bit. "I appreciate that," he said as he reached for the soda, hoping it wasn't something lemon lime in flavor. They all knew better than to give him something like that but one never knew.

Lucifer decided here was as good a place as any to get out his and Chloe's food as well. "Well, we might have to drag in a few more chairs," he observed, "but I think there should be enough room for everyone once Hiro gets down from the table."

It wasn't surprising they'd missed the other two in the room, the Asgardian thought as he cleared his throat. Still in the guise of a gruffer exterior, he was happy to note none of the heroes seemed to recognize him. "If you're all settled for the moment, I need to check in with Mr. Krei."

"Oh!" Honey all but gasped as she realized there was another person in the room who would need food. "I'm so sorry! I totally forgot the detective said there was someone with Hiro! If I'd remembered, I'd have totally gotten you something!"

Not wanting to make the woman feel bad, Loki held up a hand. "It's fine. I'm waiting for my relief anyway." He knew that much about security details to know it wouldn't do to leave a client unprotected.

The devil looked up at that, realizing they didn't know who Loki really was. "I think we can stand in if you want to find something," he stated, looking the god of mischief in the eye. "Or, if you prefer, I'm more than happy to share what I have."

Loki resisted the urge to shake his head at the idea and politely declined instead. "I find I have something else in mind," he admitted. "But I do need to check in." With that, he left the room.

Now that her arms were free, Honey Lemon made a beeline to Baymax and gave him a hug, only mildly surprised at his previous silence. "You have no idea how glad we are that you're here," she said into his warm vinyl.

"Hello, Honey Lemon," the robot greeted. "Hello, GoGo, Wasabi, Fred, and Kally. Hello Detective Decker, Lucifer."

Chloe looked over to her partner. "How come he calls you by your first name but calls me Detective Decker?" It wasn't that she minded as much as the robot had been introduced to Lucifer as Mr. Morningstar. At least she thought he had been.

Baymax looked momentarily confused, if that were possible. "Would you prefer I called you by another name?" he inquired, head tilted to one side as he contemplated the detective. "I refer to individuals by the name I hear most associated with them. If there has been an error on my part, I apologize."

Kally giggled at that. She wasn't sure why but she somehow found it funny. Unfortunately, it almost made her choke on her sandwich.

Looking somewhat aggrieved, Lucifer pulled out one of the few chairs in the room and offered it to the detective. "I can only fathom that it's due to your being called that more around him, Detective," he responded, sure she still wanted an answer from him.

With a sigh, Chloe turned back to the healthcare bot. "Detective Decker is fine," she decided. For now, she amended in her thoughts. Everyone called Lucifer by his first name. And, at least in a professional capacity, everyone called her Detective.

The robot straightened up, one hand in the air, finger pointing. "I have just learned that Aunt Cass has been dismissed from the hospital. According to JARVIS, Tony has sent someone to bring her here."

Hearing that, Hiro couldn't help but look relieved, for more than one reason. It helped that the soda was some kind of cola, though it wasn't name brand by any means. And it seemed to help with the headache part of the migraine so he wasn't about to complain. He pulled the cartoon with his designated sandwich and opened it, happy to note Honey had remembered his affinity for bacon, lettuce, and tomato, with cheese. There were even a few packets of mayo and mustard off to one side, house made chips, and a pickle spear. He glanced over at Kally out of the corner of his eye and realized she had the same thing.

The others hadn't waited to see if someone was going to find chairs for them or not and has just started digging into their food where they stood, using the table as necessary to keep their hands free. Someone had offered one of the two remaining chairs to Wasabi though, who had gratefully taken it. Hiro had yet to get down from the table, not sure it was a wise idea until his body settled more back in its shell.

Feeling a bit better, Hiro looked over at the detective and Lucifer. "So, what's the plan? I take it the hotel blew up." He didn't bother letting them know he already had an idea of what was in store, along with the notion that the hotel was actually still standing. It was best to keep some cards closer to the vest, as the saying went.

Chloe had to take a moment to clear her throat after a bite that was more bread than filling. Part of her wondered if it was a good idea to be eating so casually like this with the others but then decided she was too tired to care. "Mr. Stark's offered to put you guys up for now. At least until we get down to the bottom of things. We're not sure who the real targets are yet and decided it's better to err on the side of caution."

Wasabi nodded in agreement. He already knew the plan, as they'd been told, but he hadn't been sure if Hiro did or not. Apparently not since he was asking, but one never knew with the teen. He was pretty good at that poker face when he wanted to be.

"As long as the bodyguards Krei assigned can come too, I don't have a problem with that," Hiro said with a deadpan expression, making some of his friends wonder if there wasn't something else going on there.

Lucifer and Chloe exchanged glances, remembering what Stark had said back at ground zero. "I'm sure Krei and Mr. Stark can work something out."

"I take it you have some kind of association with this Mr. Krei," Lucifer ventured almost hesitantly, not sure if he wanted to poke that bear or not.

The teen genius shrugged. "Well, yeah. I caught his eye when I applied to join SFIT. He liked my expo presentation and tried to recruit me." He didn't feel it a good idea to explain how they'd later saved his life and, as a result, made him their secret keeper, not with Chloe there. She'd want to know more and then probably forbid them from doing superhero work, or arrest them for vigilantism.

While Hiro gave his simple reply, the others busied themselves with eating. It made it less likely someone would ask them questions, not that Hiro had said anything to point to their other activities. That and the food did need to be eaten.

"Are you going to eat something?" Honey asked Hiro in an almost maternal manner "I hope I ordered the right sandwich."

Hiro couldn't help but feel a bit bad at her worried tone and immediately began trying to soothe her. "It's just that I'm not quite hungry yet. I've still got this pounding in my head that hasn't quite stopped yet and the idea of anything more than some soda is kind of…."

"Migraine?" Kally asked as she looked up, hearing the pain in his voice.

The teen gave a funny kind of smile that was more grimace than anything. "Yeah," he admitted. "It's not as bad as it was earlier," he added quickly. "It's just that my stomach hasn't quite settled yet so I'll probably just save this for later." He closed the box and set it to one side.

"Hiro experienced an adverse reaction," Baymax informed the group. Seeing his young charge squirm, he refrained from giving away anything else, but that comment alone made several pairs of eyes turn his direction.

Eyes wide like a deer in headlights, Hiro waves his hands as if to swat away a fly. "I'm fine! Really, guys! No big deal. It's just one of those things."

GoGo gave Baymax a glare. "Boy Genius telling the truth?" she inquired as she pointed her fork at him.

"What Hiro said is correct," Baymax confirmed. "Hiro has greatly improved over the last hour." He ignored the look the teen gave him.

Deciding it best to let them have at whatever discussion they obviously were holding back, Chloe abruptly stood, her chair scraping against the floor as she held onto the table for support. "Well, I don't know about you," she glanced at Lucifer, "but I have some paperwork that needs filling out." She repacked her lunch and stuffed it into the bag before grabbing up her crutch.

The detective's actions were decisive, Lucifer decided, and he quickly caught on to what his partner meant. "Oh! Yes! Of course, Detective! Paperwork!" He quickly finished off his sandwich, which effectively emptied his food carton. He wiped his mouth with a napkin, put the whole mess of trash back into his to-go back, and followed the detective out of the room.

Kally watched them go. "What was that all about?" she wondered.

Fred, Wasabi, Honey, and GoGo both shook their heads while Hiro seemed to stare off into space. Baymax didn't comment.

It wasn't a lack of courtesy towards him that had made Loki's decision to give them some space. It was more a need to make sure the incoming men sent by Alistair Krei didn't mistake him for the interloper he technically was. And he'd heard the men actually assigned were starting to arrive. It was best to head them off now. He might have to use more than a little persuasion to convince them he was part of the team, especially if they knew each other. And it was better done away from the others.

Sure he'd left Hiro and his friends in good, albeit temporary hands, the god of mischief went in search of the party being diverted to a central location to receive orders. He wasn't sure who was in charge, but it never hurt to go in prepared. Hopefully none of them had been given specific orders. And since he was only one person, at least one other, possibly more, would have to get used to the idea that he was attached to the team, whether they liked it or not.

Once out of sight of any individuals, Loki willed himself into the fastest form possible and slipped away from the precinct. It took no time at all to find the location in question. It did help that he'd put feelers out in the off chance some of Krei's men did get there sooner than later. And now that he'd arrived, a bit head of some of the others, he could get a sense of the temperature in the room, in a manner of speaking.

Still in his more rugged disguise, Loki approached a well-proportioned man who looked like he was used to being in charge. He hung back just a bit to see what another guard type would do in the man's presence before joining the group, giving a brief nod of acknowledgement. If he was any judge, these men were more military in training than the typical mall cop security guard. Well, at least he needn't worry about them being pansies.

"Looks like we have everyone," the burly man said. Perhaps it was the look Loki had chosen, or a bit of manipulation on his part, but the man seemed to accept the Asgardian without any issues, which was a blessing. "I've been told there might be a change in plans though, since Mr. Stark has his finger in the pie."

The other three men exchanged glances, more than aware of the pseudo rivalry between Stark and Krei. "I hope that won't be a problem," one of them spoke up.

"Not our problem," the commander replied. Loki didn't care to find out his name, though he supposed it would be a good idea so he read the name on his jacket. It read Pratt. "All we have to worry about is doing our job. Speaking of which, I noticed you were a bit late." He turned his gaze on the Asgardian.

Loki was ready for this one. "I was already in the area," he said smoothly. "I immediately went to the Hamadas' hotel room, as instructed. The young Hamada wanted to talk to the police, so I escorted him there. The entire group is currently under police protection at their precinct."

That earned a nod from the commanding officer. "So long as you didn't leave them unprotected, we won't have a problem, Officer…?"

"Jackson," Loki supplied. It would probably be best to keep the same name he'd used earlier. It was less confusing that way. "I was told to personally guard the Hamada kid."

Several brows rose in surprise at this declaration. Adams frowned. "And who told you that?"

Time to take a gamble, the god of mischief decided. "Mr. Krei. He contacted me personally once I'd arrived on scene. He told me to keep Hiro Hamada as my particular charge."

Adams continued to frown, not exactly happy with this particular admission. "I'll have to check with him about that," he decided and would have done just that if it weren't for the fact that someone pulled the fire alarm.

Chapter Text


Dirk was sure he'd arrived on time and at the right location. He'd checked the address a couple of times, just to make sure. He'd even gone so far as to ask the first server he came across if he'd gone to the right place. According to the woman, he had. The only problem was that Ella Lopez hadn't shown up.

Noon came and went, though Dirk wasn't about to waste the opportunity to settle down for a moment and eat. He was used to waiting for things to happen. And since he didn't feel inclined to move anywhere for a while, he decided it was just a good a time as any to satisfy his stomach. If Ella said she was going to be there, she'd end up there some time or other. He just had to be patient.

The first course of what ended up being several was pretty good. He'd gone for a house burger and fries, along with a cold soda. He'd just picked one by pointing, not exactly choosing any specific flavor. And so far things had gone well. Course number two ended up being a side salad when he'd been there for over half an hour and the waitress kept looking at him like she had a mind to ask him to leave if he didn't keep using her services.

His third course turned into a sort of dessert and he'd totally picked the ice cream challenge by accident, but he wasn't about to back down. When they'd asked him what flavors he'd wanted in his twenty-four scoop sundae, he'd told them to pick for him. And they did, including a nice layer of whipped cream, several cherries, and a selection of various sprinkles.

Seeing the size of the thing, Dirk knew he had to dig deep. Thankfully, he'd paced himself a bit with the other courses, having let the salad settle a bit. And it had been long enough since he'd eaten the burger and fries that he felt confident there would be enough room in his stomach. So, if he didn't finish in the allotted time getting recognition on the wall of ice cream conquerors, then so beat it. Though he was certainly going to do his best to eat it all in the hour allotted.

Only halfway through the concoction, Dirk found he needed a break. His stomach felt ready to burst and he just knew there was no way he'd be able to finish the whole thing. In an almost mad dash, he headed towards the restroom down a long hall, but the expected upheaval of his stomach didn't come. Instead, he burped magnificently before washing his hands at the sink.

On his way out of the bathroom, he felt a tingling of something pulling to his right. It almost felt like someone had tugged at his shirt sleeve, but no one else was there. But if he looked in that direction, he noticed a door separating the restaurant from the neighboring building. More than a little curious, and totally forgetting the ice cream challenge, Dirk turned the handle.

Normally, the door was probably supposed to be locked. But, for whatever reason, today it wasn't. "Huh," the Brit said as he slid into the adjoining hallway. "I wonder what's down here."

Ahead, he saw what appeared to be a blank wall, though it was really just where the hallway ended before turning and joining a large storage area that was currently clear of pretty much everything but some office furniture. Almost absently, he ran his hand along the wall as he moved forward, not realizing his hand had caught on a red protrusion, his fingers curling around the little lever just under the catch.

One step was all it took and lights were flashing as an alarm began to blare, causing the man to jump. "Oh crap!" he exclaimed as he realized what he'd done, his fingers still all but attached to the fire alarm. He looked quickly to his left and then his right, to see if anyone had seen him, or if there were any cameras. There didn't seem to be any but that didn't mean anything. And then he quickly bolted back the way he came.

It had taken some doing, but Jack felt confident in the engineer's assessment that it was safe enough to enter the hotel once more. He'd had to resist the urge to go in there himself and look around, choosing to stay in the command area. It wasn't that he wasn't used to commanding such a force. He just sometimes found it more tedious than he cared for. But now that the floors had been deemed safe, he was about to break protocol and contact a few people outside of the chain.

