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CHAPTER TWENTY-SIX

HAND IN HAND, we walk toward the Pit. I monitor the pressure of my hand carefully. One minute, I feel like I’m not gripping hard enough, and the next, I’m squeezing too hard. I never used to understand why people bothered to hold hands as they walked, but then he runs one of his fingertips down my palm, and I shiver and understand it completely.

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“So…” I latch on to the last logical thought I remember. “Four fears. ”

“Four fears then; four fears now,” he says, nodding. “They haven’t changed, so I keep going in there, but…I still haven’t made any progress. ”

“You can’t be fearless, remember?” I say. “Because you still care about things. About your life. ”

“I know. ”

We walk along the edge of the Pit on a narrow path that leads to the rocks at the bottom of the chasm. I’ve never noticed it before—it blended in with the rock wall. But Tobias seems to know it well.

I don’t want to ruin the moment, but I have to know about his aptitude test. I have to know if he’s Divergent.

“You were going to tell me about your aptitude test results,” I say.

“Ah. ” He scratches the back of his neck with his free hand. “Does it matter?”

“Yes. I want to know. ”

“How demanding you are. ” He smiles.

We reach the end of the path and stand at the bottom of the chasm, where the rocks form unsteady ground, rising up at harsh angles from the rushing water. He leads me up and down, across small gaps and over angular ridges. My shoes cling to the rough rock. The soles of my shoes mark each rock with a wet footprint.

He finds a relatively flat rock near the side, where the current isn’t strong, and sits down, his feet dangling over the edge. I sit beside him. He seems comfortable here, inches above the hazardous water.

He releases my hand. I look at the jagged edge of the rock.

“These are things I don’t tell people, you know. Not even my friends,” he says.

I lace my fingers together and clench. This is the perfect place for him to tell me that he is Divergent, if indeed that’s what he is. The roar of the chasm ensures that we won’t be overheard. I don’t know why the thought makes me so nervous.

“My result was as expected,” he says. “Abnegation. ”

“Oh. ” Something inside me deflates. I am wrong about him.

But—I had assumed that if he was not Divergent, he must have gotten a Dauntless result. And technically, I also got an Abnegation result—according to the system. Did the same thing happen to him? And if that’s true, why isn’t he telling me the truth?

“But you chose Dauntless anyway?” I say.

“Out of necessity. ”

“Why did you have to leave?”

His eyes dart away from mine, across the space in front of him, as if searching the air for an answer. He doesn’t need to give one. I still feel the ghost of a stinging belt on my wrist.

“You had to get away from your dad,” I say. “Is that why you don’t want to be a Dauntless leader? Because if you were, you might have to see him again?”

He lifts a shoulder. “That, and I’ve always felt that I don’t quite belong among the Dauntless. Not the way they are now, anyway. ”

“But you’re…incredible,” I say. I pause and clear my throat. “I mean, by Dauntless standards. Four fears is unheard of. How could you not belong here?”

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He shrugs. He doesn’t seem to care about his talent, or his status among the Dauntless, and that is what I would expect from the Abnegation. I am not sure what to make of that.

He says, “I have a theory that selflessness and bravery aren’t all that different. All your life you’ve been training to forget yourself, so when you’re in danger, it becomes your first instinct. I could belong in Abnegation just as easily. ”

Suddenly I feel heavy. A lifetime of training wasn’t enough for me. My first instinct is still self-preservation.

“Yeah, well,” I say, “I left Abnegation because I wasn’t selfless enough, no matter how hard I tried to be. ”

“That’s not entirely true. ” He smiles at me. “That girl who let someone throw knives at her to spare a friend, who hit my dad with a belt to protect me—that selfless girl, that’s not you?”

He’s figured out more about me than I have. And even though it seems impossible that he could feel something for me, given all that I’m not…maybe it isn’t. I frown at him. “You’ve been paying close attention, haven’t you?”

“I like to observe people. ”

“Maybe you were cut out for Candor, Four, because you’re a terrible liar. ”

He puts his hand on the rock next to him, his fingers lining up with mine. I look down at our hands. He has long, narrow fingers. Hands made for fine, deft movements. Not Dauntless hands, which should be thick and tough and ready to break things.

“Fine. ” He leans his face closer to mine, his eyes focusing on my chin, and my lips, and my nose. “I watched you because I like you. ” He says it plainly, boldly, and his eyes flick up to mine. “And don’t call me ‘Four,’ okay? It’s nice to hear my name again. ”

Just like that, he has finally declared himself, and I don’t know how to respond. My cheeks warm, and all I can think to say is, “But you’re older than I am…Tobias. ”

He smiles at me. “Yes, that whopping two-year gap really is insurmountable, isn’t it?”

“I’m not trying to be self-deprecating,” I say, “I just don’t get it. I’m younger. I’m not pretty. I—”

He laughs, a deep laugh that sounds like it came from deep inside him, and touches his lips to my temple.

“Don’t pretend,” I say breathily. “You know I’m not. I’m not ugly, but I am certainly not pretty. ”

“Fine. You’re not pretty. So?” He kisses my cheek. “I like how you look. You’re deadly smart. You’re brave. And even though you found out about Marcus…” His voice softens. “You aren’t giving me that look. Like I’m a kicked puppy or something. ”

“Well,” I say. “You’re not. ”

For a second his dark eyes are on mine, and he’s quiet. Then he touches my face and leans in close, brushing my lips with his. The river roars and I feel its spray on my ankles. He grins and presses his mouth to mine.

I tense up at first, unsure of myself, so when he pulls away, I’m sure I did something wrong, or badly. But he takes my face in his hands, his fingers strong against my skin, and kisses me again, firmer this time, more certain. I wrap an arm around him, sliding my hand up his neck and into his short hair.

For a few minutes we kiss, deep in the chasm, with the roar of water all around us. And when we rise, hand in hand, I realize that if we had both chosen differently, we might have ended up doing the same thing, in a safer place, in gray clothes instead of black ones.

Watch Divergent 4: Ascendant (2017)

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