Clint kept Emily on strict bedrest in the infirmary for a full week, and Minho remained by her side. Neither were accustomed to such long stretches of inactivity, so even by the third day, they were both practically bouncing in their seats. Emily insisted that it was okay for Minho to leave – that at least one of them should enjoy their freedom – but he refused. Being cooped up was driving him crazy, but if Minho gone into the Maze, he'd drive himself even crazier by worrying about her.
At the end of the week, Clint came in to do his final assessment – to determine if they could finally go home. "Let's see how we're doing here," he mumbled, more to himself than to the expectant parents. He walked over and lifted up Emily's shirt. She squeezed Minho's hand – still slightly uncomfortable with the intimate contact – as Clint poked and pressed and prodded around her ever-growing stomach.
"Well?" Emily demanded impatiently. Her bruises had faded, and a slight discoloration and mild tenderness were the only signs that there was ever a problem.
"Looks good to me," Clint concluded with a nod. "Just entering your third trimester, I'd say. Baby's probably the size of, what, an eggplant? Or maybe a squash…" Both Emily and Minho rolled their eyes as he rambled. Clint could never just give a short answer. "…these last few months are when it really starts to grow, so…"
"Excuse me?" Emily interrupted, propping herself up on her elbows. "Are you saying that I'm going to get bigger than this?" she questioned incredulously, scooping her hands around her generous belly. Lying down, it really did look like a rather ridiculous-sized mound protruding from her small body; Minho patted it affectionately, but Emily swatted his hand away and wrinkled her nose.
"Oh yes. Much bigger," Clint said, not taking the hint that this would be horrible news.
Emily flopped back down onto the bed with a dramatic huff and Minho chuckled. "I think it's cute," he purred into her ear, grinning wider. Even though he didn't like seeing her uncomfortable or unhappy, it did greatly decrease her willingness and opportunity to do something reckless or irresponsible, which would greatly increased Minho's comfort level while in the Maze.
"You won't think so when I'm out to here," she challenged, extending her hands another two feet out from her stomach.
"Mmm… more like this," Clint corrected, pushing her hands – only slightly – closer to her body, eliciting another moan of displeasure from Emily.
Minho pecked her on the cheek and turned to Clint. "So she's alright? We can go?" he asked, eager to whisk Emily back to the comfort of their bedroom, away from the building that housed some of their most terrifying and life-altering memories.
"I suppose, but –" Minho had already scooped her up in his arms and was halfway out the door before Clint could finish calling after them.
At the sudden weightlessness, Emily's eyes popped open in surprise; when they landed on her her baby bump, she sighed. "How can you even carry me like this?" she whined, though she made no move to extricate herself from his grasp. In response, Minho made a show of huffing and puffing and stumbling around through the Glade. She slapped him gently on the shoulder and relaxed her head against him – feeling, more so than hearing, his deep laugh echo through his strong chest as he straightened back up to his normal, easy stride.
When they reached the Homestead, Minho placed her easily on the bed and enjoyed listening to Emily's sigh of pleasure as she settled down into the familiar material. When she didn't feel the bed dip beside her, she opened her eyes and found Minho standing beside her with a pensive look on his face. She grabbed his hand and interlaced their fingers, emerald eyes wide with an unasked question.
He brought her hand to his lips, placing a gentle kiss on each of her knuckles, then twisting it around to leave a trail of kisses across her palm and down to the inside of her wrist. Emily brushed the back of her fingers along his well-defined cheekbone before cupping his face in her soft hand; Minho covered her hand with his own, leaned into her touch, and smiled.
"I love you," he said. "And having you in my arms will never do anything but lighten my load, alright?" Emily simply nodded. She had never heard Minho be so open, so vulnerable, and she didn't want to ruin the moment with her tears… or by saying something completely cheesy. "Okay then," Minho nodded, satisfied that she had understood, that she – and their child – would always be a blessing, and never a burden.
Instead of answering with words, Emily pulled Minho over top of her on the bed. He settled himself between her bent knees, planting his hands on either side of her narrow shoulders and holding himself up a safe distance from her healing bruises. She tugged at the collar of his shirt, desperate to bring his lips to hers.
"Ah, ah," he chastised, "you're barely out of the infirmary. Wouldn't want to do anything that might hurt the baby," he teased, sensing her desire and need.
Emily frowned and bit her lip. "Please," she begged, barely a whisper.
"I suppose there is something I could do," he suggested, waggling his eyebrows. "But you're going to have to promise to lie still." She nodded eagerly and clutched at the bedsheets as his head dipped down between her thighs. Minho took his time exploring her hypersensitized body – delighting in the discovery of endless new ways to torture her to the peak of pleasure, and causing her to scream out his name as her body rode out the resulting shockwaves.
