If there was a word that could best describe Hiro's first three days back home...:
He was shocked by how much his home had changed, shocked how kindly everyone was treating him... Hiro was even shocked he was back home. There were plenty of times he would shake his head a little and give them a straight look or tell them he wasn't a baby. Or an invalid. There were times he had to hide a smile at their unease.
But, there were plenty of times Hiro was truly unnerved or cheesed off by all of their careful behavior. The way his friends were always unnecessarily sensitive to what Baymax assured them was a normal reaction after a POW-induced experience. And then, how Meikomo would smile uncomfortably across the table at him and even Dian quietly kept her distance, how Aunt Cass was uncharacteristically fussy... even more then when he was first depressed! But what bothered Hiro most of all was Baymax.
He remembered his warm, cuddly best friend's inadvertent goofiness and love for him.
That love was still there, but, something was so different now.
Baymax was always careful with Hiro, which in itself wasn't unusual as everyone was, but that wasn't it entirely. The robot would always knock on the door before entering, he still gave healthcare advice but it always was proceeded by Baymax asking if Hiro wanted it, and, even though no one brought up missions, it still hurt Hiro when he left.
He didn't ask if it was okay or if Hiro wanted to go.
Once he was assured Hiro was doing fine that day, Baymax would lead the team off.
On the fourth day of Hiro staring out the window of his room, someone knocked on his door. "Come in," he said. There were some light footsteps and Hiro turned in surprise to see a grinning little boy running up to him. He grinned back, and, feeling like a total outsider, looked up for permission to pick Little Huan up. Mei smiled, then saw his face.
"Oh...yeah," she picked up her son and placed the excited boy in Hiro's lap, "Definitely understand that look." Mei watched him glare in frustration out the window, before he felt Huan tugging curiously at his short hair and smiled down at him. "Want to talk...?"
"They're gone again," Hiro said limply after a moment.
"Guess you got an appointment with a real psychologist tomorrow, huh?"
He sighed at her half-joking attempt; Dian(e) Yu was a frequent humor booster.
She sighed as well. "I am seriously opened to talking, Hiro."
Mei leaned forward a little and he repositioned himself a bit.
"I just don't understand why..." Hiro paused, looking up. "It's more than I could ever have hoped that they'd forgive me," he explained, "But why do they have to treat me so different now?" Tears formed in his eyes. "I'm still the same Hiro I always was. I'm trying so hard to be normal and they act like they don't even know me. Like I'm not..."
"Who you were?"
"They always knew who I was," Hiro glared away at the floor. He had done an overhaul and recycled his old room into part lab, part old room and part of what it had been. "It doesn't matter that I came back, it's just what I thought. I'm just a stranger to them."
"Hiro," The older girl touched his arm and he met her eyes, "I was just a stranger, too, remember?" she said gently, but for once he wasn't being talked down to. In fact, only GoGo talked to Hiro like he had messed up; not like he was messed up. So he nodded.
"I just wish they wouldn't treat me like this... especially Maxie."
"He still loves you, Hiro."
"I know," he replied.
"Maybe... maybe they're scared, too. Like we all get."
"I know they're scared of me," Hiro said ironically, hoisting Huan up by his hands. He smiled at the boy and the boy smiled back. "But you're not scared of me, huh Huany?"
Mei conceded. "Maybe they're scared because they don't know what to say, Hiro."
He looked at her, then nodded again. "I have to start over... and give it more time."
Mei nodded back and Huan pressed his face to the window. Hiro chuckled and blew on the glass, drawing a face in the condensation. She joined them and the three did this together for a few minutes before the boy fell asleep in his cousin's arms. Hiro calmed inside, holding the child and understanding it would take time to rebuild what he'd lost.
She touched her son's head, Hiro smiled.
Or... what he thought he'd lost.
Baymax watched the cloud patterns drift across the sky. He tried to see a pareidolia image in them, as Hasaki had taught him once when Baymax had taken him up here. It was one of only a few times. If robots could think abstractly, they would be humans.
The robot turned to the shy human standing on the turbine behind him.
"Hiro," He said, as if his presence there had been half-expected.
