Title: Turn My Way
Author: Sybil Rowan
Pairing(s)/Characters: Jet Link/Albert Heinrich, reference to Albert Heinrich/Venus, reference to Jet Link/Frances Arnoul (one sided) Also Gilmore makes an important appearance.
Summary: Jet runs into Albert at a bookstore after Venus is murdered. They talk about loneliness and lost relationships.
Warnings: blending a 1979 version with manga/2001 version
Author's Notes: This is really taking elements from the manga and placing it with references to 1979 series. Of course, you know how twisted Cyborg 009 canon is, so I figured I'd take some liberties. I started this one a few years back. Took the name form a great New Order song.
Disclaimer: Cyborg 009 is owned by Shotaro Ishinomori.
Beta Reader: WingedPanther73
Date:August 27, 2012, 8:05pm
Word Count: 5,277
"Where are you going?" Gilmore's voice had a harsh, critical edge that instantly brought out Jet's defensiveness. Jet looked down at the carpet as he walked through the dinning room. Gilmore cleared his throat, which caused Jet to pause and shudder, then spin around.
"Out!" Jet glared at the doctor, who was sorting though a mountain of papers on the dining room table.
"If you are going to go out, then you need to start behaving yourself."
"What? I'm an angel, Doc!"
"A fallen one. Last time you came in, there was a report of a mysterious flying object in all the newspapers, and you had a blood alcohol content of 0.18. I refuse to fix you if you crash into another tree. Empty your pockets!"
"What? You're kidding!"
"No, I'm not. This is for your own good, 002. Don't you realize what kind of attention you can draw like that? The Neo Black Ghost has some sleeper agents here in Japan, and we haven't tracked down their main base of operation. Until we do, you and the others need to be discrete, so we can beat them.
"And the drinking! You know, we didn't design that artificial liver so you could take in morbid amounts of liquor. It's a very sophisticated bit of technology you should treat with respect!"
"But it's a super liver! Man, you take all the fun out of being a cyborg. No flying, even when it's dark. No drinking, even with a great metabolism. You gotta let me blow off steam sometimes, doc!"
"Come on now. Empty your pockets." Gilmore pointed at the table and matched glares with Jet.
The redhead knew he could say several nasty, cutting things to hurt the doctor. He was half tempted; he used to be very nasty to the doctor. He didn't know if it was that he was getting older, or that he'd come to respect Gilmore, but he reached in his jeans' pockets and slammed the contents on the table.
"There! See! Money, keys, smokes, and my lighter. That's all."
"I just wanted to make sure... wait a minute! You certainly don't look like a Juan Pedro!" Gilmore lofted a laminated identification with Jet's photo on it.
"I... could... be... sort of..."
"These fake IDs are going to get you into trouble." Gilmore stuffed the offending ID in his blazer pocket.
"Well, then make me look my real age."
"You want to look like you're seventy-three?"
"That's not what I meant! That fifty years in the meat locker doesn't count! You know I meant I want to at least look like I'm in my twenties. It's getting to be a drag looking like I'm a kid."
Gilmore threw his head back and laughed. "To me you are a kid. Why not just find a nice hobby? 007 has his writing. You know, 005 has his nature hikes. What about 008's..."
"Oh stop picking on the boy, Isaac, and let him get out of the house." Doctor Kozumi came in from the kitchen with a tray of tea and cookies. "He's still young."
Jet smirked at the short Japanese doctor and elbowed the man's arm. "I bet you were a real party animal, Doc."
Kozumi sighed and served tea to Gilmore. "Nope. I was a real dud. Gilmore was the party animal."
"What?" Gilmore and Jet both sputtered and eyed Kozumi. Gilmore got embarrassed, while Jet grew intrigued.
"Remember that one party during finals of senior year? I don't think they ever got the donkey tracks out of Dean Schultz's office. Plus, his fraternity had his beer bong bronzed. To this day there are former sorority girls with his name..."
"That's enough!" Gilmore bellowed over Jet's howling laughter. "Get out of here, but be back by midnight! And no drinking!"
Jet was still laughing too hard to protest as he refilled his pockets. He gave Kozumi a light smack on the shoulder on his way out. If he hurried, he could catch a ride with Joe and Frances.
