"We can't let him roam free," Evelyn says.
As fierce as ever, Evelyn stands in the room where Four and Edward placed the wounded man. She's glaring at his prone figure like if she stares hard enough he'll burst into flames, therefore, solving the problem he presents.
"They want him dead," Four says.
'They' being the numerous factionless roaming the city.
"And for good reason," she replies. "He's a murderer. He stands against everything we're fighting for."
There's something about that sentence I find wrong. Since when has it become okay to execute someone just because they believe in different things? Can he help it, he isn't like us? Is it his fault, he isn't Divergent?
"He might not even survive the attack," Edward points out.
It's a valid point, I think to myself. His attacker drove the knife in pretty deep. He's lost a fair amount of blood. The chance of the wound becoming infected is high.
"And if he does?" Evelyn asks harshly. "My people will want justice."
"We can hold a trial if he survives," Four suggests.
A trial is a nice way of saying 'execution'. No one in this city will be fair and unbiased when it comes to Eric. Each and every one of them would love to see him taken out. Mainly because of his association with Jeanine Matthews. Also, because he's targeted Divergent's since this stupid war started.
"You've been awfully quiet, Tris. What do you think ought to be done?" Evelyn asks me.
I'm confused as to why my opinion matters. Evelyn has made it clear I'm not anywhere close to being one of her favorite people. She hasn't done anything to hide the way she feels about me. Is this her way of giving me a chance to redeem myself in her eyes?
And then there's the question itself. I don't know what should be done. I'm not sure I really care. Eric has been a pain in my ass since we met and his fate is none of my concern.
I'm pretty sure I don't want him dead. I definitely don't want him to die when our only reason for killing him is because the majority want it.
I glance over at the person in question. He looks far less deadly asleep. Perhaps it's because his impossibly cold eyes are hidden from view. Or maybe it's because he's not holding a gun to my head.
"Ms. Prior?" She prompts.
"It would be wrong to kill him now," I say. "We would be no better than him if we did. Four's idea of a trial might be our best option."
She observes me, a calculating gleam in her eyes. I don't expect her to take my advice seriously. Evelyn follows her own advice, though she does like to pretend she considers the advice of others if only to make her appear to be a good leader.
"Alright," she agrees. "We'll wait and see if he makes it. There's one condition, however."
"And that would be?" I ask.
"He'll be under your protection while he recovers."
Eight harmless words individually, but put together, in that order, they're a bucket full of cold water; they're a pit full of snakes.
"You want him placed under my care?"
She must know how horrible of an idea that is. Surely, she knows how badly things will turn out if we go down that path. Eric is dangerous and I doubt even a stab wound will slow him down if he decides to kill me.
If the smug look she's sporting says anything, then she's fully aware of what she's asking me to do. Fully aware of the risk. And I'm not really surprised. Evelyn is a hard woman who takes care of herself first. We're just faceless soldiers she needs to win a war.
"Yes, if that's a problem, then I'll grab my gun and we can move on to the next problem," she says.
Four looks conflicted; Edward looks excited.
It's interesting how willing she is to take a life. So very interesting how eager she is to exhibit violence. I have a feeling if her son was laying in Eric's place, her response would still be the same.
"That won't be necessary," I reply. "I'll do it."
She smiles serenely. "I hope you know what you're doing," she says.
I bite my tongue to keep myself from saying something I'll regret later.
"I can handle him," I say, jaw locked, eyes narrowed.
Four rubs the back of his neck nervously. "It isn't safe, Tris," he says.
"So we should shoot him when he's wounded; let his blood stain our hands?" I retort.
I stare Evelyn down. "We're better than that," I say hotly.
"It would seem Abnegation has made a lasting impression on you," she murmurs.
"I'm sorry I can't say the same for you," I reply, voice hard.
I've gone too far. I know this.
Funny, but there's no regret.
"Tris," Four warns.
"It's alright, Son," she says. "Tris is welcome to her opinion."
Her words are peaceful, but her face tells a different story. Despite the dangerous ground I've dared to tread, I don't apologize, I don't back down.
"Take him to her room," she commands Four and Edward. "And tell her roommates, they'll have to bunk somewhere else."
Just like that, they follow out her orders. There's no hesitation, no defiance. Am I the only one unsure of the wisdom in giving this woman ultimate power? The more I learn, the more I come to find very little difference between her and Jeanine Matthews.
Once they are gone, Evelyn takes deliberate steps in my direction. "You might think you know better, Tris, but you are nothing more than a child. I'd be careful if I were you," she says.
"Are you threatening me?" I ask.
"Think of it more as a friendly warning," she replies, her concern false.
I nod a few times thoughtfully. "Well, this has been fun," I say, "but I have a psychopath to babysit."
I don't wait for a reply. I want her to know her "friendly warning" doesn't scare me. I've gone through Hell and back. Evelyn's going to have to try harder if she wants to see me cower.
"Be careful," Four tells me.
"I always am," I say, grinning.
"If by always you mean never, then sure," he replies sarcastically.
"I have to do this. I have too much blood on my hands...I couldn't let her shoot him when I had the power to prevent it."
"He's done so much, Tris..."
"We all have. We've all crossed lines."
"Some lines should never be crossed though," he says gently.
"And who are you to say what we should and should not do during a war?" I ask. "The lines are blurred, Four. Right and wrong are no longer as black and white as we might like them to be."
"I don't believe that," he says.
He stands up on his pedestal and he judges that of which he doesn't understand. He hasn't had to make the hard calls. He hasn't had to shoot a friend in the head in order to survive. He hasn't watched his parents bleed out before his very eyes.
I purse my lips, shrug lightly, and hold my door open for him. I have no time for his self righteous lectures. If he lives through what's coming our way, he might come to understand just how twisted things become in a revolution.
He leaves without argument and it's probably because he has no time for someone as lost as me...
Turning to my bed, I take in the man currently occupying it. He's as white as a sheet; deathly still. If I couldn't see the subtle rise and fall of his chest, I'd think he was dead.
Setting my shoulders, I get to work. Whoever dressed the wound did a half-way decent job, and I wonder who cared enough to put in this much effort.
I go to the bathroom to wet a washcloth for his face. Already he's showing signs of having a fever. He doesn't stir while I clean him up. By the time I've done all I can, I'm ready to let sleep claim me as well.
I take the bed next to mine that used to belong to some redhead, and I place my gun beside me.
I watch him as I slowly slip into blissful unconsciousness.