I blink in confusion at the sight I had never expected to witness, my sister barking angrily at a young man she had just shot in the arm. “Let's go,” she says. “Get up, Peter.”
“You want him to walk?” I ask, bewildered, and cannot help but to add: “Are you insane?”
“Did I shoot him in the leg?” Beatrice asks me harshly but doesn't wait for an answer. “No. He walks.”
I go to the young man identified as Peter and help him stand up. I do this purely out of reflex after spending so many years in Abnegation, automatically helping those in need. Peter scowls at me as I go to him but accepts my help.
“Where do we go, Peter?” Tris asks, still pointing the gun in his general direction but there is no more resistance and Peter shows us the way to where we need to go.
I'm trembling, but I try not to let it show as Beatrice hands me a gun. She is eyeing the scene, assessing us, and eventually tell us that we should stay back. She nods to Peter's direction and tells us to keep a watchful eye on him, and I nod. I didn't want to follow her anyway and I am relieved to have a reason not to go with her. Peter sinks to his knees, looking like he's about to topple over from the pain so I go to his side. I want to ask him how he is but I end up just standing there, the gun in my hand and my posture rigid. This is not how this day was supposed to go.
We are running, trying to catch a train in true Dauntless fashion. I'm amazed that I am able to make it to the car, not to mention actually pull myself inside of it, but it must be all the adrenaline rushing in my ears. I look back and see Peter running next to the car, obviously having no problems keeping the pace but he struggles to pull himself in with one arm and winces at the effort. I hurry to grab his uninjured arm and pull him in, both of us unceremoniously ending up on the floor. He groans in pain and sits up, holding his arm and I just pant, looking to the back where Beatrice's friend has just finished pulling Marcus in.
“Where are we going?” I mean to yell, but it comes out hoarse and my voice doesn't reach them. I don't try again, instead I sit and stare out the car door, emotion burning in me. I've lost so much today, is there even any point to going anywhere?
When the man known as Four yells that it's time to get off, I am standing already. Peter and Marcus are on both sides of me, and we wait for the correct time to go. I only start wondering when will I know what is a good place to jump when Peter goes, and I automatically follow suit. Because I haven't spent my time jumping off moving trains, I crash the ground hard and scrape my hands as I try to prevent my face from hitting the nearest rock. Our sad little group then start toward the Amity compound, and though I try to stifle the emotions in me, I end up crying. It's a mixture of shock and grief that was set in motion by this physical ache, and I try to conceal my weakness. I do a terrible job at it since at least Marcus notices, judging by the way he squeezes my shoulder before he stays behind me to walk with Peter.
I am able to put my pieces back together again in the Amity compound. Warm clothing and food play a big part in that, and so does seeing so many people around me that are still living like their faction is supposed to. It brings me hope that not all is lost, and that maybe I could return to where I belong. I don't tell this to anyone, since I am surrounded by a lot of Erudite hate but I can't help but to wonder if it could be possible. Could I be accepted back? Could I still have a life?
I'm startled by the sudden voice, because I had thought I was alone, and I turn to see a familiar face. “Peter, right?” I ask just to make sure and he nods. He walks toward me, his arm in a sling but other than that he looks healthy.
“You're Stiff's brother.” He doesn't ask, he simply states it as a fact.
“How's your wound?” I ask instead, not bothering to nitpick any faction nicknames that don't concern me. I'm not a stiff.
Peter stops a few feet from me, and looks at his arm instead of me. “They did all they could but looks like medical care is not their best trait.”
“No, it's not. Erudite has all the best medical care supplies.” I say before I can stop myself. I don't get to hope that he wouldn't make note of my mention, but he does. His eyes are on me again and he raises one eyebrow.
“Picking that up from general knowledge or..?”
I could just as well say that since it is no secret that us Erudite have the best supplies, seeing as we are the most fit to handling them, but instead I end up confessing: “I'm Erudite.”