"No, I can make my way home. I'm not an idiot like that old gas bag thinks," Jet said before shutting Joe's car door.
He was grateful to see them pull away, because the car ride had become increasingly awkward. Joe, in a fit of concerned friendship, invited Jet along to the movies. Frances didn't have to say a word, but Jet could tell she was irritated. No doubt, she was counting on having a romantic date.
Jet blew the invitation off saying, "Movies are for squares." He countered with an invitation to go night clubbing with him. Frances shot Joe a dirty look before he could accept the offer, which was what Jet counted on. He didn't want to appear unsocial, but in such small, tight-knit group everyone seemed apt to get into his business.
Jet lit a cigarette and walked down the crowded street. He let his homesickness for New York wash away thoughts of the other cyborgs, the doctors, and the new Neo Black Ghost threat. He missed skyscrapers, outdoor markets, and crowds. An acute sense of loss hit. He took a drag off the cigarette as he decided it was still too early to go anywhere to dull the sharp ache in the pit of his stomach with alcohol. Dusk was just now setting in.
He spotted a fancy two level book store with a sign that said 'Blue Moon International Books.' Jet wandered towards the bookstore, threw out his cigarette, and walked in. There were shelves of books with a lot of people scattered around them.
The heavy aroma of coffee caught his attention, to his left was a small café. He walked aimlessly around the shelves and was jolted in pleasant surprise when he found American comic books. Everything else had been written in a host of languages he couldn't read, but this was a connection to home. The he looked through a Batman graphic novel, unable to stop his grin.
He decided to buy the book and go get a cup of coffee. It was a novelty to buy comics, considering he always used to shoplift them. He paused and ducked behind another shelf as he saw Albert Heinrich walk downstairs from the second level.
Jet watched the German man look through a book held in his left hand while he clutched three others under his right arm. To Jet's consternation, Albert headed to the café, bought a cup of coffee, and took a seat by the large plate glass window facing the street.
"Man, I can't even get a break for one frickin' night," Jet mumbled. He glanced around the shelf and watched Albert for a few minutes. Albert's face was wistful and sorrowful at the same time; he wasn't reading the opened book in front of him. Instead Albert faced the window, chin resting on a gloved hand.
Jet figured Albert was still torn up over Venus. Ever since she had been killed by Van Bogart, Albert had been so withdrawn. In Jet's opinion, there was too much serenity in Albert's persona lately. Jet clenched his teeth; he was aggravated with Albert's recent gloom. It was as if every bit of friction between them had evaporated, and Albert had nothing but apathy. He missed fighting with Albert; it let him know he was on the German's radar.
He gave a snort, remembering something Frances had chastised him for a few weeks ago. She told him he needed to stop seeking out negative attention. He blew her off in a fit of pique and full of denial.
He pushed Frances out of his head and glanced over at Albert again. Jet sighed as pity started creeping in; after all, this was the second time Albert had lost a deep, passionate relationship. He watched affection bloom from the mutual loathing between Albert and Venus, but Jet hadn't understood why it had happened.
Jet dismissed it as Albert being lonely after losing his wife; he figured Albert would shrug off Venus's death and move on. After all, it wasn't as if Albert had known Venus a long time and the relationship was full of betrayal and bitterness. When Albert's pall continued weeks after her murder, it hit Jet that Albert's feeling towards the blond woman were deeper than visible.
Jet glanced at the doorway and saw he had a good chance at avoiding Albert's somberness for the evening. Jet had his own glum he wanted to deaden. He certainly didn't relish the idea of hanging around a mopey Albert. The redhead sighed and reminded himself that misery loved company. Besides, he missed their volatile friendship; maybe he could bring back the old Albert. He walked towards Albert's table knowing it would bother him all night if he didn't go check on the German man.
"What do you have there?" Jet asked. Albert startled, looked slightly vexed, but then waved Jet towards the seat across from him.
"Kierkegaard. In English it's called The Sickness Unto Death." Albert answered. Jet picked up the book, but he knew he wouldn't be able to read the German on the pages.
"Not more German philosophy junk. You'll get more moody than you already are."
