Born in the Glade

Chapter 5

After breakfast – and his heated exchange with Emily – Minho was running a little late, which is why, instead of being half a mile into the Maze, he was just outside the hammocks and could overhear Thomas talking to the brokenhearted girl.

"He's such an ass!" Emily cried, hugging her arms tightly around herself.

"Yeah, he certainly is," Thomas agreed. He thought there was a chance Minho would take the news badly, but this was downright ridiculous. They were just inches apart and he reached out to rub her arm affectionately. Minho would have stormed over and punched him, but it would only prove Thomas's point; plus, this was what he wanted, wasn't it? Still, it took quite the effort to restrain himself.

"I hate him! I never want to see him again," she whined. Emily threw her hands up in the air dramatically and declared, "I don't deserve this. Actually, I'm glad he's out of my life," she added, trying to force some truth behind the words. Minho flinched – he deserved that.

"I don't blame you," Thomas replied, letting her air out her frustrations. At least she wasn't bottling up her emotions.

Emily was quiet for a moment. "Then why does it hurt so much?" she whispered, voice breaking. Minho swallowed hard and he had to keep reminding himself that he was doing the right thing, for both of them.

Thomas sighed. "Because even though you hate him, you still love him." Minho's pulse sped up, while his breathing seemed to cease altogether. "And, despite the way he's been acting, he still loves you too." Thomas was actually fighting for their relationship when Minho would not. Shuck, he was a good guy.

Emily took several shallow breaths and rested her forehead in her palms. "Then why doesn't he want me?" The vulnerability in her voice washed away what was left of Minho's anger. "Why doesn't he want us?" she added, placing a hand over her midsection. That's when she finally let go of the tears she had been holding back all morning.

To Minho – for some reason – Emily sharing her tears with Thomas felt like more of a betrayal than sharing her body. For as long as she'd been in the Glade, it was an intimacy she'd shared only with him. As he watched another man's arms wrap her in the comfort that should have been his to provide, Minho realized he had deluded himself into believing a fantasy. Thomas was good for her; he was there for her when she needed him. They were gonna be one perfect, happy shuckin' family.

"Hey, you're not alone in this, alright? And he's just as much responsible for this as you are." Minho was furious at the accusation, and normally would have butted in to defend himself. But now, he decided, he was done with them, and the hole in his heart got a little wider.

Since Minho was down a runner – and felt in no mood to requisition the man who was currently comforting his girlfriend, or… former girlfriend – he jogged over to Alby. "In the mood to dust off those legs?" Minho asked as he stretched. Alby glanced once at the scene Minho had just walked away from and nodded; Minho knew he would understand. They took off through the lethal Maze that had become Minho's escape, more comfortable than the Glade and its memories and sorrows.

When the sky began to change colors, signaling the imminent closing of the gates, three pairs of runners rushed through and straight into their secret room. The fourth pair – the pair that had consumed Emily's thoughts all day – had yet to return and the sky was turning dark.

When the walls started to shift in the distance, still with no sign of their missing Glade leaders, a small crowd gathered at the gate to watch for the lost runners. Though her eyes were glued to the stone opening, Emily's hands clutched Thomas's arm so tightly that he'd probably have bruises the next day.

"They'll be here," he tried to assure her. She nodded, though the gesture was a reflex, devoid of any real conviction.

Cheers started echoing from the group when two forms appeared around the corner. Not from Emily, though – she could see that something was wrong. Minho was struggling, bearing almost entirely the weight of a semi-conscious Alby. The walls started to groan as they shifted in their nightly routine.

"They're not going to make it," Emily whispered, her hand unconsciously moving to cradle the small stomach that she refused to acknowledge. Her eyes were conflicted – normally, she wouldn't have even hesitated, but in her condition, she was slower, weaker, and would likely be more of a liability than an asset. Even knowing this – and with no regard for her own life or the one that rested just beneath her palm – her feet began to carry her forward.

She was so focused on Minho and Alby that she didn't notice Thomas's scrutinizing gaze. As soon as she took her first step, he grabbed her by both arms and shoved her to the side. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Newt catch her elbow and help her regain her balance, as Thomas just barely squeezed through the narrow opening.

"Thomas, NOO –" Emily's cry was cut off by the definitive click of the gate locking into place. Somehow, despite facing certain death by nightmarish mechanical monsters, Minho managed to be furious at the one person who had come to help him.

