Title: Procession

Author: Sybil Rowan

Pairing(s)/Characters: 004+002, (Albert/ Jet)/ Jimmy and Cathy are talked about in this one.

Rating: T

Summary: Albert has a hard day and wants to move out of New York. Jet wants to stay and an argument ensues. Albert gets to the bottom of why Jet doesn't want to move back to Berlin.

Warnings: Talk about drug use and some language.

Author's Notes: This would take place about a year after 'Legend of the Super Galaxy.' It is referred to in this story. I also cherry picked some bits from the 2001 anime and manga. Even the best relationships have tense moments. This is about the daily grind working on a couple along with some serious stress. By the way... I really adore New York and Berlin. I really wrote this to see how Jet and Albert would argue. I also thought it would be funny to see Albert as a high school teacher; a very stressful, but necessary job! I named this after a New Order song I happened to be listening to at the time.

Disclaimer: Cyborg 009 is owned by Shotaro Ishinomori.

Beta Reader: None, for this one.

Date: May 10, 2009 (1:36pm)

Word Count: 2,771

Albert sighed and punched the button to the twenty-fourth floor. He shifted his briefcase from one gloved hand to the next before leaning against the back of the dilapidated elevator. The elevator jerked, the lights dimmed. Albert looked up to see the floor number was stuck on nineteen.

"Come on! Come on!" His teeth were gritted as he punched his floor number again. He swore at the elevator in German and gave the wall a kick just as it lurched towards it's upward motion. Finally, the doors slid apart and let Albert onto his floor. He marched to the apartment's door and fumbled with the key in the rickety lock.

"Damn this building!" Albert shouted and flung his briefcase in the apartment.

"Woe there, Heinrich! What's up?" Jet called out from the kitchen. Albert waved his hand in front of his face as he started choking. A noxious odor hung heavy in the air.

"Have you been cooking?"

"Yeah, but I called Chang for explicit instructions. I really needed a nice, quite dinner at home."

"Well, why didn't you wait and let me do it?" Albert mumbled and walked towards the kitchen. He leaned on the door jam, watching Jet stir a large pot on the stove. There were twice as many dishes in the sink than necessary to prepare one meal.

"I was too hungry to wait."

"Did you arrange for a taxi to pick us afterwards so we can get our stomachs pumped?"

"Can you not bust my chops tonight?" Jet's voice startled Albert. It wasn't raised. It was low and frustrated, more defeat than anger. Albert walked over and put his gloved hands on Jet's upper arms.

"Darling, I was just teasing. Are you okay?" Albert let Jet's arms go when the redhead shrugged. He wouldn't quite meet Albert's eyes.

"It wasn't a choice day. That's all." Jet busied himself and refused to elaborate. Albert went to the refrigerator irritated with Jet's unusual silence. He got a Heineken and loosened his tie.

"Well, my day was horrible. These New York high schools students couldn't care less about foreign language requirements or history. I had to fail so many students that I'm the one in trouble. As if that weren't enough, the subway was late, nasty, and crowded. I got mugged after I got off."

Jet paused and swirled around. He gave Albert a smirk. "I hope you weren't too hard on the fella."

"He was all bark and no bite." Albert set his beer aside and removed his gloves.

"Well, go sit down and I'll bring dinner."

Albert left and went to the small dinning room. He froze and started grinding his teeth as muffled rock music emanated from above his head and nightly news came blaring through the floor.

"Do you hear that? That Sammy kid and Mr. Ferguson! Again!" Albert said as Jet came out with two bowls of stew.

"What? It's just a little sound. That's what makes the Big Apple so special. I told you, you'd get used to it."

"It's been a year." Albert sat at the table. Jet served their food and sat across from him. They ate in silence until Albert noticed a pink envelope on the corner of the table. Jet made to grab for the envelope, but it was too close to Albert. He slipped the paper out while Jet hunched his shoulders and glued his eyes to the stew.

Albert's eyes scanned the late tax notice and flinched back in his chair. "When were you going to tell me about this?"

"After dinner."

"We don't have the money." Albert tossed aside the notice and crossed his arms. "It looks like I'll be teaching summer school."

"That's cool because I got my hours cut at the community center," Jet mumbled to his soup dish, keeping his eyes low.

"Ach du lieber! Das ist scheisse!"

