Hiro took a long minute to respond, giving Tadashi the signs that he was choosing his words carefully in order to soften the tone of the upcoming conversation. This time he was more receptive to his brother’s actions and movements, his fingers going back to the bruise on the shoulder he pointed out earlier.
The silence was weighing on him, making him a little more agitated even though he was physically remaining calm. Why was he getting so restless? Where did his patience for Hiro go all of a sudden? He should be kind, especially after all they had just been through.
Then Hiro spoke, confirming an idea he had lingering in the back of his mind. At first he was upset, then saddened, then upset again. It was a strange occurrence of mental state that he hadn’t felt as extreme since he was lying in the hospital bed for the first week after the accident. A lot of bipolar tendencies that everyone said was so normal after trauma.
But here he was, biting back a bit of frustration. Tadashi had tried so hard to keep Hiro from bot fighting for years and yet Hiro kept doing it. Was he doing it again because of what happened? Was he doing it to have an excuse to not be in the same room as Tadashi?
The eldest Hamada leaned forward onto his elbows and buried his face into his hands, the cool touch helping his building temper. [#424ef4 “Bot fighting again, huh?”] he tried to say without all the oozing sarcasm. [#424ef4 “How’s that going? Did you hurt yourself?”]
[i Breathe. Breathe.]
Even though Hiro hoped his brother wouldn't get too angry and yell, he knew the reality. Tadashi wasn't good at holding in emotions, he preferred to get them out and not allow them to fester. When he blew up on the smaller Hamada, he knew it was just out of a place of concern for his younger brother but it didn't upset him any less. With this kind of news he knew it would come even though his brother assured him it wouldn't; that was the way Tadashi was and Hiro wouldn't change him for anything in the world.
It just made him consider his next moves carefully.
The chocolate gaze remained averted, Hiro choosing to watch the floorboards instead of his brother as it made it a little easier to speak. His hand was absently rubbing at his sore shoulder, the dark colors able to be seen peeking out from his shirt collar again. He was about to go over and sit on Tadashi's bed to explain some things to him but thought better of it, it was best to stay out of throwing range until he was certain of his brother's actions. He knew he would never hurt him but it was best not to take the chance. Besides, he didn't know how his medication would affect his brain.
[+red "I...uh..."] He paused, letting out a long sigh afterwards, and worked out his sentences carefully in his head before continuing. He had heard the lecture about bot fighting at least twice from Tadashi and Hiro was fully aware of how wrong it was, but it was helpful in its own way. It was something [i he] could control. Hiro knew he was going to win every fight he went into simply because his technology was superior and he had power over how the fight went. It was the exact opposite of his home for the time being. He had no control over Tadashi's injuries and wasn't sure even how to help him. He felt so powerless and useless that he needed to gain back control over something in his life. Unfortunately it was illegal.
[+red "....I started fighting again..."] he finally answered, his voice a bit on the quiet side. He still refused to look at his brother, keeping his eyes fixed on the floor. [+red "...and I went last night..."]
The older Hamada stayed silent for the rest of the way home. Not bringing ideas up to Hiro kept him from being impatient but the brain never shuts off. He gripped the wheelchair handles tighter until his knuckles were white. He had to play it cool until he was alone. Enough worry was already settled in the house, another issue with him was unneeded despite their promise.
Aunt Cass was too preoccupied with the cafe when they entered that she didn’t recognise their rattled appearances. That was perfectly okay with Tadashi. He wasn’t in the mood for one of her lectures.
Baymax was waiting at the foot of the stairs where he left him, slowly making its way to help Tadashi out of the chair and, boy, the moment he stood up, he completely felt all the aches where the tension had tightened in his muscles. [i Don’t cramp up. Ride it out.] With plenty of ‘mind over matter’ practice, eventually they made it safely back to the shared bedroom and onto the comfortable bed. He moaned with relief, laying back. [b “Can I get you anything else, Tadashi?”]
[#424ef4 “Nope. Thank you Baymax,”] he sighed, [#424ef4 “I am satisfied with my care.”]
