The frame starts off shaky, the screen whites out for a second and then the camera focuses. There is a boy, about five years old sitting in a plush arm chair cradling a small bundle in his arms. He’s staring at the small child that almost completely covered by a soft blue blanket, only its tiny, pink wrinkled face peeks out along with a few wisps of fine downy black hair. The camera shakes slightly and then zooms in on the two, the older boy’s rapt wondering expression and the infant’s peaceful sleeping face.
“Tadashi, say hi to your new baby brother.” A voice says off camera. Tadashi looks up, his face full of joy and a wide grin spreads over his face showing off the gap in this pearly little teeth.
The boy looks down again and gently runs a finger over the sleeping child’s face, instantly a small fist reaches out from the folds and grips his finger tight. Tadashi gasps softly.
“He’s so small.” The fist barely wraps around the five year old’s own finger, each tiny little finger already topped with a small finger nail, already fully formed.
Tadashi leans down and presses a kiss to the small hand on his own, his eyes shining.
“Hey Hiro, I’m your big brother Tadashi.” The infant squeezes his finger at Tadashi’s words and the older boys looks ready to cry. He cradles the infant closer to his chest and whispers into the downy crown of his head.
“From now on I’ll take care of you forever, I promise. I love you Hiro.”
There is a clicking sound and the video cuts out and the next one starts automatically.
This time there are three people in the frame, a woman, an elementary school aged boy and an infant in a high chair.
The woman glances up from reading the paper and looks at the camera and smiles exasperatedly. “Honey put down the camera and eat your breakfast already.”
The camera shakes slightly as if the one holding it were shaking their head. “This is an important time, it’s you and baby Hiro’s first day back from the hospital and I need to record this.”
The woman just sighs but she’s smiling and continues to read her paper. The camera zooms in on the boy next; he’s eating a piece of toast and his oversized tee-shirt is stained with jam.
“Wave at daddy Tadashi!” The boy raises one hand and waves excitedly and the camera pans to the child in the high chair.
“How about you baby Hiro? You want to wave to daddy as well?” Instead of answering the baby just tosses the bowl of cheerios it had been eating at the camera. The video cuts out for a second before coming back on.
The baby is laughing and so is the boy, both are cackling loudly and the woman is hiding her own giggles behind her hand, her wedding ring shining in the morning light.
She eventually composes herself and looks up, cheeks flushed. Her long black hair is thick and glossy, pulled back into a low pony tail.
“Come on, change your shirt, we need to drop off Tadashi and then Hiro and I are going to the pediatrician for our first check-up.”
The camera is in placed on the table and a dark haired man leans into the shot and kisses the woman softly on her lips, Tadashi and Hiro make faces in the background.
When the next video clicks on it is obvious that some time had passed. The boy running around the grass looked around seven and his black hair is covered by a too large baseball cap. The toddler currently exploring the picnic blanket had grown exponentially as well, with rosy chubby cheeks and large dewy eyes. The fine downy tufts had also exploded into a wild mane of spiky dark hair.
This time it is the man who is being filmed. He lies on his back on the red and white chequered cloth and calls to the boy to stay away from the pond’s edge. He looks to be in his late thirties but seems to be in excellent health; smiling and laughing he looked ten years younger. He eventually notices someone filming him.
“I thought I’d lost that old thing.” He says as he reaches for the camera but whoever’s is holding it pulls back at the last minute.
“No way, it’s my turn to annoy you with this thing.” The camera comes closer and closer until it bumps into the man’s face. He laughs and tires to bat it away but the camera person is persistent.
“Tell us Mr. Hamada, as a man of your advanced age how do you look so good? What is your secret? Our listeners are dying to know.” The voice saying this takes on a faux baritone and plastic water bottle is extended and used as a microphone.
The man puts on a fake serious expression and says gravely, “It’s my wife; she ages enough for the both of us.”
The woman squawks indignantly and the man uses the distraction and throws himself at her. They fight for the camera for a second before the man holds it out above them.
They are both lying on the grass, breathless with laugher. The woman’s hair is shorter than before, the dark stands grazing the nape of her neck, and she is wearing a pale blue sun dress.
He gazes at her lovingly for a moment before pressing a kiss to her cheek. She lays her head down on his shoulder and he wraps an arm around her, pulling her to his chest. She closes her eyes. The video ends.
The beginning of the next one is notably more chaotic. The camera is sitting on a table littered with wrapping paper and dirty paper plates. A woman’s voice calls out from the other room and someone picks up the camera before rushing out.
The other room is even more of a mess.
Every surface is covered in blue. There are blue streamers and balloons and even the frosting covering face of the boy sitting in the middle of the chaos was a bright, baby blue.
The boy notices the camera and grins widely, showing off the wide gap in his front teeth.
“Aunt Cass!” The boy shoots up in a heartbeat and wraps his thin arms around the camera woman’s legs.
Aunt Cass chuckles and ruffles his hair.
“How’s the birthday boy doing?” The small child was practically vibrating with energy and he bounced up and down excitedly as he told her.
“It’s been soooo great! Mom and Dad got me this bike and Tadashi built me this amazing robot, it can walk and move its arms and do all sorts of cool things! I also got a ton of other gifts from everyone else and thanks so much for model air plane Aunt Cass. I can’t wait to take it out with Tadashi and fly it for the first time!”
The woman laughs and the camera focus on the couple sitting on the blue covered sofa. They both looked exhausted and the man seemed to be already asleep, one cheek pressed onto the blissfully blue free armrest of the sofa.
The woman smiled tiredly.
“Yes he’s been like that all day.”
