A/N: As always a million thanks to Wee Kraken who did double duty on this chapter, and patiently held my hand through rewriting it basically from the ground up, and helped me find my Tris when I lost her somewhere along the way.
Tris is feeling better, which means she's feeling restless and for lack of anything better to do than sit in her hospital bed and sleep some more she's been delving into the massive digital archives the Bureau has. She's not sure she if she should feel disgusted, violated, or frightened by how invasive their observation of Chicago was; still is, probably.
She skips around the files on her mother, flipping past the written reports she's read so much she's got them memorized and focusing on the pictures and videos, though she treats the one where her mother dies with a certain amount of caution because the few times she's watched it have left her feeling like she's going to throw up from the horror of it all. But that's all she feels when she watches it. How horrible it is twists in her gut, but it always does no matter who she is watching die.
And Tris feels guilty about that because it is her mother and she should feel more, but she doesn't know that woman either. The only way she knows the slope of Natalie's shoulders or the aria of her laughter is from watching videos. Tris knows her mother must have loved her to sacrifice herself the way she did, but still, she doesn't feel connected to her. She doesn't even feel connected to the girl who looks just like her that she sees in the videos because there's Beatrice and there's Tris and though they're the same there's an ocean she can't cross between them.
But it is through the videos of her mother that she stumbles across ones of Evelyn since they're all cross referenced by name, and though Natalie and Evelyn might not have had much to do with each other, they did come in contact occasionally. It feels obsessive, how manically Tris is digging into her life, and she would feel wrong about doing it if she liked Evelyn at all, but she doesn't. Tris doesn't trust her, but she doesn't trust that it's not just wishful thinking on her part, either, because the one person she does feel connected to is Tobias, which is why she's doing this. more or less. She needs him, though Evelyn would say she just needs someone (who is not her son) and shove Caleb at her more forcefully than she already has.
Tris isn't sure what to do about Caleb now that she knows what Tobias meant about him choosing his faction over his family. Sure, she let Caleb explain his side of the story, but his protests that he thought he was doing the right thing and he's sorry and he wants his sister back were hard to accept with anything other than skepticism. At best.
Tris startles when the door of her hospital room bangs open, trying to tuck the tablet under her blankets surreptitious so she doesn't get caught snooping, but the questioning lift of Christina's eyebrows tells her she didn't pull it off at all. "Hey, do you want to go get lunch? I'm leaving this afternoon," she asks, but her voice is suspicious.
"Sure," Tris says a little too enthusiastically. She gets up to fast too and it makes something tug painfully inside her, her face screwing up momentarily against it.
"Do you want me to grab a wheelchair?" Christina offers.
"It's fine," Tris winces. "Just have to move more carefully."
"So, you're kissing Tobias now," Christina says as they slowly make their way to the cafeteria, nurses and orderlies quick stepping around them like the obstacles they are. "That's new."
Tris blushes and grimaces and asks her if the only reason she asked her to lunch is so she could needle her.
"I'm just curious what changed… And if his lips are better at jogging your memory than all the videos the Bureau has," she finishes with a mischievous smile.
"Are you sure you're my best friend?"
"Well you don't have to be mean about it," Christina says dramatically.
"Do we really have to talk about this?" Tris groans.
Christina smiles at her widely.
"You didn't like talking about this stuff before, either."
Christina and Tobias are always so pleased when something like this happens, but it's a little unnerving for Tris. She doesn't want to disappoint them, and she thinks she's bound to once they realize it's not because she remembers anything. At the same time though, it's a comfort that no matter what damage the memory serum did, it didn't change who she is, or was, even if she doesn't always know herself.
"If I didn't like it before, why are you trying to drag it out of me now?"
"Because I am your best friend, which is why I know somewhere inside of you is a real girl who wants to get all swoony about her boyfriend even if I have to drag her, so spill."
"I don't remember anything," Tris says a little defensively. "It just… it feels familiar… that's the only way I can describe it."
"Well that's good," Christina says and then mercifully lets the subject drop as they join the queue in the dining hall.
"So where is Mister Tall Dark and Broody today?" she asks as they sit down.
"Meeting with someone from the city," Tris says, slathering her bagel with cream cheese. It's a little stale, leftover from breakfast, but it's one of the few things that taste good to Tris so she doesn't mind.