This information seems to interest Peter as he takes couple steps forward, eyes intent on me like he is searching for something. “You transferred from Abnegation to Erudite.” Another statement not a question. “But now you are here, wearing Stiff clothing again? Doesn't seem to be common knowledge that you are not who you appear to be.”
He is very observant, I must give him that. “I left once I realized everything was not how it was supposed to be.” That is technically not a lie so I feel confident in saying it. “And I chose to dress like my old faction to avoid any prejudice that might follow. This is not a good time to be Erudite.”
Left corner of Peter's mouth curls up in amusement and for a moment I feel like he can see right through me, and that he would pressure me into saying why I am really here. He doesn't.
“What did your sister take?” he asks instead, and he doesn't need to specify for me to understand. I consider my options but I end up telling him exactly what Beatrice has in her possession, and slip in how valuable it could be to Erudite.
Beatrice tells me how much she hates Peter during breakfast. I learn what he has done to her and how he tried to steal the hard drive from her. She is angry and wonders how he even knew to look for something like that in her room. I am a bit surprised that Peter hadn't just told her that it was me who provided him with the information, but naturally I don't offer that explanation to her. Instead I just eat my breakfast and listen to her.
Dauntless traitors are coming. All of us change into Amity clothing in attempt to blend into the crowd and avoid being spotted. To further this we try to sit in different places, and I find myself sitting next to Peter. I notice that Beatrice and Susan are attempting to act like Amity girls, appearing to be laughing uncontrollably at something, so I turn to Peter and smile widely at him. “Heard you attacked my sister.” This is probably something one wouldn't normally say with a smile but it doesn't seem to phase him, or maybe he just understands immediately what I'm doing since he laughs.
“I didn't get what I went in for.” Peter says, mirroring my smile almost perfectly.
“Probably doesn't matter, she destroyed it.” I tell him and force a chuckle at the end just as Dauntless soldiers start going around the hall, eyeing at everyone who might be suspicious. Peter's smile falters a little from my news, but it's back soon enough not to be noticeable to anyone else.
“Did she now.”
And we both laugh.
The shooting begins so fast I don't know what to think. I stand up automatically and try to make my way toward the exit. I don't know where anyone I know is until I'm outside and my sister is there, and Susan is there, and Four is there. Marcus appears and tells us we need to split, so we run as the bullets fly over our heads. We get to a fence that will lead us out of Amity's land, and once I'm on the other side I stare back at the compound. I see chaos, there is still shooting; multiple members of Amity are trying to convince the Dauntless to put down their weapons but end up getting hit or pushed back. I search the crowd and the scan the open land with my eyes. I don't know what I'm searching for since my sister is right here with me. I don't know until I can't find him. And then we run again.
People call Jeanine cruel. They accuse her of things so easily without understanding the reasons behind her decisions. To me she has never been cruel, she has just been firm but fair. She thinks the best of the people, and I admire her. When she made the decision to allow me back into Erudite I decided that I would be as useful to her as I possibly could be, and I told her everything that I knew. I know I'm on the right side, and I hope my sister will understand that eventually. For now she is too hotheaded, and she is too dangerous. We must wait, and we must learn.
I've been back in Erudite for almost a week when I first see him. He is escorted by two Dauntless back toward the holding area where I spent my first night, and he looks slightly nervous. Peter's eyes meet mine and he arches one eyebrow at me. I'm so surprised to see him here that I stop in my tracks.
“Excuse me.” I address the two Dauntless. “May I have a word with him?”
The Dauntless look at each other and then shrug, each going few feet away from us as I step closer to Peter to ask: “What are you doing here?”
“Interesting question coming from you.” He nods at me. “Did you decide that gray wasn't too flattering so you wanted to come back to blue? I admit that it suits you better.”
I can't quite explain why his comment makes me speechless for a moment, but he doesn't seem to notice my reaction. “Answer me, we don't have much time.” I hurry him as I notice the guards getting restless. Typical Dauntless, no patience for anything.
