hey guys! sorry i haven't posted in forever...i've been working on my collab with KeeperOfTheBigHeroQuintessence...go check it out!
in this oneshot, Hiro learns the meaning of forgiveness and the power of love...through a tsunami that destroys all of San Fransokyo.
Sometimes our greatest trials are our greatest moments...and this has never been more true than with Hiro.
Please stay tuned for my next story! Until All Light Fades will be a World War Three story, and I am SO EXCITED! It might not be as cool as Wasteland...but here's hoping!
I hope you enjoy!
The light rain sprinkles my face as I walk home from school, crossing the bridge over the river. I feel a small pang of grief as I remember how Tadashi and I stood here just before we heard the fire alarm, just before he ran back into the burning building. I shake off the feeling, trying to remind myself that Tadashi wouldn't have wanted to go any other way. And he's happy now, so there's no point in crying over him.
I step onto the sidewalk and turn toward home, exhausted from the long day at school. Professor Granville yelled at me for accidentally blowing up the lab and I forgot to turn in my calculus homework and Karmi was particularly nasty. Now I have a headache and a strong craving for donuts.
I stare at the ground as I walk the three blocks to the café, hoping that maybe today there will be no criminal activity. I'm tired and I just want to go home. Sometimes being a superhero is a drain.
Suddenly, about a block away from the café, a strange thing happens.
The ground starts shaking, and my eyes widen. I've felt earthquakes before, but they're not usually this strong…
The shaking becomes more violent, and I fling myself onto the sidewalk, curling into a ball and covering my head. When you live in San Fransokyo, you're trained to know what to do in an earthquake as early as possible. Living on a fault line can cause frequent quakes, but they're not usually that bad. This one seems worse—I can hear people screaming, and the ground is shaking so violently that it takes all my willpower not to scream too. I can hear small thuds and crashes all around me and wonder if the skyscrapers are crumbling.
After several seconds, the shaking stops, and I tentatively lift my head. I let out a sigh of relief when I realize that no buildings have collapsed—there are only a few bricks and shingles lying on the sidewalk.
I stand up and brush the dust off my hoodie, looking around to make sure there aren't any injured people. I don't see any, so I simply shrug the shock of the earthquake off and continue to walk toward the café. That was a bigger quake than I'm used to, but it didn't seem that bad—the epicenter was probably several miles into the ocean.
I'm almost home when I hear a faint rushing noise, and I frown. What is that? It kind of sounds like the waves on the beach…
And then it hits me.
I spin around to see a wall of water bursting over the sand of the beach, about half a mile away. My jaw drops in horror.
I bolt toward the café, knowing I have to warn Aunt Cass and her customers before that wave gets here. We've never trained for a tsunami—it's not unheard of, but we haven't had one the whole time I've been alive. What do we do?
I'm running as fast as I can, but I know I'm never going to outrun the tsunami. It's impossible—it's too big, too fast. It's going to pick me up and sweep me away.
About two seconds later, it does just that.
I scream as the water surrounds me, lifting me off my feet and catapulting me forward. I hear breaking glass, splintering wood, and a long, high-pitched scream.
I try to call back, but I can do nothing as the water sweeps me away.
The world is dark and turbulent, shot through with faint flashes of light. The water tosses me around, slamming me into various pieces of debris and what might be the sides of buildings. I struggle to swim, but I never learned much—and it's hopeless anyway. There's no way I or anyone else could escape the grip of a tsunami.
I let out an underwater yelp as the water throws me—feetfirst, thankfully—into something hard. A jolt of pain shoots up my leg and I yelp again. The water is already pulling me away from whatever I hit, and for a moment, it pushes me to the surface. I gasp in as much air as I can, catching a faint glimpse of the overcast sky and the now-crumbling skyscrapers.
The water sucks me back under, and my head slams into what feels like metal—a car, maybe. The impact dazes me, and I go limp in the water, not trying to fight it anymore. Stars are swimming through my already blurred vision.
Water starts to fill my lungs, and I realize I'm going to drown. I shake off the throbbing in my skull and struggle to reach the surface, but it's no use. The tsunami is too strong.
I cough underwater, trying to expel the liquid from my lungs, but my vision is going dark. The world is disappearing.
I breathe in one last gasp of water before the world goes black.
Bright light coaxes me out of sleep, surprisingly not hurting my eyes or my head. I sit up slowly, rubbing my eyes and looking around.
I'm surrounded by mist, and I'm sitting on something soft and warm. It kind of looks like a cloud.
After a few moments, I can make out a faint figure approaching through the mist. Squinting, I realize as it comes closer that it's…
The figure has dark hair and a white robe, along with huge, bright white wings. He's beaming, and I whisper his name as he stops in front of me.
"Hiro," he murmurs, and he scoops me up into a huge hug. Tears prick at the back of my eyes, and I bury my face in my brother's shoulder.
"Why are you here?" I whisper. "Why am I here? Am I—am I dead?"
"You're not dead," Tadashi reassures me, releasing me and setting me down on my cloud—I guess it is a cloud—again. "Your consciousness just happens to be here at the moment. You inhaled kind of a lot of water—but don't worry, you can cough it up when you get back."
