Wasabi’s phone rang, the loud tune making him jump and drop his wrench. He quickly arranged it back into place along its neat chalk outline, and reached for his mobile. He sighed, knowing it was his mother before even glancing at the caller ID, probably to nag him about re-organising their kitchen utensils... again.
He couldn’t help it!
It had been in complete disarray! If only she actually put things back where she took them from… It was a shame that he was the only neat-nick in the family. If only they could realise the joy that came with perfectly organised and well-thought out systems!
As the precision-master stepped away from his invention, his mobile clutched against his cheek— the young Hiro Hamada approached the device curiously, noting the black and yellow striped warning tape on the floor.
He had jogged ahead of his brother, wanting to look at more cool inventions — especially after seeing Gogo’s excellent electro-magnetic wheels — and get more inspiration to start inventing when he got home.
This place was so cool!
... Not that he’d tell Tadashi!
He didn’t have to let Tadashi know he was right… Hiro huffed, knowing that his brother would gloat over the fact that he had been onto something about Hiro's 'true calling'. Hiro did belong in college more than he did doing freestyle inventing and battle-bot fighting.
At least... for now.
He had a lot to learn about the basics of mechanical science and theory, as it would serve to benefit him greatly in the long-run and strengthen his foundations. He could even make connections with sponsors for big projects and find ways to get materials that were rare and of the higher-qualities!
Hiro stopped in his tracks, and then eyed the two teal-translucent poles (parallel to each other) curiously. Was this some kind of invention? He couldn’t see any sign of activity though… maybe there was a switch somewhere to turn it on. It looked like some kind of electrical generator. Maybe positive and negative charges of electricity would run in a circular motion across the poles creating self-sustaining, never-ending energy?!
His mind whirred with possibilities, making him even more eager to see how a simple looking invention like this would work.
He knew he shouldn’t touch somebody else's stuff without permission… but it didn’t look very dangerous. It was probably off anyway. These caution tapes were all for show; his brother liked to plaster the garage with these to make the lab 'safer' (Hiro knew he just wanted to make it look cool).
And if it was really dangerous, somebody would be here to guard it, right? And so his curiosity allowed him to override his logical brain, and he decided to take a peek.
He approached the odd looking poles, stepping over the warning line…
He had heard a strangled cry from around the corner... an unpleasant chill slithered down his spine as he recognised who’s voice it was.
He was so caught up in conversation with Gogo about their new and incredibly strict Aerial Robotics professor that he’d forgotten to keep an eye on his brother… not thinking that he could get into any kind of trouble with so many people around and such obviously odd-looking inventions he knew Hiro would stay clear of—
His eyes widened as he realised who’s invention was in that area and what it was designed to do.
He immediately broke into a sprint, Gogo close behind, their quick minds already putting together what might have happened.
Then they turned the corner and—
Fuck, Gogo mouthed, her eyes wide with terror as she looked at the crumpled figure on the ground.
Tadashi was already on his knees next to him, gathering the bloodied figure in his arms, a horrified expression on his face as he called his baby brother's name softly and urgently. She could feel the panic rolling off him in waves. This bothered her greatly, for Tadashi was the most calm and collected of their group. Seeing him panicky and disorientated was... unnerving.
Hiro’s left cheek was covered with thin, precise lines, blood coating the entire left-side of his face. Even a little bit of hair had been sliced off, leaving him with an asymmetrical fringe. Every time he moved, a little more blood seeped through, and Hiro's skin seemed to grow a little bit paler each time.
He was whimpering in Tadashi’s arms, tears trickling from the corners of his eyes (squeezed shut) as he shakily lifted a hand to test-touch his injured cheek. He whimpered the moment his finger came into contact with one of the lines and his arm flopped lifelessly across his stomach.
Gogo cringed as she eyed the nasty looking lines on Hiro’s shoulder and leading down arm in an orderly manner. She had seen and experienced her share of wounds and even suffered a few broken bones and concussions due to falling off her bike back when she was learning, but nothing like this. And especially not on a kid as young as Tadashi's little brother.
Tadashi was whispering softly to Hiro, soft mummers of reassurance, his eyes locked on Hiro's suffering expression, his own face as pale as a sheet. His cap had fallen off in his rush, and lay forgotten at Gogo's feet. A few people had started to gather around the duo, murmuring worriedly amongst themselves, and with them came Honey Lemon, her eyes even wider than usual, magnified by her fashionable glasses.
