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Out with the Old

Re: Out with the Old

Post by Vicentius on

The walk back was quiet, but not uneventful for all that, and Tius used the distractions to quiet his mind. He couldn't go straight home, of course not, that would draw eyes and cause subtle gossip, but neither could he sneak in. The key to any good con was appearing, at all times, as though one had a Changers-given right to be wherever one was at any time, while also insinuating that nobody else, anywhere, had any rights at all. So, he carried on with his head held high, and slipped into the office unobtrusively for a quick shave and a change of clothes. It wasn't a miraculous transformation by any means, but it did change things, and afterwards, with his gladrags secured in a proper bag, he departed again, enhancing a reputation for keenness in the process, and swung by his cleaner's to drop them off before finally calling home.

Shen, as ever, was delighted to see him, and though Tius showered him with as much affection as ever, his mind was still disquieted. What had happened the night before had been different, and he was still uncertain how to feel about it. Should he like it? What would that make him? Should he not? What would he be then? Should he have been worrying about it? The downside of intelligence was imagination, he knew, and Ivone was a wonderful woman, but there was a deeper question lurking there. It was that question that he needed to answer, and it was that question he was unable to answer.

Putting a lead on Shen, he set off for a walk to clear his mind, enjoying the clear morning air. It would be strange to spend time without her, he felt, especially now that managing her affairs was going to become a more long term thing. Of course, he could write to her for her input and so forth, but he had grown accustomed to having her around to speak to. Perhaps he was simply growing sentimental as time went by, he felt, turning into the final approach. He should have left it alone, he really should have, and yet his legs carried him along familiar paths to where the caravan was waiting to depart.

He knew the drivers of old, having travelled with the owner, Marissa, on his first trip out, and had even forwarded some help her way after he had established himself. Mostly they were ex guardsmen or heavies who needed to lay low for a while before resuming regular work, but they were all tough as nails, and Marissa knew all too well how to keep them in line. It was a delicate balance, but one did not survive in the caravan trade by being soft; it was that exact reason why he was entrusting Ivone to her. Casting a practised eye over the carts and wagons assembled, he nodded almost to himself, keeping Shen back from the horses.

"Morrington," came Marissa's voice, followed swiftly by the woman herself, "feeling nervous, are we?"

"You know me," he said, smiling and clasping her forearm, "can't let you go without eyeing you up. Everything ready?"

"Of course," she said, "we need to get going soon if we're to make the pass before the weather turns. You going to say goodbye?"

Re: Out with the Old

Post by Ivone on

Not seeing him immediately, Ivone stilled her disappointment and the drop of her heart. Her fingers moved quicker in response to the emotion. Busy hands had always been a retreat.

A dog barked and Ivone looked in the direction. Her breath caught and the butterflies took flight in her belly.

Tius gleamed in the sunlight. He had transformed from the scruff-faced, gloriously naked lover to impeccable businessman. Her body responded as well, but that was coupled with the emotional response in her heart. She missed a loop and put the yarn down, holding it tightly.

He'd come... a million reasons why filled her head, because hoping he'd come just to see her off was too much to hope for.

She watched him interact with the driver, Marissa. Memorizing his gestures, which were subtly different from the gestures he used when they were alone. He still did the thing where he'd look down and back up with that little smile and laugh.

He... turned his gaze to her and everything around her stopped moving. Nothing existed in the world, but him.

Dear Changers, I'm in love with him.

Ivone blinked. Then, she smiled her demure little smile and gave Tius a nod, waiting for him to come to her.

Re: Out with the Old

Post by Vicentius on

Some senses simply did not die, Tius thought, feeling eyes on him. It could have been any number of people, of course, spying and such, but his gut told him differently. He smiled, looking down slightly at Marissa's words before replying. It was a bad idea, and he knew it too, but again his arms and legs did not seem to be his own. Releasing Marissa's arm, he shrugged nonchalantly, and glanced about, meeting Ivone's gaze at last.

"I suppose I should," he said, "just make sure the lads are good to go."

He looked down at Shen, who had sniffed a familiar scent and was now pulling against the lead to reach the cart. Tius whistled sharply, bringing Shen to heel, and clapped Marissa on the shoulder before heading closer to the wagons. The closer he drew, the more excited that Shen became, though he still behaved. Ivone smiled at him, that small, demure smile, and he raised an eyebrow, keeping his pace steady. She looked so very different clad for the roads, but no less beautiful for all that, and he reached into his coat, withdrawing a leather wallet as he reached her.

"Miss Malatrast," he said, still smiling, "ready for your adventure?"

Re: Out with the Old

Post by Ivone on

She'd intended to keep from embarrassing Tius with her smile-mask, but the arch of his brow almost broke the mask.

She looked down at the yarn, fixing her mistake. Why was she suddenly feeling shy?

Because you don't want him to feel some sort obligation or unnecessary responsibility for you. Your feelings are yours, Ivone. Don't ruin this...

Shen, thankfully, saved the day by jumping up into the wagon with her and planting kisses all over her face.

"Oh Shen!" Ivone laughed and fended the dog off with a stern command to sit. A command the dog obeyed by sitting on the seat beside her.

Ivone turned her gaze to Tius. If her gaze sparkled and her smile was loving, Shen could easily be the reason she could use.

