Dauntless

What if Tobias and Beatrice transferred to Dauntless in the same year? (Cover by the wonderful Rose)

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6. Six

 

She had seen them. I don’t know why it bothered me so much, but the thought kept repeating itself in my head, long after Tris had gone to join the others at dinner. I couldn’t bring myself to get up and walk those steps to the canteen, having to meet her stern blue eyes as I entered. I want to know what she’s thinking. She didn’t say anything afterwards, just walked out as quickly and quietly as she had creeped up on me.

I can’t stop thinking about my father either. He’s probably at home right now, having dinner alone. If it was any other day, I would have been at the table with him, afraid that I’d accidentally drop my knife or fork and get a lashing. If today had gone a different way, maybe he would have invited Andrew and Natalie Prior over to celebrate; Beatrice and Caleb would have chosen Abnegation too, and everything would be how it was.

But I know they will be silently grieving at home. It’s so strange to think that they mourn us as if we’re dead, and maybe that’s because we are. Tobias from Abnegation is gone. Beatrice from Abnegation is gone too. We’re both Dauntless now. We’ll never be Abnegation again. Our families will see us as traitors, because we turned our backs on them. That’s just how it is. Faction before blood. I’ve heard this enough times that the words are practically crawling through my skin, running through my veins instead. Faction before blood. We don’t have our family anymore, but maybe we can find our family in each other.

I hear loud footsteps thudding down the hallway. For a moment, I’m back in the closet listening to my father’s footsteps as he returns home. Because the compound is underground, every sound echoes off the walls. The footsteps become the sound of my heartbeat thumping in my ears because I’m so afraid that he’ll touch me again. But then Al appears in the doorway, and I remember he can never touch me again. I’m safe now.

“Amar is making an important announcement soon,” Al says, “You probably want to be there.” I nod as if to say yes I’ll be there, when really I have no intention of going. But he stays stood in the doorway looming over me, so I have no choice but to go. “You missed dinner,” he points out, once we’re walking down the dark hallway.

“I wasn’t hungry,” I lie. I wouldn’t fare very well if I was Candor. I’m not good at lying, only keeping secrets. Each faction has its own initiation process. In Candor, you’re put under a truth serum. That’s why it was never really an option for me. I have too many secrets that I don’t wish to share, secrets that I keep hidden under my shirt. I may be Abnegation bred, but I’m so curious as to why Al transferred. He’s quiet for a Candor. He doesn’t talk as much as Christina, who has neither a filter nor an off switch. When we walk into the canteen, I can see her talking to Tris. I’m about to take an empty seat near Uriah, but Al drags me to their table and we sit down opposite them.

“Hey!” Christina says, much too enthusiastically. I smile at her. There’s still so much Abnegation in me that I respond through gestures more than words. “I’m Christina,” she says, extending her hand across the table. I’m not sure if I should take it since I’m not used to physical contact as a way of greeting.

“Abnegation don’t do physical contact,” Tris says, almost jokingly. She even smiles as she says it. It’s such a strange, yet beautiful thing to see. Her smile lights up her face, the way the stars light up the night sky.

“Of course,” Christina responds. “Sorry, I forget you’re all weird with touching.”

“No worries,” I say.

“If you don’t touch each other, how do you have sex?” The voice comes from beside me, and I realise it’s Will. Al almost spits out the water he was drinking.

My eyes suddenly fall on Tris. She stares back at me, her fierce eyes burning into mine. I know what we’re doing. We’re trying to figure out what to say. She’s probably been asked the same question before too, at school. And she’s probably always replied the way she is going to now, with a smirk plastered across her face. “Who knows?” She says.

“Mary was a virgin,” I add, and he just seems to get it, even if I we haven’t explained the how. Of course, some forms of touching are permitted, but it stays within the family. Even then, I’ve only ever known my father to touch my mother and I with hate instead of love.

“What’s your name?” Christina asks from across the table. I assume she’s talking to Will, since he responds so quickly it’s as if he was waiting for the question. I don’t blame him. Christina is a great looking girl. Maybe I would have liked her that way too if she didn’t talk so much.

“I wasn’t talking to you,” she says to Will and his face goes red.

“If you’re talking about the Stiff, he doesn’t have a name.” Another voice joins the conversation. This time, it’s Peter.

“Will you ever stop being an asshole?” Christina snaps.

“Good question, let me think about it.” We all stare at him, whilst he ponders, or pretends to ponder. “No,” he laughs, which riles Christina up enough for her to throw her cup at him. I’m glad it was empty, because I’d hate to know what would have happened if it wasn’t.

“Cut it out,” Amar’s voice echoes over our little group. I can feel him standing directly behind me, though I don’t make the effort to look like everyone else does. There’s something far more satisfying about looking ahead of me, and a pair of blue eyes looking directly back. I’m glad there’s no judgement in those eyes, the kind I feared so much that I missed dinner. Hopefully, water is enough to unsettle my uneasy stomach for the rest of the day.

“Initiates!” I recognise the voice that yells from somewhere behind me, and the malice in it is enough to make me turn my eyes away from Tris. “Welcome to Dauntless!” Eric says, or shouts, though there’s really no need since all eyes in the room are on him. Dauntless have a tendency to shout at every instance. It’ll take some time to get used to, to change my Abnegation way. Beside Eric stands Amar, and another important Dauntless leader who introduces himself as Max.

“We believe in ordinary acts of bravery, in the courage that drives one person to stand up for another,” Max says, upon which the Dauntless born start cheering and rattling their cups, banging them on the table in what starts as a slow beat and ends up a chaotic rhythm.

It’s beautiful, especially when they lift us up in their arms and pass us around like we’re trophies, like we are their prizes from the Choosing Ceremony. We put our trust in them, our family, to not let us fall and they do not falter. They don’t drop me, damage me, break me, like my father did.

And that’s when I start believing the old motto. When we pass each other and the tips of our fingers brush ever so slightly, but it feels like a spark of lightning passes between us. When our heads come so close that I can feel the warmth of her breath upon my face, and smell her Abnegation scent.

It feels like home, the home I never had. And home is what this place is going to be. “Faction before blood,” I whisper.

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