Dandelion Crowns and Paper Butterflies

Shirtless

Tim is leaning against the wall, somewhere in the Homestead. He is staring at the door in front of him, across the narrow hallway.

Behind that door, his best friend is lying on a bed, maybe still unconscious, maybe biting his lip to not scream while Clint is giving him stitches.

The Med-Jack has sent everyone out of the room. Most of the boys left after that, but Tim stayed. He can't just leave while Josiah is in there; he knows that he'll feel guilty and come back, anyway.

The sound of an opening door pulls him out of his thoughts. Clint walks out of the room. He frowns when he sees Tim, as if he is surprised that he is still there, but then he jabs a thumb over his shoulder, pointing at the door.

"You can go in," the Med-Jack says to him. "I'm done."

With that, he walks away, probably to someone else who needs his help.

Tim holds the doorknob in his hand, suddenly uncertain.

What if Josiah doesn't want him there?

What if he just wants to be alone?

Tim shakes his head, trying to give himself a little pep talk.

Of course Josiah won't mind some company, he tells himself.

He takes a deep breath and steps into the room, but as soon as he has stepped over the doorstep, he stops. He doesn't know what he expected, but he certainly didn't expect this.

Josiah is lying on top of the white blanket, his eyes closed – apparently, he's still unconscious. But that's not what makes Tim want to cover his eyes and stare at the same time.

Josiah is shirtless.

Tim quickly looks away before he starts to stare at his best friend, but not fast enough to prevent his eyes from catching a glimpse of tanned skin and hard muscle.

Now, that's awkward.

Tim tries to walk through the room with his back turned to Josiah, but when an amused voice sounds behind him, he spins around.

"Tim," Josiah says, "what the heck are you doing?"

Tim looks away, not only because his friend seems to be totally cool with the fact that he is only wearing a pair of khaki shorts.

"Eh..."

Josiah raises his eyebrows.

"Well?"

"Eh..."

Tim feels his cheeks grow red; he can't find the right words to explain that he wanted to prevent himself from staring without embarrassing himself.

Then, completely unexpected, Josiah starts to laugh, making Tim look up.

"You're a crazy shank, dude," he says, shaking his head. "You also could've just asked me to put on a shirt."

Tim blushes even more, but he grins.

"Yes, I could've done that," he admits, happy that his best friend has saved him out of this awkward situation.

Josiah chuckles, reaching for the white shirt that is lying on the nightstand, but pulling back with a low hiss.

"Hey, you all right?" Tim asks him, remembering the cut he had gotten in his side. It must hurt.

Josiah nods, the pain already disappearing from his face.

"Yeah, fine," he replies. "I just don't think that I have to move too much."

Tim shrugs, walks towards the nightstand and tosses the shirt at his friend. Josiah nods thankfully and starts to put the shirt on.

Sitting down on the edge of the bed, Tim asks: "So... what did actually happen, out there in the Maze?"

Josiah tugs the shirt over his head, tousling his dark brown hair.

"Well, George and I were mapping Section Five. I usually run with Newt, but he can't be a Runner anymore, because he got hurt and everything, so George took over his job."

The boy's dark eyes are fixed on some non-existing place on the wall, as if he is in some kind of trance. His hands go on rolling up his long sleeves, the way he always does.

"We were just heading back to the Glade when George pulled a knife out of his harness. He pushed me against the wall and put the knife against my throat, growling something about 'getting rid of the faint-hearted shucks'. I kicked the knife out of his hand, and he went totally nuts. Started to hit me."

Josiah's fingers absently touch a bruise on his wrist; Tim hadn't even noticed that before.

"I pulled out my bow and arrow, and George picked up the knife. His face was red and insane-looking by then. I hesitated. Which I shouldn't have done."

Josiah closes his eyes, frowning.

"George threw the knife at the same moment that I let go of the bow's string. The arrow hit him earlier than the knife hit me, but I was too slow to move out of its way. Let's say that I'm a lucky shank; it didn't hit something important, but the blood loss would've been fatal if you hadn't saved me in time."

Josiah opens his eyes, looking into Tim's face, which must look ridiculous. He had been listening with open mouth and breathlessly, so as soon as he closes his mouth, he immediately gets a coughing fit.

"You're welcome," he says, trying not to choke. "It was nothing."

Josiah opens his mouth, probably to say that it isn't nothing to save someone's life, but then he shrugs and says: "Okay, whatever. I'm just glad that I'm still alive."

He is sounding a bit absently; Tim can tell that his friend is getting tired and is starting to lose his focus on the conversation. He stands up.

"I guess I'll go," he says, though he feels something of pain in his chest at the thought of leaving – he doesn't want to go away.

Then something unexpected happens.

"No!" Josiah shouts, immediately clasping a hand over his mouth as soon as the word has left it. "I mean, eh... stay, please."

Tim raises his eyebrows, surprised at what Josiah said. He wants to responds something, but then he hears Frypan's loud voice echo over the Glade.

"Dinner!" the Cook yells, letting the Gladers know that dinner is ready.

Josiah sits back against the pillows behind his back, a slight look of disappointment on his face.

"I'll come back after dinner," Tim promises him. Josiah's face brightens up, and he replies: "Okay. See you."

Tim nods and walks away, knowing that he is going to have a really nice evening.

Continue Reading Next Chapter

About Us

Inkitt is the world’s first reader-powered publisher, providing a platform to discover hidden talents and turn them into globally successful authors. Write captivating stories, read enchanting novels, and we’ll publish the books our readers love most on our sister app, GALATEA and other formats.