Author: Sybil Rowan
Pairing(s)/Characters: 004xHilde, 002+004 / Mainly an Albert and Jet story.
Summary: Jet is hurt in battle and waiting for Gilmore to fix him. He's surprised when Albert stays by his side.
Warnings: Shounen-ai, one-sided 002+004
Author's Notes: Idea comes from the fifth manga, if you go by the Tokyo Pop reprint, p. 88-175. This story would take place between the fifth and sixth manga. Named after the song by Bjork from her 'Post' album. I thought the lyrics were quite appropriate. By the way... I know Albert and Hilde didn't quite get married, but I liked adding it for effect.
Disclaimer: Cyborg 009 was written by Shotaro Ishinomori.
Beta Reader: None, this go around.
Date: May 11, 2009 (7:35pm)
Word Count: 3,658
Now that the morning was calm again Albert's mind relaxed and let go of it's weary, battle-ready state. He didn't turn from the expansive, vermilion sunrise when Joe said, "A marvelous sunrise."
"And it shines down on a field of bloodshed and ruin," Albert replied, not quite able to feel the warmth of the breaking dawn.
GB's thunderous sneeze broke Albert's morbid musings. He flinched, shook his head, and turned to Joe.
"We need to get back to the submarine and guide it to this location. I'm sure 002 is anxious." Albert phrased his thought carefully to fish information out of Joe, yet keep his own concerns over Jet confidential.
Jet had always been too much of daredevil, in Albert's opinion, and need someone with a level head to watch out for him. No one else, besides Gilmore, seemed able or willing to take the volatile redhead in hand. Albert figured he'd start keeping a closer watch on Jet before he got himself killed. Besides, it would return the favor for the reality check Jet gave him back when they faced Cyborg 0011.
He wasn't surprised to see Joe's arm around Frances' shoulders. Albert tried hard to ignore the gnawing pang in his chest at the sight. He never once would begrudge their blooming relationship, but it was a constant reminder of Hilde and what he'd lost.
Joe turned to him and nodded. "Actually, 002 was unconscious when I left him. The doctor said he's lost a dangerous amount of fluids."
"The sooner we get there, the sooner he'll be up and back talking Gilmore." Albert turned from the edge of the cliff and made his way back down towards the thick Vietnam jungle. GB and Chang followed him closely, Joe and Frances slightly trailed behind.
"Thank goodness you found the Cyborgmen's base. Let's get there so I can get 002 repaired. Come on, come on; the poor boy is in a lot of pain." Gilmore's sweaty face now had a relived expression.
"Pain?" Joe asked with a raised eyebrow. "I don't understand. I thought his leg was totally cybornetic."
"It is, but we put in sensors in his legs that connect with his brain. They're regulators to tell him if his flight system is getting over heated. The sensors are wired to his pain centers so that his body can make adjustments in the cooling as needed. All of you have this to some degree except..." Gilmore glanced quickly over at Albert, shook his head, and started to pace. "I also think he's having ghost pains which is just his head playing ticks on him."
"Why not give him a pain killer?" Frances asked.
"He's lost too many fluids. When we get him to the Cybormen's base, I'll operate right away."
"Let's go." Joe waved the rest of the male cyborgs to follow him to the control room. Albert didn't follow. He turned to see Frances follow the doctor to the aft of the submarine. Albert gently caught her elbow and tugged her towards him.
"I think you'd be more useful guiding the submarine towards the harbor were the base is."
"But I need to assist the doctor with 002."
"I'll help the doctor with the little hard-head."
"Thanks, 004." She gave him a smile and jogged after the rest of the team.
Albert caught up with the doctor and followed him into the tiny medical bay. Jet was ashen. His scarlet hair looked too bright plastered against his damp forehead and cheeks. He let out a low groan as doctor Gilmore drew back the stark white sheet and exposed the remains of Jet's left leg. It was no more than a smoldering, twisted stump with frayed wires.
"004? You're back. I was worried 'bout you guys." Jet hadn't even opening his eyes.
"How did you know it was me?"
"You have this smell all over you. Kind of like gunpowder, only there is like... this tobacco smell I can't quite get... or something else. Is everybody okay?"
"Yeah. No problems." Albert walked over to the side of the bunk while Gilmore busied himself at the medicine cabinet. Jet opened his brandy-colored eyes and weakly smiled up at Albert.
