A/N: Sorry for my writing; I wrote this pretty quickly, and I’m also pretty stressed and tired. This is a baby!Hiro and FoT AU fanfic (by the spectacular uponagraydawn). I swear I’ll write something that’s not baby!Hiro once the adorableness of it fades off. (So, basically, never.) Hiro’s a bit younger in this fanfic, around four, and Tadashi’s nineteen. This one is right after their parent’s fatal car accident (a headcanon from the wonderful murphystarr), and the Hamada brothers have already moved into a new, smaller, cramped apartment, but money problematics haven’t really come up, so Tadashi still attends SFIT.
Gogo and Wasabi share a glance as they stare at their friend. They’ve never seen Tadashi look so dead. His eyes are vacant, unblinkingly staring down at the cafeteria table. His messy hair indicates that he didn’t have time to brush it, and it’s obvious he didn’t shave from the slight stubble on his chin.
They slide into the chairs next to him; Gogo on the right, and Wasabi on the left. It’s lunch block, and though Gogo and Wasabi have their trays in front of them, Tadashi clearly has no plans of eating.
Fred is probably doing something stupid and Fred-like, and Honey’s out sick, Wasabi remembers, grimacing. It’s horrible timing; Fred, with his comic relief, and Honey, with her sweetness, are the usual comfort-givers. Wasabi’s a bit awkward at cheering people up, and Gogo is too blunt.
Ironically, though, it’s her who speaks up.
“Are you doing okay?” she asks, putting a cautious hand on Tadashi’s shoulders.
“Fine,” he replies, voice curt and short.
“Tadashi,” Gogo flatly says.
There’s a sigh, and then Tadashi murmurs, “Hiro had another nightmare.”
Both Gogo and Wasabi wince. Although they’ve never personally met Hiro before, Tadashi tells enough stories for them to have a clear image. It’s obvious that (a) Tadashi has some sort of weird, overprotective brother complex - one that intensified after their parents’ death - and (b) Hiro’s a good kid, and he’s only three or four; no kid deserves to vividly remember something so terrible.
Then again, Wasabi bitterly thinks, no good person like Tadashi deserves to go through this sort of pain.
“What happened?” Gogo asks.
“The usual,” Tadashi replies, eyes dark and brooding. “He woke up at one in the morning, and he didn’t fall back asleep until five.”
There is silence.
Then, Wasabi carefully says, “What if we take Hiro to a therapist? For counseling, I mean.”
Gogo’s mouth parts in surprise - because why didn’t she think of that? - but Tadashi angrily slams his fist onto the table, causing it to vibrate.
“I’m not sending my brother to a therapist,” Tadashi snarls. “He’s fine; he doesn’t have any mental issues. This is normal. He’s grieving.”
“Calm down,” Gogo snaps, narrowing her eyes. “We’re not implying that your brother’s crazy, and you have no right getting mad at us. We’re just trying to help.”
At this, Tadashi deflates, guilty, but he continues to stubbornly glare holes onto the cafeteria table. Sighing loudly, Gogo elbows Wasabi in the ribs, silently communicating that it was his turn to console their friend. Eyes widening, Wasabi opens his mouth to protest - because what does he know about comforting? - but the glare from Gogo quickly advises him to stop.
“We’re not saying Hiro has problems, Tadashi,” Wasabi gently starts off, “but you know as well as I do that this isn’t normal. I mean, that kid has been having nightmares every day for a month. You’re losing sleep, he’s losing sleep, and both of you aren’t getting any healthier.”
“Or happier,” Gogo chimes in.
“Or happier,” Wasabi repeats, nodding his head in agreement. “Didn’t you say that Hiro got himself sick a few days ago, just from crying?”
“Yeah,” Tadashi replies, dragging a hand down his face and keeping it there.. “He was hysterical, and it killed me, because I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t fix it. He kept clinging on to me, sobbing and screaming and thrashing. Then, the vomiting began, and I tried to help him, but he kept asking for them. He kept asking for Mom and Dad.” Tadashi’s voice brakes at the mention of his parents, but Gogo and Wasabi pretend not to notice.
