Chapter 8: Monte Carlo
Tadashi couldn't tell who the dream belonged to, but it was the best sleep he'd had in weeks.
In the dream, Hiro watched through the eyes of Megabot as he spun and twisted around his opponent, occasionally catching a glimpse of Tadashi with the controller. The elder wouldn't help unless he knew his brother needed it, usually making Hiro jump out of the way of whirling blades and claws. If he couldn't find a way out, Tadashi was always there to get him out of trouble.
The brothers effortlessly tore through each team of bot and owner. That is, until Mochi placed Aunt Cass in the ring. "Boys?"
They were startled awake, finding their aunt in the doorway. They didn't miss the look she gave them; concern and admiration mixed with a small amount of I Wish I Had A Camera Right Now.
"Morning Aunt Cass." Tadashi sat up and stretched, keeping his feet on the floor and bending forward at the waist. Hiro rolled over in his bed, kicking the covers off of one leg and twisting his torso in the sheets. He breathed in deeply and exhaled loudly through his nose.
Cass smiled warmly. "Just wanted to let you know breakfast is ready."
"Alright." Hiro mumbled into his pillow. "We'll be down in a minute."
Cass nodded and left the room. Tadashi finished his stretches and pulled himself up using Hiro's bed, leaving his bedding where it was. Hiro began snoring lightly.
"C'mon, buddy." Tadashi flipped Hiro out of his sheets, pulling them away from the boy. Hiro curled up and shoved a pillow over his head. Tadashi felt his brother's pain.
"Hiro, get up. The others'll be waiting."
Hiro groaned and gave in. He rolled onto his back and relaxed, letting the pillow fall away. "There better be bacon." he mumbled.
"There's always bacon." Tadashi grinned, helping his brother out of bed.
They took it in turns to shower and dress. Tadashi pulled on a burgundy shirt with dark blue jeans and black sneakers streaked through with white. He grabbed up his cap from where it sat on his bookshelf. Hiro was dressed in a pale green t-shirt and a pair of khaki shorts with black sneakers, not forgetting his now tracker-less blue hoodie.
The boys raced downstairs and as promised, there was bacon. Lots of bacon. Cass had already had breakfast and left to open the cafe. They ate in relative silence, thinking about the day ahead. Tadashi caught on to a thought about a particular yellow suit.
“So, GoGo, huh?” Tadashi beamed.
Hiro glared warningly at his brother. “Drop it.”
“You don't even know her real name.”
“I can easily find out.”
“Not if you respect her privacy.”
“Besides, she's too old for you.”
“You’re suggesting I tell her you said that?” Hiro threatened.
“It's still adorable. You would be her Little Man.”
“I'm warning you, drop it.”
Tadashi smiled through a mouthful of eggs.
“Gross!” Hiro broke, trying not to smile himself as he showed off his own mush.
“Manners.” Tadashi scolded, taking his plate to the sink. Hiro followed soon after.
They washed up and headed out, bringing Baymax in his travel case. They made a quick stop at their garage to pick up their own suits before strapping everything on Tadashi's moped and leaving.
It took them the better part of an hour to remember where Fred's place was, Hiro trying to help by showing Tadashi the buildings they had passed a few nights prior. They didn't recognise the path in daylight, but made it there all the same.
Heathcliff greeted them by the front stairs, directing Tadashi to their gargantuan garage. Tadashi thanked the butler and unpacked their belongings, levitating them once he was out of sight. They entered the house through a conjoined door, where Heathcliff was waiting patiently in the hall. Tadashi dropped the load, barely managing to catch Baymax in his arms as Hiro caught the impressive weight of the suits. Needless to say, the beanpole was too small to hold it all. His arms were dragged down.
"Please, Masters Hamada, there's no need for secrecy around here. Since coming into service with the Lee family, I have learnt not to ask questions. I do advise you, however, to be a little less careless. Some people are not as understanding as I." Heathcliff turned his back and began to lead them away.
The brothers watched him go, sharing a look. Tadashi realised Hiro couldn't carry so much, and nor could he for that matter. An active Baymax could lift over a thousand pounds; a sleeping Baymax was some cleverly constructed dead weight. Shoulders beginning to ache, he shrugged and levitated the packages once more, following Heathcliff before they lost him.
"I thank you for your trust in me, Masters Hamada. It means a great deal." He opened a set of large double-doors that led out to a lustrous backyard. Marble statues adorned the carefully trimmed hedges at regular intervals, with old Roman-esque era decor scattered over the grounds. Hiro took it all in with wide eyes.
"Hey dudes! Over here!" Fred waved enthusiastically from where the team sat. Beside each luxurious-looking lawn chair were plastic tubs holding any and all materials they would need for the day, along with their suits. Honey dropped her magazine and ran over to greet the brothers while GoGo nodded in their general direction, turning over the page of her own.
