I wake up before everyone else. I notice that I'm holding Teresa's hand and gently pull my hand away. She can't know that I grabbed her hand sometime during the night. She might get the idea that I like her as more than a friend. I would be lying though if I denied such feelings. I don't want her to think that I throw out second chances. My mind has been messed with enough. I don't need my heart to be broken too. Teresa has her arms wrapped around her and has her face all scrunched up. It's sort of cute. I realize that she's probably cold, hugging herself like that with her head buried into her chest. I take off my jacket and lay it on her, tucking it around her shoulders. I look over at Brenda and Newt. Brenda's snoring soundly and Newt's mouth is hanging open. I decide to wash up at the stream. I splash water onto my face, wiping the dirt away. I splash more water onto my hair to try and pat it down instead of leaving it to stick up at odd angles. I never cared about my appearance before in front of Newt, Brenda, or Teresa. I guess things are changing. Teresa's different. She's more mature, mentally and physically. She's gained more muscle. I fear she might become stronger than me and I can't have that. Anyways, when I look at her now I see her through a different lens.
I step back and look at Wicked. I've been running from them for what seems like forever and now I'm walking right into their trap, willingly. I never thought it would come to this. Wicked always finds a new way to surprise me. I don't hear Brenda until she's standing right next to me, rolling the pebbles beneath her feet.
"Hey," I say.
"Hey," she says.
"I know you're having trouble trusting her. I am too, but she's a friend and I have to be there for her."
"That's not what she was thinking when-"
"Yes, I know. Just because she betrayed me doesn't mean I have to betray her back. Everyone makes mistakes. You should know that by now, Brenda."
"I understand, but I'm not keen on forgiving people and that's just me. I have trouble believing that people can change. Don't come crying to me if Teresa betrays you again. She's probably contacting Wicked right now as we speak."
I glare at Brenda for a good second. She puts her hand on her hip and stares me down. Then, showing her boredom, she rolls her eyes which makes me feel stupid. Finally, to top off her opinionated speech, she kisses me on the lips quickly and walks away. I think she figures that kiss was meant to leave me wanting more, but I only feel hurt. I walk back over to my sleeping place and catch Teresa eyeing Brenda. She probably saw that kiss. A part of me feels guilty, but a greater part is glad that she saw it. I hope she feels jealous and realizes that something happened between me and Brenda when she ditched me. It's all her fault. I dismiss my negative thoughts and remember what Teresa said about how scarring it was dealing with her infected mother. Also, how we were her only family and she truly thought Wicked had good intentions. She didn't betray us because she wanted to; she thought doing so would help the population.
Newt and I scrounge out granola bars for breakfast that we grabbed after the Safe Haven was attacked. I dish two out to Brenda and Teresa. Brenda scarfs hers down like a wild animal whereas Teresa chews it delicately, savoring each bite. After the gnawing feeling of hunger subsides, we locate the building that we first discovered after escaping from Wicked. The building where Minho turned on the power and all those cranks living there came after us. Wicked headquarters is only a mile away from it, which will be useful for part of our plan. We start walking in the direction of Wicked headquarters and the abandoned building. My legs are aching and I long to take a nap on a nice soft bed. I have a lot of nervous energy and start speed walking. I want to end this wild goose chase with Wicked. I want a normal life. I’m afraid it’s too late for that, after everything that’s happened. Our only hope is to start over and focus more on ourselves like Teresa said.
“Tom, can you slow down for a second?” Newt asks.
“Yeah, sorry. I’m just so-”
“Nervous?” Teresa asks.
I nod in reply.
“I get the feeling,” Teresa says.
How does she finish my sentences like that? I guess when someone is close to you, they know what you are going to say, like they can read your mind. I chuckle, thinking: Yes, because she actually can hear my thoughts. I really am glad to have her voice back inside my head.
Brenda comes to walk next to me and grabs my hand, “Everything is going to be okay…eventually.”
I squeeze Brenda’s hand and then look for Teresa’s reaction. Teresa is chatting up a storm with Newt, laughing with that dazzling smile of hers, dimples showing. She didn’t even notice. I wish Teresa would put up some fight for me, instead of making it this easy for Brenda to swoop in and carry me off into the sunset. Oh well, you can’t have it all. Can you? I’ve been pretty damn lucky surviving the Flare and all of Wicked’s attempts to kill me. Or am I lucky? Maybe I’d be better off dead like Chuck, Alby, and Winston. I convince myself that there is a purpose for me still standing and I will find where I belong. One day.