|The Name Game
Author: Holli PM
Jet and Doctor Gilmore have a little talk. completeRated: Fiction K+ - English - Words: 4,118 - Reviews: 21 - Favs: 13 - Follows: 2 - Published: 10-05-03 - Status: Complete - id: 1547684
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
(*Author's Note: This is my second Cyborg 009 story here. First, I'd like to thank Wolf Lupin for looking this over before I posted it.
Second, continuity wise, this story takes place sometime after Tears of Steel and before Dr. Kasumi was kidnaped.
Third, this is the first Cyborg 009 story that: 1) I've had to write my own dialogue and action and 2) I've written from the point of view of a main character. So, if you have any suggestions to make (or questions to ask) on either account, please feel free to do so.
Well, that's about it. Enjoy the story! *)
The Name Game
Jet had had it. He had just about had enough of 009's starry-eyed (and stupid) idealism; 007's idiotic theatrics; 003's whining; 004's overbearing smugness; 006's utter ineptitude at anything besides cooking; taking orders from 001 (who might have been smarter than everyone else on the team but was still just a baby); and, while he couldn't think of any specific problems he had with 005 and 008, he was sure that he could think of something they did that annoyed the heck out of him.
He was in his room, hurriedly packing what he had left for personal belongings into a small sack he'd found lying around in Dr. Kasumi's basement. Jet was angry and he knew from experience that it was best for everyone if he wasn't here when he finally exploded. It was just a matter of getting as far away from here as possible before that happened.
Jet didn't need most of what he packed, but he packed everything anyway- just to give himself the illusion that he had a choice about coming back here. He had to come back; Black Ghost wasn't going to just disappear and Jet owed him something painful for messing up his life. His life hadn't been perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but it had been his and, who knew?, he might have been able to change things. Now he'd never know and, if it was the last thing he ever did, Jet would make Black Ghost pay for what he'd done.
But Jet knew that he couldn't take Black Ghost on by himself; the recent assassination attempts and what he knew about the power that Black Ghost had at his disposal had shown Jet that he was greatly outmatched on his own. His only chance to make sure Black Ghost got what he deserved was to fight along side of the other rebel cyborgs.
Keeping this fact in mind was usually enough to let him tolerate those people- not that they weren't good people and he did like them, but most of them had no sense of reality. Today, keeping that in mind had not been enough. He wasn't even sure why these things were bothering him so much more today than they did yesterday, but he did know that tonight he was going to fly solo. Be his own Jet, if just for a few hours.
Considering the fact that Black Ghost had already sent assassins out to kill them, he didn't dare to stay out much longer than that. Not for his own safety (he was resourceful enough to evade an assassin if not defeat one), but because he didn't want to come back and find that he'd been needed. Jet never backed down from a fight and he wasn't about to abandon his allies- all right, his friends- when they were in trouble. He certainly didn't want to come back too late . . .
"What are you doing?"
Jet spun around, feeling like he had when his father had caught him stealing his cigarettes. He brushed the feeling away and glared at Doctor Gilmore. "What does it look like I'm doing?"
The doctor frowned. "It looks like you're about to do something very foolish."
Jet would not have appreciated the lecturing tone in Doctor Gilmore's voice at the best of times- tonight did not qualify as the "best of times" in any sense of the phrase. "Yeah, well, who asked you?" Realizing the moment he'd said it that he'd been the one to ask, he went on bruskly. "I have to get out for a while- is that all right with you." It wasn't really a question because Jet wasn't really asking for permission.
"Be reasonable, 002-"
Jet felt his anger grow. He hated it, hated it with a passion, that the doctor felt it necessary to call him by his cyborg name in casual conversation. It made him feel like a specimen under a microscope and it never failed to remind him that Doctor Gilmore was at least partially responsible for his current status as "freak science project."
He interrupted the doctor, speaking with a tone he usually reserved for policemen or for 009 during some of his less intelligent ramblings. "If you're going to lecture me, the least you can do is call me by my real name."
At any other time, the fact that Doctor Gilmore had the grace to look a little apologetic would have mollified Jet. But now? Now, Jet was filled with rage and Doctor Gilmore had been the unlucky soul who'd finally set him off. The explosion had come and there was nothing that Jet could do except ride the waves.
"And why do you always call me 002, anyway? In case you haven't noticed, we aren't in the lab anymore, Doctor." He said the man's title like an aspersion and he felt a sense of perverse satisfaction that he'd made the doctor flinch
"That's not fair, 002." Doctor Gilmore actually looked a little hurt, but, at the moment, Jet didn't really care. All he was interested in was venting his anger and too bad if he ripped the doctor to shreds in the process.
