It wasn't that he hated Caleb, exactly. Well, he did hate him but that wasn't it. It was something entirely different from hate; kind of annoying, actually, because he'd come here prepared to hate and steal and kill and fuck around with their lives, hate those lucky ones who'd always had the best and the knowledge to go with it. But then there was this – this extra feeling, where Caleb was concerned, and it wasn't fucking expected.
Caleb, from the first moment he saw him, was dynamic: clearly the leader of the Coven, obviously sure of himself and serious, respected and completely in control. It wasn't what Chase had expected; in fact, what he'd really been ready to see was four kids kind of like Reid, maybe, who Used a bit like him, though tempered with more restraint and less addiction. Or maybe Pogue and Tyler, who both Used a little but mostly did things the regular way, but were still more open to having a bit of fun than Caleb. Caleb was like a blast from the past – everything about him screamed ancient power, solemn and strong, and that right there threw Chase for a loop. Caleb understood the power, more than any of the other three did, and probably more than Chase himself did, though Chase was the one who'd already Ascended.
Caleb knew what he was doing, and that pissed Chase off.
But at the same time, Caleb had this force… this aura, a vibe he gave off that just screamed 'protector', and even Chase fell prey to that a little bit. Oh, he didn't want to become one of Caleb's little followers, but he almost felt like he wanted to protect Caleb; let the protector have a rest for once, briefly take up the mantle on his shoulders for a while. Caleb chipped away at Chase's resentment, niggling in under the hate that had built up almost since his thirteenth birthday, when he realized he was alone, with no idea how to manage a power that he only grew to crave more and more until he clued in that something was wrong with it.
Chase hated Caleb, but at the same time he really didn't, and it complicated the hell out of this whole operation.
Like the getting-to-know-the-guy thing. That had originally been because he knew Caleb was going to Ascend first, even before he knew the boys personally, and therefore he wanted Caleb's power. But then there was this stupid thing complicating stuff and he actually enjoyed spending time with the other boy.
Okay, so he was kind of competitive and Used to make Caleb lose that race in the pool. But he liked being the best, and he needed to Use again, and besides, Caleb just hit his head, it wasn't like he was going to remember anything, other than Chase being the good guy who pulled him out of the pool.
So spending time with Caleb wasn't supposed to be enjoyable, except for moments like that when it was all for his own purposes, and any other time he spent with Caleb was supposed to be merely for the benefit of learning his weaknesses.
But Chase had learned those in the first two minutes he'd met him. It was clear – Sarah, Pogue, Reid, Tyler, maybe even Kate – they were all under Caleb's protection, and of course the fucking golden boy would go out like a light to save any one of their sorry asses, like no one had ever done for Chase, or ever would.
So all this had lingered, not really understood but in the way and not quite unenjoyable, and it is only now that Chase realizes.
I'm Chase Collins. I have everything I could possibly want. And it's true, long and haltingly though it may have been said, true and tinged with hate and resentment and all the right emotions.
It's true, and Caleb tells him that no matter how much power he receives, it won't stop the aging – just hands him this fucking death sentence out of nowhere, the mighty protector, leader, judge, ancient power, knowledgeable one, and somehow even now, crushed under Chase, being ground into broken glass, still with that damn deep endless strength, something more than just physical or the Power.
And Chase can just feel it build, suddenly in him, a melting blend of hate and whatever else that is, something that he's beginning to think could be called longing – but no, because I have everything I could possibly want – or need, a different sort of need, deep in his bones. It's part of the Power, maybe, and he could write this off as a Use of it, because it's thrumming inside him: the need for Caleb, the goddamn golden boy that is screaming ancient defiance and strength and wisdom and good and all that Chase himself really would have appreciated six years ago.
He needs that; doesn't want it at all, but he needs it and the need manifests itself as a physical form of wanting, because that's quite probably as close as he could ever hope to make it to Caleb. Whereas he and his 'brothers' are like a freaking pack of wolves, and Sarah's already worth dying for, apparently.
But the real problem here isn't the fact that this needwant exists. It lies in the knowledge that it's going to be entirely unrequited. Oh, right now, Chase could probably take him. He could dominate Caleb and make him bow down to his will and Caleb wouldn't be able to do anything about it – but that's not what this is. This is like a wolf cast out from its pack, howling to be let back in, wanting to roll over belly-up and vulnerable and to be sure that it will be welcomed back.
This is Chase, wanting to be a part of that Coven, wanting to fulfill that last point on the pentagram, make it complete, and to do that with Caleb because Caleb is the leader, the Alpha male.
Not wanting – needing.
But that's not going to happen at this point, and the realization has come far too late… several car accidents too late, one addiction too late, a dying body too late. It's usurped by a different need, the need for life and power and what Chase came here for; his other fucking birthright, the second one he wants even less than the first.
He ignores what Caleb has said about it not working, ignores it because if that's true then he's already dead and he doesn't want that.
"So tomorrow night. The barn. Back where it all started. A birthday party. Just you and me. It's either you… or them." Chase pats Caleb's cheek, condescending and totally the villain and doesn't care about the fucking need vibrating through his whole body, that's making him lean down close like this anyway.
He pauses. Caleb's angry and weak (still that strength lurking underneath, though, Chase doubts that ever goes away) and in his power, and if he can't roll over and go belly-up and be welcomed back in true wolf style, at least he can steal a tiny piece of what he wantneeds anyway, true Alpha style; true Putnam style, too, and that's fitting.
He snorts. "Brother," he says, painfully mocking, and then quickly, before the need can make more of itself, he staves it off, a quick kiss, harsh and hard and not loving or accepting at all; just more proof of his utter loneness.
He shoves himself up with his hand on Caleb's face and walks off, Using to fix the mirror nonchalantly on the way. He stops at the door when Caleb speaks: not about what just happened, of course, merely concerned with his pack, with his bride: "Don't leave her like that. She'll die."
Chase can't help but grin at the typically white knight reaction, and turns back, Using to fix her, before he's out the door.
He's not bitter, because the need inside him isn't about feelings; it's about belonging. And he's not going to replay that in his head, either, because that wasn't what he needed, anyway; it had been a mistake, tauntingly perfect though it was, because it was like just a hint of a taste of fruit that should never have been forbidden to him in the first place, enough to make him thirst for more, need it all the stronger, the belonging and pack and Caleb's old soul.
And maybe it was true, five minutes ago. I'm Chase Collins. I have everything I could possibly want.
But it isn't now.