"Four, wake up! It's time to meet our new initiates!"
I groan as I drag myself out of bed and over to the door. I open it and see Lauren standing there, looking as happy as she always does. Some people…
"You realize we have three hours before we have to be at the Net, right?" I ask her, rubbing my eyes.
"Well you need food," she says, handing me a plate with a piece of toast and jam, smiling. She's always doing these things for me. If I didn't know better, I might guess she had a thing for me, but I know the real reason she acts so nice to me. During our initiation, I saved her from being killed by Eric, and ever since then she has been trying to repay me.
I smile and push my hair back. "Thanks, Lo." She skips off, humming to herself. I never understood how she could be such a morning person.
I close my door and sit back down on my bed. I take a bite of the toast and throw the rest in the garbage. I put on a fresh shirt and brush my teeth before I leave. I don't have anywhere to be for a while, so I go and find Lauren and Zeke. They are in the training room, sparring. I stand in the door and watch as she pins him. I smile a little. Lauren may be small, but she has a big fight in her.
"Hey, Four!" she calls out, getting off of Zeke.
I walk over to them. "You going to let her beat you up again, Zeke?" I tease him, and give him a small kick in the side.
"Do you want to go against her?" he asks defensively.
I hold up my hands and take a step back. "No thanks, I don't have a death wish."
Lauren smiles her cocky smile she gets when she gets what she wants. "Well, now that we're done stating the obvious, let's go meat the fresh meat!" she says, laughing as she sprints out of the room.
Zeke and I make our way through the maze of hallways that make up the Dauntless compound until we reach the Hole. The Hole is literally a room with a giant net in the middle, nothing else. "I wonder who the first jumper will be this year," Zeke wonders aloud. I lean against the wall. "Probably the usual Dauntless-born kiddie," Lauren replies. "Three points it's Uriah," Zeke calls out. I lean against the wall. Hopefully we get a surprise this year.
"Oh, here they come!" Lauren squeals, point up through the hole. I look up and see a small, dark figure. Definitely not Uriah, I think to myself. And they didn't scream; impressive. The small figure lands in the net and lets out a grunt. I reach my hand in and the figure grabs it. When they step out of the net, I see it's a tiny Abnegation girl. I smile at her, and let go of her arm. "Thank you," she says shyly. "Can't believe it," Lauren mummers. "A Stiff, the first to jump? Unheard of." Something boils inside of me. "There's a reason why she left them, Lauren," I glare at her. I turn back and face the jumper. "What's your name?" I ask her.
"Um…" she hesitates.
"Think about it. You don't get to pick again," I tell her, and a small smile creeps at the corners of my lips. I know what it's like to come here for the first time from the small, sheltered word of Abnegation.
"Tris," she says firmly.
"Tris," Lauren says, smiling. "Make the announcement Four."
I turn over my shoulder and shout "First jumper—Tris!"
I hear the familiar shouts and whoops behind me. Suddenly a new figure, this one screaming, falls into the Net. More cheers and whoops. I put my hand on Tris's back. "Welcome to Dauntless."
Lauren, Zeke, and I help the rest of the initiates off the net. When they are all done, Lauren and I lead them down one of the tunnels. "Can't believe the Stiff was the first jumper. I haven't seen that since, well, you," Lauren whispers in my ear. "She's something, all right," I tell her, and then we stop. "This is where we divide," Lauren shouts to the group. "The Dauntless-born initiates are with me. I assume you don't need a tour of the place." She shoots me a smug smile and runs off with her group.
I look at my remaining nine initiates, deciding which of them will make it, which will fail, and which will die. I'd put money of that Abnegation girl, Tris. I clear my throat. "Most of the time I work in the control room, but for the next few weeks, I am your instructor. My name is Four."
One of the initiates speaks up. "Four? Like the number?" Great, just what I need, a smart-mouth Candor.
I harden my eyes and look straight at her. "Yes. Is there a problem?"
She starts to tremble. "No," she replies quietly, and looks down.
"Good," I tell her, and focus my attention back on the rest of the group. "We're about to go into the Pit, which you will someday learn to love. It—"
The Candor girl snorts and says "The Pit? Clever name."
That's it, I think, and lean in. I walk over to her and move my face down so I am at perfect eye level with her. "What's your name?" I ask her.
"Christina," she stammers out.
"Well, Christina, if I wanted to put up with Candor smart-mouths, I would have joined their faction," I hiss at her. "The first lesson you will learn from me is to keep your mouth shut. Got that?" I ask, maybe a little too harshly. She nods quickly in return. I continue leading them down the tunnel, ignoring the smart-mouth Candor and the Abnegation girl's comments about me.
When we reach the end, I open the doors to the Pit and the initiates clump in. They look around, and comment to their new friends about things they should do later. My eyes find the Abnegation girl (Tris was it?) and I watch her as she watches some of the older Dauntless walking around. I think about my first time in the Pit, and how I was just as shocked as her by all the Tattoos and tight clothes and piercings. I decided they have enough, and I'm getting bored. "If you follow me, I'll show you the chasm," I call out to them, and they quickly fall in to line behind me.