Shortly after deactivation followed a pocket of silence. He rolled his head to the side to see Hiro sitting awkwardly on the edge of the bed. He pulled himself into an upright position when his brother spoke, already fueling an annoyance in his chest. [i Promise not to yell? Like I have any of that energy...] He had an idea what it was already about. The odd behavior from earlier might be getting an explanation.
Tadashi had remind himself to be gentle again. There was a roller-coaster of emotions he wanted to feel and frankly bottling them in wasn’t one of Tadashi’s strong points. [#424ef4 “I promise not to yell,”] he assured. [#424ef4 “What’s up?”]
This whole situation sucked.
Hiro listened quietly to his brother's words, quietly pushing him back to the apartment. Tadashi was right, the technology the two of them had created was an amazing thing and something that could revolutionize the tech industry forever. The little robots could be used for anything one could imagine and that was something that frightened him: if it fell into the wrong hands there was no telling what the future would bring....or even if there would be one.
The smaller Hamada helped Tadashi navigate into the cafe, holding open the heavy door for him and making sure it was shut behind them. Aunt Cass seemed to be pretty busy on filling an order, offering them only a cheery hello before focusing on her work again. That was a good thing as Hiro wasn't feeling particularly chatty right now, not after what he had just witnessed. Small hand shoved themselves into his hoodie pockets, watching Tadashi before glancing over at the staircase. It was his silent way of indicating he wanted to talk to his brother but not while all of these ears were around. Chocolate eyes watched as Baymax waddled over, ready to check and assist Tadashi in whatever he needed, before heading up the stairs.
Once inside the room, Hiro pulled his hands out of his pockets and removed his jacket to drape it in its usual home over the back of his desk chair. The schematics were still around, viewing them only fueled the dark thoughts that were unhealthy for teenager. What were they going to do now? Whoever it was had now seen their faces and would easily be able to track them down...especially in this tech-filled world. He hated to think that way but, if it was a sinister person who had taken hold of Hiro's powerful technology, then this could be the beginning of the end for them.
The dark haired male slowly rolled his bruised shoulder, a move he immediately regretted as a sharp pain shot across it and caused him to pause all movement. Eyebrows knitted together in discomfort for a moment before they relaxed, Hiro letting his arm fall to his side again. He hated to say it but he probably should have had his brother look at it. Tadashi was the safest option, if he brought it up to Cass she would want to know where it came from. After that would come an uncomfortable lecture, stress eating, and some form of passive aggressive retaliation. Tadashi had been trained in some of the medical sciences in order to build Baymax effectively and would at least know what he was looking at without the promise of a massive doctor bill. He'd also receive a lecture, like he would with his aunt, but that would most likely be it.
Hiro waited for Tadashi to enter the room and settle, Hiro sitting on the edge of his own bed by that point. He kept his eyes averted, not yet brave enough to face his brother. [+red "I...I need to talk to you..."] he started softly. [+red "But you have to promise not to yell."]
Tadashi shook his head. [#424ef4 “No, not hurt.”] He was becoming a little sore though the longer he stayed put, biting his lip as he pushed it out of mind.
Eventually, Hiro started making their way back home, staying quiet for a couple minutes as the new information settled in their minds. Tadashi’s analytical thought process was going a little on the dark side, however. His brother’s work was supposed to be discontinued. Only Hiro had the schematics but, as Tadashi knew very well, it was easy to steal one’s work if you had the right tools. Especially something as small as the micobots. All someone would need was an example.
[#FF0000 “Why would someone want to produce my microbots like that?”]
Tadashi looked back at Hiro, the younger Hamada’s face strained with confusion and concern. Obviously the truth they stumbled upon was very scary and honestly something that happened more often then Hiro probably knew. He had to remind himself to be kind with his brother in a moment like this.
[#424ef4 “From what I could see Hiro,”] he started, [#424ef4 “Someone has stolen your idea. It was revolutionary tech, after all. Something that could advance our industry... but how they managed to create a product so close to yours is the mystery.”]
