Natural Blues

Author`s Note: My first foray into Cowboy Bebop fiction. Probably not the best look into how things might`ve gone after Spike died, but hey... Least it`s not a 'Spike isn`t really dead! And he`s in love with Faye!' fic, eh?

Disclaimer: If I owned Cowboy Bebop, Faye and Jet would`ve been given an episode or three after session 26 to clear things up.

Natural Blues

Earth orbit, roughly one month after Spike Spiegel and the man known only as Vicious killed each other on Mars. Three weeks after one Faye Valentine had left the Bebop for greener pastures and one week after the sole remaining crewman of the ship had made a decision. His name was Jet Black, he was a 36 year old bounty hunter, though he looked more around the age of 34 when he wasn`t wearing that typically grim expression that had become his trademark over the years. He was a former ISSP officer, one of the best on Ganymede in fact. He`d had the nickname of 'The Black Dog' back in those days, he took a bite and never let go. Ever. His mission back then had been taking down criminals on a world with a legal system that was so corrupt at the time that it cost him an arm and part of his cheekbone, which had required an externally implanted piece of metal to be bolted into his face to keep the damage minimized.

He`d earned his name alright, but today, his mission was different. On any other day, he would`ve likely been hunting down bounties with a ruthlessness that had disturbed even him as of late. He figured it was pent up anger over the death of a friend, but it was especially severe when it came to members of the Red Dragon Syndicate. That, however, was not the point. Today his mission was far more benevolent. Today, his mission held more meaning to the middle aged bounty hunter than almost any bounty had ever meant to him, even combined.

Today, his mission wasn`t to find some mass murderer, bank robber, serial killer, hit man, psychotic ISSP assassin-gone-awry, syndicate member or anything else. His mission was to find a particular thirteen year old, puffy haired, red headed hacker prodigy by the name of Edward Wong Hau Pepelu Tivrusky the Fourth. Real name Francoise Lufen.

He`d taken one 'bite' on her whereabouts two days earlier and he hadn`t let go since. Somewhere in South Africa, a region once decimated by virtually every bad disease(and more than a few nukes back during the early 2010s) that had graced the face of humanity in some form or another. It was mostly desert now, even the congo had been lambasted out of existence by one of the more severe meteor showers on record. She was still around though, Jet could tell by the fact that smiley faces were still being jabbed into the terrain where nobody lived in.

"Doesn`t make it any easier, eh?" Jet asked himself, almost expecting Spike and/or Faye to give him weird looks before returning to their usual bickering about this or that. "Least I know what continent to start in," he shrugged, wiping his eyes with his real hand. "Now, how far could Appledelhi gotten with nothin` but that old rover o` his. Knowing Ed, she`s probably on his trail or..." Jet stopped speaking while working out what he knew of Ed. Even if she was a genius with the luck of however many gaurdian angels were working around-the-clock shifts to keep her from getting killed or injured(Jet felt if they were real, she was the kind of person they tended to swarm over), she was still a kid. How did kids think?

"Throw logic out the door, what looks cool?" He asked himself, surmising that this was how Ed probably thought things through. "Appledelhi`s somewhere here," he mumbled to himself, pointing at the region around the coast where the Bebop had once crash landed in, little more than a month and a half earlier. "On foot, Ed would probably be..." He pointed out an area of around twenty or thirty miles. "It`s a start," he sighed, limping away from the window and marking down his guestimates on an old map.

"Here we go..."

The seconds following this had been consumed by the tasks of hobbling his weight into the flight seat before guiding the ship from orbit and down into the atmosphere of the Earth. It`d been relatively easy for the most part, bar the three or four small scale meteor impacts on the left side of the ship. No damage had been done, despite it`s age and the wear and tear it`d been through, the Bebop was a tough ship, but it had been enough to jar Jet`s senses several times.

"I`ll never get used to that," he muttered, feeling the ship slam down into the water. The Earth always left him feeling a little heavier or lighter depending on where he`d been recently. Even worse, it tended to throw off his piloting just so that he could barely land his ship without submerging it entirely in the water by accident.

