The youngest Hamada had only just left the building when he recognized the disappearance of his neural transmitter. Knowing that it was the key to his microbots and that such thing could be used for terrible things, he quickly told his brother where he was going and rushed back inside.
I'll meet you at that bridge over there!
The thirteen year old hurriedly scrambled up the steps and ran to where his project had been left to be picked up later. Just as he grabbed the headband that controlled the tiny robots, an explosion from across the hall rattled the building. People immediately ran for the exits, pushing and shoving until he had ended up in a corner, trapped.
Terrified, the boy's eyes shifted frantically for an escape. Fire was already consuming the building! Suddenly, the fire caused another project to explode, which led to a chain reaction of explosions. The teen screamed out in fright and covered his head with his arms. The building trembled and quivered with strain- it was going to collapse!
Quickly, he made a dash for the exit. It was then that he noticed his big brother run into the building, shouting his name.
I'm here! Tadashi!
It was then that the fire reached the piping in the corner, which connected to several gas lines. As stupid as it was, most colleges and science labs had them nowadays to provide for the inventors. Misty, brown eyes widened.
He was going to have to choose between himself and his brother.
Without a second thought, he shoved the neural transmitter on his head and directed his microbots, running towards the corner again. Not a second after they formed a protective covering around his brother, the fire engulfed the gas lines, and the building exploded outwards.
The young inventor watched in dismay as the roof collapsed inward, heading straight for him.
Italicized text represents either thoughts or the alternate reality.
Italicized text in [brackets] are thoughts inside the alternate reality.
Can you dig it?
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Hiro coughed weakly and trembled as he fell his body ache with all kinds of strain. Blinking slowly, he lifted his eyes to find more darkness. His leg was pinned under something incredibly heavy, which was painful. Water dripped every few seconds on his head.
"T-Tadashi?" He called anxiously before coughing through the dust. This couldn't be good for his lungs. "Where are you?" He silently reached his hand out and felt cold concrete, crumbling rubble, and metal.
The science hall was on fire...
Confused, Hiro withdrew his hand, instead clutching his chest. He couldn't sit up without damaging his leg more, though it seemed he could turn to lay on his back comfortably. He did so, but he didn't feel calmer.
Tadashi came in...
There was something wrong with the air in here. He was getting light-headed, and his muscles felt weak. It took a moment for him to come up with a conclusion for his observations. This space was lacking in oxygen...
I used the microbots to save him, then what happened?
Surely, it wouldn't run out of oxygen anytime soon... There was a place where water was dripping through, so there had to be cracks where fresh air could get through. Although, the amount of air that came in was the problem. He could be breathing more in than the cracks could replenish.
The neural transmitter isn't here, either.
If he forced himself to sleep most of the time, his breathing and heart rate could slow enough to maintain the oxygen until help arrived. Whenever he was awake, he could drink the water that dropped from above, assuming that it continued to drip long enough for the rescue team to find him. And he had eaten enough carbs that his body could maintain him without doing any physical activity for a while.
How long does that give me?
Hiro gulped and forced his tears away. He could last a while, weeks at least, maybe even a month or so. He could get out of this. He just had to stay calm. He just had to avoid really thinking about it. And, looks like his plan was already being set into motion; he felt tired even now.
They will come for me.
The boy let his eyelids droop, and drifted into the realm of sleep.
Hiro suddenly remembered that he left his neural transmitter back in the science hall... Meh, it probably wasn't that important. Who could actually look at that and know what it does and how to use it? It was highly unlikely that anyone would take it anyway. This was San Fransokyo, for Pete's sake!
Surrounded by offers of congratulations and spicy chicken wings, Tadashi mentioned talking to him privately. The two brothers quickly told Aunt Cass where they were going and headed off to the bridge.
[The bridge...? Why was that important?]
Hiro anxiously rambled about Tadashi giving him some silly "I'm proud of you" speech- it would be just like him! Instead, the eldest Hamada just teasingly informed him that he'd had his fly down the entire show. Embarrassed, Hiro fixed the problem.
Rumbles shook the ground not a moment later, and screams filled the air. The brothers started and whipped around.
[The science hall!]
Tadashi took off in the direction of the rapidly spreading fire, Hiro tailing closely at his heels. A woman quickly informed them that the professor was still inside. Ever the hero, Tadashi turned to run up the steps.
[No! That's dangerous!]
Hiro pleadingly tried to stop him. Angered, the older brother shook off his little sibling and hurried into the burning building. Mere moments after he entered, another explosion shook the entire building. The force of it even knocked the thirteen year old back, who was still staring shell-shocked at where his brother had disappeared.
Do you see what I mean with the italicized text and brackets now?
QUESTION OF THE UPDATE: Who is your favorite Big Hero 6 character?
Startled, Hiro woke up with a slight jolt. His muscles felt stiff, as though he'd been clenching them in distress. He gasped for breath, but he couldn't seem to calm down.
I have weird dreams when I'm oxygen-deprived...
The thirteen year old forced himself to slow his breathing. Then, he slowly tilted his head to catch the still-dropping water. Once he didn't feel so parched, Hiro settled against the cold concrete beneath him.
It was just a dream...
Tadashi didn't really go in the building without me. I have proof. I'm the one trapped under a mountain of rubble. So he's okay. Everyone's fine...
My brain must just be trying to cope... It's taking things I know and have seen, and it's trying to make an alternate reality so I can cope with being trapped down here.
Hiro sighed. He was cold, which meant that he was either under quite a bit of rubble, or it was nighttime. Both possibilities sucked. He shuffled his head against the ground, trying to get comfortable. He had to get back to sleep...
Hiro sat sadly in his room. It had been almost a month since Tadashi's funeral... He had yet to eat more than a few bites of food or invent a single thing. He hadn't gone to college yet, either.
[No... No, it can't have been a month already...]
They'd found one of his microbots in the remains of the building. All he had done since then was stare into nothing and wonder how the fire happened. Was it his microbots? Had they overheated from rubbing together? Had they been the cause of the fire that killed the professor and Tadashi?
Aunt Cass brought him some more food, but he still didn't feel like eating. What was the point? Everyone died eventually anyway, right? He'd just get to go back to Tadashi sooner is all...
He'd stood and tried to do something, but somehow he hurt his foot.
[Not just my foot... Didn't I also hurt my leg?]
He'd forgotten that Tadashi's friends had brought Baymax over. The plushy marshmallow-like robot had activated when he'd shouted. The robot carefully assessed him, even as he was slowly pummeled by the rest of his action figures. Then the robot told him he was going through... puberty...
[Well... I think my body's trying to tell me something...]
Trying to make the stupid thing go away, Hiro jokingly told it to figure out where the microbot was trying to go. Honestly, he just wanted to get both of them out of his sight; they reminded him too much of how he failed Tadashi.
He didn't actually expect the overgrown balloon to do it!
Hiro wildly chased after Baymax, running through streets and back alleys and jumping over trash cans along the way. Eventually, he caught up with the robot at an abandoned warehouse. True to the fluffy robot's word, the microbot seemed to want to go in!
[That can't be right... It would only do that as a reaction to the neural transmitter, and that was destroyed in the fire!]
[No, no. Not the fire... It got crushed when the building collapsed, right?]
Hiro quickly found a way in through the window, and he stared awkwardly as Baymax tried to get in, got stuck, and was forced to deflate. The teen quickly pulled the robot in and let him inflate as he went to investigate the warehouse. After a few moments of wandering, he came upon a tented machine producing his microbots!
[What? No way...]
The brown eyed boy was shocked to find barrels upon barrels of his microbots. And nearby, a wall was covered with maps, plans, articles, pictures...
[That bird... I've seen it before, I'm sure... But where?]
Hiro jumped when Baymax startled him, and not a moment later, the two were fleeing from an army of microbots. They scrambled through the warehouse, sometimes pushing, sometimes pulling Baymax along. Unable to get out through the door, the boy quickly raced up the stairs.
A man in a masked greeted them.
[He's controlling the microbots?! He has to have a neural transmitter! But either way, it's gone! How..?]
Terrified, Hiro hurriedly pushed him and Baymax through the window, forgetting that it was an almost two story drop. Heart racing, breath quickening, the boy tried to reach back for the edge. Suddenly, soft, warm arms wrapped around him, offering comfort and protection.
[I want those arms with me now...]
Baymax cushioned the fall for Hiro, even if he was still kind of sore. Ignoring the holes in Baymax's vinyl, the black haired teen rushed towards the nearest police station. Unfortunately, the police officer was having none of any of it...
[I know him! Didn't he come to Aunt Cass's bakery once?]
Hiro and Baymax wearily (and a bit drunkenly) returned home and snuck upstairs to get the robot to his changing station. The giant marshmallow downloaded information on mental health and decided his first mission would be to help Hiro.
[But I don't need help...]
QUESTION OF THE UPDATE: Are you a socks and sandals person, or a crocs person?
It felt like days had passed when Hiro next awakened. Blearily, he slowly opened his eyes and carefully stretched his sore muscles. Hunger was already nibbling at his inside, and his eyes itched from being in the dark for so long. There was a slight ringing in his ears; the only thing he could really hear was his own labored breathing.
If my crazy dreams don't drive me insane, then being stuck in this cave will...
The teen drank drops of water to wet his tongue and throat, surprised the source was still dripping. His fingertips felt numb from resting at his sides for such a long time.
Sensory depraved- that's what I'm going to be when I get out of here. This sucks.
Hiro sighed weakly and coughed. Coughing felt good. It proved he was still alive. He could feel his heart pounding away in his chest, reassuring that fact.
Yet, to stay alive, I have to keep sleeping. These dreams are going to convince me Tadashi and the professor are dead... I don't want that...
The brown eyed boy moaned sadly and settled down to fall asleep again.
[Finally, I'm doing something useful...]
The thirteen year old cracked a small smile when he entered the garage, and he immediately set to work upgrading Baymax. First, skills in several forms of martial arts to fight with. Second, armor to protect that squishy vinyl skin. Last, practice in his new enhancements. A few days passed before Baymax was finally ready.
[I knew I could do it...]
Confident in his upgrades, Hiro took Baymax to the docks, where the masked man was supposed to be. Sure enough, the man appeared on a wave of microbots from the mist. Just as the teen was ready to intercept the man, Tadashi's friends pulled up in Wasabi's car.
Surprised, Hiro quickly tried to get them out of the way of danger. They would have none of it, and they insisted that they be allowed to help him. The masked man apparently heard them, because next thing they knew, he had thrown one of the cargo crates towards them. Wasabi screamed like a girl, and Hiro covered his head in fright.
Baymax jumped in, holding the crate away from them. The group hurried into the car, with the masked man giving chase. Gogo angrily took control of the vehicle from Wasabi, steering them to safety, only to almost drown them moments later.
[It's just like the accident with Mom and Dad...]
As terrified of cars as Hiro was, he still tried to push past that and free himself from his seatbelt. Baymax thankfully pulled the students from the car and lifted them to the surface. Even as they were coughing up water and trembling, the white nursing robot informed them of their low body temperatures.
Once they got out of the water, Fred led them to his mansion where they started to get warmed up in his... freakishly decorated living room. Hiro tried to explain the situation to Tadashi's friends, but they just didn't understand. Baymax warmed him through his shivering, and everyone crowded around the heated robot.
[Tadashi alway did think of everything...]
Finally, Fred came forward with his theory that the masked man was Krei. Despite everyone disagreeing with him, he made his points and gradually changed their minds. Hiro's attention was suddenly grabbed by a set of action figures nearby, and he found plans whizzing though his head, forming suits and weapons and...
[Oh, this is gonna be good...]
After designing the team's armor and weaponry, Hiro spent over a week finishing the darn things. Then he spent more time training Baymax and Tadashi's friends. Soon, everyone seemed ready to take on the masked man, whoever he might be.
[He's the reason Tadashi's gone... Isn't he?]
The team set out after Baymax had found the masked man, and they were led to an abandoned island. They were understandably nervous, but it was just humiliating when they all attacked that poor pigeon. Slowly, they made their way inside until they had found the old control room.
[I've seen this place before! Where did I see it...? A news article? The Internet?]
They watched in horror as the woman- Abigail- disappeared into the portal.
[I know her, too...]
And their horror only grew with the discovery that Abigail was the professor's daughter!
[It wasn't Krei at all!]
Suddenly, the masked man Attacked from behind. Hiro had never been so terrified or disturbed in his life. His heart started to pound, and his head hurt. What was he supposed to do? They were all going to die at this rate!
The teen almost screamed when the cement came towards them, threatening to either crush or bury them.
[no... no, not again... again? but...]
Baymax protected the team with his body before he threw the cement away from them. Honey Lemon and Gogo burst forward to fight the masked professor, Wasabi and Fred not too far behind. Hiro moved closer to Baymax.
[Help... Help me... I can't do this...!]
Honey Lemon and Gogo were down, Fred was out, and Wasabi wasn't useful anymore. Baymax was all they had left, because Hiro really didn't know how to fight for himself... Why did he bring everyone out here? This was a death trap!
[He's going to kill us... We're going to die...]
Hiro quickly told Baymax to attack the professor. When he didn't listen, Hiro felt his heart shattering.
[He's the one who killed Tadashi...]
His chest ached, and he quivered, and there were tears building in his eyes, but he removed Tadashi's chip anyway and set Baymax on the professor.
[We're all going to die!]
The rest of the team was frantic, trying to put Baymax's chip back in. Honey Lemon was crying, and somehow Fred's arm was broken. Gogo and Wasabi were yelling at him... But the professor got away...
[But... He killed Tadashi... He's why...]
Frightened and unsure, Hiro grabbed Baymax and flew away.
