Thankfully, Tadashi felt his temper diffuse at Hiro’s response. He really needed to work on balancing his new emotional status. From trauma, medications, stress, pain... He was just thankful that Hiro had such a complicated nature and really hoped he would never see any of these changes.
[#424ef4 “I missed being here.”] He wanted to repeat his apologies over and over again but it wouldn’t do any good. Hiro had heard his initial atonement this morning- still it didn’t feel right. It didn’t really feel fixed. The eldest sat there for a few minutes more, letting his younger brother calm into a more comfortable state before patting his back lightly. [#424ef4 “It’s going to be okay and... for now, let’s plan to head back to the University to solve this mystery. Maybe we can put this incident behind us.”]
Tadashi wiped the last of the tears from his eyes and tried to stifle a yawn. He honestly felt like he was about to pass out. The headache needed another pain killer and his eyes were fighting his will to stay awake. [#424ef4 “I think... maybe I should rest,”] he confided.
Hiro could feel the warmth emanating from his brother's chest and arms as he continued to hold the small teenager, the smaller Hamada's grip remaining tight on his shirt. Tears continued to fall, Hiro powerless to stop them, and kept his head against Tadashi's chest as they soaked into the cotton fabric. He was quiet, the only sounds made for a while soft sniffles. The part of his brain that processed logic knew that he was right, that the two of them partaking in the activities that they did prior to the fire wasn't what caused all of this to happen. His heart, though, hurt to see his brother like this and felt he was the source of it.
Tadashi was right. And he knew it.
His head lifted a bit, the hand gripping his shirt releasing to wipe at his eyes. Hiro's form still shook a little from the strain he had put on his emotions and his body not having enough sustenance to support it but it had lessened. He was still upset but Tadashi was right; he wanted his brother's continued support and encouragement...especially when he was doing something stupid. His brother was his rock, the only reason he had gotten to where he was now. He needed him.
[+red "....No..."] Hiro whispered quietly, wiping tears away again after a loud sniffle. [+red "I...I don't want that."] What he really wanted was a time machine to fix their situation. Unfortunately it wasn't a viable option at the moment. It might be, though, if Hiro worked on it hard enough. He had to admit that he missed being this close to his brother, having physical contact with him after two months was reassuring. It was almost like things were slowly returning back to normal. He knew better but the thought was nice.
[+red "I just....I missed you, Tadashi..."]
He wanted to shake that thin body of all the self guilt his brother harbored. It frustrated him that Hiro just thought existing in a certain place at a certain time made him the one responsible for everything. As rational as Tadashi’s mind worked, he knew exactly that there was no way to prevent the inevitable. This accident would have happened with or without the pair of them. His decision was what got him here in the first place.
Tadashi could feel exhaustion gripping his body, aching from the fall and headache pounding from emotion. He concluded that training Hiro to forgive the past that wasn’t even in his power to change was going to take a lot longer than ten minutes.
[i Just don’t get upset with him. Calm down. Calm down.]
[#424ef4 “Hiro,”] Tadashi sighed, holding his little brother steady to his chest and taking a deep breath. [#424ef4 “If you want to argue who’s fault is whos it might as well go all the way back to me bringing you to my stupid nerd lab that night I picked you up out of that bot fight.”] He paused to let it sink in. [#424ef4 “You want me to not encourage you to be the best you can be? You want to be the smartest kid in the city but only use those brains for easy money?”] If he wanted regret, fine. He could have it.
The smaller Hamada wasn't expecting the sudden embrace from his brother, his form jumping when he felt those scarred but strong arms around his frame. Tadashi was more than twice his size now and effectively able to wrap his arms completely around Hiro's abdomen if he chose to and still touch his own wrists. It was a bit embarrassing how thin he had allowed himself to become and that his brother was there to witness it. It was clear that this behavior wasn't approved of by Tadashi but he seemed more focused on soothing his brother's fears than condemn his new eating habits.
At least for now.
