The boys woke up feeling very refreshed, like they had just had the best sleep in weeks. Trevor gave Zach a kiss to wake him up, which earned him a smile and a return kiss.
The two boys cuddled for a few minutes.
"Tigger? Are you nervous about today?"
"A little. You?"
"Yeah, me too."
"It's kinda scary. I wonder what that ceremony will be like?"
"It'll be okay. I'm guessing that after the ceremony, I'll be able to help more people. Like that kid that I saw during the sweat lodge. I want to learn whatever I can, so that when its time I can help him."
"Yeah, I guess you're right."
"Zach, you should have seen the look on that boy's face. It was like he had nothing to look forward to, no hope at all. I gotta do what I can for him."
"I know, Tigger, and I'm with you, all the way. I guess after today, that's my job."
"Zach, you know that you don't have to, if you don't want to...."
Trevor suddenly couldn't talk as Zach has stopped him with a kiss. He pulled back after a few moments, looked at Trevor and frowned at him.
"Don't ever say anything like that, Trev. I'm with you to the end, no matter what it takes, no matter how long it lasts. Knowing you and Jake, I have a feeling it's going to be a long time, and I think it's going to be a heckuva ride. I love you and there is no way you're getting rid of me."
"I figured you'd say that. You're not getting rid of me either. We're in this together."
Trevor kissed Zach and they got out of bed to get ready for the day. Before they left the room, they woke Jared and Jeremy. Downstairs they found their dads sitting at the table with Sean. They passed out hugs to everyone before they sat down and poured themselves a glass of orange juice. By the time the other boys came down, Shayna and Terry were putting breakfast on the table. The other two boys got some orange juice as they sat down. After breakfast they went out to the stables, and Sean directed them to saddle their horses for a ride. They headed out into the nearby hills, Sean leading the way. After a couple of hours, Sean led them to the top of a hill crowned by some pine trees. He stopped at a spot where a couple of the trees had fallen down, making a nice place to sit down. He dismounted and the others followed suit. All of them took a seat on the fallen trees. Sean looked at the boys with a smile.
"Well, boys, how do you feel today?"
"Real good, Grandfather. It felt like I had the best sleep ever."
"Good. Now today we will do the final ceremony for you three. Robbie is going to be helping me this afternoon, and Tom, Jared and Jeremy, I'm sorry, but you cannot be there for the ceremony. It is very personal and we need to confine it to those involved with the ceremony. So I really have to ask you guys to wait at the house. I promise you that nothing will happen to any of them, at least nothing bad."
"Sean, it does... well, this whole thing still worries me, but I know this is important and the boys and I will wait for you to return."
Sean noted the frowns on the two boys' faces.
"Boys, I know you want to be there as well, but it is very personal and I really need you to understand. Okay?"
"Yes sir. We understand. We'll wait with Dad."
"Thank you. They can tell you about it afterwards if they wish, but that is up to them. Well, let's get back to the house. These guys need to get ready for this afternoon."
They got up, remounted and rode back to the house. The boys raced each other back every so often during the ride. Once back at the ranch, they took care of their horses and went into the house. After lunch, the boys played some video games until Sean came and told them it was time to leave for the pond. He was dressed in his buckskins. Those that were staying behind gave hugs of support to the Jake and the boys. Jake went up to his room and returned with his bagged sword.
"What's that, Dad?"
"This is my sword."
"Can we see it?"
Jake untied the bag and pulled the ornate sword out for them to see. He laid the bag down and drew the sword out. The blade gleamed in the light. Its edge looked razor sharp. The boys were impressed by it. Jake sheathed it and returned it to the bag. They left the house just as Robbie drove up. He got out of the Jeep and waved to them. Robbie was also dressed in his buckskins.
"Hi, guys. I see I'm right on time."
"Yep, we were just getting ready to head out to the place."
"Okay, let's go."
He got back in his Jeep. The others got into Jake's Jeep and they drove off. A few minutes later they arrived at the trees and got out of the Jeeps. They headed to the campsite.
