A/N: So, here we are. The end.
First and foremost I have to thank my wonderful beta Wee Kraken for her input on this chapter and for always being there for me to bounce ideas off of, or to whine to, or joke with. You're lovely.
I also have to say a huge thank you to jandjsalmon who encouraged me to read Divergent and has always encouraged my writing whether in this fandom and in others. Thank you so much for being a wonderful friend my dear.
And last, but not nearly least, thank you to all the people who have spent time reading this. Your favourites, follows, and especially reviews have meant the world to me. When I started this I had no idea the response to it would be so overwhelmingly enthusiastic.
I know the ending might be a disappointment to some, but I purposefully left it open-ended for a reason. For right now I'm going to be focusing on something of my own, but I wanted to leave that door open.
I frown down at my signature. It's stilted and childlike in it's uncertainty even though I carefully formed each letter, fighting against the muscle memory of signing my name 'Beatrice Prior'. I know no one will question it at the Hub when Harrison files the marriage certificate, but it seems glaringly fake to me, despite the hours I spent practicing hoping to make it come more naturally.
But it's not just that, that bothers me. I'm not Tricia Bishop. We only have two things in common, Tricia and I: the first, that our families are dead, the second, that we both died in the final battle at Erudite headquarters, and it is a lie. Here I stand, flushed with life and a stolen name, and somewhere in the city beyond the windows she lies in a mass grave, decomposition slowly reclaiming her body the same way Tobias did her identity when he hacked the cities records.
Maybe it shouldn't bother me much, it's just a name after all, but after everything we've been through I've come to recognize the power a name can hold. And now for the third time in little more than a year I have a new one: Tris Eaton. I don't have to take Tobias' name, and I didn't take it for the safety it has provided in the past; I took it because it is home and family and us, more so than my assumed name ever was. And my signature is at least a little more elegant when I sign the bottom of the form affirming my choice.
Tobias takes the pen from my hand delicately, just a whisper of his skin against mine as he adds his signature to the appropriate lines before passing it off to Zeke and Christina who are serving as our witnesses. I don't know how Zeke's upright, let alone able to sign his name legibly considering how much - very alcoholic - punch I've seen him drink since the party started hours ago. Tobias' arm slides around my shoulders and he leans in, close enough that I can feel his breath rustling my hair when he whispers in my ear. "You okay?"
"Fine. Tired," I add when I can tell he's unconvinced. "It's been a long day." It's not a lie. It has been a long day and after spending all day with Christina and hours partying with our friends, really the only person I want right now is Tobias.
A cheer goes up from outside and I wonder if Uriah and Lauren just won another round of beer pong. They have spent the entire night glued to each others sides, first sitting together while we ate a big buffet-style dinner, then drinking and dancing, and for the last hour teaming up to be an unstoppable beer pong duo. It makes me curious if they'll go home together tonight.
We moved the wedding party from the garden to Max's old apartment; drinking, Dauntless daring, and deadly plants not mixing well even in theory. There are no personal effects in the office - in the entire place actually - just furniture since no one's lived here since the war. It feels strange, as if his ghost is haunting the dark corners even though there's a raucous party raging on the other side of the door.
"Do you want to go home?" His lips are right at my ear, brushing lightly over peaked ridges of the shell like we're secretly plotting some heinous crime. And there's a note of hopefulness in his voice. Even if we weren't raised Abnegation I think it would be difficult to square staying at a party being thrown in your honor with the selfish desire to leave it. I nod, wrapping my arm around his waist.
When Harrison announces he's leaving as he carefully places the wedding certificate in a folder for safe keeping, Tobias tells everyone we are too.
"Aww, come on. You guys can't leave yet," Zeke whines, pleading with his bloodshot eyes.
"You won't be happy until we all pass out drunk," Tobias smirks.
"And?" Zeke challenges.
"We're going home," Tobias says, rolling his eyes.