Hiro couldn't hold back the tears once he fell into Tadashi's broad chest, hiding his face in the soft fabric of the shirt. One hand had wrapped lightly around the older male's waist while the other gripped the hem of the shirt in a tight fist. His tears fell freely now that they couldn't be seen while the small frame shook a bit with intense feeling. Of course it was Hiro's fault, how could it not be? Just because he didn't start the fire or push Tadashi into that building didn't mean he didn't hold responsibility. If Hiro hadn't been presenting then Tadashi wouldn't have been anywhere near that room on that day. They both knew that.
[+red "If...if it wasn't for me....this wouldn't have happened,"] Hiro choked out quietly between heavy sniffles. His grip tightened on Tadashi's shirt, trying hard to stop the tears that continued to flow. It seemed that now that the floodgates had been opened, there was no closing them. [+red "I might....might not have done it....but...It's still my fault...."]
This time he watched the reactions Hiro made from the small fists, shaking his head and holding back tears. Tadashi imagined this is what he must have looked like seeing him pulled out of the wreckage of the fire. Young and helpless. It was really his carelessness that caused the rift in the Hamada household and he wanted to do everything in his power to help Hiro feel like he wasn’t the bad guy here. That his brilliant brother deserved to be in that school.
The struggle Hiro went through the utter those words made Tadashi want to crawl into a hole and punish every fiber in his being for putting his own life in danger. [i Look what you did Tadashi. You made your own little brother think it was his fault. What kind of older brother does that? What kind of man stops his whole life in the spur of one moment?] He had been so conflicted about it that he truly didn’t know how to start.
Tadashi had become such a cry baby ever since that horrible experience and those words just destroyed his composure. He failed, Despite the pain in his muscles, despite the tear in his arm, despite every fucking thing that screamed for him not to touch the innocent Hamada, he moved across the bed and grabbed Hiro into a more then uncomfortable embrace.
His legs were on either side of Hiro and his arms around that very thin body. He couldn’t even begin to describe how awful he felt. [#424ef4 “It wasn’t your fault, Hiro. You have to know that,”] he stuttered, letting his tears soak into his brothers shirt. [#424ef4 “The fire wasn’t you- wasn’t me. It was someone or something else...”] He took a sharp breath, his tone serious. [#424ef4 “But you don’t determine my actions, Hiro. I do. Do you understand?”] He tried to keep his fingers from shaking, but the grip only seemed to get more tense. [i Calm down. Calm down. Everything is okay. You’re okay.]
Hiro had always known that Tadashi loved him even if he didn't express it well. The two had a bond that not many siblings did which was probably what made this situation so hard. His brother was the most important thing in his life and the aspect of nearly loosing him almost broke Hiro. He couldn't imagine a world without Tadashi in it and wasn't sure if he could even move past it if the unthinkable were to become reality. The elder Hamada was one of the reasons Hiro had gotten this far in life and he would always be needed.
He nodded at his brother's words, Hiro dropping his gaze to the blanket that he sat on top of. Small hands gripped the fabric as tears stung the back of his eyes and he focused on keeping it all together. He didn't want to seem like a whiny and needy child in front of his brother when Tadashi was the one who needed attention. Still, Hiro couldn't shake the guilt that he felt deep down from his brother's condition and wished more than anything that he could make it better.
[+red "..I just..."] His words came out rather soft as he felt the knot forming in his throat again. It hurt, stung a bit even, and threatened to silence him once more. Hiro forced the words around it, it was something he needed to say and Tadashi needed to hear.
[+red "...I'm so sorry,"] he whispered quietly. The tears he had been holding back finally made themselves visible in the corners of his deep brown eyes, making the image of the room quite blurry. [+red "I'm....I'm sorry that I....got you hurt like this."]
The silence felt cold and agonizing. He could hear the slight ticking of the clock on Hiro’s desk and pace of his own breathing, building his impatience. Until he spoke.
This was a bad idea. He should have dropped it at the dining table. He should have kept it to himself. Maybe Aunt Cass was right.
