WARNING: SPOILER ALERT FOR 2001 ANIME AND MANGA UP TO CHAPTER 47! And this is following the original ending, which is the finish of chap 47. I'm a sucker for tragedy so….oh, and due to my preferance for personalities and name variations, I'm going with MANGA-verse. Pairing is 004x003!
DISCLAIMER: I DO NOT OWN CYBORG 009 ALL BELONGS TO SHOTARO ISHINOMORI.
The world was safe. And while it was the only thing that mattered, it didn't exactly make them smile every second of every day. They'd all lost friends, but some of them had been more than friends. The loss of Joe and Jet was extremely bitter-sweet. The two of them had sacrificed their lives for the greater good. The world was better off for it, but it would never know about them, or their final great deed.
So they recovered from their wounds at Professor Kozumi's. It was a safe haven for them. Gilmore told his friend the tragic tale of their final battle that had brought them weary, battered, and depressed to his doorstep.
But Joe and Jet weren't the only ones to die. Venus, Helen, their sisters, all their people, even the Zartans had died fighting Black Ghost. Then there was everyone from before: 0013, cyborgman 11, the Vietnamese, and everyone else who had been slain by the weapons of Black Ghost.
Theirs was not a meaningless sacrifice. There were still members of Black Ghost in hiding, but they could be dealt with, the world was free of imminent danger. After the threat of the Sonic Wave Beasts the world had calmed down, no one to fight just yet. While America and Russia remained locked in Cold War the rest of the world had begun to settle down. No one knew how long it would last or if true war would ever return. But at the moment there was only peace.
While some were dealing with the losses as best as they could, others were not holding up so well. Francoise was depressed. And it didn't help that Albert had voiced her feelings the moment that Joe was forever out of her grasp. She was quiet, melancholy, and spent as much time as she could alone. For her the grieving process was slow and arduous. She had found a companion in Joe, more than the others of the group. He had been her first true love, there was no one else like him anywhere. And she had lost him before she could confess her feelings to him.
And then there was Albert, who was at the moment struggling with the loss of yet another woman. While he hadn't really known Venus, she had been the first person in years who had gotten truly close to him, besides the 00s and Gilmore. He knew that perhaps if she had survived they might have become much closer. He could have loved her, in fact he had already begun to, and that's what made it so painful. But there was a nagging feeling that she wouldn't have stayed with him once on the surface. That perhaps she couldn't handle living with a man who was more machine than human.
Gilmore blamed himself. His regret for not only helping Black Ghost, but for putting all of the 00's in jeopardy and ruining their lives weighed down his soul.
Francoise sat alone, she was seated on a cliff above the Pacific ocean. It was the same cliff she and Joe had come to when they had arrived at Kozumi's after escaping from Black Ghost for the first time.
Now she sat on the bench staring at the sea spreading out to the horizon. Nothing could replace her pain, nothing.
She didn't notice the footsteps approach, even though she could hear them. "You look lonely," a familiar German accent broke the otherwise silent cliff.
"I'm fine," Fran replied icily. She wanted no company.
"You don't sound it," Albert prodded gently. "Mind if I join you?"
"You can if you must," she replied not scooting over or even looking his way. She was sure no one understood her pain, and no one could console her.
"If you think you are the only person who has lost someone than you're not thinking beyond yourself."
"What does that mean?" She finally turned her head to glare at him.
"It means I know how you feel," he began gently now.
"How would you,"
"Have you forgotten Hilda, or Venus?" he interrupted. "I've had my fair share of losses," he reminded her.
Her gaze softened, her mind snapped at itself. Of course he knew how she felt. "I forgot," she whispered.
"It's ok, the grieving process is a selfish one," Albert's voice was quiet. "The others are worried about you," he added as she made room for him on the bench. He sat down leaving a large gap between them.
"I'll be fine," she assured. "It's just, it's just," she couldn't speak any further, her eyes welled with tears.
"What's wrong?" He asked gently, his voice soft and encouraging.
"I never told Joe how I felt," she replied through tight lips.
"Ah, you're grief carries regret," he intoned.
