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CHAPTER FORTY

TOBIAS

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AMAR AGREES TO help us get into the city without requiring much persuasion, eager for an adventure, as I knew he would be. We agree to meet that evening for dinner to talk through the plan with Christina, Peter, and George, who will help us get a vehicle.

After I talk to Amar, I walk to the dormitory and lay with a pillow over my head for a long time, cycling through a script of what I will say to Zeke when I see him. I’m sorry, I was doing what I thought I had to do, and everyone else was looking after Uriah, and I didn’t think . . .

People come into the room and leave it, the heat switches on and pushes through the vents and then turns off again, and all the while I am thinking through that script, concocting excuses and then discarding them, choosing the right tone, the right gestures. Finally I grow frustrated and take the pillow from my face and fling it against the opposite wall. Cara, who is just smoothing a clean shirt down over her hips, jumps back.

“I thought you were asleep,” she says.

“Sorry. ”

She touches her hair, ensuring that each strand is secure. She is so careful in her movements, so precise—it reminds me of the Amity musicians plucking at banjo strings.

“I have a question. ” I sit up. “It’s kind of personal. ”

“Okay. ” She sits across from me, on Tris’s bed. “Ask it. ”

“How were you able to forgive Tris, after what she did to your brother?” I say. “Assuming you have, that is. ”

“Hmm. ” Cara hugs her arms close to her body. “Sometimes I think I have forgiven her. Sometimes I’m not certain I have. I don’t know how—that’s like asking how you continue on with your life after someone dies. You just do it, and the next day you do it again. ”

“Is there . . . any way she could have made it easier for you? Or any way she did?”

“Why are you asking this?” She sets her hand on my knee. “Is it because of Uriah?”

“Yes,” I say firmly, and I shift my leg a little so her hand falls away. I don’t need to be patted or consoled, like a child. I don’t need her raised eyebrows, her soft voice, to coax an emotion from me that I would prefer to contain.

“Okay. ” She straightens, and when she speaks again, she sounds casual, the way she usually does. “I think the most crucial thing she did—admittedly without meaning to—was confess. There is a difference between admitting and confessing. Admitting involves softening, making excuses for things that cannot be excused; confessing just names the crime at its full severity. That was something I needed. ”

I nod.

“And after you’ve confessed to Zeke,” she says, “I think it would help if you leave him alone for as long as he wants to be left alone. That’s all you can do. ”

I nod again.

“But, Four,” she adds, “you didn’t kill Uriah. You didn’t set off the bomb that injured him. You didn’t make the plan that led to that explosion. ”

“But I did participate in the plan. ”

“Oh, shut up, would you?” She says it gently, smiling at me. “It happened. It was awful. You aren’t perfect. That’s all there is. Don’t confuse your grief with guilt. ”

We stay in the silence and the loneliness of the otherwise empty dormitory for a few more minutes, and I try to let her words work themselves into me.

I eat dinner with Amar, George, Christina, and Peter in the cafeteria, between the beverage counter and a row of trash cans. The bowl of soup before me went cold before I could eat all of it, and there are still crackers swimming in the broth.

Amar tells us where and when to meet, then we go to the hallway near the kitchens so we won’t be seen, and he takes out a small black box with syringes inside it. He gives one to Christina, Peter, and me, along with an individually packaged antibacterial wipe, something I suspect only Amar will bother with.

“What’s this?” Christina says. “I’m not going to inject it into my body unless I know what it is. ”

“Fine. ” Amar folds his hands. “There’s a chance that we will still be in the city when a memory serum virus is deployed. You’ll need to inoculate yourself against it unless you want to forget everything you now remember. It’s the same thing you’ll be injecting into your family’s arms, so don’t worry about it. ”

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Christina turns her arm over and slaps the inside of her elbow until a vein stands at attention. Out of habit, I stick the needle into the side of my neck, the same way I did every time I went through my fear landscape—which was several times a week, at one point. Amar does the same thing.

I notice, however, that Peter only pretends to inject himself—when he presses the plunger down, the fluid runs down his throat, and he wipes it casually with a sleeve.

I wonder what it feels like to volunteer to forget everything.

