“Oh.” She frowns. “But you chose Dauntless anyway?”
“Out of necessity.”Watch Divergent 4: Ascendant (2017)
“Why did you have to leave?”
I look away, not sure I can give voice to my reasons, because admitting them makes me a faction traitor, makes me feel like a coward.
“You had to get away from your dad,” she says. “Is that why you don’t want to be a Dauntlessleader? Because if you were, you might have to see him again?”
I shrug. “That, and I’ve always felt that I don’t quite belong among the Dauntless. Not the way they are now, anyway.” It’s not quite the truth. I’m not sure this is the moment to tell her what I know about Max and Jeanine and the attack—selfishly, I want to keep this moment to myself, just for a little while.
“But … you’re incredible,” she says. I raise my eyebrows at her. She seems embarrassed. “I mean, by Dauntless standards. Four fears is unheard of. How could you not belong here?”
I shrug again. The more time goes by, the stranger I find it that my fear landscape isn’t riddled with fears like everyone else’s. A lot of things make me nervous, anxious, uncomfortable … but when confronted with those things, I can act, I’m never paralyzed. My four fears, if I’m not careful, will paralyze me. That’s the only difference.
“I have a theory that selflessness and bravery aren’t all that different.” I look up at the Pit, rising high above us. From here I can see just a small slice of night sky. “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.”
“Yeah, well. I left Abnegation because I wasn’t selfless enough, no matter how hard I tried to be.”
“That’s not entirely true,” I say with a smile. “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?”
In this light, she looks like she comes from another world, her eyes rendered so pale they almost seem to glow in the dark.
“You’ve been paying close attention, haven’t you?” she asks, like she just read my mind. But she’s not talking about me looking at her face.
“I like to observe people,” I say slyly.
“Maybe you were cut out for Candor, Four, because you’re a terrible liar.”
I set my hand down next to hers and lean closer. “Fine.” Her long, narrow nose is no longer swollen from the attack, and neither is her mouth. She has a nice mouth. “I watched you because I like you. And … don’t call me ‘Four,’ okay? It’s … nice. To hear my name again.”
She looks momentarily bewildered.
“But you’re older than I am … Tobias.”
It sounds so good when she says it. Like it’s nothing to be ashamed of.
“Yes, that whopping two-year gap really is insurmountable, isn’t it?”
“I’m not trying to be self-deprecating,” she says stubbornly. “I just don’t get it. I’m younger. I’m not pretty. I—”
I laugh, and kiss her temple.
“Don’t pretend,” she says, sounding a little breathless. “You know I’m not. I’m not ugly, but I am certainly not pretty.”
The word “pretty,” and all that it represents, seems so completely useless right now that I have no patience for it.
“Fine. You’re not pretty. So?” I move my lips to her cheek, trying to work up some courage. “I like how you look.” I pull back. “You’re deadly smart. You’re brave. And even though you found out about Marcus … you aren’t giving me that look. Like I’m … a kicked puppy, or something.”
“Well,” she says factually. “You’re not.”
My instincts were right: She is worth trusting. With my secrets, with my shame, with the name that I abandoned. With the beautiful truths and the awful ones. I know it.Watch Divergent 4: Ascendant (2017)
I touch my lips to hers. Our eyes meet, and I grin, and kiss her again, this time more sure of it.
It’s not enough. I pull her closer, kiss her harder. She comes alive, putting her arms around me and leaning into me and it’s still not enough, how can it be?
I walk her back to the transfer dormitory, my shoes still damp from the river spray, and she smiles at me as she slips through the doorway. I start toward my apartment, and it doesn’t take long for the giddy relief to give way to uneasiness again. Somewhere between watching that belt curl around her arm in my fear landscape and telling her that selflessness and bravery were often the same thing, I made a decision.
I turn at the next corner, not toward my apartment but toward a stairway that leads outside, right next to Max’s place. I slow down when I pass his door, afraid that my footsteps will be loud enough to rouse him. Irrational.
My heart pounds when I reach the top of the stairs. A train is just passing, its silver side catching moonlight. I walk beneath the tracks and set out toward the Abnegation sector.
