Allegiant


  “That sounds good,” Evelyn says, and she rubs my arm briskly with a gloved hand, like she used to when I came in from the cold as a child.

  “You won’t be back, I assume?” Johanna says to me. “You’ve found a life for yourself on the outside?”

  “I have,” I say. “Good luck in here. The people outside—they’re going to try to shut the city down. You should be ready for them.”

  Johanna smiles. “I’m sure we can negotiate with them.”

  She offers me her hand, and I shake it. I feel Marcus’s eyes on me like an oppressive weight threatening to crush me. I force myself to look at him.

  “Good-bye,” I say to him, and I mean it.

  Hana, Zeke’s mother, has small feet that don’t touch the ground when she sits in the easy chair in their living room. She is wearing a ragged black bathrobe and slippers, but the air she has, with her hands folded in her lap and her eyebrows raised, is so dignified that I feel like I am standing in front of a world leader. I glance at Zeke, who is rubbing his face with his fists to wake up.

  Amar and Christina found them, not among the other revolutionaries near the Hancock building, but in their family apartment in the Pire, above Dauntless headquarters. I only found them because Christina thought to leave Peter and me a note with their location on the useless truck. Peter is waiting in the new van Evelyn found for us to drive to the Bureau.

  “I’m sorry,” I say. “I don’t know where to start.”

  “You might begin with the worst,” Hana says. “Like what exactly happened to my son.”

  “He was seriously injured during an attack,” I say. “There was an explosion, and he was very close to it.”

  “Oh God,” Zeke says, and he rocks back and forth like his body wants to be a child again, soothed by motion as a child is.

  But Hana just bends her head, hiding her face from me.

  Their living room smells like garlic and onion, maybe remnants from that night’s dinner. I lean my shoulder into the white wall by the doorway. Hanging crookedly next to me is a picture of the family—Zeke as a toddler, Uriah as a baby, balancing on his mother’s lap. Their father’s face is pierced in several places, nose and ear and lip, but his wide, bright smile and dark complexion are more familiar to me, because he passed them both to his sons.

  “He has been in a coma since then,” I say. “And . . .”

  “And he isn’t going to wake up,” Hana says, her voice strained. “That is what you came to tell us, right?”

  “Yes,” I say. “I came to collect you so that you can make a decision on his behalf.”

  “A decision?” Zeke says. “You mean, to unplug him or not?”

  “Zeke,” Hana says, and she shakes her head. He sinks back into the couch. The cushions seem to wrap around him.

  “Of course we don’t want to keep him alive that way,” Hana says. “He would want to move on. But we would like to go see him.”

  I nod. “Of course. But there’s something else I should say. The attack . . . it was a kind of uprising that involved some of the people from the place where we were staying. And I participated in it.”

  I stare at the crack in the floorboards right in front of me, at the dust that has gathered there over time, and wait for a reaction, any reaction. What greets me is only silence.

  “I didn’t do what you asked me,” I say to Zeke. “I didn’t watch out for him the way I should have. And I’m sorry.”

  I chance a look at him, and he is just sitting still, staring at the empty vase on the coffee table. It is painted with faded pink roses.

  “I think we need some time with this,” Hana says. She clears her throat, but it doesn’t help her tremulous voice.

  “I wish I could give it to you,” I say. “But we’re going back to the compound very soon, and you have to come with us.”

  “All right,” Hana says. “If you can wait outside, we will be there in five minutes.”

  The ride back to the compound is slow and dark. I watch the moon disappear and reappear behind the clouds as we bump over the ground. When we reach the outer limits of the city, it begins to snow again, large, light flakes that swirl in front of the headlights. I wonder if Tris is watching it sweep across the pavement and gather in piles by the airplanes. I wonder if she is living in a better world than the one I left, among people who no longer remember what it is to have pure genes.

  Christina leans forward to whisper into my ear. “So you did it? It worked?”