"That's disgusting, you know," Christina says when Tris layers sliced tomatoes and red peppers on top.
"So are the hardboiled eggs on your salad," Tris shoots back before digging in.
"Who's Tobias meeting with?"
"I think he said her name is Johanna."
Christina nods to herself. "Amity's leader - former leader, I guess," she amends. "Is she here to offer him a job?"
"He didn't say," Tris shrugs, and then immediately stiffens when she locks eyes with Caleb across the room and he starts making his way towards them. She tries to will him away, but he just keeps coming.
"Hi, Tris," he offers meekly.
"Caleb." She's been avoiding him because there's a certain amount of revulsion she feels just at the sight of him, and it's hard to hold a conversation with someone when all you want to ask is why they did what they did in the hopes of getting an answer that you actually believe.
"I'm surprised you're still here," he directs at Christina.
"I still have a few more hours," she says dismissively.
"Did you get your work assignment yet?" he asks politely.
"Housing department. You?"
"Medical research," he says a little proudly. "How about you, Tris?"
"Medical exemption, for now." Honestly, she has no idea what she wants to do, if she'll even have a choice in the matter.
Caleb visibly debates for a second before sitting down next to Tris. He looks so uncomfortable she wonders if he sat on a tack or something. "I was going to come see you later, but since you're here now I'll just… I, um, I got an apartment near the hospital - so I'm close to work, obviously -, and it's only one bedroom, but you can take the bedroom and I'll sleep on the couch," he says in a rush, his words stumbling over each other. "That way you can be close to the hospital too for your check-ups and physical therapy, and I can help you out until you're completely recovered; I know you're still having problems-"
"You'll be living with Four, won't you Tris?" Christina interrupts before he can stick his foot in his mouth even more.
"I don't know, we haven't talked about it," Tris says neutrally, but that's mostly for Caleb's benefit; the thought of living with Tobias makes something nervous squirm in Tris' stomach.
"I thought there was still some question about whether or not he was going back to Chicago."
"Where did you hear that?" Christina scoffs.
"Around," Caleb says at the same time Tris mutters, "Evelyn."
"Could you look at me please, Beatrice," Caleb huffs, annoyed.
Tris can't quite keep the scowl off her face as she turns to him. "That's who you heard it from, right?"
"Yes," he answers, clipped. "And she would know, wouldn't she? She's his mother, after all."
"Tobias isn't going anywhere Tris can't," Christina scoffs, and Tris is so thankful for her coming to her defense she wants to kiss her.
"I don't think it's appropriate for you to be living with him; you're not married," Caleb says patronizingly.
"I wasn't asking for your permission," Tris snaps at him before dropping the last few bites of her bagel and stalking away.
A minute after Christina catches up with her, so does Caleb. He grabs her wrist, and she wants to jerk it out of his grasp. "I'm sorry," he says desperately. "You're the only family I have left, and I don't want it to be this way."
"Because you're my sister, and I love you," he says, bewildered, like it's the most obvious thing in the world.
Tris wouldn't be human if his words didn't soften her a little, but almost immediately she remembers how he watched so impassively as he was tortured, one canceling out the other.
"I'm just worried about you, okay? Tobias doesn't have the best track record, and if it comes down to you or Evelyn, I don't think he'll pick you."
"Caleb," Christina warningly.
"No, she needs to hear this too," he says determinedly.
"I already have heard it. From Tobias," Tris says coldly. That night - the first night he kisses her - he didn't stop playing show and tell until nearly sunrise, determined that she was going to know every detail of their relationship no matter how unpleasant.
"Then you need to hear it again," Caleb says. "The second you don't fall into line with whatever he wants, he turns on you; he did it when you rightfully warned him about allying with the Factionless, and he did it again, after Erudite, after he vowed to be your family, when you worked with Marcus. I know that I hurt you, that I did things that you can't forgive me for, but I'm still your brother and I still love you and I don't want to see you get hurt again. And you will, if you stay with him because she hasn't changed and neither has he."
"What is that supposed to mean?" Tris spits out.
"It means that he seems willing to forgive her anything - everything - because she's his blood, and no matter what vow he made to you about being your family he hasn't treated you that way."
