Chapter 12: Community?
"Good choice." Will murmurs despondently. "Yeah? I got it from the atmosphere I'm feeling, from the book and room."
Marlene nods in thought. "Can't believe it was just a few hours ago when we were all wishing to stay here forever."
"Now we're literally at each other's throats." Lynn says jerking her chin towards Christina who snorts. "That was a much needed healthy bout of action. Plus, it's not the general room it's just me and Peter." Cara opens her mouth but Christina quickly says. "I mean Peter and I!" she quickly corrects. "I think the ambient with all of us is great, and when Peter's in check-" She shoots him a meaningful glare that he whole-heartedly returns. "I think we all for the most part get along"
After a brief pause Tori stands up and Cara wordlessly hands her the book. "I'll read next."
"Can I get some ice or something?" Peter clutches his arm grumbling. "My eye is fucking swelling up."
"Noting the language," Andrew says. "I do think Peter is in need of some aid, he's bleeding quite a lot."
Alexandra's the first to stand reaching for the long time untouched multi- pocket bag on the table and rummaging in it. "No first aid kit," She sighs before dropping it back on the table. "Be right back I'll get some ice and check for a first aid in the kitchen." She hesitates before continuing. "Go ahead and read without me."
Tori nods settles on the floor by her seat, leans her back against the couch and crosses her legs.
THE NEXT MORNING, I don't hear the alarm, shuffling feet, or conversations as the other initiates get ready. I wake to Christina shaking my shoulder with one hand and tapping my cheek with the other. She already wears a black jacket zipped up to her throat. If she has bruises from yesterday's fight, her dark skin makes them difficult to see.
Alexandra comes back kit in hand, and two cloths filled with ice blocks. Then goes to Natalie, "Would you mind handling this? You're the trained first- aide." She says.
The Prior is surprised but smiling. "I'd love too. Been a while since I've done something Abnegation. We're all still feeling guilty from the fact that none of the Abnegation woke up early enough to help you with breakfast I'm very sorry for that by the way."
"Mrs Prior, Violet and I are supposed to take care of you." Natalie not convinced frowns slightly. "Fine, handle Peter for me and we're square."
"Come on," she says. "Up and at 'em."
I dreamt that Peter tied me to a chair and asked me if I was Divergent. I answered no, and he punched me until I said yes.
Peter chortles, Natalie looks at him sadly before kneeling by his seat and setting up the kit. "Please hold this to your arm." She hands him an ice pack, while Alexandra stands silently next to them holding ice to his cheek and not acknowledging him, when he glances up at her.
I woke up with wet cheeks. I mean to say something, but all I can do is groan. My body aches so badly it hurts to breathe. It doesn't help that last night's bout of crying made my eyes swell.
"Did you cry often?" Christina murmurs staring gloomily at her friend. "Would you believe me if I said no." The Divergent says.
Christina offers me her hand. The clock reads eight. We're supposed to be at the tracks by eight fifteen.
Uriah whistles lowly. "Been there done that. The strategy: brush, pee and shower at the same time."
Tris snorts. "That sounds disgusting."
"Disgusting or effective."
"I'll run and get us some breakfast. You just…get ready. Looks like it might take you a while," she says.
"Ouch," Christina winces. "Honesty can be a fault, sorry."
I grunt. Trying not to bend at the waist, I fumble in the drawer under my bed for a clean shirt. Luckily Peter isn't here to see me struggle.
"Oops," Peter smirks cockily. "Didn't mean to peep."
Once Christina leaves, the dormitory is empty. I unbutton my shirt
Theirs multiple cries.
"Rated R! Rated R! Rated R!" Uriah says covering his ears and Marlene reaches over and covers his eyes. "Don't look."
"Tris control yourself!" Zeke yells. "There are children present." Tris sighs. "I don't know if I should be insulted that you're all so against this or honored that you're all so against this."
"Insulted." Peter laughs then winces when Natalie drips disinfectant on his lip. "Oh sorry," She says smiling too sweetly.
"And to answer you all," Tori rolls her eyes. "It's perfectly PG."
and stare at my bare side, which is patched with bruises. For a second the colors mesmerize me, bright green and deep blue and brown. I change as fast as I can and let my hair hang loose because I can't lift my arms to tie it back.
Most of the room wince in recollection while Tris just shakes her head bemused by the painfulness of that day. He beat me as if I ruined his childhood and killed his mother. It all suddenly seems so redundant, it's over now anyway.
