Born in the Glade

Chapter 6

When Emily left the Homestead, she was in bad shape. She hadn't gotten any sleep, although that wasn't unusual; she was emotionally drained and couldn't stop trembling. Minho's earlier words had wounded her to the core, and she berated herself for the relief that had washed over her when his hand brushed her face. Newt found her stumbling through the grass and put an arm around her waist, supporting most of her weight as he steered her toward the infirmary that housed her best friend and their leader.

Both Med Jacks were working when they entered the small room. The second his eyes landed on Emily, Jeff froze. She gave her head a small shake; Jeff cleared his throat and went back to assisting Clint. Newt noticed the exchange, but in that moment was more concerned for the occupants of the beds.

Alby was out cold, but Thomas – who looked even worse than Emily felt – attempted to sit up as Emily rushed over to his side; he tried to cover up the wince that followed with a grin. Her hands fluttered uselessly around all his cuts and bruises, wanting to help in some way, but not wanting her touch to cause him more pain. She stopped flailing when he took her hand in his and kissed her knuckles, flashing a genuine smile this time. "You're an idiot," she concluded, the never ending parade of tears once again began streaming from her tired eyes, accompanied by a sound that was somewhere between laughing and crying. "Don't ever leave me again."

In response, Thomas patted the top of her hand, but didn't specifically agree to the terms. He would have done the same thing again, and might have to someday. He wouldn't make a promise he couldn't keep. He inhaled in preparation of telling her about the whole mix-up with Minho, but the motion against his bruised ribs caused him to wince again, and Clint and Jeff quickly shooed Newt and Emily out of the room so the boys could rest.

Life had already gone back to business as usual for the rest of the Gladers. Frypan was cleaning up breakfast, the other three sets of runners were already well on their way, and Chuck was struggling with his arms full of firewood. The covered hammocks were blissfully unoccupied, and Emily practically collapsed into the closest one.

By the looks of her, Newt thought Emily would have been asleep the second her head hit the pillow. When he saw her shaking with soft sobs, he knelt down so that he was at eye level with her and put a steadying hand on her shoulder. "What's wrong, love? They're okay. Everything's alright now."

Emily just shook her head and cried harder. He had no idea what was wrong, but in some ways it didn't matter. Thomas would have tried to coax the information out of her. Minho would have tried to beat the information out of someone else. But because it was Newt, he simply waited for her to speak on her own; or not, if she so chose. That was what made Newt such a great person to talk to; he could give advice, or lend a sympathetic ear, or even just settle into a comfortable silence.

Her chest took in one last, shuddering breath before she spoke. "I don't want this baby, Newt," she whispered, as if confessing her sins in silent prayer. She waited for his rebuke, but none came. Newt knew both Emily and Minho quite well; they had learned to bury and suppress fear in order to survive, so when it did manifest, the force of it was unexpected and damn near overwhelming. He rested his chin in his palms and waited for her to continue. "Thomas hasn't been here long enough; he doesn't understand." She looked away then. "But Minho knows. He knows and he doesn't want it either." Emily bit her bottom lip to keep it from trembling.

Newt frowned, which caused his slightly pursed lips to stick out. Minho was a hard-ass, but Newt didn't think him that callous. "Did he say that?" Emily nodded and curled in on herself, as if physically trying to shield herself from the emotional blow. Newt's eyes were trained on her small stomach, and the arm she had unconsciously wrapped around it. "Emily," he began, fearing the worst, "where did you go last night?"

"After I left you, I went… I went to the infirmary. I tried… I wanted to… take care of it." She pulled at a stray thread in the bedding and took another shaky breath. "Clint refused, said that I was too far along. But Jeff, he gave me something that could... you know." Emily's words had become monotone, as dull and lifeless as if she was explaining dirt to an ant.

Newt's hand tensed, and his next words were barely more than a whisper. "What happened? It's okay, you can tell me." He had no idea she felt this helpless, this trapped. He never should have let her go off on her own, but Newt had been focusing all his energy on remaining whole and un-devastated himself.

