The others gather behind her. Some of them eye us with suspicion, the rest with curiosity, but far stranger than both is the light I see in some of their eyes. Recognition. They might know Tobias, but how could they possibly recognize me?
“Four,” he says. He nods toward me. “And this is Tris. Both Dauntless.”
The Dauntless soldier’s eyes widen, but she does not lower her gun.
“Some help here?” she asks. Some of the Dauntless step forward, but they do it cautiously, like we’re dangerous.
“Is there a problem?” Tobias says.
“Are you armed?”
“Of course I’m armed. I’m Dauntless, aren’t I?”
“Stand with your hands behind your head.” She says it wildly, like she expects us to refuse. I glance at Tobias. Why is everyone acting like we’re about to attack them?
“We walked through the front door,” I say slowly. “You think we would have done that if we were here to hurt you?”
Tobias doesn’t look back at me. He just touches his fingertips to the back of his head. After a moment, I do the same. Dauntless soldiers crowd around us. One of them pats down Tobias’s legs while the other takes the gun tucked under his waistband. Another one, a round-faced boy with pink cheeks, looks at me apologetically.
“I have a knife in my back pocket,” I say. “Put your hands on me, and I will make you regret it.”
He mumbles some kind of apology. His fingers pinch the knife handle, careful not to touch me.
“What’s going on?” asks Tobias.
The first soldier exchanges looks with some of the others.
“I’m sorry,” she says. “But we were instructed to arrest you upon your arrival.”
THEY SURROUND US, but don’t handcuff us, and walk us to the elevator bank. No matter how many times I ask why we are under arrest, no one says anything or even looks in my direction. Eventually I give up and stay silent, like Tobias.
We go to the third level, where they take us to a small room with a white marble floor instead of a black one. There’s no furniture except for a bench along the back wall. Every faction is supposed to have holding rooms for those who make trouble, but I’ve never been in one before.
The door closes behind us, and locks, and we’re alone again.
Tobias sits down on the bench, his brow furrowed. I pace back and forth in front of him. If he had any idea why we were in here, he would tell me, so I don’t ask. I walk five steps forward and five steps back, five steps forward and five steps back, at the same rhythm, hoping it will help me figure something out.
If Erudite didn’t take over Candor—and Edward told us they didn’t—why would the Candor arrest us? What could we have done to them?
If Erudite didn’t take over, the only real crime left is siding with them. Did I do anything that could have been interpreted as siding with Erudite? My teeth dig into my lower lip so hard I wince. Yes, I did. I shot Will. I shot a number of other Dauntless. They were under the simulation, but maybe Candor doesn’t know that or doesn’t think it’s a good enough reason.
“Can you please calm down?” Tobias says. “You’re making me nervous.”
“This is me calming down.”
He leans forward, resting his elbows on his knees, and stares between his sneakers. “The wound in your lip begs to differ.”
I sit next to him and hug my knees to my chest with one arm, my right arm hanging at my side. For a long time, he says nothing, and my arm wraps tighter and tighter around my legs. I feel like, the smaller I become, the safer I am.
“Sometimes,” he says, “I worry that you don’t trust me.”
“I trust you,” I say. “Of course I trust you. Why would you think otherwise?”
“Just seems like there’s something you’re not telling me. I told you things. . . .” He shakes his head. “I would never have told anyone else. Something’s been going on with you, though, and you haven’t told me yet.”
“There’s been a lot going on. You know that,” I say. “And anyway, what about you? I could say the same thing to you.”
He touches my cheek, his fingers pushing into my hair. Ignoring my question just like I ignored his.
“If it’s just about your parents,” he says softly, “tell me and I’ll believe you.”
His eyes should be wild with apprehension, given where we are, but they are still and dark. They transport me to familiar places. Safe places, where confessing that I shot one of my best friends would be easy, where I would not be afraid of the way that Tobias will look at me when he finds out what I did.
I cover his hand with mine. “That’s all it is,” I say weakly.
