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I WEAVE THROUGH the crowd next to the chasm. It’s loud in the Pit, and not just because of the river’s roar. I want to find some silence, so I escape into the hallway that leads to the dormitories. I don’t want to hear the speech Tori will make on Marlene’s behalf or be around for the toasting and the shouting as the Dauntless celebrate her life and her bravery.Watch Divergent 4: Ascendant (2017)
This morning Lauren reported that we missed some of the cameras in the initiate dormitories, where Christina, Zeke, Lauren, Marlene, Hector, and Kee, the girl with the green hair, were sleeping. That’s how Jeanine figured out who the simulation was controlling. I do not doubt that Jeanine chose young Dauntless because she knew their deaths would affect us more.
I stop in an unfamiliar hallway and press my forehead to the wall. The stone feels rough and cool on my skin. I can hear the Dauntless shouting behind me, their voices muffled by layers of rock.
I hear someone approaching, and look to the side. Christina, still wearing the same clothes she wore last night, stands a few feet away.
“Hey,” she says.
“I’m not really in the mood to feel more guilt right now. So go away, please. ”
“I just want to say one thing, and then I will. ”
Her eyes are puffy and her voice sounds a little sleepy, which is either due to exhaustion or a little alcohol, or both. But her stare is direct enough that she must know what she’s saying. I pull away from the wall.
“I’d never seen that kind of simulation before. You know, from the outside. But yesterday . . . ” She shakes her head. “You were right. They couldn’t hear you, couldn’t see you. Just like Will . . . ”
She chokes on his name. Stops, takes a breath, swallows hard. Blinks a few times. Then looks at me again.
“You told me you had to do it, or he would have shot you, and I didn’t believe you. I believe you now, and . . . I’m going to try to forgive you. That’s . . . all I wanted to say. ”
There’s a part of me that feels relief. She believes me, she’s trying to forgive me, even though it won’t be easy.
But a larger part of me feels anger. What did she think, before now? That I wanted to shoot Will, one of my best friends? She should have trusted me from the beginning, should have known that I wouldn’t have done it if I had been able to see another option at the time.
“How fortunate for me that you finally got proof that I’m not a cold-blooded murderer. You know, other than my word. I mean, what reason would you have to trust that?” I force a laugh, trying to stay nonchalant. She opens her mouth, but I keep talking, unable to stop myself. “You’d better hurry on that forgiving-me thing, because there isn’t much time—”
My voice cracks, and I can’t hold myself together anymore. I start sobbing. I lean against the wall for support and feel myself sliding down as my legs get weak.
My eyes are too blurry to see her, but I feel her when she wraps her arms around me and squeezes so hard it hurts. She smells like coconut oil and she feels strong, exactly like she was during initiation into Dauntless, when she hung over the chasm by her fingertips. Back then—which was not so long ago—she made me feel weak, but now her strength makes me feel like I could be stronger too.
We kneel together on the stone floor, and I clutch her as tightly as she clutches me.
“It’s already done,” she says. “That’s what I meant to say. That the forgiving was already done. ”
All the Dauntless go quiet when I walk into the cafeteria that night. I don’t blame them. As one of the Divergent, I have the power to let Jeanine kill one of them. Most of them probably want me to sacrifice myself. Or they are terrified that I won’t.
If this were Abnegation, no Divergent would be sitting here right now.
For a moment I don’t know where to go or how to get there. But then Zeke waves me over to his table, looking grim, and I guide my feet in that direction. But before I make it there, Lynn approaches me.
She is a different Lynn from the one I have always known. She doesn’t have a fierce look in her eyes. Instead she is pale and biting her lip to hide its wobble.
“Um . . . ” she says. She looks to the left, to the right, anywhere but at my face. “I really . . . I miss Marlene. I’ve known her for a long time, and I . . . ” She shakes her head. “The point is, don’t think that my saying this means anything about Marlene,” she says, like she’s scolding me, “but . . . thank you for saving Hec. ”
Lynn shifts her weight from one foot to the other, her eyes flicking around the room. Then she hugs me with one arm, her hand gripping my shirt. Pain shoots through my shoulder. I don’t say anything about it.
She lets go, sniffs, and walks back to her table like nothing happened. I stare at her retreating back for a few seconds, and then sit down.
