As desperate as Thomas was to return to the Maze, to warn the other Gladers of the potential danger, he could only move so quickly. He was the only official runner in the bunch, and the others who had risked their own safety to rescue Minho would surely get lost in the Maze without his guidance.
"Come ON!" he urged, calling over his shoulder to the group that huffed and staggered in an attempt to keep up with his rapid clip.
Thomas must have pushed the others harder than he thought – they had made even better time on the way back, and there was even still a bit of time before the gates would close. Most of the boys collapsed as soon as they stepped foot into the safety of the Glade – though at the moment, Thomas wasn't sure just how safe it really was – while Thomas and Alby spotted a crowd around the infirmary and raced over to see what the commotion was about.
Thomas had half-expected to see Emily lying in there, and was almost relieved when he saw Minho passed out in one of the beds.
"He came back?" Alby asked and Clint nodded. "And… he's alright?"
Clint sighed and rubbed at the worry lines etched in his forehead. "It's complicated. When we found him… well, let's just say I've never seen the poison have quite that much of an effect on anyone before."
Thomas looked his friend over. Minho was covered in cuts and abrasions – some that he had borne witness to, and others that were new – and the obvious puncture in his side where the griever had injected him with the maddening venom. Most of his wounds were defensive, but there were some – like the swollen, cracked knuckles on his right hand, or the shallow scratches on his face and arms – that indicated he'd been the aggressor in a fight.
"Who?" Thomas asked. "Who found him?" When no one answered right away, his heart began to thump rapidly in his chest. He noted two faces in particular that were conspicuously absent from the crowd.
"Somebody answer him!" Alby demanded, seemingly as impatient as Thomas to sort out the details of what happened in their absence.
"He tried to kill her," one of the boys behind him spoke, and Thomas whipped around to face him. He was just a kid – younger than Chuck, even – and his eyes were glazed and haunted. Thomas vaguely recalled a conversation with him where he stated with absolute certainty that he'd be a runner one day. With the way he was staring at the man he used to idolize – with fear, confusion, anger, accusation – Thomas doubted he would hold onto that dream much longer.
"Tried to…" Alby repeated, inferring that Minho had not been successful.
Of course it had been Emily. It was always Emily. And even though he hated himself for it, Thomas could not help the overwhelming relief that Newt had not been the one to fall victim to Minho's lethal pursuits. He wasn't sure which friend he was looking for as he waded through the crowd and out of the stifling shack, but as it turned out, he didn't need to decide. He found Newt sitting on the ground beside Emily. When he came upon them, Thomas cursed loudly.
"Shuck, Emily. What the hell did he do to you?" Thomas asked, though he wasn't sure how detailed of an account either of them would be able to handle. Her neck was blossoming with angry red welts; her lip was bleeding and one eye had started to swell shut; a small wheezing sound escaped her mouth on every exhale and the majority of her skin was covered in a rainbow of colors that didn't include a healthy pink tone.
Instead of answering, she just patted a spot on the ground next to her, beckoning him to join them. Thomas glanced at Newt as he took a seat, giving him a once-over; Newt smiled warmly in response before Thomas diverted his eyes back to Emily.
Newt filled him in on whatever details he knew – Emily still hadn't spoken about the specifics of the attack, but Newt had seen enough to know in general what had happened – while Emily hummed softly, gently stroking her fingertips up and down the curve of her belly.
"So… you're sure the baby's okay?" Thomas inquired, remembering the awful incident they'd had just weeks earlier.
Emily shrugged, then winced, rolling her shoulder around until it settled back into a tolerable position. "As sure as we can be. And I'm not going to the infirmary," she added when she saw the beginnings of a concerned protest from Thomas. "I just… I can't," she finished, turning away from him.
Thomas and Newt exchanged silent glances – an argument between allowing Emily to do what was best for herself mentally and forcing her to do what was best for her physically. "Let's get you home so you can rest," Newt suggested, clearly having won the unspoken battle.
"But we're staying with you," Thomas added, not willing to offer complete surrender. He was still rightfully concerned, and wanted to be there in case anything happened. The fact that he'd also volunteered Newt to stay the night with them was just a bonus.