His patient's orange-gold eyes were hesitant, shimmery like just before a soft sunset.
Baymax was a little puzzled that he'd had this thought.
Hiro smiled sheepishly. "Can I watch the clouds with you?"
The robot tilted his head. "Of course you can, Hiro. Though I am normally here alone."
Even as guilt hit his heart, Hiro smiled again and walked slowly over to sit beside him.
A few moments passed and Hiro looked up at him.
"I've come to challenge you for the leadership of Big Hero 6," he grinned, fist up.
Baymax blinked. "You have?"
Hiro sighed. "No." he looked out on the horizon. "I wanted to ask you if I'm still..."
The robot cocked his head.
"On the team?"
Hiro didn't meet his eyes.
Baymax nodded slowly. "You always are, Hiro. Big Hero 6 is not my team to lead." He saw Hiro brighten. "However, there is still the matter of your overall health and ability to assimilate back into your life. Which is often the case for those affected by... PTSD."
Hiro kept looking outwards. Baymax joined him.
After almost a minute, the teen found something to say.
"Hasaki told me he might only have 10 to 25."
The teen got up and faced him. "Baymax!" He broke the barrier.
"Why are you doing this?!" Hiro demanded, desperate for the robot's friendship.
"Hiro, I am not-,"
"Yes you ARE! You're treating me like I'm... I'm different. And... and not worth your time. Like you did six months ago. I tried, Baymax, really, I've tried being here and being a good nephew, and friend, and hero. And I failed! I just totally FAILED!" When Baymax finally stood and held his arms out, Hiro rushed into them like a bullet. Tears streamed down his face as he clutched the robot's hard waist. "Take me back, buddy."
"Hiro," Baymax said softly, placing his hands on the teen's back.
His eyes melted like gold when he looked up again. "Baymax, take me back." he pled.
"Hiro, I -,"
For once, Baymax had no words.
Hiro dropped his arms, defeat heavy in his heart as he realized...
Baymax had taken him back. Before. And again.
It's too late, isn't it? He thought.
Hiro understood now.
"You can't trust me," he said.
Baymax looked at him for a moment, the teen dropped his head with a nod and started away when he was swept up into a firm embrace. His eyes nearly leapt out of his head and his breath nearly strangulated him ... he blinked hard and then brushed the tears away ineffectively with his hand, and hugged Baymax back. The robot didn't ask more.
But Hiro pulled back and looked him in the eyes.
"I can't be selfless," he admitted. "I can't be... leader anymore. I get it now."
"Hiro," Baymax put him on his feet, removed his helmet and his own glove, then gently wiped the tear streaks from his face. Hiro smiled at this. "It is programmed into me to protect you. And, it is my decision, to love you." The boy pressed his hand to his face.
"I love you too, buddy."
Curiosity was in Baymax's eyes but he didn't force the issue. He didn't hold it over his best friend and patient's head to tell him what had happened or his reasons for all that had occurred. Hiro and Baymax ended up sitting back down together, closer this time.
Running his fingers down his face, Hiro turned thoughtful.
"I didn't go with Hua because I wanted to rebel or because of my parents."
Baymax turned at this. "GoGo has said it may have been your feeling unappreciated."
Hiro laughed a little. "I thought so, too." he shook his head. "Man, what a selfish turd I am." He was aware of the depth of this understatement, of how he didn't deserve to be next to this selfless hero... or how, "Baymax, I didn't think you were alive," Hiro let out his greatest fear. "I... I knew that Hua had to be lying, like I thought the team was... I couldn't do it." Hiro looked up at him right over his head. "I reverted right back to me."
"You are you."
"Baymax," his shook head, bemused.
"I have never fully understood why you feel my existence is imperative to yours, Hiro."
The robot then decided to find out why, so he asked.
"I couldn't be the man Tadashi and Aunt Cass wanted me to be without you."
"My actions would never have determined that, even if my being there benefited you."
"Buddy," Hiro grinned. "It's because of you that I benefitted at all."
Baymax listened to this.
"I disagree," he said honestly. "I believe with or without my interference, your life-,"
"Baymax, I'd be DEAD without you."
"This statement is true, but does not contradict my previous opinion."
