Shiro sighed as he scrambled over a rooftop to look over the other side. He’d discovered he was much too like some of the other Avengers for comfort. Such as a predilection toward vigilantism and an uncomfortable realization that, like most vigilantes, he had a traumatic experience to back up his reasoning for why he partook in midnight jaunts around town looking for suspicious activity. Granted, he didn’t try and take out every criminal, but he didn’t like the idea of being blindsided by another attempt by Hydra to kidnap him for any reason.
That was why he was so confused by the fact he started spotting criminals bound up in bright pink foam here and there around town. He’d spotted it a week ago, and had he not been patrolling the city and campus for a year now, he’d have only heard about it in the news the next morning. As it was, he was surprised when said criminals were accompanied by a note written in a curly cursive accompanied by a ball stating how to free them from the foam. He had to fight off the urge to take one of the balls and a sample of the foam to run them through a spectrometer to find out the chemical composition of the formula used.
At the moment, he was looking at a group of people that were walking out of the front door of an apartment with several tech items. He knew for a fact that the undergrad that lived there wasn’t in the group, as he’d seen her in the lab talking about pulling an all-nighter, so he dropped lithely from the roof and landed in a crouch. “You should put that all back where you found it.”
One of the men nearly dropped what he was holding as the group turned toward where Shiro had appeared. “Shit, that’s Sunfire!”
“So? We can take him.” Another man snorted. “Doesn’t even have any of the other Avengers here to stop us.”
The third man didn’t hesitate, chucking the computer he’d been holding into the back seat of a waiting car before he took a swing at Shiro. Shiro sidestepped the attack and drove an elbow into the man’s solar plexus. The man dropped back, gasping in pain while one of the other two kicked at Shiro’s legs.
Shiro took the hit, grunting as it connected, but twisted along the man’s outstretched leg to grab at his wrist to pull him off-balance. Shoving him at the other two, Shiro then pivoted on one leg, kicking out to catch one across the temple to knock him out cold. He then followed up with an uppercut to the second, also laying him out next to his buddy.
When Shiro turned to face the third, he was startled to find him enveloped in pink foam, and a long-haired woman in the pinkest outfit he’d ever seen stood ready to launch a ball at him. Shiro paused, blinking for a moment as he let the adrenaline leave his system and his heart rate return to normal. Then one of the men groaned on the ground and Shiro was reminded that he still had to bundle the other two up.
Taking out some zipties, he bound the other two together and looked back toward what the woman was doing. She was busy picking up the various pieces of equipment and returning them to inside the house before she scrawled another note, leaving it and one of her balls on the seat inside the car. She then turned to walk away, but Shiro had to know what just happened and who she was. After all, people didn’t just start this occupation without some reason behind it.
He caught her as she was about to climb up a fire escape, and grabbed her arm. “”Who are you, and what do you think you’re doing? You could have been shot or stabbed!”
“Shiro?” He froze, hearing the voice underneath the visor and pulled up his own. Green eyes stared into his own brown as Honey Lemon gaped at him. “What do you mean, what am I doing here? What are you doing here?”
“Doing my job. What does it look like?” Shiro crossed his arms and stared her down. “You didn’t answer my question. Just what do you think you’re doing out here?”
“I’m patrolling and keeping an eye out for trouble.” Honey looked him over. “For someone that was kidnapped, you seem to be trying really hard to get caught again.”
“You’re Sunfire. When did that happen?” Honey crossed her own arms and looked him over.
Shiro had to admit, running around in body armor and fighting crime wasn’t exactly normal behavior. However, Honey was doing the same thing. “When it happened doesn’t matter. You’re a civilian. You shouldn’t be out here doing this.”
“I’m a member of Big Hero Six. Of course I should be out doing something.”
“Unbelievable…” Shiro rubbed his face, sighing. “Look, we should get off the street and talk about this somewhere else. You know, where normal people won’t overhear my identity.”
Honey blinked, then looked bashfully where the guys they’d stopped were not that far away. Together, the two made their way up to a roof where Shiro did a quick look around before he faced the blonde. Honey looked like she was biting her thumb and debating what to say, when Shiro decided to say something first. “Okay, you have your questions. Go ahead.” He figured he’d deal with the fallout from the rest of the team later.