"He's a Danish existentialist. Not all philosophers are German, but a good many are. What are you doing in town anyway? I thought Gilmore clipped your wings after that newspaper fiasco."
"I do what I want." Jet set the book aside and leaned on the table. Albert frowned and buried himself back in the book. "Sorry, didn't mean to come off so snotty, but I get tired of Gilmore trying to play 'daddy' with me."
"Someone should watch over you. You have a bad habit of going to extremes." Jet flinched back at Albert's gruff pronouncement, he could feel artificial blood rise to his face. Albert went back to reading the book, adopting his recent grave attitude. Jet could tell Albert wasn't going to rise to the bait. Just toss out smug judgments.
"I just wanted to see if you were okay, you jerk." Jet got up and marched out of the bookstore without a second look at Albert.
Jet went down the street three blocks toward a small bar he knew. When he got there he reached to the top of his boot and drew out another fake id.
Jet finished nursing a Wild Turkey and Coke. He started feeling slightly warm after only half an hour with one drink on an empty stomach. He leaned over the drained glass also nursing his temper at Albert's rebuff.
When he was in his gang, they all had common ground and could understand each other's reasoning. Yes, he had been kidnapped and forced into cybornization surgery along with the others, but sometimes he felt as though he had no kinship with the other cyborgs. The only person Jet felt an affinity for was Joe, because he was a street kid as well, but even that seemed to fade with Joe and Frances' developing relationship.
"Gilmore will skin you alive."
Jet flinched and turned to see Albert standing behind him. He sighed and hunched over his drink again. Albert took a seat next to him at the bar.
"Why is my drinking everyone's business?"
"Because you're so bad at it."
"Look! You can leave if you're going to criticize me. I've had enough of you," Jet grumbled.
"Fine. I believe you Americans say if you can't beat them, join them." Albert hailed the bartender, ordered two more drinks, and paid for them. "By the way, you left your comic book behind. I paid for it with my books. It's in my car."
"It's not a comic book! It's a graphic novel. It has a well developed story with high quality artwork." Jet felt embarrassed until he saw Albert fighting down a snicker. Normally, he'd be furious, but he was relived to see Albert laugh again after months of his pall. "Oh... stop it already. I'll pay you back when I get home."
"Never mind. Consider it a peace offering. I was very rude to you in the bookstore. I haven't been myself."
"It's cool." Jet glanced around the small, smoky bar. There weren't too many customers and the music was a soulful, slow jazz. Jet turned to his fresh drink, but didn't start on it. Albert was only chasing ice cubes around with the small, plastic straw. "Hey, I've been thinking about taking a trip lately. I'm tired of waiting on Gilmore trying to hunt down the Neo Black Ghost."
"I'm not surprised. It'll probably be at least another two months or so. You want to go back to the United States?"
"Yeah. New York is a busy city. I could hide out there until he calls me back."
"It's dangerous for any of us to travel alone because of the Neo Black Ghost. We still don't have much information about them other than they want to pick up where Scar left off. You know that."
"Well... maybe I can talk Junior into going back. At least he keeps quiet all the time."
"Junior would probably consider it. You stand a good chance of convincing him. Of course, I think he'd want to go out to Arizona. You'd be alone in New York."
"You're right. Junior ain't the big city type," Jet said before taking a sip. They were quiet for several long minutes. "You can't tell me you don't want to get away lately. All of us living under the same roof again seems to be pushing you into a shell. I'm guessing it also has to with Venus."
"That's not something I want to talk about." Albert's expression instantly closed off and grew frosty.
"Fine. Let's finish these and go to a club I know. You can drown your sorrows along with me."
"I don't think it'll be a good idea. I should drive you back home."
"I'm not going back home. Stay out with me. You need to blow off steam, too."
"How about we stay here. I'll buy you two more, but then we go back home."
They moved to a booth in a dimly lit corner with their drinks. Jet slumped back in the booth and gave Albert a sly smile.
"You just want to haul me back to Gilmore before I find something fun to do. The only reason you're sticking around is to babysit me."
"That is part of it."
"I guess I haven't been on the straight and narrow, lately." Jet took a sip of his drink, enjoying the numbing sensation.
