A/N: Well, we've reached the end. I really struggled with this chapter, so if it's not up to snuff, apologies. Someone asked if I would be doing this for Insurgent, and no, I won't. But the super talented Wee Kraken is making a masterpiece called Killing Four, which I'm pretty sure we're all reading, but if you're not and need an Insurgent from Tobias' POV fix, check it out.
Thank you to everyone who favourited, followed, and reviewed this. And a very special THANK YOU to JandJSalmon who poked me to read Divergent and then convinced me to give writing fanfiction for this fandom a try. You are wonderful, and I'm going to keep you forever too.
The word resounded in my head, wrapping around every other thought I had. I had six weeks to do something. Six weeks to warn someone - anyone - about what was happening. Six weeks to expose the Erudite and corrupt Dauntless, and I had done nothing.
True, I'd told Zeke and Shauna about what was going on. I'd told Tris too, but I had done nothing of substance. Nothing to try and stop the coming war no matter how inevitable it was. They were the actions of a coward. Even now, swaying as the train carried us closer and closer to the Abnegation section of the city, the only plan I had was to run.
So far we had been able to mimic the actions of those around us, but there would come a point when we wouldn't. Even if we could march around with blank faces we couldn't execute people as emotionlessly as the drones that surrounded us. We would have to run before anyone noticed because if we didn't we would die.
I could rationalize it. Running would give Tris and I a chance to stay alive long enough to make a difference because there was nothing neither of us could do to stop the slaughter that was happening tonight. It was flawless and logical and completely pointless.
I knew, I knew, she wouldn't run. Not Tris. She was selfless and brave; stronger than any person I'd ever met. She would do anything to save her family, even sacrifice herself; her simulations proved that.
But I still had to try.
"Run." I pleaded with Tris once the train stopped.
"My family." She said simply, leaving no room for argument. She wasn't going to run anywhere except towards her family.
I looked down at this little wisp of a girl who held my fate in the palm of her hand. I stayed in Dauntless for her. I loved her. Logically I knew I could still run, save myself. Six weeks ago I would have without a second thought. Six weeks ago I was a different person. My fate was tied to hers now. If she was going to die, then so was I.
I kept her behind me as we hopped out of the train and walked the streets of Abnegation.
I felt sick as I watched Tori execute a middle-aged man with a bullet in the back of the head, her eyes as unseeing as the drones that Tris and I walked with. Tori, who with a smug smile had told me only a few hours earlier that she wasn't surprised I'd gone for Tris, that as soon as she met her she was reminded of me. We walked through the puddle of blood and brains, matching towards more death.
I wondered what atrocities our friends were perpetrating as we walked. I wondered if Shauna and Zeke were murdering innocent people. I wondered if Uriah had been smart enough to hide, to play along, to keep himself alive.
By the time we stopped in front of a row of nondescript Abnegation grey houses the streets were stained red, blood flowing into the cracks in the asphalt like water. I watched out of the corner of my eye as another grey-clad figure crumpled to the ground, the rapport of the bullet that exploded in his head ringing in my ears.
I could hear Tris breathing heavily behind me, and I wanted nothing more than to take her hand in mine again. The soldiers in front of us started peeling off, carrying out tasks on unspoken orders. Soon we would have to break rank or start killing people like the rest of them.
"This is insane," I heard Eric coo from behind me. Of course he wouldn't be under the simulation.
"They really can't see us? Or hear us?" A female voice I recognized as Max's girlfriend, Amanda, asked.
"Oh, they can see and hear all right. They just aren't processing what they see and hear in the same way," Eric replied, sounding gleeful. "They receive commands from our computers in the transmitters we injected them with and carry them out seamlessly."
He shifted around, standing next to me instead of Tris. "Now, this is a happy sight. The legendary Four. No one's going to remember that I came in second now, are they?"
I almost laughed at the bitter tone of his voice. Poor Eric, forever a slave to his own ego. He got everything he wanted, and it still wasn't enough for him. He knew, like everyone else knew, that given the choice Max would have been grooming me to take over for him one day instead of Eric.
"No one's going to ask me, 'what was it like to train with the guy who only has four fears?'" He pulled his gun from the holster and pressed it into the side of my head. "Think anyone would notice if he accidentally got shot?"
Don't do anything stupid, Tris, I screamed at her in my head, willing her to not get herself killed where we stood. I could feel the tension radiating off her.
"Go ahead, he's nothing now." Amanda replied, sounding suddenly bored by Eric's antics. I couldn't blame her.