Wasabi pulled his legs over the side of his seat and sat straighter. "Hey."
"Tadashi!" Honey rushed at him, wrapping her arms around his neck. Hiro passed them both and took a seat in Honey's vacated chair.
"Hey, Hiro." Wasabi waved, offering him a colourful glass of soda.
Hiro took it gratefully and leaned back. "I could get used to this, Fred. I hope you have some tight security around here." he winked at the English major.
Fred smiled mischievously. "You wouldn't make it past the footpath."
"Challenge accepted." Hiro grinned and took a sip of the bubbly concoction, mentally wincing as the sheer concentration of sugar assaulted his tongue. Definitely Fred’s doing.
Tadashi and Honey joined the group. "So, plans?" Tadashi asked.
"Mostly just practice." Hiro replied. "Time to get used to our gear. You guys brought everything?"
They nodded, Fred looking like his head would fly off at a moment's notice.
"Well? What are we waiting for?" Hiro clapped his hands together. Baymax inflated from his transport case.
Tadashi looked at his brother shamefully. "You're going to break him if you don't let him follow his programming."
"Do not worry, Tadashi. I am fully operational." Baymax stated.
"For now..." Tadashi grumbled.
Everyone but Hiro and Baymax had put on their suits and made adjustments to their gear. While the group waited, Wasabi kept twitching his hand to ensure his blades would activate.
GoGo threw a disc at his chest-plate. "Would you stop that?"
"Hey, you never know! We need to be absolutely sure this stuff works. We can't have it failing unexpectedly!" He turned the blade on his left arm over. "Besides, I think I saw the magnetic confinement acting up... oh well, best twenty-seven out of fifty-three."
"Leave him alone, GoGo. He has a point." Honey cycled through chemical combinations in her head, memorising which reacted with what. The bickering pair turned away from her and Fred started bouncing with boredom. Honey admired the scene before her. What are we doing?
While she spaced out, she rested her hand over the edge of her purse, fingers brushing against the side. It wasn't her usual purse. A few bombs flew out of the end, creating a bouncy, slippery mess beside her.
Fred landed on the goo and shot off, face-planting a few feet away. "Fallen hard." he wheezed.
Honey backed away, right into Tadashi. She squeaked, looking up at her captor. He smiled down at her. "I won't tell if you don't." he whispered.
She giggled and took him by the hand. "Who else would it have been?" she asked simply. She threw another bomb on the mess, dissolving it into nothing.
"You know, that mix would be big in the cleaning business." he commented. "Maybe I could put some of that into Baymax. Could help clean up after... troublesome patients."
"Yeah, and eat up their clothes while they're at it." she laughed, rolling her eyes. What he didn't know about chemistry, he made up for in humour.
She admired the way his armour displayed him. Tall, tough and unstoppable, with some red streaks here and there to show off his excitable personality among the serious demeanour that he radiated through the black majority of the suit.
"Hey, lovebirds. Get over here, or get a room." GoGo barked.
They blushed, straightening up and joining the group in an open gazebo with a 'Roman forum' theme. Hiro stood beside Heathcliff while Baymax waited patiently outside of the structure; too large to squeeze comfortably into the space.
"You're not training with us Little Dude?" Fred asked, muffled through his suit.
"Not right now. My suit doesn't have a proper 'combat mode' anyway. It's mostly for protection and convenience." Hiro brought out something from behind his back. "Heathcliff here has generously volunteered to be our test dummy."
The butler put on a crude imitation mask, which he had accepted from Hiro, to cover the top half of his face, making a Come At Me motion with his fingers.
"Remember, for now we're only testing our gear.” Hiro cautioned. “Combat comes later."
The group nodded. Despite his career requiring him to on a regular basis, Heathcliff looked a little more tense than usual.
The corner of Hiro’s mouth pulled up in a crooked smile. "Who's up first?"
Honey walked forward with some encouragement from Hiro. He gestured politely to their replacement 'Yokai'; Fred had intoned, and it stuck.
She glanced over at her classmates who watched with supportive smiles. GoGo raised her eyebrows, popping a bubble.
Honey tapped cautiously at the keyboard of her bag, holding her hand out of the 'completion' end. A honeycomb-coloured ball landed in her palm. She looked back at her target, raising her arm high. I don't need to throw it so hard. She lowered her arm to shoulder height and tossed the ball weakly at Heathcliff’s feet. Don't eat his pants, don't eat his pants, don't eat his pants, don't eat his pants! she chanted as the pinkish-blue goo climbed up his legs. The concoction slowed and stopped when it reached his waist.
