The story of life is quicker than the blink of an eye, the story of love is hello, goodbye." - Jimi Hendrix
Everything seemed very happy and very safe in Cass's café that night. It was warm enough to border on uncomfortable outside, but Honey Lemon and her friends were sitting there and laughing at Fred's stupid jokes, and everything seemed blissfully okay and comfortably alive. Honey snapped sloppy photos of her best friends. She looked around the café and imagined Tadashi's life there. There was a sort of thrill at being in the place Tadashi considered home. She imagined him now, standing at the counter, good-naturedly rolling his eyes at his Aunt Cass; at the table by the windows, blackberry eyes intense as he drew out more blueprints for his beloved Baymax.
They all waited for Tadashi and Hiro to come home from the showcase, and didn't think for one second that anything could go wrong. The sirens in the distance were simply part of San Fransokyo's background music. They felt too young and too secure to be touched by thoughts of death.
The bakery's phone wailed its metallic wail. Cass said hello. Honey Lemon didn't pay attention. She took a selfie and wished Tadashi would get home soon so she could take one with him. Maybe they would make silly faces, and Honey would save their moment forever in her phone.
And then, all of a sudden, Cass was scrabbling for her car keys, her eyes taking on a wild sheen. "A fire, there's been a fire at the exhibition," she said. "Tadashi's inside," she said.
It all happened so fast. Worry flooded Honey, made the air in the café feel charged and tense, but the idea that he was dead did not cross her. Injured, maybe, but not dead. Tadashi Hamada was a constant in the world. Him and his baseball cap and passion and soft eyes and the sweet-as-candy feeling his smile gave Honey were things that seemed solid and permanent. They couldn't just...go.
Cass ordered the teens to stay where they were, not to follow her. They were too shocked to disobey. So they sat. Tapped their shoes too loud against the floor. Asked each other, "You think everything's alright?" and answered "Of course." Fear dug through them, termites through wood. The first time Tadashi's path crossed Honey Lemon's dropped into her mind, for some reason. It had been the third day of university and she had been breaking in some staggeringly tall platform shoes. She had nearly stumbled and dropped her binders, but all of a sudden he had been there, his chestnut-colored hands steadying her body and his charcoal eyes somehow steadying her soul, igniting a warm calm in her. "You alright?" he'd asked with a grin, and that right there was the beginning of everything. The moment they'd met and the feeling he'd given her, how having him at her side made Honey feel at peace, never quite left her, not ever.
She remembered all the times she'd tried to impress him with various chemical reactions, and all his warm compliments and broad smiles. She'd wanted to know what it felt like to have his lips press onto her forehead with an easy familiarity, to learn all his microscopic idiosyncrasies and have him know hers. How perfect he'd seemed, and how utterly lost she felt around him, like she didn't know what to do with her eyes or smile or hands. He was still very much alive in her mind, then.
The phone wailed again and Gogo leapt for it. It was Cass, calling from her cell.
"Everything's okay, right?" Gogo said.
Everything was not okay.
Honey Lemon would think later on about how tragedy feels the first time you hear about it. It reminded her of the that time last year when she and her friends were hanging out at Wasabi's apartment, waiting for him to come back with a pineapple pizza, and they opened up one of his cabinets full of meticulously organized snacks, chips and pocky and shit like that, and they giggled and decided to play a prank on Wasabi while Tadashi only sort of tried to stop them, because sometimes he got sick of having to be the responsible one, so they messed up his stupid cabinet and when Wasabi opened it all his snacks fell right in his face. It was so incredibly idiotic, but Honey felt like the tragedy crash-landed directly into her like those snacks onto Wasabi even though it was definitely not the same thing, and she remembered poor Tadashi there, laughing and breathing and the golden future all stretched out in front of him, and Honey Lemon had loved him then and she loved him now. She loved poor, dead, burnt-to-a-crisp Tadashi Hamada -
Things weren't supposed to end the way they did.