Title: "Blushing"
Fandom: Dead Poets Society
Pairing: Todd [Ethan Hawke]/Charlie [Gale Hansen]
Author: MonaR. (aka Mona Ramsey, aka Mona)
Series: Not at the moment.
Webpage: the bare skeleton of one is at:
Rating: R.
Warnings: Semi-explicit and implied slash (m/m) content between two 17-year-old boys.
Archive: Yes to The Marrow of Life only.
Notes: I don't use betas. :( Any mistakes are solely my fault and the fault of my *#^&@ spellcheck. ** is used for emphasis, // for thought. Any weird characters should be hunted down and killed.
Feedback: Yes if you're moved to write me by the story, no if you think that *unless* you write me, I won't write any more stories. Anyone with even a glancing knowledge of my posting history (this *is* my 400-and-something-th story) knows that isn't true. Feedback is gratefully accepted and responded to whenever possible. Flames are buried in the backyard, along with a few skeletons.
Spoilers: Yeah. This is an alternate explanation for Charlie's 'phone call from God' stunt.
Summary: Todd has difficulty reconciling himself with the fact that Charlie likes it when he blushes.

{Haven't written these boys in a while. Haven't written anything in a while, as a matter of fact. Just can't seem to make myself sit here and *do* this. Is that a bad sign?}

by MonaR.

Todd shifted and moved his cheek closer to the source of warmth right next to it. He wondered if Neil had cracked the window open again; it seemed way too cold in their room.

"I thought you were asleep."

"I am," Todd mumbled, wishing Neil would shut up and let him get back to his dream. It was such a *nice* dream.

"We should be getting back, soon."

Things slowly came back into focus, and Todd realized that he wasn't in his room, in bed; it was too cold and not nearly comfortable enough - 'comfortable' being a relative term when it came to describing the beds in the dorm cells at Welton, of course. The voice wasn't Neil's, either; it was lower than Neil's, and huskier. He opened his eyes, slowly, adjusting to the dimness around him. He *wasn't* in bed, wasn't even in the school, and then he remembered.

Charlie smiled at him. "Hi."

Before Todd could answer, Charlie was kissing him on the mouth. Todd gasped, and stiffened against the fingers that were digging slightly into his arm, and licked his lips when the kiss was over, knowing that his face was reddening and hoping that it was too dark in the cave to be noticed.

"I like it when you blush," Charlie said, rubbing his face against Todd's flaming cheek. "You warm up my skin."

Todd tried to move, but his legs were stiff and cold, and didn't seem to want to do anything. They must have been there for hours, without moving more than an inch or two, and the night air was cold. They had bundled and buttoned their coats together, and Todd was suddenly feeling very *confined* by it all.

It had been a crazy idea, to come out here and be together for a night alone. They hadn't even kissed before a few hours ago - had barely any time to be alone at all, and nowhere in the school was private enough that they might not get caught - but just wanting to kiss had been enough. It was like a dare - a good idea at the time, in the dark where it was secret and exciting, and then somehow not when it turned into the bright light of day. It was just barely dawn; edges of light were spilling into the mouth of the cave. Todd pulled away and fumbled for the first of the buttons that joined Charlie's coat with his, wishing that his fingers would obey him.

"Hey," Charlie said, with a little frown. "What's wrong?"

"Y-you said we should get back," Todd said, without looking at him.

"That's not it," Charlie said, but he didn't push the matter. He moved Todd's fingers and deftly unfastened their coats, first one side and then the other.

Todd stood up and Charlie steadied him when he stumbled slightly. Todd gave him a quick half-smile and then shrugged into his coat. "Thanks," he said.

Charlie just nodded at him, the same frown still on his face. He stood up, too, and put his coat on. "You ready to go?" he asked.

