Convergent

Con-ver-gent, adjective: Coming closer together.
They say that something as simple as a flutter of a butterfly's wings can change the course of history. What if Tris never took over Caleb's mission? What if the mission failed? What if Caleb was the one to die? An alternative (extended) ending to Allegiant, obviously with some spoilers.

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4. Chapter 4

TRIS

The streets are eerily quiet as we tread the paths we used to follow every day. I pass places I walked through on my way to school, barely recognisable through the rubble and the wreckage that seems to have magically appeared since the day we left. The old factionless sector is silent and empty, and the events of the past few months have hardened me to the point that the memory of those poor people evokes not fear, but pity and disgust.

We head down an alleyway littered with lumpy black shapes. At first glance we thought they were people, but on grisly close inspection only sagging yellowed skin and the beginnings of the bloody decay of week-old corpses are revealed. A small child lies in the very middle of the dark street, the grey-bricked houses rising up on either side of us and cutting out all but one single shaft of sunlight. The yellow light falls on the bruised face of the youngster, her chapped and swollen lips and her sunken eyes. My stomach reels, and vomit presses at my throat as I turn away, focussing instead on the walls.

This is a mistake, as the grey concrete is splattered with blood and other fluids; brown and black and red against the rough stone. I look at Cara and feel the wave of guilt hits me in the chest, once and then again and again, the knowing that somewhere in this maze-like metropolis there is a blackened splatter of blood painted by my hand.

The thick stench of death hanging in the air of the street hits me, and I run from the alleyway, gasping for breath as I fall to my knees. "We're too obvious like this." Cara says, her hand finding my shoulder as I stare at the ground. "These clothes- nobody here has anything like this. I'll get you something, okay?"

I nod, gasping down buckets of air as I press my sore hands into my knees. I'm okay. I'm okay.

She returns a few minutes later with a pair of black jeans and a red sweatshirt, each tainted with the sweet smell of decay. I gag as I duck back into the alleyway, stripping off my pale compound uniform and pulling the new clothes over my head. "Were any of them…?" She knows what I mean. Christina's family. She shakes her head as she fastens her own trousers, pushing the sleeves of her blue jumper up to her elbows.

"She saw them just the other day, remember? When we came to try and persuade them to leave with us, to be safe..." She looks up at the sky, her hair falling away from her face as she squints into the sun. "Those bodies are a couple of days old. They were all shot through the heads- so this wasn't an accidental thing. It was accurate, calculated. This was before the wipe."

I nod and push myself away from the wall, trying to ignore the stomach-churning scent of death on my clothes as I rub my hands on my jeans. "I can't do this, Cara."

She steps closer to me and wraps her arms around my body. Our ears press against each other as she pushes her head to mine, her hands crossing over my shoulder blades. When she steps back, her cheeks are flushed, her eyes damp. "I know it's hard. I'm questioning it too… is it even worth it? There's nobody left for me- for either of us. I just… I don't think Tobias could leave. Knowing what his parents are doing to the place he's grown up in."

"Yeah... I just wish it wasn't us, you know. I mean I'm glad we still have our memories, that we remember everything that's gone on and we can work to make the world a better place but… I wish it wasn't our responsibility. To make everything right again."

Cara steps back, straightening her shoulders and pulling her sweatshirt sleeves down again so that they cover her hands. I notice the blood crusted in her hair, the browning smear on the back of her neck, but she's smiling and bouncing easily on the balls of her feet. "You okay with checking Erudite HQ first?"

TOBIAS

The streets are gloomy, the air filled with dust and the smell of death as I step over bundles of cloth and blackening pools of blood. Not one living soul prowls these quarters, and the sun is rapidly setting behind dark grey clouds. I need to find him- my father, I mean. If I can call him that.

Of course, when I spoke to Evelyn about taking the memory serum, I didn't expect any of this chaos to ensue. Heck, we formed a peace treaty, and now the city's in ruins again!

When I got away from the bus, my first thoughts were to track him down, follow him and see if I could find Evelyn, but by the time I got into the maze of alleyways that formed the Abnegation sector of the city, he'd vanished. Eventually I find a street I recognise, despite how similar they all look, and find the one building I've been subconsciously searching for since we arrived.

The city is plunged into darkness as the sun finally dips below the horizon, the streetlamps flickering on and off before cutting out completely- but I don't need light to find my home. The path crunches under my feet as I step across the small, plain garden and push against the door, stepping into the darkened entryway. Even after all this time, I remember to jump the stairs that creak on my way up to my room.

Everything of value is long gone, from the blue glass sculpture to scraps of twisted metal and useless papers that I kept in stacks under my bed. The bedframe itself is askew, the sheets and blankets lying forlorn on the dusty floor and the mattress propped against the fallen wardrobe. It takes only a few minutes to right, and by that point the tiredness from my weary walk about the city catches up with me. Here is a stupid place to sleep, I know, but where else can I go?

