ANOTHER YEAR, ANOTHER Visiting Day.
Two years ago, when I was an initiate, I pretended my own Visiting Day didn’t exist, holed up in the training room with a punching bag. I was there for so long that I smelled the dust-sweat for days afterward. Last year, the first year I taught initiates, I did the same thing, though Zeke and Shauna both invited me to spend the day with their families instead.
This year I have more important things to do than punch a bag and mope about my family dysfunction. I’m going to the control room.
I walk through the Pit, dodging tearful reunions and shrieks of laughter. Families can always come together on Visiting Day, even if they’re from different factions, but over time, they usually stop coming. “Faction before blood,” after all. Most of the mixed clothing I see belongs to transfer families: Will’s Erudite sister is dressed in light blue, Peter’s Candor parents are in black and white. For a moment I watch his parents, and wonder if they made him into the person he is. But most of the time, people aren’t that easy to explain, I guess.
I’m supposed to be on a mission, but I pause next to the chasm, pressing into the railing. Bits of paper float in the water. Now that I know where the steps cut into the stone in the opposite wall are, I can see them right away, and the hidden doorway that leads to them. I smile a little, thinking of the nights I’ve spent on those rocks with Zeke or Shauna, sometimes talking and sometimes just sitting and listening to the water move.
I hear footsteps approaching, and look over my shoulder. Tris is walking toward me, tucked under the gray-clad arm of an Abnegation woman. Natalie Prior. I stiffen, suddenly desperate to escape—what if Natalie knows who I am, where I came from? What if she lets it slip, here, surrounded by all these people?
She can’t possibly recognize me. I don’t look anything like the boy she knew, lanky and slouched and buried in fabric.
When she’s close enough, she extends her hand. “Hello, my name is Natalie. I’m Beatrice’s mother.”
Beatrice. That name is so wrong for her.
I clasp Natalie’s hand and shake it. I’ve never been fond of Dauntless hand-shaking. It’s too unpredictable—you never know how tightly to squeeze, how many times to shake.
“Four,” I say. “It’s nice to meet you.”
“Four,” Natalie says, and she smiles. “Is that a nickname?”
“Yes,” I say. I change the subject. “Your daughter is doing well here. I’ve been overseeing her training.”
“That’s good to hear,” she says. “I know a few things about Dauntless initiation, and I was worried about her.”
I glance at Tris. There’s color in her cheeks—she looks happy, like seeing her mother is doing her some good. For the first time I fully appreciate how much she’s changed since I first saw her, tumbling onto the wooden platform, fragile-looking, like the impact with the net should have shattered her. She doesn’t look fragile anymore, with the shadows of bruises on her face and a new stability in the way she stands, like she’s ready for anything.
“You shouldn’t worry,” I say to Natalie.
Tris looks away. I think she’s still angry with me for the way I nicked her ear with that knife. I guess I don’t really blame her.
“You look familiar for some reason, Four,” Natalie says. I would think her comment was lighthearted if not for the way she’s looking at me, like she’s pinning me down.
“I can’t imagine why,” I say, as coldly as I can manage. “I don’t make a habit of associating with the Abnegation.”
She doesn’t react the way I expect her to, with surprise or fear or anger. She just laughs. “Few people do, these days. I don’t take it personally.”
If she does recognize me, she doesn’t seem eager to say so. I try to relax.
“Well, I’ll leave you to your reunion,” I say.
On my screen, the security footage switches from the lobby of the Pire to the hole hemmed in by four buildings, the initiate entrance to Dauntless. A crowd is gathered around the hole, climbing in and out of it, I assume to test the net.
“Not into Visiting Day?” My supervisor, Gus, stands at my shoulder, sipping from a mug of coffee. He’s not that old, but there’s a bald spot at the crown of his head. He keeps the rest of his hair short, even shorter than mine. His earlobes are stretched around wide discs. “I didn’t think I’d see you again until initiation was over.”
“Figured I might as well do something productive.”
On my screen, everyone crawls out of the hole and stands aside, their backs against one of the buildings. A dark figure inches toward the edge of the roof high above the hole, runs a few steps, and jumps off. My stomach drops like I’m the one falling, and the figure disappears beneath the pavement. I’ll never get used to seeing that.
“They seem to be having a good time,” Gus says, sipping his coffee again. “Well, you’re always welcome to work when you’re not scheduled to, but it’s not a crime to go have some mindless fun, Four.”
He walks away, and I mumble, “So I’m told.”
I look over the control room. It’s almost empty—on Visiting Day, only a few people are required to work, and it’s usually the oldest ones. Gus is hunched over his screen. Two others flank him, scanning through footage with their headphones half on, half off. And then there’s me.
I type in a command, calling up the footage I saved last week. It shows Max in his office, sitting at his computer. He pokes at the keys with an index finger, hunting for the right ones for several seconds between jabs. Not many of the Dauntless know how to type properly, especially Max, who I’m told spent most of his Dauntless time patrolling the factionless sector with a gun at his side—he must not have anticipated that he would ever need to use a computer. I lean close to the screen to make sure that the numbers I took down earlier are accurate. If they are, I have Max’s account password written on a piece of paper in my pocket.
Ever since I realized that Max was working closely with Jeanine Matthews, and began to suspect that they had something to do with Amar’s death, I’ve been looking for a way to investigate further. When I saw him type in his password the other day, I found one.
084628. Yes, the numbers look right. I call up the live security footage again, and cycle through the camera feeds until I find the ones that show Max’s office and the hallway beyond it. Then I type the command to take the footage of Max’s office out of the rotation, so Gus and the others won’t see it; it will only play on my screen. The footage from the whole city is always divided by however many people are in the control room, so we aren’t all looking at the same feeds. We’re only supposed to pull footage from the general rotation like that for a few seconds at a time, if we need a closer look at something, but hopefully this won’t take me long. I slip out of the room and walk toward the elevators.