Tris came from Abnegation—part of her innate power comes from them, whenever she’s called upon to defend people who are weaker than she is. And I can’t stand to think of the men and women who are like her falling to Dauntless-Erudite weapons. They may have lied to me, and maybe I failed them when I chose Dauntless, and maybe I’m failing Dauntless now, but I don’t have to fail myself. And I, no matter what faction I’m in, know the right thing to do.
The Abnegation sector is so clean, not a scrap of trash on the streets, sidewalks, or lawns. The identical gray buildings are worn in places from where selfless people have refused to mend them when the factionless sector so badly needs the materials, but neat and unremarkable. The streets here could easily be a maze, but I haven’t been gone long enough to forget the way to Marcus’s house.
Strange, how quickly it became his house instead of mine, in my mind.
Maybe I don’t have to tell him; I could tell another Abnegation leader, but he’s the most influential one, and there’s still a part of him that’s my father, that tried to protect me because I’m Divergent. I try to remember the swell of power I felt in my fear landscape, when Tris showed me he was just a man, not a monster, and that I could face him. But she’s not here with me now, and I feel flimsy, like I’m made of paper.
I walk up the path to the house, and my legs are rigid, like they don’t have joints. I don’t knock; I don’t want to wake anyone else. I reach under the doormat for the spare key and unlock the front door.
It’s late, but the light is still on in the kitchen. By the time I walk through the door, he’s already standing where I can see him. Behind him, the kitchen table is covered with papers. He’s not wearing his shoes—they’re on the living room carpet, their laces undone—and his eyes are just as shadowed as they are in my nightmares about him.
“What are you doing here?” He looks me up and down. I wonder what he’s looking at until I remember that I’m wearing Dauntless black, heavy boots and a jacket, tattoo ink on my neck. He comes a little closer, and I notice that I’m as tall as he is, and stronger than I ever have been.
He could never overpower me now.
“You’re no longer welcome in this house,” he says.
“I …” I stand up straighter, and not because he hates bad posture. “I don’t care,” I say, and his eyebrows pop up like I just surprised him.
Maybe I did.
“I came to warn you,” I say. “I found something. Attack plans. Max and Jeanine are going to attack Abnegation. I don’t know when, or how.”
He watches me for a second, in a way that makes me feel like I’m being measured, and then his expression shifts into a sneer.Watch Divergent 4: Ascendant (2017)
“Max and Jeanine are going to attack,” he says. “Just the two of them, armed with some simulation syringes?” His eyes narrow. “Did Max send you here? Have you become his Dauntless lackey? What, does he want to scare me?”
When I thought about warning the Abnegation, I was sure the hardest part would be getting myself through this door. It never occurred to me that he wouldn’t believe me.
“Don’t be stupid,” I say. I would never have said that to him when I lived in this house, but two years of intentionally adopting Dauntless speech patterns make it come out of my mouth naturally. “If you’re suspicious of Max, it’s for a reason, and I’m telling you it’s a good one. You’re right to be suspicious. You’re in danger—you all are.”
“You dare to come to my house after you betrayed your faction,” he says, his voice low, “after you betrayed your family … and insult me?” He shakes his head. “I refuse to be intimidated into doing what Max and Jeanine want, and certainly not by my son.”
“You know what?” I say. “Forget it. I should have gone to someone else.”
I turn toward the door, and he says, “Don’t walk away from me.”
His hand closes around my arm, tightly. I stare at it, for a second feeling dizzy, like I’m outside of my own body, already separating myself from the moment so I can survive it.
You can fight him, I think, as I remember Tris drawing back the belt in my fear landscape to strike him.
I pull my arm free, and I’m too strong for him to hold on to. But I can only muster the strength to walk away, and he doesn’t dare shout after me, not when the neighbors could hear. My hands shake a little bit, so I put them in my pockets. I don’t hear the front door shut behind me, so I know he’s watching me go.
It wasn’t the triumphant return I pictured.
I feel guilty when I pass through the doorway to the Pire, like there are Dauntless eyes all over me, judging me for what I just did. I went against the Dauntless leaders, and for what? For a man I hate, who didn’t even believe me? It doesn’t feel like it was worth it, worth being called a faction traitor.
I look through the glass floor to the chasm far beneath me, the water calm and dark, too far away to reflect any moonlight. A few hours ago I was standing right here, about to show a girl I hardly knew all the secrets I’ve fought so hard to protect.
