The room was dark, almost completely covered in blackness. From the shapes, Tadashi recognised that he was in his lab, sitting in the roll away chair near his desk. He looked around, the silence off putting and making him anxious. His wandering gaze landed on a figure in the doorway. It stood there... still and utterly quiet.
His hands gripped the side of the arm chairs, tears at the edges of his eyes. He knew who it was... and he was dead.
Tadashi took in a sharp breath as he opened his eyes, glaring up at the sunlight spread across the ceiling. He quickly wiped the moisture from his eyes and slowly sat himself up to regain his reality. At least it wasn’t a dream about the fire...
He pulled away the sheet and started to stretch, hearing Hiro’s soft snores from beyond the paper divider. [i Poor kid must have been needing that full rest,] he mused as he rotated his ankles.
Tadashi had only been half way through his therapy routine when he heard a faint tapping sound. His listened carefully, identifying that it was coming from Hiro’s side of the room. He maneuvered himself around to a steady stand, slightly shaky on his feet, and peeked around the divider. The tapping was barely louder, seeming to be coming from somewhere on his brother’s desk, buried underneath the disorganized mess.
Cautiously, the older Hamada krept over, leaning on the chair and pulled away the debri. There he found the source of the tapping. A single microbot twitching inside a petri dish.
[#424ef4 “Wow,”] he breathed. Tadashi was sure all of Hiro’s creations were destroyed in that fire but it piqued his interest to know that it still functioned.
He grabbed a discarded crumpled piece of paper from off the desk and tossed it at the younger Hamada’s mess of hair. [#424ef4 “Hey, Hiro wake up,”] he said, letting himself fall into the desk chair with a slight grunt. [#424ef4 “Look what I found.”]
The familiar shadows danced across the divider as Baymax helped Tadashi prepare for the night, changing bandages and giving out much needed medication. This was becoming the new nightly routine, Hiro simply watching as he wasn't much help. Baymax had it all covered. Reaching over to his nightstand, he turned on the small lamp before picking up his book. Another glance to the paper divider told him that Tadashi was now in bed, the soft glow on the other side of the room from the tablet filling some of the void. He liked to think that he knew his older brother quite well and was beginning to pick up on his new habits and routines. If he was right, Tadashi would be calling it a night within the next hour and falling asleep shortly after that. Until then, Hiro would simply read and relax.
The medication worked like a charm.
Just as Hiro predicted, the soft glow died after nearly forty-five minutes and a soft creak of the bed sounded as Tadashi adjusted his position. Not long after that most noises stopped on the far side of the room. He reached over and switched off his light, remaining still for a few minutes to see if Tadashi would have a reaction to it. When he didn't, he carefully got up from his bed and crept over to the divider in order to peek around it. Just as he suspected, his brother was deep into sleep at that point.
Grabbing his hoodie from his desk chair and megabot from his desk nearby, Hiro moved quietly from the room and down the stairs. He could hear the tv set from the family room, telling him that their aunt was relaxing for the night. Another few quiet steps and he was out the door. Sneaking out was always so easy, especially while Tadashi was away, as Cass was too tired from her day of work to hear all the small creaks and groans from the house as Hiro moved through it. His small stature helped with that as well as he didn't weigh enough to make a lot of noise. Hiro pulled out his cellphone, pulling up the page that had his schedule on it, and looked over the words and numbers carefully. He had already missed one but it wasn't a big deal. Most of the higher paying fights occurred later in the night. The next one was a good hour walk away, he would have to hurry if he was going to make it on time. He smiled faintly, putting his phone away and pulling the hood over his head before jogging down the sidewalk to begin his busy night.
Hiro didn't return until the early morning hours, shortly before sunrise. Signs of his wear and tear during the night were pretty evident, he could barely keep his eyes open and his hair was a disheveled mess. He felt as tired as he looked, if not more, and couldn't wait to crawl into bed. With any luck, Tadashi would still be asleep. The smaller Hamada stopped at the door, reaching into his pocket to pull out the key, and unlocked it as quietly as he could. He listened carefully as he slowly pushed the door open for signs of life but thankfully the house was quiet. Closing the door, he crept up the staircase and into the shared bedroom. He stopped at his desk, quietly pulling his hoodie off and setting it and his robot on the chair before glancing at Tadashi's side of the room. He didn't see any indication of wakefulness; Hiro moved over to his bed and dropped down on top of it where he instantly fell asleep. It was certainly a long night.
