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We Can Be Mended_A Divergent Story, Page 2

Veronica Roth

  “Evelyn strikes again?” she asks me, jogging to catch up.

  “I watched this old footage of fighting moose,” I say. “Two stubborn, horned things just colliding over and over again. That’s what Evelyn and I are.”

  “You’re still watching the animal videos.” She laughs. “What are you on now? Worms? Snails?”

  “Birds,” I say. “Did you know that albatrosses always crash-land? They’re too big to land gracefully, so they just collide with the ground.”

  “I feel like you just dislodged something useful from my brain and replaced it with a fact about a bird I’ll probably never see,” she says. “Come on. There’s a place I want to visit.”

  “If you’re about to take me to the transfer dormitory, I’m not coming.”

  She shudders. “Yeah, because all I want is to go back to the place where I watched a guy lose an eye. No. Somewhere else.”

  I follow without asking where.

  We walk the long, dark corridor toward the net side by side. Sometimes our knuckles brush as our arms swing in opposite directions, and I would normally twitch away, but this time, I don’t.

  We stand together in front of the platform where I once stood to ease Dauntless initiates into their new lives. I remember stretching my hand out for Tris’s small, pale one, clasping my thumb around hers, drawing her to stability. I think of her bright eyes, wild with adrenaline. Little, twitchy Stiff, Eric used to call her.

  I was too busy announcing her name to the other Dauntless to help Christina out of the net. But for the first time in a long time, when I go over the memory in my mind, I think of Christina, too.

  “You screamed all the way down,” I say to her, and she laughs.

  “Hell yes, I screamed all the way down,” she says. “I jumped off a building. You realize how ridiculous that is?”

  “I do.” I smile a little. “I wasn’t even close to the first jumper, you know. I’m terrified of heights.”

  “Heights.” She nods and takes the stair railing in hand, climbing up to the platform. “What else, if you don’t mind me asking? I mean, back then, not now.”

  I follow her up the steps. “Enclosed spaces. Becoming a monster. My father.”

  The press of her mouth is grim. “Well, you know all mine, thanks to initiation.”

  I hoist myself over the metal pipe that holds the net steady, and roll, ungainly, toward the middle of the net. She does the same, and tumbles right into me, kneeing me in the back. I groan, and she laughs an apology, clambering to the middle.

  We lie side by side, staring up at the sky. It’s too bright in the city now to see many stars, but the sky itself is a nice, deep blue, and the moon is bright, a slim crescent. The buildings that hem in the hole we’re looking through stand like sentries at the edges of my vision.

  “Everybody’s moved on with their lives,” she says. “You know I heard Zeke and Shauna talking about when they’re going to try for a kid? Cara and Matthew are getting married, Caleb’s got some insane project that he may as well be married to . . . and I’m still training the stupid security force.”

  “You don’t like it?”

  “I like it,” she says. “I just feel like I’m not headed anywhere.”

  “Yeah,” I say, and I’m surprised by how much I understand what she’s saying. “Me too, actually.”

  “Thought you might,” she says. “That’s what my dad and I were arguing about. He wants me to leave the city. Travel. I don’t think he understands how different it is out there for us, how strange it all feels. He doesn’t want to leave, so why should I?”

  “He’s probably just worried about you,” I say. “Worried you’re not meeting your potential, or something.”

  “That what Evelyn was saying to you?”

  “Sort of.” I grimace. “She said something like ‘This isn’t what Tris would want for you.’”

  Christina groans. Loudly.

  “Like she would know,” she says, and I laugh, because it’s just so perfect, that we would say the same thing about my mother. I’ve talked to Christina enough about her, told her the whole story of how she ran from Abnegation and left me to my father, then returned to my life after I chose Dauntless. Christina’s response was swearing, spitting rage.

  “I don’t think I know what she would have wanted for me,” I say when my laughter has settled.

  “You want to know what I think?” Christina says, and our eyes meet as we both look sideways at each other. In this light, her eyes are so dark they look black, and there is something peaceful about them.

