"Someone has to help"
The fire was all over the campus as Tadashi ran in. The air was burning, and the walls were crumbling. Professor Callaghan was still in there though. He has to help.
He remembers the last time fire took those he loved. The car crash, the twisted metal bits, the burning flesh and blood. Cries of a baby that was being shielded by his brother's body.
He could not lose another.
(He should have waited for the firefighters.)
He barely dodged a falling piece of the roof. Coughing and shielding himself from the embers that danced up as the large chunk hit the floor, Tadashi ran around the corner into the main hall. Many of the projects were burning. As he scanned the hall for any sign of his missing professor, he heard a light clicking noise. The almost inaudible mass of clicks sounded a lot like...
His surprise turned immediately into suspicion. Why would Hiro's microbots move when he left them with his neurotransmitter, inside of the burning building?
As Tadashi looked at the waves of microbots that were making their way across the room, he followed them. There is no reason anyone would immediately run to the microbots and be controlling those when there was a fire threatening to burn the building down.
Unless it was staged?
A part of his mind whispered. And it made sense. It would be the perfect timing for someone to start the fire, and steal while no one was looking. Any stolen objects people would think got lost in the fire.
He had to find his professor now.
He was not prepared for the sight that greeted him.
There, in the middle of a pool of microbots, stood his professor, Hiro's neurotransmitter around his head.
Tadashi choked out. It was raw, and came out more as a cough rather than anything else. Nether the less, Callaghan whirled around at the unexpected sound. Upon seeing Tadashi, his eyes grew wide in surprise.
"...You shouldn't be here. You were not supposed to be here"
And Tadashi suddenly understood. Callaghan was the one to set the fire. Callaghan was going to steal Hiro's microbots. Callaghan never needed help to begin with. Tadashi had went in for nothing.
The words were falling out before he even had a chance to process it.
"You already know, Mr.Hamada. You were close with her, after all."
Of course. Tadashi did know why. Abigail Callaghan was a TA in one of his classes after all. They had became friends, and she had shared details about her portal research, and talked with him animatedly about the upcoming test flight. He grieved when the professor told him that Abigail was gone. He too, felt anger at Krei's carelessness, once Callaghan told him what had transpired.
In the back of his mind, Tadashi had known that the professor he admired was not quite the same after Abigail's death. But he had not thought that Callaghan would go this far. He had never thought Callaghan will peruse the bitter course of revenge.
"I do know."
The professor's expression briefly turned soft. Old. Worn out.
"Then you know that I need to do this."
Taking a shuddering breath, Tadashi looked into his old professor's tired eyes. The flames danced around them, making it hard to see anything.
"I know that Abigail would not have wanted this. This won't bring her back."
While his words were hoarse and quiet, he knew Callaghan had heard it. He had also understood, even before his mentor's eyes turned cold and sharp, that the professor would not listen to him anymore.
"It is a pity then. My plans would have gone a lot smoother if you had joined me."
Before Tadashi could even react, the microbots crashed into his side. He was flung across the hall, and landed with his left side into the fire.
He dimly heard the professor call out in surprise. Maybe he didn't intend to hit him so hard?
But Tadashi didn't care at the moment, because itburnedithurtsican'tbreathithurtsithurtsithurts-
He barely registered stumbling back, screaming, and hitting one of the exhibits. He didn't register the sudden coldness as the sphere-like object, which the creator claimed was 'magic', fell and shattered to a million pieces. He didn't register the swirling mass of smoke that was released, or the feeling of a vacuum from where the orb crashed. He didn't register the biting fire on his flesh being put out by the smoke. He almost missed his how his former professor's eyes reflected guilt, regret, sadness, and how those emotions changed to surprise.
Tadashi only felt a dropping sensation, a sudden loss of gravity. It hurt where the fire had touched his skin, and the world around him faded into a misty white.
But he didn't care. His only thoughts were of his little brother. The one who had always trusted him. The one who he had always protected. The one that he left behind.
He thought as the whiteness was replaced with the shadows of unconsciousness.