Discover more from Veronica Roth
Insurgent Deleted Scenes!
Deep in the depths of my files...I found them.
Before I get to the deleted scenes, a reminder that I’ll be going on tour this month for the release of Arch-Conspirator, my far future Antigone retelling that comes out on February 21st. If you preorder it, you can get a very cool art print. If you go to one of my tour stops, you’ll get a cool bit of swag— and a signed book, of course.
February 21st: Tampa, FL.
February 22nd: Nashville, TN.
February 23rd: Greenville, SC. (Just me, but with cocktails.)
February 26th: Austin, TX.
I honestly didn’t think I had any Divergent deleted material left after all the special editions, but I had forgotten to check my Scrivener file. There’s still not much— I don’t generally have a lot of deleted scenes, and what I do have is often just a slightly different iteration of what ended up in the books. But there is a little, and I’m excited to share with you!
Just to situate you a little bit: Insurgent came out in 2012, which was a particular moment in books. Basically, YA was hot hot hot, paranormal romance was petering out, and dystopia was at its peak. The pressure for me to deliver was high, and the timeline was tight.
I wrote a draft pretty quickly, and though there was some tumult in the editorial process, one note stuck out to me: my draft had Tris completely isolated, right from the start of the book. I think that’s because I was experiencing a kind of anxious paralysis, having Tris avoid decisions because I wasn’t sure what to decide, myself. To address this problem in revisions, I kept Tris’s grief, but I saved the divisions in her relationships for a little bit later in the book, and I dug a little deeper into how the characters would actually relate to each other, beyond surface-level drama.
These deleted bits are relics of that old draft. Tris and Tobias begin the second installment of their story in conflict: he’s just told her that he loves her, and she hasn’t said it back, and it’s creating all kinds of tension for them right from the start.
Also worth noting: I love a dramatic haircut almost as much as I love an arena fight.
I wake to the sound of buzzing, and swat at the air around my head. Sometimes bees find their way into the Amity sleeping quarters, and after getting stung on the hand last week, I am adding them to the list of reasons why I hate it here.
The buzzing doesn’t stop, and stays at a constant volume, which means it is not a bee. I open my eyes and see the faction symbols drawn in black ink on Tobias’s spine, Dauntless at the top and Amity at the bottom. He holds a pair of electric clippers to his head, which explains the buzzing.
I sit up and watch him. I should have recognized the sound. My father cut my brother’s hair every two weeks, and my mother did the same for my father, so I woke to the buzz of clippers every second Wednesday and Thursday. No one in Abnegation cuts their own hair.
I feel tears coming, and as always, these days, they seem to have no connection to how I actually feel. I blink them away, not wanting Tobias to see me cry for no reason. And as quickly as they came, they are gone.
He brings the clippers too close to his ear, and nicks the skin. Air hisses between his teeth as he turns the clippers off and leans close to the mirror to survey the damage. A bright spot of blood appears on the top of his ear, but it seems to be minor. I stand, my bare feet sticking to the floorboards, and walk into the bathroom.
“I’ve been doing this for two years on my own,” he says, “so you would think I wouldn’t cut myself anymore.”
I pick up the clippers and turn them back on. My mother never taught me how to do this, but it isn’t difficult to figure out. I stand on my tiptoes and bend his ear forward to protect it, running the clippers over his hair in straight lines, going over the uneven places at the back of his head.
His eyes catch mine in the mirror, and he has a strange look on his face, eyebrows furrowed, mouth faintly turned up at the corners. I open my mouth to ask him why he’s looking at me like that, and then I realize.
In Abnegation, offering to cut a man’s hair in place of his parents means behaving like a spouse. It’s the closest thing to a courtship ritual Abnegation has.
I sink back onto my heels, my eyes wide with fear, and switch the clippers off. The faint smile disappears from Tobias’s face, and he takes the clippers from me, a little too roughly.
“You don’t have to look so terrified,” he says. “I know it doesn’t mean anything.”
