A/N: All right, I'm finally going to post this. I don't think I can really add anything more to this, so I'm finally going to make a small splash in the Big Hero 6 fandom.
Anyway, this is based off of a little headcanon that my friend thought up (or saw on Tumblr, I dunno). Naturally, I thought of this lovely fandom. Hellooooo, one-shot! xD (Goodness, this took me so long to write . . .)
And before you begin to read this, please pop open another tab—if you're using your computer—and play "Top of the World" by Greek Fire. If timed right, the song should last for the whole fic—I've found that the bridge of the song goes really well with Section 4 of this story.
I was playing around with the format a little. Hope it's not too confusing. ^^;
Summary: Through all this time . . . a brother's love lasts forever. Or, the fact that Hiro and Tadashi have kept up a game for years, and it only really ends when Hiro rests his hand on the smooth, gray stone that marks his nii-chan's grave. One-shot, taking place before, during, and after the movie. Hiro/Tadashi brotherly fluff.
Tadashi promised himself that he would always protect his baby brother, no matter what.
And so he did.
1. before the game
Tadashi Hamada peered curiously through the bars of the wooden crib. It was empty, but it was still a new addition to his parents' room.
The crib was also a little familiar (maybe it was his before?) and Tadashi slid his hand through the space between the bars, prodding the firm mattress.
(Tadashi wasn't stupid—wait, okaasan and otousan said that was a bad word—)
Anyway, he knew a lot more than his parents thought. He knew that his parents were going to have another baby. His mother's stomach was growing bigger, but she didn't look . . . well, fat. She still looked exactly the same, but with a rounder tummy.
"Tadashi," his mother's voice then floated from downstairs. "Come here."
Tadashi turned around and loped out of his parents' room, sliding down the carpeted stairs on his bottom. He used to do it on his stomach, but it always put a red rash on his skin, so he stopped.
"Okaasan?" he called, looking into the room she was sitting in. "Mama?"
Maemi Hamada smiled, her green eyes lighting up at the sight of her oldest child. "Tadashi, your Papa and I have been wondering . . . what do you think of having a sibling?"
"Um, I'd like one," the six-year-old admitted bashfully. "It's a little lonely sometimes when you and Papa are working."
Maemi's smile softened. "I know, I know," she said. "But when your otouto or imouto is born, you're going to have to take care of him or her, okay?"
Tadashi nodded solemnly. "I'm gonna be the best older brother ever!" he promised.
His mother laughed. "I know you will. And your little sibling will be smart like you, right?"
"Definitely," the boy affirmed. "I'm gonna teach him all about robots, and we'll build a lot of them."
Maemi raised an eyebrow. "How do you know that the baby will be a boy?" she teased.
Tadashi shrugged. "I just do. Right, Hiro?"
Suddenly, his mother gasped, her hands flying to her stomach.
The little boy gasped as well, his eyes going wide. "Mama?" he asked anxiously, moving around his mother nervously. "What's wrong? Are you okay?"
She nodded, a large smile on her face. "Tadashi . . . the baby's kicking."
Tadashi hurriedly placed a hand on his mother's stomach to feel. And after a few moments, a wonder-filled expression took over his face. "Wow . . ." he said, awestruck. "Hiro kicks hard."
The kicks were stronger this time.
Maemi laughed, her smile becoming watery. "I guess this baby's name is 'Hiro,' then," she said. "He likes it well enough."
Tadashi grinned. "You hear that, Hiro? I'm Tadashi, your big brother. And I'm gonna take care of you."
And two months later, Hiro Hamada came into the world.
Tadashi gripped his father's hand as they walked into the hospital. "Are we gonna see Mama and Hiro?" he asked, looking up.
Tomeo nodded. "Your brother just has to stay with the doctors for a little while longer because he was born a little small. But you can see him before we go home."
Tadashi smiled. He would finally be able to see the baby that had been growing in his mother's stomach. He would see Hiro.
When they walked into the room that held Maemi and Hiro, Tadashi's smile widened upon seeing the tiny frame nestled against his mother's chest.