"Why the hell did you do that? Now we're both dead," Minho fumed.

"You're welcome…" Thomas muttered.

"How could you do that to her?" Of course. It was always about Emily with Minho. "Shuck, Thomas. You've got a kid to think about now… how could you just –"

"Whoawhoawhoa!" Thomas shouted, cutting him off. "What? So now you're not only tossing Emily to the side, but you're pretending that you played no part whatsoever in creating that baby she's carrying?" Minho had done some unbelievably stupid and careless things, but this seemed too much even for him.

"What, because I was a terrible boyfriend? Yeah, I was! But just because I hurt her feelings one night and she ran straight into your bed does not mean –"

"Damnit, Minho, we did not sleep together!" Thomas pinched the bridge of his nose between his fingers; a thought occurred to him. "Wait. Did you… do you think that's my baby?" The idea sounded absolutely ridiculous to Thomas. Every minute he spent with Emily seemed to revolve around Minho. The girl was head over heels for the damn fool and he still didn't believe it.

"It's not? Shuck, how many guys did she sleep with? Does she even know who the father is?" Minho looked positively disgusted, and Thomas didn't hesitate in walking up and punching him square in the jaw. "Hey!" Pow. A second blow to the face.

Thomas tackled Minho to the ground and grabbed him by the collar. "You're. The. Father. Slinthead." Thomas growled, accenting each word by lifting Minho up and slamming him back down into the ground.

Minho stopped struggling and stared at Thomas, wide-eyed. "No… she… we haven't…"

"Four months, according to Clint," Thomas countered the unformed argument sputtering from his mouth.

"But… she… I… you…" Minho couldn't form a coherent thought. His mind was racing – backtracking over everything he'd seen, every conversation both heard and overheard. The more Minho thought about it, the more he realized that everything could be explained by his own complete and utter idiocy.

He felt like one of the Maze walls had just fallen on his chest. That morning, she'd assumed Minho knew he was the father; of course she did – it was obvious to her, the alternative unthinkable. She'd been asking, begging him to be there for her, telling him that she was scared and needed him to assure her that they'd get through it, together. Instead, he'd told her to throw herself to the grievers.

This was bad. Or good? Emily still loved Minho; he was going to be a father! Shit, he was going to be a father. And she hated him… because she loved him…? And… FUCK, he had broken up with her! She'd never forgive him, and shouldn't. But… she had to. He would never be able to earn it, but he could spend the rest of his life trying. For the sake of their baby. Their baby. Minho didn't know much about people, and even less about kids – how the hell were they going to do this?

Minho circled through the same thought process several times, cycling through joy, panic, remorse, hope, then more panic and back again.

"…Minho?" Thomas questioned. The boy had been silent and in shock for several minutes, but they didn't have time to discuss it further – a familiar and not-too-distant whirring and buzzing was fast approaching. "We have to hide him somewhere," Thomas said, nodding toward Alby.

"Y-yeah, and then what?" Minho asked, still in a daze.

Thomas reached out to take Minho's hand with a look of determination. "Then… we run."

As long and arduous as the night was for the boys, the fear and uncertainty was downright paralyzing for Emily. The second the doors clicked shut, she collapsed in a heap on the ground. Newt dropped beside her, worried that something was wrong, that she was in pain. She was, but not the kind there was any treatment for.

"It's alright, love," he soothed, throwing an arm around her. Thomas was her best friend, Minho her boyfriend, but Newt… he was her oldest friend. The first face she'd seen when she was pulled from her dark prison, back when there were only a handful of faces to be seen; the first voice that told her everything would be alright, though they all knew it was a promise that couldn't be kept. "If anyone can survive a night in the Maze, it's them."

He continued to speak such comforts to her, deep into the night. Emily allowed him to pull her close, though she didn't lean into him the way she would have with Minho. Newt knew she wasn't interested in anyone but Minho, and it didn't matter to him because – despite what the other Gladers might think – he wasn't interested in her either. Honestly, he was more interested in her best friend – of which she was keenly aware and teased Newt constantly about. It meant that their relationship was comfortable, safe; they could both be completely themselves without risking judgment or complication.

It also meant that both their hearts were trapped within the Maze walls that night. She rested her head on his shoulder. "I'm sorry, Newt. I know… I know this is hard for you too."

He kissed the top of her head. "Don't worry about that now. Just try and get some rest." She looked at him like he was mad as a stung Glader. "If not for you, then do it for me! If Minho makes it out of there and finds out I didn't take the absolute best care of his girl…" Newt made a show of shuddering dramatically. "He'd toss me in the Maze!"

