Rocky shifted his weight from his right foot to his left. He stood on the side of the street, looking back at his aunt's house. It felt like forever since he'd been staying anywhere else, and yet now, here he was. Rocky had gotten any and all clothes Nina still had, and he'd gotten all of his personal belongings that might have been strewn around the house out and put them all in the car— the car which was now, mostly, clean. He was really, actually moving on with Mordecai.
"And I'm not doin' ya laundry again, Roark, y'hear?" Aunt Nina shouted.
"Loud and clear," Rocky nodded.
"Good." Nina stopped in front of Rocky and silently looked at him for a moment. "I'm glad t'hear you're gettin' things together. Hope it all works out like ya want it ta."
Rocky grinned. "Thanks, Aunt Nina."
"Good luck." Nina began to walk back towards the house. She passed by Freckle, who was coming towards him.
"Hey, Freckle!" Rocky beamed.
"It'll be weird not having you around anymore," Freckle muttered.
"I'm not gonna be that far away; I'm only a few minutes away."
"I know, just… you think this is a good idea?"
Rocky nodded, "Yup."
"Alright. I trust you. And Mordecai hasn't killed you yet, so I guess I trust him, too."
"Oh, by that metric, then I should trust a lot more people."
"Er, I don't mean to be like that. I mean, you like Mordecai, and he seems… Just, let me know if anything goes wrong."
"I don't need you looking out for me, Freckle."
"I— I know, b—"
"Doesn't mean I don't appreciate it, though," Rocky smiled. Rocky reached out and quickly hugged Freckle, squeezing him tightly, and letting go before he really had the time to realize what was happening and hug back. "You can come by and check up on me whenever you want."
"Alright," Freckle subtly smirked.
"And you got all your stuff out of the car earlier, right?"
"Great," Rocky exhaled, "great. Alright, well I'd better get going. Thanks for helping," Rocky opened the car door, "and I'll see you later, right?"
"Right. Well," Rocky stopped. Freckle had come over and hugged Rocky in much the same way that he had hugged Freckle a moment ago. This time, there was enough time for the hugged to reciprocate. "And don't forget, you can call if you need anything, alright?"
Freckle smiled. He looked a bit tired. "Yeah."
"Good. See you—" He cut himself off. "Oh my god, Ivy's coming down the road."
"Viktor's driving her to… Oh, alright, well, good luck with that. Hope Nina likes meeting her. Bye!" Rocky quickly started up the car.
"I can't help you, sorry!" Rocky started down the road.
Rocky opened the door to Mordecai's apartment and stepped in. Mordecai looked up, drinking a cup of tea and reading a book. Rocky set his pile of folded clothes down on the table and then shut the door.
Mordecai swallowed his tea. "I take it everything went well?"
"Yeah," Rocky exhaled. He glanced over towards Mordecai. "Do you have…"
"Here," Mordecai grabbed a mug of hot coffee and set it closer to Rocky.
"Ha, thanks!" Rocky grinned, and he sat down next to Mordecai and started drinking from the mug. He slowly sighed as the two relaxed on the couch. Mordecai set down his cup of tea and put the then free arm around Rocky as he continued to read his book. Rocky hardly contained his elation, to which Mordecai smirked.
Mitzi waited in her car. Truth be told, she was starting to get nervous. Yesterday, she'd arranged the bribes she believed would be necessary to get Zib out of jail. And she was told that around this time, he would be officially released for good behavior, with the now substantially richer guards and administrators allowing for it to occur notwithstanding any rules or regulations that might have otherwise stood in the way. But, it was starting to look like this might happen. Worried that this was perhaps a setup she had obliviously and willingly walked into, she began planning a quick escape. But, moments before fleeing, Zib became visible as he walked rather nonchalantly, especially given his circumstances, out from the building. Mitzi slowed, and then stopped, letting out a relieved sigh. Zib looked over the road, and stopped once he saw Mitzi give a small handwave from behind the car's window. He smiled and made his way over.
Zib opened the passenger side door and set a few things on the seats behind him. As he did, he muttered, "So, how many people did you have to bribe to get me outta there?"
"That's for me to know, and for you to not worry about," Mitzi smirked.
"For real," Zib groaned as he sat down, "how much do you owe Wick?"
Zib sniggered, "I don't believe you."
"A lot's changed since you left."
"Yeah? Tell me."
Mitzi began down the road. "We're back in business.
"We're rollin' in it."
"Damn. Nevermind my earlier statement."
"Whoa, what? What happened?"
"We destroyed the Marigolds," Mitzi stated, as if that explained the preceding statement.
"Hey, slow down. What happened?"
"Well, you remember how you trapped Mordecai in the storeroom?"
"He's working for us again."
"Oh, that sounds like it'll turn out well," Zib mumbled.
"Please tell me he's dead."
Mitzi tittered. "No, no."
"He's dating Mordecai."
"Wh—" Zib was taken aback. "Rocky and Mordecai?"
"How? What?" Zib thought for a moment. "What?"
"Hell, I have missed a lot."
"Yeah," she exhaled.