It still takes us twenty minutes to make it through the mass of people in the apartment and to the elevator. The quiet of it is a sharp contrast to the party we left, and once we're safely inside Tobias leans against one wall, reeling me in and holding me against him. Today has been filled with happiness, but happiness is fleeting, made up of bright, shining moments that burst like bubbles. This, what I'm feeling pressed against his chest, is contentment; subdued, but more steady and permanent than happiness can ever really be.
"You look really beautiful today," he murmurs, tipping his face to rest it against the top of my head.
My cheeks burn at his compliment; I don't think I'll ever get used to the idea of 'beautiful' being applied to me. "You too," I say, fingers itching at the back of his dress shirt.
"I looked beautiful?" He teases.
"Handsome," I correct. "And yes, you did - do." His simple dress shirt and slacks aren't really that different from what he wears every day, not really, not in essence, but he does look handsome. And it didn't hurt that the pants were very... well, flattering. Tobias choked on his drink when Liam mentioned he never noticed what a great ass he had until today.
When the elevator chimes signaling that we've reached our floor I pull back only to find that I've left a flesh-colored smudge on his shirt. "Ugh... I need to wash this off," I grumble, taking his hand as we walk down the hall. And now that my attention has been drawn to it the layers of paint and powder covering my skin feel foreign and suffocating. Hopefully Christina left me something to remove it all because I don't think soap and water is going to do the job.
Tobias comes to an abrupt stop several feet away from our door, a noise of annoyance pulling my attention, first to him, and then to our door... which has been obnoxiously covered in crepe paper streamers and a big hand drawn sign that says 'Just married - Do not disturb'. "I'll deal with this, and you can go wash up," he offers. By the time I slip into the apartment he's got a smirk on his face, either from gleefully tearing down our friends handiwork, or maybe finally seeing the humor of it, I'm not sure.
As expected, I have to wash my face three times to get all the gunk off, and by the time I'm finished my eyes are stinging and red from having to scrub them with soap to remove the last sticky residue of mascara. I move on to removing the bobby pins from my hair, but they keep getting tangled. When I walk back out into the living room Tobias has shoved the coffee table out of way tossing the throw pillows on the couch onto the plush rug in front of the fireplace.
Over the last few months we bought the rug and pillows, and started keeping a few blankets folded over the back of the couch. To anyone else it looks perfectly innocent, a couple 'feathering their nest' as it were, but there have been some nights where we haven't made it into the bedroom, and after learning the painful lesson that hardwood leads to bruised shins we decided to do something about it. The simple solution would have been keeping our lovemaking to the bedroom, but we could never quite manage it. Besides, it's just nice, stretching out in front of the fireplace even if we aren't naked.
"Can you help?" I tug at one of the more stubborn pins, wincing as it pinches my scalp in retaliation. Wordlessly Tobias sits on the couch, motioning me to sit on the floor between his legs. "Be careful with the flowers," I murmur, "I want to save them."
His fingers dip tentatively into my updo, working the bobby pins out painlessly and letting each coiled length of hair they were holding up fall softly around my shoulders. It's an oddly intimate gesture, more so really than him undressing me. And it makes me feel what I was too numb to feel after we escaped from Erudite and he washed my feet; safe, protected, loved, and ultimately what those things boil down to: being cared for. Not because he has to, but because he wants to. I suppose it's what we do for each other every day in small ways, but this feels like a promise.
The only sound is the soft ruffle of clothes, the nearly soundless whisp of fingers against hair, and the occasional muffled tink of metal as Tobias piles the pins up on his knee. When he finishes with my hair his fingers fall to the row of tiny buttons studded down my spine, unthreading each of them deftly, like his hands were made for this work. He offers me his button up shirt, which had been thrown over the arm of the couch once he's done, an amused smile curling up his lips when he sees how many times I have to roll up the sleeves so my hands peek out.
Once he's stripped down to his boxers and undershirt he stretches out on the floor next to me. His right hand twists the ring on his finger restlessly. "You get used to it," I say, gently pulling his hand away. It took me days to not be constantly distracted by my engagement ring; the unfamiliar weight and constriction was irritating until it wasn't. "Did you see the inscription in your ring?"