  I nod.

  “I think she wanted you to be with her,” Christina says. “Tris wanted to live, and she wanted you, and she wanted something better for everybody. If Tris was here, she’d want you, but she’s not, and that’s just how it is.”

  “You’re saying it doesn’t matter what she would have wanted?” I say, something tensing inside me. I ask it like it’s a demand.

  “I’m saying she’s not here to want things. I mean, maybe she’s nowhere, or maybe she’s . . . somewhere else, and if that’s true, I don’t really see Tris as the type to spend all her time staring down at us wistfully wanting good things for us,” Christina says, unflinching. She sits up and stares down at me. “How old were you, when you were together?”

  “Eighteen,” I say.

  She repeats it, slowly. “Eighteen.” She shakes her head and looks up at the slivered moon. “Eighteen is too young to think you can’t ever have anything else that’s good, Tobias. Too young not to mess everything up over and over again, or . . . heal. It’s too young, and you’re too . . .” She trails off. “You’re too good to not live your own life.”

  She huffs, and lies down again. Our shoulders are touching. Our arms are touching. I close my eyes.

  Those bright blue eyes are there, staring at me from my memory. Tell him I didn’t want to leave him, was the message Tris told Caleb to pass on to me. Her last words to me: that she didn’t want to go. And I know Christina is right—there is no easy answer here, no “what she would have wanted,” because I know what she wanted, and neither of us got it. The “would have” is irrelevant.

  She loved me. I loved her. And she died but I didn’t. I didn’t.

  “Sorry,” Christina says. “I made a speech, didn’t I.”

  “You made a speech,” I say. “Don’t be sorry about it, though.”

  Christina’s fingers move, her index and middle fingers hooking around mine. Her grip is strong and warm. Her dark skin, unblemished, contrasts with mine.

  “This okay?” she asks without looking at me.

  “Yeah,” I say, ignoring the spark of something that goes off inside me. I keep my eyes closed.

  “Come to training tomorrow, would you? It’ll be fun. I promise.”

  That’s what Christina said when I walked her home yesterday. We climbed out of the net, chilled by the night air, and went to the train tracks to get on with some of the others. We waited until the train stopped, walked in calmly, and hung on to the railings for balance instead of sitting down because who sits on a train?

  I told her I didn’t want to teach soldiers anymore, and she told me it would just be this once, for old times’ sake. Her eyes were steady on mine, and she was close and smelled like sage, and a small curl had escaped the cloth she had tied around her hair and hung right over her cheekbone. I didn’t hug her good-bye. It felt dangerous, somehow.

  But here I am anyway, sighing as I wait at the door for my own courage to show up. Finally I decide it will come along if I do something, so I open the door and walk in. The air smells like sweat and shoes and sawdust. The security force trains in one of the factionless warehouses, but the floor is covered with mats and some kind of springy material, and there are lights everywhere.

  Christina is demonstrating a maneuver on one of the rowdy newcomers, as she called them. She tells him to push her, then shifts to the side, grasping his arm right under the armpit and moving so he’s forced to
his knees. She’s grown into herself since the last time I saw her do anything like this, and moves with a little more grace, a lot more certainty.

  She looks up and sees me and smiles.

  I wrap my hands and warm up on one of the heavy bags, until I feel sweat between my shoulders. It feels good, easy. So when she taps my shoulder and asks me to walk around and correct technique, I say yes.

  It’s like lowering myself into a stream. The water takes me, and I am a Dauntless instructor again, rolling my eyes when someone forgets to keep their guard up or to look before elbowing the pad so they elbow their partner’s arm instead. Look, I tell them, and get smaller.

  Be ready, and act ready, she says to them, and I nod.

  “He was my teacher once, you know,” Christina says to one of the smaller girls. “And if you think I’m tough on you, you don’t know how bad it can get.”

  “Candor smart-mouth,” I say.

  “That’s right,” she replies.

  Then the session is done and the trainees leave, so it’s just her and me, stretching and sipping water from the same bottle.