"And what about when I die?!" Hiro leapt up and asked him. "What will you do? And if something happens to you when I'm alive, or, or..." Baymax placed his hands on Hiro's shoulders, telling him he still accepted that Hiro felt this way about him, who chuckled in spite of himself. "Guess I do have a problem, huh?" He admitted and plopped down.
"Hiro, there is no guarantees," Baymax said sagely, the voice of a wisdom from many, many different times and people, "But I can guarantee one thing," he craned his head to look at Hiro and coax him to do this too, "And that is I will not ever give up on you."
A peaceful nod, a deep sigh, "Thanks, buddy."
"Now you must learn to fly." Baymax stood up.
Hiro smiled, bemused again. "Baymax, I already know how to fly."
"You must learn to fly with your body and soul, not just your mind. It is important."
His friend laughed out loud. "Maxie, my mind is the most important thing about me!"
Baymax gently rose off the turbine and held his hand out to Hiro, "Trust me," he said in the voice that was his own, "I remember before you went to China, Hiro, a dragon who taught me to fly with more then just my armor. Who taught me to feel as I flew."
Hiro smiled, remembering just the dragon Baymax meant. He took his hand.
They were best friends still, both realized, and always had been.
"Wasabi," GoGo said for the third time as he kept stirring his green tea ponderously.
He didn't seem to hear her, his fingers crammed into his dreadlocks as he thought.
Honey and Fred wisely removed their own arms from the table but GoGo merely pulled a twig from an Ikebana arrangement and placed it in his hair. The side of his lips went up and he brushed it out without looking, taking a deep breath over his tea. GoGo was abated and Honey and Fred were able to breathe. However, the four were right back to where they had been, back to where they always seemed to be: what to do about Hiro.
"Y'think maybe we should just..." Fred started to say it.
"It isn't fair to keep pushing him like this," Honey voiced her agreement.
Wasabi had folded his arms and laboriously exhaled through his nose.
"GoGo," He laid his eyes on her, "You and Baymax really spearheaded things all of this time, especially..." the man exhaled heavily, his eyes averting briefly, "When Tadashi passed on. It was your idea to call Hiro, your idea to find him, you never gave up." He was have trouble saying this, but GoGo still listened patiently. "I think it's up to you..."
"I agree," Honey said, then added, "I mean, you worked on Baymax day and night."
Fred smiled at this memory of his friend's courage, "Yeah, Leiko, if anyone deserves to be the leader, it's you." Honey and Wasabi nodded at this. "When Baymax gets back-,"
"I have returned." The robot announced with a ring of triumph to his agreeable voice.
They all looked up along with Aunt Cass and Dian as Baymax came to the front door, peered up, then bent forward a little (as much as he could) to allow Hiro the chance to duck his head as they both entered the Lucky Cat Café. Everyone was surprised to see Hiro riding on Baymax's shoulders, before turning relieved. This is what they'd missed!
Hiro slipped off of him, gave his best friend a big hug, then turned to the team.
They started to get up before habitually stopping, looking happy but still unsure.
Hiro nodded slowly. "I should've expect this," he shrugged.
"Híro," Honey-Lemon started, but she had missed him so much, "We love you, but..."
"Fine, I'll do it," Fred walked over and hugged his friend. Hiro chuckled and returned it.
"Guys... girls, I'm not gonna ask you to take me back. It's not my place anymore."
"Hiro has already asked me," Baymax inserted.
To this, Hiro grinned restrictively and nudged his belly, "Thanks, buddy."
"Dude, we know you really wanna come back." Fred told him.
Wasabi shrugged lightly when Hiro turned his way. "But it's not up to us..."
He and Honey looked at GoGo.
"Oh..." She shook her head. "Oh now, stop. I haven't agreed to anything."
"GoGo, you would make an excellent leader." Baymax concurred with a head tilt.
"GoGo as leader...?" Hiro smiled in amusement.
"I have to agree," Aunt Cass smiled too, concentrating on her gleaming counter.
Her nephew walked up to GoGo. "Listen, I know what you did back there... that night."
She nodded, but took no credit. "It was nothing more than any of us would've done."
