So if you've been following me on Tumblr you've heard of this time-travelling Obake AU—it got started by me reading the RayneAuster fic Ctrl-Z which is awesome but unfinished but scratched a specific time-travel fix-it fic itch I wanted scratched…and then it got me thinking.
So basically what we got here is time-travel shenanigans but with Obake instead—boy's getting that redemption arc and characterization here we go! Been working on this for years and all I got left to do is Countdown to Catastrophe and since it's BH6 month it is time.
Also while the AU is titled "Live and Learn" in my docs, the fic title and chapter titles comes from the song "Hated by Life Itself" (the specific translation is Oktavia's song on the genius website). Was listening to it one day while working on the fic and it seems fitting.
Is that it? That's it, I suppose…let's get started.
Big Hero 6 © 2014 Disney
"I'm satisfied with my care."
He wasn't, not really—wasn't satisfied with any of this, mind a blank haze—all his hard work, coming crashing down, from what? Some little kid. Some little kid that he had let himself get derailed by, who had taken months of hard work and thwarted it in less than a day.
That stupid. Idiot. Hamada. Brat.
But there was nothing for it now, no recourse, no chance to escape—the place was coming down around his ears and—
He startled awake, jerking upright, hands scuffing on pavement—wait. Where was he? This wasn't his lair, how—
Try to struggle upright, stopping sooner than he expected, dizzy and woozy and okay, maybe sitting down is the better option….
Okay. So a number of things could have happened. Probably not the robot going ahead and rescuing him anyway, that would see him in a hospital or jail. Maybe one of the others.
Not Momakase, she wasn't wired like that. Not Globby, he had to go all noble. Trina or Noodle Burger Boy? That could be it—brush his vest down—
His vest was gone.
Look down, surprised—no vest, he had on a hoodie, and his hands didn't look quite the same—
Mirror—he needed a mirror, quick—
Finally found a surface obliging enough to be reflective, had to take a moment. A moment to process this—this impossibility—
Because there he was, looking like he had in his teens. Maybe the only difference being the sides of his hair cropped short like he usually wore as an adult but—
Okay…okay he was hallucinating. Or delirious. Or maybe there was some random side effect, where the machine had blasted him back in time and that was nonsense so he wasn't going there. Brush himself down again…think. Start small. Focus on getting somewhere less exposed than the street, where Big Hero Six could come down on your head—
Check his wrist—of course his watch wouldn't be there. Look around…hmm, if he didn't know any better, he'd say he was near Good Luck Alley.
He could handle himself here.
Make his way down the streets, checking his pockets, feeling slowly more sure of himself—nothing to his name but his clothes, but his walk wasn't as wobbly as when he started, and he could find something…what was this anyway?
His mind circled back around to time travel again, apparently preferring that idea over the others as they could end in death and/or imprisonment. What, was he getting a do-over? Get it right this time? There was an awful lot he could do with beforehand knowledge….
Or maybe he was knocked sideways into an alternate dimension, a la Krei's invention that had torn up two of his facilities. That was something to think about while he was entertaining ridiculous explanations—
Noise up ahead. Betting—
It was worth checking out, if for nothing else to get his mind off of things, to let him focus on something else as he tried to come up with an explanation for this. Wend over to the fight, duck around when it was clear people wouldn't move (which supported both cockamamy theories, to be fair)—
Blink in surprise when he recognized the combatants.
Yama was obvious—Yama was big, loud, hard to ignore, easy to dismiss in favor of his opponent, who had just taken a quick loss.
Hiro Hamada. The boy who had just bested him.
He couldn't help but stare at him dumbfounded, brain having received a critical error and having to restart—Hiro Hamada. Sitting there. Bot-fighting. Against Yama. He was pretty sure he recalled the boy not wanting to bot-fight, some noble reason that the dead brother had posited—
And he was pretty sure the boy should have beaten Yama.
That seemed to be the boy's opinion too. "Hey wait—that was my first time! Can I try again?"
"I don't think so!" Yama crowed, ready to swipe the whole pile of money.
"I have more money!" Enough to choke a horse what—
Oh, you little idiot.
He knew what this was, knew the boy was hoping to hustle a bunch of bot-fighters with the oldest trick in the book—start glancing around, lifted a knife off of one guy, angled around so he'd be in a position to grab the boy—
Because despite the impossibility of all of this, despite everything, his mind was looking at this and formulating a plan.
