I wake in the absence of previous warmth. The other side of the bed is cold. She went. I know it.
Maybe she woke up and left to eat in the cafeteria.
But I'm not stupid enough to think that.
I put on my shoes quickly. I look around and notice something is missing. My sweatshirt- she took it. She went. She lied to me. She went.
I can barely breathe, filled with fear that she is gone, that she has not only left me, but left me forever. The emotion takes over, and I recognize the fear from the fear landscape. It is coming true.
I run out the door and toward the cafeteria in obvious panic. People see me running and part ways, others look at me in disgust. They still think I am a coward. I am, but my mother said I had to move through the ranks to unite with them. But I don't care, don't care at all.
I arrive at the cafeteria breathless, looking from left to right for the short blond hair and three ravens on her collarbone. But I'm not stupid enough to think she's still here. She went. She went. She's gone.
I want to scream. My hands find their way to my head, shaking. I feel myself hunch, curl into my own posture. The cafeteria is silent.
I look up, and all eyes are on me. I don't care, don't care at all.
"She went. Oh, God, she went. Tris, she went. Tris is gone."
I choke at the last word, frantically searching. I don't care, don't care at all.
Chaos ensues in the compound. Yelling in the Dauntless impulsiveness, "No way!" "What?" "Oh, God." "She was Divergent, so no one's going to die now." I don't care, don't care at all.
Christina runs up to me and yells over the crowd, "No way, Four! She told me she was going visit her brother." Her teeth are clenched, her facial expression unsure.
Anger stampedes inside me. "And you believed her?!" I scream. Christina's brown complexion turns as pale as it can get.
She grabs my wrist and brings me to the Dauntless leaders' table- Tori and Harrison- and Zeke, Uriah, Lynn, and Shauna are already there.
"We need a plan," says Tori, eyes wide.
"I'll go. Team up with the factionless. Storm there when you're ready. I'll go to Erudite to tell her."
"No, you're one of the leaders, you can't—"
"Yes, I can," I interrupt Harrison. He tilts his head back in annoyance.
"Just because your girlfriend went, Four, does not mean you abandon your entire faction for a single Divergent sixteen-year-old naïve girl," he hisses, and I have the unpleasant urge to swing my fist into his jaw.
"Harrison," Tori warns.
He scowls, growling, but backs down.
"We should find out what her…" Tori looks at me, cautious of what she is about to say. "Execution day is. I know the Erudite. They're probably either torturing her for information or running tests on her."
It puts a lump in my throat to imagine her restrained and screaming, remembering her fear landscapes and the night where she could have died, thrown over the chasm. It is enough to break me. But what matters is that she is alive. That she is breathing. I swallow.
"Okay. I'll set up a meeting with my mother. Tell her we're willing to work together." But I won't tell my mother about Tris. She would not want me to go to Erudite. But, like Tris, I'll be going, whether others agree with it or not.
It is six hours after I woke up to find Tris gone. My mother and the factionless have agreed for a joint agreement to fight against the Erudite, and Tori, Harrison, Zeke, Uriah, Lynn, Shauna, Christina, and I have planned something. An insider tells us her execution is scheduled for two weeks from now. The night before, the factionless and Dauntless will attack.
I will go to Erudite to tell her and keep her safe. As safe as I can with Erudite poking through her brain and Dauntless traitors surrounding us.
I sigh, and hope she is alright. But, like Tori said, she is, at the least, being tortured and prodded for information. I clench my hands into fists, shaking with anger and fear.
Zeke and the others tread in and out of my room, saying their goodbyes and good lucks. Zeke and Uriah, of course, used the words pansycake and Nose quite a few times.
I rise, and begin the slow march to Erudite headquarters.
I arrive at the doors, and swing them open with no hesitation. They will take me to Jeanine, and I will demand to see her. God knows where they're keeping her.
Dauntless traitors surround me, immediately recognizing the legendary Four. I've already planned this. I have to put up a fight to make a rescue attempt seem probable, naïve. It will involve some pain for me—but whatever they are doing to her, any measure of pain is acceptable. I feel hollow and numb, so they won't have any effect.
"Four's Divergent, huh?" says a traitor bearing the blue armband, obviously scrawny and stupid, but he also holds a pistol to my forehead. "Heard about Eric. Shouldn't we show the same courtesy to you?"