"Hi, Hiro," Tadashi said softly, scooting closer on the chair next to the bed. He poked the baby's tiny feet, and giggled when they twitched at his touch. "I'm Tadashi, your nii-chan."
Hiro babbled and waved his little hands, gurgling happily when they latched around Tadashi's finger.
And those few words and actions catalyzed everything else that was going to come. The first urges of brotherly protectiveness began to creep into Tadashi's heart—a feeling that every child gained whenever they became an older sibling.
Tadashi would always protect Hiro. No matter what.
2. the game begins
In retrospect, it should've been obvious that it was Hiro who started this stupid, inane, pointless, wonderful game. Tadashi took no credit at all.
Hiro had always been the creative one, the bright one—even at a young age.
Tadashi was rooting through the pantry in search of a box of cereal, the milk and bowls already out on the table. Hiro was still sleeping in their shared room, his tiny form hidden under his piles of blankets.
The older Hamada had always been a morning person, even before the deaths of his and Hiro's parents a few months ago. And now . . . well, it let him escape the nightmares early.
As Tadashi was about to pour the cereal into each bowl, footsteps on the stairs made him pause and look up. "Dashi, Dashi, Dashi!" a voice squealed, a red and blue blur racing down the steps and into the legs of a startled Tadashi Hamada.
"Hi, Hiro," the ten-year-old said with a smile as he picked up his baby brother. The small, tiny baby that was born about three years previous had grown up into an energetic bundle of joy. The doctors' worries of Hiro not being able to survive or live normally because he was so tiny had been wiped away, and Tadashi remembered that Aunt Cass liked to joke that it was because of Tadashi's constant care that made Hiro grow up so healthily.
But choosing to ignore that the boy once again, mispronounced his name, Tadashi continued to speak. "Didja just wake up?"
Hiro nodded enthusiastically with the energy only a child his age could have. "Yup!" he said happily, waving his fists excitedly. "I wanted to surprise you!"
Tadashi shifted the wriggling boy in his arms, a confused expression on his face. "Why?"
A mischievous grin appeared on his brother's chubby face. "'Cause . . . you're . . . it!" The sentence had been said slowly, but on the last word, Hiro slapped Tadashi's forehead lightly and slid out of his grip, running down the next flight of stairs to the Lucky Cat Café.
Tadashi's eyes widened, and he sprinted down after Hiro, pajamas and all. It was 8:00, Aunt Cass was serving customers, and he and Hiro weren't old enough to help her yet.
"Hiro!" Tadashi called desperately, keeping the little boy in his sights as he weaved around customers trickling into the shop. "Hiro!"
Hiro had his arms wrapped around Aunt Cass's legs behind the register when Tadashi finally managed to locate the boy, and his big brown eyes were brimming with happiness. Tadashi sighed and ran a hand through his hair before crouching down and scooping Hiro off of the floor.
"Sorry, Aunt Cass," Tadashi said apologetically. "I couldn't catch him in time."
But to his surprise, his aunt only laughed. "Oh, it's alright. Just—"
"Oh, what an adorable little boy!" the customer currently being served cooed, smiling at Hiro. "Kasumi, are they yours? I've been coming here for three years and this is the first time I've ever seen them!"
Tadashi turned to stare at the woman, who was about as tall as he was . . . meaning five feet. Though her appearance wasn't frightening (dark eyes and short black hair), he subconsciously held Hiro closer to his chest, despite the younger boy giggling and waving at the lady.
"No, these are my nephews," Aunt Cass replied. "I've . . . been their guardian for the past few months. My sister and her husband passed away in an accident."
The woman's eyes widened. "I'm so sorry!" she blurted out, looking dismayed. "I didn't mean to—"
"It's fine," Aunt Cass said, a small smile on her face. But Tadashi could see the slight shadow that entered her eyes. She was just as sad as he was. "But yeah, these are my nephews!" she said brightly, the shadow disappearing. "This is Hiro and Tadashi."
"Hi!" Hiro piped up, finally getting the chance to speak. "I'm Hiro, and this is Aunt Cass, and this is my nii-chan, T—"
Tadashi's eyes widened as he looked at Hiro. Was he actually going to say his name?