Tadashi bit his lip as Baymax pulled layer by layer of bandages off, redressing them shortly after inspecting the progress. The cool air stung the exposed skin but faded away once he was back in normal comfortable clothes.
He looked at Hiro’s silhouette through the divider, watching as the other boy sat and waited. He let himself frown in these private moments knowing full well that everything was going to take a long time to fix. At the mention of research, Tadashi curled back into the pillow, not really sure he was ready to continue. [#424ef4 “Maybe,”] he replied half heartedly. [#424ef4 “Though I might just work on drawing out schematics for additional improvements for Baymax.”]
The robot looked over at him from the dresser of orange capped medicines. [b “There is always room to grow,”] it agreed as it started to waddle over back to his bedside.
Tadashi took the water glass that was handed to him and swallowed the last pill of the day. After a few more precautionary minutes, Baymax deactivated for the night and the eldest took to his tablet, quickly opening up his blueprint software to avoid delving into more Callaghan information. Inventing... that’s what he was good at and it comforted him.
The brothers didn’t say too much, Tadashi giving Hiro his space to relax after such an exhausting day. He was really feeling it... and not too long into his notes, he felt himself drifting off into sleep.
Hiro remained quiet as he leaned back into his chair, watching as his brother slowly ate his dinner. It was something he wanted to do, to simply dig into the delicious food, but was unable. He didn't know how to fix it, to make smells not hurt his stomach, and to find the will to eat a full meal again. Unfortunately he didn't think Tadashi knew how to fix it, either. What hurt Hiro the most was knowing he was disappointing his brother and putting another burden on him, a fact that almost made his eyes water with tears. He hated that feeling and the longer they sat at the table, the worse he felt it was getting.
He helped remained quiet as he followed Tadashi up the stairs and to their shared room. The small form dropped onto his bed, reaching over to switch his lamp on, and lay back on the soft blankets. Chocolate eyes flickered over to the divider as his brother spoke, able to see faint shadows through the paper in the screen due to the light on the other side of it. Hiro wondered what was worse, dressing or undressing. [+red "Probably read for a while,"] he answered quietly. It wasn't a lie, he did plan on reading a little bit....then when he was certain his brother's meds had fully kicked in and he would sleep soundly through the night, he had a bot fight to go to.
The thin frame curled up a little bit, his head resting against the pillows, and continued to watch the shadows on the paper divider. [+red "Are you going to do more research tonight?"]
Having studied medical care for at least two semesters, Tadashi could see the signs of malnutrition in his brother... and it made him feel sick. He knew the blame game was rotating between the two of them but he couldn’t help but to feel guilty once more at the sight of Hiro’s lack of interest in basic necessities. Grade 3 biology. Flat science.
The eldest watched the way Hiro seemed to repel his appetite but finding ways around the plate with his fork and wrinkling his nose at pure smells like steamed vegetables. It simply sucked the mood out of the room as he and Aunt Cass frowned in worry as his brother slouched back into the wooden chair in defeat.
[#424ef4 “Don’t eat then,”] he said, forcing his gaze back to the plate before him. Tadashi couldn’t also fall into bad eating habits. Such a risk would be stupid... so he stared at the food, trying not to think too hard as he consumed the dinner. To be able to feel normal at the table was going to take lots of practice.
The two of them were silent and that wasn’t anyone in particular’s fault. It only seemed right, like they were fighting through a period of time just to get to the next part of the day.
Tadashi gently placed his silverware to the side and started to bring himself to a stand, of course, very slowly. It took work but eventually he and Hiro made it up the stairs and back in the comfort of their room within a manageable amount of time. Once he was sitting on the bed again did he start to carefully undress with the aid of Baymax who proceeded with the programmed nightly routine. [#424ef4 “Whatcha going to do for the rest of the night?”] he asked his brother from the other side of the divider.
Hiro watched quietly as Baymax waddled in and around the tables and chairs, bumping a few on his way to his patient. He was just a tad too large for the area around him which caused the large but soft body to collide into the edges of obstacles around him. It didn't deter him, though, as he had a job to do. The proper medication was dropped into Tadashi's hand before he waddled away again which left the two brothers alone.