Tadashi raised his eyes to look at the side of Hiro’s head, messy hair and shaky posture. Of course he knew that... which almost seemed to diffuse his anger like a popped balloon. [#424ef4 “Yeah, Hiro. I know that,”] he replied, [#424ef4 “And you know that I love you too, right?”]
He could feel that parental side of him rising up. The eldest always felt that he just grew up too fast. That sometimes he wasn’t teaching his younger brother the right things. It was a lot of responsibility that he second guessed often.
[+cadetblue [i "Is there something you want to say?"]]
There was a lot he wanted to say but very little of it he could actually get out. He wanted to tell Tadashi that, no matter what, he would always be there for him. He wanted to tell him that he didn't blame the elder Hamada for what happened and that Tadashi should stop punishing himself. He wanted to admit that he was prepared to take full responsibility for why Tadashi was in the position that he was and he would do whatever he could to fix it.
But he couldn't. The words just wouldn't come out.
A small hand lifted to run through his messy, dark hair while his gaze averted again. He didn't want Tadashi to be angry anymore, at himself or at his little brother, and wasn't sure how to vocalize that in order to be effective. Hiro's throat tightened again as tears threatened to form the longer he sat in silence; more than anything he wished he could just lean over and hug his brother tightly. They both needed it.
Stuck again, just like before.
He let out a deep breath, closing his eyes for a moment before quickly running his hand over them to dispel any tears that dared to form.
[+red "....you know.....you know that I love you.....right?"] he asked quietly, not daring to look at Tadashi again. If he did, he might not be able to speak.
There was a small thought that his brother wouldn’t come up but he should have known better. Hiro was much kinder than that and even then always thinking of him. Tadashi raised his gaze to look at the glass, the condensation dripping onto the blanket. He didn’t want to but he took the glass anyway, only allowing a small sip before setting it on the side table. The water did help his dry mouth but he didn’t feel ready to invite comfort just yet. Not even on Baymax’s warning. It made him feel rotten.
[#424ef4 “Yeah, Hiro. The fever is gone and I’m in bed once again.”] The eldest could feel himself getting upset again and he really, really didn’t want that to be misinterpreted with Hiro. How could he tell him? What was there to say without starting an argument on who’s fault was whos? Maybe they should get it out before things festered into something worse. Or maybe it wasn’t the right time? He was over thinking. [i Calm down. Calm down. Keep your temper.]
[#424ef4 “Is... is there something you want to say?”] He had no idea on how to start this- if Hiro even wanted to talk about it. Did he ask the right question? It sounded so rude. Tadashi rolled the gauze between his fingers, looking at the glass of water again.
The clothes dropped into the basket loudly due to the water they still held, the clear liquid beginning to seep from the fabric to the thick plastic under them. He thought about taking them to the laundromat down the street in order to clean and dry them but thought better about it after remembering Cass' extremely long lecture after he ruined some light colored clothes. How was he supposed to know you weren't supposed to put reds in there? He picked up the basket and set it on top of the laundry sorter for her to deal with later and slowly made his way to the staircase. The main living area was quiet, Hiro beginning to smell the warm aroma of various baked goods on the lower level. Aunt Cass was opening up shop for the day. He knew she wanted to take some time off to help with Tadashi but mentioned she only might be able to take a day or so as it was their only source of income. Hiro understood and imagined it would probably make his brother feel a bit better not having someone hovering over him at all hours of the day.
Instead of going up the stairs, he turned around and headed into the kitchen. After all of that, Tadashi could probably use some water. He dug around the cabinets until he found a pitcher he could fill with water and pulled an empty glass from the drainer. Hiro carried the items quietly upstairs and to their bedroom, stepping in just in time to see Baymax deactivate for the time being. Tadashi must have agreed to rest a bit, something he desperately needed. He gave his brother a small smile before filling the glass with cold water and setting the pitcher on the table. [+red "I thought you could use some water after that,"] Hiro informed him softly as he held out the glass to his brother. Once it was out of his hands, he sat on the edge of the bed and brought his gaze up to meet Tadashi's eyes. [+red "Are you feeling better?"]
