Damn, Hiro, tall and lanky, stood looking down at the marble tombstone. His friends gathered around him in an informal circle and Hiro would have cursed out loud if he were alone. It was just as well, Baymax had a built-in soap dispenser.
"One year today," Honey Lemon spoke without infliction.
"Yep," Wasabi's voice was quiet and hoarse.
Though GoGo was Hiro's height she kept her feelings to herself, her eyes were so soulfully triste that he couldn't stand to look in them. Somehow down the line the young man had come to realize that trying to tear down her walls would tear up his heart.
Someone grabbed him from behind in a hug. "Ah… Baymax!"
Hiro looked up to find Fred leaning his cheek against Hiro's jet black hair. "Dude," he looked down at Hiro's scowl, "A year ago you wouldn't even come out of your room, let alone let me give you a hug."
Everyone patted their little leader and actually smiled.
"Okay… okay!" He grinned, just a little, and swatted at them.
The team turned back to the engraved writing: Tadashi Hamada, a Wonderful Son, a Courageous Hero.
As everyone bowed their heads and laid a few bouquets down, Hiro felt tears pool from his eyes. His friends patted him consolingly once more and then left to climb into Fred's black helicopter. Hiro finally craned his neck up and turned to look at GoGo who hadn't moved.
He tried to see her better, curiosity besting his judgement.
She smiled tentatively at Tadashi's name, "You know how proud we are of him, don't you? How much he's grown and how much we love him." GoGo never looked at Hiro, she pulled a perfectly preserved cherry blossom and a piece of gum from behind her ear. The young woman pushed it up over the space between the first and last name before stealing away almost hurriedly.
Hiro sighed gently and wiped at his eyes. "Really wish you could be here, bro."
He was about to leave too when he felt something soft wrap around him. The fifteen-year-old looked up with a smile at Baymax looking down at the grave; the soft bot had been comforting his aunt all day and now they looked down at the flecked light gray stone together.
"Would you like me to re-play his last transmission?"
The teen touched his arm. "No," he shook his head once, "I'm sure that was a one-time-thing."
Baymax nuzzled his head into Hiro's hair and the young man patted his arm.
"Maybe it would have been…"
"No," Hiro turned to him, "I don't regret anything, Baymax."
The robot had to tilt his head up as Hiro's mop of black hair came to his shoulders. He smiled with real happiness, his hands in his pockets. "You're the best friend anyone could ask for."
Hand-in-hand, the two passed by the grave. Hiro trailed his left one over it momentarily and grimaced just slightly before they walked down the hill that was surrounded by color-splotched trees. Fall was rearing up now.
When Baymax and Hiro were well on their way, someone covered in a dark maroon cloak with golden trim came forward to look down at the smooth slab of marble. The half-shadowed face spoke something quickly in Japanese and then pulled back his padded cowl.
"I am so sorry my son," A man with features like Tadashi, creased and capped in silver-white hair looked down with great, though resigned sorrow. "It was never safe for you or your brother," he said with quiet guilt, "I'm afraid…" His eyes traveled to where Baymax was helping Hiro into the chopper, "It may be too late for Hiroto."
To be continued…