He was thinking about the fire again. How his theory of an arsonist began to make more sense. How maybe Callaghan was in the wrong place at the wrong time. His heartbeat began to quicken, feeling inspired to get home to conduct more research. He kind of hoped Hiro would come to his same dark conclusion. Tadashi felt strange saying it outloud... like he would sound obsessed.
Hiro didn't wait to discover any details, focused on putting as much distance between the moving microbots and themselves. His hands gripped the handles of Tadashi's chair so tightly that his knuckles were white and his muscles were cramping. The smaller Hamada moved as fast as he was able, his sudden burst of speed enough to put a seasoned cross country runner to shame. He couldn't see details of anything around him as he was solely focused on the door ahead and only paused when he reached it in order to get it open. Tadashi yanked the heavy door open enough for them to slip through and, once they had a clear path, Hiro began moving again. He didn't slow down until they reached civilization and were able to see cars and other people.
He slowed to a stop, finally letting go of the chair and letting his form slouch. Hiro's breath was labored, the small frame heaving up and down as his lungs struggled to breathe normally once again. He remained in this form for a few minutes and, when he finally began to feel better, slowly straightened and looked over at his brother.
[+red "Yeah, I'm okay,"] he exhaled softly, his breathing beginning to even out again. [+red "You're not hurt, are you?"]
Once he was certain everything was as fine as it could be under the circumstances, he slowly made his way down the sidewalk with Tadashi. A hand moved up to his shoulder, rubbing it under the thick fabric of his hoodie, and kept his gaze focused ahead. It hurt a bit from their excursion, obviously upset about having so much pressure put on it. Perhaps with a little rest it would begin to feel like normal.
[+red "Why would someone want to produce my microbots like that?"] he asked Tadashi softly after a long moment of silence. He didn't understand how they could even be manufactured, his schematics were still in his computer and the small bots had been destroyed in the fire.
At least they should have been.
The microbots poured out, linking together so quickly that the robots seemed like they were alive. Tadashi gasped as Hiro yanked back his chair, almost causing him to fall right out of it. His brother quickly had him turned around and raced to the exit as fast as he was able, the gathering sounding like a horde of bugs.
Tadashi turned his body around to watch as the microbots formed a wall, moving up towards the master standing at the top of the rafters. A man dressed in black wearing what looked like a japenese kabuki mask slowly raising his hands in obvious command.
His breath caught in his throat as he turned back around to be suddenly stopped at the door. Tadashi reached for the handle and yanked, Hiro swinging him around enough to pull the wheelchair through the door just in time before the microbots blocked their exit.
The sunlight blinded him at first but soon they were heading back towards the sidewalk. Hiro was running, making the ride more than a little comfortable for him as they tried to put as much distance from them and the warehouse as possible. Only when they were back on a busy street did his brother finally stop to catch his breath.
The eldest took a moment to calm his nerves and breath as well, trying to figure out the best route for their most recent discovery. That was definitely Hiro’s tech and someone was manufacturing them. [#424ef4 “Hiro, are you okay?”] he asked, looking back over his shoulder at the younger Hamada.
What [i was] all of this? Clearly someone had been tracking something all over the city as a map was pinned in the middle of the cork board, the surface littered with pins while red string was connecting them all together. Whatever it was, this person had visited quite a bit of the city looking for an answer. A couple blueprints were pinned nearby, showing some kind of technology that Hiro hadn't seen before. Was this what the mysterious, unknown person had been tracking? A small hand reached out and touched the paper, the material still having some softness to it; it wasn't that old. Hiro imagined it was printed within the last five years.
Tadashi's voice pulled him out of his thoughts, Hiro turning to look over at his brother. Weren't they supposed to be sneaking around and quiet? For the older Hamada to forget that fact, he must be looking at something important. Hiro's sneakers tapped softly on the hard floor, echoing faintly in the large building, as he made his way over and eventually stopped at the side of the wheelchair. What he saw made him freeze.
These.....these were his microbots! But what were they doing down here? Large eyes examined the barrels and machinery, more bots being processed by whatever machinery was behind the frosted glass and dropped into the nearest barrel. Hiro reached in, scooping some up into his hands and watching as they fell through his fingers to rejoin their friends once more. The metal was cool, just as it was when he and Tadashi were producing them in the garage.
