Out with the Old

A busy strip along the center of marn, including the Temple, Hospital, and Justice Hall.
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Vicentius
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Re: Out with the Old

Post by Vicentius » Mon Apr 25, 2016 1:37 pm

He maintained his pleasant smile, maintained his humbled, almost deferential pose as she spoke and thanked those onlookers for coming to the Ball. Personally, he felt that Ivone was laying it on a little thick, but people seemed to be buying it, so he let it slide. This was about trust, and with her putting as much of her trust in him as she was, he had to at least appear to be doing the same. It was a dance, and people would make of it what they would; and, right now, her plight was slightly bigger news. He could imagine the feeding frenzy once word got out that he had control of her assets.

“I do not, Miss Malatrast,” he said, unable to simply stay silent, “though I strive to be. Ladies, Gentlemen, thank you for your kind words, and, please, enjoy the rest of your evening.”

Turning, he let her lead him to the door, not looking left or right as they went. He knew precisely who would be watching, and, more to the point, he had a fair idea of what would be going through their heads. Looking around would only make it seem like he cared, as well as making him look suspicious. The night air was cool after the heat of the ballroom, and even though he was far from weary, the carriage was a merciful sight. His memories of the Gala were all too fresh, and while he did not doubt the dedication of the Guard, he knew that a couple walking home from a soireé made a very tempting target.

Climbing into the carriage after Ivone had settled, he took his seat quietly and nodded to the coachmen once the door was closed. There was a brief noise, and the carriage rocked as they got underway. Only then did he truly settle, some slight tension draining from his shoulders as they pulled away from the building. That had gone rather better than he had expected it to, and while he was still bracing himself for the blow, if he could make it through the next meeting, they might just get out of this in one piece. He turned to Ivone, his expression passive.

“How are you holding up?”

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Re: Out with the Old

Post by Ivone » Tue Apr 26, 2016 12:34 am

A single, carefully covered candle lit the interior of the carriage. Ivone studied Tius as he entered the carriage and watched him settle. His shoulders relaxed and she imagined he could use a good shoulder rub. He still seemed tense.

"I'm doing surprisingly well." Ivone tilted her head and regarded Tius.

"I'm sorry if that was laying it on a bit thick." She smiled at him and leaned forward, placing her hand over his. "It doesn't hurt to have someone else sing praises of your kindness and humility." Amusement twinkled in her gaze and Ivone gave Tius' hand a squeeze. Her smile was cheeky.

"Even if they know you have an ego." Ivone scooted to the edge of her seat, their knees brushing.

"I insist you join me for a glass of something before you head home." Her words were a demand, but the expression on her face was anything but. She truly wanted him to spend a little more time with her and her expression was sweet and genuine.

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Re: Out with the Old

Post by Vicentius » Tue Apr 26, 2016 9:20 am

He smiled, turning his hand over to better grasp Ivone's. It was a small gesture, and perhaps too presumptuous of him, but he wanted her to know that in spite of his worries, he was, in fact, paying attention. At her words, he chuckled and stretched slightly, sitting up to better address her.

"There's no need to apologize, Ivone," he said, "I trust you."

He let that hang there for a minute, and then let his smile turn mischievous.

"Having anyone outright speak of charitable donations, though," he said, raising an eyebrow, "defeats the purpose. You want them to think that you don't want them to know. Then, not only do they feel clever for having 'discovered' your philanthropies, but you look doubly modest and thoughtful in the process."

He gave her hand a squeeze and met her gaze clearly.

"Though I think it would be fairer to say that I have a number of egos, all of which are egging each other on," he said, eyes twinkling, "and at least one of them wants to impress you."

He smiled at her invitation, looking thoughtful.

"I suppose a gallant gentleman could do worse than ensuring there are no assailants in a Lady's parlour," he said, "so how could I refuse?"

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Re: Out with the Old

Post by Ivone » Wed Apr 27, 2016 12:16 am

Tius’ hand felt warm in hers, made her feel warm. As did his smile.