Todd nodded, and they walked to the mouth of the cave and paused there. The sky was a pale gray, and it was chilly - not quite cold enough for breath to be seen, but there was a definite promise of winter in the air. The sunny fall weather they'd been enjoying wouldn't last for much longer, and it would soon be far too cold to stay out all night.

Charlie looked at Todd like he wanted to say something, but he just started to walk back to the school. Todd followed behind, grateful for the silence.


Todd was sure that everyone was staring at him in the hallways as if they knew what he'd done in the cave with Charlie, so he kept his eyes down and tried not to meet anyone's glances. Nobody seemed to notice that he was quieter than usual, not only in class but at the meetings; of course, they all expected him to be almost silent, drawn into himself and away from any notice. Neil bugged him about it, but Todd shrugged off, mumbling something about failing Latin and needing to study more, and eventually Neil left him alone.

It felt to Todd like Charlie was deliberately avoiding him for the rest of the week. He was secretly a little glad for it, but it bothered him, too. He tried to stop himself from looking at Charlie in class or in the hallways, but it was hard - Charlie Dalton was the type of person who always made his presence known, wherever he was.

But things were changing; Charlie didn't act up as much as he usually did, and his smart remarks had a darker, slightly bitter tinge to them, when he spoke. Nobody else seemed to notice, except Mr. Keating, who gave Charlie the sort of frown that Charlie had given Todd that morning in the cave - the same kind of knowing puzzlement, like you know what's wrong but don't really want to believe it.

There had always been whispers in the school about scandals involving other boys - names flitted about from classes years past, where two boys had been caught together in some empty classroom or bathroom or bedroom on another floor. Nobody ever said what had been done, but the boys were always expelled and sent away from Welton, and their names became whispered ghosts of infamy, insults thrown at other boys who seemed different, or just in the heat of an argument. Todd didn't want that to happen to his name; right now, 'Anderson' was one that was associated with his brother alone, the valedictorian and Merit Scholar and all-around shining star. Todd only had to get through the year without being noticed, and nothing would change - and he'd been doing that, right up until the time that Charlie cornered him in the hallway one night, and asked him to come out to the cave with him, alone.

He didn't know why he said yes. There was nothing there between them - practically nothing at all. They hadn't *done* anything before that, just looked at each other, and Todd had watched Charlie - but *everyone* watched Charlie. The thing was, Charlie watched him back, and the way that he looked made heat rise in Todd's face, until he would have to hide behind some book and catch his breath.

Todd's heart caught up in his chest when Mr. Keating asked Charlie to say behind after class for a few minutes, and he made a show of untying and re-tying his shoes in the hallway, trying to hear but unable to catch anything but the low murmur of voices - Mr. Keating's urgent and questioning, Charlie's short and clipped. He breathed easily when Charlie came striding out of the room after less than five minutes, the same studied smirk on his face that he'd been wearing for the better part of the week. Mr. Keating watched him walk away from the doorway with a look of concern on his face, and when he saw Todd standing there and smiled at him, Todd could feel the blush that spread over his face. He lowered his eyes and rushed away to his next class.


Then came the phone call.

It had been building for a while, but nobody thought that Charlie would go that far. It was like he was self-destructing right in plain sight - first bringing girls to the Dead Poets meeting, which actually made Todd feel a little better, as if he was right after all and what they'd done didn't really mean anything - but the article in the school paper demanding that girls be admitted to Welton, written in the name of the Dead Poets Society, was the last straw. Todd thought that Neil was going to wring Charlie's neck over that. It was like he *wanted* to alienate all of his friends, *and* get kicked out.

The prank itself was inspired, and stupid. A phone call 'from God' right in the middle of school assembly - leave it to Charlie to come up with that one.

Todd stared at the same word on the same page all afternoon. Neil was lying on his back on his bed, throwing a crumpled piece of paper up in the air and catching it over and over again. Most everyone on the floor had their door open, waiting for Charlie to come back from Mr. Nolan's office, but nobody was saying anything. It was as quiet on the floor as Todd could ever remember it being, even at night, and the tension was a living thing, as they were all straining to hear Charlie's step on the stair.