“Some Erudite you are if you can't even figure that out. I'm here for the same reason you are, but I just wasn't as convincing as you. Didn't have anything to offer.” Peter gives a bitter sort of smile before he is pushed forward by one of the guards.
I tell Jeanine that Peter could be useful. I tell her about his history with Beatrice, and she seems interested. I am aware that Jeanine does not hold any fondness for my sister, so telling her that Peter is another person like that makes her reconsider the young man's fate. She tells me that the Dauntless leader, Eric, has also put in a good word for this Peter and that she is pleased to hear another opinion. She asks me if he can be trusted and I confess that I'm not certain, but that I believe he will be more loyal to Erudite than to the factionless. She decides to trust my judgment but tells me that for the time being Peter will be under close supervision. I nod, feeling curiously relieved.
His voice doesn't startle me because I saw his reflection in the window when he walked in. “Are you perhaps not aware that I have name?” I ask as I turn around. Peter is in Dauntless clothing again, his arm no longer in a sling and he looks healthy.
“Come to think of it, you never introduced yourself.” He notes as he walks to me, the moment oddly mirroring our first proper meeting at the Amity compound.
“I assumed you heard it from somewhere else.”
“I did, but is that a reason for you not to tell it yourself?” He asks and I can't help it, I smile. When I introduce myself he gives a nod of approval, then inclines his head to a mock of a bow as he returns the gesture.
“You are the reason why I'm not sitting in that joke of a cell, aren't you?” He phrases it like a question but his tone is that of a statement. I find this fascinating, and nod.
“I told Jeanine you could be useful to our cause.”
His eyes hold mine, and I can see he's thinking about something really intensively. He doesn't tell me what that is, he simply smiles in a way that makes me question all the horrible things Beatrice said of him.
“What faction were you in originally?” I ask Peter as I sit down next to him during lunch. This is something I could easily find out by checking the records but I wanted to think over it myself and then get confirmation directly from him. I felt that reading his records behind his back wouldn't be fair, and we have grown close enough for me to care about that sort of thing.
“I'm sure you have your own opinion, so say it.” He replies, taking bite of his bread and looking at me expectantly.
“Obviously Abnegation is out.”
“And I wouldn't see you in Amity either.”
“I'm hurt you don't think I'm full of friendship and peace,” he sneers.
“Were you from Erudite?” I ask straight.
Peter grins in amusement and I know I'm wrong. “Why?”
“I'm trying to evaluate why you came here instead of going back to the others.” I don't actually expect him to answer me but he does.
“Did you think that maybe I just came to the Dauntless here, and that I don't really give a crap about Erudite?” he asks with a raised brow.
“It did occur to me, but since there are technically two Dauntless groups now, you could have chosen either one and still be considered loyal to your own. Why this side?” I press my luck and it pays off.
“Well, I didn't even know where the others were so I just came to the side that was easier to find.” he shrugs. His reasoning doesn't sound right to me, but he seems sincere.
“You were born in Candor, weren't you.” I mimic his way of asking a question without really asking anything, and he laughs.
I can't explain my feelings for Peter. I try not to think about it because I have much more important things to take care of, but still I can't help it when my mind starts to race almost as fast as my heart when he gives me that certain smile and stares right into my eyes. We've spent a lot of time together here after it was deemed that he wouldn't need to be supervised, and he was assigned as my bodyguard for the time being. With that we spend almost all of our time here together, and I've gotten to know him well. I'd dare to call him a friend if I was asked to label him, despite the fact that Peter hates my sister with passion and apparently still wouldn't mind seeing her broken to pieces. It's peculiar, but I can not find myself to be too disturbed by this. His companionship means more to me than his grudge against my sister.
“Your sister has delivered herself to us.”
I can't say I'd be too surprised by these news when Jeanine breaks them to me, but I feel a sinking feeling in my stomach nonetheless. Jeanine doesn't expect me to comment and continues before I get the time to gather my thoughts again.