After months of constant anxiety, Emily passed out, looser than a bowl full of pudding in Minho's arms. She fell asleep wearing a smile, but even it couldn't match the one Minho wore. He was pretty damn proud of the work he did that night, and he was pretty sure the whole shuckin' Glade knew it too.
The next few weeks passed in blissful uneventfulness – a rare unoccurrence in a place like the Glade. Minho would run the Maze, write down his findings in the map room, then be done in time for dinner… and dessert. They weren't any closer to finding their new lives, but they started to become pretty comfortable with their current ones.
As promised, every day Emily was getting even rounder, and every day it got harder for her to roll out of bed on her own. She refused to admit this, of course, and insisted on doing so herself – with the added benefit of not having to wake up with Minho before the sun rose.
Around midday, Alby came and knocked on her door. He chuckled when Emily didn't wake up, at least not until the smell of freshly made stew he was carrying wafted to her nose. Her hair was all knotted on one side, and as she stretched her arms over her head in attempt to wake up a little more, Alby noticed that she was wearing Minho's shirt – inside out, and with only one arm that actually made it into the sleeve hole.
"I was going to offer you some food – seeing as how you slept through breakfast, and are currently missing lunch – but it seems as though you might be plenty… satisfied," Alby said, the last word coming out as a suggestive drawl.
"I happen to have a very healthy appetite," she continued the innuendo, smirking. Emily held out her hands, eager to receive the tasty meal he had delivered to her. "Mmm," she sighed, spooning some of the warm broth down her throat.
"I'm going to have to set a curfew or issue a noise complaint or something, the way you two keep going at it," her leader chastised, hoping to embarrass her. Instead, she slurped down another spoonful and smiled – a little too widely – with pride. "What, are you going for twins or something?"
Emily practically choked on the bite she was eating; Alby slapped her on the back a few times, grinning in victory. "I'm pretty sure that's not how it works," she sputtered after the coughing fit ended. She knew it wasn't, but the idea was still enough to make her shudder. One baby was plenty, thank you.
"Honestly, I don't know how Minho has the energy," Alby went on, shaking his head. "Thomas is damn fast; I couldn't have lasted another week running all over that shuckin' Maze!" He emphasized this fact by rubbing his palms deeply into the tops of his thighs, which were still killing him after such an unfamiliarly high volume of repetitive movement.
"You're getting soft, Alby," she teased, though the words came out muffled, having had to reach his ears by working their way around the massive amount of food that was stuffed in her mouth.
"I'm not the only one," he parried, pointing a finger at her expanding midsection and staring pointedly at her puffed out cheeks, which would put a chipmunk to shame.
Emily swallowed enough to stick her tongue out at him, then shoveled another spoonful of the thick soup into her mouth. "Oh my god, this is amazing!" she moaned, eyes rolling to the back of her head.
"Careful, now," Alby warned. "Minho's a jealous guy – and if he overheard the sounds you were just making…" he trailed off, shaking his head and making his way back toward the door.
"If this soup could do half the things Minho can with his tongue, his ass would be out the door in a second!" she called after him, earning a disgusted snort from halfway down the hall.
Emily guzzled down the rest of the stew with zeal and glee before beginning the herculean task of actually rising from the bed. She half-rolled a few times, gaining some momentum, before reaching one foot down to the floor; she slid the other foot across the bed and down to meet it, then paused to rest for a second before twisting around and using her arms to leverage her upper body away from the mattress. When Minho had asked – much to her annoyance – why the simple sequence appeared so difficult, Emily equated it to trying spin around and do push-ups on a balance beam while blindfolded.
Once she was vertical, she adjusted Minho's t-shirt on her body; the top still hung loosely around her petite shoulders and the sleeves reached to her elbows. What used to be swimming on her now strained tightly against the widest part of her protruding belly; at least it was long enough to stretch to the bottom of the offending bump.
"Alright, kid," Emily sighed, stroking her hand across the stretched fabric, "guess we'd better make ourselves useful."
Apparently growing a new human was exhausting, because – despite the inordinate amount of sleep Emily was getting, and the huge meal she'd just consumed – even a walk across the Glade to the garden winded her. Newt was out planting the tomato seeds left over from dinner the night before – they were still growing enough food to support themselves, but he wanted to make sure it stayed that way. The early Gladers knew all too well how ugly things could get, how easily brothers could turn on each other, when only apparent options were to kill or be killed. His slight limp was a testament to that fact.
"Hey, Newt. Need some help?" Emily asked, one hand cradling the underside of her stomach, the other supporting her strained lower back. He raised a skeptical eyebrow. "I'm not an invalid, damnit! I can…" she glanced around for a job that required neither bending over nor standing too long. Finding none, Newt cocked a half grin in her direction and she stuck out her bottom lip. "Alright, fine. Help me down – I can at least scoot along the ground and pull up some weeds."
