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WHEN HE STARTS to fall asleep, he keeps his arms around me fiercely, a life-preserving prison. But I wait, kept awake by the thought of bodies hitting pavement, until his grip loosens and his breathing steadies.
I will not let Tobias go to Erudite when it happens again, when someone else dies. I will not.
I slip out of his arms. I shrug on one of his sweatshirts so I can carry the smell of him with me. I slip my feet into my shoes. I don’t take any weapons or keepsakes.
I pause by the doorway and look at him, half buried under the quilt, peaceful and strong.
“I love you,” I say quietly, trying out the words. I let the door close behind me.
It’s time to put everything in order.
I walk to the dormitory where the Dauntless-born initiates once slept. The room looks just like the one I slept in when I was an initiate: it is long and narrow, with bunk beds on either side and a chalkboard on one wall. I see by a blue light in the corner that no one bothered to erase the rankings that are written there—Uriah’s name is still at the top.
Christina sleeps in the bottom bunk, beneath Lynn. I don’t want to startle her, but there’s no way to wake her otherwise, so I cover her mouth with my hand. She wakes with a start, her eyes wide until they find me. I touch my finger to my lips and beckon for her to follow me.
I walk to the end of the hallway and turn a corner. The corridor is lit by a paint-spattered emergency lamp that hangs over one of the exits. Christina isn’t wearing shoes; she curls her toes under to protect them from the cold.
“What is it?” she says. “Are you going somewhere?”
“Yeah, I’m . . . ” I have to lie, or she’ll try to stop me. “I’m going to see my brother. He’s with the Abnegation, remember?”
She narrows her eyes.
“I’m sorry to wake you,” I say. “But there’s something I need you to do. It’s really important. ”
“Okay. Tris, you’re acting really strange. Are you sure you’re not—”
“I’m not. Listen to me. The timing of the simulation attack wasn’t random. The reason it happened when it did is because the Abnegation were about to do something—I don’t know what it was, but it had to do with some important information, and now Jeanine has that information. . . . ”
“What?” She frowns. “You don’t know what they were about to do? Do you know what the information is?”
“No. ” I must sound crazy. “The thing is, I haven’t been able to find out very much about this, because Marcus Eaton is the only person who knows everything, and he won’t tell me. I just . . . it’s the reason for the attack. It’s the reason. And we need to know it. ”
I don’t know what else to say. But Christina is already nodding.
“The reason Jeanine forced us to attack innocent people,” she says bitterly. “Yeah. We need to know it. ”
I had almost forgotten—she was under the simulation. How many Abnegation did she kill, guided by the simulation? How did she feel when she awoke from that dream a murderer? I have never asked, and I never will.
“I want your help, and soon. I need someone to persuade Marcus to cooperate, and I think you can do it. ”
She tilts her head and stares at me for a few seconds.
“Tris. Don’t do anything stupid. ”
I force a smile. “Why do people keep saying that to me?”
She grabs my arm. “I’m not kidding around. ”
“I told you, I’m going to visit Caleb. I’ll be back in a few days, and we can make a strategy then. I just thought it would be better if someone else knew about all this before I left. Just in case. Okay?”
She holds my arm for a few seconds, and then releases me. “Okay,” she says.
I walk toward the exit. I hold myself together until I’m through the door, and then I feel the tears come.
The last conversation I’ll ever have with her, and it was full of lies.
Once I’m outside, I put up the hood of Tobias’s sweatshirt. When I reach the end of the street, I glance up and down, searching for signs of life. There is nothing.
The cool air prickles in my lungs on the way in, and on the way out unfurls in a cloud of vapor. Winter will be here soon. I wonder if Erudite and Dauntless will still be at a standstill then, waiting for one group to obliterate the other. I’m glad I won’t have to see it.
Before I chose Dauntless, thoughts like that never occurred to me. I felt assured of my long lifespan, if nothing else. Now there are no reassurances, except that where I go, I go because I choose to.
I walk in the shadows of buildings, hoping my footsteps won’t attract any attention. None of the city lights are on in this area, but the moon is bright enough that I can walk by it without too much trouble.
I walk beneath the elevated tracks. They shudder with the movement of an oncoming train. I have to walk fast if I want to get there before anyone notices that I’m gone. I sidestep a large crack in the street, and jump over a fallen streetlight.
I didn’t think about how far I would have to walk when I set out. It isn’t long before my body warms with the exertion of walking and checking over my shoulder and dodging hazards in the road. I pick up the pace, half walking and half jogging.