"You sound as though you've felt the same way," Fran looked at him curiously. Her green eyes gently looking into his pale blue ones. She wondered at the fact that his eyes seemed to not have pupils. They weren't even red like an albino, even though his skin was pale and he had silvery white hair.
"Hilda," he began in a strained voice, "It's my fault she was killed," he paused. "I panicked and they attacked us. If I hadn't, then maybe we would have both survived, and maybe Black Ghost's men wouldn't have found me half dead in the street."
He looked away from her, and she could tell that he still felt responsible for an accident that had happened nearly eight years back. "Oh," was all Fran could reply.
"I'm sorry, I came here to check on you," he looked back at her. "If you're feeling regret, then maybe the best thing you can do is talk to him."
"But he's gone," Fran replied quickly.
"It's not for him," Albert reminded, "It's for you. When I lost Hilda, the only way I could apologize to her was to imagine I was facing her and say what I needed to say. It really helps with healing."
She was gazing at him in wonder now, "Thank you Albert," the waterworks began again and before she could stop herself she had planted her face into his shoulder. He glanced at her in surprise, then slowly put his arms over her consolingly. After a little while her eyes dried up, "I forgot how much the rest of us have been through. I was so selfish, I totally thought I was alone in my sorrows. Thank you," she pulled away a little embarrassed by her behavior.
"I'm glad I could help," He smiled at her softly. "If I'm not mistaken it's just about dinner time and everyone will be worried about us," Albert rose to his feet and offered her his hand.
She took it without hesitation, knowing he was only being the gentleman she knew he was. His hand was icy cold, a fact that couldn't be helped. She pulled her hand away as soon as she was up. Not wanting the others to misconstrue the gesture.
That evening Gilmore and Kozumi proposed a project to help relieve the depression and grief that had set in. "I think what we could use is a garden," Kozumi began.
"A memorial garden. We thought it might do you some good to honor the memory of your fallen comrades and friends with a garden dedicated to them," Gilmore finished.
"But where would we make it?" Francoise asked.
"We'd do it here my girl. There's plenty of space in the back, and it could use some work," Kozumi replied.
They agreed it was the perfect idea.
Two weeks of landscaping and stone cutting produced a magnificent garden. There were two large stones one had Jet's name carved into it, and the other had Joe's. Beside each was a tree. For Joe a Japanese Cherry Blossom, for Jet an American Willow. Small rocks of different sizes and colors were patterned along the ground. For the five sisters of the underground empire five white Lilies had been planted. For 0010-0013 they planted bushes. The whole place was circular, with paths and other foliage to balance it out.
For eighteen nights they lit candles in special sconces they'd cemented into the garden. Eighteen to represent the age they had been when Black Ghost kidnapped them. Gilmore started the first night, then everyone else followed each night in their order of numerical name. After two cycles there were two extra nights. These were voted on and Albert and Fran got the last two nights.
On the second night Chang cooked hamburgers for everyone, a traditional American dinner. On the ninth night they ate Sushi in honor of Joe.
The last night Albert lingered in the garden staring at the dying flames. Francoise came up behind him. "Are you coming in?" She asked.
"I will in a minute," he replied quietly.
"It's a beautiful garden," she whispered.
"A fitting way to honor them."
"I did like you said yesterday, I went and talked to Joe's tree," Fran began.
"Oh?" He actually turned his head to look at her. "Did it help?"
"Yes, thank you for the advice," she nodded.
"You're welcome. I guess I was just doing the same," he admitted.
"Saying goodbye to Venus," Fran finished his thought.
He gave her a slight smile. "Let's go inside, I'm sure they're all waiting for the two of us." She nodded her green eyes soft.
Inside Gilmore announced that he would be taking a trip to visit some friends. No one related to Black Ghost or anything like that. Just some scientists who he wanted to discuss some theories with.
This got some of the others wanting to take trips of their own. Go home, check up on friends. The only ones who didn't want to travel were Albert and Francoise, and of course Ivan, who was content to stay put. They just weren't ready to go home yet.
It was decided that Albert and Francoise would stay with Kozumi and Ivan. Gilmore would be gone for two months, the rest were uncertain how long they'd be gone.