After dinner Christina walks up to me and says, “We need to talk. ”

We walk down the long flight of stairs that leads to the underground GD space, our knees bouncing in unison with each step, and down the multicolored hallway. At the end, Christina crosses her arms, purple light playing over her nose and mouth.

“Amar doesn’t know we’re going to try to stop the reset?” she says.

“No,” I say. “He’s loyal to the Bureau. I don’t want to involve him. ”

“You know, the city is still on the verge of revolution,” she says, and the light turns blue. “The Bureau’s whole reason for resetting our friends and families is to stop them from killing each other. If we stop the reset, the Allegiant will attack Evelyn, Evelyn will turn the death serum loose, and a lot of people will die. I may still be mad at you, but I don’t think you want that many people in the city to die. Your parents in particular. ”

I sigh. “Honestly? I don’t really care about them. ”

“You can’t be serious,” she says, scowling. “They’re your parents. ”

“I can be, actually,” I say. “I want to tell Zeke and his mother what I did to Uriah. Apart from that, I really don’t care what happens to Evelyn and Marcus. ”

“You may not care about your permanently messed-up family, but you should care about everyone else!” she says. She takes my arm in one strong hand and jerks me so that I look at her. “Four, my little sister is in there. If Evelyn and the Allegiant smack into each other, she could get hurt, and I won’t be there to protect her. ”

I saw Christina with her family on Visiting Day, when she was still just a loudmouthed Candor transfer to me. I watched her mother fix the collar of Christina’s shirt with a proud smile. If the memory serum virus is deployed, that memory will be erased from her mother’s mind. If it’s not, her family will be caught in the middle of another citywide battle for control.

I say, “So what are you suggesting we do?”

She releases me. “There has to be a way to prevent a huge blowup that doesn’t involve forcibly erasing everyone’s memories. ”

“Maybe,” I concede. I hadn’t thought about it because it didn’t seem necessary. But it is necessary, of course it’s necessary. “Did you have an idea for how to stop it?”

“It’s basically one of your parents against the other one,” Christina says. “Isn’t there something you can say to them that will stop them from trying to kill each other?”

“Something I can say to them?” I say. “Are you kidding? They don’t listen to anyone. They don’t do anything that doesn’t directly benefit them. ”

“So there’s nothing you can do. You’re just going to let the city rip itself to shreds. ”

I stare at my shoes, bathed in green light, mulling it over. If I had different parents—if I had reasonable parents, less driven by pain and anger and the desire for revenge—it might work. They might be compelled to listen to their son. Unfortunately, I do not have different parents.

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But I could. I could if I wanted them. Just a slip of the memory serum in their morning coffee or their evening water, and they would be new people, clean slates, unblemished by history. They would have to be taught that they even had a son to begin with; they would need to learn my name again.

It’s the same technique we’re using to heal the compound. I could use it to heal them.

I look up at Christina.

“Get me some memory serum,” I say. “While you, Amar, and Peter are looking for your family and Uriah’s family, I’ll take care of it. I probably won’t have enough time to get to both of my parents, but one of them will do. ”

“How will you get away from the rest of us?”

“I need . . . I don’t know, we need to add a complication. Something that requires one of us leaving the pack. ”

“What about flat tires?” Christina says. “We’re going at night, right? So I can tell Amar to stop so I can go to the bathroom or something, slash the tires, and then we’ll have to split up, so you can find another truck. ”

I consider this for a moment. I could tell Amar what’s really going on, but that would require undoing the dense knot of propaganda and lies the Bureau has tied in his mind. Assuming I could even do it, we don’t have time for that.

But we do have time for a well-told lie. Amar knows that my father taught me how to start a car with just the wires when I was younger. He wouldn’t question me volunteering to find us another vehicle.

“That will work,” I say.

“Good. ” She tilts her head. “So you’re really going to erase one of your parents’ memories?”

“What do you do when your parents are evil?” I say. “Get a new parent. If one of them doesn’t have all the baggage they currently have, maybe the two of them can negotiate a peace agreement or something. ”

She frowns at me for a few seconds like she wants to say something, but eventually, she just nods.

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