This is it. The end. HOLY BLEEP I ACTUALLY FINISHED IT.
OK, long author's notes suck, but I hope you'll read this one...
When I started this story, I thought I'd write a few chapters of Four POV for fun. I never thought I'd spend over a year writing it, or that SO many of you would read, follow, favorite, and review it. You all are the reason I've kept going. You're awesome.
A few shout outs...
Big thanks to super-beta LolaBleu who was always there to read my crap, help me laugh through writer's block and other angst, and who can dish it as well as take it. You're the best.
And jandjasalmon, SellTheeSoul4Bacon, Aynessa, AthenasOwl11, kaleidescope42, MMJroxx88, SheIsFierce, Angels in the Impala, Franceschap, Trapped in Narnia, Anime Guera, Leia 96, streetlighttlove, ivymuse, snowanimal, BookwormProblems, and Serenity2012 - all of you at one time or another have fangirled, messaged with me, or left lots of reviews that made me think or picked me up when I was down. I know I've probably left someone out, so just - big sloppy Dauntless cake thank yous, to everyone who read this story.
Many of you have asked me if I will write the beginning chapters of the book as well. I'm not sure yet. Not for a while if I do. I'm trying to write my own stuff now and it's time to get out of Tobias's head for a bit and invest some time in my own characters and plot. So wish me luck! One thing I will do is eventually go back through this whole story (and my other completed ones) and edit it to make it better, and get rid of all the annoying author's notes. Especially this one.:)
And finally, for the multiple people who have asked me if I was a guy, this is for you.
I'm female. I'm an Erudite-Amity divergent. I have nine fears. And I still don't own Divergent or Insurgent.
Read and review, one last time!
and the last song from the KF playlist...
Don't look ahead there's stormy weather
Another road block in our way
But if we go, we go together
Our hands are tied here if we stay
So let them say we can't do better
Lay out the rules that we can't break
They want to sit and watch it wither
Their legacy's too hard to take
Oh, we said our dreams will carry us
And if they don't fly we will run
Now we push right past to find out
How to win what they all lost
We know now we want more
A life worth fighting for
We know that we want more
A life worth fighting for
Santigold, "Disparate Youth"
The bang of the gun echoes, and my double's body disappears. Marcus puts his hand up to his scalp and it comes away red. The bullet must have grazed him.
I had forgotten that my weapon was real.
Suddenly, time clicks back on. My father's heavy breathing. The haze of poison. Uriah gasping for air.
"Come on," I say roughly, grabbing Marcus's arm, hauling him to his feet. I push him into yet another sterile, white room. He collapses to his knees, heaving. Uriah slams the door and falls against it. I shake my head, trying to clear my vision.
"You made the right choice, Tobias." He's hoarse, weak, but my father's tone still sounds just like his weekly lectures. Sanctimonious yet menacing, like a serial killer disguised as an undertaker.
"No," says Uriah, stepping up behind me. "He made the human choice. Which is more than you deserve."
I look at Marcus, huddled on the floor in front of me, diminished, exposed - a coward, a liar. There is only one reason why he would be here, at the entrance to Jeanine's lab in the midst of an invasion. Information is power. He wants to make sure he is the one that has it.
Well, he'll have to go through me to get it.
I remove my belt slowly. He doesn't meet my eyes. I run it through my hands, snapping it once, twice, three times. Marcus winces at the noise.
I toss it to Uriah. "Tie his hands."
Uriah binds Marcus's hands together behind his back with stiff loops, cinching it a bit tighter than necessary. The leather cuts into my father's wrists and he mutters an oath under his breath. I loom over him, pitiless. He glares at me, the same look he used to give me when I disobeyed him, the look that used to shrink me to nothing.
"Revenge is selfish," he says. "I tried to make you better than that. Clearly, I failed."
Even now, he is still trying to manipulate me. It makes me want to punch that self-righteous expression right off his face. I roll my eyes and turn away from him, not trusting myself to speak.
That's when I see the photos.
