Tobias: Chapter 29
Tris doesn't know who I am.
I knew that it had been a possibility; when I stood in the lab and saw no reaction other than bewilderment register on her face. I knew it in the warning Caleb had given me. But it's something else entirely, to look the person you love in the eyes and not see it reflecting back.
I rub my fingers over my face, pressing them against my temples and try to get a grip on myself. This will be fixed. She'd remember and if she can't, I'll help her. Nothing is lost forever. If a girl deemed to be dead with ashes spread over a city could come back, so could her memories.
I let this thought comfort me as I go to Caleb, cracking open the lab door and telling him that his sister is awake. He suddenly looks afraid, but he shoves it away and follows me back into the room where she sits.
The ghostly look has not left her eyes, as if a veil had been draped over them. She stares at me in confusion, like she's trying to recall something but can't. Then she stares at Caleb and more worry creases her brow. I'm abruptly relieved by this small act; the biting of the lip, that small action my Tris would do if she felt guilty or unsure. Maybe she feels guilty for not knowing us, but it isn't her fault.
It's their's, and I'll make them pay for it.
This makes her cringe.
"It's Tris," I correct, scolding him.
He takes the hint instantly. "Right, Tris. Sorry. Do you know where you are?"
She looks at me. "Some place out of the city..." she hesitates. "In a lab."
Caleb nods. "Very good. You'll be staying here for a few days until you recover, plus I want to monitor your progress and to see if anything triggers your memory."
"Now, I have to ask you a few questions," her brother continues, pulling up a chair. "Some of which that might be upsetting, but I need to know if you can recognize enough of your past to tell me where you have been prior to today."
She toys with her lip again; grips her hands together tightly; fiddles with her thumbs. "I was...in the city, I think-yes." Tris stares off, as if willing her mind to form a picture. "I was underground, turning machines on for...for Glas." Her eyes widen.
"Who's Glas?" I ask before Caleb can.
She shrugs. "She was-she was the head of the place where I stayed at. In Erudite, but I don't know where it is. I don't...I don't even know what it is. But it's an important building."
"Why were you in the city?" Caleb continues.
She squeezes her eyes shut. "I was sent there to...to do something. I turned on machines. Two or more of them I think. Then it gets blurred."
"Do you recall what they had you do in the building? Before you came to the city?"
Tris bunches the sheets in her fists which automatically make me tense, winsing my stomach into a ball of tension.
"They...hooked me up to machines. They gave me shots that made me feel weird. Glas and doctors came to visit me, but I don't like her."
She stops all of a sudden, looking away from us and down at her fists. "You shouldn't have saved me," she states simply and the words tear at my heart for reasons I don't understand. "You should have left me there. I deserve it."
I think I forget Caleb's there, because I sit on the cot next her, coaxing her eyes to meet mine. "Who told you that?"
She smiles at me sadly, but it's engraved by fear and pain alone. "I know I've done things. Bad things. They showed me..."
"What?" I ask. "What did they show you?"
"Four,..." Caleb warns but I ignore him.
Tris clears her throat. "They showed me, me. I saw myself and I know I've killed people and not just people who should be killed. I've killed innocent people because I can...I can feel it."
"You also saved lives, Tris," I say, the words leaving my mouth unbidden, unguarded. "You've saved so many people. You've given so much of yourself, but people make mistakes. Bad things happen but you can't trust them to tell you the truth of it."
She glares up at me as if I said something I shouldn't have. "Did I kill my own friend?"
I pause. She waits. "Answer honestly."
After a second, slowly, reluctantly, I nod. "It was self defense. You didn't want to do it, but he would have killed you."
"Are my parents dead because of me?"
"They died for you," I clarify. "You didn't put them there or force them to do so."
She shakes her head sadly. "But I still did it. They're still dead and I don't...I don't know what I was thinking when it happened. Sure, you can name it with a circumstance that produced that result, but how do I know that it's something I didn't want? if I can't remember that I...that I..."
Her eyes grow more distant then, the color disappearing, replaced by some horrific realization. Her fisted hands begin to shake and her mouth draws into a small O.
"I killed them."
"Tris," I say, "your parents died for you. Your friend would have-"
But she just shakes her head again, more insistant this time. "Not them," she says. "I...I poisoned people. I tricked them into drinking something...she had a son!"
Her words make my blood freeze and on instinct, I stand and move to one of the screens against the back wall and click it on. Maybe it's not the smartest thing, but I need to know what they've done to her and the things they've bent my Tris to do.
I hit mute.
The screen appears to an image of a pretty older woman, wearing white, smiling into the camera. Leader of Candor, I already know by her shirt. But my eyes aren't looking at her clothes. My eyes are staring at the blaring red heading screaming above her, declaring her death.
I close my eyes, willing the image away.
And to my surprise, it goes, but then it's replaces by a man, this one from Abnegation. Also dead.
Then the fury is back, roiling inside me, burning, scalding, red hot all through my body. This- this is what they've reduced the girl who saved their city to. The Abnegation-Dauntless tranfer who gave her life for the sake of others. Who lost her family and her friends in the name of saving just a few more.
I turn the screen off. I hear something in my fingers break and realize then the remote in my hand has now become two sections.
I will myself to stay calm. For Tris's sake, I lock it away in a box; seal it with chains and a key to open for a future date. For now, in this moment, I'll let it rot until I don't smell it anymore.
"You didn't know," I say plainly. "You didn't know the intentions of the people who had you."
Tris stares at me, disbelieving. "And you think that dismisses it? You think that makes this acceptable? You think a person has to remember and recall everything they've ever done to decide if the next action they take is moral or not?"
She puts her face in her hands, crippled by what they've done. "You say nothing is my fault," she spits, "coming from a man I don't know, in a place I don't know, from a family I don't know but who's still dead to me. Don't you get it? I kill people," she hisses, "even when it felt wrong, I still did it."
Now it's my turn to shake my head. I go back to her and stand at the end of the cot. "No, Tris. You're brave. You're strong. You put those who've hurt you above your own life."
She groans, a painful moan that builds deep in her chest before it's released. "That girl is gone," she whispers. "I know you think she's here somewhere, but she's not. I don't want to know her. I don't want to see the good things done so I can find out that this is who I am now. A murderer. I murdered those people, okay? By choice."
I look away, unable to watch as she torments herself. A feeling of helplessness mounts in me, whispering that I can't do anything; I have nothing to offer her. But I do. I have the time. The time to show her the person she used to be and the person she still is.