Zeke and Uriah sit side by side at the otherwise empty table. Uriah’s face is slack, like he’s not completely awake. He has a dark brown bottle in front of him that he sips from every few seconds.Watch Divergent 4: Ascendant (2017)
I feel cautious around him. I saved Hec—which means I failed to save Marlene. But Uriah doesn’t look at me. I pull out the chair across from him and sit on the edge of it.
“Where’s Shauna?” I say. “Still in the hospital?”
“No, she’s over there,” says Zeke, nodding to the table Lynn walked back to. I see her there, so pale she might as well be translucent, sitting in a wheelchair. “Shauna shouldn’t be up, but Lynn’s pretty messed up, so she’s keeping her company. ”
“But if you’re wondering why they’re all the way over there . . . Shauna found out I’m Divergent,” says Uriah sluggishly. “And she doesn’t want to catch it. ”
“She got all weird with me, too,” says Zeke, sighing. “‘How do you know your brother isn’t working against us? Have you been watching him?’ What I wouldn’t give to punch whoever poisoned her mind. ”
“You don’t have to give anything,” says Uriah. “Her mother’s sitting right there. Go ahead and hit her. ”
I follow his gaze to a middle-aged woman with blue streaks in her hair and earrings all the way down her earlobe. She is pretty, just like Lynn.
Tobias enters the room a moment later, followed by Tori and Harrison. I have been avoiding him. I haven’t spoken to him since that fight we had, before Marlene . . .
“Hello, Tris,” Tobias says when I’m close enough to hear him. His voice is low, rough. It transports me to quiet places.
“Hi,” I say in a tight little voice that does not belong to me.
He sits next to me and puts his arm on the back of my chair, leaning close. I don’t stare back—I refuse to stare back.
I stare back.
Dark eyes—a peculiar shade of blue, somehow capable of shutting the rest of the cafeteria out, of comforting me and also of reminding me that we are farther away from each other than I want us to be.
“Aren’t you going to ask me if I’m all right?” I say.
“No, I’m pretty sure you’re not all right. ” He shakes his head. “I’m going to ask you not to make any decisions until we’ve talked about it. ”
It’s too late, I think. The decision’s made.
“Until we’ve all talked about it, you mean, since it involves all of us,” says Uriah. “I don’t think anyone should turn themselves in. ”
“No one?” I say.
“No!” Uriah scowls. “I think we should attack back. ”Watch Divergent 4: Ascendant (2017)
“Yeah,” I say hollowly, “let’s provoke the woman who can force half of this compound to kill themselves. That sounds like a great idea. ”
I was too harsh. Uriah tips the contents of his bottle down his throat. He brings the bottle down on the table so hard I’m afraid it will shatter.
“Don’t talk about it like that,” he says in a growl.
“I’m sorry,” I say. “But you know I’m right. The best way to ensure that half our faction doesn’t die is to sacrifice one life. ”
I don’t know what I expected. Maybe that Uriah, who knows too well what will happen if one of us does not go, would volunteer himself. But he looks down. Unwilling.
“Tori and Harrison and I decided to increase security. Hopefully if everyone is more aware of these attacks, we will be able to stop them,” Tobias says. “If it doesn’t work, then we will think of another solution. End of discussion. But no one is going to do anything yet. Okay?”
He looks at me when he asks and raises his eyebrows.
“Okay,” I say, not quite meeting his eyes.
After dinner, I try to go back to the dormitory where I’ve been sleeping, but I can’t quite walk through the door. Instead I walk through the corridors, brushing the stone walls with my fingers, listening to the echoes of my footsteps.
Without meaning to, I pass the water fountain where Peter, Drew, and Al attacked me. I knew it was Al by the way he smelled—I can still call the scent of lemongrass to mind. Now I associate it not with my friend but with the powerlessness I felt as they dragged me to the chasm.
I walk faster, keeping my eyes wide open so it will be harder to picture the attack in my mind. I have to get away from here, far from the places where my friend attacked me, where Peter stabbed Edward, where a sightless army of my friends began its march toward the Abnegationsector and all this insanity began.
I go straight toward the last place where I felt safe: Tobias’s small apartment. The second I reach the door, I feel calmer.