“Okay,” he says. He touches his mouth to mine. Guilt clutches at my stomach.
The door opens. A few people file in—two Candor with guns; a dark-skinned, older Candor man; a Dauntless woman I don’t recognize. And then: Jack Kang, representative of Candor.
By most faction standards, he is a young leader—only thirty-nine years old. But by Dauntless standards, that’s nothing. Eric became a Dauntless leader at seventeen. But that’s probably one of the reasons the other factions don’t take our opinions or decisions seriously.
Jack is handsome, too, with short black hair and warm, slanted eyes, like Tori’s, and high cheekbones. Despite his good looks, he isn’t known for being charming, probably because he’s Candor, and they see charm as deceptive. I do trust him to tell us what’s going on without wasting time on pleasantries. That is something.
“They told me you seemed confused about why you were arrested,” he says. His voice is deep, but strangely flat, like it could not create an echo even at the bottom of an empty cavern. “To me that means either you’re falsely accused or good at pretending. The only—”
“What are we accused of?” I interrupt him.
“He is accused of crimes against humanity. You are accused of being his accomplice.”
“Crimes against humanity?” Tobias finally sounds angry. He gives Jack a disgusted look. “What?”
“We saw video footage of the attack. You were running the attack simulation,” says Jack.
“How could you have seen footage? We took the data,” says Tobias.
“You took one copy of the data. All the footage of the Dauntless compound recorded during the attack was also sent to other computers throughout the city,” says Jack. “All we saw was you running the simulation and her nearly getting punched to death before she gave up. Then you stopped, had a rather abrupt lovers’ reconciliation, and stole the hard drive together. One possible reason is because the simulation was over and you didn’t want us to get our hands on it.”
I almost laugh. My great act of heroism, the only important thing I have ever done, and they think I was working for the Erudite when I did it.
“The simulation didn’t end,” I say. “We stopped it, you—”
Jack holds up his hand. “I am not interested in what you have to say right now. The truth will come out when you are both interrogated under the influence of truth serum.”
Christina told me about truth serum once. She said the most difficult part of Candor initiation was being given truth serum and answering personal questions in front of everyone in the faction. I don’t need to search myself for my deepest, darkest secrets to know that truth serum is the last thing I want in my body.
“Truth serum?” I shake my head. “No. No way.”
“There’s something you have to hide?” Jack says, lifting both eyebrows.
I want to tell him that anyone with an ounce of dignity wants to keep some things to herself, but I don’t want to arouse his suspicions. So I shake my head.
“All right, then.” He checks his watch. “It is now noon. The interrogation will be at seven. Don’t bother preparing for it. You can’t withhold information while under the influence of truth serum.”
He turns on his heel and walks out of the room.
“What a pleasant man,” says Tobias.
A group of armed Dauntless escort me to the bathroom in the early afternoon. I take my time, letting my hands turn red in the hot-faucet water and staring at my reflection. When I was in Abnegation and wasn’t allowed to look into mirrors, I used to think that a lot could change in a person’s appearance in three months. But it only took a few days to change me this time.
I look older. Maybe it’s the short hair or maybe it’s just that I wear all that has happened like a mask. Either way, I always thought I would be happy when I stopped looking like a child. But all I feel is a lump in my throat. I am no longer the daughter my parents knew. They will never know me as I am now.
I turn away from the mirror and shove the door to the hallway open with the heels of my hands.
When the Dauntless drop me off at the holding room, I linger by the door. Tobias looks like he did when I first met him—black T-shirt, short hair, stern expression. The sight of him used to fill me with nervous excitement. I remember when I grabbed his hand outside the training room, just for a few seconds, and when we sat together on the rocks next to the chasm, and I feel a pang of longing for how things used to be.
“Hungry?” he says. He offers me a sandwich from the plate next to him.