There are at least twenty faces pinned to the wall in front of me, life size mug shots of the Divergent, ferreted from their hiding places. There are Abnegation, Candor, Amity, Dauntless, even a few Erudite. My father's official council portrait. Uriah's school picture. Me, caught on a security camera in the Dauntless control room. Tris in the training room, her face full of trepidation. A list of chemical formulas is tacked up next to her - Jeanine's attempt to reduce her to her base elements, to melt her down and destroy her.
"This ends now," I whisper. I slam another clip into my rifle and nod at Uriah. It's time to finish what we started.
"You're making a mistake," Marcus says slowly, every word laced with venom. I ignore him. "This is bigger than Jeanine Matthews. Even your girlfriend understands that."
Something snaps inside me and I can't hold it together anymore. Tris is off limits. He is not allowed to mess with her, ever. I am going to make sure he gets that message, right here, right now. The war can wait.
I turn and haul him up by his collar, digging my fingers into the soft part of his neck until he gasps in pain.
"You listen to me, you utter prick," I hiss. "You leave Tris alone. You do not talk to her. If you go anywhere near her, so help me, I will waste you."
His lips curl into a snarl. "You don't give Beatrice enough credit. She is perfectly capable of thinking for herself."
"Tris is fine. You're the one I don't trust."
His eyes bulge out; he is gasping for air now.
"You shouldn't trust anyone," he wheezes. "I guess you didn't learn that lesson either."
"You can go straight to h —" I'm cut off by a horrible, gut-wrenching scream, the kind of sound you can't ignore - the sound of someone dying. I drop Marcus, pick up my gun, and run, Uriah hot on my heels.
We burst through the next door, and I bring my rifle up, ready to shoot. I see Tori standing over a body holding a knife, the blade dripping red onto polished white floor.
Then I see who else is in the room and I almost fall over.
Tris is here, alive and whole. I breathe a sigh of relief, and then it hits me.
Tris is here.
Tris is here, exactly where she said she wouldn't be. She is clad entirely in dark blue, the same shade my father wears in the room next door. She didn't come here to fight – she came here with him, to help him.
She looked me in the eye and she lied. She told me she loved me and then she lied to me.
"She is a traitor. She just almost shot me to defend Jeanine." Tori's voice is faint, muffled by the pounding in my head, a rising tide of hot, wet anger that threatens to boil over, in yelling, or fists, or tears. I look over towards the Erudite leader's crumpled form, concentrating on the broken spectacles that still cling to her face. My throat clenches and I gulp, trying to stay in control.
"What?" Uriah says from behind me. "Tris, what's going on? Is she right? Why are you even here?"
She doesn't acknowledge him, or defend herself against Tori's charge. She looks only at me.
"You know why I'm here," she says quietly. "Don't you?"
She holds out her gun, a weapon she told me she still couldn't stand to touch. Another lie. I stumble forward and take it from her, my hand brushing against the sleeve of her Erudite uniform. The clothing changes her eyes from stormy grey to washed out sky.
It's a weak color.
"We found Marcus in the next room, caught in a simulation. You came up here with him." Saying it out loud makes her betrayal real. Especially when she doesn't deny it.
"Yes, I did."
My hands curl into fists. And the tide breaks.
"I trusted you," I shout, my body shaking so hard I can barely get the words out. "I trusted you and you abandoned me to work with him?"
"No." She shakes her head. "He told me something, and everything my brother said, everything Jeanine said while I was in Erudite headquarters, fit perfectly with what he told me. And I wanted – I needed to know the truth."
"The truth," I scoff. "You think you learned the truth from a liar, a traitor, and a sociopath?"
She sounds like a Candor, throwing aside all logic and sense and loyalty in search of one value above all else. Throwing me aside.
I was her family. She was mine.
Faction before blood.
"The truth?" Tori says, looking back and forth between us. "What are you talking about?"
Now I see Tris for who she really is – someone who is selfish, someone who lies. A girl who is the same as everyone else, all the walking, talking stereotypes, the human sheep I want to leave behind.
No, scratch that. She isn't the same. She's worse – because she pretended she was different.
She stares back at me.
"I think," she says. She stops and purses her lips, taking a shaky breath in. "I think that you are the liar! You tell me you love me, you trust me, you think I'm more perceptive than the average person. And the first second that belief in my perceptiveness, that trust, that love is put to the test, it all falls apart."
