Title: "Known"
Fandom: Dead Poets Society
Pairing: Todd [Ethan Hawke]/Charlie [Gale Hansen]
Author: MonaR. (aka Mona Ramsey, aka Mona)
Story #: 491.
Series: Sequel to "Ash, "Body Heat", and "The Game". This will probably have a sequel, too. Anyone who has a name for the series, pipe up.
Webpage: the bare skeleton of one is at:
Rating: R.
Warnings: Non-explicit slash (m/m) content between two teenaged 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: Barely.
Summary: A door opens, and suddenly, all hell very quietly breaks loose.

{This got *entirely* too serious on me, but I couldn't help myself. I grew up on a diet of angsty after-school specials. . .whatever happened to those, anyway?}

by MonaR.

"Todd. Todd, wake up." Neil put his hand on his roommate's shoulder, and shook him. "You're going to be late for the meeting."

"I'm not coming," Todd said, feigning a rough edge of sleepiness in his voice. "I'm not feeling well."

Neil put a hand on his forehead. "You don't feel warm to me."

"I think it might be something I ate."

"Yeah, Hellton hash will do that to you, eventually," Neil grinned at him. "You want me to get Haber or somebody?"

Todd shook his head. "I'm just tired. I'll be okay."

"All right, then. Where's the book?"

"It's in the desk." Neil found the book of minutes and left, and Todd rolled back over on his stomach and buried his head in the pillow. He hadn't yet been to sleep, although it was an hour after light's out. He'd been waiting all that time for Neil to 'wake' him, practicing his answers over and over until he was sure that they'd come out naturally. He wasn't *really* lying - his stomach was doing flip-flops the whole time he was talking, but it wasn't due to the flu or food poisoning or anything like that. It was due to one particular person he did *not* want to see, and the only way to avoid a confrontation with him was to lie to his best friend. The web of lies he was surrounding himself was just getting bigger and bigger, and the end was nowhere in sight: he had the sudden, sickening feeling that this might be what the rest of his life would be like.

Todd shut his eyes and tried to sleep.


"Hey, Anderson. Wake up."

Todd mumbled something incoherently, and opened his eyes. He immediately shut them again when he saw who it was crouched by the side of his bed.

"Come on, Todd. You can't avoid me forever."

"You want to bet on that?" Todd tried to turn over in the bed, but Charlie held him and wouldn't let him move.

"How long are you going to do this to me?"

"I don't know. Until you give up and stop bothering me, I guess."

"Look, Todd, you've got to believe me. I told you what happened this afternoon. It wasn't my fault."

"Right. You got caught sneaking out of class by McAllister, and that's why I waited for you to come to the attic for more than an hour, alone."

"It's the *truth*, Todd."

"How many classes have you skipped since you came here, Charlie? I'm just supposed to believe that this *one* time you get caught, just by coincidence the day *after* I told you about what happened to me, and how I felt about you?" Todd wrenched his arm free from Charlie's grasp, and turned over. "Go away."

"No. I'm not going until you listen to me."

Suddenly realizing that it was the middle of the night and Charlie was in his room, arguing with him, Todd turned over and sat up, grateful to see an empty bed opposite. "Where's Neil?"

"They're still walking back from the meeting. They'll probably be here any minute. I ran ahead so I'd have a chance to talk to you alone."

"You could have talked to me this afternoon."

"I was on my way *down* the hall when McAllister grabbed me. What was I supposed to do - knock him out?" Charlie shook his head. "I've finally got a good reason for *not* wanting to get kicked out of here." He sighed. "I *tried* to get there. I really did. I'm sorry you had to wait like that. I'm sorry I couldn't come. I wanted to be there."

Todd looked at him, wanting to believe what he said. "Really?"

Charlie laughed, half out of sheer desperation, and half relief. "*Yes*, really. Ask anyone that was in study hall. I could have murdered McAllister, and I would have, but I didn't want to get you in trouble, too. You think I'd *willingly* give up the chance to be alone with you?"

Todd shrugged. "I guess not."

"Of course not," Charlie said. He looked hopefully at Todd. "Forgive me?"

Todd nodded, finally. "Yeah, okay. I forgive you."

"Meet me there tomorrow, then."

"If *I* cut three days in a row," Todd said, "*I'm* going to get sent to Mr. Nolan's office. I'd do it, though," he added, "if you want me to."

"No, no. Hell. I wish we could just *do* something - get away from here, or something." Charlie grinned. "I guess I'll just have to seize the moments as they come." Before Todd could say anything, Charlie kissed him. Caught up in that kiss, neither one of them heard the quiet turn of the doorknob, until Neil's voice broke into the reverie.

"Jesus Christ."

Charlie had his back to the door, but he could tell from the look in Todd's eyes that what he saw wasn't good. When he turned his head to look, he saw the shocked faces of the other members of the Dead Poets Society clustered in the doorway, each wearing similar expressions of dismay and disbelief at what they were witnessing.

"Holy shit," Knox said.

"What the hell do you think you're doing, Dalton?" Neil asked, his voice an angry whisper.

"For god's sake, either get out or somebody close the door," Charlie hissed. "Haber will be in here in a minute, if you leave it open."

Meeks, who was closest, shut the door ungently. They all jumped at the louder-than-normal sound in the suddenly quiet room, but there were no footsteps in the hallway.

"So what are you doing, Dalton?" Neil asked, again. He seemed more confused than angry, as if he realized that what they'd walked in on wasn't what he's assumed - that Charlie was taking advantage of the shy and self-conscious Todd. The fact that Todd didn't seem to be fighting Charlie off had finally penetrated his brain.

