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TORI STANDS, A wild look in her eyes, and turns toward me.
I feel numb.
All the risks I took to get here—conspiring with Marcus, asking the Erudite for help, crawling across a ladder three stories up, shooting myself in a simulation—and all the sacrifices I made—my relationship with Tobias, Fernando’s life, my standing among the Dauntless—were for nothing.
A moment later, the glass door opens again. Tobias and Uriah storm in as if to fight a battle—Uriah coughing, probably from the poison—but the battle is done. Jeanine is dead, Tori is triumphant, and I am a Dauntless traitor.
Tobias stops in the middle of a step, almost stumbling over his feet, when he sees me. His eyes open wider.
“She is a traitor,” says Tori. “She just almost shot me to defend Jeanine. ”
“What?” says Uriah. “Tris, what’s going on? Is she right? Why are you even here?”
But I look only at Tobias. A sliver of hope pierces me, strangely painful, when combined with the guilt I feel for how I deceived him. Tobias is stubborn and proud, but he is mine—maybe he will listen, maybe there’s a chance that all I did was not in vain—
“You know why I’m here,” I say quietly. “Don’t you?”
I hold out Tori’s gun. He walks forward, a little unsteady on his feet, and takes it.
“We found Marcus in the next room, caught in a simulation,” Tobias says. “You came up here with him. ”
“Yes, I did,” I say, blood from Tori’s bite trickling down my arm.
“I trusted you,” he says, his body shaking with rage. “I trusted you and you abandoned me to work with him?”
“No. ” I shake my head. “He told me something, and everything my brother said, everything Jeanine said while I was in Erudite headquarters, fit perfectly with what he told me. And I wanted—I needed to know the truth. ”
“The truth. ” He snorts. “You think you learned the truth from a liar, a traitor, and a sociopath?”
“The truth?” says Tori. “What are you talking about?”
Tobias and I stare at each other. His blue eyes, usually so thoughtful, are now hard and critical, like they are peeling back layer after layer of me and searching each one.
“I think,” I say. I have to pause and take a breath, because I have not convinced him; I have failed, and this is probably the last thing they will let me say before they arrest me.
“I think that you are the liar!” I say, my voice quaking. “You tell me you love me, you trust me, you think I’m more perceptive than the average person. And the first second that belief in my perceptiveness, that trust, that love is put to the test, it all falls apart. ” I am crying now, but I am not ashamed of the tears shining on my cheeks or the thickness of my voice. “So you must have lied when you told me all those things . . . you must have, because I can’t believe your love is really that feeble. ”
I step closer to him, so that there are only inches between us, and none of the others can hear me.
“I am still the person who would have died rather than kill you,” I say, remembering the attack simulation and the feel of his heartbeat under my hand. “I am exactly who you think I am. And right now, I’m telling you that I know . . . I know this information will change everything. Everything we have done, and everything we are about to do. ”
I stare at him like I can communicate the truth with my eyes, but that is impossible. He looks away, and I’m not sure he even heard what I said.
“Enough of this,” says Tori. “Take her downstairs. She will be tried along with all the other war criminals. ”
Tobias doesn’t move. Uriah takes my arm and leads me away from him, through the laboratory, through the room of light, through the blue hallway. Therese of the factionless joins us there, eyeing me curiously.
Once we’re in the stairwell, I feel something nudge my side. When I look back, I see a wad of gauze in Uriah’s hand. I take it, trying to give him a grateful smile and failing.
As we descend the stairs, I wrap the gauze tightly around my hand, sidestepping bodies without looking at their faces. Uriah takes my elbow to keep me from falling. The gauze wrapping doesn’t help with the pain of the bite, but it makes me feel a little better, and so does the fact that Uriah, at least, doesn’t seem to hate me.
For the first time the Dauntless’s disregard for age does not seem like an opportunity. It seems like the thing that will condemn me. They will not say, But she’s young; she must have been confused. They will say, She is an adult, and she made her choice.
Of course, I agree with them. I did make my choice. I chose my mother and father, and what they fought for.
Walking down the stairs is easier than going up. We reach the fifth level before I realize that we’re going down to the lobby.
“Give me your gun, Uriah,” says Therese. “Someone needs to be able to shoot potential belligerents, and you can’t do it if you’re keeping her from falling down the stairs. ”
Uriah surrenders his gun without question. I frown—Therese already has a gun, so why did it matter for him to give his? But I don’t ask. I am in enough trouble as it is.
