My heart throbs in both relief and pain as he and the rest walk into the compound.
And so is everyone else. An inexplicable rush of utter extrication of my previous fears and anxiety washes through. I blankly stare for a moment, trying to savour his strong, handsome expression before another apprehension settles in.
Cara, badly bruised on the side of her face, stands on the other side of the abandoned security checkpoint as the group walks through. I subconsciously relieve a sigh. There is no one else I want telling them what had happened.
Tobias looks at Cara with a worried expression, noticing her uneasiness.
"What is it?" He says.
Cara shakes her head.
"Where's Tris?" He urges.
"I'm sorry, Tobias."
"Sorry about what?" Christina says roughly. "Tell us what happened!"
Christina. Her brazen personality I had always utterly admired, along with her almost impossibly esoteric understanding to the world around her. I was beginning to feel the tears push its way through my eyes, but I force the hot itch gone. I cannot allow myself to do this now.
I approach closer so that I’m standing right between her and Cara. I raise my hand to place it on her cheek, but stop whilst doing so as Cara begins.
"Tris went into the Weapons Lab instead of Caleb," she says. "She survived the death serum, and set off the memory serum, but she... she was shot. And she didn't survive. I'm so sorry."
Realization dawns with a cold, cutting shudder, rushing through me as I take a step back from everyone. I shouldn't be here. I died. I'm dead. So why? Why is it that I'm here? Listening, and standing as if I'm not? The burden of guilt wholly devours me as I hear the first cry from Christina, and it continues to tear at me even further as I give a glance at Tobias. His movements remain still, his face remains still. But his eyes tell a different story. Wide with disbelief and wild with fire, just how is he taking this sort of information?
My mind tries to stay but my heart refuses. I turn my back to the group, ears listening to nothing but the enrapturing cries of Christina. I begin making my way out of the security checkpoint.
Never in my life had I dreamt about watching those I love receive the news of my death.
Sometimes, though quite rarely, Tobias comes to visit my body. I lie on a table, and I never realized how peaceful of a look I held. It's as if I'm simply sleeping, and I'll wake up soon enough. He squeezes my hand, and I can so vividly recall all those times we held hands. His warmth, his strength. His firm grip yet gentle touch, silently promising me nothing less than the world’s worth of love.
I watch helplessly as he falls to his knees and begins to cry in front of my body, and I could feel the tears swell and surge down my own face in a burning, hot, awful rush.
I know I'm gone, I know I'm dead. But one more kiss, one more word, one more glance.
Please god, is it too much to ask for just one more?
"Tobias?" Caleb calls out to him and I nod silently to myself. I know I haunt Caleb in his nightmares. The Tris he believes me to be hates him for the act he should've done, however didn't.
Tobias ignores him as he continues walking down the corridor.
"Wait. Please," he says.
It is then when Tobias turns himself around to face my brother. His expression still, as his eyes. I approach closer and can already smell the wind of a scent Tobias carries.
I force my tears away.
"I don't mean to bother you," Caleb starts. "But I have something to tell you. Something... she told me to tell you, before..."
Tobias' expression hardens even more at the mention of me. "Just get on with it," he spits, and I cringe.
"She told me that if she didn't survive, I should tell you..." Caleb chokes and I put my hand on his shoulder, gripping him tightly in hopes it would somehow convey my feelings – that I understand, that it’s okay – to him. He pulls himself up straight and I can see the tears building up in his eyes, blurring with my own. "That she didn't want to leave you."
"Yeah?" Tobias remarks harshly. "Then why did she? Why didn't she let you die?"
An overwhelming surge of pure anguish engulfs me as I break out in trembling sobs, touching Tobias’ cheek lightly.
I feel no warmth in return.
"You think I'm not asking myself that question?!" Caleb replies. "She loved me. Enough to hold me at gunpoint so she could die for me. I have no idea why, but that's just the way it is."
Caleb, even after you betrayed me, our family, and everyone else to keep the secret of what’s outside the fence, even after you escorted me to my scheduled execution in Erudite, and watched as I writhed in pain, you have and always will remain to be, the serious and capable older brother from Abnegation. The smart, enthusiastic, and observant. The quiet, earnest and kind. A part of me I will never be able to – nor want to – forget. I never hated you, nor will I ever be able to bring myself to feel so. I won't be able to forget all you've done, but I still remember the exact words I said to you mere days ago.
I would never deliver you to your own execution.
After I died, there were a few times I had been mad at Tobias. Almost regretted dying just so I could be there to punch him in the face for being so utterly stupid. There were indefinitely a few times I wanted to simply shout at him, "Get over it, I'm dead! Stop moping around forever!" But it was the moment he took the vial of memory serum and drove away in a truck, that I truly regretted dying.
