It was a sunny day when Zeppeli called them all together for a meeting at the local watering hole. In another world Speedwagon would have been quite surprised to think that the eccentric baron could blend in to such a setting. But he had discovered over the course of their adventures that the man could hold his own in a tavern and was even often the life of the festivities; telling wild stories, performing fantastic card tricks, and getting into heated poker games with Speedwagon and the locals. Especially when he got a bit sauced on his or Jojo’s funds, which was a high bar given his near-constant wine buzz.
Today however, Zeppeli looked sober. And…nervous?
Surprisingly, the blond was the first of the invited to arrive. But Zeppeli dodged all his questions, insisting that “answers must wait for the Joestars!” with that mad mysterious glint in his eyes.
Finally- (Speedwagon conceded that it had probably only been around 15 minutes)- finally the couple arrived.
Speedwagon found that he was genuinely happy to see Erina, and she beamed at him in return. (They had truly come a long way since that day in the hospital.) And as always he was thrilled to see his best and first real friend- who in his boyish fashion wrapped both him and Zeppeli up in an embrace.
After greetings had been made Zeppeli began his announcement.
“Signore Joestar, Signora, your joyous announcement has brought back memories of another time. When my wife and I were expecting our own child. Given that the threat of the vampire mask seems to have been contained, I think it is time for me to take an intermission and return to my family in Italy.”
Jonathan immediately gave him a hearty clasp on the shoulder. “Congratulations, teacher! I’m so happy for you.”
“Yes, best of luck!” Erina agreed. “Please do give our regards to your family and tell them what a good job you’ve done with this one.”
Speedwagon, for his part, felt unusually choked up. His experiences before meeting Mr. Joestar and Zeppeli felt like a different life, and he couldn’t quite wrap his mind around the idea of life without him.
“Will, I must admit I don’t know what to say. Facing your family after all this time must be hard and I’m glad you’re doing this for yourself.” He swallowed. “Should we expect to see you again?”
“But of course!” Zeppeli exclaimed, surprising Speedwagon with a determined pat on the back. “I shall do my earnest best to be back to welcome the newest Joestar to the world. At whatever time after their entry to it would be most agreeable for the parents, of course.” (Zeppeli tended to show more decorum, it seemed, when the fate of the world wasn’t at stake.)
“We can write and let you know when things have settled down,” Jonathan responded. “Whereabouts will you be staying?”
“I believe that my family is now residing near Venice. I will send a mailing address to the Pendleton estate as soon as fate allows.”
“Venice, huh? It’s supposed to be a beautiful city. I’ve read all about the gondola industry there, in fact.” Speedwagon responded, trying to stay optimistic. ”You’ll absolutely have to tell us about it, eh?”
Zeppeli looked at him for long moment, filling the blond with self-consciousness. Then the baron’s face lit up.
“Why don’t you come along?” he asked.
“What?” Speedwagon had to admit the offer was enticing, just not one he would expect to receive out of the blue like this.
“Why don’t you come along?” Zeppeli repeated with just as much confidence. “It would mean a unique traveling opportunity for you and moral support for me.”
“It does sound like a great opportunity. But I’ve already arranged to stay with the Joestars and help out when the baby is born.”
“No issue! I can have him back to you within a few months,” the dark-haired man continued, addressing the Joestars before turning back to Speedwagon. “What do you say?”
“Well, I…” Erina nodded enthusiastically at him, while Jonathan just looked politely confused at the whole situation.
“I’d say you’ve found a traveling partner, mate.”