QUESTION OF THE UPDATE: What is your favorite anime/manga? (This was the first 'Question of the Update' I ever asked, back on Fanfiction, in 2015, before I even called them 'Question of the Update's)
Slowly, darkened brown eyes slid open. His mouth was open, and his whole face felt wet. His insides were positively churning, and his eyes felt they were being consumed by the darkness. His fingers twitched limply at his sides, but he could honestly say he couldn't feel the ground beneath him. He tried shifting; there was no ground beneath him. His heartbeat quickened, but he couldn't feel that either.
I'm so numb... Tadashi's dead, and Baymax must have crashed somewhere. Maybe I'm dead now...
The space around him almost felt heavy, like the silence was pressing down on him. Like Tadashi's death was a weight he now had to carry...
There's something I have to do... What is it?
Hiro finally realized that his mouth was filled with water, and tears streamed down the sides of his face. He slowly gulped it down, but it had no taste. He felt weak... Lost... Hopeless...
If I'm here, why isn't Baymax here with me?
His mind was tired, as was his body. He wanted to sleep... But why should he deserve sleep when Tadashi was dead?
His eyes stated to slide back to a close anyway.
"Tadashi is here," Baymax insisted.
[Where is that dark place...?]
Hiro angrily fought him, but his ire was a lie. He was miserable, and he just wanted his big brother. He was small, and alone, and helpless, against a powerful man with a powerful weapon. It wasn't even a weapon... The man was using the tools he specially made to help people...
[This is all my fault...]
If he hadn't wanted to go to college, if he had stopped Tadashi from going in, if he had taken better care of his microbots... If and what it's and I could've's that wouldn't change a thing. Tadashi would still be dead.
[I don't want to exist in a world without my big brother...]
"Tadashi is here," the nurse bot persisted. Hiro wanted to scream and rip all his hair out and sob, all at the same time. He denied the robot again, feeling violent with how the depression threatened to overwhelm him.
[He wasn't dead all that long ago...]
But... Then Baymax's internal projector provided images of Tadashi's tests and trials when creating the nursing bot. Despite the sleep deprivation and frustration, his big brother was in his element and looked so pleased with himself. Hiro felt tears fill his eyes and a bittersweet smile curled his lips. This was how he always wanted to remember his brother, happy and warm... and alive.
The team came then, and they started to form plans to stop the deranged professor. But, not before hugs and apologies were passed around.
Krei was having some kind of press conference in front of the Krei Industries buildings. People gathered, some with cameras and some with old style pens and pads of paper, to listen to what he had to say. The presentation was rudely interrupted when a masked man atop a large, black mass appeared, causing people to panic and scatter. Tendrils reached from the mass to grab Krei and lift him high into the sky.
Hiro, Baymax, and Tadashi's friends quickly arrived on the scene just as the unstable portal appeared from the black mass and activated. Pieces of the buildings drifted up into the blue light and disappeared, probably forever.
The team began to attack the masked professor, but they were quickly subdued. Honey Lemon was protected by a ball of her own making, but that little amount of protection had been turned into a death trap. Gogo was wrapped up in a ball of microbots, and Wasabi was trapped between two pieces of thick cement. Fred's limbs were slowly being pulled from his body by tendrils of microbots; Hiro found himself flying through the layers of a building, just barely keeping himself from flying into the portal by grabbing onto a twisted rod.
[Think... Think! What would Tadashi say?!]
Tadashi's advice hit him like lightning. Everything snapped into focused; the dulled background noises sprang forward, and his eyes suddenly picked up on every speck of dust floating up into the portal. He twisted his head, staring at his friends.
[Not just Tadashi's... They're mine now...]
Hiro screamed out Tadashi's words, and he watched in satisfaction as they broke free. He told them to get rid of the microbots; the sounds of victory could suddenly be heard from the ground. The thirteen year old confronted the professor, and Baymax pulled him away from the portal.
Caillighan's plan had failed.
The portal came crashing to the ground, shaky and unstable with a ring of metal barely containing it. Someone shouted about how it was going to explode, but Baymax informed them that a female was inside. Bright, brown eyes widened.
[Can I let her die so easily?]
Frightened, nervous, anxious, Hiro boarded Baymax and flew into the portal, determined to not loose anyone else if he could help it. He was trembling inside of his suit, and a light sheen of sweat coated his body. His heart thundered, resounding inside his helmet, and his breaths came short and quick. He assumed Baymax had chosen not to comment.
The nursing robot quickly located Abigail, and the duo flew forward with desperate precision. They dodged floating debris and flew around drifting masses of metal and cement.
[metal and cement... it's familiar... i'm scared... i don't want to be here...]
They reached the pod, with Baymax floating around to the back to push it forward. Hiro directed them over, under, and around the chunks of buildings that swam slowly through the dimension. Unfortunately, he spoke too late, and a large mass of cement tore off Baymax's armor.
[He can't fly us back... We're trapped...]
Tears flooded Hiro's eyes as Baymax prepared to launch them through the portal. He was being forced to choose between a human being and what was left of his brother...
A sick part of him wanted to just leave Abigail behind and keep his new friend.
[I don't want to loose him again... I don't want to loose Baymax...]
The thirteen year old hugged the nursing bot goodbye. His chest ached, because his heart was breaking. Maybe, it could just stop beating altogether; it hurt entirely too much.
"Are you satisfied with your care?"
The words rang like a bell. They haunted him as he and Abigail were pushed through the portal. The pod crashed, and Hiro tumbled over it, safe as the portal finally burst.
Everything was a blur after that. He didn't even notice as Abigail was pulled from the pod, loaded into the ambulance, and taken to the hospital. The professor somehow ended up with police, and the team eventually migrated home. Hiro carried Baymax's robot glove, he remembered that much, but he didn't remember coming upstairs or getting on his bed or even when the tears started flowing.
[Another one... Gone...]
Somewhere along the line, he looked back on his life and wondered if everything was worth it. He thought about his weak body, and how the trip to the doctor's office had gotten his parents killed in that crash. He looked back on all those bot fights, which he felt really stupid for now, and how Tadashi always had to come rescue him. Then, when Tadashi finally made him worth something again, when he finally put himself to good use, he let Tadashi run into that fire. He died because Hiro was too afraid to stop him...
Hiro had begun to mentally deteriorate.
He led Tadashi's friends into a death trap, almost getting all of them killed. He was the one who led them to Krei Industries and let all of them get hurt and trapped. He was the one who decided to fly in the portal.
He was the one who left Baymax behind.
[What if... what if he's still on...]
Hiro vaguely wondered when he had moved to the shower and turned it on. Cold water poured over his head, soaking his clothes and washing away his tears. He felt empty, numb again.
[When will it all end?]
He stared momentarily at the razor on the counter. He mulled over the idea, and he decided it was probably useless.
[Everything I love dies, but I always manage to survive...]
The thirteen year old wearily turned off the shower. He stood and returned to his room. He changed into dry clothes and laid down on his bed again. Turning his head, he stared at the bright red glove beside him.
[At least he can't feel anything, right? He can't feel lonely or sad, and he gets to look at pretty colors forever. And he never has to work again. Maybe... Maybe he's happier like this? He doesn't have to take care of some brat anymore. And he doesn't have to worry about anything...]
Hiro felt so weak... When he last eaten? When was the last time he just went for a jog just to jog, or practiced karate just to have fun? When was the last time he built something useful?
Slowly brown eyes slid to a close.
The next morning, Hiro half-expected Baymax to wake him up, but he could feel the rocket glove on the bed, right next to him.
[It's all that's left...]
His- no, Tadashi's friends came back to walk him to school, and he let them. Wasabi carried Baymax's glove for him, and they casually moved through campus. Hiro felt anything but casual, yet he let a smile slide on his face.
[I'm just a hollow shell now...]
He waved goodbye to the older students and moved to his lab. Wasabi put the glove on one of the counters and left. Hiro didn't bother asking him to stay.
[Who knows? He might die if I become too friendly...]
The teen fiddled around for a while before he eventually gravitated back toward what was left of his brother and friend. Ignoring how his eyes burned, how the tears wanted to fall, he uncurled the fingers of the glove and stared at the thin, green treasure inside.
A delighted, teary-eyed laughed bubbled out of his throat, and he immediately set to work. The night of that last bot fight, when Tadashi first brought him here, Hiro remembered their talk in sudden clarity. He could see the mechanics of Baymax's infrastructure, feel the white vinyl against his hands and face, hear the smooth, robotic voice calmly talking to him.
[There's something I can do... For both of you. I'll rebuild you, Baymax, and with this chip, I'll keep you alive, Tadashi... And I'll finally be useful, I'll finally help people...]
By the end of the week, filled with sleepless nights and countless coffee breaks, Hiro had rebuilt the nursing bot. He felt proud of himself, but he still prepared himself for failure.
Tadashi's chip slid into place in the robot's chest; it couldn't be called Baymax yet, not until it acted like him. The machine powered up, and it blinked a few times before looking down at the short teen. Hiro's breath caught, and he felt his brown eyes fill with both doubt and hope. Everything around and about him suddenly seemed to race and slow to a crawl, and everything and nothing existed all at once.
[Is it him?]
Though no mouth opened, two magical words were still spoken.
[I'm alive. And I'm going to use my time to help people. Like Tadashi. Like Baymax.]
After Baymax was reactivated, life started moving again. Hiro's grief was once again bearable, and the team got together to make some decisions.
Everyone wanted to stay together and work for the good of San Fransokyo.
The college students found themselves funded by Fred's father and . Their suits were modified, and they began to practice everyday.
Racing through the streets and across rooftops, they patrolled the city. Hiro closed his eyes as Baymax made a sudden dive before curving upwards towards the sky. Then teen opened his eyes and found himself staring into the sun-
Blinding light scorched his eyes; all he could see was a never ending ocean of white with bold splashes of color, but nothing made sense. Everything was blurry and out of focus, always shifting and changing and flowing into each other. Noise burst into his ears, rattling his skull and pounding against the sides of his head. All he could hear was loud. Sound pressed in on him from all angles. Something was screeching, and something else was blaring, and a third something was screaming all kinds of things that just blended together into one big mass of sound. Heat burned his skin, and it covered every inch of his body. Cold stone was suddenly beneath his fingertips, and there was air flowing though his hair, and he could breathe. An excruciating weight had been lifted from his leg, and something oozed down his leg.
Through the jumbled mass of light and sound and feel, something reached out and grabbed his arms. A terrified scream wobbled its way from his throat, and he weakly fought the touch. It burned, and he didn't want it.
I want Baymax...
He was being lifted, and someone was talking, and sirens were flashing, and lights were blaring, and the sun was honking, and cars were glowing and something was holding him. Familiar sounds drifted through his ears, but he couldn't hear them at all.
"...s h... ay?"
He wanted I scream, he needed water, he wanted Baymax, he needed everything to just shut up and be dark again.
His eyes moved all over the place, flickered here and there and lookie there and oh something moved, and his ears strained to hear everything all at once.
His field of vision was suddenly covered by a wall of white. It didn't hurt though. It was dark white, nice white, and it felt soft, and it needed to stay there. There were also things in his ears, and the noise screeched to a halt. Soft music gently drifted to his ears, lightly floating around and distracting him.
Only one person could be holding him.
QUESTION OF THE UPDATE: What kind of shoe are you? I used to say I was a pair of yellow Converse, but now I'd probably say I'm a pair of brown, foamy flip flops...
Hiro's breathing immediately began to slow. Baymax's voice box rumbled comfortingly inside of his chest as he addressed someone that the thirteen year old couldn't see. He couldn't make out the words, but the vibrations were reassuring and nice. The white nursing bot had also turned on his heat core, which regulated Hiro's body temperature and made him feel comfy. If Baymax was here, then everything would be fine, and the team was probably safe.
His heart still beat unnaturally fast because there was still light and touch and smell and sound and oxygen, but he would live. Why was he in that dark place to begin with? How had he gotten there? How long had he been there?
More hands came to touch him, and the boy tried to shriek and move away from their touch. Baymax spoke again, and the hands went away. Hiro weakly curled into the robot. His fingers twitched up and began to map out the vinyl chest. Eventually, he reached the compartment where Baymax's chips were stored. He pressed into the white plastic and felt the thin doors give him entry. Tadashi's chip sprang forward, and Hiro let out another relieved breath as he ran his fingers along the edges.
The 'dark chip' was gone, the one that gave Baymax the ability to fight and protect. Hiro frowned. Who took it out? Was that why Baymax wasn't wearing his armor? Then who was backing up the team? Had the chip just been damaged?
Baymax's voice box rumbled again, and the thirteen year old realized he was being addressed. He pulled his hands away from Baymax's chip compartment and felt the mechanisms slide the doors closed again. Questioningly, he tilted his head towards the robot's face and tried to ask what was going on. A small croak escaped him before he started coughing.
Everything ached. His chest burned, and his throat was sore. His leg was so numb it hurt, and he could feel the blood dripping to the pavement. His back was stiff, and his head pounded. But he honestly never wanted to lay down again.
Baymax slowly began walking. Before long, the duo had moved to a dark, quiet place. Baymax gently removed Hiro's head phones and uncovered his eyes. They were in an ambulance. Hiro relaxed against the white nursing bot's arms and stared up at him. Everything was still too bright, and all the blinking and beeping things in the ambulance were worsening his head ache, but he tried not to think about it.
"Hello, ," Baymax said softly, in almost a whisper. Hiro frowned.
"We plan to give you a medical examination. Do we have your permission to do so?" The nursing robot asked. Hiro nodded slowly. "May I call in a paramedic? I will ask them to speak quietly and refrain from making much noise or movement. Your vitals are slightly unstable."
Why can't you take of me yourself, Hiro wanted to ask, but he didn't. Instead, he nodded submissively. Baymax knew what was best for him. Baymax could take care of him.
Baymax is here.
