Disclaimer: I don't own Divergent.


December 24th

Today is Christmas Eve, and I finally get 3 whole weeks with Tobias. When we parted ways at the end of summer, I was crushed. We made it work, though. In between his classes at Virginia Tech and his new job with Dauntless, and in between my classes and my hours at the coffee shop, we've found time to text, talk on the phone, and FaceTime.

Of course, none of that stopped me from missing him. I craved his physical affection, not just him making love to me, even just our sweet kisses and lingering hugs and getting to smell him. Those are things that technology can't replace, unfortunately.

We've seen each other twice since school restarted, and winter break is now the third occasion. The first time we got to see each other was his trip to Portland, which was the best weekend I've ever had. We travelled around the hippie city, hiked through the gorgeous Oregon fall weather, and had lots and lots of sex in my dorm room.

The second time was Thanksgiving. My family and I visited Virginia for a nice Thanksgiving at Evelyn's house. My parents had a great time catching up with their old friend who they hadn't spoken to in a while, and I had fun staying in Evelyn's home without the crowd of our other friends.

Speaking of them, we haven't gotten to reunite yet. We frequently text in our huge group chat, and because of that, Uriah has invited us to a big New Years Eve party in Seattle- which is where he, Zeke, Shauna, Marlene, Lynn, and Lauren are all from. Christina, Tobias, and I bought our tickets a few weeks ago and will head out there next week. It'll be nice to see everyone again, especially Christina.

I haven't gotten to see my best friend since the summer, because I didn't spend Thanksgiving in Chicago like I usually do. And for Christmas, we aren't in Chicago either. No, this year my parents officially retired, and they bought a house in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I guess they needed a change after living in Illinois for 20 years. I get it, but now there's nothing tying me back to my childhood home anymore. It's saddening, considering that's where Tobias and I met and fell in love. I wish I could've said a proper goodbye at least.

Before Tobias and I fly up to Seattle to party for New Years, we're helping my parents move in. Evelyn accompanied Tobias too, and my brother Caleb is also here.

The process has taken a while so far. We got down here 3ish days ago, and our moving truck finally arrived today with the rest of our things. Christmas definitely won't be homey in an empty house, but at least we will all be together.


"This is a great opportunity," Tobias hands my laptop back to me after scrolling through the job description.

"So you think I should apply?" I ask.

"Uh, yeah, you should. You're kicking ass in college after all… and you know how Dauntless is talking about branching out to Venice too. If… we both made it there… it would be a dream come true."

"Uh, yeah, I know."

"But even if Dauntless doesn't head West… if you got that job, I would look for work in Venice."

"You'd do that for me?"

"Of course I would. We said one year of college. We didn't talk about living the rest of our lives long distance."

"But still, I could find a job in Virginia… or…"

Tobias shakes his head, "This was meant for you. And really, it'll be good no matter what. I like Venice, and we only got to spend like… a month there. Imagine living there."

"That would be the dream come true… Remember Linnie Canal Park? It was so beautiful there."

"Yep, and it's so beautiful everywhere in the LA area. Come on, just apply. Who knows what's gonna happen?"

"Mmm… okay. I'll do it. I just want to make sure that you're okay with this."

"Of course I'm okay with this. Tris, we made it through our first semester of this year apart, and I have no doubt that we'll make it through the second one. And this summer… we can be together, and we can stay together forever."

I smile at my boyfriend, and shut my laptop. Being apart was hard, but during our time away we never doubted our connection. We made it work because we wanted to, and because we knew what the reward would be on the other side. Building a life together.

Now, there's a great graphic design job opening in Venice Beach, and Tobias wants me to take it. His company has branches throughout the US too, but they haven't reached the West Coast yet, which is something that they've been talking about. If Dauntless opens a branch near Venice, and I get this job… Our future is made.

But even if that doesn't work out… I trust that we'll figure it out together. We always do. And this time we aren't keeping secrets from each other, letting our fear push us apart from one another or knock us over like we did when we were 18. No, now we are standing strong together, because we love each other.


It's now midnight, which makes it officially Christmas. After discussing the job opportunity a bit more, Tobias and I returned to help with the unpacking.

The movers have unloaded all the heavy furniture for the night, and we gave them a huge Christmas bonus for all their help. I'm glad to have a bed to sleep on tonight instead of the lumpy air mattress I've been crammed next to Tobias on.

As per Prior tradition, we open presents at midnight instead of Christmas morning.

"So, I know we don't have a tree this year, and the boxes everywhere make it kind of depressing," my mother says, "But what matters is the spirit. So, Merry Christmas."