It was later in the day. The café, staffed primarily by the new employees Mitzi had made in recent days, was now completely empty. Shortly after the new hires had left, patrons began to arrive. Around the same time, the various gunmen and bootleggers employed by Mitzi arrived, including Mordecai and Rocky. Shortly into the night, Mitzi assembled Mordecai and Rocky, along with most of the other employees of the past couple of months, in the establishment proper, sitting all at one table. There, she made clear that there was some good news to announce.
"Well, what is it?" Ivy asked.
Mitzi slightly smiled and called out Zib's name. He stepped out from the stage and started shuffling down to the table. Stopping at the table, he set down a full glass he had on his hand and lifelessly held up his hands and muttered, "Surprise."
There was a jovial attitude at the table, with most expressing that they were happy to see him back again. Zib went ahead and sat down at an empty seat. Upon the ceasing of everyone talking over each other, he stated that the idea of surprising everyone with his return like had happened was Mitzi's idea and not his.
"Oh, and, uh, glasses," Zib said, looking at Mordecai, apparently addressing him, "sorry about locking you in a closet."
"My name is Mordecai," he clarified.
"Yeah, yeah, whatever."
"Yes, well, don't concern yourself with it; everything worked out adequately."
"We're dating, is what he means," Rocky intervened.
"That's…" Mordecai sighed, "Yes, that's part of what I meant."
"I heard about it." Zib took a sip from his glass, "I guess I played some part in that, yeah?"
"Indirectly," Mordecai stated.
"Well good luck, you two, I guess." Zib paused. "Oh, and I heard you handled Asa?"
"Damn. Cheers to you, then." He held up his glass slightly, his arm propped up on the table.
Mitzi snapped her fingers, "That reminds me," she bent over a bit and looked around for something on the ground or under the table, and pulled up a camera, "I brought this down. Thought we could take a picture to celebrate comin' outta the other end of all this in one piece."
"Oh, that's nice," Ivy commented. She leaned over from her chair a bit, outstretching her arm and reaching for Freckle, to put her arm around him, "Come here, McMurray."
"I mean, I don't need to be here for this," Zib muttered.
"Oh, come on," Mitzi said as she stood up, "I got you out of prison— least you could do is be in a picture."
Zib sighed. "Alright."
Mitzi handed the camera to one of the new hires who was handling drinks, and she turned to return to her seat, but spotted Horatio by the door. "Come here, get in the picture, too."
Horatio raised his eyebrows slightly. "Oh, uh, thank you."
"No, you don't need to thank anyone." She pulled out her chair and began to sit again, "Thanks for stickin' with this the whole way through."
"I, well… of course," Horatio mumbled.
"Alright everyone, and…" The bartender snapped a picture as everyone held still, either in a pose, or almost looking as if there was no picture being taken at all, like Viktor was. The bartender reached over and handed the camera back to Mitzi.
Then, from behind Mitzi, "How did I look?"
Mitzi looked over her shoulder. She saw Wick holding up a glass in a sort of toast. "Oh, Wick! I didn't see you there," she smiled.
The rest of the night was of a jovial sort of atmosphere. Ivy and Freckle sat together, but under the watchful aegis of Viktor; Ivy did her best to negate his glares. Mitzi served her role as hostess well, per the usual, and spoke with Wick as well as her employees. And eventually, Zib, and indeed, Rocky, would return to their positions in the band. Their music, which sounded better with the full brigade, filled the establishment, and Mordecai watched Rocky happily perform atop the stage.
It had been a series of accidents and slim chances that had brought all of them there. The Lackadaisy's return to power, Asa's death, Mordecai's de facto kidnapping, and the subsequent employment and relationship— even just the continued survival, day in and day out, of everyone was something that was happenstance. Likely, this wouldn't be the end either. Dominic was gone, but another Treasurer might stick their nose in the speakeasy's business in time. Asa was gone, but another upstart might unseat the speakeasy in time. Regardless, that night was a simple, unbridled celebration of precisely those unlikely circumstances that had let them prevail. Indeed, the cards had been in their favor.
It hadn't been long that most of these had joined this endeavor, whatever it was. It wasn't long ago that Atlas died. Less so that Rocky, Freckle, and lastly Mordecai had enlisted, or, in the latter's case, reenlisted, themselves to Mitzi's subsequent effort. And yet, much had changed in that time. It was easy for Rocky to see that, reflecting over the throngs of people in the establishment.
Eventually, the night came to a close, and the patrons were on their way out. And one by one, the remaining employees under Mitzi would leave. Some of the last remaining, after Rocky had endeavored to assist a bit in the cleaning, Rocky leaned his head tiredly on Mordecai's shoulder. Mitzi smiled as she grabbed the camera from much earlier in the night and made her final preparations to return to her abode.
Mordecai quietly asked, "Ready to leave?"
With a sweet undertone and an overbearing sense of tiredness, Rocky replied, "Yeah." And the two headed for the stairs, Mordecai's arm having found itself around Rocky's back.
With a final goodbye to Mitzi as she rounded up the last couple employees, the two were on their way back home. For Mitzi, for Mordecai, for Rocky— things looked good.