"Too bad you didn't just take Max up on his offer, Four. Well, too bad for you, anyway." The click of the hammer was sharp in my ears, but before I could do anything I saw movement out of the corner of my eye.
"Get your gun away from his head." Tris' voice was cold, deadly, and completely fearless.
"You won't shoot me," he said disbelievingly, and for a second I pitied him.
"Interesting theory," she said evenly and then she shot him.
As Eric lay screaming on the pavement I shot Amanda and grabbed Tris' hand, pulling her along towards an alley, our only chance of escape. Shouts followed us, feet pounded after us, bullets whizzed by us. Halfway there I felt Tris' hand jerk out of my own, heard her strangled cry and her body hitting the ground, and for one heart-stopping minute I thought I had lost her.
I dropped to my knees next to her. Blood was pouring out of her shoulder, and her face was ashen, but she was alive. "Run!" She yelled with all the strength she had, but I wasn't going anywhere, not without her.
"No," I said calmly. This was my choice. She was my choice. I wasn't going anywhere without her. If that meant dying, so be it.
The fact that the Dauntless soldiers who surrounded us didn't put bullets through our brains the first chance they had gave me hope. They wanted us for something, and as long as they wanted us we were alive, we could fight. As long as we were alive we had the hope of survival. I didn't protest as Eric hopped up to us, demanding our weapons, just handed them over and lifted Tris to her feet, supporting her small frame as we walked into the Abnegation meeting hall.
Unsurprisingly, Jeanine was waiting for us, her eyes alight and intent in the same way a predators are as they play with their prey before killing it. And I refused to feed her curiosity. If she was going to make me play some stupid little game - the intellectual puzzle the Divergent presented her - while Tris dripped her strength onto the floor red and wet, I was going to let my anger, and all the things it brought with it, play too. I might have had to bite my tongue with Marcus, but I wasn't going to be a coward anymore. It might have been as useless as shouting in the wind, but I was done silently accepting a flawed system and corrupt leaders, no matter what faction they came from.
Jeanine was no different than Marcus, so steeped in the absolute belief that her values were the right ones that she was blinded to the truth that life didn't exist in black and white like that. Fierce triumph burned in my veins as Jeanine's cool exterior cracked while we spat barbs at each other. And the longer it went on the more convinced I was that we could get out of this alive. Jeanine would want to keep us alive, Divergent lab-rats to experiment on until she could control us just as easily as the non-divergent.
It would never get that far though. They would hold us here for a few hours at least, probably lock us in the broom closet or something. Most of the guards would be focused on controlling the Abnegation gathered here, and even if we were important to Jeanine, it was a question of manpower. They probably wouldn't spare more than two or three soldiers to move us from this dingy office to someplace they could hold us until the move to Erudite headquarters.
That was our window of opportunity; it was small, but it was there. It was fraught with complications - Tris could easily slip into unconsciousness from blood loss, and as much as I loved her, that didn't make me physically stronger. If I had to carry her and try to fight my way out of here we were doomed. And that was just my biggest concern; there were a dozen others buzzing in my brain as Jeanine rattled on about her latest and greatest serum.
And then the world promptly dropped out from under me, shattering my plans as easily as Tris had shattered the glass tank in her simulations.
"You will be the first test subject, Tobias. Beatrice, however...," she smiled cruelly at Tris. "You are too injured to be of much use to me, so your execution will occur at the conclusion of this meeting."
The idea that Jeanine would kill Tris never occurred to me. In my mind it was a foregone conclusion that Tris would be treated for her wounds and doted upon in a twisted way for her strong Divergence. If Jeanine wanted to solve the problem we presented her with, I assumed - erroneously - she'd pick the greatest challenge if only to cover all her bases.
I felt Tris shudder against me. Her eyes were wide and afraid, a pale watery blue in place of her normally piercing grey-blue, as if she was already fading into nothingness.
In place of the future I'd allowed my imagination to spin since she dropped into the net and into my life, I saw a new one. One without her. One where the only person I'd ever loved, was gone. One where I had only her ghost to live with in the pauses where I was in my own mind. It was cold and empty and terrifying.
"No." The bravado in my voice from earlier disappeared. My voice shook in fear and anger that she could so easily, so callously, take away the only good thing in my life. "I would rather die."
"I'm afraid you don't have much choice in the matter," Jeanine replied lightly, and it was that as much as anything else that finally made me snap.
I framed Tris' face with my hands, kissing her, trying to put every unsaid thing into the push-pull of my lips against hers, thankful that she found the strength to kiss me back as fiercely as I kissed her. It gave me strength because if she was going to die, then I was too. I just had to make myself too much of a liability, too much of a target to give them any option other than killing me.