The longer he talks the more Tris wants to look away because his words hurt. They hurt worse than bullet wounds. But she seems hypnotized, her body ignoring what her brain is screaming at her, and simply staring fixedly as he tells her awful, painful things.
"It means all he wants, still, is one of his parents to be decent, to love him back and fix the broken things inside of him. It means he used you to fill that gap until Evelyn could, again."
"That's enough," Christina snaps. "You don't know what you're talking about." She grabs Tris roughly by the elbow and marches her away, throwing a withering glance over her shoulder that keeps Caleb from following them again.
The walk back to Tris' hospital room is quiet and tense. "You don't trust her either," Tris finally says.
"No, I don't."
"You said you don't trust Evelyn because no one changes that drastically, that quickly," Tris reminds her. "What's makes Tobias any different?"
"Because no matter what happens he always comes back to you, just like you come back to him. Even having your memory wiped wasn't enough to make you not love him," she says shortly, trying to pace off her annoyance with Caleb.
Tris sinks down on her bed sullenly. "I don't know if I love him, or if I will. Maybe Evelyn's right, maybe I should just let him go. Maybe I'm just being selfish," she says quietly because no matter what she feels when Tobias kisses her - and she feels a lot -, she still hurt him, and Evelyn is still just a mother looking out for her son no matter her flaws, Tris thinks.
"I've seen Tobias without you, Tris, and it's not pretty. But even if you don't love him, that's something between you and him, not you and him and his mother and your brother, or anyone else for that matter."
"Like you?" Tris says with a smirk.
Christina sighs deeply, deflating on the spot. "Nice to know you're still a smart ass. Are you going to be okay, or should I stick around and bad-mouth Evelyn for a while? That always cheers you up."
It's true, it does. The day after her confrontation with Evelyn, Tris was still so frustrated and upset that she confessed the whole thing to Christina who in turn told her every awful, duplicitous thing Evelyn had done during the war, from using Tobias to betraying Dauntless and getting Tori killed. And when you hate someone it's easy to take sick pleasure in that sort of thing, so it made Tris feel better, and gave her even more reasons to distrust Evelyn.
"Go. I know you have to pack. I'll just," Tris leaves off, pulling the tablet out from under the blankets.
"I'll be back to say goodbye," Christina promises before giving her a quick hug and walking out. Tris wishes there was a lock on the door; she wouldn't put it past Caleb - or Evelyn for that matter - confronting her again, and she just doesn't want to deal with that right now. The best she can do is close it, turn the lights off, and hope whoever just assumes she's asleep.
Excited. Exhilarated. Optimistic. They're not words Tobias usually associates with himself, but right now they describe him perfectly. When Johanna turned up this afternoon he expected her to be bearing bad news; tales of fresh horrors happening in his hometown. Instead she told him about the changes planned, already taking place in some instances. People are starting to move in from the Fringe, but he already knew that. What he didn't know - the reason for Johanna's visit - is that a new government is being formed.
She's at the forefront of that, naturally given her standing among the Allegiant, but others are involved too. For the time being each of the former factions will provide a representative, and together they will decide how to address the most immediate problems. In the next few months there will be elections and the appointees will start to cycle out in place of elected representatives.
With Tori's death and his absence, Harrison has stepped up to be the representative from Dauntless, and Tobias can't help being grateful for that. He's not sure he trusts himself to lead, isn't sure if it's something he'll ever truly want. He does want to help though, and he can't think of a better way than being Johanna's assistant, not least of which because, though they share a similar history, they turned out to be vastly different people. It could be good for him, having someone around who understands what he went through, who can show him a path different from the dark, distrustful, violent one he's been walking down.
His mind is spinning with fresh plans and a future that looks nothing like the one he thought he'd face when they walked into the Bureau a month ago. As he makes his way towards the hospital wing his walk can only be described as jaunty. He's just figuring out the perfect way to tell Tris that Johanna's getting them a two bedroom apartment and she can have the biggest room with the biggest bed (that he secretly hopes will be 'theirs' instead of 'hers' before long) when Evelyn corners him and herds him into an empty room.
When she asks what Johanna wanted Tobias can't contain his enthusiasm. "To offer me a job," he says, smiling broadly, not even trying to hide the pride in his voice. He launches into an explanation that probably isn't very coherent, but the longer he talks the more Evelyn's face falls and eventually Tobias' voice peters out into a disappointed, "what's wrong?"