Todd had never seen anyone walk as stiffly as Charlie did when he came back from his caning. Every step was agony to watch, but nobody could tear their eyes away. It was obvious that he had been crying, and even that was painful to witness. Neil was the leader but Charlie was the one that they all looked up to; when he stumbled, it was like *anyone* could fall.

Neil got up and walked out into the hallway, and Todd followed him, holding back a little.

"You kicked out?" Neil asked, tightly.

"No," Charlie said. There was a muffled sob in his voice, and he struggled to hold himself together in front of his friends. Nobody but Neil could look at him, and nobody could look away.

"So what happened?"

"I'm to turn everybody in, apologize to the school, and all will be forgiven." Charlie made his way to his room.

"So, what are you going to do? Charlie!"

"Damn it, Neil," Charlie turned around, and there was a smile on his face, and Todd started to breathe again, " - the name is *Nuwanda*."


Charlie had to tell the tale at least three times that night, doing his very best impression of Mr. Nolan, and he seemed to enjoy it more every single time. Even when Mr. Keating came into the study hall and gently reprimanded him for the stunt, Charlie seemed both gruffly pleased and embarrassed by the attention. It suited him.

Too soon, the bell rang signalling that everyone had fifteen minutes to get ready for bed. Everyone picked up their stuff and scattered from the room, on their way back to their cells for the night. Charlie didn't get up right away, still reading in the chair, and Todd waited until everyone else had left, and then stood up. He'd been wanting to talk to Charlie alone since the afternoon, but everyone was always around. Now that they were gone, it was an opportunity that Todd didn't intend to let get away.

"Hey," Todd said.

Charlie looked at him for a moment, and then started reading his book again. "Yeah?"

Todd sat down on the edge of the empty chair beside Charlie. "Look, I wanted to - " He stopped, unsure of what it was that he wanted to say.

"What?" Charlie asked, without taking his eyes off the page in front of him. He sounded utterly unconcerned with what Todd had to say.

"I - I just wondered if you were okay."

"I'm fine," Charlie said, absently.

"Good." Todd was disheartened; Charlie hadn't offered him any opening at all. "I - uh - "

Charlie looked up at him, finally. "What is it, Anderson? Spit it out if you have something to say, or leave me alone, okay?"

He said the words flatly, without any inflection, not as if he was angry, but as if Todd was annoying him, and Todd felt like he had the first day he came to the school - out of place and unable to just disappear. Nobody had treated him like that since Neil had taken him under his wing, and Charlie - for all of his abruptness and bluster - *never* had. "I wanted to say that I was sorry."

"For what?"

"For whatever it is that I did to you."

Charlie just gave him a look, incredulous, and laughed. "You don't even know? Of course not," he said to himself. "Look, you didn't *do* anything to me, okay? Forget about it."

"I want - " Todd started, and then faltered again.

"What?" Charlie asked, finally, and slammed the book shut. "*What* do you want? Do you even *know*?"

Todd pulled back as if he'd been slapped. "What did you expect from me?" he asked, raising his voice. "I've been afraid of everything, my whole life, and you thought that would just stop because you wanted it to?"

"No," Charlie said, shaking his head, "I thought *you* wanted it to." He stood up and walked over to the door, and put his hand on the knob. Before he pulled it open, he said, "You came."


"You met me out there. I never in a million years thought you'd have the courage to actually *do* it." Charlie was shaking his head. "I never spent the night with anyone before." And then he was gone.

Todd stayed there, silent, shaken, until one of the Masters came in and gruffly told him to stop fooling around and go to bed.


It was two more days before he could make himself do anything.

Friday night after lights out, Todd waited until Neil had fallen asleep, and then another half-hour after that besides, before he got up out of the bed and tiptoed across the room, his bathrobe thrown over one arm, bare feet making no noise on the floor. He ducked his head out and scanned both ends of the hall before walking quickly over to Charlie's room.