Honey frowned, considering her words carefully. “When did all this start?”
Shiro bit his lip. “A year ago. I kept on freaking out every time one of the Avengers came back needing to be patched up and Falcon suggested I become the team medic. When they found out I had martial arts training on top of everything else, Tony decided to make the suit so that I didn’t incinerate anything I was wearing in case of accidental flare-ups. I’ve been on the team ever since.”
“Wait, you’re an Avenger?” Honey blinked in surprise.
Shiro shook his head. “Part time. I’m not with the team all the time, so I only join in on missions on occasions they need me.” He then frowned. “What about you? You said you’re with Big Hero Six?”
Honey nodded. “That’s a bit of a long story. When you died, we didn’t realize that it was because Professor Callaghan had set the fire to steal Hiro’s microbots. Then Hiro discovered they were stolen, and proceeded to track down who did it. We couldn’t let him do it by himself, so we joined in. We’ve been a team ever since.”
“We? Who else is in this?”
“Well, Wasabi, Gogo, Fred, Hiro, and Baymax. We’re all in it.” Shiro pinched the bridge of his nose, not believing what he was hearing. How had they managed not to get killed yet?
Glancing back up, he spotted Honey Lemon observing him carefully with a hint of worry on her face. Honestly, he worried more about her, and the rest of her team. “Look, um, no offence, but I’ve actually had some training. Basically what amounted to Avengers boot camp. You guys, from everything I’ve heard, were just college students.”
“You are too,” Honey pointed out gently. “We’ve also been doing this for four years. Shiro, we know what we’re doing.”
Shiro laid a hand on his helmet, shaking his head. “Okay, we make a deal then. We patrol together. That way, I’m not worrying over you getting in over your head, and you’re not worrying that I get kidnapped by someone for whatever reason.”
Honey looked thoughtful for a moment, then nodded. “I can agree to that. Do you have a communications device that we can share a frequency on or something so that if we need to, we can contact each other when we’re separated?”
Shiro tapped his helmet. “I do, yeah. Though I can’t give you the frequency for the Avengers. That’s encrypted by Tony, and I’d rather not try to maneuver though his coding if I can help it.”
Honey nodded. “Ours is by Hiro, so we’d have to wait for him to look it over if we wanted to communicate that way.” She crossed her arms, looking to be in thought.
Shiro, however, blinked at the mention of his supposed brother. “Wait for him? He’s coming to Massachusetts?”
“Well, yeah, he’s in the expo this year. He, Gogo, and Wasabi were invited to it this year.”
Shiro sighed, thinking things over. “I can’t believe I’m thinking about this…”
Honey simply looked confused, before realization dawned on her. “You’re thinking about making your own frequency.”
“It’s easier than going through either your team’s or the Avengers’. Besides, I can encrypt it myself and ensure that we can contact each other. I can probably even extend the range far enough out so that we don’t have to worry about distance.” Shiro was already mentally figuring out how much time that would take and shook his head. It didn’t need excessive encryption, just enough that people couldn’t hack into it.
Honey grinned, her expression bright. “I’d honestly forgotten how much you like to find solutions to problems. I’m pretty sure that most people wouldn’t bother and just go for an open frequency.”
Shiro snorted. “Most people didn’t need seventy-five trial runs of their project to get it running.”
A giggle escaped the tall blonde. “At least it was seventy-five and not eighty-four like last time.”
Shiro blinked. That… sounded about right, actually. He didn’t know why it did, but he was sure of it. Still, he felt he had to ask. “The original Baymax?”
“Yeah.” Honey looked thoughtful for a moment. “I’m pretty sure you’ll see him at the expo next week. Hiro wouldn’t leave him behind no matter what.”
Shiro didn’t know what to think about that. On one hand, it was the simple fact that after meeting Honey Lemon, things from Tadashi’s past were cropping up with sudden regularity, but then there was the fact that he’d managed for two whole years outside of Hydra without even a hint of a possible past that made him reconsider the idea of submitting his own Baymax to the expo. He couldn’t even think of the one Honey knew as his, even if he recognized the design, simply because he had no memory of it. He shoved those thoughts out of his mind as he realized that he still had to figure out when and where to work on the radio frequency.