Cody had spent the day at the campsite. He had tried to catch some fish but was unsuccessful. He went swimming when it got hot. When he stripped down, he inspected the cuts and bruises that had been hidden by his clothes. The cuts had scabbed over and the bruises were a dark purple. Once in the water, he cleaned the cuts up, which caused some of them to bleed a little. The bruises felt a little better after being in the cool water, and he found that he could move a little better after that. He dried off in the sun before he got dressed. By late afternoon he was feeling pretty hungry and was just going into the lodge to take a nap, when he heard voices coming up the trail and getting nearer. He quickly jumped inside the lodge and made sure the door was closed. The voices stopped at the campsite and he carefully peeked out of the door. He saw three men and two boys. The men were all Indians with long brown or black hair. The two boys also wore their hair long to their shoulders but they were white, one blond and the other brown haired. One of the men and both of the boys were dressed in western clothes like you would see on any ranch in the area. The other two men, the oldest one and the youngest one, were dressed in Indian clothes, and Cody recognized that the beaded and quilled designs on the clothes were of Cheyenne design, like his mother's family wore sometimes. They were carrying rawhide parfleches. The man who wasn't dressed up was carrying a large rolled up hide. He put it down where the older Indian pointed. The blond haired boy was carrying a long and thin fancy looking bag. Once the man had put the hide down, the blond boy handed the bag to him. The older Indian directed the three that weren't dressed up to sit on the bench at the side of the campsite. He and the younger man set their rawhide parfleches on the table and returned to stand in front of the others again. Cody had seen parfleches like that before, as his mother's family used them to store some of the items and clothes that they wore at Pow Wows. The backs of the two dressed up Indians were towards the lodge where Cody was hiding. The older one started talking and Cody listened to what he was saying.
"All right, this is it. After tonight you will be completely bonded. You will know what the other feels, and sometimes what they are thinking. It is different for each mage and his guardian, and in this case companion. Shayna and I can feel what the other is feeling, but not much beyond that. Robbie, I assume it is a different with you and Ginny?"
"Yes, pretty much the same, although when we are close we can communicate with each other as well."
"Like I said, it is different for each group. Now the reason that I asked the others not to insist that they be here is because it will be a very personal experience. Things will happen during the ceremony that you may want to keep private. There may be certain... physical responses that will probably happen during the ceremony"
Sean looked at each of them. Jake nodded in understanding; both of the boys were puzzled and then the light of understanding came to their eyes and they blushed. Sean chuckled a bit and nodded.
"I see you understand; let me explain what will happen. First you three must remove all you clothes like we were in the sweat yesterday. Little Wolf, you will wear your necklace, of course, and Jake will have his sword.
When Cody heard this, his eyes opened wide and his mouth dropped open. He continued to watch through the small space at the scene before him.
"During the ceremony, you three will have to be in certain positions. Jake, you will sit first. Trevor will sit between your legs up against your chest. Zachary will sit almost in Trevor's lap facing him with his legs wrapped around Trevor and Jake. Zachary and Trevor, you must hold each other very close, as close as you can. Jake, you will put your arms around both of them with the sword held in both hands and touching Zachary's back. Trevor, during the ceremony, you and Zachary must be as closely joined as possible. At one point I will ask you to join and there are two ways to do so. One way is for Trevor to be inside Zachary, you understand?
Both boys were blushing furiously now and they nodded.
"I really don't think that you boys are ready for anything like that."
Trevor and Zach both shook their heads and Sean smiled his understanding. Jake gave both of the boys a reassuring hug from where he was standing behind them.
"I didn't think so. The other way is for you to kiss. So when I say it is time for you to join, at that point you should be holding a kiss and sending as much love to each other as you can. You will be able to feel it during the ceremony. All of you should project as much love as you can to each other. The basis of this ceremony for a White Spirit is the love you have for one another. At a certain point in the ceremony, Trevor, I will tell you to grasp the sword blade with both of your hands placed next to and touching Jake's. Zachary, when I tell Trevor to grasp the sword, you must reach to Jake's shoulders and place your hands upon them. This will make the circle complete. Does everybody understand?"