As expected, the boy won handily, didn't know when to keep his mouth shut, grabbed his robot and reached for the money—
Yama's meaty hand came down—
Because Obake had grabbed Hiro's shirt collar, hauled him away—slashed one guy when he dove for them, barking hey!—shoved Hiro ahead of him, yelling run!
Hiro, fortunately, didn't need telling twice, tried to duck under his grip—he didn't let go, used his knowledge of the place to haul him down a proper escape route—
His body was informing him that despite appearances, he still had the bangs and scrapes the SFIT explosion bestowed upon him—had to stop the moment they were relatively safe, doubling over on himself and having to focus on breathing.
Hiro ducked out from under him finally.
"Do you mind!?" he demanded. "I was doing fine—who are you? What's the big idea?"
Cough once before straightening up to glare down his nose at him—wasn't even a head taller than him. Joy, before his second growth spurt what was he doing accepting this this was not normal STOP IT.
"Excuse me for saving your life," he said, relieved that his usual cold timbre was still there—except Hiro didn't even flinch. Which made him wonder…."My name is Obake."
No flicker of recognition, nothing—just a sort of wry look as he straightened his hoodie. "Seriously? Ghost? Could you pick a lamer handle?"
Arch an eyebrow, processing this…wave him off. "Fine—what's your oh-so-impressive title?"
"Not from what I saw. Try again."
Huff, scuff a sneaker…."My name's Hiro."
"Sorry, didn't catch that—Zero?"
"Hiro," Hiro said, louder, neck pinking. "Hiro Hamada."
Pensive noise, considering…voices made him consider relocating. "Well Hiro, unless you want to introduce yourself to your new friends, we must needs be going."
"Hold it," Hiro said, resisting being dragged by the wrist. "Where are we going?"
"Away from here. Or did you want to deal with bot-fighters who want you as a grease smear on the pavement?"
Hiro's face crumpled, like that hadn't occurred to him—how had this boy bested him? "All right, fair point." Free his hand to point at him. "But for the record: I don't trust you."
Like he ever had. "I'm so crushed," he said drily, already moving to leave—
Yes he was, that had been his last memory before waking up here what—
Shove that away—when he was by himself and somewhere safe he could have the nervous little breakdown but right now—
They didn't stop until they were well away from Good Luck Alley, finally halted in a small playground barely illuminated by nearby streetlights. There was something kind of attractive about the liminal space that made him slow down and stop here. That, and there were places to sit.
Look back at Hiro, who was looking at one of the toy horses like he was debating playing on one. Didn't look that old…matter of fact, he looked quite the same as he had when Obake had first laid eyes on him.
And yet he didn't register Obake's name, not even reacting to it, was bot-fighting when he had sworn up and down to those friends of his that it didn't interest him….
Those two annoying suggestions reared their heads again, time travel and/or dimension hopping—except when he was this age, Hiro Hamada hadn't even been born yet. Something was up.
And he really needed to get to the bottom of it.
"So," he hedged finally, feeling the need to be cautious—sat down on the roundabout, playing it off as being casual instead of needing to be nice to his poor ribs. "Hiro. Tell me, what's a kid like you doing in a place like that? Inquiring minds want to know."
Hiro made a face at him, finally fell to temptation and sat on one of the toy horses. "What about you? You can't be that much older than me."
Clever boy, deflecting the question back at him. "Ah, but you see, I know what I'm doing." Liar. "And you…you're what, twelve?"
"Fourteen. And you're evading the question."
"So are you." Fourteen—he was fourteen when they crossed paths why had he not recognized the name—
The alternate dimension theory is sounding really good about now, isn't it?
"Fair enough," Hiro said, missing Obake quietly telling himself to stuff it. Eye him. "So if I tell you, you'll tell me."
"Hmm…I'll think about it."
"That's not really fair."
"Life isn't really fair. But if we're going to be talking that way, need I remind you that that mountain of a man you were fleecing was going to rip you in half before someone intervened?"
"I would have—" Hiro started—stopped, looked away. "Okay fine. It's not like you don't already know."
"Tricking me into answering for you isn't going to cut it."
Hiro made a face at him. "Bot-fighting? For money? To make bank?"
"Don't you have school?"
"Don't you?" Hiro shot back—hmm, he was liking this verbal repartee. "And for your information, I graduated high school last year, so eat that."
This wasn't news to him—he had read up on Hiro Hamada, knew him better than he knew himself, but still feigned being impressed. "I suppose I could be impressed, if graduating from grade school early wasn't such an easy feat."