“Well, I don’t know about you, but I’ve been up since six, and I should get some sleep before I fall asleep in class. Catch you tomorrow evening if you’re not busy to work on the frequency?” Shiro glanced toward the would-be robbers. Police were there already, and they seemed to be trying to work out the one stuck in foam.
Honey nodded. “That can work. We can grab something to eat while we work on it.”
Shiro gave her a lopsided smile before saluting and heading off back to where he could get out of his suit and back to his dorm. Thankfully by this point next year, he wouldn’t have to worry about sneaking around roommates and doing any of it. So far Paul believed that he was busy in the labs at all hours. He was busy in the labs, just not while he was patrolling. Though if his professors ever decided to look at his notes, they’d realize that most of it was reminders about what they were learning about before Shiro took catnaps in class. It was a good thing he didn’t do this every night.
Hiro stood, tapping his foot impatiently as he looked at the security checkpoint for the airport. He’d wanted to leave immediately for MIT the moment he’d heard that Tadashi was there, but unfortunately that got shot down by Gogo and Wasabi, who had told him that Honey was there and therefore Tadashi would be fine for a bit while they finished up classes for the semester. Hiro just couldn’t find the patience that the others seemed to possess regarding the situation, though he’d seen Wasabi straightening up everything over and over again around the lab. Probably from nerves, Hiro thought.
The only one that seemed to be completely laid-back was Gogo, as she was taking the situation as it came, but even she was more liable to snap. Fred, who had insisted on coming too, had grabbed every bit of Avengers paraphernalia he could and tried to bring them with him to get the team to autograph it. Gogo had threatened to shove it all somewhere that Wasabi squawked at for mentioning, and Hiro was certain that Fred had looked beyond crushed at the fact. However, everyone was excited or nervous, and it all stemmed from the fact they were about to see someone that all of them had thought dead.
Hiro sighed, wishing for the thousandth time that he could bring Baymax with him on the plane. Unfortunately he couldn’t be classified as carry-on luggage and Hiro had to cough up the extra money to have him in with the rest of baggage. However, he did have his laptop bag and a backpack that he had over his shoulder, so it wasn’t like he didn’t have anything. He was just more nervous about the fact that he’d stored his super suit in with Baymax and worried that someone would connect the dots.
His thoughts drifted to where he’d found them more often than not over the last week though, and that was regarding his brother. His very much alive brother, if that’s who Shiro Stark really was and not just some guy that looked like Tadashi. Honey Lemon stated that he had amnesia, and remembered nothing from his past, but he’d somehow managed to retain all working knowledge of what he’d learned before, and had vague impressions of the life he led as Tadashi. Hiro didn’t know what to feel about that, since he’d gotten past his days where he was still really grieving. Oh, he still grieved, but the pain wasn’t as sharp, and he could look back at his life with Tadashi with fondness instead of tears.
However, if the guy really wasn’t Tadashi, then Hiro wanted to know why he seemed to echo his brother so strongly. No one knew Baymax save for those at SFIT, and even then it was really the Nerd Crew. Callaghan was behind bars, and the only person aside from that was his Aunt Cass, who Hiro had declined to tell about the possibility that Tadashi might really be alive. He didn’t want to get her hopes up when it all turned out to be a lie, after all. It was bad enough part of him really hoped that Tadashi was alive, and the moment it was proved otherwise, it was going to crush him just as badly as when his brother ran into the flames at the showcase.
Hiro winced, his fingers catching the ear cuff that adorned his left ear and let them trail down to the gauge in said ear instead. He’d changed over the years, enough that he worried that if that Shiro guy was Tadashi, he might not recognize Hiro anymore. Granted, the cuff was more of a device than jewelry, but the rest of it, the gauges, the tattoo on his forearm, his eyebrow piercing, it might be too different for Tadashi to remember him.
If it was Tadashi, a voice warned in his head.