"Do you really think it's a good idea to go back to Chicago right now?" she questions, her voice belying nothing but mild curiosity.
"You obviously don't."
She's silent for a long moment, sizing him up. "No, I don't."
"A lot of reasons," she says vaguely.
"Selfish reasons?" he asks. As much as there are things he hated about Abnegation he still judges people's actions on a scale of selfishness sometimes.
"Some of them," she shrugs.
"Most of them?"
"No." She walks over to the window, ghostly in the pale moonlight filtering through the grime. "It's a whole other world out there Tobias, don't you want to see it?"
"There's no reason I can't, I'm not stuck in Chicago."
"Like we were with the factions," he corrects. "Just because I want to help rebuild our city, make it what it always could have been, doesn't mean I'll never venture outside the fence."
"So come with me," she offers enticingly.
"Or don't," she says when it becomes clear he's not going to say anything, just stare at her across the room appraisingly.
"Why are you pushing this?" he asks suspiciously.
It's her turn to clam up, and though she takes a deep breath and straightens her spine with resolve nothing comes of it, just more silence and Tobias is halfway to the door before she speaks again.
"I was eighteen - your age when I married Marcus," she says quietly. It's enough to stop him in his tracks, but she's still talking to his back. "I was young, and naive, and I loved him. I loved him so much, and I thought if I could just love him a little more he would change. I thought if I loved him more he would love me back the way I wanted him too. But he didn't. When I got pregnant with you, I thought that would be it, the golden ticket that changed everything. It wasn't. I don't regret it because I got you, and nothing can compare to the love a mother feels for her child."
Tobias rounds on her. "Then why did you leave me?"
"Because I loved you," she emphasizes "Because if I had taken you with me then you would have been an outcast, you would have suffered and starved and died like so many Factionless children. The only kindness we received from the factions then was an endless supply of condoms so we didn't breed."
"It wasn't because you were in love?" Tobias hates the wavering note of uncertainty his voice holds as he asks her.
"Don't bring Dylan into this," she says harshly.
"You did love him though."
"He loved me back the way I always wanted to be loved," she says, rubbing distractedly at the tattoo on her ring finger. "It was a powerful aphrodisiac."
"What happened to him?" Tobias asks because he's always been curious and it's never really come up before.
"He died. Pneumonia. Almost two years ago now."
He would feel bad for her, but he's too busy doing mental math. "So right around the time you decided to contact me then?"
"Whatever you're thinking, it wasn't like that."
"So it wasn't because you needed someone to love you in his absence?" he asks, and it frightens him how much he understands that need.
"We all want to be loved. From the moment we're born that's all we want. First by our parents, and then our friends, and then our lovers, and eventually, yes, our children."
"I know," he says, his voice hard.
"You never stop being a parent," she says contemplatively. "There were so many nights, hollow, freezing nights where the only thought that kept me warm was that your life was better because I wasn't in it. I know now that I was wrong, but at the time it was the only comforting thing I had. I couldn't protect you then, even if I had stayed I wouldn't have been able to, but I want to protect you now."
"You need to stop confusing your relationship with Marcus with my relationship with Tris," he says flatly because, God, it's all he wanted growing up, but because of her he had to learn to safeguard his heart all on his own at too tender an age.
"I'm not confusing them, I'm just looking at it from a different perspective. You can't see the similarities because you're so close to it, but I see them. And it frightens me," she adds. "That memory serum doesn't change who you are, not deep down; just look at Peter, he's already turning into a bully. Tris didn't love you before, not the way you love her, and she won't this time around."
"Her parent's deaths… killing Will… it broke something in her," he says, explaining not excusing. "But she doesn't remember that anymore."
"And Marcus' dad beat him too, but with enough love he won't be a monster," she says archly. "Pain and loss and war don't change people, it reveals them."
"Then what does it say about you and me? That we're good at running away?"
"That we're survivors. That no matter what life throws at us we'll get up and dust ourselves off and try again," she replies, her voice roiling with heat and determination.
"What does it say that you were going to release the Death Serum rather than let the Allegiant succeed as long as Marcus was involved?" he challenges.
