Chapter 12: in your most frail gestures are things which enclose me

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Tobias and I are sitting on the roof of Dauntless headquarters. I’m wrapped in my own jacket this time, and we both have bottles in our hands, though neither of us have done any more than sip. There are clouds overhead and the occasional rumble of thunder, but it isn’t yet close enough to worry us. I set my bottle on the gravel between my feet and flop over onto my brother so that his shoulder is holding most of my weight.

“Why are Max and the other leaders holding the assignment lists?” I ask.

Two days ago, the others and I had been allowed to pick the jobs we preferred from those available. When I chose to occupy the space in the infant development room, under the supervision of Fanny, Max, Eric, and the other three leaders hadn’t looked happy. When we didn’t get our confirmations by breakfast the next morning, Alice told us that that was unusual; the leaders normally try to fill every vacant position as quickly and as ably as possible.

“You’re first in your class,” Tobias says, “and you chose to do something that’s supposed to be a punishment assignment. Firsts and seconds are normally groomed for leadership positions unless they’re uncommonly stupid, and you’re not. They’re probably going to sit you down and try to talk you into a higher position so they can evaluate how valuable you could be in the future.”

“Sounds annoying,” I comment.

“It is, and they won’t take no for an answer, but if you keep saying it, they won’t make you do anything you don’t want to. They’ll try to keep you happy in hopes of changing your mind.”

“So what do I do in the meantime?”

“Whatever you want.”

***

“You haven’t been assigned to me yet,” Fanny says, eyeing me suspiciously.

I shrug my shoulders, “I wasn’t assigned to you between the first two stages of initiation, but I still spent most of my time in here. I like babies better than I like parties.”

“Same amount of noise,” she says drily.

“Babies don’t say ‘hold my beer and watch this’ before trying to back flip off of a table,” I say, thinking of Harper the night of the initiation party.

“Touché,” she says and hands me Adele. “Adele’s mother’s name is Liz. She’s one of the commanding officers for the fence and they’ve been having problems with duty attendance so she’s been assigned out there for the next week to straighten things up.”

“I get Adele?”

“You get Adele,” she says, rolling her eyes and handing me the sling that was wrapped around her shoulder. “She doesn’t cry much, but she doesn’t like loud noises either, so she’ll be a good excuse to avoid the parties. I’ll have the stuff you’ll need ready after dinner. Now go away.”

“You’re my favorite person on the planet, Fanny,” I say as she closes the door in my face.

Adele gurgles in my arms.

“You’re my real favorite person,” I whisper to her, “and I get you for a whole week. I really hope Az won’t mind.”

Her tiny hand pats me on the face and I smile.

***

 By the time Adele and I make it to the commissary, it’s well passed the usual crowd time, though there’s still a scattering of other Dauntless. I wander through the line and pick out an apple and a bunch of grapes for me, and a bowl of mashed potatoes for Adele. There isn’t any pudding left, to my disappointment. We find an empty table in the corner and sit down, Adele propped in my lap so that she can see everything around her.

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