He knew this was going to come up sometime and would have to be solved, Hiro was aware that as soon as Tadashi figured out about his brother's current eating habits he would try to put a stop to it. The teen was aware how unhealthy and even dangerous it was as the lack of proper nutrients could land him in the hospital. Thankfully he was at least drinking enough water and other things to prevent that from happening while the older Hamada had been away. Still, he had lost an alarming amount of weight and knew it wouldn't be long before he would be on that path.
It was just so hard.
Hiro nodded faintly at his brother's request, glancing over to see Aunt Cass bringing over their dinner. The smell hurt his stomach, a fact that saddened him as he typically enjoyed what was on his plate. This had been her tactic within the last week, cooking Hiro's favorite foods in the hopes he would eat more of it, but it hadn't been successful. He always tried, managing to take a couple bites before his stomach hurt too much and he had to call it quits. Chocolate eyes watched Tadashi for a moment before looking down at his own dinner, slowly reaching over and picking up his fork. He had to do this...for his brother. He agreed to it.
Just as usual, Hiro took a few bites before the fork was set down and he dropped back into his seat a little bit more. [+red "I'm just not hungry,"] he told Tadashi quietly. [+red "My stomach hurts."]
He had to admit, getting home was much easier then getting out. Home was safe and secure despite the need to become sociable again. He really needed to work on building his confidence If only he was brave enough to face his fears. If only he had his lab, his friends or even his notes, but Tadashi had to keep reminding himself that he was already working on something to occupy his time. Figuring out what the hell went on in that auditorium.
When the brothers finally made it back to the cafe, they were greeted with the homecooked smells of a delicious dinner. Tadashi’s stomach growled, having not realized how hungry he actually was since the incident at breakfast. He let Hiro guide him through the various tables until they reached their private dining area away from Aunt Cass’s customers.
The transfer from wheelchair to chair was easy enough, allowing Tadashi to stretch out and relax. At the medication reminder, he pulled out his phone, confirming the time. If he did take any now, he was sure to be tired enough to hopefully get a full night’s sleep preferably without nightmares. [#424ef4 “Yeah okay,”] he agreed, pulling up the custom-made app on his phone to call the robot within range.
As expected, Baymax came to his aid in less than five minutes, dropping the designated pills into his open hand. Tadashi thanked him before swallowing them down with water. [#424ef4 “Try to eat something tonight, okay Hiro?”] he said, as Aunt Cass came walking in with their plates. He didn’t want to be overbearing but he was worried.
[+red "That's probably for the best,"] Hiro admitted softly with a light smile to match. Aunt Cass had a tendency to worry about things she didn't particularly need to, especially when it came to the two boys. She had admitted on more than one occasion that she wasn't cut out to be the best parent for them even though Hiro felt she was doing a fair job. She worked hard to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table, as well as guiding them morally in the right direction. It was probably difficult raising two rather intelligent boys but Hiro felt she did the best she could. It wasn't as if they had turned out to be degenerates.
Hiro walked beside Tadashi through the park and into the busy city, keeping an eye out for obstacles that his brother could run into just as he did on the way there. The cafe wasn't too far away from the park so it didn't take them long to return. As Hiro held the door open for Tadashi to go inside, the smell of dinner hit his nostrils and caused his stomach to churn. It was a regular occurrence now at meals, the scent of most foods instantly squashing any kind of hunger he may have had. He wasn't sure how to combat it as forcing himself to eat sounded extremely unpleasant and he wasn't willing to put himself through that battle just yet. He also knew that since the two of them had begun to tackle Tadashi's problem that the tables would be turned on him; his problems would be next to solve.
[b "Dinner will be ready in a few minutes,"] Cass called to them after glancing over her shoulder. Their entrance had tripped the bell, causing the high pitched sound to travel over to her counter. Hiro simply nodded, pushing Tadashi through the cafe to prevent him from running into anything. He'd hate to see his brother start his healing process all over again from simply running into something he shouldn't have.
[+red "You should have Baymax give you your medications while you wait for dinner,"] he suggested, allowing Tadashi to relax in the chair a minute. [+red "I'm sure you're overdue for a couple of them."]
Tadashi smiled softly at his brothers words, holding the hand offered. Of course Hiro didn’t know how to advance the process but he wasn’t asking for that. He was comforted by Hiro’s sincerity that it actually made him feel hopeful. Maybe things will go better now that he understood Tadashi’s personal struggle with perception.
[#424ef4 “Thanks. That means a lot to me.”] He put his hand over Hiro’s, tapping it lightly. He felt tremendously better emotionally. It was silly to hold such burdens to himself even though he didn’t want his brother to grow up any faster. Hiro was a smart kid... He was far from just a child.
