His parents die when he’s only three. He’ll never remember how his father used to scold him in Japanese and he’d crack up at how little he understood until his father was laughing too. He’d have no recollection of how his mother would make up his bedtime stories on the fly and smother him in kisses before tucking him in for the night. He couldn’t remember his brother’s impatience, how he’d push him down and leave him behind. When they go to live with his aunt, his brother’s hand is warm on his and when he cries his brother holds him close and tells him everything will be okay. Nii-san will always be here.
Hiro is drawing his family while a stranger gushes over how smart Tadashi is to his aunt. Suddenly Tadashi starts saying “Hiro did that!” and all attention shifts to him. Hiro looks up from his drawing, ready to clarify that he’d done nothing when he sees the paper in the stranger’s hand, covered in numbers he’d written.
“You did this?” His aunt asks. Hiro just nods. At the age of five he gets his IQ tested for the first time and then gets moved from kindergarten to first grade. His brother tells anyone who will listen: “My otouto is a genius!”
He’s six years old and his aunt gets called in to a parent-teacher conference. He’s a disruption in class. He skipped second grade but it isn’t enough, he’s too smart for third grade. He’s not engaged, he won’t pay attention. It’s halfway through the year and they want to move him up again. His aunt doesn’t know what to do. After winter break, Hiro starts fourth grade instead of finishing the third. The classes are still too easy, but Hiro gets quieter in class. His fellow students are all twice his size.
His brother says that his big brain makes up for his lack of height.
He’s an eight year old middle schooler and he’s so small. It’s easy for his fellow students to put out a foot and trip him, bump him, knock him down, step on him, kick him - it was only an accident! By the fourth time he comes home with a bloody nose, his aunt is distraught. He locks himself up in his room. He’s not safe there though. His brother won’t leave him be.
“Who did it? Aunt Cass and I can help but you need to talk to us.”
He says nothing. He curses his big brain and his big mouth, neither of which are a blessing.
He’s nine and a freshman in high school. Not his brother’s school, but a school for the rich and/or gifted. He feels poor and tiny and his only weapon is his intelligence. He’s pinned down by three boys in designer clothes while their girlfriends snap selfies. They write obscenities on his face with permanent marker and he scrubs himself raw trying to clean it off before his brother can see. But of course Tadashi realizes something happened anyway.
“What happened? C’mon Hiro, talk to me. I’m your nii-san, I can help!”
Hiro tells him only babies call their nii-san for help.
At thirteen he finally graduates and he’s so relieved. He’s nearly swimming in his gown and he didn’t even want to walk at graduation but his aunt insisted. He trips on the hem and nearly falls on his face on stage and the snickers at his back ensure that he certainly will never miss this.
His brother gently needles him to apply at his nerd school, but Hiro’s had enough of teachers who know less than him and older students harrassing him. His brother tells him he should build a plan for the future and start taking steps toward it, but if his future is anything like his past, he’s not really interested.
He’s fourteen and he bot-fights and gets into trouble. He invents and messes around and watches his aunt work and his brother come and go. He visits Tadashi’s nerd school and realizes for the first time what school was supposed to be like. He builds probably his best invention ever. His brother is proud of him and he’s too young and stubborn to say how his brother is his best friend, how much he loves him, how his brother has given him hope where he had none and he’s looking forward to their futures together, how much it means to him that when everything seemed dark and he’d given up on himself his brother had stayed by his side through everything - there are too many big, raw, uncomfortable things he needs to say and he’s too embarrassed to say them and decides it doesn’t matter anyway.
Then his brother dies.
He’s fifteen and he’s trying to pull his life together. He’s got his brother’s robot and school and superhero duties. He’s got friends and a purpose, but he doesn’t have Tadashi.
He’s sixteen and he finally feels like he’s worked out all the kinks in Baymax’s physical design and coding. He doesn’t want to make money off of his brother’s invention though, so he gives the patent to a local hospital and watches as Baymax models start springing up everywhere. Tadashi would be happy, he likes to think. He keeps the original Baymax of course and doesn’t change a thing about him - other than inserting a fighting program. He wonders how proud his brother would be of him becoming a superhero.
He’s seventeen and he falls in love with a girl in his Bio-Engineering class. They go on a few dates, Hiro loses his virginity and its so nice and he feels so complete. The girl is disgusted when she finds out Hiro isn’t legal. Maybe Hiro should’ve mentioned it, sure, but it’s not like he’s a child. She treats him with the familiar disdain he felt as a ten year old high schooler. The love of his life tells Hiro to call after he turns eighteen, but rips such a painful hole in Hiro’s chest when she goes that reaching out to her later seems an impossible task.
