Newt groaned with a familiar burning sensation rising in his chest, awakening to the soft rays that met with his fair skin. Pulling back the thin straw cloth that shielded him from the harsh sun, he instinctively shut his eyes to block out the fiery light that met his onyx hues. Letting out a soft exhale, he glanced down at his newer bandages with a tired expression.
He had been traveling for a little over a week now.
But it had felt like months…
Every day, he struggled to survive. The cranks, his wounds, his flare, and lastly, the heat itself. Since the former capital no longer had it’s filtered walls, the sun quickly became quite unbearable. It was hell trying to find water. Thankfully, he remembered some of the rebellion’s storage facilities underneath the city. He would, indeed, travel underground… but last time he did that, well… the flare caught up to him.
‘It was inevitable.’ He thought to himself bitterly, but couldn’t shake off the twitch of a smile that rose to his cheeks. He could be dead. But somehow, in some way… he was still alive. It was a sign, really, in Newt’s eyes. It seemed like the world gave him one last close to nothing chance of actually making it out of this…
He liked those odds.
His favorite part of the day, was the evenings. He would slowly climb to the top of one of the collapsed buildings for shelter… and if he was quick enough, or at least somewhat awake by then, he’d see the sunset.
If there was one thing he could remember distinctly about the Glade, it was that it had the most beautiful sunsets. It felt good to have that experience. It reminded him of how far he came. At least now, he had a choice. He was free. Newt, could do whatever the hell he wanted to.
But he chose to keep going.
Even now, he still repeats his friends’ names during his struggles. Despite everything, he knew that he needed to go back. They started this whole thing together, they needed to finish it all the same. If not, then what was the point? Newt knew his friends well enough to know that he was being missed… He hoped, at least. But even then, he knew for certain how much he missed them.
Especially Thomas, God…. Thomas made him feel so safe, so naively comfortable in his presence. And not having that now, was like a bird without a song. He couldn’t understand how confusing it all was… to simply not have his allies by his side… it broke his heart every time he thought about it.
Even then, he used these thoughts as motivation to push onward.
Sauntering more fast paced than other days, considering today wasn’t as hot as the others, he took a quick glance at his arm, lifting the sleeve with slight nervousness. He had felt more easily irritable as of late, and he knew the feeling of rage all too well. It was terrifying to him... sliding down his cloak’s sleeve, he huffed in relief to see only minor altercations.” Right then, I’m just being paranoid.” He huffed to himself with an optimistic smile, pressing onward with a light boost in his confidence.
And then suddenly, he stopped. Newt’s eyes narrowed suspiciously when he saw the glint of a steel contraption on top of a nearby tower. That... that gun, That was the same gun—
His suspensions were proven correct as a barrel suddenly ignited, sending the same electrifying net that swallowed Minho that fateful night in the mountains.” Shit—“ Instantaneously, he threw himself onto the ground. As soon as he heard another taunting cackle of a gunshot, he lunged upwards behind the nearest column. Pressing his back against the cracked stone, he glared at the threat with shock and rage. How?! How even now, were they still hunting him?
Minho was right... they won’t stop.
Newt perked up at the sound of a bellowing voice speaking through what seemed like a speaker.” My name is Regris. I am from group X. Me and my buddies were sent to look for you. Now, we can keep playing this game of Cat and Mouse, or you can make both of our lives easy and turn yourself in.” The blond panted softly with rising adrenaline.
“ WHO SENT YOU?” The boy thundered towards the towers, voice raspy due to a normally quiet tone exceeding to something that’d reach the tower.
“ Janson. And the girl from group A.”
“ You’ve been in those walls, crank. You know what it’s like. They’ve promised us freedom in exchange for you!” Newt’s eyes widened with bewilderment, why would they be looking for him and not Thomas? The guy who had the cure. He shouted once more.” You’re delusional to think that they’ll actually let you go!” Regris growled.” Maybe. But it’s hope. Now, you can understand plenty why I mean this wholeheartedly when I say...”
“it’s nothing personal.”
Newt’s eyes turned to saucers at the sudden whisper that sounded off from behind him. A girl, redheaded, was able to sneak onto him while the other was speaking. He immediately shied away from the syringe that she tried to implant into his thigh, instead grabbing it by the hilt, and pulling it from her hands. Using this sudden vulnerability, he shoved the woman into the debris behind her, and darted in the opposing direction.
Keeping his rifle on his back, he swore to only shoot them if they proved to be a threat. He didn’t want to kill anybody, especially when he understood exactly what they were going through. But Newt had his own people to protect. And the dreadful news of WCKED’s survival would have to get to Vince and Thomas’s attention before it was too late. They couldn’t take from them again… they couldn’t.
His bad leg started to weigh him down further through his run. Every stride that made him slam into his right leg landed him in a world of hurt. But the distant purr of a motorbike told him everything he needed to in order to keep, on, running. One step after the other, he glanced behind him to see a freckled boy grin eagerly, cooing into the gray sky as he grew closer and closer to the blond. Newt could feel his hope deteriorating quickly, but didn’t let his own doubts stop him from trying.
