Disclaimer: I do not own "Divergent" or "Insurgent" or "Allegiant" or the characters, dialogue, plot lines, etc. that came from those books. All of that belongs to Veronica Roth.
Credit: The cover art was kindly donated by A.J. Smith. Thank you, A.J.! Thank you also to my wonderful beta reader, Rosalie, who made such a difference throughout this story!
A/N: "Determinant" is consistent with the following stories by Veronica Roth:
- Free Four: Tobias Tells the Divergent Knife-Throwing Scene
- Four: The Transfer: A Divergent Story
It is not consistent with "Allegiant" since it is designed to be an alternative to that book. It is also not consistent with the later "Four" stories, since I finished it before they were published.
With that in mind, please read and enjoy... And please, please take the time to review as you read. I really love reviews! They motivate me to keep writing in the "Divergent" world, and they never fail to make my day. Thanks!
1. A factor that decisively affects the nature or outcome of something
2. Biology: a gene or other factor that determines the character and development of a cell or group of cells in an organism, a set of which forms an individual's idiotype
3. Mathematics: a quantity obtained by the addition of products of the elements of a square matrix according to a given rule
1. Serving to determine or decide something
Chapter 1: Tris – Aftermath
The shouts fill the room, making it impossible to understand a word as everyone demands answers at once. I had forgotten how many Candor were here, but now their loud voices are everywhere. Briefly, I remember Tobias' first words to Christina, complaining about Candor smart-mouths, and I think maybe he's right.
His hand grips mine tightly as he looks around the room, his eyes wide and alarmed. I'm too short to see consistently through the crowd, but I catch glimpses here and there as people move around, opening small pathways of visibility. Through one of those, I see Evelyn. She's still standing by Jeanine's body, and the fury on her face sends a shiver down my spine. In that instant, I'm certain that she already knew about this video and that she didn't want it shown.
Maybe that's why she was so insistent on destroying Erudite's information. But if so, she must not have shared that fact with her son, because his expression makes it clear he just saw this video for the first time. Something warm and sweet spreads through me at the realization. He didn't watch it first, before showing it to everyone. He must have trusted my judgment even after he felt I betrayed him….
For a second, that thought is enough to distract me from everything around us, but then the noise filters back in, and it occurs to me how much danger we're still in.
I pull on Tobias' hand to get his attention, and he leans close to hear me.
"We need to get out of here," I say.
"Yes, we do," he answers grimly, looking as concerned as I feel. His eyes roam the room one more time, evaluating our options, and then his face sets in a determined expression. Turning toward Christina and Cara, he says, "Come on."
Cara clambers to her feet immediately, and Christina struggles to join her, maneuvering her injured leg so she can stand. Tobias hesitates, watching her, before reaching down to pull her up and sliding an arm around her to support her weight. The sight sends an unexpected and totally irrational pang of jealousy through me. It's ridiculous, and for a moment I don't even know why I feel it, but then I figure it out. He almost never touches anyone else. He helped Will and Shauna when they were injured, and now he's helping Christina for the same reason, but other than that, he only touches me. How did I never notice that before?
But this isn't the time to think about it. I shake my head a little, clearing it, and force myself to focus as Tobias laces his free hand with mine and leads us toward the back of the room.
We don't get far before one of the factionless soldiers blocks our path, gun held out menacingly. Tobias gives her a cold look as he says, "They're here by mistake. They're not traitors." He gestures toward Christina with his chin and adds, "I'm taking her to get medical attention."
The soldier looks uncertain, her eyes moving between us as she clearly debates how to proceed. As a guess, she's trying to decide whether she's more likely to get in trouble for letting us go or for stopping Evelyn's son. Finally, she steps aside, letting us pass. I can't blame her. There's no way to consult anyone else in this chaos, and the name Tobias Eaton is powerful here.
We're halfway across the room when Uriah joins us. Lynn's blood still spots his shirt, and his eyes are bloodshot from crying, but he gives me a small smile and walks with us unquestioningly. Behind him, I see Tori watching us, her eyes narrowed. Her gaze rests on Tobias for a moment, and I see hatred in the set of her mouth. Of course she would feel that way. Evelyn betrayed Dauntless by announcing the end of the factions, and here Tobias is walking away freely. She must believe that Evelyn's son was in on the plot. I think she's probably right.
Tori's eyes meet mine, and for a second I'm sure that she's going to sound the alarm on us. After all, I just reinjured her leg to keep her from killing Jeanine. But instead Tori nods stiffly and turns away, and I understand why. There's an expression so old I don't even know where I learned it, but the look on Tori's face tells me it applies now. The enemy of my enemy is my friend. I acted against Evelyn by releasing that video, so Tori will let me walk out of here today.
Resolutely, I turn my gaze forward again, ignoring the sick feeling in my stomach. After everything Tori has done for me, I hate the idea of this being the only bond between us, but for now I have to accept it.
Tobias leads us to an exit in the back corner of the room. Two more factionless guards stand there, one on either side of the door, but unlike the earlier soldier, they don't try to stop us. Instead, they nod to Tobias before letting us pass between them and out of the building.