His friends try to console him, but he can’t help feeling that Tadashi would’ve known just what to say to make him feel whole again.
He’s twenty-one and his friends take him out to get drunk, then disappear the next day. They’re all graduated or working on doctorates. He hardly sees them anymore except when they go out and do superhero stuff - even then, it’s rare for all six of them to be there.
He gets his heart broken again and he doesn’t have his friends and he doesn’t have his brother but he does have a robot and a bottle of vodka that he bought himself. He drinks himself into a stupor and Baymax has to put him to bed. He reflects that being an adult must mean dealing with the hard things alone.
He and Fred are the only ones left. Wasabi is in Japan. Gogo is in China. Honey Lemon is holed up in a lab in New Yosaka. Fred’s spring boots malfunction and he breaks his femur. Hiro calls them all and none of them are surprised. The Big Hero Six disbands.
For a few months it’s just Hiro and Baymax, but he feels empty. The police have gotten more and more used to handling situations without the superhero team and Hiro feels more and more unnecessary. Finally, he puts his flight suit away for good.
Hiro is twenty-three and he’s lost his friends and his purpose. He gets drunk and thinks of dying - not necessarily of killing himself, but of his life coming to an end. He remembers his brother laying back on his bed, saying in a mocking voice, “Wow, washed up at fourteen... So sad.” He laughs so abruptly he surprises himself, then laughs again.
Hiro doesn’t mean to get caught in medical robotics, but his familiarity with the Baymax line ends up pulling him in that direction. Sometimes he worries he’s trying to become his brother, he isn’t sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. Whenever he tries to think about non-medical robots and what he likes independent of Tadashi, he always returns to superheroes and battle-bots. But in the real world, that sort of robotics usually leads down the path of weapons technology and Hiro definitely doesn’t want to do that, so he gives in to medical robotics.
He restarts his micro-bot technology and builds in safety parameters so they can’t be used the way Callaghan had used them.
He’s twenty-four and he designs the most advanced prosthetics ever created and earns himself a grant worth enough to get him through most of his graduate schooling.
Aunt Cass has her first heart attack when he’s twenty-five and there’s a moment in the hospital when he’s gripped with the cold fear that he’s going to be all alone. He has a hysterical fantasy that his friends might show up; the power of friendship would overcoming time and distance and they’d be there for him. In reality, they’re hardly active enough on social media enough to even see the message he’d posted to let everyone know what happened. That day, he only hears from Honey Lemon. Wasabi contacts him a week later. He never hears from the others.
The next day his girlfriend shows up, pity moving her to forgive him for being a smart-ass, inconsiderate dick-head (her words). He forgets what she said about him and she forgets what he said about her. She squeezes his hand when the doctor comes to report that his aunt is going to be okay. His girlfriend pulls him into a relieved hug and he amends the thought that adulthood means going through painful things alone and tacks on ‘sometimes’.
He’s twenty-six and studying micro-technology and anatomy. He wants to make functioning robotic organs. Some of his peers joke that he wants to make a cyborg army but they don’t laugh when he makes a functioning prosthetic eye (it can’t see quite the same way a real eye does, but it works).
Hiro had gotten in the papers and magazines before just because he was a prodigy and it more or less came with the territory to get noticed when you were absurdly smart (he’d also been in papers and magazines as a superhero, but nobody knew about that). Suddenly he’s making many more appearances though. He even gets asked to speak at conferences and on television.
He imagines his brother’s voice, ‘Don’t let it get to your head, brainiac.’ And he doesn’t. He’s too busy to accept half the offers he gets anyway.
Aunt Cass makes one joke about how he should be glad she had that heart attack. It took her dying to keep him and Satomi together. She doesn’t make the joke again. For Hiro the threat of losing her is still too real. Meanwhile, Satomi is worried that their relationship won’t last, fearful that returning to him out of pity somehow will negate the years they’ve had together since then. Hiro doesn’t have such fears. Of course he wouldn’t, he’s the one who proposes.
He does regret that Tadashi isn’t there though. Standing next to his bride, holding her hand in his, he misses his brother more than he has in a long time.