He cocks an eyebrow up questioningly and slips the ring off, holding it up so it can catch the dancing light from the fireplace and reveal the engraving. His expression gives nothing away, and after a few minutes of expectant silence I start to worry. I didn't think I could really go wrong with I choose you. And maybe it is the right sentiment, just said too late; after all he chose me by staying in Dauntless before I even realized I liked him. Maybe he expected more.
It's not... right... is it? You don't like it," I say, reaching out to snatch the little circlet of silver from between his fingers. Instead the ring disappears into his hand and he so quickly pulls me down to hum that a soft umph is knocked out of my lungs when I fall against his chest.
"It's perfect. I just never had anyone..." he trails off for a minute looking lost before his eyes refocus on me. "I never had anyone choose me, and I never thought I would." He looks vulnerable and childlike as he says it, a stark contrast between the assertive and certain man he usually is.
It might be the saddest thing I've ever heard, and it makes my heart clench painfully. And it temporarily steals away any response I might have because what do you say to that?
"I never thought I'd have a home or a family of my own," he says softly, one hand slipping under the hem of my shirt to rest at the small of my back and the other weaving into my hair again. "Before I met you I convinced myself that I didn't want it, any of it. And it took me until I threw knives at your head for me to accept that I wanted you - that I wanted that with you."
Slowly, he pulls me down and raises up slightly to fit his lips against mine. Since I still don't have words I try to put all things I'm feeling into the kiss. When we finally can stand to put a hairsbreadth of space between us his expression is as awestruck and reverential as it was when he caught sight of me walking down the aisle.
We stay up all night talking and kissing in front of the fireplace and watch the sunrise as we drink down a bottle of champagne Shauna left for us when she slapped the sign on our front door. And it is certainly more meaningful than if we'd just come home and had sex like everyone expected us to.
The area surrounding the Pire is a beehive of activity. Every Abnegation who can sling electrical cables or hammer nails are swarming around the building they're turning into their new home. Bud's voice rings out from one of the open windows, and as Christina and I walk up the street with our trainees he comes out the front doors, dodging a couple men carrying a slab of drywall.
It gets even more crowded as a line of Amity trucks roll up. I'm unsurprised to see Robert descend from the cab of one - he's been visiting Susan every chance he gets -, but I am surprised to see Johanna climb down as well; she's never made the trek to deliver food to Dauntless, at least as far as I know. When Robert catches sight of me he jogs over and carefully hugs me. "You look good, Tris."
I can't help laughing, both at the fact that he's parroting Tobias' words - though the meaning is completely different -, and because I've got smudges of neon green and pink paint covering me from the modified game of capture the flag we were playing with the trainees. It was meant to instil stealthy stalking and evasion techniques in case they need them outside the fence, but I think all we really accomplished was getting smeared with paint.
"It's actually Mrs. Eaton now," Christina chimes from next to me, a mischievous smirk twisting up her lips. I glare at her. 'Mrs. Eaton' is still Evelyn in my mind and I don't appreciate the comparison. Something that Christina knows and has been enjoying tormenting me with in the week and a half since the wedding.
"You got married?" Robert asks, his expression a little bewildered, but happy for me too.
"Yes, we did," Tobias says cooling, appearing over Robert's shoulder flanked by Tori and Johanna.
Robert visibly pales when Tobias gives him his best Four glower and slips an arm around my waist. "Oh well, congratulations," Robert stutters before waving goodbye and hurrying off to find his sister. Christina follows after her, departing with a small wave, eager to clean up and meet Michael since it's his day off.
"Was that really necessary?" I say, elbowing Tobias in the side.
"Probably not," he says, looking like a kid who got caught with his hand in the cookie jar.
Johanna ignores our tete-a-tete, falling into easy conversation with Bud and an older Abnegation man named Benedict. Bud was a natural choice the renovation, with his Dauntless eye creating defensible space, and Amity knowledge of construction. A few nights ago at dinner he entertained the entire table telling a story about how he and his brother built a treehouse with little more than odd shaped pieces of scrap wood and duct tape.