He trusted her.

Tius knew the statement would have an impact on her. He knew she didn’t feel like she deserved to be trusted. Thus, his saying so made her feel… worthwhile. Special. Ivone just looked at him, grateful, in the moments that passed.

“Thank you.” For Tius to say he trusted her, humbled her.

She smiled, canting her head to the side with a little smile when his look turned mischievous.

“As you say.”

When he squeezed her hand, she turned to face him once more. Ivone’s eyes widened. She was genuinely surprised by the comment. Was he teasing her again? Ivone did her best to keep the butterflies at bay, especially when he agreed to join her for a nightcap.

Reluctantly, Ivone let her hand slip from Tius’ as she settled back on the seat.

“Indeed.” She looked out the window, smiling to herself. The remainder of the ride went in quiet companionship. Ivone, focused on the now. She was sure Tius was thinking steps well in advance. By noon tomorrow, Ivone would be on a caravan, heading to Tian Xia.

The carriage slowed and came to a stop. Ivone waited for Tius to exit and hold out his hand before she descended from the carriage. Retrieving the key from her bag, she opened the door, with a push, to the house that was now hers.

“Mr. Morrington, please do come in.”

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Re: Out with the Old

Post by Vicentius » Wed Apr 27, 2016 9:18 am

She smiled at his comments, looking away, and they lapsed into pleasant silence. Tius didn’t mind, having so often had only himself for company, and used the time to consider what the reactions would be. Zydia, of course, would pass the message along; after all, it was the only reason she had come to the ball, and Raemes would lick his wounds for a bit before resuming the assault. Aurelio would likely let things stew for a day or two before making his own inquiries, which gave them time. Perhaps it was for the best that she was leaving, at least in the short term.

Briefly, he wondered whether he should inform her of his strategy, but he dismissed the notion. It may not have been entirely forthcoming, but if she did not know anything, then when asked, she would not need to lie. More importantly, nothing was set in stone just yet, and until it was, the knowledge would only worry her. Or perhaps it wouldn’t, if her previous activities were anything to go by, but either way it would not help.

He pushed those thoughts away, looking out of the carriage window at the buildings they passed. Homes, places of work; all living, breathing spaces that made Marn what it was, quite different from the various political entities that pulsed in the halls of power. She had wanted to live, and that had been denied her, and so she had gotten angry, and then gotten even, as she saw it. But even was never even enough, was it? There was always more, and he knew that from experience. No, it had been a good night, all things considered, and he wanted her to depart on a high note.

The carriage slowed, bringing him out of his reverie, and he straightened, climbing down as soon as the door was pulled open. The fresh air still had a bite to it, but he took Ivone’s hand to help her down, and tipped the coachmen with nary a sound of complaint. Ivone unlocked the door, looking at him expectantly, and he felt a strange sense of shifting at her invitation. Something was approaching, he knew, but he had come this far, and it would have been impolite to decline now.

“Thank you, Ivone,” he said, entering.

Waiting just inside the door, he let her lead him through, reinforcing the idea that this was her space now.

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Re: Out with the Old

Post by Ivone » Wed Apr 27, 2016 2:26 pm

Ivone followed behind Tius, closing and locking the door behind her. The light was already on, cast a low, warm glow in an otherwise mostly dark house. She'd left it on, so the house would not be dark when she arrived home. There was a slight chill in the air of the house.

The foyer now held a hall tree, a coat rack that included a storage bench and mirror. Ivone hung her wrap and gloves before slipping off her shoes and placing them in the storage area beneath the bench. She did not expect Tius to the do the same, but that was what she had done when living as a Synevive to protect the life of the flooring. Descendants had servants to help them dress and undress, to put their things away, to maintain their homes. Some Syevives did, too, but tonight, they were on their own. Why employ servants when the Lady of the house would not be in residence for some time to come?