Soon I reach a part of the city that I recognize. The streets are better kept here, swept clean, with few holes. Far away I see the glow of Erudite headquarters, their lights violating our energy conservation laws. I don’t know what I will do when I get there. Demand to see Jeanine? Or just stand there until someone notices me?
My fingertips skim a window in the building beside me. Not long now. Tremors go through my body now that I am close, making it difficult to walk. Breathing is tricky too; I stop trying to be quiet, and let air wheeze in and out of my lungs. What will they do with me when I get there? What plans do they have for me before I outlive my usefulness, and they kill me? I don’t doubt that they will kill me eventually. I concentrate on forward motion, on moving my legs even though they seem to be unwilling to support my weight.
And then I’m standing in front of Erudite headquarters.
Inside, crowds of blue-shirted people sit around tables, typing on computers or bent over books or passing sheets of paper back and forth. Some of them are decent people who do not understand what their faction has done, but if their entire building collapsed in on them before my eyes, I might not find it in myself to care.
This is the last moment I will be able to turn back. The cold air stings my cheeks and my hands as I hesitate. I can walk away now. Take refuge in the Dauntless compound. Hope and pray and wish that no one else dies because of my selfishness.
But I can’t walk away, or the guilt, the weight of Will’s life, and my parents’ lives, and now Marlene’s life, will break my bones, will make it impossible to breathe.
I slowly walk toward the building and push open the doors.
This is the only way to keep from suffocating.
For a second after my feet touch the wood floors, and I stand before the giant portrait of Jeanine Matthews hung on the opposite wall, no one notices me, not even the two Dauntless traitor guards milling around near the entryway. I walk up to the front desk, where a middle-aged man with a bald patch on the crown of his head sits, sorting through a stack of paper. I set my hands on the desk.
“Excuse me,” I say.
“Give me a moment,” he says without looking up.
At that he looks up, his glasses askew, scowling like he’s about to chastise me. Whatever words he was about to use seem to stick in his throat. He stares at me with an open mouth, his eyes skipping from my face to the black sweatshirt I wear.
In my terror, his expression seems amusing. I smile a little and conceal my hands, which are trembling.
“I believe Jeanine Matthews wanted to see me,” I say. “So I would appreciate it if you would contact her. ”
He signals to the Dauntless traitors by the door, but there is no need. The guards have finally caught on. Dauntless soldiers from the other parts of the room have also started forward, and they all surround me, but don’t touch me, and don’t speak to me. I scan their faces, trying to look as placid as possible.
“Divergent?” one of them finally asks as the man behind the desk picks up the receiver of the building’s communication system.
If I close my hands into fists, I can stop them from shaking. I nod.
My eyes shift to the Dauntless coming out of the elevator on the left side of the room, and the muscles in my face go slack. Peter is coming toward us.
A thousand potential reactions, ranging from launching myself at Peter’s throat to crying to making some kind of joke, rush through my mind at once. I can’t decide on one. So I stand still and watch him. Jeanine must have known that I would come, she must have chosen Peter on purpose to collect me, she must have.
“We’ve been instructed to take you upstairs,” says Peter.
I mean to say something sharp, or nonchalant, but the only sound that escapes me is an assenting noise, squeezed tight by my swollen throat. Peter starts toward the elevators, and I follow him.
We walk down a series of sleek corridors. Despite the fact that we climb a few flights of stairs, I still feel like I am plunging into the earth.
I expect them to take me to Jeanine, but they don’t. They stop walking in a short hallway with a series of metal doors on each side. Peter types in a code to open one of the doors, and the traitor Dauntless surround me, shoulder to shoulder, forming a narrow tunnel for me to pass through on my way into the room.
The room is small, maybe six feet long by six feet wide. The floor, the walls, and the ceiling are all made of the same light panels, dim now, that glowed in the aptitude test room. In each corner is a tiny black camera.
I finally let myself panic.
I look from corner to corner, at the cameras, and fight the scream building in my stomach, chest, and throat, the scream that fills every part of me. Again I feel guilt and grief clawing inside me, warring with each other for dominance, but terror is stronger than both. I breathe in, and don’t breathe out. My father once told me it was a cure for hiccups. I asked him if I could die from holding my breath.
“No,” he said. “Your body’s instincts will take over, and force you to breathe. ”
A shame, really. I could use a way out. The thought makes me want to laugh. And then scream.
I curl up so I can press my face to my knees. I have to make a plan. If I can make a plan, I won’t be so afraid.
But there is no plan. No escape from deep in Erudite headquarters, no escape from Jeanine, and no other escape from what I’ve done.