All of Thomas’ senses were on overdrive, his muscles poised for action. Every instinct telling him to run through the rapidly closing doors to the maze and help the struggling asian boy. The gladers all around him yelled encouragement, urging Minho on. Thomas could see that Alby’s dead weight was dragging the runner down and knew that they weren’t going to make it.
The doors were halfway closed and the two boys were still almost 50 feet away. The warnings that had been relayed to him ever since he has arrived in this god-forsaken place rang out clearly in his head. “no one survives a night in the maze…” Newt’s voice.
Thomas glanced at the boy standing beside him. Newt’s presence made his decision all that much harder. Pain and anxiety were apparent on the blonde’s face, yet he stood his ground, calling out to his two friends. Thomas couldn’t do it, couldn’t just stand by and watch. He drank in the sight of Newt, and the thought hit him that he may likely never see his friend again, never get to tell him….Wait! What?? Tell him what exactly?….Thomas felt a surge of emotion, heart-wrenching and devastating. Since when did Newt elicit such a strong emotion from him? It must have been the thought of saying goodbye to one of the only two real friends he had here in the glade. His mind flashed to Chuck but he only had a moment to feel a pang of regret at leaving the boy as the doors were almost within arms reach.
Trying not to think of what he was leaving behind, Thomas focused on the sight of Minho still trying with all he had to reach the doors in time and he knew he had to go, to try and help them in whatever way he could. It was now or never.
Thomas took off running, allowing instinct to overrule rationality. He speed down the ever narrowing corridor between the large stone doors. He heard protesting shouts behind him, and an all to familiar voice rang out, “Tommy no…..shit!!!”
Sorry Newt, he thought as he raced towards the end without looking back. The next few moments seemed impossibly long as he pushed himself forward, racing the mechanism. He burst out of the doors with only moments to spare but had no chance to appreciate his narrow escape before he was hit full force from behind by something solid. He tumbled forward connecting roughly with the ground.
Thomas groaned and rolled onto his side to see the culprit splayed out on the ground beside him. Thomas’ heart nearly stopped when he recognized that mop of blonde hair. His throat suddenly felt dry and he softly choked out the other boy’s name.
“Newt?” he questioned, not wanting to believe his eyes.
“Yeah, me…” the other boy grumbled as he pushed himself up onto his knees, rubbing his elbows which looked raw from skidding across the harsh stone. “…the only shank stupid enough to follow you in here. What the bloody hell were you thinking?”
Thomas winced and tried his best apologetic look. It apparently wasn’t working. Newt looked pissed, but just as the other boy was about to open his mouth to berate him, they were interrupted.
“Both of you shanks are fucking stupid.” Minho griped.
Thomas looked over to where Minho sat beside Alby’s unmoving body, chest heaving, his breaths heavy and eyes resigned.
“I…I just couldn’t stay out there where I was powerless to help you.” Thomas explained. Though he was having serious doubts as to the sanity of his choice, he also knew, however, he couldn’t have made any other choice. There was nothing he hated more that to feel useless; as he surely would have waiting in the safety of the glade all night wondering if Minho and Alby were still alive. That also would have meant that Newt was safe in the glade as well, his unhelpful mind nagged at him.
Minho snorted derisively, “Yeah? and exactly what good were you thinking you’d do in here?”
Thomas was silent, he hadn’t really thought about this part that came after.
“That’s what I thought,” Minho sighed, “you should have listened greenie. You’ve just signed up for execution by griever.” Minho then turned to Newt, “And you…what the HELL were you thinking!”
Thomas was surprised by the anger that radiated off of Minho towards Newt, considering the fact that he had mostly just seemed exasperated with Thomas. It was Thomas’ fault after all, he had been the one who had leapt without thinking, Newt had just been….well, actually he wasn’t quite sure why Newt had followed him.
“You know the rules! Never enter the maze, no matter what.” Minho was still panting slightly, trying to catch his breath and berate his friend at the same time “Can’t afford to lose anyone, you especially! What is going to happen now? What, did you figure that one leader trapped in the maze wasn’t enough??” Minho’s tirade echoed off of the surrounding walls, amplifying the sound, and Thomas was a bit unnerved by the way that the noise seemed to reverberate. He had never seen a griever, but if they kept making noise, he felt that a meeting was imminent.