I look at my reflection in the small mirror on the back wall and see a stranger. She is blond like me, with a narrow face like mine, but that's where the similarities stop. I do not have a black eye, and a split lip, and a bruised jaw.
"Well now Peter can look in the mirror and see where his similarities stop," Christina eggs quickly squashing her smirk when Violet gives her a pointed glare. "He has the same hair and laugh." Will says. "But that's where the similarities stop." Marlene chuckles.
"Yeah," Uriah says chuckling so it's evident to the room he thinks they're joking, not really trying to bully him. "Peter does not have a swollen eye."
"Or bruised arm."
"Very funny children," Four rolls his eyes. "Can we continue." The former initiates immediately stop laughing, shrinking from they're ex- instructors clearly annoyed voice.
I am not as pale as a sheet. She can't possibly be me, though she moves when I move.
"Very deep on your part, Tris." Caleb says in musing. "Your Erudite side is starting to show."
I wish it wouldn't…
By the time Christina comes back, a muffin in each hand,
"What a terrible friend."
Christina sighs. "What did I do this time Uri?"
"A muffin? Muffin as in singular? As in only?" She tilts her head to the side confused. "And so?"
Tris laughs. "He's right not even an apple and some juice too."
"The level of friendship is seriously lacking." Marlene says, "When Uri misses breakfast if I don't bring a maximum of five things he thinks I'm mad at him." Christina points at the two. "For your information it was after breakfast and their wasn't much left, and you," She turns to Tris. "I didn't hear you complaining that day."
"She was in pain and couldn't recognize herself in the mirror." Uriah jumps in. "What did you expect." Christina shakes her head glancing at Will to gauge his reaction, he's laughing and so is Cara. "Fine, I'll do better next time."
"Thank you," Tris starts turning to Uriah. "For putting some sense into her. Can you believe she had breakfast and still ate the other muffin."
"Okay, I'm a terrible, starving friend." She grunts at everyone's amused faces.
I'm sitting on the edge of my bed, staring at my untied shoes.
"Why?" Will asks.
I will have to bend over to tie them.
"We understand that part."
It will hurt when I bend over.
Everyone chuckles. "You're very straight forward." Will laughs. "Have I ever told you how I like it?"
"You like me more though, right?" Christina whispers batting her eyelashes innocently up at him. He purses his lips to the side thoughtfully, noting her trying to be subtle in asking for forgiveness.
"My arm still hurts from that punch and kick but," He glances at Peter who rides up his shirt for Mrs Prior exposing a huge, forming bruise on his stomach. "But, I've decided that yes I do." He continues pecking her pouted lips once. "Very much."
But Christina just passes me a muffin and crouches in front of me to tie my shoes. Gratitude surges in my chest, warm and a little like an ache. Maybe there is some Abnegation in everyone, even if they don't know it.
"Of course there is. You all have a little of every faction inside you." Alexandra says. "Some just have more qualities from one than another."
"Then why aren't we all Divergent?" Marcus asks a little too hostilely. "That's science." Raised eyebrows meet her statement. "Yes it is," Caleb smiles. "We were about to start studying faction science before I got kidnapped."
"Collected." Violet counters
Violet snorts. "Lightly pushed."
"I apologize for not wanting to go off with a random person who just appeared out of nowhere." She nods smiling. "Apology accepted," She smiles at Mr Prior giving him a thumbs up. "You've raised a good one here." Caleb chuckles.
Well, in everyone but Peter.
Alexandra bends down removing the ice and feeling lightly at the cool, swollen skin. Her eyes unconsciously drifting to take in his stoic face. He glares down at Natalie as she applies something to his leg that scratched up against the leg of his chair, in falling, and getting up.
I wish you would show that little Abnegation side I know you have. As if hearing her his eyes suddenly meet hers, and her breathe hitches for a second before breaking eye contact and looking at his cheeks. "Your face is going be swollen for a while." she whispers while Tori reads.
"Okay." He says after a beat almost willing her to look at him again.
"You'll be fine." She adds. Then takes the ice pack from his arm and hands him hers. "Rotate it on whatever hurts the most." Without sparing him a glance she walks to the kitchen feeling his gaze the whole way.
"Thank you," I say. "Well, we would never get there on time if you had to tie them yourself," she says. "Come on. You can eat and walk at the same time, right?" We walk fast toward the Pit. The muffin is banana-flavoured, with walnuts. My mother baked bread like this once to give to the factionless, but I never got to try it. I was too old for coddling at that point.
Tori pauses and roll her eyes. "So what you used to flip your blonde hair and act innocent so she'll give you special non-Abnegation treatment."