She was equal to my trust, even if Marcus wasn’t. She, and her mother, and the rest of the faction she believes in, are still worth protecting. So that’s what I’m going to do.
READ ON FOR MORE EXCLUSIVE
TOLD FROM TOBIAS’S
“YOU LOOK GOOD, TRIS.”
I CHECK MY watch. The first initiate should be jumping any minute now.
The net waits beside me, wide and sturdy and lit from above by the sun. The last time I was here was last year’s Choosing Day, and before then, the day I jumped. I didn’t want to remember the feeling of inching toward the edge of the building, my mind and my body going haywire with terror, the awful drop, the helpless flailing of limbs, the slap of the net fibers against my arms and neck.
“How’d the prank go?” Lauren says.
It takes me a second to figure out what she means: the program, and my supposed desire to prank Zeke. “Haven’t done it yet. Our work time didn’t overlap much today.”
“You know, if you were up for some serious studying, we could use you in tech services,” she says.
“If you’re recruiting, you should talk to Zeke. He’s much better than I am.”
“Yeah, but Zeke doesn’t know when to shut it,” she says. “We don’t recruit for skill so much as compatibility. We spend a lot of time together.”
I grin. Zeke does like to surround himself with chatter, but that’s never bothered me. Sometimes it’s nice not to worry about providing any conversation.
Lauren plays with one of the rings in her eyebrow, and we wait. I try to crane my neck to see the top of the building from the ground, but all I can see is sky.
“Bet you it’s one of my Dauntless-borns,” she says.
“It’s always a Dauntless-born. No bet.”
They have an unfair advantage, the Dauntless-born. They usually know what’s at the bottom of the jump, though we try to keep it from them as much as possible—the only time we use this entrance to headquarters is on Choosing Day, but the Dauntless are curious, they explore the compound when they think no one is watching. They also grow up cultivating in themselves the desire to make bold moves, to take drastic action, to commit themselves fully to whatever they decide to do. It would take a strange kind of transfer to know how to do that without having been taught.
Then I see her.
Not a black streak like I was expecting, but gray, tumbling through the air. I hear a snap of the net pulling taught around the metal supports, and it shifts to cradle her. For a second I stare, amazed, at the familiar clothing that she wears. Then I put my hand out, into the net, so she can reach it.
She wraps her fingers around mine, and I pull her across. As she tumbles over the side, I grab her arms to steady her. She’s small, and thin—fragile-looking, like the impact with the net should have shattered her. Her eyes are wide and bright blue.
“Thank you,” she says. She may look fragile, but her voice is steady.
“Can’t believe it,” Lauren says, with more Dauntless swagger than usual. “A Stiff, the first to jump? Unheard of.”
She’s right. It is unheard of. It’s unheard of for a Stiff to join Dauntless, even. There were no Abnegation transfers last year. And before that, for a long time, there was only me.
“There’s a reason why she left them, Lauren,” I say, feeling distant from the moment, from my own body. I pull myself back and say to the initiate, “What’s your name?”
“Um …” She hesitates, and I feel, for a strange, brief moment, like I know her. Not from my time in Abnegation, not from school, but on a deeper level, somehow, her eyes and her mouth searching for a name, dissatisfied with the one she finds, just like I was. My initiation instructor gave me an escape from my old identity. I can give her one, too.
“Think about it,” I say, smiling a little. “You don’t get to pick again.”
“Tris,” she says, like she’s already sure of it.
“Tris,” Lauren says. “Make the announcement, Four.”
She’s my initiate, after all, this transfer from Abnegation.
I look over my shoulder, at the crowd of Dauntless members who have gathered to watch the initiates jump, and I announce, “First jumper—Tris!”
This way, they’ll remember her, not for the gray she wears but for her first act of bravery. Or insanity. Sometimes they’re the same thing.
Everyone cheers, and as the sound fills the cavern, another initiate plummets into the net with a blood-curdling scream. A girl dressed in Candor black and white. This time, Lauren is the one to reach across the net to help her. I touch a hand to Tris’s back to guide her toward the stairs, in case she’s not as steady as she seems. Before she takes the first step, I say, “Welcome to Dauntless.”
ONE ABNEGATION, FIVE Candor, two Erudite. Those are my initiates.