Cameron was gone to his parents' for the weekend. Todd was *sure* that Charlie would have said something to him after their conversation in the study hall, but he hadn't. Charlie was the same, but different, after the beating. His cockiness didn't let up, but there was something changed in his spirit - he lapsed into moody silences every once in a while that really bothered Todd. Even Neil noticed and mentioned it, once, but he was away from Welton so much, so caught up in the play and the stuff with his father, that he didn't do anything about it, and Todd didn't want to ask him to, for fear of the questions - or maybe that Neil would just tell him to talk to Charlie himself.

Todd tapped on the door with his fingertips, as loud as he dared. He held his breath, waiting for Charlie to say something.

There was no answer.

Maybe, he thought, maybe Charlie was gone to the cave. Maybe he'd sneaked into the kitchen, like they sometimes did, to get something to eat. Only, if he got caught doing either of those things, that would be the last straw. Maybe he was in the bathroom.

He tapped again, and, just when he was about to tap a third time, the door opened and he was yanked inside.

"You trying to get me thrown out?" Charlie asked in a loud whisper, when the door was closed.

"I th-thought that was what you wanted," Todd said, his heart leaping around in his chest.

"Yeah, well, I don't need any help, thanks." Charlie sat down on his bed and leaned against the wall, hands behind his head. "Why are you here?"

"I wanted to talk to you," Todd said.

"So talk."

Todd sat down gingerly on the edge of Cameron's empty bed, neatly made up, with the robe on his lap. He looked down at his hands, feeling Charlie's eyes boring holes into the top of his head.

"Well, this is typical," Charlie said, sarcastically. "It isn't bad enough that I have you not talking to me during the day, but now you're waking me up to do it."

"You weren't asleep," Todd said.

"As a matter of fact, I was having this great dream," Charlie said. "She was blonde and thirty-six, twenty-four, thirty-six." He mimed an hourglass shape with his hands.

Todd couldn't think of anything to say to that, anything to offer that would be better, or more meaningful. Words escaped him, like they always seemed to do when it was really important. Instead, he moved the robe away from his lap and stood up. Half of him wanted to leave the room - just walk out and go back to bed and pretend that he hadn't left its warmth. But he didn't leave.

He fumbled with the buttons on his pajama top, popping open the first but unable to open any more than that, wishing his fingers would obey him. Charlie was watching him, still, hands tucked behind his head, sort of a half-smirk on his face. Todd, stopped, and took a deep breath. It all felt *wrong*, all of a sudden, like it had the morning after in the cave, and he just wanted to leave and go back to his room and lie there in the darkness and listen to Neil breathe.

"I shouldn't have come," he said, and sank back down on the bed, wishing that the floor would open and swallow him whole.

"Why did you come?" Charlie asked him.

"I don't know," Todd said. "I knew Cameron was gone, and I thought - "

"Not tonight," Charlie interrupted. "To the cave. Why did you come to the cave that night?"

"Because you asked me to."

"That's the only reason? If I asked you to jump off a building - "

"Don't make fun of me," Todd said, his eyes flashing.

"I'm not making fun of you," Charlie said, and his voice was tired, and strained. "I just want to understand you, and that is the god-damnedest thing I've ever tried to do in my life."

"I wanted to," Todd said, suddenly.

"You didn't act like it."

"I got *scared*. Haven't you ever been scared of anything?" Todd blinked hard, and lowered his voice. "God, Charlie, I've never kissed *anyone* before, and what we did - "

"It's not a sin, you know."

"How do you *know*?"

"Because I want it so much that it *can't* be."

All of a sudden, Todd laughed. "The things I want a lot are usually the things in my life that *are* sins," he said.

"We just kissed."

"We kissed a *lot*."

"Kissing a lot isn't going to send you to Hell, Anderson. There's no way."