[+red "What in the hell...?"]
He allowed them to drop, shoving his hands into his hoodie pockets and looking over at Tadashi again. His face showed his confusion and surprise, the smaller Hamada not able to think on what else to say. For once, he didn't have a witty one-liner to add to the situation. All he had was shock.
Hiro was about to ask Tadashi what he thought was happening when the microbots began to shake, linking together and climbing out of the barrels. Chocolate eyes widened and he quickly grabbed Tadashi's chair and yanked him backwards before turning it around to begin pushing him out of the building. He didn't even bother to see what kind of shape they were forming, surviving was far more important.
Tadashi shook his head at his brother's words. [i Criminal? Barely. People broke into places all the time.] Which... really wasn’t a proper thought to be thinking as they moved further into the darkened warehouse.
It was very dank. Dimly lit only by the faded paned windows towards the very top of the facility. The door creaked closed with a small whine and left them in a nearly silent space. Neither of them said a word as they ventured forward, Tadashi gripping the sides of his wheelchair slightly tighter. And, to him, his actions seemed... out of place. Like he should be tip toeing in case they needed to make a quick escape. Such was the luck of being, well... [i like this].
The eldest Hamada pursed his lips, rolling himself ahead without the awareness of his brother. As he rounded a corner, he immediately caught sight of the glowing faded glass walls set up in the center. He could hear machines rumbles. Sounds he was so familiar with at the university that he knew the equipment being used was state of the art and expensive.
Tadashi could feel his heartbeat growing quicker in his chest, the eerie atmosphere elevating the suspense. Someone was doing something they probably weren’t supposed to be doing in a secluded warehouse away from the city and it was making HIro’s tech go active. He just wanted to know why.
Tadashi pushed closer to the frosted walls, slowly making out the shapes of moving machines working on a present project. He squinted his eyes, making out a conveyor belt with something tiny on them dropping into a rusted barrel at the end. His brain jumped to conclusions, eventually making it close enough that he could pick one right off the production line. Something familiar. His brothers microbots.
[#424ef4 “Hiro,”] he said, forgetting for a moment that they were supposed to be silent. This was not right. Who could be doing this? How did they even get the technology and blueprints for his invention? Why was it here? How could it-
Suddenly, there were small clicking sounds, a rattling of tins as the barrels behind the production line began to shake... like they were being activated.
The longer the smaller Hamada lingered in front of the large building, the more he wanted to get out of there. The fact that his little robot led them to such and dark and out-of-the-way location left a heavy feeling in his gut and it constantly told him that the two of them were in a place they shouldn't be. He wasn't one to run away from an opportunity, however, whether it was exciting nor not. It was one of Hiro's traits that got him in trouble quite often and led to Tadashi pulling him out of all kinds of situations.
He watched as Tadashi moved forward, pushing on the doors a bit to see how much give they had. The little bit they budged informed the two of them that they were locked. Hiro was about to ask his brother what other ideas he had when he watched Tadashi pull out his wallet and remove a small tool kit in order to pick the lock on the doors. Needless to say, it was quite surprising to see such a thing from Mr. "Stop Getting Involved In Criminal Activity", and Hiro couldn't stop his mouth falling open a bit.
[+red "Well, if it isn't the pot calling the kettle black,"] Hiro answered his brother once the lock was picked and he had a moment to compose himself. He moved up beside his brother, resting a hand on the doors before looking back at him with a faint smile. [+red "Never took you for one of the criminal element, though,"] he teased. Finally he began to push the doors open.
It took a little bit of force but he finally got them to move, wincing faintly at the loud groaning of metal. It would certainly alert anyone in the immediate area of their presence. Once he was certain no one was coming for them, he slowly stepped in and looked around. From here it looked like a perfectly normal warehouse, though it seemed pretty dim and empty. Hiro separated from his brother as something caught his eye, moving to the wall and looking over some posters and papers attached to it. Chocolate eyes narrowed a bit as he tried to piece all of these pieces of information together, blueprints and maps not making much sense from this standpoint.