“I do not look terrified,” I say, scowling at his reflection. “I was just surprised. You know, that I didn’t remember…what that meant.”
“Right,” he says, rolling his eyes. “Just get out, Tris.”
“Don’t be mean,” I say.
“I’ll stop being mean when you stop being a liar,” he says.
I stare at him for a second, my blood running hot with anger, and he stares defiantly back. Then I turn and walk out of the room.
But it’s hard to stay angry, because if he knew how much of a liar I was, he would do more than roll his eyes at me.
ACCIDENTAL COURTSHIP RITUAL is my new band name.
All right, here’s the breakup:
I do not say anything, and neither does he. He turns and walks toward the elevators, and I follow him, because I know that’s what he wants. We stand in the elevator, side by side, in silence. I hear ringing in my ears and blame it on the serum, but I think it’s more that everything is about to fall apart and I know it.
The elevator sinks to the ground floor, and I start to shake. It starts with my hands, but travels to my arms and my chest, until little shudders go through my entire body and I have no way to stop them. I follow him into the lobby and we stand between the elevators, right above the symbol of Candor, the uneven scales. That symbol is also drawn on the middle of his spine.
He doesn’t look at me for a long time. He stands with his arms crossed and his head down until I can’t stand it anymore, until I feel like I might scream. I should say something, but I don’t know what to say. I can’t apologize, because I only told the truth, and I can’t change the truth into a lie. I can’t give excuses.
“So you shot Will.”
“Yeah,” I say. “Those nightmares I was having…they were about him.”
And this isn’t something you felt like telling me?” His voice is quiet and under control. That’s good. Maybe he isn’t as angry as I thought.
“It wasn’t something I felt like telling anyone,” I say.
“Here I was thinking I wasn’t just ‘anyone’ to you,” he says. He laughs harshly. “Guess not.”
He isn’t yelling, but he is on the verge of it, his voice quaking with the effort of keeping it under control. He glares at me, and in his stare is an accusation, but I don’t know what he’s accusing me of. Lying? Keeping things from him? Murdering one of my friends? Not being in love with him?
I don’t know where the anger comes from, because a few seconds ago, I was terrified of losing him. But my face is boiling hot and the creature that has been clawing at my chest since Will died gnashes its teeth. “I’m sorry, was I inconsiderate? How terrible of me, not to think of your feelings when both my parents are dead and I can’t sleep without nightmares about armies of mindless Dauntless and almost drowning in a glass box and shooting my friend in the head!”
“Don’t even pretend that I am being petty,” he snaps. “You know as well as I do that this is just the start of the things that you refuse to tell me. Of the things that you lie to me about.”
He is right. I do know. Anger drains from my body abruptly. It isn’t just Will. It’s all the faces that haunt me. It’s what happened to my parents. What the Erudite did to me. What my nightmares are about every night. How I really feel about him. How I really feel about anything. I keep it all inside because it’s the mortar keeping me from collapsing.
“I’ve been deluding myself,” he says, “because I thought the reason you couldn’t kill me that day—the reason you almost died for me—was that you loved me. And that maybe you couldn’t admit it yet because you’re young and your parents just died and it just wasn’t the time. But that’s not why you did it.”
“I did it because it was you. I couldn’t bear the thought of killing—“
“Because it was me. Right.” He snorts. “I could have been anyone. It could have been anyone in that control room, it had nothing to do with me. You did it because you believed it was the right thing. Out of…duty.”
“That isn’t true!” I shudder again, but this time more with anger than fear. “I killed people. I killed one of my best friends. But I couldn’t kill you! What does that tell you?”
“It tells me that you don’t have the stomach to shoot an unarmed person in the head,” he says. “But that you can shoot people who are shooting at you. That’s all. That’s all it tells me.”
“I don’t understand why this is so crucial for you,” I say. “I couldn’t shoot you, so I didn’t. It was one moment, one single moment. And every other day I’ve been with you, I have done everything because I cared about you. Don’t all those days count for more than one instant?”
