Thomas wasn’t sure how it had happened. One second he was in his house, lounging with Minho. A shrill sound had been heard - the fire alarm. He knew that they had tried to escape, and he had reached the door. He knew he came that far. But why was he here now? “Here” was perhaps not the correct word - his vision was blurred and his mind struggled to understand what was happening. He really didn't know where "here" was.
He lay on his back on soft grass - he recognized the soft but sticky feeling of grass. The sun shone above him, someone was shaking his shoulders, calling his name.
He knew that voice, though he hadn’t heard it in years.
But there was only one person who called him Tommy.
One person who gave him that nickname, who stood by his side until the day he had fallen.
But Newt was dead, right?
Thomas knew that. He had been the one to pull the trigger, to perform that one simple action that resulted in his best friends death. He held the responsibility for Newt’s fall. He knew that.
So why was Newt here, shaking his shoulders, calling his name? He blinked, trying to clear his vision. A blonde boy crouched next to him, deep brown eyes seeking for response.
“Newt?” Thomas hadn’t meant for that to come out loud. But that was all he could think of when he saw the beautiful blonde boy, who resmebled Newt so much, even called him Tommy, smile down at him.
“Finally, ya shank. I’ve been waiting for ages for you to die.” Newt’s voice was musical, not a trace of the crank he had been.
Thomas shook his head and sat up. Newt straightened, but remained crouching.
“Newt?” Thomas repeated, confused. Despite a slight headache, he could see properly now and he saw that they were in the middle of a meadow, or some kind of Glade, surrounded by a forest. Nothing seemed abnormal … except for the blonde beauty next to him. The boy who should be dead. Was his mind playing a trick on him? Either way, his heart leaped with both joy and sorrow when he saw his former best friend. How he had missed him.
“Already forgotten me, huh?”
There it was again. That heavy British accent, that warm voice that always held a hint of sarcasm. The voice that belonged to the only person Thomas ever had really cared for. It couldn’t bee anyone but Newt. But Newt was dead. Did this mean …?
“Am I dead?” Thomas blurted out. Newt chuckled.
“Yeah, and you took your time. Teresa ain’t the best company here, and Chuck is just bouncing around, not really providing any kind of company.” At the mention of his two other best friends names, Thomas sobered a little.
“Chuck and Teresa’s here?” he gasped. “I want to see them!” He made a move to stand up, but Newt gently pushed him down again.
“Calm down, shuckface. You have plenty of time here in … well, we call it the Glade again because it looks like our old Glade, without the giant maze walls.”
When Thomas looked around, he saw a wooden house and a few cows and horses who grazed peacefully. And a small garden, where different plants grew. It really did remind him of the Glade, but the forest felt much more welcoming than the grey walls.
“Anyways” Newt continued, “when the others see ya, they’re going to fuss ‘bout ya and constantly hug ya. Teresa and Chuck won’t let ya out of their sight, so I’d like to say something before the others get to you. Before I lose my courage.” Thomas raised his eyebrows. Newt looked suddenly nervous, and he moved so he stood on his knees instead. Thomas, who still sat cross-legged on the grass, felt small in Newt’s shadow.
“So what do you want say?” he asked, looking up at the other boy. Newt avoided his gaze and ran a hand through his hair.
“Well, you see … I wanted to do this before, you know. Before I got all cranky and wild.” Before you killed me. The unspoken sentence hung in the air.
“Well, you ain’t that cranky now so go ahead and do it” Thomas replied, curious. He couldn’t help but think it sounded a little challenging to say it like that, as if Newt were going to …
Plump, warm lips met his, a hand cupped the back of his head. Newt kissed him with all of his force, almost knocking him backwards. Thomas let out a muffled gasp against the other boys lips, and he felt Newt smile. Then Newt pulled back and Thomas stared at the area where Newt’s eyes had been.
“So” Newt said, still a leaning in a bit closer than normal friends did, “that felt okay?”
Thomas blinked, before it rushed back to him and his brain comprehended the recent action.
Newt had freaking kissed him. On the lips. And it had been way better than Brenda, than any kiss he ever had gotten. Not that he remembered any other kisses, but he knew that Newt’s was better. As if his lips were formed to match Thomas’.
Newt’s smile faltered when Thomas remained silent, a worried expression crossed his face.
“Didn’t you like it? I’m sorry, I should’ve-” Newt was cut off when Thomas reached up and kissed him again, in a French kiss. Sighing to the feeling of Thomas’ warm lips, he pulled the other boy to his feet so he could pull Thomas closer, fully enjoy the feeling.
They were so caught up they didn’t hear when another body fell from nowhere and landed in the grass next to them.
They sprung apart, Thomas falling backwards in surprise. Minho sat in the grass staring with gaping mouth at the other boys.
“Were you just snogging?” the Asian exclaimed.
His outburst seemed to gain the other Gladers attention, as several people left the house and started to walk towards them.
“Newt?” Alby called out. “Everything ok?”
“I don’t think he should answer to that question!” Minho replied instead and stood up. “He has just sucked the face off Thomas here, you bet he thinks everything’s more than ok.”
Thomas blushed bright red at this, not daring to glance at Newt.
“Minho!” he hissed. “What the hell are you doing here?” Minho shrugged.
“The doctors aren’t exactly skilled” was all he said before a black blur pushed him out of the way.
“Tom!” Teresa pulled him to his feet and hugged him hard, completely ignoring a clearly offended Minho. “Finally you’re here!” she exclaimed before she let go of him. Behind her came Chuck running. Thomas' heart skipped a beat when he saw his dear friend, very alive with red cheeks and a smile on his small lips. Without even thinking, Thomas bent down and scooped up the smaller boy in a hug. While Chucks chubby arms stretched to reach around Thomas’ torso, Thomas saw Alby, Ben, Winston and several other Gladers walk up to them. Ben looked healthy - not sick and destroyed as he had looked when he was banished.
“I see that the Greenie has arrived” Alby noted dryly. Thomas smiled awkwardly at him and put Chuck down. “What is this?” he and Minho asked at the same time.
“Where am I?” Minho added.
Alby gave the still blushing Newt a glance.
Alby was smart. Judging by Thomas’ embarrassed look, he could figure out what they had been doing. He decided to help them.
“How about letting Newt take Thomas and show him the Homestead while I explain to Minho?” he suggested. He gave Teresa and Chuck a warning look, telling them not to protest. They looked slightly disappointed but agreed silently. Newt shone up at this.
“Come on, shank” Newt said, and motioned to Thomas to follow him. As they walked towards the Homestead, he heard Minho say: “Told you they were going to get together! Y’all owe me!” which Teresa replied with “we’re dead, Minho. Bets are usually broken when one half dies.” “But we’ve reunited now, sort of!” “Still broken.” Thomas glanced back at them, at the Gladers who were rolling their eyes at Minho and Teresa. His heart warmed at the sight.
He felt Newt take his hand and when he turned back to the blonde, he couldn’t suppress an enormous grin.
This was the real Paradise.