Taku grinned and grabbed his "big" brother in a neck hold.
"Cover your mouth, Ani. That animal shelter was just a test."
Hasaki grinned back and ran his hand under his nose.
"Well," He sniffed vigorously, for it was early Febuary and the brothers were on a mission of great honor; to prepare Hasaki for when he asked out ChiChi's sister...
"You're overthinking things," His post-graduate brother ruffled his hair and offered him a nano-enhanced tissue. Hasaki smiled proudly at the ordinary-looking object. "If you just slow down and listen to what's around you, you're gonna figure it out."
His younger brother's smile lessened, but his heart swelled.
"Gege," he swiped his nose on it like a 5-year-old, "You're gonna do great things."
"No, that's you, Ani. Across the board!"
The two circled the snowy campus of the Language Arts school where Hasaki was a part-time tutor when they came upon a stocky man leaning on a lamppost, gazing out at the sun-glistened landscape. Both brothers exchanged a look at this rarity... Shou almost never kept in contact with either of them, let alone an in-person meet.
He didn't turn to acknowledge them, even as they approached, he merely stared off into the distance like he was deep in thought. Nothing about him appeared troubled to any casual observer, but his remote concentration left the two brothers cautious.
Three. His look seemed to say at he finally gazed up at them, Brothers.
Hasaki lowered his head a bit. "Nǐ gēgē."
"Hello, Shou." Taku said guardedly, recalling how Hasaki was mirroring their mama the handful of times she, Baba, Yeye or the brothers had even heard from Shou or Hasaki's father's side. Normally, only Taku's father would intervene on a short visit.
The half-brother was ignored. Shou Yu asked a fast question to Hasaki in Mandarin.
Taku lifted a brow at Hasaki but the young man paused from looking over at him.
Shou's eyes lit up violently:
"Nǐ méiyǒu róngyù?!" He demanded.
Hasaki clenched his teeth in despair.
The angry man stalked over to him when Taku intervened.
For the first time, Hasaki's older brothers clashed.
"I don't know what you're saying to him, but this doesn't need to happen here."
Taku indicated some students pausing to look; Shou Yu's glare sent them hurrying.
"Who are you to intervene?" His English was distorted by anger. "Who says you can inter with family and tradition?" He stared daggers at Hasaki and Taku realized that there was more to this than he could fully understand. Something Mama and all of her Chinese blood kin could never explain to Taku or his grudgingly-divorced father.
Shou settled one final look on a submissive Hasaki. "Tonight," he told him.
Taku watched in bewilderment as the estranged brother took a sharp turn and left.
"Hasaki-," he reached for his ani's shoulder.
"It's best you go wait back home for me," Hasaki's voice hinted at no such plans to do this, but for once he sounded like the older brother he wasn't. "I have to leave."
"No, you don't." Taku argued immediately.
"I have to go, Taku."
Should he go to the police? Should-?
Hasaki seized his arm and pulled him in quick for a bone-crushing hug. Taku's eyes went wider than saucers at this; if there was one thing you didn't do in this family, the one thing both families seemed to agree upon in some mutual, unspoken way, it was you did not-, Somehow, Taku found his arms around his brother and was all the more confused for it. Hasaki gave him one last squeeze before he darted after their middle brother. The taller yet much more nervy man followed him out of view.
It would be a while before Taku realized this would be the last he ever saw him.
His younger big brother, his Ani, his Hasaki.
The shattering of Hiro's suit was enough to shatter hearts, and minds, as he hit the ground in one full-force blow. Hua had been a black blur, striking the boy upside his upper arm and sending him flying through the air. The man hissed; he'd intended a quick, paralysis-inducing move in one strike, so that Hiro could still watch everyone he loved... Hua spotted the problem; Hiro had arched his body at the last moment so that he just missed the terrible attack, then proceeded to land with a big clatter.
Hua hissed through his teeth again before meeting Hiro's eyes.
"You've lost." There was no satisfaction in his words.
He didn't look at the team staring back at him; they could've been a pile of rocks.
"But I suppose if Tadashi is the heart of your little team, you're it's brain."
Hiro recoiled a little, squinting through his pain.
"Stop," he managed to say, "Please."
Hua shook his head once and aimed for Hiro's forehead.
"I guess braindead will work, too."
Hasaki was riddled in anger and frustration when he felt a release of the robot that held him. His eyes popped open and he saw his daughter peering through the crook of the arm. The robot's entire limb fell off and she then moved determinedly for the other robots holding the team; but Dian wouldn't be able to free them fast enough.