"Why don't you stoke the fire in the parlor while I get us something warm to drink?"

Ivone smiled up at Tius, wondering at the expression on his face. Was he... nervous? She paused, then and gave him a look and clasped her hands in front of her in that way that'd he'd seen before. Ivone offered Tius a smile.

"You don't have to stay, you know. If you're tired, you can go home."

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Re: Out with the Old

Post by Vicentius » Thu Apr 28, 2016 9:22 am

Inside, a few small touches had been added here and there to make the space liveable, and Tius took in the changes quietly, while he doffed his coat and gloves. Hanging them up neatly on a handy peg, he carefully removed his shoes and tucked those away too, smiling inwardly at the memories it raised. Normally he would have slipped on some softer house shoes, but that was not an option here, so he persevered. He bowed his head at her words.

"Of course," he said, "its the least I can do. That would be lovely, thank you."

He began to move, but stopped, raising an eyebrow at her follow up statement. The words and her manner almost made it a challenge, and he was not going to run from her. Almost as soon as he had finished the thought, he could feel the gap widening at his feet, but he smiled slightly all the same.

"Tired, Ivone? Are you weary of my company already?"

He shook his head, resuming his journey to the fireplace. There was a chill in the rooms, but not an unbearable one, and he set about feeding the fire. Not too much, of course, because that was wasteful, but still enough to be cheery and welcoming, that was the trick. After a few minutes, it was crackling merrily in the grate, and he laid out a few handy logs to keep it fed later.

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Re: Out with the Old

Post by Ivone » Fri Apr 29, 2016 12:51 am

Ivone gave him another smile, not toothy, no, just her lips curved up just so.

"You know better." Ivone held her pose for a moment longer, allowing that comment to sink in and swim around in his head. When Ivone returned, she carried a tray bearing more recognizable tidbits that the food at the Ball: crackers, cheese, grapes, sliced apples, and two hot toddies. The scent of honey, lemon, whiskey, and cloves filled the space around them: richly aromatic. A perfect way to warm up from the chill in the Autumn air and a perfect accompaniment to the cheery fire crackling in the grate.

Ivone placed the tray on a side table and took up both glasses, holding one out to Tius as she settled on the ottoman.

"If you will sit there," She indicated the soft, thick rug that lay in front of the fireplace just in front of the ottoman, "I will give you a present." He didn't have to, of course, but Ivone suspected he would be game.

Ivone took a small sip of her drink. She'd made the drink properly, but there was something about warm whiskey that shot straight to her head. She'd need to take it slow, or risk making a fool of herself

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Re: Out with the Old

Post by Vicentius » Fri Apr 29, 2016 12:50 pm

Did he? Did he know better? He was uncertain about such things at the best of times, as true desires and more material motivations were very different animals. In this case, however, he was certain that he was being very gently wound up. Giving the fire a last stoking to settle it, he cleaned his hands and straightened in time to see Ivone enter the room with a platter and a two steaming drinks. He could smell the whisky and cloves, the scents mixing with the earthy smells of the fire. That did pose a question for him, and no mistake, but he couldn't exactly refuse it, not when she was being so accommodating.

Accepting the glass, he raised both eyebrows this time, glancing towards the rug, before removing his jacket and crossing to sit, cross-legged, on the indicated mat. It was an unusual, and slightly suggestive positioning, he supposed, but Ivone seemed to be of a mood, and if all he accomplished here was making her smile, then that too was a victory. Setting his drink down so that it would not be knocked over, he adjusted himself slightly to make things more comfortable, and shot Ivone a questioning look.

"Is this sufficient? Or shall I close my eyes as well?"

This was said with a slight smile, eyes twinkling. There were many ways that this could go, though he had his suspicions, and he trusted her not to lead him too far astray.

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Re: Out with the Old

Post by Ivone » Fri Apr 29, 2016 2:07 pm

Tius hadn't left much room between his back and the ottoman. So, Ivone gently pushed on his upper back to lean him forward. She stepped in then, to sit behind him on the ottoman.