"It's a non-profit! It's not like they have money falling from trees. I told my boss I'd volunteer part-time and get paid part-time until the next calendar year. Those kids just can't do without people down there watching over them."

"When is the next calendar year?"

"July."

"But it's May! What are we supposed to do until then?"

"I know it's tight, but we can make it. I'll get a second job."

Albert took a deep breath and leaned forward, elbows on the table. "You know what I've said for the past two months."

"Not that! It's all you've bitched about for weeks! You said you'd give New York a fair shake. Besides, I don't want to go back to Europe. Berlin is such a drag." Jet shot Albert a scurrilous glance.

"I thought you'd like to move closer to some of the others? As it stands now, we only see Junior every couple of months."

"I don't want to live in Berlin again."

"You promised if this didn't work out, we'd go back to Berlin. It's not working out."

Jet jumped out of his seat, slammed his hands against the table, and leaned over towards Albert. "You were dead set to make this a failure so you could drag me back to that city! Not one minute did you even try to make this work!"

"I'm sick of being here! This is a horrid city! I'm utterly frustrated with it. I don't see why you're so dead set on living in this... pit!"

"Well, I'm not going back to Berlin so you can mourn!"

Jet's face suddenly went from deep red to pale. Albert's jaw tightened before he said something he'd regret. Jet looked apologetic for making the unfounded accusation; Albert knew Jet used it to get a quick upper hand in the argument.

The redhead bolted from the dinning room and marched down the hallway. A loud door slam told Albert that Jet had retreated to their bedroom.

"Damn it," Albert grumbled. He knew it was pointless to chase Jet and continue their argument. He got up and went to their sofa. He sat, drank beer, and tried to ignore the extraneous noise. He expected Jet wouldn't be out any time soon. This was the fifth time they had fought over this topic over the last month.

Albert knew first hand that having a battle of wills with Jet was a losing prospect. He had to find a better way to convince Jet, even though at this point, he wanted to sling the petulant redhead over his shoulder and hop on the next plane to Germany.

Albert finished his third drink when the wall clock read 10:20. He wasn't surprised Jet hadn't come out. Now Albert had two choices. Either he could settled on the couch for the night or he could test the waters in their bedroom. He took a deep breath and walked to their bedroom door.

He slowly opened the door and was surprised to see Jet sprawled on their bed, sound asleep. Usually, the younger man would stay up and bend Albert's ear some more. It wasn't like Jet to fall asleep before midnight. Albert took off his shirt, walked into their bathroom, and reached for the hot water knob. He paused, noticing the mirror for the medicine chest was open.

He pulled back the mirror and saw a crumpled, plastic bag. Albert picked it up and dumped the contents into his hand. There were three off-white pellets in his left hand. He rolled them around his palm as he identified them.

Albert walked back to the bedroom, sat on the edge of their bed, and shook Jet awake. The redhead groaned and sat up slowly; his expression was vexed.

"Why are you waking me up?"

"Because I found these and they aren't mine." Albert held out the pellets of crack, watching Jet's face closely. Jet's face went from vexed, to shocked, to worried.

"I know what it looks like, but there is a good reason why I have them."

"You're a drug councilor, for heaven's sake! What good reason could you possibly have for these?"

"I can't tell you. I made a promise."

"To who?"

"Someone close to me."

"I never in my wildest dreams expected you to ever do this. I've trusted you for years! I don't understand why now? And why do this when you're a cyborg?"

Jet's eyes took on a malicious glint. "You think I'm doing drugs? How could you think that?"

"What other choice do I have? You won't tell me who these belong to. You're secretive all the sudden. Why?"

"Because there is someone I'm working with. It's pretty complicated."

"Enough of this. Get packed. I'm going to call for plane tickets."

"What?"

"Tomorrow morning we'll be on our way to Berlin."

"No way! You can't just drag me around! You're such a... mediaeval... caveman."

"Don't mix metaphors. I do admit I am a jingoist when the occasion calls for it. You've know about that for years. Now, get your clothes together." Albert hopped off the bed and tossed the pellets in the trash can in a corner.

"I'm not going! I have to stay here. There's someone depending on me."

"You'll be on the plane with me or else!"

"Or else what?" Jet jumped out of bed and got into Albert's face.