“This is fortunate since she is the ideal divergent for our experiments. What I need to know is, are you capable of handling the experiments – and her eventual execution once we are finished – despite her being your sister?” Her eyes are steel as she hold my hazed gaze, demanding an answer.
“Faction before blood.” I manage.
It was easy to simply look at the data of my sister's brain and try to figure out what makes it tick. What was not easy was seeing my sister's face when she realized I was doing that. I had to talk to her, but it didn't go so well. She shouted and accused me of horrible things. I tried to make her understand why I'm doing this, but she wouldn't listen. She doesn't have the slightest idea how important our work is. Beatrice is just one person, she is insignificant to the greater good of our city and I can't make her understand that. I shouldn't be worried about it, but I am. She needs to understand that I didn't do this out of hate for her, I did it out of love for the lives of everyone in this city. We need this to work.
“They will execute her.” My words sound almost as hollow as I feel. “When Jeanine is done with the experiments, there won't be any need for Beatrice to be alive any longer.”
Peter doesn't say anything, he just stands near the far wall with his arms crossed and looks at the floor. I am not looking at him either, but I can't help but to see glimpses of his reflection in the window and I feel grateful that he isn't watching me. I shouldn't be lamenting the future loss of my sister to him – or to anyone for that matter – she is dangerous to this city and we need to take control back. Yet I can't help this guilt that is twisting my insides.
“She'll be dead, just like...” I choke as I picture the faces of my parents.
“I can help.” He says it quietly and for a moment I think I imagined it, but I can see he is looking at me now and clearly expecting an answer. I turn to face him, bewildered.
Peter comes to me, looking around like he is checking one more time that we are indeed alone in the room. “I'll be there when she is killed, and I can do something.” He offers, one eyebrow raised in question.
“What can you do?” I ask, knowing perfectly well that I should be forbidding him from even thinking about this but I can't help but to hope.
“Well, I figured since you are the Erudite that you would make the plan and I would just follow it.” He breaks into an easy grin, and my thoughts begin to run.
“It's time.” Peter says as soon as he has closed my door behind him. I'm still sitting on my bed, partially dressed and disheveled. I know it's time, I've been counting minutes the whole night and my stomach turns at the image of my sister in her cell, not knowing that in few minutes she will be escorted to her death. I was allowed to skip this even though most Erudite members will be there to bear witness, but Jeanine thought it better for me not to be there.
“When you get out.. don't tell her I had any part in this.” I say, looking up from the floor.
“You don't want her to know?” he looks vaguely amused. “What makes you think that she will believe I did this out of the goodness of my heart?”
“Think of some excuse. Please, Peter.” I plead, suddenly desperate. I'm scared, I don't want my sister to know the truth. If she knows the truth, then there is a chance that someone else will find out about this and I could be in trouble.
He nods and turns to leave, but I can't have him go yet. “Peter.” he looks at me over his shoulder. “Where will you go?” We both know that when he does this he will be regarded as a traitor by Erudite and there is no coming back from that. If he is found, he will most likely be executed. He is leaving back a comfortable, secure position just to save my sister from death.
“Peter?” I have to ask him, I just have to. “Why are you doing this? You don't owe me anything, and you don't really care about my sister, do you?”
He inclines his head and looks at me with a blank expression. “You know why.” is the last thing Peter says to me before he leaves, and I spend the following hour thinking how I will never see him or my sister again.
Jeanine is furious. I am not surprised when I am taken to holding because it is the most logical thing to do. All I need to do is keep my cool and hope that my actions will not be traced back to me. I realize that there is a very little chance of Jeanine not figuring out my involvement, but I am still going to try. I wonder if I should have left with them, maybe tried to mend my relations with Beatrice. I hope they made it out alright.
