Hiro continued to study Tadashi quietly, noticing how his brother kept his gaze averted and absently picked at his bandages. It seemed like he was too afraid to look around, not wanting to see how others would view him, and extremely uncomfortable in his own skin. He could understand that, Tadashi had undergone some incredible trauma and it would take time to undo all of that damage. Still, he hated seeing his once-confident brother in this light, like a piece of his soul had been stolen from him. More than anything he wanted to put Tadashi back together but was unsure of how to do it. He didn't even know where to begin.
Too bad the one with the medical knowledge was the one suffering.
Chocolate eyes flickered up to the nearby tree, watching as the low branches swayed gently with a light wind. Hiro was just short enough that they were out of his reach but the petals could rain down on him. He moved away from Tadashi a bit to the tree, rolling his shoulders before pulling himself up the trunk a bit by a small foothold and making his way up a couple of branches. When he was secure and could lean against the tree a bit, he reached out and pulled a branch close to him in order to twist off a small bundle of blossoms. Just as carefully he made his way back down, jumping to the ground from the last branch, and carried the pink treasure back to his brother and gently set the flowers in his brother's bandaged hand. Hiro remembered years ago when he was having trouble in school with other kids and was becoming upset that Tadashi had taken him to this very tree and done the same thing for him, giving him a beautiful piece of the tree to give him something to focus on as they talked out his problems.
Tadashi was a wonderful problem solver.
[+red "Do you want to talk about it?"] Hiro asked quietly, shoving his hands into his hoodie pockets afterwards and watching his brother again. [+red "Maybe it'll help."]
Tadashi nodded, concentrating on the conversation. [#424ef4 “Yeah, sure. I mean, they don’t bother me.”] Maybe he should tell Hiro the truth. They never kept secrets from each other before since Tadashi was really good at figuring things out. But... in these last 40 hours, his emotions having been roller coasting from stable to triggered in a matter of minutes. This was wrong. There was something wrong with him.
[#424ef4 “There’s nothing wrong with your shoes,”] he said, staring at the yellow laces, trying to keep his gaze fixed to the textures. [#424ef4 “I...”] He felt the anxiety build up again, threatening to close off his confidence. He shouldn’t be scared of pink of petals on trees. [#424ef4 “I just... have a lot on my mind.”]
Tadashi fiddled with the bandage between his fingers, feeling self-conscious. He slowly moved his gaze back to the environment, trying to gain his positivity back by trying to remember some silly memory but nothing came up. Why did talking about trauma have to be so fucking difficult? Making the body awkward and heavy. Hiro must have felt like this too. This is how families get pulled apart... but if he was telling his little brother that everything was going to be fine then he better at least pretend to be.
Hiro smiled as Tadashi defended the kale, a green he discovered that day that he didn't quite care for. There was just something about it that was off and didn't appeal to him but his brother seemed to love it. That wasn't the only occurrence he noticed him eating the strange greens but never made it for Hiro again, a fact he was thankful for. A change in the wind caused petals of pink to dance in the opposite direction, catching his eye and watching quietly as they drifted into new spaces. This park was special to him as it was a place Tadashi took him when he was having trouble with school kids or life's other challenges, bringing him here to get kakigōri and forget about life for a while.
Tadashi always knew how to make him feel better.
He was pulled from his thoughts as he heard his brother speak again, this time commenting on his shoes. Hiro looked down at the well-worn sneakers, examining them a bit before bringing his gaze up to Tadashi. [+red "Yeah, I guess,"] he responded softly. The laces were a bit newer than the converse, Hiro having discovered them in a nearby shop and had to have them. There was just something about the bright color that he liked, especially the way it contrasted with the darkness of his shoes. [+red "Why does it bother you? They're still good for at least another year."]
The moment he was outside, he felt tremendously better. He supposed he never realised how much of his life he spent walking the streets of San Fransokyo between here, school and his occasional odd jobs. Once they were out on the sidewalk, Tadashi took full control of his wheels and powered up towards the park. There was occasionally a stare of two that slightly bothered him but Hiro remained his vigilant protector till the cherry blossoms were in full sight. In all honesty, he was grateful since deep down it was intimidating.