Now. I smack the gun out of his hand, and twist in between my fingers. I jab the boy's nose, stinging my knuckles and injuring his traitorous nose. I know it to be futile. Soldiers behind me grab me by the collar, wrenching me back violently, and I fall to the ground. The butt of a gun jams into the side of my head, and I lose my vision, black spots coloring my sight.
A dull thumping in my head pulses pain throughout my nerves. "I'm Divergent, aren't I?" I spit out with disgust. This part takes no acting. "Take me to Jeanine."
"We already have one though," the idiot who I hit says, rubbing his nose and wiping the blood off. "A girl, not so pretty. Jeanine seemed to be interested in her, though. Always doing who knows what with her."
He leans close to my face as I feel it fall and pale. "Oh, so you came for her, eh? Maybe we should take him to her, Chuck."
The soldier who hit the side of my head answers. "Yeah, I'm sure he'd be real interested in what they're doing to her."
My heart thumps with panic, banging against the cage it's locked in, crying for release. My teeth are clenched without me telling it to do so, and I am jerked from the ground and handled roughly by Chuck, pointing the barrel of his weapon toward the back of my head. I can feel blood trickle down my neck, but I don't feel the pain that goes along with it.
I am numb, numb with anger and fear that they are hurting her. And that they will force me to watch her writhe in pain.
Chuck and the other soldier push me down a hallway, lined with dozens of other rooms and alleys that are innumerable. It is a long hallway, and I sweat from anticipation of seeing her. Seeing her lying on the floor in agony, forced to walk in pain, to see her pale and exhausted. She is strong, and I forget that she is human, but I can't stand the thought of her at the hands of the Erudite. But now, both of us are.
Then I see her. So pale and small, she does not look hurt. But she looks tired, as if she is ready to die already. As if they have readied her for death. She is barefoot.
I must be paler than ever, watching her and thinking of her execution, as Chuck and the idiot push me toward her. Peter holds her by her shoulders, pushing her toward another door.
She mutters something unintelligible as we walk past each other. Her eyes still strike me, commanding me to look at her, at the beauty and hope in the blue, the strength hidden underneath, but they only reek of exhaustion. Have I ever been more terrified in my life? Truly?
She yells it now, rough with anger and terror. "What did you do?!"
I've imagined this moment, but I am frozen with terror to do anything else except squeeze her hand and say, "You die, I die, too. I asked you not to do this. You made your decision. These are the repercussions." I cannot say anything more, because to do so, I would have to hold her to comfort me, to steady my shaking voice, and I cannot tell her of the plan. Not yet.
The two Dauntless traitors drag me toward another hallway, and another room and I see no more of her.
They throw me in a cell with nothing in it, and exit the room. For the first time in a very long time, I curl up and try not to cry. I want to scream, I want to run out of here with her in my arms, but it is not possible.
I groan, and try not to scream as the pounding of my heartbeat, rapid and nervous, lulls me to sleep.
The door abruptly opens, waking me from slumber. Jeanine comes in, her face straight and showing to vicious glee, no sign of sadism in her unfeeling eyes. Anger erupts from the bottom of my spine to my mouth.
"What do you want? Where is she? What are you doing with her?"
"Please relax, Mr. Eaton. In fact, you should hope that you don't see her in your time here. But now, I have a few questions for you."
I am almost taken aback with the statement, but I realize that I should have known there would be questions for me, that torture would be another option as I step through here as well.
I hold my chin up, defiant. "What do you need to know?"
She nods, and two Dauntless soldiers arrive, grabbing me and pushing me onto a chair. My wrists are restrained, arrested by the armrests. "Mr. Eaton, where are the factionless safe houses?"
I glare at her, shooting arrows through my eyes, and clench my jaw. I don't see the punch or the fist; I only feel a sharp pain bursting from my cheek, spreading across my face like a spider web.
"It is a simple question, Tobias. And I am sure the son of Evelyn Eaton would know where the factionless safe houses are."
If I tell her this, I would betray Dauntless, betray my mother, and cause the deaths of hundreds of people. If I do not, the fist collides with my jaw, an echo of my years in Abnegation. I can withstand this.
Overall, she would hate me if I told her. She would be disappointed.