Albert took a deep breath and tried to calm himself. "Listen. Let's go for two weeks and work things out. We need some time to ourselves."

Jet shook his head and took on a dour expression. "Albert, I need you to give me your implicit trust. If I leave New York right now, someone I care about will get into deep trouble."

"Who?"

"I can't say."

"Then you aren't trusting me," Albert pointed out. He took another deep breath. "Fine. You can stay, but I'm leaving tomorrow morning; I intend on spending two weeks in Germany. I hope you change your mind."

"Please don't do this right now!"

Albert watched Jet sit on the edge of their bed, his fists were balled up in his lap. Albert shook his head, gave Jet a dismissive wave, and walked to their closet. He reached for his suitcase when he heard Jet say, "It's Jimmy's stuff."

Albert turned and walked over to the bed without the suitcase. Jet was utterly distraught so Albert sat beside him and put an arm around his shoulder. He gently pressed his lips to Jet's temple and rubbed his mechanical hand over the younger man's trembling shoulder. After Jet seemed more settled, Albert said, "Tell me the whole story."

"Right before you came home, Cathy knocked on the door. She was crying and hysterical. I let her in and she showed me what she found in Jimmy's dresser: crack, some weed, and a wad of cash. She's freighted half out of her mind 'cause he's been skipping school and giving her all sorts of lip. Now she thinks he's been sneaking out and running around with a group of boys."

"But haven't you told him how dangerous that is?"

"Millions of times. I went across the hall to confront him and he gave me attitude! He told me that I'm a hypocrite. He said just because something horrible happened to me, doesn't mean anything is going to happen to him. He actually thinks what happened to us was cool! That was my fault from years ago. Damn! I made it sound so awesome!"

"He's young and doesn't understand how physically and psychologically painful it was."

"I told that little, fifteen year-old-twirp what an idiot he was and he swung on me. Tagged me right on the nose. Hurt his fist a lot more than my face so he ran out of the building, calling me every dirty name in the book. Damn it, Heinrich, I don't understand what's gotten into him!"

"He's at the age where he needs a strong father figure in his life. You're the closest thing he has." Albert firmly patted Jet's shoulder and stood up. He continued getting ready for bed. "Did he get back home?"

"I found him, but he and his new friends let me know I wasn't welcome. They called me a... well... he made several negative comments about our... special kind of friendship..."

Albert snickered and dressed in a tee-shirt and pajama bottoms. "Since when has that bothered you?"

"Since it was Jimmy saying it. I grabbed him by the arm and started dragging him back home. He then threatened to tell everyone that I'm a cyborg. I told him to go ahead. The whole planet knows after the Zoa attack." Jet suddenly grew quite. They both slid into bed and sat propped up on pillows behind their backs.

"You're looking so sad suddenly. Finish your story."

"He then looked me in the eyes and called me a monster." Albert had never seen Jet look so tenebrous. "He could have called me anything, but not that. I didn't argue with him any more, but he ended up walking home with me. He didn't say anything else... just went back to Cathy's place. She was the one I promised to keep Jimmy's problem a secret. After that, I came here and started getting dinner together."

"No wonder you were so upset. Jet, you know I support you helping Cathy and Jimmy out. Why didn't you tell me sooner?"

"Because I know how pissed off you are at New York. I just didn't want this to be one more thing you were stressed over. You have so may reasons you want to leave. I just can't think of anything to make you stay."

"How about because you need me?"

"Oh... man! Why do you say things like that when I want to be mad with you?

"So I can have my way. Speaking of which, we are going to leave New York tomorrow."

"What! After I everything I told you?"

"Instead of Germany, how about we go to Arizona for the summer? We'll take Cathy and Jimmy with us. There's nothing but fresh air and wide open space at Junior's ranch. Jimmy can get his head strait out there. Plus, the others will be visiting next month. It'll be a great time for a reunion and maybe he'll see that our lives aren't so enviable."

"That's such a great idea. You're the best, Heinrich!" Jet was smiling more than he had in several weeks.

"Next time, please trust me. I thought after all this time, and everything we've been through together, we could talk things out."

Jet slid down flat on his back and drew the blankets around his neck. "That's what we just did."

Albert gave him a wry smirk and settled in bed. "Can we do it with out yelling next time?"

"Sure... if you promise to trust me next time too."

END.