Sean got answering nods from them. In the lodge, Cody was thinking frantically to himself.
What are these people talking about? Are they a bunch of weirdoes? I've heard of secret ceremonies among the Indians, and this sounds like one of them. The old guy had said something about a mage. Was he talking about magic? Like in those fantasy books? I wish I'd never found this place. I shoulda left earlier. I better be as quiet as possible so they don't catch me.
Cody turned his attention back to the scene before him.
"Let's get ready. Jake, will you and the boys unroll the buffalo hide?"
"Once you have it unrolled, why don't you get yourself ready and stand on the hide?"
Jake and the boys untied the hide, got in unrolled and laid out flat. The hide was a large buffalo hide with the hair on it. Sean and Robbie were by the table and benches, opening up the parfleches and taking things out. Once they had the hide unrolled, Jake and the boys went over to the bench and started to get undressed, laying their clothes neatly on the table. After he was undressed, Jake took the sword out of the bag and unsheathed it. Cody's mouth silently said 'Wow' when he saw the sword. Once they were done, they went to stand on the hide; luckily the day was warm so they weren't cold. Sean and Robbie soon joined them. Sean had his buffalo headdress on now and was carrying an eagle wing fan, and Robbie stood next to him with a copper bowl with a bundle of smoldering sage in it. Sean stood before the three naked people and took the bowl from Robbie. He waved the wing over the bowl, fanning the smoke toward them. Each of them lifted the smoke up and over their heads as he fanned it towards them. Sean continued fanning the smoke from head to toe on each of them and then repeated it from behind them. He next went to Robbie and repeated the blessings, and handed the items to Robbie, who put them to the side. They both turned to the others.
"Spirit Wolf, if you will now take your position."
Jake nodded and sat down in the middle of the hide, laying the naked sword next to him. When he sat he noticed the hide was a fine well tanned specimen, as the hair was very soft.
"Little Wolf, you're next."
Trevor walked over and sat down with his back to Jake. Jake put his arms around Trevor and hugged him. Trevor scooted back so that his back was touching Jake's chest. Jake had to reach between them for a moment to adjust himself and make himself comfortable. Sean smiled at them.
"Okay, Zach, your turn."
Zach walked over and sat down facing Trevor. He scooted up close and smiled at Trevor. He put his arms around Trevor and they touched foreheads, gazing in each other's eyes. Once they were in position Sean stood behind Jake and raised his hands and looked to the sky.
"Great Spirit, today we call upon you to give your blessing upon this bonding ceremony. We are here to welcome a White Spirit, his Guardian Angel and his Companion. This union is blessed with love for each other, love for others and love for their fellow man. This White Spirit has the potential to do great things for many people. We ask your blessing on this bonding so that they can do good in your name. A'ho."
Robbie started to beat on the hand drum he had removed from a parfleche. Once the beat was started, Sean began to sing as he walked around the edges of the large hide. Jake and the boys sat quietly. Jake had his arms around both boys, and held them close. The boys had their foreheads pressed together, still looking in each other's eyes and smiling. A faint glow started to shine from Trevor's eyes.
"Spirit Wolf, as the Guardian Angel of Little Wolf and his Companion Zachary, do you accept the obligation to protect them with your sword and your life? To stand by their side in this world and to support what they must do?"
"I will gladly stand by them and protect them with my life if necessary."
"Spirit Wolf, take up your weapon and hold it with both hands around the back of your charges, and rest the flat of your sword against Zachary's back."
Jake nodded as he dropped his arms from around the two boys and picked up the katana. He placed it gently against Zach's back and grasped it in both hands: one hand on the grip and one near the point. As he brought it against Zach's naked back, the cold steel caused Zach to jump a little. Trevor smiled at him.
"Little Wolf, you have been called by the Great Spirit and have been given the power to help others and oppose those who would bring hurt and harm to innocent people. Will you accept the power and responsibility that Grandfather Sky has given you and use it to help others? When you accept this responsibility, you give your promise to use it to help others. As part of this responsibility you accept the love and support of your Guardian and your Companion. Will you accept what the Great Spirit offers?"