"Is this what you're doing to her, too?" I yell. "Why don't you tell me what you're doing to Tris, first?"
Bursts of pain explode on the other side of my jaw, then snapping my head back as just below my eye, one of the Dauntless traitors smack it with the flat of his hand.
"Oh, don't worry, Mr. Eaton," Jeanine says. "I will demonstrate to you what exactly our procedure is if you do not answer my questions. Now, where are the factionless safe havens?"
I clench my teeth from groaning as knuckles sink into my abdomen, gripping the sides of the chair for balance. A foot connects with my jaw, a throbbing pain visiting from my childhood. My head snaps back again as a knee smashes my chin.
I cough, spitting blood from the corner of my mouth. I look at the traitor, and spit. His hand connects with the back of my head, and the room spins.
"Very well, Tobias," Jeanine says, and her voice sounds like it is trapped in a bubble, floating through murky air from thousands of miles away. "This is your choice."
I look up to see a needle, filled with serum—it is the kind that I use for my initiates, a mild version of the simulation serum. "How effective. Simulation serum. I can't count how many times I've been under that, Jeanine."
"Enjoy," she says, and the needle goes through my neck.
When I open my eyes, my heartbeat thumps against my chest. I am exactly in the same place as before, tied to the chair, Jeanine observing me where she stood while the traitors were torturing me. Except the traitors are gone.
My eyebrows furrow, wondering where they are when the door opens and my question is answered.
The two soldiers walk in, grinning with excitement, dragging a body with them. The body drops with a thud in front of me, skin more purple and black than his or her natural skin tone, covered with welts and bruises.
The body groans, and turns to face me, and I scream. It's Tris. This is what they've been doing to her. She looks at me with surprise, and opens her mouth to say something, but blood spills out, and she hacks and coughs and screams in pain.
An unearthly noise rises from my throat, screaming at Jeanine to stop, to let her go, and it's stupid, but it's what I shout. The two traitors show no mercy, and one of them grabs her hair and smashes her head against the concrete ground. Her screams echo in my mind, making me wail louder, pleading for mercy.
The other reveals a knife, glinting in the ceiling light, and ignoring my protests, slams the dagger into Tris's body. She screams, and I cry and wail, but nothing happens. Eventually, her cries quiet down, and her eyes close as blood spills over.
I scream, and scream, but nothing happens. Tears stream down my cheek, and I don't care, don't care if Jeanine or anyone sees them anymore and I cry.
Something hits my head, and when I open my eyes filled with tears, the blood and Tris's body is gone, replaced by the two traitors mockingly grinning at me.
"Now, Mr. Eaton, where are the factionless safe houses?" Jeanine says, unaffected by my wails.
"Next time you do that, I'll know it's a simulation," I hiss, my voice hoarse and unsteady. "And it won't work."
Jeanine glares at me, anger pulsing through her eyes. But she contemplates my comment, and smiles, sending chills down my spine.
She nods to the traitors, and they exit the cell. "We will find other ways to acquire the information I need, Mr. Eaton. Count on that."
With that, she slams the door shut, and I am alone in my cell, shivering from the vision of Tris on the floor, dead and stabbed.
My head throbs and my jaw aches as I am forced to walk barefoot in the hallways of Erudite headquarters. Multiple soldiers escort me, and I am beginning to think that this is my endless torture, roaming the hallways of glass, when we stop in front of a metal door.
It opens, and there is a metal table positioned before me, a protesting girl strapped to it, craning her head to see what is happening. It is Tris.
My insides scream. They're going to hurt her, to torture her in worse ways, and it will be my fault. "What is this?" I say, although I had planned to scream it, but my vocal chords are stuck with fear. I sound desperate.
I don't think, and I lurch toward the table vainly, as the traitors escorting me hold me back. "Tris," I manage to wheeze out. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah," she says, her voice rough and creaky. From screaming, a voice in me says, and bile rises in my throat. "Are you?"
I only nod, even though I'm not, that they are forcing me to watch her writhe in pain, so I am not okay. But I nod nonetheless. She, of course, is not convinced.
If Jeanine tortures her now, there might be no hope. But Tris is more than capable of surviving this—I know that. She can survive until the rescue day.