"I know," he looked at all of them. "I don't deserve this, but, can we still be friends?"
Fred nailed him in the arm.
"And if you ever ask us that again, it'll be twice as hard!"
Hiro winced comically, and they all laughed together.
"Hiro," GoGo nodded for the staircase that would take them to the roof.
He understood and followed after her. Wasabi caught his arm and Hiro shook his fists to which the man reached to mess the hair that was no longer on his head, paused a moment, then pretended to whack him when Hiro butted his hand away. They watched as GoGo and Hiro left before turning to Baymax for answers; the robot merely blinked.
"Hiro will be all right." He ascertained.
With that said, the family finally went back to their normal routine.
"Anymore of these pep talks and I'll be a basket case," Hiro said as he sat down.
GoGo placed her boot against Tadashi's old pigeon coop and leaned back.
The sun was just starting to arch down in the sky.
"This isn't really a pep talk," she said. "But you don't have to keep lowering yourself down, Hiro." GoGo noted how he wouldn't stand up, to which he sighed. "Come on... you know this is ridiculous. Stand up and talk to me." The teen did as he was told, just as he had been for the last three days. Both feeling unsatisfied, they looked to the sky.
Hiro didn't know what to say.
"What was it like living on your own?" She asked.
He smiled a little. "Awesome, liberating..."
GoGo nodded at this long-ago description of herself.
His shoulders dropped. "Lonely," he looked back and smiled wryly at her. "Miserable."
"That's exactly how we felt when you were gone."
"I'm..." Hiro knew she had his number. "I'm not really good at this."
"I've never been good at this," GoGo met his eyes, equally at odds with this dilemma.
They were the same height now.
"But you tried."
"So did you."
Hiro's head fell against the eaves of the staircase. "Well, back to square one, then."
GoGo had something else in mind.
"Go," she said simply.
He looked at her, puzzled.
"Go out into that world that isn't ours and do something. Something that Hiro wants."
"You're... telling me to go?"
"I'm telling you that you know what's best for you. You have a good heart and mind, Hiro. It should be your choice what you do with them." She told him, then looked to see the sun setting on his fourth day here. Hiro smiled at her and told her, "Nice try."
"I could leave," Hiro said.
"But then I'd be just doing what I did before." He shook his head. "No, I'm staying."
Hiro saw her lift a brow at that.
"I'm not just gonna... put Tadashi's hat on and walk symbolically down the road. For real, GoGo, is that what you think I'm gonna do? I'm gonna stay here and be reliable."
"But is that what you want?" She countered calmly.
"What I want..." Hiro thought it over. "I want my family. I want my Aunt Cass, and my cousins and Baymax... you guys." He smiled. GoGo nodded. "More then anything else, even more then I want my freedom or to be a hero." A noise came from below the two.
"Think fast," GoGo wasn't merely speculative now.
"Are... are they here for me?" Hiro was anxious. "Oh man, I wonder what they found."
She grasped his shoulder. "Hiro, no one is taking you from us. Not even you."
He smiled at her, trusting his friend.
"Don't you *ever* doubt that again." GoGo said. "And yeah, we're gonna re-match."
Hiro hugged her and she hugged him back.
"Someday," she promised.
"I'm tellin' you!" Hiroku Hamada explained to the agents and two lawyers (one being his own) as they stood outside the remodeled café. "I haven't seen my son, his wife or my two grandsons in years. That goes for my daughter-in-law's twin sister or her kin-,"
Aunt Cass poked her head out suspiciously, but it was towards the man's company.
"Hey... Chihiro?" He said in surprise.
"Cassandra," she smiled.
"Well, it's nice seeing you again." Hiroku was absolutely the opposite of Hasaki in that he was every bit as modern as your average San Fransokyian. "Can you please tell the fine gentlemen and women in Fed garb here I have zero involvement with any of you?"
A boy who looked just like his mother and aunt walked out to greet him.
"My word." The fifty-nine-year-old man was aghast.
"I... guess you're my grandpa."
"Your Taku's boy?" Hiroku guessed as well, a lump in his throat.
"I'm Hiro," he said and instantly went to hug him.
"I..." His shoulders dropped. Sixteen years disappeared. "I guess that's all right, then."