Since I've got nothing better to do I follow along with Tobias and the other as they tour the building. The last time I was here they had just gutted it, so the change is astounding. Now there are smooth, clean walls being put up, and pretty stained glass light fixtures they were able to salvage and rewire dot the ceilings and hallways. The bottom floor contains two large halls: one for meetings and the other for dining, with a utilitarian kitchen attached to the latter. Like the house Tobias and I visited on the outskirts of the city the windows are covered with bars. Apparently Bud couldn't procure any of the blast-resistant glass the Pire is sheathed in.
The next floor up contains dormitories, one each for men and women sixteen or older. It's really not so different from the one I lived in during Dauntless initiation, though there is a nice communal lounge set up by the windows that overlook the Pire. Above that are apartments. None contain anything more than a kitchenette, living room, and bedrooms. Bathrooms are communal, and because of the lack of space most meals will be eaten downstairs.
It's not luxurious by any stretch of the imagination, but I guess safety trumps the comfort and privacy a normal Abnegation home would afford. The roof is a surprise though, and the reason that Johanna is here. Instead of the usual tar-paper and pebble roofs all the buildings surrounding the Pire have, there are large planter boxes meant for growing vegetables covering it. There are even half a dozen fruit trees settled in pots that reach the bottom of my thighs. According to Johanna they're miniatures, but will produce as much fruit as a regular sized tree; a special genetic modification Erudite created.
Despite the Dauntless tattoos covering Bud, up here among the rich smelling earth, talking to Johanna about how to make things grow he looks more alive than I think I've ever seen him. It's all very practical - the planters help hold heat in the building during the winter, and keep it cool during the summer, as well as providing food -, but there's clearly an art to it I've never appreciated.
As they chat workers start bringing up the same high efficiency solar panels Amity uses along with spools of wiring to connect them to each other and batteries to store any excess energy. From what I gather they'll be set up around the perimeter of the roof. Though Tobias seemed only vaguely interested in the garden, he's enthusiastic about anything remotely technological so while he's occupied talking to a short, stalky Amity man about how the panels work I wander over to the edge of the building.
There's still a crowd of Dauntless and Amity unloading food, but between shouted directions I can hear people cracking jokes and bursts of effervescent laughter floating up to my ears. It's nice, peaceful. Inevitably my eyes catch onto the newly built roadblocks surrounding the area though reminding me that any peace is still fragile.
Since this building was never meant to be a pretty fortress like the Pire there are newly constructed roadblocks on all the streets leading to us. They're not much, just hip-high plastic barriers filled with concrete or sand, purposefully easy to climb over if we need to escape, but they'll at least provide an obstacle to vehicles. The only time they're moved is when we're expecting deliveries like today, but they will be put back in place as soon as Amity leaves.
Tobias has spent all of the last week setting up surveillance cameras in a three block radius around us too as another layer of protection. He would have liked to extend them further, bring all the cameras that were scattered throughout the city before the war back online, but the Factionless have made a habit of destroying them.
I don't know if it's really enough to make the Abnegation feel safe again, maybe they never will after watching their friends and families dragged out of their homes and shot in the streets. I don't know how they could stay in their part of the city. Did they just hose away the blood and pretend it never happened? I still can't look at the spot in the hallway where my father died without seeing his ghost and the phantom puddle of blood spilling out under him. Anyway, at least they have finally seemed to accept that selfish as the instinct to stay alive is, there's little you can do for others when you're dead.
Zeke and Tobias circle around the billiard table, cues in one hand and beers dripping with condensation in the other. He looks considerably more at ease than he did a few hours when he was gritting his teeth so hard I thought they'd shatter.
The Abnegation move-in went smoothly enough, but Evelyn showed up, guard dog Edward in tow, turning the whole thing into an exercise slowly simmering enmity. Christina and I were still in the training rooms so we completely missed it, but from the ill-concealed whispers that met us when we walked into the cafeteria for dinner I know my name got dragged into the fray. It was probably a good thing then that Zeke ushered us to the Pit for pizza and beer and billiards; Tobias looked like he was ready to strangle someone.