"Maybe not," Todd agreed, his head down, "but what about everything else I want?"

A minute passed before Charlie asked, "And what else do you want?"

"Everything," Todd said, softly. "I w-want everything." He heard the springs on Charlie's bed creak, and when he looked up, Charlie was sitting on the very edge of his bed, directly opposite him.

Charlie took both of Todd's hands in his own and kissed them, one at a time, on the backs, and then turned them over and did the same to the palms. The kisses were very soft and wet, and Todd wanted to cry, again. He tilted Charlie's chin, instead, and kissed him on the mouth, with a sort of quiet desperation that melted into need. They ended up together on Charlie's bed.

"I'm sorry," he mouthed against Charlie's lips.

"Don't be."

"I am." Todd swallowed, hard. "Let me stay, Charlie. *Please*."

"Are you going to disappear on me again?" Charlie asked, his voice husky. "Like you did before? I was looking right at you, and you disappeared in the morning light like a ghost. I don't think I could take that again."

"No," Todd shook his head. "I promise. I won't." He hugged Charlie tighter, trying to convey what he felt, and his promise, with his arms and his body. The sudden realization of the heat and solidity of Charlie's body against his made him blush, again, and he could feel it as it spread over his skin, from his face down to his torso.

Charlie chuckled at him. "There you go again," he said, and rubbed his cheek against Todd's. "You're better than a hot-water bottle."

"I t-take that as a compliment," Todd said, with a grin. The grin faded when Charlie kissed him, and pushed him down on his back on the bed.

"How far down does that blush go, anyway?"

Todd shook his head. "I don't know. You'll have to find out for yourself."

"Why, Todd Anderson - was that an invitation?"

Todd shrugged. "Maybe. If you want."

The smile disappeared from Charlie's face, and he said, "I want."

"Then it was."


The early-morning sky was light gray when Todd opened his eyes. He was lying on his side, with a warm weight pressed against his back, arms tight around his waist, and soft, even breaths whispering against his neck. He closed his eyes again.


Todd shifted onto his back, eyes open.

Charlie looked at him for a long time before kissing him. "You're still here."

"I promised."

"What do you think that chances are of Cameron getting struck by lightning this weekend?"

Todd looked out the window. It looked like it might snow, more than anything. "Not very good, I'd say."

"Damn. Maybe he'll get hit by a bus."

Todd laughed. "That's a terrible thing to say."

"I didn't say I wanted him to *die*," Charlie defended himself. "I just want him to get *hospitalized* for a while - like, the rest of the school year."

"Oh, well - that's much better."

"Right. You can't blame me, can you?"

"Only if it actually happens."

"My power is a terrible thing," Charlie agreed. "I'm glad you stayed," he said, tracing his finger over Todd's collarbone, from one side to the other.

Todd shivered. "Me, too."

"And just think, if you go to Hell, then at least we'll be there together. Along with a few million other people."

"Thanks," Todd said, ironically. "I take that as a comfort." He shifted back onto his side, and Charlie hugged him tight. "I don't want to leave."

"I'm glad."

"I'm gonna have to, though."

"Yeah. Maybe - " Charlie took a deep breathe. "Maybe you could - Cameron doesn't come back until tomorrow night, and I thought - " He couldn't say it. "If you wanted to - "

"I want to," Todd said. "I will."

"It's going to be too cold to go outside, unless we build a fire - "

Todd twisted his head and kissed him. "We'll figure something out." He lay there for another minute, and then said, "I really have to go."

"Yeah, okay." Charlie watched Todd stand up and dress.

When his pajamas were on again, Todd leaned over and kissed him.

Charlie gripped him on the arm, tight. "Okay?" he asked.

Todd nodded. "Yeah." He smiled, and went out the door, across the hall, and into his own, cold bed, and listened to Neil breathe until it was time to get up.

The End

back to the stories
back to the index