"And what makes you so sure of that?"
"Well I did it." Which wasn't a lie.
"Oh yeah? When?"
"What's it to you?"
"I feel like you're not taking me seriously and you need to. You never even told me how old you are."
Honestly, at this point he didn't even know. Last guess was late thirties—he had kind of lost track of time when his plotting kicked into high gear—and as for now? As they say in Nueva York: fuggedaboudit.
"We're two kids in a park in the middle of the night on toys we outgrew ages ago," he pointed out finally. "I'm pretty sure I saved you from certain death and that I stabbed someone in order to do so. This is the hill you want to die on?"
Hiro stopped dead. "You stabbed someone?"
Well he certainly didn't still have the knife he used. "Oh I'm sorry, they were going to stab you so…why am I bothering with this conversation?" Haul himself up, start walking away—three, two—
Ah, there we go. Turn to see Hiro standing there, knocking his fists together nervously.
"Look," Hiro hedged. "It's…not that I don't appreciate the save, but…we don't even know each other."
"And you didn't know those people you fleeced either."
Hiro looked like he wanted to argue, realized he couldn't. "Just…why help me?"
Why indeed. A nebulous plan to try again with the protégé idea? Should probably bill himself as a little older then stop that—
"Well someone had to help," he tried instead, still frustrated at his mind wanting to run in a million directions at once instead of knuckling down and trying to figure out this—this impossibility—
Hiro blinked, nose crinkling in surprise and amusement—not shock or hurt. "Huh. That's…my brother says that."
Says? "You have a brother?" he asked. When Hiro nodded: "Then why wasn't he saving your skinny hide?"
"I don't know—usually he shows up in the nick of time and hauls me out. I think he has me microchipped," he added, leaning in like he expected someone to overhear them somehow.
Obake looked him up and down—microchips. That would have been a good idea. "Well, having known you for all of five minutes, I can understand that." Look around, ignoring Hiro's protest—point at the seesaw. "Have you ever been on one of those?"
"Without someone dumping me for kicks? No," Hiro said.
They considered each other for a moment.
Five seconds later and they were on the seesaw, Hiro the only one with his feet off the ground for any length of time.
"So," Obake said. "You're out of school, you're on the streets bot-fighting, and…I'm guessing giving your brother gray hair?"
Hiro nodded, kicking his feet out as he reached the zenith again. "He keeps wanting me to join him at nerd school—says I'm wasting my life fooling around—but—I don't want to go back to school. The whole time I was surrounded by jerks who hated me because I was younger and smarter than them. But it wasn't my fault—I just did the stupid homework. I bet if they did the stupid homework they'd jump up a bunch of grades and get pounded on too. Right?"
"You're overestimating people," he decided to share. "Genius is never recognized in its own time—my plan all through grade school was to graduate, get my own place, and go from there."
"I'm not sure if I want to move out," Hiro said. "I just want Tadashi to stop badgering me."
"Tadashi being the brother." When Hiro nodded. "I've always found that intelligence works best when it's not limited."
"So what do you do?" Hiro shot.
Grin. "Whatever I want. It's really freeing."
Ahaha, there we go—piqued the boy's interest. "Is that legal?"
"Technically, yes—now betting on bot-fighting—that's illegal." Registered his look—"Okay fine. Can't see my family being cool with that, but you do you."
Consider…get off the seesaw, let Hiro down gently instead of dropping him like he seemed to be expecting…look around before settling on the glittering zenith of San Fransokyo, incongruous on the horizon of an abandoned playground at night.
"I quite enjoy nights like this," he told Hiro. "There's something in the air that suggests you can do anything. Be. Anything."
Hiro stared at the city too. Yes, look at it—learn how to look at something and say I want that and then take it—
Yellow light flooded the area, startling them out of the moment—
"THERE you are!"
"Uh-oh," Hiro muttered, wincing. "Busted."
Obake wouldn't have needed confirmation that this was the brother even without knowing so beforehand—single-minded beeline for Hiro, flicking him on the head, berating him with I have been looking EVERYWHERE for you have you been out bot-fighting again you have haven't you don't lie to me I can see Megabot in your pocket—very much the concerned family member.
There was only one small problem with this: Tadashi Hamada was supposed to be dead. Died in the SFIT fire before Hiro even started, at the very expo he presented his microbots in (a pity those were lost).
