What neither Mateo nor Vicente were aware of, was that they had been seen. Watching discretely from a distance Tavaris waited to find out what would happen. He'd followed his classmate to the sports field and was curious to see who Mateo was meeting. He never expected the boy would disappear inside the building. Who had run out to open the gate? He couldn't make out from his hiding place. Which is why he hung around waiting, and it was a long time before the two boys re-emerged. He'd almost decided to give up.
Frustratingly, he still was unable to see who the boy was who came out of the building. Even when they were standing at the side gate, presumably locking up, he was too far away. It had to be someone in their year. The other boy looked from his outline, size and height, to be their age. `Maybe it was Pascoal?' He'd seen the two of them together many times. His mind was made up to find out. He already had his own idea as to what they'd been doing, and that was something he could use.
Sunday mornings were taken up with Church, but after lunch the afternoons were free time when the boys could do as they pleased. Only six-formers were allowed off the school grounds unless there was some special event taking place at the sports field or the boy had permission. Tavaris saw his opportunity to confirm if it was Pascoal who he'd seen yesterday, when he made a point of bumping into him after lunch.
"What were you and Mateo doing together yesterday?" he asked as he put his lunch tray away, coming up behind Pascoal.
The other boy turned his head to see who it was. "Tavaris, right?"
"Yeah, that's me."
Pascoal extended a hand. "We don't really know each other."
Tavaris stared a moment, then accepted the hand, shaking it. "No, I guess I'm the new boy."
"You and James both. Only you were the unlucky one." Pascoal grinned.
"Getting called out by Father Benedito," Pascoal clarified.
"That's nothing, I'm used to it."
Pascoal wasn't too sure what to make of that. "You get in trouble a lot?"
"Well, no, not exactly," Tavaris wanted to steer the conversation back to what was going on with Pascoal and Mateo at the sports field. "It was you I saw with Mateo, yesterday? At the sports field?"
"Nope, I wasn't there. I think Mateo was going to watch the match or something, but I needed to finish some school work."
"Oh, right." So now he knew it was another boy, but who?
"What you doing this afternoon? Wana hang out?" Pascoal thought this could be a chance to get to know Tavaris, they had not spoken to each other before.
Before he got an answer James rolled up. "What we doing now?" he asked Pascoal. Then glancing at Tavaris and smiling he offered his hand. "Hi, I'm James." Tavaris shook his hand. "Guess we're both the new boys. How come you ended up in this place?"
Tavaris now found himself in a predicament. What to say, should he explain all, or make something up? James and Pascoal looked at him, waiting for a reply.
"It's a bit of a long story," Tavaris started. It was obvious to the other two that there was something a little odd here, Tavaris looked ill at ease.
"If it's that long," James said, trying to lighten the mood.
"I'm an orphan and Father Thomas is part of my foster family." Tavaris was looking at the ground, kicking his feet.
"Oh, okay," Pascoal replied. "Well how `bout we go back to the dorm? I got a pack of cards. We can figure out a game."
"Truth or dare," James threw in enthusiastically.
The three boys headed off to the dorm which they found deserted. Obviously Duante and Mateo were doing something somewhere else. It wasn't much warmer inside than out, but it seemed better to be out of the wind, and dry. It had been raging on and off all weekend, sunshine, showers, and gusts of cold wind.
Pascoal retrieved the cards from his cupboard and they sat down on the beds, Pascoal and Tavaris opposite James. He pulled up a chair and started dealing the cards onto the chair. The bedrooms were quite spartan, four beds, two cupboards, two desks and chairs.
"Poker. You know how to play?" Pascoal finished dealing. The other two nodded. "Right, loser does a dare or tells a truth. We play three rounds, then count the winnings." He pulled out a box of matches and started counting them out. "Oh yeah, nearly forgot. If you go bust before the three rounds, you've lost, obviously." He smiled.
Nobody went bust, but the losers were tied between James and Tavaris who both had the same number of matchsticks, considerably less than Pascoal's pile.
"Okay, James. Truth or dare?" Pascoal was grinning wickedly.
