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CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE

SOMEONE RAIDS THE Dauntless kitchens and heats up the imperishables kept there, so we have a warm dinner that night. I sit at the same table I used to claim with Christina, Al, and Will. From the moment I sit down, I feel a lump in my throat. How is it that only half of us are left?

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I feel responsible for that. My forgiveness could have saved Al, but I withheld it. My clear headedness could have spared Will, but I could not summon it.

Before I can sink too far into my guilt, Uriah drops his tray next to me. It is loaded with beef stew and chocolate cake. I stare at the cake pile.

“There was cake?” I say, looking at my own plate, which is more sensibly stocked than Uriah’s.

“Yeah, someone just brought it out. Found a couple boxes of the mix in the back and baked it,” he says. “You can have a few bites of mine. ”

“A few bites? So you’re planning on eating that mountain of cake by yourself?”

“Yes. ” He looks confused. “Why?”

“Never mind. ”

Christina sits across the table, as far away from me as she can get. Zeke puts his tray down next to her. We are soon joined by Lynn, Hector, and Marlene. I see a flash of movement under the table, and see Marlene’s hand meet Uriah’s over his knee. Their fingers twist together. They are both clearly trying to look casual, but they sneak looks at each other.

To Marlene’s left, Lynn looks like she just tasted something sour. She shovels food into her mouth.

“Where’s the fire?” Uriah asks her. “You’re going to hurl if you keep eating that fast. ”

Lynn scowls at him. “I’m going to hurl anyway, with you two making eyes at each other all the time. ”

Uriah’s ears turn red. “What are you talking about?”

“I am not an idiot, and neither is anyone else. So why don’t you just make out with her and get it over with?”

Uriah looks stunned. Marlene, however, glares at Lynn, leans over, and kisses Uriah firmly on the mouth, her fingers sliding around his neck, under the collar of his shirt. I notice that all the peas have fallen off my fork, which was on its way to my mouth.

Lynn grabs her tray and storms away from the table.

“What was that all about?” says Zeke.

“Don’t ask me,” says Hector. “She’s always angry about something. I’ve stopped trying to keep track. ”

Uriah’s and Marlene’s faces are still close together. And they are still smiling.

I force myself to stare at my plate. It is so strange to see two people you have known separately join together, though I have watched it happen before. I hear a squeak as Christina scratches her plate with her fork idly.

“Four!” Zeke calls out, beckoning. He looks relieved. “C’mere, there’s room. ”

Tobias rests his hand on my good shoulder. A few of his knuckles are split, and the blood looks fresh. “Sorry, I can’t stay. ”

He leans down and says, “Can I borrow you for a while?”

I get up, waving a good-bye to everyone at the table who is paying attention—which is just Zeke, really, because Christina and Hector are staring at their plates, and Uriah and Marlene are talking quietly. Tobias and I walk out of the cafeteria.

“Where are we going?”

“The train,” he says. “I have a meeting, and I want you there to help me read the situation. ”

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We walk up one of the paths that lines the Pit walls, toward the stairs that lead us to the Pire.

“Why do you need me to—”

“Because you’re better at it than I am. ”

I don’t have a response to that. We ascend the stairs and cross the glass floor. On our way out, we walk through the dank room in which I faced my fear landscape. Judging by the syringe on the floor, someone has been there recently.

“Did you go through your fear landscape today?” I say.

“What makes you say that?” His dark eyes skirt mine. He pushes the front door open, and the summer air swims around me. There is no wind.

“Your knuckles are cut up and someone’s been using that room. ”

“This is exactly what I mean. You’re far more perceptive than most. ” He checks his watch. “They told me to catch the one leaving at 8:05. Come on. ”

I feel a surge of hope. Maybe we won’t argue this time. Maybe things will finally get better between us.

We walk to the tracks. The last time we did this, he wanted to show me that the lights were on in the Erudite compound, wanted to tell me that Erudite was planning an attack on Abnegation. Now I get the sense we are about to meet with the factionless.