Those who had been displaced by the bomb, outside of Hiro's group, had been given permission to go, one by one, into the hotel to retrieve personal items prior to being transported to the convention center. Thankfully that had all been arranged in the meantime, with emergency preparations complete. Buses waited to shuttle the various patrons to their destination, along with an armed escort in case of trouble.

As for the students from New York, Bruce Banner continued to keep them occupied. Under the hospitality of Tony Stark, he'd taken them out to lunch while things were worked out. And, with almost all of the other hotel guests done getting their stuff, they were allowed to get whatever small items were still in the hotel, though there likely weren't many due to most of their belongings going up in flames at the airport the day before. It was unfortunate, but that's how things went sometimes. Their accommodations weren't quite ready yet.

Jack brought out his phone and dialed a number. He wasn't sure if arrangements were ready for the others or not, but someone had to let them know it was at least safe to retrieve their belongings, some of which were more sensitive than others. Unfortunately, no one seemed available to pick up on the other end as it went to voice mail after a few rings.

With a sigh, Jack decided the next person to try and contact was Chloe Decker. Since he felt sure she wasn't impressed with him at all, he wasn't sure how things would go over, but she was technically in the chain of people to notify. And since she'd at least reported finding the majority of Hiro's group, it was logical for her to know what was going on. He didn't think Tony Stark had quite gotten everything together just yet, though he couldn't say for sure one way or the other since he only knew the man by reputation and brief encounters.

This time the line went through and he quickly relayed what needed to be said to the woman on the other end. He ruffled his hair with one hand as he made sure she understood it was best not to let the San Fransokyians do anything until Stark had gotten their accommodations in order, but wanted to make sure she was aware they could get their belongs when that happened. He couldn't, in good conscience, allow Hiro or his friends to come under any more fire than necessary. The Doctor would likely blast him to the far ends of time if he did.

That out of the way, Jack turned to another problem, not entirely related. He'd tried looking into that Dirk character with little success. He'd discovered the man operated a small detective agency out on the East Coast, but hadn't really learned much more beyond that. And the one conversation he'd had with the man had certainly left him with the notion that Dirk was more than a little insane. Well, there wasn't much he could do about that one either, since he didn't know where the man was. He could, however, send someone out to find him, a course he decided might be best for them all, as he wasn't sure if the Brit had been staying at the hotel or not.

Now sure he'd covered all of his bases, Jack decided it best to try and find a few moments of peace and quiet. He left an officer in charge before finding an out of the way spot where he could teleport without detection. If he timed things right, he could go back a few hours in time and get a decent nap in there. He hadn't had much sleep over the last thirty-six hours and was in desperate need of some down time. Making one last visual check before leaving, Jack nodded to himself, satisfied. With luck, he'd back before anything else happened.

Chloe hung up her phone and slid it back into her pocket. She'd been a bit surprised to get a call from Jack Harkness, not recognizing his number since it wasn't programmed into her phone. She'd only answered it because she wasn't sure if it was something pertinent to current events or not. But it was good to know they could bring their group to the hotel to pick up their stuff whenever Tony Stark got his crap together. She had yet to hear back from him about having arrangements ready, nor did she know the status of Hiro's aunt.

With a sigh, the detective finished her interrupted lunch. She'd felt a bit out of place with the others in the interrogation room. That and she'd wanted to look over the footage from earlier. Even though Hiro and his bodyguard weren't under investigation, she'd set the cameras to record what was going on, just to satisfy her own suspicions. What she saw didn't really give her anything to worry over, at least as far as the investigation went. The troubling thing was how Hiro reacted to whatever had happened to him prior to their going after the bombs.

There were a lot of unexplained things going on with that teen and Chloe couldn't help but want answers. This was the second time she'd seen him recorded having some kind of adverse reaction to whatever premonitions he somehow managed to have. It was the third such incident she was aware of, if she counted the whole arena bit. Either this boy had some kind of extra sensory abilities or there was something else going on. She hadn't forgotten the hints that he'd had a rough go of things, PTSD and all that, but it certainly didn't explain how he'd been able to predict those events before they happened, even if by only a matter of minutes or seconds.

"You look unusually preoccupied," Lucifer noted as he watched the detective from his customary perch, the corner of her desk. He'd finished his lunch already and had wanted to see what she was up to. But the expression on her face was certainly difficult to read at the moment.

Chloe looked up with an air of distraction. "Hmm? Oh. I was just wondering what it is about Hiro Hamada that makes it possible for him to somehow predict what's going to happen before it happens. Either he's somehow involved, which I am finding less likely, or there's something off about him."

Lucifer bit his lip, debating on letting her in on a little bit of what he knew about the boy. It might help her piece things together. And some of it had certainly already been hinted at. "If it helps, I was led to believe, and I'm sure you're thinking it as well, that his experiences might have somehow made him more sensitive to various things. It's not impossible."

The detective snorted. "You mean like ESP. I can't say I buy that. There has to be some other explanation."

"What other explanation is there?" the devil countered, looking more serious than usual. There was no way he could reveal to her that Hiro had somehow become some kind of god. Well, it was just Loki's theory, but it fit.

Before either could get too much further on that line of thought, the elevator dinged. An odd sound followed as Cass Hamada all but waddled out of the car and into the main area. "Where did you say my nephew was?" she commented as Happy followed her out.

"Looks like the aunt's here," Lucifer stated as he slid off the corner of the desk and straightened his suit. "We should probably go greet her."

Chloe knew he was right as she sighed and looked for her crutch. Locating it, she got to her feet with a bit of a struggle. Her legs had stiffened up a bit as she'd sat there, probably from all of the walking earlier. With the resounding clack of her crutch, she headed over to the woman in question. "Ms. Hamada," she greeted as she stopped in front of the café owner.

Looking up at the unexpected greeting, Cass wasn't sure what expression showed on her face. It could have been surprise, shock, or a hint of impatient anger. Either way, she was more than ready to be reunited with her nephew, before anything else happened. "Detective," she greeted coolly. "Where's my nephew?"

"Your nephew, along with his friends, is just through here," Chloe directed as she swung her crutch back into action.

It didn't take long to reach the room in question, mostly because it was no more than a dozen yards away. But when Cass realized what the room was used for, even before entering, she turned to give the other woman a look. "Why is my nephew in an interrogation room?"

Lucifer smoothly inserted himself between them. "He's not in trouble," he soothed. "It's just once he had his premonition about the bombs at the hotel, he needed a place to lie down and this room was the closest place with anything large enough to accommodate him."

Cass frowned at that almost rushed explanation, arms folded across her chest as best as she could while Happy stood by looking more than a little nervous. "That's all it had better be," she said sternly, waiting for one or the other to open the door, not sure if was locked or not. She'd seen too many cop shows to not know they usually locked from the outside. The fact that a uniformed officer stood guard didn't help that impression either.

The officer in question opened the door for all four of them before stepping aside. He chose to look away from the group, especially the irate woman he didn't know. It wasn't his business what she was doing there.

Seeing her nephew, legs dangling from the table, looking a bit pale, Cass rushed into the room as much as her braces would let her. It wasn't a fast pace, all things considered, but at least the distance wasn't too far, even if she did have to skirt around Honey Lemon, who was currently sitting in one of three chairs.

For his part, Hiro resisted the urge to jump down from his perch, sure his head wasn't quite up to such a jarring. "Hey, Aunt Cass," he greeted instead, decidedly taking in the added sling to the long braces she now wore. "I'm sure you're more than ready to ask me how I'm doing but I think I should be asking you that."

Baymax waddled forward, blinking as he performed a quick scan of the woman. "You appear to have bruised the bone in both your knees," he observed. "As well as having recently dislocated your shoulder."

"I'm fine!" Cass protested at Hiro's look. "How are you? You don't look too good?"

Hiro refrained from shaking his head but a grin cracked across his face. "Better than you are, I guess. I mean I have a migraine but it's getting better."

Cass tried to hug him while Honey Lemon vacated her chair in favor of the aunt. She grimaced a bit as her shoulder got jostled but it was more than worth it to know Hiro wasn't in any immediate danger. "I was so worried." And then she looked around, realizing the others were there, minus the disguised Loki. "Where's …?"

"Mr. Jackson?" Hiro supplied for her, not sure if she'd been awake enough to remember their little stratagem. "He's on break. That's why they have a cop stationed outside the door. I guess the other guards Mr. Krei sent haven't arrived yet and there was no one else to relieve him." He gave his aunt a slightly raised brow, hoping she'd catch the hint. "Though maybe that's because Mr. Krei and Tony are duking it out over who gets to act as bodyguards."

Realizing struck her light a bolt of lightning and Cass straightened. "Oh. Yes. I suppose they'd do something like that since Tony plans on putting us up." She turned to look towards Happy, who had taken up a position near the wall.

"Whatever they plan on doing," Wasabi spoke up, "I hope they get it put together soon. I'm ready for a nap." And he looked it. Despite being given a chair to sit in, the effort of keeping upright seemed more than a little out of his current reach.

Chloe took that opportunity to clear her throat. "It shouldn't be too much longer," she confirmed. "They've confirmed that the hotel is safe enough for you to retrieve your belongings, but Captain Harkness wants you to wait until Mr. Stark is ready to transport you."

"We are not leaving my van here," Wasabi said pointedly. He folded his arms across his chest, then wished he hadn't as his ribs pinged in protest. His breath hitched a bit until he got it back under control.

Kally almost timidly moved out from behind Fred and GoGo. "I could have Sammy ask JARVIS for an update," she volunteered.

Happy shifted his feet, trying to look important. "I'm sure Mr. Stark will call when everything's ready," he asserted. Even though he knew about the AI, he wasn't exactly comfortable with them circumventing his role in things.

Cass took the chair Honey offered, having taken a moment or two to realize what was happening. Her legs stuck out under the table thanks to the braces, but it was nice to get off her feet. A recliner and a TV remote would be even nicer, but she'd be grateful for what she had at the moment. "At least one person will have to go and retrieve our things from the hotel," she mused, knowing it wouldn't be her.

"We can do that," Fred volunteered, grabbing GoGo's hand and raising it with his own. "And we don't even have to take Wasabi's van if that guy's willing to drive us." He pointed to Happy with his free hand.

The detective shook her head as she leaned against her crutch. "Let's not get ahead of ourselves," she admonished. "I'm pretty sure Captain Harkness was serious when he asked that I keep you here until Mr. Stark says he's ready."

GoGo smirked. "Since when has that ever stopped us?" she quipped. "It's not like we aren't grown adults who can decide on our own what we're going to do. Without a warrant, you can't legally hold us here against our will."

Fred nodded in firm agreement, though he didn't let go of her hand despite her lowering it. He had yet to pop a certain question but he'd take what small bits of partnership he could in the meantime. "What she said. The only people here not technically adults are Hiro and Kally, and I really don't think they'll be going anywhere without an adult anyway."

"Mr. Jackson has asked that I make sure Hiro does not leave before he returns," Baymax added helpfully.

Chloe looked from one face to the other, feeling her resolve crumble just a bit. There was no way of knowing how long Tony would take in making sure everything was set and sorted. He had a lot on his plate at the moment. And if she made sure Fred and GoGo weren't left unprotected, there shouldn't be a problem. They were right that no one could detain them without an actual warrant. "I'll let you go on one condition," she relented while Fred gave her hopeful eyes. "Lucifer has to go with you."

The devil looked up in surprise at this sudden turn of events, though he found he wasn't put off by the idea. "I have no objections," he admitted as he looked around. Without the detective there, his abilities wouldn't be hampered should he need them. "I'm sure I can keep them perfectly safe." He turned to Stark's driver, the unanswered question all over his face.

Happy didn't look happy about this sudden change in plans, but it wasn't exactly up to him to decide. "I suppose I could drive you over," he admitted. It would certainly be less conspicuous than taking a police car, or even the group's van over. "I'll have to check with my boss to make sure it's okay though."

"Oh come on!" Lucifer said with some impatience. "Why not live a little? It's not like they'll know it's us without certain people in company. And I'm sure there are more than enough cops still swarming the area to make it more than secure. All we need is for you to drive us over and then bring us back. If you're unwilling, I do have my own car we can use." It would likely be a bit more conspicuous, but it was better than nothing, or borrowing a car from the precinct.

The man's chest rose and fell as he heaved a breath. "Fine," Happy conceded. "But I'm still going to have to let Mr. Stark know about what's going on, especially if he calls up and asks where I'm at."

"We'll cross that bridge when we come to it," Lucifer said with a dismissive wave. "The sooner we leave, the sooner we can return." He was just glad it looked like everyone there had finished their lunches, unlike his partner.

Chloe could feel a headache coming on again and she rubbed at her temples. "Go. Before I change my mind," she ordered.

Seeing her discomfort, Baymax waddled forward while Fred, GoGo, and Happy exited the room, Lucifer following them out. "My scans indicate you are in some distress," he informed. "Perhaps it would be wise to sit down."

The detective shook her head. She still wanted to go over the footage from the interrogation room a bit more, listening more intently for anything that might give her a clue as to what was going on. "I've got too much work to do. Besides, I'm sure you have your hands full with them." She vaguely indicated the others still in the room.

It didn't take long for the robot to pick up on her hormonal cues. "Ah. I see your point," he agreed before turning back to his usual party.

Cass noticed the one remaining takeout container containing Hiro's uneaten lunch. Noticing her almost longing look, Hiro pulled the box over. "It's a BLT," he explained as he opened the lid, his stomach making small noises. "It was supposed to be my lunch but my stomach's a little queasy still from earlier." Her stomach growled much louder than his had.