"Oh, I don't like that evil look. Truth," James looked straight at Pascoal.
Tavaris watched, knowing he was up next. Pascoal's grin got bigger. "Have you ever had sex with a boy and what did you do?"
James chuckled. "That's two questions you perve."
"Alright then. Have you had sex with another boy?"
"Yes," was all James answered, which left Pascoal and Tavaris wondering.
"So to be fair," Pascoal turned to Tavaris. "Same question to you."
"Never? Not even jerking off together?" Pascoal wondered if he was telling the truth.
"Not even that. I told you already I was with Father Thomas's family who fostered me. There was only me."
"You had friends though?" James was getting curious too.
"Not really. Can you deal, this isn't twenty questions."
Pascoal was thinking that this game could get pretty intense. He dealt the cards.
Tavaris was not a great poker player. After the next three rounds he was again the loser, but this time James had won. Before he had time to give either a truth or dare, Mateo came back. "Oh, hi," he said looking at Tavaris and wondering what he was doing here. "Duante's playing basket and I dropped out, pulled a muscle. He needs one more, anyone?"
James jumped up. "Yeah, I'm up for that. Listen, you take my place," he looked towards Mateo who was standing with the door still open, "I'll take yours." Without waiting for a reply, James was out of the dorm. Mateo closed the door and sat down opposite Pascoal and Tavaris.
"We're playing truth or dare poker and Tavaris just lost. Tavaris, what is it, truth or dare?"
Tavaris didn't hesitate, "Truth."
"So Mateo, it's your question, because James won." Pascoal almost wanted to add something about the previous question and answer, but he thought that wouldn't be very fair on Tavaris.
"Okay, well, I don't know too much about you." Mateo smiled at the boy sitting opposite. "Do you prefer boys or girls?" He wasn't sure why he asked that question. It just came out. Maybe because of that look Tavaris gave him in class, or because there was just something about the boy. A sort of mystery.
Pascoal chuckled and clapped his hands, "It always comes down to sex."
"I guess I missed some other revelations then?" Mateo looked from one boy to the other.
"I don't know how to answer," Tavaris replied. Then he added, "I don't know."
"Let's talk then," Mateo suggested, and Pascoal nodded. "How about we get to know each other. Forget the cards, we just ask and answer questions. Take turns. You go first Tavaris."
He looked at Mateo, then he looked down at his lap. "Secret, okay. Nobody ever tells."
Mateo leaned in and reached out both hands. The other two boys did the same, holding hands in a circle. "Secret, forever," Pascoal said. "Secret forever," Mateo and Tavaris repeated. That's what they said, but they didn't realise where this truth session would lead them.
"I know about you Mateo," Tavaris glanced up.
"What does that mean?" Mateo asked, Pascoal was silent.
"Well first I'll tell you about me. Then you can speak about you. I don't want to say what isn't for me to say, but for you to say." Tavaris could feel his heart beating. This wasn't at all what he'd been thinking of doing, it wasn't what he'd planned. He was nervous as hell. Could he trust them? That he would find out, but anyhow, did it matter? Somewhere deep inside he hoped he could trust them. He'd kept his secret way too long and he knew it would kill him, eventually.
"I already told Pascoal and James that I'm an orphan. I was fostered as an only child by Father Thomas's family, which is how I'm here." He took a deep breath. "Father Thomas used to stay with us regularly, once a month, for the weekend. He had this ritual. He sort of appointed himself responsible for my discipline."
Mateo gulped, he looked at Tavaris. He didn't want to admit it, but he knew what the kid was going to say. He didn't want to hear it, but something inside him told him that Tavaris needed to get this out, to share it.
"I don't want to tell all the details," he looked at Mateo, who saw that same look. Recognition. That was it. Mateo and Tavaris both knew. They knew Father Thomas and they knew each other.
"Once a month," Tavaris continued, "he'd count up the misdemeanours and announce the punishment. When I was young it'd be a spanking, over his knee. Yeah, of course it hurt, but it wasn't that. He'd have me strip naked first. It became a routine, take your clothes off, get spanked. It was weird, but I did it. Well I had no choice."