The door is not completely closed. I nudge it open with my foot. He isn’t there, but I don’t leave. I sit on his bed and gather the quilt in my arms, burying my face in the fabric and taking deep breaths of it through my nose. The smell it used to have is almost gone, it’s been so long since he slept on it.
The door opens and Tobias slips in. My arms go limp, and the quilt falls into my lap. How will I explain my presence here? I’m supposed to be angry with him.
He doesn’t scowl, but his mouth is so tense that I know he’s angry with me.
“Don’t be an idiot,” he says.
“You were lying. You said you wouldn’t go to Erudite, and you were lying, and going to Erudite would make you an idiot. So don’t. ”
I set the blanket down and get up.
“Don’t try to make this simple,” I say. “It’s not. You know as well as I do that this is the right thing to do. ”
“You choose this moment to act like the Abnegation?” His voice fills the room and makes fear prickle in my chest. His anger seems too sudden. Too strange. “All that time you spent insisting that you were too selfish for them, and now, when your life is on the line, you’ve got to be a hero? What’s wrong with you?”
“What’s wrong with you? People died. They walked right off the edge of a building! And I can stop it from happening again!”
“You’re too important to just . . . die. ” He shakes his head. He won’t even look at me—his eyes keep shifting across my face, to the wall behind me or the ceiling above me, to everything but me. I am too stunned to be angry.
“I’m not important. Everyone will do just fine without me,” I say.
“Who cares about everyone? What about me?”
He lowers his head into his hand, covering his eyes. His fingers are trembling.
Then he crosses the room in two long strides and touches his lips to mine. Their gentle pressure erases the past few months, and I am the girl who sat on the rocks next to the chasm, with river spray on her ankles, and kissed him for the first time. I am the girl who grabbed his hand in the hallway just because I wanted to.
I pull back, my hand on his chest to keep him away. The problem is, I am also the girl who shot Will and lied about it, and chose between Hector and Marlene, and now a thousand other things besides. And I can’t erase those things.
“You would be fine. ” I don’t look at him. I stare at his T-shirt between my fingers and the black ink curling around his neck, but I don’t look at his face. “Not at first. But you would move on, and do what you have to. ”
He wraps an arm around my waist and pulls me against him. “That’s a lie,” he says, before he kisses me again.
This is wrong. It’s wrong to forget who I have become, and to let him kiss me when I know what I’m about to do.
But I want to. Oh, I want to.
I stand on my tiptoes and wrap my arms around him. I press one hand between his shoulder blades and curl the other one around the back of his neck. I can feel his breaths against my palm, his body expanding and contracting, and I know he’s strong, steady, unstoppable. All things I need to be, but I am not, I am not.
He walks backward, pulling me with him so I stumble. I stumble right out of my shoes. He sits on the edge of the bed and I stand in front of him, and we’re finally eye to eye.
He touches my face, covering my cheeks with his hands, sliding his fingertips down my neck, fitting his fingers to the slight curve of my hips.
I can’t stop.
I fit my mouth to his, and he tastes like water and smells like fresh air. I drag my hand from his neck to the small of his back, and put it under his shirt. He kisses me harder.
I knew he was strong; I didn’t know how strong until I felt it myself, the muscles in his back tightening beneath my fingers.
Stop, I tell myself.
Suddenly it’s as if we’re in a hurry, his fingertips brushing my side under my shirt, my hands clutching at him, struggling closer but there is no closer. I have never longed for someone this way, or this much.
He pulls back just enough to look into my eyes, his eyelids lowered.
“Promise me,” he whispers, “that you won’t go. For me. Do this one thing for me. ”
Could I do that? Could I stay here, fix things with him, let someone else die in my place? Looking up at him, I believe for a moment that I could. And then I see Will. The crease between his eyebrows. The empty, simulation-bound eyes. The slumped body.
Do this one thing for me. Tobias’s dark eyes plead with me.
But if I don’t go to Erudite, who will? Tobias? It’s the kind of thing he would do.
I feel a stab of pain in my chest as I lie to him. “Okay. ”
“Promise,” he says, frowning.
The pain becomes an ache, spreads everywhere—all mixed together, guilt and terror and longing. “I promise. ”
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