Tadashi had only known him in those first few years of his life. He’d seen Hiro’s heart slowly crumple into a tiny ball. Hiro wished he were there so he could see - Hiro was fine now, the crumpled edges Tadashi had tried and failed to smooth over are better now, still a little creased, but nearly good as new. He has the rest of his life ahead of him and he’s going to be okay and he wishes Tadashi could’ve lived to see it.
He sniffs and she squeezes his hand same as she did when he thought he was going to lose Aunt Cass. Instantly he feels better. Thoughts of Tadashi go out the window as he turns and sees her beautiful face looking up at him. He leans in and pressed his lips to hers and at twenty-seven, Hiro finds happiness.
He’s thirty and he’s uneasy. He’s got a doctorate under his belt and a job to cover the debt his scholarships didn’t cover. He has his own place, but he often visits his aunt’s cafe with his wife. He’s wary that his life is seemingly in order. It’s a different sort of fear having everything in place, waiting for it to fall apart than not having anything figured out.
Baymax looks after his aunt now and his wife cooes over how cute the robot looks in a Lucky Cat Cafe apron. His aunt tells him she’s thinking of renting out his room and he agrees - more money means she might not have to work so hard. He’s still so scared of losing her.
This is why he and Satomi along with Baymax end up clearing out his old room. He finds a forgotten photo of him and his brother on Tadashi’s side of the room and smiles back at his older brother’s gentle face when he realizes with a jolt that his older brother is no longer older than him.
He sits there frozen as the strangeness creeps in on him until Baymax toddles back up the steps and asks him if he’s alright.
He’s thirty-five and he’s scared stiff because Satomi’s water broke and he in’t even in town and sure, he rushes over there as fast as he can, but his aunt and Baymax have to take Satomi to the hospital and he isn’t there when his first child is born. He is already failing at fatherhood and he can’t stop apologizing but Satomi just shakes her head - still exhausted. When she has the energy she’ll probably be furious.
“Hiro,” she says, “I really, really need a nap. Please take her.”
And he holds his daughter for the first time and maybe gets a little teary because cheesy as it sounds he feels as if a hole in him is suddenly filled.
He wishes, as he sometimes does, that Tadashi were there. More than any robot he’d invented, he wishes he could show Tadashi this.
He’s forty and he comes home from work on the anniversary of Tadashi’s death. Satomi is on a business trip and he’s forgotten to call a babysitter as usual so he straps his girls into the car and takes them with him to meet Aunt Cass and Baymax at Tadashi’s grave.
His little angels dart around the headstones, shrieking and laughing. He thinks, not for the first time, that children can be amazingly inconsiderate. He remembers what a jerk he’d been to his brother and grimaces.
His oldest, Youko, turns and looks back at him and he melts at the sight of her smile.
He hadn’t had the maturity to match his intelligence while he was growing up, he hadn’t been considerate and he hadn’t said the soft unspoken things he wishes he could say now, but he’d been lucky. Tadashi may have died young, but he’d always had an old soul - old enough to read between the lines of Hiro’s taunts and trouble-making.
His youngest, Tsukiko, lets out a squeal as Baymax lifts her, spinning her around before gently setting her down again. Hiro glances towards his aunt and sees her watching them with a watery smile.
“You okay?” He asks.
She looks at him and for a moment he sees the years she carries - she’s always felt timeless to him, but her face hasn’t always been so lined and her hair not so grey. “I just thought that he would’ve loved them.”
Hiro puts his arm around her shoulders and laughs - amazed at how it doesn’t hurt as much as it once would’ve. “He would’ve been that awesome uncle who makes the dad look bad!”
She chuckles and they leave the cemetery arm in arm.
Hiro is forty-six and his daughters are geniuses but they’re giving him gray hair. He was so worried when he started to realize how smart they were, that they’d have the same school experience he had. He shouldn’t have felt concerned. His daughters have the social grace of their mother and they are adorable besides. Aside from a few incidents, both manage to squeeze through middle school a few years early without too much trauma. Then Youko gets into bot-fighting and her little sister follows.
Hiro drags them home from one shady scene after another, using his fury to wash away horrific visions of them hurt, murdered, or molested in the rough crowd. He’s never sympathized with his aunt and brother more.
But his daughters aren’t in it for the money or the chance to show up adults like he’d been. They’re just bored and they like to build robots.
They start going to a parent/child bot-fighting club - completely legal and full of other young people their age.
Hiro gets recognized by one of the dads and suddenly all the parents want to talk to him and shake his hand and that’s when his daughters realize that their dad is famous.