The eldest Hamada yawned and stretched cautiously, noticing how the sun set over the edge of the furthest buildings. He pulled out his phone, noting the time. [#424ef4 “Alright, let’s head back before Aunt Cass starts blowing up our phones. I don’t want to stress her out more than she already is.”] The cafe would still be open when they got back but Tadashi was itching for another meal since this morning was such a disaster. He hoped that he could help his brother improve on is personal eating habits now that it seemed they were on the same wavelength again.
Hiro had been told my multiple people that this transition would be difficult for Tadashi but he had no idea how hard it would really be. From a logic standpoint, the things he was feeling made sense. He had, after all, gone through a very traumatic experience and it would take time to get him back to a stable state. He understood perfectly well why his brother felt the things he did and acted in certain ways. Unfortunately understanding why and knowing how to help were two very different things. Tadashi was the one with the psyche and medical knowledge which meant that he knew how to help himself the best out of the two Hamadas. Hiro's medical knowledge consisted of putting pressure on a wound to stop bleeding and that aspirin helped reduce fevers.
None of that was exactly helpful at this time.
[+red "I don't know exactly how to help you,"] Hiro admitted softly, keeping his gaze on Tadashi. He looked so broken and so fragile; he reached down and carefully wrapped a small hand around one of his brother's. This was as close to a hug as he dared to get at this time, not wanting to disturb the healing process. [+red "But I'll do whatever you tell me to. I want to help you heal in any way I can."]
He gave him a reassuring smile, his other hand moving over to lightly touch the soft petals of the blossoms that Tadashi still held on to. [+red "Even if it may be unpleasant for either one of us, I want you to tell me. You've helped me thought a lot in my life and I think it's my turn now."]
The older Hamada did notice how Hiro moved closer to him which did give him a touch of comfort. He logically concluded it must have been due to his ‘delicate’ physical state and for that he was grateful even though hugs made him feel more healed then he was- but he had to be mindful. Baymax did warn him about tearing his body apart during the healing process. He definitely didn’t want to go back to the hospital.
That being thought, he still felt uneasy about admitting that things have gotten a little out his hand in his brain, chemically. Tadashi knew exactly what was going on and it only seemed fair that he let Hiro in on that knowledge too... despite his gut feeling. He had to get over this awkward heaviness if he wanted to be his old self again even though he knew that wasn’t possible.
[#424ef4 “A lot of things have been ‘triggering’ me,”] he said, looking away and using air quotes around the word trigger. [#424ef4 “You know how characters in movies are always having flashbacks, It’s a lot like that except it happens all the time. The tiniest detail seems to stop me from thinking straight and it’s like jumping from idea to idea except every time it’s the same damn idea over and over again.”] He tried not to go back to that mindset but it was so easy. Easy enough to just give in to those thoughts and overwhelm him. [#424ef4 “It’s frustrating to feel like... like I’m stuck in the same day and at the same time even though I know the clock is still turning and that people are still living.”]
It was like watching from the outside sometimes. Everyone was moving except for him. Tadashi could feel himself getting worked up and he had to calm down. Emotions going up and down. Up and down...
The urge to lean over and give Tadashi a comforting hug was overwhelming, especially when Hiro could see the inner turmoil he was facing. Fear that he may injure his brother more prevented him from doing so but he did step just a bit closer to him instead. He didn't have to touch Tadashi in order for him to understand that his little brother was there and willing to listen and help. Tadashi tried to be brave on the outside but Hiro could see past that, normally he had a pretty good poker face but it had been falling quite a bit since the accident. Despite that, despite the things that made his brother feel less than himself or even human, Hiro wanted to help him through it and figure it out.
Just like all the times Tadashi had done so for him.
[+red "I know that,"] Hiro answered softly, watching Tadashi through gentle chocolate eyes. The tap with the blossoms was soft, Hiro barely able to feel it through the sleeve of his hoodie. He could smell their faint aroma, though, a scent that Tadashi had more than likely grown to love. [+red "I'm not going to give up on you, either. I'll always be here for you, Tadashi, no matter what. It's what brothers and best friends do. If you want to talk about it, I'm willing to listen."]