Hiro looked away.
He readied himself to be-,
It happened so fast he couldn't turn his head in time, only briefly catching sight of a laser cutting through the rising sun. He moved to face forward fully as someone in the glare of morning light slashed something in front of him, causing Hua's eyes to grow wide as he fell to the ground. The laser point directed his face away from the teenager's and Hiro looked up in stunned horror as Hasaki stared back down at him in pain and acknowledgement. He donned his red dragon suit fully and, now totally freed, Big Hero 6 assembled alongside uncle and nephew to face down Hiro's bots.
He lowered his brows at this.
My robots... of course.
A hand extended down to him and Hiro looked up in surprise.
Baymax stood beside him now...
And he offered him his hand in partnership.
True camaraderie gleamed in Hiro's eyes for the time in months, of finally feeling equal again, and he grasped his best friend's hand. The robot hoisted him onto his back and Hiro linked up against it with his own back; where he'd originally intended to place wings of his own. Baymax caught sight of this a moment (disapprovingly?) and then had to concentrate on the onslaught of robots. Hiro faced his own, seeing himself as a target and moved at the same time Baymax flexed his body. Or... or...
Baymax had moved in time to protect Hiro.
Baymax missed an uppercut to the face.
They met eye-to-eye.
"You will watch my back..." The robot began slowly.
Hiro grinned widely. "And I'll watch your-,"
Baymax moved in time to deflect an assault directed at Hiro.
"Max, incoming below!"
"Hiro, incline your gaze."
Dian watched the melee in utter horror.
Her father, her brother...
The man stood staring down at his son as Big Hero 6 fended off the assaulting bots from harming either. She felt her mouth drop and her cheeks grow cold as he went down on his knees, placed his hand along Hua's neck, then turned away from him.
Dian covered her face.
Slowly, her father rose with his arms full.
He walked over to her and they left together to call the police.
"Got your back, buddy!" Hiro exclaimed.
He managed to deflect a beam away with his carbon nanotube-reinforced knee.
"As I have yours!" Baymax bellowed in triumph, knocking away one with his elbow.
Hiro laughed loudly and the two blasted up together to take on the ones overhead.
GoGo noticed this and smiled.
"Everyone, like Hiro and Baymax."
Fred paired up behind her and Honey and Wasabi went back-to-back, too.
As they ascended, three a pair for each level of flying robots, Hiro's eyes widened as he saw the sun. The symbol the dragon had held under his claw... Yin. Yang. A white hand hugging him to his side, his own arm squeezing Baymax to him as his shaggy, black head rested close to him. How Hasaki had tried to explain to Hiro...
He had to move!
The teen steeled.
"Together, Maxie!" His voice was the leader of Big Hero 6,
They deflected the robots away in pairs, landed, then assembled in a full circle.
Hiro pulled up on his shoulders to detach himself from Baymax and hopped down.
The biggest dark robot walked up to him.
"You've lost," Hiro informed it. "Hua is gone and you are my machines. Stand-,"
It held something out to him and Baymax about-faced to guard Hiro immediately.
Hiro's brows lifted as he held out his own hand and a yellow item was placed in it.
Confused, he looked closer... it was the chip from the river.
"You have won, Hiro." The voice of his uncle spoke, instead of Shou Yu for once.
Hiro was still mystified.
"Your Uncle Hasaki had a mission long ago... a mission I was ordered by my father and grandfather to give to him," He explained as the rest of the team walked up to stand behind their leader. "Of course, Hasaki refused." Understanding struck Hiro's eyes and Baymax touched his shoulder. "That was why you were whisked away to Cassandra, your cousins were offered up as heirs and why your family is no more."
The team came to stand close to Hiro and he looked up in surprise.
"He does have a family." GoGo's statement was nothing but truth.
"No matter how much you or anyone tries to take from him," Wasabi crossed arms with GoGo and Baymax to touch his other shoulder. Honey-Lemon flanked his side.
"You will never touch him again." She grasped Hiro's arm.
"Without dealing with us first!" Fred snarled as he grabbed Hiro's other arm.
Grateful didn't begin to cover it.
"You will no longer control another human like a robot, Shou Yu." Baymax told him.
The shiny black robot stared down coldly at Hiro one last time.
"Your freedom is granted. You have your Uncle Hasaki's atonement to thank for it."