"Hello, Hiro." Mayo Matsuki, Hiro and formerly Aunt Cass's own lawyer, beamed and shook the young man's hand. "Well, you're looking better. How is your wonderful f-,"
All ten of which appeared in the entranceway.
Hiro grinned at them and popped his shoulders up in a shrug happily. "Good... now that they're mostly all here." Baymax and Aunt Cass wrapped their arms around him.
A heaviness fell as Mr. Matsuki proceeded with the matter at hand.
"Due to the severity of this nature," he said.
Hiro nodded accountably.
"But considering all you've been through and your-,"
"I take responsibility for my actions." He interrupted.
Fear spiked through their hearts; this wasn't the way this was supposed to go!
At least Hiro wasn't before a judge yet.
"Hiro," Baymax turned to him seriously, "it is wise for you to listen to this man and say particular things so as to avoid consequences that may later prove detrimental to you."
"Baymax, I knew what I was doing. I know you're all just trying to protect me from my actions, but, this isn't how you grow up. By hiding from what you've done." Hiro turned to the people responsible for bringing in people who had done wrong; people like Hiro.
"Actually, that's how I'd say you know your grown up. Especially that last part."
Hiroku was another relative for another story.
"What we were going to suggest..." His lawyer continued, proud but a little befuddled by Hiro's admission. "Was a just-approved, youth reform program that Leiko's cousins have been attempting these last five to six months, a law that was suggested by your uncle and Baymax." Hiro's eyes widened and he turned to the big plush bot on his left.
Baymax looked back at him with as much love he was capable of showing.
"No one wants to see you leave," Ha-Jun came over, having just arrived in their van.
"Yes," Ji-Min agreed, "Intelligence operatives," he grinned. "It beats jail and reckless pro-botting fights." The two even had their own casual light grey suits... and an extra.
Hiro caught this one they tossed.
"What'd ya think?" Wasabi wanted to know.
"At least until you decide what you want to do otherwise." Honey-Lemon was hopeful.
They all were.
"I'll have to think about it," Hiro looked down at the uniform.
Baymax laid his head on Hiro's.
"Guess my mind's made up," The teen grinned, knowing Maxie had called his bluff.
He felt eleven people move in to hug him.
It was late, Hiro noted, everyone was asleep. He made sure his tread was as soft as air as he stepped past his aunt's room, both his cousins' room and nephews' room. A real warmth filled his heart, that his family had been rebuilt and that some good had come from his reckless actions. Hiro sighed softly and crept down to the first floor. He smiled at the ambiance of family pictures, culture and modern innovation that was Cass's new café. Pride for his team, friends, his entire family was in his eyes even as he tip-toed in his old habit down to the basement and to his and Tadashi's first lab. Hiro looked at it.
Not much had changed, now that the sheets were gone.
He clicked on a light that illuminated an entire work table. Proceeding over, Hiro took something from his pocket and looked down at it. A purple chip read: "Current" on it.
Followed by a heart font symbol.
The teen lifted a paint-peeled, wood panel and pressed down on a button. Without so much as a swoosh, a glass container rose and a black, carbon nanotubed chip rose up inside of it. Hiro took a deep breath, lowered his brows and placed his thumb drive in the tiny access code. The glass door swung open and he placed both in with the chip.
Now the black fighting chip, the thumb drive with all his secrets and a purple heart lay inside of the glass container. He was about to return it down when a large belly that had been behind him touched his back so it's occupant could get a better look. My big old Maxie, Hiro gave his buddy a pat and shut the panel, using a sheet to cover it up.
"Let's just keep this between you and me, Max."
"But why, Hiro?" Baymax asked innocently.
"Sometimes," his friend sighed, then hugged him to his side. "It's better not to know."
The robot considered this. "I'll always trust you."
Hiro nodded. "I know."
Baymax hugged him to his side as well and the two best friends went up to bed.
Another day of saving the world awaited them.
A/N: Hehe. Hope you liked the "short" final chapter. ^^ Anyways, I know this wasn't or has ever been a big fic, but I loved writing it just the same. Thank you for reading!
~ Lavenderpaw ~