"We've taken over the Cyborgmen's base. We're on our way there so the doctor will be able to fix you with no danger."
"Two... three hours. Are you in much pain?"
"Naw... I've hurt myself worse hot-wiring cars back in the back in the Bronx." Albert could hear the slight waver behind the casual bravado. "So.... what are you doing here?"
"Just helping the doctor out." Albert moved out of the way as the doctor came over with a tiny flashlight. He peeled open Jet's eyes and flashed the light in them one at a time. Jet feebly waved the doctor away and scowled. Albert chuckled. "He said you were being a real donkey."
"I said no such thing!" Gilmore snapped and glared at Albert. The German cyborg snickered and shook his head. Gilmore once again glared at Jet and said, "Even though that's the truth. Try to rest, 002. I'm going to check on 001."
Gilmore bustled out of the medical bay. Albert looked around, found a chair, and pulled it up beside Jet's bunk. The New Yorker's eyes went wide, his face looked shocked.
"Now you're going to stick around and harass me?"
"Of course. I have so few hobbies."
"Oh ha, ha, ha." Jet's face went from irritation to pain. "Oh... good... night... what's happening?"
"It's a ghost pain. Your brain still thinks you have your natural legs. You'll get through it. Just breath... don't pant like that. You'll pass out." Albert fished around in the metal bowl close by the bunk and pulled out a damp cloth. He pressed it to Jet's forehead. Jet gripped the sides of the bunk and gnashed his teeth. Albert watched Jet's body relax again; he assumed the pain had quickly passed away.
"Hey... don't rat fink on me to the others. They'll think I've flipped my wig."
"If that's your charming, American way of asking me not to tell anyone because you don't want to be thought of as crazy, I'll agree."
"You're one far out cat when you're not being such a drag."
"Now you're talking that way on purpose just to irritate me."
"Well... I don't have very many hobbies either." Jet chuckled and laid his head back on the pillow. "Thanks for not telling anyone and thanks for taking care of me back there at that camp. For a while I was afraid that guerrilla was going to shoot me for just being an American."
"None of us would have let it happen. Besides, your body could have with stood it if it came down to it."
"Yeah, but you stood by me through it. So did Chang and the others. And everything else since we escaped. That means something where I come from."
"I'm surprised. I thought you, of all of us, would know the value of sticking by your allies no matter what the circumstances."
"I was about to be taken in for street fighting when the Black Ghost kidnapped me. My gang all scattered because the cops would have busted their chops too. I was alone when those agents showed up. Maybe if the rest of the gang would have stuck with me, I wouldn't be a cyborg now."
"Take my advise and don't worry about the 'what ifs.' Keep your eyes on what's in front of you."
"No, there is something about my past that's nagging me. The incident with that guerrilla reminded me of living on the streets. You know... all the Irish kids... all the Italian kids... all the Filipino kids... kept separated in their own gangs. We would have all been friends except for where our families came from. That's what we fought over. We were all the same jerks under the skin. Man, it was so dumb! I was so dumb!"
"People hate what they fear and don't understand. You're older and wiser now."
"When that guerrilla pointed the gun at me, it hit me how we won't ever have a place again. Any of us cyborgs. We'll never fit back in with normal people."
"Then we'll all have to make our own places in the world. Life is what you make it, 002. They haven't taken away your humanity."
Jet gave him a wry smirk and slightly shook his head. "No, no... they aren't taking that away me. I'll fight 'til the day I die. I'm never going to loose myself and become some demented robot."
Jet started shivering. Albert stood up and unfurled the wool blankets at the foot of the bed. He drew them over Jet and sat back down. Albert started to wonder if it was physically possible for Jet to go into shock.
"You need to pick a temperature or I'll have to get Doctor Gilmore."
"I'm so cold. Every part of me feels like ice."
The phrase struck a memory within Albert. He remembered a bitter cold Christmas Eve in Berlin. He and Hilde walked to their apartment five blocks in the crisp evening snow. He had held her close to him under his right arm as the wind whipped around them. They got inside only to find they had no electricity.
They stripped their winter clothing off and quickly went to their darkened, frosty bedroom. They quickly bundled under several old quilts. She slid close to him and said, 'I'm so cold. Every part of me feels like ice.'
Albert held her close and rubbed her arms and back with his hands, creating friction between their skin. The intimate contact lead to deeply, passionate love making that made the room feel as if it were an inferno.