  I nod. In the rearview mirror I see her touch her face with both hands, grinning into her palms. I know how she feels: safe. We are all safe.

  “Did you inoculate your family?” I say.

  “Yep. We found them with the Allegiant, in the Hancock building,” she says. “But the time for the reset has passed—it looks like Tris and Caleb stopped it.”

  Hana and Zeke murmur to each other on the way, marveling at the strange, dark world we move through. Amar gives the basic explanation as we go, looking back at them instead of the road far too often for my comfort. I try to ignore my surges of panic as he almost veers into streetlights or road barriers, and focus instead on the snow.

  I have always hated the emptiness that winter brings, the blank landscape and the stark difference between sky and ground, the way it transforms trees into skeletons and the city into a wasteland. Maybe this winter I can be persuaded otherwise.

  We drive past the fences and stop by the front doors, which are no longer manned by guards. We get out, and Zeke seizes his mother’s hand to steady her as she shuffles through the snow. As we walk into the compound, I know for a fact that Caleb succeeded, because there is no one in sight. That can only mean that they have been reset, their memories forever altered.

  “Where is everyone?” Amar says.

  We walk through the abandoned security checkpoint without stopping. On the other side, I see Cara. The side of her face is badly bruised, and there’s a bandage on her head, but that’s not what concerns me. What concerns me is the troubled look on her face.

  “What is it?” I say.

  Cara shakes her head.

  “Where’s Tris?” I say.

  “I’m sorry, Tobias.”

  “Sorry about what?” Christina says roughly. “Tell us what happened!”

  “Tris went into the Weapons Lab instead of Caleb,” Cara says. “She survived the death serum, and set off the memory serum, but she . . . she was shot. And she didn’t survive. I’m so sorry.”

  Most of the time I can tell when people are lying, and this must be a lie, because Tris is still alive, her eyes bright and her cheeks flushed and her small body full of power and strength, standing in a shaft of light in the atrium. Tris is still alive, she wouldn’t leave me here alone, she wouldn’t go to the Weapons Lab instead of Caleb.

  “No,” Christina says, shaking her head. “No way. There has to be some mistake.”

  Cara’s eyes well up with tears.

  It’s then that I realize: Of course Tris would go into the Weapons Lab instead of Caleb.

  Of course she would.

  Christina yells something, but to me her voice sounds muffled, like I have submerged my head underwater. The details of Cara’s face have also become difficult to see, the world smearing together into dull colors.

  All I can do is stand still—I feel like if I just stand still, I can stop it from being true, I can pretend that everything is all right. Christina hunches over, unable to support her own grief, and Cara embraces her, and

  all I’m doing is standing still.

  CHAPTER

  FIFTY-TWO

  TOBIAS

  WHEN HER BODY first hit the net, all I registered was a gray blur. I pulled her across it and her hand was small, but warm, and then she stood before me, short and thin and plain and in all ways unremarkable—except that she had jumped first. The Stiff had jumped first.

  Even I didn’t jump first.

  Her eyes were so stern, so insistent.

  Beautiful. r />
  CHAPTER

  FIFTY-THREE

  TOBIAS

  BUT THAT WASN’T the first time I ever saw her. I saw her in the hallways at school, and at my mother’s false funeral, and walking the sidewalks in the Abnegation sector. I saw her, but I didn’t see her; no one saw her the way she truly was until she jumped.

  I suppose a fire that burns that bright is not meant to last.

  CHAPTER

  FIFTY-FOUR

  TOBIAS

  I GO TO see her body . . . sometime. I don’t know how long it is after Cara tells me what happened. Christina and I walk shoulder to shoulder; we walk in Cara’s footsteps. I don’t remember the journey from the entrance to the morgue, really, just a few smeared images and whatever sound I can make out through the barrier that has gone up inside my head.

  She lies on a table, and for a moment I think she’s just sleeping, and when I touch her, she will wake up and smile at me and press a kiss to my mouth. But when I touch her she is cold, her body stiff and unyielding.

