vanillafluffy: (Stan smile)
[personal profile] vanillafluffy

It’s close. Caleb is pacing him and it would be so easy to give him a little push with his power, to hold him back or throw him off course—because Chase isn’t used to losing. It would feel good, too, that amazing tingle that Using always gives him. But he doesn’t let himself cheat because he’s competitive to the bone, and damn it, he wants to know if Caleb really is better than he is.

When he reaches the wall, Caleb looks at him, he looks at Caleb, and he can’t tell who was first. They’re both breathing heavily from the exertion, and Caleb leans against the wall instead of treading water.

Caleb looks up at the rest of his quartet, who’ve been on the sidelines cheering them on. They’re all shaking their heads. “Couldn’t tell,” Pogue says, and Reid chimes in with, “Damn, he’s fast!” Tyler catches Chase’s eye and mouths, “Wow!”

“Good race, man,” Caleb tells him, extending his hand. Chase shakes it, nodding agreement.

They’re heading into the showers when Caleb says, “You may end up our free-swim guy yet.”

“That’s your event, Caleb,” Pogue protests.

“Not if he’s faster.” The thought of being replaced doesn’t seem to bother him; and Chase isn’t sure if he’s serious until he says, “I guess I’m going to have to work harder.”

“I guess we both will,” Chase retorts, and his opponent grins. On Caleb’s face, Chase sees respect and no lessening of their growing friendship.

“—with your record?” Reid is saying, but Caleb shrugs it off.

“It’s not my call, anyway—it’s up to Coach. I’m not going to stand in the way of what’s best for the team.” He says it firmly, and without ego, and suddenly the grudge Chase has been carrying seems a petty thing.

Why should he seek vengeance against these guys who are guilty of nothing more than being related to assholes three hundred years ago? The camaraderie they have that he envies—he could have that, too, if he opens up, if he shares with them the secret they have in common.

Part of him wants to go ahead with his plans, to harvest Caleb’s powers, to be even stronger than he already is. Another instinct wants to join this team-within-a-team, to have others who understand what it is to be different, more than human, constantly caught between prudence and temptation.

Chase knows he’s going to face a tough decision soon. It’s going to be close.

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