Newt jumped up and grabbed Emily's arms, allowing her to sort of squat low to the ground until her butt was close enough to plop the rest of the way down into the freshly turned dirt. Newt had to stifle a laugh – in the past, Emily had always been so graceful and light on her feet – but completely lost it when she toppled over onto her side, her narrow hips unable to balance against the downward momentum of her large midsection.
"Everyone thinks it's sooo damn funny," Emily mumbled, waving off Newt's offer of assistance; he was, after all, still shaking with laughter. "The runner can't even sit on her own anymore," she hissed, yanking out small tufts of weeds with unnecessary violence. The baby issued a rather heavy kick against the wall of Emily's stomach. "That's right, little one," she said, patting the spot affectionately. "You kick your uncle Newt's ass for makin' fun of your mother."
Newt had stopped laughing, and his already large eyes got even wider as he watched her – she had called him uncle Newt. He'd always considered Emily family, but never really expected that she felt the same way; of course, like Minho, she was never one to actually express how she felt, or – god forbid – even say the words. He rather liked the new moniker.
When Emily looked back up at her oldest friend, she blushed – not out of embarrassment, exactly, but she did feel a little silly being caught talking to her child like it was just another person in the field with them. Newt swallowed a few times and his hands fiddled with the edges of the trowel he was holding when a thought occurred to her.
"Do you… would you want to…?" Emily finished the question by pointing to the spot on her belly where the baby was kicking.
"Really?" Newt asked, surprised that she would offer. She thought about it for a second, then nodded; he was uncle Newt, after all.
Newt sat down next to Emily, crossing his legs and placing the tool and few seeds he had in his hands to the side. She guided his hand to the upper left side of her stomach, and his long fingers stretched all the way to her waist. They waited a few long seconds, but nothing happened.
"I don't feel anything," he said, unable to hide his disappointment.
"He was just kicking a second ago," she replied, frowning.
"He?" Newt inquired.
Emily shrugged. "With the right hook this kid's got on him, I reckon it's got to be a miniature Minho in there," she said, and grimaced – both at the memory of her vital organs being used as punching bags, and at the idea of possibly having two Minhos to deal with. Of course, she doubted dealing with a pint-sized Emily would be any picnic either. She and Minho might be in trouble…
Newt laughed, picturing a newborn with muscles like a brick wall and wearing Minho's signature scowl. Just then, as if on cue, a little thumpthumpthump pounded against Newt's palm. "Ah! Aha! Ha! I felt it!" he exclaimed, jumping to his knees and leaning in closer, now resting both hands on her stomach.
"I guess he likes your laugh," Emily speculated, relishing the pure joy and wonderment on Newt's face – the possible terrors of raising a stubborn, short-tempered, hyperactive, emotionally-stunted toddler temporarily forgotten. It had been a long time since she'd seen Newt get that excited about anything. He laughed again, and was rewarded with another series of kicks against her abdominal wall.
The sweet moment was cut short when Emily caught something moving swiftly out of the corner of her eye. She whipped her head around; it was still hours before the gates were supposed to close, so when Thomas sprinted into the Glade from the North corner of the Maze – alone – Emily's heart leapt into her chest. Thomas was exhausted and sweaty and… bloody?... but he still managed to reach Emily and Newt before he even finished heaving her up off the ground.
As her blood pressure skyrocketed and she began to feel lightheaded, Emily clutched at Thomas's arm. "Thomas, what –"
"Get Alby. And Gally. And Clint and Jeff," he instructed Newt.
"Thomas, please," Emily tried again to get his attention, but the two boys had already started off in the direction of the other Gladers.
"I had to leave him," Thomas continued, though Emily was struggling to hear their conversation – they were moving much faster than she was, than she could, and no one was bothering to take the time to fill her in on the details. She was only picking up bits and pieces. "…bad, Newt. Came out of…"
"Thomas, stop!" she pleaded, barely able to hear over the pounding of her own heartbeat in her ears, but he didn't even pause in his stride. She shuffled a little faster until she picked up the thread again.
"…deep. There were two…" That was all Thomas got out before they were out of earshot again. Damnit. She was never going to get the full story this way.
"WHERE IS HE!" Emily screeched, bringing the boys to a halt just as they had begun to gather the other necessary parties. The Glade was quiet as Thomas walked up to her, slowly, and put his hands under her elbows, as if preparing to support her if she collapsed. "Where's Minho?" she asked again, barely audible even in the dense silence; all the power was gone from her voice, and her whole body trembled in anticipation and fear.
Thomas sighed and swiped at the tears Emily hadn't even realized were streaming down her face. "It's okay. Everything's going to be okay," he assured her, staring into her wide green eyes and willing them to see the truth his words. Her pale fingers dug deeply into the soiled flesh of his arm and he blew out a deep breath. "Emily," he began, cautious, "Minho's been stung."