"Awesome," I mutter. "Will it hurt?"
Tadashi seems to be staring into space. "Not too bad, I hope. You can't see this, but I'm looking at your body right now. Nothing looks broken, if that's any comfort. Sorry, I know this is probably all so weird to you—but I promise you're going to be okay."
"You can see me?" I whisper. "Where am I?"
Tadashi studies whatever invisible window he's staring through. "Unconscious on a pile of rubble. I think you're near Good Luck Alley—be careful when you wake up, just in case."
I sigh. "Enough about me. I'll be fine. How's heaven been?"
Tadashi smiles. "It's beautiful. I watch you every day—not when you're in the shower, I promise—and I'm so, so proud of you. I can't believe you've done so many great things, Hiro."
I rub the back of my neck self-consciously. "Thanks, but I've broken the law multiple times and almost killed Professor Callaghan."
"But you broke the law with good intentions, and you didn't kill Callaghan," Tadashi says gently. "And—Hiro, I want you to try to forgive him. He didn't intend to kill me—it was my fault, and it was an accident. I had a choice, and I made the one I thought was right. I chose to run in to save him. I don't regret it, and it wasn't Callaghan's fault."
"But he should have saved you," I whisper, tears suddenly welling in my eyes. "I miss you so much, Dashi."
Tadashi wraps me in another hug, pulling me close to his chest. "I miss you too, buddy. But I'm happy here, and I will always be with you."
A tear drips down my cheek, and Tadashi rubs my back gently. "It's time to go back, Hiro. It might be painful, and it might be scary, but I promise I'll help you get through this."
"Don't leave me," I whisper. "Please, Dashi."
"Oh, Hiro," my big brother murmurs. "I never left. And I never will."
The mist starts to dissolve, and I feel myself falling. Tadashi's smile is the last thing I see as the world fades to white and then black.
Pale gray light pulls my eyes open, and I know I'm not in heaven anymore. My head is throbbing and my whole body aches profoundly, every muscle feeling like it might tear in half if I move. Tadashi was right—nothing seems broken, but it still hurts.
Suddenly, I burst into a violent coughing fit, finally expelling the water from my lungs. I roll onto my stomach and cough for at least a minute, not stopping until I can breathe properly. When I'm done, I let my head rest on the stones of the pile of rubble I'm on top of. I'm absolutely exhausted.
Even so, I manage to sit up after a few minutes, and I wince at the pain that shoots through my body. I don't think I have a concussion, since I passed out from water inhalation rather than head trauma, but there's a bump on my forehead where I hit something—probably that car from earlier—and my right leg feels like I landed on it badly at some point. Probably a pulled muscle or a sprain. Apart from that, all the injuries I can find are several bruises and a few scratches on my face and arms. Nothing feels too badly injured, but I still don't want to move.
I realize I still have my backpack—all my homework is probably soaked, but at least I have my giant water bottle. That would not be good if I didn't have any water. Still, this is not a good situation to be in.
I finger the goose egg on my forehead, wincing, as I try to think of what to do. I need to make sure everyone in the city is okay—it's my duty as a superhero.
But I'm so tired…
I shake my head furiously, trying to clear it. All I accomplish is sending another throbbing pain through my skull, and I squeeze my eyes shut, trying to dispel my headache. I have to get up. I have to try to help, even if it hurts.
"Come on," I hiss to myself as I get to my feet. "They're only minor injuries—ow!"
A jolt of pain shoots through my leg, just above my knee. Thankfully, it doesn't buckle, but it feels like the muscle is going to tear. Maybe it's already torn. I can't remember which muscle is in the front of your thigh—the quadriceps? That's probably it. I must have twisted my leg to a weird angle at some point in the tsunami, but I can't remember much of it. Whatever. Torn quads or no torn quads, I need to find my team and help rescue the citizens of San Fransokyo. The rest of Big Hero 6 can't be too far away—we were all walking home from school when the tsunami hit.
I take a few tentative steps forward, inhaling sharply at the pain in my leg. Dang that hurts. But it can support my weight, so I'll take that as a good sign.
As I look around, all I can see is a wide expanse of water with several skyscrapers and wind turbines sticking out of it. It looks like the tsunami hasn't knocked all of the buildings down, just the smaller ones that haven't been as reinforced as the huge skyscrapers. I hope the café is somewhat intact—there are very important things in there.
"Hello?" I rasp, realizing how weak and hoarse my voice sounds. I clear my throat and try again. "Is anyone there?"
I hear no response, and I wonder where everyone's gone. Have they all simply abandoned me?
I shake my head again, then remember I have to stop doing that or my headache is never going to go away. The entire city wouldn't just abandon me. They have to be here somewhere. I can't be the only survivor.
Pushing my soaked bangs out of my eyes, I limp over the pile of rubble I washed up on. At the edge of it, I look down into Good Luck Alley, watching the water rush past. It's filled the whole alley and looks like a river. Pieces of debris float on the surface, even a few pieces of clothing, but no people are to be seen. I might be an introvert, but I do kind of wish someone was here to help me. My leg really hurts and I'm exhausted from just a few minutes of walking.