Newt seemed to feel the same, “Shut it ya shank! Do you want every griever in here to know where we are?” He pushed himself to his feet and hobbled over to Minho. Thomas noticed that his limp seemed quite pronounced and realized that he had aggravated it when they had collided with each other and then the ground. He felt another twinge of guilt.
Newt knelt down next to Alby’s body and rolled the unconscious boy onto his back. Thomas moved to go stand next to them, watching as Newt checked Alby’s pulse and then started looking over his friend’s body for injury.
“What happened?” Newt asked.
Minho sighed, his anger seeming to slip back into simple exhaustion as he responded. “He got stung.”
Newt’s features pinched as he shifted back away from Alby, “Shit.” he said and it sounded so sad. Thomas had the sudden urge to reach out and take his hand and found himself struggling to contain the impulse.
“Yeah,” agreed Minho, “shit.”
Just then the sounds of the walls shifting jolted the boys out of their melancholy and Thomas felt a stab of adrenaline hit him hard. A moment later he heard a sound that made his heart leap to his throat. The unmistakable wail of a griever, and it didn’t sound so far away.
“We gotta move,” Minho said standing and starting to edge towards the closest pathway .
“What about Alby?” Thomas asked, concerned for their leader’s safety in his current, vulnerable condition.”
“What about Alby?” Minho stopped to look back at Thomas, “There is nothing we can do for him now. I don’t think you get how shucking screwed we are. We gotta move or we die!”
“There must be something!” Thomas turned to look to Newt for confirmation, but found that his friend’s face had hardened.
“Minho’s right,” Newt said, “We can’t carry him, he’d slow us down too much.” Newt closed his eyes as it obviously pained him greatly to admit it.
Thomas was dumbfounded. “We can’t just leave him!” he cried in disbelief.
“Tommy…” Newt implored quietly, his eyes meeting Thomas’ once again, voice hoarse as he obviously struggled to hold back his emotion, "you haven’t been in the maze before, its… we…we have to let him go.”
Thomas had forgotten that the boy used to be a runner, he remembered how Newt had always sounded so fearful when he talked about the maze and he wondered again what had driven the boy to come in after him. Regardless he wasn’t going to have any of this giving up talk.
“No!” Thomas shook his head, there had to be a way. “Can’t we hide him or something?”
“How?” Minho, had started to slowly walk back towards Thomas and Newt, “I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there’s nothing here but walls.”
Thomas looked up at the walls stretching so far above their heads that they seemed to almost close off the darkening sky, and an idea hit him. “The vines.”
The three boys pulled with all their might and Alby, entangled in the vine they had fashioned into a makeshift pulley, was hoisted farther up the wall.
“Just a bit farther” Thomas encouraged them.
Minho had been getting continually more antsy. Thomas could tell that staying and helping them had gone against all of the boy’s instincts and was immensely grateful that he had not bolted yet. Newt was looking more and more worse for wear. His leg was obviously bothering him, but he bore it in silence; his mouth set into a grim line as he put all of his strength into helping lift Alby up the wall. Thomas felt his breath catch at the look of shear determination in the boy’s eyes. He was beautiful and Thomas wasn’t sure how he hadn’t noticed before…or perhaps he had and was only now starting to admit it to himself.
He felt a surge of protectiveness, and watching Newt’s face in the pale light of the moon, Thomas made a vow to himself that he would get Newt out of this, or die trying.
The grating sound of the walls shifting sounded again, this time the noise was so loud that Thomas knew the changing walls were nearby. The sound was followed closely with the worst clicking noise Thomas had ever heard, the sound of metal hitting and then scraping over stone, and he knew, without looking for the source, that it was the sound of a griever slowly skittering across the stone floor.
Minho let go of the rope and the unexpected change in weight nearly lifted Newt and Thomas off of the ground and they slid forward towards the wall, but miraculously managed to keep Alby suspended.
“Minho!” Newt exclaimed.
“Sorry Newt, Thomas.” Minho breathed out his eyes on the corner that the sound had come around. “It is suicide to stay here, we need to split up, it’s our best chance. I’m sorry.”
And with that he was off, running in the opposite direction and disappearing down one of the maze corridors.
“Minho!” Thomas called after him, but the boy was gone.