"Always." Natalie says smiling lightly.
I ignore the pinch in my stomach that comes every time I think of my mother
Natalie doesn't allow her smile to widen, knowing it will show shallowness but her heart aches with love.
and half walk, half jog after Christina, who forgets that her legs are longer than mine.
"Don't call me Trissy, dude."
Christina guffaws, "Don't call me dude, Trissy."
We climb the steps from the Pit to the glass building above it and run to the exit. Every thump of my feet sends pain through my ribs, but I ignore it. We make it to the tracks just as the train arrives, its horn blaring.
"What took you so long?" Will shouts over the horn. "Stumpy legs over here turned into an old lady overnight," says Christina.
"Two insults in one sentence," Lynn says turning to the girl. "We should really hang out more."
Christina chuckles before winking haughtily at her.
"Oh, shut up." I'm only half kidding.
Christina clutches her chest dramatically.
Four stands at the front of the pack, so close to the tracks that if he shifted even an inch forward, the train would take his nose with it.
Four chuckles half- heartedly. "Bit morbid Trissy."
"I'll shoot you," Tris whispers. "And won't miss, I swear."
He steps back to let some of the others get on first. Will hoists himself into the car with some difficulty, landing first on his stomach and then dragging his legs in behind him. Four grabs the handle on the side of the car and pulls himself in smoothly, like he doesn't have more than six feet of body to work with.
"Tell me you don't psycho analyse everyone," Will groans. "You're making me sound pathetic."
"Don't worry," Tori snorts. "I'm positive it will slow down to analyzing Four only." Christina laughs. "I second, and third, and all the other numbers that statement."
"Agreed." Some chant. Tris sits silently trying desperately to remember all her thoughts revolving around Four.
I jog next to the car, wincing, then grit my teeth and grab the handle on the side. This is going to hurt.
Al grabs me under each arm and lifts me easily into the car. Pain shoots through my side, but it only lasts for a second. I see Peter behind him, and my cheeks get warm. Al was trying to be nice, so I smile at him, but I wish people didn't want to be so nice.
"It would have hurt way more if you did it alone." Four murmurs.
"Being dauntless is enough inspiration to never want to ask for help again." You should know that all too well. She adds silently.
As if Peter didn't have enough ammunition already.
Tris waits for Peter's cocky- comment, but as Tori continues reading she glances at the man to see him staring at Alexandra as she emerges from the kitchen.
"Feeling okay there?" Peter says, giving me a look of mock sympathy—his lips turned down, his arched eyebrows pulled in.
So his regular face. Christina muses silently.
"Or are you a little…Stiff?"
Well, that didn't last long. Tris sighs.
He bursts into laughter at his joke, and Molly and Drew join in. Molly has an ugly laugh, all snorting and shaking shoulders, and Drew's is silent, so it almost looks like he's in pain.
Everyone laughs at this, Peter even puffing a laugh at his friends' expense.
"We are all awed by your incredible wit," says Will. "Yeah, are you sure you don't belong with the Erudite, Peter?" Christina adds. "I hear they don't object to sissies." Four, standing in the doorway, speaks before Peter can retort. "Am I going to have to listen to your bickering all the way to the fence?"
Everyone gets quiet,
"The effect of the instructor." Tris teases elbowing Four suggestively. "Wish it worked on you." He quips back.
She smiles but still wonders. But isn't that why you like me?
and Four turns back to the car's opening. He holds the handles on either side, his arms stretching wide, and leans forward so his body is mostly outside the car, though his feet stay planted inside. The wind presses his shirt to his chest.
An awkward chuckle ripples through the room. "Wow-ie," Alexandra cheers and grabs at the hem of her sweater fluttering it lightly. "Things are getting a little heated"
Christina collapses into laughter. "I'm sorry this is too much, you are crushing so hard." Tris tries to look indifferent though she can't help flushing slightly. Why do my parents have to be here for this? She sneaks a glance at her father but can't gauge his reaction.
I try to look past him at what we're passing—a sea of crumbling, abandoned buildings that get smaller as we go. Every few seconds, though, my eyes shift back to Four. I don't know what I expect to see, or what I want to see, if anything. But I do it without thinking.
I didn't understand what the heck I was doing, let alone what I was feeling. Tris ponders as people around her smirk knowingly at her. It's so easy for them to judge because we told them. I wonder if they'd be as confused as I once was if we didn't tell them anything at all.
I ask Christina, "What do you think is out there?" I nod to the doorway. "I mean, beyond the fence." She shrugs. "A bunch of farms, I guess."