"I couldn't do it, Newt. I couldn't just –" her words were cut short as she choked on a sob. She couldn't summon the courage to drink the contents of the vial last night. Every time she closed her eyes, she saw a cherubic face with blond ringlets and mischievous brown eyes. If Minho hadn't come back, hadn't made it out of the Maze… she didn't know what she would have done. But he did – he'd come back to her, and he'd looked at her like she was the most beautiful thing he'd ever seen, like he still loved her. No, she hadn't forgiven him for his harsh rejection, but she hadn't even given him the chance to ask for it… because she knew he only had to say the words and she would gladly fall back into his arms and willingly hand over the remaining pieces of her heart.

Emily didn't know what she hoped to gain from telling Newt the truth about what she'd almost done last night. Maybe she was expecting him to be furious, to pile onto the guilt and shame she already felt she deserved. Instead, he covered his hand over the one she hadn't even realized was resting on her belly. "You were doing what you thought was best." Best for whom? Emily squeezed her eyes shut, ashamed of the depth of her selfishness. "But you're having this baby now, and I swear to you – the whole bloody Glade will be here for you, alright? Even Minho." She didn't acknowledge his promise; only turned away from him and finally gave into her exhaustion.

Newt had sounded calm enough – rational and supportive – but inside, he was shaking with barely contained rage. Despite her extreme almost-actions, Newt saw the way Emily instinctively embraced the child she was carrying. He knew she was scared, but she had been scared before and her fear had never driven her to such drastic measures. The difference was that she was scared and, for the first time in her life, felt truly alone, for which Newt blamed Minho one hundred percent.

As soon as Emily's eyes drifted closed, Newt stampeded his way across the field to the Homestead, practically tearing the door off its hinges as he barreled into Minho's room. Minho – as a testament to how tired he truly was – barely pried his eyes open before muttering, "Go away, slinthead," into his pillow.

Despite his wiry frame and slight limp, Newt was a Glader, and thus had developed a certain amount of necessary strength. So when he landed a blow to Minho's already bruised jaw, it caused his lip to split, blood beading at the opening. Minho, taken off guard, flailed his arms and knocked several items off the bedside table. "What the hell, Newt?!"

Newt had always, always been the level-headed voice of reason. Minho had never seen him lay a hand on anybody that wasn't in self defense or in carrying out a punishment. Maybe he was punishing Minho.

"You're a shuckin' idiot, Minho," he proclaimed, wiping the corner of his mouth with the back of his hand. Minho raised his eyebrows, waiting for either an explanation or another sucker punch. Newt carefully considered both options. "How could you tell her you didn't want the baby?" He had hoped Minho would deny the accusation, that Emily had misinterpreted his response. When he didn't, Newt continued. "Do you have any idea what that did to her?"

Minho had some idea; it was probably the same way he felt when he thought she was pregnant with another man's child. But he didn't believe he could have that much power over Emily; she had always been so much stronger than him. "She… I thought she was cheating on me." Newt continued to glare. "I thought Thomas was the father!" he tried to explain.

And just like that, the majority of Newt's anger left him; he smirked, genuinely amused, and his tone shifted toward its normal, more genial cadence. "And sometime soon, I will explain to you in just how many ways you were wrong about that one." Minho cocked his head, unable to comprehend the innuendo at the moment.

Minho mentally shook himself, clearing his head to steer the conversation back toward the topic at hand. "Look, I said some things I definitely shouldn't have. I know she's mad at me…"

"Oh, it goes a little beyond anger," Newt interrupted. "She's broken, Minho; confused, conflicted. She's being bombarded with so many thoughts and feelings… she can't sort out which ones are real, which ones to believe."

"What do I do, Newt?" This was way out of Minho's comfort zone.

Newt flopped back onto the bed next to Minho and crossed his hands behind his head. "How in the bloody hell am I supposed to know?" He wanted to help his friends, but they were their own worst enemies; those two could find sharks in a rain puddle.

