Title: Widower

Author: Sybil Rowan

Pairing(s)/Characters: Albert/Hilde- pining, then Jet/Albert- romantic friendship

Rating: T

Summary: Albert is having a hard time adjusting to life without Hilde; Jet jars him out of it a little.

Warnings: None.

Author's Notes: I got this idea from watching my mother over the last two and half years. It's a very hard adjustment to loose someone you lived with.

Disclaimer: Cyborg 009 is owned by Shotaro Ishinomori.

Beta Reader: WingedPanther73

Date: February 18, 2016, 17:50

Word Count: 2,565

Albert woke with a pounding headache, cotton mouth, and an upset stomach. He glanced at his bedside table and groaned. Empty peppermint schnapps bottle with an up turned glass. This was what...? It was the fifth night in a row he'd blacked out. Not good.

He rose slowly and contemplated lying back down. He cursed in his head when he remembered he couldn't. He had agreed to pick up Jet at the airport and let him stay over during the evening to accommodate his car racing scheduled. Yet another new career for the fickle, redheaded New Yorker!

Albert chuckled. Why was it Jet always turned up when he wanted to be miserable alone. His mind tried to come up with schemes to get rid of his visitor arriving in a few hours. Every other cyborg was busy and very far away, so he couldn't pawn Jet off to anyone else. He sighed, resigned himself to the next twenty-four hours, and flung off his threadbare quilts.

Not that he needed quilts; he hadn't felt warmth in well over fifty years. It was just a habit. They reminded him of her. Hilde used to quilt and collect them; she'd also raise funds off of them. She did it for the Catholic orphanage she believed so much in. Albert pulled on clothes and wondered what had happened to her quilt collection.

Long since gone now, he didn't doubt. He'd been to their old apartment building a few years ago; it had long since been rented out to another married couple. Albert and Hilde's things that had been collected over their married life had been scattered to the wind or burnt in the ashes of a divided Berlin.

He ambled to the kitchen and fumbled around with coffee and oatmeal. He went on autopilot as he struggled to remember his dream. It was something that she had told him. What was it? He went to his front door and didn't find a newspaper on his doorstep. He shook his head. Yes... this new time... everything was on a computer now. Including news.

Even after a few years free of his cryogenic sleep, small things would disorient him. He skipped the news, laid out oatmeal and coffee, and ate absently. What was it Hilde had said in his dreams? His lack of recall aggravated him, but not more than realizing he had subconsciously set out two bowls of oatmeal and two cups of coffee.

He gritted his teeth as he quickly cleaned up the kitchen. He glanced to make sure he had enough groceries for Jet before getting dressed. The American's appetite was unreal. Albert didn't bother with extra housecleaning. It was just Jet, after all.

He left his apartment and hoped his hangover would ease off by the time the flight from New York would arrive.

Albert grew more annoyed when he noticed Jet's flight was delayed for the third time. Even with the different world governments looking the other way on the cyborgs' alterations, flying could be tricky. Albert hoped this wasn't Jet's fault as it was approaching a late lunch time.

Albert was watching the news on monitors and sipping his overpriced coffee in the waiting area. He was starting to relax, hoping his dream of Hilde would come back to his memory. His serenity was jarred when he heard above the German conversations a voice bellowing in English, "Fuck you! You lost my shit and you're treating me like a fucking criminal. I should sue your asses!"

Albert took a deep breath. No, he wasn't in a good state of mind to deal with one of Jet's tantrums. He had little choice, so he hardened himself and put aside any caustic replies he wanted to throw at his fellow cyborg.

He gulped his coffee, threw out his cup, and walked over to where the lanky American was bellowing at three airline attendants. Albert laid his gloved hand on Jet's shoulder and the redheaded New Yorker seem to freeze. He turned to Albert and gave him the widest smile.

"Al! I was wondering where you were. Tell these idiots auf Deutsch to cough up my bag!"

Albert turned, apologized for his crazed American friend, and had a civil conversation in spite of Jet. He knew Jet had the same translation device in his head and could "tune in" the German conversation if he wanted. It was one of the reasons Albert felt free to lightly insult Jet to the airline attendants. Jet was just being lazy by not tuning in and deserved the teasing.