Hiro's dark brows furrowed as he stumbled over the name. "T-ta . . . Dashi!" he then said proudly, a bright smile adorning his face. "This is Dashi!"
Tadashi chuckled sheepishly and brushed a hand through his baby brother's thick hair. "I'm Tadashi," he then said politely. "It's a pleasure to meet you, ma'am."
"Oh, they're so sweet, Cass," the customer gushed. "They're going to break some hearts when they're older. I can see it!"
Aunt Cass smiled and gave the woman her donut in a brown paper bag. "Well, I don't know about that, but it was nice seeing you again! Be sure to bring your daughter in someday. You've told me so much about her."
"Don't worry, I will!" the woman promised. "See you later, Cass, Tadashi, Hiro."
"Bye!" Hiro called, waving from Tadashi's arms.
"Now, let's get you back upstairs," Tadashi said to Hiro, adjusting his hold on his baby brother. "We'll see you, Aunt Cass!"
"Come down around lunch," she replied, taking the money from her next customer. "I think that you're finally old enough to help out later," she said, winking at her oldest nephew.
Tadashi beamed. He had been waiting for so long until the day that he would be able to help his aunt in the café. Aunt Cass had done so much for them, and he wanted to return the favor. She deserved it so much.
"Thanks, Aunt Cass!" he said, nodding.
He slowly walked up the stairs with Hiro in his arms, now mindful of how quiet the boy had become. "What's up, buddy?"
"You caught me, Dashi!" Hiro said, tightening his hold around Tadashi's neck. "I'm 'it' again!"
Tadashi smiled, though he knew that his brother wouldn't be able to see it. "So who's it now?" he asked teasingly. "I'm holding you."
They reached the top of the steps and Hiro jerked back with a gasp. His brown eyes were wide and he was gripping Tadashi's shoulders firmly. "I don't know!" he said, looking alarmed.
Tadashi tried to hold in a laugh, but it escaped anyway.
"Dashi, why are you laughing?" Hiro complained as he was set down at the kitchen table.
"N-nothing, otouto," he replied, shooting him a smile.
Hiro pouted, but slowly began assembling what could pass as a tower out of the kitchen utensils that Tadashi had put out.
Tadashi quickly put a stop to that when the tower went above Hiro's head.
3. the game continues
Tadashi knew that Hiro was smart for someone of his age.
His little brother had only turned four years old a few months ago, still practically a baby, but he was already avidly thumbing through the books that Tadashi had brought home, and somehow always got into trouble—Tadashi swore that Mochi was scarred forever by one of Hiro's curious experiments.
But at school, it was a different story. Hiro flourished when he was able to learn, and Hiro's preschool was amazed at his progress, eagerly sending their aunt an email, stating that Hiro could move right to kindergarten.
So Hiro was pulled out of preschool, and placed there.
But kindergarten was over now, and it was the summer before first grade for the little boy, and Tadashi was going to enter sixth grade.
As Tadashi frustratedly flipped through the robotics manual, he sighed when he saw that there were about 100 more steps to go until he was able to finish his robot. Hiro was sitting patiently at the table, curiously watching Tadashi's progress, his big brown eyes analyzing the scattered pieces of the robot.
Tadashi sighed again and stood up, running a hand through his short black hair. He took the instruction manual down with him, thinking that maybe a trip to the kitchen would bring him out of this rut.
"I'm gonna go get a soda, Hiro," Tadashi told his brother. "You want anything?"
Hiro shook his head in response, his fluffy hair settling over his ears. "I'm okay, Dashi," he said distractedly, still staring at the half-assembled robot with his head propped up on his arm.
Tadashi shrugged and ruffled his brother's hair affectionately before making his way downstairs to the fridge. He frowned as he turned back to the booklet, still not quite understanding how he was supposed to be able to get from the step he was currently on to the next.
He opened the fridge, still reading over the instructions, and grabbed the closest soda can he could reach. As Tadashi popped open the can, he tilted his head as he heard the hustle and bustle of the Lucky Cat Café from another floor down, and then he smiled fondly at the sound of his aunt's voice from downstairs. It had been about a year since his parents died, but Aunt Cass had been the most amazing guardian. Tadashi could never wish for a better person to take care of him and Hiro.