Newt would rather die than let WCKED take his friends away from him again. A flicker of an idea sprung to his head, a large gap in the middle of a large bridge. He didn’t wait to see how far down it went, simply imagining the night that he and Thomas jumped onto the wall with Gally. He couldn’t help but close his eyes fearfully as he took a giant step angled off the edge of the bridge. Flying out over the abyss below, his eyes opened to see the surface of the road growing higher and higher from reach. In a last thought, he screamed out and used both of his hands to cling onto the thin cables that streaked from the bridge above. Curling into a fetal position, he took a few moments of silence to regather his breath. The freckled kid growled irritably at something, and yelled into his ear. As if he was scolded, but drove off to Newt’s sarcastic shock.” gone so soon?” He barked after.
Muttering British curses underneath his breath as he continued to inch upwards towards the top of the cable, he winced at his bleeding palms that stained the wires. Suddenly, he heard the familiar roar of a vehicle, the boy was charging towards him with a determined face. He looked as if he was going to make it… until the motorbike suddenly sputtered out, forcing the boy to jump out as soon as it started falling to the labyrinth of dust below. The boy closed his eyes as if he was ready to call it a day, but Newt felt a familiar sting at that same helpless expression. It was the same one he wore the day he—
Shooting off the wall behind him, Newt reached out with an open hand to clasp the other’s wrist. His bloodied nails dug into the boy’s skin, causing his eyes to shoot open with pain and surprise. Instinctively, he returned the grip, making the blond wince before he pulled their cable close to the wall. They clung to one another for a moment, simply processing what had happened.” Shit.” The boy cursed, glancing hesitantly over a frowning Newt. He gulped, and chuckled.” I suppose... an apology is in order.” That caused the older teenager to scoff softly and scramble upwards the cable.
“ H- hey Wait!”
Newt turned around to stare at the man with a raised brow.” Wait what? You tried to turn me into WCKED. You have to understand how that makes me a tad suspicious.” He retorted, making the freckled teen rub the back of his neck awkwardly.” Yeah… I know. And I’m sorry. I seriously didn’t know you were like— a cool guy!”
“ The name’s Tito.”
Tito paused, glancing over the bridge.” I… can— can we stick together?” This made Newt open his mouth to almost instantly protest, making the boy cut him off.” I, promise that I’ll help in any way I can. I am medically trained… I can help with your hands.” Newt glanced down at his swollen calluses, sickening crimson oozing cleanly from desolated skin. And then he came to thinking, this kid could help him with his stab wound… He only really knew what everyone else did when it came to treating it. The thought of waking up one day dead crossed his mind as a sure possibility, but maybe this shank could help him ease his paranoia.
“ Why’re you so eager to help me?” Tito visibly flinched, a shadow falling over his eyes.” Well… I’m, not like the others. I’m a control subject.” Gazing back up at the older individual, he glared back with determination.” I get bit, or worse… Reggie wouldn’t forgive himself. I can’t do that to him.” He spoke softly, making Newt’s heart twist with a partnering guilt. Despite what they were born into, they were both a minority of weaker beings amongst what compared to them as Titans. Newt remembered running into that maze thinking he was invincible… Even now, sometimes he envies that nativity. As such, he could relate to the child’s situation.” Alright then, Tito, follow me.”
Tito’s green eyes lit up with excitement and relief, quickly picking himself up from off the ground to walk behind the man.” Thank you, for- for saving me back there.” He murmured gently, making the blond’s eyes darken to a memory.
” You’re quite welcome.” He smiled empathetically, patting his back gently before sauntering alongside the boy with a stronger limp.
Newt grinded his teeth to bite back the scream that wanted to crawl it’s way up his broken throat, making Tito grimace apologetically.” Sorry! Sorry! I didn’t mean to!” He apologized avidly, eyes searching for the sloppy incision his scalpel made, making the older teenager growl.” Buggin’ Christ, you tryin’ to dissect me shank?!” He snapped, making the brunet deadpan.” A little patience would go a long way too y’know.” The small boy furrowed his brows calculatingly, this whole wound… it was— abnormal. By the agony poorly hidden on the man’s face, he could cross it off for being realistically painful, but then again,
He should be dead.
There wasn’t a way a crank could survive a wound like that. Even with… some way having medicine for the cure.
“ So, where is it?”
“ Care to be specific mate?”
“ The syringe!” Tito remarked irritably, making Newt narrow his eyes with confusion. Letting out a soft chuckle, he spoke once more.” What “syringe”?” The boy grew seemingly more and more impatient.” You know we wouldn’t have to hunt you down if you just gave it back? You’re a real selfish person.” At that, Newt’s eyes widened with offense.” Try again. I am not selfish.”
“ You stole it!”
“ What the bloody hell did I try to steal?!”