Guiding the Bebop up to the shorline and intentionally semi-beaching it to keep it in place, Jet climbed up and out of the chair, wincing when he was forced to put most of his weight on his still injured leg. He didn`t need the cane anymore but bullet wounds tended to take him a little while to heal over. Lucky Spike had been practicaly invincible, he was up and around three weeks after getting shot twice, stabbed and thrown from the top floor of a church, landing awkwardly on concrete steps and getting showered in debris. Jet? He had trouble moving around more than a month after taking a solitary bullet in the leg. Granted it had grazed a major artery and lodged itself in bone, but still.

From there it was a simple matter of exiting the bridge and making his way into the hangar.

Jet paused for a moment and stared up at the busted up looking Swordfish II. He`d been repairing it in his spare time, didn`t know why of course, but it was still looking worse for wear overall. A few Syndicate thugs had gotten their hands on it shortly before the end, from there? Carnage. He still had to replace the entire MONO system, which meant getting rid of the pod-like ejectable cockpit, still had to fix one of the rotator engines of the wings, and replace the overpowered plasma cannon that the vehicle sported. The paint scheme didn`t help much either, he was only now actually realizing that it was the same color as one of Spike`s eyes.

Then again, you do tend to miss some things when you`re around someone almost every day for three years straight. Shrugging to himself, Jet walked around the Swordfish II and set his eyes on the equally beaten-assed looking vehicle he called his own. The Hammerhead, still intact(for the most part) and still functional even after all he`d put it through. It brought a chuckle to him at the remembrance of how he`d unintentionally harpooned Spike`s fighter during their first meeting.

"Days go by, huh, Spike?" He asked his departed friend. For a moment, he could almost swear he had heard something along the lines of 'Yep' echo through the hangar, followed by a cigarette being lit. "Always knew I`d go senile at an early age," Jet thought sarcastically while climbing into the Hammerhead and readying for take off.

Launching had been relatively easy of course, it always was. The search though, the search was the tedious part of things. Jet had flown slowly, and at an awkward tilt as well, skimming the ground with his eyes alone since he didn`t trust the ground scanners on the ship anymore. GPS was pretty much impossible given that the entire Earth satellite network had gone down, bar a few of the satellites like Edward`s 'friend.'

That made it all the more difficult given that half the blood in his body was rushing to his head most of the time. "Nope," Jet thought aloud, bringing the ship upright and into a hover while rubbing his temples lightly. "Not here," he added. When the pain in his head subsided, he tilted the ship again and returned to his search effort, gradually covering the miles, one by one, over the course of several hours. It had been boringly repetitive, but then, after roughly five hours of flying slow, he`d come across a familiar looking yellow buggy.

"Found him," Jet thought aloud, leveling the ship off and settling into a following pattern of the car. It obviously didn`t notice him from the looks of things, but that was okay, he was a patient man when it came to his pursuits. Jet Black had only avoided the nickname of 'The Fisherman' simply because he was so relentless once his patience had been rewarded. Besides, 'The Black Dog' just had a better ring to it, right? "Find a stopping place already you fat lunatic," Jet grumbled, still following the car as it moved further in-land, finally coming to a rickety stop at the last second on a clifftop, right as a meteor smashed into the ground a quarter of a mile away.

And Jet touched down almost the moment the hatch on the top of the car flipped open and a muscularly overweight looking man about his own age popped out. Thick brown hair, the color of light dirt, covered the fellow`s head, styled in an odd, fanning sort of way, running to the base of the skull. The figure was broadshouldered and wide at the base, and also far too agile for a man his size, build and age. Appledelhi wasn`t the type of man that could really hide himself, was he?

Jet pulled the cockpit open in kind, climbing up and out of the vehicle before slowly lowering himself to the ground. It was a chore really, he was more or less used to flinging himself around but the injury to his leg made that a bit dangerous. He waited for a minute or two as the second man, far thinner, a good deal paler and a good deal younger, emerged from the car, slinging himself over the side and falling hard on his rear end. The larger of the two didn`t even notice.