Tears slide over her cheeks, down her neck, soft rain that falls onto the birds below her collarbone.
"So you must have lied when you told me all those things. You must have, because I can't believe your love is really that feeble."
Each word is like a blow. I would have laid down my life for her. The love I had for her – it was the only part of me that was strong.
She steps closer to me, so close that I can sense her pounding heartbeat, close enough to feel her breaths mix with mine.
"I am still the person who would have died rather than kill you," she says softly. "I am exactly who you think I am. And right now, I'm telling you that I know…I know this information will change everything. Everything we have done, and everything we are about to do."
I look at her, in Erudite blue with her honest eyes. I scowl at the stubborn, selfless tilt of her chin, the kindness and worry in her nail bitten fingers, still reaching for mine. I glare at the tear tracks on her face, leaking from a gaze that never wavers. Even when she cries, she is brave.
I look at her, and I want to hate everything about her. But that would be a lie.
I can't hate her, because I still love her.
I love her despite everything she's done. Everything I thought she was. Everything she says she is.
I love her, and I don't know what to do.
So I stop looking.
"Enough of this," Tori finally says. "take her downstairs. She will be tried along with all the other war criminals."
I can't move. My thoughts are in turmoil, my body still fueled by anger. I don't want to condemn her, or condone Tori's accusation. But I won't save her either. Tris will face the consequences of her decisions like everyone else.
And so will I.
Uriah steps forward. I watch his legs move toward Tris. I feel rather than see her leave the room. She takes the oxygen with her, and most of the light.
More legs enter, more voices. Evelyn and Therese, with Marcus propped up between them, his hands still tied. I look up to see the look of triumph on my mother's face.
"So I see you got rid of that," she says to Tori, nodding at Jeanine. "Well done."
"No thanks to his girlfriend," Tori huffs, "who apparently thinks Jeanine's data is more important than her faction, her boyfriend, or her own life."
"It's not Erudite data. It's ours – all of ours," Marcus says scornfully. "And it's more important than self-preservation - or revenge."
Evelyn turns to him and sneers. "You really want to lecture us about the evils of self-preservation? Or how about punishment…or retribution?"
"Individual desires mean nothing," he says, glaring at her. "This is about our society. We must –"
My mother backhands him across the face, hard enough to split his lip, drawing blood. "I don't want to hear your Abnegation bullshit," she says, shoving him into the corner. "Find a weapon and guard him," she says to Therese, who grins. "Don't let him near that computer."
She walks over to me and puts a hand on my arm. "We should get those hackers in here. We're not going to gain control over this city until that data is gone."
I nod mutely, fighting the urge to throw off her hand. When I was younger, I would have cheered to see her hit my father, happy to see someone fighting back, because I never had the guts to do it. But now, she seems just like him. She has given up her humanity for control and revenge. Just like Tori. Just like me.
"You're better off, you know," my mother says. "That girl was a bad choice for you. Just like Dauntless."
"What?" I snap.
My father clears his throat, a sound that always drew my attention as a child, the prelude to his many lectures – long lists of rules that were dangerous to forget. It still draws me now, an unconscious reflex. I look up. His dark eyes burn into mine.
"I think what your mother is trying to say," he says slowly, "is that this is for your own good."
There is nothing I hate more than that phrase, the embodiment of all of the hypocrisy and zealotry I was raised with. It throws me back into dark closets, pummels me with unforgiving fists, enforces resentful silence and unquestioning obedience.
But much as it kills me to admit it, my father is right. That is exactly what she's saying – which means she's just as bad as him. She is telling me how to think, what to do, who to be with, where I should fit in.
Tris is the only one who has never done that. She has questioned me, slapped me, and kissed me – angered me, raged at me, and lied to me. She aimed a gun at my heart but never pulled the trigger. She pulled me toward the edge, but never made me jump.
She told me who she is – she never told me who I was supposed to be.
She left that up to me.
Now, I know who I am. Someone who can love, and trust, and listen. Someone who is brave enough to step off the cliff and try again.
It's my choice, and I'm no longer afraid of falling.