"Newt, please." Minho had been wrong at every turn, and the last thing he wanted was to cause her more pain. "It's not like I can tell her how to feel." Minho wasn't sure he even knew how he felt. He and Emily were so alike – bottling up their emotions and only finding the truth in the silence between words spoken in passing. It was both reassuring and frustrating as hell.

"Well, I would not open with your assumption that Thomas had impregnated her," Newt chuckled, once again amused by the idea. "But you should tell her how you feel, whatever it is – good or bad – because she's probably feeling it too, and needs to know that she's not alone in this." Newt shrugged; it's what she needed, but he suspected she was so distraught over her thoughts and actions over the past 24 hours that it would be a miracle if she actually listened to anyone.

Minho was being selfish; he had been so busy sorting through his own emotions, he hadn't stopped to think about how radically Emily's life had changed, and just as rapidly. "How do you know she'll even listen to me? That she even still wants me?" He wanted nothing more than to give her what she needed, to be her anchor in the storm. But she hadn't forgiven him – didn't trust him – so why would she allow him to be the gatekeeper of her heart?

Newt let out a deep breath in one big puff. "You're the only thing she's ever wanted, Minho. Which is precisely why you don't deserve her."

Minho mulled over his words as he dampened a cloth and pressed it to his swollen face, letting out a hiss as the cool fabric brushed against his raw flesh. He scowled at the boy who'd inflicted the injury, but Newt's eyes were already drifting shut, and a soft, rhythmic wheeze escaped his mouth with every exhale.

Minho tried to go back to sleep; the precious few moments he'd gotten since sunrise were not enough to recharge his taxed system. He had abused his body past its high tolerance for exertion, and now his face began to throb in time with his aching muscles. Still, his feet carried him through the door, down the steps, across the field, and to the hammock that had been Emily's bed for too long now. Only, when he got there, she was nowhere to be found.

Newt had assumed Emily had drifted off to sleep, but it eluded her troubled mind. She needed something familiar, something she understood, something that she could accomplish without doubt or fear or remorse; she needed the Maze. She briefly wondered why the Maze – an enigma, full of unknowns and unknowables – brought her comfort, while the equally puzzling and uncertain path that had created the new life inside her brought nothing but confusion and chaos and heartache.

Emily ran, into the Maze and away from her fear. Her mind went blissfully blank, filled with nothing but the smell of the stale, moist air and the gentle thud of her feet against the soft ground. She tired quickly – much to her annoyance – and had to slow to a walk. For once, she hadn't entered the Maze looking for a way out of it, and so began to notice small details that she had missed – how perfectly the ancient stones sat side by side, row by row; how the path had been worn smooth by persistence and strength; how the ivy gripped the walls, climbing ever higher and proclaiming life in a place that seemed to demand death. As terrifying as the Maze was, it was also beautiful.

Emily reached a crossroads; she could either disappear further into the Maze – though in her present condition, might not have time to make it back before night fell – or she could head back to the Glade. If she was half the person Minho believed her to be, she would have turned around instantly; instead, she stood around in indecision for several minutes.

It wasn't until she noticed the hand she had been resting on her stomach that she realized how selfish she was being… again. She wouldn't have hesitated to risk her life for any of the other Gladers, so why should her little Greenie be any different? Emily smiled and took off in the direction of the Glade.

She was about a quarter mile from the gate when something shifted; she slowed to a walk and opened up her senses to try and decipher what her subconscious mind had already picked up on. She had been running through her and Minho's corner of the Maze, so it should have been empty. Emily stopped moving altogether and listened – the sound of another set of footsteps echoed off the oppressive walls. She whipped around in time to see another runner barreling towards her.

"B-Ben?" she asked hesitantly; seeing him in her section of the Maze felt completely incongruous, like abundant sunshine during a rainstorm. As he got closer – much too quickly – she saw the dark veins that spider webbed across his skin, indicating a recent griever sting. He wasn't in his right mind, and she was in no state to defend herself against whatever insanity he might start spewing. "Shit…" she muttered, sprinting toward the open gate.