"I've noticed you haven't been yourself lately either."
"I'm surprised you noticed. You've been wrapped up with... your own situation... Venus and all. Well, I just feel like I'm going stir crazy. I'm getting tired of looking over my shoulder. Just when I thought it was over."
"It's our lot in life, even if it isn't of our choosing."
"I wanted to stop the Black Ghost from ruining other people's lives, and now they crop up again. It's aggravating. I want a chance to live my life out in the open... forever." Jet sighed and shook his head. "It's complicated."
"We have to keep hope that it'll happen one day." Albert took a large sip.
"I was just thinking how hard it's been on you. Losing Venus. I see that you couldn't quite resist the lure of trying to have a love life again."
"That's the third time you've referred to Venus. Say what's on your mind; you've never been bashful before." Albert sound tired rather than testy, which confounded Jet.
"You seem pretty depressed and you haven't talked much about it." Jet sat upright and leaned towards Heinrich. "It's like you've lost your will to fight."
Albert drained his drink and ordered two more before he answered. "Losing someone prematurely is worse than losing part of your body. It's losing part of your soul. Part of the reason I was so hard on Venus is because I could feel all the promise of a relationship again.
"I wanted to push her away, but I couldn't once I got to know her. I've been introspective lately, but I'll be fine. That's why I'm reading Keirkegaard. He said, 'The biggest danger, that of losing oneself, can pass off in the world as quietly as if it were nothing; every other loss, an arm, a leg, five dollars, a wife, etcetera, is bound to be noticed.' I've been wondering if I've lost myself somewhere along the way."
"You can always find yourself again. Things happen to change us, but it's not as if we really leave our skins."
Albert chuckled and shook his head. "You were pretty young when you were taken. I wonder if you had a girlfriend in New York all those decades ago?"
Jet felt a jolt disturb his pleasant buzz. He shook his head, hunched his shoulders, and gulped his third drink of the night. He hoped his face wasn't as flushed as it felt. "Sort of, she was a girl that was a good friend. Natalie. I was too busy boosting cars to really take her out."
"This is the first time I've seen you look chagrined."
"Look, I shouldn't have gotten nosy with you love life. We should be trying to get our minds off of our troubles. Another round?" Jet hoped Albert would let him switch topics in spite of the raised eyebrow he was getting from the German.
"Just one more. Then we should go home."
"I'm not fit to drive," Albert said, tugging Jet out of the bar and to the street curb. "We'll catch a taxi."
"We could always fly." Jet slumped over in laughter and almost fell into the street. Albert caught him and pulled him back upright.
"Gilmore is going to yell at me for buying you all those drinks. If you flew us home, he'd kill me. Besides, you'd just end up eating tree bark again."
"Hey! I'm over twenty-one. I can drink if I want to!"
"Twenty-one? Try seventy-one," Albert retorted.
"Well I don't need someone telling me what to do!"
Jet leaned against a lamp pole and watched a blurry Albert arrange their ride home. Once they were in the taxi, Jet found himself getting antsy.
"I wasn't planning to go home so soon."
"It's one o'clock. I'm tired, and you've had enough."
They were quiet on their half hour trip back to the country house. Jet paid for the taxi and gave a generous tip, because he hadn't spent any money all evening. Albert picked up the whole bar tab. He fished in his pocket and started to snicker when he couldn't quite open the door with his keys.
The door was yanked open. Both Jet and Albert stared blankly at Doctor Gilmore's hostile gaze. Jet and Albert then looked at each other for half a minute before they started cackling. They stumbled in, Jet shushing Albert.
"Hush before you wake up Gilmore," Jet said in an exaggerated, overly loud whisper.
"Too late," Albert replied before they started laughing all over again.
"I'm shocked at you, 004. You're as drunk as he is!"
"No, he had one more drink than me," Albert said.
"Well, this is horrible. Cyborgs shouldn't drink. And shame on you, 002. You're an hour and half late getting home and smelling like a distillery."
Albert sat on a settee in the dimly lit front parlor and pulled off his gloves. "Aw come on, Doctor. We were trying to unwind. Besides, he's a grown up. Treating him like he's still a kid is only making things worse. He had a lousy father growing up, so it's too late to make it up to him. Let him live a little or you'll just drive him away."