[b “102 degrees. 101.8...”]
Tadashi laid his head against the towel that the robot put around the base of his neck. The shakes were passing and now he was simply exhausted. The bathroom light bathed everything in a yellow tint, convincing him that he couldn’t be entirely sensible yet.
[b “Tadashi,”] the young man opened his eyes slowly. [b “Lean forward so I may help you out and dry.”] As instructed, he let Baymax help straighten his posture and pull him out of the water, the clothes heavy and his muscles weak.
Once he was safely on the floor, Baymax proceeded to aid him in stripping off the soaked garments, including all his bandages that were now destroyed. His heart sank as he gazed at all the scarred skin underneath. [#424ef4 “Baymax, what happened?”]
[b “You experienced overexertion through stress, muscle fatigue, and chemical imbalances. Your body did what it could to help itself by producing flu-like symptoms in order to stop you from inflicting further damage on yourself. Your immune system is weak from medicines thus making you more prone to infection.”]
[#424ef4 “Why the bathtub?”] He held out his arm for Baymax to rebandage.
[b “I am programmed to be empathic and aware of my patient and his family’s needs. If my patient could not afford the best care then I will provide the next best service.”]
Tadashi looked up into the robots blank eyes, the feelings of shame briefly lifting to feel pride. [#424ef4 “You do work,”] he breathed.
[b “My humblest thanks to my creator.”]
There were small steps and Tadashi looked up at his brother following the comment for rest. He could not bring himself to say anything further and left them alone. His chest was heavy again.
[b “While I do not have all the tools for complete comfort, I suggest you follow Hiro’s suggestion and rest. A pain reliever will be provided.”]
[#424ef4 “Alright.”] Baymax carried him out of the bathroom and back into the bedroom, where he was comforted by the sheets of his bed.
[b “Tadashi, I urge you to use caution,”] the robot stated after his work was done. [b “Any more damage to yourself may result in needing more professional attention where, in some cases, you may not be able to remain home.”]
He should have just stayed in bed. [#424ef4 “I’ll be more cautious.”] He should have just stayed away. He should have just stayed inside that auditorium.
[b “One last check. On a scale of one to ten, how would you rate your pain?”]
He thought of Hiro at that moment. That day when he first introduced his little brother to his life’s work. [i Physically or emotionally?] [#424ef4 “Six, Baymax, it’s a six.”]
[b “We will continue treatment after you have rested.”]
[#424ef4 “Thanks. I am satisfied with my care.”] And with that Baymax waddled back over to his station and deactivated. Then he was alone.
Tadashi pushed his head into the pillow, trying so hard not to think of self hating thoughts. What was Hiro thinking? What was Aunt Cass thinking? Was he becoming this new burden? What if he never got better? What if he kept destroying out of impatience? He wasn’t a hero. Now he was a invalid.
Chocolate eyes lifted a bit as Baymax finally joined them, watching as a large and white hand slipped under Tadashi's head to lift it. A soft hum sounded, kind of like a small fan, before his other hand pressed lightly to his cheek.
[b "High temperature of 104 degrees detected. Immediate cooling is recommended."]
Hiro couldn't respond at first, only able to stare at his brother as he rested heavily against his creation. Seeing his brother like this made his guilt much worse, his stomach feeling as if it were going to reject the juice he had drank not even thirty minutes ago. Thin arms tightened around his matching frame as he watched Baymax carefully lift Tadashi and begin his ascension of the staircase, taking his brother to give him the help that Hiro couldn't. Feeling helpless was even worse...he felt like he was instantly transported back to the fire and only able to watch as Tadashi ran into those bright flames. Tears threatened to fill his eyes, his hands clenching the fabric of his pajama shirt, and he could feel his pulse beginning to quicken again...just like it did on that night.
Hiro felt like he was trapped in a nightmare that he couldn't wake up from.
