Title: "Secrets"
Fandom: Dead Poets Society
Pairing: Todd [Ethan Hawke]/Charlie [Gale Hansen]
Author: MonaR. (aka Mona Ramsey, aka Mona)
Story #: 492.
Series: No. This is just a one-off.
Webpage: the bare skeleton of one is at:
Rating: R.
Warnings: Non-explicit slash (m/m) content between two teenaged boys. Some anecdotal violence. Rated for themes, rather than explicit content.
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: Charlie finds where - and what - Todd has been hiding.

{I blame this on Chris Meloni - even though I don't watch "Oz" (although I think I've seen the same episode about three times), I can still see that he's sex on legs, and I read his profile in this month's "Out" magazine. One of his anecdotes brought me here, abruptly. . .
Okay, confession time: I listened to Christina Aguilera when I wrote this: "I Turn To You". It was very helpful. Really.}

by MonaR.

Charlie pocketed the miniature oil can, pleased when he was able to ease the study-room door open without it squeaking. He slipped inside the dark room and headed immediately for the middle window, banging his fist lightly on each corner before he lifted it easily. Cool night air instantly freshened the closed-off room, and he pulled his cigarettes from the breast pocket of his school jacket, lighting one and sweeping the smoke out the window. Drawing his legs up onto the narrow window seat, he watched the clouds scud over the almost-full moon as he smoked. It looked as thought it was going to storm, before the night was over.

It was the first time he'd come down here this fall term; he was glad that the window frames hadn't been painted over during the summer break, glad that nobody had thought to ever use the lock on the door. He wondered how none of the Masters ever seemed to realize that this room, not the too-open bathroom, was the one most popular for a late night smoke, and sometimes a little action. Dice, cards, a pilfered flask of brandy - sometimes even something a little higher in the seven deadly sins, and much more enjoyable.


The whispered voice caught Charlie completely off-guard, and he jumped up, banging his head on the wooden window-sash and dropping his cigarette in the process. "Fuck, fuck, fuck, *fuck*," he whispered, doing an intricate dance involving patting down his sparked trousers and rubbing his sore head at the same time. "Fuck! Who's there?"

There was no answer, for a moment, and then Todd Anderson stepped forward out of the shadows. Unlike Charlie, who still wore his school uniform sans shoes, Todd was in his pajamas and robe, with bare feet. "S-sorry," he said, a pained expression on his face. "Did you hurt yourself?"

"Well, what the fuck do you think I was doing, hitting my head on the fucking window?" Charlie took a deep breath and calmed down, a little, and said, "Why don't you make a little noise, next time?"

Todd glanced at the still-closed door. "I d-didn't want any of the teachers to come in and find me here after lights out. Isn't that why you were so quiet?"

"Good point," Charlie grinned. He threw his ruined butt out the window and fished out the pack of cigarettes again, offering one to Todd, who shook his head. "So," he said, lighting the cigarette, "what are you doing down here, anyway?"

Todd shrugged. "I couldn't sleep," he said, digging his hands into the pockets of his robe. He sank down into one of the worn leather chairs near the window, and curled his bare feet up underneath himself for warmth. "I didn't want to wake Neil up tossing and turning, so I came down here."

"And almost gave me a heart attack, instead?"

"You almost gave *me* one," Todd countered. "I was sure that you were a teacher, when the door opened."

"Which is why you didn't say anything?"

"Yeah," Todd nodded. "I didn't know anyone else ever came down here. I've been all alone, up to now."

"How long have you not been sleeping?" Charlie asked, suspiciously.

"A couple days."

"Or maybe more like twelve? Since the start of term, maybe?"

Todd just shrugged again, and chewed on his lip.

"It's not *so* bad here at Hell - uh, Welton," Charlie said. "Sure, the teachers are all dinosaurs - except for that Keating guy, who seems to be from another planet - but the guys are okay. Hell, they make it bearable, most of the time. Is it really that different here, than Balincrest?"

Todd didn't say anything, just stared past Charlie's head out the window.

"Why did you transfer here, anyway?" Charlie asked.

"My brother went here," Todd said, automatically, and just a little too fast, Charlie thought.

"I could understand why you'd hate it here, having to live up to the prodigal son, and all. Just don't sweat it. Keep your grades up and your parents will be happy. And if you're having problems, come to study group and mooch answers off Meeks, like I do." Charlie grinned at Todd, who answered, faintly.

Todd shivered, and Charlie threw the spent butt of his cigarette out the window. He stood up and said, "Move over."


"Just move over," Charlie insisted, and when Todd did so, he crushed himself into the little space Todd made in the broad leather chair, put his arms around Todd, and started rubbing some warmth into them.

Todd's body stiffened noticeably when Charlie sat down, and he looked at the other boy, just for a moment, and then looked down, a blush rising in his cheeks. "It's okay," Todd said. "You don't have to do that. I'm fine."