"What does it say about me that I gave everything up for you?" she challenges back.
He's unpleasantly reminded of a conversation in a tiny stairwell what feels like a lifetime ago about canceling debts and settling balances. "I don't want to live my life like this. The past is the past and I'm done living in it. Chicago is my future-"
"You mean Tris is your future," Evelyn scoffs.
"She can be, if that's what she wants, the same as you. But I told you already, not now, not soon, but someday. Because I need time, and I need distance because I love you, but I hate you and I'm scared of you too and those are things I have to reconcile on my own."
She looks like she's going to cry and Tobias wants to stuff the words back in his mouth, wants to get down on his knees and ask her how much she loves him and feel like a little boy again instead of a man who resents his mother.
"I appreciate everything you've done for me, but I don't owe you for it."
Evelyn stares at him and he stares at her and it's like looking in a mirror, all the pain and betrayal and anger he felt after her 'death' reflected back at him. "You're wrong about her. She won't choose you when the time the comes." She says it with so much jealousy it makes her sound like a rival. "What does it look like, your life with her? What do you have to do to get her to love you back the way you love her?"
He has to force himself from the room so he doesn't scream at her to shut up and stop putting poisonous ideas in his head and I already chose you when I came to you that night with the serum.
The one person who could soothe Tobias after his fight with Evelyn is Tris, and contrarily, that's the last person he wants right now. And the more he thinks on the reasons for why that is, the more muddled they become in his mind. Really, it comes to down to feeling like this anger is his own, and still, perversely, wanting to protect Evelyn.
He walks the nearly deserted corridors of the Bureau, trying to do anything but think of the things his mother said and doing nothing but that, until he runs into Cara, at least. "I've been looking all over for you!" she says, exasperated.
"Ah… Shit," Tobias says, pinching the bridge of his nose. "Sorry."
"You mean, Sorry I completely forgot we were supposed to tell Tris about Will today?" Her tone is mostly bemused, but a little bitter too, like she thinks it slipped his mind because it's unimportant.
"Yeah. Is Christina still here?"
Cara shakes her head. "She wanted to stay. I had to physically shove her on the bus with Zeke and Hana."
Tobias thinks her time would be best served helping her friend who is still very much alive, but considering he's the reason Uriah's dead he keeps his mouth shut. It must still register on his face though, because Cara says, "she needs to be there for them right now. And for herself," quietly, as they make their way towards the hospital.
"I guess," Tobias says noncommittally.
"I won't pretend to know what happened between her and Uriah - Chris and I avoided the subject -, but he was important to her, and she needs to say goodbye."
"And this time at least she can?" Tobias says, his voice hard. He knows he's needling her and she doesn't deserve it, but if she's feeling bitter it's better Cara take it out on him now, rather than Tris later.
Cara sighs like a put-upon parent. "Stop that," she chastises. "We're telling her, that's all I want. I'm not going to punish her for it; I didn't before. In case you don't remember, it wasn't Evelyn's people that got you two out of Erudite, it was me and Peter."
Instead of apologizing like he knows he should, he asks how the little psycho is doing.
"It's fascinating, his personality," she says with enthusiasm before launching into a monologue on the human brain and how a brain devoid of any memories, any "nurture", produces the same kind of personality traits.
"So what you're saying is Peter just needed some happy pills and not memory serum to cure his asshole tendencies?" Tobias guffaws.
"Well, you're grossly oversimplifying it," Cara snaps, offended by his lack of intellectual curiosity on the subject considering Tris is in the same boat.
"Give me a minute," Tobias says once they get to Tris' door. It's closed, which is odd, and he hopes he doesn't have to wake her up so they can do this. She is huddled on her side under the blanket when he walks in, but as soon as he rounds the bed he can see she's awake; eyes heavy and bloodshot, but awake. "Hey," he says softly, sitting down so that he's on her level. "Are you okay?"
"Fine, just staring at the tablet all day, watching videos," she says rubbing at her eyes. "I think I'm going blind."
He swallows thickly for a moment because what if she found The Video? But he reasons she probably would have asked him why he didn't tell her she killed someone right off. "You know, when you lose one of your senses it's supposed to heighten the others," he jokes after a moment.
"Maybe that's why people close their eyes when they kiss; feels better," she says cheekily.
