Off*Beat, Eight Times a Week

Title: Eight Times a Week [Tory/Colin]
Fandom: Off*Beat
Rating/Warnings: PG for successful library stalking.
Summary: Tory is supposed to wake Colin up, not take his creepy notes.
AN: Mousapelli’s Birthday Theme 21: There’s a 78% chance that he’ll sleep through physics on Monday.

Eight Times a Week

There’s a 78% chance that he’ll sleep through physics on Monday, Tory thinks as he reviews his notes on the train into school. In the library, in the corner no one bothers him in, and he hasn’t changed locations even since Tory has started invading the space with regularity.

In fact, the only sign that Colin even notices Tory’s presence there at all is the fact that he asked if Tory wouldn’t mind waking him up instead of just staring like a freak because if he doesn’t start making it to class, he’s going to fail Physics for sure instead of just maybe.

Tory thinks these are all good signs. He is not sure what exactly they are good signs of, but he feels if he takes enough notes it will all become clear.

Sure enough, Colin’s seat is empty during Physics, and Tory spends half the period twisting to peer at the empty space, and the other half trying to work out some way to get Mrs. Keplar to switch his seat so he wouldn’t have to twist around to look.

Maybe some kind of in-class tutoring system…

“Tory, where are we?” Mandy hisses beside him, trying to surreptitiously flip pages in her textbook. “I spaced out for a minute and now I’m totally lost!”

Idly, Tory reaches over and turns her book to page 195, then pushes the notes he’s been taking on autopilot towards her. He gets a starry-eyed sigh from Mandy and an approving glance from Mrs. Keplar, and rolls his eyes at both. Why won’t this period end?

“Is Colin out again?” Mandy asks, making Tory jump. “I hope he isn’t sick, he misses so much class…Tory, are you okay? You’re all red.”


“Would the two of you like to share something with the class?” Mrs. Keplar leans over Tory’s desk suddenly, and he startles again, not sure how much more of this period he can take.

“I don’t think Tory is feeling well, Mrs. Keplar,” Mandy reports, and Tory blesses her little pig-tailed head and tries to swallow his heart out of his throat.

“You do look rather flushed,” Mrs. Keplar peers at him closer, and Tory tries to look as diseased as possible.

“I was going to go to the nurse at the end of the class,” he whispers breathily. Look how peaked I look, he urges mentally.

“That explains why you were so interested in the clock.” Mrs. Keplar’s expression softens into something more like concern.

“Sure,” agrees Tory, because the clock is sort of over Colin’s desk. He clears his throat weakly. “Do you think I could…”

He’s already packing up his book and closing his notebook when Mrs. Keplar agrees that it might be best if he just went the nurse now, and he gives her the long-suffering smile he’s perfected over fifteen years of ear infections and shuffles out into the hall.

As soon as he’s out of sight of the room, Tory changes course and heads directly for the library. The librarian give him a nod on the way in, and he shuffles past the tables towards the stacks, keeping his head down in case he might know any of the students studying there and get distracted.

His pulse picks up just as he rounds the corner of the second to last shelf, because what if Mandy was right and Colin really is out entirely today, but then the familiar dark head comes into view, tipped back against the shelf in sleep, pale throat bared.

Tory’s pulse does not slow. Maybe he needs Ritalin or something.

He kneels down next to Colin’s bookbag, which is half-unzipped, and slides his own off his back to pull into his lap. He pulls out his notebook and his lunch bag, laying the notebook on the carpet to peruse the contents of the brown paper bag. Two turkey and lettuce sandwiches, no mustard, and seriously his mom is so easy it’s ridiculous.

He tears the physics notes out of his notebook—he doesn’t need them for anything anyway—and wraps them around the plastic bag of one sandwich, then tucks the whole package inside Colin’s backpack.

He sits back with the other sandwich and the notebook against the shelf perpendicular to the one Colin is sleeping against. He takes a bite of the sandwich, then sets it aside to start taking notes, and soon forgets about his lunch altogether.

God, he wishes he could draw, because trying to record in exact words the hitch of Colin’s breath and the way he scrunches his eyes is impossible, and it’s very important that Tory memorize it, he can feel it. It’s like something’s poking him, somewhere in between his stomach and his navel, soft but steady, until he starts writing it all down.

He pauses, stuck on an adjective for the way Colin’s eyelashes curl against his cheeks, and leans his head back against the shelf to get a better look. He’s content to watch Colin’s chest rise and fall and wait for his brain to spit out the word he needs; it’ll come.

The yawn surprises him, and he realizes his eyelids have been slipping down. It’s no surprise, since he was up until 1 AM playing Metal Gear Solid with Paul, trying to beat him into letting him have those files on his computer, but Paul’d tricked him somehow into taking the controller with the sticky X button…

The bell startles him awake, making his heart pound again, and his eyes jerk open to stare into Colin’s, still cloudy with sleep.

“You said you’d wake me up,” Colin accuses, voice scratchy, and Tory runs eyes over the dark splotches under Colin’s and shrugs. He could explain about the notes, but Colin will find them later.

They stare at each other for a few long seconds, long enough that Tory’s heart should be slowing, but it isn’t. It’s kind of speeding up, actually. He definitely needs to be medicated. He’s even starting to hallucinate, because there’s no way that Colin is actually leaning across the space between them until his face is so close it’s blurry…

Colin’s lips are warm and dry, and his breath smells like sleep and tuna fish, which is interesting because Tory had extrapolated from a list of items he’s seen Colin eat that Colin probably wouldn’t like tuna fish. He should really write that down, he thinks.

And then it suddenly hits him just as Colin is pulling away that Colin is kissing him, or at least had been, and he swallows hard and tries to concentrate on what Colin is saying over the pounding of his heart.

“…get to stare at me half so much next year if I have to repeat all my classes,” he is pointing out as he climbs to his feet and shoulders his backpack, and the smirk on his lips makes the poking sink from Tory’s stomach to somewhere decidedly lower. Oh god, he thinks, curling his fingers helplessly against the carpet and staring after Colin as he turns away, oh god.

And when Colin turns back just far enough to look over his shoulder and raise an eyebrow, Tory realized he said the last one out loud. “Your bookbag’s unzipped,” he says lamely.

“Hmm?” Colin swings the strap free of one shoulder and swings the bookbag around to see, slight body swaying a little like the bulk of the bag might take him down. The top of the bag crinkles when Colin puts his hand on it, and his smirk almost turns into a real smile as he closes the zipper. “Thanks.”

Tory knows he should get up too, go to class or something, but he gropes for his notebook instead and ends up putting the heel of his hand right down in his sandwich with only one bite missing. That snaps him out of his daze a little.

Snatching up both the sandwich and the notebook, Tory takes a second bite of his lunch and flips back to the half-filled page he’d been working on, desperate to record the importance of the events that just took place.

He finds he can only write ‘tuna fish’ with a question mark before the pen dangles limp between his fingers, and then realizes that he’ll probably be using the notebook for something besides surveillance for the rest of the day.

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