"Tweedle-dee and Tweedle-dum," Jet mused while hobbling forward. One step at a time, he came closer to the pair before calling out. "Appledelhi Siniz Hesap Lufen?!" He yelled over the roar of another nearby meteor impact. The large man turned around and looked at Jet curiously before replying. "What?!" Jet waited to give any reply though, covering the terrain between himself and the other two slowly but surely before pausing, a bit winded, in front of them. Macintire, now on his feet, was the only one who even bothered to note having seen Jet before.

"Hey, I remember you..."

Appledelhi cut him off. "What can I do for ya?" The large, airheaded mapmaker asked, a pencil tucked into his ear and a map in hand. "Gonna have to be quick about it though, I`m a busy man, you know."

"I`m here about your daughter, sir," Jet answered. Appledelhi blinked dumbly for a few moments before looking over at Macintire. "I have a daughter?" He asked. Macintire`s jaw sagged open and Jet stared. "You don`t remember her? Isn`t she with you?" Jet asked. Appledelhi blinked a few times and stared up into the air with his finger on his chin before replying. "Uh... No?" He shrugged. "You don`t even remember your own daughter?!" Macintire cut in. "We only saw the little girl a month ago!" He yelled irately at his partner-in-futility. "Um..." The large man paused and then shrugged again. "What are you talking about Mcinter?"

"It`s MACINTIRE!!!" The skinnier man screamed, literally spitting his name into Appledelhi`s face. Jet idly stared on before finally slapping himself on the forehead. "You don`t remember my name and you don`t remember your daughter`s own existence either! What the hell is wrong with you?!" Macintire asked, getting only a tilt of the head and a raise of the eyebrow from Appledelhi.

"Alrigh-" Jet tried to get back into the conversation but Macintire cut him off again. "No damn wonder your wife probably left you," he grumbled before climbing back into the jeep, yelling about having had it to his limits and not willing to take it anymore. Appledelhi stared for a minute before looking back at Jet. "I guess it`s time to head back to work!" He enthusiastically chattered out before jumping onto the back of the vehicle, right as the hatch slammed shut and Macintire gunned it. Jet watched in a dazed stupor as the yellow buggy roared off, one half of it`s ownership being flung around violently on the top.

"Great. Just... Great," Jet muttered with a shake of the head. "Oh well, just means I`m back at square one. Again," he added with a sigh. "May as well finish checking the area, if she`s alive and on her own still, she and Ein`ll be somewhere around here. Probably following the impacts," he reasoned, turning back to the Hammerhead and hobbling over to it. Languidly, he climbed back into the cockpit, careful to avoid further injury to his leg.

Checking the systems as he always did, Jet shifted the engines for a purely verticle take off, blasting slowly from the ground with a roar of the engines, ignoring the sound of a distant explosion from another meteor impact, somewhere in the vicinity of where he would`ve likely guessed Appledelhi and Macintire`s craft to be in. "What do the Earthers call it again? Industrial sized hail?" He asked himself in an attempt to ward off boredom. Slowly, the Hammerhead shifted it`s direction back around towards his original heading.

With a flare of the engines, he was off again on a return to the search. Again he tilted, though this time it wasn`t half as bad as before. No sickness from it either, thankfully, though he still went at just a slow enough speed for it to give him a detailed look at the area, at the expense of being bored out of his mind. Mile by mile, minute by minute by hour by torturously slow hour went by, still no sign. It had been roughly four hours now, since he had seen the duo of futility bound madmen that should`ve been keeping on eye on Ed and Ein, and no clues as to the whereabouts of the two errant troublemakers had arrived in sight yet.

But it was night now. Jet was tired, emotionally and physically. He needed a drink and he was hungry, so after much deliberation on continuing the search, Jet gave up and decided to return to the Bebop. "Well, hopefully they`re both alright," he resigned. The Black Dog had given up, tucked it`s tail between it`s legs and gone back to it`s doghouse, it felt. But there was always tomorrow, right?