Albert looked down at his right hand; it was frigid, solid metal that didn't have sensors in it. He only had a muted sense of touch in his left hand. Jet's chattering teeth distracted Albert's thought.
He glanced around the medical bay and sighed when he saw no more blankets. He patted Jet's arm. "I'm sorry. No more blankets or anything."
"Get closer to me. I'm still cold."
Albert held up his right hand and gave him a slow smile. "My own body is cold. I have no warmth I can give you."
Jet's hand slipped from under the three wool blankets and grabbed Albert's mechanical, gun hand. Albert's eyebrows shot up, surprised and confused. He looked into Jet's drooping eyes.
"You're wrong about that." Jet eyes closed and his head slumped to the side. Albert shook off his confusion and gave a slight chuckle when he realized Jet had fallen asleep.
"Crazy kid." Albert leaned back in his chair and watched over the sleeping redhead for the next two hours.
Jet's mind drifted back to when he was seven years old. The rundown apartment his family lived in was bitter cold. He had to trudge several blocks home on a chilly November afternoon with a raging fever. His skin crawled with a constant itching. The nurse had told him it was chickenpox, his young mind automatically went to certain doom and death without adult reassurance.
His mother was surprised to see him. She alleviated his fears, tucked him in bed, and left him alone in the dim room. He drifted in and out of sleep until his window only showed deep black, night outside. He woke up startled, achy, and afraid. He screamed out for him mother. No one came. He continued to call out for her, too weak and dizzy to move.
It seemed like an eternity before there was a loud bang on his door. His father's slurred, groggy voice boomed. 'I'll give you something to cry 'bout if you don't shut your mouth!'
Jet bit down on his bottom lip and made an effort to quite himself. His mother was at work and wouldn't be home until morning. He laid, trembling in bed. His fevered mind started playing tricks on him as he suffered through the night alone.
Jet startled awake suddenly, disoriented. He couldn't figure out who the man was beside his bed or why everything smelled like tobacco and mold. The man shushed him and told him to go back to sleep. Jet reached out and grabbed onto the man's bright yellow scarf and clutched it like a lifeline.
He didn't want to be alone with the chickenpox. Besides, he was afraid his father really would come into his room to give him something to cry about. When his mother was gone, things got pretty horrible.
"Don't leave me." Jet demanded from the man.
"I promise I won't."
Jet relaxed. He closed his eyes and fell back into a deep sleep.
"...let's get him in the base."
Albert heard Doctor Gilmore. He turned around to see Frances and Junior were with him. He stood up slightly and unfastened his scarf. Jet's firm grip hadn't let up so Albert just let him have.
"How is he?" Gilmore asked.
"Resting. I'll take him inside." Albert tucked the blankets around Jet.
"You must be exhausted. 003 and 005 are going to help me."
"I'm fine. Besides, I made a promise to stay by him until it was over." Albert hefted Jet into his arms and turned to leave. Junior nodded and left, no doubt there was still a lot of work around the base. Albert followed Frances and Gilmore off the submarine, through the hallways, and to the laboratory. The other cyborgs had looked over Jet and gave him random pats on the head as Albert walked by them.
"This is going to take several hours." Gilmore stripped off his jacket and loosened his tie. "004, help me get him undressed. 003, please go get the medical tray in the next room."
After Frances had left, Albert and the doctor removed Jet's red uniform. The doctor tossed it in a corner and grabbed a sheet. "Get that out of his hands."
"He won't let go." Albert explained, tugging at his scarf in Jet's white knuckled grip. Doctor Gilmore sighed and shook his head.
"It'll be fine." Gilmore covered Jet's torso and pelvis with the sheet just as 003 knocked. When Frances wheeled the equipment in, Albert had a seat on a close by stool. She quickly hooked up monitoring equipment and administered anesthesia. Gilmore reached for Jet's right leg and started to peel back the seam on the thigh.
"Wait, doctor. He wasn't hit in that leg." Albert felt a moment of mistrust flair up against Gilmore.
"I'm going to do some alteration while I have him on the table. It could help him next time he gets into a fight with the Black Ghost."
Albert's moment of suspicion caused him some shame. He should know by now the doctor was never going to do anything to harm Jet or the rest of them. He settled back on the stool and watched Gilmore remove Jet's good leg.
"Okay, 003, in the cooler over there are the replacement fluids."