Baymax used an internal transmitter to call in a paramedic. The woman quietly slipped into the cab and came from the front seat so the sunlight from the back doors wouldn't disturb the thirteen year old. She moved slowly and carefully, noticing how Hiro eyed her warily and breathed heavily.
"Hello, Hiro," she whispered. "I'm Elizabeth, but you can call me Lizzie if you like." She kept whispering softly to him as she went through her examination, testing his eyes, ears, breathing, and pulse. "Your family was really worried about you. They were a mess. Let's try to get you three back together as soon as possible, kay?"
"Do you have a history with asthma?" She asked as she held the stethoscope to his back. He nodded slowly; he felt so tired and weak... "Do you know if you've had any attacks recently?" He shook his head. "Alright. I'll be sure to check you file when we get to the hospital then."
Hiro panicked and immediately tried to escape the ambulance. No doctors! No! His mind screamed at him. Ever since the accident with his parents, he absolutely despised doctors and their sterile work spaces. And the last time he was in a hospital was after Tadashi died and the explosion had given him a concussion. He was not about to go back!
" , please calm down. You will aggravate your injuries," Baymax called and held Hiro in place. No! Stop calling me that!
"Hiro, please!" Elizabeth pleaded. "Please, you're going to hurt yourself! Baymax, I have to ask you to restrain him- Hiro! Hiro, you have to stop! We- We won't take you to the hospital if you don't want us to!" Hiro went limp, but his breaths continued to come in short gasps. "Okay. Okay. You're fine! Hiro, you're okay. We're okay. Everyone's okay!" Elizabeth took a few deep breaths herself. "We need to get you somewhere a little more... comfortable. Baymax, could we take him to the Hamada residence?"
"That would be the most advisable solution. There, there. We will go home now, ," Baymax comforted and robotically patted the thirteen year old's head.
"Alright. Well then, let me finish checking you over. But, please, Hiro, just consider the hospital. Your leg is badly damaged, and it needs medical attention," Elizabeth informed him, as though he didn't already know that.
This time is different. I'm there because of me, not because or mom or dad or Tadashi. Is it... Is it so bad to go to the hospital?
Hiro frowned; what was he thinking?! He didn't like hospitals for a reason. All those annoying, patronizing doctors with their sterile instruments and little sharp objects. He didn't want those people anywhere near him! Especially if Tadashi wasn't going to be there to hold his hand and take care of him.
Tears filled Hiro's eyes.
What do I do?
Elizabeth began to panic at the sight of the misty eyed boy. "Hiro! Really, it won't be so bad! We'll get you pain medication, and a nice, quiet, dark room, and your family will come to visit as soon as you are ready!"
I need this, don't I? My leg will just get worse, and I'll have to invent a flying wheelchair... Except that'd be really cool... But I wouldn't be able to help the team anymore! I need to recover as soon as I can!
Hiro shuddered at the thought of going to the hospital, but he nodded his consent anyway. Elizabeth breathed a sigh of relief and finished checking him over. She instructed Baymax to put the headphones back in Hiro's ears and to cover his eyes again. The Nutcracker flooded the dark haired teen's ears, and he leaned against Baymax tiredly.
Elizabeth called the rest of the medics into the ambulance; everyone piled in just before the driver started the engine and began the drive to the hospital. Someone used the radio to contact the hospital. Someone else was going over the information Elizabeth had gathered. Hustle and bustle burst into life around the child, and it was familiar and exciting but scary at the same time. Baymax said something, and the volume died instantly. Hiro took deep, steadying breathes and tried to prepare himself for the hospital.
Everything will be fine. I'll go in, get fixed, and get out. Aunt Cass and the team will visit soon. Then I can go home and fix Baymax's armor. Something must have happened to it, right? Maybe I can upgrade Gogo's roller blades a little, and I know Honey Lemon is going to need to refill her chemical compartments soon.
As Hiro busied himself with his thoughts, he didn't noticed the extra person in the vehicle. The dark haired man watched the boy's lips moving with concerned eyes. Hiro's were twitching to build something or fix some other thing or maybe he just wanted to go bot fighting... A small hum bubbled up from the brown eyed child's throat, and he weakly reached out to hold Baymax's arm. He looked so small and fragile, and something was off about him.
He seems so lost...
The ambulance made it to the hospital, and in that time, Hiro had designed quite a few upgrades for everyone's suit, especially himself since he didn't seem capable of doing much. Baymax gently placed the thirteen year old in a wheelchair, and he kept his eyes closed as he rode to his room. Eventually, he heard a doctor lean down by his ear and tell him he could open his eyes.
It was a normal hospital room, if not a bit darker. The blinds and curtains were closed with the lights off, the noise from outside had been cut off somehow, and the sound had been turned down on all of the monitors. The bed rested at the wall perpendicular to the door, sitting against the center of the wall. The large window was on the right side of the bed, and a small, cherrywood bedside table sat on the left. The walls were a pale grey; the floors and ceiling were made of white tiles. Two green chairs sat in the corner across from the door. There was a vase of pink and yellow flowers on the bedside table, and there was a painting of a sunset on the right side of the door.
Hiro stared blankly around the room as the doctor quickly pointed out the features and hooked him up to all those irritating machines. Distantly, he realized the pain was slowly ebbing away. The doctor said something about an X-ray and his family coming to see him after he tested. Hiro just nodded and laid back against the pillows. The doctor left again to take care of some things.
Hiro sighed and tiredly closed his eyes. The Nutcracker had switched to Swan Lake. Whose playlist was this? The boy reached up and followed the headphone cords to the small, outdated, achingly familiar iPod. This was Tadashi's iPod. Where did Baymax get this? Hiro had pretty much closed off his older brother's half of the room.
Did I really do that? It's hard to recall.
Hiro drifted off to the ballet playing in his ears.
QUESTION OF THE UPDATE: What's your favorite kind of music?
Tadashi could cry, he was so happy. Hiro was still alive. After a restless month of searching endlessly and praying for something, anything!
Tadashi had been an idiot. He should have known Hiro could take care of himself, but when he the science hall on fire, his brotherly instincts flared to life. He had to protect his baby brother, no matter the cost. He had to make sure he was happy and cared for and safe.
He ran towards the building, barely stopping to ask a woman if anyone was inside. Professor Callaghan, and a boy who had almost been trampled. Tadashi didn't waste another moment before running inside. He screamed for his baby brother, ignoring the smoke in his lungs. He had just caught a glimpse of Hiro when he was wrapped in a protective covered of microbots and he heard the building collapse above him.
The fireman had pulled him out during the first few days of searching. He hadn't needed a hospital, because the microbots had hardened under the weight of the building and kept him safe. Tadashi came hope to a teary eyed Aunt Cass and his insanely worried friends. Wasabi, Fred, and Honey Lemon were practically crying into his shoulder for over an hour.
Then he heard the news.
Hiro hadn't made it out.
The professor hadn't made it out either, but they expected to find him sooner because he was probably closer to the front of the building. Tadashi was worried sick for the both of them. Every day, he tried to offer his help to the searching firemen. They didn't accept his offers.
The only one who even spared him a glanced was one of the paramedics, Elizabeth. She was a bright eyed young woman, with neat brunette hair and a perky attitude. She tried to keep the environment light for her coworkers, even though they could possibly be searching for a person's remains instead of a person.
Elizabeth sat in the back of the ambulance and talked with him everyday. Eventually, Tadashi told her about Baymax, and she offered to let him test the robot in the field. So Tadashi brought Baymax to the site. Elizabeth was delighted.
Callaghan was found after another week. He had cleverly hidden underneath the stage. He had lungs damage and minimal burns, but he would live. He was released from the hospital after another week.
They still hadn't found Hiro.
Tadashi was a nervous wreck, and only Baymax could calm him. The white nursing bot had the footage from when Hiro first visited in the lab. Whenever Tadashi started to break down, Baymax played the video.
That's how Tadashi wanted to see his brother again. Alive.
He gradually stopped eating. Nothing made him hungry. Hiro certainly didn't have food, so why should he?
He felt silly bathing. Hiro was trapped under mountains of cement and metal and rubble, and he's just singing in the shower?
Going to school felt like a chore. Hiro would love this or that class, and why should he get to enjoy it when Hiro was trapped somewhere, probably terrified, possibly dead?
Gogo was a surprisingly good cook, and Tadashi wasn't going to be rude and refuse the invitation to her house. The group had chicken and fried rice, which was so stereotypically Asian that it wasn't. They all laughed and cracked jokes and watched scary movies until long after the sun went down.
They found Hiro three days later.
Almost a month had passed since Tadashi had been removed from the rubble. The sunlight had hurt, yeah, and the noise had been a bit overwhelming, but that was nothing compared to what Hiro went through.
The last piece of cement was pulled away, and Hiro just started gasping and shaking. His muscles were spasming, and his mouth opened in a soundless scream. Instantly, the paramedics started discussing how to fix the problem. Baymax just calmly toddled forward and scooped Hiro into his arms. He explained the sensory deprivation to his creator, and Tadashi offered up his iPod to distract the thirteen year old.
Baymax put some gentle classical music on and slipped the headphones into Hiro's ears. He covered the boy's bright brown eyes. Almost instantly, Hiro began to calm. His mouth twitched in a voiceless question, and Baymax began to further explain the effects of being sensory deprived to the paramedics. Elizabeth offered the ambulance as a quiet, dim safe place.
Tadashi watched his brother, barely paying attention to anything else. The other paramedics tried to pull Hiro from Baymax to move him into the ambulance, but the thirteen year old wasn't having any of it. The medics hastily retreated, and Hiro took big, gasping breaths. His fingers came up and began to feel Baymax's chest as Tadashi stated on in confusion.
What is he doing? Is he okay?
Hiro seemed to relax even further once he recognized Tadashi's chip, though that made no sense. Baymax drew the boy's attention away from the chip and brought him to the ambulance. Elizabeth soon disappeared inside, and Tadashi waited anxiously just outside the doors.
Ten minutes later found the medics and Tadashi sitting quietly inside the ambulance, watching as Hiro made weird sounds and twitched. His feeble humming filled the tense silence and made it indefinitely worse. They arrived at the hospital, and Tadashi followed his baby brother being wheeled away with sad eyes.
Soon, the doctor came to talk to Aunt Cass, who had arrived by then. They would be allowed to visit soon, but probably not today or tomorrow. Aunt Cass nodded solemnly and drove them home. Tadashi was in a daze ever since they found Hiro, and he was still in a daze as he meandered up the stairs to their bedroom.
He had cleaned Hiro's side of the room. At first, he'd been afraid to even touch it. Touching it would disturb what was left of Hiro, all that he had now. But then, he decided that he wanted to hear Hiro's voice again. He wanted to hear Hiro yelling at him about how it was his side of the room and he wasn't supposed to touch it and it was organized chaos and he had a system. Tadashi wanted Hiro to scream at him for a good half hour before he finally just began to sulk and would go about messing everything up again.
Tadashi wanted to come home the next day and find his side of the room a disaster, with wrappers on the bed and chips on his desk and his laundry all over the floor. He wanted to find Kool-aid in the shower and his files all renamed dirty things on his computer. He wanted to find that his new screen on his phone was some cheesy kitten.
He wanted to hide a small smile as he found Hiro's pranks right before he'd go yell at him. He wanted to have a chance to prank Hiro back, putting salt in his toothpaste and sticking his hand in warm water after he fell asleep.
He cleaned Hiro's room. And nothing happened.
There were no little brothers filled with righteous anger or lame pranks all over the house. Instead, Hiro was in the hospital, but Thank you, Jesus, he was alive.
Tadashi slowly sank down on to Hiro's bed. He buried his face in his hands and began to sob and giggle hysterically.
Aunt Cass was allowed to visit Hiro first, since only one person could see him at a time. She stayed until the end of visitor hours, but she promised Tadashi he could see his baby brother the next day. They went home and Tadashi tried to think of something to say.
The next morning was Saturday, and Tadashi dressed casually to go see his baby brother. The doctor warned him that Hiro was having some sort of memory problems, but Tadashi pushed forward anyway. He took a deep breath and pushed open the door. Instantly, he noticed how dark the room was. The curtains had been opened, but the blinds were still tightly closed. The lights were off, and all the sounds from beyond the room muted.
Hiro laid in the middle of the hospital bed, looking tinier and paler than normal. The bed seemed to swallow him whole, and the pillow engulfed his little head. His hair looked too long, and his face looked too thin. The oxygen mask almost covered half of his face.
He seems so small...
At the sound of the door opening, Hiro drowsily opened his eyes, blinked a few times, and looked to his visitor. Hiro's eyes widened, and Tadashi gave his best brotherly smile.
QUESTION OF THE UPDATE: Do you play any sports? Did you play sports in your past? I played volleyball for three years during middle school, and I kind miss it, but I also know I don't have the same physical ability anymore sooo...
[Chapter 7- The Hospital]
At least his vocal cords and lungs are okay...
"LIAR! WHO ARE YOU?!" Hiro screamed, though his voice sounded hoarse and cracked slightly at the end of his holler. "YOU'RE NOT HIM! YOU'RE NOT HIM!"
Tadashi winced at the sheer volume of his younger brother's voice. He heard the rapid beeping of the heart monitor, and he rushed forward to calm his the teen before he could make himself worse. Anxiously, he grasped Hiro's hand and laid his palm against the pale forehead of the dark haired boy.
"Hiro, it's me, Tadashi. I'm Tadashi. I... I don't understand. What do you mean?" He coaxed gently. His voice wavered with nervousness.
"You're not him! You aren't! You can't be!" Hiro shouted, still displeased with something. "Tadashi is dead."
How could his otouto believe he was dead? What had happened under the science hall that he didn't know about? Was this some kind of joke?
So, Tadashi voiced his concerns.
"YOU'RE THE ONE THAT'S PULLING THE JOKE!" Hiro shrieked angrily. A doctor appeared outside the room, but Tadashi waved him off.