"As ready as I will ever be, Mister Morrington. I just hope I make a good showing to your partners and commend myself well." Reaching for Shen she ruffled his fur and hugged him tightly.

"Sorry, Shen. You must stay behind and take care of your master."

Re: Out with the Old

Post by Vicentius on

There was something in her eyes as he drew near, he felt, but he was hard placed to name it. Unease? Expectation? He had caught glimpses of similar emotion before from her, in quiet moments, and it stirred something in him that was equally nameless. Still, one advantage to years of social training was that he did not let his confusion show, nor did he let it stop him. She looked down quickly, which confused him further, but he had not time to process it before Shen was in the cart and showering her with affection. He would need to discipline him for that, no matter how affectionate it was, and he met Shen's eyes sternly before returning his attention to Ivone.

"I have no doubt that you will," he said, smiling softly, "nor do I doubt that you will arrive safely."

Her expression then was very different, devoid of hesitation and unease, and while it could have been Shen's vivacious presence at work, there was a sparkle there that seemed directed at him and him alone. What surprised him more was that it found an answering echo somewhere in him too, and he rested his hand on the edge of the wagon, reaching in to scratch behind Shen's ears.

"He will not know himself without you around," he said, chuckling, "however shall he go back to just having me for company?"

Whistling slightly, he tugged the lead to encourage Shen down, which he did, albeit reluctantly, and sat looking up at them both with hopeful eyes.

"One would think he was never shown any affection at all," he said.

Pausing, he looked at the wallet, debating again the wisdom of what he was doing, and then passed it to Ivone.

"Revised papers for your business," he said, "naming you as co-owner and securing your profits by law."

Re: Out with the Old

Post by Ivone on

Using Shen's body and the side of the wagon as a shield, Ivone brushed the tips of Tius' fingers with her own, holding them. The touch was brief and too short-lived.

Her expression turned doting as she looked on Shen. If she couldn't have children, a pet was the next best thing.

"I will miss him as much as he will miss me, I think."

Ivone's brows raised. Another wave of gratitude and more washed through her. Truly, he was a good man and she undeserving of even the smallest gestures he might afford her.

"Should I carry these with me or should I have you put them in safekeeping?"

OR was this her means to show she had money during the trip?

Re: Out with the Old

Post by Vicentius on

Her fingers brushed his, her expression changed to something doting, and he felt that warmth in his chest blossom further. Against all good sense, his grip tightened in return, and he fought the urge to step closer still. Instead, he shifted his grip on the letters, looking thoughtful, and moved to scratch Shen's ears. Shen, of course, was simply enjoying the attention and looking from one to the other, and Tius smiled, glancing down briefly before looking up to meet her gaze.

"I was going to send them on by courier," he said, "but, since I've caught you, they will help establish you as a manager. There are also papers confirming your position as manager and co-owner of the gardens. It's a partnership, of course, and I have a very good working relationship with them, but having things nailed down in writing is always useful."

Her eyes shone with emotion, gratitude maybe, but there was more to it, and he felt his expression soften, even as he heard the call go up to get moving.

"I think I shall miss you as well, Miss Malatrast," he said. "Things will be so dull without you."

Re: Out with the Old

Post by Ivone on

I'm in love with you.

Obviously, she couldn't say such a thing, especially now. There were too many complications: their business ties, their intimates from the prior night, her culpability and guilt in treasonous and murderous acts.

"Thank you for bringing them. Having them brings great security. Thank you, too, for your belief in me. I hope your endeavors go well."

At his words her heart leapt and joy tumbled within her in little cartwheels; such a simple thing to say. He didn't have to, and Ivone knew she shouldn't read anything further into it.

Emotion thickened her words and underlined them, though her voice was soft; as soft as her smile.

"I'm shall miss you as well, Mr. Morrington." Ivone turned her body, so she might keep him in her sights for as long as he might remain as the caravan departed.

She didn't turn to look forward until the caravan had completely left the borders of Marn. When she did finally turn forward, dust seemed to get in her eyes, making them water. Well, that is what she told Marissa, who just gave her a look.

Re: Out with the Old

Post by Vicentius on

He took a deep breath at her response, schooling his expression to strict politeness and forcing any tension from his stance. Her words moved him, and more than he cared to acknowledge, but now was not the time. Perhaps, he thought, that time would never come, and he would regret the chance he missed now. Regardless, he could not risk her safety for any flight of emotion; they were better than that, and more importantly, she would not want him to. Or, at least, that was what he told himself as the caravan began to pull away. Kneeling, he scratched behind Shen's ears, commanding him to stay as they watched.

"Well," he said, smiling, "that was a good deed, wasn't it?"

Now, he had to follow through on the promise it signified, and secure things for her possible return. It was only then that he heard the whispers, noted the other eyes watching. No doubt they had something to say, but he could not have cared less about them right then. There were things to do and people to see; plans to put in motion. He only hoped that when he next spoke to Ivone that he had favourable news to share. A pat on the back caught him by surprise, though he did not show it, and he turned to see Cisme looking up at him questioningly.

"What was that?"

"Miss Malatrast expressed an interest in travel," he said, "and I obliged her."

Re: Out with the Old

Post by Ivone on

Ivone and Vincentius continue here: Half the World Away


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