There had been a body when they searched the rubble of the showcase hall, and Tadashi couldn’t have survived, not when Aunt Cass had been in tears when she came home after they found the remains, clutching Tadashi’s phone and wallet and had escaped into her room after delivering the news. Hiro himself didn’t remember much after the reveal, as he’d gone into a depression so deep he’d had to form a superhero team with his brother’s nurse bot to track down his brother’s killer. After everything was said and done, Hiro had been perfectly content to let his brother’s memory lay to rest, knowing it still hurt but he could move on from it.
Now? Now it seemed like he was being thrown back into the grief, though Hiro knew he was doing the throwing instead of Callaghan. This time, he was opening Pandora’s Box, and if he managed to somehow get his brother back after all of the hurt, then it was worth it. Even if it didn’t, he’d lay it to rest for good and never think to open that up again.
If Tadashi had managed to survive, Hiro already had planned to yell at him for an hour straight, take a page from Gogo and punch him, and then maybe forgive him for running into the fire in the first place. He certainly wasn’t going to let him forget that in every single safety situation he’d ever seen since becoming a superhero, the first rule of thumb is to assess how safe the situation is before going into it. Hiro had been in car chases, runaway trolleys, and in one memorable occasion, a flying fight with some lunatic that decided that throwing civilians around was better than coming quietly. Baymax had lectured the man for his actions while they were putting him in the police car, and that actually was pretty funny to watch. Still, it wasn’t the same as knowing that he’d been smarter and better prepared than Tadashi had been when he flew into the portal to save Abigail, even if it meant he’d had to rebuild Baymax afterward.
He shifted, then felt Gogo shift next to him and glanced over to the woman. She looked bored, and seemed seconds away from jumping though the checkpoint. He couldn’t blame her, and he was honestly tempted to remotely call Baymax and have the nurse bot fly them all the way to the East Coast. He doubted the battery would last that long, but it was a nice thought.
She must have realized he was looking at her because she blew a bubble in his direction and cocked an eyebrow. “Something on your mind?”
“Only that the airport’s really slow.” Hiro crossed his arms, staring at the checkpoint as finally the person they were inspecting was let through. “I thought they were faster than this with the checkpoints.”
Wasabi patted his shoulder as he looked over from the pamphlet he was perusing. “They are, except when someone’s not familiar with airports. Then you get holdups.”
“Don’t worry little dude. We’ll be in Massachusetts soon and you’ll be reunited with the Bromada here soon.” Fred grinned as he shoved his hand into Hiro’s hair, ruffling it as the younger male glared at him.
“One, I’m not little, I’m almost as tall as Tadashi was, and two, Bromada?” Hiro looked at Fred skeptically. “That’s really lame, you know.”
“Besides, why couldn’t we just take your family’s jet?” Gogo popped her gum as she leveled a cool gaze at Fred.
“Because it’s tres chic to fly in coach.” Hiro heard Wasabi mutter about hygiene and stifled a snicker. “Besides, I figured it was time to give Tadashi his own nickname, and I couldn’t figure one out until just recently. Besides, any ideas on how he can join in with our super-secret project?”
Hiro recognized the look on Fred’s face and shook his head. “Look, I don’t know about that. I mean maybe it’s not a good idea to get him involved. He’s been through a lot in the last four years.”
Fred apparently wasn’t to be deterred. “I know that, but seriously. He’s got one of the best origin stories, and he’s got something all his own to use. You gotta admit he’s prime material.”
“No, not happening. Tadashi isn’t getting involved in that stuff. It’s too dangerous.” Hiro crossed his arms and leveled his best look at Fred.
Wasabi blinked and shared a look with Gogo while Fred looked unbothered. “Well yeah, of course it’s dangerous. That’s why we have to make sure he knows what he’s doing before he joins in.”
“Fred, I think we’re witnessing the infamous brother-complex in action.” Wasabi shook his head. “You know, the complex that had Tadashi running out of the lab every other night because Hiro was bot-fighting?”
“Didn’t stop him from running into a burning building,” Hiro muttered. He then glanced at the rest. “It’s just that, it didn’t stop him from doing something stupid, and with what’s been done to him since, it’s not a good idea.”