"Yeah, but I mean…past the farms. What are we guarding the city from?" She wiggles her fingers at me. "Monsters!"
Tris shakes her head. "So helpful."
"I wasn't joking!"
I roll my eyes. "We didn't even have guards near the fence until five years ago," says Will. "Don't you remember when Dauntless police used to patrol the factionless sector?"
"Yes," I say. I also remember that my father was one of the people who voted to get the Dauntless out of the factionless sector of the city. He said the poor didn't need policing; they needed help, and we could give it to them. But I would rather not mention that now, or here. It's one of the many things Erudite gives as evidence of Abnegation's incompetence.
Cara flips her hair rolling her eyes and scoffing. "How isn't it incompetence? Remember how less than a year ago a factionless man robbed an Erudite girl."
"I remember how it was said that he stole her food." Christina argues. "She was only 14." Will points out.
"He was most probably starving." Natalie says as lightly as she can. "He needed that food more than she did at that time."
"Is that an excuse?" Cara spits.
"No." She states. "It's just the truth."
"Well," Cara huffs a bit. "When that happened it should've been when they implemented the police force again. Especially, since he wasn't detained." No one says anything else but Mr Prior rolls his eyes quite dramatically.
"Oh, right," he says. "I bet you saw them all the time."
"Why do you say that?" I ask, a little too sharply. I don't want to be associated too closely with the factionless.
"Harsh." Alexandra grumbles.
"Because you had to pass the factionless sector to get to school, right?"
"What did you do, memorize a map of the city for fun?" says Christina. "Yes," says Will, looking puzzled. "Didn't you?"
"What a nerd." Christina whispers in Will's ear who blushes to the tips of his ear.
The train's brakes squeal, and we all lurch forward as the car slows. I am grateful for the movement; it makes standing easier. The dilapidated buildings are gone, replaced by yellow fields and train tracks. The train stops under an awning. I lower myself to the grass, holding the handle to keep me steady.
In front of me is a chain-link fence with barbed wire strung along the top. When I walk forward, I notice that it continues farther than I can see, perpendicular to the horizon. Past the fence is a cluster of trees, most of them dead, some green. Milling around on the other side of the fence are Dauntless guards carrying guns.
"Follow me," says Four. I stay close to Christina. I don't want to admit it, not even to myself, but I feel calmer when I'm near her.
"Aaw, Trissy," Christina coos leaping from her seat and jerking Tris out of hers in a coddling hug. "Don't start." She argues struggling to no avail in her friend's death grip. The smaller raven hugs her tightly and strokes the other's hair with her face. "I love you too."
"Please," Tris pleads craning her neck away. "Anyone, save me."
"Thank you Tris." She finally relents letting her go with a final, slobbery kiss on the cheek. "I feel stronger next to you."
"Because I'm weaker…" Tris frowns. "Because you inspire me to be stronger in everything," Christina whispers. "Because you always tried so hard every day." Theirs a murmured 'aaw' probably from Alexandra or Uriah.
Tris finally relents. "I guess I love you sometimes."
If Peter tries to taunt me, she will defend me.'
"Always." Christina says plopping down next to Will again. "I think you've proven yourself in that." Uriah chuckles.
"I'll never doubt that." Tris agrees.
Silently I scold myself for being such a coward. Peter's insults shouldn't bother me, and I should focus on getting better at combat, not on how badly I did yesterday. And I should be willing, if not able, to defend myself instead of relying on other people to do it for me.
Four looks at Tris from the corner of his eye affectionately. I'll fight for you, any day.
Caleb clears his throat as a way of interruption. "This poses a question." The room turns to him in apprehension. "Is it cowardly to rely on those around you? Or is it courage in knowing that you know you cannot face everything alone?" He doesn't look up writing the question in his notebook as he says it.
"You, yourself are the only person you can truly rely on." Tris says simply.
"Then what's the point of friends?" Uriah asks. "Basic human need," Cara answers as if she has it memorized from a textbook. "humans crave interaction and a sense of community. That's why factions work and being factionless or divergent is the worst thing imaginable. Factions provide a constant surrounding people and inspire the people alike to try harder because you are the same."
"In the end though you're alone." Tori says surprising everyone. "During training, initiation, whatever you have to do, you get yourself through it. People around you may help but in the end you have to get there yourself. Isn't that why Divergence is such a threat because they already know this."
Cara quirks an eyebrow impressed. "Their a threat for multiple reasons..." She eyes Tris who looks at her expectantly. "but the defense rests."