"Are you kidding me? You're shivering, and I can't close the window until the room airs out, or McAllister will start locking the door nights." Charlie continued to rub Todd's arms. "You know, if you just - I don't know, speak up a little more, or something, you might make some really good friends here." He put one of his fingers under Todd's chin, and raised the boy's blushing face up until he was looking directly into Charlie's eyes. "I, for one, could be a really *good* friend, if you want," Charlie added, and moved his mouth to the other boy's.

Todd turned his head at the last second, and Charlie brushed his lips against Todd's cheek, just missing his mouth.

"Okay," Charlie sighed. "All right. It doesn't matter. I just thought - "

"That I was like that?" Todd asked, defensively. "I'm not."

"Like what? Like me? Lonely? Looking for a little company? No, far be it for me to assume anything like that about someone like you," Charlie said, sarcastically. "After all, you're another sainted Anderson: pillar of society, and all."

"Don't say that," Todd said. "I'm not like him, either." He buried his head in his hands. "I'm not like anybody."

"Look," Charlie said, relenting a little. "I didn't mean to imply that - I mean, I didn't mean say that I thought you were - Geez." He stood up and ran his hands nervously through his hair. "A lot of guys do it, okay? There's nothing wrong with it. I mean, hell, we'd all go blind, beating off all the time, and if there's someone else who isn't - or who is - " He stopped talking, took a breath, and then started again. "Just - just forget about it, okay? You don't have to worry about me jumping on you in the halls, or anything. I'm not a *complete* jerk." When Todd still didn't say anything, Charlie knelt down in front of him. "Todd - " He put his hands on Todd's bare wrists, intending to pull Todd's hands away from his face, but stopped himself short.

Todd was looking at him in horror, trying to get free of Charlie's grasp, but Charlie was too strong for him. "Don't - " he started, but Charlie pulled him to his feet and dragged him over to the window.

"What the fuck - ?" Charlie said, and waited for what seemed like forever for the clouds to move away from the moon enough to give some light - enough light to *see* what his fingers had *felt*. "Jesus Christ," he said.

Todd finally wrenched away, and pulled his pajama-sleeves and his robe's cuffs down over his wrists, covering them.

"Why would you - ?" Charlie started, completely awestruck. "I mean, what could have been so bad that you'd - ?"

"You don't understand," Todd said. "Nobody understands." He was trembling, his entire body shaking, and his eyes were so dark they looked almost black. "Just forget about it, okay?"

"How could I forget about it? If you tried to - "

"I wasn't trying anything," Todd said, firmly. The quick, dead quality had come back to his voice, just like it had been when Charlie asked him why he transferred from Balincrest, and Charlie realized that he was witness to the *real* reason for the school change. "It was an accident."

"The hell it was. Nobody does *that* by accident."

"I was confused," Todd said, pronouncing every word clearly and succinctly. "I didn't know what I was doing."

"Stop it," Charlie said, and shook the other boy, trying to get rid of the automaton who repeated words like they'd been drilled into him, and get back the scared and troubled and *honest* boy of just a few seconds earlier. "Stop it." He pulled Todd into a tight embrace, hands carding through the other boy's hair.

Todd just stood there, arms at his side, body stiff and unresponsive.

Charlie couldn't stop speaking, thinking aloud. "That's why you wear those wristbands during soccer practice," he said. "And why you don't shower until everyone else is done. I thought you were just shy - "

"No," Todd said, shaking his head. "No. That's not why."

"It has to be," Charlie said. "God, what did they do to you, to make you feel like this?"

"I don't feel like anything."

"Exactly," Charlie said. "You don't *feel* anything anymore, do you? You don't speak, you don't get close, you don't feel."

"It's b-better that way. N-nothing hurts." Todd started to stutter, and Charlie realized the unfeeling, precise cover was starting to give way.

"I don't believe that. I can see it in your eyes. Everything hurts; you just won't let yourself feel it anymore." Charlie pulled Todd's wrists up, and ran his thumbs gently over the jagged scars there. "Did you do it at night? Is that why you can't sleep?"

"No," Todd said, and shook his head. He tried to maintain a strong hold on his control, although his breathing became more shallow.

Lightning flashed in the sky, and both boys jumped. Todd took advantage of Charlie's sudden distraction and pulled away from him, running for the door. Charlie caught him before he made it out, though, and the door shut with a bang; luckily, there was a thunderclap at the same time, which covered the noise. Todd rested his head against the door, and tried to get his breathing back under control, but he couldn't. He felt himself start to hyperventilate, and Charlie was right there, beside him, not letting him just *go*.

Todd turned around, tears in his eyes. "Why - why - " he started, but he couldn't breathe. He grabbed on to Charlie and pulled him down to the floor when he fell.

Charlie rubbed his back, and said, "Cup your hands over your mouth and breathe into them, and try to relax, okay?"