“No,” he says. “God, Tris! Sacrificing yourself for me…it’s meaningless if you don’t love me, it’s empty.” He lets out a frustrated yell. “The only reason I could tell you how I felt…the only reason I trusted you—and it’s just a delusion of mine.”
“I did the best I could. I saved your life. It is not my fault that you told me you loved me because of something I did. It’s not my fault!”
“I am not saying it’s your fault,” he says, quietly. “I am telling you why this is over.”
Over. The word takes up all the space in my head, space that was just full of arguments and excuses and reasons a moment ago. I stare blankly at him like I’ve forgotten what it means. And then it breaks into me and drives a crack into me.
“Over,” I say. “You…” I breathe too quickly, like I’ve just been running. Vaguely, I wonder why. “You’re breaking up with me because, after a few weeks of dating, I’m not in love with you?”
“I let you see everything about me. And now I find out I can’t trust you? That I barely know you?” He sounds perfectly steady now. His arms fall to his sides. Resigned. “You’re impenetrable, Beatrice. And that won’t change.”
“Impenetrable,” I say, because I hope that saying it will make it sink in.
“I mean, look at you,” he says. “You’re arguing with me about the logic of what I’m saying. You’re angry because you don’t think my reasons make sense. You aren’t emotional. You aren’t heartbroken. You’ll be just fine without me.”
“I…” I feel like my brain is stuck in one place, on one word—over.
Tobias: kind of an asshole in this version! Geez.
Lastly, because I don’t want to leave you with such strife, here was their original reconciliation. It’s the same as in the final version, with I think one paragraph different. It’s interesting to see, though, how I stumbled into a scene that I still really like as a result of some choices that I ultimately really didn’t like. That’s one of the amazing things about writing: making the wrong choices is sometimes the only way to get to the right ones.
I pick up the bar of soap and turn it in my hands until my skin is coated with white lather. I kneel next to him and run my hands over his feet and ankles, slowly, making sure I get everything. It feels good to do something, to clean something, and to have my hands on him again.
We get water all over the bathroom floor as we both splash it on our legs to get the soap off. We get water all over ourselves, and it makes me cold, but I shiver and I don’t care. He gets a towel and starts to dry my hands.
“I don’t…” I sound like I am being strangled. “My family is…they’re all dead, or traitors, I don’t…how can I…”
I am not making any sense. The sobs take over my body, my mind, everything. He gathers me to him, and bath water soaks my legs. His hold is tight. I listen to his heartbeat and, after awhile, find a way to let the rhythm calm me.
“I’ll be your family now,” he says.
And it is simple.
I don’t know what I was so afraid of. I thought that telling him I loved him would give him power over me, maybe, or that I would want to take it back. I was afraid to trust him with something so personal as my devotion. But instead, saying it is just an acknowledgement of what already exists between us, and the gift of telling him, finally, that I trust him.
I am his, and he is mine, and it has been that way all along.
“I love you,” I say.
He stares at me. I wait with my hands clutching my water-soaked knees for stability as he considers his response.
He frowns at me. “Say it again.”
“Tobias,” I say, “I love you.”
His skin is slippery with water and he smells like sweat and my shirt sticks to his arms when he slides them around me. He presses his face to my neck and kisses me right above the collarbone, kisses my cheek, kisses my lips.
“I love you too,” he says.
Ultimately, I know I made the right call— Tobias doesn’t actually seem like the sort of person to get that bent out of shape about not hearing exactly what he wants to hear when he wants to hear it…from someone who’s just endured some terrible shit, no less. They still have conflict in the final version of Insurgent, but it feels more organic to their experience of each other, the growing pains of learning to communicate even in the midst of trauma. Not this more petty, surface-level stuff that would make more sense if they were, you know, in high school band instead of fighting for their lives, or something.
I’ll keep digging around for deleted scenes, but I hope you enjoyed this! <4
Thanks for reading Veronica Roth! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.