At home it was Caleb who was strong, because he could forget himself, because all the characteristics my parents valued came naturally to him. No one has ever been so convinced of my strength.
I stand on my tiptoes, lift my head, and kiss him. Only our lips touch.
“You’re brilliant, you know that?” I shake my head. “You always know exactly what to do.”
“Only because I’ve been thinking about this for a long time,” he says, kissing me briefly. “How I would handle it, if you and I…” He pulls back and smiles. “Did I hear you call me your boyfriend, Tris?”
“Not exactly.” I shrug. “Why? Do you want me to?”
He slips his hands over my neck and presses his thumbs under my chin, tilting my head back so his forehead meets mine. For a moment he stands there, his eyes closed, breathing my air. I feel the pulse in his fingertips. I feel the quickness of his breath. He seems nervous.
“Yes,” he finally says. Then his smile fades. “You think we convinced him you’re just a silly girl?”
“I hope so,” I say. “Sometimes it helps to be small. I’m not sure I convinced the Erudite, though.”
The corners of his mouth tug down, and he gives me a grave look. “There’s something I need to tell you.”
“What is it?”
“Not now.” He glances around. “Meet me back here at eleven thirty. Don’t tell anyone where you’re going.”
I nod, and he turns away, leaving just as quickly as he came.
“Where have you been all day?” Christina asks when I walk back into the dormitory. The room is empty; everyone else must be at dinner. “I looked for you outside, but I couldn’t find you. Is everything okay? Did you get in trouble for hitting Four?”
I shake my head. The thought of telling her the truth about where I was makes me feel exhausted. How can I explain the impulse to hop on a train and visit my brother? Or the eerie calm in Eric’s voice as he questioned me? Or the reason that I exploded and hit Tobias to begin with?
“I just had to get away. I walked around for a long time,” I say. “And no, I’m not in trouble. He yelled at me, I apologized…that’s it.”
As I speak, I’m careful to keep my eyes steady on hers and my hands still at my sides.
“Good,” she says. “Because I have something to tell you.”
She looks over my head at the door and then stands on her tiptoes to see all the bunks—checking if they’re empty, probably. Then she sets her hands on my shoulders.
“Can you be a girl for a few seconds?”
“I’m always a girl.” I frown.
“You know what I mean. Like a silly, annoying girl.”
I twirl my hair around my finger. “’Kay.”
She grins so wide I can see her back row of teeth. “Will kissed me.”
“What?” I demand. “When? How? What happened?”
“You can be a girl!” She straightens, taking her hands from my shoulders. “Well, right after your little episode, we ate lunch and then we walked around near the train tracks. We were just talking about…I don’t even remember what we were talking about. And then he just stopped, and leaned in, and…kissed me.”
“Did you know that he liked you?” I say. “I mean, you know. Like that.”
“No!” She laughs. “The best part was, that was it. We just kept walking and talking like nothing happened. Well, until I kissed him.”
“How long have you known you liked him?”
“I don’t know. I guess I didn’t. But then little things…how he put his arm around me at the funeral, how he opens doors for me like I’m a girl instead of someone who could beat the crap out of him.”
I laugh. Suddenly I want to tell her about Tobias and everything that has happened between us. But the same reasons Tobias gave for pretending we aren’t together hold me back. I don’t want her to think that my rank has anything to do with my relationship with him.
So I just say, “I’m happy for you.”
“Thanks,” she says. “I’m happy too. And I thought it would be a while before I could feel that way…you know.”
She sits down on the edge of my bed and looks around the dormitory. Some of the initiates have already packed their things. Soon we’ll move into apartments on the other side of the compound. Those with government jobs will move to the glass building above the Pit. I won’t have to worry about Peter attacking me in my sleep. I won’t have to look at Al’s empty bed.
“I can’t believe it’s almost over,” she says. “It’s like we just got here. But it’s also like…like I haven’t seen home in forever.”