“Oh my god!!! What happened?!” She exclaimed, but her fast-moving intuition had her already reaching into her pocket for her phone and dialling the university’s emergency centre. Gogo patted her arm awkwardly (she wasn't really good with physical gestures of affection, but she made it a policy not to ever hit women or be rough with them unless she knew they could take a hit) to soothe her frazzled nerves and watched solemnly as Tadashi weakly shushed his brother’s whimpers.
It was painful to hear, and to watch. A child's cry was never pleasant to hear. It was why people hated crying children and babies. Though it may have seemed like they were annoyed by the loud cries, the idea of a child in pain was never really pleasant to the majority of citizens in San Fransokyo.
And Hiro certainly was in a lot of pain.
Damn she knew the strength and precision of Wasabi’s lasers. There was no way that did n’t hurt— those lasers could cut through steel. They had done a test-run one time and watched as Wasabi (under Professor Callaghan's instruction) sliced through the bonnet of a truck. She could even hear the buzzing of metal as it was sliced clean through.
The boy had walked into this deadly device unknowingly, with no supervision.
The cuts didn't look too deep, but he was losing a lot of blood... and he was just a kid. She could only imagine what Tadashi was be feeling right then, to see his only family and best friend all beat up like this.
Now, where was Wasabi?
She frowned, knowing that Tadashi wouldn't be happy with him.
“Hey, hey! What’s going on here? Please don’t touch anything on my desk, thank you—” And speak of the devil, there appeared Wasabi with Fred (in his mascot suit, as usual) in tow, utter shock written on his face.
He eyed his machine, where the lazer-beams were lit (this only happened when it came into contact with an object) and the bloody figure clutched in Tadashi's arms.
“T-Tadashi! What happened—” He began, though he had a pretty good idea.
“What the hell do you think happened?!” Tadashi snapped loudly, his eyes narrowed and his jaw clenched tightly. The gang had never heard Tadashi so angry and afraid. The raw emotion made Fred want to bring everyone together into a group-hug... but even he knew now wasn't the best time.
Tadashi was clutching his little brother firmly to his chest as he sat crossed legged on the floor. His voice had been louder than even Honey Lemon’s urgent words for the paramedics' assistance.
Wasabi faltered, not really knowing what to do.
He had... nothing to say.
It was a fact that this happened due to his irresponsibly act. How could he have just walked away like that?! He wanted to tear his dreadlocks out in frustration. And look what happened! Some innocent kid had gotten themselves cut up!
Also, Tadashi was usually very calm and gentle. To hear him so frazzled was very alarming.
“I… I’m sorry, I should have been... more careful.” Wasabi said softly, that Gogo could barely hear him.
Tadashi ignored him and chose to focus on calming Hiro, gently stroking his little brother’s ruffed-up hair. Hiro had stopped crying, but instead his breaths came short and shaky, opening the eye on the unhurt side of his face to gaze at his brother reassuringly. His pupils were dilated, and he looked very drowsy. He seemed to have trouble focusing due to the pain.
The lasers not only left their mark, but they left a burning sensation that made Hiro feel like his skin was on fire. It was like when Evan (their neighbour) described having his ear-pierced... four helix piercings all at once. And now, he felt that pain on his whole arm and side of his face.
Tadashi returned the gaze, the brothers communicating in a way that only they understood. It seemed like a private moment for just the two of them, so the gang all looked away.
Fred patted Wasabi’s back, wanting him to understand that he couldn’t be held responsible for what happened (not voicing it out because he didn't want to risk agitating Tadashi; he knew he was tactless, but Fred wasn't that tactless), but it only made the man feel worse.
He should have turned it off before leaving, he thought to himself over and over.
Why didn’t he?
Because ‘everyone’ knew about his invention and to be cautious the moment they stepped into the lab?
He remembered what Professor Callaghan had said, "Never assume anything about anything. Without any proof, you know nothing." The professor probably hadn't been referring to this type of situation... but somehow it fit really well.
How could he have forgotten about the group text Tadashi had sent moments ago, telling them he’d be bringing his brother — his kid brother — to come look at the inventions in the lab?