Hiro is fifty-two and his aunt has a second heart attack. They say she was still going when the ambulance got there - the robot kept her going - she passes on the way to the hospital.
Youko comes home from her first year at SFIT and he stands next to his daughters and thinks it a stark contrast to so many years ago when they’d played in a graveyard, although then and now they cling to Baymax’s billowy arms.
They clear out the apartment afterwards. If Hiro thought it was long work to sell, give away, and throw out so much when they cleared out his and Tadashi’s room - his aunt’s apartment is even worse. This was the last of his childhood and his hands tremble as he packages up photo after photo of the three of them. He’s the only one left and he feels so alone.
Someone kneels beside him and turns, expecting his wife, but instead finds his older daughter.
She’s always reminded him a little of Tadashi. She’s the thoughtful, tactful one compared to her sister’s hyper-active intelligence. She’s the same age as Tadashi was and for the first time he thinks of Tadashi as a child.
Youko rests her head on his shoulder and lets out a shaky sigh, her eyes wet. He realizes he isn’t as alone as he thought.
He’s sixty-three and Youko gets married. Tsukiko is getting stressed over graduate school and starts taking a yoga elective, only to return home, perplexed, as she announces, “My yoga teacher says he knows you. His name is Fred?” To which Hiro loses his shit.
Fred’s hair is entirely silver, long, and tied in a pony-tail. He’s extremely excited to see Hiro and Baymax again. They update one another on the going-ons in their lives as well as the lives of their old friends. Gogo is back in the states, living with her ailing mother. Wasabi is still in Japan, married to an adorable astrophysicist with twin boys. Honey Lemon is in Florida with her family. She comes back to SFIT to do a round of presentations and the three of them get drinks and lose themselves in nostalgia.
Hiro is fifty-nine and he’s invented a robotic prosthetic for every part of the human body. He unveils a prosthetic voice box and it’s a big deal, but he’s unhappy with how tinny it sounds. A still frame of his dissatisfied face during an interview turns into a viral meme. For maybe a week he doesn’t like it while his daughters crack up, then the tables turn and he starts sending them the picture of his unhappy face with captions like ‘do your homework’, ‘when are you going to introduce us to your boyfriend?’, and ‘when are you coming to visit?’. The girls stop being amused and he and his wife cackle like old hens.
Hiro is sixty-four and he holds his first grandchild in his arms, full of the same terrified wonder he felt when he held his daughters for the first time. It feels like flying - and he would know.
Youko leans over in her hospital bed and shyly says, “we were thinking of naming him Tadashi.”
Hiro responds by promptly bursting into tears.
His daughters and wife - pack of lovely-faced harpies that they are - all laugh, but it is a touched, wet sort of laughter.
Hiro is seventy when he gets a phone call and is told he won the World Peace Prize for the “powerful impact your prosthetics have made in the lives of others all around the world”. He laughs loudly and walks out into the garden where Baymax is helping his wife water the tulips. She looks over to see him cracking up and raises one grey eyebrow. He offers her the phone. “Sa-chan, you’ve got to hear this.”
Hiro is seventy-four when Baymax wakes him late at night. “Satomi has had a stroke. I have contacted emergency services.”
Hiro sits up and looks at his wife laying beside him. Her grey hair is splayed across her pillow, her lashes resting gently on her pale cheek. She looks peaceful. Like she’s sleeping.
Baymax escorts him to the living room and he sits on the couch and stares at the floor where he’d watched his daughters take their first steps, silent and trembling while Baymax greets the EMTs and his wife’s body is carried away.
After the funeral and the accounts are all settled and Satomi’s family has gone home, his children leave to return to their lives, and he must return to his. He is friendless and purposeless once more, but he’s been in this place enough times to know that it is not unusual. A few weeks pass and he picks himself up again and starts the long process of moving on once more.
He retires from medical robotics. His daughters worry he won’t have anything to do but he’s got a plan. They don’t know it yet, but he’s learned, when one thing ends another inevitably begins. He clears out his office, taking Tadashi’s cap with him. After so many years keeping his brother’s hat where he worked, he finally brings it home and props it on his peace prize.
He keeps himself busy. He knows that’s the key to making it through this. Whether it’s becoming a superhero or cleaning out his childhood home, staying busy has always helped him through loss. So he builds toys - robotic yes - but not for any other purpose than comforting and entertaining children. He makes teddy bears and bunny-plushies and fluffy cat dolls that can give hugs and keep secrets and call for help if needed.