"Yes, Grandfather, I accept what he offers, and I promise to use my power as the Great Spirit guides me, and give all my love and support to my Guardian and my Companion."
"Zachary, you have joined this bonding because of the love you and Little Wolf have found together. Because of that love you will make him greater than he would have been alone. Will you now pledge to continue your support of Little Wolf and stand by his side?"
"Grandfather, I promise to never leave his side. Whatever support he needs, I promise to provide it. He is my life."
"Little Wolf, hold your Guardian's sword; Zachary, place your hands on Spirit Wolf's shoulders. Little Wolf and Zachary, now is the time for you to join."
Trevor gave Zach a gentle squeeze before letting go, and reached out to grab Jake's sword, placing his hands next to and touching Jake's. As Zach moved his arms from around Trevor and reached to place his hands on Jake's shoulders, he and Trevor moved their faces closer and kissed. Trevor's eyes started to glow brighter as their lips touched in a gentle kiss. The three of them poured every bit of love that they could into each other. Cody was spellbound. As they kissed, Sean started to sing as he danced around them. From his vantage point in the lodge, Cody could see the glow from Trevor's eyes. As he saw the two boys come together in a kiss, his shock grew as he saw first the blade of the sword start to glow with a white light, then the glow spread from the sword until the three of them were covered in a glowing nimbus of white light. Slowly the glow grew larger and brighter until the entire campsite was brightly lit.
Cody found himself frozen in awe as he watched the ceremony. He could only watch as the two boys continued their kiss, and then he started to feel something more powerful. He had not felt anything like it for a long time at least not since his mother had died. The feeling spread from the center of his chest and started to fill his entire body. Tears started to fall down his cheeks. A smile came to his face as he felt the love coming from the three in the center of the light. Sean stopped dancing and the drumming stopped. Sean raised his arms and looked to the sky. By this time he and Robbie were both glowing as well. The three in the bond started to experience the physical reaction that Sean had spoken about. Jake closed his eyes and he leaned his forehead against the back of Trevor's head, pulling Trevor's back tighter against his chest. Trevor and Zach's eyes shot open as they deepened the kiss and moaned from the feelings running through them. The two boys pressed their pelvises against each other, as the light from the three grew brighter until it was nearly blinding. If anyone had been outside the grove of trees, they would have easily seen the light shining from within the trees.
"Grandfather Sky, Mother Earth, I present to you the new White Spirit, Little Wolf. Give him your guidance. Help him to reach his full potential. We can all feel the love flowing from these three. I know he will be a credit to all the White Spirits. Wakan Tanka, we ask your blessing. A'ho."
There was a bright flash of light from the three in the center and the glowing light went out. As they light went out, the three bonded cried out in the ecstasy of the love they felt coursing through them, and it was released and sent out in all directions. Sean and Robbie were staggered a little by the force of it. Both of them experienced the same physical reaction as their eyes shot wide open. Back at the ranch, everyone at the house felt the love that poured from the three. Because they were farther away, it did not hit them as hard as it did those that were nearby. All of them had tears of joy running down their faces wherever they were. Jared and Jeremy were up in the room playing video games, and they looked at each other, dropped the controls for the game and held each other tight. Back at the ceremony site, Trevor, Zach and Jake relaxed from their embrace. Jake lowered the sword as Trevor let go of it. He placed it beside him once again, and then wrapped both boys tightly in a hug that spoke volumes about what he was feeling right then. He murmured to them.
"I love you both so much. I will thank the Great Spirit everyday for guiding me to you. I swear I will do everything in my power to protect you both."
'Dad, we love you too, just as much. I will thank him every day as well for bringing us together and bringing Zach and me together.'
'Yeah, Uncle Jake, we do love you. All of my brothers love you.'
'Thank you, both of you.'
They reluctantly broke the embrace and looked down at each other and all three blushed.
