"alby, i'm scared."

it's words from a little boy that was buried long ago, tucked away in the walls of the maze.

"shut your bloody mouth." alby whispers back in the dark, the few other boys around them curled up tight to keep themselves warm, all of them sleeping without beds, without stories, without knowing which of them would live until tomorrow.

a growl sounds in the distance.

"alby." newt whispers again, but his voice whimpers. he's the latest newbie, and although there are only a handful of them, he can't imagine becoming used to this.

alby opens his eyes, watching the fairer boy for a moment before sighing and reaching over, pulling the blanket up so it's over his shoulders.

"they won't get you, i won't let them. now get some sleep, klunkhead."

/

"curiosity killed the cat." alby's voice is close, tickling his skin.

"what is that supposed to buggin' mean?" newt asks, whirling around quickly, trying to pretend like he hadn't just gotten caught with his head poking out the maze doors.

"means you stay right in here, newbie. where we can see you." he shoves newt's shoulder, a playful gesture that leaves his hand lingering for too long.

"where i can keep you safe." he mumbles, but newt doesn't hear him over the sound of boys yelling and running feet.

/

you never forget the face that gave you hope, and newt will never forget the day the box's doors opened.

for a moment, the two boys just stared at each other, complete opposites of each other - dark and light, brown and blue.

"welcome to the glade." the other boy said softly, reaching and pulling him out.

newt only panicked when he let go.

/

"you klunkhead, you stupid klunkhead."

newt wakes up to the sounds of an angel cursing.

"you're a shuck. you're a buggin' shuck."

his first thought is: i must be dead. i have to be dead. alby doesn't cry, alby doesn't press his forehead against yours. not in this life time.

he's trying to be angry, even through his blurry vision and colored spots, he can see the curl in his lips. the boy's voice cracks though, and he lifts a hand like he's about to smack newt, but instead he pushes pale, bloodied hair out of his face.

"you slinthead." he mumbles, and then he's carrying newt.

newt might be several inches taller, but alby always was the stronger one.

/

being isolated in the berg excites the flare.

he forgets that thomas, brenda, and everyone else are out in the city. that they're coming back. (they will come back, won't they? they promised. tommy promised.)

his days are spent pacing, trying to remember, hoping he won't forget.

on his third day alone he remembers a boy with lips that felt like fire and stolen touches at night when the rest of the maze boys were sleeping, his name was... his name...

what was his bloody name?

he goes back to pacing.

/

"you ever do something so bloody stupid again and i'll kill you, i'll shuckin' kill you, you hear me?"

newt's leg is on fire, propped up clumsily, and there's still blood coating his skin.

"i said, do you hear me?" and he raises his hand, once again pushing his hair back. newt leans his head into his palm, sighing shakily.

"yeah." he says, not quite sure how he gets his voice to work.

"good." alby says, fingertips grazing his cheek. "good." he repeats, his breathing uneven and shaky.

when he leans down and presses his lips to newt's, he forgets all about the fire in his leg.

/

"shh!" newt warns, not being help but to grin when alby muffles a laugh by pressing his head against his shoulder.

"we're fine, minho and frypan could sleep through a bloody glader attack."

"good that." newt says with a nod, putting his fingers under alby's chin and pulling him back up, their cracked lips meeting again.

not even the growls of grievers mask the sounds he gets out of alby.

/

"remember, remember, remember." newt hits at his head, rams it against the berg wall.

"REMEMBER." he shrieks, going through everyone that lived at the homestead.

thomas, minho, frypan, chuck, ben. names and faces that stir no emotions in him appear behind his eyelids, but no name comes to mind to pair up with the boy with brown eyes.

his head pounds, so much so that he swears he can hear a dull thudding sound echoing around the ship.

"alby." he whispers, finally, the name a sweet sigh of relief.

and then the guards break in.