I decide that here is as good a place as any and lie on my straightened mattress, pulling the musty duvet up to my chin and closing my eyes. In the silent darkness, it's easy to imagine the weight of my mother perched on the edge of the mattress, her hand stroking my bruised arm beneath the duvet as I drift slowly to sleep. It's also easy to imagine the glowing red eyes of a demon hiding beneath my bed, or a monster creeping from my cupboard. Shivers run up my spine as I roll to face the door, my eyes open wide against the devils of the night until sheer exhaustion forces them to close.

Consciousness reappears with indecent haste, that is to say, far too quickly. I awake with tired and stinging eyes, my clenched fists tight against the morning as I listen to the faint voices swimming up from the hallway. I spring upright, silently swearing as I scramble on the floor for my sneakers and pull them onto my feet. "If the girl is in the city, then surely he is too?" My ear aches against the splintered wood of my bedroom door as I struggle to remember where all the creaky planks are, balancing haphazardly on my toes as I strain to pinpoint the source of the voice.

"Ah, yes…" He coughs and I know who it is, the owner of the voice. Oh no, oh no. I stumble away from the door and land with a thump on one of the planks, and the voices downstairs fall silent with an eerie hush. The stairs groan as one pair of footsteps and then the other creep upwards, quickly venturing closer and closer.

The window screams as I slide the panel of glass upwards, ducking through the gap and letting myself dangle by my fingertips. It feels almost like dangling over the pit, with my worst nightmare at the bottom and certain death awaiting me at the top. The moon shines overhead, white and glowing against a black sky, and it sneers as I scrape my knees in the dirt. Shouting sounds from inside the house as I pick myself up and sprint down the street, leaping over the fence of a house a couple of doors down and throwing myself inside.

The smartest place to hide, I remember, is right under the noses of your enemies. Far enough away that they won't immediately find you, but not so far that they manage to catch up with you. The moonlight shines through the plain glass pane in the door, illuminating the small hallway which is identical to my own. Like all Abnegation homes, this one has plain walls and floors, a grey rug in the centre of the living room with a small couch and two armchairs on either side. A blackened fireplace is littered with curled and charred paper, and I step forward cautiously, scooping up a handful of the photographs in my hands and moving closer to the window. There's no mistaking who she is, the girl with the long mousy-blonde hair twisted delicately into a knot, her huge round eyes and her long, straight nose. She is the image of her mother and father combined, standing beside her brother with his darker hair and square jaw. Tris.

I flip through the photos, finding images of the children playing together in the plain sitting room as kids, sharing the simple dolls that were the only toys we were allowed. The next photo is one of Natalie and Andrew on their wedding day, wearing their Abnegation plain-clothes and surrounded by neighbours. My father is among them, younger and with fewer lines in his face. Hatred bubbles up inside me as I look over to my mother standing beside him, a smile on her lips but her eyes already showing signs of pain and betrayal.

There are six salvageable photographs in the fireplace, the rest of them falling to ashes the instant my fingertips brush over them. It's obvious that these photographs were not meant to exist, that somebody had tried to destroy the evidence as the brainwashed Dauntless marched down these streets. I tuck them into my pocket, stroking at the curled and cracked paper with my fingertips as I wander through Tris' childhood home.

The walls here have seen happier times then mine, I realise as I step into the kitchen. The paper on the walls is clean and smooth, not scratched and torn where drinking glasses have smashed against it and shattered into hundreds of pieces. Even the plain wooden table is in better condition, not cut into by my knife at mealtimes or blackened by pots of spilt ink. Something in the house sings simple songs of happiness and home, instead of echoing the agonising screams like the cold floors of my own home.

Upstairs I find the mirror, hidden behind a sliding panel in the wall. I imagine Tris sitting on a stool in front of this mirror every few months, with her mother standing behind her back as ringlets of hair fell to the floor.

I pass the bathroom door and step into the small bedroom at the front of the house. A single bed is pushed against the wall, a messy desk covered with scrawled and crumpled paper sitting under the small window. The moonlight casts gloomy shadows across Caleb's taut sheets, the spindly shadow of a silky spider web dancing across the grey fabric. Behind his desk and stuffed under his bed and beneath his pillow are books, tens of crumpled paperbacks on subjects from serum theory to quantum mechanics. Somehow, all of this feels cold and wrong. The inhabitant of this room is gone and dead. He gave his life in an attempt to stop this chaos from continuing, and his sacrifice was made in vain.

Heart aching, I leave the room. The door swings shut behind me with a soft click, and I step across the hallway into the other small bedroom. Beatrice's room.

The crumpled sheets make me smile as I step through the door, the whole room lit with the soft glow of the coming dawn. When I press my nose to the soft grey fabric, the sweet scent of the Abnegation girl swims into my brain; that first waft of Tris as she clambered from the net on her descent into Dauntless.

My eyes still burn with the tiredness of the night, and once more I'm more than aware of the stupidity of my idea. For the second time in one night, I stop caring. I pull my sneakers from my feet and lie on my side in Tris' bed, looking over to the window as the sun's light shines off the windowpanes of the houses across the street. The pillow still smells of her, even though I know it's just the smell of the simple Abnegation soap. The demons of the night don't creep from their darkest corners as I let myself sink into the mattress, the duvet spread lightly over my legs. I close my eyes, and once more drift off to sleep.

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