I call out again, searching for any signs of life. There's no way I'm the only one who made it out of the tsunami—there has to be someone else.
Finally, after several minutes, I sink to my knees. My entire body hurts, and I just want to go home. Stupid tsunami. Why did it have to come?
Suddenly, a black object drifts past me, and I reach out and grab it as I realize what it is. It's soaked and filthy, but I pick up Tadashi's hat and hold it to my chest.
"I don't know what to do," I whisper, addressing God and Tadashi simultaneously. "Please, someone help me."
Tears prick at my eyes, but I refuse to let them fall. I'm fourteen—I'm not a little kid anymore. I can be strong. I have to be strong—for my family and my friends and my city. It's my duty to them, and if I don't save them, who will?
Well, I'm probably not the only one who can, but I want to help. Tadashi wanted to help.
And I want to be like him.
This tsunami is not going to stop me. It's just another challenge in my already complicated life. I don't understand why it came out of nowhere like that, but I'm not going to let it beat me.
So I grit my teeth and stand up, wincing in pain but refusing to let that slow me down. I keep calling for someone, anyone, preferably someone I know since I'm an introvert—but at this point, I'll take anyone.
As I limp over the piles of rubble, the sky starts to darken, and lightning flashes every few minutes. Great—a storm is coming. I'm never going to get out of here in a storm.
Rain begins to pour down, and I have to stop searching. Seeing nothing else to do, I pull off my mostly dry hoodie and curl up under it, exhausted. The wreckage of whatever building I'm on isn't exactly comfortable, but I'm so tired I could sleep anywhere.
My dreams are filled with darkness and thunder, which might be the result of my actual environment, as well as screaming. I hope no one is screaming.
I don't know how long I sleep for, but I wake up to slightly alleviated pain and humid air, faint sunlight breaking through the clouds. My hoodie is damp, but not soaked, and my headache has lessened considerably. I reach up to the bump to discover that it's still swollen and tender, but it hasn't gotten any bigger and it's not practically killing me anymore.
Sitting up, I stretch out my injured leg. The pulled muscles protest, but it feels a little better now that I haven't walked on it for hours. I wonder if I could find any Advil floating around in the water—it would be really great right now.
I stand up after a few minutes and am relieved when my leg doesn't buckle. I still need a crutch or a splint or something, though—I don't want to walk on this for another day. I rummage through my backpack to see if there's anything I could use, but all I've got is soaked paper and my water bottle, along with the tiny first aid kit Tadashi insisted I put in there.
Pulling the first aid kit out, I open it to discover several band-aids, a roll of gauze, some medical tape, a tiny pair of scissors, and a small tube of bacitracin ointment. I rub bacitracin on my scratches—which there thankfully aren't very many of—and patch them up with the band-aids. I save the gauze for later, just in case I come across anyone who needs it to stop bleeding.
Feeling a little better, I start looking for citizens again. I'd prefer to find my team first, though, so they can help me.
As I limp over a pile of debris, I squint across the water. I can't see very well, but I think there's a large white thing floating on top of it. I start toward the shape, but my foot catches on something—a cord of some kind—and I trip, falling onto the large chunk of concrete I'm standing on. "Ow!"
I hear a whirring noise, and then a voice I've desperately wanted to hear reaches my ears.
"Baymax," I whisper, looking up at the robot as he comes to a stop above me. "You came."
"I will scan you now," Baymax tells me, bending down and gently untangling my foot from the cord I tripped over. "You have sustained few injuries, but I am certain they are causing you discomfort. You have grade two strains of two of your quadriceps, as well as several small contusions and epidermal abrasions. I sense that you may have been worried about your head injury, but you do not have a concussion. However, I advise icing your forehead to help the swelling go down. This is unfortunately the extent of the treatment I can offer at this point, but I will help you feel better."
The robot scoops me up and places a cold compress hand on my forehead. I don't want to be carried, but no one is here to watch, and I'd like to keep weight off my leg for now.
"Is your foot alright?" Baymax asks, blinking down at me. "Your fall appears to have been painful."
I flex my ankle, relieved to find that I haven't injured myself worse. "It's fine, big guy. I'm more worried about my quads. Hey—can you scan for everyone else? I want to find them."
Baymax blinks and runs his scan, projecting his range across the whole city. "I detect the vital signs of approximately five hundred thousand people at the border of San Fransokyo and in the hills surrounding it. The population of the city is an estimated one million people, and it is concerning that I cannot detect more than five hundred thousand. I am concerned that several hundred thousand people may have been killed in the tsunami."
"Oh no," I whisper, horrified. Please, please don't let it have killed that many people. "We need to find our team, Baymax. We need to help everyone get out of here."
"I will scan for the rest of Big Hero 6," Baymax tells me. "Scan complete. My scan indicates that all of our team members are alive and possibly stranded in the hills or near the edge of the city. I also detect your aunt Cassandra and your cat. They seem to be moving around rapidly—perhaps they are looking for you."