"I guess we gotta get cleaned up a bit now. We're a little sticky."
"Yeah, Dad, race ya to the pon..."
At that moment they were interrupted by a wail that sounded from inside the sweat lodge. The three of them looked in the direction of the lodge. They got up and Jake picked the katana up and lifted it to the ready position. He started to move forward but Trevor grabbed his arm. Jake looked at him and Trevor held up his other hand. Inside the lodge they could now make out the sound as the sound of a young boy crying.
"Wait, Dad. Zach and I will go in."
"Be careful, son."
Trevor looked at Zach, who stood beside him and motioned with his head. Zach nodded. Both of them walked to the door of the lodge. Trevor pulled the door open and looked inside. Lying on the floor was a black-haired boy with Indian features similar enough to Jake's that they could tell he was at least part Cheyenne. The boy was rolled into a ball and crying real hard. Trevor and Zach went inside and knelt by the boy. Trevor reached down and put his arms around the boy. The boy instinctively wrapped his arms around Trevor and held tightly to him. His cries got louder until he pushed his face against Trevor's chest and then they became muffled. The boy's whole body shook with the sobs that wracked his body. Zach moved up behind him and wrapped his arms around the boy as well. Trevor rubbed the boys back and murmured to him. Zach looked at Trevor and saw his eyes start to glow as he put his mouth near the boy's ear and talked softly to him.
"Shh, buddy. You are among friends. Let it out and let us help you. Everything will be okay. Relax, you're safe now."
Slowly the boy's cries subsided. He still clutched Trevor, but his grip was not as tight as before. Trevor brought his hand down and lifted the boy's chin to make him look up. Under the boy's black bangs, blue eyes looked up at Trevor. Trevor smiled at him and got an answering smile on the tear-streaked face.
"Hey, buddy, feel better?"
"What's your name?"
"Well, I'm Trevor and this is Zach."
"Where are you from, Cody?"
"How'd you get here?"
"That's quite a way. So why did you leave Custer?"
"I couldn't stay there anymore."
The boy hesitated and ducked his head down, laying it against Trevor's chest again. Trevor looked at Zach and put his hand under Cody's chin again. He lifted his face until Cody met his gaze. His eyes had filled with tears again.
"Tell us, Cody. Let us help you."
"I... I can't li... live with him anymore. He doesn't wa... want me anyway. He hates me."
"Who? Who hates you?"
"What makes you say that he hates you? Did he tell you that he hates you?"
"Not exactly, I just know he does. He always yells at me and he... he hits me."
"He hits you? We should talk to my dad and grandpa. They can help you."
"Are you sure? Will they make me go back to him?"
"I don't know, but if your stepdad hits you, my dad won't like that at all, and I'm sure he will do what he can to help you. C'mon"
Zach turned around, and started to lead the way out. Cody turned to look in his direction and then whipped his head around and looked Trevor up and down and blushed. Trevor followed his gaze and realized what Cody was looking at.
"You guys are... naked."
"Uh... yeah, we are. C'mon. Let's go talk to my dad."
Cody looked down at the front of his shirt and looked at Trevor's stomach and chest.
"And sticky too."
The boys laughed a little.
"Yeah... uh, sorry about that."
Zach left the lodge. Cody came next, with Trevor coming out behind him. When they exited the lodge, Cody saw that the two dressed-up Indians were sitting at the bench, and the older guy with the sword was dressed now and the sword was not in sight. His hair was a little damp and there were wet spots on his clothes from when he had gone to the pond to wash off.
"Who do we have here?"
"Dad, this is Cody. I think he needs our help."
"Okay, Cody, it's nice to meet you. Why don't you boys go rinse off and get dressed, and then we'll talk for a bit."
The boys hurried down to the pond; Cody followed behind them. Zach and Trevor dove in the water and rinsed off quickly. Cody watched them quietly. Trevor looked at him.
"Why don't you take that shirt off and rinse it out?"