  “You talked about them like they were little tornadoes,” I say. “They’re not so bad. I think you just wanted pity.”

  “You caught them on a good day,” she says.

  “‘Poor me, I’m Christina, I have to actually teach people things,’” I say, mimicking her. “Talk to me after you’ve tried to wrangle volunteers at the crack of dawn.”

  “Oh, shut up.” She smacks me with a sweaty hand wrap.

  “That was wet,” I say to her.

  Her eyes are bright with laughter. She gathers the wrap into her fist and shoves it into my cheek. I smack her hand away, and she grabs mine, and then we’re close together, sharing air, hands clasped, our knees touching, both smiling.

  Her smile fades. Our hands come apart. But instead of shifting away, I touch her jaw, run my thumb over her cheek. Her skin is dotted with sweat, and my hand is still wrapped in black fabric, but I feel—everything.

  “This isn’t some kind of . . . experiment, is it?” she says. “To see if you’ve moved on?”

  “What? No, it’s . . . I’m—I’m just . . . finally moving,” I say.

  “Oh,” she replies.

  I touch my lips to hers. It’s quick, a scared little peck, and I don’t think she breathes the whole time. I know I don’t.

  “This okay?” I say.

  She puts a hand over my wrist, pulls me toward her, and smiles. Our foreheads touch.

  “Yeah,” she says. “It is.”

  This time, when our lips meet, it’s soft and slow. It tastes salty. Her fingers hook in my shirt.

  And she pins me to the mat.

  We fight all the time. Over whose turn it is to wash the dishes, and who gets to name Zeke and Shauna’s kid—neither of us, it turns out—and how wrapped up I get in the city improvement projects, and how grouchy she is when she comes back from work some days.

  I still dream of Tris, sometimes. Even dream of her dying. I tell Christina about it, and she doesn’t take it personally, mostly, unless she’s tired or worried about something. My stash of fear landscape serum goes untouched for so long that I end up giving it to Cara to play with.

  We talk about Will, and Tris, and the lives we took, and how afraid we are, sometimes, when someone startles us, or looks too much like Jeanine or Marcus or Max. I wake in the middle of the night to her crying as she remembers pulling Hector over the edge of the roof only to realize Marlene was broken on the ground. She wakes to worse from me.

  We laugh all the time. Sometimes just because of a look, or a word. She speaks in strange voices, mimicking me, or her coworkers, or the birds we watch videos of in my apartment. She makes me laugh until I’m weak with it, relaxed against the couch cushions with my hands curled in, useless.

  She is the first one I tell when something goes well, or when something goes poorly. Or when something goes, period.

  She tells me, once, that she keeps a vial of memory serum in her bathroom cabinet, to remind her of what she almost lost, when I almost lost myself.

  We work, and dream. We fight, and we laugh, and we fall in love. We move.

  And we mend.

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  About the Author


  VERONICA ROTH is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Divergent, Insurgent, Allegiant, and Four: A Divergent Collection. Ms. Roth and her husband live in Chicago.

  You can visit her online at

  Discover great authors, exclusive offers, and more at

  Books by Veronica Roth

  Divergent • Divergent Collector’s Edition

  Insurgent • Insurgent Collector’s Edition

  Allegiant • Allegiant Collector’s Edition

  The Divergent Series Complete Collection

  Free Four

  Four: The Transfer: A Divergent Story

  Four: The Initiate: A Divergent Story

  Four: The Son: A Divergent Story

  Four: The Traitor: A Divergent Story

  Four: A Divergent Collection

  The Divergent Series Ultimate Four-Book Collection

  “We Can Be Mended”

  Carve the Mark

  The Fates Divide




  Katherine Tegen Books is an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

  “We Can Be Mended.” Copyright © 2017 by Veronica Roth. All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. By payment of the required fees, you have been granted the nonexclusive, nontransferable right to access and read the text of this e-book on-screen. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, downloaded, decompiled, reverse-engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereafter invented, without the express written permission of HarperCollins e-books.

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