"Are you sure?" she looked up at him, his legs still dangling from the table like a little kid. His grin reassured her.

Hiro shrugged. "Better then to let it go to waste. I can always find something later, right Baymax?" He turned to look at the huggable companion.

"I would advise against Hiro eating anything until his stomach has settled," he confirmed, realizing Cass was probably in greater need of the sustenance than Hiro was at the moment. It helped that Hiro still had the soda he'd been slowly sipping on.

The look on Cass's face gave way from skepticism to acceptance as her stomach growled again. At least it wasn't something she wasn't fond of. Some of the things Hiro liked were a little odd. Those things were probably due to Fred's influence though. Caving in, she pulled the box closer and made sure there were enough condiments to make it manageable without getting too soggy. It was a process a bit difficult with one hand but she managed. Satisfied, she took a bite and sank into bliss.

Chapter Text

"What in the world is going on?' Commander Pratt demanded as the fire alarm continued to blare.

Only a few seconds had passed since the alarm had gone off but it screeched like a banshee on a washboard and was easily louder than a cannon firing at close range. And that didn't even begin to take into account the lights going off like a million strobes through the room.

In the mix of the confusion, Loki somehow managed to temporarily get his hands on the man's phone, cloning it. He now had access to all the numbers and names, along with any other useful information. The funny thing was that it hadn't taken long. And most people didn't realize he was that tech savvy anyway. Well, it didn't hurt his feelings any.

"Perhaps we should evacuate the area," Loki spoke up, sure there could be no suspicions laid against him about the phone. He'd give Krei a call in a bit, once he was sure Pratt wasn't going to until he could talk to the man.

Pratt gave him a look but nodded. "Everyone out!" He didn't smell smoke, but that didn't mean there wasn't any in the neighboring building. Strip malls tended to do that, share systems when cutting corners. At the worst, someone had decided to pull a nasty prank. It was a shame there weren't any cameras he had access to in order to find out.

Loki indicated his new, albeit temporary, coworkers could proceed him out the door. He had to make sure no one made any calls he didn't want made. He supposed he could use his magic to jam their phones but where was the fun in that?

People milled about outside the building as the sound of fire trucks sounded in the distance. "I don't see any smoke!" one of the men in their group spoke up, trying to be heard over the crowd. Hemsworth, Loki thought his name was.

Out of the corner of his eye, Loki spotted a familiar yellow jacket. He'd only run into the owner a few times but that was more than enough to guess what had happened. A smile pressed at his lips, but he kept it hidden. Well, perhaps he'd do the man a good favor down the road.

Something in his pocket vibrated and Loki reached in to pull out his phone. He took a moment to check the number before answering. "This is Jackson," he said, having to cover his other ear so he could hear the speaker on the other end. He listened for a few minutes, nodding every now and again. "Understood," he ended as he hung up the phone.

Pratt glanced over at him as the crowd started to press them further down the street. "What was that all about?" he called over the noise.

"Precinct," Loki answered back, keeping his answers short. "They want me back there as soon as possible. Looks like Stark's ready to take them to the safe house. I'll text you the information when I get there."

The officer nodded, momentarily distracted by the arrival of the first fire engine. When he turned to look back at his subordinate, Loki was gone.

The last thing Alistair Krei expected to have happen was getting a phone call from an unknown number that somehow knew his direct line. Almost warily, he answered the phone with a short hello. "This is Alistair Krei."

Krei all but bolted upright in his chair as the man on the other end identified himself as Loki of Asgard. The alarm on his face almost caused his assistant to come running but he quickly schooled over the expression. He waved to assure her he was fine and then switched the phone from one hand to the other while he took a moment to recompose his thoughts.

"To what do I owe the honor?" the man asked as he let his chair spin to face the bank of windows that looked out over the city. "I'm sorry. What?"

His eyes grew wider and wider as Loki talked on the other end. "Yes, I did send those men, though I'm not sure how you somehow managed to get in with them. No. I understand. I'll make sure they give you precedence on this one. No. I haven't talked to Tony yet, but I'm sure I'll hear from him soon. Maybe I'll just call him up and surprise him. No, I don't plan on coming down there. Do they know about Hiro's alter ego? I don't think so."

Not sure he'd heard everything correctly, the business owner spun his chair back around to face his desk. "I still don't understand why you've taken such an interest in Hiro. I hope you're not up to anything questionable. I know your reputation."

The Asgardian said a few more things before ending the call and Krei almost shakily put the phone down. "Well," was about all he could manage to say.

Loki arrived back at the police station moments before Tony Stark did. He had enough time to resume his post and look like he'd been there all day as the billionaire exited the elevator and headed towards Chloe Decker's desk. Thankfully, they'd thought to move Hiro's group to the conference room, where it was more comfortable, since no one was currently using it.

"Where are they?" he heard Tony demand, though he missed the detective's answer as he turned back to the group he'd been left in charge of.

Thanks to his new understand with Alistair Krei, Loki was, for all intents and purposes, now in charge of the group. Pratt had called him up and cussed him out for going over his head but the deed was done. Krei must have called the man to let him know the change and, while Loki couldn't help but laugh about the whole situation, he wasn't surprised by the reactions. Now all he had to worry about was making sure Stark, and any others, didn't realize who he really was.

Honey Lemon moved towards the glass door of the conference room to look out at the floor below them, having heard Tony's voice. "He doesn't sound too happy," she admitted. She and the others had yet to be informed of Loki's real identity. For all they knew, he was just another one of Krei's stooges sent to keep an eye on them.

"Not surprised," Hiro quipped. Thanks to some painkillers, his head was feeling a lot better than it had earlier. He currently resided on a padded chair, Baymax by his side. "Think Krei's told him he went bodyguards yet?"

Aunt Cass looked up from a magazine she'd borrowed. "If he hasn't, he's about to find out the hard way."

A gum bubble popped as GoGo assessed the situation. Their luggage sat off in one corner. They'd been able to, thankfully, retrieve it all without too much trouble. Lucifer had been invaluable with that, being able to carry more than either she or Fred. And the officers Jack and loaned them had been a big help as well. They'd thought about transferring their things to the van but had decided against it until they knew what was going on. Lucifer had stayed with them for a bit once all was set and sorted, making sure everyone was good before returning to his partner on the level below them.

"I wonder if his house out here is anything like Stark Tower," Wasabi spoke up. He'd chosen to sit on a chair against the wall, just in case he needed the extra support. The swivel chairs near the middle didn't seem as stable and he didn't need to fall out of one.

Fred wandered over to the window, joining Honey. "Nah," he said in answer to Wasabi's comment. "I mean it's pretty impressive, don't get me wrong, but it's not the same. But JARVIS is still integrated throughout the whole thing when Tony's there so there is that. It's just not as big."

Hiro glanced over at Loki at that admission. Would that present a problem? He certainly hoped not.

Kally watched all of this with rapt attention. She hadn't felt it her place to make any comments. But she had taken the time to call her foster parents to make sure they knew she was okay while they'd waited. She was just glad her phone wasn't one of the ones ruined by recent events, or confiscated, even though, by some miracle, Honey Lemon and Fred still had theirs. Maybe it was because Jack intervened. GoGo's was on the fritz and Wasabi's obviously had to be replaced. She wasn't sure what had happened to Hiro's phone.

"Ooh! They're coming!" Fred announced as he quickly went back to one of the swivel chairs closer to the others. Honey was a bit slower in following him.

The sound of a crutch hitting the tiling filled the sudden silence, along with accompanying footsteps. The next moment, Loki was holding the door open as Chloe Decker entered the room, followed by Lucifer, Tony Stark, and Happy, who didn't look all that happy at the moment.

Stark removed his sunglasses, mostly because they looked like they were about to slide off his nose, though they weren't exactly needed indoors. He looked around at the gathered students and adults. "Well," he stated, "looks like you're stuck with me again. At least until we get a better handle on what's going on."

"Figured," GoGo said out of the corner of her mouth as she kept her arms folded against her chest. She blew a gum bubble, her expression as disinterested as ever.

Tony's gaze rested on Loki, his eyes squinting just a bit as if he was trying to decide what he thought about the man, or wondering if he knew him. He then took a few strides forward. "I don't think we've been introduced." He didn't hold out his hand for the introduction, choosing to thrust his hands into his pants pockets instead as he looked Loki up and down with an air of distaste.

Loki held his ground, leveling his gaze to match Tony's. "Samuel Jackson," he supplied. "Mr. Krei sent myself and a few others to act as personal security for those in the room." He briefly indicated Hiro and his group with a nod. "The others should be here shortly."

A frown formed across Tony's mouth. "I heard Krei sent some folks," he admitted. "But I'm not exactly prepared to host the additions."

"Mr. Krei is aware of issue," Loki continued smoothly. "And as long as I am permitted to retain the ability to act as a personal body guard for Hiro Hamada, my employer is willing to allow for the others to be less involved on your property. I assure you I won't be stealing any of your secrets on his behalf. In fact, if you feel it necessary, I am more than willing to sign any contractual obligations stating as much. Just know that Krei has a vested interested in Mr. Hamada and wont' accept anything less than having me keep a constant eye on him."

Tony's brows rose at that He briefly glanced over at Happy, who shrugged in a helpless way. He refused to look at the detective or her partner. "He won't accept any less? What if I'm not inclined to agree to that?"

But Loki was ready for that question. "Then I must insist that Hiro and his aunt be retained at a separate secure location where I can fulfill my job." He stared into Tony's eyes with just enough will behind his intent to let Tony know there would be no negotiations on that account. "It's your choice. Allow me access to your abode while Hiro is with you, as his personal body guard, and be removed of the obligation of protecting him and his aunt. It's that simple."

Cass tried not to flinch when Tony looked her way, wondering if he thought this somehow partly her fault. The anger in his eyes was obvious, but she knew all about intimidation and chose to let it not get to her. So, instead, she tilted her chin up to get a better angle and glared back. "I'm perfectly happy with either option," she stated in as crisp a manner as possible. "It's up to you which you choose. Either way, we stay with Mr. Jackson."

More than a little surprised at this declaration, Tony almost took a step back. He'd forgotten just how much of a powerhouse this petite woman could be. Almost absently, he rubbed at his cheek where she'd slugged him the first night they'd officially met. He'd certainly deserved it, after failing to protect her nephew. And now he had to make the choice of being given that second chance, albeit with a bit of unwanted luggage, or to let that slip through his fingers thanks to his pride. His shoulders sagged ever so slightly as he made up his mind. "Fine, but the others get to stay in the guest house and can patrol the area when the rest of these guys aren't on property. Agreed?"

Loki knew enough about Mr. Stark to know he wouldn't offer his hand to shake on the deal so he merely nodded. "Agreed. I'll let the rest of my men, as well as Mr. Krei, know." He just hoped they didn't mind that he'd put himself as the leader, despite the original arrangement. Well, they could complain to Krei all they wanted, though it wouldn't do them any good since he'd already made arrangements.

Tony glared at Happy, snapping at him. "Give the man the address," he ordered, causing the driver to jump. He gave the others one more look before all but storming out of the room. This was most certainly not his day.

Chapter Text

Ella all but careened into the restaurant, her breath catching in her throat. Despite the presence of a couple of fire trucks, she hadn't seen any evidence of a fire. And, knowing she was super late to her lunch appointment, she wasn't sure what she'd find inside. She expected to see many curious diners looking out the windows, though she hadn't expected to see Dirk calmly finishing off a giant bowl of ice cream.

Smoothing her hair, the lab tech walked over to his table and sat down. "Sorry I'm late," she apologized.

Dirk looked up with a smile that could light up the whole room. "You made it!" He resisted the urge to go around and hug her, not sure how she'd react to that. His usual assistant, Todd, wasn't exactly a hug-centric kind of person and he wasn't sure if she was or not.

"You wouldn't believe how crazy things have been since this morning," Ella continued as if he hadn't said a word. "After we got back to the precinct, Jack wanted to have a briefing on everything that's happened so far. And while he was doing that, Chloe got called out of the meeting. I later heard Hiro Hamada came to see her and ended up predicting another bombing. And from there, it's just been complete and total chaos."

The holistic detective perked up at the mention of Hiro. "Another one? Well if that isn't odd." He continued to smile in an almost knowing way. "I figured something like that must have happened."

Ella leaned across the table, her expression now earnest. "Do you want to know the weirdest part about the whole thing? I somehow get the feeling there's something different with that Hamada kid. And I mean different, different." She sat back, nodding, her eyes wide.

"Well, you wouldn't be wrong," Dirk agreed. "After all, the Universe wouldn't have sent me to investigate him if he were normal."

That statement gave Ella pause and she looked a bit more closely at her table companion. "What do you mean? Like the Big Guy asked you to look into him or something?" She momentarily glanced up as she spoke.

Dirk waved one hand. "No. No. Nothing like that. The Universe. It's much bigger than all that. You see, everything is connected." It was his turn to lean over the table. "What may seem to be a series of unexplainable, unconnected incidents are, without a doubt, all connected. It only takes a matter of perspective and time to see those connections and understand why. I'm still trying to understand the why."

"You and me both," Ella agreed with a nod. "I've come to the same conclusion. There's a lot more going on with all of this than something random."

Once more, Dirk seemed to perk up at her words. "Exactly! It's everything's inter-connectedness that interests me! And the why of Hiro in particular. He's obviously at the center of it all. I just can't see how."

Ella let out a bit of a snort, though she was smiling in agreement. "You and everyone else. He keeps cropping up in different parts of this case like he's somehow the center of it all, but no one can find any evidence that he's actually involved."

"Yes, that is a problem," Dirk agreed. "But perhaps the answer is much simpler than anyone even realizes."