Cody thought about it for a moment and then slowly began to take the shirt off while the other boys went back to playing around in the water. Cody had just wrung the shirt out and had his back turned to the boys when he heard a gasp behind him. He looked around and both boys were staring at him with tears in their eyes. Then Trevor came out of the water toward Cody. Cody started to get a little embarrassed and tried to untangle the shirt so that he could put it back on. Trevor stopped him and gently put his arm around his shoulders and guided him back up the trail to the campsite. When they rejoined the adults, Jake looked up and his eyes started to smolder as he stood up.
"Who the hell did that to you?"
Cody shrank back from the anger in Jake's eyes. He started to whimper a little and all the anger immediately flew out of Jake. He quickly moved toward the boy, but Robbie cut him off and dropped to his knees in front of Cody and enfolded the boy in his arms.
"Shh, buddy. He's not mad at you. He's mad at whoever hurt you like that."
Cody brought his arms up and held onto Robbie's neck. Jake came up and gently stroked his back. Zach and Trevor went over to the benches and started to get dressed. Trevor walked over to Jake and hugged him.
"Dad, Cody needs our help."
Jake nodded and Robbie pulled back from the hug to look at Cody.
"Cody, it's nice to meet you. My name's Robbie."
"I'm Jake, Trevor's dad."
Cody stretched out his hand and took Jake's hand. He looked at Jake with apprehension. Jake smiled and when Cody saw the caring look on his face, he relaxed.
"Are you okay, Cody? Tell us who did this. We'll help you."
Cody nodded as he looked into Jake and Robbie's eyes. Jake gently put his hands on Cody's arms and turned him around. They could see the cuts that were scabbed over and the bruises on Cody's chest and back.
"Who did this, Cody? Who hurt you like that?"
"M... my stepfather. He hates me."
Jake turned to his dad.
"Dad, can you do something for him."
Sean looked at Cody and then shook his head.
"No, son, I can't. I do not mean I am incapable; what I mean is that he needs to be like this at least for a little while longer, so that the police can see what has been done to him. If I did something, there would be no proof."
"Yeah, you're right. Here, Cody, put your shirt back on."
Cody slipped his shirt back on. Trevor and Zach finished getting dressed.
"Cody, this is my father, Sean MacLaren. He owns the ranch around here. I bet you're hungry. Come on back to the house and we'll get you fixed up."
"Thank you, sir."
"Call me Jake."
"Okay, Jake, thanks."
"Cody, why don't you ride with me?"
"Okay, Mr... uh, Robbie."
"Robbie. Just call me Robbie."
They finished picking everything up. Jake carried the rolled up buffalo hide out to his Jeep, while Sean and Robbie carried the parfleches out to the Jeeps. Cody got into Robbie's Jeep and everyone else got into Jake's. They got back to the house in a few minutes, and when they went into the house, they were greeted by the ladies, Tom and the two boys. Cody followed Robbie into the house. Shayna took notice of the boy and smiled at him.
"Welcome back. And who is this?"
Sean gave his wife a kiss.
"Dear, this is Cody. He's going to be staying with us for a little while."
"Cody dear, come here and let me get to know you."
Cody walked to over to Shayna and she held her arms out to give him a hug. As she closed her arms around him, Sean cautioned her.
"Gently, dear. He has a couple sore spots."
She took him in her arms carefully and he melted into her hug.
"You poor dear. I bet you're hungry? Come with me, dear. We have dinner already made and plenty of room."
She guided Cody to the dining room and had him sit next to her. Robbie sat on the other side of him. The dinner was great. Cody was introduced to everyone that had stayed behind. They stayed away from his situation and talked about general things. They also didn't talk much about what happened during the ceremony. After the dinner, they all went into the den to sit down and talk. Shayna had Cody sit next to her. Sean sat in his chair nearby.
"Cody, I want you to listen to me; it's very important that you understand. I believe you saw something today that might be hard to believe. Do you mind telling us what you saw?"
"I, uh saw you guys come to the campsite. I hid in the hide-tent-like thing."
"I watched as you guys put the buffalo hide down and then those three took all their clothes off."
Zach and Trevor blushed, causing Jared and Jeremy to laugh.
