Born in the Glade

Chapter 4

Night fell and Thomas was still by her side. Minho dropped by several times, but seeing that his place by her side was otherwise occupied, he eventually stopped coming. He still felt responsible for her condition – he really had no idea just how responsible he was – and had other duties to attend to, so he abandoned dinner and fellowship to attempt a restless night's sleep in a bed that felt too cold and empty.

Thomas had nearly fallen asleep in his uncomfortable chair when he felt Emily stirring. He shot upright and leaned in close, waiting for her eyes to open. When they did – with a dissatisfied groan – he nearly tackled her in a huge hug.

"Thank god! You gave us quite a scare, there," he chastised her, though there was no anger behind his words.

"What happened?" she croaked, mouth dry and eyes still struggling to remain open.

Thomas grabbed the glass of water by her bed and brought it to her lips. She choked down a sip or two; once she'd gotten a taste for it, she greedily downed the whole glass. "Well, against my better judgment," despite her tiredness she managed to roll her eyes, "you went out running. It was too much for you, and you kinda… fainted."

Emily groaned, more out of embarrassment than worry for her own health. "Seriously? I've run that Maze hundreds of times. Why would it get the better of me now?" she pouted. "Am I dying or something?" She'd meant the question as a joke, but when Thomas didn't answer, her eyes popped open and she saw Thomas rubbing the back of his neck, clearly uncomfortable. "Thomas?" she questioned, pushing herself up onto her elbows. "What's wrong?"

"Maybe Clint should –" he cut himself off when her fingers curled around his forearm. Her grasp was weak – he barely even felt the gentle pressure – and her pallor skin stood in stark contrast to his deeply tanned complexion.

"Tell me," she pleaded.

He looked deep into her eyes, trying to determine if she was strong enough yet to handle what he had to tell her. But he knew if he didn't, Clint would, and Emily would kill Thomas if she knew that he knew and didn't tell her. "Well, according to Clint, you're kinda…" her grip on his arm tightened. "Well, he thinks you're pregnant."

She ripped her hand away and covered her mouth; her eyes widened and he thought she might start crying. He wasn't prepared for the side-splitting laughter that crawled its way around her cupped hands. He was so taken off guard by her reaction that he was afraid she might be in shock.

"What? Why are you laughing?" Thomas asked, concerned for her mental stability.

She tried several times to contain herself before she finally managed to reply. "Oh, Thomas. You had me worried for a second." He cocked an eyebrow at her. "See, you actually have to have sex to get pregnant. Minho's been such a shuckface recently; we haven't been together for months!" This started off another round of hysterical laughter. When Thomas didn't join in, she playfully punched his arm. "Come on. I'm sorry I worried you, but that was damn hilarious."

"Em, listen to me. You. Are. Pregnant."

She frowned and punched his arm, harder and less playfully this time. "Stop saying that. I told you –"

"And I'm telling you – Clint is sure. Says you're probably around four months," he repeated the Med Jack's assessment, which was clearly not what she wanted to hear.

"Well, he's wrong," she countered, though she didn't offer any evidence to the contrary.

Thomas looked down at his hands as he wrung them together. "You're showing," he whispered, feeling her glare burn into the back of his skull.

"Excuse me?" she spat, now on the defensive. He reached out and traced the slight curve beneath her belly button. She swatted his hand away and pointed toward the door. "Get out," she said through clenched teeth.

"What? But –"

"OUT!" she shouted, loud enough to bring Clint jogging back through the door.

She threw herself back on the bed, covering her eyes with her arm. Clint squeezed Thomas's shoulder. "Maybe you'd better go," he urged.

Thomas took one last look at Emily. He lingered outside the door long enough to hear some of their whispered conversation.

"I don't want it. Can't you, you know… get rid of it?" The desperation and fear in Emily's voice clutched at Thomas's heart.

"I'm sorry. There are ways… but you would likely die in the process." Thomas was horrified by how casually they were discussing this.

"I don't care – just do it!" she said, a little too loudly. Then, softer, "I can't bring a child into this world, Clint. I won't."

"The runners – they'll find a way out," he tried to reassure her.

"It's been three years. There is no way out," she said through clenched teeth, echoing Thomas's thoughts.

"As bad as this world is, there's no guarantee that the world beyond these walls is any better," he replied, as if the thought would be comforting. "We have food, shelter, friendship. You have Minho." Thomas didn't know exactly what Emily's relationship with Minho was at the moment, but he knew enough to determine that the sentiment was less than reassuring.