Memories dawned on him once they found a secluded spot to hang for a while. He recalled plenty of times when he’d taken Hiro here when he was down or frustrated with the challenges of being a child genius. Tadashi knew all too well what being an outcast felt like, especially after the death of their parents. At eighteen, Tadashi was already in his third year at the university and wanted with every fiber of his being for Hiro to follow the same steps to success. Now it seemed it like they were both about to be stuck... for quite some time.
[i Don’t think about it. You’ll ruin the good mood.]
The older Hamada snapped out of his thoughts when Hiro broke the silence, smiling at the memory he shared. They did do that a lot too since Aunt Cass was often busy working. Someone had to look after Hiro. [#424ef4 “I do and kale’s not gross, it’s healthy but granted the dressing could have been better. You can blame Honey Lemon for that.”] He chuckled lightly recalling other pleasant times. [#424ef4 “It’s been a while since we’ve been out here together.”]
He remembered Wasabi’s first skateboard attempt and the time where Go Go ‘accidently’ kissed him after she had a little too much to drink. Tadashi felt his smile fade a little, thinking about how he hadn’t really talked too much with his friends after the fire. How they were all together, ready to go back to celebrate Hiro’s performance and how the cherry blossoms looked that night before the sky turned red.
Tadashi gripped the handles of the wheelchair, trying to ground himself back to reality before things escalated in his head any further. Stay in the moment. Grass. Pink petals. Hiro’s shoes. Yellow laces. Birds. People. Breathe. How long has Hiro had those shoes? Two years? Three?
[#424ef4 “You’ve had those shoes for three years right?”] Tadashi asked, hoping he wasn’t freaking out as much as he felt like he was. [#424ef4 “I don’t want to change the subject but it’s bothering me.”] [i Keep cool. Keep it together.]
It seemed that Hiro's dorky sense of humor and hug seemed to be the medicine that Tadashi needed, the male beginning to perk up a bit. This wouldn't be an easy transition for him in the least but Hiro wanted to make it as smooth as possible. After all of the things Tadashi had done for him, it was the least he could do. Hiro didn't think his brother looked as bad as Tadashi was thinking he did, he still had his handsome features. They had a bit of scarring around them but the attractiveness was still there. Sometimes Hiro found himself wondering if he would grow up to share some of those traits or if he would always remain the nerdy little brother.
Only time would tell, he supposed.
The smaller Hamada headed down the stairs and positioned the wheelchair near the staircase for Tadashi to use and waited patiently for the big marshmallow to carry out his medical obligations. His brother seemed to become impatient as each moment passed, seemingly unwilling to deal with his creation's slow movements, which elicited a soft laugh from Hiro. He could be funny without knowing it, his fun personality making it all the more entertaining. Hiro watched as Baymax helped Tadashi to the wheelchair and grabbed he grabbed the handles obediently once he was requested to. Easily he guided the chair around tables to the door, taking notice of their aunt behind the counter as he turned around to back out of the doorway while pulling the chair.
[+red "We'll be back in a little bit, aunt Cass,"] Hiro called out as he began to move through the doorway. Seeing the two of them getting outside seemed to make her happy, giving them a smile and a wave as they made their way out. [b "Just be home by dinner, okay? And be careful, both of you."]
[+red "We will."]
Hiro pulled the chair out onto the sidewalk, pushing it until Tadashi decided to take over then moved up to his side. The city buzzed with life around them, everyone on their own little missions with destinations in mind. He kept an eye out for any obstacles that Tadashi could run into and made sure to voice them until they reached the park. It was beautiful this time of year as the vast trees turned into a sea of pink. It was like a completely different world in the spring. Hiro smiled faintly at the beautiful flowers, shoving his hands into his hoodie pockets as he remained beside Tadashi.
[+red "Do you remember when we used to picnic down here?"] he asked quietly, watching as some of the soft petals drifted down into a nearby fountain. [+red "You'd make sandwiches and that gross salad with the equally gross dressing, we'd sit under a tree and people watch."]
