A/N: Originally written for Soul 2 Soul on AO3 for Symbioticdeath
Hiding in Plain Sight
Tris was still Beatrice when her mark appeared. She noticed after getting in the shower morning, figuring it first to be some idle note from class that she forgot about. Then she studied the sweeping lines and arcs more carefully and her stomach dropped out from under her.
It wasn't the smudged scrawl of a student on her forearm. The circles were too precise, too perfect, as were the familiar symbols contained within. Beatrice leaned heavily against the wall of the shower. She stared at the markings until the water ran to ice. Only the hammering of Caleb's fist on the door brought her out of her reverie.
"Are you mental? We've got to get to the Hub in under an hour! Get out of the shower, Beatrice!" he shouted.
She dunked her head under the spray once more, hoping that maybe the cold water would bring some fresh clarity. When she turned off the water and towelled off, Beatrice once again pulled and prodded at the skin on her forearm. There was no mistaking it. Two circles, carefully linked but unmistakably taboo.
Her soulmate had taken the test yesterday. Today they would Choose. And they had two aptitudes to choose from.
As an Abnegation, Beatrice was fortunate that she was able to keep her arms covered. It was expected for the modest faction. She hadn't really cared about the modesty aspect, no matter how many times her father chided her for immature or inappropriate behavior like running around in her gym shorts outside of class. But it served Beatrice well enough for the next two years of school. Only a scrap of spare fabric from her mother's sewing kit kept her soulmate's secret from the rest of Chicago when she wasn't able to wear long sleeves.
Most people's soulmates were revealed within a few years of Choosing. Learning of hers early as opposed to post-Initiation gave her an edge of sorts. She had the advantage of knowing what she might expect of her own aptitude and where she would be best served to find them.
Well, at least she would if she had a normal soulmate. One with just a single aptitude, the way that they were supposed to. But, no, Beatrice's soulmate had to be complicated with the capacity to join either Erudite or Dauntless. Never mind if they decided to buck tradition completely and go with something they didn't have an aptitude for at all. The weeks leading up to Beatrice's own aptitude test and subsequent Choosing dragged on unendingly. People got twitchy and nosy, too, pestering those who didn't have or hadn't admitted to having soul marks yet - What did they think their own aptitude would be? How would they feel about choosing with only their own aptitude to go on? Who might their soulmate be?
There seemed to be an entire swarm of nervous butterflies in Beatrice's gut when she walked into the Aptitude testing chamber. Having a Dauntless - Tori, her name was - execute her test helped marginally. Beatrice dared to ask, had she known any of the Initiates from the past two years?
Tori's eyes had narrowed knowingly, flicking to Beatrice's carefully covered wrist. She only knew a few and shouldn't Beatrice be more worried about her own aptitude? Tori had a point, one that was severely underscored by the absolutely disastrous end result that Beatrice ended up with. Not one, not two, but three damnable aptitudes.
Two lined up with her soulmate. That was comforting in a way. But seeing Abnegation remain as an option seemed only to serve as a slap in the face. Her soulmate couldn't possibly have been one of the young adults who joined her family's faction this year - not with their aptitudes, no way. The only thing that her Abnegation aptitude gave her, really, was a bigger target on her back by marking her as even more of an outsider to the whole system. Divergence was tolerated publicly. Privately it was considered a failure of what Chicago was built for.
Standing by the stone bowls with a knife in her palm, Beatrice was just as lost as she had been back in her shower that morning her soulmate had chosen. She didn't want to have to gamble and take the chance that she could pick wrong. But still she had to. Her hand stuck out over the smoldering coals. Part of her noted how the heat radiating out was enough to make her palm start to sweat as she watched the drops splash and sizzle below.
Dauntless. A challenge. A chance. But was it the right one?
Beatrice climbed onto a train and Tris jumped head first into the void.
She thought she had it figured out about midway through Initiation. The way that Four eyed her with obvious suspicion yet still attempted to give her support in underhanded ways made her wonder. It was an open secret that he was a transfer - there was no way that boy had been born Dauntless, not with the way that he slunk through the corridors rather than claimed them under his boots like most did - and Tris thought perhaps the reason for his strange sort of protectiveness was because he knew about her.