"So after training wraps up tomorrow you guys will be out of a job," Shauna says, cutting into my thoughts. Christina is sitting between us, as much a literal buffer as a figurative one. Shauna has been carefully polite ever since our engagement party, but it's easier with Christina here, for both of us. "Any idea what you're going to do after?"
Christina shrugs. "I just hope I'm not assigned to the infirmary; collecting urine samples isn't something I'd wake up excited to do every morning."
"What about you, Tris?" Shauna hesitantly asks.
"I don't know. I guess whatever they ask me to do. I can't really leave the compound though. Maybe something with Amity since it's the only place I'm allowed to go, or the Abnegation I suppose, since they're our new neighbors."
"Yeah, about that," Shauna says awkwardly. "I was thinking that we should maybe start setting up a school for the kids." I'm not surprised by this, ever since she started trying to get pregnant Shauna has been more focused on the kids around the compound. "I mean they've already missed a year, and now that we've got the Stiffs... it just seems like we should do something about it. It doesn't look like the city will be safe enough to send them to our old schools for a while yet."
She watches me expectantly. I haven't really had anything to do with Shauna directly since she found out Tobias and I were Divergent. The few times we've interacted since tense because of it, although I guess she can't really distrust me anymore if she's talking about working with me. "It's a good idea," I hedge, "but it will require a lot of work. We'd need teachers, a place to hold classes, books..." I trail off, making a mental list of everything needed to compose a classroom.
Shauna waves dismissively. Apparently she's given the idea a lot of thought, going so far as to check out unused storage rooms in the basement to turn into classrooms, and as for books and other school supplies, according to her we should just 'borrow' them from the schools themselves. It sounds a lot like stealing, but if we're planning to give everything back when the schools reopen it doesn't seem so awful.
She's still sketching out her plans when Tobias drops into the chair next to me and reaches for a slice of pizza while Zeke and Uriah share a game of pool. He patiently listens to her pitch as he eats. It makes me wonder if that's why she talked to me about it in the first place; hoping I'd bring the idea to Tobias and get his approval since the decision ultimately rests with him and the other leaders. It's not a very cheerful thought - and probably born from spending so much time around Tobias -, but I guess it's a step up from her awkward forced politeness.
By the time we leave Tobias is at least not murderously angry, but I can tell he's still upset about the scene with his mother today. I wait until we're in the privacy of our apartment to ask him about it though. "So are you going to tell me what she said about me?" I ask once we're settled in bed, Tobias' chest pressed against my back and his arm slung across my waist.
"It wasn't so much her as Edward," he says, his breath a curious mix of cool peppermint and bitter hops. "At least at first. She's still not your biggest fan, but her bigger problem is the Abnegation. She's... I don't know... I think she's tormenting them - however subtly - for excommunicating her."
I still have my doubts about that. But it's a touchy subject with Tobias - for obvious reasons -, and not something I want to rehash.
"Anyway, they knew we were married and Edward made certain assumptions about why that was, asking if you trapped me into it by getting knocked up." By the time he finishes his voice is tight and angry. "I told him if he ever talked about my wife like that again a butter knife to the eye was going to be the least of his worries. That sobered him up."
It seems like I'm one of the few people who aren't cowed by an angry Tobias, although having been on the receiving end of his outrage a few times I can understand not wanting to push him.
"I can't really make the same threat against Evelyn though - promising violence it just wrong considering what Marcus did to us -, but once Edward backed down she insinuated that you're using me, which is fucking ironic coming from her," he scoffs.
"That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard," I say flatly. "What am I even supposed to be using you for anyway? I get that people could have thought that during initiation, but now? It's ridiculous," I snap, getting angry myself.
"She's never going to get past the fact that you see through her bullshit, though I think she assumes that if you weren't around she'd have better luck using me the way she wants to." He buries his face in my hair, sighing humidly against my neck. "Makes me wish even more that we could have taken Prior as our surname."
"You only see the bad associated with 'Eaton', Tobias, but you're the good in it," I say quietly. This isn't the first time we've had this conversation.
