998… 999… 1000. I let out a huge sigh. Counting doesn’t work and neither does a glass of warm milk. This is getting ridiculous. Maybe I should listen to Christina about going to the Erudite hospital and get sleeping pills from them. The hospital at Dauntless already put me on a high dose of melatonin. That only worked for a month. Then my body got used to it, so I doubled up on doses. After I did that the melatonin stopped working.
I glance over to the clock 3:29 in the morning. I’ve been in bed for five hours trying to get my body to sleep. I let out another sigh. Normally I would text Christina, but she told me to stop interrupting her sleep because it was getting to be too often. Four used to be able to help me sleep, but ever since we broke up my insomnia has gotten worse. I didn’t even think that it was possible for it to get worse.
I heave myself out of the bed. I throw on some clothes and sneakers. I grab my keys and phone. I make my way to the training room. I haven’t walked around the compound this early, or late depending how you look at it, before. It’s silent. I thought there would be more people around. Even something as simple as a breath, but there’s nothing. It is just silent.
As I get closer to the training room I hear sounds coming from it. Someone’s in there most likely using the punching bag. I can’t see through the small window on the door, so I open it. It screeches. The person at the punching bag looks up. I’d know that tattoo anywhere; they’re the same ones that I have on my body.
“Stiff. What are you doing up?” Eric asks. For once his voice doesn’t hold any anger or malice. He genuinely sounds curious.
“Couldn’t sleep. How come you’re here?”
He shrugs for a second. “Same reason as you. I thought that working out a bit would help, but I’ve been here for an hour and a half already and it’s done nothing.”
I walk over from the doorframe to a punching bag near his. “That sucks. Do you have some tape? I forgot to bring some down with me.” Eric reaches in his pocket and tosses me the tape without a word. I wrap my knuckles. I toss the tape between us on the floor. I stand in front of the nearest punching bag.
For the next hour I take out all my anger and emotions on the damn bag. Sweat is pouring off me. My muscles hurt, my hands hurt, yet I still can’t calm my mind down enough to sleep. I don’t think that I’m going to get any sleep. I stop the bag and look over at Eric. He’s been throwing knives at targets for the last twenty minutes.
I peel the tape off my hands as I walk to where Eric is. I hop on the table next to him. He and I have never become friends since I joined leadership- we’re civil to each other, but that’s about it. I watch as he throws the last knife.
He looks over to me with a smirk. “See something you like stiff?”
I roll my eyes. “Your form needs work Eric. Weren’t you the one who taught me? And now you’re slacking?”
Eric laughs. “I’ve been down here longer than you. Obviously I’m going to slack off a bit.”
“So why can’t you sleep?”
He shrugs. “Too much shit running around in my head. What about you?”
“Insomnia.” I answer quickly. “I’ve had it for years. It’s common in Abnegation because you feel guilty for sleeping late. I’ve taken the highest dose of melatonin that Dauntless has, but it stopped working. I’m pretty sure I’m going to need sleeping pills soon.”
“Sucks to be you stiff.”
“Can you call me Tris! I’ve been in Dauntless for three years now. You’re the only fucking person who’s continued to call me stiff.”
“All you had to do was ask grumpy.” Eric shakes his head. He glances at his watch. “It’s five now. Technically we both have off today, wanna drink? Maybe it’ll help us sleep?”
“Yeah sure. Your place or mine?”
“Mine. I have real alcohol.”
I follow him to his apartment. At least the walk back to my place won’t be bad. I never thought living across the hall from Eric would be a good thing. It used to seem like such a punishment, but now it’s a perk.
He pours us each a shot of whiskey and takes out two beers. We shoot back the whiskey quickly and begin on the beer. I sit on one side of the couch, while Eric’s on the other.
“So what are you thinking about that’s keeping you up late?” I ask him, after we’ve been starring at the other for five silent minutes.
“Lately it’s that I need a personality change.” He smirks.
“A personality change?”
“I mean that I need to start being nicer to people. Maybe I’d have friends outside of leadership then.” He cracks his neck. “Erudite doesn’t teach you to be nice to one another. It teaches you to be cut throat and to be the best of the best. When it’s beaten in to you everyday for sixteen years it’s a tough personality trait to lose. It’s stopped me from making friends.”
“No wonder you always have stick up your ass.” I comment without thinking.
“That’s part of it. The other reason is I haven’t gotten laid in a shit long time, and my hand has gotten old real fast.” He laughs.
I join him. “What I hear is that you have no game.”
“I have game Tris. I just haven’t found someone to use it on.” He rolls his eyes. “What about you?”
“What about me?”
“When was the last time you got laid? There’s a reason I still call you stiff you know.”
I think back. It’s been about two years since Four and I ended things. “When I was with Four.” I make a face.
“Number boy was your first and last? No wonder why you need to get laid.”
I roll my eyes and finish the rest of my beer. I get up to grab another from the fridge. I get another for Eric and bring the whiskey and shot glasses over. “Just because you don’t like Four doesn’t mean the sex was bad.”
“How would you know what’s good if you’ve only been with him?”