Newt's histrionics would have normally made Emily laugh, but his words sparked the memory of her argument with Minho that morning. He didn't love her, didn't want anything to do with her or the baby; and still she had been ready to throw herself to the Maze for him. What the hell was the matter with her? And then Thomas – the shuckfaced romantic – had to sacrifice himself in her place.

The tears that fell from the corners of her eyes seemed to be a regular occurrence now, much to Emily's embarrassment. "Hey, hey, shh… it's okay," Newt tried to soothe her, but he was taken aback by her sudden breakdown. He'd seen her pissed off, overjoyed, terrified, but never to the point of tears, and it was freaking him out.

She was crying because she was angry – at Minho, at Thomas, at herself, even at Newt for being so damn calm and understanding. And she hated crying in front of people, which in turn made her angrier, and produced more tears. She slammed her fist against the ground, several times, and screamed in frustration before pushing herself off the ground and stalking away. Her entire life felt out of her control, and the pieces that remained in her grasp she either barely recognized or desperately didn't want. Emily wiped the traitorous streaks from her nose and eyes as her feet carried her to the infirmary; she sought out Clint, and wouldn't take no for an answer this time.

Newt, either knowing she wanted to be alone or fearing another emotional outburst – probably both – let her go and waited in solitude for the sun to rise.

When the runners emerged from the Maze at sunrise, a crowd was gathered at the gate; there was one face missing, the one face Minho both dreaded and most wanted to see. In his rush to see her, he basically left Thomas to drag an unconscious Alby out alone, though Newt came to his aid quick enough. The two shared a glance, a smile, unnoticed by everyone but themselves.

When Emily was nowhere to be found, Minho stopped thinking rationally. He needed his lips on hers, his hands tangled in her golden hair; he needed to hear her say the words that would make it all real. Though he was exhausted from running all night, his need gave him the burst of adrenaline he needed to search for her.

The Glade wasn't very big, but there were many nooks and crevices in which to hide, and Minho's energy was waning quickly. He checked the infirmary – and thanked god she wasn't there – and the woods, the hammocks and dining tables. His legs could barely hold him up as he trudged, defeated, up the stairs of the Homestead.

He opened the door and froze. The room was exactly as he'd left it – clothes piled on the floor, splintered wood strewn about from where he'd punched the walls – except for one detail. A small figure was curled up on the right side of the bed, a space that had been left unoccupied since the last time Emily slept there.

She was facing towards the outside of the bed, away from the door. She must have heard him come in, but she didn't turn, didn't speak, didn't even acknowledge his presence. He approached her slowly, cautiously, squinting at her and shaking his head, like he couldn't tell if he was hallucinating or not.

Her bloodshot eyes followed Minho's movements as he knelt on the floor in front of her. He reached out his hand, hesitating and drawing it back a few times before running his fingertips along her cheek. Emily's lips parted slightly in a sigh as she relished the feeling of his touch – a feeling she believed she'd never experience again.

Emily wanted nothing more to pull Minho on top of her, to smother her own doubts and fears in the strength and warmth of his embrace. In his arms, she could pretend that the world was still simple, that if you followed the rules, you'd stay alive and have a chance at happiness. Looking into his intense gaze, she could almost believe it, but then the sting of his rejection would flood back into her memory, drowning out any hope that might have remained.

Minho traced the curve of her lips with his thumb, continuing along her jaw before running his fingers around her ear and twisting them through her fine waves. She was there, everything he ever wanted, waiting for him. Minho took a deep breath. "Emily, I –" Smack. She slapped him hard enough to knock him on his ass. She rose from the bed – looking as shaky and drained as Minho felt – and shuffled toward the door.

Minho remained on the floor, either too shocked or too tired to react, when she reached the threshold and paused in her stride. "I don't forgive you," she whispered over her shoulder before slamming the door behind her.

Minho didn't know which particular transgression she still held against him – his rejection of her and their child, risking his life in the Maze, or Thomas's life, or maybe, just maybe, for actually returning from the Maze alive. It didn't matter – she couldn't hate Minho more than he hated himself at that moment – he planned to make up for them all. As Minho crawled his way back onto the bed, he settled on the side that still held her warmth, breathing in the fresh, sweet scent that had begun to fade, and falling into a deep and peaceful sleep.

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