It took him a few minutes but eventually Tadashi started to feel better being out in the fresh air. They passed many faces and strange expressions but the eldest used the same tactic as before... Follow closely, be assured of Hiro’s assistance and form of safety. He was not alone. He was in control.
Their compass route seemed... rather long. In fact, Tadashi was getting a little more concerned the farther they traveled almost out of the heart of the city. Closer to the docking bay of San Fransokyo. While his arms were starting to sore, he couldn’t help but let his curiosity get the best of him. He wanted to know where this mysterious signal might be coming from, that is, until Hiro stopped in front of their destination.
It was a large aged warehouse, hidden out of the main eye of the public. It felt abandoned but still unsafe. Tadashi couldn’t believe it but he found himself at a moral cross road. Turn away or investigate? His dark eyes landed on the microbot in the petri dish, fighting so hard to escape out of the plastic confinements like a magnetic pull.
[#424ef4 “A warehouse,”] he answered, examining the door as Hiro pocketed the bot. He reached a hand out and touched the surface of the metal door, testing it slightly despite his better nature to ‘mind his own business’. It was a curious situation... like the death of Callaghan, it didn’t make sense. Which... must have blazed his sudden intent.
Without giving Hiro much of a choice on what to do, Tadashi rolled himself closer to the lock of the door and pulled out his wallet. Inside was a compact tool kit. A nifty invention Wasabi had created in the cases where any genius would have the items he needed in case of a ‘scientific breakthrough!’ as he liked to put it. Tadashi mostly used it for on the go repairs or- in this case- picking a lock.
He could feel his heartbeat slowly begin to increase, knowing full well what this must have looked like. What Hiro must have been seeing in his older brother breaking and entering an unmarked warehouse on the east side of the shipping docks. It was something the younger Hamada might have done but to Tadashi it was new and slightly exciting. It wasn’t a challenge to figure out how to alter the mechanics of a lock and he wanted to know. He controlled his destiny- not some arsonist trying to sabotage a science exhibit.
Tadashi’s gaze lifted to the handle, barely catching the words Hiro was saying. [#424ef4 “It’s okay,”] he said, [#424ef4 “I don’t think anyone’s going to be here.”] He nodded to his brother to push open the door, surprisingly committed.
Hiro followed his brother down the stairs, keeping a few feet behind in order to not crowd him. Baymax seemed to be handling him quite well and he didn't wish to get in the way. He watched quietly as Tadashi lowered himself carefully into the waiting wheelchair, getting as comfortable as he could before making his way into the cafe and quickly grabbing a muffin. Hiro decided to skip breakfast once again, glad his brother was in ahead of him so he didn't have to see the disapproving stare he would most likely receive. He was well aware that Tadashi was only looking out for him and wanted him to get better but he needed to focus more on himself and his own healing right now. Hiro felt he could survive on one small meal a day, he had been the entire time Tadashi had been in the hospital.
Quietly he followed the elder Hamada out onto the sidewalk, glancing around at the busy streets. It was typical for this time of the day, people weaving in and out of each other in order to get to their chosen destinations. Tadashi's voice grabbed his attention, chocolate eyes flickering over to him then to the small dish that sat on his lap. The small robot continued to hit the glass, making a small clink that was drowned out by the city life around them.
[+red "Sure,"] he answered softly, reaching over and carefully picking up the glass. Tadashi seemed okay but he wondered if that was really true. Was he putting up a front in order to keep his little brother from worrying? It would be typical if it was, Tadashi liked to view himself as Hiro's rock and protector. Like hell he was going to allow his little brother to worry about him. The deep brown eyes moved to the microbot still crashing into the wall of the dish repeatedly, beginning to move in a westward direction. It didn't take long for the small robot to change directions again, this time going northeast. Hiro continued to use it as a compass while moving slow enough for Tadashi to keep up before the brothers found themselves in front of a large building.
Hiro had no idea where they were as this location seemed pretty out-of-the-way. If the tiny robot wasn't moving in the direction of the door he would have though they were in the wrong place entirely. Slowly his gaze shifted from the building to his brother, carefully placing the dish into his pocket for safekeeping. [+red "Where are we?"] he asked quietly. [+red "It's pretty quiet, especially for a city."]