"I know how to break into Jeanine's computer," I say.
My father closes his eyes.
"Good," Evelyn says. "The Faceless have a virus that you can release once you're in."
"I don't need them. I have one of my own."
She raises an eyebrow, then nods.
"Do what you need to do," I say, looking towards Jeanine's body. "Leave the digital apocalypse to me."
I turn to leave, but she reaches out to stop me.
"Where are you going?"
"To find the person who can start the fire."
I open the door, walk back through the disabled simulation chamber and out into the white hall, back to the stairwell that leads to the Erudite meeting rooms below. Armed factionless guards are at all the landings. They nod to me as I pass.
When I open the door to the lobby, I see her before she sees me. Tris has her head down, sitting with Christina, a little apart from the Dauntless traitors and Erudite prisoners, but still heavily guarded. Uriah crouches by her side. I frown – he's no longer holding his gun.
I can't look at her, or the game will be up. I walk straight past her, my face set in its most unforgiving expression. It's easy to do once I find who I'm looking for. It's time to unlock some important information – and he has the key.
Caleb Prior's weak chin trembles as I grab his arm and force him to his feet. He tries to break away, and I dig in harder.
"What?" he says, his voice rising in fear. "What do you want?" His glasses are askew. I grab them off his face and toss them aside.
"I want you to disarm the security system for Jeanine's laboratory, so the factionless can access her computer."
The system is already disarmed. Tris and Marcus saw to that. And I'm not going to let Evelyn's flunkies anywhere near that computer. But Caleb doesn't need to know that. At least not yet.
As I hustle him out of the hall, I feel Tris's eyes burning a hole in my back.
We climb the stairs in silence, until I get to the fifth floor.
"This isn't the way to her lab," Caleb says.
"No wonder you were Jeanine's pet. You're a real genius."
He stops and wrenches his arm away. I let him. He has nowhere to run.
"You're wasting your time. I don't know any of Jeanine's passwords. You'll have to ask her, and I don't think she's going to tell you."
"Jeanine is dead."
He nods his head, resigned, as if he has already guessed, and maybe he has – once the Dauntless traitors capitulated, her death was the only logical endgame. And logic is something every Erudite understands.
He purses his lips. "Well, then the passwords died with her."
"You'd make a lousy Candor, Caleb."
"I'm not lying!"
I grab both his arms and turn the corner, using our bodies to slam open a pair of steel doors. When he sees where we are, he starts to struggle again. My voice gets harder.
"I know you're lying, because you've seen it. You've seen the information Jeanine murdered an entire faction to keep secret. You let her torture and nearly kill your own sister to protect it. You're the one that told me about it. 'This is for the greater good.' Remember?"
I push Caleb up against the metal table in the center of the room. IV stands and heart monitors still stand beside it. When I last stood in this place, Tris was here, strapped down and screaming. I will myself not to shudder. Then I raise my gun.
"Tell me the passwords."
Caleb gulps. "Are you going to kill me?"
I swing the weapon to the left and fire at the cabinet behind him. The lock explodes, and we both listen to the soft tinkling of glass inside. I shove him over to it and yank the doors open. I grab two syringes, one filled with orange liquid, the other with grey.
"No. I'm going to scare you."
He shakes his head wildly. "No, Four, no – look, I tried to help Beatrice, I didn't –"
I raise the orange syringe and pull his collar down, exposing his neck.
"In Dauntless, we train to face our fears. We embrace them to make ourselves stronger. But I won't lie to you. The simulations are terrifying. Our initiation is brutal. Some might even call it torture."
His eyes go wider when I put the orange one down and pick up the grey – Jeanine's discarded fear serum.
"Do you even know what your fears are Caleb?" I say quietly. "A world ruled by selfishness, and cruelty, and betrayal? A world without order, or logic? Open your eyes. We're already there."
He chokes back a sob. I tap the small glass tube.
"Are you scared of losing your free will? Your sister is – she has good reason to be. Or are you just afraid of losing your mind?"
I press the needle into his neck. He falls to his knees.
"I'll tell you! Please!" he sobs. "I didn't mean to hurt her. I didn't want to hurt any of them."
