Eric Coulter - From the Ashes(Part 3)
PART 3: In which an unknown new faction has taken control over the ruins of the ancient city and you may be the only hope to win the war against them
Disclaimer: Obviously most characters and the dystopian city of Chicago belongs to Veronica Roth. I have not read the books, nor watched the third movie (though seen a few clips here and there on youtube), so this story is my own, so naturally, a lot of things are changed:) Hopefully, that won't bother you guys too much.
THE LAWLESS ONES
A low breath escaped Eric's lips as his blue eyes fell on your figure by the door. Dressed in the same jet black outfit the two other soldiers had worn which was no doubt the invisible suit you had developed, Eric noticed two guns resting on the sides of your hips while two sharp knives were firmly tucked away in two pockets on your thighs.
Your hair, which had once paused on your shoulder, was falling down your back in curly waves, and for a fleeting moment, he remembered the feeling of your soft hair running between his cold fingers and the way your porcelain skin felt beneath his touch.
Staring at you, a hundred thoughts were running around in the back of his mind and though he had desperately missed you, probably more than he would ever admit, Eric could not help but feel a coldness wash over him at the very face that had possessed his heart for the last two years.
Tilting your head at him, you pulled the knife out of the door with a slight smirk, "After two years, this is how you greet me? By nearly throwing a dagger at me?".
"If I wanted to hit you, I would have though I have to confess I did not see you there" Eric replied darkly as he watched you slowly approach him.
With steady steps, you neared him, a slight enticed look in your warm eyes as the two of you gazed at one another.
Almost getting lost in the depth of your eye spheres, Eric found his body go rigid and his tenseness did not go unseen by your sharp eyes. Coming to a sudden halt, you held your head high as you sent him a guileful smile since you could read him like an open book.
"Spit it out, Eric, whatever is troubling your mind," You spoke softly, "I can handle it".
Eric's temper and ruthless acts had never gotten to you despite him being noted for being anything but kind hearted back in Dauntless. Spending most of his time insulting almost every person that crossed his path, or threatening the poor transfers that they would end up factionless if they did not follow his often merciless requests, Eric had never made you flinch or recoil from his angry figure.
Quite the opposite, you had often found yourself relax in his arms. Like a tall, strong tower, his presence completely encompassed you, even when he was at his worse and you knew, no matter what, he would never cause you any harm and though you had not seen this handsome young man since your days back in Dauntless, you trusted him.
Fully and utterly, he had your trust.
Taking a deep breath, Eric remained quiet as he studied you before his eyes flickered around in the rest of the room which was slightly lit by a single, dim lamp hanging loosely from one of the walls.
"Don't worry, we are alone," You answered his wary expression quietly, "So if you have anything on your heart you wish to share with me, go ahead. I'm listening".
Knowing that you had never lied to him, nor could you ever do so, Eric tried his best to lower his guard, but as he spoke, he could not control the accusing tone that clouded his voice, "Why did you leave?".
The words felt almost strange on his tongue and he did not like the way the question probably made him seem weak, but he could not deny that this very query had been bothering him ever since the night you had departed Dauntless, and with that final plan of yours, left Eric behind as well.
And now that he was finally reunited with you, he wanted nothing more than to walk right up to you and kiss you, but the anger and hurt that had been built in his cold heart since you abandoned him, could no longer be controlled. He needed to let you know how he felt. In order to love you, once more, he needed to release this anger.
"Why did you leave me?" Eric asked quietly.
Keeping his piercing eyes on you, the soft sigh that left your mouth did not go unnoticed by him and he found himself tensing a bit more since your sudden silence came off as your way of giving yourself more time while your brain tried its best to come up with a good answer.
The thought of you not being able to explain yourself, to give him an answer that would satisfy his dark mind, only made Eric more set on allowing his anger to control the conversation. He did not feel bad when he let out a groan while shaking his head at your quiet figure. You were the one who had left him in the dust and from what he had understood from Hayden's snarky comment earlier, you had not even tried to go find Eric.
"Why did you not come back?" Eric heard himself ask and at his question, he noticed something flicker in your eyes as you glanced at him. Whatever emotion it had been, it disappeared before he could dwell too much on it.
"I left Dauntless, but I never left you," You breathed out after a moment of pure silence, "No matter where I went, you were always in the back of my mind".