Pascoal felt uneasy listening to this, but he wanted to give his support. Mateo knew where all this was going and he felt the same sadness he felt when Tavaris had been called out in class. It was like it was happening to him.
"He used to do stuff as well."
"What like?" Pascoal asked, then immediately thought he shouldn't have.
Tavaris looked at Mateo. "First it was touching, feeling. Later it was a whole lot more than touching. He was always hard when he was spanking me."
"You don't have to say," Mateo interrupted, but he knew he would. He knew he had to tell it.
"He fucked me. I told you I never had sex with a boy. That's true, but Father Thomas fucked me. Mateo knows, Father Thomas knows, maybe a few others."
"How does Mateo know?" Pascoal asked.
Tavaris looked at Mateo. Their eyes met, Tavaris said nothing, but his eyes were pleading, willing Mateo to speak, to help.
"He did it to me," Mateo spoke.
There was silence. Pascoal looked from Mateo to Tavaris. It looked like Tavaris was about to burst into tears. He was shocked. He knew stuff went on, but this was very close to home.
Tavaris started to tear up. "I'm sorry. But he's a bastard, Father Thomas. He enjoys the humiliation, inflicting pain, and the domination. When I got older he would make me stand there in my underpants. He'd have the strap then. He'd tell me it was evil to masturbate, but he'd make me do it. Show him how evil I was. He'd play with my dick, get it hard." Tavaris stopped he was breathing very quickly and starting to cry. Pascoal put an arm around his shoulder and hugged him. The boy buried his head in Pascoal's chest.
Mateo stood up and joined them on the other bed. He too hugged Tavaris and as both boys held him he sobbed.
It was Thursday afternoon, their Geography teacher, Mr Simmons, was off sick so it was a free period. They were told to get on with some work quietly, and Tavaris scooted into the desk beside Mateo at the back of the class. "I know about you and that first form kid," he whispered. Really, he knew nothing at all about Vicente and Mateo, he was taking a stab in the dark because he needed something from Mateo. Maybe, he thought, he could use this to get Mateo to agree to doing what he wanted.
"Er, which first form kid?" Mateo didn't believe anyone knew about his relationship with the younger boy.
"The kid I saw you with ages ago, coming out of the sports building." Tavaris had done a little investigating after he'd followed Mateo that day and had found out that two first formers cleaned the place after the Saturday matches. He wasn't close enough to see the boy Mateo was with, but it had to be Vicente or JordÃ£o, one of the two boys who cleaned the place.
"You were spying on me?" Mateo raised his voice.
"Ssh! Not so loud," Tavaris looked around the classroom.
Mateo leaned in closer and grabbed Tavaris' arm, squeezing it hard. "Why the fuck were you watching me?"
Tavaris looked at Mateo with a sad apologetic expression. "Sorry, but you know my story. I wanted to find out about you. To know if I could trust you."
"It's not very cool. Doing stuff like that."
"Yeah, I know. It's like stalking. I'm sorry."
"So forget about who I was with. It's none of your business." Mateo pulled on the other boy's arm. "I mean it. Forget it."
"Okay, okay. But I want you to do something for me."
"What is this? First you're trying some sort of blackmail, now what?"
Tavaris looked down, he felt defeated, this hadn't gone the way he'd expected. He thought he could get just enough leverage to get Mateo to agree, but he'd blown it. "I only wanted to invite you to come stay with me for half term."
"So just ask. What gives with all the rest?"
"I didn't want you to say no." Tavaris glanced at Mateo before looking away quickly.
"Okay." Mateo sat back in his desk.
"Okay what?" Tavaris was confused.
"Okay, I'll stay with you at half term." Mateo was wondering why Tavaris was going to so much trouble to get him to stay over half term. He was curious about what was going on. Did Tavaris like him? Was he lonely? Anyhow, it would be better spending half term together than each on their own. He would have preferred spending the time with Vicente, but that wasn't possible.
Tavaris' eyes lit up, seemed to sparkle. "Thanks," he smiled.
Mateo returned the smile.