Hehe, ok guys long story short im stuck on all my dgm fics, and have gotten way into the awesomeness of Off*Beat by Jen Lee Quick. The manga is fully worth a read, or in SOME people's cases, an elaborate plot to hide the purchase of it from their parents ^^ You know who you are.

I don't own this.



Colin slammed his hand down on the alarm clock located next to his bed, halting the annoying noise. Around him, his pet cats were all stirring and stretching, but he took no notice of them. Instead, he stared up blankly at the ceiling. He felt horrible.

"Wasn't there some kind of connection?" Tory's voice sounded almost desperate, holding onto Colin's wrist in a bid to prevent him from leaving. The dark-haired boy glared at him, trying to ignore the fact his eyes were tearing up. "Let go." He said harshly.

"Whatever I don't know, I can learn-"

That's when he'd slapped the redheaded boy and ran. Hours afterwards, his phone had rung off the hook almost constantly, accompanied by the occasional banging on the door. Coin knew it had been Tory, trying to speak to him and explain himself, but he didn't want to hear it. He'd been foolish to think Tory had really cared about him in the first place.
Of course that didn't stop him from feeling like his heart had been ripped in two.

"Dammit..." he swore under his breath, rolling onto his side and curling up under the blankets as he folded his arms tightly over the burning feeling in his abdomen. It was Monday, and he had to get up for school, but school meant facing Tory, and he didn't feel up to that right now. He felt worse than when his illness relapsed.
Still, he couldn't afford to miss too much school. The doctor was already annoyed with how much he'd had to donate to stop the fifteen year old from being expelled and there would be no point in arguing with him over emotional pain. Reluctantly, he pushed the blankets off and heaved himself out of bed. His cats swarmed around him as he located various items of clothing, dressed and raked a comb through his hair, but he wasn't in the mood for petting them, not when the shocked expression on Tory's face from when he'd hit the taller boy kept playing over in his mind like a broken record. That painful burning feeling stayed in his chest, making him feel hollow, empty, and nauseous. He knew it was stupid to be feeling this way, but... Well, he'd honestly thought Tory wanted to know him!

He slammed his comb down on the dressing table in frustration, clenching his fists. No one had ever wanted to know him before. Scientists all wanted to examine and speak to him, but they didn't really look at him as a person, only as The Gaia Project, the possible solution to the world's natural disasters and the key to controlling the weather and global warming. Kids at school always talked to him, but his purposely cold demeanour always ended with them giving up and being driven away. The doctor didn't want him having friends to distract him from all things Gaia; hell, he probably wouldn't even send him to school if it weren't required by law and he didn't have time to home school him...
But Tory persisted. He didn't give up and kept trying to be friends with him. Colin let his guard down and warmed up to him, but then of course he'd found that stupid notebook full of observations.
Another person who only saw him as Gaia.

He stared blankly at his reflection, sighing weakly in exasperation. "Am I really only meant to be Gaia?" he asked himself. Suddenly there was a banging on his bedroom door. The cats around him all hissed, their fur standing up straight, indicating the doctor was outside.

"Colin, get a move on, it's time for school."

"Whatever..." the boy sighed, his shoulders slumping as he stuffed a few books into his school bag as he left the room.


The trip to school was uneventful and painfully slow. As soon as the car stopped, Colin hastily let himself out and ran to the building, not wanting to run into to the redheaded boy. He hoped and prayed as he entered through the large front doors that the busses and trains were running late, but as soon as he took a step into the locker area, he heard someone calling out his name.

"Colin! Oi Colin!"

The onyx-eyed boy's insides froze at the sound of the voice. He could see the redhead hurrying towards him, pushing past people with hurried, half-hearted apologies. It didn't make Colin feel any better to see Tory's right cheek was heavily bruised, if anything it made that burning in his chest even worse.
Panicking, Colin glanced around, then ducked down a hallway to his left, running full pelt to find a place to hide. Running this fast, he knew he was in danger of aggravating his condition, but facing Tory was by far a worse choice. He skidded around another corner, and spotting a small supply closet raced over, internally cursing as he fumbled with the handle before finally getting it open and shutting it behind him as he dove into the dim room. Attempting to quiet his ragged breathing, he pressed an ear against the door. Amidst the sound of lockers opening and kids chatting he could hear Tory calling his name, accompanied by hurried echoing footsteps that were no doubt the green-eyed teen's shoes. After a moment, the footsteps receded in volume, and Colin breathed out a sigh of relief, leaning against the door and sliding to the ground.

"T-Too close..." he reached for his schoolbag, which he had dropped upon entering the closet, "I don't even know why I'm running... In the past if I didn't want to talk to someone I ignored them... He doesn't really care about me, so why can't I stop caring about him? I'm so stupid..."

He took a deep calming breath, and took his schedule out of his bag to see what subjects he had first up. He'd at least be able to avoid Tory in class.

First Period: Physics

Second Period: Physics

Colin hit himself in the face, groaning in agony. He had double physics first up. "You have got to be freaking kidding me...."

By now, the bell had rung and the activity on the other side of the door had lessened to a few lockers slamming shut, followed by silence. The part-Chinese boy waited for a minute, then stood up slowly and shouldered his backpack. He took another breath, formulating a plan.

"Ok, it'll just hide in the library, skip first lunch, then go to my next classes, then skip second lunch. I won't ever be able to do physics or eat lunch for the rest of my life but at least I won't run into him again..."