Tori bows her head slightly in acknowledgement. Caleb jots down a full stop and looks up smiling. "Very well debated."
Four leads us toward the gate, which is as wide as a house and opens up to the cracked road that leads to the city. When I came here with my family as a child, we rode in a bus on that road and beyond, to Amity's farms, where we spent the day picking tomatoes and sweating through our shirts. Another pinch in my stomach.
"Thank you so much for those painful days by the way Peter."
"Just say when, Stiff."
"If you don't rank in the top five at the end of initiation, you will probably end up here," says Four as he reaches the gate. "Once you are a fence guard, there is some potential for advancement, but not much. You may be able to go on patrols beyond Amity's farms, but—"
"Patrols for what purpose?" asks Will. Four lifts a shoulder. "I suppose you'll discover that if you find yourself among them.
"Since I'll be doing patrol services." Will says to Four. "Can you tell me now?"
"No." Will sighs and doesn't notice Alexandra's fleeting look of sadness in his direction, or Violet's slight shifting in her seat.
As I was saying. For the most part, those who guard the fence when they are young continue to guard the fence. If it comforts you, some of them insist that it isn't as bad as it seems."
"Yeah. At least we won't be driving buses or cleaning up other people's messes like the factionless," Christina whispers in my ear.
"What rank were you?" Peter asks Four. I don't expect Four to answer, but he looks levelly at Peter and says, "I was first."
Marcus's eyes widen comically and he like the other's in the room who didn't know this about Four eye him with a new level of respect. Four crosses his arms effectively shutting down any questions anyone was going to ask. He feels his father's gaze on him long after everyone else looks away, but ignores it by letting Alexandra distract him with a smug face.
She always knew what he was thinking and what he needed, he smiles internally and turns to engage her. "I was number 1." She mouths grinning. He rolls his eyes and looks away. Yes you were.
"And you chose to do this?" Peter's eyes are wide and round and dark green. They would look innocent to me if I didn't know what a terrible person he is.
"I'm touched Stiff."
Alexandra glances at him through a curtain of hair. Such innocent, handsome features. She almost sighs dreamily but catches herself, and stares adamantly at Tori.
"Why didn't you get a government job?"
"I didn't want one," Four says flatly.
"Why not?" Marcus asks forgetting about any types of pretense. Tris, Violet and Alexandra simultaneously tense, their faces portraying coolness while internally guarding.
His jaw visible locks. "Don't want to." Alexandra hopes he'll leave it at that but the Dauntless continues. "I don't want to control people who I know I have no real control or influence over. Especially, since recently everything with the leaders seem centered around useless violence, fights and petty, cruel punishment."
"Isn't that what being Dauntless is about though?" Peter interjects brow raised despite the cut. "because I've certainly learnt that you get stronger through harsh challenges." He looks briefly in Tris's direction. "Worked for her- and Christina finally grew a back bone, even though she can't through a punch for shit."
"Wanna try again?" The raven grumbled heat flaring up to her cheeks.
Four sighs. "If that's all Dauntless has taught you then I've nothing left to say." It effectively terminates the conversation. Tris's mind flashes back to Four telling her he had wanted to leave, but her arriving stopped him. She instinctively reaches out to comfort him the realizes how neither are completely comfortable with such displays of affection, and quickly withdraws her hand. She lightly pats his hand and strokes it with her thumb before settling her hands in her lap.
Her eyes shift up to him his jaw's locked but his shoulders have relaxed a bit, her eyes suddenly shift and find Marcus. They automatically narrow and he notices, and holds her gaze a few seconds before silently snorting and looking away.
I remember what he said on the first day, about working in the control room, where the Dauntless monitor the city's security. It is difficult for me to imagine him there, surrounded by computers. To me he belongs in the training room.
Four smiles down at her. It's where he felt the most comfortable, in control. The training room is where he knew he could help people like Tris and how. There he could make a difference and help.
We learned about faction jobs in school. The Dauntless have limited options. We can guard the fence or work for the security of our city. We can work in the Dauntless compound, drawing tattoos or making weapons or even fighting each other for entertainment. Or we can work for the Dauntless leaders.
"Wow that is limited." Cara whistles. "Erudite always has jobs available. Theirs always something to do."
That sounds like my best option. The only problem is that my rank is terrible. And I might be factionless by the end of stage one.
"Spoiler alert!" Uriah dramatically flays his arms in the air. Alexandra nods in agreement. "Yeah now we all know Tris' number 1. That really ruined the premise."