“You miss it?” I lean into the bed frame.
“Yeah.” She shrugs. “Some things are the same, though. I mean, everyone at home is just as loud as everyone here, so that’s good. But it’s easier there. You always know where you stand with everyone, because they tell you. There’s no…manipulation.”
I nod. Abnegation prepared me for that aspect of Dauntless life. The Abnegation aren’t manipulative, but they aren’t forthright, either.
“I don’t think I could have made it through Candor initiation, though.” She shakes her head. “There, instead of simulations, you get lie detector tests. All day, every day. And the final test…” She wrinkles her nose. “They give you this stuff they call truth serum and sit you in front of everyone and ask you a load of really personal questions. The theory is that if you spill all your secrets, you’ll have no desire to lie about anything, ever again. Like the worst about you is already in the open, so why not just be honest?”
I don’t know when I accumulated so many secrets. Being Divergent. Fears. How I really feel about my friends, my family, Al, Tobias. Candor initiation would reach things that even the simulations can’t touch; it would wreck me.
“Sounds awful,” I say.
“I always knew I couldn’t be Candor. I mean, I try to be honest, but some things you just don’t want people to know. Plus, I like to be in control of my own mind.”
Don’t we all.
“Anyway,” she says. She opens the cabinet to the left of our bunk beds. When she pulls the door open, a moth flutters out, its white wings carrying it toward her face. Christina shrieks so loud I almost jump out of my skin and slaps at her cheeks.
“Get it off! Get it off get it off get it off!” she screams.
The moth flutters away.
“It’s gone!” I say. Then I laugh. “You’re afraid of…moths?”
“They’re disgusting. Those papery wings and their stupid bug bodies…” She shudders.
I keep laughing. I laugh so hard I have to sit down and hold my stomach.
“It’s not funny!” she snaps. “Well…okay, maybe it is. A little.”
When I find Tobias late that night, he doesn’t say anything; he just grabs my hand and pulls me toward the train tracks.
He draws himself into a train car as it passes with bewildering ease and pulls me in after him. I fall against him, my cheek against his chest. His fingers slide down my arms, and he holds me by the elbows as the car bumps along the steel rails. I watch the glass building above the Dauntless compound shrink behind us.
“What is it you need to tell me?” I shout over the cry of the wind.
“Not yet,” he says.
He sinks to the floor and pulls me down with him, so he’s sitting with his back against the wall and I’m facing him, my legs trailing to the side on the dusty floor. The wind pushes strands of my hair loose and tosses them over my face. He presses his palms to my face, his index fingers sliding behind my ears, and pulls my mouth to his.
I hear the screech of the rails as the train slows, which means we must be nearing the middle of the city. The air is cold, but his lips are warm and so are his hands. He tilts his head and kisses the skin just beneath my jaw. I’m glad the air is so loud he can’t hear me sigh.
The train car wobbles, throwing off my balance, and I put my hand down to steady myself. A split second later I realize that my hand is on his hip. The bone presses into my palm. I should move it, but I don’t want to. He told me once to be brave, and though I have stood still while knives spun toward my face and jumped off a roof, I never thought I would need bravery in the small moments of my life. I do.
I shift, swinging a leg over him so I sit on top of him, and with my heartbeat in my throat, I kiss him. He sits up straighter and I feel his hands on my shoulders. His fingers slip down my spine and a shiver follows them down to the small of my back. He unzips my jacket a few inches, and I press my hands to my legs to stop them from shaking. I should not be nervous. This is Tobias.
Cold air slips across my bare skin. He pulls away and looks carefully at the tattoos just above my collarbone. His fingers brush over them, and he smiles.
“Birds,” he says. “Are they crows? I keep forgetting to ask.”
I try to return his smile. “Ravens. One for each member of my family,” I say. “You like them?”
He doesn’t answer. He tugs me closer, pressing his lips to each bird in turn. I close my eyes. His touch is light, sensitive. A heavy, warm feeling, like spilling honey, fills my body, slowing my thoughts. He touches my cheek.