Tadashi smiled at his brothers sense of humor. Of course he should have known that. Hiro never let anything get in the way of things he knew he wanted. He supposed he just needed to hear it. Hear that it really didn’t matter so he could have the confidence in showing his new self to the unforgiving world. He had to be brave if he wanted to convince his Hiro to take him back to the university. Besides, he did love that park.
[#424ef4 “Baymax, activate.”] As programmed, the robot inflated as Tadashi slowly lifted himself to a stand.
[b “How can I be of assistance?”] it asked.
[#424ef4 “Please pass me that jacket on the back of the door.”] Once Tadashi had the lightweight raincoat over his shoulders, he glanced over at the hat on Hiro’s desk. He rarely went out without it before the accident but... for now he’d have to make due without it’s protective assurance. Their real father would understand.
Tadashi directed Baymax to help him down the stairs, since repeating the incident this morning didn’t sound terribly appealing, and allowed Hiro to move on ahead of them. Everything lately happened so slow. He missed being able to live life at his own pace, especially to be able to go down the stairs quickly.
The eldest let out an exaggerated sigh as Baymax took the appropriate programmed precautions towards the wheelchair waiting in the dining room. Grateful that his arms were adequate enough, lowered himself into the plastic covered fabric seat.
[b “Please be careful,”] the robot advised as Tadashi exercised his fingers around the wheel’s grips.
[#424ef4 “Don’t worry. We’ll be fine,”] he assured it. [#424ef4 “Guess we should let Aunt Cass know we’re going out. Do you mind, Hiro, guiding me out? The cafe has a lot of obstacles.”]
Hiro imagined that his brother would be more open to the park than the museum due to the cherry trees, a reason why he suggested it. The pair had gone ever since he was little to view the beautiful blossoms and sit under a shower of pink petals. He remembered when Tadashi would pack a lunch for them and a blanket, the two sitting under a tree and watching people as they walked their dogs and played nearby. They would stay there all day, well into sunset, before they would pack up and go home. It was one of his favorite memories and he hoped visiting a happy place in their lives would make Tadashi feel better.
Small hands adjusted the jacket around his frame as he headed for the door but his brother's words caused him to pause. Was he having second thoughts about leaving? Hiro knew it would be a difficult transition as people weren't exactly the best at hiding what they were feeling, particularly strangers. Many people would stop and stare, not something Tadashi needed to boost his confidence. Chocolate eyes looked back at him as he turned a bit, looking over his frame. Bandages still peeked out from under his clothes while harsh scarring covered a good bit of his skin. Tadashi's self-consciousness showed, at least in his eyes, but the longer he stayed shut away from the world the harder it would be for him to leave.
[+red "You should realize by now that I don't care what other people think,"] Hiro responded softly. The opinions of others had long stopped influencing or bothering him, mainly because he was so smart. Kids could be cruel and he had been called almost every name in the book as he skipped grades and completed school much earlier than his peers. He liked to think of it as an immunity he had built up to a strain of viruses, it made it easier to deal with. Now it was Tadashi's turn to begin building up those antibodies in order to fight his own virus. [+red "Even if I did, I'd still do this with you. You're my brother and what matters most, not other people's opinions."]
He moved closer to Tadashi, giving him a light and careful hug as he didn't want to disturb any healing burns or cause him any more pain. [+red "Besides, the assumptions other people make can't be any worse than what I've been blaming myself for. If they start acting like jerks, I'll make a mental image of their face and build a robot to pound them into the ground at a later date."]
Tadashi took hold of the jeans gratefully. As impatient as he was, he really needed to take everything in slowly and Hiro was a good reminder of that. Maybe a touch of fresh city air will make him feel better. It took him a few minutes, honestly struggling with lifting his knees into each pant leg, but eventually he was able to zip and button up.
He ran a hand through his messy hair, wondering what the hell it looked like after all this time. [#424ef4 “The park sounds great,”] he assured his brother. [#424ef4 “Cherry blossoms were always my favorite type of foliage.”] Using his toes, he pulled out his slip on sandals from underneath the bed used them to compensate for real shoes. There was no way he was attempting to tie shoelaces.