  Christina sniffles and sobs. I squeeze Tris’s hand, praying that if I do it hard enough, I will send life back into her body and she will flush with color and wake up.

  I don’t know how long it takes for me to realize that isn’t going to happen, that she is gone. But when I do I feel all the strength go out of me, and I fall to my knees beside the table and I think I cry, then, or at least I want to, and everything inside me screams for just one more kiss, one more word, one more glance, one more.

  CHAPTER

  FIFTY-FIVE

  IN THE DAYS that follow, it’s movement, not stillness, that helps to keep the grief at bay, so I walk the compound halls instead of sleeping. I watch everyone else recover from the memory serum that altered them permanently as if from a great distance.

  Those lost in the memory serum haze are gathered into groups and given the truth: that human nature is complex, that all our genes are different, but neither damaged nor pure. They are also given the lie: that their memories were erased because of a freak accident, and that they were on the verge of lobbying the government for equality for GDs.

  I keep finding myself stifled by the company of others and then crippled by loneliness when I leave them. I am terrified and I don’t even know of what, because I have lost everything already. My hands shake as I stop by the control room to watch the city on the screens. Johanna is arranging transportation for those who want to leave the city. They will come here to learn the truth. I don’t know what will happen to those who remain in Chicago, and I’m not sure I care.

  I shove my hands into my pockets and watch for a few minutes, then walk away again, trying to match my footsteps to my heartbeat, or to avoid the cracks between the tiles. When I walk past the entrance, I see a small group of people gathered by the stone sculpture, one of them in a wheelchair—Nita.

  I walk past the useless security barrier and stand at a distance, watching them. Reggie steps on the stone slab and opens a valve in the bottom of the water tank. The drops turn into a stream of water, and soon water gushes out of the tank, splattering all over the slab, soaking the bottom of Reggie’s pants.

  “Tobias?”

  I shudder a little. It’s Caleb. I turn away from the voice, searching for an escape route.

  “Wait. Please,” he says.

  I don’t want to look at him, to measure how much, or how little, he grieves for her. And I don’t want to think about how she died for such a miserable coward, about how he wasn’t worth her life.

  Still, I do look at him, wondering if I can see some of her in his face, still hungry for her even now that I know she’s gone.

  His hair is unwashed and unkempt, his green eyes bloodshot, his mouth twitching into a frown.

  He does not look like her.

  “I don’t mean to bother you,” he says. “But I have something to tell you. Something . . . she told me to tell you, before . . .”

  “Just get on with it,” I say, before he tries to finish the sentence.

  “She told me that if she didn’t survive, I should tell you . . .” Caleb chokes, then pulls himself up straight, fighting off tears. “That she didn’t want to leave you.”

  I should feel something, hearing her last words to me, shouldn’t I? I feel nothing. I feel farther away than ever.

  “Yeah?” I say harshly. “Then why did she? Why didn’t she let you die?”

  “You think I’m not asking myself that question?” Caleb says. “She loved me. Enough to hold me at gunpoint so she could die for me. I have no idea why, but that’s just the way it is.”

  He walks away without letting me respond, and it’s probably better that way, because I can’t think of anything to say that is equal to my anger. I blink away tears and sit down on the ground, right in the middle of the lobby.

  I know why she wanted to tell me that she didn’t want to leave me. She wanted me to know that this was not another Erudite headquarters, not a lie told to make me sleep while she went to die, not an act of unnecessary self-sacrifice. I grind the heels of my hands into my eyes like I can push my tears back into my skull. No crying, I chastise myself. If I let a little of the emotion out, all of it will come out, and it will never end.

  Sometime later I hear voices nearby—Cara and Peter.

  “This sculpture was a symbol of change,” she says to him. “Gradual change, but now they’re taking it down.”

  “Oh, really?” Peter sounds eager. “Why?”

  “Um . . . I’ll explain later, if that’s okay,” Cara says. “Do you remember how to get back to the dormitory?”