"Can we text them?" I ask. "I want to make sure they're okay. And my phone's broken."
"I will contact them," Baymax says, setting me down on the concrete. A small screen pops up on his chest.
"I said text," I mumble. I'd prefer not to call people, but whatever.
After several minutes of trying to get a connection, Aunt Cass's face appears on the screen. "Hiro! Oh my gosh—my baby! Are you okay? Where are you? Are you hurt?"
"I'm okay," I tell her, giving my aunt a faint smile. "I'm still in the city—I woke up near Good Luck Alley, but I'm not really sure where I am now. Where are you and Mochi? Are you guys okay?"
"We're not hurt," Aunt Cass reassures me. "Not badly, at least. Mochi seems pretty shaken up, but he's okay, and I'm just fine."
"My scan shows that you have rather badly fractured left talus and left tibia bones," Baymax tells Aunt Cass. "Your assertion of not being injured is untrue."
I look quizzically at Baymax. "What did those words mean?"
"Cassandra has sustained a broken ankle, as well as various epidermal abrasions."
"What?!" I yelp, glaring at Aunt Cass. "You have a broken ankle?"
Aunt Cass nods sheepishly. "It's okay. I made a splint and everything."
I groan exasperatedly and clap a hand to my forehead, then fail to keep back a squeak of pain as my palm collides with my goose egg. Aunt Cass sighs and gives me a worried look. "Baymax, can you tell me how badly Hiro is hurt? He's not going to do it himself."
"He has sustained strains of two of his quadriceps and several small epidermal abrasions," Baymax tells her. "These are not serious injuries, but I am providing him with treatment."
Aunt Cass sighs again, this time in relief. "Thank you, Baymax. Are you two coming out here?"
"Yeah," I reply. "We haven't seen any other people down here. Don't worry, we'll come as fast as we can. Any sign of my friends?"
"No," Aunt Cass says worriedly. "But don't worry—I probably just haven't seen them."
The screen on Baymax's chest begins to flicker, and Aunt Cass gasps. "I'm sorry, baby, I think it's cutting out. I wish I could be there to help you get out—but I don't know where you are, and I can't bring Mochi with me."
"It's okay," I whisper. "I'll make it out. We'll be okay, I promise. Last hug."
"Last hug," Aunt Cass murmurs, her eyes filling with tears. "Be safe, Hiro."
The call cuts off, and Baymax scoops me back into his arms. "Did the call alleviate your stress?" he asks me.
"Yep," I tell him, trying to wiggle out of his grip. "I can walk by myself, Baymax, you can put me down—"
"No," Baymax says simply. "You are injured. I wish to carry you."
Baymax wraps me in a tight hug, preventing me from escaping his soft arms. I sigh and go limp, blowing my bangs out of my eyes. My leg does still hurt.
I allow Baymax to carry me for a while, but I've had enough pretty fast. When we come to a wide stretch of water, I scramble out of the robot's arms.
"You cannot swim," Baymax informs me. "I am programmed to be able to swim, and I am waterproof. I must carry you across the water, which could be unsanitary."
"I can swim!" I argue, then sigh. "No, I can't. Fine."
I climb onto Baymax's back, and the robot slides into the water, keeping me above it. Thank goodness Tadashi thought of everything—even small propellers so Baymax could speed through the water.
When we reach the next pile of rubble, I climb off of Baymax's back, wincing as I put weight on my injured leg.
"Hiro," Baymax says. "You are in pain. I wish to carry you."
"I can walk by myself," I insist, taking a step forward. The pulled muscles twinge painfully, but I limp over the pile of debris as fast as I can.
"Hiro," Baymax says again, but I'm already several feet away from him. Even with a limp, I'm still faster than he is.
I look back to see Baymax waddling along behind me, seeming slightly irritated at my speed. I laugh and turn back to continue walking, but a small piece of concrete slides out from under my foot, and I let out a yelp as I tumble down the wreckage. Approximately two seconds later, I slam into a bigger piece of concrete at the bottom, getting all the wind knocked out of me.
"Hiro," Baymax says a third time, appearing over the edge of the pile of debris as I gasp for air. "You are going to hurt yourself."
"I'm—fine," I gasp, forcing myself up and clutching my chest. "I can do it—myself."
But my already aching head is spinning from the fall, and my side where I hit the concrete feels like it's going to bruise. As much as I hate to admit it, Baymax is right—I'm just going to hurt myself worse if I keep trying to move around on my own.
Baymax waddles down the small slope toward me, scooping me up and scanning me. "You have sustained no new injuries, but you must be careful. A destroyed city is not a safe place to be."
"I know," I sigh, relaxing slightly. "Sorry, big guy. I just don't want to be helpless."
"You are not helpless," Baymax reassures me. "You are capable of movement and speech, and you were able to provide for yourself until I came to assist you."
"Thanks, Baymax," I whisper as the robot puts his cold hand on my forehead again.
"We will continue with our journey after you have rested," Baymax tells me. "You need to rest in order to continue searching for the rest of Big Hero 6."
"But I don't want to rest," I complain. "I want to help."