Quietly observe the not-so-dead brother as he continued on his tirade—he really only had the recordings from the robot Baymax to go on before, that time he tried to use the dead brother to sway Hiro to his side—the real deal had something that was definitely missing from the optical illusion he had presented. Something annoyingly like heart, concern and worry and right now just general annoyance being the main things presented right now.
"Hey hey hey!" Hiro barked, batting himself free of his brother's grasp. "I'm fine, by the way, thanks for asking!"
Finger in his face. "You're not gonna be. Just wait until I'm through with you and then Aunt Cass—oh boy just wait until I tell Aunt Cass—"
"I wasn't doing anything!"
"Then why is Megabot in your pocket?"
"He gets lonely?"
Okay this was getting ridiculous. "He never went bot-fighting," Obake interjected, keeping tone smooth. "He was with me the whole time."
That succeeded in getting Tadashi's attention onto him. "And who are you?"
"This is Obake," Hiro said, haste suggesting he was glad his brother's attention was somewhere else.
Only he succeeded in getting Tadashi's attention back on him, squinty-eyed with suspicion.
"What?" Hiro asked—broke way too early.
"You seriously expect me to believe you weren't out bot-fighting when you're hanging around someone with a handle like that."
"Hey, who am I to judge names?" Liar. "It's not like Tadashi is winning any coolness awards."
"Nngh," Tadashi ground through gritted teeth, beseeching skywards for strength before grabbing Hiro by the hood of his jacket. "You, on the bike, we're going home. And you," he added, looking at Obake. "I don't know—go home, whoever you are."
Obake couldn't help the amused twist to his mouth—he was maybe twice Tadashi's age and yet being ordered around like he was a little kid. Opted for watching Tadashi drag Hiro off, giving Hiro a little wave as he did so.
Some part of this night was a success, though, considering Hiro kept glancing back, returned the wave, was still trying to look back even when hanging on for dear life as Tadashi took off on the moped. Good, very good, he could start over—
Yes hello, this is reality? Checking in, please.
His knees went wobbly and he had to sit down on the little merry-go-round again, face flashing—so that was still there what do you mean that was still there NO you can't be seriously contemplating—
Stop—stop stop stop—don't have this—this nervous breakdown out here in the open—think this through, get to a safe house before you do this. Blink, look around—
Finally get on shaky legs, make it to the end of the street to see the signs—he knew this place, had something that hadn't been used in a long while…maybe he was lucky and it was still there.
There was, unfortunately, only one way to find out.
Hiro could tell that Tadashi was seething, decided he was keeping quiet until Tadashi broke—speaking before that would just end up with him walloping on him and telling him what a brainy idiot he was.
At least he was happy to cover with Aunt Cass, although this was accompanied by speeding him up to their room for a proper chewing out—which it was; Hiro sat at the desk and tuned him out after the first couple of minutes.
He had other things to think about anyway.
Obake…creepy kid. Weird kid too—who called themselves Ghost anyway? And why did he act…familiar. Weirdly, he acted like he was familiar with Hiro, had met him before.
Did he know him?
He didn't think so—nothing about him seemed familiar, not the hair or the face or the clothes…maybe the eyes. Not the blue, the tiredness—that was familiar, only because he got it sometimes when he went on a tear.
Maybe he was interesting—maybe he was worth getting to know. No one around his age ever was, but…this felt different. Obake didn't feel like a kid his age, he felt…cunning, maybe. Manipulative. Dangerous.
He had also yoinked him out of a dangerous situation and covered for him with Tadashi, even if Tadashi didn't believe it. There was no denying that Hiro was very tempted to hunt him down and see if he actually was cool. Preferably after a few days when Tadashi cooled off.
"Are you even listening to me?" Tadashi demanded, tugging the chair around.
"I'm wasting my life, bot-fighting bad, college good, yada yada," Hiro said dully. "Tadashi, I didn't like school period—what makes you think I'd like college any better?"
"Because you like learning?" Tadashi asked crossly. "And getting an education won't end with you bleeding to death in a back alley!"
"You don't know that."
Tadashi huffed and rolled his eyes. "Yes, I do. And this," he added, taking Megabot away. "Stays with me for the night—I wake up and find you gone, I go straight to Aunt Cass and tell her what you've been doing."
Oogh. "Fine, fine," he sighed, slinking to bed. "Be a grouch, why don't you."
"Why don't I?" Tadashi asked. "Maybe if you used your brain for once I could be less grouchy."
"And I don't want you hanging out with that guy anymore."