"Yet you did not have the fucking courage to say goodbye before you so abruptly left" Eric hissed.
"If I had taken the time to say farewell with you, we both know you would have joined me and that was not what I needed. I left because I needed to heal and building myself back up again would have taken a much longer time if I had allowed myself to be distracted by our incomprehensible bond," You spoke, your figure steady and composed in front of him, "I never left you, Eric. Like I just told you, you were always with me, but I left because I had to. My departure was never about you, it was about me. After what happened, I needed to find myself again".
Though he heard your words and though he understood the deep, personal content you had shared with him, it was hard to let go of the fury that was longing to make you feel the very pain you had put him through. It was an incredibly selfish thought, Eric realized, and so, taking a deep breath, he did his best to control his rage.
But, the little of resentment that still clouded his mind, held onto him in spite of Eric trying to ignore it, and so the next second, he practically spat out while glaring at you, "And you could not do that with me by your side? Bringing those damn soldier friends of yours was acceptable, but bringing me along with you-"
"Do not pretend as if you could ever understand!" You cut him off sharply, your eyes narrowing at his unnecessary accusation. Of course, you could understand that he was upset with you, but what Eric failed to grasp, was that this had never been about him.
Eric held a special place in your heart, and you knew he always would, and though there were many books filled with fairytales of the princess finding their prince and living happily ever after together, you were far from a princess.
And this life that you lived, was far from a fairytale.
A part of you would always belong to the sulking young man in front of you, but you were not a weak woman when it came to love. You were independent, strong, fierce, and untamed, but even the strong ones could feel pain and you had felt it, deeply.
"Do not act as if you know how it is to be a part of a family of friends that would happily die for you. Sure, you have had your group of soldiers, but they were never loyal to you and you know that. Fear caused them to obey you but with my circle of friends, the loyalty we have to each other is built on something much greater, something called brotherhood and fellowship, so yes, without any hesitation, they followed me that night. Our bond is strong and loyal, and I would die for them without a second thought," You spoke, your voice a bit harsh before you soften your tone slightly, "But the attachment I have with you is something else, and believe me when I tell you that you mean more to me than I have probably failed to show you, but do not for a second make it as if you can possibly understand the pain I have felt".
Taking a sharp inhale of breath, you went on, your voice firm, yet there was a hint of sorrow in it as you spoke, "The hurt I have inflicted on you the night I left was simply, as cold as it may sound, collateral damage. I never meant to hurt you, Eric, but I could no longer stay in the faction. Every step I took, every breath I took, every fucking thing I did back there reminded me of him and if I had stayed, I would probably have gone mad. When he died, my whole soul shattered into millions of pieces, and picking those pieces back up again, trying my best to mend what was left off me, has by far been the most challenging thing I have ever done, but with that said, I can honestly tell you that I am in a much better state of mind today than I was back in Dauntless".
Adding quickly, you softly said, "So do not try to lecture me on pain because believe me, I have felt it".
Pure silence filled the dim room as the two of you stared at one another. Eric's blue eyes were studying you with a thoughtful look while you looked at him with determined eyes, keeping your head high. A flash of challenge flickered in your eyes for a moment, and after a minute or two, Eric lowered his guard. You had always been honest with him, yet, the sudden confession of yours had caught him off guard and he knew deep inside that he was in no position to judge you.
With that final acknowledge, Eric quickly stepped forward, his eyes on you the entire time as he approached you, and then, in less than a heartbeat, as he came to a sudden halt, his hand was softly holding your chin, his lips against yours in a kiss so passionate that it left you both speechless and out of breath and neither one of you could hide the flame that erupted in your hearts.
Not surprised by his sudden move since you knew him better than anyone, you pressed your lips against him as well and once his large hands were wrapped around your waist, pulling you closer to his firm body, you could not help but sigh softly as the intimated, yet familiar act made you feel whole again, if only for a second.
Breaking the kiss for a moment, Eric lovingly planted his lips down the line of your jaw before he kissed you on the mouth again, hard.
Knowing that he would probably need some time to bury the anger in order to forgive you for having left him, you still allowed yourself to embrace the warmth he engulfed you with, and for the next minute, the two of you stood there, silently next to each other. Resting his head on your head while you buried your face in his chest, you could hear the steady beating of his heart beneath the soft material of his vest.