There was heavy silence as a grandfather clock gently chimed in the background. Gilmore turned on his heels. "Fine then! You put 002 to bed. And don't wake up the rest of the house!"
Both of them flinched when Gilmore slammed the door. Jet felt a surge of guilt wash away some of his giddiness as he flopped by Albert. The German man had a clenched jaw and was tugging at his shoe laces.
"Heinrich, you looked pissed off."
"I am. I don't like the way people talk to you. You're a very intelligent young man, and you don't get enough credit for it. Sometimes, you bring this treatment on your own head. People will only treat you in the way you expect to be treated. You expect to be treated like an untrustworthy juvenile, that's how you'll be treated."
Rather than argue, Jet nodded in agreement. Besides, he was too stunned by Albert's sudden ire on his behalf. Usually, he was on the receiving end of Albert's most biting comments.
"I appreciate how you stuck up for me."
Albert slumped forward, his elbows on his knees. "I know. Come on." Albert sat up and smacked Jet on the thigh. "Let's get you to bed. You can sort it out with Gilmore later."
Jet jumped up and grabbed Albert's shoulder before he could leave the living room. He tugged the baffled German around, face-to-face, and said, "I hope you blew off some steam tonight and can get your focus back."
"I'm glad you ran into me. I needed a good laugh."
Jet broke out in an irrepressible smile. "I'm glad."
"Come on. Bed time."
Jet followed Albert up a staircase to a massive hallway where all their bedrooms were located. They stopped at the second door on the right. Jet opened the door and they slipped in quietly.
"You're really going to tuck me in?" Jet tugged his olive green tee-shirt off. He watched Albert fiddled with a model plane resting on his oak dresser. Ivan had built it with his telekinesis for Jet's last birthday.
"I guess part of me doesn't really want to go to bed yet. I'm distracted, too."
"You're lonely right now. It's okay. I understand." Jet walked over to Heinrich as he set the plane back down.
"You don't like to see lonely people, do you?"
"Hun?" Jet was suddenly confused by Albert's lopsided smile.
"You're heroic stunt that rescued Joe. I know you did it for Frances."
"Frances! She hates my guts."
"Not true, but I know you're fonder of her than you let on."
Jet's nose crinkled in distaste. "Are you saying I'd have designs on Joe's girl?"
Albert's expression grew thoughtful. "No, not really." There was a note of doubt in Albert's tone. He shook his head and said, "It doesn't matter, now. You, I think, made the choice to rescue Joe, at your own peril, was really for Frances' sake as well as Joe's. I think it bothered you seeing Frances ignored in favor of Helen. You wanted to make sure Joe had another chance to make her happy."
"What do you know about it? You were off frolicking with Venus."
"Chang told me about the mountain of gold and your offering it to Frances."
Jet felt his skin blaze hot and his fingernails dig into his palms. Jet remembered bringing Frances a handful of gold dust when they were trapped underground, trying to find a way out. He wanted to see her cheered up because she was so hurt at Joe's attention toward Helen. She smacked away the gold out of his hands and chewed him out for not being serious minded. It caused Jet to be hostile towards Joe for the rest of the time. His hostility only faded when Joe was on his way to the moon and Frances was sobbing by him in the ocean.
"Chang should mind his own business."
"I'm not trying to embarrass you." Albert's brow furrowed; he took a seat on the edge of Jet's bed. He said softly, "I don't like to see lonely people either."
Jet flopped back on his bed beside Albert and let his mind revel in its dizziness. "Maybe I liked her, a little, at one time. But I did what I did because they're meant to be together. I like seeing him take care of her, now, like she deserves."
"I'm sorry I never visited," Albert said, barely above a whisper. Jet rubbed his scratchy eyes and lifted his head. All he could see was Albert's hunched over back.
"You mean after I went to fetch Joe?"
"You were in the hospital for two months. I can imagine you didn't have much company."
Jet waved a hand in the air. "Ah... Joe and Frances stopped by a few times. Gilmore and Kozumi were always hovering over me. I think that's why Gilmore is riding my ass now. I also had Ivan float through every now and again. By the way, never play checkers with him."
