The maze was colder than Newt had expected. Thomas led them around it at a jogging pace, having let Minho go on ahead. Newt couldn’t help himself glancing around, picturing the Grievers crawling through the very passages they now covered. Perhaps Thomas sensed his unease, because he slowed to a stop.
“You good?” He asked, concern in his voice.
Newt shifted his wrist slightly. “Yeah.” He grinned. “So this is what you runners do? Go round and round until you find something?”
Thomas pondered. “Not really. We just go round and round then go home.” He returned the grin.
Newt leant against one of the walls, rubbing his bad leg. “So what now?”
“I was thinking about trying to get up high. You know, to see the whole maze.”
Newt blanched. “What, climbing the walls?”
Thomas seemed oblivious to his discomfort. “Yeah. be a bit tricky with this,” he held up his wrist, “but I think we can manage. Come on.” He launched himself at the wall that Newt leant on, dragging the other boy to a standing position.
Newt surveyed the vines dubiously. They seemed to mock him from under Thomas’ grip. Come on, Newt. Come on… Thomas is doing it…
Newt muttered a swearword under his breath and began to climb.
He and Thomas matched their pace, climbing almost like on being. Even so, Thomas reached the top first, and hauled Newt up after him.
They collapsed on top of one another, breathing hard. Thomas let out a breathy laugh. “See? Not that bad.”
Newt disagreed wholeheartedly, but didn’t say anything. He was aware that Thomas was very close to him, head almost on his shoulder. Newt closed his eyes.
It had been to long in the glades, so long without the love and companionship that girls could provide. Or at least, that’s what the other boys said as they all huddled round the campfires. Newt would sit silently at these times, listening as they described whatever they remembered of girls- that they were soft, yet tough.
Newt thought Thomas was kinda like that. Kind, but tough.
He realised his reverie had gone on too long, and sat up, straddling the thin section of wall. Thomas joined him, and together they looked out over the maze.
It was the first time Newt had ever had the chance to really see it. It sprawled like a beehive, stretching out far in every direction, twisting and turning like a demented snake. Wait, it can’t be a snake and a beehive. Newt frowned.
Thomas was talking. Oops.
“Do you really not remember anything?”
Did he remember anything? Sure. He remembered his name. How to speak. Move. Breathe.
“Anything at all?”
“Oh.” Thomas’ voice sounded slightly sad, and it was only then Newt became aware of how close they were sitting. Come on, Newt. You’ve lived with boys for almost three years. Get a grip on yourself.
Thomas leant forwards on his elbows, bringing them closer than ever. He gestured for Newt to do the same, which he did. Thomas’ face was even nicer close up.
“I think we should just wait for Minho. I mean, there’s not much more we can do today. We ran for most of it. Now,” Thomas flicked his gaze up to Newt’s. “we survey and wait.”
Newt thought that was a great plan.
Thomas was really, really close. Like, personal space close. Newt could see every fleck of dark brown in his eyes, eyes freckle on his face, every line on his slightly chapped lips.
He expected them to feel rough, but they didn’t. They were soft, as was the back of his neck, which Newt slid his hand around gently.
Newt wondered if he’d ever felt so alive, and realised that he really hadn’t. In all his years in the Glade, he’d never felt this explosion in his mind, nor the gripping of his stomach. It was as though the entire world had stopped- as though they were the entire world. Newt's spine straightened, and he cupped Thomas' face in his other hand.
Thomas pulled away sharply, silent questions shattering the peace.
Newt bit the inside of his lip silently, studying.
Should he answer? Probably not.
“Newt- what the- Newt- what- what?”
Maybe now? He could explain himself. But Thomas hadn’t moved. He’d pulled back, sure, but he wasn’t scrambling down the wall and making his escape. Newt took a breath. “Sorry. I’m- sorry.” He swallowed, and abruptly swung his leg over the wall, preparing to climb down. “Won’t happen again, I’m sorry, I’m sorry- oh.”
That last, quiet noise was breather out softly. Half hanging off the wall, Newt had a hard time holding on and kissing Thomas at the same time, but he managed.
Then he climbed back up and the wait for Minho didn’t seem very long after all.