The sound of the bathroom door hitting the wall as it was opened pulled him from his dark thoughts, Hiro heading up the staircase quickly. Baymax would need some help. He squeezed his small frame between the large, fluffy robot and the wall until he reached the bath tub and quickly turned the cold water on. Once it was filled enough, Baymax carefully set his patient into it in order to cool him down some. It was a dated practice to lower one's body temperature but it was the most effective. Within a few minutes he could see the effects of it beginning to work, Tadashi slowly became more conscious and aware of his surroundings while regaining a bit of movement. All he could do was lean against the wall for the time being while Tadashi recovered, his thoughts beginning the downward spiral with each passing minute. This fever wasn't his fault, too, was it?
Hiro glanced over as Baymax requested a towel in order to dry Tadashi, feeling that he had spent enough time in the cold water to help him. He moved across the hall to the linen closet, reaching up to the top shelf to pull down a clean towel. He would need another set of clothes as well seeing as how Baymax set him in the water fully clothed. He set the towel on the sink so one of them could grab it before going into their bedroom and over to his brother's dresser. He sorted through his clothes until he found a comfortable looking pair of pajama pants and a loose shirt, feeling these would work. Quietly he took them back to the bathroom for Tadashi to change into. Once the wet clothes were shed and he was changed, Hiro gathered up the wet clothes to take them down to the laundry basket.
[+red "You should be in bed, Tadashi,"] Hiro told his brother quietly. His eyes briefly lifted to meet his brother's before his guilt set in again and he had to look away. He wanted to tell his brother that he still loved him, no matter how responsible he felt for all of his discomfort and he wanted to reassure him that everything would turn out okay. His emotions threatened to choke out his voice, though, and prevented him from saying anything. Instead, he left the bathroom so Baymax could treat is patient while Hiro took the laundry down the stairs.
There were muffled pitches and sounds as he laid there letting his body distribute the consequences that resulted from over exertion and utter stupidity. He was smart. He should have known better but these stupid emotions just made reason seem, well, unreasonable.
Time seemed to pass too slowly to really grasp how long it took for a wave of cool air to hit his face. He blinked beginning to focus on Baymax’s hand lifting his head off the floor to cool it gradually. He remembered installing that mechanism into the robots hand. What was it? Four years ago?
Baymax was saying something as something else was pushed against his cheek. Muffles. 104? Climbing? He couldn’t even climb the stairs. He wanted to laugh but left too sick to do so.
Tadashi tried to move his hands but his fingers felt numb. Disoriented, he wondered if Hiro was near and how much the eldest wished he wasn’t. This would make everything worse. Wasn’t Tadashi upset? Upset over what? All this heat. Was everything on fire?
He was no longer laying on the floor and his body was pressed against something soft and cool. He imagined he was leaning against a cloud. The eldest tried to take in the scenes around him but there was so much light and his temples were pounding. What was happening?
In glimpses, he dizzily recognised passing into the bathroom and quickly dropped into a tub of water. His body tingled at the sudden change in temperature, grinding his teeth as he bared through it. A few minutes and his senses seemed to return, sharpening his awareness of the situation and embarrassment. [i Please be alone. Please be alone.] [#424ef4 “Alone?”] he stuttered, his hand now gripping the side of the tub.
[b “Hiro is here,”] Baymax stated cooly before turning to look at his brother. [b “Can you please pass me a towel so that we may help Tadashi be dry again?”]
[i No. No. No. No. God damn it.]
Mochi meowed quietly and snuggled closer to Hiro as the small hand continued to scratch the soft ears. He seemed content with his temporary head scratcher while the smaller Hamada quietly stared out the window. The low voices of his small family drifted into the room though he couldn't make out what they were saying, he was sure he wouldn't want to hear it anyway. If he had to put money on it, it was about his eating habits as of late. The damage he had done to his system was hard to reverse, especially since so much time had passed, and his appetite seemed to be unrecoverable. He just wasn't hungry. Hiro was a bright kid and knew that what he was doing wasn't good for him but it was hard to pull himself out of that behavior.
