|Primary Characters:||Ando, Hiro|
|Spoilers:||end of Season 1, but not much|
|Description:||Ando is back in Japan, to wait for Hiro to return. He reflects on their friendship.|
In the end, I just returned to Japan. It was what Hiro wanted, so of course I went. He told me he would return as soon as he’d saved the world. And I believed him. Then.
So I waited. And waited. And Hiro didn’t come. I didn’t think he’d lied to me. Of course, I worried, but I think that if anything had happened to him, I would have known. At least I’d like to think so. But after a while, the doubts began to set in.
When you thought about it, why should Hiro return to me? I mean, who am I, to expect so much from Hiro, who is a genuine hero, and not only that, a prominent citizen, belonging to an important family.
That was how I began to think. Hiro was my friend, and after all we’d been through, my brother, if not through blood, but because together, we fought so hard to save the world, or at least an important part of it – New York.
Even so, Hiro was the one who did all the real work. He’s the one who can bend space and time. What can I do? Support him. Encourage him. Remind him of his destiny, when he’s beginning to despair. That’s not much, in comparison. A true hero can motivate himself and I know Hiro would have, if I hadn’t been there, offering what little assistance I could.
And there were so many times I failed him. I wanted to see that porn star. To begin with, I doubted him and his powers. I made fun of him.
When you think about it, what reason did I have to expect Hiro to even want to return to me? After what he’s accomplished now, his father will be welcoming him back to the family, the business and their great quest to save the world.
If Hiro wanted to stay in America and explore, who could blame him? And with his powers, Hiro doesn’t just have to limit himself to the present. He could go anywhere in time as well. I wouldn’t be surprised if Hiro isn’t witnessing our history unfolding in real time, right now. His time, not mine.
And I began to give up all hope of ever seeing Hiro again.
But I shouldn’t have doubted him.
Suddenly, when I least expected it, there he was, showing up, out of the blue. I’d grown used to seeing him do that while we were in America, but after this long, I had begun to forget what it was like. So I was startled, and could only stare, open-mouthed, in a highly impolite way.
I waited, holding my breath, not quite daring to hope that he was finally home and that it was over. But when I saw Hiro smiling at me, just as warmly as always, I began to relax. I even forgot all about dignity and began to run to meet him.
He began to run too, and we held out our arms and when we met, we just threw ourselves into each other’s arms, hugging like two children. I was glad no one from work was there to see us. We were inside my apartment building and no one was looking out into the corridor. At least I don’t think so.
He looked exactly the same as the last time I saw him. Unharmed and unchanged. Just the same old Hiro. And it felt great to see him again.
It was a while until we started talking. I mean, talking properly. At first I just yelled ‘you’re back’ and ‘I’m so glad to see you’ and other utterly ridiculous, meaningless phrases.
In the end, we went inside my apartment and sat down. Belatedly, I remembered my duties as host, and offered Hiro a drink. He accepted a coca cola, but didn’t really drink much of it. We ended up talking more seriously, then.
Hiro even had to remind me to sit down too. I had forgotten that I was standing at his elbow, waiting on him, like a servant. Of course, that wasn’t really why. I just wasn’t thinking.
He told me a lot about his adventures and explained to me that the danger wasn’t over, but at least there was no disaster about to happen, so we had a while to prepare for the next stage in his campaign to save the world.
I listened to all this, eyes wide, mouth agape, like a child listening to a story told by an elder. It was as if it wasn’t quite real, though part of me knew it was. I just couldn’t take it in all at once.
When Hiro finished, he looked at me, just like he always used to do. Sort of like a kid brother.
“And how have you been, Ando?”
That simple question threw me. After all, what had I done, except waited and hoped – and to be honest – doubted too?
So I told him a little about what I’d done. It was nothing important, not compared to what he’d seen and experienced, but it seemed as if he really wanted to know. As if he cared.
Then something about the way I sounded or looked must have made him wonder. Suddenly I heard him say:
“What’s wrong, Ando?”
And I was going to say something, anything, just to cover my reaction, but somehow, I found myself telling him what had been going through my mind, while he was gone.
“I – was beginning to think that you wouldn’t come back. That you’d forgotten about me. You know that I’m no one special. I’m not from a prominent family and I’m no hero. Why should you remember me and want to return here?”
He looked at me, first as if he thought I was very dense, then he seemed to reconsider and his face went all solemn.
“Ando, I would never forget you. You are my best friend. Don’t you know that? And if you hadn’t helped me, when I first realized I had my power, I wouldn’t have achieved anything. You know that, don’t you?”
Then I felt ashamed of myself, for doubting him. He might have been right about one thing. If I hadn’t come with him, I’m not sure he would have dared to go all the way to America and set out on the path towards his great deed. But no, I’m sure he would have, eventually. Except maybe, he would have been too late then. So perhaps he was right in that I had had a tiny, little part to play in his heroic deed. I’d like to think so.
And I guess I should have known that he considered me a friend. At work, no one took him seriously. To begin with, I didn’t either. But there’s something about Hiro that is just so – good. He’s a truly good person. A terrific friend and a fantastic guy.
But even if I knew that, deep down, it felt good to hear him say it again. I was so happy, I was considering hugging him again, even if it’s undignified and childish. But who knows? Eventually, I might have overcome my inhibitions and given him a hug again, but it turned out I didn’t have time for that.
Hiro got up and impulsively put his arms around me and hugged me again.
“It’s so good to be back, Ando.”
He let me go, stretched and yawned.
“I’m really tired. Can I sleep here? On your couch?”
“No, Hiro-san. You sleep in my bed. I’ll sleep on the couch. It will be an honor.”
I even bowed slightly, in the formal, old-fashioned way. It felt slightly silly, but I wasn’t making fun of him. I was serious. He is a real life hero and it is a great honor for me to be his friend and to offer him my hospitality.
Maybe Hiro sensed my feelings, or maybe he was just too tired to argue with me. In any case, I didn’t need to repeat my offer. He went into my room and lay down on the bed and said goodnight, just like that.
I retreated to the living room and sank down on the couch, feeling so happy, I kept smiling to myself, until I, too, began to feel sleepy.
It felt so good to know that even if Hiro could go anywhere in the whole, wide world, he had chosen to return to me.