“Well, I get to punch him when we see him again.” Gogo rolled her eyes at Fred when he opened his mouth to protest. “Hiro’s right. If nothing else, we don’t know what all that time did to him. We can’t throw him into this stuff like he’d be ready for it.”
“Well then, I nominate myself to make sure Bromada’s still on the light side.” Fred nodded sagely. “After all, anyone that’s been through what he has is bound to have evil urges. We just gotta make sure he doesn’t act on them.”
Hiro rolled his eyes at Fred’s comment, but was glad that they were willing to help out. He didn’t think he’d be able to deal with it alone otherwise. “Hey, um, I don’t think I say it often enough, but. Um. Thanks guys.”
Natasha walked down the hall, looking for a specific lab she knew would be open this late. She had Stark to blame for that one, encouraging Shiro’s tendency to work himself into the ground by doing the exact same thing himself. However, it worked in her favor at the moment, as she had just come in to the country and decided to check on the young man. No one was really around, and the staff was busy finishing up so she could find the young man alone.
She smirked as she spotted Shiro leaning back and observing his work. She’d heard about it from Stark, but the idea that Shiro could build a functioning AI that learned from its environment was quite an achievement. She knocked, leaning against the door and crossing her arms. “You’re up late. Should I get Pepper to make you go to bed like she does with Stark?”
Shiro started and nearly dropped his wrench before he set it down and turned to look at Natasha. “What are you doing here? I thought you were still in Zimbabwe.”
“Got done early, and I heard a rumor that you’ve had an interesting week.” Natasha stepped fully into the room and closed the door behind her. “So this is Baymax, huh? Weird name.”
Shiro rolled his eyes. “Why does everyone keep saying that? I mean, I like it, shouldn’t that be good enough?”
“As long as you’re not trying to get me to thank him when he does something. Sam keeps trying to get me thank that drone of his.”
“I hate to say it, but you probably should when he does since it stimulates his rewards subroutine.” Shiro grinned at Natasha’s eyeroll.
“Yeah, well, not going to happen.” Natasha settled herself on his desk and glanced toward a note that was written in curling cursive. “So, Tadashi Hamada, huh?”
“That’s what Honey Lemon said my name was.” When Natasha cocked an eyebrow in amusement, Shiro held up his hand. “That’s what Amora Rodríguez’s nickname is. I didn’t ask. She seemed pretty convinced though.”
“Well, from what I was able to pull up, she might not be wrong.” Natasha pulled out a thumb drive and handed it to Shiro. “Right age, your appearances match, and I’m willing to bet that if you did a DNA test, it’d come out identical.”
Shiro didn’t take the thumb drive and instead frowned at it. “Yeah, but I bet the guy never had the same issues with fire that I do.”
Natasha snorted. “I’m going to be blunt with you. Your powers might have been the thing that caused you to survive the fire at SFIT to begin with. I don’t know. What I do know is that up until we found you, the only way that people were developing abilities was because they either had something mess with their DNA or sometime in the distant past their ancestors were guinea pigs to aliens. Now we’ve located six people that fit the same parameters that you do, you and no one else. Something’s going on, and I don’t know if it’s random mutation or something, but I’m willing to bet they won’t be the last six people to fit that profile.”
Shiro took the thumb drive reluctantly and twisted it in his fingers before looking toward Natasha. “Wait, you mean these people have been kidnapped by Hydra?”
“Nothing in the checks that both Hill and I have done says they were. I’m also sure that Coulson hasn’t run across them either on his end.” Natasha then frowned. “There were also thirty-six others including yourself that were on Hydra’s database, but you’re the only one from that group that we have confirmation on. The others just vanished.”
Shiro winced. “And if they made those people vanish, there’s a good chance they were going to do the same to me.”
“It wouldn’t have been hard, either. If-“ Shiro hesitated a bit before speaking again, “if they went through the trouble of making sure this Tadashi guy was dead, then no one would look for him. And with my amnesia, there’s no way for me to be traced back to him either.”
“Except you built something that kind of resembles the Pillsbury Doughboy a bit there.” Natasha pointed toward Baymax. “It resembles the original one that Hamada kid built enough that if people were looking to connect the dots, they’d find you on the other end.”