As the ten-year-old (almost eleven) walked back upstairs, sipping his soda, what he saw made him stop in his tracks.
The robot that Tadashi had spent hours working on was completed in probably less than five minutes, with no instructions. The robot sat innocently on the wooden table, and with one last adjustment by his baby brother—the robot came to life and whirred cheerfully across the surface.
Tadashi dropped his manual in shock.
It . . . it worked.
Tadashi gaped for a few moments, simply staring at what Hiro had done. He swallowed, refusing to take his eyes off of his little brother. "Aunt Cass?" he called down loudly, sure that she would be able to hear him from the café. "You gotta see this!"
Only a few seconds later, his aunt appeared right next to him, and her face broke into an awed grin. "Hiro did that?" she asked, glancing down at Tadashi.
Tadashi could only nod mutely.
And that was when Hiro was classified by their pediatrician as a child prodigy. First grade clearly wasn't a place for him.
Summer quickly went by, and Tadashi was slowly becoming used to the idea of working in the Lucky Cat Café. He just took orders and brought small plates of food out, the larger jobs falling to his aunt and the other employees. But he wouldn't be able to work again until the next weekend, because he and Hiro would be going back to school tomorrow.
Thankfully, Hiro was able to properly pronounce his name by this time.
And as the two Hamada brothers wandered over to their respective sides of the room to go to bed, Tadashi yawned and closed the thin paper partition between them.
But as he was about to drift off . . .
"T-Tadashi?" Hiro's voice whispered in the darkness of their shared room. "Nii-chan?"
Tadashi opened his eyes with those uttered words because he knew that Hiro only really needed him when he was called by that name. "Hai, otouto?" he replied sleepily, slipping into the familiar language.
"What if . . ." Hiro paused, and Tadashi sat up in his bed to better see his little brother, the first feelings of concern entering his mind.
"Hiro?" he asked softly, opening the thin divider and padding over to him. "What's wrong?"
Hiro's face was covered in shadows as Tadashi sat down at the foot of his bed. "What if the other kids don't like me?" he whispered. "They're all older."
Tadashi stayed silent for a few moments, processing his younger brother's words.
"Well," Tadashi began slowly, "I'm older, and I like you. I promise, there's nothing to worry about."
"Okay, then," Hiro said with a relief-filled smile. "Thanks, Tadashi. Good night."
"Night, Hiro," Tadashi replied softly, giving him a gentle kiss on the head. "Love you."
"Love you, too."
The next day, Tadashi held Hiro's hand as he led him to his class. Hiro was only four years old, and already in fourth grade.
Tadashi couldn't have been prouder.
He opened the door to the room and glanced down at his little brother, who was gripping his leg tightly. "Breathe, otouto," Tadashi whispered, shooting him a smile. "You're going to be fine."
"Nii-chan, don't go," Hiro pleaded softly, meeting Tadashi's gaze after looking warily around at the kids craning their necks to stare at the new kid.
Tadashi simply gave him a reassuring squeeze on the shoulder, then headed out of the classroom. When Hiro looked back fearfully through the glass of the door, Tadashi grinned again and gave a thumbs-up, mouthing, "Tag."
Hiro's eyes widened at that, but then his shoulders relaxed, and he smiled and walked over to his seat in the front row. Tadashi peered through the window once his brother was settled, and laughed silently.
He had never realized how much Hiro was going to stick out. The little boy struggled to climb up onto the "big-kid" chairs, but to Tadashi's relief, the boys on either side of Hiro gave him warm smiles. Hiro's eyes barely peeped over the desk, and he was so tiny compared to those kids who were twice Hiro's age and height.
But Hiro would be able to do it.
Tadashi knew that he could.
As Tadashi was doing his homework on the kitchen table, Hiro snuck up behind him and smacked his shoulder, screaming "You're it!" and then ran away, laughing.
The older boy's homework was left forgotten for a few hours.
4. the game pauses
"Well, this is it, Hiro," Tadashi said grandly, slowing his moped as he turned it into the parking lot. "Your first day of high school. You ready?"
