My eyes widened at his last sentence, which he had spoken so fast it was hard to decipher his words. A second ticked by. Clark looked like he was going to pass out or throw up if I didn't speak.

"Clark, there isn't anything wrong with liking boys," I told him honestly as I took a step toward the shaking boy. "That's okay. It's just...why did you tell me now?"

The redhead sighed. "I like Luke. And it sucks because Alex is always around him so I want to punch him because they're so close but they're just friends and we're not even dating Luke doesn't even like me that way and I'm so close to going off on Alex."

I held up my hand to stop Clark, who took in a deep breath to calm himself. His thin hands were curled into fists at his sides. A muscle in his jaw ticked as he released his breath.

I recalled the moment I had seen Luke catch a glimpse at Nick's abs when he had his shirt off at the Gathering. If Luke also liked boys, that meant Clark could have a shot.

"Clark, I think you have more of a chance to get with Luke than you think," I told him with a gentle smile. "Trust me. If you just talked to him--"

"That's the thing!" Clark exclaimed, eyes going wide and arms opening in exasperation. He paced back and forth as he tugged on his ears. "I can't. I think Alex knows. I try to look at Luke but he's somehow always around him. He catches me every. Damn. Time. And it's so awkward. He never lets me talk to him, the little shuck-face." He stared at the grass around his sneaker-clad feet while the flush crept to his ears. "Plus, I think if I did try to talk to Luke, I'd stutter like an idiot. But then again, he makes me feel like I'll combust if I don't tell him, which sucks and doesn't make sense. Stupid feelings. I hate feelings. I could set the cattle loose on myself and feel the same way having a crush on Luke does."

I gave Clark and gentle grin and placed a hand on his shoulder. He looked up at me with eyes so empty of hope that it made my heart clench. He truly didn't believe he had a chance with the boy he liked, and it was mostly because of Alex.

"I'll tell you what," I compromised. "It'll be easier to do that once we get rid of Alex."

A spark of realization set off in his eyes as a mischievous grin spread his lips wide. "I'm in."

-:-

Now that I knew about Clark's crush, it was so obvious that I wondered how I hadn't noticed it before. The poor boy looked at Luke with so much adoration that it sent a jolt through me- especially when I realized that was how I looked at Minho.

That moment of realization led to a troublesome rest of my day. It made me wonder how deep my feelings for my Seond in Command really were, and if they were so adamant, I was shucked. It sucked that he was never around me anymore. It carved more and more worry into me until I felt like a hollow shell.

But then Minho got hurt.

"I told you, shuck-face!" His voice rang throughout the Glade and echoed through the high walls. "I'm fine. Get away from me. Go away!"

It was two hours too early for any of the Runners to be back, according to my wristwatch. I dropped the dishes I was cleaning back into the sink and hobbled as fast as I could toward the East Door. The pain in my leg reduced itself to background noise; my heart plummeted into my stomach.

Alex was hovering around Minho like a fly. Minho. He had a long, ugly cut down his left biceps that was bleeding profusely. He grit his teeth in pain as he held his shirt against it. His bare chest was gleaming with sweat.

I nearly hit myself in the face for feeling my face warm at that realization. Sure, I had seen Minho shirtless before on days it was stuffy, but it was different that time. Every nerve was on high alert while they buzzed in my veins as if they had been electrocuted. The feeling only intensified as I got closer.

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