Shiro nodded. “Which is why I’m nervous about showing him off at the expo now.”
“Which is why you have me playing babysitter right now.”
“When did Avengers need babysitters?” Shiro cocked an eyebrow at Natasha. She could tell he had a hard time believing it.
“When I had to babysit Stark several times in the past. And Rogers. And Banner.” Natasha smirked. “You’d be surprised at how often those guys get into enough trouble that they need someone to step in to keep them from tripping over everything.”
Shiro considered that before shaking his head in bemusement. “Well, that’d make two babysitters then.”
“Oh?” Now this had Natasha intrigued.
“Yeah, Honey Lemon said she’s going to keep an eye on me too.” Natasha shook her head in disbelief before Shiro continued. “I ran into her when I was patrolling one night. She’s pretty good in a fight.”
“Yeah, well I hate to say it, but pretty good in a fight doesn’t mean that she’s going to be able to do what she said she was.” She then fixed Shiro with a look. “Even if she’s on a superhero team.”
Shiro opened his mouth for a moment as he looked like he was going to speak, but then shook his head. “I forgot, former assassin and SHIELD operative. You probably did your research before coming out here.”
Natasha smirked again. “You make that sound like a bad thing. Besides, where else did I pick up the files on this Hamada guy?”
“Considering how strange my life’s gotten, do you really want me to answer that?” The young man crossed his arms and leaned back. “So I take it you already know her team’s coming to MIT’s expo then, right?”
“Yep, and got Stark to not plant a bug on you too in the process. He’s gone into papa bear mode with you kiddo.” She mentally chuckled as Shiro groaned.
“I wish people would stop calling him my dad. He’s not, you know.”
“Since you’re the closest thing he’s gotten to having a kid, you’re stuck with that. I’d say good luck, but you’ve got that covered I think.” She rose, casting a look back at Shiro in the process. “Don’t stay up too late Junior, you’ve still got classes in the morning.”
Shiro watched Natasha walk out of the lab, fingering the drive that was in his hand and considering looking at the files in the morning. The niggling doubt was there, the same one that he’d had since discovering that someone seemed to know more about him than he did. It wasn’t so much that it bothered him that someone knew more about him than he did, it was more that what they knew about him was the issue.
Sighing, he tapped his mouse and inserted the drive into his computer. He then glanced through the files listed. Medical, biography, schooling, it was all there, and Shiro hesitated before he clicked on the bio portion. He read through it, frowning as he realized it wasn’t much, but apparently it was more like a synopsis for major events in Tadashi’s life. Two parents, both deceased from an accident when Tadashi was nine, a younger brother that Shiro knew about, and an aunt the brothers had lived with since the deaths of their parents. Then it detailed Tadashi’s death in a fire and contact information for his family, and that was the last bit that he could see in the file. It wasn’t very informative.
Closing that one, he opened the one for the schooling and blinked as that one was definitely more in-depth. Graduated two years early, involved in the robotics club in high school, multiple incidences of fights in school… Shiro frowned at that last point, as he didn’t think he’d be the kind of person that got into fights, but he could be wrong. Then it moved into his college years, and he blinked as Tadashi apparently was majoring in engineering and programming, and a minor in medicine. He’d already gotten his bachelor’s degree and was well into his master’s before his untimely demise.
He exited out of that file as well and went into his medical history, hoping that something would trigger anything that felt familiar. The peanut allergy was something that surprised him, though he recalled he tended to steer away from the legumes more often than not. Everything else, from stitches when he was twelve from what was apparently a hovercraft incident to a broken leg from a martial arts competition when he was sixteen, it just seemed like he was reading a medical file more than events from his life.
His eyes flicked to Baymax, and the young man stood, deciding to test out the scanners he’d built into the bot. “Help.”
The bot activated, and he blinked at him briefly before the bot looked around the lab. He then turned his attention to Shiro. “Hello. I am Baymax. What is the emergency?”
“No emergency buddy, I just wanted to see if you happen to have your sensors properly calibrated.” Shiro stood back and held out his hands, ready to see if maybe the rescue bot could spot anything that was in that medical report. “Scan me.”