"My name is Jet! J. E. T. I would have thought a smart guy like you could remember something that simple."
Ignoring the angered hurt on Doctor Gilmore's face, Jet continued. "Although, I guess I'm not really Jet anymore, am I? You and your Black Ghost buddies saw to that, didn't you?" His voice grew harsher with every word he spoke and Jet could not have stopped himself now if he'd tried. Not that he was really trying all that hard to do so because, in a small part of his mind, he'd always wanted to say these things to him. That the doctor deserved to hear it.
Doctor Gilmore was sputtering now and his face was twisted in a strange cross between guilt and anger. Something tugged Jet's insides to stop now, but another blow was at the tip of his tongue and would not be denied.
"I'm sure you had a great time during those days- but it was a little different under the knife. Of course, you didn't really care about that part of it- we were just , just animals you used in your research." Jet stepped closer to Doctor Gilmore, not to fight (he'd have to be much angrier than he was to physically attack someone as defenseless as the good doctor), but to make sure the doctor could hear him when his voice became a low growl. "Well, guess what? I'm not your lab animal anymore and I think it's about time you remembered it."
That small something that had tugged at him to stop before screamed loudly and Jet backed up, knowing that he's crossed a line that he should not have crossed. He didn't apologize for what he'd said - he was still much too proud and angry to even consider it. Instead, he crossed his arms and waited to see what the doctor would do.
For a moment, Doctor Gilmore just stood there with a slightly dazed look on his face. Then his eyes dimmed and he suddenly looked much older than he was (for someone already as old as Doctor Gilmore, this was saying something.). When he finally spoke, his voice was rough and soft. "I hadn't realized you felt that way."
Hearing, and seeing, the obvious pain in Doctor Gilmore's voice and on his face, was enough to send a stab of guilt through Jet's anger. "Hey, I didn't . . ." He had been going to say that he hadn't meant all those things he'd said. But, if he was going to be honest (which he usually was, even if those on the receiving end of the 'honesty' didn't want to hear it), he knew that a small part of him had meant every word.
But seeing Doctor Gilmore look so small . . . well, he wished that he'd just kept his mouth shut. Or that he'd been a little quicker about getting out of here. Even though a small part of him thought that Doctor Gilmore had richly deserved the verbal lashing he'd been given, there was a growing part of him that made Jet remember that Doctor Gilmore had given up quite a lot to join their little rebellion- at the very least, Jet had owed the man the benefit of the doubt. He suddenly realized that, at best, he'd been very unfair. And at worst . . .
His anger left him and he felt completely spent. This had been exactly the sort of thing he'd been hoping to avoid by leaving. He only hoped that he'd be able to fix this- not that he really had any idea how he was going to do that. Jet had never liked apologizing and, even though he was certainly willing to give it a shot, he seriously doubted that a simple "I'm sorry" would fix everything.
"Well," Doctor Gilmore's voice broke though his thoughts. "I guess I won't waste any more of your time." Jet could not remember ever seeing the doctor look so upset and he decided, as the doctor turned to leave, that an apology would probably be a good place to start anyway. In any event, Jet knew he couldn't let Doctor Gilmore leave with out even trying to repair the damage he'd done.
Doctor Gilmore stopped but did not turn around. "What is it?"
Jet knew what he had to say, but it still took him a moment to actually swallow enough of his pride to actually say it. Although, the fact that it sounded like the doctor was holding back tears made the swallowing much easier than it would have been otherwise. "Look, I'm sorry, okay?"
When the doctor didn't show any immediate signs that he'd heard him, Jet tried again. "I mean, I shouldn't have said all those things to you."
This time Doctor Gilmore talked and Jet didn't have to see the man's face to know that it probably looked as lifeless as his voice sounded."You shouldn't have to apologize for your feelings. I should be the one apologizing to you."
Doctor Gilmore turned back to Jet with a sort of sad, brittle smile on his face. "I should have realized . . . After everything I've put you through, it's only natural that you hate me-"
"Hold on a second!" Jet interrupted, uncrossing his arms and waiving his free hand, "I don't hate you." And this was the truth. Although he hadn't been overly fond of the doctor when he'd joined their rebellion, the guy had been growing on him since then. He actually liked Doctor Gilmore now- he wasn't quite sure how to describe his current relationship with the man (and Jet, being Jet, didn't really devote much time to those kind of thoughts anyway)- but he was very certain that he didn't hate him.