Emily – having gotten no sleep, no food, and running for the better part of the day – was already exhausted. She was smaller and weaker, and Ben was being fueled by a post-attack adrenaline spike. He was gaining on her, and she had just inched through the gate when he tackled her to the ground with an animalistic shriek. "Damnit, Ben! Get off me!" Emily screamed, trying to dislodge herself from the boy twice her size.

"You're going to ruin EVERYTHING!" Ben raged, backhanding her across the face before pinning her arms over her head with one hand. Shuck, when did she get so damn weak?

Emily kneed him in the groin, which loosened his grip enough to allow her to roll onto her stomach, but not completely away. "Let go of me! HELP!" she yelled, words muffled by the blanket of grass smothering her face. Ben had repositioned himself so that he was straddling her hips and sitting on her back.

"I won't let you," he hissed, so close that she could feel his hot breath overwhelm her already flushed cheeks.

The fight had made Emily more annoyed than afraid; Gladers had been stung before, and it never resulted in a positive reaction. But when she felt the cool metal of his knife pressed against the side of her throat, she knew she was in trouble. "Please," she begged – to Ben, to the universe, to the damn Creators… anyone who would listen and could possibly help.

Suddenly the weight on Emily's back was lifted, though the motion caused the knife to dig into her neck; it wasn't deep, but blood still wept from the wound and collected at the collar of her shirt. There were sounds of a struggle all around her, but the blood pounded in her ears and she couldn't figure out who was doing what, who was winning, or who was even part of the fight.

Emily tried to move, to help, but she seemed frozen in place. She hadn't even realized she was shaking until a warm hand covered her shoulder and a familiar voice pierced through the paralyzing fog that kept her pinned to the ground.

"Emily? Emily, look at me, baby." Minho was shaking her gently, though with increasing urgency; worry lines creased his forehead when she didn't respond. He had been looking for her – never imagining that she would risk going into the Maze alone. When he saw her whip through the gate – faster than he'd ever seen her run – his heart raced, then stopped altogether when the other boy tackled her to the ground. Ben was no match for Minho's fury, but he was almost too late. "Please, just say something."

The damn tears started up again, before the words. Emily wanted to tell him how much she loved him, how sorry she was and how stupid she'd been, but anything that escaped from her mouth came out like a strangled moan. Minho pulled her into his lap and wrapped his strong arms around her, rocking her back and forth and kissing the top of her head. "I'm so sorry," she whispered, when she had calmed down enough to speak.

"Are you alright?" he asked. Though he was asking about her physical state, there was an implied question about their relationship.

Emily did a mental once-over. She had some cuts and bruises, she was exhausted, and still entirely petrified, but she was alive. Thanks to Minho. "I will be," she decided.

Ben would live – only because the other Gladers were able to pull Minho off of him before any real damage was done. Clint and Jeff insisted on checking Emily and Minho out, and, after only a few threats and muttered curses from Minho, simply prescribed them some time and rest. That was all he needed to scoop Emily up in his arms and carry her to the Homestead.

She had fallen asleep in his arms, so he gingerly placed her on the bed. He took a wet cloth and pressed it against her skin, wiping away the unnatural red stains and returning it to its pristine alabaster. God, she was beautiful. He brushed her long waves over her shoulder, his hand then traveling down her arm and dipping into the groove of her waist before settling over her hip. "You are my life now," he confessed, talking to both Emily and their unborn child. He was still the same person – short-tempered, cynical, jealous, selfish – but he would have to do better, be better… for them.

Minho crawled into the bed behind Emily, pulling her close against his chest and letting her head rest in the crook of his arm. He hesitated, just a moment, before draping an arm over her waist. His large hand spanned the full length of her stomach, and he was surprised to feel the small, soft swell that rose between her hip bones. Minho had memorized all of her curves long ago, but this one was new, and it fascinated him. He kept going over it, back and forth, trying to wrap his mind around the fact that there was a new person in there, just beneath his fingertips.

"I'm going to make a better life for us, I promise." Minho paused, wondering if it was a vow he could keep. Well, he would sure as hell try. "I'm going to find a way out of the Maze."

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