"Hiro! Hiro, it's me! I really am Tadashi! I'm alive!"
"Then-Then why didn't you come for me?" The younger boy asked, sounding miserable.
"It... It was hard, Hiro. You have to understand, there were mountains of concrete-"
"Then how are you alive!"
"Because I was on the outside!"
The brown eyed boy suddenly stilled and went silent, his face ashen. After a beat, he slowly began to shake his head.
"No. No, that's not true. I saw you go in. The paramedics and the firemen told me you were dead. Why-Why would they lie to me? You... I went to your funeral. You can't... Aren't... I-I can't-" Hiro's breaths came in short, panicked gasps. "Y-you... No, I want-want Baymax. I want Baymax!"
"Hiro, you're not making any sense," Tadashi frowned and ouch, if it didn't hurt that his otouto wanted his robot more than him. A soft, hopeless sound escaped the younger boy's mouth and tears dripped from his eyes.
"W-where is the team? I want Bay-m-max, Honey L-Lemon, Gogo, Wasabi, and F-Fred! W-why haven't they c-come to see me? Who are you? Tadashi's dead! Wh-hy do you have to h-hurt me like this?! J-just beat me or s-something-" Hiro began to sob in earnest now. Terrified, Tadashi backed away; tears fell from his eyes like drops of sparkling crystal.
"Otouto-" he whispered. His brother was so broken inside! What made him think Tadashi was dead? Why did he want the company of Tadashi's friends but not the older brother himself? "What-" he gulped thickly. "What happened to you?"
"Everybody I care about dies."
It wasn't a threat, just a terrified, certain whisper as Hiro curled into himself and stared at the sheets with dead eyes. Those blank brown eyes slowly raised to meet his, and the thirteen year old added, "If you really are Tadashi, you should go somewhere safe."
Tadashi gulped again. He really didn't know what to do. Hiro... Hiro believed in some world where he was dead and his friends were on some kind of team and Baymax took his place. But his little brother needed him more than ever, whether he realized it or not.
"No, otouto. I'm not going to leave you."
Hiro nodded. Tadashi settled in a nearby chair to wait.
Quietly, he pulled out his phone and began to work on the next upgrades for Baymax. He had noticed a few glitches while they were searching for Hiro. Especially if Baymax got low battery. It affected his programming somehow and his voice box, making him act like a drunk.
He only kinda noticed Hiro leaning over the bed to see what he was doing.
"Are you gonna fix the thing where Baymax gets all loopy with low battery?" His voice was quiet and curious. He still wasn't sure if Tadashi was who he said he was, but he wanted to know about Baymax anyway. But still...
"How do you know about that?" Tadashi blinked and looked up. "He was fully charged the last two times you met him?" Hiro blinked and frowned.
"Fake-Tadashi, Baymax and I live together."
QUESTION OF THE UPDATE: If you could take a vacation anywhere, where would you go?
[Chapter 8- Explanations]
Hours later, Hiro was sound asleep, and Tadashi was mulling over what his little brother had explained to him.
As his month in captivity had progressed, Hiro's brain had tried to cope by creating a realistic, pleasant delusion. Since he spent more time unconscious than awake, he had started to believe the dream. And now he believed that Tadashi had died in the fire, Callaghan was some kind of psychotic villain, and he and Tadashi's friends had formed a group of super heroes.
Well, he always did dream big.
The college student sighed and slowly ran his hands through his hair. What was he supposed to do now? How could he help his little brother?
As Hiro's story had gone on, his face had gradually closed off and his tone become flat. When he had finished talking, he curled into himself, turned away from Tadashi, and immediately tried to fall asleep. He seemed almost shy about it, and Tadashi had a feeling there would be some kind of personality change from these traumatic events.
The college student frowned as he packed up the things that had been unloaded while Hiro slept and quietly exited the room. Visiting hours were almost over anyway.
Still, Tadashi mulled over Hiro's strange delusions. He couldn't help but wonder, what if they weren't just delusions? Each part of the story had some aspect of truth to it. Hiro's brain was like a sponge for information; what if he had been subconsciously absorbing these things while he went about his daily life, and now his brain had a chance to lay out a possible result?
Tadashi sighed and finally looked up, just in time to bump into someone familiar. "Professor Callaghan?!"
"Oh! Hello, Mr. Hamada," the grey haired man greeted.
"Are you alright, sir?" Tadashi fretted, checking the man for injury. "How are your wounds healing?" His teacher laughed.
"I'm doing perfectly fine. I'm not here for me, really, if that's what you were suggesting."
"Oh?" A red flag flashed across Tadashi's brain, and he couldn't help but study his professor closer. Could Hiro's dream really have some truth to it?
Staring at Callaghan, Tadashi noticed the stiffness of his posture and the wild gleam in his eye. The man looked a bit crazy, to be honest.
Maybe Tadashi was just seeing things because of what Hiro had suggested.
"Oh, yes! I heard they recovered your brother. I was on my way to visit. How is he doing?" The elderly man smiled. His smile was forced, for sure. That could be because of the subject matter...
"He's recovering well, sir. Visiting hours are almost over though, and he's asleep. Maybe another time?" The college student's protective instincts still flared to life, even though he logically knew the professor couldn't be trying to harm his little brother.
"I can't help but feel like it's all my fault, you know?" Tadashi sighed a bit theatrically. If he baited the man, could he get a peek at his true hand? "I mean, if it weren't for me, he'd still be out not fighting, not stuck in the hospital."
Callaghan's eyes flashed with something unidentifiable.
"I'm the one who took him to the university. I pushed him to do something more with his intelligence... If I hadn't intervened..." The college student trailed off.
"You shouldn't blame yourself, Tadashi," the man laid a hand on his shoulder, sending a chill down his spine. "It's not like you started the fire or forced Hiro to go that night. If he weren't for you, he'd still be hopelessly fighting in the streets, and he'd still be in danger. My daughter did the same thing until I pushed her to take hold of her life."
Finally! A way in!
The professor's hands were trembling now.
"How did that go? Was she safer?" Tadashi questioned. The underlying question was Did I make the right choice?
Callaghan shouldn't be able to resist.
"She was, for a time." The man sighed and pulled back from his student, his shoulders tense and his jaw locked.
"What happened, sir?"
"I don't like talking about this, Mr. Hamada. I'm sorry. I hope Hiro recovers well. Good-bye," the grey haired man quietly retreated.
Tadashi mentally cursed himself. Of course the man would be sore about the subject! His daughter had died.
But Tadashi shouldn't have known that.
Before Hiro's dream, he never knew that the man's daughter was dead. Was never mentioned and was never thought about. Could Hiro have guessed that from Callaghan's brief mention of his daughter? What if it was true, and Hiro learned that without consciously knowing it?
Had he found it in an article on the Internet? Had he heard it from another scientist?
Had he... predicted the future?
No. No, there were obvious differences between Hiro's dream and the true reality. Like Tadashi was alive, and his friends weren't actually close to Hiro. It couldn't be the future.
But an alternate reality?
No. That's not sound science either. No one can prove the concept of multiple universes. How would Hiro even see into an alternate timeline? Even then, he'd be seeing the future of that timeline, progressing faster than their own reality.
Could that explain why Hiro believed three months had passed instead of one? Maybe-
"Sir, are you alright?"
Tadashi startled and looked up to see a nurse standing to his left. He blinked and took a quick assessment of the situation. It seemed he'd been staring at where Callaghan had retreated.
"I'm sorry, ma'am," he smiled. "I was visiting my brother and got lost in thought on the way out."
"Okay. Would you like me to walk you out?"
He'd have lots of time to contemplate this later.
It's refreshing for me to repost these old fanfics without any of my reputation from Fanfiction.net or any of my past mistakes.
QUESTION OF THE UPDATE: What would you say is your favorite holiday?
[Chapter 9- Released]
It would be another month before Hiro was released.
But during that time, Tadashi visited every day. After a week, non-family visitors could come, and Tadashi had finally convinced his otouto that he was really alive.
Tadashi spent the first half of his day at SFIT. He went about his classes like he usually did, talked with his friends, and worked on Baymax. Then lunch would come.
At noon, Tadashi took his motorcycle to the hospital and visited Hiro until visiting hours ended. They talked about what was on the news recently, updates for Baymax, and inventions they could make that they'd never had the time for. Baymax sometimes came with Tadashi. Hiro liked to curl up in the robot's arms or lay on top of him.
That first week was the hardest. Hiro had problems adjusting to people and the outside world again. His lungs faltered from time to time, and once, he had hidden under the bed to get away from the doctor. Luckily, the staff was very patient with him and tended to him as he needed.
When that first week had finally passed, Hiro seemed to be on his way to real recovery. His mental state was already showing signs of improvement, and the doctor had approved his use of a wheelchair. Hiro seemed to come alive, chattering excitedly sometimes or watching Tadashi with bright, brown eyes.
From their combined work, Baymax had already improved substantially. Callaghan suggested he would soon be ready for testing, and after that he could be manufactured for hospital use. The marshmallow robot no longer malfunctioned when he had low battery, and his understanding of human speech and interaction much better.
Another improvement had been the involvement of Tadashi's friends. The issues with Hiro's dream had quickly been resolved, and real bonding had been able to take place between all of them. Hiro even made connections between things from his dream world and reality, how he could have guessed about Callaghan's daughter and Baymax's unique character.
Everything was going well. Hiro was becoming happy and healthy once more, Aunt Cass's cafe was doing well, everyone was bonding, Baymax would be in business... But Tadashi knew something was up.
The first few days had been perfectly normal. Tadashi had been developing his schedule with Hiro and the university. Hiro was just starting his road to recovery. Nothing strange happened.
But then Tadashi started to notice. The way Callaghan moved, the way he spoke, the way his eyes glinted sometimes or glared into nothing. Now that he held suspicions, he noticed the things that had been invisible before. Callaghan's teaching was fine. It was when the students looked away his true colors were revealed.
It was a simple lesson, with simple class work. Everyone else turned to gather their materials and begin the assignment. Tadashi hesitated a moment, watching. Callaghan sat down at his desk and turned to the window. Gradually, a manic darkness settled over his face. Tadashi shuddered and started his assignment before he was noticed. Glancing at the students around him, he realized no one had seen the terrifying expression.
From that moment on, Tadashi began to watch more closely. He studied his professor for a week at least, and when he got too suspicious, he started looking up things on the Internet. (He wanted to search the man's desk, but he wasn't stupid enough for that... yet.)
There wasn't much- and Tadashi wondered if that itself was proof that there had been some kind of top secret government project- but he managed to find one article. One of the scientists on the team had written up a formal, scientific report of their findings and the happenings of the experiment.
The professional lingo was a little difficult to decipher at first, but Tadashi clearly recognized the name Abigail Callaghan. It struck a cord in his memory, because wait, yes, hadn't someone visited the university? There was only one time Tadashi could remember Callaghan talking about his daughter in a positive light, and it had only been to mention that she'd stopped by to drop off his lunch. That had been back before Tadashi even got into SFIT; he was taking a test to get into the university, and Callaghan had been administering the test. The grey-haired man had laughed at his own forgetfulness, and Tadashi had let the information be forgotten in the midst of his test.
Tadashi read through the article in horror. There was a lot of scientific mumbo-jumbo about 'atomic particles' and 'electromagnetic force', but the basic information was still there. In simpler terms, they attempted teleportation. And failed.
Callaghan's daughter had been lost to the dimension between portals, and Mr. Krei of Krei Industries seemed to be to blame. He had pushed the experiment when it was unstable; the portal's collapse was inevitable.
Tadashi had stared at his computer, horrified at what he had learned and shocked at how his brother could have guessed such a thing. Hiro couldn't possibly have known about this from Callaghan's hints about his daughter, his jabs at Krei and a bird symbol...
Forcing himself to search further, the older Hamada learned that the project had taken place on an island in the middle of the bay. After it's failure, the place had been closed down entirely. A little bell chimed somewhere and Tadashi remembered something. Another quick search proved his memory correct.
They had heard about the island closing down on the news. Aunt Cass had a television in the cafe so she could be informed about current happenings even as she worked. He remembered now...
They were sitting at "their" table, doing their homework. Hiro had just gotten into high school as a ten year old, and Tadashi had his own homework as a senior. He was also getting ready for his first year at SFIT. He'd just gotten his test results back, and he's been accept-
Aunt Cass made a disappointed sound. Tadashi looked up from his internal cheering, wondering what the matter was. His aunt had stopped in the middle of wiping down a table and stood up with her hands on her hips, watching the news. An island nearby was being shut down. Apparently, some kind of dangerous chemicals had been found in the area, and it was no longer safe for people to visit.
"What's the matter, Auntie?" Hiro asked in his little voice.
[Gosh was it really so much higher back then?]
"That's the island where your mother met your father," the brunette said sadly. Hiro's legs had stopping swinging under the table.
Tadashi quietly turned off his computer. They all knew a lot more about this than they thought. It seems Hiro just needed the right push to put it together.
And if he was right about this? What else could he be right about...?
After a night of good sleep, Tadashi scoffed at his own thoughts. So Hiro had been right about Project Sparrow. He couldn't possibly be right about Callaghan being evil. Being bitter? Sure. Holding a grudge? Probably. Evil? It was doubtable.
Besides, for Callaghan to use Hiro's microbots, he would need the neural transmitter, and that had been destroyed in the building's collapse. Right? Even Hiro had confirmed that it wasn't with him in his little cave. Callaghan hadn't even been to the site after he was rescued. He had no opportunity to get the device, and he wouldn't have a chance of controlling the microbots.
Besides, surely the government would have dismantled and properly disposed of such a dangerous experiment? Callaghan wouldn't even be able to get the pieces needed to rebuild the portal.