Out of the frying pan and into the fire, the Factionless have taken over and the city is in chaos. I can't help but to keep wondering if my sister is behind all of this and my stomach turns in guilt. Was it my fault? If I hadn't let Beatrice escape, would our city still be in ruins right now? Would Erudite still be finished? Would Jeanine be dead? Is all of this on my hands? Have I doomed us all for the sake of my baby sister's life? Did I trade our whole city for her?
It was so unlikely that I would be saved that I can not fathom it when Beatrice tells me that I won't be killed and that instead I'll be coming with them to the other side of the fence. I feel relieved because for a long moment there I had thought that I would be executed by this brute in some back alley, presumably by beating. I am relieved to be alive, but at the same time a new kind of terror sets in me. We are going to the other side.
I hit the ground hard, the impact shocking me to my very core and I think I never would have gotten used to jumping off trains even if I had practiced a life time. I stand up and look around for a moment before I completely freeze. It's him, Peter is here. He straightens after his jump and his gaze lands in my direction, and instinctively I start running toward him, suddenly relieved and terror replaced by some another peculiar feeling. This moment doesn't last long because before I've covered even half of the distance between us, Tobias grabs me from behind and brings me to a halt.
“You really think you could out run me?” he sneers as he drags me back toward Beatrice and I don't bother to correct him. Together we start walking in the dark, and not long after that the shooting starts. I am practically glued to Tobias' side as he drags me with him, obviously thinking that I would use this opportunity to flee while I just try to stay out of the way of the bullets. He is hit in the arm and yells, but manages to kill the person who shot him. I cover half behind him until the night grows silent again, and follow him when we start looking for the other members of our now disbanded group.
We are reunited with Cara and Peter, both looking out of breath but uninjured and we make our way to a car.
“That should be treated.” Cara points out to Tobias and he sits on the hood of the car, finally releasing me from his vice-like grip. I stand in place until Cara starts to patch him up and then I go join Peter, who stands few feet away from the vehicle.
“You.” Smile forms on his face as he says this, and I have to smile back. Overwhelmed by emotion I walk to him and let my forehead drop to rest against his shoulder. He is startled, but I feel his hand ghost over my arm for a moment as he tries to decide if he should push me away or touch me. He settles in placing his hand on my shoulder and pushing me down to sit on the grass with him. I find myself unable to speak and just draw in a shaky breath, not meeting his eyes as my body trembles now that it doesn't have to keep me from toppling over.
“I thought I would never see you again.” I manage to force out after a moment, my voice breaking as I get to the last words. I finally look at him and his eyes are dark, I can tell there is something he wants to say but he doesn't. His hand finds mine in the grass and he clutches it until the other car arrives.
The car ride is over and we are advancing on foot. I am glad that Tobias is not dragging me in his side any longer, and I join Peter's side instead. We are walking on long tracks, everyone spread out and alert. I walk next to a wall and Peter is next to me, acting almost like a barrier between me and the rest of the group. Neither of us have weapons of any sort, we are obviously not trusted enough. Peter looks anxious, his eyes are wide as he looks around at this completely new world.
“How are you here?” I whisper even though the others are far enough not to clearly hear me even if I spoke normally. Something about this environment makes me want to keep my voice as quiet as possible, there is an impending sense of doom.
“I joined the people who wanted to put an end to factionless' power.” he says, also in a whisper.
“And they just let you come here?”
“I made a good impression,” he grins in passing before loud noises force our little company into a halt.
We are genetically damaged. We are experiments still underway, no that's incorrect, we are the failed experiments; Beatrice is a success. I'm a mix of emotions ranging from horror to denial to understanding, and finally to resentment toward everyone who is responsible for this and even toward my sister. I try to wrap my head around this, but my emotions fight logical thinking to the ground and all I can do is wait for this feeling to pass. There is a piece stuck in my throat and my eyes feel hot, but I won't allow myself to cry. I shut myself down and wait for this to be something I can cope with. That is going to happen, right?
