Chapter Forty One: I'm Sorry

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Soft fingers lightly caressed his face, though he still couldn't tell who was there. Though his eyes had somewhat adjusted, the light was still too low for him to see much of anything. "It's going to be okay," a familiar feminine voice assured him. "You're going to be okay."

Whatever else the woman might have said was lost in a sea of exhaustion. Keeping his eyes open was so tiring and he felt himself slipping back into the inky void he'd woken up in. Maybe someone had introduced something into his system to make him sleep. Maybe he just couldn't handle what was happening to his body. Either was possible. He had no answers, just the blissfulness of oblivion.

Hiro woke to intense pain, neurons firing off as his skin was exposed to the elements. He gasped and his body tensed as someone dabbed something on his overly sensitive skin. He tried to flinch away but that brought on a fresh wave of agony as his back pressed too forcefully against the mattress behind him. At least he didn't feel the soft rubber against his face anymore, though there was something attached to his nose. He just couldn't reach up his arms to touch it. And he felt hot, so very hot. Shouldn't he be sweating?

"Hey," a soft voice soothed on one side. "It's going to be okay."

This was not the same voice as before. This one was masculine and made tears prick at his eyes, but it was one he decidedly recognized. "T-tadashi?" the word escaped his lips before he could even register what it meant. It had taken him a moment to connect the images before him with the fragments of his memory, mostly because Tadashi wore a mask over his face and had on a gown of some kind over his usual clothes. At least Hiro assumed he was wearing normal clothes underneath it. The pants looked funny though.

The resulting silence his confusion created was filled with a soft chuckle. "Good morning, bonehead," his brother greeting, gently ruffling his hair. "I wondered when you'd wake up."

Hiro resisted the urge to arch his back as more soft pressure was applied to one of his legs. The cloth was cool and soothing but also caused his pain sensors to fire off. "What happened?" he gasped, his breath a little short. Part of him said he should be shivering but maybe it was more because his legs twitched with the nurse's ministrations.

"Deep breaths," Tadashi encouraged. "They're just changing your bandages, and making sure your body heals." He idly played with Hiro's hair, a fond expression on his face, though there was the hint of worry still deep in his eyes. He exuded a sense of calm that almost seemed forced.

It took Hiro a moment to realize something was wrong. There was something different with his brother. There was a large bandage on one cheek, his left hand partially covered in gauze. And his hair was much shorter now. In fact, it looked like someone had shaved his head. "What happened to you?" But despite these observations, he doubted that was why he felt a sense of impending dread. It was almost as though he expected something bad to happen.

Tadashi let out a sigh as heavy as all his combined years could produce. "Not nearly as much as happened to you, though I did try to prevent it from happening. It just didn't work all that well."

His answer was no real answer at all and Hiro couldn't help but feel let down. "No. what happened to you?" The emphasis he used on the last word almost made him cough, but he managed to suppress it. He didn't want to alarm his brother, which would likely effectively shut him up.

The older Hamada ran his hand across the back of his neck, wincing slightly. The skin there was still healing. "Don't you remember? Any of it?"

Don't you remember? Those words sent a tumble of images and emotions into Hiro's mind. Flames. Explosions. Desperation. He had to find someone, to stop them from doing something really stupid. But why couldn't he remember?

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