But watching the news, Tadashi did notice Mr. Krei building the new tower for his corporation on the news, and it worried him that Hiro had also been right about that. It should be impossible for the thirteen year old to predict all these things, shouldn't it?
Hesitantly, the dark haired man approached his brother that day, subtly asking about his concerns. Hiro, playing with a few action figures, reminded Tadashi that Krei had been at the Science Hall the night it collapsed, and the businessman had been snooping around everyone's projects like he was interested in making a new branch of his company. Tadashi almost smiled at Hiro's childish actions and know-it-all attitude.
But the reminder helped the young man finally connect the dots. Hiro was a genius, and though he didn't say them aloud, he made connections all the time. He could have easily guessed Krei was improving his business, and remembering the right information could give him all he needed to know about Project Sparrow.
Maybe there wasn't much more to this than an oxygen-deprived dream. But there was too much evidence against Callaghan for Tadashi to ignore, and he would keep his brother safe for sure this time.
QUESTION OF THE UPDATE: Do you play video games? If so, what's your favorite?: The first time I asked this question, I said Ocarina of Time. But now that - heh - time has passed, I think my favorite game is probably Breath of the Wild, or one of the My Sims games (for Wii).
I'd like to apologize; when I wrote this back in 2015, I was going through an "otakus are actually cool, what are you talking about" phase, so I felt totally comfortable just throwing Japanese words in whenever I wanted. I'm leaving them for the sake of the original story, but I feel kinda weird about it, now.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
[Chapter 10- Protection]
Hiro was the Hamada best at building robots that could attack and form offensive and defensive strategies. Tadashi figured it was from a combination of avoiding bullies in school and an obsession with action movies.
Either way, Hiro was good at making bots that could fight, and Tadashi made the ones that could heal. It was a striking contrast, and sometimes it made Tadashi consider taking a philosophy class. They were very different in their creative styles as well. Where Hiro liked bright colors and sharp edges, Tadashi used neutral tones and made sure everything fit together seamlessly.
So the older brother sat in the garage, struggling to design something to protect his brother with. He didn't want to make anything that could harm someone, but then again, he might have to if that person was going after Hiro. He had already designed some basic suits of armor for them, but there wasn't anything beyond that, nothing the could really protect Hiro.
A stun gun? A tazer? What was he supposed to make that could stop an attacker without using lethal force?
Could he pull ideas from the team's outfits in Hiro's dream?
No. No, that was wrong, and it might trigger his otōto. He might not know what to do, but he can't risk his baby brother's mental health.
But that wasn't to say he couldn't ask Hiro for help...
"What's this?" Hiro asked quietly as Tadashi showed him the designs he had come up with so far. The older brother rubbed the back of his neck slowly; he really should have thought of what to say before coming here.
"Well, I- You see- It's... I..." Tadashi hung his head, scrubbed his hands over his face and through his hair, and took a deep breath. "After hearing about your... your dream world, I didn't really- I didn't feel like we were very safe. I just... I just wanted to keep you safe," he admitted hesitantly.
"So... You made armor?" Hiro questioned, eyebrow raised. Tadashi huffed.
"Yes? Don't give me that look!" He pointed. Normally, he would have knocked his knucklehead brother upside the head, but Hiro was still delicate, so he refrained. "I... Just... What do you think? How should we keep ourselves safe?"
Hiro studied the blueprints for a moment. He reached into his cast and pulled out a pencil (Tadashi squawked at the sight and made a note to have Baymax scan Hiro). The younger brother began sketching and writing.
"Nothing lethal or permanently damaging," Tadashi warned as he looked over his shoulder. Hiro whuffed lightly, making his bangs flutter.
"I know, nerd," the smaller boy declared. "How were these going to protect us anyway? Were we just going to walk around in them all day? We'd get a lot of looks, you know." He shook his head. "We're going to have to fix that."
"We could make them smaller and transformable," Tadashi muttered and began to pace. "They'd fit in a-a bag or a backpack or something, and when we needed them-"
"They pop out and wrap around us?" Hiro guessed. He pulled out another piece of paper and began to sketch a bag-like carrier. "What else? We can't compromise durability or function- we have to still be able to move, and we need some kind of connection with each other, too..."
"What if we made some kind of metallic fabric?" The older Hamada eyed Baymax. "It would have a thin, strong skeleton, programmed to our bodies and bio-signatures. The fabric would have to be waterproof, and dense enough to protect again attacks." Hiro's pencil scratched a few notes on the side of the first blueprint.
"And it would have to have a low level of conductivity, in case anyone uses EMPs or something," the thirteen year old added. "Maybe there could be some kind of helmet? It could hold communication devices, and the lens could display data, like Baymax's scanner."
"Communication devices, yes," Tadashi murmured. "Not so sure about scanners. That took me months to program, and we don't have that long." Hiro paused, pencil stilling. Slowly, he turned to his older brother. His face looked distressed.
"Don't have that long until what? Tadashi?"
The college student clammed up. "Nothing- I- It's nothing, Hiro."
"Tadashi, what did you mean?" The younger asked quietly. His face was flooded with panic, and his breathing was starting to pick up.
"Hiro, you need to calm down. Here, why don't we go get you your medi-"
"Don't try to change the subject! What are you trying to protect us from?! It was a dream, right? And none of it is real! So why are you so worried!" Hiro had gone pale. His fingers clenched the arms of the chair, and he looked like he was seconds away from another panic attack.
"I'm not! I just- I wanted to feel safer! It's not a big deal-"
"And why don't you feel safe?! Nothing's going to h-hurt us, right! Right?" His voice was getting smaller and smaller. "You said it was just a dream, and none of it happened, but why are you so scared? What are you getting ready for? Was it.. Was it true? I- The team, I should talk to... B-Baymax... I need... Please." Tears dripped silently to the floor.
"Otōto," Tadashi whispered sadly. He gently placed his hands on Hiro's shoulders, ignoring his flinch. "I'm sorry. I wasn't trying to scare you. You're right; there isn't anything to be afraid of. I was being silly. We don't need to protect ourselves. We're fine. Everything's... Everything's fine."
Hiro hiccuped, and Tadashi carefully guided one of the younger's hands to his chest.
"Breathe with me, otōto," he whispered. "Just like we practiced at the hospital. In for five, hold for four, out for three. There you go. Good job. In for five, hold for four, out for three. You're doing really well." The brothers focused on breathing together for a few moments.
"Why does this keep happening?" Hiro choked and rubbed his eyes. "I feel so stupid..."
"It's fine, Hiro," Tadashi hummed quietly, fiddling with the younger's jacket and smoothing his clothing. "You're just in a bad place after what's happened. You look really tired. Why don't we get you into bed-"
"I'm sick of napping all the time!" The smaller boy whined. "I don't want to be like this anymore! I want to be the way I was! Not small and fragile and terrified all the time!"
"I'm sorry, Hiro."
"It's not your fault..." The thirteen year old rubbed his eyes again. He stood up and made his way over to his bed. "Just... Just don't make the armor, okay? We don't need it."
So that was a bust.
Tadashi obviously wasn't going to make the armor now, but he had to figure out some other way to keep them safe. It was strange and wrong and against everything he had told Hiro. But he knew something bad was going to happen.
He just needed to figure out what it was.
He ended up going with the stun gun.
He styled it so it looked like an everyday, regular, run-of-the-mill pen. He tested it on Mochi, and when he was sure it worked, he started carrying it in his pocket. It wasn't much, and he would only use it when necessary, but it made him feel a lot better.
Maybe he could actually protect Hiro this time.
I know I apologized earlier, but I'd like to do so again, because Tadashi, why the frick are you testing anything on your cat?
Please do not test products on living beings. It's cruel.
QUESTION OF THE UPDATE: If you could invent any non-sentient robot, what would you make?
[Chapter 11- Outside]
After coming home, Hiro spent most of the first week in their shared bedroom. He had an odd attachment to Tadashi's baseball cap. The older brother let him sleep with it at night, thinking it couldn't do any harm. Sometimes Hiro woke up in the middle of the night, and Tadashi (ever a light sleeper) would be awakened by the screen being pulled aside and Hiro's light sniffles. Other times, Hiro needed to be alone and would end up locked in the bathroom with the lights off.
It was both comforting and terrifying. The small, dark space helped when he got overwhelmed by too many sights and sounds, but it also stirred up his new feelings of extreme claustrophobia. Luckily, he always knew he could turn on the lights, unlock the door, and leave.
After that first week, he began to venture down into the second story to watch Aunt Cass make dinner or to cuddle with Mochi on the couch. He might sit at the table, sketching out designs or just drawing. Or he might just sit, staring and thinking for hours. Aunt Cass gave him a few classic novels to read when his head became too much, and he accepted them gratefully.
It was after a month he finally made his way down to the cafe. Whenever Tadashi or Aunt Cass wasn't looking, Hiro would end up locking the glass door. They would always find out after a few moments and unlock it. When asked why, Hiro looked frantic and tried to explain, "Baymax! He's out there with- Oh. Nevermind."
The two older Hamadas developed their own habit of stopping by the door every ten minutes to keep it unlocked.
Hiro also reacted oddly to some of the customers, talking to them like they had always been friends or glaring at them with mistrust and suspicion. Tadashi hadn't realized Hiro's true mental condition until they left the hospital and returned to the world the thirteen year old thought he knew.
Hiro's entire mentality was different. Sometimes he was as childish as a kindergartener, others he seemed far too old for his age. Sometimes he knew far too much, others he couldn't seem to understand the truth at all.
There were two days when Tadashi considered taking Hiro back to the hospital.
The first time, a police officer came into the station. They'd seen him before, but Hiro had never actually talked to him. Now, Hiro walked up to the police officer, apologized, and gave him a box of tape. The man was extremely confused, and Tadashi had to offer an apology for Hiro's oddness.
The second time, Hiro had actually left the cafe, looking dazed and out of it. He wandered out into the street, barely missing getting hit by a car. Aunt Cass had suddenly screamed, and everyone turned to see what had scared her. Tadashi had barely let out a gasp before he was running after his brother.
He was surprised how easily Hiro had dodged him despite his slow waddling along. The chase seemed to go almost half way across the city before Hiro came to stop in front of an old warehouse. He turned glassy eyes to Tadashi and his head tilted curiously to the side.
He looked insane.
"There is a window," the boy pointed to the upper floor of the warehouse. Tadashi followed his gaze, wondering what had prompted Hiro to come here.
"Hiro, there's something wrong. We need to take you back to the cafe-"
"I found where your tiny robot wants to go," Hiro cupped his hands like he was holding something.
"Hiro! Tiny robot?! You're not making any sense!" The older brother panicked. Hiro whimpered at the loud noise and covered his ears. Tadashi took a deep breath and tried to steer Hiro back to the cafe. "I'm sorry, Hiro. I'm just really worried. This is really strange, and I think you should see the doctor."
"There is a window!" Hiro repeated, almost on the verge of tears. "There is a window!"
"We're not going in a deserted warehouse, especially not with you like this," the elder insisted and dragged a hand down his weary face. He didn't expect Hiro to aggressively shake him off and run over to the window. He jumped up and down, trying desperately to get inside.
"You're not going to leave until we look inside, are you?" Tadashi sighed. He made his way over, helped Hiro through the window, and followed him up. "So. What now?"
Hiro looked around for a moment before he made his way downstairs. He led Tadashi to the middle of the warehouse.
There was nothing there.
Hiro looked confused, his eyes starting to clear up. He wandered over to the closest wall and ran his hands over it. Tadashi followed; he didn't know how to feel anymore.
The younger brother noticed a paper by his feet. He picked it up, eyes widening, and turned it to Tadashi. If he hadn't already heard about Hiro's dream, he wouldn't have known what it was. He wouldn't have realized where Hiro had led them. He wouldn't have understood the implications.
It was a picture of a circle, with a sparrow in the middle.
Tadashi silently accepted the paper from his brother. Everything seemed to narrow in on the now familiar symbol, and the world spun around him. Everything was falling apart; the floor shattered beneath his feet and he was falling.
He looked up at Hiro's insistent tugging on his sleeve.
The younger brother dragged he outside the warehouse and through the streets once more. He stopped at the docks, pointing out into the peaceful ocean.
At first, Tadashi didn't see anything. But then he saw something bobbing on the water, a boat maybe. Why would Hiro show him a boat? Why would he bring him-
"Hiro! Tadashi!" A chorus of familiar voices called out. The brothers turned around to see Honey Lemon, Wasabi, Fred, and GoGo piling out of the car. "What are you doing here?"
Hiro grinned broadly then and hurried over to give Honey Lemon a hug. She hugged him back and patted his head, but looking at Tadashi, clearly concerned.
"I... I don't know," Tadashi admitted. "Hiro was acting really strange today, and he suddenly left the cafe. I followed him to... to this warehouse, and it seemed like he was trying to show me something. He wouldn't leave unless we went inside, so we did! But..."
"Wait, you went into a warehouse? Did you find anything?" GoGo demanded; it was her own way of expressing worry.
"Just this," Tadashi offered the paper.
"A bird!" Fred cried, pointing dramatically. "I don't get it."
"You remember Hiro's dream?" The older brother scrubbed his face with both hands and pulled his hat away to scrub at his hair as well. "Well, I thought it seemed a bit odd. He noticed things that really happened or would happen, so I did some looking into it."
"Oh, Tadashi," Honey Lemon whispered, still holding Hiro close.
"No, but-! The experiment where they lost Professor Callaghan's daughter? It actually happened on that island! I found a report from one of the scientists on the team, and it was called- get this- Silent Sparrow," Tadashi explained.
The other students looked at the paper.
"And this proves...?" GoGo prompted.
"This proves that Hiro still needs some help, and maybe Tadashi too, because they are both becoming obsessed and that is not normal!" Wasabi cried.