Allowing the hurt he had felt earlier to slowly fade away, leaving his body to calm down instead, Eric found himself intertwining his hand with yours, and the next second, your fingers were weaving in and out of each other in a loving dance, and as he stood there, inhaling in the familiar scent of you, he could not find a single word to describe the way he felt around you, but he knew that whatever peace and love he felt, was because of you.
Accepting that you had left because you needed to find yourself again, and now that he was finally reunited with the only woman who could make his heart beat this way, Eric realized that the empty hole he had felt those last two years, was slowly starting to mend and as he glanced down at your figure, a faint smile appeared on his face.
Your body fit his perfectly, and the affection that filled every corner of his body in this very moment made him lower his guard completely.
If the world had gone up in flames around the two of you, he wouldn't have cared. Eric's focus was on you and you alone, and that was all he needed.
However, before either one of you could admit what both your hearts already knew, the sound of the door opening abruptly from behind your entangled bodies slashed through the comfortable stillness you both had enjoyed, and with a huff, Eric's eyes fell on your two closest friends.
Clapping his hands together, firmly and slowly, Caim let out a whistle, his bright blue eyes falling on you and Eric, "What a lovely sight I see in front of me. For a moment there, I thought I had stepped into a portal that lead me to a world where there is nothing but love and pure happiness".
Letting out a grunt, Hayden rolled his eyes at the blonde's comment, "Yes, a very disgusting sight indeed".
"Oh come on, Hayden," Caim snickered, "Even you can admit that it is a shame that love has become a rare thing in this mad world of ours. It will be a sorrowful day if we ever allow the beauty of love to slip through our fingers-"
"Oh piss off," Hayden interrupted annoyed, "If anything, I feel much sicker than I did earlier".
"You can put on that stupid act of yours as much as you want, dear friend," Caim happily commented, "But we both know this is only your jealousy speaking. You're just upset still since the very sight of our old Dauntless friend reminds you of rejection, but if you allow yourself to see how happy he truly makes her, you might even gain a new ally and we both know that you and Eric would be a dangerous, yet a strong force to be reckoned with".
"Please," Hayden threw Eric a dirty look while he replied in an irritated voice, "An ally? His strength is nothing compared to mine. I could kill that man ten times before he hit the ground".
"You do well in remembering he was born in my faction," Caim said calmly, his blue eyes shining as he gazed at you and Eric with approval, "You might be slightly stronger than him, and taller, but do not forget how cunning that Erudite brain of his can be".
"You guys do realize we can hear every single word you are saying?" You suddenly spoke as you broke away from Eric, who was merely huffing in annoyance at the sight of the black haired man you knew he disliked.
"Yes" Caim replied simply.
"Then I suggest we show each other some respect" You demanded with a strict voice as you looked at them with one eyebrow raised, "And I'm not talking about you, Caim".
Letting out a deep breath, Hayden simply nodded, his eyes on you. As much as he loathed Eric, the respect he had for you, towered above everything else.
Glancing towards the door where your best warriors stood, Eric asked curiously, "What's in the other room?".
Grinning, you gently squeezed his hand for a second before you began to walk towards the door, "Why don't you find out?"
Following your figure, Eric sound found himself in a larger underground room. Thanks to the many lamps here and there on the walls, the room was much lighter than the previous one and by the walls, he spotted mattresses and blankets. A few desks were in the room as well and as his eyes fell on the many computers, he was in no doubt that you and your group of Dauntless members were the ones who had raided the laboratory.
Turning his head just in time to hear a door open, his eyes fell on the ginger woman, Beth, as she entered the room, closely followed by the rest of your group and he was not surprised to notice the knowing looks on their faces once they noticed him.
Jonathan, Candice, Lars, Rayek, Jesse and Dante.
Recognize them all, Eric gave them a slight nod.
Except from you, Caim, Dante and Beth, the rest were Dauntless born, but somehow Eric had a feeling that they all possessed some kind of skills within technology. After all, you had taken the best ones with you when you left that night (well, minus Eric, that was).
Carrying a dark bag over her shoulder, Beth lazily threw it down on the hard floor before turning her focus towards Eric. Glancing at the heavy bag for a second, something told him that whatever was inside it, were the results of a scavenger hunt in the ruined city.
