The last thing I was expecting was to see Marcus. When I look at him, all I see are the Marcuses in my fear landscape, with empty, black pits for eyes and holding belts that slither like snakes.
He walks up to me and wraps his arms around me. I’m frozen; I feel stuck, I don’t know what to do. “Son,” he sighs.
The only time he’s ever said that word to me was with contempt.
“Hey,” Tris pushes Marcus away from me. “Hey. Get away from him.” She hisses at him, “Stay away.”
“Beatrice, what are you doing?” an Erudite boy asks. By the way he calls her Beatrice and the way she hugged him, I assume that he is her brother.
“Tris,” I tell her weakly. She’s overreacting, but I can’t help but feel grateful.
Marcus gives her a fake scandalized look that makes him look ridiculous. “Not all those Erudite articles were full of lies,” she says, narrowing her eyes at him .
“What are you talking about?” Marcus says quietly. “I don’t know what you’ve been told, Beatrice, but—“
“The only reason I haven’t shot you yet is because he’s the one who should get to do it,” she interrupts. “Stay away from him or I’ll decide I no longer care. “
I squeeze her arms as a silent thank you. Marcus glares at her, and it is tense and silent for a moment. “We have to go,” I say awkwardly. “The train should be here any second." We walk towards the train tracks, and I keep my jaw clenched, trying to keep everything in. I’m afraid I will explode.
“Sorry,” Tris mutters next to me.
“You have nothing to be sorry for.” I take her hand, and I feel a bit more stable, a little bit calmer. I hope she doesn’t notice my hands are still shaking.
We sit on the train, our knees and our heads bent so that we are enclosed together in a room of our own making.
“My parents,” Tris says plainly, “They died today.”
By the way she says it, with no emotion, I know that it’s tearing at her from the inside. She’s keeping it inside her, not sure whether to believe it or not. “They died for me,” she whispers.
Tris was prepared to die for her parents. She wasn’t prepared for them to die for her.
Tris was willing to die for me.
Everything felt dreamlike, a little bit hazy at the edges, unreal. But I wasn’t about to question it.
Jeanine was fighting me, trying to access the simulation, which I had shut down. Then she does something I would never expect her to do.
She turns the gun in her hands and presses it into my palms.
Jeanine, the one person who would preserve her life at all costs.
I push the barrel of the gun into her forehead, but it doesn’t feel right, it doesn’t feel right. She puts her hand on my chest, feeling my heartbeat.
Jeanine wouldn’t do that, either.
I click the bullet into place, but I don’t shoot.
I stare at her face, trying to figure her out.
I blink, and she becomes Tris, her eyes begging, tear stains on her cheek. The blurriness at the edges of my vision slowly fades. She wraps her arms around me.
I drop the gun, and it clatters to the floor. I don’t want to think about what would have happened if I’d pulled the trigger.
I grab her shoulders, keeping her there. Keeping her there before she leaves me again.
“You nearly died today,” I tell her. “I almost shot you. Why didn’t you shoot me, Tris?”
“I couldn’t do that,” she says, “It would have been like shooting myself.”
It’s impossible to have no shadow, to have no mirror image. If Tris is gone, I will have no reflection, and I don’t know what will happen to me.
“I have something to tell you,” I say to her.
She runs her fingers along the tendons in my hands and looks back at me.
“I might be in love with you,” I smile a bit. “I’m waiting until I’m sure to tell you, though.”
“That’s sensible of you,” she says, smiling too. “We should find some paper so that you can make a list or a chart or something.”
I laugh into her side. “Maybe I’m already sure,” I say, “but I just don’t want to frighten you.”
She laughs a little. “Then you should know better.”
That’s right. I should.
Tris leans her head on my shoulder and sleeps, the simulation hard drive clutched to her chest.
We are both uncertain of what we will meet ahead, in the future. We are both broken, no faction. We are like the factionless, we are like my mother when she left Abnegation and embraced uncertainty. We have nothing.
Other than each other.