I listen to him sniffle as I crush the syringe underfoot and close my eyes in relief. Thank god he broke, because I don't know if I could have gone through with it. Not after I saw what it did to Tris.
My boot smears grey liquid across the tile as I haul him to his feet.
In the lab, Therese sits in a chair in front of the small silver computer, her feet on the desk and a rifle trained on Marcus, slumped against the opposite wall. My mother, Tori, and Jeanine's body have disappeared. Caleb's eyes flick to the pool of blood congealing on the floor. I push him towards the still occupied chair.
"Get up and get out," I bark at Therese.
She rolls her wonky eyes. "Someone's a little grumpy. What about Captain Asshole over there?" She gestures at my father, who fixes her with his most poisonous glare.
"He's my problem now." That is actually the truth. Unfortunately.
"Lucky you." She saunters out, spitting once at Marcus's feet. I give myself a moment to enjoy the look of disgust on his face.
"The password," I say to Caleb. He sits and writes out a long string of letters and numbers. I enter it and start scrolling through Jeanine's files.
I sense Marcus coming up behind me before I hear him.
"Don't you have a virus to unleash?" he says bitterly.
I silence him with a look. "Find it," I order Caleb.
"You know exactly what I'm talking about. Open the file. I want to see it."
I cut through the belt bonding my father's hands. A tight-lipped smile starts to spread across his face.
"Save it," I say to him. "This is about trust – which means it definitely has nothing to do with you."
Then Caleb touches the screen, and I forget about Marcus. I forget about everything.
As I come down the stairs, I can hear Evelyn's voice rising up from the lobby, saying something about rewards and punishment and crimes. Her tone is chilling.
I step through the stairwell door, Marcus and Caleb trailing behind me. My mother is still talking, Jeanine's body splayed out on the table in front of her. Tori and Harrison are against the far wall, muttering to each other.
The factionless fighters have all the guns.
This, then, is how my mother intends to launch her revolution.
What I have just done may stop it before it begins. I have three minutes before the video file I just saw uploads to the server, straight into the emergency broadcast system. It will drop like a bomb blast, and the fallout won't be pretty. But at least we will have something new – the power to finally determine our own destiny.
There is only one person I want to be with when that happens.
Tris draws me to her like a magnet. I crouch down beside her. When she looks up at me, her eyes are clear and full of fire, and finally, I'm no longer afraid of getting burned.
I trust her – through lust and fear, joy and pain.
"You were right." I smile at her, just a little. "I do know who you are. I just needed to be reminded."
Her mouth drops open, and I start to reach for her. Then all the screens in the lobby flicker on, including a huge one with a bullet hole, right behind my mother's head.
"What is this?" Evelyn snaps.
I take Tris's arms and lift her to her feet.
"This," I say, to her and her alone, "is the information that will change everything."
"You did it?" she says.
"You did it. All I did was force Caleb to cooperate."
She throws her arm around my neck and presses her lips to mine. I kiss her back, pulling her in until the space between us disappears. Whatever comes next, we will face it together.
She pulls back when she hears the voice.
I watch her brow furrow in concentration as she absorbs what Amanda Ritter has to say. I look towards the crowd when the images of the past begin. I see faces full of shock, disgust, horror, and I realize how sheltered we truly were. For a long time, the faction system protected us from the worst parts of ourselves.
It worked – but not enough.
The brave turned into bullies. The truth seekers lost their empathy. The intelligent subdued their curiosity. The peaceful ignored reality. The selfless lost all sense of identity. The factionless were forced to endure without community.
The end result is the same. War and cruelty, abuse and lies.
Ritter claims the Divergent are the cure. I am not so sure. Our minds may be more flexible, but we don't just have aptitude for other faction values - we are full of their faults as well.
There is only one way to find out. We don't have to wait for the Amity to unlock the gates – I already know the code.
I have always known how to escape.
I watch Tris's face fill with determination, the understated strength I fell in love with. I look at her, and I am awake again.
I watch as her lips form the word "Prior."
Hundreds of heads turn toward us. Her eyes turn to mine. I take her hand, and hold it tight.
When the shouting starts, we'll be ready.