He’s also learned the pain will always fade in time. In the meanwhile he has a hyper-vigilant healthcare assistant ready to dish out hugs at a moment’s notice.
He’s eighty-one and his eyesight is officially too bad to drive safely. He waits outside his house for Tada-chan. It feels weird calling his grandson by his older brother’s name, especially since Tada-chan is far more like Hiro as a child than he is like Tadashi. Case in point: he is taking Hiro and Fred to an exhibit at the San Fransokyo Museum on real-life superheroes.
He coughs and winces at a whine next to him - he needs to replace the connecting part in Baymax’s neck, it makes too much noise now. He rolls his eyes at the familiar hum of the robot’s scanner. He needs to make some adjustments. The scanner used to be silent. There are so many adjustments that Baymax needs now that he’s getting so old, but Hiro’s arthritis and fading eyesight aren’t good for robot repair.
“Hiro, you have an unusual cluster of cells collecting on you left lung,” Baymax notes.
“Really?” Hiro replies, bored with the robot’s near constant scans. “How long do I have?”
“I have been monitoring that cluster of cells for seven days now and I estimate it has grown 10% larger than it’s original size.”
Hiro hushes him as Tada-chan pulls up in his mother’s minivan. With practiced skill, Hiro pushes Baymax into the backseat next to Fred and then pulls himself into the passenger seat.
They arrive at the museum and head immediately for the portion of the exhibit dedicated to the Big Hero Six.
“So I gotta warn you--” Fred says, “-- I maybe have a surprise in store for you.”
“Oh, yeah?” Hiro smiles as they turn a corner and enter the Big Hero Six wing. Hiro barely notices the enormous poster of Baymax in his flight suit or the glass cases with replicas of their gear.
He sees a group of three people standing together. They’re standing just far away that they’re quite blurry to his aging eyes but he recognizes their shapes - a curvy, dark-haired woman, a stooped black man with snow-white dreads, and an outrageously tall woman who - despite being at least eight-six years old - is somehow still wearing platform heels.
Hiro wipes the growing smile off his face. He points to the three of them - all looking at him expectantly, scrunches up his face in a mocking scowl, and asks Fred. “Who are those three old people?”
Tada-chan probably ends up hearing more embarrassing stories about his grandfather than he cared to ever know and in between pictures, catching up, and throwing around jokes, they do look at the exhibit. They marvel over how they could’ve ever fit in their suits and look in nostalgic disgust at their outdated gear - chuckling over inaccuracies and exaggerations and sharing stories of the heroes’ exploits with Tada-can.
Before they part they take one last photo of the whole group - Tada-chan included. As Honey points out, “None of this would be here without Tadashi!” Tada-chan doesn’t understand what she means, but he plays along and smiles for the camera.
Wasabi goes back to Japan. Honey Lemon to Florida, Gogo to New Yosaka. Old as they were getting, that’d be the last picture of all of them together.
The next day Hiro takes a cab to the doctor’s office.
Two days later he goes to the exhibit again with his family and sits back, delighted as Tada-chan’s little sisters light up with excitement at the posters of Honey Lemon and Gogo. Tada-chan picks up his little cousin and helps him read the plaque next to Wasabi’s suit. Hiro’s daughters chat in front of a suit they didn’t know used to be his, while his two son-in-laws examine Fredzilla’s replica model and engage in the age old debate: Was Fredzilla a man in a suit or an actual monster? Only six people know for sure.
Hiro smiles. Days like this would soon be scarce, but for now he enjoys the moment.
Hiro’s eighty-two when he’s moved into hospice. He thinks (or maybe just hopes) that this slow, drawn out dying is easier on his family than the sudden loss of Satomi, but all his loss has been sudden, so how could he know? His children and grandchildren certainly spent a lot of time crying. He’s almost relieved when he’s moved into hospice, at least this means it would be over soon.
His family brings Baymax - his Baymax. There are lots of them now, especially here. The hospice ward is full of huggable balloon bots pushing wheelchairs and spoon feeding patients and holding people’s hands. Hiro likes that.
He gets a surprising number of strangers visiting him. Some are journalists, some are students or inventors, and some are people who want him to know they’re only walking, talking, seeing - living - thanks to one of his inventions. It’s a little overwhelming to have so many strangers hear you’re dying and come forward, desperate to let you know what a difference you’d made in their life.
“What did you think you won the prize for, grandpa?” Tada-chan asks when he mentions this to him.