Thomas couldn't listen to anymore of their exchange. He stomped away from the infirmary and ran into the one person he didn't want to see at the moment.

"What earth-shattering disaster could have possibly made you leave my girlfriend's side?" Minho asked, bitter at having felt too guilty to take that rightful spot.

Normally Thomas would have brushed off the snide remark, but he was on edge and itching for a fight. "Is that what she is to you? Is that why you ignore her, or scream at her, or push her hard enough that she ends up in the infirmary?"

Thomas was entering dangerous territory. Minho's rage had been building for hours – days, really – and Thomas was just the person he wanted to take it out on. "And what makes a slinthead like you think he knows a damn thing about our relationship?"

Thomas licked his lips and cocked a smug half-smile. "Maybe nothing," he relented, and Minho relaxed slightly. "Except… if you two are still together, why hasn't she let you touch her in months?" He knew he was crossing a line, but the look on Minho's face that alternated rapidly between dumbfounded and enraged was totally worth it.

Minho pounced. Thomas was taller, but Minho was all muscle, and easily tackled him to the ground. They rolled around, each trying to gain the upper hand and getting in a few solid punches before being pulled apart by Newt and Gally.

"What are you shuckfaces doing?" Newt demanded.

"Both of you – to the cells," Gally added, shoving them toward the barred pits.

"Since when do you give the orders around here?" Minho spat, smacking the other boy's hand off of his shirt collar.

"He doesn't. But I do," Newt finished for him. "And you both need to cool off." He nodded, but Gally had already grabbed them both – a little too enthusiastically – and was dragging them to their cells.

When the doors clanged shut, Thomas could hear Minho's feet dragging in the dirt, pacing the narrow length of his cage. "Whatever you may think – I don't hate you, Minho. Really."

"Can't say the same about you," was his absent reply. He had already screwed up once by leaving Emily's side; now both he and Thomas were locked in here and she'd be left alone for hours. Could he do anything right?

"Come on, dude. Can't you put aside your irrational hatred of me for, like, two minutes?" Alby had probably already gone in to see Clint and Emily. It wouldn't be long before the whole Glade knew, and he felt that Minho should find out before that.

"It's not irrational. I see the way you look at her." The way he's always looked at her. The same way Minho looked at her.

Thomas rolled his eyes. Yes, she was beautiful, and yes, he'd kissed her that first night; but he certainly wasn't in love with her. In fact, he was starting to develop feelings for someone else, someone who was not one of the only two women in the Glade. Back then he was confused – he couldn't remember his own name, much less whether he was into girls or guys! "Whatever. I don't want to have this conversation again." Not that he wanted the conversation he was about to have either. "Look… after everybody left… Clint discovered… well, there's something you should know…" Thomas was never very good with words, but these managed to stop Minho in his tracks.

"Is there…" Minho's voice cracked and he cleared his throat. "Is she okay?"

"Minho, she's pregnant." Once again, the word hung in the air. He could hear Minho's breathing quicken, but he didn't speak. "I just – Alby's probably talking to them now, and I thought you had a right to know before everyone else found out."

The rest of the night passed in utter silence. Thomas tried to get Minho to talk to him, but gave up after several tries. He had no idea what was going through the other boy's head, but his own thoughts lingered on the dark conversation he'd overheard outside the infirmary.

Minho couldn't believe what Thomas had just said to him. He'd basically called Minho a pathetic excuse for a boyfriend – which he was, then scoffed at the implication that Thomas loved her – which he did. So when he said that Emily was having a baby, Minho wholeheartedly believed that he was not the father. After all – as Thomas had so indelicately pointed out – they hadn't been together for months, and she and Thomas seemed pretty damn close as of late.

Minho dropped to his knees, shaking. No griever attack had ever made him feel as weak and helpless as he did in that moment. He'd lost the one thing that made life in the Glade worth living, made the Maze worth running. He wanted to blame Thomas, or Emily, or even the damn Creators. He wanted to hate them for the unfairness of it all. In all honesty, Minho never understood why she chose to stay with a shuckface like him day after day. She could have chosen to be with anyone – Alby was so sure of himself, Newt was sensitive, even Gally had his strength – so he kept her at arm's length, steeling himself for the inevitable heartbreak that would destroy him if he didn't.

But Minho was wrong. It didn't matter how vigilant he thought he'd been. Emily had found her way into the deepest recesses of his soul, and when he began to excise the pieces of her from his own heart – crudely and with blunt force – he didn't know if he'd survive. Thomas would be better to her than he could ever be – where Minho was irritable and closed-off and always kept you guessing, Thomas was kind and open and honest. And he loved her. He would be good to her; he'd be a good… father.

