A/N: About half of this is based off of the books and the other half is based off of the films. The timeline I'm using is going to diverge (haha) pretty much as soon as training begins, but nothing before then is going to change. No ret-conning Caleb as an Abnegation initiate, no Four-has-a-secret-twin-brother, nothing like that.
Appearances are going to be based off of the films because I'm a lazy bastard who doesn't want to look through her book again for the true-to-form descriptions. Also there may be certain details that, again, I mix up because I'm just too lazy to look them up! There, I admitted it. Also, I haven't read anything beyond Divergent sooo any secret details revealed in either sequels will just sort of not exist until I do so. If you have read my tags, you'll know what to expect ship-wise here (spoiler alert: it's Eris because I'm 100% trash).
Also coming back to this author's note about 2 years later, I would like to just comment and say that the future chapters increase in both originality and dare I say quality~ So perhaps if you're not super impressed by the first few scenes, try one or two chapters more and see if that doesn't intrigue you. I won't be offended if it doesn't.
If my ship of choice bothers you as a reader, sorry. If not, please read on and review!
My heart pounded in my ears when we jumped off the train for the first time. Christina was shrieking with laughter and I realized I was as well, jitters racing through me as I pushed myself up to stand. "We did it!" she turned to me, rubbing gravel out from her clothes. The heavy denim and leather that the Dauntless always wear started to make some sense to me.
"Yeah, we jumped off a train!" I exclaimed just as eagerly. I turned to look at the other initiates spread out across the roof and my heart stopped just as suddenly as it had begun racing. A dauntless-born initiate was being pulled back from the ledge, babbling and crying incoherently. A hush fell over the noisiest Faction as we all moved to see what caused her breakdown.
A girl sprawled spread-eagle on the ground, her neck at an impossible angle. I choked back a gasp and turned away from the ledge. The Dauntless girl shrieked incoherently, calling out the dead girl's name over and over.
This was not Abnegation.
The crowd pushed back, the rest of the initiates silent or whispering frantically to each other. Some black-clad adult moved to do...well whatever it is you do to deal with an accidental death in Dauntless. Some other men and women - it was all kind of a blur what was happening - walked the rest of us across the way to another rooftop.
I followed Christina automatically, trying to shut out the wailing that was still going on behind us. "Is- is she going to be okay?" I whispered to Christina. "Do you think they'd make her go into training right after that just happened?" I couldn't imagine being told to jump straight into faction training if something had happened to Caleb.
"No idea," Christina whispered back softly. "This is Dauntless though, so…" Her voice trailed off as silence fell over the cluster of remaining initiates. Someone had stepped onto the ledge in front of them, rocking easily on the balls of their feet like an initiate hadn't just fallen to her death minutes ago.
"Listen up!" he barked, narrowing his eyes as he finished studying the group of initiates in front of him. His dirty-blonde hair was pressed flat in the wind, but that didn't dull his cold stare. From the twin eyebrow piercings to the stark black tattoos crawling up his neck, he emanated Dauntless like a beacon. I wrapped my arms around me, trying not to pick at the thread of my sleeves. The calmness and safety of Abnegation was seeming more and more desirable every second I spent on this rooftop. But I couldn't let that stop me. Safety didn't mean happiness. I left to feel something, to embrace a part of me that I could never have accessed in the off-white halls of Abnegation.
"You've almost passed the first test to being a true Dauntless," he continued once the last chattering Erudite boy stopped. "Those who failed to make it to this rooftop weren't meant to progress past it, something each of you would do well to remember." A shiver went down my spine. Just like that, he was dismissing an initiate's death?
"I'm Eric, and I'm one of Dauntless leadership." Leadership? I raised an eyebrow and looked at Christina. She looked just as bewildered as I was. He was twenty years old, at best. How the hell was he a leader? "I'll be tasked with watching over your progress, provided you finish the last step for today. If you want to enter Dauntless, this is the way in." He gestured behind him with his arms. Nothing was there except open air.
"What's down there?" the Erudite who hadn't shut up before called out.
Eric trained his stony gaze at him, clasping his hands tightly behind him. "You're just going to have to jump to find out," he spat in reply. The group shifted even more uncomfortably, if that was possible.
No one spoke.
No one moved.
God, I wish I could summon the courage to move my feet a step forward, or even unwrap my arms from their locked position.
Eric rolled his eyes, disappointment - or was it boredom?- rolling off him in waves. "Okay then," he drawled, his sharp gaze piercing the crowd once more. I shivered when he looked at me, quick as it was. Then he pushed one foot off from the curved ledge and dropped straight from view, falling below in a whisper of fabric.
No, not silence.
My heart was pounding a million miles an hour, my adrenaline surging once more. That was what Dauntless was all about, wasn't it? Daring to go where no one else would? "Here," I found myself saying, tugging off my grey, Abnegation tunic and shoving it at Christina. "I'm not getting kicked out of Dauntless. Not today."
Two quick steps forward and I pushed past the still-stunned group. "Where's the Stiff going?" one of the Candor transfers sneered, but I ignored him. I hopped onto the curved ledge, staring down at a gaping hole in the ground. Here goes nothing.
Not even pausing for a second breath, I leapt from the ledge and plummeted down, all my fears and reservations evaporating as the brick buildings around my flashed by. Down through the broken concrete into darkness, my teeth digging harshly into my lower lip to keep from screaming.
I slammed into something far more flexible than water or hard ground, bouncing almost a third of the way back up to the entrance of the hole before landing once more in the netting. I stared at the bright spot above me, the wind half-knocked out of me. Already my eyes were adjusting to the darkness and I couldn't make out any details from the world above.
Something tipped the surface, the netting, I was on and I quickly scrambled to not fall to the ground. Two strong, callused hands wrapped around my wrists and steadied me. I stared at the black tattoos crawling up his forearms before I looked up into his face. Eric.
"So the Stiff was the first to jump," he growled, not sounding too happy about it. "Or were you pushed?"
My pride bristled at that and I flushed. "No, I jumped," I replied with as much determination as I could muster. His hands released me then and I could see a smirk on his face now.
"Got a name, First Jumper?" he asked. I nodded, my mind racing. This was Dauntless. I wasn't Abnegation anymore. I wasn't Beatrice anymore. I could pick a new name, choose a new life.
"Tris. I'm Tris." My breath was back and I was glad for it. The intensity in his eyes was like a blazing fire and I fought to shove away the flush that I couldn't control.
His pierced eyebrow darted up again and I thought he was hiding his surprise at an Abnegation "stiff" adapting so quickly to the Dauntless lifestyle. His hand grabbed my wrist again and he turned, pushing my arm high into the air. "First jumper, Tris!" he bellowed. The black and red shadows around me began whooping and shouting, and I realized that the Dauntless who had disappeared from the train were down here, waiting to watch the new initiates come in.
I grinned like mad, soaking in their cheers and attention.
This was not Abnegation. And that was good.