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THE SHOT DOESN’T come. He stares at me with the same ferocity but doesn’t move. Why doesn’t he shoot me? His heart pounds against my palm, and my own heart lifts. He is Divergent. He can fight this simulation. Any simulation.Watch Divergent 4: Ascendant (2017)
“Tobias,” I say. “It’s me. ”
I step forward and wrap my arms around him. His body is stiff. His heart beats faster. I can feel it against my cheek. A thud against my cheek. A thud as the gun hits the floor. He grabs my shoulders—too hard, his fingers digging into my skin where the bullet was. I cry out as he pulls me back. Maybe he means to kill me in some crueler way.
“Tris,” he says, and it’s him again. His mouth collides with mine.
His arm wraps around me and he lifts me up, holding me against him, his hands clutching at my back. His face and the back of his neck are slick with sweat, his body is shaking, and my shoulder blazes with pain, but I don’t care, I don’t care, I don’t care.
He sets me down and stares at me, his fingers brushing over my forehead, my eyebrows, my cheeks, my lips.
Something like a sob and a sigh and a moan escapes him, and he kisses me again. His eyes are bright with tears. I never thought I would see Tobias cry. It makes me hurt.
I pull myself to his chest and cry into his shirt. All the throbbing in my head comes back, and the ache in my shoulder, and I feel like my body weight doubles. I lean against him, and he supports me.
“How did you do it?” I say.
“I don’t know,” he says. “I just heard your voice. ”
After a few seconds, I remember why I’m here. I pull back and wipe my cheeks with the heels of my hands and turn toward the screens again. I see one that overlooks the drinking fountain. Tobias was so paranoid when I was railing against Dauntless there. He kept looking at the wall above the fountain. Now I know why.
Tobias and I stand there for a while, and I think I know what he’s thinking, because I’m thinking it too: How can something so small control so many people?
“Was I running the simulation?” he says.
“I don’t know if you were running it so much as monitoring it,” I say. “It’s already complete. I have no idea how, but Jeanine made it so it could work on its own. ”
He shakes his head. “It’s…incredible. Terrible, evil…but incredible. ”
I see movement on one of the screens and see my brother, Marcus, and Peter standing on the first floor of the building. Surrounding them are Dauntless soldiers, all in black, all carrying weapons.
“Tobias,” I say tersely. “Now!”
He runs to the computer screen and taps it a few times with his finger. I can’t look at what he’s doing. All I can see is my brother. He holds the gun I gave him straight out from his body, like he’s ready to use it. I bite my lip. Don’t shoot. Tobias presses the screen a few more times, typing in letters that make no sense to me. Don’t shoot.
I see a flash of light—a spark, from one of the guns—and gasp. My brother and Marcus and Peter crouch on the ground with their arms over their heads. After a moment they all stir, so I know they’re still alive, and the Dauntless soldiers advance. A cluster of black around my brother.
“Tobias,” I say.
He presses the screen again, and everyone on the first floor goes still.
Their arms drop to their sides.
And then the Dauntless move. Their heads turn from side to side, and they drop their guns, and their mouths move like they’re shouting, and they shove each other, and some of them sink to their knees, holding their heads and rocking back and forth, back and forth.
All the tension in my chest unravels, and I sit down, heaving a sigh.
Tobias crouches next to the computer and pulls the side of the case off.
“I have to get the data,” he says, “or they’ll just start the simulation again. ”Watch Divergent 4: Ascendant (2017)
I watch the frenzy on the screen. It is the same frenzy that must be happening on the streets. I scan the screens, one by one, looking for one that shows the Abnegation sector of the city. There is only one—it’s at the far end of the room, on the bottom. The Dauntless on that screen are firing at one another, shoving one another, screaming—chaos. Black-clothed men and women drop to the ground. People sprint in every direction.
“Got it,” says Tobias, holding up the computer’s hard drive. It is a piece of metal about the size of his palm. He offers it to me, and I shove it in my back pocket.
“We have to leave,” I say, getting to my feet. I point at the screen on the right.
“Yes, we do. ” He wraps his arm across my shoulders. “Come on. ”
We walk together down the hallway and around the corner. The elevator reminds me of my father. I can’t stop myself from looking for his body.
It is on the floor next to the elevator, surrounded by the bodies of several guards. A strangled scream escapes me. I turn away. Bile leaps into my throat and I throw up against the wall.
For a second I feel like everything inside me is breaking, and I crouch by a body, breathing through my mouth so I don’t smell the blood. I clamp my hand over my mouth to contain a sob. Five more seconds. Five seconds of weakness and then I get up. One, two. Three, four.
I am not really aware of my surroundings. There is an elevator and a glass room and a rush of cold air. There is a shouting crowd of Dauntless soldiers dressed in black. I search for Caleb’s face, but it is nowhere, nowhere until we leave the glass building and step out into sunlight.
Caleb runs to me when I walk through the doors, and I fall against him. He holds me tightly.
“Dad?” he says.
I just shake my head.
“Well,” he says, almost choking on the word, “he would have wanted it that way. ”
Over Caleb’s shoulder, I see Tobias stop in the middle of a footstep. His entire body goes rigid as his eyes focus on Marcus. In the rush to destroy the simulation, I forgot to warn him.
Marcus walks up to Tobias and wraps his arms around his son. Tobias stays frozen, his arms at his sides and his face blank. I watch his Adam’s apple bob up and down and his eyes lift to the ceiling.