"Shut up, you two."
The two boys started laughing even louder and the adults grinned.
"Ye... yes," hee hee "Dad."
"Yes, Uncle Tom."
The boys got their laughing under control and sat there with smiles on their faces.
"Go ahead, Cody, continue."
"Yes sir. I laid down low and looked through the corner of the door to see what you were doing. I saw them sit in the center and then you danced around and sang while, Ro... Robbie drummed. Then J... Jake put a sword behind his back."
Cody pointed at Zach.
"The blade was touching his back. Then the other boy put his hands on the sword and then he and the first boy kissed. Then I don't know what it was but, they started glowing and the light got brighter, and then you and Robbie started glowing too. Sir, I promise I won't tell anyone, I swear I won't"
Cody started to look scared and tears came to his eyes. Robbie quickly got out of his chair and dropped to his knees in front of Cody. Cody turned his face against Shayna and hid his face. She put her arms around him and hugged him. Robbie looked at him with sympathy.
"Cody... buddy... c'mon. Look at me. C'mon, Code, trust me. You're safe. There are a lot of people here who would do everything to keep you safe. No one will hurt you, okay?"
Cody slowly pulled his head away from Shayna and looked at Robbie. Unshed tears were in his eyes. He looked at Robbie and saw something there that calmed him down.
"May the Great Spirit strike me down if I lie."
Cody looked at Robbie for a few moments and then he almost launched himself at Robbie. Robbie barely had time to put his arms up so he could catch Cody. Cody wrapped his arms tight around Robbie's neck and buried his face against his neck. Robbie stayed on the floor holding him and soothing him for several minutes. Shayna and Terry got up and went to get some drinks for everyone. Jared and Jeremy went to help.
"It's okay, Code. Shhh, you're okay. We're here to help you. You're going to be fine."
By the time the others got back with the drinks, Cody had finally calmed down, but he did not let go of Robbie.
"Code, I'm going to get up, okay. My leg is going to sleep."
Cody giggled and let Robbie up. Robbie stood up and massaged his leg before he made his way over to the chair he had been sitting on. Cody followed him and waited until he sat down, and then he reclaimed Robbie's lap and leaned his side against him. Robbie looked at everyone else, who were grinning at the two of them, Jake most of all.
Cody looked at Robbie and smiled. Robbie put his arms around him and gave him a quick hug.
"Good. Do you want to continue?"
"All right, we're all ears."
Cody turned his attention from Robbie to Sean.
"Can I ask a question, sir?"
"Sure, Cody, ask away."
"Thank you, sir. Who... who are you guys?"
"Well, Cody. That's kind of a long story and I would be happy to tell you about it sometime, but for now, I will give you the short version. There are people in the world that can do special things, you would call it magic. We call them mages. What you saw earlier was what is known as a bonding ceremony. It was a special one because there were three people; usually there are two people, not three. The bonding ceremony bonds a mage and his guardian, so that they can help each other. Robbie and I are also mages, so we were there to perform the ceremony."
"So, I guess one of those boys is a, uh m... mage?"
"Yes, Trevor is the mage."
"Then he, I mean Jake, is a guardian, right"
"Yes, and Zachary is Trevor's companion."
"What's that mean?"
"It means when he is with Trevor, Trevor can be stronger, more powerful and will be able to help more people."
"So you guys can do magic stuff."
"Yes, we can."
"What kind of stuff?"
"Different things, and some mages are better at some things than they are at others. There is combat magic, healing magic, protection magic, and a few other things. Now Cody, I, well we, need to ask you a couple of things. First, we really need you to keep what you know secret. Those who are like us, other mages, do not want it known that there are people like us. We work in the background and help as many people as we can and as the Great Spirit directs us. So Cody, can you keep what you know a secret?"
"You mean there are others like you? If you help people, then I don't want to stop that, and Trevor said that you folks would help me.
"Thank you, and he was right, we will do everything we can to help you. That is what we do, help people."