Baymax tilted his head to the side before scanning Shiro. After a moment, the results were displayed on his screen. “I am detecting an increase in cortisol that suggests that you are: stressed. You also appear to be suffering from insufficient sleep. My scans also indicate that you are also suffering from decreased caloric intake. Might I-“
“Okay big guy, I know all that.” Shiro rubbed his forehead and realized he should have specified what he wanted Baymax to detect in his scan. Well, this was going to be a pain. “Can you detect previous injuries and conditions in your scans?”
Baymax paused a moment before replying. “Previous injuries include: indications that your left fibula was fractured, scar tissue located above your right ear measuring four point two five centimeters, and an older injury to both your: right ankle as well as your: left shoulder. Scans do not indicate whether or not the injuries are causing you any distress. Recommendations to reduce the risk of reinjury include-“
“Okay, okay, I got it.” Shiro ran a hand through his hair, feeling along his scalp for the scar that Baymax indicated. His jaw clenched as he felt the irregularity in his scalp, and couldn’t for the life of him recall how he got it. “I don’t have a peanut allergy, do I?”
“There is a mild allergy to: peanuts as well as: hay fever.”
“Oh man…” Shiro glanced toward the computer, where the files sat innocently on his screen. He stared for a good long moment before slumping back into his seat. Everything was there, staring him in the face, and he couldn’t remember any of it. Why couldn’t he remember?
“You appear to be: distressed. What seems to be the problem?” Baymax moved to behind Shiro and glanced at the screen himself.
“It’s not really anything you can help with, buddy.” Shiro shook his head and closed the file, not wanting to look anymore at it. “I don’t think there’s a way you can bring back memories.”
“Would assisting you with bringing back your memories help with your: distress?” Baymax looked confusedly at Shiro, and the young man was sure he hadn’t programmed that into the bot.
“If there was a way, then the rest of the team would have figured it out by now.” Shiro rubbed his forehead and made to take out the thumb drive. Instead, he saw an arm reach out and touch the computer, causing the young man to blink back at his creation while his screen flickered though what seemed like hundreds of websites. “What are you doing?”
“I am downloading a database on: amnesia. Please wait while I compile the information necessary.”
“Wait, hold on, I didn’t program that!” Shiro stared and wondered if there was a fault in the coding.
“You programmed me to adapt to various situations. As there is no current emergency, this condition takes precedence.” Baymax stated matter-of-factly before removing his hand from the computer. “Compilation complete. The best treatments recommended for someone with amnesia include: being surrounded by the familiar, talking about past experiences, regression therapy to possibly unlock memories that are lost, treating the underlying condition that caused amnesia.”
“Okay great, nice to know. Look, I’m one-hundred percent sure that my amnesia isn’t caused by any underlying condition so you can-“
“Contacting family now.” The sound of ringing could be heard, and Shiro waved his hands trying to figure out where he put the emergency off switch.
“Whoa, wait! You don’t need to-“
Shiro froze. Baymax stood serenely by, his screen now displaying the image of an older woman with brown hair and green eyes. She looked vaguely familiar, but Shiro couldn’t place where he’d seen her before.
“Hello? Who is this?”
“I’m sorry, I must have the wrong number.” Shiro stared up at Baymax, finally finding the switch and reaching up to turn it off.
“Oh my god, Tadashi? What?”
The shock in the woman’s voice was palpable, and Shiro felt a stab of pain in his chest. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to call you. I’m just going to hang up no-“
“Wait!” He froze again, and the woman continued. “Look, I don’t know why, but you sound like my oldest nephew. I’m probably imagining things-“
Mouth dry, he timidly asked, “A-aunt Cass?” Honey had mentioned her numerous times, and the files did state he’d lived with her. However, all he was getting was an air of familiarity, and nothing more.
He heard her breath hitch before she spoke again. “Oh my god… You are Tadashi, aren’t you? What’s going on? Where are you? How-“
“I don’t know.” It hurt saying those words, and he realized that unlike with Honey Lemon, there was something there he couldn’t put his finger on. “I just… I don’t know. Baymax, he…”
“Baymax is with you? What about Hiro? Is that who found you baby? Where are you?” He could hear it. Tears were thick in her throat and her voice trembled.