He hadn't forgotten about the conversation he was having with Tadashi before Cass had returned and was still trying to think of what to say to him. Of course it was his fault, how could it not be? If Hiro wasn't there, Tadashi wouldn't have been, either. If he wasn't presenting that night, instead of watching his brother being loaded into the back of an ambulance he would have been up in his room receiving another lecture about his actions. The cycle would have continued and they could have lived out the rest of their lives.
Now it was too late for that.
Hiro wasn't aware of how long he had spaced out, brown eyes staring unseeing out the window, before he heard a loud thud near the staircase. Quietly he pushed Mochi back so he could stand up, the large ball of fluff protesting with a quiet meow, and rose to his feet in order to investigate. He imagined it was Aunt Cass, probably having dropped the laundry basket down the stairs again and expected to see an explosion of clothes on the stairs and the landing. Instead when he turned the corner, he saw his brother lying on the floor. Hiro hurried over, kneeling down beside him and lightly touching his shoulder. He was warm, much warmer than he should have been. Tadashi needed to be laying down, preferably in bed, but there was no way he could carry his brother up those stairs. Hell, he couldn't even pick him up to help him stand. He didn't think Cass could do it either, she was too small as well. Quickly he rose to stand and dart up the stairs to their shared room to activate Baymax. The large white robot was still condensed into his charging station; Hiro squatted down and pushed one of the activating buttons on the station that alerted him that his patient needed him. Round eyes opened after a soft beep, Baymax taking a step out of his station and looking down at the smaller Hamada.
[b "I have been alerted that Tadashi is in need of medical attention."]
[+red "Come on, he's downstairs,"] Hiro answered him. He then quickly made his way back downstairs and knelt by Tadashi once more as Baymax made his way to them.
[+red "Baymax is coming,"] he told Tadashi quietly, though he wasn't sure if he could hear him. He looked pretty out of it. [+red "Just try to relax."]
The longer he sat at the table, the more upset he became. Tadashi stared hard at his cold eggs as Hiro excused himself from eating by saying ‘he’ll eat them later’. It frustrated him how much had changed because of the accident and how he was only [i now] seeing the radical changes in his little brother. [i Aunt Cass, of course he’s not going to eat day old eggs and sausage.] Why wasn’t she being more assertive? Everything was okay now. Everything is fine!
Tadashi waited till Hiro had left before dropping his fork and looking at Aunt Cass. Her big eyes looked apologetic. [b “He’s been doing this ever since the accident,”] she said quietly to keep Hiro from hearing.
He pushed his plate away and leaned forward. [#424ef4 “You should make him eat. Look how thin he’s getting. It’s been two months.”]
Aunt Cass smiled sadly. [b “Honey, it’s not that easy. I’ve seen so much change- in the both of you. Healing takes time.”]
[i Healing takes time.] That’s all anyone had to say.
[#424ef4 “I’m done,”] he said, pushing back the chair. [#424ef4 “Don’t save it.”] He planted his feet and slowly lifted himself. He shook his head when Aunt Cass made to help him, persistent on staying independent. Eventually, he came to a stand and as fast as he could, made his way towards the stairs.
Tadashi could feel his body heating up, sweat building on his forehead as he used the strength in his arms to lift himself up the steps using the railing. What could he do to make things right? How could he help Hiro get out of that state of mind? That... depression? The more he moved, the harder it was to maintain his control. His legs were shaking, his stomach turning, his cheeks burning up. Dizzy...
Tadashi couldn’t recall when he fell but when he opened his eyes he was staring at the wood texture of the stairs. His anger and frustration peaked as he laid there, feeling heavy and hot. Why was this happening? Why was he here? He spent so much time wishing he’d never ran in that maybe he should have never come out.
He heard someone behind him but couldn’t make out what they were saying. His head was pounding and his skin was getting clammy. [i A fever,] he thought.
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