“ THE CURE.” Tito snapped, making Newt falter.” Wh— what cure?” The younger boy scoffed.” I can’t believe you. If you just turned it in, we could all be free.” The blond’s eyes were squinted in thought.” Tito I can promise you, I didn’t steal, anythin’.” The boy blinked, looking for a lie within the man’s face… but all he saw was truth. Letting out a sigh, he spoke.” Well then… if you don’t have the cure with you, then where is it?” The man opened his mouth, onyx hues scanning the small child’s face for a sign, but came short.” I wish I could say I knew… but I don’t. Until now, I didn’t even know they had an official cure.” He confessed, making Tito nod his head in confusion.” This doesn’t make any sense. Why would they think you had the cure?” He questioned to himself, but suddenly, his eyes lit up with shock.” Unless—“
Suddenly scrambling in his medical bag, Newt struggled to turn on his side to face him.” Tito. What’re you doin’?” The boy pulled out a device, looking much like the things the guards would use to check a civilian’s temperature.” Hang on I just— I need to check something.” He spoke, gently placing the machinery onto his feverish temple. Pulling back, he quickly hopped onto his small tablet. Newt suddenly grew impressed with how much the man could fit in his small backpack. Suddenly, the boy fell backwards, eyes glued to the screen… as if he had found an answer, a Eureka.
Slowly, Newt approached the small screen, making Tito swallow his shock. Pressing a shaky finger to the monitor, he spoke.” I— I have no words. This isn’t possible. A crank, that…” His words trailed, making Newt suddenly grow anxious.” What’s wrong with me?” He questioned with a subtle shake in his voice.” The string of your blood cells. It’s a pattern, right?”
“ Yeah?” Newt spoke questioningly, figuring the boy was trying to make it easy for him to understand.
“ Well,” The boy then shared the small screen with a darker, more chaotic looking image.”—This is an exposed crank. One that’s around as healthy as you are exteriorly. The cells are scattered, and weaker.” Newt’s brows lowered into a frown at the information.” And this,” The boy started, pressing the scanner to his own head.” Is me.” He muttered, making the image of his and the Glader’s stand side by side.” Somehow, you are nearly identically symmetrical to my blood pattern. Newt, you, are the cure.”
That rocked the man’s entire world, his eyes staring off into an abyss that only he could see. It was- that- it was impossible. Absolutely inconceivable, he was a crank. A bloody, crank. He wasn’t immune like Thomas, Gally, Minho, Frypan, or even Teresa… he was a crank.
“ I’m a crank.” He echoed distantly, his face of astonishment still frozen on his face, making Tito stare at the screen in sympathy.” You are… because despite slowing it down? You’re still vulnerable to becoming savage. But… to slow it down this much, to the point of where you barely even recognize the inconsistency of your cells… that’s why Janson wants you. It’s because you can... make their job easy.” He muttered, his eyes slowly glancing over at the nearby net gun that he carried subtly in his pack. Turning his face away from the man, he sat in silence as Newt was left alone to his thoughts.
“ I…” Letting out a soft and bitter laugh, he continued to speak.” I don’t know whether I should be happy or pissed off. I’ve found out two things today. WCKED’s still alive, and they want my cure. Me, a crank.” He shivered, hearing a soft shift in the boy’s position beside him; but couldn’t care less.
Staring out over a vibrant sunset, he spoke once more.” I used to imagine I’d watch a sunset with my friends, just me and them. Not inside a maze, or alone… just, with them. Somewhere, after a few drinks, or round of truth or dare.” He smiled softly at the thought, thinking of Thomas’s face when he was in a rare mood of comfort and happiness. When he wasn’t stressed, he could pull off the sweetest smiles.
“ I, I’m sorry, but I can’t go back.” He spoke gently, facing the teen that now had a loaded gun pointed at the man’s back. Soulless onyx eyes mirrored the flames of the nearby campfire.” Maybe someday… I’ll come back, help cure this damn flare… but my family is waiting for me out there.” The brunet let out a soft exhale.” Sorry dude. Reggie is depending on me… I can’t let him down.”
Newt felt a twitch of a smile tug at his left cheek, holding a small button in his bandaged hands.” I didn’t last this long to be gullible, mate.” Tito’s eyes turned to globes, opening his mouth before crying out. A small net was planted on the center of his back. A sharp electricity sizzled over his spine, making him collapse onto the floor, curling into himself.
Newt stared at the boy’s surprised and fading eyes.” Tito, you remind me of myself.” He confessed, pulling a nearby warm cloth over the boy’s body.” Don’t give up on yourself… and, remember your worth.” He spoke gently, a sad smile crossing his cheeks before he lifted himself up from his crouched position. The younger teenager’s eyes suddenly glistened with reluctant gratitude, until they slowly closed… making rebellious tears stray from them. Glancing over at a subtle machine that suddenly erupted with static commotion in the boy’s ear, he lifted the device to his mouth with a cold expression.
“ Don’t come after me.”
“ Next time, I’ll kill you.”
Placing the earpiece beside the now sleeping Tito, he picked up his own pack and sauntered into the night with a soft sob escaping his lips. Newt was shocked by the sound that emanated naturally from his throat. Somewhere in his heart, he knew he wanted to cry out how confusing, and tormenting this situation in its entirety was… but— he felt numb.
And he knew why.
Because nothing changed.
He would find Thomas, find the others.
“ And Tommy.”
Silently praying to himself as the moonlight graced his fair skin, he marched on.