With that, the robot led the five remaining of Hiro's former machines away.
Hiro looked out towards the morning with his team, the toned-down fighting chip in his hand that Baymax hadn't needed to protect Hiro still there. He closed his eyes and threw it off of Krei Tower. It fell gleaming as the six of them watched together.
"The boys will be awakening soon," Baymax said in reference to Huan and Hiroshi.
"They're safe?" Hiro asked, but it fell odd to think of himself out of childhood now.
"They're growing," GoGo smiled.
They stood there another moment.
"Tell Aunt Cass I'm sorry." Hiro said, then walked away without another word.
The team watched him, and he knew they wanted to stop him, but not a one did.
Hiro used his telepathic suit feature and took to the sky.
One month later...
The doors to an 8-story, terra-firmed grown and tech-pieced out building opened. It had been around for years, built miles from their old training site, and now a young man in a plain tan robe indicated for the Yu/Hamada Temple patrons to enter into a new building and call it home. They all looked rather quizzically at Hasaki's nephew.
"He'd want you all to have this," Hiro explained and looked into the first floor which was part earthen and part former home. "And I want you guys to have your temple back," he smiled at them. "the ash from the volcano is still fresh here, y'know," He gave a shiver even through the fleece-lined inside," The snow's layered over it too."
The instructors and students smiled back convincingly and headed inside, stopping a moment to bow at the one thing that had survived the destruction of their home. Hiro looked up for a moment at the partly-melted bronze dragon and felt a peace in it's eyes as it gazed back at him. He smiled humbly and bowed to it before leaving.
"Somehow I think the mother should be doing this," GoGo said to Honey, holding Hiroshi up in the air by his wrists as her friend diapered him. She chuckled though.
Honey suppressed a giggle. "Or Baymax," she added.
They both burst out laughing.
"Someone has mentioned my name?" Baymax tried to fit through the nursery but was impeded by the narrow door. Glimpsing this, they howled. Then, remembering how he would frequently get stuck at the lab door, their laughter began to subside.
"We can't let every little thing..." GoGo continued dressing him, trying to be casual.
"I know," Honey said.
They usually helped out once a week with the kids on Sundays when the café was at it's busiest and required Dian and Meikomo to assist Aunt Cass; who frequently offered to pay all four of them, and was frequently met with the same answer: No.
"There is..." Baymax began to say, "Someone downstairs." He blinked.
The women looked up at him in surprise; why would he have to announce that?
"Someone is waiting," He explained as he met their eyes.
From beneath a blue ball cap and several layers of jackets, including his tan robe, a young man stared up at the bustling café. People were crammed and still shoving in what he knew was rush hour at the Lucky Cat Café; only, never at 3 PM on a wintry Sunday. Though coffee houses and ramen shops always did, this sight was a new one for him. He lifted the brim of his cap and looked up at one of the windows that were upstairs, thinking he sensed someone watching. There was no one there now.
Hiro drew out a long breath and rubbed his arms ardently.
Before giving his home back to people who deserved it, he'd gone to the one phone in the mountains, a payphone three miles from the six-story building, called up the San Fransokyo Transit Department, gotten an extension on his already expired bus pass, and taken two of them (the few remaining railcars didn't run in winter) and in six hours and forty-two minutes, Hiro had wound up outside the only home he had.
Or, had had.
He debated with himself... just like he always did.
Was it enough that the team wanted him back? What about Aunt Cass?
Hiro's brows arched. What about Uncle Hasaki sitting in...
Tears fell from his eyes as he bowed his head.
Nothing excused what Hiro had done. Dian was the exception, she hadn't even had control of her life. Hiro had willingly and knowingly done this. He lowered the brim of his hat down as far as it would go; there was a homeless youth center close by...
"Hiro," A familiar voice called out to him, achingly.
He looked up to see his aunt.
She stood at the corner of her front stoop, panting in surprise at the sight of him.
"I-I-I didn't mean ta..."
Aunt Cass, with nothing more than her long-sleeved cobalt shirt on, walked out into the freezing air and right up to the teen. He didn't move or speak, just stared up at her in - Aunt Cass took off his hat, touched his one-inch crop of black hair with a gentle hand, then pulled her nephew into her arms. Hiro hesitated... then wrapped his own arms around her. Baymax had waddled between many curious onlookers to bring both into his arms and activate his heat feature as Hiro felt the tears return...
This time they were the warm, welcome ones of home.
To be continued...
A/N: One last short chapter. :)