"It's all over the place."
"All over!" Marlene scrunches her nose and looks between the two confused. "Are we still talking about premise?"
"Of course." Alexandra said. "And how it is all over the place." Uriah adds. Theirs a collective sigh of exasperation. "Can I please go back to bed." Zeke murmurs.
We stop next to the gate. A few Dauntless guards glance in our direction but not many. They are too busy pulling the doors—which are twice as tall as they are and several times wider—open to admit a truck.
The man driving wears a hat, a beard, and a smile. He stops just inside the gate and gets out. The back of the truck is open, and a few other Amity sit among the stacks of crates. I peer at the crates—they hold apples.
"Beatrice?" an Amity boy says.
"It's you." Tris states.
"I remember this, I wonder how you saw me then."
Robert smiles readying himself. "Say no more."
My head jerks at the sound of my name. One of the Amity in the back of the truck stands. He has curly blond hair and a familiar nose, wide at the tip and narrow at the bridge. Robert. I try to remember him at the Choosing Ceremony and nothing comes to mind but the sound of my heart in my ears. Who else transferred? Did Susan?
"I don't think Susan transferred."
Tris rolls her eyes. "Thank you Uri. I hadn't noticed."
"No problem she's sitting right there."
"Thank you so much."
Are there any Abnegation initiates this year? If Abnegation is fizzling, it's our fault—Robert's and Caleb's and mine. Mine. I push the thought from my mind.
Natalie packs the kit quickly, her hands moving with precision as they re-roll the bandages, and put the bloodied swabs in plastic sacks. "That's not how you should see it."
"I know mom… but was it." She continues. "Abnegation was it fizzling." The Abnegations are quiet past an appropriate time. "Things are very strange at the moment." Susan says finally.
Caleb's the one to ask. "Strange? How?"
"The Erudite." Andrew says eyes not so subtly moving to the only two in the room. "They haven't published anything, done anything in a while. It's been a fortnight now."
Eyes widen and jaws drop in shock and disbelieve at what Marcus says next. "We fear they might start a civil war."
"Marcus," Natalie says gently when they all start speaking over each other. "It's just the truth Natalie, I didn't mean-"
"We wouldn't do that." Caleb says. Tris notes how the 'we' came out so easily to him and tries to ignore the stab of betrayal. "Erudite are merely trying to ensure everyone's safety."
"And Abnegation, the faction of selflessness is a threat." Joanna quips back much to everyone's surprise."Selfless is a 3 letter swap from being selfish." Cara bristles.
"Great logic there." Tris rolls her eyes. "Erudite has always wanted control and they're showing what low levels their willing to stoop to, to get it."
Violet sighs. You have no idea.
"We'd be a more logical decision as leaders, relying on fact, knowledge and research before making a decision and ensuring what's best for the city."
"Selflessness trumps logic."
"Tris, thank you that's enough." Her mother interjects dusting her long skirt as she stands from her position on the floor. "Everyone's entitled to an opinion." Her mother finishes disappearing into the kitchen with the first aid kit and used supplies."See that, that's Abnegation caring about what happens to everyone not just themselves." She finishes with a huff pressing her back to her seat. Effectively ignoring Cara's glare, Four's eyebrows, and Caleb's hurt expression by scribbling in her notebook fiercely.
Robert hops down from the truck. He wears a gray T-shirt and a pair of blue jeans. After a second's hesitation, he moves toward me and folds me in his arms. I stiffen. Only in Amity do people hug each other in greeting. I don't move a muscle until he releases me.
"Awkward." Everyone wonders if Uriah's referring to the previous or current situation.
His own smile fades when he looks at me again. "Beatrice, what happened to you? What happened to your face?"
"Nothing," I say. "Just training. Nothing."
"Beatrice?" demands a nasal voice next to me.
"The mole machine."
"Children." Mr Prior scolds massaging the bridge of his nose with his thumb and forefinger. "Let's not name call it's not nice to antagonize others on their faults." Lynn frowns. "I'm not sure I like how we're constantly being referred to as children."
Violet snorts, "Once you stop acting like them, so will we."
"We're the same age." Lynn stops short remembering the chips in their wrists. "Physically at least." Marlene asks fingering her pillows edges. "Do we want to know how old you really are?"
Questioning stares meet Violets' icy nonchalance and smirk. "Read Tori."
Molly folds her arms and laughs. "Is that your real name, Stiff?" I glance at her. "What did you think Tris was short for?"
Alexandra rolls her eyes. "She bothers me to unimaginable extent."
