Minho found them waiting by the gate for him. They looked slightly flushed- they must have been running hard. Minho grinned a rare grin and together, they jogged back into the Glade.
The boys were there waiting for them. The usual tide of questions washed over the three- Did you find anything? Was there an exit?- but Minho waved his hand.
"I think there are two people who'd be very glad to be separated right now." He glanced at Newt and Thomas, gesturing to their joined hands with a smirk. Then he knelt down, cut them apart, and turned his attention back to the crowd.
If anyone had been paying attention to the two boys- which they weren't- they would have seen them glance at each other with expressions on their faces like a mirror of their emotions. If anyone had been watching, they would also have noticed that neither boy let go of the other's hand, even though they were now separated. They might have seen Thomas' thumb gently trace a circle on the inside of Newt's wrist. They might have seen them drop the other's hand finally, but only with expressions filled with shattered hope.
That night, as the others were sleeping, Thomas and Newt stood face to face in the forest. Newt was toeing the ground with his boot, tracing patterns then scrubbing them out impatiently.
Thomas shoved his hands in his pockets and hunched his shoulders. "Guess that's it then."
Newt nodded almost imperceptibly. "Guess it is." There was a pause, then both boys spoke at once.
"Or we could tell 'em."
"Or we could make 'em accept it."
Thomas grinned. "Always the straightforward course of action."
"Shut it, shank."
If possible, Thomas' grin stretched wider. "Guess we should just tell 'em."
Newt was still toeing the ground. "Wha'bout Gally? He won't like it." He swallowed. "There were two boys who... Oliver and Jack, they were called. Gally... he made 'em runners, but there was one day they were ill and couldn't run fast... Gally still sent 'em in the maze." Newt's tongue flicked across his dry lips. "They never came back."
Thomas studied Newt for a moment. His face was turned to the ground, and his hair- which was dirty, just like all the other boys' in the Glade- seemed to catch the moonlight for a moment.
Thomas put a hand- a slightly shaking hand, he noted with a twinge of annoyance- up to Newt's neck, running his thumb gently across his sharp cheekbone. Newt looked up, dark brown eyes catching Thomas' light ones. "Nothing can hurt us, Newt. It can't happen."
"Oh, like you're God or summat."
Thomas pulled Newt in and kissed him- just because he could. Then he leant their foreheads together as though their minds were one. "You'd better believe it, shack."
"It's shank, you greenie."
"It's Thomas, you... stunted griever."
Newt snorted, and together they walked back to the sleeping hut.
And if they were walking shoulder-to-shoulder, no one but the moon was there to see it.