We reach the bottom floor and walk past a large meeting room full of people dressed in black and white. I pause for a moment to watch them. Some of them are huddled in small groups, leaning on one another, tears streaking their faces. Others are alone, leaning against walls or sitting in corners, their eyes hollow or staring at something that is far away.
“We had to shoot so many,” Uriah mutters, squeezing my arm. “Just to get into the building, we had to. ”
“I know,” I say.
I see Christina’s sister and mother clutched together on the right side of the room. And on the left side, a young man with dark hair that gleams in the fluorescent light—Peter. His hand is on the shoulder of a middle-aged woman I recognize as his mother.
“What is he doing here?” I say.
“Little coward came in the aftermath, after all the work was done,” Uriah says. “I heard his dad’s dead. Looks like his mother’s okay, though. ”
Peter looks over his shoulder, and his gaze meets mine, just for a second. In that second I try to summon some pity for the person who saved my life. But while the hatred I once had for him is gone, I still feel nothing.
“What’s the holdup?” demands Therese. “Let’s get going. ”
We walk past the meeting room to the main lobby, where I once embraced Caleb. The giant portrait of Jeanine is in pieces on the floor. The smoke that hovers in the air is condensed around the bookshelves, which are burned to cinders. All the computers are in pieces, strewn across the floor.
Sitting in rows in the center of the room are some of the Erudite who didn’t get away, and the Dauntless traitors who survived. I search the faces for anything familiar. I find Caleb near the back, looking dazed. I look away.
“Tris!” I hear. Christina sits near the front, next to Cara, her leg wrapped tightly with fabric. She beckons to me, and I sit down next to her.
“No success?” she says quietly.
I shake my head.
She sighs, and puts her arm around me. The gesture is so comforting I almost start to cry. But Christina and I are not people who cry together; we’re people who fight together. So I hold my tears in.
“I saw your mom and your sister in the next room,” I say.
“Yeah, me too,” she says. “My family is okay. ”
“Good,” I say. “How’s your leg?”
“Fine. Cara said it’ll be fine; it’s not bleeding too much. One of the Erudite nurses stuffed some pain meds and antiseptic and gauze into her pockets before they took her down here, so it doesn’t hurt too bad either,” she says. Beside her, Cara is examining another Erudite’s arm. “Where’s Marcus?”
“Dunno,” I say. “We had to split up. He should be down here. Unless they killed him or something. ”
“I wouldn’t be that surprised, honestly,” she says.
The room is chaotic for a while—people rushing in and rushing out again, our factionless guards trading places, new people in Erudite blue brought to sit among us—but gradually everything gets quieter, and then I see him: Tobias, walking through the stairwell door.
I bite my lip, hard, and try not to think, try not to dwell on the cold feeling that surrounds my chest and the weight that hangs over my head. He hates me. He does not believe me.
Christina clutches me tighter as he walks past us, without even looking at me. I watch him over my shoulder. He stops next to Caleb, grabs his arm, and wrenches him to his feet. Calebwriggles for a second, but he is not half as strong as Tobias and can’t break away.
“What?” Caleb says, panicking. “What do you want?”
“I want you to disarm the security system for Jeanine’s laboratory,” says Tobias without looking back. “So that the factionless can access her computer. ”
And destroy it, I think, and if possible, my heart becomes even heavier. Tobias and Calebdisappear into the stairwell again.
Christina slumps against me, and I slump against her, so we hold each other up.
“Jeanine activated all the Dauntless transmitters, you know,” Christina says. “One of the factionless groups got ambushed by simulation-controlled Dauntless, coming late from the Abnegation sector about ten minutes ago. I guess the factionless won, though I don’t know how you call shooting a bunch of brain-dead people winning. ”
“Yeah. ” There isn’t much more to say. She seems to realize that.
“What happened after I got shot?” she says.
I describe the blue hallway with two doors, and the simulation that followed, from the moment I recognized the Dauntless training room to the moment I shot myself. I do not tell her about hallucinating Will.
“Wait,” she says. “It was a simulation? Without a transmitter?”
I frown. I hadn’t bothered to wonder about that. Especially not at the time. “If the laboratory recognizes people, maybe it also knows data about everyone, and can present a corresponding simulated environment depending on your faction. ”
It doesn’t matter, now, to figure out how Jeanine set up the security on her laboratory, of all things. But it feels good to put myself to some use, to think of a new problem to solve now that I have failed to solve the most important one.