"What?" Hiro asked, looking up. "Why not?"
Why indeed. "He just gives me the creeps, Hiro."
"That's kind of a lame reason."
"Oh really," Tadashi said, eyeing him. "Well here's the thing: you know that little voice? The one Tulio told Miguel he doesn't have? I want you to pretend like you have it for like, five seconds. What does it say about some kid who calls himself ghost?"
"That he's not as lame as brothers who call themselves Tadashi?"
"Excuse you Tadashi is my real name nobody names their kid ghost."
"Maybe his parents were cool."
"I'm telling Mom and Dad you said that."
"Mom, Dad, Hiro's calling you lame!"
"I am not, Tadashi did, haunt him!"
"What are you boys yelling at!?" Aunt Cass called up.
"Nothing!" they both chimed.
Okay, good news: the safe house was indeed abandoned, he could hide here for now.
Bad news: that was where the good news ended.
He had spent the last…he didn't know how long he desperately needed a watch and a computer—had been pacing a circuit around the room, gripping his hair and scrubbing his face and trying to make any sense of this mess.
Okay, let's recap this episode of The Twilight Zone, shall we? Presenting for your consideration Obake, the scourge of San Fransokyo, with grandiose plans to destroy it using Lenore Shimamoto's star machine and rebuild it to his own specifications. Said plan was foiled by Hiro Hamada and company, and Obake had gone on to go down with his lair, locked in a mental blue screen of death, unable to comprehend that that stupid BRAT had undone all his hard work.
But instead of going on to whatever eternal reward awaited him, he had woken up in San Fransokyo, as a teen, before Big Hero Six was ever a thing, with Tadashi Hamada alive and well.
Okay, yes, let's acknowledge that he is perfectly aware of how insane this all sounds. Getting that out of the way….
There were several options here.
One: yes he was totally insane, everything had been a fabrication and he was in reality in a padded cell somewhere. Nice of his brain to let him know finally.
Two: this was a hallucination brought on by the destruction of his lair, this was his life flashing before his eyes and getting jumbled up in the process. Not very sensible, but not dismissing this out of hand just yet.
Three: alternate dimension where he had never existed, something about getting knocked through had altered his body, and he was most likely stuck here, ladies and gentlemen. Possible, that Silent Sparrow project Krei Tech had done had the same sort of technology.
Four: straight-up time travel, he had been flung about a year in the past, somehow as a teen again. No, it didn't make any sense.
But none of this did make any sense! Why was he here, why had this happened? Why did he look like this?
It was something he couldn't wrap his head around no matter how hard he tried and it was driving him nuts—finally kick at the wall in aggravation and sink onto the thin bed. This was an emergency safe house, only intended as a stopover place for the night—it didn't even have a fridge and his stomach had a problem with that right now…when did he eat last? He had been skipping meals frequently due to his work, hadn't ingested anything but coffee in the days leading up to the event…maybe hunger had knocked him out and had him hallucinating. That could be it.
A horrendously real hallucination—everything felt real, smelled real, sounded real, looked real…he was willing to bet whatever he ate tasted real too. His mind was wanting to rebel against the evidence set before him, but….
When one rules out the impossible, the remainder, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.
…Yeah, hi, this is your common sense phoning in to report some BS.
Shake his head, press the heels of his hands against his eyes—forget it, forget it, he wasn't figuring this out tonight. How he got here, in this state, was something that was going to have to wait.
What couldn't wait…what was he going to do now?
Okay, forget the impossibilities of how we got here—right now he was a teen in appearance with no money, no food, no prospects, nothing. His lair probably didn't even exist, for crying out loud!
…And if it did, it was currently occupied.
That thought sent an unpleasant current through his stomach—what if…how…he couldn't—
Take a moment to entertain interacting with himself, trying to explain things or bill himself as some long-lost relative…hah, funny. Maybe next you can ask the Hamadas nicely if you can crash on their couch, and oh by the way YOU become a superhero and YOU die horribly in a fire. Fun times.
…Yeah, that wouldn't end well.
Okay—priorities tomorrow: find food, find a laptop, take stock of everything. Maybe toy with interacting with the Hamada boy more—he knew what had gone wrong, maybe…maybe he could make things work this time.
Idiot—that boy killed you once and you want to go play at being buddies with him? No wonder your plan failed, if that was all it took.
Scowl, roll over onto his less-injured side, focus on getting to sleep.
Maybe he'd be lucky and this was all a bad dream.