Then he showed Tris his fear landscape and she knew the truth. Four was Abnegation born, like herself, but he didn't have Erudite as an aptitude. Catching a glimpse of his soul mark when they were unplugging from the uncomfortable experience sealed the deal. There was only one circle there, a simple ring of Dauntless flames.
He had been kind to her because he had guessed her Divergence, not because he knew for certain. Not because they belonged.
It was the first time that Tris understood the dumb stories they had read in Literature class about foolish, broken hearts. It would have been easy to be with the Abnegation boy at least to find common ground. But he wouldn't be her soulmate.
Tris hadn't noticed the attention of another. She had no reason to, not when the Leader remained so hotly focused on her Initiate class rising to meet every challenge set before them? Where Four had made attempts to nudge Tris in the right path as a Dauntless, Eric was resolved to set the bar higher and higher for her.
When Tris was dragged before him after sneaking out to speak with Caleb, she realized finally that Eric wasn't quite the Dauntless she had assumed. Or more appropriately, she realized there was also an Erudite under those fatigues.
"What, exactly, were you thinking you were accomplishing, sneaking out to another faction?" he demanded. With his forearms crossed over his chest and that typical sneer on his face, Eric was making a concerted effort to be intimidating. Everything about Eric was designed to be Dauntless, to be tough, to be exactly the young man that he projected.
Tris refused to be galled by that. After all, what was the point of Initiation if she was just going to end up afraid of being Dauntless? She mirrored his position, crossing her arms and lifting one eyebrow jauntily. "I'm not sure what you mean," she retorted.
They sized one another up. Tris lifted her chin defiantly as he debated his response. She watched as his eyes caught on her wrist, a knowing look. Tris looked down, too, her heart hammering to life as she noticed the fabric there was missing. She twisted her arms to try and properly cover the marks. Which had he seen? Both? Just the Erudite eye?
Eric's tone shifted where the edge dropped away to curiosity. "Were you looking for someone there?"
"My brother." His expression soured and he stepped away once more to put the desk between them.
Her answer and explanation of going to see her brother had been flimsy before. Tris hardly expected it to stand now. Yet Eric eventually relented and sent her away. She didn't miss his eyes on her from then onward, though. The Dauntless with the mind of an Erudite.
It would take her until well after Initiation, after the dust had settled and the city returned to some kind of order, for it to actually click. He had thought - hoped? - that she had been looking for her soulmate instead. That she had been looking for the person standing feet away from her.
Tris leaned against his side, her legs draped over the long edge of the bench. When he put his arm around her, her fingers moved immediately to the sharp edges and smooth arcs of the maze-like tattoos there. Dead center, exposed to the rest of the piece was the familiar Dauntless flames. But the two icons flanking it were concealed by a patchwork of texture. She'd compared it to a net once - it seemed nearly to fit, what with his assigned role being a hunter of Divergents. But as he hummed and pressed a contented kiss to the crown of her head Tris recalled what he told her of the night he had the tattoo finished.
"I asked Bud to design it like camouflage," he had insisted. "Something to obscure my soulmate to everyone but me. To protect them."
Her fingertips ghosted over the Erudite eye that was a mirror of the one on her own forearm. "Clever," she had told him.
"I thought… I thought that I should be kind, like my soulmate was supposed to be," he had replied. Tris moved now to the Abnegation hands. She had to squint to make out each individual finger underneath the camouflage, but the icon was unmistakable when you know what to look for.
"Then you met me and discovered I wasn't a very good Abnegation," Tris teased.
"Of that, I'll admit I'm not sad about."
"If you were too good of an Abnegation, you might have stayed. And then where would we have been?"
Tris closed her eyes and sighed. She wouldn't want to be anywhere else than where she was now with Eric.
A/N: Blanket statement for my oneshots - Please do not ask if I am continuing these. They are single "chapter" fics which I am considering complete. Thank you. - DragonMaster65