"Matthew told me you stole some of the memory serum along with a truck," Christina says. "I have to say, I didn't really believe him."
"Then why did you come, if you didn't believe him?" He replies. His voice is void, distant.
"Just in case," she replies. "Plus, I wanted to see the city one more time before it all changes. Give me that vial, Tobias."
"No." Tobias firmly answers. "This is my decision, not yours."
I slap him straight across the face although I know and see him remain unfazed. I choke on my tears and cries.
How could he?
Christina's dark eyes widen, then narrows. "This is not your decision," she says. "This is the decision of a coward, and you're a lot of things, Four, but not a coward. Never."
I glare at Tobias through my tears and uncontrollable rage seeps to replace the preceding sadness in every inch of my body.
"Maybe I am now," he stupidly answers. "Things have changed. I'm alright with it."
"No, you're not."
He rolls his eyes.
"You can't become a person she would hate," Christina says, quietly. "And she would've hated this."
I laugh, almost ruthlessly, at how well Christina knows me.
"Shut up!" Tobias yells. I flinch away from him as I look up at his face, contorted with anger and confusion over his handsome one. "Shut up! You don't know what she would hate; you didn't know her, you-"
"I know enough!" Christina snaps. "I know she wouldn't want you to erase her from your memory like she didn't even matter to you!"
Tobias lunges towards her and I let out a scream.
Oh, how I wish I were alive.
He pins her shoulder to the wall, and leans closer to her face.
"If you even dare suggest that again," he starts, "I'll-"
"You'll what?" Christina shoves him back, hard. "Hurt me? You know, there's a word for big, strong men who attack women, and it's coward."
My cries stop as I realize Christina resorted to employing Tobias' father. His abusive way of treating his wife and son. I snap my head to Tobias, analyzing his reaction, and I presume correct.
He steps away and slumps against the wall, his body collapsing to the ground.
There are no words between them, and all I can hear are the silent sobs and hiccups I let out, along with additional cries.
"I also know how it feels to forget everything," Christina starts after long minutes of silence. "I also know how it feels like for someone you love to get killed for no reason, and to want to trade all your memories for them for just a moment's peace."
She approaches Tobias, and reaches for his hands which are tightly wrapped around the vial.
"I didn't know Will long," she continues, "but he changed my life. He changed me. And I know Tris changed you even more."
I immediately recall Will's death. How heavy the gun felt in my hands after I had shot him. After I saw him crumble to the ground, lifeless on the street. He didn't even know he was under the stimulation. He wasn't conscious when he had died.
Tobias' tears snap me back to reality as more tears uncontrollably escape my eyes.
I'm gone, and crying feels so useless, so stupid, but it's all I can do as I stand there, watching my best friend and my lover cry.
Thank you. Thank you, Christina.
"Are you going to zip line?" My best friend asks.
I excitedly leap around them and jump repeatedly up and down with my hands on Tobias' shoulder. It's been two and a half years since I died, and today is the day they would scatter my ashes.
"Yes," I hear Tobias reply. "I think Tris would want me to try it at least once."
I squeeze his cheeks as I give him a quick peck on the lips.
Yes, you're right. I would love for you to try it at least once.
"I think you're right," Christina smiles and says.
I watch and laugh longingly as Christina, Matthew, Shauna, and Cara go one by one, scattering my ashes throughout the city.
When it's Tobias' turn, I see his face go pale.
"I don't think I can do it," he says. My shoulders slump, and my head dips slightly, yet I nod to myself in understanding.
"Of course you can," Zeke replies. "You're Four, Dauntless legend! You can face anything."
My lips part in anticipation and my face lights up again. Just leave it to Zeke to give you a pep talk.
Tobias seems to reconsider his apprehension, but as soon as he inches closer to the edge of the roof, he starts shaking his head repeatedly in doubt.
Zeke's eyes narrow slightly. "Hey," he starts, putting his hand on Tobias' shoulders. He gripped it tightly. "This isn't about you, remember? It's about her. Doing something she would have liked to do, something she would have been proud of you for doing. Right?"
The determined look that sets on Tobias' face proves that was all he needed.
"How did she get in?" He asks.
"All right." Tobias says, handing him the urn. "Put this behind me, okay? And open up the top."
A bright smile bubbles forth as I hug and kiss him on the cheek.
As soon as he's on his way, he starts shouting and blaring, and I can't help but laugh out loud.
I would've been proud of you no matter what.