She took a shallow breath in and made her way over. She lifted the mask slowly, making sure he was okay. He gave her a small smile, and she hugged him, laughing.
Honey's suit was working.
She sat at the bottom of the stairs, attaching the second disk to her ankle. Couldn't think of an easier setup? she growled inwardly as Hiro pulled her up. Just as she thought; the wheels allowed her no traction, feet slipping out from beneath her. He moved to help her but she held up a hand. Wait. He backed away, arms raised and palms out in agreeable defeat.
She stood up again and pushed off with her right leg, slowly gaining speed. She completed a few circuits around the target, grabbing up the hose on the third round. The speed. The world spun as she restrained the target, snatching off the mask when she was done. She stopped smoothly and tossed the mask to Hiro.
GoGo's suit was working.
Fred buzzed with excitement at the opportunity to fully test his newest suit. Hiro held out the top - or rather, the third eye - that would act as both a helmet and visor. He jumped into it, Hiro dropping it calmly at the peak of the short leap.
Fred dropped and jumped again. "Super Jump!" His stomach seized up at the sudden change in altitude as he rose, then dropped again. He became giddy with the rush. He bounced again, rising higher than the roof of his mansion. "Super Jump!" he yelled at the peak, releasing flames into the air as he spun.
He bounced over to the target, surrounding him in half of a ring of flame. "I breathe fire!" He bounced again. "I breathe fire!" He completed the trap, landing in the centre. He wiggled his claws and pinched the mask between them, swiping the plastic smoothly as he soared away.
Fred's suit was working.
He switched his blades on and looked uncertainly at Hiro.
Hiro made a You’ve Got This motion and jogged over to Heathcliff's side. The butler activated the machine, sending a tennis ball at Wasabi’s face.
"Woah!" he brought his arms up to shield his head, accidently slicing the projectile in half. He looked at the smouldering edges. Oh, yeah. he thought. He looked back at Heathcliff, who had stepped further away from the machine. Hiro stood in his place with a maniacal grin.
Wasabi's eyes widened.
Hiro hefted an invisible machine gun and made a reloading gesture, pulling back an unseeable clip. His left index finger twitched, firing tennis balls at Wasabi at an impossible rate.
Wasabi jumped into action. He cut, sliced and swung his way through the line of fire, not once getting hit. His psychotic precision had finally come in handy.
He gave a brief battle cry and leaped, cutting the machine in two as he landed. He swooned back up, deactivating a blade and flicking Heathcliff’s mask off. Hiro was at his side, grinning apologetically. Wasabi shook his head and moved to high five the boy with his free hand, acting quickly when he saw blue flash by his head. His hand twitched and he smiled, tapping Hiro's palm.
Wasabi's suit was working.
Fred was bouncing again. "Wohoo!"
"I love it!" Honey exclaimed.
"Not bad." GoGo threw a disc and caught it.
"Anyone else's suit riding up on them?" Wasabi tried to discreetly pull out a wedgie.
Tadashi walked over to them with his visor up. "Anyone seen Hiro?"
Wasabi looked around. "Yeah, where is the little guy?"
"We still need to see what your suit does!" Fred exclaimed, patting Tadashi's back.
"That's why I'm looking for him." he replied worriedly.
Speak of the devil, Hiro rounded the corner. "Hey, Tadashi. You ready?"
"Come on then." Hiro led the way back to the gazebo, the group following close behind. Heathcliff stood in his usual place, mask on and back straight. Hiro pointed. "Get the mask."
"Just get it."
Tadashi looked uncertainly back at the team, then to the butler. He held up a hand and caught the mask as it flew through the air towards him.
"Is that it?" he asked.
Hiro snagged the mask from his brother. "No." He turned to Heathcliff and nodded. "That'll be all." The butler nodded and left.
Fred gripped his third eye dramatically. "Come on, man. That was totally lame!"
Hiro ignored him. Tadashi watched as his brother took his place in the centre of the gazebo. "Hiro, what are you doing?"
Hiro raised his arms from his sides. "Fight me."
"Aren’t you gonna put on your armour first?" Tadashi frowned.
"No." He continued to hold the mask. "Put that board to use, knucklehead."
Tadashi stared for a moment, then complied. He lowered his visor and activated his hoverboard, keeping his legs straight. Hiro waited.
Tadashi rose on the board and kicked off, putting the thrusters into action. He flew away from the group and circled around the gazebo in wide arcs. He lifted his front leg and kicked his back, stopping the board before he rushed at Hiro. He only planned to snatch the mask away. He kept his back straight as he approached his defenceless brother, hand outstretched in anticipation.Hiro mimicked his brother, holding up a hand with arched fingers. Honey screamed.