All of us are seated on the carpet in our new home that does not look Christmasy whatsoever, but it's okay, because I'm surrounded by family.

Caleb goes first, opening the pile of presents in front of him. My parents got him a new watch, Tobias and Evelyn bought him a nice, dark blue, cashmere sweater, and I got him an LED desk lamp. He thanks us all immensely, his typical dorkish grin present on his face. I smile. My brother and I were never typically close, and when I dated Tobias in high school he didn't necessarily approve… but I love him in my own way, and he seems to be happy for us now.

My dad is the next person to open his gifts. From Caleb he got a huge battery organizer to keep all his batteries arranged. It even comes with a detector that will evaluate the strength of a battery too. It really is a useful gift. My mom got him a new mug, and I bought him an electric blanket because he never wants to turn the thermostat up, but still, it's cold, and he could use it.

My mom received a scarf from Caleb, an electric mixer from my dad, and I got her some new jams that I bought before I left Portland, from the Made In Oregon store. Tobias and Evelyn's joint gift for both of my parents was a whole basket full of housewarming gifts- including some potted plants, a bottle of expensive wine, and a "Chicago" scented candle- so they'll never forget home.

Next is Evelyn. My mom, dad, and Caleb all pitched in to get her an expensive spa lavender bath set. With some downtime I found at school, due to less classes this year, I learned how to knit, so I knitted her some pink oven mitts which she fawns over. Tobias got his mother a new laptop sleeve, but let's be real, my gift blew his out of the water.

Apparently knitting runs in the family this year, because my mom knitted Tobias his very own woolen Christmas sweater, that looks more itchy than its worth. Still, he appeases her and slips it on over his head, giving her a large thank you as she claps and takes a couple photos of him. My dad and Caleb shoot him an apologetic look, before sliding another gift to him, some new, nice wireless headphones. I helped them out with this gift, too, since Tobias has been talking about that brand of headphones for a while. Evelyn got her son a very fancy electric razor. "It basically does all the work for you," she explains when he turns it on to examine it. "I figured you would need that, too, based on your previous performances." I chortle at the dig… it's true, though, Tobias is not incredibly gifted in the shaving department… but, it's okay because I honestly like the way a bit of overgrown stubble looks on him.

When Tobias sees a small package with my name on it, he gives me a look. "Tris, I thought we said we were gonna exchange our gifts later." We decided that because we thought it might be weird to exchange with the eyes of our parents on us, and we wanted it to be a private moment. Still, I couldn't resist.

"It's a pre-present. I still have your real gift kept away."

"A pre-present? You're making me look bad," he states, smiling and shaking his head.

When he opens it, his grin widens. I got him some new cufflinks, with our initials engraved on them. He leans over and kisses me on the forehead, and I feel relieved that he likes it so much. I thought it might be too much, but then I approached Evelyn about it and she said that he would love it. She gives me a knowing smile now, and I look over to my own parents who wear similar facial expressions as well. When I first told them I was back with Tobias, they were skeptical, because they saw how hurt I was the last time. But after I insisted that we had both changed, and matured, and it felt like fate had brought us back together… they came around. And so far this whole time they've treated him like a son of their own.

"Okay, my turn," I say excitedly. Well, Caleb got me a book about how to be successful in a design career, which I thank him for. I'll probably need this. My parents got me new, gorgeous earrings, and in addition my mom knitted me a matching sweater to Tobias's. Once I put it on, she took a few more pictures of us sitting side by side. I'm beginning to feel a little too old for this, and I was right, the sweater is super itchy. Still, I'm grateful for the effort my mom put in. Evelyn got me an expensive nail set, which I love, because I've been wanting to paint my nails for a while.

After we clean up all the wrapping paper and exchange more hugs and "Merry Christmases" we open that bottle of wine Tobias and Evelyn got my parents and have a few drinks by the fireplace. It feels weird to drink around my parents, but I am of legal age now, soon to be turning 22 actually in a few months. It's crazy to think that I fell in love with Tobias when I was 14… and now, we're here. We really made it.

We head upstairs at about 1:30 am to a practically empty bedroom, minus the bare bed that was set up by the movers today. Tobias and I each head to our luggage to retrieve our gifts for one another, and then sit on the bed, with our hands behind our backs.

"Okay, Miss Prior… since you broke the rules with your pre-present bullshit, I will be mailing you another gift when you get back to college."

"Tobias."

"Hey, it's not fair… but still, thank you for the cufflinks baby, I love them."