“I hate to say this,” he says, “but we have to get up now.”
I nod and open my eyes. We both stand, and he tugs me with him to the open door of the train car. The wind is not as strong now that the train has slowed. It’s past midnight, so all the street lights are dark, and the buildings look like mammoths as they rise from the darkness and then sink into it again. Tobias lifts a hand and points at a cluster of buildings, so far away they are the size of a fingernail. They are the only bright spot in the dark sea around us. Erudite headquarters again.
“Apparently the city ordinances don’t mean anything to them,” he says, “because their lights will be on all night.”
“No one else has noticed?” I say, frowning.
“I’m sure they have, but they haven’t done anything to stop it. It may be because they don’t want to cause a problem over something so small.” Tobias shrugs, but the tension in his features worries me. “But it made me wonder what the Erudite are doing that requires night light.”
He turns toward me, leaning against the wall.
“Two things you should know about me. The first is that I am deeply suspicious of people in general,” he says. “It is my nature to expect the worst of them. And the second is that I am unexpectedly good with computers.”
I nod. He said his other job was working with computers, but I still have trouble picturing him sitting in front of a screen all day.
“A few weeks ago, before training started, I was at work and I found a way into the Dauntless secure files. Apparently we are not as skilled as the Erudite are at security,” he says, “and what I discovered was what looked like war plans. Thinly veiled commands, supply lists, maps. Things like that. And those files were sent by Erudite.”
“War?” I brush my hair away from my face. Listening to my father insult Erudite all my life has made me wary of them, and my experiences in the Dauntless compound make me wary of authority and human beings in general, so I’m not shocked to hear that a faction could be planning a war.
And what Caleb said earlier. Something big is happening, Beatrice. I look up at Tobias.
“War on Abnegation?”
He takes my hands, lacing his fingers with mine, and says, “The faction that controls the government. Yes.”
My stomach sinks.
“All those reports are supposed to stir up dissension against Abnegation,” he says, his eyes focused on the city beyond the train car. “Evidently the Erudite now want to speed up the process. I have no idea what to do about it…or what could even be done.”
“But,” I say, “why would Erudite team up with Dauntless?”
And then something occurs to me, something that hits me in the gut and gnaws at my insides. Erudite doesn’t have weapons, and they don’t know how to fight—but the Dauntless do.
I stare wide-eyed at Tobias.
“They’re going to use us,” I say.
“I wonder,” he says, “how they plan to get us to fight.”
I told Caleb that the Erudite know how to manipulate people. They could coerce some of us into fighting with misinformation, or by appealing to greed—any number of ways. But the Erudite are as meticulous as they are manipulative, so they wouldn’t leave it up to chance. They would need to make sure that all their weaknesses are shored up. But how?
The wind blows my hair across my face, cutting my vision into strips, and I leave it there.
“I don’t know,” I say.
I HAVE ATTENDED Abnegation’s initiation ceremony every year except this one. It is a quiet affair. The initiates, who spend thirty days performing community service before they can become full members, sit side by side on a bench. One of the older members reads the Abnegation manifesto, which is a short paragraph about forgetting the self and the dangers of self-involvement. Then all the older members wash the initiates’ feet. Then they all share a meal, each person serving food to the person on his left.
The Dauntless don’t do that.
Initiation day plunges the Dauntless compound into insanity and chaos. There are people everywhere, and most of them are inebriated by noon. I fight my way through them to get a plate of food at lunch and carry it back to the dormitory with me. On the way I see someone fall off the path on the Pit wall and, judging by his screams and the way he grabs at his leg, he broke something.
The dormitory, at least, is quiet. I stare at my plate of food. I just grabbed what looked good to me at the time, and now that I take a closer look, I realize that I chose a plain chicken breast, a scoop of peas, and a piece of brown bread. Abnegation food.