All My Hands are Much Too Small
By Izzy

Orym wasn't far into his exercises when Imogen woke, raising her still puffy red face and looking around the ship's cabin with eyes that didn't look at all well-rested. He knew the state. Silently he crept back over the bed, and beckoned, gesturing towards the far side of the cabin. It wasn't too big, but it would be big enough if they whispered.

Thankfully, she didn't argue, but carefully pulled herself free. Orym stayed by the bed long enough to confirm that Fearne was genuinely still asleep. He'd known her to fake it plenty, but she'd been dead only two days ago, same as him, and the exhaustion might keep her out of it just a little longer yet this morning.

He took another moment to prepare the speech. His version of it, since in this case it was going to be a friend giving it to someone because he was terrified she'd do something truly drastic. Also, back when the Tempest had given it to him, they'd already lost hope of bringing either Will or Derrig back. Privately, Orym thought it would've been far worse had he been given a chance to get his hopes up first.

So when he went over and sat next to Imogen in the corner, he started, "First, let me say I still have every hope of bringing her back, and you shouldn't take what I'm about to say as any indication of otherwise. I'm saying this now because I think you need to hear it as soon as possible, even if it might turn out you don't after all."

He saw the anger in Imogen's eyes, then found himself reaching out for her hand, but she slapped him away. "You say she killed your family?" she demanded, an idea which probably made her angrier at him.

"My husband," he said simply, "and my father-in-law, whom I viewed as my actual father, since my original one didn't stick around."

That seemed to give her pause, but her tone was still sharp as she asked, "Did it hurt?"

"Like the world was ending," Orym told her. "Like I was going to die myself. And I admit it hasn't stopped hurting completely, and I'm starting to think it never will.

But in the six years since, Imogen? I've still lived. I've seen places, and I've known people, and there are so many people now still alive that I've loved, including all of you. Sometimes I even think..." But he drifted off there, even as Dorian's face flared before him, because he wasn't ready to voice that out loud yet. "I know there's only grief and pain right now, and if we don't get her back, there will be for a while. But Imogen, even if we don't, even if you have to get through the rest of your life without her, there will be still be joy, and there will still be people, and it will still be worth it."

It was all words he truly believed, and he tried to put as much of that as possible into them, and also think it strong and true, but from the way Imogen's face wrinkled, he was pretty sure she also read off the top of his mind what he was holding back.

Especially when she then asked, "But do you wish we hadn't brought you back?"

"Imogen, you know perfectly well if you'd been able to ask me, I would've told you to bring her back instead."

"I do," she said, "which is why you know perfectly well that's not what I'm asking about."

Let me think in privacy, was his first mental response, and she held a hand up in concession. So he thought seriously about it, even as Fearne stirred over on the bed, but he'd said the part that had really needed to be for Imogen alone, he supposed.

After going through how he'd felt when he'd been with Will and when Will had effectively made his impossible decision for him, and how he'd felt in the two days since, especially this last one, when he'd actually had time to feel things, Orym said, "No. I don't want to leave all of you, not yet."

"Well, I'm glad to hear that," they heard Fearne say from the bed. "We're not ready for your to leave us either, you understand." She was trying to keep her tone light, but she was only half-succeeding. And when she pulled herself out of bed and came over to sit by them, Orym could see her step was a little unsteady. "So we're all going to stay together, and we're going to find a way to get Laudna back, just you see if we don't."

Orym realized Imogen had been spending the time he'd been thinking fighting the urge to cry again a moment before she started sobbing anew, her Please, I can't, not right now loud in his head. Presumably in Fearne's too, as she said, "Oh no, oh no, let me hug you, Imogen, let us both hug you."

She was actually moving to hug both of them, kneeling down, and Orym stood up, his head finding the shoulders of the two women as all three of them wrapped their arms around each other. Imogen was still crying; he could feel tears of his own. "It'll be all right," Fearne was murmuring. "It'll all be all right."

She doesn't understand, Orym heard in his head. She can't, she just can't.

I know, he answered. But you can still hold on. Please hold on.

He got no response. He didn't really expect one. There was nothing more he could do besides hold on himself.