Tadashi glanced down at his arms, aware of all the bandages showing and thought again about not going out at all. [#424ef4 “Hey,”] he started softly, [#424ef4 “Are you sure you don’t want to wait longer? I mean, people will see you with me... like this.”] He gestured to his face, knowing that it no longer fit it normally within the crowd. [#424ef4 “I don’t want people to assume things about us. Mainly about you, Hiro.”]
Even though Tadashi tried hard to hide it, Hiro could see the swirl of emotions in his eyes. Clearly he had wanted to go to try to get some closure on this chapter of his life and discover what, exactly had gone so wrong during the presentations but Hiro didn't think it to be a wise choice just yet. Tadashi was just released from the hospital and still had trouble talking about it; he couldn't imagine the meltdown he could possibly have once he laid eyes on the blown out section of the building. The area still looked catastrophic and a lot of work would need to be done to make it accessible again.
Maybe once Tadashi began to feel better Hiro would be more open to it.
He rose from the chair, tired bones cracking with the light work, and headed over to his brother's dresser. He knew where Tadashi kept each type of clothing as he had seen him put his clothes away multiple times and pulled open the appropriate drawer. Brown eyes scanned over the perfectly folded jeans, a small hand pulling out a pair before closing the drawer and bringing them to Tadashi.
[+red "We can go to the park,"] Hiro suggested, sitting on the corner of the bed and averting his gaze so his brother could properly dress himself. [+red "The cherry blossoms are blooming. Or we can go to the museum."] Once Tadashi stopped moving and seemed to be dressed, Hiro lifted his gaze to meet his face. He wasn't sure if the elder Hamada would be pleased with either of those ideas but it was the best he could think of.
He lowered his eyes back to his socks, his jaw tight with frustration at his brother’s answer. Sure, he could probably make an excuse to go by himself but he didn’t trust the outside world with this new handicap just yet. Handicap... But Hiro asked the right questions. Could he handle it? Probably not. It was a stupid suggestion. The urge to go was simply that. Just an urge.
Tadashi decided not to answer directly and instead said, [#424ef4 “Yeah, going outside is good enough.”] Maybe another time but he wasn’t sure when that would be- if it ever would be. Technically Tadashi was still going to school in their program, using the robotics lab. It definitely wouldn’t be the same without Callaghan but there was always ‘the crew’ as well.
He threw his feet over the side of the bed and realized for the first time how far his closet and dresser were. Already a little antsy, he sighed and gestured to his brother. [#424ef4 “Hiro, do you mind passing me a pair of jeans, please?”]
Hiro's smile grew a bit at Tadashi's response, watching him from his relaxed position in his desk chair. The two had a rather playful and lighthearted nature which meant most of their time was spent pestering and teasing the other. It was something Hiro loved, he knew he could always goof around with his brother but he could come to him with problems, too. No matter what, Tadashi was there for him.
Chocolate eyes closed for a moment in order to rest them and hopefully get rid of some of the fatigue he was feeling before he heard his brother speak up again. Go out? To the Institute? Getting out of the house and adventuring was one thing but heading to the place that caused all of this mess was another thing. Hell, Tadashi could barely talk about it without having a nervous breakdown, what would happen when he finally faced the building that was more damaged than he was? Hiro opened his eyes again to look over at Tadashi who had his gaze averted. Did he think this wasn't a good idea as well or was he simply anticipating Hiro's answer?
[+red "Are you sure it's a good idea?"] Hiro asked quietly, remaining still in his chair as he watched his brother. [+red "Getting out isn't a bad idea, but I'm worried about what going there will do to you. Do you think you can handle it?"]
[#424ef4 “Much better,”] he agreed softly. The eldest completed the last of the routine, glad his knees didn’t lock up this time and watched as Hiro moved across the room. [#424ef4 “You make it sound as if pestering is a bad thing.”] He smiled, recalling more lively times between the two of them. He just wished he wasn’t so bed riden.