Peter hasn't said a single word to me since the reveal. He hasn't spoken much in general and I don't really speak to him either, we are both in so much shock. When we are shown our living space Peter immediately makes his way to a cot that is placed next to the wall, and he lays down facing away from everyone as we try to settle in. I stand awkwardly by the door and watch as my sister and Tobias pick out a place to sleep – immediately pushing their cots together – and Cara and the two others form a half circle around them to discuss. No one makes any sign that they remember me being here, so I just sit down to the cot next to Peter and stare at my hands. This is going to be rough.
In the morning I join Peter for breakfast and we eat in silence until he asks: “Do you believe it?”
“Yes, it makes some sense.” I pause. “But it is still hard to accept.”
He looks at me and I frown because I can't read the look he has. We continue to eat in silence and barely speak for the rest of the day.
“Hey, you.” He comes through the door and points at me even if there is no one else in the living area. “Are you coming?”
“Where?” I ask, confused.
“They are going to take us on one of those airplane machines.” Peter tells me, looking rather excited. “We'll circle our city or something.”
For a moment I just stare at him with my mouth open, the idea of air travel still being so completely new to me. I am just getting to the excitement part of the revelation when Peter comes to grab my arm and pull me up with him.
“Come on, I don't want to be late for this.” And we run.
Beatrice and her friends sit in a group as I follow Peter to the back of the plane to another window. He still looks excited, which makes his already handsome features even more eloquent and I can't help but to smile a little. During take off I can hear him almost cackle, and I myself feel queasy as the plane rises high above the ground. I calm myself by thinking of the mechanics involved to make this possible, but my understanding doesn't cover it. Once the plane steadies so does my stomach, and I am able to focus my attention completely on the view. We are really high and everything looks small. Peter's eyes are darting around every little detail and he is biting his lip.
“Incredible.” I mumble as the plane circles so that our city – Chicago – comes into view. I can faintly make out some landmarks but everything is so small it's like I'm watching a miniature. It feels strange to think that I've lived in a place so small my entire life.
“How big is it compared to everything else?” Peter asks first under his breath and then loud enough for everyone to hear. He looks suddenly pained and his voice is hoarse, and the answer to his question makes him look wild. I can understand what he is feeling and I wonder if I have the same look to me.
During the following days everyone is scattered around our new living space. I rarely see my sister or her boyfriend, and I have learned my lesson about not trying to make things right with her. I can't make them right, she will never forgive me. She was kind enough to give me our mother's journal, though I suspect someone put her up to it, but regardless I am grateful for the gesture. Peter has taken to learning everything he can about the rest of the world, and I only see him during meals and night time. I'm not bothered by this since I am also doing some reading of my own, I recently found a place where I can research my family lineage. I need to know for sure if I'm really damaged or not.
I wake from a nightmare to find Peter's hand on my shoulder and his eyes searching my face. “I'm not damaged.” I whimper, still half-asleep and not entirely sure this is not a continuation of that dream – he has appeared in my dreams before. Peter stands up and gestures for me to follow, so I do without a question. We walk out to a long hallway with big windows that let in light so much that it's easy to see clearly even this late at night. He comes to a stop by one of the windows and leans on the railing, then looks at me, clearly expecting. When I offer nothing, he says: “You were almost screaming.”
“Had a nightmare.” I state and even though I can't clearly see his face, I am sure he rolls his eyes.
“You've had a lot of them.”
“How do you know that?”
“I sleep next to you, genius.” he scoffs. “That gene thing is still bothering you?”
“Doesn't it bother you?” I demand, suddenly frustrated though not directly at him. “To be told that you are inferior, that you shouldn't be like that, doesn't it bother you at all?”
“This place is not the first time I've been told that I shouldn't be the way I am.” he says calmly but I detect a hint of bitterness in the words. “But what does it matter? This world is huge and we are too small to matter anything. Nothing we do really matters, does it?” he sounds hopeful, and I realize our problems are exact opposites. He is desperate to prove himself that his actions – his whole existence even – doesn't matter, and I want to prove the opposite. I want to matter, I don't want to be just a genetic failure not worth anything. I grab the railing with both hands to prevent myself from slumping down on the floor, and we stand there in silence.