Tadashi could feel the nine-year-old's excited nod on his back, his skinny little arms tightening around his middle. The junior sort of knew what it was like to skip grades (he had skipped one himself) and so he could relate a little to his younger brother.
"Tadashi, we're finally gonna be in the same school!" Hiro said exuberantly, hopping down from the red vehicle. He took off his helmet and shook his head, his hair even messier than it normally was.
Tadashi grinned as he dismounted, taking off his helmet as well. "I'll walk you to your first class. And then I'll see you at lunch, little brother."
"Yup!" Hiro said brightly.
As the two brothers walked through the doors of the school, Tadashi could feel the curious stares of the other kids—probably wondering what such a small boy was doing here—but the bubbly nine-year-old holding his hand was oblivious.
"Tadashi, everything's so biiiiiig!" Hiro said in wonder. "How am I gonna reach my locker?"
The elder Hamada smiled slightly. "I'm sure your classmates will be more than happy to help you," he said confidently. Tadashi had never heard of any significant cases of bullying in the two (now three) years he had been at this school, and so he was almost 100% positive that nothing would happen to Hiro.
But he still worried . . .
Like Hiro had said, he was so small, and everyone else was so big. His baby brother wasn't even close to reaching five feet yet.
Back at Hiro's elementary school, all the kids in his class gladly took care of the little boy, but this was a whole new environment. Some of Hiro's classmates also came to this high school, and so they knew who he was. But there were also about 100 more strangers in the freshman class, and there were even more upperclassmen.
Tadashi just hoped that Hiro's friends would be able to protect his little brother.
Tadashi felt a tug on his arm, and looked down to see Hiro gripping his hand. "My class is the other way. We passed it," his brother said irritably.
"Oh, sorry, Hiro," Tadashi apologized, turning around. "And we still need to get your books . . ."
"I'll just walk there myself," Hiro sighed, hefting his bag on his shoulders. "You'll be late if you wait for me."
"Tadashi," Hiro said sternly. "I'll be fine. It's just over there, and I'll see you at lunch anyway."
"Okay," Tadashi reluctantly conceded. "But—"
"Tadashiiiii . . ." Hiro whined. "Go. I'm okay. Promise."
"Fine, then. See you later, Hiro," he said, smiling.
Hiro grinned back, his tooth gap showing. "Bye!"
Tadashi watched his brother walk off, and it was only when his tiny frame disappeared into the door Tadashi went to his first class.
His uneasiness never really went away as he made his way through the morning classes, but he chalked it up to just nerves. After all, it was Hiro's first day of high school. He wouldn't get into trouble so early.
. . . Right?
As he walked into the cafeteria, Tadashi grabbed his and Hiro's lunches from the fridge and claimed a spot for the younger boy at the table. His friends were already eating, and one asked, "Hey, your little brother's a freshman this year, right?"
Tadashi nodded, grinning. "Yup. He should be getting here soon."
His friend laughed. "You've talked about him enough."
But as the minutes went by and Tadashi's lunch was already long gone, he began picking at the plastic bag that had encased his sandwich. Where was Hiro?
The elder Hamada glanced worriedly at the clock. 10 minutes left until next period. Hiro knew that lunch was now. The kid practically had a vacuum in his stomach, eating everything in sight, though he still stayed as skinny as a twig.
When another five minutes passed, Tadashi slammed his palms down on the table and stood up. "I'm going to find my brother," he declared to his friends as they gave him curious stares.
"See you in Physics, Tadashi," one of them called, but an announcement over the loudspeaker drowned out whatever they were going to say next.
"Tadashi Hamada to the guidance office. Tadashi Hamada to the guidance office."
His brows furrowed. "Why are they calling me now?" he muttered, sweeping his stuff off the table.
"Dunno. Good luck, though!"
Tadashi walked down the flight of stairs to the guidance office, where he saw the counselor, Ms. Asato, waiting outside.
"Hi, I'm Tadashi Hamada?" he said politely, adjusting his grip on his books. "I was called down here earlier—"
"Oh, yes, Tadashi Hamada," the counselor said, giving him a sympathetic look. "Your brother is Hiro, correct?"