It took every ounce of willpower I had to let go of Tris. But if it went on much longer they'd pull us apart, and I couldn't let that happen. I didn't know if Tris would be able to stand once I let her go, but I pushed the thought out and launched myself across the small office, fitting my hands around Jeanine's neck, and choking the life out of her, the same way she wanted to choke the life out of Tris.
From somewhere far away I heard Tris scream, felt the Dauntless guards try to pull me off of Jeanine. Even when they succeeded in pulling me away I fought until they pinned me to the floor. I was hoping for the oblivion of a bullet. I got the sting of a needle.
Erudite's attack simulation was the most densely coded program I had ever seen. Lines and lines of code. My eyes scanned through them looking for key commands that would stop the Dauntless it was enslaving, even if I couldn't bring them back to their own minds. If they couldn't receive the commands, or the commands were corrupted they were as useless as puppets without strings.
I heard shouts and gunfire in the hallway and cursed under my breath. I needed time. I didn't relish the idea of killing someone when they weren't responsible for their own actions, but if it came down to ending one life to save hundreds, if not thousands of others, than I would.
My fingers flew over the keyboard desperately, but I wasn't quick enough.
"Four." The voice was feminine, and for some reason it surprised me. I didn't think they'd send a girl to try and stop me. She was small, like Tris, it made and something inside of me break. I couldn't save her. But this girl wasn't Tris; she's not brave, she's just under a simulation.
"Drop your weapon." She stood staring at me, mouth working to form words she couldn't give voice to. "Drop your weapon," I repeated. "Or I'll fire." She kept staring, and finally my frustration got the better of me. "Drop your weapon!" I screamed at her, desperate for her to comply.
I had a second of blind relief as I heard it clatter to the floor and then she attacked, running at me, grabbing my wrist to force my gun away from her. I felt the same dread fill me as when I had to shoot my mother in the fear landscape, and just like then I pulled the trigger. This time I missed.
The girl fought against me, and it reminded me of Tris' fight with Peter. She was so stubborn. He kept hitting her, taunting her, and even though she knew she was going to lose, that he might hurt her so badly she'd have to drop out of initiation, she kept fighting. Her pride hadn't allowed her to feign unconsciousness and save herself more pain.
To someone on the outside looking in that must be what this looked like, and it made me sick, but unlike Peter I wasn't doing it for my own perverse amusement. No, a voice in my head chided, you're doing it for her own good... Tobias. My father's words in Tris' voice. My fingers faltered in the girls hair, my grip loosening enough to allow her to kick me again.
As soon as she was free she dove for my gun, but when she flipped over on her back to aim at me her face was slick with tears. As I advanced on her I heard Tris pleading in my head, begging me not to kill her. Tris wouldn't have if the tables were turned, she would have found another solution, a divergent one, probably.
But I'm not Tris. I reached for the girl, intending to finish this once and for all, but instead of feeling warm, pliant flesh, I felt cold, hard metal as she pressed her gun into my palm. My mind screamed a warning. There was no way - no way - this girl would just surrender. Not a Dauntless, and not under the attack simulation. It had to be a trick.
I pressed the barrel to her forehead, finger hovering over the trigger as the voices in my head warred over what to do with her, whether to kill her or incapacitate her. And then I felt her hand press against my chest, resting squarely over my heart, and sending a jolt through me that sent my mind spinning with questions about why anyone in an attack simulation would do something so tender. And it was enough to jar something in my brain, to make an echo of a voice cut through the chaos in my head.
I can control what you see and hear... So I created a new serum that will adjust your surroundings to manipulate your will.
A new type of simulation.
Am I in a simulation?
I thought back, trying to remember how I got here. I remembered, clearly, the violence on the streets of Abnegation. I remembered Tris being shot, and meeting with Jeanine. I remembered her telling me about the new serum she developed and how it turned friends into enemies. I remembered her ordering Tris' death, but everything after that was hazy and dream-like.
Tobias, it's me. Tris' voice was wavering and uncertain, and even if it was all in my head it gutted me. I remembered that tone from my childhood, remembered my mother using it when she knew Marcus was going to bring out his belt.
I felt the girl wrap her arms around me and froze, instinctively stiffening at the touch of a stranger. But then she nuzzled her face against my chest just like Tris had in my apartment the night before.
I let the gun drop to the floor as I closed my eyes and wrapped my arms around her. She felt like Tris, cried out like Tris would have when I grabbed her wounded shoulder. I pushed her away, needing my brain to confirm what my body already knew. And I got it in a pair of blue-grey eyes rimmed in red and wrapped in tears.