"Long time no see" Dante's tall frame hovered slightly over the others as he jumped down from the little edge and instead of approaching Eric, the white haired guy seated himself on one of the tables, an apple in his hand which he kept bouncing in his hand, a confident smirk on his face.
Giving him an emotionless look, Eric did not even bother to reply. Not having been very close to anyone in the room, except you, Eric was pretty sure that most of them were not too happy about his arrival, and the only reason why they allowed him to be here, acting as if he was one of them, was simply because of you.
"How did you find us?" Beth asked as she leaned against the door, her brown eyes on him with a thoughtful look.
"And why now?," Dante butted in before he took a bite from the apple, "Is it because you realized you can't win this war without us?".
"What is this, some kind of interview?" Eric spat out and watching a few of them whispering among themselves, only made him more annoyed.
He had not come here to answer a dozen questions.
"Well, as you can see, this is where we have been since we left the faction," You said before anyone could ask Eric yet another pointless question and he could not help but relax slightly once your gentle, yet firm voice filled the awkwardness, "We have a few extra mattresses in the next room which is where we store most things we come by. Also, if you are hungry, we have a bunch of fruits and vegetables Jonathan and Beth stole from Amity during the night".
"Amity?" Eric sent you a confused look.
From what he had understood when he saw the huge, colourful crowd of people heading for the walls, he was pretty sure that their faction was no more.
"That's where the new folks are," You answered, your voice a bit hard as you walked over to the very table where Dante sat. Seating yourself down onto the desk, Eric could not help but notice how the white haired man gave you the apple and you, without even looking at your friend, happily took a bite from it before giving it back to him.
That little gesture would have bothered Eric if it had been with anyone outside your team, but for some reason, when it came to the very men in this room, he did not feel any jealousy. Hate and loathing perhaps, but never jealousy.
This was your family, your dearest friends and though each and everyone in here probably made you stronger, Eric also knew they represented your weakness. If he hadn't been so incredibly selfish, he might even have managed to admit that it was a beautiful thing what you and these soldiers shared, but since Eric was not very good at befriending people or care for anyone, it was hard for him to even try to picture himself being part of such a strong brotherhood.
You had been right earlier during the little heated argument the two of you had shared and for a split second, Eric knew that the truth had annoyed him. People had listened to him during his days as a leader, and they had obeyed his commands without questions, but in the end, it was fear that had made them heed him, not loyalty.
"The new folks?" Eric repeated and you nodded, your jaw clenching slightly, "The faction which so abruptly ambushed our dear city. It's almost strange how they managed to gain the upper hand in such a few days, especially since I'm pretty sure our numbers were larger than theirs - well, not today obviously -, but they seemed more willing to shed blood than the five factions did, and those who have no problems sacrificing their own allies, no matter what the goal is, well, they make a dangerous enemy".
"Yeah, we have no problem with sacrificing," Dante shrugged next to you, a small smirk plastered on his face, "But when we do it, it is necessary and from what we have seen when spying on the new people - we like to call them the Strangers - the leaders do not seem like they know the value of a life, which once again, makes them quite merciless and dangerous. I mean, everyone in here can be pretty ruthless and savage as well, but we know what a life means and we know the worth of it. When we fight, we fight with honor. The same cant be said about them".
"They fight and they kill, but they don't protect nor shield one another," Caim joined in, his voice slightly sad, "Where is the beauty in a battle if you don't fight for anything?".
"That's exactly what makes them so dangerous," Hayden pointed out darkly, "They have nothing to lose, Caim. They have already proven that over and over and those bodies they hung up last week are just another evidence of how little respect they have for a life".
Before Eric could open his mouth, a hundred questions running through his mind as he stood there in the middle of the cold room, your voice filled his ears again, "Anyway, they have claimed the grasslands of Amity as their new home which was a smart move since that is where our food applies are. From the looks of it, it's safe to say they are planning on staying and probably rebuild the whole city. I would love to share more with you, Eric, I'm sure you would like to learn more about these brutal people, but from now, I am very curious who else has stayed behind with you".
"What?" Eric looked at you.
Since he had been so deep in thoughts, he had not registered the question behind your words although he knew you had spoken directly to him.
"Something tells me you were not alone when you chose to stay behind. Tell me, who else from Dauntless remains?" You repeated as the two of you stared at each other for a moment.