Cold wind blasts us as we walk outside, but we keep moving, getting away while we can. This doesn't feel real – it was too easy to escape – and I expect someone to chase us down any second now.
"Where should we go?" I ask quietly, anxious to get off the streets and out of sight.
To my surprise, it's Christina who answers. "How about my family's apartment in Candor?"
Tobias hesitates, and I wonder if he has another suggestion, but then he nods. "We won't be able to stay there for long – it's not safe enough. But we can at least pick up supplies and plan our next move."
No one objects, so we turn at the next block, beginning to make our way toward Candor. We walk in silence for a few minutes before Uriah offers to take a turn helping Christina. I can't help but smile at how quickly Tobias trades places with him. He really doesn't like to touch anyone except me.
Uriah picks up on my smile, flashing a quick grin in response. "So," he asks almost cheerily, "are we outlaws now or what?"
"Maybe," Tobias answers, one side of his mouth twitching upward. "But I am Tobias Eaton after all."
Christina's family has a surprisingly large apartment, or maybe it just seems that way since I've only ever seen Abnegation houses and Tobias' small apartment at Dauntless.
They have two bedrooms, one with a bed that seems massive to me and one with two beds the size of mine back in my parents' house. Christina and her sister must have shared that room before Christina transferred. There's also a nicely decorated living room, a huge kitchen, a dining room, and what seems almost like a second living room. I can't quite picture how it would be used in daily life.
Christina sits on the couch, a bandage wrapped around her leg – the results of Cara's careful ministrations. The rest of us are draped around the living room, staring at each other in exhaustion. By now, it's dark out, and it's been an intense day, but we can't rest yet.
"We should plan to leave tonight or tomorrow morning, before dawn," Tobias tells us. "We'll need medical supplies, blankets, food, clothing…enough for a few days at least. Christina, where can we get those?"
Before she can answer, I address Tobias. "Where are we going?"
His expression is grim as he responds. "Initially, to an abandoned building. Somewhere with no one else. That'll be the safest place for now. In the morning, I'll talk to my mother and see where things stand, and then we'll figure out a longer-term plan."
No one suggests a different idea, and eventually I nod. Christina begins describing where we can find supplies, and we all set out to retrieve them. Tobias goes with me to get the blankets, since that's a two-person job.
The supply room is unlocked. I guess the Candor are too honest for theft. Things weren't locked in Abnegation, either – there, everyone was too selfless to take something they didn't need. I smile a little at the thought.
"What?" Tobias asks, and I realize I was looking in his direction as I smiled.
"Nothing, really," I reply. "I was just trying to imagine my parents stealing blankets. Or anyone from Abnegation stealing anything. Well…except us."
Tobias looks at me, a sad smile quirking his mouth. "That's my girl. Selfless enough to offer her life to save strangers but too selfish to freeze at night." I wince at the words. He hasn't pressed me about giving myself up to Jeanine, but I know it's because he feels I've been through enough already, not because it didn't hurt him.
I don't know what to say. When they injected me with what I thought was death serum, I realized that I didn't want to die after all, but I still think I did the right thing in going to Erudite. I couldn't let people continue to die, and I couldn't let Tobias go in my place.
"Yeah, well, as it turns out, I'd prefer to live," I finally say. Tobias steps closer to me, his eyes searching mine, and I suspect he's trying to figure out if I'm lying or not. I suppose I deserve that, after lying to him so many times.
After a long while, he replies in a low voice, "I'd certainly prefer that too." And he fits his mouth gently to mine. I wrap one hand around the back of his neck and let the other move through his hair, holding him to me as the kiss deepens. After everything that has happened today, I just want to be close to him for this moment.
I'm not sure how much time passes before we finally pull apart. "I know we need to talk more," I say, meeting his eyes. "Soon. But for now, maybe we can just both agree to be honest with each other. No more lying and no more hiding stuff."
Tobias' expression is hesitant, and he takes a long time to think about his response. Finally, he says, "I've spent my entire life keeping secrets, Tris. You may not realize this, but I've revealed more of them to you than to anybody else, ever. I really have. But it's hard – every time, it's hard to do that, and I find myself keeping them again no matter how much I try not to." He sighs, kneading at the back of his neck.
"I know it causes problems," he continues, and his voice is rough now. "I know it's not fair to you, and I even know it's part of why you keep lying to me. But I don't know how to be any other way." His eyes are intense and desperate on mine.
For a moment, I think about what his life has been like. His father abused him for so many years, and for whatever reasons, he felt compelled to hide that abuse. His mother faked her death, and when he found out she was alive, he had to keep that secret hidden, too, to keep her safe. I don't know when he learned he was Divergent, but he's been hiding that ever since, along with hiding that same fact for every initiate who revealed their own Divergence to him during simulations. And then when he realized he liked me, he couldn't show that to Eric, so it became something else he had to hide.
That was the base of secrets he already had when his mother convinced him to work with her. And then he layered on more in that process.
But the thing is…I already know about all that, and he's still looking at me that way. So, what else is he hiding?
"Are you telling me that you have even more secrets? Still?"