"They said your bag is still at JFK. They're getting it here as soon as they can, but it won't be until tomorrow morning," Albert explained flatly. He gripped Jet's elbow with his mechanical, right hand and gave Jet a meaningful glare. "It's time we go. I'll pick it up tomorrow. I have other things I need to do, so we really do need to leave."

Jet's demeanor went from hostile to baffled. He mumbled, "Sure, whatever you say, Heinrich."

Good! Jet saw he wasn't going to play around. Albert yanked Jet with him through the crowds with no resistance from the New Yorker. He got them to the car and quickly drove them to his apartment. Jet, for some reason, was silent the whole time. Since Albert wasn't in the mood, he didn't pry at Jet to see what was on his mind. He had enough to fret over without taking on the American's angst, too.

Albert laid out sandwich fixings and they ate in relative silence. Albert's hangover was easing off some and Jet's attitude was much more mellow. He started to feel more charitable, so he struck up a conversation.

"How are Jimmy and Cathy doing?" Albert figured Jet's New York neighbors would be a safe topic.

"Hun?" Jet swallowed his bite and said, "Doing good. I helped track down Jimmy's deadbeat dad, and he's coughing up the cash he owes to Cathy now 'cause he doesn't want to go to jail. Thanks to that, she can take fewer shifts at the hotel."

"Good. Glad to hear it." Albert could read between the lines and knew Jet had more than likely threatened to beat the man to a pulp in a dark alley if he didn't do the right thing.

Jet sneered, "Of course the creep still won't have a thing to to with Jimmy. Damn jackass!" Then Jet huffed and shrugged. "Then again, I didn't expect anything else."

"Well, Jimmy does have you around and helping fill in the gap of a male role model." Albert then smirked and said, "No matter how piss poor that is."

Jet glared, but didn't say anything. As a matter of fact, Albert got unnerved that Jet didn't say anything. He realized Jet was staring at something on the wall suddenly. Albert looked over his shoulder and saw the redhead was staring at his wall calender; it was Victorian floral prints. Hilde had loved them. It was still pinned on the month of October.

"And you call me lazy? Did the thumb tack get tired of letting you switch pages," Jet teased. "I mean... eight months? Wait! This thing is almost a hundred years old! Jeeze, Al... I thought you, Franny, me, and Ivan put all of that stuff in past." Jet then shrugged. "No point in having such an old calender, let me get rid of this..." Jet jumped up and started to change the page towards May.

Albert knew it for innocent teasing, but his stomach churned and boiled. His eyes grew red hot.

"Don't touch that!"

Jet dropped the calender and swirled around at Albert's raised voice. Albert yelled so rarely, and he felt awkward. Albert bolted from the table, grabbed the calender from the floor, and pinned it back to October. "While you're here, don't touch my things. I have reasons for why everything is laid out the way it is. I don't have the time or the inclination to explain it."

Jet held up his hands and waved them. "Sorry. I didn't mean to offend you." Now Jet was giving him a look like he had gone crazy. His temper was even more heated at that expression.

"I'm going for a walk," Albert snapped and slammed out of the apartment. He just knew he needed to be away from that old calendar he had found from 1953 at an antique shop. And he needed to get away from Jet, too. That one cyborg always had a talent for getting under his skin.

Albert wandered all the old places he and Hilde used to go. Nothing was the same. Berlin had been through a war since then, and then it had been divided, and then reunited, and now... present day Berlin was like a foreign country to him in every way conceivable. He kept going back to what Hilde would think if she were walking by his side at this very moment.

She wasn't, though. He finally reached Neptunbrunnen where he spent many days courting Hilde with chocolates and flowers. He sat on the edge of the fountain and then reach towards his chest where her wedding band hung from around his neck. He closed his eyes and pictured her sitting next to him.

Then one thing started to ruin the illusion. The dent in the plain, gold band. He scowled and then let his anger go. If he hadn't allowed that dent to happen in Hilde's ring then Jet would have been killed. Jet, again, interrupting his grief.