“Shhh!” Newt quickly hushed him, and Thomas was aware of the clicking sound getting slightly louder.
He closed his mouth and listened, paralyzed. He couldn’t tell if the griever had heard him or not.
“We need to get Alby tied off,” he whispered to Newt and gestured to the area new the bottom of the wall where the vines were thickest, indicating that they should fasten Alby's vine there.
“Tommy,” Newt said, his voice just as quiet but unsteady. “Listen to me.”
At his serious tone, Thomas turned his head to look at him.
“Minho…you know he’s right. The best chance is to split up and try to make as many targets as possible. Hopefully the grievers can’t catch us all.” Newt’s eyes met his, a hint of desperation, “I need you to go, right now. Run as fast as you can.”
“What?!” Thomas hissed. “We can’t leave Alby, we need to….”
Newt interrupted him, “don’t you bloody worry about Alby, I’ve got this.”
Thomas’ stomach turned as it dawned on him that Newt had intended for him to run off and escape without him. “No, I can’t…..I’m not leaving you.”
“You have to,” Newt implored, “I….I’m not fast, not like you and Minho…my leg, it’ll slow me down." his eyes were hard and resolute as they met Thomas'. "It’s for the best that I stay behind, see to Alby and buy you guys as much time as I can.” He chuckled dryly, and his eyes darted away from Thomas’ and settled solidly on the wall in front of them. “I think we both know that I’m not getting out of here.”
“No,” Thomas said, firmer now, “That isn’t happening, I’m not leaving you behind. Not now, not ever.”
“Damn it Tommy,” Newt hissed, “why can’t you ever listen?”
“Because I give a shit!” Thomas’ knuckles where white where he was gripping the rope in his frustration, “That’s why I ran into the maze in the first place, because I care about what happens to Minho and Alby, and I care a whole hell of a lot about you Newt, and I’m sorry, but I actually give a damn if you die.” His voice cracked with emotion and he could feel the desperation seep into his words “in fact I couldn’t imagine anything worse. If you died it would…” he struggled for the right words as he looked into Newt’s eyes. “…it would break me.”
And there it was, feelings that Thomas had only himself been barely becoming aware of were suddenly overpowering and he didn’t know how he had never realized just how much Newt meant to him, that he wouldn't want to live in a world without him, He was pretty sure he...
“Tommy?” Newt breathed and Thomas heard the question in his voice and saw how the other boys eyes had gone wide at his admission.
For the second time today Thomas acted without letting himself consider the consequences and in a swift motion he closed the distance between them and pressed his lips to the other boy’s.
It was a bit like an electric shock. Thomas felt his body shiver from the point of contact and his lips parted as he felt the need to try and deepen the kiss slightly, push his point home.
Newt gasped, a quick little exhale of breath. He seemed shocked motionless at first but soon enough he was kissing back. Lips moving against Thomas’. It was perfect and mind-melting and it took all of Thomas' willpower to not lose himself in it completely. This was definitely neither the time nor place.
Reluctantly he pulled back and looked Newt in the eyes.
“Now stop trying to force me away and help me tie off these vines.”
Newt swallowed shakily and seemed to consider for a moment, then nodded. “Good that.”
Thomas felt a flood relief; immensely grateful that he wouldn’t have to press the issue.
They pulled Alby a bit higher before proceeding to fasten their end of the vine into the tangle of them near the ground.
A rock skittered across the floor out of a corridor to their left, and Thomas knew that they had run out of time. He grabbed Newt's arm and pulled him around a nearby corner just immediately to their right and pushed him against the wall. He held a finger to his lips indicating that Newt should stay quiet.
Slowly Thomas peeked back around the corner and the sight that greeted him chilled him to the core. The griever was even more grotesque that he had imagined, and quite a bit larger. It made an awful combination of squelching noise accompanied by mechanical grating as it moved. Terror lodged itself in Thomas' throat at the sight of it.
The griever was slowly making its way towards the spot they had just stood and Thomas had a sudden fear that they had not done enough to cover Alby. The griever seemed to know where they had been and Thomas bet it was only a matter of time before it spotted their friend dangling above.
“Shit,” he whispered, pulling his head back around the corner. His eyes met Newt’s wide, terrified ones.
“What is it?” Newt asked, his voice barely audible.