Albert watched them work for several long hours, occasionally lending a hand. When Gilmore stepped back from the operating table, reveling Jet's new legs, the organic parts of Albert's brain hit their limits. He hoisted himself off the stool, walked over, and brushed Jet's unruly hair back. The unconscious Jet didn't move an inch, his face was peaceful and unguarded.
"You're fine now, kid." Albert turned to see Joe had slipped in some time. The Japanese cyborg's arms were crossed as he leaned in the corner.
"I'll watch him while you get some sleep, 004. Everyone's rested up."
"I'll take you up on that, Joe." Albert turned and left, giving Frances and Doctor Gilmore a half wave. He stumbled around until he found the sleeping quarters. He found a dark, unoccupied room and yanked off the top of his uniform and his boots. He folded it and flopped down on the bed. Sleep quickly came.
Jet took a deep breath and slowly sat up. He looked over to where Joe sat on a stool. "It's about time you finished your nap. You were about to beat out 001."
"Another funny man. Hey, were did Heinrich go?" Jet glanced around, quickly shaking off his daze.
"Had to chase him out. He wouldn't leave until Doctor Gilmore was finished patching you up."
Jet frantically clawed at the white sheet and looked down to see his repaired cybornetic legs. He smirked and flexed his mechanical feet. Joe walked over with a pile of scarlet and yellow.
"We got these fixed up too." Joe held out the clothing.
Jet looked down at his lap. In his hands was a yellow scarf, at first he thought it was his. He held it up to his nose and inhale odor of gunpowder and tobacco, a full smile pulled at his lips. He set aside Albert's scarf and tugged his own uniform back on.
"So what do you need me to do?"
"Nothing really. We're all resting and thinking about our next move. We decided to talk it over during dinner."
"Great! I'm starving."
"You have to wait another hour. 006 is trying to make the military rations a little more eatable."
"Dang! Well... where is 004? I have something I need to tell him."
"Third corridor on your left. His room is number eleven. I think he's still sleeping though."
"I won't bug him too much. Later, Joe." Jet swirled around and jogged down the corridor after he snatched Albert's scarf off the operating table. He crept down the dim hallway after hearing GB's loud snores. He rolled his eyes at the British cyborg and found door eleven. He slightly pushed it open and peered in.
Albert laid on the bunk with his left arm slung over his head. Jet saw that he was stripped down to the waist. Morbid curiosity moved Jet's eyes over to Albert's right arm and shoulder. There were ugly scars and burn tissue around the edge where the metal stopped part way down the pectoral muscles.
Jet felt a rush of embarrassment. He knew Albert probably would hate being stared at like a sideshow freak. His eyes moved to Albert's face. Jet noticed Albert didn't look as old as thirty.
He had a strong, handsome face that Jet also hadn't noticed before because Albert always wore such serious expressions or was smirking at his own dry wit. Relaxed, in a slumber, he appeared to be some noble, dragon-slaying prince out of a fairy tale book rather than a mechanical weapon. Jet could imagine his arm as only being armor.
There was a flutter in Jet's belly; he ran his damp, right hand across it and shook his head. He hadn't that particular physical sensation hit him since he had been cybornized. The last time he felt this way was in the backseat of a 'deuce' where he and a blond boy named Mark got 'blitzed' and 'went all the way' in the back seat.
He crept in the room and walked over to the side of Albert's bed. He was about to wake Albert up by shaking his shoulder. Jet's hand paused when his eyes caught sight of a plain, gold band. It was secured around Albert's neck by a chain, the gold band rested on Albert's chest.
Jet thought Albert had lost it after they faced 0011. Jet noticed the band was now heavily scuffed, slightly bent into an oval, and notched on one side. He let out a heavy sigh. That plain, gold band had saved his and Albert's life, but it signified to Jet that Albert's heart was still in East Berlin fifty years ago.
'No... no... no...' Jet kept repeating in his mind over and over again. He had to push aside this attraction. Jet listed several reasons why Albert wasn't an option: he was twelve years older, he was from a different country, he had been married man, they were in the middle of fighting for their existence, and neither of them were wholly human anymore.
He deeply inhaled the sent on the yellow scarf and gently placed it beside Albert's hand. No one, not his parents or his gang, had ever really stuck by his side during danger or illness. Albert had. He quietly backed out of the room and shut the door.
"Thanks. I'll stick by you too," Jet whispered with his forehead pressed against the door. He then walked back down the hallway to find Joe.