"Okay. Thanks. Are there a lot of people like you>"
"No, not a lot, but there are enough of us to help as much as they can. Okay, now we want to learn some more about you. You said you were from Custer. How old are you?"
"Why were you here on my ranch?"
"I... I ran away from home, because he, I mean my stepdad, doesn't want me."
"What about your mom?"
"She died last year."
"What about your real dad?"
"He was killed in Afghanistan. He was in Special Forces."
"I'm sorry to hear that, son. I truly am. Is there anyone else you could live with?"
"My grandparents live in Lame Deer, but Dan never let me visit them after my mom died. When he and my mom got married we moved to Custer. After my mom died, he never let me go visit them. He called me names all the time and hit me for no reason. He hated me. I was just someone he was stuck with. I couldn't stand it anymore so I ran away. I was trying to get to my grandparents in Lame Deer."
"You said he hit you and we saw the cuts and bruises on you. Did your stepfather do that to you?"
"Then there is only one thing we can do. Will you trust us to do the right thing?"
Cody looked at everyone and saw only caring looks and friendly smiles. He looked at Robbie and then focused back on Sean; he nodded.
"Okay, here's what we're going to do. I'm going to call the police and tell them what is going on. They will probably come out here to talk to you. After that we'll do everything that we can to help you."
"Good. I'm going to make the call and get everything going."
Sean got up and went over to the phone and dialed.
"Hardin Sheriff's Office, how can I help you?"
"Hello, this is Sean MacLaren at the Rocking MC."
"Yes sir, Mr. MacLaren, how can I help you."
"I have found a young boy on my land. He appears to have been beaten recently. There are bruises and cuts on his chest and back, so I think we need an officer out here at the ranch to talk to him."
"How bad is he injured? Should we send paramedics?"
"That might be a good precaution. He seems to be okay, sore but otherwise okay."
"Thank you, sir. We will contact Paramedics, CPS and dispatch a deputy. They will be there as soon as they can."
"Okay, we'll be waiting. Thank you."
"Thank you, sir."
Sean hung up and looked at the group.
"They are on their way. An officer should be here soon. They are also sending Paramedics to take a look at you, Cody, and make sure your injuries aren't too bad. There will also be someone from CPS here. So all we have to do is wait. Boys, why don't you take Cody to your room and play some games while we wait for everyone?"
"Sure, Grandfather. C'mon, Cody."
Cody looked at Trevor and then turned to give a quick hug to Robbie, and got off his lap to follow the boys. Jake noticed Robbie's gaze follow Cody as he left the room. When Cody was out of sight, and he focused his attention back to the others in the room, he saw that everyone was looking at him with big smiles on their faces, especially Jake.
"Nothing, little brother, but you got it bad."
Robbie looked in the direction that Cody had disappeared, and when he looked back at Jake, he shrugged and gave a sheepish smile and his eyes looked a little damp.
"Yeah, I guess I do. I want to do everything for him so that he will not feel the way he did, ever again. He needs to feel loved. Sean, you're going to keep him here, right?"
"That's the plan. After the authorities get here and finish with Cody, I'll talk to the CPS person about him staying here. We don't want him stuck in an unfamiliar place tonight. I don't think we'll have any problems. We'll just have to see. Then in the morning, I'll try to contact his grandparents and invite them out here and see what the next step will be. I expect that after they talk to Cody, there will be some questions for his stepfather."
"Yeah, I'd like to ask him a few questions myself."
"I know, Jake, me too, but we'll let the authorities handle it. You've got some work to do, and we don't want you in a position where you will be unable to perform that duty."
"Yeah, I know, but don't you think it would fun, Tom, just a little?"
"I guess a little, you think we can get there before the police do? See if he has any stairs to fall down... several times? You know how they say about all those accidents that happen in the home."
"True, I'd like to make sure he does have an accident, but I guess Dad is right; we should let the authorities take care of it."
"Bummer, but yeah, I guess."
Sean gave them a look as they grinned and tried to look innocent. They all shared a laugh and talked about plans for getting Trevor and the other boys trained while they waited for the authorities.