"You need to rest," Baymax repeats,. "I will help you relax."
Removing the cold compress, Baymax heats up. The warmth calms my overactive brain and soothes my headache. My eyes close, and before I know it, I'm asleep.
My eyes open to the sound of someone calling my name, as well as Baymax's. I sit up slightly and make out Honey Lemon standing precariously on a piece of wood at the top of a pile of wreckage, waving and yelling at us.
"Hiro!" she calls. "Are you awake?"
"Yeah!" I yell back. "Just a second—we'll come over to you!"
I reactivate Baymax, and he carries me through the water over to Honey. As soon as we reach her pile of wood, she throws her arms around me. "I'm so glad you're okay!" she squeals, then draws back. "Are you okay? You look a little beat up."
"I'm fine," I tell her. "Just a few scrapes and bruises."
"But you're limping!" Honey says worriedly. "Did you hurt your leg? Is anything broken?"
"I pulled two quadriceps, but nothing's broken. They'll heal pretty fast," I reassure her. "What about you? Are you hurt? Have you seen Fred and Wasabi and GoGo?"
"I haven't seen them," Honey tells me sadly. "I've been looking for them all day and most of yesterday, but I haven't seen anything. And don't worry about me—I'm not hurt."
I study Honey's slim figure, checking for injuries. The lenses of her glasses are broken—I hope she can still see out of them. A cut on her cheek has trickled blood down her face, which is now dried, and her clothes are torn in several places. But I don't see any injuries apart from a few small cuts.
However, Baymax does. "My scan shows that you have three bruised ribs and a grade two tear of your scapholunate ligament. I recommend icing the injured areas to alleviate the pain."
Honey tilts her head, probably wondering what a scapholunate ligament is. I'm kind of confused too.
Baymax makes a noise that sounds almost like a sigh. "You have sustained a grade two sprain of your left wrist. I will ice the injured area." He reaches out and wraps his hands around Honey's wrist.
"Thanks, Baymax," Honey murmurs. "That feels good."
"We can go to retrieve the rest of our time when you have finished resting," Baymax tells Honey. "My scan indicates that you are worried. Do not worry. We will find everyone."
"What happened to you?" Honey asks worriedly, turning toward me. "Did you get caught by the wave? Oh—what am I saying, of course you did."
"Yeah," I reply. "I hit a lot of things and then inhaled a ton of water and passed out. And…Honey, I had a dream about Tadashi. He came to visit me."
"Really?" Honey squeals. "Was he okay?"
"Yes," I whisper. "He looked so happy, Honey—all dressed in white, and he had huge wings. He told me he's watching over us and that everything would be okay."
Honey seems to be struggling to hold back tears. "He's happy," she whispers. "Thank you so, so much, Hiro. I'm so glad he's okay."
I give her a faint smile, remembering how much she loved Tadashi. It was pretty obvious that he was going to ask her to marry him soon, but then…
I feel tears prick at my eyes too and try to keep them back, as I do every time I think about Tadashi, my sweet, kind, brilliant big brother. He was willing to do anything for the people he cared about—and he died for that.
But he's happy now, and that's enough to comfort me. Tadashi is safe and at peace in heaven, and he'll watch over me for the rest of my life. I know I'll see him again—so for now, this will have to be enough.
After Baymax finishes icing Honey's wrist, we both climb onto the robot's back. Baymax slips into the water, saying, "There is still a current here. We must be careful—"
I never hear the rest of his sentence. Something huge—a piece of debris or something—hits Baymax's side.
"Oh no," Baymax says calmly, and Honey and I scream as the robot tips sideways and throws us off. I hit the water with a huge splash, and I discover that there is indeed still a current in this water, not as fast as the tsunami but still probably deadly. The floodwater sweeps me over the edge of a roof and throws me into a deep pool, then picks me back up and sends me spinning through the current. I'm screaming the whole time, though it's interspersed with coughing and spitting out water. It's like the tsunami all over again, but I'm sure that this time I'm going to drown.
Suddenly, something grabs my hood and yanks me out of the water. A surprised voice reaches my ears. "Hiro?"
I'm too busy coughing up water to respond. A hand—probably a hand?—hits me in the back, helping me expel the liquid from my lungs. When I've finished coughing, I shake the water out of my hair to discover Wasabi holding onto my hood, staring at me in surprise. "You okay, buddy?"
"I'm fine," I gasp as he releases me, checking myself over for injuries and thankfully finding no new ones. "Did you see Baymax and Honey?"
"GoGo's helping them out," Wasabi replies. "Are you guys okay? Are you hurt?"
"Nothing Baymax didn't already treat," I tell him, noting the small cuts on the dark skin of his cheek and the healing gash on his forehead. "How about you guys?"
Wasabi drags a hand through his hair. "Not bad, all things considered. I think GoGo might have a concussion, but she won't admit it to me—stubborn girl."