“Perceptive enough to know you’re evading the question,” I say.

He sighs. “Yes, I went through my fear landscape. I wanted to see if it had changed. ”

“And it has. Hasn’t it?”

He brushes a stray hair away from his face and avoids my eyes. I didn’t know his hair was so thick—it was hard to tell when it was buzzed short, Abnegation hair, but now it’s two inches long and almost hangs over his forehead. It makes him look less threatening, more like the person I’ve come to know in private.

“Yes,” he says. “But the number is still the same. ”

I hear the train horn blasting to my left, but the light fixed to the first car is not on. Instead it slides over the rails like some hidden, creeping thing.

“Fifth car back!” he shouts.

We both break into a sprint. I find the fifth car and grab the handle on the side with my left hand, pulling as hard as I can. I try to swing my legs inside, but they don’t quite make it; they are dangerously close to the wheels—I shriek, and scrape my knee against the floor as I yank myself inside.

Tobias gets in after me and crouches by my side. I clutch my knee and grit my teeth.

“Here, let me see,” he says. He pushes my jeans up my leg and over my knee. His fingers leave streaks of cold on my skin, invisible to the eye, and I think about wrapping his shirt around my fist and pulling him in to kiss me; I think about pressing myself against him, but I can’t, because all our secrets would keep a space between us.

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My knee is red with blood. “It’s shallow. It’ll heal quickly,” he says.

I nod. The pain is already subsiding. He rolls my jeans so they will stay up. I lie back, staring at the ceiling.

“So is he still in your fear landscape?” I say.

It looks like someone lit a match behind his eyes. “Yes. But not in the same way. ”

He told me, once, that his fear landscape hadn’t changed since he first went through it, during his initiation. So if it has, even in a small way, that’s something.

“You’re in it, though. ” He frowns at his hands. “Instead of having to shoot that woman, like I used to, I have to watch you die. And there’s nothing I can do to stop it. ”

His hands shake. I try to think of something helpful to say. I’m not going to die—but I don’t know that. We live in a dangerous world, and I am not so attached to life that I will do anything to survive. I can’t reassure him.

He checks his watch. “They’ll be here any minute. ”

I get up, and see Evelyn and Edward standing next to the tracks. They run before the train passes them, and jump in with almost as little trouble as Tobias. They must have been practicing.

Edward smirks at me. Today his eye patch has a big blue “X” stitched over it.

“Hello,” Evelyn says. She looks only at Tobias as she says it, like I’m not even there.

“Nice meeting location,” says Tobias. It is almost dark now, so I see only shadows of buildings against a dark blue sky, and a few glowing lights near the lake that must belong to Erudite headquarters.

The train takes a turn it doesn’t usually take—left, away from the glow of Erudite and into the abandoned part of the city. I can tell by the growing quiet in the car that it is slowing down.

“It seemed safest,” says Evelyn. “So you wanted to meet. ”

“Yes. I’d like to discuss an alliance. ”

“An alliance,” repeats Edward. “And who gave you the authority to do that?”

“He’s a Dauntless leader,” I say. “He has the authority. ”

Edward raises his eyebrows, looking impressed. Evelyn’s eyes finally shift to me, but only for a second before she smiles at Tobias again.

“Interesting,” she says. “And is she also a Dauntless leader?”

“No,” he says. “She’s here to help me decide whether or not to trust you. ”

Evelyn purses her lips. Part of me wants to thumb my nose at her and say, “Ha!” But I settle for a small smile.

“We will, of course, agree to an alliance . . . under a certain set of conditions,” Evelyn says. “A guaranteed—and equal—place in whatever government forms after Erudite is destroyed, and full control over Erudite data after the attack. Clearly—”

“What are you going to do with the Erudite data?” I interrupt her.