Then it clicked, the shock of the situation wearing off as he realised who exactly was being held in Tadashi's arms.
Oh god, so that was Hiro, Wasabi ran his hands through his dreadlocks. Tadashi’s only remaining family, his pride and joy (they probably knew more about Hiro than they should have, Tadashi often telling them about his brother's brilliant mind and ideas, and also complaining about how Hiro didn't take himself seriously, and all that stuff about how kids grew up too fast).
No wonder he was so freaked out...
Gogo stepped forward, giving Wasabi a light punch on the shoulder (though he wished she had punched him harder).
“He’ll be fine,” She assured him softly. “I’ve been through flesh wounds way worse than that. He’ll just feel a little sore for a while, that's all. And I’m pretty sure those marks will fade. He’s lucky your laser lines are so thin.”
Wasabi bit his lip. Lucky? Well...
“Yeah! Thank god the kid didn’t fall through them or something like that—” Fred blurted out tactlessly (
so much for not being tactless) before he was elbowed in the gut by Gogo.
Fred coughed, clutching his gut wheezing, as he kneeled on the floor.
Tadashi shivered as he considered that possibility.
The gory image in his mind and how close he could have come to losing Hiro… This feeling... it was like losing their parents all over again. The same feeling of dread and despair (the flames were hot, his parents weren't moving, little Hiro was crying and struggling to free himself from his baby car seat, screaming Tadashi! Tadashi!).
His arms tightened around his brother as he willed the bad memories away, nuzzling Hiro’s crop of messy black hair. Hiro sighed at the feeling and patted his brother on the arm weakly.
“‘M fine,” He assured Tadashi, his voice sounded like a dry croak. “I-I’m sorry… I was... curious and—”
“It’s not your fault,” Wasabi cut in, his eyes getting watery now, though he willed himself not to cry because why would he cry when it was Tadashi’s little brother that had gotten hurt?
He didn't have the right.
“I should have been more careful and turned it off!”
But before Hiro could reply, the paramedics arrived. A team of three, two women and one man, all dressed in white nurse uniforms with the university’s logo on their right breast pocket. It was a good thing to have a on-campus emergency team and Tadashi had never once been so thankful to Alistar Krei in his life (for sponsoring the emergency ward. It was something like a little hospital located near the administration building).
They gently took Hiro from Tadashi’s arms and laid him out on a stretcher, the boy's blood straining the white fabric. The man quickly began to wrap Hiro's arm in gauze to prevent more blood from being lost.
Then they carried him away, Hiro clutching Tadashi’s hand tightly (Tadashi refused to be left behind and glared at the woman who suggested he come find Hiro later) as they made their way to the infirmary, Honey Lemon anxiously staring at the backs.
Gogo awkwardly chewed on her piece of gum, not liking the awkward tension in the air. Wasabi just looked solemn, and Fred was whistling a random tune in attempt to diffuse the situation.
“... I hope the little boy's alright! Tadashi too.” The blond said, taking off her glasses and cleaning their lenses with a piece of orange fabric. “That was Hiro, wasn’t it? Tadashi talks about him a lot.” She noted.
“Yeah, that’s him. Tadashi’s little baby boy.” She said in jest, but really, nobody was in the mood to smile.
So she shrugged, decided to get serious and turned to Wasabi with her eyebrows raised.
“Did you seriously leave it on unattended like that? Not that it was entirely your fault but…”
“Yeah, I know, Gogo.” Wasabi said remorsefully. “I was careless.” He spat out the word like a rotten piece of fruit.
“Don’t take it too hard, man,” Fred said sympathetically. “Tadashi will understand. He’s just in overprotective big-bro mode right now. I mean we all know how he digs taking care of his lil’ bro, right? So just give him some time to calm down and then apologise. It’ll be a-ok!” Fred grinned lazily.
“Yes, he’s right!” Honey Lemon chipped in, though she still seemed a little worried, clearly thinking about Hiro and Tadashi. “I’m sure it’ll all work out by tomorrow, Wasabi.”
Gogo punched him on the arm and popped a pink bubble, the sound making him wince.
"You should probably work on an apology. To help Tadashi forgive you... he's the one you need to be more concerned about."
Wasabi sighed, eying the droplets of Hiro's blood on the floor.
He could only hope the Hamada brothers would forgive him for this.