Now he had her attention. "What do you mean?" She leaned towards him once more.

"Well…" Dirk hedged, "from what I've gathered, this all started with that bot tournament. Or should I say just a bit before? If I'm being completely honest, which I try to be at all times, this all actually started a lot longer ago, though I suppose it all depends on which aspect of the case you're talking about. Some sort of came into being sooner than others. But as far as Hiro's concerned, it started several years ago."

Ella couldn't help but look confused at this. "I'm not sure I follow you," she admitted. She'd heard the potential rumors, and half conversations about Hiro having experienced a lot of difficulties, such as being kidnapped, and his brother being killed, but she wasn't sure how that all fit in."

Dirk rose in his chair. "Don't you see?! It's all connected! And while Hiro's part in the current bombings may not be as big as it is in other events, they are most certainly related. I have a feeling there's a lot more going on for him than anyone realizes."

"Wait a minute," Ella said, waving for his attention, sure he'd got caught up in his own imaginings. "What do you mean the current bombings might not be as big as other events? Having a bunch of loonies blowing up random parts of the city is pretty big."

Almost as if he'd realized he's said too much, Dirk mimed zipping his mouth shut. "I can't say. That is I don't really know all of it, or even half of it," he finally answered after she'd wheedled him a bit. "All I know is that he's part of something much bigger than current events. But, I think it best to focus on the here and now for the moment. Don't you?"

Not really satisfied with this answer, Ella blew out her breath as she resettled herself in her chair. "That's a really big carrot to dangle in front of a person, you know," she admonished. "But I suppose you're right. Our main focus should be in getting down to the bottom of what's going on."

Dirk nodded as he returned to his chair, pushing the ice cream bowl to one side. There wasn't much left in it at this point and he wasn't in the mood to finish it. "Exactly," he agreed. "Every part of the puzzle must be investigated in order."

"Earlier, you made it sound like you either wanted more information or had some information to give," Ella reminded. She folded her hands on the table as she looked into Dirk's eyes.

"Well, yes and no," Dirk hedged, now looking somewhat uncomfortable. "I mean I do have a few things I could share, but I'd really like to know what was going on this morning when I found you."

She had to concede that was fair. "Okay, but only so long as you tell me more about what you know," she decided. And then she began telling him how someone had called in the find, along with all they'd found, which was pretty much nothing, outside of the whole being sure the man hadn't been killed in the alley where he'd been found. She then told him about her involvement with the most recent bombing incident.

"The bomb squad still has all the bomb remains, and I've got a few people working on some other things, but I should probably go back soon and work on some more," Ella sighed, looking somewhat unhappy. It wasn't that she disliked the work. There was just so much of it and none of it really seemed to point at who was behind the bombs, outside of someone who was already dead. But if they were dead, there was no way they could be the only one involved since the bombings kept happening. "Square one, I guess."

Dirk had settled back in his seat as he listened but now leaned forward once more. "Not necessarily," he contradicted. "What would you say if I told you I had some evidence that might help with your case?"

Ella sat up at that, looking hoping. "I would say that is the most wonderful anyone could say to me right now. Please tell me you have something you can give me!"

"I do," Dirk smiled, looking a bit smug this time. "I was there, at the arena, the day before the event started."

"What?!" Ella all but erupted from her chair like a firework. As things stood, the chair scraped noisily against the floor as she stood, grabbing the attention of half a dozen people near them. She quickly cleared her throat and gave an apologetic wave as she sat back down. "I mean, 'what?'" She said in a more normal tone as she glanced from side to side to make sure no one looking at her anymore, giving looks as necessary to dispel any further curiosity.

The expression on Dirk's face was almost triumphant at her reaction but he quickly let it drop from his face as he put both elbows on the table. "It's the truth. I started my investigation a bit earlier than planned. I admit, I did see that man who partner's with your detective friend, the one with the all dark suits and dark hair."

"That would be Lucifer," Ella confirmed, wondering what he had to do with anything.

"He was looking into one of the locker rooms," Dirk continued as if she hadn't interrupted. "I felt a curious sense of being drawn to him, though it quickly faded when I saw a shadow darting down one of the corridors. I quickly gave chase but was soon lost in the underground tunnels."

Ella gave a somewhat disappointed expression. "Figures. That still doesn't give me anything new. All that gives me is an account of you chasing someone you never saw."

But Dirk held up a hand as he began digging in one jacket pocket with another. "Not so fast!" he admonished. "I did manage to get a sample from whomever I was pursuing." He held up a dark spotted handkerchief. "I took a sample of some black goo he, or she, left on the outside door. I don't usually do those kinds of things as I don't generally rely on such mundane things as clues, but I somehow felt it might be useful."

With eyes growing a bit wider, Ella reached carefully for the handkerchief, well aware that Dirk may have messed up some of the evidence due to handling it. But, even though there might be some pocket lint mixed in, whatever it was he'd wiped onto the fabric surface might give them something else to work with. She quickly reached for a small evidence bag she kept on her person for such emergencies and put the item in question inside.

"I really won't know until I get this back to the lab," Ella admitted as she pocketed the evidence bag, 'but it's something more than we had before, assuming whatever it was actually left there by someone involved. For all we know, it was left there by the same guy we found dead this morning, but I'll give it a look over and maybe we'll find a new lead to work with."

Now humming a bit to himself, Dirk gave a pleased smile. "I have a feeling we're going to get along swimmingly," he admitted. "Though you may not be an assistant, at least for me, I'm sure we can help each other out when the time comes."

Ella glanced up at the clock on the wall, realizing she'd been gone longer than intended. "I hate to just dine and dash but I really should get this back to the lab and start working on it."

Dirk gave her an arm sweeping gesture to assure her he was fine with it. After all, she hadn't actually ordered anything to eat. "Perhaps I should give you my number, just in case you need to contact me in the future," he decided as she stood. He took out a business card, scribbled a number on the back, and handed it to her.

Still not sure what to make of her conversation with this strangely dressed man; Ella took the card and absently slipped it into her pocket. "Well, it's been fun but I really need to go." With that, she turned and headed out the door, barely registering that the fire trucks from before were now gone from the scene.

It didn't take long for everyone to get their stuff in Wasabi's van, though they'd had to do it in shifts. Chloe insisted, as did Tony. There was no telling who may or may not be watching, even if they were all still at a police station. The people they were after had proven they didn't care about authority or anyone's lives and Mr. Stark wasn't about to risk anything more than he had to. He just had to stop short of repurposing some satellites to help keep an eye on things as the Powers that Be had told him no. Apparently there were other things going on in other parts of the country that needed them more.

After some finagling, Loki managed to convince Wasabi he was more than capable of driving his van without incident. That meant, of course, that someone had to ride with Tony, besides Kally. While Wasabi's van could probably accommodate seven people, that might be pushing things a bit if they left Baymax inflated, which he insisted upon as it gave them an extra layer of protection thanks to his scanner.

Several minutes more were taken up with discussion of how things should happen and, after Wasabi was reassured about fifty million times, he agreed to ride with Kally while Happy drove the smaller vehicle. Tony decided it best to keep tabs from above where JARVIS could add another layer of protection through the sensors in his Iron Man suit. They were not going to have a repeat of New York if he could help it.

"I'll follow you," Loki promised Happy, still in his guise of a security guard. They had yet to tell the others he was playing a role and Hiro wasn't sure if they should just yet. He'd passed on the address to the others in his contingent of men, using the most discrete methods possible. It wouldn't do to get Tony's panties in a wad, after all.

As soon as Happy pulled out of the parking garage, Loki turned to GoGo with a knowing look. "I think it would be better if you drive. I know from your record you're decent at evasive driving, and I'd rather keep my hands free in case trouble finds us." That and it would be easier if he had to jump out of the car and take down someone, or get to Hiro, who was sitting in the middle.

GoGo shrugged. "Fine by me," she stated as she walked around the vehicle and took her place behind the wheel.

Loki gave the vehicle one last walk around; looking around the parking garage just to be sure they weren't being watched. The only people he could sense were the detective and her partner. Satisfied, he got into the front passenger seat and closed the door. "Let's go."

The engine started smoothly and GoGo pulled out of the garage. She'd already looked up the route in case someone needed her to drive. And there was always Baymax to give her directions if she really needed them. The robot was currently sitting next to Hiro in the off chance he had another episode. Cass sat on the other side of the teen, leaving Fred and Honey Lemon in the back.

Despite the potential of craziness, and Tony checking in through Baymax, nothing happened on the way to the billionaire's Los Angeles mansion. Loki almost felt disappointed but relieved at the same time. All the same, he made a quick pass around the area before letting them out of the vehicle.

Once more, the San Fransokyians had to take their luggage in one at a time, though they weren't technically the ones taking the bags in. That was relegated to the rest of Loki's security team. They weren't happy about the switch in commanding officers but Krei had backed up the claim of Loki being given the lead. They were even less thrilled to note they would be patrolling the grounds instead of actually being with the students while they were in the mansion. It was something they had to deal with as it was a competitor of Krei's house, not a public building. At least the accommodations were decent.

Tony touched down as soon as he felt satisfied that all was well. His helmet opened as he set foot on the ground, moving to keep pace with Cass, who was the last one inside the building. "All secure," he stated to some unseen person he was likely talking to over the phone. Maybe it was the cops. Who exactly was anyone's guess.

Cass chewed on the inside of her lip. The habit was quickly forming and she knew she should stop before it did but there was far too much going on to give it too much thought. "You know, if whoever these people are decide to really come after Hiro, there's not much that can stop them."

"I'd like to see them try," Tony stated as he looked ahead, expression grim. "I could use a good workout."

"That hardly seems necessary, sir," JARVIS spoke up from the wall speakers. He'd integrated into the building the moment Tony had entered it. "I would advise against borrowing trouble until absolutely necessary."

Tony knew his AI butler was right and let out a heavy sigh. "Guess I'd better show you your rooms." He wasn't looking forward supplying a space for Loki, but he supposed it couldn't be helped. He and Krei had enough of a friendly competition between them. It wouldn't due to turn it into an all out war. Krei played far more dirty than he cared to admit. And he was a heck a lot more careless about it in the bargain.

With only a slight hesitation, Cass and the others followed their, hopefully temporary, host on a tour of the facilities. The accommodations were decidedly different than Stark Tower, but there was more than enough room once everyone was situated.

True to the usual standard, Honey and GoGo shared one room, while Cass and Kally shared another. Fred and Wasabi were paired up across Honey and GoGo's room, while Hiro and Baymax were put in a room across from Cass's, with Loki in a smaller room off to one side. His room held the advantage of opening up near the top of the hallway in question, with the short corridor dead-ending near Wasabi's room, making it the most ideal location for keeping an eye on everyone.

Not to be confused with the home he'd blown up, thanks to the interference of too many entities to name, Tony's Los Angeles home boasted individual restrooms in the guest wing, as well as a lounge are with television and other modes of entertainment. There was also the fully stocked kitchen at their disposal, though Tony usually preferred to not bother with it.

"Allow me to lay down the ground rules," Tony stated after all were settled. They'd chosen to meet up in the lounge and the billionaire gave them all a stern look, which they seemed to be pointedly ignoring. "No one is to go anywhere outside of the grounds without an escort. This goes doubly so for Hiro. We don't know for sure who these people are after but Hiro seems pretty high on the list of probable targets. All the same, I don't want any of you to leave without letting me or JARVIS know."

GoGo let out a snort. "Like we'd just sit around like last time."

The look Tony gave her was less than complimentary. "I'm not asking," he warned.

"And we're not saying you are," Honey breezed in sweetly, hands clasped in a placating fashion. "But we all know how things turned out last time. And, since you know who and what we are, you also know we can't just sit idly by if someone else gets into trouble." She glanced over at Loki, not sure if this bodyguard knew about their alter egos or not.

Loki decided it was time to set a few precedents of his own as he stood from his perch on a chair and cleared his throat. "I have orders to not get in their way should Big Hero Six feel a need to help out," he offered. "I hope you will apply the same courtesy."

A strange shade of purple seemed to fill Tony's face as his eyes got wide at Loki's words. He quickly schooled his face and breathed deeply as he smoothed his shirt. He'd taken the time to remove his suit before showing everyone around. "I wasn't aware that Krei let you in on that," he said carefully. Thanks to the debriefing after the whole New York incident with Hydra, he knew Krei was aware of their identities but hadn't realized he'd seen fit to share it with some of his employees. The man was decidedly far too careless for his taste.

"Mr. Krei thought it important to let me know the details, as necessary," Loki confirmed. "The others aren't aware of this information, and I think both Krei and they," he gave an errant wave to indicate the others in the room, "would like to keep it that way if at all possible."

That made Tony feel a bit better, though only like a nano-bit more than before. He didn't know this Samuel Jackson guy from Adam and he wasn't sure how much he could trust him. He did have JARVIS running a background on the name and, so far, hadn't come up with enough to cause concern, though there were always things that could change that.

"Promise we won't take any unnecessary risks," Hiro supplied, using his best poker face. "Chances are good we won't even need to leave this place, unless something else comes up. I'm less inclined to put myself out there right now, if you know what I mean. I've had enough close encounters for a while." Behind his back, he crossed his fingers where no one could see them.

The others gave him mixed looks but decided to roll with it. If there were other things to tell, chances were good he'd tell them in privacy, where Tony couldn't hear. They'd all experienced what Tony's stern authority could do and didn't want to test it any more than necessary at the moment. As things stood, he'd probably have them geo-tagged to keep them out of trouble, even if it technically wasn't legal.