“Obviously we will destroy it. The only way to deprive the Erudite of power is to deprive them of knowledge. ”

My first instinct is to tell her she’s a fool. But something stops me. Without the simulation technology, without the data they had about all the other factions, without their focus on technological advancement, the attack on Abnegation would not have happened. My parents would be alive.

Even if we manage to kill Jeanine, could the Erudite be trusted not to attack and control us again? I am not sure.

“What would we receive in return, under those terms?” Tobias says.

“Our much-needed manpower, in order to take Erudite headquarters, and an equal place in government, with us. ”

“I am sure that Tori would also request the right to rid the world of Jeanine Matthews,” he says in a low voice.

I raise my eyebrows. I didn’t know that Tori’s hatred of Jeanine was common knowledge—or maybe it isn’t. He must know things about her that others don’t, now that he and Tori are leaders.

“I’m sure that could be arranged,” Evelyn replies. “I don’t care who kills her; I just want her dead. ”

Tobias glances at me. I wish I could tell him why I feel so conflicted . . . explain to him why I, of all people, have reservations about burning Erudite to the ground, so to speak. But I would not know how to say it even if I had the time to. He turns toward Evelyn.

“Then we are agreed,” he says.

He extends his hand, and she shakes it.

“We should convene in a week’s time,” she says. “In neutral territory. Most of the Abnegationhave graciously agreed to let us stay in their sector of the city to plan as they clean up the aftermath of the attack. ”

“Most of them,” he says.

Evelyn’s expression turns flat. “I’m afraid your father still commands the loyalty of many of them, and he advised them to avoid us when he came to visit a few days ago. ” She smiles bitterly. “And they agreed, just as they did when he persuaded them to exile me. ”

“They exiled you?” says Tobias. “I thought you left. ”

“No, the Abnegation were inclined toward forgiveness and reconciliation, as you might expect. But your father has a lot of influence over the Abnegation, and he always has. I decided to leave rather than face the indignity of public exile. ”

Tobias looks stunned.

Edward, who has been leaning out the side of the car for a few seconds, says, “It’s time!”

“See you in a week,” Evelyn says.

As the train dips down to street level, Edward leaps. A few seconds later, Evelyn follows. Tobias and I remain on the train, listening to it hiss against the rails, without speaking.

“Why did you even bring me along, if you were just going to make an alliance anyway?” I say flatly.

“You didn’t stop me. ”

“What was I supposed to do, wave my hands in the air?” I scowl at him. “I don’t like it. ”

“It has to be done. ”

“I don’t think it does,” I say. “There has to be another way—”

“What other way?” he says, folding his arms. “You just don’t like her. You haven’t since you first met her. ”

“Obviously I don’t like her! She abandoned you!”

“They exiled her. And if I decide to forgive her, you had better try to do it too! I’m the one who got left behind, not you. ”

“This is about more than that. I don’t trust her. I think she’s trying to use you. ”

“Well, it isn’t for you to decide. ”

“Why did you bring me, again?” I say, mirroring him by folding my arms. “Oh yeah—so that I could read the situation for you. Well, I read it, and just because you don’t like what I decided doesn’t mean—”

“I forgot about how your biases cloud your judgment. If I had remembered, I might not have brought you. ”

“My biases. What about your biases? What about thinking everyone who hates your father as much as you do is an ally?”

“This is not about him!”

“Of course it is! He knows things, Tobias. And we should be trying to find out what they are. ”

“This again? I thought we resolved this. He is a liar, Tris. ”

“Yeah?” I raise my eyebrows. “Well, so is your mother. You think the Abnegation would really exile someone? Because I don’t. ”

“Don’t talk about my mother that way. ”

I see light up ahead. It belongs to the Pire.

“Fine. ” I walk to the edge of the car door. “I won’t. ”

I jump out, running a few steps to keep my balance. Tobias jumps out after me, but I don’t give him a chance to catch up—I walk straight into the building, down the stairs, and back into the Pit to find a place to sleep.

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