Whether by happenstance or by intention, it wasn’t often Hiro made it back across the portal to the animated realm. Part of him thought it had to be something to do with the sort of difficulties he tended to face on that side these days. The most significant being the general lack in technology. San Fransokyo had been at the height of its time technologically speaking and, in his albeit short life, he’d never really experienced it otherwise. San Francisco
might not have been quite at the same level but it was still civilization. The times he’d been back on the animated side had reminded him of camping. It could be said that camping
ranked among some of his least favorite activities -- unless there were s’mores involved and swimming and plenty of bug spray. None of which seemed at all the sort of thing to do when one found oneself in the middle of a forest or a savannah or at the edges of a bog. And those were just the few places the portal had spit him out when he’d gathered up the gumption to go.
He’d made thorough notes each time, fully intending on figuring out the portal system eventually, but his other issues in crossing had made his progress slow. For one, until recently, the drastic change in his height both in the going and the return trip, always threw off his balance for days and he’d teeter around like a spinning top as it lost velocity. In the last year or so, that side effect had improved as his natural height seemed to. His body, his real one, was going through puberty physically without him really noticing even if he was still scrabbling around with the mental bit on the real world side of things. It was difficult to remember sometimes that he’d technically be sixteen now. If things hadn’t gone down the toilet like they had, he would have been learning to drive. Maybe he’d have inherited Dash’s vespa or, like, something way cooler.
Now, he didn’t even know if that vespa had survived the darkness when it hit San Fransokyo. He took the bus more often than not though all of his documents (and even his face) put him well above the minimum driving age. Probably worst of all was there was no one around now to teach him. Tadashi was…..well, and Cass was gone, too. All those milestones that came with growing up would continue to pass him by unchecked except to note the passing of time. In the years (it twinged a little that it could be referred to in ’years’ now rather than months) since his brother’s death, Hiro had gotten pretty good at repressing difficult things -- and finding a thousand and one methods of distraction. Mostly with his real world job, of course. The tech might not have been where he thought it ought to be there, but at least there it existed and he could build a good bit of it himself.
His first project there when he’d finally gotten himself together enough had been the desktop he currently still used and regularly made improvements to in his small apartment at Haven Hill. Of course, he didn’t have internet there yet -- adult things like bills and service companies still made him nervous enough to keep putting it off -- but he’d done other things as well. He’d gotten back into building bots with varying degrees of success. But it had brought up another question: if he could build the tech he needed in San Francisco, would any of it function on the other side now? Particularly in those places where civilization hadn’t ever existed? The question had spawned a flurry of ideas of where to even start answering it but he’d settled, maybe a little extravagantly, in re-working his battle suit. The helmet still fit, even if it was damaged, but the same couldn’t be said about the rest of it.
The tricky part was the inches he lost between this world and the animated one. Moreover, what if his actual body grew even more in the time it took him to create it? And it had taken him a good bit of time to finish the prototype. Mostly due to hunting down materials, if he was being totally honest. The list he’d come up with had been a highly specific one and many things had had to be compromised for the simple fact that it didn’t exist. The end result had been a little less aesthetically pleasing than he’d hoped but the combination of what basically amounted to a body suit with the highest elasticity he could find and interlocking metal plating meant to expand and contract with any growth (or shrinkage as the case may be) seemed like it would work in regards to the size changes. It was the controls in the gauntlets he was a little nervous about. He’d only installed a few simple things to begin with. Just lights in the helmet, temperature controls for the suit….a laser pointer on the top of wrist for no real purpose except he thought it was fun. He’d think about actually useful additions after he made sure it would work.
That was how he’d ended up here, the heaviness of his chunky boots clanging along metal grating as he walked down a corridor of what looked like a futuristic warehouse out of some sci-fi flick. This wasn’t exactly what he’d envisioned when he’d set out the current capabilities of his prototype suit but, he supposed, at least the lights in his helmet worked. Hiro wasn’t at all certain what this place was or how big or even for how long the corridor went on but he kept going anyway. Every so often he’d change the settings on the temperature controls just to see how they adjusted and the laser pointer had been fun to shoot into a darkened room. For the most part, it seemed like it all functioned okay -- or would, with some minor adjustments. He found the place a bit eerie though, as quiet and seemingly abandoned it was. Just then, the toe of his boot caught on a twisted bit of grating and sent him catapulting forward.
Banging against the walls like coin in a tin can, he finally stopped himself at the edge of some sort of observation deck. A great expanse of space spread out before him from a large window, an endless open sea of stars and planets and moons. ”Oh my….god,” the words slipped out of him before he noticed he wasn’t alone. Dragging off his helmet, Hiro laughed and rushed forward, brown eyes drinking in the sight. ”Oh my god,” he repeated, pressing his nose to the cold glass. He laughed again as he retreated, dragging a hand through his mussed brown hair. As if he’d known the man and his dog had been there the whole time, he turned to him then. ”We’re in space. Actual space. I can’t believe this!”