On the thought of what to do, Tadashi wondered how Hiro would react to leaving. Was it too sudden? If it were him, he’d probably say no but... He just wanted to get things accomplished. To maybe start using his brain for problem solving instead of overthinking vivid dreams and fragile mortality. For distraction, not that he would fully admit it.
Tadashi hunched over to massage his feet, breaking eye contact before vocalising his proposal, his anxiety already rising. [#424ef4 “So I was thinking, maybe he could go out.”] [i Don’t chicken out, Tadashi.] [#424ef4 “Maybe we could visit the San Fransokyo Institute and you don’t have to worry about me walking. I could move around in the wheelchair no problem.”]
He kept staring at his socks, almost to the point where he thought it was becoming disrespectful not to look at his younger brother. With a deep breath, he forced himself to raise his eyes to stare into Hiro’s, waiting impatiently for an answer.
Hiro finished the small glass of water and set it in the sink to be cleaned later. Even though his eating habits sucked at least he was getting in some fluids now and then. Truthfully, they were easier to stomach than solid food lately. Once he felt hydrated enough, he glanced around the corner to the cafe to check on Cass, wanting to make sure she wasn't in a corner somewhere eating her feelings again. It was a bad habit of hers when she was stressed or overwhelmed, junk food probably made her feel a little better. Luckily that wasn't the case today, his aunt happily filling a box with cupcakes for a customer. She may not have been the best parental figure but she did make pretty good food.
He headed up the stairs, going as quietly as he could in case Tadashi was still asleep. The wood creaked in certain places, Hiro trying his best to avoid them but a few small squeaks still sounded under his feet. He bit his lip faintly as he slowed his pace a bit, tiptoeing up the stairs. Just as quietly he pushed the door open and was greeted by and already awake Tadashi, the elder Hamada sitting upright in bed.
At least he didn't have to worry about waking his brother anymore.
Hiro smiled a bit, plopping down on his desk chair and leaning back into it. It slid a few inches across the floor with the force he dropped down into it with before it collided lightly with the edge of his desk. He turned it a bit more in order to see his brother as he leaned back into it, resting an elbow onto the arm rest and his head into his hand. [+red "You look like you're feeling better,"] he observed softly, watching as Tadashi finished the stretch from physical therapy he had been working on. It seemed the sleep had done him a world of good. He seemed more alert and able to tolerate whatever was thrown at him; Hiro was glad to see him doing so much better.
[+red "She's fine, keeping herself busy it seems,"] he responded after stifling a yawn. He didn't realize it until he sat down but Hiro was probably due for a nap. It had become regular for him to fall asleep a couple of times during the day to make up for what he was losing at night though often times he couldn't control where it happened. Sometimes it was on the couch, sometimes it was in the garage. He wanted to make sure Tadashi was better first before he allowed himself the luxury of sleep as that was the most important thing right now. Hiro could always sleep later but time spend with Tadashi could easily be taken away from him.
The fire reminded him of that important life lesson.
[+red "I ran all of her errands for the day so that means I get to stay here and pester you until bedtime,"] he teased with a smile. [+red "Hope you're prepared for that."]
Once the younger Hamada gave him the go for rest, he gladly leaned himself back into the blankets and nuzzled into the pillow. An instant rush of relief enveloped him as he let his heavy eyes close into the restful sleep he desperately needed. As he waited for unconsciousness, he wondered if he’d feel the same when he awoke. If things would be better now that he and Hiro talked...
It was night and the university grounds were quiet save for the crickets. He was alone on the wooden bridge just outside the auditorium where it felt he and Hiro were just talking. But there was empty space beside him. Nobody around. He wondered, as he stood staring at the water below, if this was what it was like to be dead. Was it always lonely? Being in a world of your creation without anyone to share it with? Were his parents here? Wishing this was finally it?
Tadashi opened his eyes and gripped his blankets tightly, disturbed by his own morbidity. The philosophy of dreams was still a phenomenon that most humans couldn’t describe reasons for- but to think of something so final was so... fucked up. He laid there for a few minutes more, shaking off the cold feeling in his chest, before pulling himself to a seating position.