"Rather than waste any more time, Mr. Eaton, I thought I would take the most logical approach," Jeanine says. Of course she would. "Truth serum would be preferable, of course, but it would days to coerce Jack Kang into handing some over, as it is jealously guarded by the Candor, and I'd rather not waste a few days."
Jeanine stands and approaches Tris, glaring defiantly from the metal table. She handles a syringe filled with gray serum. My eyes grow wide—fear serum.
"In a few seconds, I will inject Tris with this liquid. At that point, I trust, your selfless instincts will take over and you will tell me exactly what I need to know."
I grit my teeth in anger. This is what she meant by demonstrating what they were doing to Tris. They've been torturing her in a different, worse way than I—her fears simulated in real pain, and the psychological nonsense of going in and out of simulations. It's worse; it is definitely worse than a fist to the jaw, a punch in the ribs.
"What does she need to know?" croaks Tris.
I look at anywhere but her. "Information about the factionless safe houses."
I can feel her eyes carving holes in me. "Don't give it to her. I'm going to die anyway." I flinch. "Don't give her anything."
I don't need her to say it. The factionless may as well be our only asset, the only safe haven and resources we have to overthrow Jeanine. But I don't want to hear Tris's screams, unearthly and piercing. Seeing her in simulations in Dauntless training made me uncomfortable; how am I supposed to withstand her terrified screams?
"Remind me, Mr. Eaton," Jeanine snaps, instilling nervous anticipation into Tris. I refuse to cooperate. "What do Dauntless simulations do?"
"This isn't a classroom. Tell me what you're going to do," I snap back.
"I will if you answer my very simple question."
"Fine," I say with clenched teeth. I look directly at Tris, trying to calm her somehow. "The simulations simulate the amygdala, which is responsible for processing fear, induce a hallucination based on that fear, and then transmit the data to a computer to be processed and observed."
I've known this series and jumble of words for two years, for over curious Erudite initiates I hate from the start.
"Very good," Jeanine mocks. "Fear is more powerful than pain. So is there anything you'd like to say, before I inject Ms. Prior?"
I swallow, and prepare for the fear that is to be fulfilled. Not Tris's. My fear—of having to watch her in pain, dying. The needle touches the tip of her neck, and slowly, Tris plunges into the state of fear.
At first, the silence is unbearable. For more than a few moments, she does nothing. Only her fingers begin to move nervously. She looks from left to right frantically.
I stand helplessly, held by several Dauntless traitors by arm, wrenching me back as I move forward to stop her as she starts gasping, gasping for air, and then the screams start. So do mine.
I scream her name over and over again, unaware what she sees, but only aware that her cries induce mine, and we both scream. "Stop!" I yell. "Stop it!"
"What are you doing? Stop!" Tris cries, and she thrashes around in the simulation, slamming against the metal table over and over again, held together only by the restraints that bind her to the metal.
"Please stop!" I scream, straining toward the table, towards Tris, to hold her hand, to do something, but the traitors hold me back, wrenching me to keep me in place.
"If you want to provide Ms. Prior with a sedative," Jeanine says coldly over the screaming. "Tell me what I need to know."
I hesitate, and the screaming gets louder and louder, and I can't hear it anymore, I can't, watching her shriek and writhe, struggling against the black straps that keep her pinned to the slab of metal.
"Stop! Just stop! I'll tell you, just bring her out of it!" I blurt out, unable to watch this terror any longer. I sag against the soldiers' arms, weak from the information I am willing to give, from the screams that break my heart and rack my throat.
"Sedative," Jeanine says, and I want to throw myself at her, to wrap my hands around her neck, and squeeze.
An Erudite observing—observing—injects another needle into Tris, and she falls limp onto the table, lifeless and sobbing. My heart falls to the bottom of my stomach, as swiftly as her body fell. Her sobs cause it to shatter into a million pieces, scattered about the floor of the cell.
"Let me go," I say, my voice breaking with anger and fear and sorrow. "That's the only way I'll tell you, is if you let me go."
She nods, and I run to her as I've never run before, as fast as I can barefoot and pain pulsing steadily from previous wounds. But when I reach her, I don't collapse into an embrace; instead, I wrap my fingers around hers, stroking her hair with care. I press my forehead to hers, streaked with sweat and pain against my cool head. Tears stream freely down her face, wetting her hand and my fingertips. I can't let them to do this to her again. I can't.
