“What?” Christina demands, her eyes wide. “My family is in there. They can’t reset everyone! How could they do that?”
“Pretty easily, actually,” Peter says. I had forgotten that he was there.
“What are you even doing here?” I demand.
“I went to see Uriah,” he says. “Is there a law against it?”
“You didn’t even care about him,” I spit. “What right do you have—”
“Tris.” Christina shakes her head. “Not now, okay?”
Tobias hesitates, his mouth open like there are words waiting on his tongue.
“We have to go in,” he says. “Matthew said we could inoculate people against the memory serum, right? So we’ll go in, inoculate Uriah’s family just in case, and take them back to the compound to say good-bye to him. We have to do it tomorrow, though, or we’ll be too late.” He pauses. “And you can inoculate your family too, Christina. I should be the one who tells Zeke and Hana, anyway.”
Christina nods. I squeeze her arm, in an attempt at reassurance.
“I’m going too,” Peter says. “Unless you want me to tell David what you’re planning.”
We all pause to look at him. I don’t know what Peter wants with a journey into the city, but it can’t be good. At the same time, we can’t afford for David to find out what we’re doing, not now, when there’s no time.
“Fine,” Tobias says. “But if you cause any trouble, I reserve the right to knock you unconscious and lock you in an abandoned building somewhere.”
Peter rolls his eyes.
“How do we get there?” Christina says. “It’s not like they just let people borrow cars.”
“I bet we could get Amar to take you,” I say. “He told me today that he always volunteers for patrols. So he knows all the right people. And I’m sure he would agree to help Uriah and his family.”
“I should go ask him now. And someone should probably sit with Uriah . . . make sure that doctor doesn’t go back on his word. Christina, not Peter.” Tobias rubs the back of his neck, pawing at the Dauntless tattoo like he wants to tear it from his body. “And then I should figure out how to tell Uriah’s family that he got killed when I was supposed to be looking out for him.”
“Tobias—” I say, but he holds up a hand to stop me.
He starts to move away. “They probably won’t let me visit Nita anyway.”
Sometimes it’s hard to know how to take care of people. As I watch Peter and Tobias walk away—keeping their distance from each other—I think it’s possible that Tobias needs someone to run after him, because people have been letting him walk away, letting him withdraw, his entire life. But he’s right: He needs to do this for Zeke, and I need to talk to Nita.
“Come on,” Christina says. “Visiting hours are almost over. I’m going back to sit with Uriah.”
Before I go to Nita’s room—identifiable by the security guard sitting by the door—I stop by Uriah’s room with Christina. She sits in the chair next to him, which is creased with the contours of her legs.
It’s been a long time since I’ve spoken to her like a friend, a long time since we laughed together. I was lost in the fog of the Bureau, in the promise of belonging.
I stand next to her and look at him. He doesn’t really look injured anymore—there are some bruises, some cuts, but nothing serious enough to kill him. I tilt my head to see the snake tattoo wrapped around his ear. I know it’s him, but he doesn’t look much like Uriah without a wide smile on his face and his dark eyes bright, alert.
“He and I weren’t really even that close,” she says. “Just at the . . . the very end. Because he had lost someone who died, and so had I . . .”
“I know,” I say. “You really helped him.”
I drag a chair over to sit next to her. She clutches Uriah’s hand, which stays limp on the sheets.
“Sometimes I just feel like I’ve lost all my friends,” she says.
“You haven’t lost Cara,” I say. “Or Tobias. And Christina, you haven’t lost me. You’ll never lose me.”
She turns to me, and somewhere in the haze of grief we wrap our arms around each other, in the same desperate way we did when she told me she had forgiven me for killing Will. Our friendship has held up under an incredible weight, the weight of me shooting someone she loved, the weight of so many losses. Other bonds would have broken. For some reason, this one hasn’t.
We stay clutched together for a long time, until the desperation fades.
“Thanks,” she says. “You won’t lose me, either.”
“I’m pretty sure if I was going to, I would have already.” I smile. “Listen, I have some things to catch you up on.”
I tell her about our plan to stop the Bureau from resetting the experiments. As I speak, I think of the people she stands to lose—her father and mother, her sister—all those connections, forever altered or discarded, in the name of genetic purity.
“I’m sorry,” I say when I finish. “I know you probably want to help us, but . . .”
“Don’t be sorry.” She stares at Uriah. “I’m still glad I’m going into the city.” She nods a few times. “You’ll stop them from resetting the experiment. I know you will.”
I hope she’s right.
I only have ten minutes until visiting hours are over when I arrive at Nita’s room. The guard looks up from his book and raises his eyebrow at me.
“Can I go in?” I say.
“Not really supposed to let people in there,” he says.
“I’m the one who shot her,” I say. “Does that count for anything?”
“Well.” He shrugs. “As long as you promise not to shoot her again. And get out within ten minutes.”
“It’s a deal.”
He has me take off my jacket to show that I’m not carrying any weapons, and then he lets me into the room. Nita jerks to attention—as much as she can, anyway. Half her body is encased in plaster, and one of her hands is cuffed to the bed, as if she could escape even if she wanted to. Her hair is messy, knotted, but of course, she’s still pretty.
“What are you doing here?” she says.
I don’t answer—I check the corners of the room for cameras, and there’s one across from me, pointed at Nita’s hospital bed.
“There aren’t microphones,” she says. “They don’t really do that here.”
“Good.” I pull up a chair and sit beside her. “I’m here because I need important information from you.”
“I already told them everything I felt like telling them.” She glares at me. “I’ve got nothing more to say. Especially not to the person who shot me.”