It didn’t take long for Tadashi to finish his routine with Baymax. Admittingly, it was becoming a little easier since he knew what to expect- but breakfast? Ha, this was one of those days he would have preferred to skip. He tried not to be annoyed by Hiro’s comments because he was right, of course, and just wanted to help him but... the earlier transaction still bothered him.
Once his shoes were on, he followed his brother out the bedroom door and made it down the stairs with the robot’s aid. Aunt Cass was up early as usual, getting ready to open up the cafe bustling around her kitchen. Tadashi quickly spoke, saying that he and Hiro were going out into the city and grabbed a fresh muffin off of one of her trays. He didn’t watch to see if the younger Hamada had taken anything, he wasn’t in the mood to deal with Hiro’s eating habits this morning.
[b “Stay safe you too!”] she called, watching them leave with a fond smile.
Tadashi gripped the rubber on the wheelchair and began pushing out the door and onto the sidewalk. He took in a deep breath, already feeling the self consciousness creep up on him. [i It was going to be okay. It was going to be okay.]
He looked down at the petri dish in his lap, watching the micro bot lean west... In the opposite direction of the university. Tadashi felt a bite of disappointment. He had secretly hoped the answer would be there but it seemed that Hiro’s theory would appear to be more valid. Maybe it was nothing and he was just finding an excuse to get out of the four wall room. Trying to find an excuse to go back.
[#424ef4 “Hey Hiro,”] he started, looking up at the thin teen, [#424ef4 “Do you want to hold it and lead the way? I can follow behind you better then navigating through the crowds myself.”] Tadashi hoped he didn’t give off any negative impressions to his little brother. He wanted this rift to heal as much as possible despite circumstances.
A wave of relief washed over the smaller Hamada once Tadashi spoke, choosing not to delve too deep into his brother's words. He wasn't one hundred percent sure his story was accepted as truth but it wasn't something that would be pursued in the immediate future. At least he could avoid one lecture for the morning. Hiro watched as Tadashi headed back to his own side of the room, activating Baymax so his robotic nurse could aid him with getting ready for the day.
Hiro moved to his own dresser, pulling out a pair of pants and a t-shirt. He didn't want his brother out on his own just yet, sure Tadashi was the older brother but he still was going through a lot. What if something were to happen and no one was there to help? Perhaps more time out of the apartment was good for both of them and would help repair the small rift they had in their relationship. He quickly changed his clothes and brushed his hair out, then grabbed his hoodie from the back of his desk chair and waited for Tadashi to finish.
[+red "Some more fresh air would probably be good for you,"] Hiro agreed softly, leaning against the wall beside their door as he waited patiently for Tadashi. [+red "But you should probably eat breakfast first, even if it's just toast or something. You're still recovering."]
The eldest watched Hiro carefully as he moved from the bed to the front of their full length mirror behind the bedroom door. He was slow as he inspected himself. It was curious- as if his brother didn’t feel the bruise at all until he mentioned it.
The explanation took too long to come out and Tadashi was no idiot. The parental side of him stirred within him but... he was in no position to lecture if he couldn’t get information as efficiently as he’d like. Whatever the real reason was for the injury, he’d have to wait for Hiro to tell him in his own time. Despite his true urge to be protective, he instead chose to be nonchalant.
[#424ef4 “If you say so,”] he replied, pushing himself up using the desk as support, wobbling slightly. [#424ef4 “I think I’m going to investigate this micro-bot mystery. Give me an excuse to get out and ‘walk’ the city.”] He tapped the Baymax charging station with the petri dish and slumped back onto his own bed, feeling the ‘pins and needles’ run up his legs.
Tadashi really hoped they were passed this but evidently he couldn’t expect his brother to a responsible grown-up like child. That was unfair and he knew it. Hiro will just have to live with the consequences of dishonesty.
The robot maneuvered as programmed and began aiding him in preparation for the day. Dressing, re-applying bandages, distribution of medication... He glanced at his younger brother through the process, wondering what he was thinking in that big brain of his.
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