Chapter Thirty Seven: Hold On Tight

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Something sounding very much like gunshots filled the air and Hiro couldn't help but cry out. His whole body trembled with remembered pain as he huddled under the blankets of his bed. What was going on? Why was someone outside firing a gun? Without realizing it, he let out an almost whimpering sound.

Fabric rustled from behind the screen separating his part of the room from his brother's. "Hiro?" came a rather sleepy call. "Is that you? Are you okay?"

The young teen wasn't sure how to respond to that, his entire body feeling as though it had been frozen in time. He could no more answer than he could make his body move.

More cracks and pops sounded outside, echoing around the buildings surrounding them. Why did they sound so much like gunfire? Was it gunfire? And why did it make his heart pound so hard it felt like it would jump right out of his chest? And, perhaps more importantly, why was he back home when he'd been somewhere else only moments before?

He tried to remember what had happened before waking to this but couldn't. Had he reached out and touched something? Had he been drugged? Or was he losing his mind?

A particularly loud boom filled the air and Hiro somehow managed to fall off his bed on the side furthest away from the outside window. He couldn't help but cry out in pain as he landed on his right side, sending a jolt through his body that felt far from pleasant, especially now that it brought to the front other pangs he didn't want to feel.

"Hiro? What's going on?"

Please don't let Tadashi come out and see me like this! Please don't let him come out! Hiro pleaded. Despite that, he knew his wish wouldn't be granted as he heard footsteps sounding against the carpet. It was kind of funny, in a way, that he could hear that slight sound, despite the general ambiance of the room. That and his whole body was shaking enough that he couldn't reasonably understand just how his ears had become so sensitive.

"Hey," Tadashi said as he knelt next to his brother's side, feeling the trembling of his body next to his. "Are you okay? Did you have a nightmare?"

Tadashi's guess was thrown out the window as another explosion filled the air, causing Hiro to shudder even more. The older Hamada watched his brother with growing concern but he gently took him up into his arms. "Hey, it's okay. It's just some firecrackers someone's set off down the street."

Without thinking, Hiro buried himself into Tadashi's warm chest. "I thought I was going to die," he gasped, his breathing far from under control. It hurt to breathe. Why did it hurt to breathe? What was wrong with him? Flashes of gunfire seemed to streak out of the corner of his closed eyes and he flinched. He let out a cry as a phantom bullet slammed into his back. Or was it the feel of electricity exploded through his body as someone yelled "clear!"?

Not sure what was going on, Tadashi gently shook his brother. "Are you really awake?" He wasn't sure. Maybe his brother was stuck in a dream, or, more accurately, a nightmare. Maybe he was hallucinating. Deciding it was better to be safe than sorry, he moved one hand to press against Hiro's forehead.

Hiro's skin had broken out in a cold sweat. Despite that, his skin felt warm to the touch. And with the continued sound of firecrackers exploding, he huddled up into as small a form as possible in his brother's arms, going into fetal position. It was something he hadn't done in who knew how long.

Tadashi looked down in growing alarm, but not wanting to displace his younger brother, he simply stood instead of putting Hiro down. Moving slowly but surely, he headed towards the bathroom, flipping on the light with one hand, causing Hiro to cringe even more. With a sense of purpose, he leaned over the counter, propping Hiro up with one hand so he could reach into the cabinet and retrieve the thermometer.

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