“If I hadn’t shot you, I wouldn’t be David’s favorite person, and I wouldn’t know all the things I know.” I glance at the door, more from paranoia than an actual concern that someone is listening in. “We’ve got a new plan. Matthew and I. And Tobias. And it will require getting into the Weapons Lab.”
“And you thought I could help you with that?” She shakes her head. “I couldn’t get in the first time, remember?”
“I need to know what the security is like. Is David the only person who knows the pass code?”
“Not like . . . the only person ever,” she says. “That would be stupid. His superiors know it, but he’s the only person in the compound, yes.”
“Okay, then what’s the backup security measure? The one that is activated if you explode the doors?”
She presses her lips together so they almost disappear, and stares at the half-body cast covering her. “It’s the death serum,” she says. “In aerosol form, it’s practically unstoppable. Even if you wear a clean suit or something, it works its way in eventually. It just takes a little more time that way. That’s what the lab reports said.”
“So they just automatically kill anyone who makes their way into that room without the pass code?” I say.
“It surprises you?”
“I guess not.” I balance my elbows on my knees. “And there’s no other way in except with David’s code.”
“Which, as you found out, he is completely unwilling to share,” she says.
“There’s no chance a GP could resist the death serum?” I say.
“No. Definitely not.”
“Most GPs can’t resist the truth serum, either,” I say. “But I can.”
“If you want to go flirt with death, be my guest.” She leans back into the pillows. “I’m done with that now.”
“One more question,” I say. “Say I do want to flirt with death. Where do I get explosives to break through the doors?”
“Like I’m going to tell you that.”
“I don’t think you get it,” I say. “If this plan succeeds, you won’t be imprisoned for life anymore. You’ll recover and you’ll go free. So it’s in your best interest to help me.”
She stares at me like she is weighing and measuring me. Her wrist tugs against the handcuff, just enough that the metal carves a line into her skin.
“Reggie has the explosives,” she says. “He can teach you how to use them, but he’s no good in action, so for God’s sake, don’t bring him along unless you feel like babysitting.”
“Noted,” I say.
“Tell him it will require twice as much firepower to get through those doors than any others. They’re extremely sturdy.”
I nod. My watch beeps on the hour, signaling that my time is up. I stand and push my chair back to the corner where I found it.
“Thank you for the help,” I say.
“What is the plan?” she says. “If you don’t mind telling me.”
I pause, hesitating over the words.
“Well,” I say eventually. “Let’s just say it will erase the phrase ‘genetically damaged’ from everyone’s vocabulary.”
The guard opens the door, probably to yell at me for overstaying my welcome, but I’m already making my way out. I look over my shoulder just once before going, and I see that Nita is wearing a small smile.
AMAR AGREES TO help us get into the city without requiring much persuasion, eager for an adventure, as I knew he would be. We agree to meet that evening for dinner to talk through the plan with Christina, Peter, and George, who will help us get a vehicle.
After I talk to Amar, I walk to the dormitory and lay with a pillow over my head for a long time, cycling through a script of what I will say to Zeke when I see him. I’m sorry, I was doing what I thought I had to do, and everyone else was looking after Uriah, and I didn’t think . . .
People come into the room and leave it, the heat switches on and pushes through the vents and then turns off again, and all the while I am thinking through that script, concocting excuses and then discarding them, choosing the right tone, the right gestures. Finally I grow frustrated and take the pillow from my face and fling it against the opposite wall. Cara, who is just smoothing a clean shirt down over her hips, jumps back.
“I thought you were asleep,” she says.
She touches her hair, ensuring that each strand is secure. She is so careful in her movements, so precise—it reminds me of the Amity musicians plucking at banjo strings.
“I have a question.” I sit up. “It’s kind of personal.”
“Okay.” She sits across from me, on Tris’s bed. “Ask it.”
“How were you able to forgive Tris, after what she did to your brother?” I say. “Assuming you have, that is.”
“Hmm.” Cara hugs her arms close to her body. “Sometimes I think I have forgiven her. Sometimes I’m not certain I have. I don’t know how—that’s like asking how you continue on with your life after someone dies. You just do it, and the next day you do it again.”
“Is there . . . any way she could have made it easier for you? Or any way she did?”
“Why are you asking this?” She sets her hand on my knee. “Is it because of Uriah?”
“Yes,” I say firmly, and I shift my leg a little so her hand falls away. I don’t need to be patted or consoled, like a child. I don’t need her raised eyebrows, her soft voice, to coax an emotion from me that I would prefer to contain.
“Okay.” She straightens, and when she speaks again, she sounds casual, the way she usually does. “I think the most crucial thing she did—admittedly without meaning to—was confess. There is a difference between admitting and confessing. Admitting involves softening, making excuses for things that cannot be excused; confessing just names the crime at its full severity. That was something I needed.”
“And after you’ve confessed to Zeke,” she says, “I think it would help if you leave him alone for as long as he wants to be left alone. That’s all you can do.”
I nod again.
“But, Four,” she adds, “you didn’t kill Uriah. You didn’t set off the bomb that injured him. You didn’t make the plan that led to that explosion.”
“But I did participate in the plan.”
“Oh, shut up, would you?” She says it gently, smiling at me. “It happened. It was awful. You aren’t perfect. That’s all there is. Don’t confuse your grief with guilt.”
We stay in the silence and the loneliness of the otherwise empty dormitory for a few more minutes, and I try to let her words work themselves into me.
I eat dinner with Amar, George, Christina, and Peter in the cafeteria, between the beverage counter and a row of trash cans. The bowl of soup before me went cold before I could eat all of it, and there are still crackers swimming in the broth.