The skirt of the dress folded around his arms and brushed against his hands, his neck. The fabric he'd selected was soft and delicate, knowing her tactile sense. Had he known he would be subjected to it like this, he might not have been so generous.

Once she was settled, Ivone’s legs rested on either side of his back with Tius between. Her hands moved to his shoulders, on either side of his neck. Her fingers dug into the muscles, neither hard nor soft as she leaned toward him. Her breasts brushed the back of his head.

"Eye closing is optional." Ivone leaned back and began to knead Tius' tight muscles.

"You looked tense in the carriage." That was the only explanation she gave, even though he hadn't asked.

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Re: Out with the Old

Post by Vicentius » Sat Apr 30, 2016 5:54 pm

He tensed slightly as her hands began to knead his muscles, then forced himself to relax, chuckling at her words. It was pleasant, in fact, almost too pleasant, and he appreciated the gesture, even if the feel of her dress against his arms was a little distracting. Still, it felt, ridiculously, like he was taking advantage of her, and he did not want to do that. This was a partnership, it had to be, because that kept him honest. Was it wrong to enjoy this? He sighed, uncertain of the answer, but certain that he was over-thinking things.

"Did I? My apologies," he said, smiling, "this was to be your night, and here I am ruining it."

He shifted slightly, giving her better access, and groaning slightly as she found a knot to work through. Perhaps it was time to make a decision, he thought, because trust was something that had to be earned continuously.

"Whether or not there is a way out of this," he said, "depends on whether Zydia takes the bait. The Family trust her judgement, so that will be part of the battle won. The rest will be convincing them that we have the better deal to offer. We do, but it will still be a hard sell."

He coughed, clearing his throat, and pressed on, slightly relieved to be saying the words aloud. Was it wise? Perhaps not, but life involved risk.

"I've survived by staying out of high stakes manoeuvring," he said, "and by being a small, but persistent, fish in a big pond. This will change things. Hard questions will be asked of me, and I hope that I am ready for them."

Once The Family rested their gaze upon one, it tended to make life very interesting in ways that were seldom pleasant. Opportunities abound, of course, but the rungs of the ladder became very slippery indeed.

"But if all goes well," he said, "you will have a place here should you choose to return."

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Re: Out with the Old

Post by Ivone » Sun May 01, 2016 2:43 am

“Let me do this for you, please.”

He wasn’t ruining her night. Tius continued to give her gifts, though she was unsure what he gained from it. This was the least she could do. Ivone smiled with a sense of satisfaction when Tius let out the groan. She moved her hands lower on his back, chasing the lines of tension and following his body’s cues.

As he continued to speak, Ivone paused.

“Tius, please don’t ruin yourself or your position on my account. That you have given me the opportunity to support myself is…” Ivone didn’t have the words, which is why she was making gestures like the one she was doing right now. She resumed the massage and tried to keep the emotion out of her voice.

“I am grateful and will forever be in your debt.” Ivone knew what he would say. They’d had this conversation before.
Ivone fell silent again. Her returning was one of the things they’d not discussed. Everything Tius had done so far implied she would be able to return, but truly the only thing worth returning for was right here in her hands this very moment.

Ivone slipped her hands around in front and carefully released the button at his collar and one below. It was a bold move, but she wasn’t undressing him. Her fingers trailed lightly over his throat and back to his neck. She slid them down the column of his neck and back up to the base of his skull. The collar had been in the way. Her thumbs made little circles and her fingers supported his head.

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Re: Out with the Old

Post by Vicentius » Tue May 03, 2016 12:48 pm

"If you insist," he said, grumbling good-naturedly, "but under protest."

Shifting slightly again to give her access. It did feel good, and that in itself felt like a betrayal of the principles he was supposed to be upholding. Of course, he was no saint, and he would happily admit to that, but there was a type of person that he tried to avoid becoming. It was difficult to define, but it was there. This was what Ivone needed to do to feel that she had control of the arrangement, though, and he respected that, just as he respected her space. So he bottled his complaints and allowed himself to enjoy it. He chuckled at her assertion that he might ruin himself.