He grabbed his cellphone from behind the tablet and looked at the time. 2:36pm. He’d been out for almost 8 hours. He supposed it made up for not getting too much of a sleep after the fall early this morning. He lifted his arm, checking the status of his bandages. Everything seemed fine. He must not have tossed too much in his rest. Baymax would be pleased.
The room was quiet save for a small hum of activity in the cafe downstairs... which almost scared him. It was a quiet hum at the hospital too. Tadashi took one deep and long breath, trying to center himself in the moment. No need to lose it. They just got done with his most recent meltdown. He didn’t want to cause anymore unnecessary stress, especially if he was promising everything was going to be peachy from now on.
Tadashi thought about doing more research but disregarded the idea knowing that Callaghan was still open on his tablet, which, again, seemed to darken his mood. Instead, he practiced his physical therapy stretches minding his own pain until he heard footsteps coming up the stairs. To his relief, it was his little brother. [#424ef4 “Hey, long time, no see.”] He personally hoped he looked better then he felt. Mentally and physically. [#424ef4 “I hope Aunt Cass isn’t overworking herself down there.”]
Nothing had felt better in these few months than being in his brother's embrace again. It was something Hiro sorely missed and needed; it was amazing what a single, long hug could do for his emotions. It were almost as if the world was righting itself and everything would be alright; it was almost like old times. He remembered when he was younger and would run to Tadashi for everything, the older Hamada would scoop him up in his arms similar to this and tell him all the words that he needed to hear. No matter what the situation was, he could always make Hiro feel better.
Once his emotions had calmed down a bit and he was beginning to feel better, he felt a few gentle pats to his back before hearing those reassuring words again. Tadashi still hadn't lost his touch. He remained in those long arms for a few more moments before he straightened up again, sniffling once more, and looking up at his brother. He looked sore and tired, his eyes barely able to hold themselves open. It seemed that the morning's excitement was beginning to set it. Hiro pulled himself away at Tadashi's final statement, giving him a small smile and wiping any remnants of tears from his face. [+red "Get some sleep, Tadashi,"] he responded quietly, crawling off of the bed and running his hand through his hair. [+red "I promised Aunt Cass I'd pick up a few things for her so I probably won't be back until the afternoon. Just take it easy, okay?"]
Once Tadashi seemed to be settled, Hiro walked quietly over to his side of the room and changed from his pajamas. As he picked up the blue hoodie from the back of his desk chair, he stole a glance over at his brother to see him nearly passed out under his blankets. He smiled faintly at this as it was reassuring to see him resting. Hiro pulled it on as he headed down the stairs and into the cafe, making his way over to Cass who stood behind the glass counter and was arranging some cupcakes inside.
[+red "I can go pick up your orders now, if you want,"] he informed her softly. She turned and gave him a gentle smile before straightening up and pulling an envelope from her apron and handing it to her nephew. [b "It isn't much but it is a bit of walking,"] she informed him. Hiro didn't mind walking, it gave him an opportunity to get out of the apartment for a bit and organize his thoughts. Besides, the longer he was away and the apartment was quiet, the longer Tadashi could rest and recover. [b "There should be a little bit of cash left when you finish, you can use it to get yourself a treat before you come back."]
Hiro pocketed the envelope, giving her a small smile before heading out the door and onto the busy San Fransokyo sidewalk. He didn't need to look at the list just yet as he remembered the stores from yesterday when is aunt told him, he was gifted with an excellent memory and wouldn't need to look at it until he was getting money out to see what the bill would be. Already he had a route planned which would be the most efficient; it was better to start four blocks away and make a large circle. So that's what he did.
As predicted, he didn't return until mid afternoon. Hiro carried the requested items into the cafe and set them down on an empty table then pulled the envelope with the remaining cash from his pocket. He handed it to Cass before disappearing into the kitchen to get a glass of water. He wondered how his brother was doing, if he had time to rest and relax like he desperately needed.
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