I’m told that Candor and Dauntless have a fairly high mutual transfer rate—we usually lose as many to them as we gain. I consider it my job to get these eight initiates through at least the first round of cuts. Last year, when Eric and Max insisted on the cuts, I fought them as hard as I dared. But it seems the cuts are here to stay, all for the sake of the Dauntless Max and Eric want to create—a faction of mindless brutality.
But I intend to leave Dauntless as soon as I find out what Max and Jeanine are up to, and if that’s in the middle of initiation, so much the better.
Once all the Dauntless-borns—including Uriah, Lynn, and Marlene—are with us, I start down the tunnel, beckoning them to follow with one hand. We walk down the dark hallway toward the Pit doors.
“This is where we divide,” Lauren says, when she reaches the doors. “The Dauntless-born initiates are with me. I assume you don’t need a tour of the place.”
She smiles, and the Dauntless-borns follow her down the hallway that bypasses the Pit, leading them right into the cafeteria. I watch them leave, and once they’ve disappeared, I straighten up. I learned last year that in order for them to take me seriously from the beginning, I have to be hard on them from the beginning. I don’t have Amar’s natural charm, which won people’s loyalty with just a smile or a joke, so I have to compensate in other ways.
“Most of the time I work in the control room, but for the next few weeks, I’m your instructor,” I say. “My name is Four.”
One of the Candor girls—tall, with dark skin and an energetic voice—speaks up. “Four? Like the number?”
I sense the beginnings of an uprising. People who don’t know what my name means often like to laugh at it, and I don’t like to be laughed at, especially not by a group of initiates fresh from Choosing, who have no idea what they’re in for.
“Yes,” I say testily. “Is there a problem?”
“No,” the girl says.
“Good. We’re about to go into the Pit, which you will someday learn to love. It—”
The Candor girl interrupts again. “The Pit? Clever name.”
I feel a swell of irritation, and I move toward her without really deciding to. I can’t have someone cracking jokes about everything I say, especially not at the beginning of initiation, when everyone’s attitudes are so malleable. I have to show them all that I’m not someone to be messed with, and I have to do it now.
I lean in close to her face and stare at her for a few seconds, until I see her smile falter.
“What’s your name?” I say, keeping my voice quiet.
“Christina,” she says.
“Well, Christina, if I wanted to put up with Candor smart-mouths, I would have joined their faction,” I say. “The first lesson you will learn from me is to keep your mouth shut. Got that?”
She nods. I turn away, my heart throbbing in my ears. I think that did it, but I can’t be sure, not until initiation really begins. I push through the double doors that open up to the Pit, and for a moment, I see it like it’s for the first time, the impossibly huge space, bustling with life and energy, the pulse of water in the chasm, crashing against the rocks, the echoes of conversation everywhere. Most of the time I avoid it because it’s so busy, but today I love it. I can’t help it.
“If you follow me,” I say. “I’ll show you the chasm.”
The Abnegation transfer sits at my table. For a moment I wonder if she knows who I am, or if she’s somehow magnetized to me by an invisible force of Stiff that I can’t help but give off. But she doesn’t look at me like she knows me. And she doesn’t know what a hamburger is.
“You’ve never had a hamburger before?” Christina says. Incredulous. The Candor are like that, amazed that not everyone lives the way that they do. It’s one of the reasons I don’t like them. It’s like the rest of the world doesn’t exist to them, but for the Abnegation, the rest of the world is all that exists, and it is full of need.
“No,” Tris says. For someone so small, she has a low voice. It always sounds serious, no matter what she says. “Is that what it’s called?”
“Stiffs eat plain food,” I say, trying out the slang. It feels unnatural, applied to Tris; I feel like I owe her the courtesies I would owe any woman in my former faction, deferential, averted eyes and polite conversation. I have to push myself to remember that I’m not in Abnegation anymore. And neither is she.
“Why?” Christina says.
“Extravagance is considered self-indulgent and unnecessary.” She says it like she’s reciting it from memory. Maybe she is.
“No wonder you left.”
“Yeah.” Tris rolls her eyes, which surprises me. “It was just because of the food.”
I try not to smile. I’m not sure it works.
Then Eric walks in, and everything goes quiet.
Eric’s appointment to Dauntless leader was met with confusion and, in some
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