"The freedom to succeed goes hand in hand with the freedom to fail," he said, simply. "If we fail, I carry on as I have and I shall recover. If we succeed, then things will change for me, good and bad, and I will handle that if and when it happens."

While her hands kept moving, and indeed ranged slightly further in their quest to find all the tension he held, Ivone herself went very quiet at the mention of returning to the city. That too was telling, and he could not blame her for her reluctance; the political game was toxic, and with Aurelio having poisoned it for her further, it was little wonder that she wanted out. Perhaps then, it was not what she needed to do, but what he needed her to do. That may have been a more honest way to look at it. He decided to say as much, groaning again as she found another spot to work through.

"You owe me nothing. You need not return," he said, "if that is your wish, but I need you to testify if it comes to that. It may not, but The Family will want certainty in this."

That was putting it mildly, but they needed to hear her say the words and see the conviction in her eyes to know that she spoke the truth. That truth would be their assurance, and once they were assured, then the rest would fall into place. No action would be taken; he knew them too well for that, but tempers might flare. Monetario valued control above all, and Ivone's confession gave him more leverage than Aurelio could possibly offer, and with leverage over Aurelio, he had leverage over Sparrow too. Not kind, perhaps, but that was the way out.

"You are quite skilled at this, Ivone."

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Re: Out with the Old

Post by Ivone » Wed May 04, 2016 4:00 am

Ivone just smiled and shook her head.

“Stop thinking you are taking advantage of me, Tius. I am doing this because I want to.”

And, if what he said was true, she should be following her own advice. If Tius Morrington did not want to help her, did not gain something from this, he would not do it. His follow-on groan made Ivone give another self-satisfied little smile.
“Whatever you think is the right thing to do, I will do it.” Ivone used her thumbs to work the tension at the base of his skull and neck before moving back down to his shoulders. She was quiet for a moment.

“I trust you, Tius.”

And, she did. Silence reigned, but for the crackle of the fire. When Tius spoke again, it was a soft compliment. No flourish, just a simple observation, which she took as appreciation.

“Experience and familiarity, Tius.” Her hands slid down his back. Ivone leaned into him slightly as she worked the knots at the small of his back. Her face was near to his, her breath soft on his ear and cheek. Her expression, should he turn to look, was open, maskless, and matter-of-fact.

“I know full well the need to stand straight and tall, to hold everything in and not let it show.” As for experience, there was no need to wave that flag.

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Re: Out with the Old

Post by Vicentius » Wed May 04, 2016 9:22 am

“I understand,” he said.

And he did; misfortune and tension respected no boundary, after all, and they had both suffered losses in their lives. They both bore scars, no matter that the worst of them could not be seen. Still, he would not have been him if he had been able to shed the mask entirely, and so a part of him was still trying to object. The moment was intimate, personal, and all too tempting. He groaned again, lower this time, as her hands moved, wondering whether she had done this for her husbands, before she’d lost them. It was not an unpleasant thought, but tinged with sadness, and it crystallized what he was feeling.

“But,” he said, wanting to put the feeling into words before he lost it, “there are things that I want to do. Have wanted to do. But I dare not, because I do not like the kind of man that would make me.”

Still vague, he supposed, but it was honest. He couldn’t imagine that she was very comfortable with this either. When one spent so much time as someone else, as someone distant, closeness was an alien thing. He tried not to let it affect him, but it was there all the time. Right there, in that room, with Ivone’s soft hands kneading his muscles and her breath even softer on his ear, it was everywhere. He turned slightly to look at her, careful not to move too quickly. Her expression was open, and he tried to keep his the same, out of respect.

“It’s hard to be present with another person,” he said, “when one spends so much time in one’s own head, isn’t it?”

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