Newt narrowed his eyes at Thomas, but simply cocked a half-grin and shook his head, giving in to the precaution. Emily was lost in her own thoughts, barely even registering the boys' conversation around her, and allowing herself to be pulled from the ground and led back to the familiar entrance to the room she shared with Minho.
She knew it wasn't Minho who had hurt her, not really; but she could still feel his hands around her throat, taste her own blood on her lips, see his wild eyes hungry for her death. Emily crawled into the center of the bed, surrounded and supported on either side by her best friends, but even they were not enough to keep the nightmares away.
Emily had no intention of going to see Minho, but when she awoke from a particularly horrid dream in the middle of the night and found Thomas and Newt – despite their best intentions of comforting her, ending up spooning each other – found herself padding down the hall and out the door. The sun wasn't up yet, so not even Frypan or the runners were beginning to stir.
She hadn't even really realized where she was going until she was standing in the doorway of the infirmary, watching the rhythmic rise and fall of Minho's chest in deep sleep. Jeff, who must have been working on a particularly boring assignment from Clint, was passed out over a pile of books at his desk.
Minho looked as terrible as Emily felt – bruises and scrapes over every visible inch of him, and face contorted into a permanent grimace. She reached out and brushed her fingertips over his swollen knuckles, feeling a harmonic twinge in her cheek where the coloring exactly matched the pattern of his fist. At the contact, Minho startled awake, unclenching his hand enough to shackle her forearm in an iron grip, pulling her nearly on top of him and staring at her with eyes that were still in the throes of a nightmare.
Emily tried not to panic and overcame the self-preservative instinct to recoil. She took a deep breath and placed her hand over his heart, which was as erratic and violent as his dark brown eyes. "Let go of me," she commanded, the attempted authority in her voice overshadowing the timidity and fear.
The light of awareness sparked behind Minho's eyes, veiled by a horror greater than those of his dreams. He threw her arm out of his grasp and she hissed at the wrench that twisted her shoulder. There was a part of Minho that wanted to apologize to the girl he loved, the girl that had been battered and broken by his own hands, the girl that had risked everything for him time and time again and always ended up losing. That part, however, was silenced by the rage and confusion that taunted his thoughts and memories.
"Move over," Emily demanded, placing her hands on her hips in impatience when he didn't comply.
Minho was conflicted. His mind still screamed at him – she was one of them, the enemy, she helped put him in this place – but his body was already shifting to the side of the bed. "Get out," he said, gruff and brusque.
"Make me," she challenged, scooting in beside him.
"I don't want you here," Minho insisted, half of him believing it to be true.
"I don't care," Emily responded, unfazed by his tone. And she really didn't. "I had a nightmare, and the only way I'll get any sleep is with you." She conveniently didn't mention that Minho was likely the cause of her terrors, or the fact that she had staunchly refused to even see him just hours earlier. Minho was stiff as a board behind her, careful not to touch her, not moving, but breathing hard – angry at her, angry at himself, afraid of what he might do. "It's not about us right now, it's about what's best for the baby. You said you'd be there for him…"
"Her," Minho corrected, before he could stop himself. He didn't know why he thought it was a girl – maybe he just hoped that the kid would be all Emily. She reached behind her and pulled his arm around her so that his hand rested on her stomach. He felt a flurry of little kicks and almost smiled, surprised that the unborn child seemed to be the only thing that didn't enrage him. He guessed it was because it hadn't existed before the Glade – before this experiment and whatever games the Creators were playing with their brains – and thus the memories remained untarnished by the griever poison.
It took all of Minho's mental energy to remain there the whole night – both boiling with anger of unknown cause at the woman that took refuge in his arms, and desperate to connect with the child she carried, the only remnant of sanity and comfort available to him. His thoughts kept swirling into pain and darkness, a thread of a thought – a secret – nagging at the back of his mind, beckoning him to follow it down a path that could have led anywhere.
When the first rays of light broke, he pushed Emily out of his grasp and tentatively stretched his muscles. Minho didn't expressly get permission to get back to his runner duties so quickly, but he didn't care; the Maze was calling to him, and he needed it. "Don't do that again," he warned Emily before sprinting out of the crude building.
