"Aunt Cass! You won't believe the salvage we found today!"
Cass straightened at the tension thrumming through Hiro's boisterous shout, frowning as she glanced toward him.
Shouting for the whole restaurant to hear meant he wasn't particularly afraid, but the tension, and the fact that the boys came through the back several minutes after sunset instead of through the front in full light, meant there might be something questionable about their find.
If she heard of one more angry junk dealer trailing her fool of a younger nephew...
Her breath and thought stalled at the sight of the limp figure cradled in Tadashi's arms.
"Lay him down," she managed after a moment. "Put him in my bed."
"No, mine," Hiro piped. "You can't sleep on the floor Aunt Cass, you're up all day even more than us."
"Neither of you are giving up your beds," Tadashi said. Instead, he carefully lowered the stranger into his own bed as Hiro hurried to gather items their aunt requested.
"Water, and clean cloth. See if Honey has any more of that fluid she gave Wasabi to clean those cuts."
She gently shouldered Tadashi aside and knelt to peer at the man. Boy, really, just a baby under the dirt and blood and grime because he couldn't be any older than Tadashi, and wasn't Tadashi her baby?
"Cass? Here, I have the disinfectant."
Honey was at her elbow now, and she could hear Wasabi's anxious fidgeting as Hiro shoved his way back through.
"Thanks, Honey. Now-"
"So what are we gonna do?" Hiro asked. "I mean, it looks like he walked away from whatever happened."
"Were you followed?" Wasabi shifted back a bit. "No one followed you, right?"
Gogo snorted as she stepped into the room; Cass gritted her teeth at the press of people behind her.
"You really think they'd notice? They had something to focus on, Hamadas lose everything else when something gets their attention."
Tadashi scoffed, turning to look at Gogo.
"Like you have room to talk, Miss 'I drank Honey's fuel sample because I was so into redrafting my blueprint'."
"I didn't actually drink it, now answer the question."
"Gogo." Cass took a deep breath. "How about you find out? And listen out for anything matching our new friend here." She stood, turning to face them. "And why are you all in here? Who's keeping the customers in line? Serving them?" She planted her fists on her hips. "No one. Are you all out of your minds? Honey, Wasabi - go watch the restaurant, assuming I still have anything left in there. Tadashi, you and Hiro stay here."
Gogo frowned but nodded, heading out without a word as Honey and Wasabi scuttled guiltily back to the restaurant proper, and Cass let out a soft sigh as she turned her attention back to the unconscious boy.
"Tadashi, how's your medical droid coming along?"
"Baymax? Well, I... think he can scan and diagnose, but I haven't tested him on anything but healthy..." He trailed off, looking at the other boy, and nodded. "I'll get him."
"Good. Hiro, bring me a few packs of that coolant gel Honey made for Tadashi, tell her I'll help her replace it. Don't open them."
Hiro nodded and hurried off, and Cass turned her attention to cleaning the boy's wounds and trying to bring down the swelling of a broken arm and listening to Tadashi's droid's recommendation on how to start rehydrating him, and all the while she wondered about how he'd ended up stumbling battered into the scrapyard and who might be missing their baby.
The stranger slept through the night and most of the next day - slept through Gogo's report that no one had followed nor had she overheard any mention of him, slept through efforts to get the rehydrating broth Baymax recommended into him, slept through even Cass and Baymax setting his broken arm once the swelling receded (though in that instance the arm had been numbed before the setting and splinting began).
Near sunset Tadashi peeled back the bandage on the stranger's forehead to check the wound there, and the man stirred and blinked at him. Tadashi froze, relief and apprehension flooding him, and for a few moments both of them only stared.
"Huh. So," the man said at last. His voice came out in a rough scrape, and he grimaced and cleared his throat. "So I probably didn't die, huh."
"Probably?" Tadashi rolled his eyes, sitting back on his heels. "Just probably. I look that ghastly, huh?"
The man smiled, wan and weary and yet with enough cheek that Tadashi couldn't help smiling back.