I pour whiskey in to his shot glass. “Every time you mention Four you have to drink.”
Eric tosses it back. “Same goes for you then.”
“I don’t speak about him.”
“You just did. Take your shot.” He pours it for me.
Grudgingly I take it. It burns as it goes down. I hate drinking straight whiskey, but I’m not going to tell Eric that. “You’re funny Eric.”
“Can you spread that around the compound? Maybe I’ll get laid then.” He smiles.
“If you smiled like that Eric, you’d get all the girls.” I tell him honestly.
Eric makes a face. “I doubt that.”
“Enough about me. Let’s get back to you. How come you haven’t gotten with anyone in the past two years?”
“I haven’t been interested in anyone. I sometimes think that guys are scared of me because I outrank them.”
Eric nods. “I’m not scared of you. Then again I outrank you. Come on let’s do another shot.” He pours another shot of whiskey for us.
It doesn’t burn as much going down this time. I put my glass on the table. I make myself comfortable, lounging on his couch with my feet on his lap.
“Getting ready for bed Tris?” Eric laughs.
“Nope, I’m just getting ready for another beer.” I smirk. I finish the rest of my second. “Get me another.”
“Say the magic word.” Eric smirks.
“Today initiate!” I bellow like him.
Eric laughs. “I’ll give you fifteen points if you do that in front of Max.”
“I’ll think about it. Now get my beer slave.” I laugh.
Eric goes to the fridge and comes back with two more beers. “Your highness.”
“You even opened it for me. You’re so sweet Eric.” I smile.
“Me? Sweet? I never thought I’d hear my name after that word.”
“Just take a compliment Eric. You don’t always have to be witty.” I take another sip. I’m pretty sure that comment is going to get me in trouble.
“You really are grumpy without sleep aren’t you?” His joking demeanor is set aside. He looks at me seriously. “When was the last time you got a full night’s sleep?”
I shrug. “Probably two years ago.”
“You were with Four two years ago.”
“You have to take a shot.” I smirk. “You said his name.”
Eric grudgingly pours a shot. “Seriously though the last time you slept a full night was when you were with him? How the hell are you functioning?”
“Very well actually. As you’ve seen I’ve beaten you to becoming the youngest leader in Dauntless. I use the time that I’m awake trying to sleep to read over documents and guide books and make notes on them.”
“How very Erudite of you.” Eric rolls his eyes. “You need to get some sleep Tris.”
“Yeah… Well… I normally sleep better next to someone, but since I’m not dating anyone and my friends are sick of me continually waking them up to talk I stay awake at night. I get a few hours here and there.”
Eric shakes his head. He takes a large sip of his beer. “Stay here tonight.”
I do a double take. “Excuse me?”
“Sleep here tonight. What’s the big deal? You need to sleep right? So do I.”
“Why are you being so nice to me?” I can’t help it. We’re not friends. Although after tonight I can see us becoming friends- at least in private.
“Because I just am. I didn’t realize that I was so horrible to you.”
I laugh. “Eric you are the least friendly person I know.”
“I’m trying to change my personality remember? Helping someone out is more Abnegation like, that’s different from my personality.”
I shake my head. “Eric I don’t want to bother you. Or cross the line since you’re technically my boss.”
“Actually I’m your equal. Max is our boss. I just like to pretend that I have some control over you.” He smirks.
“You’re not going to let this go until I say yes aren’t you?”
“Nope. Come on it’s seven in the morning. We should stop drinking and get some sleep.” He says getting up, pulling me with him.
“Fine.” I sigh. “Do you have something I could change in to? Actually can I take a shower, I’m pretty sure that I smell.”
He nods. “Follow me.” His apartment is set up just like mine. I follow him to his room where he gives me a pair of boxers and a long t-shirt. “Towels are in the closet in the bathroom, the hamper for them is under the sink. Toss it there when you’re done.”
I nod. I change out of my dried sweaty clothes and hop in to the shower. It feels so good after working out for two hours. Surprisingly, smelling like Eric isn’t a bad thing. I’ve never really noticed before but he smells really good. I turn off the water and quickly dry myself. I change in to his clothes. I slip my panties back on since his boxers are too big, thankfully the shirt is long enough to be a dress on me.
I fold my clothes and put them on the dresser by the bathroom when I exit. Eric is laying in his bed reading a book. He’s even wearing a pair of glasses. He looks up when he can feel me starring at him.
“How come you don’t wear your glasses when you’re working?”
“They’re called contacts. Don’t spread it around that I wear glasses.” He warns.
“Why? You look hot.”
“You think I look hot?”
I roll my eyes. “So you’re on that side?”
I climb in to the bed next to him. It feels weird lying in bed next to Eric. Of all the people in the faction, spending the night at Eric’s seems like the craziest person to be next to. Surprisingly his bed is comfortable.
“Very.” I purr in contentment. “You’re bed is much more comfortable than mine.”
He laughs. He puts his book on the nightstand, turning off his light, and pulls the blanket over us. “Good night Tris.”
“Night Eric.” I mumble back. I feel him pull me closer to him. I don’t mind him wrapped around me. It’s nice to sleep next to someone again.