Tadashi tilted his head in confusion. "Hiro? Yeah. I was waiting for him at lunch, but—"
"He was found earlier, trapped in the janitor's closet," Ms. Asato stated grimly, her lips pressed in a line. "The poor thing seemed to have cried himself to sleep, so the janitor brought him here."
Tadashi's eyes widened. What?!
Then his eyes narrowed as his fists clenched tightly, his fingernails digging into the fleshy skin of his palm. "Do you know who did this?" he said, his trembling voice betraying his fury.
"I'm sorry, Mr. Hamada, but I don't. Maybe asking Hiro would help us identify these attackers, because we do not condone bullying in this school, especially to someone as young as your brother," Ms. Asato said firmly.
"He's only nine," Tadashi said furiously. "And this is his first day! How could people do something like this to him?"
"I know, Tadashi, I know," she consoled. "But speculating about this isn't going to help Hiro right now. He needs his big brother."
Tadashi sighed. "Yes. I know. Thank you, Ms. Asato."
She nodded in acknowledgment. "Hiro's asleep on the couch in my office. I didn't want to scare him by having him out in the open in the nurse's. I've excused you both from the rest of your classes, and you're free to leave whenever you want."
"Thank you," he repeated.
Tadashi set down his books and bag outside, only bringing Hiro's lunch. He slowly opened the door and quietly crept inside. "Hiro?" he called softly, crouching down and placing a hand on the boy's thin shoulder. "Wake up, I have your lunch."
Hiro's nose crinkled, and his brown eyes opened, their sparkle from this morning gone. "Nii-chan?" he whispered, curling even deeper into the couch.
Tadashi's heart broke. "Yes. It's me, otouto. You're safe now, I promise. Are you all right?"
Hiro roughly shook his head no and closed his eyes again. "I hate it here. I hate it, I hate it, I hate it. I never want to come back!" Hiro said vehemently, clenching his fists into Tadashi's shirt. "Everyone hates me and they don't like that I'm doing Trig'nometry with them, or that I can build things in Robotics, and I hate everything!" A sniffle.
"I . . . I wanna go home."
Tadashi wanted to cry at the fear in Hiro's words. Where was his little brother's earlier excitement for school? Where was that bright, childlike smile? It was gone—crushed under the unkindness of others. He pulled Hiro close. "I'm so sorry, Hiro. I should've never pushed you to go to high school so early. I'm so sorry." Tears were brimming in both brothers' eyes. "I promised myself that I would protect you. I never thought that this would happen."
"Not your fault, Tadashi," Hiro mumbled, squeezing his brother tightly.
And of course, Aunt Cass wasn't privy to the fact that kids were bullying her youngest nephew.
Tadashi had stayed with Hiro in Ms. Asato's office until the school day was over to avoid causing Aunt Cass any alarm about arriving home earlier than they were supposed to. Hiro was so quiet as he clung to Tadashi's back on the moped that the older had to say, "Don't fall asleep, all right?"
"Not asleep," Hiro muttered, tightening his grip.
Tadashi slowed down to a stop and parked the vehicle behind Aunt Cass's white van and hopped down, removing his helmet as he did so. He lifted Hiro up off the seat and held his hand as they walked through the doors of the Lucky Cat.
"Hiro! Tadashi!" their aunt called cheerily from behind the counter. "Welcome home, my high school men. You've gotta tell me all about your first day!"
"We will," Tadashi promised before glancing surreptitiously at his silent brother.
"I'm gonna make my famous wings to celebrate, all right?" she said cheerily as the two Hamada brothers through the doorway that led to the rest of the house. "They'll melt your face off!"
"Thanks, Aunt Cass," the two replied as they trooped up the stairs.
As Tadashi watched Hiro flop down on his bed, he frowned. Something must've really hurt his younger brother for him to shut down like this. And Tadashi didn't like it.
Later that night, Tadashi snuck up behind Hiro and quickly hugged him around the middle before shouting "You're it!" and racing out of their room and down the steps into the living room in an attempt to cheer him up.