“No, I built him. I-I don’t know. Everything’s wrong.” He could hear himself yelling at him to shut up, to just end the call, but Shiro found his mouth was working without his consent. It was the most surreal sensation he’d ever had in his life.
“Tadashi Hamada, if you don’t tell me this instant where-“
“School. I’m at school. In Massachusetts. I just, don’t remember.” He grimaced, the yelling progressing to screaming. What was he doing?
“You don’t remember? What don’t you remember?”
“Anything.” He swallowed, licking his lips and trying to remind himself that he should be turning Baymax off any moment now. Why wasn’t he? “I don’t know who Tadashi Hamada is.”
There was a pause, and he could hear the woman breathing. “Sweetie, listen to me. What school are you at?”
“His current location is: Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It would be beneficial for friends and loved ones to help in the recovery process of someone with: amnesia.” Shiro’s head jerked up, and he found his gaze locked on Baymax’s. The robot blinked and continued. “Shiro is currently experiencing high levels of: distress due to this condition.”
“Look, Tadashi, I’m going to call your brother. He should be there in a few hours. Do you just go by Shiro or…?”
“Stark.” Now he definitely felt weird using that name. He swallowed and continued. “Shiro Stark. I’m… I’m not listed in the directory of students. At least not my address.”
He could hear her moving throughout wherever she was. “Well, I’m going to talk to some people to cover the café for a while. I’ll be there when I can, okay?”
“Wait!” He shocked even himself with his exclamation, and he shook his head before continuing. “Please, don’t hang up. I don’t…”
There was a pause in the noise on the other hand, and he wondered if she had hung up already. “Tadashi, I’ll be there, I promise. It has to be late there, and if I find out that you’ve stayed up too late…”
“Yes Aunt Cass.” The response was automatic, and he found that the ache in his chest lessened as he realized what it meant.
Unbeknownst to him, Natasha smiled a bit as she left her perch from just outside his door.
Cass stared at the phone in her hand, hardly believing what she just heard. However, it was impossible to ignore. She’d picked up the phone, expecting the long-distance number to be Hiro calling her to let her know that he was there safely, but instead…
She sighed, patting the old cat that sat next to her. Mochi was losing weight, and she couldn’t help but worry about the implications. However, he was rubbing his head against her hand and rumbled with a purr she could feel through her fingertips. It comforted her, especially considering the strange phone call.
She looked down at the phone in her hands and thought about the time. It was still too early to call her youngest nephew, as he’d still be in the air. However, a glance over to her right caused her to stand and make her way over to the shrine in the corner. Taking two pieces of incense, she lit them both and stuck them in the holder before she turned her attention to two of the three pictures arranged there.
“Thomas, Maemi, I know it’s been a while since we’ve last spoken, and I know you’ve been doing your best to watch over your sons. But, I have to ask, Tadashi hasn’t been with you, has he?”
She gave a small laugh, shaking her head before she continued. “You watched over him during the fire, didn’t you? There’s no other reason I can think of that can explain how I got a call from someone that sounds exactly like him. You made sure he got out of there safely.
“He sounded so confused and lost. It was like he wasn’t sure of anything.” She then bit her lip. “He even said he doesn’t remember Tadashi. If it’s him, oh god, I want to do the best I can for your baby to help him come home.
“But, even if it isn’t him, I can already hear you Thomas. You’d be telling me to help him out, and Mae would be urging me to help him find where he belongs, regardless of if he’s Tadashi or not. Because that’s what the both of you would do, wouldn’t you?”
Cass took a deep breath before turning to look at her nephew’s picture. “Tadashi, if it isn’t you, I’m sorry. Please, though, keep an eye on everyone. Maybe you can help him. I know it’s a long stretch that it’s you. I mean, I was there when they asked me to identify you. And yet…”
She paused, before letting this tiny seed have light. “Yet I do hope it is. You died too young, sweetie. You know that running into fires is a bad thing to do, but you did it anyway to save someone. I’m never going to be annoyed at you for doing something you felt was right. I will be annoyed that you didn’t think of your own safety first, young man. If it’s you, you’re grounded until you’re thirty at least.”