Christina sits up straighter. Maybe she feels the same way.
“Or the poison somehow contains a transmitter. ”
I hadn’t thought of that.
“But how did Tori get past it? She’s not Divergent. ”
I tilt my head. “I don’t know. ”
Maybe she is, I think. Her brother was, and after what happened to him, she might never admit it, no matter how accepted it becomes.
People, I have discovered, are layers and layers of secrets. You believe you know them, that you understand them, but their motives are always hidden from you, buried in their own hearts. You will never know them, but sometimes you decide to trust them.
“What do you think they’re going to do to us when they find us guilty?” she says after a few minutes of silence have passed.
“Does now seem like the time for honesty?”
I look at her from the corner of my eye. “I think they’re going to force us to eat lots of cake and then take an unreasonably long nap. ”
She laughs. I try not to—if I let myself laugh, I’ll start to cry, too.
I hear a yell, and peer around the crowd to see where it came from.
“Lynn!” The yell came from Uriah. He runs toward the door, where two Dauntless are carrying Lynn in on a makeshift stretcher, made of what looks like a shelf from a bookcase. She is pale—too pale—and her hands are folded over her stomach.
I jump to my feet and start toward her, but a few factionless guns stop me from going much farther. I put up my hands and stand still, watching.
Uriah walks around the crowd of war criminals and points to a severe-looking Erudite woman with gray hair. “You. Come here. ”
The woman gets to her feet and brushes off her pants. She walks, light-footed, to the edge of the seated crowd and looks expectantly at Uriah.
“You’re a doctor, right?” he says.
“I am, yes,” she says.
“Then fix her!” He scowls. “She’s hurt. ”
The doctor approaches Lynn and asks the two Dauntless to set her down. They do, and she crouches over the stretcher.
“My dear,” she says. “Please remove your hands from your wound. ”
“I can’t,” moans Lynn. “It hurts. ”
“I am aware that it hurts,” the doctor says. “But I won’t be able to assess your wound if you do not reveal it to me. ”
Uriah kneels across from the doctor and helps her shift Lynn’s hands away from her stomach. The doctor peels Lynn’s shirt back from her stomach. The bullet wound itself is just a round, red circle in Lynn’s skin, but surrounding it is what looks like a bruise. I have never seen a bruise that dark.
The doctor purses her lips, and I know that Lynn is as good as dead.
“Fix her!” says Uriah. “You can fix her, so do it!”
“On the contrary,” the doctor says, looking up at him. “Because you set the hospital floors of this building on fire, I cannot fix her. ”
“There are other hospitals!” he says, almost shouting. “You can get stuff from there and heal her!”
“Her condition is far too advanced,” the doctor says, her voice quiet. “If you had not insisted upon burning everything that came into your path, I could have tried, but as the situation stands, trying would be worthless. ”
“You shut up!” he says, pointing at the doctor’s chest. “I’m not the one who burned your hospital! She’s my friend, and I . . . I just . . . ”
“Uri,” says Lynn. “Shut up. It’s too late. ”
Uriah lets his arms fall to his sides, then reaches for Lynn’s hand, his lip quivering.
“I’m her friend too,” I say to the factionless pointing guns at me. “Can you at least point guns at me from over there?”
They let me pass, and I run to Lynn’s side, holding her free hand, which is sticky with blood. I ignore the gun barrels pointed at my head and focus on Lynn’s face, which is now yellowish instead of white.
She doesn’t seem to notice me. She focuses on Uriah.
“I’m just glad I didn’t die while under the simulation,” she says weakly.
“You’re not gonna die now,” he says.
“Don’t be stupid,” she says. “Uri, listen. I loved her too. I did. ”
“You loved who?” he says, his voice breaking.
“Marlene,” says Lynn.
“Yeah, we all loved Marlene,” he says.
“No, that’s not what I mean. ” She shakes her head. She closes her eyes.
Still, it takes a few minutes before her hand goes limp in mine. I guide it across her stomach, and then take her other hand from Uriah and do the same to it. He wipes his eyes before his tears can fall. Our eyes meet across her body.
“You should tell Shauna,” I say. “And Hector. ”
“Right. ” He sniffs and presses his palm to Lynn’s face. I wonder if her cheek is still warm. I don’t want to touch her and find that it’s not.
I rise and walk back to Christina.