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CHAPTER TWO

TOBIAS

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I CAN’T WALK these hallways without remembering the days I spent as a prisoner here, barefoot, pain pulsing inside me every time I moved. And with that memory is another one, one of waiting for Beatrice Prior to go to her death, of my fists against the door, of her legs slung across Peter’s arms when he told me she was just drugged.

I hate this place.

It isn’t as clean as it was when it was the Erudite compound; now it is ravaged by war, bulletholes in the walls and the broken glass of shattered lightbulbs everywhere. I walk over dirty footprints and beneath flickering lights to her cell and I am admitted without question, because I bear the factionless symbol—an empty circle—on a black band around my arm and Evelyn’s features on my face. Tobias Eaton was a shameful name, and now it is a powerful one.

Tris crouches on the ground inside, shoulder to shoulder with Christina and diagonal from Cara. My Tris should look pale and small—she is pale and small, after all—but instead the room is full of her.

Her round eyes find mine and she is on her feet, her arms wound tightly around my waist and her face against my chest.

I squeeze her shoulder with one hand and run my other hand over her hair, still surprised when her hair stops above her neck instead of below it. I was happy when she cut it, because it was hair for a warrior and not a girl, and I knew that was what she would need.

“How’d you get in?” she says in her low, clear voice.

“I’m Tobias Eaton,” I say, and she laughs.

“Right. I keep forgetting. ” She pulls away just far enough to look at me. There is a wavering expression in her eyes, like she is a heap of leaves about to be scattered by the wind. “What’s happening? What took you so long?”

She sounds desperate, pleading. For all the horrible memories this place carries for me, it carries more for her, the walk to her execution, her brother’s betrayal, the fear serum. I have to get her out.

Cara looks up with interest. I feel uncomfortable, like I have shifted in my skin and it doesn’t quite fit anymore. I hate having an audience.

“Evelyn has the city under lockdown,” I say. “No one goes a step in any direction without her say-so. A few days ago she gave a speech about uniting against our oppressors, the people outside. ”

“Oppressors?” Christina says. She takes a vial from her pocket and dumps the contents into her mouth—painkillers for the bullet wound in her leg, I assume.

I slide my hands into my pockets. “Evelyn—and a lot of people, actually—think we shouldn’t leave the city just to help a bunch of people who shoved us in here so they could use us later. They want to try to heal the city and solve our own problems instead of leaving to solve other people’s. I’m paraphrasing, of course,” I say. “I suspect that opinion is very convenient for my mother, because as long as we’re all contained, she’s in charge. The second we leave, she loses her hold. ”

“Great. ” Tris rolls her eyes. “Of course she would choose the most selfish route possible. ”

“She has a point. ” Christina wraps her fingers around the vial. “I’m not saying I don’t want to leave the city and see what’s out there, but we’ve got enough going on here. How are we supposed to help a bunch of people we’ve never met?”

Tris considers this, chewing on the inside of her cheek. “I don’t know,” she admits.

My watch reads three o’clock. I’ve been here too long—long enough to make Evelyn suspicious. I told her I came to break things off with Tris, that it wouldn’t take much time. I’m not sure she believed me.

I say, “Listen, I mostly came to warn you—they’re starting the trials for all the prisoners. They’re going to put you all under truth serum, and if it works, you’ll be convicted as traitors. I think we would all like to avoid that. ”

“Convicted as traitors?” Tris scowls. “How is revealing the truth to our entire city an act of betrayal?”

“It was an act of defiance against your leaders,” I say. “Evelyn and her followers don’t want to leave the city. They won’t thank you for showing that video. ”

“They’re just like Jeanine!” She makes a fitful gesture, like she wants to hit something but there’s nothing available. “Ready to do anything to stifle the truth, and for what? To be kings of their tiny little world? It’s ridiculous. ”

I don’t want to say so, but part of me agrees with my mother. I don’t owe the people outside this city anything, whether I am Divergent or not. I’m not sure I want to offer myself to them to solve humanity’s problems, whatever that means.

But I do want to leave, in the desperate way that an animal wants to escape a trap. Wild and rabid. Ready to gnaw through bone.

“Be that as it may,” I say carefully, “if the truth serum works on you, you will be convicted. ”

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“If it works?” says Cara, narrowing her eyes.

“Divergent,” Tris says to her, pointing at her own head. “Remember?”

“That’s fascinating. ” Cara tucks a stray hair back into the knot just above her neck. “But atypical. In my experience, most Divergent can’t resist the truth serum. I wonder why you can. ”

“You and every other Erudite who ever stuck a needle in me,” Tris snaps.

“Can we focus, please? I would like to avoid having to break you out of prison,” I say. Suddenly desperate for comfort, I reach for Tris’s hand, and she brings her fingers up to meet mine. We are not people who touch each other carelessly; every point of contact between us feels important, a rush of energy and relief.

“All right, all right,” she says, gently now. “What did you have in mind?”

“I’ll get Evelyn to let you testify first, of the three of you,” I say. “All you have to do is come up with a lie that will exonerate both Christina and Cara, and then tell it under truth serum. ”

“What kind of lie would do that?”

“I thought I would leave that to you,” I say. “Since you’re the better liar. ”

I know as I’m saying the words that they hit a sore spot in both of us. She lied to me so many times. She promised me she wouldn’t go to her death in the Erudite compound when Jeanine demanded the sacrifice of a Divergent, and then she did it anyway. She told me she would stay home during the Erudite attack, and then I found her in Erudite headquarters, working with my father. I understand why she did all those things, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t still broken.

“Yeah. ” She looks at her shoes. “Okay, I’ll think of something. ”

I set my hand on her arm. “I’ll talk to Evelyn about your trial. I’ll try to make it soon. ”

“Thank you. ”

I feel the urge, familiar now, to wrench myself from my body and speak directly into her mind. It is the same urge, I realize, that makes me want to kiss her every time I see her, because even a sliver of distance between us is infuriating. Our fingers, loosely woven a moment ago, now clutch together, her palm tacky with moisture, mine rough in places where I have grabbed too many handles on too many moving trains. Now she looks pale and small, but her eyes make me think of wide-open skies that I have never actually seen, only dreamed of.

“If you’re going to kiss, do me a favor and tell me so I can look away,” says Christina.

“We are,” Tris says. And we do.

I touch her cheek to slow the kiss down, holding her mouth on mine so I can feel every place where our lips touch and every place where they pull away. I savor the air we share in the second afterward and the slip of her nose across mine. I think of something to say, but it is too intimate, so I swallow it. A moment later I decide I don’t care.

“I wish we were alone,” I say as I back out of the cell.

She smiles. “I almost always wish that. ”

As I shut the door, I see Christina pretending to vomit, and Cara laughing, and Tris’s hands hanging at her sides.

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