"The factionless safe houses—get me a map and I'll mark them for you."
I stay as long as I can with her, fingers entwined together, staring at each other, until the soldiers pull me away, me looking back at her exhausted, limp body the whole way.
I start to pace in the cell. They have kept me in here from the time I drew out the safe houses locations on the screen of a computer showing the map of the city.
What are they doing to her? What do they want with me? I have to tell her the plan soon, or the Erudite and Jeanine will have no use for me. But when?
The door opens. "Hope you aren't getting comfortable," says Chuck, the Dauntless traitor. "You stink. Every single Erudite here agrees you need a shower."
I smirk. "Aren't you worried I'll dunk your head in water and drown you?"
He scowls, and considers hitting me. But if Jeanine has kept me until now, I have some use to her. And that use is not a punching bag. "You're lucky the Erudite needs you for something," he growls, proving my point. "You'd be dead had it not been that."
We walk the hallways, and now, there is no need for the hostility of a pistol to the back of my head and several soldiers at my arms. Then I see her. I hide my smile and act, already formulating a plan inside my head.
Five steps apart, and my skin tingles with anticipation for her touch, craving her lips and her hands and her eyes. At four steps, I drop to the floor and play dead.
I remember I did this when I was a child, trapped in the closet door and hiding from the monsters; when truly there was only one monster in that house. And I portrayed a dead animal that's been beaten over and over again and dead, run over by countless vehicles that do not pause to look at where it goes. I was living in a carcass while yearning for freedom.
The guard, possessed and confused by the sudden movement, remains puzzled, staring at me—I don't see it, but I can feel his eyes.
I lunge toward his weapon and shoot him in the leg, kicking him in the stomach for extra measure. I hate him, want to kill him—but I have to get Tris. I twist around, and the coward, Peter, has released Tris, her pale face and contrasting eyes staring at me with surprise. I long to embrace her, press my lips toward hers but—no, I can't. I have to tell her.
Grabbing her arm, I run, ignoring the pain that buzzes through my brain, wincing as my back aches. Then I hear her. "Tobias," she whispers, and as I turn toward her, I curse myself. I am used to knowing she is strong and powerful; but she is not superhuman. I brush my hands over her cheek, thinking of her, of the night before she went to Erudite. "On my back," I say.
I run, breathing heavily, pain thudding through my veins, but I ignore it; because having her touching me, just being with me is enough to soothe any pain. I explain to her that the exits are not what we are looking for unconsciously, and break into a control room.
I drop Tris to the floor, light, but steady, and tell her the plan. I explain about teaming up with my mother, which Tris wrinkles her nose at; obviously uncertain of Evelyn. I know she will be able to survive, because that is how she is. It is her nature to do so; this I know from initiation, from the attack on the Abnegation.
"I don't…I can't…make it…that long." I am startled by the words, the words spoken by her, and for once, I am not sure how to respond to her. I know she does not want to be treated like a little girl, so I say sternly, "Tris. You have to. You have to survive this."
I swallow the lump in my throat that appears every moment of every day in the damned cell, thinking of life without her, without Tris; and when she starts crying and pleading, "Why?" I want to cry also.
"I know," I say gently. "I know it's hard. The hardest thing you've had to do." My thoughts go back to the dark nights in the compact closet doors, the nights when my father was drunk and he was raging, when his breath reeked of stale whiskey, when his belt slung against my shoulders. "I can't force you. I can't make you want to survive this." I touch her absently, comforting me in this safe haven that is ours but not theirs even though we are captives of our own choice. "But you will do it. It doesn't matter if you believe you can or not. You will, because that's who you are."
She kisses me, and it lasts forever, touching each other, forcing our lips into each others until the door opens; and I surrender the gun to one of the traitors.
It seems like days when I am interrupted again. I sleep, then I wake and eat; then sleep. It's been a day since the incident, and we got away with it—none of us were punished. But now, the door to my cell opens—Caleb, Tris's brother steps in, shutting the door behind him. At first, I'm surprised to see him. The Erudite have enough leverage in me than her brother, don't they?
"Caleb," I say. "How did they get to you?"