"I don't know about you, but I'm not making any promises," GoGo added. They all knew what would happen, from experience, if she was kept cooped up for too long. "You're here to protect us, not incarcerate us, something you kind of forgot last time."

Tony didn't miss the barb but chose not to react to it. He'd gotten reamed by too many people over it to let it keep getting to him, at least on the surface. Internally, he was about as fed up with the constant reminders as Hiro had been when he and his group had gotten separated at the NYU science fair last spring.

"Fine. But can we at least agree not to take any unnecessary risks?" Tony sighed. He knew he couldn't keep them locked away forever. Not only would it drive him nuts, but chances were good they'd end up breaking out with or without his permission. He had to keep reminding himself these students weren't as helpless as they appeared to be.

Wasabi raised his hand. "I'm more than happy to just chill here," he admitted. His ribs would take more than a little time to heal. Not only that, but he highly doubted the others would allow him to join in on any hero duties until he was fully healed. It was only fair.

The others looked among themselves, minus Loki and Cass, and seemed to come to some kind of silent agreement before Hiro answered for the lot of them. "Agreed. No unnecessary risks on anyone's part." He gave GoGo a knowing look, including Fred in his glance. "I don't know about the rest of you guys, but I'd really like a shower, and maybe an early dinner and bed."

Reminded of the time, Cass found she had to agree. Getting everything set and sorted had taken longer than anyone had cared to admit, especially the whole making sure their belongings were intact and stashed in borrowed rooms. "I'm good with calling it a day." She glanced quickly over at Loki, wondering what he was thinking under that façade of another man's face.

Feeling more than a little relieved, Tony nodded. "Then I won't keep you. I'm sure you all want to clean up. I'll have something whipped up while you take care of things."

With that dismissal, the others got up and headed to their respective rooms for hot showers, or, in some cases, a nice soak in the tub. Cass was more than ready to soothe aches and pangs. Not to mention taking off the sling she wore, though chances were good she'd need help climbing back out of the tub when she was done.

Chapter Text


Things were definitely going according to plan, for the most part. They hadn't anticipated someone discovering the bombs at the hotel until they'd gone off, but someone must have seen something and called it in. it was an easy, and plausible, reason for the police reaching the hotel before the fireworks went off. Well, it hadn't kept it from happening, though there were decidedly less casualties than anticipated, or injuries for that matter. But at least it put the police where they wanted them.

Thanks to an insider, they now also knew that the whole "getting rid of extra baggage" trick had worked. Those idiots had no idea just how important a find they had, not that it would help them any. "Tell men tell no tales," as the saying went. And they'd covered their tracks sufficiently to keep them off their tail until it was far too late to do anything about it.

A map hung in the room, featuring all of the Los Angeles area, and a few surrounding bits as well. There were a few red marks on the map, made by push pins, indicating the targets already hit. The areas in question were pretty close so far, which meant any attention should continue to remain focused there, minus the airport. That one had been a bit further out there, but two in the same block? They'd conclude there was more than just some kind of coincidence going on there. It's how they were trained to think. And they could force feed them whatever intel they wanted, with no one the wiser.

Several other push pins dotted the map, potential targets. A few blue ones also rested in the paper, keeping it stuck to the surface it resided on. And then there were some orange ones, meaning pending targets destined for destruction. The city had no idea what lay in store for it and that's just how they liked it.

Hiro hadn't been lying when he'd said he was done for the day. After all the craziness, he felt more than justified in taking a little break. But before he did that, he made sure all of his gear was there, along with Baymax's, and that they were both in good condition. He'd neglected the usual daily grind repairs due to all the craziness of the last day or so.

Now clean, and assured that everything was good to go at a moment's notice, the teen made his way, with Baymax, back to the main sitting area. He'd almost forgotten his robotic companion was in need of some repairs as well. The silver duct tape across the vinyl skin was a stark reminder he'd somehow managed to overlook recently, but he knew it would be better to get that fixed sooner than later.

As soon as he spotted Tony entering the room, Hiro asked about lab space so he could fix Baymax. The Avenger frowned as he contemplated the damage, along with the possible ramifications of allowing the hero to use his stuff. After a few moments, he decided there was no harm in allowing Hiro to fix the robot's outer skin, especially after Baymax assured him there were no internal issues that needed dealing with.

Figuring the others were likely soaking, or possibly taking a nap, and realizing their host hadn't quite finished with dinner preparations, Hiro got directions to the lab. With JARVIS's help, he managed to get everything together necessary to correct the damage, having to settle with repairing the vinyl instead of replacing it. That would have to wait until after he got home. But, for now, sealing the tears with a less hot version of a soldering iron was the best he was going to get, along with some patches he'd stashed in his bag in the off chance they might be needed.

More directions were necessary to find some rubbing alcohol to take off the sticky residue the duct tape had left on Baymax's skin. Smelling more than a little like a distillery than he'd care for, Hiro then headed back to his assigned room to wash up once more. Loki kept close to him the entire time, ignoring Stark's disapproving looks. He made token comments here and there and helped as necessary when Tony's robotic toys didn't seem up to the task.

"This place has a lot more in it than I'd have originally guessed," Loki observed.

Thankfully, there were no cameras in Hiro's room. They'd checked. And no microphones. It made sense, all things considered. This place had been build long before Stark Tower, which had the honor of being the first fully integrated home Tony had lived in. While JARVIS had access to the common areas, he was excluded from personal spaces, unless he chose to jump into a cell phone, or share space with Baymax in his CPU.

Hiro didn't respond to Loki's comment, humming to himself instead as he double-checked the magnetic seal of Baymax's armor. He might have to borrow a few tools from Tony's workshop to make sure there wouldn't be any future problems, but that could wait until later. "Think we should tell the others who you are?" he asked instead.

Loki supposed it was inevitable they should let the others in on things, though part of him felt hesitant to do so. "Why don't we hold off on that for a while? Having your aunt know is more than enough for now." That way he'd have a little more wiggle room should other things pop up out of the woodwork. Aside from which, he wasn't entirely sure how the others would react to the announcement. Kally probably wouldn't be too concerned, but he wasn't sure about the others, especially Wasabi.

The teen shrugged. "Fine by me, I guess." He supposed it didn't hurt things in the long run. Just knowing Loki was there and had his back, more or less, was enough. Stark wouldn't let him go off and about doing super hero stuff, but Loki would. Apparently the god of mischief was more understanding on that end. That or Tony still just couldn't wrap his head around the idea of a sixteen, almost seventeen, year-old being a super hero.

"So now what?" Hiro asked as he lounged on the mattress. "I mean as fun as having all of these fits, or whatever you want to call them, I'd really rather know why I keep having them, and why I somehow seem connected to everything that's going on."

Baymax watched the two thoughtfully. He'd remained quiet, charging against the far wall. He'd definitely needed the recharge. "Perhaps it would be wise to review recent events to see how everything connects," he suggested. "If you would like, I can spot you." He stepped free of the charger and held out his arms to do just that.

Loki watched his exchange with some misgiving. "Are you certain that's wise? After all, you've had more than enough physical discomfort for one day." And while the Asgardian was somewhat a glutton for punishment, not intentionally, he wasn't sure Hiro should follow in those footsteps.

But Hiro gave a non-committal shrug of his shoulders as he slid off the bed. "Couldn't hurt to try," he stated as he walked over to the healthcare companion. "Nothing else seems to be working." With the robot's support, he flipped up and over into a headstand, his hair dangling towards the ground. Not for the first time, he thought about getting a haircut, but quickly dismissed the idea in favor of other thoughts.

Not sure what to do while Hiro tried to figure things out, Loki began pacing the room. He hadn't actually ever seen Hiro perform this sort of "brain storming" exercise before, though he'd heard about him using it several times before. "Does that actually help?" he inquired as he paused in his turn around the room.

By this time, Hiro's face was starting turn a bit red from the rush of blood to that part of his body. "Usually," he said with a grunt, his arms trembling a bit with the effort. He wasn't about to admit it, but recent events had taken a lot more out of him than he'd care for.

"Hmm," came Loki's response and he continues his track around the room, one hand to his chin as he contemplated everything he knew about what was going on, both externally and internally. He recalled what small bits he'd seen from Hiro's mind, wondering if it was really enough to grasp how everything fit together, or if he'd need to delve back into the teen's head. He shuddered at the thought, not wanting to repeat what had happened as a result of such activities.

A knock sounded on the door before it opened and Aunt Cass entered the room. She paused at the sight of Hiro upside down, well aware of what it meant. She then glanced towards Loki, who had returned to his normal visage while in Hiro's room. She blinked a few times at the change, not unhappy about it. "Tony says dinner's ready," she announced, not quite sure if she should be interrupting her nephew or not, though his face was starting to get more than a little red from being upside down.

Hiro grunted in answer to his aunt's announcement, his arms decidedly shaking now, despite Baymax's support. He quickly flipped back over into an upright position, needing Baymax to hold him steady so he didn't fall over from the rapid rush of blood from his head. All the same, he felt more than a little disoriented and had to slide to the ground until his head stopped spinning. "Not the smarted idea at the moment," he sighed, the migraine from before threatening to come back.

"I recommend consuming some form of nutrients," Baymax stated helpfully as he observed his young charge. "However, it may be wise to refrain from standing until your body as equalized."

The teen gave a terse laugh at that. "Yeah. Figured that one out already."

Loki contemplated the boy with a bit of a frown. "I may not be an expert, but I'm not sure how hanging upside down helped with anything. In fact, it seems to have only made matters worse."

"It's part of my process," Hiro defended as he put his head between his knees. "Though I probably should have waited until after I'd eaten."

Cass gave Loki a look, partially agreeing with him. "Well, come along when you're ready," she said with a sigh as she ran her hands down the sides of her hips. With that, she turned and left the room, making sure to close the door behind her. It wouldn't do to have Tony happen upon them with Loki in his usual form.

Hiro blinked a few times before releasing a deep sigh. "Guess we'd better get going. Fred might eat everything before we get there if we don't hurry." With a bit of help, he got back to his feet, noting that Loki had already transformed back into his disguise as Samuel Jackson, body guard.

"After you," Loki indicated with a bit of a bow. He noticed Hiro was still a bit wobbly from the head rush but chose not to comment as he followed him out into the hall. Food would do them all some good.

After Ella had left, Dirk wasn't entirely sure what to do with himself. Chances were good it would be hours before she even tried to call him. He may not exactly work like the typical detective, but he knew enough to know that it would take her some time to work on the sample he'd given her. He didn't think it necessarily pertinent to his own investigation, but if it helped her, he wasn't going to complain.

Dirk paid for his meal and exited the restaurant. With hands thrust deep into his pockets, the sleuth began meandering down the various sidewalks in the area. He wasn't aiming for anywhere in particular. For the most part, he was just hoping the Universe would guide him along, like a leaf in a stream, to where he was supposed to be. It had worked so far and he doubted it would fail him now.

Traffic, in comparison to some of the previous days, was actually light. Either people were avoiding the area, thanks to the recent bombings, or he'd somehow managed to slip out during an off peak period. Either way, it allowed for a leisurely stroll as he made his way down various sidewalks and pathways.

After a good hour or two of walking, the scenery had taken a decided change, going from more urban business to more upscale and house-like. In fact, if he was being honest, Dirk wouldn't be surprised if he'd somehow stumbled on an area where a lot of movie stars and the like lived. He could be wrong about that, of course, but the gated mansions certainly indicated the possibility.

The further he walked, the large the properties became. And even though he did pass several people out and about, mostly security looking types, no one seemed to think it work bothering him. He merely shrugged and continued on. The sun was warm. The day was nice, and the walk would do him good. He could have, if he'd really wanted to, found a ride, but walking just seemed so much more wholesome for some odd reason. And his long legs certainly made the miles go by without so much as a thought. It was probably a good thing he was in his prime and in shape.

Up ahead, there were a few guys in outfits similar to ones he'd seen earlier. They seemed to be just getting their bearing as the few he saw didn't appear familiar with the area and were consulting with someone a lot via earwigs. He knew they were using earwigs because they kept tapping at their ear pieces.

Well, that was certainly something to look into, he decided, his curiosity piqued. Though the fact that they were in front of a massively gated property should have given him cause for pause, he felt no inhibitions at looking around the area. It was almost as if he were drawn to that particular property, though he didn't yet feel any desire to try and enter the grounds, just look around.

After strolling around the area for a while, Dirk decided he'd seen enough. He sent himself a mental memo to remember the location, and headed back the way he'd come. And even though his actions could be considered suspicious by most people, no one bothered to bother him about being there. He gave a slight smile at that, knowing the Universe approved of his activities. Now he just needed to find a place to bed down for the night. The sun was getting lower in the sky, after all.

Chapter Text

 Jack let out a loaded sigh as he put a stack of paperwork into one of several holders. He'd just finished reading through the initial reports from the bomb squad, and from Ella, about the most recent slew of bomb scraps. They matched several plans in the notebooks they'd taken from Rachel Amesbury's luggage, conclusively proving they were at least related and not another group copying the previous bombings. In a way, it was a relief to know there wasn't more than the one group they were dealing with, but it still didn't tell them who they were dealing with. Or why they'd thought Rachel a loose end to be snipped, along with her killer.

He looked around his temporary office in the precinct, glad he wasn't out under one of those tents anymore. Not that he hadn't taken a nice bit of a break in there for a nap, because he had, just a few hours in the past. While they had served their purpose, now that it was getting dark, he didn't want to be out there where anything could happen. That and it left him be closer to Ella and her newfound evidence from the original crime scene. All she'd tell him was that an informant had given it to her, though he had no idea who that might be. But if it helped them catch whoever was behind all this, he wasn't going to question it. If it was actually relevant. There was always the chance it wasn't.