"I think we all know that feeling, we lived with her for long enough." The transfer Dauntless nod at Will's words of wisdom.
"Oh, I don't know…weakling?" She touches her chin. If her chin was bigger, it might balance out her nose, but it is weak and almost recedes into her neck. "Oh wait, that doesn't start with Tris. My mistake."
"That was in no way funny." Uriah says feeling insulted for the basic standards of comedy being disrespected.
"We know Uri," Marlene says. "It's okay."
"Just the level of disrespect…"
"We understand your frustration," She lifts a hand to close his dropped jaw. "She's gone now it's alright."
"There's no need to antagonize her," Robert says softly. "I'm Robert, and you are?"
"Very good, Robert." Joanna praises. "Never stoop to the level they want you to fall to."
Robert nods beaming.
"Someone who doesn't care what your name is," she says. "Why don't you get back in your truck? We're not supposed to fraternize with other faction members."
Robert smiles. "She was a character."
"Why don't you get away from us?" I snap. "Right. Wouldn't want to get between you and your boyfriend," she says. She walks away smiling.
"What an irritating human being." Tris says. "Even you have to admit that Robert."
"She simply needs guidance."
Robert gives me a sad look. "They don't seem like nice people."
"Some of them aren't."
"You could go home, you know. I'm sure Abnegation would make an exception for you."
"Ouch," Christina gives him a dirty look. "What you trying to say Rob?"
"I didn't mean it the way it came out."
"What makes you think I want to go home?" I ask, my cheeks hot. "You think I can't handle this or something?"
"It's not that." He shakes his head. "It's not that you can't, it's that you shouldn't have to. You should be happy."
"Gosh, you're even more annoying in the book." Peter groans running a hand over his face. "Didn't think it was possible."
Robert shakes his head. "You and your friend are in and the same."
"This is what I chose. This is it." I look over Robert's shoulder. The Dauntless guards seem to have finished examining the truck. The bearded man gets back into the driver's seat and closes the door behind him. "Besides, Robert. The goal of my life isn't just…to be happy."
Zeke scratches his dark brown hair. "I don't think anyone who chooses Dauntless has the happiness goal in the forefront of their mind."
"It is centered around being brave, dauntless and strong." Tori says. "I think the goal is survival." Alexandra snorts. "It does teach you that at least."
"You think it's lost its ways." Tris asks.
I certainly do. Natalie muses silently taking her seat alongside her husband. "People who choose Dauntless want to survive but, no one wants to appear weak in any faction. It's toughening you up and-" Tris trails off unsure of what she's trying to say. Christina looks at them questionably. "Survive what?"
No one answers.
"Wouldn't it be easier if it was, though?" he says.
Before I can answer, he touches my shoulder and turns toward the truck. A girl in the back has a banjo on her lap. She starts to strum it as Robert hoists himself inside, and the truck starts forward, carrying the banjo sounds and her warbling voice away from us.
Robert waves to me, and again I see another possible life in my mind's eye. I see myself in the back of the truck, singing with the girl, though I've never sung before, laughing when I am off-key, climbing trees to pick the apples, always peaceful and always safe. It surprises me how inviting that feels at the moment. Away from constantly having to watch my back. The Dauntless guards close the gate and lock it behind them.
Tris is aware of how everyone's judging her thoughts. It's what they're meant to be doing but at this moment she realizes something. No one knows her thoughts like she does.
"I didn't think that…"
Violet turns to her. "What?"
"Two sentences back." The room turn to Tori.
It surprises me how inviting that feels at the moment. Away from constantly having to watch my back.
Tris sits up. "I looked at them with disdain- no offence Robert, Joanna," Everyone listens attentively. "I thought I wouldn't ever manage to be happy in a place of no structure, or protection and considered their freedom juvenile and shrouded."
"Should've guessed." Alexandra muses.
"I never thought of giving up." Tris continues. "I just always thought if I didn't try harder I wouldn't make it." For the next few minutes the group deliberate and the only sounds were pens to paper and Peter sighing.
Tris re- reads the paragraph, leaves out the two sentences and hands the book back to Tori.
The Dauntless guards close the gate and lock it behind them. The lock is on the outside. I bite my lip. Why would they lock the gate from the outside and not the inside?
Peter sits up at this. "That's suspicious as fuck."
"Language." Joanna reprimands. "You young ones really."
It almost seems like they don't want to keep something out; they want to keep us in. I push the thought out of my head. That makes no sense.