The doctor looked unconvinced. "Then why would you even say those things to me?"
Jet sighed. If there was one thing that he liked less than apologizing, it was talking about his innermost thoughts. His feelings. Unfortunately, he didn't have to be half as smart as he was to see that it was the only way to clear up this misunderstanding he'd created. Jet was determined to make the doctor understand- even if it meant embarrassing himself.
"You just caught me at a bad time." Jet had hoped that this would be all he had to say, but he could tell from the growing frown on Doctor Gilmore's face that it would take more than that. He rubbed the back of his neck as he tried to think of a way to say what had to be said. "I was already mad when you came in and you just said the right thing to set me off." He smiled a little in an attempt to look more convincing. "Really! Anyone could have done it."
"So you didn't mean it?"
It was hard to miss the slight hope in the doctor's voice and it was tempting to just lie and say that he had made everything up. But there were two very good reasons why he didn't : 1) he respected the man too much to lie to him (and, considering how 'honest' he'd been already, what was the point in being dishonest now?) and 2) he didn't want to leave the doctor with the impression that he was a hateful, spiteful person who made up stuff just to hurt people.
While it would have been wonderful if Doctor Gilmore did see, it was obvious to Jet that he didn't see at all. He racked his brain for a way of explaining himself so the doctor would understand. It was kind of hard for Jet to do because he usually didn't bother to explain anything he did. At length, he decided to settle for blunt truth- he was usually pretty good at that.
"No, I don't think you do. What I said . . . well, sometimes, I do feel that way. I mean, you've been through how much with us and you still can't manage to use our names?" He felt himself becoming angry again and he took a second to calm down before he continued. "Anyway, I usually don't let it get to me because I know how much you gave up to join us- not to mention everything that you've done for us since then."
Jet was unused to talking so long and so openly and he was starting to feel really awkward. He figured that he better get to the point before he completely lost his momentum. "The point is, I don't hate you and those things I said . . . I would never have said them if I hadn't been so angry about other things."
The doctor seemed to consider this before responding. "The fact that I call you 002 . . . that really bothers you?" He sounded a little surprised and, while there was still some guilt on his face, his expression was mostly thoughtful.
Jet wasn't sure if he liked that thoughtful look. "Sometimes." He shrugged, trying to show the doctor that it really wasn't all that important and that they could drop the subject at anytime.
Doctor Gilmore either missed the cue or he ignored it (but Jet was almost certain he'd ignored it). "Why?"
If it wasn't for the fact that Jet still felt like he owed the doctor something for being so spiteful earlier, he would have brushed the question off. As it was . . ., well, it helped that Doctor Gilmore actually seemed interested in hearing what he had to say. That wasn't something that happened too often and Jet sort of liked the novelty of it. Besides, he'd pretty much answered the doctor's question before so it wasn't like it was going to be any more embarrassing on the second time around.
At least, that's what he told him self as he spoke. "When we're under attack or talking about Black Ghost and you call me 002 . . . it's like we're in a war and it's officer to soldier." He paused for a second to see if the doctor was following him. When he was satisfied he was, Jet continued. "But when you call me that during times like this, when nothing is happening, it's . . . it's like we're back in the lab again- it's scientist to test subject."
He really hoped that the doctor understood now because he didn't think he could make it any clearer than he had already. Sometimes, for such a smart guy, Doctor Gilmore seemed very sl-
The doctor's sigh interrupted Jet's thoughts. "I think that I have some explaining to do too." The obvious reluctance in his voice told Jet that the doctor wasn't anymore comfortable having this conversation than he was. Although, it seemed that Doctor Gilmore wasn't going to let that stop him from having it. "I'm sure you've noticed that I don't call any of you by your true names. I don't do this because I still see you as 'lab animals' or anything like that."
His voice softened and it held a strange tone that Jet couldn't identify. "I learned something when you were all poisoned*. I was so worried about all of you and I didn't understand why I cared so much until Dr. Kasumi told me."
In an uncharacteristic physical display of emotion, the doctor put his hand on Jet's elbow. Normally, Jet might have said something about that; but, at the moment, he was so interested in what Doctor Gilmore was saying that he barely noticed it..
"He told me that all of you were my family now. I had known that all of you were special to me, but it took Dr. Kasumi to tell me before I really understood what that meant."