For some reason, the longer he sat there, the more guilty he felt about trying to protect Hiro. He felt that his inner parental side was beginning to shove him in a corner and he had to face it, Tadashi wasn’t his father or his mother. He was his big brother and while he wanted to remain that role model, he really needed someone to talk to... especially after those two months in the hospital and how screwed up things were getting now that he was back at home. While everything was too artificial at the hospital, everything was too real now that he was released. So fucking complicated. He wished he never took those classes on psychology.
Tadashi sighed deeply, straightening his posture so he was looking less at the ground and more at the compassionate little human he was with. [#424ef4 “You know, a great man once said to me that nothing great ever comes without sacrifice and that courage doesn’t grow without fear.”] He imagined the room where he and Callaghan sat one afternoon, discussing a secret his mentor kept from the world. It was a day that really hammered in his line of work in medical robotics. [#424ef4 “There are times where I might not act like my... old self. Things are a bit warped in my perception.”]
Tadashi took a deep breath, his heart pounding in his ears again. [#424ef4 “I just hope you know that no matter what I say or what happens, that I’m always going to be there for you.”] He lifted his hand, tapping the blossom cluster against Hiro’s arm. [#424ef4 “I am not going to give up.”]
He marked his own words as he said them, hoping that in case things ever did get bad, that Hiro would keep him to it. Tadashi had read too many books and articles regarding cases like his that sometimes things just got to be overwhelming. [#424ef4 “If... you really want to know, I could really use the support...”] He felt weak just saying that. Selfish and rotten all a sudden. Asking his younger brother for help- he shouldn’t. He lowered his hand back to his lap.
More than anything Hiro wanted to wrap his arms around Tadashi and reassure him that everything would be alright, a move that had been done to him on more than one occasion. If he didn't fear the pain and damage it would do to his brother's healing form, he would have done just that. He could see that he needed some reassurance and love but Hiro's just wasn't doing it. Something was happening internally that he wasn't comfortable sharing with his little brother and Hiro didn't want to push it. Tadashi may have been more comfortable talking about it with his friends but he didn't want to unload that burden on him, either. He really wasn't sure what to do or how to handle the situation; Tadashi was the better problem solver when it came to human emotions.
[+red "Because they're pretty,"] he commented softly, watching as the elder Hamada continued to stare and toy with the small bundle of foliage in his hands. He knew how much Tadashi loved those trees, he made a point to see them as much as possible every spring. He wasn't sure, though, if it was because of their beauty, their heritage and history, or both that made him so fond of them. A gentle breeze brought down another small shower of pink petals, Hiro smiling faintly as they landed on his brother's lap and shoulders. [+red "If this is too much for you, we can go back home,"] he offered softly. [+red "I don't want you putting yourself through too much too early."]
A faint vibration from his phone caught his attention, Hiro pulling it out of his pocket to look at it in case it was their aunt wanting a status update or to tell them to come home. Even better, it was the bot fight roster for the event he had signed up for to occur later that evening. Due to his new status in this particular venue he was participating later, towards the end, but he wasn't mad about that. In fact, it would give him ample time to make sure Tadashi would be okay for the night before sneaking out. He could already hear the lecture he would receive if his brother knew where he would be heading causing Hiro to wrinkle his nose lightly. Putting his phone back into his pocket, he gave Tadashi another small smile of encouragement to make him feel a bit better.
There was a pause of silence between the two, making the atmosphere heavy for Tadashi. He tried thinking of something to fill the silence until Hiro moved ahead, stopping by a cherry blossom tree that they were both very familiar with. He watched with pursed lips, curious to what his brother could be doing... until the other came down with a bundle of blossoms. He remembered the first time he did it, using it as a focal point during conversations Hiro had a tough time talking about. He nearly wanted to cry. His little brother was using his own tactics against him to try and spark up conversation.
Tadashi gripped the stems tightly as his gaze focused on the gift. It was too bad these trees reminded him of memories on two opposite ends of the spectrum. But did he want to talk? It would be nice if someone knew what he was going through but on the other hand did he want it to be his brother? He was only 14 and had experienced so many adult situations without Tadashi’s approval. This was one thing that was still in his power.
[#424ef4 “You want two tough conversations in one day?] he tried to joke, [#424ef4 “It’s alright, Hiro. You don’t need to carry all the burdens in the world.”] But the youngest Hamada did at least deserve some explanation for his awkwardness. [#424ef4 “You know how popular cherry blossom trees are in San Fransokyo. They put them everywhere. There was even some at the university...”] Tadashi stared at the bundle, hoping Hiro would get it without delving.
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