But his euphoria faded when the familiar sound of pattering feet didn't follow.
Tadashi tried again the next day, but with the same results.
He kept trying and trying at random points throughout the week, but it seemed like Hiro had really been bothered and traumatized by his first day. His baby brother had begun to close up, to shy away, to become more distant.
And Tadashi felt awful. What was he doing wrong?
But he made an effort to talk to Hiro about his day, every day, just so that Hiro knew that he had someone to talk to.
And it seemed to work.
Although the game seemed to fade from the younger boy's memories, Tadashi never forgot as the years went on—as Hiro graduated from high school at thirteen as the valedictorian, as tracking devices were sewed into each of the younger boy's hoodies for when he went bot-fighting, as Baymax was constructed to keep Hiro safe when he wasn't there, and even as Tadashi ran inside the burning exhibition hall to save the man that had ignited his baby brother's dreams for the future.
He would wait until the day Hiro's smile was as bright as it was before, for as long as it took.
Tadashi promised himself that he would always protect his baby brother, no matter what.
And he did—
though he would often wonder if Hiro even wanted to be protected anymore.
But no matter how many times Hiro tried to run away, Tadashi would always be there to bring him back . . . to keep him safe and happy.
Tadashi would do his best to make sure that no pain ever reached him . . .
. . . because Hiro was his most important person, his otouto.
And because a brother's love lasts forever.
5. the game resumes
It had been a few weeks since Tadashi's death.
A few weeks since Hiro, Baymax, and the rest of the "nerd crew" formed Big Hero 6 and caught Callaghan, and found his daughter, Abigail, floating in the depths of the portal in hypersleep.
Hiro was slowly beginning to come to an acceptance over Tadashi, but that didn't mean the loss left any wounds behind. At times, he or Aunt Cass would accidentally set out an extra plate or make too much for dinner that night, and sometimes he would think about a new project he wanted to show off to Tadashi.
And it always hurt.
After classes ended at SFIT for the day, Hiro waved off invitations from his friends to go hang out at Fred's house, finding his feet bringing him on a path to visit a certain someone for the first time after the funeral.
He felt like a visit would finally free him from his sorrow.
The fourteen-year-old knelt down in front of a particular stone marker, the name TADASHI HAMADA carved into it. Hot, stinging tears suddenly sprung in Hiro's eyes as he placed his hand onto the divots of the letters.
"H-hey, Tadashi . . ." Hiro said, a small, choked-up laugh escaping him. "Tag—you're it." A deep breath, and Hiro's hand slipped back to his lap. The tears were coming faster now as he hung his head, his long bangs covering his eyes.
"Do . . . do you remember that game we used to play all the time?" Hiro asked, arranging white carnations and forget-me-nots around the stone. "I know that we, um, never really played it after that day, but I never forgot about it."
Hiro wiped away the falling tears, but more soon fell.
"I . . . I miss you, nii-chan. I-I'll see you soon, okay?"
And as he stood up to leave, Hiro could've sworn that he felt a set of familiar arms wrap around him. He looked back, but only saw the flowers that he had left, swaying gently in the wind.
"Tadashi . . ."
He then shook his head, roughly wiping away the tears streaming down his face. "I dunno where people go after dying," Hiro said to the sky, "but I know that you'll always be with me, nii-chan. And I'll never forget about you. I promise."
Because honestly? He would never be able to forget his most precious person—his brother. Tadashi had practically raised him as Aunt Cass worked frantically to feed the two extra mouths that she had suddenly found herself with after the deaths of his parents, and he would be proud of who Hiro was now—he was sure of it. Baymax was helping people, just as Tadashi had wanted it, and Hiro was finally using that big brain of his for something important. Each passing visit helped him begin to accept the loss of his brother, and he now felt lighter—lighter than he'd ever been.
And after a last, brief glance at the slightly-weathered stone bearing his brother's name, Hiro Hamada smiled softly and walked away.
Though the pain of Tadashi would always be present, Hiro knew that his older brother was there, wherever he was, keeping him safe like he'd done through all this time.
And suddenly . . . his heart didn't hurt so much anymore.