He was not Four when Eric met him. He was Tobias, sometimes Tobi, mostly the Stiff. He was hunched shoulders and shuffling feet. Unsure eyes and eyes that yearned to belong, to blend in. But he didn't, not with his grey rags and the scars on his back (there are no secrets when you're Dauntless, especially not when you're an initiate).
Eric meets him, and thinks, maybe I'll have fun with this one before it's too late. Before he's dead, before he's factionless, because surely he'll never make it.
But Eric's wrong. Tobias does make it. He's a quick learner. He learns to stand straight, to look people in the eye when he talks, to carry himself the right way, to stand up for himself. He learns to hold a gun without feeling tremors run up and down his arms, to defend himself in a fight, to break a block of wood three inches thick with just his palm. He learns.
And suddenly, he is no longer the Stiff or Tobias or Tobi. He is Four.
And suddenly, he fits in. He's Dauntless.
Eric corners Four one day after an especially intense training session seven weeks into initiation.
"So you're Four now, huh?" Eric asks him, trying to sound condescending but failing - he's too angry to be anything but. "Be Four, then. I don't care. Just stay Four in second place, yeah?"
"You don't want to earn it?" Tobias raises an eyebrow.
"Oh, fuck me, Stiff, Mr. Abnegation, being all right and just." He says, and the tight-lipped smirk on Four's face makes him feel dirty. Like he's doing something wrong.
(They do fuck. Just a little bit later.)
They don't talk about it after it happens, because that would be awkward and unnerving and more likely than not, the end of their physical relationship. They do forgive themselves if they talk during, though.
There are moments. They have theirs.
(This is not one of them.
Eric remembers, once, he's drunk and tired, strung out from partying because they're finally, finally done with initiation. He's hurt, still second place to Four's first, and so he lets himself wander.
He remembers a boy sitting on the counter at the makeshift bar with wandering hands, hands that shouldn't be where they are, and a snake tattoo behind his ear. His skin is golden-bronze and glowing, radiating drunken happiness.
He doesn't remember this boy's name, not sure if he ever got it, but they still fuck, flushed skin against flushed skin, behind the shower curtains where people can probably see them and definitely hear them.
(But Eric doesn't care. Eric doesn't care.)
Later, Eric stumbles into Four's bed, whispers I'm sorry against his collarbone, still drunk enough to apologize.
Four doesn't ask, sorry for what? and not because there is always something Eric needs to apologize for, but because he knows why he's apologizing.
His eyes are bleary and there is whiskey stale on his breath. His belt is half undone.
Instead, Four says nothing. Instead, he turns around and wishes he was drunk, too, so that he wouldn't have to remember all of this in the morning.)
Eric supposes this is about the time it falls apart. He's not wrong.
"What's with you and the Stiff?" Eric asks, thumbs pressing bruises into Four's hipbones, his mind echoing, nothing nothing nothing, but he knows he's too late to hope for that.
Four doesn't say anything.
"Look, it's not like I give a fuck, because I don't. It's just - you never showed up last night."
"It has nothing to do with the Stiff," Four says, and Eric knows right then it has everything to do with the Stiff.
"Hurts like a bitch, doesn't it?" Eric asks the Stiff, venom in his voice as strong as he can manage it. (He knows it's not her fault, but he blames her anyway.)
Tris says nothing, still in shock, maybe. (She's beautiful, doe-eyed and small-bodied, but Eric knows not to underestimate her, because look what happened with Four.)
He leaves her standing there, still as furniture, clutching the side of her neck where the tracker was put in.
Eric stops waiting for Four to show up.
a/n: if you read it, then thank you. i don't know what i'm doing and i'm pretty sure i've got the characters all wrong. nonetheless, i loved writing this/had to write this because THESE TWO! ruined me /:
p.s.: found uriah yet? (;