"It proves that Hiro's dream might not be crazy after all," Tadashi stated softly. He pulled Hiro back to him when the boy started to fuss. The two stood together, looking to their friends for help.
"Alright, fine. Tell us everything and we'll see if we can figure out what's up," GoGo sighed.
"What?! No! They clearly need help, and not from us! From professionals, doctors!" Wasabi protested.
"We can at least hear them out?" Honey Lemon tried.
"I know just the place," Fred declared, once again being dramatic. Oddly, Hiro seemed to perk up.
QUESTION OF THE UPDATE: I am embarrased to say the original question for this chapter, from the 2015 release, was "Would you rather have a Baymax plushie or a Hiro pillow?"
I still want the Baymax plushie, thanks.
[Chapter 12- Mansion]
"Where are we?" Honey Lemon murmured, taking a good look around. This neighborhood did seem entirely too fancy for Fred to have any connection with... Hiro was beaming.
"Fred..." Wasabi started as the geek started up the stairs to a gorgeous mansion. "W-Wait, where are you going?"
Fred looked at then for a moment; he was clearly confused, as though the answer would be obvious.
"Oh!" He grinned. "Welcome to mi casa!" Hiro mouthed the words as they were said. "That's French for front door."
"It's really... not," Honey Lemon sighed. Tadashi stared at Hiro in wonder, then to Fred's surprise mansion, not saying a word.
"Listen, nitwit," GoGo growled. "Hiro and Tadashi think Callaghan's trying to kill someone. I'm not in the mood for any-"
Just as she was speaking, a butler opened the door and welcomed 'Master Fredrick' to the house. He led them all inside, where everyone could see family portraits of Fred and a wealthy looking couple.
"Freddy, this is your house?" Honey Lemon's shock was evident. GoGo seemed more frustrated that she had been interrupted.
"I always thought you lived under a bridge."
Fred began to explain where his parents were as he led them to his room. Which was, not at all kidding, a nightmare for a normal person, and a dream for a geek of any kind. Actions figures! Cosplays! Posters! Game consoles! Comic books!
Hiro moved to a low table and began to draw, gripping the pencil in his hand like a kindergartener. Tadashi rubbed his hands through his hair worriedly. Hiro seriously needed a doctor. Everyone thought he was getting better; he shouldn't be acting like this. It was like something had caused him to revert.
"What are you drawing?" Tadashi asked as he kneeled next to his brother. He rubbed the smaller boy's back, ignoring his friends for now. Hiro turned the paper to Tadashi and started on another drawing.
The one he turned to Tadashi was of a dark figure in a mask, throwing a large rectangle (a cargo container?) at a few cartoonish figures on the ground. The figures were obviously their friends, Baymax (in the weird armor Hiro had described), and Hiro. Tadashi was not in the picture.
Tadashi focused on the dark man in the mask. He was using a swirly dark mass to elevate himself and throw the cargo container. If he took what he already knew about Hiro's dream world, the swirly mass was probably the microbots. The masked man was Callaghan.
But what was with the cargo container?
When he thought about it, he almost smacked himself in the head. Of course! Hiro had just taken him to the docks- the only place in town where you could find cargo containers! Hiro was trying to lead Tadashi to Callaghan and catch him in the act.
That "boat" he had seen on the water earlier...
"So, are we gonna work this out or what?" GoGo demanded, throwing her body into the couch.
Tadashi took a deep breath and began to explain Hiro's dream, holding up the bird symbols and drawings as they came into the story. He detailed his own research, Callaghan's behavior, and everything that had happened today.
Everyone was silent when they reached the end.
"That. Is. Amazing!" Fred piped up. He began to dance around the room, yelling about becoming superheroes and stopping Callaghan.
"No, it. Is. Not!" Wasabi cried. His hands gestured wildly as he continued. "Tadashi, all of your evidence is based off your brother's nightmare, an article you found on the Internet, and Callaghan acting a little odd! You couldn't use that in court! It doesn't make sense!"
"It does seem odd that it all comes together like that, you have to admit," GoGo muttered, pinching the bridge of her nose. All of this craziness was giving her a migraine.
"But Professor Callaghan?" Honey Lemon whispered. "He got hurt in the fire, and Hiro's microbots were destroyed... He couldn't..."
"I know, I know," Tadashi sighed. He scrubbed his face roughly and took a few deep breaths. He didn't know what to do. He thought telling his friends everything might clear some things up, but it was just as confusing and intimidating as before.
What if Hiro was right, and people's lives were at stake? What if they were wrong, and they hurt a grieving man?
Hiro pushed a drawing into Tadashi's lap before he crawled under the table. Tadashi sighed again and considered leaning down to pull him out, but he was stopped by the detailed drawing of the island. He had heard the story of the place where his parents had met, had seen pictures in albums. But that was before they died, and the island closed.
Hiro's drawing gave off a sense of desperation and misery. He needed them to believe him, to stop Callaghan, to end this nightmare. This was the place where Callaghan had been revealed as Tadashi's "killer". Where Hiro's big dreams had been crushed under the cruelty of a single man. Where everything really fell apart.
"I know where we can get real evidence," Tadashi said, and turned the drawing to his friends.
Fred began to cheer. "Our origin story begins!"
QUESTION OF THE UPDATE: Favorite snack?
[Chapter 13- Island]
"Okay, so what's the plan?" GoGo demanded through the headset. Without Baymax's "dreamland" armor, they hadn't been able to fly to the island by themselves. Instead, Fred had gotten the butler, Heathcliff, to prepare the family's helicopter and fly them there.
Wasabi was freaking out about heights the moment the machine started, and the noise from the blades and wind had been impossible to hear over, so they had to talk through old-fashioned, clunky headsets that came with the helicopter. Hiro had been moved to the middle of the seats, since everyone was starting to worry about him. He was playing silently with a stuffed Baymax that Honey Lemon made for him.
Tadashi had been reading the history of the island from one of Fred's mobile computers. It wasn't a laptop, but it wasn't just a touchscreen device either... Tadashi suspected it hadn't been released to the public yet and wondered how Fred got it.
GoGo's question interrupted what had been a relatively peaceful and boring flight. Hiro looked up suddenly, mumbling something that didn't seem to make sense to anyone else and definitely had to do with the "dreamland." Tadashi ran a hand over his face anxiously.
"We're going to the island from Hiro's 'dream.' We know the experiment that lost Callaghan's daughter happened there, but maybe we can find proof that he's doing something now?" The older Hamada repeated for what he felt was the millionth time.
"Yeah, I got that," the dark haired girl snapped. She spun away from the window to glare at him. "I'm asking what's the plan? Are we just going to wander around the island all day, hoping we find some evidence? When we have evidence, what are we going to do with it? Give it to the police? If this dream world is real, they aren't going to be able to do anything!"
"Guys..." Honey Lemon whispered, concerned. Tadashi scrubbed both hands through his hair and waved her off.
"Hiro can bring us directly to where the evidence should be. I just... I just need proof that this is actually happening before we start planning how to take Callaghan down, okay? Right now, I only have my brother's oxygen-deprived hallucinations, some suspicious looks, and a piece of paper!" He buried his face in his hands.
"Dudes! Prepare for landing!" Fred cheered as they finally pulled over the island. Everyone braced themselves, but Heathcliff brought them to a gentle stop in front of a greying, dilapidated building.
"Guys! Our first landing together as a team!" Fred cried and hopped out of the helicopter. He gave Heathcliff a quick fist bump before helping Wasabi out.
"Um, quarantine?" The dark skinned teen questioned, gesturing to the signs around them. "Do you people know what quarantine means?" Hiro blubbered something that sounded like a textbook definition. He waddled forward, a bit like an overgrown toddler.
The boy giggled to himself, and the older teens exchanged concerned looks.
Still, they followed him into the building. Fred began to sing somewhere along the way, and Wasabi barely held back from punching him in the face. Hiro waved his Baymax stuffie around, smiling like he didn't have a care in the world. GoGo and Tadashi trailed behind everyone.
"Are you sure he knows where he's going? Does he know he's leading is?" GoGo demanded.
"He's been here before, or at least he thinks he has. Even if he doesn't know what we're doing, he'll lead us to what he remembers most," Tadashi assured.
They seemed to move deeper and deeper in the building, with everyone becoming more and more anxious as the minutes passed. Hiro began to pay more attention to their surroundings after a little while; he looked like he recognized where they were. He was also starting to look less insane and childish, so Tadashi quickly tried to speak to him.
"Hiro? Hiro, can you hear me?" He asked, keeping his hands steady on the younger brother's shoulders. Hiro stared at him blankly for a moment. His mouth was open slightly, making him look a little stupid. After a second, the boy snapped out of it.
"Tadashi?" His voice cracked.
"Hey, knucklehead," the taller greeted warmly. Relief was the only thing he could feel, knowing Hiro, the real Hiro, was in there somewhere. "Do you know where we are?" The smallest of the group looked around nervously, his small hands clutching the Baymax toy to his chest.
"Callaghan's hideout..." He murmured. "But how are you...?"
"Still alive," Tadashi repeated. "Never died. Hiro, we need to see if Callaghan is really doing anything. Can you bring us to any real evidence? We just need proof that's he's planning to hurt Krei."
"But it's real?" The heartbroken voice whispered.
"Maybe," Tadashi bit his lip, worrying at it. Hiro started to look around and think about their location. His eyes started to glaze over. Before he was completely gone again, Tadashi quickly hugged him and muttered encouragements in his ear.
Then Hiro was gone.
Tadashi held back tears, still hugging his brother. The younger began to squeak and gesture with his toy. Honey Lemon sniffled at the scene, and GoGo turned away. Fred and Wasabi were quiet.
Tadashi released Hiro and held his hand. The smallest Hamada lightly tugged them forward to another hallway. He smiled up at his big brother, and the older sadly smiled back.
Hiro brought them to a dark room with several monitors and advanced computer systems. It was strange to see some screens were still on, and Tadashi finally remembered the power shouldn't have been on either.
"Um, guys...?" He started. Hiro pressed a few buttons on one of the consoles before jumping behind Tadashi and burying his face in his older brother's side. "What's this, Hiro?"
A video began to play, and the teens watched in various states of discomfort. They weren't surprised to see that it was Callaghan's daughter in the flight, or that the portals began to collapse. What they did notice was that the scientists in the video had been working on these computers.
As each noticed it, they turned around to face the broken portals. Portals...?
"Guys," Tadashi repeated, panicking slightly. "They would have left the one broken beyond repair, but they would have dismantled the other one!"
"So who's been building it?" Fred asked.
"Well we know it wasn't Krei," GoGo snapped.
"But how is Callaghan doing it!" Tadashi paced. "He can't have the... the microbots..." He noticed a shiny black object, glinting in the dim lighting.
His heart raced as Hiro began to whimper and cover his ears. Honey Lemon tried to shush the kid, but the boy was staring out into the portal room, freaking out.
"B-Baymax... Baymax!" He cried, and that's when Tadashi knew they had to go. The older Hamada quickly scooped Hiro into his arms and took off down the hallway. The others followed, shouting in confusion.
Just when they reached the entrance to the building, they saw a boat pulling up in the water. Tadashi wanted to make a dash for the helicopter, but he knew they would be seen for sure, and he didn't want Callaghan coming after them.
Instead, he waved Heathcliff away. The butler was confused at first, but Fred waved him off as well, amongst cries of dismay.
Then, the older brother quickly spun around and led them back into the building. He ran the opposite direction of where they'd come, and that's when the others caught on. Hiro squirmed to be let down, and when he was, he darted ahead, leading them somewhere safe.
The area he brought them to was dark and secluded. Tadashi wondered how he knew this was here. Hiro began to trace on the wall, making what looked like a very jagged circle.
"What do we do?" Wasabi hissed. He gestured wildly and began to pace.
"I don't know. But we need to have a plan in case he comes he," GoGo declared.
"He's not going to come here," Tadashi muttered. He carefully looked over Hiro, making sure he hadn't gotten hurt in their escape. "He has no reason to suspect any one is here with him."
"How are we going to get the helicopter back?" Honey Lemon asked quietly. She played with the ends of her hair, looking pale and frightened.
"I can just call Heathcliff once we get outside," Fred reassured. He offered his phone to her, and she shook her head with a slight smile.
"Well. This is bad," GoGo leaned against a wall and slid down to sit on the floor. The other followed her lead. Hiro toddled over to her and managed to get her to play chopsticks and slide. After a while of sitting in silence, everyone joined the game, clapping and singing, laughing and cracking jokes. There was a blanket of caution that rested over them and kept them somewhat quiet, but other than that they let go and enjoyed themselves.
After an hour or so, Fred got a text from Heathcliff, saying the boat had left the island and they could come out now. Fred confirmed they were okay, and everyone ducked outside in time to see the setting sun.
It was a beautiful view from the helicopter as they flew home.
QUESTION OF THE UPDATE: Fly in a plane or sail in a boat?
[Chapter 14- Return]
Fred wanted Heathcliff to drive them home, but Tadashi insisted he and Hiro walk. The older brother wanted to stop by the hospital, and he didn't want to cause any extra trouble. Besides, the fresh air would be good for the tiniest Hamada.
The walk to the hospital was peaceful. Hiro dragged Tadashi into playing with him as they walked. The younger brother acted like a very small child the entire time, and Tadashi had no idea what to do.
Hiro freaked out when they finally reached the hospital, of course. He hated hospitals.
One of the nurses wanted to sedate him, but Tadashi stopped her immediately and convinced her to leave them with the doctor. The doctor silently checked over Hiro, just as confused as Tadashi was.
"As I wasn't there with you, I have no ideas to what could have triggered this. My only guess is that Mr. Hamada is mentally regressing to deal with the stress caused by this entire incident," the doctor sadly informed with a slight shrug. "It's happened before, and it's not dangerous. But it may cause problems when he finally pulls out of it. If you can handle what triggered his regression, he should return to normal on his own."