I smile. The hopeless romantic in me really imagines him wearing them to our wedding… if and when it happens… but I'm also realistic, and know that the future will always be a little uncertain. Still, it's like what Tobias told me at the Santa Monica Pier; we do make our own future, so yeah, I have a lot of hope that a wedding will happen one day and he will wear those damned cufflinks.

"Should I go first? Or you?"

"I'll go first… give me my present," he holds his hands out.

I sigh, placing the package in his hands, watching nervously as he unwraps it. He laughs, shaking his head as he pulls it out. "So, between all your college classes and your job, you found time to keep up a long distance relationship, learn how to knit, and learn how to embroider?"

"I know, I'm very impressive, but I'll have you know, I actually learned to embroider over the summer when we were in California."

He holds up the pillowcase I embroidered for him. I tried to create an outline of a silhouette of the two us, and we are supposed to be standing on Venice Beach. I embroidered the sun, some seagulls, and the ocean waves to hint at that. "Well, regardless, it's fantastic. I will sleep on this every night. A hundred percent. Thank you for putting all this hard work into it… I love you so much."

He leans in and gives me a soft kiss. "I love you too," I whisper, once I pull back, feeling so glad that I found this man again. Where would I be if I hadn't gone to Venice? I don't want to think about that, because it probably wouldn't be anywhere great.

"Your turn," he hands his gift over to me. I take note of the fact that it feels like some sort of book as I unwrap it.

It is a book, a thick one too. The cover reads 'Artwork for Tris, The Love of My Life'. I raise an eyebrow at him and he seems to be holding his breath as he waits for me to open it.

I flip to the first page and there is a painting of a cherry tree. It's beautifully done, and the corner has the signature "T. Eaton." I look up at him, "You painted this?"

He nods, a blush coloring his cheeks. "Uh… you're not the only one with some free time on your hands. I took a painting class this fall… and all of these were the results."

My heart flutters in my chest. Tobias learned how to do something I loved… for me. How amazing is he? I flip through more pictures, there has to be at least 75 pages in this book, so I definitely know I'll go over each one in greater detail later. There's a baby bird, a forest full of pine trees, a steaming hot cup of coffee… all of them have impeccable detail.

"I know that I'm just a novice compared to you… but it was actually pretty fun! I can see why you like it so much."

"Tobias, these are great. You… have a natural talent. Thank you, I love them."

The further I flip, I notice the paintings get a little more personal. He painted his old backyard in Illinois (the place we met), my mom's car that we spent a lot of time in, the interior of our favorite coffee shop… Wow. It's like I'm taking a whole trip down memory lane. I actually begin to choke up due to nostalgia. Yeah, I have him in my life now, but there's still nothing compared to the wonders and excitement of growing up. Especially when you're in love.

"Okay, just flip to the last page," he insists.

I do so, and smile because I recognize it instantly. It's the sunset we watched, that last night at Santa Monica Pier. And looking over the pier at it, is a tiny blonde head, facing away.

"I… painted it from memory."

"You… fuck… you did a really good job."

"So you like it?" He asks hopefully.

"Hell yeah, I like it."

An adorable, boyish grin overtakes his face. "I'm glad."

"This is… the most thoughtful Christmas gift that anyone has ever given me."

"You deserve it," he insists, taking my hands into his own. "Hey, you know what's funny?"

"What?"

"We both incorporated Venice into our gifts."

"Yeah, we did," I realize.

"It really is a special place," he tucks a piece of hair behind my ears, "It's where I found you again… and where we decided to hold onto each other."

"It's like we were meant to go there. Fate, and all that," I murmur.

"Like magic. And now, whenever I think of it, I still feel a tug."

"Me too."

He kisses the top of my forehead. "It's the best place in the world, because it brought us back together. I'm sure it'll do wonders for us in the future."


December 31st

Uriah's New Years party is packed. Sweaty bodies dancing against one another, people doing shots, and the sweet stench of marijuana hits me square in the face.

I remember a night at another party, the one where Tobias and I found each other again, and I got high off my ass while he was sucking face with Nita. I laugh at how different things are now.

Now, Tobias and I enter hand in hand, Christina trailing behind us. I caught up with my best friend at her hotel earlier, and then we met up with Tobias and booked it over to Uriah's place.

The first people I recognize are Zeke and Shauna, and they are seriously making out on the sofa. I'm glad it seems to be officially official now. They deserve as much.

Then I hear Uriah's familiar voice call out to us, and I run over to him, wrapping him in a huge bear hug. Jesus, I missed this dude. "Tris!" He exclaims, placing his hands on my shoulders and looking me up and down. "You look so good!"