I take it and sit down, leaning my head on his shoulder. All that’s left for us to do is wait, so that’s what we do. We eat until the food is gone. We sit until we get uncomfortable. Then we lie down next to each other on the floor, shoulders touching, staring at the same patch of white ceiling.
“What are you afraid of saying?” he says.
“Any of it. All of it. I don’t want to relive anything.”
He nods. I close my eyes and pretend to sleep. There’s no clock in the room, so I can’t count down the minutes until the interrogation. Time might as well not exist in this place, except I feel it pressing against me as seven o’clock inevitably draws closer, pushing me into the floor tiles.
Maybe time would not feel as heavy if I didn’t have this guilt—the guilt of knowing the truth and stuffing it down where no one can see it, not even Tobias. Maybe I should not be so afraid of saying anything, because honesty will make me feel lighter.
I must fall asleep eventually, because I jerk awake at the sound of the door opening. A few Dauntless walk in as we get to our feet, and one of them says my name. Christina shoves her way past the others and throws her arms around me. Her fingers dig into the wound in my shoulder, and I cry out.
“Got shot,” I say. “Shoulder. Ow.”
“Oh God!” She releases me. “Sorry, Tris.”
She doesn’t look like the Christina I remember. Her hair is shorter, like a boy’s, and her skin is grayish instead of a warm brown. She smiles at me, but the smile doesn’t travel to her eyes, which still look tired. I try to smile back, but I’m too nervous. Christina will be there at my interrogation. She will hear what I did to Will. She will never forgive me.
Unless I fight the serum, swallow the truth—if I can.
But is that really what I want? To let it fester inside me forever?
“You okay? I heard you were here so I asked to escort you,” she says as we leave the holding room. “I know you didn’t do it. You’re not a traitor.”
“I’m fine,” I say. “And thank you. How are you?”
“Oh, I’m . . .” Her voice trails off, and she bites her lip. “Did anyone tell you . . . I mean, maybe now isn’t the time, but . . .”
“What? What is it?”
“Um . . . Will died in the attack,” she says.
She gives me a worried look, and an expectant one. Expecting what?
Oh. I am not supposed to know that Will is dead. I could pretend to be emotional, but I probably wouldn’t do it convincingly. It’s best to admit that I already knew. But I don’t know how to explain that without telling her everything.
I feel suddenly sick. Am I really evaluating how best to deceive my friend?
“I know,” I say. “I saw him on the monitors when I was in the control room. I’m sorry, Christina.”
“Oh.” She nods. “Well, I’m . . . glad you already knew. I really didn’t want to break the news to you in a hallway.”
A short laugh. A flash of a smile. Neither of them like they used to be.
We file into an elevator. I can feel Tobias staring at me—he knows I didn’t see Will in the monitors, and he didn’t know that Will was dead. I stare straight ahead and pretend his eyes aren’t setting me on fire.
“Don’t worry about the truth serum,” she says. “It’s easy. You barely know what’s happening when you’re under. It’s only when you resurface that you even know what you said. I went under when I was a kid. It’s pretty commonplace in Candor.”
The other Dauntless in the elevator give each other looks. In normal circumstances, someone would probably reprimand her for discussing her old faction, but these are not normal circumstances. At no other time in Christina’s life will she escort her best friend, now a suspected traitor, to a public interrogation.
“Is everyone else all right?” I say. “Uriah, Lynn, Marlene?”
“All here,” she says. “Except Uriah’s brother, Zeke, who is with the other Dauntless.”
“What?” Zeke, who secured my straps on the zip line, a traitor?
The elevator stops on the top floor, and the others file out.
“I know,” she says. “No one saw it coming.”
She takes my arm and tugs me toward the doors. We walk down a black-marble hallway—it must be easy to get lost in Candor headquarters, since everything looks the same. We walk down another hallway and through a set of double doors.
From the outside, the Merciless Mart is a squat block with a narrow raised portion in its center. From the inside, that raised portion is a hollow three-story room with empty spaces in the walls instead of windows. I see the darkening sky above me, starless.