The man stretched tired muscles, still sitting in his chair. The main problem with being in charge of any investigation was that you actually had to do the work. You couldn't just pawn it all off on someone else, as much as he'd like to go off and play, like Lucifer did. Well, it wasn't a strict loss, he supposed. He did have more freedom than most, unlike the precinct's captain, who never seemed to leave her office. But the monotony was starting to get to him.

Hiro and his group had likely settled down for the night, with justification to that end, he supposed. They had all been through a lot. Lucifer and his detective partner were doing who knew what. He'd heard Chloe had a daughter, though he wasn't sure where the offspring was. As for the other people he'd run into, Dirk Gently and a few others, he had no idea what they were up to at all.

Jack let out a sigh as he slid out of his chair. Why had he decided to take over again? Oh yeah, because the Doctor would send him into the heart of a Black Star if he didn't keep tabs on Hiro, especially since everything had hit the fan around him. But all work and no play made Jack a dull boy, and there was no way he was going to allow that.

With a nod to one of several officers on night duty, Jack made his way to Ella's lab. Surely it was time she had break from all of this work she was doing. He quietly slipped into her work space and watched her as she bent over a microscope, gloved hands turning the magnification knob. The moment she looked up, he cleared his throat.

Ella started a bit at the unexpected sound of another person in her space. She quickly looked up, one hand going to her chest. Why people seemed to like sneaking up on her was beyond her, but the usual protest didn't escape her lips as she realized just who was there. "Jack! I thought you'd gone home, or wherever it is you're staying."

The space captain gave her a winning smile. "You know me, busy to the end. But even I need a break." He watched her set down the slide she'd been working with, carefully keeping it far enough away from the edge of her work area that it wasn't in danger of being knocked off. "And you've been at this for just as long as I've been behind the desk. So, how about it?"

She looked at him with some confusion. "How about what?" She blinked a few times, realizing the night shift had started and that it was probably time to call it for the day. Still not sure what he'd meant, or purposely misunderstanding, she removed her gloves and washed her hands.

"I wondered if you wanted to go out and get a drink or two with me," Jack answered, all suave.

Ella's eyebrows rose. "Oh! Uh… I don't know. I mean it's better that coworkers don't get involved with each other, especially not when they're in the middle of an investigation." Despite her words, her heart began to beat just a little bit faster.

He almost conceded the point but chose not to. "Not quite coworkers," he said instead. "In a way, I'm just the annoying person who's taken over for the time being." His smile was more than persuasive.

"Well," Ella hesitated, a hint of a smile gracing her lips. "Since you put it that way, I guess it makes it more doable. I mean if you were the police captain that would be completely awkward, but you're more like a cooperating agency."

Whatever made her feel better about it, Jack said to himself, still smiling winningly. "I'll even let you pick the place."

"How about Lux?"

Jack cringed, his smile freezing into place to try and hide his hesitation at the name. "Or we could try somewhere else."

Ella seemed to catch on and quickly nodded. "Or we can go to that club down the street. I hear really good things about it but Chloe usually likes to go to Lux because that's Lucifer's place." She started babbling about the two, something Jack kind of blocked out. "What do you say?" she added, reclaiming his attention.

"Sounds good," he replied, unfreezing his face with a roundabout nod. He then extended his hand towards her. "Shall we?"

Looking more than a little amused, not to mention pleased, Ella took his accepted hand and allowed him to escort her out of the building.

Cass was more than grateful for Loki's help as she returned to her room after dinner. Her knees were giving her more than a little trouble, especially since the painkillers had worn off. And her shoulder ached something terrible. She'd been a bit surprised that he chose to carry her instead of just support her, but she wasn't going to complain. Tony certainly wasn't going to do it, and none of the others were strong enough. Well, Wasabi probably was but he was also injured.

With a bit more help, Cass managed to take the prescribed medicine, suspending further protest when Hiro decided to join the two of them in her and Kally's assigned room. Kally had opted to go find something else to do with Honey Lemon, GoGo, and Fred. They were probably off watching a movie in the general use room.

Hiro found a spot on Kally's bed and turned to face his aunt, while Loki chose to sit next to the woman in question. For her part, Cass decided it best to rest against the headboard, a few pillows stuffed behind her back. There were a few pillows under her knees as well. They'd had to ask for the extra pillows earlier.

Legs dangling, Hiro puckered his lips as he contemplated the two adults in the room. "So…" he trailed off.

Since they were out of sight of both Tony and JARVIS, Loki had opted to return to his more normal form. Not only did he take up less room, but the other two preferred it over the more chiseled form he'd taken earlier. The Asgardian tilted his head questioningly towards the youth. "Yes?" he inquired, not sure what Hiro had on his mind.

"I know we said we'd wait to let the others in on your more recent disguise, but there are other things we didn't get around to," Hiro supplied, sounding more serious than usual. "I mean, we started to a bit before dinner, you and I, and Baymax," he nodded to the white vinyl balloon who had followed him in, "but we were interrupted."

Baymax tilted his head to one side. "Are you referring to your aborted brainstorming session from earlier?"

Cass shifted a bit at that. "I figured you were up to something," she admitted. "But I didn't want to interrupt. What were you trying to figure out?"

A smile crossed Loki's lips. "What are any of us trying to figure out?" He gave an almost careless shrug. "The vastness of the Universe, the how's and why's of things…"

Hiro rolled his eyes. "As much as I'm sure you're just trying to lighten the whole mood…." He gave the god of mischief a look, "Maybe it's okay to be a bit serious for the moment. I mean I'm as surprised as anyone that I'm the one actually calling for it, but we really do need to get down to the bottom of why this keeps happening and how to at least try and get some semblance of control over the matter. That and I'd really like to keep this from everyone else as much as possible because the last thing I need is to become someone's guinea pig again. We all know how that went last time."

Various degrees of cringes crossed both Cass and Loki's faces. "I'd really rather not see you go through that again either," the aunt agreed. "But I honestly don't know what to contribute. I mean I'm not really good with this kind of thing, if you know what I mean." She let out a heavy sigh, jostled her sore shoulder, and readjusted her body to try and compensate for the discomfort.

Loki watched her actions with pursed lips, resisting the urge to take her up in his arms, knowing that would only hurt her more, at least until her shoulder had healed a bit more. "To be perfectly honest, I can't say I have any more grasp on what's going on that you do. Though I do have a far greater knowledge of the Universe and how various things work inside it, I am, by no means, an expert on the matter."

Hiro let his legs dangle, swinging them a bit back and forth a bit, at least as much as the bed would allow. He knew there was a way to get a better idea about things but he really doubted Loki would go for it. Not after what had happened last time. And he felt certain his aunt would protest; something probably not good for her right now. So instead of voicing the idea, he let out his breath in one long exhale. "That makes two of us." He turned to Baymax. "What about you?"

The robot contemplated his friend with blinking eyes. If Hiro wasn't going to bring up the possibility of Loki using his ability again, he wasn't going to either. "I do not currently have any suggestions to offer," he stated.

"Well then," Cass spoke up, "Maybe we should all just head to bed like we were planning earlier. I don't know about you, but I'm exhausted." She let out a huge yawn to emphasize her point, using her good arm to stifle it.

Loki looked from Hiro to his aunt, contemplating. The expression on Hiro's face led him to believe the teen wasn't about to fall asleep any time soon. Part of him also wondered if Cass was really as tired as she currently pretended, or if she was just trying to get rid of her nephew so he and she could spend some quality time together. But he also knew they needed to get to the bottom of whatever was going on with Hiro, even with his other theories set off to one side. The here and now was decidedly more pressing.

Giving Hiro a look, Loki turned his attention back to the woman by his side. He only hoped the teen had gotten the message, though he thought he had as he heard his feet hit the floor. He didn't turn to check but heard a forced yawn and a quick, "come on, Baymax," as he encouraged Cass to slide down into a more comfortable position. He even moved the pillows so she was lying down instead of leaning against the headboard. But instead of lying down next to her, he leaned over to kiss her forehead as he whispered a quick sleeping spell.

Cass's eyes drooped, a funny kind of smile on her face as her mind started to drift. "Mmmm," she uttered as her body relaxed against any other desires to stay awake. In only a matter of moments, her eyes were closed.

The Asgardian carefully removed himself from the bed and somehow managed to get the covers so he could tuck her in. At that point, he did take a quick look to make sure Hiro had really left the room. It wouldn't surprise him if the teen suspected his attachment, but he didn't need to flaunt it. Sure the teen had gone, he leaned over Cass's sleeping form, pushing a strand of hair out of her face. "I'm sorry for this, but I feel it best to let you sleep in order to better recover. I promise I'll make it up to you later."

Cass let out a little noise in her sleep, the smile still on her lips as she settled more firmly into the pillows, dreams claiming her. Loki watched her with a hint of a smile on his lips, wondering what kind of dreams she might be having, but he pulled himself away from the thought and went in search of Hiro.

Hiro shook out his shoulders. Despite the long day, he wasn't ready to call it a night. The others might disagree. He knew Wasabi had already headed to bed, probably helped along by prescription meds. The others looked like they were all but sacked out on the couch in front of some random comedy movie they'd likely just put on as background noise. That or no one had bothered to change the channel. Either was possible. And that left him, Baymax, and Loki. And Loki was taking his time saying goodnight to his aunt.

"I detect a rise in neurotransmitters indicating stress," Baymax observed as he watched the teen go through a few stretches. "Do you plan on asking Loki to delve back into your memories?"

The teen shook out his heads for good measure. "I don't know. Maybe?" He didn't at all sound sure of himself. "I mean you were there last time and saw what happened. And yeah, he got the worst end of it, but I really don't want to go through that again if I can help it. But part of me also knows it might have to happen so… I don't know."

Baymax contemplated Hiro's words before raising one hand. "Perhaps it would be better to ask for guided meditation. Guided meditation has been shown to improve cognitive abilities and may allow you to see any connections between the current incidents."

"Which might help me figure out how to make them less crazy to my body," Hiro finished, looking a bit more excited than before. "And wouldn't require Loki going into my head."

"Precisely," Baymax agree, almost looking like he had a smile on his face, but Hiro knew that was impossible. But the tone was there all the same.

A knock sounded on the door before Loki turned the knob and entered the room. He'd temporarily taken back the guise of Samuel Jackson, security guard, in the off-chance someone saw him coming down the hall. But as soon as the door was closed behind him, the façade melted away. "I wasn't sure if you'd figure out my message," he admitted as he realized Hiro had indeed been waiting for you. "And I didn't want to risk more mind to mind contact until we're sure of what we're doing."

Hiro moved to the only bed in the room and sat down, legs crossed underneath him while Loki chose to sit on the edge of the bed. "I figured you at least wanted to talk to me where my aunt couldn't hear," he admitted. "Beyond that, I'm not really sure what you had in mind. But Baymax thinks maybe some guided meditation might be a good idea, since my usual brainstorming wasn't working earlier."

Loki seemed to contemplate that as he put one hand to his chin. "That might be more comfortable for all parties involved," he agreed. He wasn't sure if the teen had thought about the whole memory bonding experience they'd shared earlier or not, but somehow thought it had crossed his mind. "If you like, I can put you into a light hypnotic state and try to guide you back through the memories to see if there is anything that might explain why you're connected to whatever is going on."

"And I can monitor your vital signs in case of further complications," Baymax added helpfully. "In case the exercise triggers another episode or memory reintegration."

The teen looked up into Loki's eyes and saw more confidence in this suggestion than in the whole mind exploration thing and so he nodded. "I like that idea a lot better than others," he agreed. "Just as long as I don't start screaming or anything, we should be good. I don't want to wake the others, or draw any unnecessary attention."

There was always the possibility that Loki would have to delve back into his mind at some future point, but the longer they could avoid it, the happier the both felt about the whole situation and it showed.

"Very well," Loki nodded. "First we need you to relax, something I feel will be more easily achieved than last time. But before we begin, I think I should sit somewhere where I can observe you a bit better." He got up and found a chair in the corner of the room, which he brought to face the end of the bed, where Hiro currently sat.

The god of mischief popped his neck as he sat down, then looked into Hiro's eyes for the briefest of moments. "Close your eyes and breathe in and out deeply. In and out." He turned to look at Baymax to measure Hiro's heart rate, which the robot had chosen to show on his stomach for the Asgardian's benefit. "In and out," he repeated, just to keep Hiro on rhythm.

"Imagine you are drifting." Loki's voice took on a more soothing quality, like melting butter or warm silk. "Your body is completely relaxed. Nothing can hurt you. Nothing can touch you without your permission. You are adrift in a sea of peace."

The readout on Baymax's stomach showed a slowed heart rate and respirations. Loki nodded in acknowledgement, keeping his voice soft and soothing as he coached Hiro into a hypnotic state. "Now, go back to the day the first bombs went off, back to the arena. What do you see?"

Hiro's head had drooped forward a bit; his arms limp against his side and thighs. "I'm walking up to the platform," he stated, his voice steady but different from his usual tone. "I have Megabot in my hand, about to have my match."

"Good," Loki encouraged. "What do you see? Do you feel anything different or out of the ordinary?"

The teen's head moved a bit as if he were looking around, though his eyes remained closed. "No? I don't think so." But his body hitched up a bit, his heart skipping a beat as his muscles tensed.

"You are in complete control," Loki reminded. "Nothing can hurt you here. Everything you are experiencing has already happened and has no more control over you."