"You too." He nudges at my shoulder with the tip of his nose and I twist around so we can share a wet, sloppy kiss. My nose scrunches up at the leftover taste of beer, and he chuckles at me before settling back down and pulling me even closer so we can both fall asleep.
With the teams having been selected to go outside the fence, I'm at loose ends. There's going to be another party tonight in Max's old apartment, a sort of 'going away' thing for them with everyone involved in the project as well as their friends and family. It seems kind of morbid considering we don't know if they're ever coming back.
We're all supposed to bring our favourite foods so we can have a real feast, and since I've got nothing else to fill my time at the moment I decide to make some banana bread. Or try to anyway. My first attempt looked more like a brick than a loaf of bread. I'm still not quite sure where I went wrong with it, but the only place it was going was the trashcan. Thankfully my second attempt is edible, and actually pretty good though not as delicious as the loafs my mother used to make.
I cut a few thin slices for Tobias and I to have with our lunch and make my way down to the dining hall to pick some sandwiches for us before going to the Control Room. He's not there when I knock on the door, so I end up waiting in the hallway for about twenty minutes. When he does arrive he's full of apologies. Apparently he was helping the Abnegation with their control room and it ended up taking longer than he thought it would.
As we sit down to work he quickly checks over the Dauntless system, sorting through various alerts and fixing minor software glitches as he goes along. I don't interrupt him. Since we've been eating lunch together most days I've realized what a big job it is just to keep it all running on a day-to-day basis even when he hasn't got any big projects going on with it.
By the time he reaches a point where he can pause in his work the food is finished and he tugs me into sitting on his lap because this is part of our lunchtime ritual too. "How did it go with the Abnegation?" I ask as he absently toggles through the feed from the cameras around the Pire.
"Okay. Ethan actually cracked a joke. I was so shocked I couldn't laugh."
"Was it funny?"
"Not really, but I think the fact he's trying not to be inhumanly patient and polite is something."
"You should know better than to think the Abnegation are humorless," I point out. It's one thing for the other factions to think that, but Tobias grew up in Abnegation like I did, and though my sarcasm was frowned upon we spent a lot of afternoons after school playing and joking.
"Yeah, as kids. But he's supposed to act like a grown up now and that pretty much precludes being anything other than stoic and serious."
"So, like you then?" I tease, earning a grumpy scowl in return. "It's okay. If you started suddenly acting like Zeke and Uriah I'd think you'd suffered brain damage or something."
He pinches my side in teasing reprimand and then scoots me off his lap so he can attend to a fresh round of alerts hitting his inbox with an obnoxious chime he can't ignore. I clean up the dirty plates, knowing they'll only clutter up his desk if I don't do it. For as fastidiously clean as he is at home, his desk is always in disarray.
"Tori wants everyone to be upstairs for the party at seven thirty, but if you're going to be working late I can just meet you there," I say. When a minute slips by without any response, even a distracted 'okay' I so often get when he's absorbed in his work, I poke his shoulder. "Hey, did you hear me? I said I can meet you upstairs if you're running late tonight."
"Sit down," he snaps.
"Wh-what?" I stutter, confused and put on edge by his sudden intensity.
"Sit." He blindly reaches out and grabs the chair I was sitting in as we ate, shoving it towards me with such force it painfully collides with my knees.
"What's going on?"
"Shhh," he hisses, fingers flying across the keyboard, as he hunches forward to squint at the monitor.
I bite my lip bloody trying to keep quiet, and it takes everything I have to sit still and not give into the adrenalin fueled fight or flight instinct screaming through my veins. A map pops up on Tobias' screen, and it takes me a moment to recognize that it's a map of Amity. There are three concentric lines reaching out from into the barren space beyond their fields. One of them is blinking red. It's another minute and a half before a video feed replaces it, showing a convoy of of strange looking vehicles. They're similar to the Amity trucks, but fully enclosed as if to seat many people.
I slam my hand down on top of Tobias' where it's working on the keyboard, forcing him to look at me. "What is going on?" I bite out, stress making my voice terse and tight.
Tobias swallows thickly. "Whatever is out there is coming," he says cryptically.