Jet was at once touched and uncomfortable by Doctor Gilmore's words. He was less used to genuine emotion than he was to speaking openly, but there was no mistaking the . . .warmth in the doctor's voice. And the play of emotions on the doctor's face- well, Jet felt a bit overwhelmed.
But not so overwhelmed that he missed the one thing he had said that didn't make sense. He almost didn't mention it because, really, hadn't he put the doctor through enough tonight? But he realized that he would probably never get the chance to ask Doctor Gilmore about this again. He doubted the doctor would ever bring it up- and Jet certainly wouldn't involve himself in a deep conversation like this if he could avoid it. So if he wanted to know, he'd have to ask now.
And he did want to know. "But if you feel so close to us-"
"Why do I call you by your prototype names?" The doctor finished as he removed his hand from Jet's arm. He sighed and, and when he spoke, he sounded pensive. "The first time I saw any of you was after the Black Ghost's operatives had brought you to the lab. I hadn't known then that none of you had wanted to be there- I had thought that you wanted to be a part of the Black Ghost organization." Doctor Gilmore looked at Jet and Jet could see that there was still some guilt in his eyes. "I was very much involved in the cyborg project. I directly designed and oversaw your creation- your transformation into cyborgs."
The doctor's eyes became sightly unfocused and he smiled a little. "You were right about one thing; it was a good time for me- seeing my life's work come to life. It was amazing." His eyes refocused and the smile faded. "But that was before I'd realized what I'd done."
The guilt in his voice made Jet's stomach twist painfully. Where had he gotten the idea that Doctor Gilmore hadn't cared about what he'd done to them? What was he putting the doctor through this for? He'd been just about ready to tell Doctor Gilmore that he didn't have to talk about this anymore, but the doctor had started talking again before Jet could even think of how he'd say it.
"Once I'd realized that I'd been duped by Black Ghost, I joined your rebellion. None of you trusted me then and I didn't blame you for it. I called you by your prototype names because it seemed best to keep everything impersonal."
Jet nodded more to keep the doctor talking than to agree with what he said. He remembered what it was like back then- the doctor's wanting to be impersonal had only made it harder, at least for him, to actually trust the man. But he figured that Doctor Gilmore probably wouldn't appreciate having this fact pointed out to him.
The doctor smiled wryly. "I could say that, as time went on, that I just didn't think of calling you anything else- but that would be a lie. The real reason I kept calling you all by your prototype names was that it made me feel closer to you than calling you your real names." He looked slightly embarrassed for a second and Jet could tell that this was hard for him to say.
"I never had children of my own and , sometimes, I like to think of you as my children." The doctor looked Jet right in the eyes and Jet could see that he had meant every word.
Considering everything that he'd heard tonight, Doctor Gilmore's admission didn't surprise Jet as much as he thought it should. In a way, he supposed that he had already known that the doctor would say something like this. He just wasn't sure how he felt about it now that it'd been said. There was a lot that he wanted to say, but he decided to settle for a simple "I understand," even though he really wasn't sure that he did.
Doctor Gilmore nodded. "But if you don't want me to call you 002 anymore, I won't Jet."
There were a couple reasons that Jet would have liked the doctor to call him by his proper name- but there was one reason why Jet would not tell him to do that. A very important reason that had nothing to do with the fact that he didn't want to explain to the others why the doctor was calling him 'Jet' all of the sudden (it wouldn't do for them to know that something as simple as what he was called was enough to bother him).
No, that wasn't it. While he didn't really think of Doctor Gilmore as being his father, he liked the man enough to want him to be happy. And, if this was what it took to make him happy . . .
"Nah, you can call me 002 if you want." Jet briefly clasped his free hand on the doctor's shoulder to show that he wasn't just saying that- that he meant it. "Besides," he said as he drew his hand away, "'Jet' sounds funny coming out of your mouth anyway." He had been trying to lighten the serious mood, but the words still came out bit too emotional for Jet's taste.
Doctor Gilmore smiled, and Jet felt good about his decision. "Goodnight, 002."
"Yeah, goodnight, Doctor Gilmore."
A moment later, the door was closed and Jet was alone again. He looked down at the bag he still had in his hand and he smiled a little. There was nothing left to do now but unpack. And think. And sleep.
All of which he soon did.
*This happened during Tears of Steel
(*End Note: This story is a stand alone story. Basically, I just wanted to see if I could write from Jet's point of view- that and the idea has been floating around my brain for half a month now:)
Now that I have that out of the way, here is the completely unnecessary disclaimer: **Cyborg 009 belongs to someone other than myself** *)