He greets Tobias and Christina after me, meanwhile I hug Marlene, who looks stunning as always. Lauren is there too, and we engage in an awkward side hug, meanwhile Lynn merely gives me a head nod, which I return.

We spend the next few minutes catching up, complaining about college, talking about how excited we are to graduate, and Marlene questions everyone about how their relationships are going.

Eventually, Zeke and Shauna rejoin us and I give them both large hugs as well. Tobias looks happy to see his best friend again.

Zeke and Tobias lived together for 4 years, and Zeke continued living in their apartment up until this October, when he found new work in Seattle. He moved back to be closer to Shauna. It's sweet, really, but I can tell Tobias missed him a lot. It must be pretty lonely for him to be living alone now, but after this next semester that will change. I practically fall over at the excitement of it all, especially standing here amongst all my friends, thinking about the future… anything seems possible.

"Oh, hey!" Uriah calls out to someone passing by, grabbing the strangers arm and pulling him into our circle. "I wanna introduce someone… Everyone, this is Will. He lives in my dorm, and he's a biochem major. Will, this is the Venice Squad I was telling you about."

Will has a friendly face, and shaggy blonde hair. His mouth splits into a smile. "Wow! I've heard so much about you guys. Uriah tells a lot of stories. Wait-wait, can I guess who's who?" He asks Uri.

"Be my guest, brother!"

I bite my lip in amusement, how much did Uri tell this dude about us? "Okay, you are his brother Zeke, which must make you Shauna!" Zeke and Shauna both nod, smiling.

"I've already met you, Marlene… and you two are Lynn and Lauren, I presume? Yes! I was right."

He turns to Tobias, Christina, and I. Tobias instantly drops his hand from my waist so he doesn't give us away. "You are obviously Tobias, then…" he glances between Christina and I suspiciously, and then points to me. "And I'm gonna say that she's Tris. Just a hunch."

"You are correct," I tell him, smiling a little.

"Wow. I can't believe I'm meeting the Tobias and Tris."

"How much do you know about us?" I ask.

"Well, let's just say that Uriah and I both have a lot of free time when we're procrastinating writing papers."

"Uri!" I exclaim.

"Hey! Your story is so interesting!" He defends, "You should honestly sell the movie rights."

Tobias chuckles, wrapping an arm around my waist. "It really is a story, huh."

"It really is." And the best part about it, is that it has a happy ending.

"That would make you Christina," Will states, pointing at my friend.

Christina tilts her head and smiles flirtily, "That's me."

"Well, you're far prettier than Uriah described you."

Christina giggles, and for the first time in my life I see her blush. I gape a little at the encounter, and the rest of our friend group seems surprised as well. However, the smirk on Uriah's face lets me know that he knew what he was doing, and I'm honestly impressed. All my matchmaking efforts with Christina were futile for years, and Uriah seemed to have hit the bullseye on his first try.

Will offers to get Christina a drink, and as she walks away she turns back to me, mouthing "he's so cute!" excitedly. I grin.

"Well, I feel like all of us have come really far since the first day we all met at that party in Venice Beach," Shauna states.

"We really have, haven't we?" Marlene replies gazing around at all of us.

"I just wanted to say, I'm really glad I met all of you, and that I had that amazing experience. I don't know who I'd be without it," Shauna tells us earnestly.

Zeke smiles, wrapping an arm around her shoulders.

"Here, here!" Uriah says.

"Thanks for saying that Shauna, and I honestly could say the same. We all… grew up," Marlene states, her eyes locking with mine.

"Thanks for everything guys," Lauren tells us.

"Yeah. Uh, thanks," Lynn says flatly.

"Without Venice… I'd be lost," Tobias says plainly, and I link my fingers through his.

"I hope that all of you are in my life, for a very, very long time. And that includes Christina, even if she's not technically here right now," I add.

Uriah holds up his red solo cup, "To Venice," he states.

"To Venice," we all reply, doing the same. The warm liquid burns the back of my throat, and I smile when I make eye contact with Tobias.

Nothing could be more perfect in this moment, surrounded by appreciative friends, and standing next to the love of my life. Going into this next year, I have hope that it'll be all good. I know we're going to make new milestones, surround ourselves with more love, and build amazing futures.

Fin.


Well, that was it. There's still an epilogue, though! I just wanted to say, thank you all so much for the journey of writing this story. It was definitely one of my more spontaneous ideas, but I had a lot of fun. I'm grateful for all the support.

-Kiki