Minho never cried. Not his first nights in the Glade, not when his friends died. But tonight, in the darkness and solitude of his cell, he allowed himself that one outward expression of grief. His sobs were nearly silent, and if Thomas heard anything, he didn't comment.

By the time morning broke, Minho's tears had vanished, and with them, the boy he used to be. In place of him was a bitter and angry shell of a man, unfeeling and uncaring. He would go through the motions. But he would never be the same.

When they were released, Minho trudged toward the Homestead to begin his morning routine. He ignored the pointed stares and whispers as he walked by, knowing what they meant but refusing to acknowledge their existence. So when he pulled open the door, looking forward to a little solitude and distance, he was dismayed to find Emily perched on the side of his bed.

"Minho, I… we need to talk," she began, avoiding eye contact.

He equally avoided her gaze and began lacing up his running shoes. "No, we don't. I know what you're going to say."

"You… you do?" She sounded so small, so… guilty. It reignited the flame that had burned him to ashes last night.

"Yeah. Thomas and I spent the night in the pit. Quite the chatterbox, that one," he sneered, chancing a glance back at her downcast face.

"Oh." She still wouldn't look at him. "Then you know about…"

"Yeah." He started walking toward the door and she kept pace with him.

"Minho." The way she said his name would have broken his heart if it hadn't already been demolished. There was a question in it, a longing; it was quiet and reverent, like a prayer, and she was waiting for her god to rein his judgment upon her. Minho paused, but when he didn't respond she continued, "I never wanted this to happen, but it did. I'd take it all back if I could." Her tears hadn't started to fall, but he could hear the tremor resonating behind her words. "Please look at me?" And Minho would have, but he knew that if he turned to her – saw her bottom lip quivering, cupped her chin in his calloused hand – he would never let her go. The most he could manage was a hesitation in his stride, a slight turn in her direction so that he could see her in his peripheral vision. She took what he gave her and continued, "I can't do this without you. I wouldn't want to. I love you, and –"

"Save it." The words had come out like a whip, harsher than he'd intended, and caused her to recoil as if she'd actually been struck.

"What? Minho –" Emily tried to grab his arm, but he yanked it from her grasp and spun on her.

"No. Do you have any idea how unfair it is for you to ask this of me?" Her eyes were wide and bewildered, her mouth unable to form words. "To stay with you? It's too much." Her confusion quickly morphed into an anger that seemed to rival his own.

"Too much? How the hell do you think I feel?" The tears were now brimming in her eyes, and his sick mind actually wished that they would fall, that he could cause her at least an ounce of the pain she'd inflicted upon him. "God, Minho, it's not like you're the helpless victim in this situation."

Now it was Minho's turn to be incredulous. "You think this is my fault?" he demanded, nearly dropping his backpack. "I gave you everything – made you a runner, taught you how to be strong, saved your life more times than I can count."

"Yeah, you did," she answered quietly. She bit her lip – a nervous tell that always revealed when she was feeling too open, too exposed. Tragically, they were both arguing the same point – that they meant everything to each other and each was trying to do what was best for the other – they just didn't know it.

"And this is what I get for it." Her eyes pleaded with him, but Minho was never one to take the high road. "Well screw that – I'm done. You're on your own."

She sucked in a breath. "You don't mean that." As if to confirm his intentions, the boy turned his back on her and walked toward the other Gladers. "Minho, please! Just… what am I supposed to do here?" Her voice was desperate, panicked, but he couldn't bring himself to care.

Minho called over his shoulder, "Do whatever the hell you want. Go run and cry on Thomas's shoulder. Whine to Newt – he's always had a thing for you. Or throw yourself to the Grievers. I don't give a shuck."

He hadn't known she'd been right behind him until she rushed in front of him, pressing her palms over his heart to get him to pause. "Minho," she said, deep and dangerous, "I know you're angry, and scared. But that… was uncalled for." She was right – whatever pain and anger he felt at the moment would be nothing compared to how he'd feel if she was gone forever. Emily had always called him on his bullshit – it was one of the things he loved about her – but he was too proud and hurt to concede the point.

The gentle pressure she held against his chest suddenly felt powerful enough to bring him to his knees. He shook her off, snorting once like an angry bull, and sidestepped the girl he'd once given his heart to; she made no move to follow him.

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