I laugh and glance over at GoGo, who's watching Baymax as he helps Honey cough up water. A bandage has been wrapped around GoGo's forehead, and a makeshift splint has been applied to her ankle. It looks like Wasabi treated her injuries without paying any attention to his own. That's nice of him—he obviously likes the adventurous adrenaline junkie. I wonder if GoGo knows Wasabi likes her. She doesn't seem like the type who would openly express love, but maybe if she liked him back enough…
"What happened to you guys during the tsunami?" I ask Wasabi. "Did you see anyone else?"
"Fred was walking with us, but we lost track of him when the wave hit and haven't seen him since," Wasabi says worriedly. "GoGo and I were swept away by the wave, but it was only like thirty seconds before she got out and rescued me. We've been wandering around for hours—and for all of yesterday, but we haven't seen anyone else. Do you think we should try to find Fred?"
"Absolutely," I tell him. "We need everyone we can get."
Baymax waddles over to me and scans me, telling me that nothing else has been injured. I'm honestly surprised at that—I've taken several falls over the last couple of days.
"I will scan for Fred," Baymax informs me. "Scan complete. My scan indicates that Fred is located in a three-mile radius of this spot, but I am unable to pinpoint his exact location."
"Let's go find him, then," I declare, climbing onto Baymax's back. "And then we should see if we can find any other people to help—I don't know why we haven't seen anyone yet."
"Climb onto my back," Baymax tells the others. "I will carry you across the water, and then you may walk if you are not badly injured. I will scan you now. Scan complete. My scan indicates that you have several small epidermal abrasions, Wasabi, and GoGo, you have sustained a grade one concussion and a slight tear of one of the ligaments in your ankle. These are not serious injuries, but I will treat them once we reach a more stable location."
Baymax carries us through at least a mile of water, and we stop beside a mostly intact house. We climb down from the robot's back and sit on the roof, and Baymax treats GoGo's and Wasabi's injuries.
"We must find Fred," Baymax announces. "Where would you like to search? My scan shows that he is located in a northeastern direction."
"Let's go that way, then," I decide. "If that's okay with everyone else."
"Of course," GoGo says. "Northeast it is."
I stand, wincing at the twinge of pain in my thigh, and walk across the roof to look out at the destruction, wondering if I'll be able to see Fred.
I don't see Fred, but I do see other people.
There's just one thing wrong.
They're all dead.
Hundreds, maybe thousands, of bodies float on the surface of the water, so many that I can believe Baymax's hypothesis that the tsunami killed half the population. I don't know why I haven't seen them before now, but…
They're all dead, and I didn't do anything. I didn't warn anyone.
What have I done?
"Hiro?" comes Wasabi's voice. "Hiro—oh no."
I barely hear him. My head is spinning from looking at the scene of devastation in front of me—the blood, the bodies, the destruction. This is my fault. Somewhere in the back of my head, I know there is nothing I could have done, but my mind insists upon beating myself up. I can barely think.
And the blood doesn't help, either…
I mumble something unintelligible and keel over backwards.
The next thing I know, Baymax is peering down at me, blinking in what seems like concern.
"How long…was I out…" I groan, putting a hand to my aching forehead.
"Approximately twenty-three seconds," Baymax tells me. "You will be alright. My scan indicates that you have suffered an attack of vasovagal syncope. This is a common condition, and it is not a serious one. I recommend that you lay down for ten minutes, or until you think you are ready to get up."
"I'm ready to get up," I say immediately, trying to push myself to my feet. But my head spins and I squeeze my eyes shut, trying to dispel the headache.
"You are not ready to get up," Baymax says calmly. "I will leave you on the ground, and you must rest for ten minutes at minimum. Then you may continue in your search for Fred."
I don't even protest. I'm too worried about the fact that there are countless bodies floating in the water. I ask Baymax why, and he explains in detail the whole process of decay and how gases build up inside a dead body, causing it to float. That's why I didn't see them before.
"What do we do?" I whisper shakily, trying to sit up. Baymax shoves me back down, and I huff indignantly. "I'm fine, Baymax!"
"You must rest," Baymax says mildly. "We cannot do anything for them now. I suggest that we alert the authorities and ask them to take care of the bodies. We must focus on locating any living organisms in the city and rescuing them."
"Can you scan for anything?"
Baymax blinks. "My scan shows that Fred is moving around nearby. I detect three living organisms in a three-mile radius. They consist of two humans and a feline."
"We need to go find them!" I exclaim. "Can I stop resting now?"
"It has not been ten minutes—"
I ignore Baymax and push myself to my feet. My vision blurs a little, but I manage to stay standing.
"Is he okay?" Honey's voice calls from the other side of the pile of rubble.
"Hiro is fine," Baymax assures her as we climb to the top of the debris. "He suffered an attack of vasovagal syncope, but it is not a serious condition. He will be alright."
"Oh, good," Honey breathes. "Are we going to find Fred now?"
"Hiro must rest—"
"We can keep looking," I cut in. "I don't need to rest. I'm fine."
And I set off across the broken concrete and plywood, trying not to limp. My torn quadriceps are begging me not to walk on them anymore, but that's not an option.
The rest of the team catches up to me, and Baymax tries his best to glare, but it's impossible to convey any emotion with his face. It's hilarious, though.
"Fred!" I call. "Fred! Are you there?"