"I think I'm offended by that."
She smirks at him, but doesn't take the bait. "How was your meeting?"
"Good. I have a job now."
"We should celebrate," she says, reaching out to run a finger down his stubbly chin, pulling him closer. Her mind might not remember him, but her body does and since their second first kiss there have been plenty more. But even when they're not kissing, their bodies seem to be drawn together, regardless.
"We will, when we get back to the city. Besides, I don't think you're supposed to mix alcohol and painkillers."
"Okay," she hums.
"Cara is here to see you," Tobias murmurs, not missing how the longer they talk the closer and quieter and more intimate they become. "There's something she wants to tell you about, something from the past."
"That doesn't sound good," Tris frowns.
"It's not. But it's better that you hear it from her, now."
"That bad, huh?" Tris says nervously.
"Yeah," he breathes out, inching closer. "I'll be right here though."
Tris' eyes are shrouded in apprehension, but there's something softer underneath it and it takes Tobias a moment to realize it's trust. He tries to keep his eyes open as he kisses her just to prove her wrong, but it's impossible. It is possible though to get lost in the soft push-pull of their kiss, in the way Tris' palm cradles his cheek and her fingers sink into his hair to hold him to her, at least for a minute.
"It will be okay," he promises, pressing his lips to the space between her brows before pushing himself up to call Cara in.
Tris situates herself so that she's sitting up in bed, Tobias next to her with his arm around her shoulders, and Cara in the chair on the opposite side. For as composed as Cara looks it still takes her several false starts to get the story out. She starts with the worst of it, like getting it out quick will make it hurt less. She tells Tris she killed Will, emphasizing that she did it because she had no choice and if she hadn't shot first she would have been the one dead on the pavement.
Though Tris' expression remains inscrutable, Tobias can feel her heart beating faster, her breath coming quicker; the first signs of panic. But she holds it together, sagging only a little when he pulls her closer, hoping to lend her some strength.
Cara keeps talking, telling Tris funny stories from when Will was a kid, like how he spent a day figuring out if you would get 'more doughnut per doughnut' in a box of a dozen if they were square instead of round. Tobias knows she's trying to personalize it so Tris understands the loss, but he can't help feeling it's somehow therapeutic for Cara, sharing her brother's memory like this.
Since Will didn't particularly distinguish himself at school, the first video that Cara can show Tris of any interest is Choosing Day. It doesn't take Tris long to cotton onto the fact that her and Christina were close friends with Will; even less time to notice how things developed between the latter. The longer this goes on the paler and clammier Tris looks, but she doesn't say much of anything until Cara stops the video at Will trooping onto the trains with the rest of the drones; an oddly anti-climactic end to the story.
"They - the traitor Dauntless - found his body in the morning between two abandoned warehouses," Cara says sadly. "He's in a mass grave with the Abnegation that were murdered that night."
"He died in the Abnegation part of the city?" Tris asks shakily.
"Yes," Cara answers, bewildered because she thought she made that part clear enough.
"So there's a video of it?" she asks so quickly she practically runs over Cara's answer. "I want to see it."
"Tris, you killed him, we know-"
"I want to see it!" Tris demands, hysterical.
Grudgingly, Tobias motions for the tablet and Cara hands it to him. He brings up the raw footage of Tris' escape, the one that shows everything from her mother shooting her way in to the Abnegation meeting hall to Tris disappearing inside the tumbledown building where her father was, and not the one that was edited to only run up to Natalie's death.
Tobias starts the video there because he wants Tris to understand how dangerous is was that night on those streets. He plans to tell her how she struggled with the guilt of killing Will, to show her the video of her confession under the truth serum to prove it, but he never gets the chance. After she watches her friends blood and brain matter and bits of skull blossom out the back of his head and paint the pavement she kicks the blankets away and practically falls over Cara on her way to the bathroom.
Tobias is only a step behind her, close enough to roughly pull back her hair as she retches into the sink, not able to make it to the toilet. "I didn't think you were lying," she pants, slumping against the counter once her stomach is empty. "I just needed to see it."
