Things You Said Through Your Teeth

"Bot fighting is illegal Hiro," Tadashi hisses over the wind whipping past their faces. "You're going to get yourself arrested!"

"Bot fighting is not illegal," Hiro shoots back smoothly, as if he has said the same line a hundred times over. "Betting on it? Now that's illegal." The teen squeezes his brother's shoulders lightly, as if trying to ease some of the tension building there. "Besides, I'm making big bucks here bro; this is way more than just a pretty penny!"

Over the motor of Tadashi's vespa, Hiro can hear his older brother's molars start to grind. "Hiro, this is the fourth time this month! I can't believe I'm having this conversation with you again!"

An eye roll.

"Whatever, it's not like you spend enough time with me to actually have a full conversation like this anyway," the teen mutters under his breath so Tadashi can't hear.

From the way his brother tenses and stays stiff as a rock, it's obvious he hadn't said it quiet enough.

The elder's head cocks to the side and his mouth opens, as if he's about to say something, and Hiro's heart leaps into his throat; the butterflies in his diaphragm come to life in one moment, and die just as quickly in the next.

His brother never takes his eyes off the road.

Hiro feels sick to his stomach.

When they finally pull up to the driveway at the back of the cafe, Hiro makes no move as the engine to the vespa cuts off, throwing them into the silence of nighttime San Fransokyo.

"Get off," Tadashi says, voice gruff and brooking no arguments. He's speaking through his teeth, and something in Hiro jolts, nerves set alight and buzzing. It takes the genius a moment to register the fizzing sensation underneath his skin, and when he does, it's a race to scramble off the back of the vehicle and stand off to the side.


Hiro's never been afraid of Tadashi - not in his whole life. Fear was not an emotion that was associated with his big brother; it wasn't a thing that happened-

-until now apparently.

When Tadashi turns around from placing away their helmets, his expression is stormy - all furrowed brows pulled low over dark eyes and an angry mouth. His brother's shoulders are hunched, almost as if he were a wild animal with its hackles raised. Clenched fists grip the keys in his hand tight enough that Hiro can see the area around the flesh of Tadashi's palm turn white and blotchy red.

This is the angriest he's ever seen Tadashi.

It scares him.

What scares him more is that his elder brother - not even once since they've gotten home - has looked him in the eye.

"Go to bed," Tadashi says behind pearly whites that seem sharper that night than any other.

Hiro flies to his bed and he doesn't get out.

Not even when his older brother stubs his toe on the last step of the landing and curses for the first time in fourteen years.

"You never learn, do you?"

It's not a question; it's a statement; an observation; a quote pulled out of his brother's Big-Fat-Quotes-To-Use-When-Hiro-Does-Something-Stupid-Again book.

"Every. Single. Time, Hiro."

Each word stings like a bitch.

Stupidly, Hiro recalls that heat rises. His face feels hot. Maybe it's because of the anger bubbling in his chest, or maybe it's because of the anxiety roiling in his gut. Either way, his head feels like a hot air balloon.

"Maybe I don't wanna learn," he mumbles into Tadashi's shoulder. His eye throbs and his ankle stings. His knees are scratched up and Hiro can feel blood dripping down to his shins. He's hurting, but he's hurting and mad.

"Maybe I don't want to learn, 'Dashi." His voice is small, pathetic. "Maybe-" a falter - "maybe I don't want to go to college like you and have people teach me things that I already know."


"Maybe-" his voice is rising- "I don't want to be like you, Tadashi. What if I'm serious about this? With Megabot, no one can beat me; I'm practically a legend in the rings!"

"Hiro, if this is about fame, I swear-!"

"What if it isn't?!" Hiro yells suddenly, hands gripping the itchy fabric of his brother's cardigan as they turn the last corner on their way home.

It's déjà-vu all over again, with the silence and the anger and the sickness of the stomach. The engine kills and silence swallows the brothers whole. It's well after Tadashi has carried Hiro upstairs and patched him up before the elder speaks.

"What then," he asks, tone defeated and sounding as exhausted as its owner looked. An arrow of guilt pierces through Hiro.

"It's just you never-… You just- …" Hiro knows almost every mathematical equation out there, and can recite Pi until the fifty-four thousandth place, but tell him to put his emotions into words and he's back to being on the level of a toddler. "You're always just- gone. And I'm tired of you not being there."

The unspoken, -for me, doesn't need to be tacked on to the end of Hiro's sentence; the words ring clear enough in the echoed muteness of their room.

"You just don't get it," Tadashi gets out through his teeth. "This isn't about me. It's-" he fists his hair in a tight grip. "It's you-"

Tadashi is just as bad at putting his emotions into words.

"Oh, so now it's my fault?!"

Hiro is still worse.

"No-! It's not- Hiro-"

"It's not what? My fault that-"

"It's you!" Tadashi screams, throwing his hands down. "It's always been you!"

Hiro stills.

"All of this- Everything is always for you, Hiro! Why don't you consider that once in a while, huh?! Consider that, the only reason why I ever do anything is for you and this family! You're all I have left! I can't lose you too!"

Hiro forgets how to breathe.

Tadashi just chooses not to.

Mochi walks into the room on silent paws and the darkness of the night seems more palpable without noise to fill it with static.

"Forget it," his brother says after a pause; the default is back - he's speaking through his teeth. Calmly, quietly, dangerously - "Just… Go to bed."

After the fire, Hiro desperately wishes he hadn't listened to the words Tadashi had said through his teeth.