As your eyes met the blue ones of Eric's, he could not help but wonder what the two of you would have done if the others hadn't been here. Your eyes were staring at him with an intense look, and for a second there, he was pretty sure he saw something that could only have been affection flash through your piercing eyes.
He had not seen you for nearly two years and despite the fact that he was aware the two of you had not gone official with whatever bond you shared, he knew that he belonged to you just like you belonged to him. Hanging onto every word you uttered ever since the day he had been introduced to your unforgettable figure in Erudite, you had become the main factor in almost every decision he made, and albeit he might not get a happily ever after with you, you would always be the women his heart desired.
The two of you might never be together, not in the same way like Four and the stiff was, solely because both you and Eric had accepted the fact that such a strong love could easily become a fatal weakness, but even so, deep inside the cold heart of his, Eric knew that if he ever were to settle down with anyone, it would be you.
"Four and some other unimportant people" Eric replied slowly once he realized that he had not answered your question yet.
Nodding, you glanced at Caim who merely gave you a grin as he approached you. Already knowing what you were going to ask of him, he answered your order before you could open your mouth, "Of course. It will be my pleasure to bring in a new alliance".
"What are we talking about?" Eric asked with a wary expression.
"I need you to go get Four and the rest of your team," You spoke and Eric let out a quiet groan, "They are not my team. I only stuck with them because -"
"I don't care what you call them, they were good enough company for you to stay with" You cut him off, giving him a stern look, "Caim will join you. It would make me very happy to see Four again, and also, I cannot ignore that these underground rooms can shelter more than just my family and so it is my duty to invite those who need a place to rest. Tell them that they are more than welcome to join us".
"Alright, off we go," Caim beamed before he chuckled at Eric's sulky look, "Come on, Eric, do smile a little, dear friend. You can never go wrong with a smile. After all, we are bringing two alliances together, isn't that a beautiful thought? What we cant achieve on our own, such as winning this war, we must do together".
Gazing at you for a moment, Eric gave you a silent nod before he followed after the blonde before making their way up from the underground, ready to make Four's alliance become one with yours.
* * *
The darkness had taken over the streets and as the wind howled from outside, letting everyone know that they would do wise to stay hidden, Four let out a quiet sigh as he rested his back against the hard wall.
It was nearly a day since Eric had left them, and to be honest, Four was not sure he trusted Eric to return to them if he were to find you and your folks, but he liked to think that there was some good in the other Dauntless leader. Especially since Eric had stayed with them for so long, but then again, Four was aware that no one in this room was the very reason why Eric had chosen to remain.
Glancing at the tired people in the little panic room they were hiding in, his eyes fell on Tris who was curled up in a ball on the dirty ground next to Christina, both of them snoring softly. The annoying Candor boy, Peter, was sitting on a broken chair, his head resting in his hands while he tried his best to nap, and as Four let his eyes wander to the rest of the sleepy people, he could not help but notice that one of the girls, a former Amity, looked pale and quite thin.
With a sinking feeling, he knew that they had not eaten much since the war began. It was difficult to find anything edible these days, and with one quick glance at the bag which Christina had brought with her, Four could tell by the sign of the sinking material that is was not much food left.
Knowing that they could not afford to lose a single life, he knew they needed to find food soon, or else it would not be long until the group of his became smaller.
At the sound of footsteps coming from outside the room, Four quickly grabbed his gun, aiming it directly at the closed door and the cough that could be heard from the other side, quickly awoken the rest of the sleeping people.
Tris rose up, a concerned look on her face as she grabbed her own gun as well and the next second, both Christina and Peter held their weapons out as well, all eyes on the door.
"Eric?" Four called out softly, tilting his head as he noticed that the doorknob moved and the next second, with a surprised gasp, Four's eyes fell on the familiar blonde as Caim's blue eyes sent him an amused look while he entered the room with a confident smile, "What a lovely home you guys have here".
Leaning in the doorway with his arms crossed, Eric simply gave a nod to Four, who answered his silent word with a nod of his own and he could not help but smile as Caim walked over to him and the next second, the two men happily hugged each other.
"It's good to see you again, my old friend" Caim said as they broke apart.