Cara looks so lost and horrified, standing in the doorway wide-eyed like she doesn't know what else to do, that Tobias tells her to get out with a glare and a toss of his head. Once Tris rinses out her mouth she puddles down onto the floor, Tobias with her, pulling her legs over his lap and wrapping her up, just like in the train that night as they fled to Amity with Caleb and Marcus and Peter.
She's shaking like a leaf and her clothes are damp with sweat, but she's doesn't cry, just tucks her face into Tobias neck like she wants to disappear inside of him. "Talk to me," Tobias whispers when he can't stand her silence anymore.
"I don't know what to say," she mumbles.
"What do you feel?" Tobias asks, realizing as soon as the words are out of his mouth it's probably the one question he's never asked her before.
"Like a bad person," she whispers, small and childlike.
"You did what you had to do to survive. That doesn't make you a bad person," he says firmly. "Not all of us can say the same."
"It's not because of that," she says haltingly, but it seems like once those words are out, it pops the cork on all the rest roiling inside of her. She tells him it was horrible watching Will die, worse still because she was the one who pulled the trigger, but it's not that, that bothers her the most. What bothers her the most is that the grief and shock and horror of it is like an echo, something she's disconnected from, just like the death of her parents because she doesn't know these people anymore; they're just strangers that she knows things about. And she feels like she doesn't deserve Christina and Cara's forgiveness because of that.
He listens because she needs it, holds tight her for the same reason. The bathroom floor is cold and uncomfortable and not a place meant for confessions, but neither of them try to get up. His fingers idly trace up and down her arm, and as she talks he can't help musing on the idea that it's not that they're not very nice that has always drawn them together, but that they've always been broken in the same ways even if it's for different reasons.
And he tells her this, about them both leaving Abnegation and struggling with the things their parents instilled in them; the nature of sacrifice, the tendency towards distrust and violence, what it means to be selfless. They've both killed people they love, been tortured by it; Tobias hopes someday Zeke will forgive him someday the way Christina and Cara have forgiven Tris. They've both been betrayed by their family and struggled to forgive when the tables are turned.
"Do you think I should forgive Caleb?"
"You did before," is all he says.
"Why?" Tris shakes her head, trying to rearrange her thoughts. "I mean, how?"
"It didn't happen all at once. It took time; long enough for you to forget the bad memories and remember the good ones."
"Is that why you forgave Evelyn?"
He hesitates because what's he supposed to say? He loves his mother but he picked her because she is the lesser of two evils?
"He wants me to move in with him," Tris says to fill the silence. "We fought about it today."
"Because you don't want to?" Tobias asks, his heart in his throat.
"That's part of it," she says evasively.
"What's the other part?"
Tris tips back in his arms, staring up at him, deciding how much of the truth to give him. "He thinks you'll leave me," she finally says.
Tobias sighs harshly and tugs her so she's close to him again. He'd say that he won't, but the thing is, he and Tris are alike, and he worries about her leaving him probably as much as she worries about him leaving her, and there isn't much either can say to change that. There are things they can do though.
"You don't have to live with anyone if you don't want to. You still have your parents house. But that job I got with Johanna? She's getting me an apartment. With two bedrooms. One for each of us, if that's something you want." Tobias hasn't been this nervous since Choosing Day because he wants Tris to live with him, but what he really wants, is for her to want it too.
"Did we live together before?"
"No. We never got the chance to," he answers honestly.
"Have you ever lived with anyone before?"
"About twenty people when I was going through initiation," he jokes weakly.
"That's not what I meant, and you know it," Tris says, smacking his chest in reprimand.
"I've never lived with anyone." Tobias grabs her hand and brings it to his lips. "Too much?" he asks, crestfallen when she pulls it away.
"No… I just… I don't want you staying in Chicago because I can't leave it, and… I don't know what your expectations are," she says meekly. Tobias gives her the same smile that Christina did earlier, the one that lets her know she's mimicking her older self without realizing it. "And I don't want you to want me because you want someone else back," Tris snaps.
"I'm staying because I want to make a difference. I don't have any expectations other than having someone eat dinner with every night," he says, pulling her back little by little with each statement. "And I don't want you because I want someone else back." He brushes his lips against hers. "But you should be careful with the kissing, because you're definitely making me fall for you."
She'd like to say something pessimistically realistic, but the only thing she can come up with is that it's not much of a fall for him and that's just cliche. So she kisses him instead.