“Son,” sighs Marcus.
“Hey,” I say, pulling away from Caleb. I remember the belt stinging on my wrist in Tobias’s fear landscape and slip into the space between them, pushing Marcus back. “Hey. Get away from him. ”
I feel Tobias’s breaths against my neck; they come in sharp bursts.
“Stay away,” I hiss.Watch Divergent 4: Ascendant (2017)
“Beatrice, what are you doing?” asks Caleb.
“Tris,” Tobias says.
Marcus gives me a scandalized look that seems false to me—his eyes are too wide and his mouth is too open. If I could find a way to smack that look off his face, I would.
“Not all those Erudite articles were full of lies,” I say, narrowing my eyes at Marcus.
“What are you talking about?” Marcus says quietly. “I don’t know what you’ve been told, Beatrice, but—”
“The only reason I haven’t shot you yet is because he’s the one who should get to do it,” I say. “Stay away from him or I’ll decide I no longer care. ”
Tobias’s hands slip around my arms and squeeze. Marcus’s eyes stay on mine for a few seconds, and I can’t help but see them as black pits, like they were in Tobias’s fear landscape. Then he looks away.
“We have to go,” Tobias says unsteadily. “The train should be here any second. ”
We walk over unyielding ground toward the train tracks. Tobias’s jaw is clenched and he stares straight ahead. I feel a twinge of regret. Maybe I should have let him deal with his father on his own.
“Sorry,” I mutter.
“You have nothing to be sorry for,” he replies, taking my hand. His fingers are still shaking.
“If we take the train in the opposite direction, out of the city instead of in, we can get to Amity headquarters,” I say. “That’s where the others went. ”
“What about Candor?” my brother asks. “What do you think they’ll do?”
I don’t know how Candor will respond to the attack. They wouldn’t side with the Erudite—they would never do something that underhanded. But they may not fight the Erudite either.
We stand next to the tracks for a few minutes before the train comes. Eventually Tobias picks me up, because I am dead on my feet, and I lean my head into his shoulder, taking deep breaths of his skin. Since he saved me from the attack, I have associated his smell with safety, so as long as I focus on it, I feel safe now.
The truth is, I will not feel safe as long as Peter and Marcus are with us. I try not to look at them, but I feel their presence like I would feel a blanket over my face. The cruelty of fate is that I must travel with the people I hate when the people I love are dead behind me.
Dead, or waking as murderers. Where are Christina and Tori now? Wandering the streets, plagued with guilt for what they’ve done? Or turning guns on the people who forced them to do it? Or are they already dead too? I wish I knew.
At the same time, I hope I never find out. If she is still alive, Christina will find Will’s body. And if she sees me again, her Candor-trained eyes will see that I am the one who killed him, I know it. I know it and the guilt strangles me and crushes me, so I have to forget it. I make myself forget it.
The train comes, and Tobias sets me down so I can jump on. I jog a few steps next to the car and then throw my body to the side, landing on my left arm. I wiggle my body inside and sit against the wall. Caleb sits across from me, and Tobias sits next to me, forming a barrier between my body and Marcus and Peter. My enemies. His enemies.
The train turns, and I see the city behind us. It will get smaller and smaller until we see where the tracks end, the forests and fields I last saw when I was too young to appreciate them. The kindness of Amity will comfort us for a while, though we can’t stay there forever. Soon the Erudite and the corrupt Dauntless leaders will look for us, and we will have to move on.
Tobias pulls me against him. We bend our knees and our heads so that we are enclosed together in a room of our own making, unable to see those who trouble us, our breath mixing on the way in and on the way out.
“My parents,” I say. “They died today. ”
Even though I said it, and even though I know it’s true, it doesn’t feel real.
“They died for me,” I say. That feels important.
“They loved you,” he replies. “To them there was no better way to show you. ”
I nod, and my eyes follow the line of his jaw.
“You nearly died today,” he says. “I almost shot you. Why didn’t you shoot me, Tris?”
“I couldn’t do that,” I say. “It would have been like shooting myself. ”
He looks pained and leans closer to me, so his lips brush mine when he speaks.
“I have something to tell you,” he says.
I run my fingers along the tendons in his hand and look back at him.
“I might be in love with you. ” He smiles a little. “I’m waiting until I’m sure to tell you, though. ”
“That’s sensible of you,” I say, smiling too. “We should find some paper so you can make a list or a chart or something. ”
I feel his laughter against my side, his nose sliding along my jaw, his lips pressing behind my ear.
“Maybe I’m already sure,” he says, “and I just don’t want to frighten you. ”
I laugh a little. “Then you should know better. ”
“Fine,” he says. “Then I love you. ”
I kiss him as the train slides into unlit, uncertain land. I kiss him for as long as I want, for longer than I should, given that my brother sits three feet away from me.
I reach into my pocket and take out the hard drive that contains the simulation data. I turn it in my hands, letting it catch the fading light and reflect it. Marcus’s eyes cling greedily to the movement. Not safe, I think. Not quite.
I clutch the hard drive to my chest, lean my head on Tobias’s shoulder, and try to sleep.
Abnegation and Dauntless are both broken, their members scattered. We are like the factionless now. I do not know what life will be like, separated from a faction—it feels disengaged, like a leaf divided from the tree that gives it sustenance. We are creatures of loss; we have left everything behind. I have no home, no path, and no certainty. I am no longer Tris, the selfless, or Tris, the brave.
I suppose that now, I must become more than either.
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