He looked at the ring in the palm of his gloved hand. It still reflected light after all these years. She was a light to him. He liked to dwell in the darkness, but she pursued him even in his darkest moods and thoughts. But she always had given him enough room to roam in his thoughts when he had needed solitude.

He gripped the ring tightly in his left hand, wishing away all these patterns he'd fallen into with her. The problem was, he couldn't remember the time before he was married. Maybe one day his life with her would fade away, but it was so persistent.

He stood and walked home, starting to feel guilty over being so rude to Jet. Nothing that happened in his past life was Jet's fault, and he was a guest.

He got to his apartment, and he noticed Jet's feet dangling over an arm of his sofa. He was draped in several quilts and snoring loudly. The jet lag always took a toll on the New Yorker. He was surprised, for one, Jet actually hadn't ran off after an argument or unpleasantness. Why was he sticking around this time?

After all, Albert had shown him enough of Berlin for him to get by, and the New Yorker was extremely resourceful. He was both irritated and grateful Jet hadn't run off. He silently hoped Jet would leave soon and let him resume that state of mind that was a dull, comfortable pain. He quietly went to the kitchen and expected to clean up dishes, but everything was put away and wiped down.

Hilde must have... Albert shook his head fiercely at that thought. She had always kept their apartment tidy, unlike he had in his... his widowhood. He clenched his hand tight as the bitter word rolled around in head. That word was like medicine cleaning out a sickness in his heart and mind. It stung fiercely.

He took a breath and forced his tight chest to expand. He corrected himself. No, it was Jet that must have cleaned the kitchen. Albert chuckled softly wondering if miracles would ever cease. He shocked himself that he'd chuckled at Jet's simple gratitude. Where did that come bubbling up from? It wasn't appropriate to laugh any more, was it?

Guilt over the chuckle wracked him as he made coffee. Instead of pouring the coffee in his mug, he found more peppermint schnapps. He filled his mug with the clear liquor and sat at the table. He took a sip and noticed a brown, paper bag with a note stapled to it.

He yanked the paper off the bag and noticed Jet's scrawl. 'Hey, sorry about your calender. Sometimes you seem so frozen. Like you're still stuck back then, before we were all... you know... Anyway. You have a big load to bear. I didn't want to make that worse. Well... I did get you this. I'm hoping some time you remember we all did wake up from our nightmare. We shared it so you don't have to go it alone. We're free now, and we have to choose to live or stay stuck back then. This is a leap forward from where you're at, but it's still a little behind the times. Baby steps, I figure. - Jet'

Albert looked in the bag and saw a calender for 2013. Yes, that would be forty years out of date, but still, a good leap ahead compared to the floral calender he was clinging to. He chuckled, again, because the calender was something horribly twisted with something called 'Bunny Suicides' all over it. "How in Hades did he find such a thing?" Albert mumbled to himself.

"Ebay, they have everything." Albert flinched, amazed he was so intent on the orange calender he didn't hear Jet's approach. "They offered that new super express delivery and it really worked. Of course, I paid out the ass for the hour delivery."

Albert looked at the calender and noticed a particular day had been shaded off in a square pattern with a Sharpie. October 10, 2013. Albert felt annoyed at first. Hilde had passed away on October 3, 1961 and shouldn't Jet have marked that anniversary...? What did Jet mean by this...?! Then it struck him. The date that Jet had blocked out was the date the Black Ghost brought him, Francois, Jet, and Ivan out of forced cryogenic sleep. The date of October 10, 2013 was when he drew breath after Hilde's death.

He looked up, a little shamefaced. He couldn't even manage words.

Jet flung his hand at Albert and said. "Don't get all weird on me."

Albert stood when his face got hot. He walked over to the 1953 calender, took it down, and replaced it with the 2013 calender, but it was still on October rather than May. He walked over to a kitchen drawer and stored away the antique calender.

Albert let out a deep sigh and his chest got a little lighter. Maybe Jet's visit was good for him. There was never a moment the New Yorker didn't surprise him with some insight.

"Come on, Jet. I'll treat you to dinner, since Ebay has a good chunk of your money now."

"Now you're talkin'."

The End.