The sight of the Bebop brought little comfort to his weary eyes, it was still as empty as ever. The rusted paint was still needing to be touched up again, the cracked part of the hull over one of the engines was still in just as bad of a shape as it had been since the half-hearted repairs after the Red Dragon attacks. He was still having to give most of his money for repairs on the ship but with Spike, Faye, Ed and Ein gone, things had been a little easier on his wallet.

Probably the only thing that had actually gained from all the loss.

Touching down softly on the landing pad of the ship, Jet scratched the back of his head tiredly, allowing automatic systems to do the rest. After all of five or six seconds, he was back inside the hangar. Four more and the doors were shut. One more and the MONO cockpit had flipped open in just as snappy a way as it always did. What followed was another arduous trek from the flight chair to the steel flooring of the ship`s hangar. Spike`s fighter still sat like an old ghost with too many stories to tell. It was also one of the few remaining burdens on his wallet anymore.

The walk up the stairs was uneventful. Just the same old hobbling up and down. Then came the long walk down the hallway he`d never fully explored. One or two rooms had been locked shut so lung, dust was beginning to pool on the buttons of each locking mechanism. Jet didn`t pay it any mind. The kitchen was a few dozen steps down the hall, the living room just a few steps short of that.

One was dark, one was well lit. It struck Jet then, that he had left the living room light off when he`d left the ship earlier that day. "Damn bandits, if I`m gettin` robbed I`ll kill whoever`s in there," he grumbled in thought, resolutely limping his way with a bit more speed towards the living room. Step by step he moved, seconds ticked by and at the end of his brief journey, his jaw was left hanging wide open.




"GAH! Not the leg Ed! OW!"

Needless to say it was one of life`s enjoyably painful moments as Ed and Ein tackled Jet(or tried to, really) into the hallway and licked his face. Jet didn`t know which of them was licking him but he figured that Ein probably wasn`t the one hugging him so he left it at that. Sprawled out as he was, few things were going to make the old cowboy get back up but the smile on his face said it all without much of a word.

"Ed and Ein missed ya! Where are Lunkhead and Faye Faye?" Ed asked enthusiastically while wrapping herself affectionately(and in an elastic-y fashion) around Jet`s mid-section, sandwhiching Ein in between them with that same humanly impossible smile she could have at times. Jet barely noticed the fact that both of them were visibly a bit skinnier - Ed was already rail thin when he`d last seen her and Ein`s fur had thickened quite a bit as it was - but he did notice the question. "Long story Ed, whatsay I tell it to ya after we eat?" Jet asked with a slightly tired smile that seemed quite unbecoming of any man known by name like 'The Black Dog.'

"Yay! Ed and Ein-woof haven`t eaten in a while," Ed responded, prying herself and Ein off of the large figure still sprawled out on the floor. "How long?" Jet asked. "Uhm... Two or three days, Ed thinks," she replied lightheadedly. "Jesus Ed," Jet mumbled out while slowly getting back up to his feet and leaning his weight against the hallway. "You two both need a bath too," he observed. "Yeah yeah, Ein-woof thought Ed was smelly too, but he doesn`t smell that good either!" Ed pouted in reply. Ein gave one of those overly expressive looks of begging for mercy up at Jet, who shook his head with a chuckle. "Well, go wash up. I`ll have somethin` ready for ya when you get out, `kay?" He asked.

"Bellpeppers and beef?" Ed asked, a gigantically dopey smile washing over her dirtied face. "With beef this time too," he answered. The two were gone in a flash before Jet heard a solid crash off in the distance of the hallway, followed by a loud 'oops' and then the sound of bathwater. "One down," Jet murmured with a smile.

The large bodied man turned to the kitchen and vanished into it, limping a bit less this time.

It had been a month and a half since life came closer and closer still to returning to normal on the Bebop. His leg had healed faster than expected since Ed and Ein`s mutual return, the bounties had been easier to collect on for no particular reason or another. The Bebop had it`s name re-painted on the chipped sides of the hull and the ship itself had been fully repaired. The Swordfish II was still pretty broken but it was coming along better than had been expected.

