Dusk doesn't learn that Laudna and Orym are from Tal'dorei until the group gets to the theme restaurant, but immediately they're all over the two of them with questions about the authenticity of the food.
Orym seems taken aback and uncomfortable, but Laudna soaks in the attention like a dying plant after a long rainstorm.
Imogen does her best to sit as far away from the pair as possible, electing to sit between FCG and Chetney. She tries to keep her eyes elsewhere, but she can't block out their loud conversation. Imogen clenches her jaw, her already-frayed control getting weaker. Out of the corner of her eye, she sees Laudna's signature wild gesticulations as she regails Dusk with some story or other about authentic Whitestone cuisine.
It's only when Laudna mentions the feast she had before her death that Imogen finally looks back at the two.
"Wait, you were killed?"
Laudna looks uncertainly at Orym before turning back to Dusk.
"Well, yes. I was... some sort of warning message to Vox Machina, and they hung me from the Sun Tree."
Laudna's eyes seem to unfocus as she looks down at Pâté, her smile more bitter than anything Imogen has ever seen on her before. Her chest aches, and her hands twitch at the new information Laudna had kept from her. She didn't know Laudna was an effigy, and now she wonders what else she doesn't know.
Dusk takes a moment to study the woman beside them, before taking a hand and gently cupping Laudna's face, lifting her eyes towards their own. Imogen nearly breaks the glass in her hand at the tender moment, and her heart cracks wide open at the desperate vulnerability she finds in Laudna's eyes.
"I don't know who Vox Machina is," they say softly, "But you seem so amazing and I hope you know you didn't deserve to be killed."
Laudna's lip begins to quiver and Imogen looks away, but not before catching the eyes of a few other members of the group. She blushes, trying her best to block out their thoughts but she still hears questions about why she's not comforting Laudna, why she's so angry, and why Laudna looks more fragile than ever.
A single black tear escapes down Laudna's cheek and Dusk gently wipes it away. "It's ok to cry and grieve, you know. I hope you've given yourself that grace since you died."
Laudna gives a watery smile, before the first sniffle escapes her. Without a word, she extricates herself from the elf and walks quickly to the restroom. Orym runs after her first, and Dusk stands as if to follow.
I think you've done enough, Imogen projects into their head. Dusk startles before turning to look at her.
I obviously said something that hurt her, so now I need to go fix it. And maybe set some boundaries for the future. They give Imogen a curt nod before running off after Orym and Laudna.
Imogen groans and let's her head fall into her hands, a migraine starting to form behind her eyes. At least, that's what she tells herself when she feels tears start to well up.
How did everything get so fucked up? She should be the one to comfort Laudna, to hold her while she cries. But instead, she's just sitting here being useless.
Once again, she can feel the eyes and thoughts of the rest of the team. She does her best to keep everything out, and this time she's actually successful. It doesn't stop the feeling of being watched, though.
With a sigh, Imogen looks at the rest of the group through her fingers.
They look at each other, and if Imogen didn't know any better, she would think they had telepathic abilities too. Finally, Fearne seems to decide that she's done waiting.
"What happened between you and Laudna? Are you mad at her?"
The air gets sucked out of Imogen's lungs, and she feels like she's just been punched in the gut. Suddenly everything feels like too much. She hurts everywhere, and she doesn't know how to make it stop. Laudna broke one of the few potential solutions Imogen had, and now all Imogen can feel is betrayal. How can she trust Laudna again? How can she let down her walls when Delilah could always just take over Laudna's body and leave destruction in her wake? But Laudna, she was so afraid. And Imogen did nothing.
No, that's not true. Imogen left Laudna all alone. She brushed her aside and pushed her away right into the arms of a caring, lovable stranger.
Imogen let's the tears fall, as she finally admits what she's been feeling all day.
"I'm not mad, Fearne. I'm fucking terrified."
Fearne cocks her head to the side, confusion clear on her face.
"Of Laudna? She's not that scary."
Imogen chuckles darkly, her eyes focused on her scarred hands.
"No, Fearne," she whispers before clenching her hands into fists. "I'm terrified of losing Laudna to that bitch in her head."
Ashton and Chetney both lean in, the latter placing a small hand on her fist.
"We won't let anything happen to her," Ashton promises. The others nod along.
Chetney pulls on Imogen's fist, waiting until she's looking at him before speaking.
"If you don't wanna lose her, then stop fucking pushing her away."
Imogen wants to be upset, but how can she when he's right? She gives a small nod, but doesn't say anything else. Instead, she watched the bathroom, waiting for Laudna to come back.
I don't know if I'll ever trust you the way I did before, but I can't lose you too, Laudna. I just can't.