All I can do is gape at him stupidly. He doesn't try to pry my hand off of his own, just reaches out with his free one and picks up a little used phone. His voice sounds miles away as he relays the information to Harrison and orders him and Tori into the Control Room. By the time they arrive I've recovered enough to be pacing and chewing my nails.
"How far away?" Tori asks bruskly, her and Harrison crowding around Tobias' desk.
"Ten miles south of Amity. I lost sight of them on the camera monitoring that sensor. I'm waiting to pick them up again when they hit the sensor that's five miles out."
"How long?" Harrison asks.
"I don't know. A couple of hours? They looked to be moving pretty slowly, but once they hit roads they'll move quicker."
A phone starts ringing, shrill and insistent, interrupting them. Tobias slaps the speakerphone button with an annoyed huff. "What do you want Micah?"
"How did you know it was me?" Micah asks, baffled.
"I bashed my way into your video surveillance feeds five minutes ago, call it a hunch," he deadpans.
"Yeah, about that-"
"I really don't have time for this, Micah. If you want to get pissed at me, fine. I've had a backdoor into your system for three months, and if you're not too stoned on Amity bread you might notice that there's a line of trucks coming towards you from land that's supposed to be so toxic it's uninhabitable."
Tobias doesn't even wait for a response before he hangs up on him. "We need to get everyone back here and lock down." If he was expecting an argument, he doesn't get one. Tobias types out a short message to the electronic pagers all the fence and Amity guards carry, ordering them back to the Pire while Tori uses the phone to call the Candor leaders and alert them to what's going on.
"What can I do?" I ask, finally shaking myself out of my stupor.
Tobias twists around in his chair, fixing me in place with his gaze. Even though he's perfectly silent there's a back-and-forth between us. He's pleading with me not to do anything rash and reckless, I'm pleading with him to do something. He licks his lips slowly before he speaks. "Have Christina bring the trainees up to the fear landscape room. They're our best shooters; we need to get them up high - put them on the buildings surrounding the Pire so they can have clear shots."
"We don't know that whoever is coming means us any harm," Harrison says harshly. "Do we really need snipers?"
I've never been to any of the leadership meetings, so I have no idea what the dynamic is between Tori, Harrison, and Tobias is like in private, but Harrison is so at ease in public it's surprising to hear his normally relaxed voice take on a hard edge.
"And really, wouldn't it make more sense to attack at night, if their intention was to hurt us?"
Tobias looks at him levelly, no hint of anger in his expression. "I'd rather not wait to find out. If they start shooting, we need to be able to defend ourselves."
"I think Four's right, Harrison. Plan for the worst and hope for the best, remember?" Tori interjects, momentarily pausing her phone conversation.
Once Harrison realizes he's outnumbered he concedes with a shrug. "Just make sure they know not to start shooting unless we're under attack," he says to me.
Tobias nods to me very slightly, telling me to go.
As I sprint down to the training rooms where Cara is spending the day familiarizing the trainees with her inventions for their trip I'm struck by how calm the compound is. Everyone is walking around, completely oblivious to the advancing threat. No one - not Tobias, or Harrison, or Tori - has sounded the alarm here, at least not yet.
When I burst through the training room doors I'm met by Cara and a dozen confused faces. I take a deep breath, as much to quell the aching of my lungs as to steady myself. "I need you all to go upstairs to the fear landscape room," I order in my best 'instructor voice'. Everyone is so confused for a moment they just keep staring at me. "Now!" I bark, and then they scramble. In any other situation it would be funny.
Once they're all out the door I shut it and quickly cross the room to Cara. "I don't have much time, okay? No Erudite questions. There are some people from beyond Amity on their way to the city. We're locking down Dauntless until we know why. I need you to find Christina and have her come to the fear landscape room." A pale, pea green tint seems to overtake her face, moving steadily from her hairline to the collar of her shirt. Her lips are a thin line, but she nods resolutely and walks out the door.