  “Yep.”

  “Then . . . go back there for a while. Someone will be there to help you.”

  Cara walks over to me, and I cringe in anticipation of her voice. But all she does is sit next to me on the ground, her hands folded in her lap, her back straight. Alert but relaxed, she watches the sculpture where Reggie stands under the gushing water.

  “You don’t have to stay here,” I say.

  “I don’t have anywhere to be,” she says. “And the quiet is nice.”

  So we sit side by side, staring at the water, in silence.

  “There you are,” Christina says, jogging toward us. Her face is swollen and her voice is listless, like a heavy sigh. “Come on, it’s time. They’re unplugging him.”

  I shudder at the word, but push myself to my feet anyway. Hana and Zeke have been hovering over Uriah’s body since we got here, their fingers finding his, their eyes searching for life. But there is no life left, just the machine beating his heart.

  Cara walks behind Christina and me as we go toward the hospital. I haven’t slept in days but I don’t feel tired, not in the way I normally do, though my body aches as I walk. Christina and I don’t speak, but I know our thoughts are the same, fixed on Uriah, on his last breaths.

  We make it to the observation window outside Uriah’s room, and Evelyn is there—Amar picked her up in my stead, a few days ago. She tries to touch my shoulder and I yank it away, not wanting to be comforted.

  Inside the room, Zeke and Hana stand on either side of Uriah. Hana is holding one of his hands, and Zeke is holding the other. A doctor stands near the heart monitor, a clipboard outstretched, held out not to Hana or Zeke but to David. Sitting in his wheelchair. Hunched and dazed, like all the others who have lost their memories.

  “What is he doing there?” I feel like all my muscles and bones and nerves are on fire.

  “He’s still technically the leader of the Bureau, at least until they replace him,” Cara says from behind me. “Tobias, he doesn’t remember anything. The man you knew doesn’t exist anymore; he’s as good as dead. That man doesn’t remember kill—”

  “Shut up!” I snap. David signs the clipboard and turns around, pushing himself toward the door. It opens, and I can’t stop myself—I lunge toward him, and only Evelyn’s wiry frame stops me from wrapping my hands around his throat. He gives me a strange look and pushes himself down the hallway as I press
against my mother’s arm, which feels like a bar across my shoulders.

  “Tobias,” Evelyn says. “Calm. Down.”

  “Why didn’t someone lock him up?” I demand, and my eyes are too blurry to see out of.

  “Because he still works for the government,” Cara says. “Just because they’ve declared it an unfortunate accident doesn’t mean they’ve fired everyone. And the government isn’t going to lock him up just because he killed a rebel under duress.”

  “A rebel,” I repeat. “That’s all she is now?”

  “Was,” Cara says softly. “And no, of course not, but that’s what the government sees her as.”

  I’m about to respond, but Christina interrupts. “Guys, they’re doing it.”

  In Uriah’s room, Zeke and Hana join their free hands over Uriah’s body. I see Hana’s lips moving, but I can’t tell what she’s saying—do the Dauntless have prayers for the dying? The Abnegation react to death with silence and service, not words. I find my anger ebbing away, and I’m lost in muffled grief again, this time not just for Tris, but for Uriah, whose smile is burned into my memory. My friend’s brother, and then my friend, too, though not for long enough to let his humor work its way into me, not for long enough.

  The doctor flips some switches, his clipboard clutched to his stomach, and the machines stop breathing for Uriah. Zeke’s shoulders shake, and Hana squeezes his hand tightly, until her knuckles go white.

  Then she says something, and her hands spring open, and she steps back from Uriah’s body. Letting him go.

  I move away from the window, walking at first, and then running, pushing my way through the hallways, careless, blind, empty.

  CHAPTER

  FIFTY-SIX

  THE NEXT DAY I take a truck from the compound. The people there are still recovering from their memory loss, so no one tries to stop me. I drive over the railroad tracks toward the city, my eyes wandering over the skyline but not really taking it in.