He seems startled, but regains his composure. "Jeanine has decided to perform her experiments on you, instead, Tobias. Tris's execution has been moved up to today."
I reel back. It hasn't been two weeks yet. Why is he delivering the news? He…Caleb…
It lines up perfectly; an eclipse of betrayal. Caleb is another one of Jeanine's lackey; always has been. That's why Jeanine knew of the safe houses. I didn't think of it at the moment, but how could she have known of them without Caleb, who showed immediate interest in them?
"Tobias, you have to understand—"
"Don't call me Tobias," I snap, and look at him in the face. I run toward him, and take his neck, slamming it against the cell wall. "How could you? She's your sister! And you let them inject her and test her like she's an experiment; like she's an animal. You have no right to live."
His face turns red and heated with exertion as he forces out, "You don't understand. There's…something…important outside." I release him, anger, bitterness, the pain of betrayal shaking in my veins. "If there is something important that you are so desperate to the extent of torturing your own sister, there is something wrong with you. You traitor," I spit at him.
He turns to exit the room, knocking on the door so the soldiers on the outside unlock it; rubbing his neck. "She's walking toward the execution room as we speak. There's nothing we can do about it."
He leaves just as I yell, "I want to see her! Tris! Let me see her before…" My voice trails off. I turn away from the door, just in time to see a figure pressing herself to the window, looking at me. Tris. I run toward her, touching where her forehead should be, and close my eyes. I should have stopped her. She will die today. I should have stopped her.
I don't realize I'm crying. When I do, it takes all the strength in me to stay alive. I sit there, helpless, waiting for Jeanine to show her body, to mock me in my misery. The door opens, and I watch it slide, expecting Jeanine or her lackeys—it's Peter. Holding a body. Tris.
Immediately, I am paralyzed, I can't think, I can't talk, all I can do is say, "Oh, God, oh, God, oh, God!" My mouth opens, and I realize—she's dead. "What have you done—"
Peter grabs my arm and tells me to shut up, but the only words I hear is: "Just paralyzed. Run." Suspicious of his motives, I order weakly, "Let me carry her."
"No. You're a better shot than I am. Take my gun. I'll carry her." We run through the hallways, and I shoot Erudite after Erudite, and I don't think; I don't think about how strange it is that Peter is saving us, I don't think about him carrying Tris's body like she's dead, all I understand is that either this is a trap, or we are getting out of this hellhole.
We enter through the door as Peter drops her, and I drop to my knees as well. "Tris," I say, and even though she is deadly pale, and her mouth is thin and barely a hue of pink, and her eyes full of death and grief and guilt—she is alive. "Tris."
"Beatrice," she replies in an equally strained voice.
It's so comforting, I laugh. "Beatrice," I correct. And my hands don't stop and my lips connect with hers, and everything is right in the world. And all I can think of as we slide down the trash incinerator, as I mouth off Peter, as we run into an abandoned building, is that she is alive. Tris Prior is alive, and she is alive, alive, alive. And it makes all the difference to me.
We walk into the bathroom of my childhood home, if it is worthy of the title home, and screams and pain quiver with every inch of the walls. I could have sworn there were holes in the hall with an imprint of my mother's head, blood on his belts. But I choose to relish in what matters most right now: Tris.
"Let's take care of your feet," I say, and begin washing her feet as she stares into the bathroom tiles. After I'm done with her feet, she begins to stir and feel alive, to move and to do something. Our hands touch and we are wet, cleaning each others' feet and hands; but our memories of that floor in Erudite quarters will haunt us—will haunt her forever.
"I don't…" Her voice quivers like an ocean falling against the sand. "My family is all dead, or traitors; how can I…" My arms wrap around her, tight, and I never want to let go.
"I'll be your family now."
"I love you." It is the first time she's said it, clear and perfect, with her voice, low for a girl's, and her mouth moving with passion. I love her. I want to hear her say it again.
"Say it again," I plead.
"I love you, Tobias."
My lips, cold and chapped, press against her, careful not to sag against her, afraid she will drift off into the wind. She was almost taken from me today. I know there is a God above that has mercy on me, so that He would spare her. Nothing else matters now.
"I love you, too," I say, and I realize that every day we fight and lie and run, we save each other. It is our nature. I need her, and she needs me. It will be that way forever.