Todd obeyed him. It felt like there was a vise grip around his heart, but he started to breath a little easier.

"Dammit," Charlie said. It had started to rain hard, and rainwater was splashing in the still-open window. Charlie got up and shut the window, then he came back to where Todd was still sitting, knees up in front of him like a defensive wall. He sat down cross-legged beside him. "Are you feeling better?"

Todd shook his head. He tested his voice. "I've never felt any better since - " He made a helpless gesture.

Charlie nodded.

"There was a boy," Todd said, his voice a bare whisper.

Charlie had to lean in very close to hear him; his hair brushed Todd's cheek.

Todd rested his forehead on his knees, feeling hot all of a sudden, and vaguely sick. "He was my friend. W-we - we were like you, w-we didn't think we were doing anything wrong, because it felt right. No," he said, shaking his head. "W-we *knew* it was wrong, but we didn't think - we didn't think anyone would find out, and it would be okay, and w-we could just pretend - " He laughed, the sound terrible and hollow, tears in his eyes. "They expelled him, but me - my family, my brother - They let me stay. They thought - if we were separated, that it would be - but they didn't understand. Nobody understood. He wrote to m-me - he told me that he was going to - and I couldn't - I couldn't - " The tears broke through, suddenly, like the storm outside.

Charlie put his arms around Todd's shoulders. "It's okay," he said. "I've got you."

"I tried - I tried to call his family, but - his mother - she hung up on me, said it was all my fault th-that he - he - and - " Todd was openly sobbing. "And I *couldn't* - I couldn't - I wanted to die. I did. I w-wanted to die." He turned his head, and his tears soaked Charlie's collar. "I couldn't even do that right."

Charlie's arms tightened around him. "Thank god," he said, quietly, his voice as shell-shocked as Todd felt.

"I was in the hospital. They told me it was an accident - I was sick and confused, I had a fever, I didn't know what I was doing. They kept telling me over and over that it was an accident. Then they sent me back to school." Todd looked at his wrists. "I covered them up. I didn't say anything."

"That's when you stopped talking," Charlie said.

Todd nodded. "I liked Balincrest. I was happy there, I had friends. But after - " He shook his head. "After, I couldn't wait to leave." He looked at Charlie. "I just w-want to be happy again, and I don't know how. I don't know if I can. I look around, and everyone is normal, and I'm not, and it's all I think about. And if I *say* anything, if I do anything -"

"Then people will know."

Todd nodded.

"And they won't be your friend. They'll leave." Charlie turned Todd's head so that they were looking into each other's eyes. "Only you know what? I know, and I'm still here."

Todd blinked at him, feeling the tears well into his eyes again.

"I'm not going anywhere. Neither would anyone else - Neil, Knox - "

"No," Todd said, shaking his head, a high note of panic in his voice. "No, you can't tell anyone. You can't - "

"Okay," Charlie said. "Okay. I won't say anything. I promise." He pressed Todd's head against his chest. "Jesus. I need a cigarette."

Todd gave a shaky laugh, and Charlie, startled at the sound, did, too. "You smoke too much," Todd said.

"Probably," Charlie agreed. He patted his pockets and came up with a clean, if crumpled, handkerchief, which he handed over to Todd. "Here," he said, and fumbled around for his cigarettes. While Todd wiped his face and blew his nose, Charlie lit a cigarette. He leaned back against the door and pulled Todd against him with one arm, holding him against his chest, stroking his fingers through Todd's hair.

Todd, boneless and feeling empty - not bereft of feeling, just freed for once of the secrets that kept him quiet - just rested there, listening to Charlie's heartbeat and smelling the smoke from his cigarette. He shut his eyes, and after a moment, yawned.

"Tired?" Charlie asked.

"Mm," Todd said, sleepily.

"Want to go back to bed?"

Todd's eyes flew open, and he reflexively dug his fingers into Charlie's shirt. "No."

"Okay." Charlie stood up, and pulled Todd to his feet. Todd thrust his hands into his pockets, watching mystified as Charlie, cigarette in his mouth, cracked open the window again, just an inch or two, and then pulled another of the battered leather chairs close to the one that they'd been sitting in, before. He took off his jacket and said, "Sit down."

"What -?"

"Just sit down," Charlie insisted. "For someone who doesn't talk very much, you ask an awful lot of questions."

Todd smiled, and bit his lip, and sat down, squishing over in the chair when Charlie sat down beside him and put his arms around the younger boy. Charlie stretched his feet out on the other chair and started carding his fingers through Todd's hair again.

Todd was amazed at how soothing that simple, gently repetitive touch was, and he yawned again. "Are we going to sleep here all night?" he asked.

"You're going to sleep," Charlie said. "I'll wake you up when it starts to get light."

Todd just nodded against Charlie's chest, and closed his eyes. Safe, sleep came easily.

The End

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