"I think that's pretty obvious," Charlie said. He caught a tiny grin from Todd, who had his head bent down. "Don't worry," he added, as if he'd read Neil's mind, "it's not like I came in here and forced myself on him." Todd glanced up at him, then bent his head down again. Charlie, on the other hand, raised his head defiantly when he said, "We're - together."

"What the hell - ?" Neil was at a loss for words. "What do you mean, 'together'?"

"I *mean*, we're together. What do you want me to do, Perry, draw you a goddamn picture?"

"Please don't," Neil said, the ghost of a grin on his shell-shocked face. He found his feet and made his way to his bed, where he sank down. "I don't understand any of this."

"No, I didn't think you would," Charlie sighed. "That's why we didn't tell anyone."

"This is disgusting. You two are nothing but a couple of - "

"Finish that sentence, Cameron, and I guarantee they'll be the last words you ever say," Charlie said, sharply, with no sarcasm or bluster, just quiet determination. His voice was a low, steady whisper.

"I'm getting out of here," Cameron said. "You bunch of queers can sit around here talking if you want. You all make me sick." He pushed through the crowd of boys in the small room and stormed out the door.

"Asshole," Charlie spat at him. "He's all talk - he won't do anything," he reassured Todd.

"What are you doing?" Neil asked. "I mean, I don't want details, but - "

"I know what you mean. We've just spent some time alone together, and realized that we liked it. Not that it's anyone's business, but we haven't done anything but what you just saw," Charlie said. He was still crouched down in front of Todd. "I'm sorry," he said.

Todd nodded at him, sympathetically.

"So how do you know that this isn't just a phase, or something, then?" Knox said. "I mean, if you haven't - "

"How do you know you love Chris?" Todd asked. They were all a little startled; it was the first thing Todd had said since any of them came in. "You just know, right? Sometimes when you love someone, you just know." He reached out and put his hand on Charlie's. Charlie smiled at him.

"That's different," Knox said, although he sounded less-than-sure on the point.

"Is it?"

"If you get caught," Meeks said, "you're both gonna get kicked out of here. Not to mention the fact that your parents would completely freak."

"No shit, Sherlock," Charlie said. He stood up and turned around, finally, arms crossed over his chest. "So, which one of you is it going to be, then?" He looked from Neil to Meeks to Knox to Pitts. "I've got enough on Cameron to bury him if he so much as says one word, and he knows it. Which one of you 'friends' am I going to have to worry about blowing the whistle on this?"

"Don't be like that, Charlie," Neil said. "None of us is going to say anything to anyone. Right?"

Nobody else said anything. Meeks was pale-faced, leaning against the door. Pitts just looked like he wanted the floor to open up and swallow him whole. Knox seemed unsure.

"I don't know about this, Neil," Knox said, finally. "This is *big*."

"You'd rat out one of your *friends*?" Neil asked him. "I can't believe you're even considering doing something like that, Knoxious."

"No, of course not. I'm just saying - "

"You're just saying that it's disgusting and wrong," Todd said, calmly and quietly. He was still looking up at Charlie and no-one else. "And, of course, Charlie and I are both completely different people than we were ten minutes ago, before you walked in."

No-one had an answer for that.

"Nobody's asking for your approval," Charlie said. "If you hadn't come in tonight, none of you would even have known that anything was going on. All we're asking is that you not say anything to anyone about this - like Neil's involvement in the play going against his father's wishes, and Knox's crush on Chris. Okay?"

"I won't say anything," Neil said.

"Neither will I," Knox finally agreed. Pitts and Meeks just nodded in agreement.

Charlie let out a breath, betraying his concern. "Okay, good. As far as I'm concerned nothing happened here tonight. It's business as usual." He looked at Todd. "We should go before Haber wakes up."

Meeks opened up the door and he and Pitts spilled out at the same time, anxious to get away. Knox followed them, stopping in the doorway as if he wanted to say something more, but eventually he just shook his head and left.

"Stay here tonight," Todd said to Charlie. He turned his head. "Neil, is it okay with you?"

"I don't know, Todd," Neil said, doubtfully, acutely aware that it was only a couple of days since the two boys had shared a bed here without question, when the heat conked out - when he himself had shared his bed with Knox. Everything was *different*, all of a sudden - there was a change in the sort of quiet intimacy that they had all taken for granted, before.

"Don't worry about it," Charlie said.

"I don't want you to have to deal with Cameron tonight, by yourself," Todd said. "Just to sleep, Neil, okay?" he pleaded.

Despite his discomfort, Neil shrugged. "Yeah, sure. It's okay with me. I mean, it's your room, too." He turned his back and started to unbutton his coat and get ready for bed. When he had taken off all but his long underwear and put on his pajamas besides, he turned back.

Charlie had climbed into bed with Todd, and they were lying there, spooned together. Todd was lying closest to the free edge, Charlie nearest the wall; Charlie had his arms wrapped tightly around Todd's waist, and his face was buried in the boy's hair. Something struck Neil about the picture that they made - Todd with his dark lashes and his pale face, and the way Charlie held on to him. Everything *had* changed, like the world suddenly tilted on its side, but it didn't necessarily have to be *wrong*.

"You know, Dalton," Neil said, as he lifted the covers and climbed in to his own bed. "If you hurt him, I'll kill you."

"Funny thing, Perry," Charlie countered, "I was about to say the same thing to you."

Todd just smiled at Neil, put his hand over one of Charlie's, and closed his eyes.

The End

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