“I think we need to distract it so that it doesn’t find Alby…” Thomas considered the options for a moment, but only one plan came to him. He lifted his had to run his thumb across Newt’s cheek. Newt's eyes were blown wide and he bit his bottom lip nervously as he looked at Thomas. Thomas leaned forward and brushed the softest of kisses across those lips for what he prayed wasn't the last time.
“As you were saying before," Thomas whispered, "I can run a hell of a lot faster. You stay here as keep as still as possible and I’m going to make a break for it. The griever should follow me and you can wait it out and then head the other direction.” Newt’s hands shot up to grab Thomas’ shoulders in a death grip.
“Like hell that is going to happen!” He hissed, his eyes glaring daggers into Thomas’.
“Newt…”Thomas protested. “I need you to be safe, and this is the best way I can think of to do that.”
“What was it that you were just saying to me?” Newt whispered angrily. “Not losing you, not now, not ever.” his grip never loosening on Thomas.
In spite of the situation, Thomas smiled self-deprecatingly. “Not quite my words exactly.”
Newt growled low in his throat and the sound sent an unexpected wave of pleasure through Thomas’ system.
“You know what I meant” Newt said, and his hands slid up from Thomas’ shoulders to frame his face. “It goes both ways you idiot. Why do you think I followed you into the maze in the first place…?” Newt appeared to blush at the last, but held eye contact.
Thomas breathed in shakily, his heart accelerating in his chest at the words. Newt couldn’t possibly be saying what he thought he was saying. The other boy leaned across the small gap between them and this time initiated the kiss.
Thomas could do nothing but melt into the kiss. His hands found their way into the blonde locks and twisted into the soft strands as he angled the other boy’s head slightly to deepen the kiss. Someone moaned. Thomas couldn’t be sure which of them it was. He knew that they needed to be quiet, but somehow he didn’t care. He would stay lost in the Newt forever if he could.
Newt leaned back, breaking the kiss. His breathing was a bit heavier now and it thrilled Thomas to know that he was the cause.
“Tommy…” Newt started. Leaning back in but stopping short of their lips touching. His breath ghosted across Thomas’ lips, “I lo…” he was cut off by an ear splitting shriek from just around the corner.
Both boys jerked violently, caught off guard by the proximity of the griever.
Stupid! Thomas berated himself. How could they have become so caught up? He should have been paying closer attention to the massive threat that was now only a few feet away.
He reached down and grabbed Newt’s hand. Leaning forward he gave the boy one last quick kiss before tugging him from the wall and down the maze corridor, away from the griever. Their footfalls were heavy and echoed loudly off of the walls, quickly drawing the attention of their unwanted friend.
Thomas could hear the griever picking up speed as took up the chase and didn’t dare to look back over his shoulder.
Thomas tried to take every turn he could, hoping that the griever’s reflexes wouldn’t be quite as fast due to its size. Newts grip on his hand was tight as he did his best to keep up with Thomas, but Thomas could feel the growing strain on their arms as Newt was struggling more and more.
“Tommy,” Newt panted, “I’m slowing you down..”
“Nonsense,” Thomas called back, “you’re doing fine….we just need to lose this guy…..”
They had rounded a corner and to Thomas’ horror two more grievers were standing in their way.
“Shit, shit!!” Thomas back-pedalled nearly taking out Newt.
“Wha~” Newt started to protest, but stopped the second he took in the two monstrous creatures.
“This way!” Thomas cried wrenching the other boy around and darting down a different corridor. They ran as fast as their legs could take them. Newt’s limp was becoming more pronounced and Thomas could tell that he couldn't keep this up much longer.
Chancing a glance behind them, Thomas saw that all three grievers were now advancing and gaining ground fast. It wasn’t long before the two gladers would be overtaken. Thomas saw another turn approaching and managed to whip himself and Newt around it mere seconds before the first griever crashed through the intersection behind them. It bought them a couple of seconds, but the other two grievers weren’t going to make the same mistake and raced around the corner after them seconds later, pincers and other deadly appendages snapping almost immediately over the boy’s heads.
Thomas’ survival instincts kicked in full force and before his mind could catch up with his body he put on a burst extra speed and only registered the strangled cry from Newt once it was too late.