“I am just few months older than she is.” I force the words out of my mouth. “What happened that made her this way?” I can't understand it. Why Beatrice but not me? I shake from both cold and emotion, and then feel sudden warmth against my back. Peter has moved and is now standing directly behind me, his arms coming slowly around my body and I feel his breath on my neck. He says nothing as he holds me and I choke my urge to sob.
After our little meeting in the night Peter has changed. He doesn't dash away on his own after breakfast just to appear for lunch again, now he disappears for long enough to get books and then comes back. He either joins me in the genealogy room or the living space, and while we both mostly work in silence on our separate projects, his company makes me feel better. Occasionally he shows me something in his books or maps and talks excitedly about places where he could go. I welcome his interruptions, and I am beginning to feel more hopeful about the future with his assistance.
I am just returning alone to the living space when a huge explosion rocks the building and it takes me a moment to react. When I do, I dart out of the room and run toward the place where I think the noise originated from. It is possibly the stupidest thing I could do – specially since I am completely unarmed – but I am overcome with worry that something has happened to my sister, or Peter. As I run I keep repeating in my head that I can't lose either of them, but before I can find them I am met by three masked, armed men. They come around the corner so suddenly that I almost crash right into them, and I have no time to dive anywhere to hide. The men look at me, obviously determining if I'm a threat, then one of them walks to me. I stand there like an idiot, completely in shock, when the man hits me in the face with the butt of his gun and my world goes black.
I stir to the feeling of being rocked in the most unpleasant way. Something is hitting my middle section rhythmically and my head feels horrible. As my consciousness comes back to me I am able to connect these facts together and realize I am being carried on someone's shoulder, and that someone is running. I'm bouncing like a ragdoll on their shoulder and feel like I could puke if it doesn't stop, so I tap the person on the back few times. They come to a halt and set me down to sit on the floor, and finally I can see it's Peter who was carrying me. Relief washes over me and I grab his arm, and he mirrors my action.
“You are not hurt?” I ask, rubbing the side of my head with my free hand.
“No, but more importantly: what happened to you?” he asks back. “You didn't wake when I tried to wake you.” I can't help but to smile as I hear the clear concern in his voice and his grip on my arm tightens for a moment.
“Never mind what happened to me, what was that explosion?”
“It was Four. He has found another resistance to fight for.”
“You are insane.” Peter says after I'm done explaining myself to him. I sigh and shake my head, and tell him again why it is important that both of us join this effort of standing up to David so he doesn't wipe the memories of everyone in our city. I'm already a part of it but I want Peter to be too, so I appeal to him by noting his family wouldn't be able to remember him. He looks at me expressionless, and it occurs to me that he has never talked about his family to me but I don't think this is a right time to ask, so instead I just hold his glare evenly.
“What makes you think that Tris, or anyone else, would let me join this little party? You are her brother and all kinds of useful, but I don't have even that on my side.”
“You are a convincing guy, so think of something.” I tell him and he smirks at my tone.
“Fine, but I am not returning to that city. It would be a death sentence for me.”
“Thank you, Peter.”
He acts like he didn't hear me by bringing the map in front of his face.
This was not exactly what I had in mind when I decided that I wanted to help my sister, but life has already taken unexpected turns so why would this be any different? Doing this mission is probably the only way I can make up for everything that I've done. I was foolish to let myself believe there could be hope for me. This is the only thing I can do, I can't just stand by any longer; I have to act. Stop being selfish and do what is right, this time I know it is truly right.
Breaking the news to Peter is not easy, but he sits through my explanation silently even when I can clearly see he wants to lash out at me. His hands are fists by the time I stop, and he is not even looking at me any longer. I can predict what he is going to say before comes out and says: “Why couldn't the Stiff do it, other serums don't work so why would this one be any different?”