Honey, GoGo, and Wasabi all call Fred's name, too, and after half an hour, we hear a response. "Guys! Over here!"
"Freddie!" Honey squeals as Fred peers over the side of a half-collapsed building. "Are you okay?"
"Yep!" he calls back. "But I can't figure out how to get down! And guess what? I found a cat!" He holds up a soaked, filthy kitten, which looks half-dead.
"We'll get you down!" Honey yells up to Fred.
"Maybe you could just jump onto Baymax?" I suggest. "He's basically a trampoline."
"But will Captain Fancy be okay?" Fred asks worriedly.
"Captain Fancy!" Fred exclaims, holding up the kitten again. "This guy! He's pretty tough, but I don't want to risk hurting him."
"Just toss him," GoGo calls. "Baymax will catch him."
Fred squeezes his eyes shut and throws Captain Fancy off the roof. Baymax steps forward and catches the kitten in his arms, heating up immediately so as to warm up the tiny creature.
When he's warmed the kitten up enough, Baymax hands him to Honey and stretches out his arms to catch Fred. "You may jump!"
Fred takes a running start and launches himself off the roof, and Baymax catches him, heating up again.
"Are you alright, Fred?" Honey asks. "Are you hurt?"
"Nope!" Fred says cheerfully. "Is Cap okay?"
Baymax blinks. "My scan indicates that the young feline is four weeks old and has multiple small lacerations and contusions. He has also sustained a fracture in his tibial bone of his right hind leg."
Cap—I guess that's the kitten's name now—lets out a tiny, sad mew and burrows deeper into Baymax's arms.
"I will treat these injuries," Baymax tells Fred. "Your cat will be alright. I will scan you as well. Scan complete. My scan shows that you have multiple small epidermal abrasions and a grade one strain of your trapezius. These are not serious injuries and will heal quickly, but I will apply treatment."
"Sounds great," Fred says distractedly, scratching Cap under the chin. "Can we clean Cap up? He's pretty dirty."
Baymax gently wipes the kitten down and bandages his injuries. Cap looks a lot happier after that, and he even lets me stroke his fuzzy head. I feel a pang of grief as I remember how much Tadashi loved cats. We got Mochi when I was three, and Tadashi always looked out for both of us. Mochi always loved Tadashi more than me, I think, because he'd only ever sleep on Tadashi's bed. Now, though, he only sleeps in mine—I think he misses Tadashi, too. I can't help but imagine what my brother would have done with this kitten—hold it to his chest, stroke it, tell it that everything was going to be okay.
I wish he could do that with me.
I shake off the sadness as Baymax hands Cap back to Fred and proclaims that we need to search for other survivors, because there's at least one more vital sign that he's detected. As for everyone else—I hope they made it into the hills outside the city, or that they're just out of Baymax's scanning range. He might have water damage, so it wouldn't surprise me.
We set off to see if we can locate the person that Baymax detected. Whoever it is, I hope they're okay.
My leg throbs as I climb over a chunk of concrete, the pain soon receding into a dull ache. I wince every time I put weight on it, and I know I need to stop and rest it—but how can I do that when there are people to save?
Still, I really want to find somewhere warm and collapse—I feel terrible. The goose egg on my forehead has been shrinking, but it still hurts a little when I touch it, and my bruises and scratches are only just starting to heal. The worst pain is in my leg, and while it's not too bad, it's only going to get worse if I keep walking on it.
My foot bumps into a chunk of metal, and my injured leg twists slightly. I let slip a muttered "ow" and Baymax immediately picks up on it.
"You need treatment for your torn quadriceps," he tells me. "We must stop and rest."
"I'm—fine," I hiss through gritted teeth, stubbornly limping forward. "I don't need treatment."
I continue on, looking at the ground so as not to trip over anything and contradict myself. I can hear the team murmuring worriedly behind me, but I refuse to stop—and so I'm the first one who sees him.
I stop in my tracks, staring down at the roof of the building I've just climbed onto. Lying on the concrete, bleeding, his chest rising and falling weakly, is a man.
A man I never thought I'd see again.
A man I never wanted to see again.
Professor Robert Callaghan is unconscious, his orange jumpsuit torn and stained with blood. His leg is twisted at an unnatural angle, and a gash on his forehead is still trickling dark red liquid down his face. His breaths are erratic, every one of them seeming to cause pain, even in his sleep.
Callaghan looks bad. Really bad. And if he were anyone else…
I'd help him.
But he killed Tadashi.
He killed my big brother.
And I don't think I can ever forgive him.
My eyes are streaming, my head throbbing where it hit the ground. I can tell my hands and forearms are badly scraped, and my asthmatic lungs can't take any more smoke—
I remember Tadashi's words—I want you to try to forgive him. But how can I do that? Callaghan set the fire that killed my brother. Worse, it was him that Tadashi died to save.
I start coughing, trying to push myself up, desperately hoping that Tadashi has somehow escaped the explosion. My legs are shaking violently, but I limp toward the steps, reaching down for Tadashi's hat on the way. I have to go in. I have to help my brother.
