It was a dark, dismal hole to belong in. Nothing, not even a twisted mechanized being, belonged here. For one would have to be pretty hardwired to do something as counterintuitive, as countercultured, as visit this forsaken place.
"Hey, it's Baymax!" The guard at the first check grinned as the robot shuffled forward.
"Hello, Peter." He held up his fist; Peter's grin widened and they knuckle touched.
The man frowned. "No blahahahah?" he slobbered.
"Not today, I'm afraid. I came to see my old friend."
Now the guard questioned his programming. "You sure it's a good idea for you to still come here? Your visits don't do any good and I'm sure Hero 6 needs you."
Well, they had to tell some people.
"I believe visit number one-hundred-and-forty might be the charm," If Baymax was confident, it wasn't tangible. What was so unusual was how nothing seemed to deter him. "Besides, everyone is in school right now. This is the perfect time."
Peter's frown only deepened, "If you say so," he threw the switch.
"You have a visitor," the intercom prompted.
Callaghan hissed through his teeth. "Third time this week," he rolled over from his cot. The man was dressed in full-length black and was beginning to think his weekly visits were a fate worst then prison; or death. "Fine, let'im in!"
The familiar white blob shuffled up to the glass divider.
If Robert felt any amusement regarding his top student's late project becoming his sole visitor, it had died out after the first visit. He kept his glare as the guards peered in at him and then slowly moved away. There were no cameras; only Baymax.
The door slid shut and then Robert turned his attention to Baymax, who only blinked.
He sighed and dropped his shoulders. "So how was my suggestion to download night vision to your ocular cortices?"
"My infrared sensors have improved 79.2 percent."
Robert closed his eyes, nodding. "Tadashi would have never thought of that, but Hiro was ambitious enough." he placed his forehead to the glass, talking, "It wasn't just for the microbots, I did see the potential that boy had... has. I can safely say in hindsight he would have made an excellent sidekick."
"He will never be a villain," Baymax said without infliction.
The man raised his hardened eyes, looking deep into the robot's black dots. "You don't know that," Robert said with soft gruffness. "We do what we do because of what happens to us. If a dog is kicked in the face, the dog grows up to bite the kicker in the face. And here's the real kicker..." he actually grinned. "No matter how many times you come here, Rubberman, it won't change a thing. My daughter hates me, my prison sentence is for life. I know you come here to change me. I know you pity me. But it won't do any good!" he snarled at the quizzical face looking back at him. "I'm evil! I'm BAD. Don't you get that?! Don't you know I'll never change!? Why do you even come here?"
Robert was breathing hard, his blue eyes wide. Baymax blinked at the tears in them and the man jerked his head away. "You could be doing anything else. You could be putting to use that wretched caregiver programming Tadashi made you for, you could be keeping Hiro's aunt company, hell, you should be making these convoluted trips to see my daughter! Lord knows she needs them more then her screwed up father. Go, go NOW."
Baymax sat on the bench that was starting to give and addressed what Robert had asked him all along, "Do you want to know why I come here so frequently?"
The man slowly looked at him and nodded once with a careful expression.
Baymax's eyes sizzled blue once and his chest cavity produced a screen:
"This is Tadashi Hamada, and this is the first test of my robotics project."
Robert's eyes narrowed in confusion.
"Stop! Stop! Stop! Stop! Stop!"
The screen changed scenes.
"Okay... the seventh test of my robotic's project."
Baymax started whacking and hitting, his arm blew off. "Wait! Stop! Stop! Stop!"
It changed again and the haggard face of Tadashi Hamada stared out at Callaghan one year to the day, the man realized, his student had died.
"Tadashi Hamada, this is the thirty-third test of my robotics project..." he glanced at his sign. The power sparked out and Callaghan reeled back.
His ghost student reappeared then, flashlight in hand. Tadashi sighed.
"I'm not giving up on you. You don't understand this yet, but people need you. So let's get back to work."
"Stop." Robert's voice was like lead, his gloved hand went over the screen. He couldn't look at Baymax.
"That is why I come here."
"Stop!" The man growled at him softly, eyes shining in their hatred.
"I scan your vital signs and-,"
"WHY?!" Robert rammed his fists like Thor's hammer into the impermeable glass; it should have gotten him thrown back in handcuffs. "Why do you come here, you wretched thing?! To torture me? Did Hiro put you up to this?"
"Hiro is no longer my patient," Baymax explained calmly.
Robert returned to sitting. "What?" he rasped in surprise.
"Hiro was my patient a year ago, after Tadashi's death." Something like a short sob wracked Robert's chest as he realized the truth. "You have been my patient ever since my reactivation. The reason I have not told you until now is out of choice, I believed telling you would negate your recovery and total isolation would be detrimental to your deteriorating psyche."
The man couldn't find anything to say to this, for once.
"It was better for you to realize on your own that no one is born hating anyone, it is a choice we must all make to love and be worthy of love. Now, as you have made the connection, my time as your self-appointed prison therapist has come to an end." He placed something square on the table and slid it under the thin opening between that and the glass divider. "This is my direct line, you can request further council at any time. Perhaps we can depart today as friends?"
Baymax actually extended his hand out.
Callaghan honestly considered his offer and then shook his head.
The robot placed his hands together and bowed.
When Baymax was gone, the man flipped the white square over and expected to see a Hang-In-There Maneki-neko picture. What he saw instead was a picture of himself holding his daughter close to his side... when she was only seven years old. A softness came to his wrinkled face, his eyes became more gentle as he traced his thumb over Abigal's face. When Robert looked back up he saw Baymax looking at him over his vinyl shoulder.
Well, he had thirty years at best of life left.
"Bring Checkers next time," Robert smiled.