A/N: Insurgent spoilers ahead. I couldn't help but write this because these two are basically my favorites. Also, if you decide that you like this enough to favorite it, I would sincerely appreciate a review as well.
is this redemption
and if you think peace is a common goal
that goes to show how little you know
death of a disco dancer ––the smiths
Tris feels war in her veins, quietly building. She has stared directly at death and it doesn't seem to bother her in the least. All she hears is her heartbeat, a ceaseless reminder of evading the end she'd thought she wanted so desperately. She's grasping at threads, trying to let things go, when all she needs is an excuse to keep holding on to nothing. She is not the results of her aptitude tests from so long ago. She has been aware of this for an extended amount of time but never so often as when she looks Uriah in the eye as the days go by and never apologizes, not even once. A dwindling moral compass in the back of her mind tells her that it would be the right thing to do, but she's not sure what, exactly, other than the tragedies that have transpired in their entirety that she should say sorry for, which is why she chooses not to say it at all.
When she steals glances at him, though, she sees the welcoming boy from the night of capture the flag who went out of his way to say hello, and guilt hits her with its millions of faces. Guilt is her parents' last expressions in the dead of the night when she cannot sleep, the constantly overwhelming and terrifying what if's that cloud her judgment every passing second of every passing day. Guilt is the total of each of her betrayals, rendering her incapable of reaching a state of ease. Guilt is Will and Marlene and Lynn and the rest of the unnamed innocent caught in the midst of a war they didn't start, not to mention their loved ones who were left with holes in their lives where they used to be, and yet Tris can't feel anything except anticipation of the conflicts still to come.
Uriah makes a habit of staring at his reflection in the mirror when he can, breathing deeply to the point of doing it for the sake of simply doing something. He has narrowly escaped the urges of self-pity that his unconscious has thrown itself into lately, and plans on doing so until such emotions part from him completely. He longs to remember how to live properly, to be wild and free in spite of however much he forces himself into concluding that he only could have done that with Marlene. He attempts positivity, thinking of Zeke, his sibling who made it, but then accidentally drifts to Shauna and Hector, because theirs didn't.
He closes his eyes and summons up the strength he tells himself he should have. It is impossible when trying to muster up all the courage he has in him to not picture the girl who didn't believe in herself enough and then believed in herself too much. He really shouldn't, but he does anyways, because for him she's everything, all the time – a destructive, beautiful mess of vulnerability and emotions he envies since most are ones he would never be capable of conjuring up himself. The bathroom door behind him creaks as if on cue, so he opens his eyes and half-heartedly greets the first individual who acknowledged his divergence as if it wasn't a crime.
"You look like you've been crying," Tris blurts out immediately, despite her best instincts. She won't have a clue how how to comfort him if he doesn't respond appropriately.
"Yeah, well," he jokes, almost sounding genuine, "I look like that all the time."
She avoids his eyes. He pretends not to catch it.
"I just need to wash my hands," she adds flatly, like it'll make the situation more bearable for both of them.
He steps backwards so she has room to stand at the sink, and observes her intently. Droplets trickle slowly out of the faucet as she thrusts her hands under it. Uriah feels things for her that make him ache. Everything is too complicated. There is soap on her skin now, mixing with the dried up blood which is cracking and turning everything pink.
He has never shaken hands with this hollowness before, not like craving a walk outside in the sunlight apart from any hints of civilization but realizing it won't do him any good because he'll end up lying face down in the cement, screaming and screaming until his throat grows hoarse for reasons he can't put a name to, but he pretends he has. The soft noise of the water halts, but nonetheless echoes in his ears as she reaches the door without a single word.
"Wait," he says, raising an eyebrow expressively. "You should knock next time. There's no guessing what I could've been doing in here."
She turns on her heel, but not before he spots the beginnings of a smile on her face that disappear as quickly as they came. He regards it as a success. He didn't know he'd retained the ability to arch his eyebrow in that fashion.
She is on the other side of the wall before he can process anything straight, leaving him trapped inside with his own mind again, but as the night rages on, she gets the impression that his wounds are leaving unmistakable scars on her instead of him.
White light blinds her, and she panics.
She recognizes him in the distance, convincing herself that she does solely because it would be inconceivable not to. He steps closer, cocking his head to the side. She can't help but wonder if this is her final chance at redemption, but then notices the things flashing past in the darkness as the light that brought her to him dies down. They are friends. They are ranked number one and number two after the climax of Dauntless initiation. They are Divergent. They are reckless. They are brave. They are alive –
She recalls the hidden familiarities of the situation and is struck by the revelation that she will wake up soon and be dragged back into reality, back into problems she needs to solve and battles she needs to fight and people she needs to save, but those same people keep collapsing lifelessly in front of her and she wishes every moment didn't hold such abundant uncertainties.
"Yeah?" she answers finally. Her voice is not her own. It belongs to someone else, just like all her grief does. I'm sorry I couldn't save you are syllables already formed on her tongue, like they've always been there. She can't bring herself to utter them. If he were real and still with her in ways that no one else was, he would laugh. Maybe tell her that none of it is her fault and she needs to stop being so hard on herself, and he sort of does, in that smooth, reassuring tone she's grown to associate with his overconfidence.
"I believe in you." He smiles a little, reaches out to touch her, but his hand doesn't make it that far. "We all do."