"I could say the same, though I wish the circumstances had been different" Four admitted weakly and Caim only shrugged while he let his eyes take in the filthy room they were in.
"Who is that?," Christina whispered quietly next to Tris, "He is gorgeous. Look at that jawline of his. And those blue eyes".
Both the young women found themselves in a strange trance as they studied the blonde soldier. His jawlines were sharp indeed, and his blue eyes were clear and gentle, and for a split second, all Christina wanted to do was to run her fingers through that messy, yet soft looking blonde hair of his. He looked friendly, yet there was an alluring mystery to him.
God had definitely spent his time with this young man.
As if he had felt their eyes of wonder upon him, Caim slowly turned his head to glance at the two girls, a knowing smirk on his face, "Why thank you, darling, you're quite pretty as well, but if you value your heart, you would do yourself a big favor not to fall for me. I can only offer tears and a tissue if you are looking for anything deeper than a friendship".
"Oh," Christina sent the blonde a slightly disappointed smile, "May I ask why?".
Eric sent the blonde a boring look as Caim spoke, a sudden sadness in his voice, "Though in pain, my heart already belongs to someone", Pausing, he then added with a firmer voice while smiling, "The name is Caim, and although I would love to stay in this dusty room and develop asthma, I would prefer if we could leave as soon as everyone is ready. The darkness has already taken over the fallen city of ours, and I'm not sure how long my flashlight might work".
"Where are we going?" Peter asked as he grabbed his bag and threw it over one shoulder, completely ignoring that a few of his stuff fell out and landed on Christina's head since she had leaned down to pack her stuff.
"That is for me to know and for you guys to wonder about" Caim replied before he joined Eric by the door and soon, the room was filled with the sounds of stuff being put away and bags being packed for a few minutes before everyone stood in a group in the middle of the room, more than ready to live the tiny place.
Giving a silent nod with his head, Caim gestured for them to join him and a few seconds later, Eric closed the door shut since he had waited for everyone to leave before he quickly made his way after the others, more than ready to return to you.
A few hours later, the sound of people whispering and mumbling could be heard as you rose up from your seated position and the next moment, the door to the cold room opened and Caim entered with a bright smile, closely followed by a bored looking Eric and then Four. Behind Four again, you noticed a few familiar faces among the Dauntless soldiers, but most of the figures that soon filled the cave were unknown faces to you.
The moment Four spotted you, he came to an abrupt halt which caused Tris to crash into his back before she glanced up at him with a weird expression.
Giving him a nod, Four answered your silent greeting with a nod of his own before he stepped to the side, allowing the others to enter the room, his eyes taking in the huge underground area.
It was nothing like the Pit, naturally, but it was still pretty huge and it was more than enough space for everyone down here.
Once Four's eyes fell on you again, he could not help but smile. You were definitely the centre of the room, especially since everyone seemed to be staring at you and that dark suit of yours along with the superior aura that lingered around your sharp figure radiated nothing but pure control. There was no doubt who was in charge here.
Standing in front of your own team, with Hayden to your left while Eric and Caim stood on your right, you quickly studied Four's group. You knew that the Dauntless soldiers were capable of wielding weapons, but as your eyes fell on the Amity and some Erudite people, you knew that they were definitely the weak ones here. You were fair minded for sure, but if you were forced to bring the very heaven down in order to claim the city back, you would not babysit these people.
You could not afford to have weaknesses, especially since your heart already beat for the very people who stood by you. And then there was Eric...you could not deny how he made you feel, and though your friends were not too fond of the ruthless young man, you knew you would not hesitate to take a bullet for him.
If anything, you knew he would gladly take one for you too, so in the heat of the moment, if it ever came to that, you wouldn't be surprised if you and Eric ended up fighting over the incoming deadly force.
"I'm surprised to see so few former Dauntless members," Hayden pointed out before anyone could say anything, "Did they all run to the walls when the war fell upon us? What happened to being fearless and brave?".
Not wanting anyone to start a heated battle of words, you quickly took a step forward, "I'm not going to hold some kind of welcome speech, but I do hope that the shelter you guys find here is much better than whatever hole you have been hiding it. We have food, water and mattresses, and we also have weapons and suits for those who need better clothing. Yes, it can be a bit cold down here, but we are safe down here, and most importantly, you won't be alone".