I lead them to the right end of the Pit. I hear the familiar crash of the waves against the cement as we approach the railing. I turn around to face them. "The chasm reminds us that there is a fine line between bravery and idiocy!" I shout over the waves. "A daredevil jump off this ledge will end your life. You've been warned." I think back to my initiation year, how James was stupid enough to think he would be the lucky idiot to survive the chasm. He was wrong. I push the memory to the back of my mind and focus again on my initiates. I check my watch. It's time for dinner.
I lead them towards the dining hall. When we enter the well-lit room, cheers and applause fill the air. I stand by the entrance for a minute, and decide to sit by Tris. Something about her makes me want to get to know her better.
I grab a hamburger from the tray in the center and quickly fill in with catsup and lettuce. I glance over and see Tris holding her hamburger, studying it. Of course. Abnegation don't eat this kind of food. I elbow her in the side. "It's beef," I tell her, indicating to the meat in the middle of the buns. "Put this on it." I hand her the catsup and watch her as she hesitantly puts a small amount on, and takes a bite.
"You've never had a hamburger before?" the Candor girl (Christina, I think?)asks her.
"No," she replies, still examining its contents. "Is that what it's called?"
"Stiffs eat plain food," I tell Christina, taking a bit of my own burger.
"Why?" she asks. Typical Candor.
I shrug, taking another bite. "Extravagance is considered self-indulgent and unnecessary."
"No wonder you left," Christina tells Tris, eating her meal.
Tris rolls her eyes. "Yeah, it was just because of the food." I fight the urge to laugh, but a small twitch escapes me. I see Tris' eyes light up. A loud noise fills the room, and everyone goes silent. I turn around to see what the source was, and my position becomes defensive. Oh, no. I watch Eric, my favorite person in the world, walk forcefully down the middle isle, holding his head high. Everyone goes back to their conversations. I turn back towards Christina and Tris, hoping he won't find me in the crowd.
"Who's that?" Christina asks quietly.
"His name is Eric," I tell her grimly. "He's a Dauntless leader.
"Seriously? But he's so young," she says, her eyes big with shock.
"Age doesn't matter here," I respond quickly, focusing my attention on my food and avoiding Eric. Somehow he manages to find me. Eric sits down in the seat next to me. I don't turn to face him.
"Well, aren't you going to introduce me?" he asks smugly, nodding towards Tris and Christina. Over your dead body.
"This is Tris and Christina," I tell him, keeping my voice as flat as I can.
"Ooh, a Stiff," he says, glancing over her, and I see her wince at his creepy smile. A part of me wants to knock him out, but I'm not sure why. "We'll see how long you last," he says.
He drums his fingers against the table before turning his attention towards me. "What have you been doing lately, Four?" he asks, sounding casual, but I know there has to be something else behind it.
"Nothing, really," I say as calmly and casually as I can, shrugging a shoulder.
"Max tells me he keeps trying to meet with you, and you don't show up. He requested that I find out what's going on with you," he asks focusing his eyes on the food. Ah, good ol' Max again. How'd I know?
I hesitate for a second before I respond. "Tell him that I'm satisfied with the position I currently hold."
"So he wants to give you a job," Eric says, raising his eyebrows slightly. Please, like you didn't already know that.
"So it would seem,' I say, trying to keep casual.
"And you aren't interested."
"I haven't been interested for two years," I state firmly.
"Well, let's hope he gets the point then," Eric says, clapping me on the shoulder, probably to show his dominance, before finally leaving.
"Are you two…friends?" Tris asks, looking puzzled.
"We were in the same initiate class. He transferred from Erudite," tell her, trying not to scare her too much on her first day here.
"Were you a transfer, too?" she continues with her questions.
Great, a nosy Abnegation. I wonder if she's…no. I decide to keep her in the dark about Eric's true nature for now. "I thought I would only have trouble with the Candor asking questions. Now I have Stiffs, too?" I say, trying to sound firm enough to make my point, but gentle enough not to scare her.
"It must be because you're so approachable. You know, like a bed of nails," she snaps at me. I'm not sure why, but her words hurt me. I wince a little inside, careful not to show it. "Careful, Tris," I warn her, then stand up and leave. "Four!" I hear Zeke call. I walk over to the table where he and Lauren are sitting, along with some other Dauntless. "What's up?' I ask, taking a hand-full of pretzels and shoving them in my mouth. "We're having our annual wager tonight; you in this year?" he asks, raising an eyebrow. I sigh. Every year Zeke puts together a pot for who some of the Dauntless think will rank number one. Tris's face flashes in my mind. "You know what? I'll be there," I tell him, leaving him with a shocked expression on his face.
Later as I walk back towards my room, I stop by the transfers' dorm. I look in and watch them sleep for a second. Enjoy it while you can. Suddenly my eyes fall off Tris. I'm not sure why, but they linger there a little longer than they should. Snap out of it man, I tell myself, and continue back towards my room. Later that night, as I lay in bed, the image of Tris asleep was stuck in my head. I rubbed my hand over my face, trying to think of anything else but her. What's wrong with me? Eventually I give up trying to force the image out of my mind. I start to fall asleep with a smile on my face, all while thinking about Tris.