He shrugs - which makes him cough (everything makes him cough) and says, “Honestly when they called me and said I won it, I thought it was a prank call.” He wheezes. “Guess I never stopped thinking of it that way.”
Tada-chan shifts in his seat and drags the toe of his shoe along the floor. Hiro’s got a revolving door of relatives coming and going and today is Tada-chan’s turn. He’s got his homework spread across his lap and it’s funny because Hiro can’t help him with it.
Tada-chan is brilliant too, but for whatever reason he never got into robots. He likes music. The homework he’s working on is for music theory. He seems to enjoy it very much, but it also makes him a bit of a black sheep.
“You know I’m proud of you, right?” Hiro says.
Tada-chan looks up, surprised and a little embarrassed. “Yeah, grandpa,” he says.
Hiro remembers standing on a bridge a lifetime ago and not saying all that he should’ve because he was too young and proud to say what needed to be said. Now he felt that he could say it, he felt there was too much to say. He wants to tell Tada-chan that he loves him unconditionally, that he’s proud of him no matter what, that his life so far is only a blip compared to what his life could be so long as he held on to it and kept moving forward even when everything behind him looks awful, even when the worst thing he thinks could happen to him happens. But he can’t say all that and he isn’t sure how to put it into words that Tada-chan would understand. Instead he settles on saying: “I love you.”
Tada-chan blushes. He’s only nineteen - practically a baby - and too much like Hiro had been to react well in earnest, emotional situations. Hiro looks at his grandson and realizes for the first time that - compared to Hiro - Tadashi had died when he was only a baby.
His eyes get teary at the thought and Tada-chan nearly jumps out of his skin at the sight. “I love you too grandpa,” he says taking up Hiro’s hand. “I love you too.”
Hiro nods and smiles and coughs. “I know,” he says. “I know Tadashi.”
He’s knows he’s in bad shape when he wakes up and his whole family is there. He’s in pain yes, but it is dulled somewhat by medication and is otherwise such a constant to his current existence that he’d actually be more alarmed if he weren’t in pain.
He wishes he could speak, but he can’t get enough air in and he settles for gently squeezing each of their hands in turn - even his little grandchildren's. It gets darker and darker outside his window, but they all stay. Tada-chan entertains the children with a board game - boredom driving the somber atmosphere away. His daughters and their husbands sit around his bedside, Youko holding one hand, Tsukiko holding the other. They speak quietly of many things - the children’s school activities, their own projects, and their memories. They tell many stories, some Hiro remembers, some he’s never heard before but that his girls want him to know.
The whole while, Baymax stands quietly off to the side of Hiro’s bed, occasionally offering him water or a tissue. It’s amazing he’s still functioning after all these years, but Hiro has made back-ups of his coding and done every repair to Baymax’s frame as it was needed. He’d already made the arrangements for him. Baymax was going to stay with Youko and between her and Tsukiko, he’d make it a long life yet.
Hiro’s already made arrangements for his house and belongings. His peace prize is going to the institute so they could brag him up as an alumni. He’s given it to them on the condition that they also take Tadashi’s hat, which will go in Tadashi Hamada Hall in a display about how his brother had revolutionized medical robotics by creating the Baymax unit.
Everything is in place.
Night falls and the children are starting to nod off when he sees two strangers, a man and a woman, standing off to the side. They seem awkward, but who wouldn’t be? They had some timing, showing up when Hiro is at death’s door. They’re joined by three others and Hiro watches them and thinks that maybe he’s taken too much morphine because he’s definitely seeing Satomi talking to his aunt Cass. The strangeness of what he’s seeing is compounded upon - oddly enough - by how close in age they appear. Satomi wasn’t an old woman when his aunt was, but there they stood, two grey ladies chatting it up like they were waiting at the bus stop.
Beside them a young man speaks to the strange couple. He seems excited, although Hiro can’t quite hear what it is he’s saying. He looks Hiro’s way and Hiro is struck at how unfamiliar he is, and yet he knows him all the same. Its been so long since he’s seen his brother outside of the stillness of a photograph, he almost doesn’t recognize him when he’s moving and speaking, practically bouncing on his heels and glancing towards Hiro expectantly.
Hiro laughs and winces, expecting to be seized by painful coughing, but it doesn’t come. He sits up - which he hasn’t been able to do in weeks. He pulls his feet from under the covers and doesn’t notice when his children stand up and gather close to his bedside. They slip past him as he sets both feet on the ground and takes a step forward.