Hiro seemed to let out a sigh of relief, his muscles relaxing once more. "I feel weird," he admitted. "Like I'm floating outside of my body. I can see the entire arena, but I can also see my body sitting on the mat as we wait for the match to begin. And there's a weird almost scent in the air that I can't identify, but it's not something I can smell."

Baymax and Loki exchanged glances, both sure nothing about that had come up before now, though they hadn't exactly gone into any detail with the teen about those events. They'd both heard the basics, but now Hiro's state of mind. Baymax did have his scans to look back on, realizing Hiro had manifested an increase in energy around him during the start of the match, which only increased as it progressed. But he'd attributed it to something else at the time. Now his synapses told him he'd been wrong.

"Try and focus in on this 'scent'," Loki instructed. He knew, from past experience, that a 'scent' wasn't necessarily a smell, but a sense of something outside of normal perimeters. While it could have a distinct 'smell' to it, it wasn't necessarily what it was either. "What does it feel like? How would you describe it?"

The teen's nose and forehead wrinkled up a bit in thought, his heart rate going up just a bit. "Lime," he finally said. "But not the good kind, like a survival pouch from Davish 7, and faint. Really faint, but not enough that I can't taste it, like a fine mist in the air. I can almost see it, and it looks like antifreeze, the yellow and green kind, but not as thick. It's light, like Aunt Cass's perfume."

Loki almost sucked in his breath. This was certainly more detail than he'd hoped they'd get, but it still didn't tell them what they needed to know. "Hiro, I want you to focus back on what's going on now. You said you weren't in your body."

Hiro nodded. "Yeah, I'm floating, but I'm also inside Megabot." He hissed as if in pain. "Rachel's bot just cut me and it burns. I didn't know they allowed plasma cutters into the competition. Why does she have one? And why is no one saying anything about it? I don't recognize any of the judges from the presentation the day before. Are they really judges? I-I can't be sure.

"There's a high-pitched sound growing closer. It hurts my ears." Hiro took in a sudden lungful of air as he gasped, almost falling back. "I'm back in my body, but I still feel weird. And Rachel is falling. I don't think she's breathing. I can over to her, screaming for Baymax. He skin looks funny, but I can't understand why. It's not the right color."

His body shuddered once more. "Someone is pulling me away! I'm being dragged into the hall. Why are they dragging me away? I'm floating behind again, like I'm tied to a string. I have no control and I just can't… my mind… I don't know…. Is that Aunt Cass with me? Someone's asking me questions but I hear a beeping. What's beeping…"

Baymax shuffled a bit closer as Hiro's pulse and respirations continued to rise. "I believe it would be wise to wake Hiro before he becomes caught up in the memory," he stated calmly as he blinked expressively at the Asgardian.

Taking the hint, Loki reached out to touch Hiro's closest knee. "Hiro, come back. Come back to the sound of my voice. You are no longer in that room. You're safe. You're safe." He repeated himself with a bit more emphasis as another shudder ran the length of Hiro's body. He wasn't sure if he'd pulled him back in time or not but the teen made no sign as he continued to sit there, eyes closed, chest rising and falling in a gradually calmer manner.

"Hiro, can you hear me?" Loki inquired, not sure what state the teen might now be in. He could feel the energy that had gathered around him at just the recollection and wasn't sure if it had carried his friend off somewhere else. Without delving into his mind, he probably wouldn't know either.

Baymax turned back to observe his number one patient. "Hiro does not appear to be able to respond to your calls," he stated. "I believe he is not currently inhabiting his body."

It had been a risk, Loki had to admit, though it wasn't one he'd exactly prepared for. But he'd seen Baymax bring him back before and felt he might have the greater ability to do so this time around. He reached out a mental finger to the 'space' Hiro's mind should inhabit and felt a faint trace of energy leading away. Careful to not fall down the rabbit hole himself, Loki detached his mind and dived in after him.

Chapter Text

Things had definitely seemed to go according to plan, Hiro thought. Loki had led him to a nice meditative state and he'd been able to see details of that memory he hadn't even thought to draw out at the time. There was definitely something there that shouldn't have been, though why was beyond him. And then he'd continued in on the memory of that encounter with Rachel Amesbury and the bot fight, only to find himself shooting off in a completely different direction than either he or Loki had had in mind.

Stars streamed past him as he hurtled through what had to be some kind of representation of the Universe, or at least the galaxy. He wasn't entirely sure as he'd lost track of the different constellations and planets he knew. But now he really didn't have time to look around at any of it as he continued forward, like a metal filing to a strong magnet. It reminded me a bit too much of when he'd had to piece the Universe back together again, reintegrating all those timelines. Definitely not something he wanted to repeat.

Before he could get too far on that line of thought, however, he found he'd simply stopped. The stars no longer moved around him, seeming to remain stationary, though he hadn't felt as though his forward motion had been suspended. And how he was able to just stand there, in the midst of space, was beyond him.

Quiet laughter seemed to fill the air and he whirled around, only to grin in answer. "Tadashi!" He ran up to his older brother and wrapped his arms around him, only partially registering that this wasn't a normal occurrence. The last time he'd been able to physically hug his brother was back during the repeated timelines.

Tadashi gently pulled back. "Hey, Hiro," he greeted. "I wondered how long it would take you to make it out here."

His comment gave Hiro a moment of confusion as he looked around, not really sure where he was. "I don't know what you mean," he admitted, sounding a bit belligerent. He resisted the urge to press closed fists on his hips and glare. Sometimes Tadashi could be quite frustrating.

"This is a safe place," Tadashi replied, sweeping out his arms to encompass the whole area around them. "I mean, technically, you're not inside your body, and, technically, this isn't exactly in your usual dimension, but it suits our purposes."

Still not sure what his brother meant by any of that, Hiro chose to look around, not really seeing what was so special about everything. The idea that he was no longer in his body didn't frighten him as much as it might. He'd been through too many weird things for it to make much of a blip on the radar. "Okay," he said instead. "And what exactly am I supposed to be doing here?"

Ever the older brother, Tadashi took Hiro by one shoulder, his arm resting on the slender frame as he turned him towards a distant star cluster. "I'm sure you've noticed a lot of stranger than usual things happening lately." He held up his free hand to stave off any comments. "And there's a reason for it."

Hiro gave him a look. "You mean outside of the whole bombing stuff, don't you." The idea wasn't exactly a comforting one, though he'd thought he'd noticed a few differences in things lately. He could ignore them for only so long. Not to mention the whole descriptions of various what nots he'd gotten from Baymax and others, unwittingly or not.

"You already know you're no longer quite human," Tadashi continued. "That's pretty much a given. What you may not be aware of is that you have a lot of abilities, outside of being able to see events in the immediate future. Loki already suspects what you are, though I somehow doubt he's sure about his guesses just yet, though that won't last long."

The teen rolled his eyes. "If he suspects something, he hasn't told me," he quipped. Though there was always the possibility that Baymax had overheard the Asgardian mention it to someone, or the possibilities to someone. He had been out for a long time at Lucifer's place, and knowing the angel of the underworld would likely have guessed more about him than most people could was a potential clue that Loki might have said something.

Tadashi's arm stiffened slightly across Hiro's shoulders. "You're on the right track," he stated. "Those two have some very interesting ideas about you that neither can exactly prove, but I do think Loki might be the best person to help you. After all, I'm only a reflection of your inner consciousness trying to help you along. Here, in this dimension, I'm almost real."

"I wish you were real," Hiro said almost too quietly to be heard. "But I know that's not how things work. Guess I take what I can get and try and work out the rest."

His brother took that opportunity to ruffle the younger boy's hair. "You're still in the incubation stage, as it were," he admitted. "You're only just now learning you have abilities, many of which you're not even aware of just yet. And your body is trying to adjust to the energy it takes to use those abilities. That's why you're recovery time is slowly getting better. The stronger you become, the less it will affect you. At least that's the theory. This has never happened to anyone before so it's all a guessing game."

Hiro shook his head as he let out his breath. "Always a guessing game," he mimicked a bit bitterly. "I really wish this came with an instruction manual."

That seemed to give Tadashi reason to laugh as the older brother's body shook with the sound. "Hiro, you're an original. There's never been an instruction manual for you or what you're going through. I don't think anyone, in a million years, ever thought what you went through was possible. But it's not just a random coincidence that it did. There's a reason behind it. That Dirk guy has more of an idea about it all than he'll let on."

Hiro snorted. "That bumbling idiot?" But when he thought about all of his interactions, he thought he might understand why his brother would say that. Dirk had been rather smug that first meeting, like he knew something Hiro hadn't. And every other meeting, seemingly by chance, also had something a bit more to it than just coincidence. Maybe Tadashi was on to something.

"Yes, that bumbling idiot," Tadashi confirmed. "You already know there's more to him than meets the eye, just like you knew there was more to Lucifer and Loki when you first met them. And even Kally, if you really look back on it. You can sense things on a deeper level than pretty much most people, even if you're not aware of it. And, thanks to all of your encounters with the different entities over the past few years, your body and mind have picked up a few things on the way."

Another sigh escaped Hiro's lips. He really didn't need a reminder that his DNA was no longer in its original form. Technically, no one's was, as it could change over time based off thought patterns, environment, etc. But his was more changed than anyone, and Hydra had tried to exploit that, something he knew he couldn't ever let anyone do. "I'm going to go out on a limb and guess you're not going to tell me what those things are, are you?"

Tadashi smiled knowingly. "Where would be the fun in that?" He gave Hiro's hair another ruffle. "But I can offer some guidance, and the advice that Loki can tell you a lot more than even he probably knows."

"More riddles." Hiro's shoulders sagged a bit, a frown turning his lips downward.

"Lessons aren't worth learning if you don't have to put in the work to learn them," Tadashi admonished. "I could tell you your new abilities, but I somehow doubt you'd believe. Sometimes it's better to learn through doing. But I will give you some hints that will help with your current predicament."

It was something, Hiro supposed, but he was getting really tired of being strung along and not knowing what was going on. "Okay. What have you got?" His tone was a bit impatient, a bit defeated, a bit on the tired side.

Tadashi turned him to face the way he'd come. "While you were looking back on your memory of the arena, you found something," he stated. "You described it as a scent or flavor you couldn't quite catch. Well, it's more than that. It's the essence of another being's energy. It's part of what pulled you from your body."

Shock scrolled across Hiro's face. "Wait. What?! You mean there was another person there who isn't exactly human?!"

Sharp pain flared up as Tadashi gave his forehead a flick with his finger. "No, bonehead. But some humans have a lot more energy than others, and each person's energy signature is different. It infuses everything they touch." He looked at his brother intently, almost as if he were willing him to get what he was talking about without actually giving it away.

Hiro rubbed at the sore spot on his head, feeling a slight welt from his brother's force. "You know I hate it when you do that," he grumped.

"Think about it," Tadashi said, ignoring the complaint. "Look at it from a different angle. I know you'll get it eventually."

Before Hiro could offer a retort to that, Tadashi seemed to fade out as another figure took his place, almost as if the new person's presence could somehow dispel the older Hamada. This new person looked nothing like what Hiro would expect to see, with a bald head, more feminine features, wearing some kind of traditional Oriental clothes in yellow. He blinked a few times as if he wasn't sure he was seeing things correctly.

Sharp eyes seemed to pierce through him as the person contemplated him. "You're not supposed to be here," the Ancient One said in a tone Hiro couldn't immediately recognize. But before he could respond in kind, the individual had pulled out a fan and, inscribing a few quick moves, made as if to forcefully shove both hands in his direction.

Like a wave of compressed air had just shot towards him, Hiro found himself shooting back the way he'd come. He put his hands out in protest, as if that might somehow stop him, but it did little to slow the momentum created by whatever force he fought against. Instead, it only seemed to quicken the pace. He didn't even have breath to utter a protest as his mind rushed back towards its safe haven.

Night had fallen and still Dirk wandered the streets of Los Angeles. There was just something about the hustle and bustle of night life that seemed to invigorate him. And even though he passed some unsavory places, no one thought to bother him. It was almost as if he wasn't really there, except he was. It was one of the many ways the Universe took care of its own and he never questioned it. There was no real point in it.

He let out his breath, a smile on his face. Things were slowly starting to come together and he felt he was a bit closer to figuring out what he was supposed to be doing there. It was an invigorating feeling. All was well with the world, minus the trivial details of bombings and the like. It wasn't like he had any control over all of that, but he certainly could still do what was necessary. The Universe always made sure of that, no matter what obstacles might be thrown in his path.

"Hey there," a woman said from the shadows. Bother her attire and skin were a bit too dark to really discern her looks, but her voice was sultry, not quite an alto, but not really soprano either.

Dirk stopped with a puzzled look on his face, wondering why on earth a creature of the night would suddenly take an interest in him. "Hello," he greeted, quickly looking around for an ambush. It was something that seemed to amuse the woman.

Light laughter escaped her lips as she observed the man she'd been following for the last few hours. Lucifer hadn't asked her to but he'd popped up frequently enough near the areas in question to warrant some attention. Maze detached herself from the wall of the alley and sauntered over to where Dirk seemed rooted to the spot, slowly circling him once she reached his position.

"Madame, I don't mean to be rude, but I do have places to be," Dirk said as courteously as someone in his position could manage.

Maze gave him a smile that made his knees feel a bit wobbly as she stopped in front of him. "I've been watching you for some time now," she admitted. "I can't help but wonder what business you might have with Tony Stark or any of his acquaintance." She moved in closer, inhaling deeply, a funny kind of smile tilting her lips. "You smell strangely familiar."

"Uh, thank you?" Dirk hazarded, not at all sure what to make of this strange behavior. He wasn't sure if he'd seen her before or not, though she had a similar feel to some of the others he'd come across during this case.