Tadashi had just frowned and begun to pace. He needed to research this as much as possible.
The doctor answered all of Tadashi's questions to the best of his ability. When they finished, the doctor gave Hiro a lollipop and thanked him for being such a good patient. The nurse gave Tadashi the bill and led the brothers to the front of the hospital.
The little red lollipop stayed clutched in Hiro's fist.
"I can't believe this," Tadashi ran one hand through his hair. His other hand held tightly to Hiro's as they stepped back out on to the street. "It's a coping mechanism? That doesn't seem right!"
Tadashi continued to rant until his little brother whimpered and ducked behind him.
"Hiro?" The older Hamada looked down in surprise. He looked up to search for what Hiro had seen. His eyes landed on the man walking towards them.
Tadashi paled and subtly pushed Hiro farther behind him.
"Tadashi! Hiro!" The professor greeted with bright eyes. "I'm so glad to see you out of that stuffy hospital. You weren't there when I went to visit!"
"Wow!" Tadashi breathed out weakly. "I completely forgot about that. Yeah, Hiro got out a while ago. He's been recovering... elsewhere."
"How are you doing, Hiro?" Callaghan leaned down to be at eye level with the teen. Hiro pushed himself against Tadashi's back, hiding his face; he was shaking. The man seemed unusually pleased with Hiro's odd behavior. "Haha, I see he's not very talkative today." He straightened again.
A black bag swung at his side.
Tadashi wouldn't have cared, but he caught a glimpse of white peeking out of the bag and his heart stopped. Where was Hiro's Baymax doll? He looked down at Hiro, but the boy didn't have it. He didn't have it the entire walk to the hospital either.
The white could be anything, but Tadashi knew they were screwed anyway.
"I-It's getting late," he managed shakily. "We should be getting home. It was n-nice seeing you."
"Ah, I was hoping we could talk more, but I guess I'll have to let you go." Callaghan laughed. "I'll see you in class, Mr. Hamada." He continued on his way, leaving the two brothers rattled and anxious.
Tadashi got Hiro home as quickly as possible. The younger was falling asleep as they walked, so Tadashi elected to carry him. Aunt Cass greeted them when they walked in, but she went quiet at the looks on their faces.
"What's going on?" She asked. "What happened?"
"It's not safe," Tadashi whispered. "I need you to lock the door. I'm going to lock all the windows and close the blinds."
"Tadashi?! What's happening! You left this morning and didn't come back!"
"I'll tell you when the house is safe! Please! Aunt Cass, just trust me!" He rushed around, securing everything he could. Hiro was curled up under one of the tables, humming quietly.
"You're scaring me," Aunt Cass pleaded after she locked the door. "Hiro, sweetie, what's going on?"
"He can't answer you," Tadashi snapped. "I'm sorry... He can't-" The college student took a few deep breaths. "Let's go upstairs."
He picked Hiro up, and the small family went into their living room. Aunt Cass quickly served them plates of chicken wings. Her frantic energy and gentle worrying eased Tadashi enough for him to start talking.
First, because he knew his aunt cared about it the most, he explained why Hiro's behavior had changed. She was quiet throughout the entire explanation, and only asked a few questions at the end. She was silent for a couple minutes before she wanted him to continue.
From there, he explained Hiro's dream world, which she was familiar with but didn't know everything about. The dream world led into the events that had lined up in reality and the evidence they had. And then Tadashi had to actually say out loud that Callaghan was using Hiro's microbots to rebuild the portal so he could attack Krei.
Before that moment, it hadn't seemed very real.
But when he finished the statement, he knew it was true.
Callaghan was going to attack Krei.
QUESTION OF THE UPDATE: Favorite topping? Pizza topping, ice cream topping - it's up to you!
[Chapter 15- Meeting]
"We gotta tell Krei," Tadashi fretted, pacing in front of his friends.
"Yeah, sure," GoGo scoffed. "Let me just call him up. 'Hey, Mr. Krei, you know that girl you secretly murdered a while back? Yeah? Well her dad's coming to kill you. Have a nice day!' That'll go over well." She rolled her eyes.
"Why not?" Honey Lemon whispered. "We have to warn him, and we're all witnesses. If this is true, we can't keep it a secret. Secrets are what got everyone into this mess."
"Um, no, how about we don't?!" Wasabi cried. "What if Callaghan finds out?! What if he comes after us?!"
"He already knows," Tadashi choked. It felt like the walls were closing in. He hadn't admitted it before, but he knew it. The air was getting thicker and thicker.
"Easy, Tadashi," GoGo maneuvered him into a chair. "Breathe."
"How would he know that?!" Wasabi panicked.
"We saw him," the Hamada explained. He tried to take a deep breath, but it was impossible. "The Baymax doll. Hiro lost it on the island. I know Callaghan found it."
"Shoot, shoot, shoot," Fred muttered. He flipped himself upside down in his chair. "Not good. We need a plan."
"It's gonna get worse before it gets better," GoGo sighed. "I guess we have no choice. If we tell Krei, at least there's a chance everyone can be prepared."
The others nodded.
"To the lab!" Fred cried, bouncing up. "The computer lab!"
"Got it!" GoGo called. "Took some hacking, but I found Krei's number. He gives it away to anyone he wants to join his personal program."
"Nice. Good job," Tadashi grinned and leaned over her shoulder.
"Hacking is not nice," Wasabi grumbled.
"But at least we have his number and an excuse to set up an appointment," Honey Lemon pointed out. "Who wants to call?"
"I'll do it," Tadashi held out his hand. A phone was dropped into it, and he dialed the number on the screen. "It's ringing."
"Hello?" A soft woman's voice came through the phone.
"I'd like to set up an appointment with Mr. Krei?"
"How did you get this number?"
"I was given it...? I work in medicinal robotics. He was impressed with my work and wanted me to join some kind of program?"
"Oh! Oh, yes, sorry," she laughed. "That makes sense. Mr. Krei is very cautious about who can contact him on this number. What's your name?"
"Is that safe?" Wasabi whispered. "What if they figure out who you really are?"
"We want to go in as honest as possible," Tadashi whispered back, covering the end of the phone. The others nodded.
"Alright, Mr. Hamada. Mr. Krei has an appointment available on Wednesday from 9:00am to 10:30. Will that be okay?"
Tadashi paused for a moment. If he chose that, and they all went, they would miss class with Callaghan, which would raise some suspicion.
"What other appointments are open?"
"I'm sorry. Mr. Krei doesn't have any other available appointments this week."
"Nevermind, that's... that's perfect. Thank you."
"Of course. Mr. Krei will be happy to see you. What was the technology he wanted to discuss with you?"
"Oh, um, I made a... I made a nursing bot."
"Really? Sounds fascinating. We'll see you Wednesday, Mr. Hamada."
"Yeah, see you then."
Wednesday rolled around, and the students found themselves in front of the towering Krei Industries building, dressed in business attire.
Fred tugged uncomfortably at his tie, and Honey Lemon fixed it with a sigh. GoGo popped her gum.
"I guess, we... just head in?" Tadashi murmured awkwardly.
The five students entered and approached the large desk at the back wall. People in suits and lab-coats swam past them like a tidal wave.
"Hello," Tadashi greeted quietly. The secretary didn't look up. "Um, hello."
"I'm Tadashi Hamada? I have an appointment with Mr. Krei?"
The secretary paused, slowly looking up with sharp eyes.
The constant motion of the room slowly came to an impossible stop.
"You have an appointment with Mr. Krei?"
The secretary snorted and typed something in the computer.
"I don't see- Oh. Oh! Oh, I'm sorry, I- oh."
"Yeah," Fred snapped. The others looked at him in surprise. "Do you know how many offers our technology has gotten? If this is how Krei treats his appointments, maybe we should go...?"
"No! No! I'm sorry, you just don't-"
"We have the latest in medicinal technology and the longer we wait here for Krei to get his act together, the longer-"
"No! I'm sorry! I'll have you sent up right away! Krei Industries offers their sincerest apologies for the delay," the secretary promised, properly cowed. He pressed a button and quickly led them to the opening elevator doors. "Thank you so much for choosing Krei Industries." He bowed slightly just as the doors closed.
"Whoa!" GoGo turned on Fred. "I didn't realize you could do that!"
"My dad makes business deals like that all the time. He's really old-manish, cute, and friendly at home, but he knows how to get people to do what he wants," the brunette shrugged. "That guy wasn't going to let us up for a while. Not until he'd checked us out. And none of us brought any 'medicinal technology' to show."
"Anyway, it was amazing," Honey Lemon smiled.
"And kinda scary," Wasabi grinned.
The group laughed.
The elevator doors opened on the top floor, showing another secretarial desk and a large office further behind. They stepped up to the petite, feminine secretary.
"Hello," she greeted with a smile. "You must be Mr. Hamada... And... Who are these lovely people with you?"
"Oh!" Tadashi blushed. "They're my team. I designed the technology, but they helped me build and program it. We all deserve credit, really."
"I see..." She bit her lip. "Well, Mr. Krei's just finished his 8 o'clock, so head right on in!"
"Thank you," Tadashi offered. He took a deep breath and led his friends to the double doors. They entered, and Krei looked up with surprise.
"Oh, I'm sorry," he smiled. "I seem to have forgotten your names. And recruiting you."
GoGo closed the door, and the smile faded.
"Alright, who are you?" Krei demanded, anxious.
"Tadashi Hamada," the older brother informed gently.
"Hamada?" Krei questioned. "I tried to recruit your younger brother Hiro, with the microbots."
"Yes, I remember," Tadashi hid his clenched fist behind his back. "We're here to warn you."
"Warn me? Are you threatening me-"
"No! No!" Wasabi panicked, holding his hands out like Krei was a frightened cat.
"What we're trying to say..." Fred paused dramatically. "...is have you heard of Robert Callaghan?"
Krei paled and fell back in his seat like a collapsing sheet. All the wind had blown from his sails, and he was left empty and failing. "Mr. Callaghan? I have heard of him, yes. Worked with him actually."
"And you remember what happened with his daughter?" GoGo prompted. The man buried his face in his hands. He was trembling.
"Of course, but-" He looked at them with wide, terrified eyes. "How do you know about the accident?"
"It's... a kinda long and confusing story," Tadashi warned, rubbing the back of his neck. Krei reached for the phone on his desk.
"Melody, cancel all my appointments for today."
"Something incredibly urgent has come up."
By the time they had finished their tale, Krei was once again pale and shaky. He had copied down as many notes as he dared before the sense of dread and terror washed over him.
"I'll make sure the entire building has completely improved security, and I will keep my personal bodyguards with me at all times," he decided.
"It won't matter!" Tadashi fretted. His jacket had been slung over the back of a chair, and his sleeves were rolled up in agitation. "With my brother's microbots, Callaghan can do practically everything. We need a plan, a real plan."
"We could call in some superheroes! They could help us!" Fred suggested. "They could fight off Callaghan and keep everyone safe!"
"Superheroes aren't real, knucklehead," GoGo snapped. "Maybe we could call in the military? Surely they could stop him!"
"Isn't that a bit extreme?" Wasabi worried. "We don't want to... kill him."
"We could develop a solution that would trap him! Then we could take away the neural transmitter and stop all the microbots!" Honey Lemon cried. Tadashi stared at her, light flickering behind his eyes.
"We can use all of those ideas!" He breathed, tugging at his hair in excitement. "We can form a team. Some of us can distract him, and the others can trap him and deal with the transmitter!"
"Like your brother's delusional dream?" Krei sneered slightly. "Is that wise?"
"Hey," Tadashi grinned. "My brother's a genius."
QUESTION OF THE UPDATE: Favorite flower? If you haven't guessed, mine are pansies! :)
[Chapter 16- Battle]
With the entire team working together, it took less than a week to design, construct, and practice with special suits just for them. They were purposefully different than the ones from Hiro's dream, partly so he couldn't get confused but mostly because they had a different plan.
GoGo, Tadashi and Fred were assigned to distract Callaghan. Honey Lemon and Wasabi would trap him. And Krei would evacuate the area and make sure everyone was safe.
Because of this, GoGo, Tadashi, Fred, and Krei's armor was the most protective. A new metal alloy from Krei's R&D department was used to make their suits, and it could deflect most attacks. Most of the technology they had was to help distract Callaghan and defend themselves, like flares, smoke bombs, or EMPs.
In contrast, Honey Lemon and Wasabi's suits were designed for stealth and speed. Invisibility mode, sonic roller blades, and chemical weapons. All of their attacks were designed to trap, wrapping around whatever they hit and encasing it in seconds.
Their plan was actually very simple, when it came down to it. And Hiro didn't even have to get involved. They designed and tested the suits easily, and gave Aunt Cass a reason to keep Hiro at home with her. (And a couple dozen body guards.) Then they helped set up the Krei Industries press conference and waited.
Just as Hiro predicted, a mass of microbots appeared, rearing to attack. But there was no portal. Instead, the microbots targeted the building and people alike; tendrils of the black mass caused more destruction than even the portal might have.
And there was no sign of Callaghan.
"Where is he?!" Tadashi panicked, trying to fight off a sharp attack and protect a trapped family all at once. He strained as the microbots slammed into him, trying to push him to the ground and crush him. He managed to slip out from under and cut the wild limb loose from the main mass. The appendage writhed for a moment before the microbots separated and slithered back to the black beast.
"This isn't what Hiro said at all!" Wasabi shrieked. He was helping Krei evacuate at this point; he raced back and forth between the battle zone and the newly formed police line. He scooped up a young child, protecting him with his body as he carried him back to a desperate father. He managed to snare a few of the dangerous microbot tentacles in one of their chemical bombs.