He looks away, and I think he must be struggling with himself. Eventually, he looks at me again and says heavily, "I traded Dauntless for you. Evelyn wanted to get rid of the factions completely, and that was the price she demanded for speeding up the timeframe. You know, so they'd attack before you were supposed to be executed." His expression is bitter. "And then Jeanine moved up the execution, and it all would have been for nothing if Peter and Caleb hadn't helped you."
I stare, more shocked by his last revelation than anything else. "Caleb?" I say loudly. "What's he got to do with anything?"
Tobias shakes his head. "I shouldn't have said that. It's probably not even true…. But when I made him access Jeanine's computer, he told me that he helped Peter fake your execution." He pauses and then adds, "I'm usually good at telling when people lie, but it's harder when my emotions are strong, and that was…well…right after you accused me of not loving you…." His voice trails off, and he looks away again.
I don't know what to think. I want to believe that Caleb helped me. I really do, but if it's true, then I just left him in Erudite headquarters to be tried as a traitor.
"You were wrong, by the way," Tobias says, swallowing hard. "I do love you." His voice is rough with emotion. "More than I've ever loved anyone. More than I thought I could." He closes his eyes and adds, "When I was under the simulation, I thought you were dead. I guess that was the only way the program could get me to leave you behind and go back to Dauntless, so it tricked me into thinking that. And I couldn't bear it. I couldn't face the thought of that becoming real, so when you surrendered to Jeanine, I did whatever it took to save you. That was all I could think about."
There's shame on his face, but I'm too stunned to say anything. I thought he helped Evelyn because he believed in getting rid of the factions, not because he couldn't stand to have me die. I think back to the expression on his face when he told me that he wouldn't be all right without me, that it was a lie to say he would be. I should have recognized his desperation, but I was so convinced that I had to die to make up for my parents' sacrifice, to make up for shooting Will, that I couldn't see anything except what I already believed. Ironically, I was too selfish to see what my great act of selflessness did to him.
I reach out and take his hands gently. His dark eyes lock on mine as he waits for me to pass judgment on him.
"While we're being honest," I say quietly, "I should tell you that a large part of why I surrendered to Jeanine is so you wouldn't go. Because I love you, too."
He laughs bitterly. "Great. So, how do we go forward, then? We seem to end up in every dangerous situation in this city, and now it turns out there are dangers outside the city just waiting for us, and it's obvious that you're exactly who Amanda Ritter said they want."
I nod slowly, because I know he's right. None of the serums worked on me, no matter how hard Jeanine tried, and I know without being told that the group Amanda Ritter mentioned needs people like that. People who can resist whatever made those eyes turn blank and dead in the video as their bodies turned into murderers.
"I'm not someone who can sit back and let other people face all the danger," I say. "Particularly when I'm the person who's supposed to face it."
Tobias' posture sags a little, and he sounds resigned as he says, "I know. And I love that you're so brave. I really do... It's just that I've thought I lost you twice now, and I think a third time would kill me."
For a long moment, we just look at each other. I know what he means, because when I think about the idea of losing him, of having his life seep out of him, I want to lock him up somewhere safe and never let anyone near him ever again. But we live in a dangerous world, and we need to find a way to face those dangers.
"I guess we go together," I finally say. "If we leave the city, we do it together, and we face whatever comes as a team. No more secrets. No more lies. No more unnecessary risks. Just the ones that really need us."
Tobias hesitates another moment, but then he nods, swallowing hard again. "Okay," he says.
"You don't have any more secrets, do you?" I ask.
He gives a little, nervous laugh. "Not really."
"That's not very convincing," I say, but my lips twitch upwards at his expression.
He steps closer, leaning toward me so his face is by mine and his breath tickles my ear. "Well, there may be a couple more, about how you make me feel, and what I'd like to do with you, but I figure I'll share those later."
My breath catches at his proximity, and his scent, and his words hot against my cheek. I'm always aware of Tobias, but sometimes, his presence is almost overwhelming. This is one of those times.
I reach up, sliding my fingers through his hair as I turn to face him, pulling him to me and pressing my mouth to his. His arms wrap around me, his hands moving slowly down my back as he holds me tightly against him, responding with an enthusiasm that matches my own.
For a few minutes, we kiss with an energy that fills me and makes me forget everything else. There's nothing but him him him and I don't care about anything else. Finally, he pulls back with a reluctant expression, his breathing hard and ragged.
"We have a lot to do," he says, and it sounds like it's difficult for him to talk. It must be difficult for me to talk, too, because nothing comes out of my mouth in response, and I simply nod. There's an empty ache where his body was, and I feel suddenly cold without his heat pressed against me. Moments like that seem to feel better each time we have them, and I know that the time is coming when I won't want to stop with just kissing. But we're not quite there yet.
"Okay," I say at last, remembering why we came here in the first place. I begin filling my arms with blankets and add, "I'll let you keep those particular secrets a little longer then."
He smiles as he gathers his own pile of blankets. "No, you've convinced me. No more secrets. I'm just going to have to share them. That's clearly the best policy."
"Well," I say as I head out the door, barely able to see over the blankets. "I guess a rule's a rule…."