The woman moved to his side with an almost haughty smile. "You're coming with me," she stated, her tone brooking no argument as she forcefully took him by the arm.

Dirk thought to protest but quickly decided it best to just go along with things until he knew just what was going on.

At first, Loki wasn't sure what was going on. He'd followed Hiro's mental form, that was true, but he had no idea where until the teen stopped. And then he knew, just as surely as he knew where to find the Tesseract and anything related to it, or any other Infinity Stone he happened to be near at the time. This was a completely different dimension, though he wasn't sure which one. He'd traveled through a few before and the feeling was unmistakable.

There was another person there with Hiro, though Loki couldn't get any real feel off of him, other than that he seemed more a reflection of Hiro than anything else. Then it hit him. This was Tadashi, Hiro's departed older brother. It was entirely possible this was a projection of him from Hiro's own mind. And judging from what the older Hamada was saying, he was acting as some kind of guide.

What was really odd about the whole thing was that neither Hiro nor his brother seemed able to feel his presence. It was almost as if he were there more as an echo than a astral projection of himself. Why that might be the case was beyond him, other than that he was perhaps more firmly grounded in his body than the teen was. If he thought about it, he could still feel his lungs working, the press of the floor in Hiro's borrowed room against the soles of his feet, the voice of Baymax asking him something he ignored.

And then another figure appeared, dispersing Tadashi's form, one he'd not quite run into before, always managing to somehow avoid her. Whether or not she saw him as a threat or not was beyond him but it was clear she felt that Hiro shouldn't be there as she sent him tumbling back the way he'd come. He thought he'd gotten of free and clear when the Ancient One's eyes penetrated his soul, sticking him in place as if with glue.

"Loki of Asgard," the Ancient One said as she slowly made her way over to the god of mischief, her tone not encouraging. "I'm a little surprised to find you here, though I believe I can imagine why." She swept her fan up in one hand. It was, thankfully, closed, not that that would keep her from casting some kind of spell, but it boded a bit better for him.

The Asgardian managed a bit of a bow, his astral body responding to his commands once more. "I'm even more surprised you haven't sent me tumbling back like you did Hiro."

An almost secretive smile tilted upper her lips as the Ancient One looked him in the eye. "Some things are not for his ears. Yet."

A faint tremor raced through Loki's body, though he wasn't sure if it was from fear or something else. "I heard his brother mention I might be able to help him understand things," he mused as if to himself.

"He's not wrong." The Ancient One turned on her heels so she was now facing the same way he was. "You have an inkling of what he truly is and you are, as his inner consciousness has guessed, the best person to guide him. And if this were your original timeline, I would feel more concern. As things stand, I cannot say I entirely approve."

A frown wrinkled Loki's brow. "Excuse me?" He turned to face her full on. "I'm not sure I know what you mean by that."

Her smile turned to a thin line on her face. "Frankly, I'm a little surprised you didn't realize it after everything you know. Hiro broke the Universe, and in order to set it to rights, he had to create an alternate timeline, one that replaced the one he came from."

Comprehension dawned on him like the slowly rising sun. "Hiro's original timeline stopped where this one began," he realized. "Or, more accurately, took over." He didn't want to contemplate what that meant for the Loki of that timeline. Had things stopped for him there as well? Or did he continue on as if nothing had happened? It was a question he may never know the answer to, nor was he sure he wanted to. The implications threatened to make his head ache with the effort.

"They were similar enough that it didn't matter," the Ancient Once continued. "The Hiro of this timeline died and he took his place, dispelled from his own. It is sealed off to him now and he can never go back, even if he realizes the change and tries."

Not necessarily a bad thing, Loki thought, remembering a set of warm lips against his, even if in slumber. He was too decent a man to do more than steal a kiss.

Another smile hinted at the corners of her lips. "I'm sure you don't mind the admission." The hint of color on his cheeks was unmistakable, along with the silly smile.

"There are worse things," he agreed.

The Ancient One looked down, her body sagging a bit as if under a great strain. "War is coming," she admitted. "I cannot see how it ends. Though it might be more accurate to say war is here. I'm afraid I won't play as large a role in it as I'd have liked. There are other players to take that role, but I must ask you to safeguard the one before you."

Loki's embarrassment turned to concern. "I hope you don't mean-"

"Not entirely," she cut him off before he could finish. "There is another to take my place, but even he cannot stop what is coming. I'm not sure anyone can. But there are pieces in play that can change it, shape it, and even fix what is to come."

Loki's skin had gone pale at her tone. "Most reassuring," he mumbled through a tight throat.

"I neither give assurance or advice," the Ancient One stated. "I have none to give. You are closer to the answers than you are perhaps aware. And there is much to prepare. Help him. Guide him. But don't tell him too much too soon. These series of events are but a small taste of what is to come and he needs to be ready, not overwhelmed."

Before Loki could ask for clarification, she vanished. It seemed as though she merely lifted a curtain and slipped into an adjoining room, though he knew that wasn't the case. It was time to go back to his body and see what could be sorted out. It was time to return to Hiro.

Chapter Text

Hiro felt much like he had when he'd slipped in the hot tub. His body jolted as his soul rejoined it and he inhaled painfully, coughing as though breathing in water. And his body felt hotter than normal, though he wasn't sure if that was a result of his adventures or something else.

Looking around, Hiro noticed Baymax leaning towards him, which wasn't unusual. What was unusual was seeing Loki with his eyes closed, his entire body slack. "What happened?" he asked before the robot could utter a word.

"I believe Loki went after you when your mind wandered," Baymax stated. "His attempts to recall you from your memory failed and I was unable to call you back as well."

The feeling of being too warm was slowly receding. Maybe it had been a result of his passage back from whatever dimension Tadashi had dragged him to. "But who's going to call him back?" he wondered out loud. He had no idea if this was something Loki did on a normal basis or not and the idea that the Asgardian's mind might be left to wandering forever was more than a little chilling.

But before either could worry too much about it, Loki inhaled sharply, his body stiffening as he re-inhabited, much like Hiro had. Only he didn't cough. Instead, a subtle shudder ran through his body as he slowly let out his breath before opening his eyes. "Well, that was unexpected," he admitted the moment he could see again.

"What happened?" Hiro asked again, hoping Loki had a better answer than Baymax had, or at least a more thorough one.

Loki blinked a few times, as if the connection between soul and body hadn't quite reached full capacity. He then turned a grave face towards the teen, an expression that quickly turned to one of his more normal visages. "I see you made it back," he said in reply. "I wasn't sure you would, what with such a forceful exit."

It was Hiro's turn to blink a few times, only in confusion. "Wait. You were there? Why didn't I see you?" That certainly cut down on having to explain things, though he knew Baymax would want to know what happened. He was still debating on what to tell Aunt Cass.

"Yes," Loki answered. "When your mind went off on its own, I felt compelled to follow in the off chance you wouldn't be able to find your way home. As to why you couldn't see me, I am the god of mischief." He gave a wry smile, hoping the explanation would suite, mostly because he wasn't sure why himself, since he hadn't applied any of his usual illusionary tactics.

That was probably the best answer he was going to get, Hiro decided with a sigh. Things were certainly outside of his realm of understanding. But at least they were back, safe and sound. And he only felt a little worse for wear because of it. And then his mind focused on one aspect of his absence and he froze before looking up into Loki's eyes. "Did you see that lady in yellow? Do you know who she is?"

Loki had to tread carefully here and he knew it. He wasn't sure just how much he could tell Hiro about her anyway, though he'd come across her before, only from a distance. But her reputation was legendary among magical practitioners. "They call her the Ancient One," he finally answered. "And she is one of the guardians of this world." He didn't feel comfortable telling him any more than that.

Hiro's stomach rumbled and the teen turned red with embarrassment. "Well, that's never happened before," he commented as he looked accusingly down at his stomach. But the truth of the matter was that he felt really hungry, even though they'd technically eaten no more than an hour and a half earlier.

"The kind of exercises you went through tonight used a lot of energy," Loki stated. "Frankly, I'd be surprised if you weren't hungry." He remembered his own childhood, learning how to harness his abilities. The exercise had always left him either weak or feeling empty inside. A good meal, lovingly prepared by his mother, had always helped. "And you are a growing boy," he added as an afterthought.

The jab was not lost on Hiro and he gave Loki a dirty look before sliding off the mattress. "I was going to invite you to find something to eat with me but now I don't think I will." He headed for the door, not looking back.

Loki let out a sigh. Teenagers. But it would likely be best to keep an eye on him so the man followed; returning to the form of Samuel Jackson, just in case someone else had the late night munchies.

The last place Dirk should have expected to be taken was a night club, but then he seemed to have the ability to pretend he was exactly where he expected to be. Even if it wasn't the truth. Perhaps that was part of the reason people thought of him as a bumbling idiot.

"Where on earth are we going?" Dirk inquired as Maze didn't stop at the club level. Instead, she escorted him into the elevator and up to the penthouse. His eyes did bug out a bit as they exited the car but he quickly schooled his expression. After all, the décor was similar to the club below, down to the grand piano in black near the center of the floor. There just weren't any dancing ladies in various degrees of scandalous attire.

A dark man in even darker attire sat in shadow, a glass of something alcoholic in his hand. "What have you brought me, Maze?" he asked in a not quite tired voice. Maybe it was more lack luster or wary. Either way, it didn't exactly scream of welcome, more of obligation.

Maze smirked as she gestured for Dirk to move towards the small seating area where the man sat. "Dirk Gently," she replied, her eyes sparkling. "I think you might find him to be of particular interest."

"Oh!" The man, Lucifer, sat up and put his glass down, his eyes widening in surprised pleasure. "I wondered when we might have a chance to sit and talk about various things. From what I understand, you've been quite the busy boy. It's a shame we didn't really cross paths earlier, though I've heard quite a bit about you from Maze."

It had only seemed logical to have the man followed after he'd heard the name mentioned by a few of his acquaintances, including Jack Harkness. He wasn't sure if the man was involved in anything, but it never hurt to make sure. And now he had the chance, thanks to his faithful servant. "Do sit down," he invited, gesturing for Dirk to join him.

With a jaunty step, Dirk walked over and sprawled on the chair nearest Lucifer's seat, looking all ease, despite the situation. "You have a very nice apartment," he observed. "Though I'm not really sure why you thought it a good idea to bring me here. I certainly wouldn't expect to come here on my own. Not unless I was led here."

Lucifer effected a bit of an odd grin at that. "Yes, I see what everyone meant about you now," he observed, ignoring the comments from his guest. "There is definitely something about you I'm not quite sure I can put a finger on."

Maze stood off to one side, observing everything going on, occasionally switching her weight from one foot to the other. "I had a chance to get a good whiff from him earlier. There's no mistaking that scent."

Eyebrows rose on Lucifer's face as the implications set in. "Oh. Well then, doesn't that complicate things."

Not sure what was going on, Dirk leaned forward, elbows now on his knees. "I don't mean to be rude, but you are talking about me as if I'm not even in the room. Mind telling me what you're talking about?"

"Nephilim," Lucifer stated with a heave of breath. When that didn't seem to illicit a response, he rolled his eyes. "The offspring of an angel/mortal pairing, though I'm sure your blood's much more diluted. As you're more likely the offspring of a Nephilim/human pairing, the term would be Elioud. Or, if you prefer, a half-breed or less, which actually explains quite a lot." He now looked more thoughtful as he leaned forward as if to peer into Dirk's soul. "The question is who was your angelic grandsire?"

Dirk looked like he was about to say something but then stopped. Confusion crossed his face as he tried to think about the implications of the assumption Lucifer was making. His lips pursed as he thought about things, wondering how it applied to their current situation. "I honestly couldn't tell you," he finally answered. "I don't remember my parents. All I remember was Black Wing. And believe me when I say they were definitely not equipped to care for a young child." He gave them a grave yet knowing look as his head bobbed up and down.

Maze moved to sit on the armrest of the couch nearest her employer. "If I had to say, based off of what I'd heard, my guess would be Samael."

"Samael?' Lucifer looked almost scandalously incredulous. "Not him! He's so pacifist it's not even funny! He's always going off about how everything is connected and everyone should just get along! It's so boring!"

Hearing that, Dirk seemed to perk up a bit. "But everything is connected," he contradicted. "Everyone should know that." He looked more earnest, almost like talking to a school child who wasn't quite getting the lesson. "After all, we all follow the stream of Creation."

"My word, Maze," Lucifer said in shock. "I think you may be right. Who utterly unexpected. To think that peace-lover actually came down and made love with a mortal. I don't know how he'd ever bring himself to do it. But, then again, he is all about love so maybe it's not that far-fetched after all. How interesting."

Lucifer's expression changed again to something more conniving, though still curious. "Tell me, Dirk Gently, what exactly is it that you desire?" He looked the Brit in the eyes, more intent than usual.

Dirk appeared to look a bit vague, though he did have a silly smile on his face. "Why, to solve cases, of course," he stated, as if that should be obvious. "After all, the Universe isn't going to do it for me. It might lead me to the clues, and to wherever I need to be, but I'm the one that's got to do the thinking."

A frown crossed Lucifer's face the moment he realized the man hadn't responded like the usual people did to his scrutiny. He was genuinely answering a question he'd been asked, not because Lucifer's abilities compelled him to, but because he wanted to. That make three people immune to that particular skill set and it unsettled him a bit more than he cared to admit. "Is that right," he stated as he leaned back against his chair, looking more confused and troubled than he had at any point during their conversation.

Maze also seemed off her usual game as she contemplated their guest. "That alone tells you he's one of them, though how they mi