"Nah - opposite." His gaze shifted to Baymax as the droid shuffled forward, speaking in brief bursts that hinted at a slight shortness of breath. "Huh. That's different. You this guy's bodyguard?"
His speech had an odd cadence; living in a restaurant in a space port hub had exposed Tadashi to all manner of accents and grammatical quirks, but he couldn't place the man's peculiar, easy lilt. He was also astoundingly relaxed for someone who'd been unconscious in a scrapyard less than a day ago and woke to a strangers in a strange room, watching Tadashi and Baymax alike with a mild, friendly curiosity.
"No," Baymax was saying, glancing at Tadashi before continuing. The droid seemed as bemused as Tadashi by the man's comfortable, familiar behavior, and spoke slowly. "I am a medical experiment. The intent behind my structure and programming is to provide a portable physician contructed of low-cost materials, thus giving a companion and expert in the use of standard medical equipment in the field."
"Yeah?" The man nodded slowly. "Neat. So - how'm I doing?"
Baymax paused, scanning the man with a soft whirr.
"You have several lacerations of varying severity, concentrated on your forearms and torso, with a not-insignificant gash on your forehead. You are dehydrated and exhausted, suffering from sun and windburn and other symptoms of exposure. Your left arm is broken, and I suspect some bruising of the ribs and clavicle. However, you do not appear to have a concussion, and your blood pressure has risen and your pulse dropped to acceptable levels." Baymax paused again. "You are also far calmer than might be expected, but do not appear to be suffering shock."
"Am I? Huh. Yeah, I guess." He smiled again and shrugged, grimacing as the motion disturbed his arm, but talking doggedly through pained breaths. "Well, yanno. I'm indoors... patched up... not dead..." He grinned at Tadashi. "...probably not dead, and... well, everything hurts like hell... but a guy looking to build low-cost full-service medical droids? Probably pretty stand-up... and anyway if you wanted me dead it'd be easier to leave me in the desert... or the city?" He cocked his head. "Did I make it out of the desert?"
"Uh... yeah," Tadashi said slowly, biting back his own grin. "My brother and I found you in the scrapyard. He fell on you."
"Oh. Yeah, I kinda remember that." The man nodded, clearing his throat again. "Neat. I had a bet with myself on that, you know? So, guess I won that. Say, uh, got anything to drink?"
"What-oh! Sorry." Tadashi grabbed the cooling broth he'd carried in and passed it to the man. "Probably easier now that you're awake to do it yourself."
"Heh, I'll say. Awake to enjoy it now too." He sipped the broth carefully. "S'good - you make it?"
"Uh... no. No, I can't be trusted to cook. My aunt made it, she'll... want to know you're awake." Tadashi fidgeting, looking away briefly. "So, uh. What did you win? In your bet with yourself."
"Well." The man shrugged again - one-sided this time. "Not being dead?" He gave a sly grin Tadashi couldn't help returning. "Probably."
"All right, all right, that's getting old." Tadashi wrinkled his nose and made the most put-upon face he could muster, chewing his cheek at the sound of the other man's weak-but-delighted laugh. "Go back to sleep, you're easier to deal with that way."
"Bet you say that to all the guys," he said lightly. "So... if you were wondering, this guy's name is Fred."
"Fred, huh? I'm Tadashi." He grinned, reaching to take the empty bowl from Fred's hand. "I meant it - go back to sleep. Exhaustion. Tell him again, Baymax."
"Rest is the best cure for your current ailments."
"Aw. Beset on all sides." Fred attempted a drawn-out sigh but winced at his damaged ribs. "Woo. Okay, you got me. Rest it is. But also, yanno - thanks. I mean, I won the bet with myself, but I wouldn't be probably-not-dead if you weren't a nice guy, so... thanks."
"Thank my brother for sitting on you, otherwise we probably would have thought you were just part of the scrapheap." Tadashi paused, waiting until Fred began to drowse before rising.
"But, you know - you're welcome."