Christina purses her lips. "Did anyone else notice that?" The rest of the Dauntless shake their heads excluding Four and the older members of the other factions. The Divergent waves them off. "It was nothing, maybe I saw wrong."
"You didn't." Four states. A deafening silence settles, no one wanting to ask the million dollar question. It comes as no surprise when Tris speaks up first, "Why is it locked?" She turns to the Amity mouthpiece.
Joanna leans back in her seat readjusting her shawl. "To protect us from the outside."
Cara cuts in. "Why is it locked from the outside?"
"Now why would I know a thing like that?" Tris shrugs. "Maybe because Amity does live the closest to the walls not to mention your farms."
"I don't know the answer to your question."
"Don't know or won't tell."
"Tris," Her father warns. "You're really making me wonder if I've missed something while you've been at Dauntless, or if this attitude I'm noticing is something that has always been there."
"Think you missed something, Andrew." Peter shakes his finger admonishing. "Maybe it's just a Dauntless thing." Mr Prior says. "Ah, yes, we hellions as you put it."
"I apologize Joanna," Tris interrupts before her dad loses his cool and strangles Peter. "Let me re- phrase." She looks at all the leaders now. "What can you tell us about the lock?" Marcus sits up, "It's always been that way. Never really questioned it."
"It was likely a founder decision." Andrew strokes his chin thoughtfully. "I know it was implemented by the Erudite but a collective faction decision."
"It's really weird." Christina says. "Ignoring the lock thing, but everything sketchy that happens seems to involve the Erudite."
"Cara even you have to admit. For a faction that's trying to prove another is corrupted it sure seems to be involved in some shady business."
"Maybe," Caleb starts. "We're involved in all the right decisions." Violet waves her hands up and down in a plea for calm. "This is getting us nowhere. It's obvious that the people who know anything about this aren't here."
"Funny." Tris says. "Only one name comes to mind."
Four steps away from the fence, where he was talking to a female Dauntless guard with a gun balanced on her shoulder a moment before.
"Oh, this is what I'm talking about." Christina cries immediately perking. Her along with most of the other girls lean in excitedly.
"I am worried that you have a knack for making unwise decisions," he says when he's a foot away from me. I cross my arms.
"She crossed her arms you're gonna get it now!" Uriah exclaims giggling and grabbing Marlene's pillow.
"I need this pillow for comfort right now babe." She crosses her arms pouting. "You gonna get it now." Alexandra laughs.
"It was a two-minute conversation."
Christina claps. "Tell him girl."
"I don't think a smaller time frame makes it any less unwise." He furrows his eyebrows and touches the corner of my bruised eye with his fingertips. My head jerks back, but he doesn't take his hand away. Instead he tilts his head and sighs.
"What's wrong?" Tris asks. "My heart is beating so fast right now. I'm surprised by how stupidly invested in this I am."
Tris rolls her eyes but like everyone else starts laughing.
"You know, if you could just learn to attack first, you might do better."
"Attack first?" I say. "How will that help?"
"You're fast. If you can get a few good hits in before they know what's going on, you could win." He shrugs, and his hand falls.
"He really has been trying to help you since the beginning." Caleb states. "Then again I guess it's your job as an instructor."
"I'm surprised you know that," I say quietly, "since you left halfway through my one and only fight."
"It wasn't something I wanted to watch," he says.
What's that supposed to mean? He clears his throat. "Looks like the next train is here. Time to go, Tris."
"Mmm," Marlene squeals. "You guys are so cute!"
"Yeah I'm officially in love with this couple." Christina says voice as serious as death. "I have to admit the banter is cute." Susan blushes glancing briefly at Caleb. "You're like a forbidden love story."
"Barely." Four says rolling his eyes and crossing his arms.
"Like Bella and Edward." Marlene coos. "Wait, who does that make Alexandra?"
"Rosalie, duh?" Christina says. "Or Tanya."
"No one knows what you're talking about," Tori says closing the book. "Much like this chapter, everyone in this room, this city even, everything is shrouded in darkness and secrets."
"I have no idea what to believe anymore." Christina admits. "And I'm tired of arguing- or debating whatever it is we're doing in here."
Tori leans her head against the cushion seat. "And right now I'm tired of talking…" She says closing her eye. Theirs a long moment of silence before anyone speaks again absorbing the chapter's information and what they've learned in general.
I'm really sorry for the amount of times I confuse Robert's name with Edward's. Please note its the Twiheart (Twilight fan) inside me getting confused. No one really complains about it so I think you guys get it.
Thank you for all the nice reviews. We surpassed 100 follows guys!
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