Despite his warning, Emily still went to the infirmary every night – if he woke up, Minho would yell or throw things to try and get her to leave. He tried to extract himself from this routine; he began to fall asleep, alone, in a different place every night, but every morning he woke up with his arms full and heart empty. They spent the next several weeks like that – neither willing to face the other in the harsh light of day, even after the physical wounds had healed, and neither able to weather the nights alone.
Minho became more and more distant. Though she forced her way into his bed at night, Emily couldn't force him to talk to her. Minho fancied himself the victim, and lashed out at anyone who tried to tell him otherwise. Thomas tried to continue running the Maze with him, but Minho kept wandering off the normal route, sometimes circling back to the same spot three or four times, sometimes just stopping to stare endlessly at a dead end, as if seeing through a doorway that wasn't there. Then he would shake his head, curse loudly, and continue along the path his feet had been trained to instinctively follow.
One time, Thomas had dared to ask what Minho was doing and nearly got his head taken off. Minho had easily slammed his body against the wall, pinning him against the rough stone, and hissed, "Shut it, slinthead. The Maze can hear you." His dark eyes were suspicious as they darted back and forth, as if checking to see if the Maze was eavesdropping. Then he leaned in close and whispered in Thomas's ear. "We were wrong. We've only been looking in places that can be seen." Minho stepped back, eyes widening as if this should have been some magic epiphany, opening Thomas's ignorant eyes to all the secrets of the Maze.
Instead, Thomas feared Minho really had lost his marbles. He continued – for the most part – to run with him, if only to make sure he didn't do anything too crazy. Minho felt he was finally seeing things clearly for the first time. Well, perhaps not clearly, but at least accurately. It was as if the Glade had been a dream and only the Maze was real, but just seen out of the corner or his eye – like a word on the tip of his tongue, or a picture he was looking at too closely – tangible and concrete, but just out of reach. It was both driving and incredibly frustrating.
Emily was holding up rather well, considering the circumstances. Alby had given her some time off – at seven months pregnant, there were very few jobs she could do effectively anyway – which she used to try and get ready for the baby. She wasn't a carpenter or a craftsman, so other than cleaning and organizing what little items they had, she felt completely useless.
Newt and Thomas, who had become her right and left hands in Minho's absence, came upon Emily trying – and failing miserably – to fashion cloth diapers out of some of her old shirts that had no chance of ever fitting her again.
"Come now, love. You're needed in the Homestead," Newt said, reaching out a hand to pull her to her feet.
"What? Why?" Emily asked, not eager to put forth the considerable effort it would take to stand up if it wasn't absolutely necessary.
"Alby's got some work for you to do," Thomas explained. "Didn't think just because you'd put on a few pounds that you'd get off that easy, did you?" he asked. He was too busy laughing at his own joke that he didn't see the arm she swung out, ramming into the back of his knees and causing them to buckle. He crashed to the ground and she shuffled over, crawling on top of him until he let out a dramatic huff of air.
"Alright, Thomas," Emily mused, "now you try and go run the Maze with just a few extra pounds."
Thomas attempted to sit up, but Emily leaned into his shoulders, pinning his thin frame to the ground. Newt was doubled over with laughter, and put his hands up when Thomas looked to him for help. "You dug this hole yourself, mate," he managed between a few strangled snorts.
Thomas looked back at Emily, who stared victoriously into his eyes, waiting for him to admit defeat. "Fine, point taken," he grumbled, and Emily rolled to the side. Thomas took a deep breath of air and glared at the surprisingly heavy tiny girl beside him. "But I doubt it's that hard for you to breathe."
Emily laughed. "You'd be surprised. This kid is taking up a lot of space – what do you think happens to all the stuff that was already in there?" She laughed again at the thought process that was apparent on Thomas's face – first confusion, then horror, then disgust, then pity.
"Glad I'm not a woman," Thomas proclaimed, shuddering. Newt cleared his throat and gave Thomas a look. "Right. Back to why we came here."
Thomas leapt lithely – almost gloating by his ease of movement – from his spot on the grass and held out his hand. Emily groaned, and Newt came over to offer his other. With two helping hands, and several false starts, she managed to get on her feet. The boys went ahead in while Emily – whose bladder was one of the many organs being compressed – went to the bathroom. She stepped through the door to the Homestead and nearly had a heart attack at the sight that awaited her.