I'm halfway back to the Control Room when Tori's voice crackles over the public address system, briefly explaining the situation. I expect to hear the whole building scream in terror, and though I see panic and fear in the faces around me I also see a resolute determination to fight. Not everyone here was born Dauntless, but in this moment we're all brave in the face of the unknown.
I allow the flood of people moving towards the Pire to carry me up. I have to fight my way across the glass floor to the fear landscape room, dodging people with guns moving towards the doors as much as anything else. Tobias reaches out for me once I get close enough. "I need you to go with Harrison over to the Abnegation," Tobias says quietly, one arm firmly anchored around my waist. "Just make sure everyone is inside and away from the windows and then come back here."
"Okay." I kiss him quickly and take the hand Harrison has extended to me. His palm is cool and dry and so much different than Tobias', but there's comfort in it all the same.
When we get outside there's a flock of Abnegation parents ushering their children inside. I don't know if the PA system sounded out here or if their building is somehow hooked into it, but they seem to know what's going on. Harrison and I hang back, making sure we're the last people through the door of their building. Their leaders are already pushing their way through the crowd to meet us.
"Get everyone into the upper floors," Harrison says without preamble. "Keep them in the hallways, away from the windows in case there's gunfire."
Joshua, a red faced man who used to work with my father and is now one of the faction leaders, nods solemnly before repeating it for the crowd in a booming voice. Without protest the people around us move as one, save for the leaders and handful of young men and women not much older than Tobias and I who are quickly checking the windows to make sure they're locked before firmly drawing the blinds across them so no one can see inside.
Joshua and the other Abnegation leaders follow Harrison and I back to the Pire. A mousy looking young woman secures an iron gate and then a heavy wooden door once we're clear of the building. The streets surrounding Dauntless have an eerie, expectant feel to them made only more apparent by the black-clad people taking up positions on the roofs around us.
Tori and Tobias are waiting for us in the control room. It feels stuffy and crowded with all of us and the Abnegation packed inside. There's not enough chairs to go around and while the Abnegation take on the aspect of faint grey ghosts hovering around us almost immediately, Tobias pulls me onto his lap like he does when we're alone.
There's nothing left to do but wait.
And it's excruciating.
The minutes scrape like razors across my nerves and every time the phone rings or sensor goes off or we catch sight of the trucks moving towards us on the video feeds panic settles in my stomach like a lead weight. The fence and Amity guards turn up after a while, dumping their belongings inside the Pire and then loitering in the street, handguns tucked into their waistbands and rifles swinging off their shoulders.
Tobias' nervous fingers have rubbed the same exposed patch of skin on my arm so insistently it's painful and raw under his touch, but I let him do it since it seems to calm him down the same way he's ignoring me chewing on my nails for the same reason.
The trucks don't stop at Amity, skirting out to the west before coming flush with the fence and following it to the gate. It's been closed and locked and the Factionless guards have disappeared like our own. A man in a dark suit gets out of the lead vehicle and enters in a code. In the corner of Tobias's screen a small window pops open, the words 'master override code entered at Amity gate' blinking in green.
"I thought you changed the code," Tori says accusingly.
"I did," Tobias says simply. "I didn't know there was an override code; no one did."
I count ten trucks coming through the fence, each the same uniform black with darkly tinted windows. Once it becomes clear that Dauntless is their destination Tori makes another announcement over the PA. Slowly the people in the Control Room start drifting outside until Tobias and I are alone again.
His hand smoothes up my arm, over my shoulder to rest against my neck. My heart is beating so hard I'm sure he can feel the pulse of it under the thin skin of my neck. He pulls me down, slotting his lips against mine. There are a lot of things I want to tell Tobias right now; things that I don't have words for but that I feel so strongly it makes me feel too weak to bear them; things that can only said in the press of my lips against his.
Even after we pull away, we sit there for a long time, forehead-to-forehead, skin-to-skin, so intertwined it's hard to say where I end and he begins. Eventually he leans back in his chair, looking up at me with mild curiosity. "If I told you to stay inside, away from danger, would you?"
I brush the fringe away from his forehead, considering him. "Would you?"
We both know the others answer. It's why we love each other.