Callaghan didn't even care that Tadashi was dying.
He didn't care that he took away my best friend, my father figure, my sweet, brilliant, big-hearted brother. He only cared about himself.
I've just reached the stairs when my lungs—as well as my legs—decide to give out. My coughing fit overtakes me, and I sink to my knees, my head spinning.
"Tadashi," I gasp, the darkness creeping in on the edges of my vision. "Dashi, please—"
Light and dark are blending together, and I vaguely feel myself collapse onto the stairs. I look up to watch the flames completely consume the building, but even those are going dark.
Callaghan didn't even try to save Tadashi. His words echo back across time to me.
"That was his mistake!"
But it was all Callaghan's fault. If he hadn't been so bent on revenge—
Strong arms are lifting me off the ground, and a voice is whispering, "It's okay, Hiro. You're safe now."
"Tadashi," I mumble. "Is…is that you…"
"I'm so sorry," he whispers. "I have to go now. I'm gone. But I'll get you to safety first."
I'm set down on soft, cool grass, and the last thing I'm aware of is a bright white light fading away into the darkness.
And five sorrow-filled words:
"I will always be with you…"
I'm hyperventilating, caught up in the memories of the fire. I'll never be sure of what happened in the minutes, hours, even days after the explosion. But I know I felt Tadashi's presence. He saved me—it was his final act.
But he wouldn't have had to do that if he hadn't run in to save Callaghan. Maybe he didn't want to kill Tadashi, but he did. My brother is gone, and it's all Callaghan's fault. There is no way I can possibly help the professor, much less—
"Forgive him, Hiro."
I startle and look around for the source of the voice, but I don't see anything.
"T-tadashi?" I whisper.
"I'm here, buddy. Please—don't let your grief get in the way of saving a human life. I don't regret dying the way I did, and I'm happy here. You know that, Hiro."
"Yeah," I whisper. "But I want you back."
I can hear the sad smile cross my brother's heavenly face. "And I want you here. But there is still so much you have to do. Please, try to find it in your heart to let it go. It will be hard—it will feel like it is tearing you apart. But I know you can do it, Hiro. You have a brilliant mind and a pure heart, and your love for other people will always overcome your despair. I know it always helped me."
"But I don't know how," I breathe, tears pricking at the back of my eyes. "I can't just let you go."
"You're not letting me go, Hiro. You're getting closer to me. And I promise I will never leave you."
The last word fades away into the sky, and I know what I have to do.
"Baymax," I whisper as I slide down the pile of rubble toward Callaghan. "Can you scan him?"
The robot comes up behind me and scans the professor, but I barely hear his diagnosis.
"Can we find a doctor?" I sniff, trying to wipe the tears from my eyes before the rest of the team climbs down to us. "He needs help."
"I will help him," Baymax says. "But we must get him to a doctor as well. We are nearing the outskirts of San Fransokyo, and I am certain there will be doctors there."
Baymax reaches out and pulls me into a hug. "You have forgiven him."
"I'm trying to," I whisper, and I burst into tears.
Baymax strokes my hair, and I can vaguely hear the rest of the team surrounding us and joining the hug.
"Tadashi would be proud of you," Baymax tells me.
"I am," Tadashi's voice whispers, and a heavenly warmth washes over me. "Thank you for letting go."
And I feel a tiny wisp of peace blossom in my chest.
As we climb the hill, Aunt Cass's scream nearly bursts my eardrums. My aunt limps as fast as she can toward me and wraps me in a bear hug, grasping me so tightly I think she'll break my ribs.
But I don't care. I hug Aunt Cass back with all my strength, tears coming to my eyes again. I didn't realize how much I missed her until now.
"Are you okay?" she asks, drawing back and cupping my face in her hands. "How bad is it? Do we need to take you to a doctor?"
"Nope," I tell her. "Baymax can treat everything—he says I just need to rest. What happened to your ankle? Did you get it treated?"
"I don't know exactly what happened," Aunt Cass admits, flexing her ankle, which is now in a cast. "But I got it fixed. Thank goodness the hospital wasn't destroyed—the doctors moved most of their stuff out here to treat people. Are your friends okay?"
"They're fine," I tell her. "I found all of them, and we've been handling things okay. We even managed to save a few lives, but—" I swallow hard. "Aunt Cass…the tsunami killed so many people. I saw their bodies. And I feel so bad for not being able to save them."
"Oh, Hiro," Aunt Cass's voice is barely a whisper. "It's not your fault. They're with God now."
"I know," I whisper. "But it still hurts. It's like another piece of my heart is broken."
I look up and watch as the life flight helicopter rises into the sky, undoubtedly carrying Professor Callaghan. I feel that sense of warmth as I remember that Tadashi is proud of me, that I've begun to forgive my professor.
"But," I whisper, "I've learned that a broken heart can heal."
Aunt Cass and I sit down on the grassy hill, watching the sun set over the bay. Baymax waddles over to us and wraps us both in a hug, and Mochi curls up in my lap.
I will always be with you.
The familiar words drift through the air toward me, and in that moment, every piece of my heart is healed.