“The risk is too high. If it does work then I've just stood by and let my little sister die, I can't do that, Peter.” I say quietly and he snorts, finally looking at me. He is furious.
“Should have pumped her with the real thing back in Erudite and seen if it works or not.” he barks, all venom and intent to hurt. I don't take his bait, instead I avert my eyes and we both stand there boiling with emotions that might not be so different. Once his breath evens out a little I dare to look at him again, he is still glaring at me and challenging me to continue.
“Peter, I have to do this.” I tell him. “I owe her this.” I add, knowing that this makes more sense to him than me talking about my guilt. He calms visibly and doesn't look like he wants to attack me again, but he is no less furious and I think I see tears in his eyes. Then his hand shoots up from his side, but doesn't hit me, instead it goes past my head and he takes hold of my neck with a firm grip. Peter forces my head forward and meets me half way, colliding our foreheads almost painfully together. He never breaks eye contact and I stare back until he closes his eyes, and his rough grip on me grows gentler.
“Fine.” is the only thing he manages to choke out. I close my eyes and take a hold of his shoulder, squeezing it like he does my neck. I have no words to offer him or I will break down.
“I'm going back to the city.” Peter tells me as he walks into the room. I look up at him, frowning. I know Tobias is going with a small team to get Uriah's family and stop the fighting.
“But you said..” I start, leaving the end hanging.
“Times have changed.” he shrugs.
“You don't have to do this.” I say, putting down the book I was reading.
“I do.” he backs away toward the door and I realize he only told me because he is going right now. This is how he is handling our last goodbye.
“Peter.” he stops at the sound of his name. “I'm sorry I never repaid you for everything you did for me.”
He tilts his head, looking quizzical for a moment before he replies: “But you did.”
“You know how, Caleb.” is the last thing he says before he is out of the door, and off to his certain death. I sit there completely numb and wonder why don't the tears come now that I need them.
Everything goes wrong again. Our intentions are noticed and in all the chaos my sister goes in my place. I shout after her, but it's already too late. For what feels like hours – but is most likely just minutes – I stay next to the wall where she left me and then everything goes quiet. There is confused mumbling after a moment and I understand that Beatrice was able to do it, the serum was released. Cara finds me, but makes no comment about me being here when I was supposed to be dead, instead she pulls me with her to continue the mission.
Two hours later and I still can't believe it. My little sister is dead. She survived the serum just to be shot. She survived long enough to save our city from forgetting everything, and that is more I could have done. I would have died from the serum without ever reaching the opportunity to be shot. My sister died a hero, but I let her down again. I'm still alive. My stomach turns. I lost her, and I lost Peter. He went to his death thinking I was going to do the same here. I betrayed them both by surviving.
I can't be there to look at Tobias when he hears what happened. I know I should be there, to allow him to take his anger out on me, but I just can't. I can't bear it and again my selfish nature takes hold, and I avoid the responsibility. The colder part of me wants to find a way to justify it but I won't allow it. Not anymore. I will live the rest of my life knowing that my sister could be alive if I wasn't.
Joy is the last emotion I would expect to feel, but that is what bursts alive in me when I see Peter. I thought he was dead, gone forever just like my sister but here he is again. Alive and well, I didn't lose him after all. I run to him, calling out his name countless of times before I reach him and pull him into a hug. He is too shocked to hug me back, apparently he too had expected me to be dead already. When time passes and he still doesn't react, I feel something is horribly wrong and pull back. He looks at me, confused and for a moment we just stare at each other. Something is off about him, the look in his eyes is different. Usually his eyes glint with a little something that is unknown to me, but now it seems like everything in his eyes is unfamiliar. I can't understand this, and I hesitantly say his name again. He nods slowly and then asks: “And who are you?”
My world crumbles once more around me as all strength escapes my muscles and I slump to the floor, not quite crying hysterically but well on my way to getting there.
I lost both of them after all.