He felt Newt’s hand ripped from his and his heart nearly stopped.
“Newt!!” Thomas skidded trying to slow down, but before he could turn back a figure shot out from a nearby branch in the maze and gave him a hard shove, forcing him to continue running forward.
"Keep running you damn shank!" Thomas glanced up to see Minho now racing along beside him. He felt a momentary flash of relief at the sight of the boy, beyond glad he had managed to stay alive, but the feeling was cut short by the tight pain in his chest.
“Minho, we have to go back for Newt! He..he...I couldn’t...” he stuttered over the words in his haste to get them out, fighting to even find the air as he pushed his body to it's physical limits.
Minho’s mouth was a grim line and he shook his head as they continued to run. “I’m afraid unless you know how to take on three grievers he is beyond our help now, just keep running shank. I have a plan.”
Thomas wanted to argue, but deep down he knew that Minho was right, there was no way for them to take on three grievers. He wanted to scream, throw himself down on the ground and curl up into a ball, maybe even turn around and let the grievers have him for so much his heart hurt right now. The boy running beside him was the only thing keeping him from going off the rails. If Minho had a plan, Thomas would help him see it through. Afterwards….well, he wasn’t so sure.
To Thomas' surprise, the next turn in the maze revealed open sky and the ground angled slightly downward causing Thomas to almost lose his balance. He miraculously managed to keep his footing and followed Minho as the boy descended just ahead of him. Thomas looked ahead and was startled to see that the ground suddenly dropped off as though the world ended right ahead of them. “What the Hell!!” He exclaimed, panic setting in as they came to a screeching halt.
“Careful”, says Minho. “You wouldn’t be the first shank to fall off the Cliff.”
It was mere seconds before the grievers rounded the corner in hot pursuit, speeding straight towards them. Thomas had barely any time to freak out over this new variable of the maze, but watching the grievers' speed and trajectory, he suddenly realized Minho’s plan.
Standing his ground next to Minho as the grievers rapidly approached, the two of them waited until the last possible moment before diving to each side and watching as one by one the grievers pitched over the edge.
Thomas and Minho dragged themselves back up and moved together to peer down from the ledge over which the grievers disappeared. Thomas was shocked to see that there didn’t appear to be any bottom in sight, only abyss. Well that was truly terrifying. He also couldn’t see the falling grievers. However, Minho seemed convinced they were gone and gave a relieved huff of a laugh and clapped Thomas on the shoulder “good job shank.”
Thomas felt all the adrenaline seeping from his system now that the immediate threat was gone, and all that was left in its wake was pain, anger and exhaustion. He shook with it.
“Hey, Thomas,” Minho looked at him, concern on his features. “You okay?”
Of course he wasn’t okay! Nothing about this was okay! He hated the maze, he hated the grievers, he hated whoever had put them here, but mostly he hated himself for running into the damn maze in the first place. Tears burned at his eyes, It was his fault that Newt... Thomas wanted to scream, he wanted to an outlet for all this anger and pain, he settled for the next best thing. Pulling his fist back he swung full force at Minho. The boy dodged easily, damn his runner reflexes.
“The hell? What’s the deal Shank? Were you stung or something” Minho eyed him apprehensively now and kept a noticeable distance between them.
“You dragged me away!” Thomas yelled, finding his words at last. “I should have gone back…when they grabbed him, I should have fought back….he’s… he’s…gone” Thomas choked on the last word.
Thomas fell to his knees. He could feel the tears running down his face and swiped at them angrily with his filthy palms. “We just…I just left him…”
Minho’s posture sagged and he opened his mouth to speak but closed it again seemingly at a loss for words.
“Yeah, thanks for that by the way.”
Thomas nearly jumped out of his skin at the unexpected sound of Newt’s voice. He turned so fast he almost gave himself whiplash. The blonde boy was hobbling towards them from the direction they had come, one hand on the wall for support.
Minho walked over immediately and gave the boy a solid hug, a giant smile plastered to his face.
“Damn Newt, you shouldn’t scare us like that. Shucking glad you ain’t dead man.” Minho stepped back releasing Newt from his embrace, “plus, I think you nearly broke the greenie.”
Newt smirked at this and limped over to where Thomas was still kneeling on the ground and dropped down in front of him, with all the grace of someone in pain and completely exhausted.