“Tadashi!” The camera spun around and focused on the other boy standing on the stairs. He looked around ten but he had the same excited expression as the other, younger boy. In his hands he held a pair of batteries in triumph over his head.
“Got them!” he took the last few steps in on bound and settled onto the floor next to the other boy. They chattered excitedly, their dark heads bent close together and the older boy uses a small screw driver to unscrew the back of the small toy robot and place the batteries inside. When the panel is screwed back on he hands a small oval controller to the other boy.
“Come on Hiro, give it a try.” The younger boy grabs the controller excited the presses a bunch of buttons.
The small, silver robot suddenly sits at attention. In a high tinny voice it speaks.
“Destroy.” And shoots a blast of water that knocks the sleeping cat off the window sill where it’s been peacefully taking a nap.
The robot then turns to the couple on the couch, the man now startled awake by the noise.
There are screams and crashing sounds as the camera shakes wildly before it is abandoned on the carpeted floor. Right before the video cuts out, a voice call out “Hiro no!” and a small boy’s maniacal laughter sounds out.
The next video starts. This time it’s the same room, the same couch cleared now of any mess. There is no blue on it; in fact the whole room is a colourless grey in the watery light streaming through the window. The camera turns around and focuses on the face of the boy holding it. He is dressed in all black and he looks no older than eleven. His hair is neatly brushed and his eyes are red rimmed and dull.
“Tadashi.” He boy looks up and the video ends.
When the camera starts again it is already dark and the boy is lying down in his bed, the camera facing him. He’s wearing the same clothes from before but the black tie he was wearing earlier is gone and his hair is no longer neat. His eyes look even redder than before.
Nothing happens for a moment, the only sounds from the rain beating quietly on the roof and the soft even breathing of the boy. It’s a long time before he speaks.
“They told me, after, that it gets easier. I wonder why it isn’t. I know that after you die you can’t come back to life, that you’re gone forever, but I can believe it. They can’t be gone, they can’t.” The boy rubs his hand across his face and his voice is wet when he speaks.
“They can’t be dead. Mom and Dad said they would never leave me. They promised! They promised.” By then the boy was fully crying, he curled into himself and buried his face into the blankets. He cries and cried until even the rain had stopped. He falls still after; the only noises are his sniffles and hiccups.
The sound of a door opening causes the boy to shoot up, but then he instantly relaxes.
“Hiro what are you doing here?” He tries to keep his voice steady but it still cracks.
A smaller child moves into the frame, he’s in his pyjamas and carries a stuffed tiger in his arms. His eyes are wide and frightened.
“Tadashi, you’re still here.” The boy throws himself onto his brother. The older boy catches him in his arms, not minding the face full of hair and fake fur he gets.
The younger boy is babbling, “I, I thought you were gone. I had a dream and you were there Tadashi and you said that you were leaving for forever like mommy and daddy. I don’t want you to leave Tadashi, I love you, so please, please don’t go.” By the end the poor boy was almost in tears.
Tadashi wraps his arms securely around his brother, as small and frail as he was the first time he held him and rubs circles in the boys back, stroking his hair until he calms down.
Tadashi needs to be strong, for Hiro. He was the older brother; he needs to look out for Hiro now that their parents are gone.
Tadashi presses a kiss to Hiro’s hair, and whispers “You won’t be alone Hiro, you have Aunt Cass and Mochi and me too. We’ll take care of you. We won’t leave you alone.”
The boy sniffles loudly before looking up, his chubby cheeks streaked with tears; when he speaks his voice is so small it’s almost silent.
Tadashi pressed another kiss to his forehead.
They sit here for a while longer before Hiro starts to nod off. Tadashi gently shakes him awake.
“Hiro, do you want to sleep here tonight, if you can’t in your own room?” Hiro hesitates and then nods shyly. Tadashi smiles and lies down with Hiro in his arms. He pulls his brother close and draws the blankets over both them and settles in.
The camera runs on, forgotten, until it runs out of battery and shuts off, the last image being two sleepy boys cradled safely in each other’s arms.
When the next video starts playing again it is clear that many years have passed. The picture quality is much better and the boy in the picture is already a man and the baseball cap sits snugly on his head. He smiles brightly and holds up a hand written sign as he introduces himself and states that he is testing his prototype for the first time.
It doesn’t end well and the video hastily cuts out.
So does the next one. And the next one. Each ending is as hilarious as the last.
There are more than eighty and Hiro watches them all.
He watches his brother try and fail a countless number of times and yet he still gets back up and does it again. When it finally works and a low, calming voice states “Hello, I am Baymax.” The joy on his face shines through the exhaustion and his smile is so wide and bright Hiro feels his heart clench. The rest of the video plays and it eventually stops and the screen goes black. No next video starts. It’s the end.
Hiro rewinds the tape a few minutes and pauses on Tadashi’s smiling face. He lays his hand on the screen over his brother’s face as if trying to reach him through the glass. He feels only the cold, smooth hardness of the screen. He lets his hand fall limply into his lap.
He sits there for a minute and just stares at the face on his monitor. Bright, flushed, alive; frozen perfectly in that state. Hiro moves his mouse to the corner of the page, hovering over the small x there. He should click it, close it, shut off his computer and go downstairs. He should eat and shower, hug Aunt Cass and tell her he’s fine. He should go outside, go to school, and reply to the countless number of messages sent by Honey, Fred and the others. But instead he just sits here and lets a few tears slip loose. They patter silently on his keyboard and he lets out a half sob.
“But you promised.”
He cries and cries until he’s still.
He presses replay.
The videos start again from the beginning.
The frame starts off shaky, the screen whites out for a second and then the camera focuses.
“From now on I’ll take care of you forever, I promise.”
“I love you Hiro.”