“See?” Gogo says. Her tone is surprisingly soft, almost motherly; it’s the voice she reserves for abandoned animals on the street, Wasabi thinks. If Tadashi notices, he doesn’t react, and instead keeps his face smothered.
“Tadashi, we’re not asking for you to decide right now. But, think about it, alright?” she continues, nudging his knee under the table. The movement causes him to look up from his hands, but he doesn’t look into her eyes. He doesn’t look into Wasabi’s, either.
“Okay,” Tadashi replies.
Tadashi was never a good liar.
Gogo narrows her eyes, and Wasabi exhales slowly, but they take the hint: the conversation is closed.
Tadashi wakes up to screaming.
He takes no time scrambling out of his bed in an awkward mess of limbs, and in ten seconds he’s at Hiro’s side, whispering nonsense while Hiro shrieks and hyperventilates.
“Hiro, come on bud, you’re safe. You’re here. It’s okay.” Tadashi’s words are jumbled together, his hands stroking Hiro’s hair as he tries to think of what to do.
“Mommy,” Hiro croaks, breathing raggedly. “Daddy. ‘Dashi, where’s Mommy and Daddy? I want Mommy and Daddy!” By the end of the sentence Hiro is yelling hysterically, breaths coming in short bursts.
Tadashi looks at Hiro - his face red from crying, with snot dripping down his nose - and brokenly says, “I don’t know where they are, Hiro. I honestly don’t know.”
He then starts to cry, too, because, damn it, he’s only nineteen. He’s not ready for this. He doesn’t know how to console traumatized four year olds. He doesn’t know how to be a parent. He doesn’t know what’s going to happen in the future, if Hiro’s going to be taken away or not, what they’re going to do about money, if he’s going to stay in college. Tadashi Hamada is nineteen, and he’s supposed to be living a normal life, one where his parents are alive, and Hiro is okay. He’s supposed to be sleeping right now, and he’s supposed to wake up in the morning. He’s supposed to be having breakfast with his parents before heading off to college. He’s supposed to have stories to share with them at the table while he’s eating cereal, and Hiro’s supposed to be adorable, someone both he and his parents’ fawn over.
Things aren’t supposed to be this way.
But they are, and it kills Tadashi everyday.
Hiro continues to sob and wail, and Tadashi continues to hug him fiercely, but then he suddenly freezes, body rigid and tense.
“Hiro?” Tadashi asks, worried. “Hiro, what’s wrong?”
“‘Dashi,” Hiro manages to say, before retching. Tadashi immediately starts patting his back and saying consoling words, and he tries not to grimace at the putrid stench.
He stills when he sees Hiro’s vomit.
He knows Hiro isn’t in the healthiest shape at the moment.
But there isn’t supposed to be blood.
It’s Saturday, thank God, and at nine in the morning Tadashi emails Honey Lemon, asking if she knows any good therapists around town.
Honey Lemon sends him an address via text, and she doesn’t ask for an explanation. The only attached caption is a smiling emoticon, and for that, Tadashi is grateful.
“How was your first session?”
Hiro’s hand is in Tadashi’s, and he’s swinging it happily, a lollipop in his mouth.
“It was fun,” Hiro says, stepping over cracks in the sidewalk. Tadashi has to take extra longer steps to keep up, and Hiro’s hand is a bit sticky; still, there’s a gentle smile on his face.
“Yeah,” Hiro hums. “Ms. Sally gave me candy, and we played a lot of games! I really like her.”
“More than me?” his older brother teases, an easy grin on his face.
“No one’s better than you. ‘Dashi. Even though you can be really annoying. Like when you make me go to bed at bed-time. Or when you put my robots in high places after I did something bad. Sometimes you suck. But I usually love you a lot!”
Rolling his eyes, Tadashi squeezes Hiro’s hands.
“You’re such a dork,” he says. There’s a beat. A slow, happy, relieved sigh. “But, I love you, too.”