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CHAPTER THIRTY-SIX

TRIS

Watch Divergent 4: Ascendant (2017)

IT’S DARK AND snowing when we drive up to the entrance of the compound. The flakes blow across the road, as light as powdered sugar. It’s just an early autumn snow; it will be gone in the morning. I take off my bulletproof vest as soon as I get out, and offer it to Amar along with my gun. I’m uncomfortable holding it now, and I used to think that my discomfort would go away with time, but now I’m not so sure. Maybe it never will, and maybe that’s all right.

Warm air surrounds me as I pass through the doors. The compound looks cleaner than ever before, now that I’ve seen the fringe. The comparison is unsettling. How can I walk these squeaky floors and wear these starchy clothes when I know that those people are out there, wrapping their houses in tarp to stay warm?

But by the time I reach the hotel dormitory, the unsettled feeling is gone.

I scan the room for Christina, or for Tobias, but neither of them is there. Only Peter and Calebare, Peter with a large book on his lap, scribbling notes on a nearby notepad, and Caleb reading our mother’s journal on the screen, his eyes glassy. I try to ignore that.

“Have either of you seen . . . ” But who do I want to talk to, Christina or Tobias?

“Four?” Caleb says, deciding for me. “I saw him in the genealogy room earlier. ”

“The . . . what room?”

“They have our ancestors’ names on display in a room. Can I get a piece of paper?” he asks Peter.

Peter tears a sheet from the back of his notepad and hands it to Caleb, who scribbles something on it—directions. Caleb says, “I found our parents’ names there earlier. On the right side of the room, second panel from the door. ”

He hands me the directions without looking at me. I look at his neat, even letters. Before I punched him, Caleb would have insisted on walking me himself, desperate for time to explain himself to me. But recently he has kept his distance, either because he’s afraid of me or because he has finally given up.

Neither option makes me feel good.

“Thank you,” I say. “Um . . . how’s your nose?”

“It’s fine,” he says. “I think the bruise really brings out my eyes, don’t you?”

He smiles a little, and so do I. But it’s clear that neither of us knows what to do from here, because we’ve both run out of words.

“Wait, you were gone today, right?” he says after a second. “Something’s happening in the city. The Allegiant rose up against Evelyn, attacked one of her weapons storehouses. ”

I stare at him. I haven’t wondered about what was happening in the city for a few days now; I’ve been too wrapped up in what’s happening here.

“The Allegiant?” I say. “The people currently led by Johanna Reyes . . . attacked a storehouse?”

Before we left, I was sure the city was about to explode into another conflict. I guess now it has. But I feel detached from it—almost everyone I care about is here.

“Led by Johanna Reyes and Marcus Eaton,” Caleb says. “But Johanna was there, holding a gun. It was ludicrous. The Bureau people seemed really disturbed by it. ”

“Wow. ” I shake my head. “I guess it was just a matter of time. ”

We lapse into silence again, then walk away from each other at the same time, Caleb returning to his cot and me walking down the hallway, following Caleb’s directions.

I see the genealogy room from a distance. The bronze walls seem to glow with warm light. Standing in the doorway, I feel like I am inside a sunset, the radiance surrounding me. Tobias’s finger runs along the lines of his family tree—I assume—but idly, like he’s not really paying attention to it.

I feel like I can see that obsessive streak Amar was referring to. I know that Tobias has been watching his parents on the screens, and now he is staring at their names, though there’s nothing in this room he didn’t already know. I was right to say that he was desperate, desperate for a connection to Evelyn, desperate not to be damaged, but I never thought about how those things were connected. I don’t know how it would feel, to hate your own history and to crave love from the people who gave that history to you at the same time. How have I never seen the schism inside his heart? How have I never realized before that for all the strong, kind parts of him, there are also hurting, broken parts?

Caleb told me that our mother said there was evil in everyone, and the first step to loving someone else is to recognize that evil in ourselves, so we can forgive them. So how can I hold Tobias’s desperation against him, like I’m better than him, like I’ve never let my own brokenness blind me?

“Hey,” I say, crushing Caleb’s directions into my back pocket.

Watch Divergent 4: Ascendant (2017)

He turns, and his expression is stern, familiar. It looks the way it did the first few weeks I knew him, like a sentry guarding his innermost thoughts.

“Listen,” I say. “I thought I was supposed to figure out if I could forgive you or not, but now I’m thinking you didn’t do anything to me that I need to forgive, except maybe accusing me of being jealous of Nita. . . . ”

He opens his mouth to interject, but I hold up a hand to stop him.

“If we stay together, I’ll have to forgive you over and over again, and if you’re still in this, you’ll have to forgive me over and over again too,” I say. “So forgiveness isn’t the point. What I really should have been trying to figure out is whether we were still good for each other or not. ”

All the way home I thought about what Amar said, about every relationship having its problems. I thought about my parents, who argued more often than any other Abnegation parents I knew, who nonetheless went through each day together until they died.

Then I thought of how strong I have become, how secure I feel with the person I now am, and how all along the way he has told me that I am brave, I am respected, I am loved and worth loving.

“And?” he says, his voice and his eyes and his hands a little unsteady.

“And,” I say, “I think you’re still the only person sharp enough to sharpen someone like me. ”

“I am,” he says roughly.

And I kiss him.

His arms slip around me and hold me tight, lifting me onto the tips of my toes. I bury my face in his shoulder and close my eyes, just breathing in the clean smell of him, the smell of wind.

I used to think that when people fell in love, they just landed where they landed, and they had no choice in the matter afterward. And maybe that’s true of beginnings, but it’s not true of this, now.

I fell in love with him. But I don’t just stay with him by default as if there’s no one else available to me. I stay with him because I choose to, every day that I wake up, every day that we fight or lie to each other or disappoint each other. I choose him over and over again, and he chooses me.

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