“Tommy?” Newt asked rather timidly, suddenly looking a bit unsure.
Thomas was vaguely aware that he must have looked completely wrecked, but couldn’t find it in him to care. Newt was here in front of him, it was impossible and so freaking amazing. Thomas reached out and softly ran his fingers up Newt’s cheek. “How is this possible? I felt them grab you..you.. were ripped away from my hand….” he could feel himself choking up again at the flood of emotion behind his words and a couple more tears escaped of their own volition.
Newt chuckled. “Nothing grabbed me,” he said, and the humour in his voice surprised Thomas. “I bloody tripped.”
Thomas stared at him blankly.
“I went down but I think they were so focused on your movement that they didn’t even notice me…” he smirked.
"You...tripped?" Thomas blinked.
“That bit of information never leaves this maze.” Newt said with false seriousness, his gaze shifting back to Minho.
“Who, me?” The other boy threw his hands up in mock defense. “Wouldn’t dream of it.”
Thomas could have cried anew. Newt was here and smiling and joking around. Overcome, Thomas grabbed the front of Newt’s shirt, perhaps a bit too roughly, and pulled the boy firmly into his arms.
“Thank god,” He whispered repeatedly into Newt’s hair, causing the smaller boy to chuckle again, but in a way that told Thomas that Newt was just as grateful to be alive and be together again. He tightened his arms around him, needing to feel the physical evidence of his presence.
“Okaaay…” Minho’s voice dragged Thomas from his reverie as he remembered the other boy was still standing with them. “sorry to interrupt you, you cuddly freaks…”
They both turned to look up at Minho.
“but you may need to get a room before I puke. If I didn’t know you Shanks better I’d say you look like your gonna start making out any time now.” he was grinning, a truly shit-eating grin and Thomas knew he was trying to make them uncomfortable, so he figured he’d return the favour.
“Yeah, that was the plan.” he smirked, turning his gaze back to Newt.
Before Newt could react or object, Thomas wrapped a hand behind the other boy's neck and brought him crashing forward into a deep, passionate kiss. Newt took almost no time at all to respond and his lips parted allowing Thomas to slip his tongue past them and taste the other boys mouth. Thomas had never felt so immediately intoxicated. He slid his arms around Newt’s waist and tightened his hold as he poured all of his feelings into the kiss.
Any previous doubts or questioning left his mind, he was in love with Newt, earth-shattering, soul-consuming love, and he needed the other boy to know, to feel just how much almost losing him had hurt.
“Okay, I definitely missed something…” Minho said whistling appreciatively, then after a few moment passed in silence, “okay….alright come on guys….it’s getting weird now. You do realize I’m still standing here right, Hello? remember me, your uncomfortable, devilishly handsome friend, Minho?”
Newt pulled away laughing and glanced at Minho appraisingly. “I wouldn’t go that far…decent looking at best” he teased the runner.
“Hey!” Minho protested indignantly. “I take offence.” His tone said otherwise.
Thomas hadn’t taken his eyes off Newt through the exchange. Newt seemed to glow with laughter and happiness despite their recent brush with death. It was a whole new side of Newt, and hot damn was it breathtaking. Newt, usually so reserved and serious, looked relaxed and smile lines creased his eyes as he bantered with his friend. Thomas must have also had a stupid grin plastered to his face, because Minho just shook his head at them and started off back in the direction they’d come.
“I can’t believe my luck. Stuck in the maze overnight, almost killed by shucking grievers and the two of you are absolutely disgusting.” he called the last out over shoulder as he continued away. “I’m heading back towards the glade and hopefully some sanity.”
“Wait, Minho!” Newt chuckled as he pulled away from Thomas and hobbled after the other boy. Thomas smiled and got to his feet to follow.
“Don’t feel left out!” Newt teased as he tried to catch up to Minho, “I can give you a kiss too.” This deteriorating into snickers.
“Don’t you shucking try it,” Minho put out his arm to ward off any of Newt’s unwanted affections, “save it for your new boyfriend.”
“Good that,” Thomas called out to him, taking up the rear. “Wouldn’t want to have to off you in your sleep in a mad fit of jealousy.”
Thomas grinned to himself as he trailed along behind his two bickering friends.
Boyfriend. He liked the sound of that.