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?"