"Callaghan knew somehow!" GoGo snapped in realization. She threw a small bomb into the swirling mechanical mass, scattering a good chunk of microbots and disabling them. Feeling protected by the alloy, she began to charge at the limbs, punching them head-on.
"Then why is he still attacking?" Honey Lemon questioned. She sped around the building and trapped falling chunks with some of the chemical bombs. "If he knew that we knew-" She trailed off uncertainly, and a heavy feeling weighed started to weigh down their movements- dread.
"Guys! Guys!" Fred cried, sounding panicked. "It's a distraction!"
"Distraction for what?" GoGo demanded. "What else would he be doing?!"
Silence reigned as everyone thought for a moment.
"HIRO!" Tadashi suddenly screamed. "We left Hiro at home and Callaghan knows that Hiro's the only unpredictable variable that could have known his plan- Oh my gosh-"
"Wasabi, Honey Lemon," GoGo snagged their attention. "Go to Tadashi's house. See if he's right. Maybe you can still trap Callaghan!"
"Already going!" Honey Lemon grinned anxiously. Wasabi followed closely behind her. They raced through the streets, only stopping once or twice to ask Tadashi for directions.
Eventually, they reached the street in front of the cafe. Smoke billowed down the pavement, gun shots echoed through the city, and screaming customers ran past them.
"He's already in there!" Wasabi panicked.
"Guys, what's happeni-" Tadashi started, but the comm links began to cut out. Honey Lemon darted into the smoke. She dipped around an overturned car and into the Lucky Cat Cafe. Wasabi anxiously trailed behind her.
"Hey, Tadashi?" He whispered into the earphone. "GoGo? Fred? Someon- Krei? Anybody?"
"Something's jamming the signal," Honey Lemon interrupted. She motioned for him to stand still. They looked around the darkened cafe, seeing Krei's body guards strewn around the floor.
"W-We're... ZZzzzZZZ... -ay" GoGo's voice buzzed in their ears.
Plates were shattered across the floor, table were overturned, pictures had been knocked off the walls. Something in the kitchen was beeping faintly. The single light bulb flickered and went out.
Slow, even footsteps rounded the landing and began to victoriously tip tap their way down the stairs.
A faint groan sounded, but the footsteps didn't hesitate. Wasabi ducked around the counter and found Aunt Cass's limp form. The woman was surrounded by shattered glass and the remains of her cash register. The college student carefully maneuvered her to a safer area, so she wouldn't hurt herself while she was unconscious.
Callaghan stopped at the bottom of the stairs. Hiro was held under his arm. The boy's face was blank, like some kind of doll. He barely seemed to be breathing.
The old professor's eyebrow arched at the sight of Honey Lemon, and he looked over her get-up with distain. He scoffed once, shaking his head in disbelief.
"Honestly," he sighed, shifting his weight. "I could expect Tadashi. But you? You've got such a bright future ahead of you! You're a smart girl. What are you doing here?"
"Tadashi is my friend," Honey Lemon grit out, holding herself back. She didn't know what she would do, though it felt suspiciously like punching Callaghan across that stupidly handsome jawline. "And Hiro... Hiro's my friend too."
She gulped and let chemical bombs slip down into her waiting hands.
"I won't let you get away with this," she declared. "No one is going to let you take Hiro."
"Listen," he smirked. "These men were armed much better than you and your little... costume. I'll give you one last chance. Go away. I'm taking Hiro with me, and you can't do anything." Microbots swarmed behind his shoulders like a tidal wave, ready to crash down on Honey at any moment.
"No. I'd like to say that you'll have to get through me, but there's not even a 1% probability of that happening," she snapped. She raised one of her chemical bombs, ready to trap him and end this right now.
Something tugged on her ankle.
She glanced down. A tendril of microbots was wrapped just above her foot, and as soon as she noticed it, it tightened suddenly. It yanked harshly, dragging her feet out from under her.
With a yelp, Honey Lemon crashed to the ground. The chemical bombs rolled away. She scrambled for another one desperately but found that she'd used all the pre-prepared ones. Black spikes raised up above her, and Callaghan's crisp footsteps stopped at her heels.
"I hate to do this, really I do. But Hiro can help me fix what all of you have ruined. He's the key to getting my daughter back, and I won't have any of you brats in my way," Callaghan growled, face reddening. The attacks reared back to strike and-
Wasabi slammed into his side, knocking Callaghan and Hiro to the ground. Hiro rolled away, unresponsive. Callaghan, though- He got up, steaming like a bull. He huffed, and he puffed, and Wasabi awkwardly danced around several lashing microbot tentacles.
GoGo burst into cafe, slamming the door against the wall, and charged in to defend Wasabi. She picked up Aunt Cass's serving tray, and in one clean throw, cut through all of the offending limbs. Tadashi rushed to Honey Lemon's side and quickly helped her up.
"Where's Hiro?" He questioned, voice rough and breathless. Honey Lemon could barely speak, herself. She resorted to pointing, showing the mop of black hair peeking out from behind a table. Tadashi made a move for his brother, but Callaghan threw up his arm.
Walls of microbots formed a case around Hiro, trapping him in place.
Callaghan backed up against the stairs, his resources cut in half by the maneuver. He struck out violently. Attack after attack launched at the teens. They dodged and defended, met the attacks blow for blow.
This wasn't the big battle they had prepared for.
It was cramped in the cafe, with so many body trying to move around each other and the overturned furniture. There were too many people fighting in such a small space. Each round of attacks came slower and slower, until finally...
"Please," the quiet voice came then, as the students eased their heaving chests and the dust began to settle. "I just... My daughter's out there."
"We know," Tadashi exhaled. He stepped in front of his friends as Wasabi went to check over them for injuries. "We... We know."
"We thought you were going to attack Krei," GoGo snapped. "And we weren't just going to sit back and watch."
"No... I..." Callaghan staggered and sank down. He buried his face in his hands. "It was a diversion. Originally, yes! I-I planned to get revenge. But then... But then, Hiro's microbots seemed like the perfect solution. I could give Krei a taste of his own medicine, show him exactly what it's like to loose everything to that- that portal!"
The man's eyes gleamed and flashed sharply.
"Of course, everything went wrong at the Science Hall. I tried to steal the microbots, but somehow... Hiro got there first... He used them to save big brother over there..." Callaghan waved his hand loosely in Tadashi's direction. "The neural transmitter was destroyed. I could remake the microbots, but it could take years to replicate that kind of brainwave technology. I needed Hiro to be able to fix it!"
"Yeah, okay, you're monologuing," Honey Lemon rolled her eyes. She let Wasabi take her arm, remove the armor, and begin to bandage the cut that dragged down to her wrist.
"So, when he was found," Callaghan rumbled irritably. "I went to the hospital. I wasn't allowed to see him at first, but I managed to get him alone-"
"What!" Tadashi screeched and snapped forward. He was yanked back by GoGo's arms around his chest.
"Hold your horses," Callaghan snorted. "I didn't do anything but ask him questions. He didn't seem aware of anything at the time, so he was happy to answer. He helped me fix the neural transmitter, but he also told me something amazing. Something I hadn't hoped for in my wildest dreams-"
"Your daughter was alive," Wasabi murmured.
"Yes," the professor murmured tiredly. "I had to save her. And I knew Hiro could help me. He had everything, right up here." The man gestured to his head. "But I couldn't take him then. I needed to wait."
"Why not then?" GoGo demanded. "He was vulnerable. It would have been easier."
"GoGo!" Tadashi cried.
"She's right but she's wrong," Callaghan leaned back, chin up and nose in the air. "I may be a genius, but I'm a robotics engineer, not a doctor! I haven't the faintest how to take care of someone in Hiro's... condition. I had to at least wait until he was better. And I needed to be stronger as well. I had burns all over my body, limiting my every movement."
"You seem to be doing fine," Tadashi sneered.
"So I waited," Callaghan pressed on, like the student hadn't said anything. "And I figured out what I would have done. And I changed it in just the right ways so I could take Hiro right out from under your noses. Then, I realized you had found my hideaway. I knew I had to act even more quickly than before. I was hoping I could scare you and slow your progress, give myself some kind of head-start." He shook his head and scoffed again. "That backfired, as you can see."
Silence settled over the cafe.
"What happens now?" Honey Lemon asked softly. She carefully pulled her arm away from Wasabi, and her big eyes slowly met with Tadashi's.
"What happens is Callaghan lets Hiro go, and we turn him in for destruction of property and attempted kidnapping," Tadashi declared, turning on his old professor. "I'd charge you with emotional damages as well, but I think you'll already have enough trouble rotting in prison."
"You won't take me that easi-" Callaghan started, but GoGo picked up one of the spheres at her feet and tossed it to him so casually he was startled into catching it. "What is-"
The chemical bomb exploded, instantly wrapping around him and hardening.
"Yeah, I don't think so."
QUESTION OF THE UPDATE: If you had to design armor for yourself, what quality would you focus on the most? Would you sacrifice protection for flexibility? Would you sacrifice speed for strength?
Tadashi bustled around the bedroom, fiddling with things as he went. He straightened the comforters and remade the beds. He organized all of Hiro's action figures, arranging them as esthetically as possible. He dusted the desk once more, then checked the floor for any loose clothing articles he might have missed. Just to be sure, he threw some clothes in the laundry basket that smelled like they might be unclean.
Today was the day!
Today was the day his brother was coming home. For good, this time! (Hopefully...)
Hiro had been in the hospital for the last three weeks, undergoing a lot of serious therapy to combat the effects of recent traumatic events. Tadashi thought he would be able to recover at home once they stopped Callaghan, but nope!
As the police were shoving the old professor into the back of a cruiser- the man swearing and snarling all the while- an ambulance made its way over from the main battle site. Most paramedics were still working on the victims at Krei Industries, but a few were able to rush over to the Lucky Cat Cafe.
Tadashi desperately tried to wake his brother up, but the younger Hamada wasn't responding. After frantically calling to his friends, they realized the Callaghan had triggered some kind of response in Hiro that pretty much shut down his consciousness. A nearby paramedic was alerted to the situation, and Hiro was rushed to the hospital for intense physical and mental therapy.
Now Hiro was finally coming back, and Tadashi could only hope that he would be somewhat back to normal. Even if it meant chasing him all over town for bot fights.
The older brother looked around the room a few more times, scrambling for something to do. He remade Hiro's bed three more times before he realized what he was doing and forced himself to drag the laundry basket downstairs. He could still do something, at least!
"Tadashi," a familiar voice called. The college student jumped and looked into the face of his favorite nursing bot. He'd almost forgotten all about the poor marshmallow. What with trying to stop Callaghan, all plans to get Baymax released to the public had been pushed aside.
"Hey, buddy," Tadashi felt his shoulders slump. He made his way over to the robot, guiltily patting his arm. "Sorry I haven't checked up on you in a while. How're you doing?"
"I am running at optimal capacity, Tadashi," Baymax informed. "I was alerted to your distress."
"My distress?" Tadashi questioned, bemused. He had made any kinds of pained noises, and he hadn't specifically activated the bot. No one was even here but him and Baymax, so how...?
"I detected high levels of Epinephrin in your brain chemistry today, and you have been experiencing increasing levels of Cortisol every day for the past two weeks," Baymax answered.
"Yeah?" Tadashi leaned back slightly, impressed. Did Baymax just keep tabs on him? "And what does that mean, Baymax?"
"You are experiencing increasing levels of stress and anxiety. Some recommended remedies are lemonade and aroma therapy. From a quick scan," which Baymax then proceeded to do, "I detect that you would also benefit from a massage of the shoulders and upper back, and a good meal. A spike in your Ghrelin levels indicates that you are experiencing hunger."
"Huh," Tadashi grinned. "I know I didn't teach you all of that. Have you been studying without me?"
"Due to recent indications in the brain chemistry of the Hamada family, I have downloaded several articles on mental health," Baymax intoned. If Tadashi didn't know better, he might have thought the bot sounded worried.
Giving the marshmallow an affection arm rub, Tadashi pushed himself out of the laundry room. "Thank you for taking such initiative, Baymax. In fact, I think I'll go eat something right now." The robot toddled after him and watched from the cafe as he busied himself in the kitchen.
"Tadashi," Baymax called softly. The big brother turned just in time.
Hiro pushed open the door of the cafe and stepped inside. He looked hesitant and uncertain at first, but after realizing the cafe looked almost as normal as ever, he seemed to relax drastically. His entire body slipped into a slouch, and he shoved his hands into sweatshirt pockets.
"Hey, Tadashi?" He searched, moving between tables towards the stairs.
"Here," came Tadashi's choked reply, from the kitchen doorway. "H-Here, knucklehead."
"There you are, ya big nerd," Hiro flashed him a teasing grin, and Tadashi couldn't help himself. He darted forward, scooping his baby brother up in the biggest hug of his lifetime. "Geez, no need to be so emotional..."
Both of their eyes were a bit damp.
"How's that big brain of yours?" The older brother murmured into the shorter Hamada's hair.
"Doing great. I counted the number of plates in the room as I walked in the door." Tadashi huffed out a laugh. "You... You really missed me, huh?"
"Of course I missed you," Tadashi held his brother out so he could look him in the eye. He quickly reeled the smaller teen in again. "I... It was... Really... I just..."
"You don't have to say anything, dummy. You'll just embarrass yourself..." Hiro chuckled. He seemed to pause for a moment. "On second thought, yes, continue." Tadashi snorted and playfully began to noogie the younger boy. "Hey! Hey! Cut it out! Way to attack the recovering patient! Geez!"
"I love you..." Tadashi breathed, almost crying again. Hiro looked up at him slowly.
Images flashed through his mind, not one of them real, but every bit a part of his reality.
QUESTION OF THE UPDATE: I know this is old and has many flaws, but I would love to hear your thoughts! Please let me know if you enjoyed the story, if you thought I did anything particularly interesting, etc. :)