Another factor in all of this blurred period of time had been an ever increasing bond between the three individuals onboard(sure Ein was a dog, but heck, he was smarter than Ed and Jet put together). It was that same bond that had formed which was the reason the pairing were here today. It was one of those days when the whole world felt a little lighter on your shoulders, and here they were.

The ISSP served as a good bit more than just law enforcement(even if it was apparently pretty shoddy for the job). It also served as the singular semi-governmental office of the solar system, sort of like a more expansive UN prior to the Gate Incident. Laws set down by it were followed by the rest of the system, and it`s choices were recognized on any world, moon, asteroid colony or space station as well. This was why adoptions were handled by the ISSP, not the actual governments of each area. Today, they were serving this role quite nicely for one Jet Black`s preferences.

How was this you ask?

"So then, she`s now my legal daughter, right?" He asked. The attendant at the desk gave a nod. "Yep, once she says yes, she`s under your care," he replied. Ed, who happened to be wearing a pair of actually decently made shorts and a shirt that genuinely fit her for once, was standing next to Jet, Ein slung haphazardly around her neck like some sort of fashion accessory. Ah well, he didn`t really seem to mind that much.

"Well?" Jet asked, glancing at Ed. "Yep yep," Ed replied with an over done nod for emphasis. "Name change then?" The attendant asked. "Francoise Edward Black," Jet stated, having settled on a name that he and Ed had both found suitable over the past week or two. "Francoise Edward Black it is," the fellow replied, typing the name into computers with a frenzy of clicks and clacks that came with typing. After that, he looked up from the screen and back at Jet. "Want the papers here or mailed to you?"

"Mailed," Jet answered. "Alrighty then, got your address here so... See ya Mister Black," the man said with a nod. That completed, Jet and Ed turned to leave, walking right out the revolving glass doors before the still crazed Edward flung herself up on Jet`s back, unintentionally slinging Ein over her shoulder and right into Jet`s flesh-and-blood arm. His cybernetic arm looped under Ed`s leg and after a few moments she had settled into a piggyback while Jet set Ein down.

"I was right. You old softy," a new, familiar voice cut in, causing both Jet and Ed to shoot glances to the right. "Well look who the cat dragged in," Jet mumbled while Ed shouted out. "Faye Faye!"

And sure enough, there she stood, leaned against the wall in that same little outfit she so loved to wear, in addition to one devilish little smile that simply refused to go away. "Long time no see," she replied, trying to keep her own cool. Jet just let out a small laugh while allowing Ed to pry herself free of his grasp and fling herself the distance to Faye. Off gaurd as she was, Faye was commendable in not falling over, probably since she was pressed against a concrete wall to begin with.

"Yeah, missed you too Ed. Now get off of me!" Faye shouted, trying in vain to pry the happy thirteen year old off of her midsection. "You can`t hide smiling for crap, know that Faye?" Jet asked while tucking both hands into his pockets and moving to the steps, Ein in tow. "We goin` or what?" He asked the two. "Once Ed stops glomping me," Faye replied, supressing a chuckle. "She must be tickling you too, eh?" He asked.

"Shut it baldie," Faye retorted. "Will do, ice queen," he replied. After a full five minutes of effort. Faye had managed to get Ed from her mid section and chuck her back to Jet, who caught the red headed bundle of energy like a sack of potatos and slung her back up into a seated position on his shoulders. "Where are we going again?" Faye asked, dusting herself off.

"Home of course," Jet replied. "Good to be back," Faye finally conceded, moving in stride alongside the other three, with Ein between them.

The sun was setting off in the distance, a strangley familiar pattern of a disordered hairstyle formed in the outlines of the clouds and the light. The crew was back together again.


Author`s Note: Hope you enjoyed my first(and probably only) Cowboy Bebop fic! Don`t mind any crappiness, emotional writing and scifi are both areas I`m not really used to. Anyway, leave a review, etc..

Sh33p out.