Albert snickered and turned his head towards Jet. "I had a feeling he'd be tough to beat. I'm glad to hear you weren't totally devoid of visitors."
"I understand you were trying get over what happened to Venus. I'm sure I was the last thing on your mind."
Albert's face grew somber. His eyes narrowed slowly as he drifted down to lay on his side beside Jet. Confusion, and a hint of irritation, struck Jet at Albert's intensely grave expression. When Albert didn't say anything for several long minutes, just stared, Jet became disquieted.
"What's wrong?" Jet snapped, desperate to get Albert to stop staring at him.
"I have to confess you were very much on my mind during that time. I don't think I could have stood seeing you like that."
"What? I don't understand?"
"When Helen showed up and we were all called back by Gilmore to confront Van Bogart, I saw you for the first time in years. I noticed you'd changed. Got more mature. We were holding conversations, not just arguing or trading snide comments. It felt as if I was getting to know you all over again. Then Venus showed up and it was as if all hell broke loose. I shifted my attention from you to her because I thought she posed a threat to all of us cyborgs."
"Attention?" Jet asked, his mouth getting terribly dry. Albert slowly brought his metallic hand around to the nape of Jet's neck. He gently pulled him close and gave him a chaste kiss. He pulled back, having a fervent air.
Before Jet could speak, Albert said, "When you took off after Joe, my heart sank. I confronted Frances about her feelings and realized I had suppressed my own towards you. I started regretting taking my attention off you."
"What about..." Jet barely got out, too stunned at Albert's confession.
"Venus? You must understand that I don't regret my feelings for Venus or what I did have with her. Without her, I don't think I'd ever be able to come to this place, able to express myself to you."
"You got something out of your system with her," Jet agreed.
"When I knew you were going to be okay, I left. I went back to Berlin to sort out my feelings. I wasn't entirely finished when the Neo Black Ghost threat came up, but seeing you again has helped me a great deal."
Jet became conscious of laying in his bed with Albert so close. A warmth spread through his stomach as his heart pounded. He slowly dropped his defensiveness, but he was still bewildered.
"I never thought of you as more than a friend. It's kind of new."
"So are you not inclined to try something new?"
"No, I wasn't saying that!" Jet panicked, not wanting to lose this stimulation caused by Albert's nearness. He gave a shake of his head. "Me and dames don't seem to mix. I've never been all that much into them anyway. But... I've always liked to do things that are against the grain."
Albert's somber face took on euphoria as well as a slightly pinkish hew. He leaned over towards Jet again, but paused. His lips twisted wryly. "You're a little tipsy right now. So am I. This might not be the best time for this. I don't know if it's you or lowered inhibitions."
"Does it matter with new threats to our freedom? Our lives? We could buy the farm tomorrow. I thought you knew that better than I do." Albert took a deep breath and was deathly silent. Jet reached over to his shoulder and got almost nose-to-nose with Albert. "Don't leave me hanging now that you put it out there."
Albert finally nodded. "I won't do that to you. I don't want to waste any time we could have together. If you're sure?"
"Damn it, Heinrich, I said..." The rest of Jet's hostile response was cut short with a hasty, fiery kiss. Less chaste than the first; one that sent Jet's mind reeling.
Gilmore fumed as Kozumi laid out the elaborate breakfast in front of him. He let out a huff as he heard footsteps from the staircase. He glanced up in time to see Albert and Jet's hands firmly clasped. He lost a heartbeat at seeing the briefest glimpse of Albert holding hands with Jet, and then letting go, before they reached the landing of the stairs where they could be seen by everyone.
He took a deep breath as Jet shouted out to Joe and Frances, who sat beside GB at the other end of the table. A joyful, fun-filled exchange happened, but Gilmore looked over towards Albert. He was serene, and his eyes were on Jet.
Gilmore sipped his coffee as he put the puzzle pieces together. Jet turned towards him and asked, "So you going to interrogate me about last night?"
Gilmore set his mug of coffee down and took a deep breath. "I don't think so. I'm sure someone else will keep you on the straight and narrow."