His pushed open the closet door, glanced around the empty halls, and then hurried out in the direction of the library. He snuck through the entrance and past the librarian's desk, then made his way over to his favourite corner hidden behind the shelves of books and plonked down onto a cushion. He then reached into his bag and brought out his physics textbook, opening it up to the chapter they would be covering this week, hoping to at least make up for the lack of attendance by studying.

He read and napped there for most of the morning successfully, however when first lunch came around, he was startled from his study by his name being spoken. After he had calmed down from the small fright, he was relieved it wasn't Colin who sat down opposite him, but Mandy. Her hair was tied back in a blonde ponytail today, and her face was a mask of concern.

"Colin what are you doing here? It's lunchtime."

"M'not hungry." The boy lied. In truth he was starving, but he wasn't about to tell her that.

"Are you and Tory fighting? He's pretty much frantic, trying to find you..."

The fifteen year old felt a small pang in his heart, but crushed it. He shrugged casually, as though uncaring. "We're not fighting. I've just decided not to associate myself with him anymore."

The blonde blinked in confusion. "Why?"

"Because I just did," Colin said through gritted teeth. He gathered up his books into his bag, planning to leave even though he was unsure where he could go without running into the boy he was trying to escape. Mandy looked annoyed at his answer. "But you guys were so close!" she exclaimed, standing up as he did, "I don't understand why you'd not want to be friends anymore!"

The boy sighed in exasperation. Mandy was only making this harder on him, so he did what he knew would work. He glared. "We weren't friends. I spent time with him because I needed help with my physics homework. He spent time with me because he wanted something. There was no closeness, no friendship, he doesn't even care about so just...." he clenched his fists angrily, "Just shut up about him ok?!"

Mandy winced, surprised by the normally quiet boy's outburst, and Colin regretted yelling at her, mostly because she was sure to tell Tory where he was. She hesitantly nodded, then turned around and walked briskly away, her high heels clacking on the floor as she left. Colin leaned against the wall and ran his hands through his hair stressfully, making an agonised groan in the back of his throat. Now he felt guilty over upsetting Mandy, she was his friend, even if they didn't see eye to eye.
The sick feeling in his stomach increased, churning and eating away at him. He felt kind of dizzy, and he noticed his knees were starting to shake. He inwardly swore; he was on the verge of a relapse. He tilted his head back towards the ceiling and closed his eyes, evening out his breathing. He carefully considered hiding out in the nurse's office for the rest of the day, but suddenly sensed the approach of someone. He opened his eyes to see Tory staring at him, his face set determinedly.

"We need to talk."

Colin shook his head, glaring. "We don't. Did Mandy tell you I was here?"

"That's not what matters. We're talking about this right now Colin."

"Heh, yeah right..." he brushed past the taller boy, and for the second time in three days felt his wrist being grabbed. "Colin please wait!"

"Let go or I'll hit you again!" the shorter teen hissed angrily, dark eyes blazing. He felt the grip lessen and yanked himself free, hurrying from the library without even bothering to take his bag; he just wanted to get away as quickly as possible.

"Colin!" Tory jogged to keep up as Colin quickened his pace. "Come on, don't be like that!"

"Fuck off, I'm not telling you anything about The Gaia project!"

"You think I still care about that?!"

They were running through the halls of the school now, dodging past curiously staring students with no real idea where they were heading. Colin wanted more than anything to believe the concern in Tory's voice was real, that there honestly had been a massive misunderstanding concerning the notebooks with every movement the dark eyed boy had made written down, but it was all fake, it was all... it was all...

"COLIN!" He heard the redhead shout his name as he burst through the school doors and ran down the steps. He would be in trouble for this but he didn't care. He just wanted to lose Tory before the tears threatening his eyes finally overflowed. He broke into a full run, rushing down the street. He could hear Tory running after him, so he ran faster. His chest and legs were burning with the effort, and the world around him was starting to blur, but he didn't let himself slow. They ran past numerous buildings and trees, slowly heading uphill and onto some kind of small cliff thing that seemed to be a commercial lookout. Colin ran to the edge and leaned on the railing, nowhere else to. He panted heavily, gripping his chest, and exploded in a coughing fit, falling with a thump to his knees.

"Colin!? Are you ok?!"

"L-LEAVE ME AL-ALONE!" He shouted between coughs, angrily slapping Tory's hand away when he reached out to try and help. Tory took a step back, his hand still outstretched and a hurt expression on his face. "Colin..."

"JUST GO!" The boy stood up shakily, gripping the railing. He didn't care tears were now flowing down his cheeks. "Just go and never talk to me again! I don't want to be The Gaia project to you, do you hear?!"

Tory looked utterly shocked. He walked slowly forward. "Colin, what are you talking abo-"

"That's all I am... Isn't it?! Just a stupid experiment! Something for everyone to take notes on and examines! None of you seem to be aware I'm not like that! I'M NOT A LAB RAT!"

Tory stopped. "I know you're not a rat Colin..."

"STOP LYING!" The yelling was making a full-blown attack more likely, sapping his strength. He was just so... so angry! He legs shook and the world spun violently but he didn't stop. "YOU DON'T REALLY CARE! IF I HADN'T BEEN INVOLVED IN GAIA YOU WOULDNT HAVE LOOKED TWICE AT ME! No... YOU WOULDNT HAVE EVEN LOOKED ONCE! YOU WOULDN'T EVEN CARE IF I DIED! You... You..."

His legs gave way and the world darkened for a moment. He heard Tory scream out his name but it sounded way off. Everything seemed to tip upside down, and it struck him he'd fallen over the railing and down the steep, nearly vertical ravine.


Tory leapt for him, grabbing his pants leg, but misstepped and tripped over the railing too. He cried out as they plummeted towards the earth.