"I'm gonna call that a speech anyway," A young guy said with a funny smile and you watched with one raised eyebrow as he nonchalantly walked up to you, holding his hand out, "The name is Peter, your next boyfriend".
Narrowing your eyes at his hand, you saw Four concealing a chuckle in the corner of your eye while Eric, who was still standing next to you, only rolled his eyes.
"Okay, okay, we can greet later, no worries, in fact, I'm sure this whole thing will be much better if we can get to know each other in private-," Peter began, but with one quick move, you cut him off with your gun which the next second, was pointed directly at his forehead.
"Or not" Peter trailed off as he quickly took a step back, blushing faintly.
Four simply shook his head at your typical friendly gesture, a smile lingering in the corner of his mouth. Glancing at him, Tris frowned while she whispered, "And you think we are safe down here?".
"Trust me," You said firmly before Four could answer the silly girl's question and as she glanced at you, you simply smirked, "You're safer with my folks than up there alone, but please, if you rather go back up again and spend most of your time hiding behind every wall you see while silently praying that the Strangers won't hear your beating heart, I will not stop you but do not for a second think we will have time for a proper burial if we find your body".
"That was harsh"Christina whispered under her breath while Tris simply frowned more.
Four glanced at his girlfriend for a brief moment before his warm eyes fell on your dominant figure. He was not surprised that Tris probably wouldn't get along with you. Where Tris was kind hearted through and through, and definitely willing to try to save everyone she met, you were not as patient as her, and though Four knew that Tris probably wouldn't like the fact that he would ultimately side with you, he knew that there was a reason for why your men would follow you no matter where you went.
Everything you did was always going to be for the greater good, no matter how much it could pain you.
"The Strangers?" Trisk asked curiously, her voice bringing Four out of his thoughts.
"The faction who stole our homes," Caim replied, "From what we have gathered, they have no name, so we call them the Strangers because that is what they are to us: strangers".
"How much do you know about them?" Four asked, his eyes directly on you.
Meeting his brown eyes, you could not help but smile slightly. You and Four had always been close, and though you had never considered him a part of your new Dauntless family, he had always been a good friend. Knowing that the two of you would probably have a private conversation sooner or later, you simply shrugged, "We can tell you everything we know tomorrow, but for now, I think we should call it a night. Besides, your folks seem pretty starved, Four, I'm sure Caim or Candice can show you where we keep our food supplies. Also, you will find mattresses and blankets behind the black door. Like I mentioned earlier, it can be pretty cold down here".
Candice stepped forward and with a slight scoff, she gestured for the hungry people to follow her. You watched as they hesitated for a second before they slowly followed the tattoo covered blonde, and though you knew that fruit probably wouldn't fill them up completely, you could tell by their pale faces and weak body languages that they were in desperate need of some energy supplies.
Four came to a stop in front of you and you could feel Eric tense slightly next to you which only caused you to chuckle under your breath.
"It's good to see you again" Four said quietly and without uttering an answer back, you merely gave him a nod, a smile on your face.
With that silent confirmation of yours, letting him know that it was good to see him as well, Four quickly followed the others to the supply room. Glancing at you, Eric seemed slightly on edge as he spoke quietly, "There are only a few soldiers among them. You know just like me that most of them will die before this war ends."
"More like before this battle can start," Hayden pointed out, his voice cold, yet smooth, "One of the Amity looked like she could break in two with a single blow from the wind. They are weak, and weak people will not win the war".
"Even so," You mumbled, sighing softly since you understood their observations, "As long as we can turn to each other for support and help instead of tearing one another down, we stand a better chance at finding peace".
"Peace?," Hayden let out an exaggerated deep breath, "Have you seen our city? Peace, from the looks of it, was never an option".
Remaining quiet, you simply stood there, your eyes on the door which lead to the pantry. You could not deny their statements, especially since you were aware of the harsh truth, but you meant what you had just said now. You might not go out of your way to save every single one in Four's squad, and yes, the strong ones had a better chance at victory, but as long as everyone could be on the same page, a triumph ending would be easier to reach.
"If anything," Caim spoke gently, his voice calling you back from your thoughts and as you glanced at your dear, blonde friend, you could not help but notice the kindness that emitted from him when he went on, "We should not be so quick to judge them. If their weakness is all we see, then their strength will never get the chance to bloom".