The adults were sitting in the den when they heard some vehicles pull up outside. Sean got up and started for the door, reaching it just as there was a knock. He opened it and saw a Big Horn County Sheriff standing there carrying a small soft briefcase, with a couple of paramedics behind him.
"Deputy Stevens, won't you gentlemen come in?"
"Thank you, sir."
Sean stepped to the side to let them in.
"Robbie, go get the boys."
"Sure, Sean, on my way."
"Gentlemen, can I get you anything, coffee soda?"
"Thank you, ma'am, but no. The case worker said she'd be here in half an hour."
"Fair enough. The boys should be right out."
Moments later the five boys came downstairs. Sean motioned to Cody.
"Cody, this is Deputy Stevens from the Sheriff's Department over in Hardin. He's come here to talk to you."
"Mr. MacLaren, is there someplace where you, the boy and I can go to talk?"
"Sure, we can use my study."
"Sir, can Robbie, I mean Mr. Brave Horse, come with me too?"
"I suppose that would be okay, who is Mr. Brave Horse?"
"That would be me."
"Very well, lead the way, Mr. MacLaren."
Cody took Robbie's hand as they walked to the study, with the paramedics following behind them. Sean closed the door behind them after everyone was in. Robbie led Cody to a couch in the room and they sat down. Deputy Stevens sat in a nearby chair and took a notebook out of the briefcase. He had the paramedics stand by.
"Okay... Cody, right?"
"Cody, can I have your whole name?"
"Cody Red Wolf Jarrett."
"How old are you?"
"Okay, before we go any further, I would like the paramedics to have a look at you and see if any of your injuries warrant taking you to the hospital to be checked more thoroughly."
The deputy motioned the paramedics forward. They walked over and Robbie started to get up and out of the way, but Cody tightened his grip.
"Code, I'm just getting out of the way, so these guys can do their job, okay? I'll be right over here."
Cody nodded and let go of Robbie's hand. One of the paramedics sat next to Cody.
"Cody, I'm John and this is Ben. We're going to take a look at you and see if you're okay."
Cody nodded to give them permission.
"Okay, can you take your shirt off so we can listen to your breathing?"
Cody took his shirt off and they could see the bruises and scabs. The deputy reached into the bag again and pulled out a small digital camera. He held it up.
"Cody, I need to take some pictures for evidence, okay?"
While the paramedics worked on Cody, Deputy Stevens took several pictures of Cody's injuries. The paramedics checked his breathing, blood pressure and pulse. They inspected the cuts and cleaned them up, which caused Cody to wince a little as they worked. John smiled apologetically.
"Sorry, bud, but we gotta clean the cuts so they don't get infected."
"I know, it only hurts a little."
They probed the bruised areas, especially around the ribs, as they worked, and soon they were done. The cuts were bandaged and they started putting things away.
"Except for the cuts and bruises, I'd say he'll be okay. You might want to have a doc look at him, maybe get some x-rays if you're concerned, but I don't think we need to take him to the hospital tonight. Everything looks pretty superficial."
"Thanks, guys, can I have a copy of your report for the investigation?"
"Sure, Deputy, I'll write it up right now."
"Thanks. All right, Cody, looks like you're going to be all right. Now, are there any other injuries that we can't see, on your legs or anything?"
"Yeah, I think so."
Okay then, I'm sorry, but I have to ask you to take your pants off. You can leave your underwear on, but I need to document any other injuries."
"I'm sorry, but it's important; otherwise I wouldn't ask."
Cody stood up and undid his jeans, and after a moment of hesitation, pushed his jeans down, blushing a little at the state of his dirty briefs. Robbie moved back near him on the couch. The back of his thighs had some old healing bruises. The deputy took some pictures and then took in a deep breath.
"Cody, are there any injuries hidden by your underwear?"
"Maybe on my butt."
"Can you just lower the back of your underwear down so that I can document them?"
Cody nodded and turned around so he was facing Robbie and lowered the back of his underwear. There were some healing bruises that looked like greenish purple lines across his butt. The deputy took a couple more pictures.
"Okay, that's fine. Thank you, bud, I'm sorry we had to do that, but it is important that we get all the evidence that we can. You can get dressed now and we'll talk some more."
"It's okay, I understand, sir."
Cody pulled his jeans back on and sat down on the couch again next to Robbie and took his hand.
"Okay, let's continue. Who hurt you like that?"
"Dan Halston, my stepfather."
"When was that?"
"Two days ago, the recent ones anyway."
"I can see that some of your bruises appear to be healing, so I'm guessing this is not the first time."
"No, sir. He hits me all the time for no reason. He hates me, because I'm not his kid, and he never had a kid of his own."
"What about your mom?"
"She died last year of cancer."
"I'm sorry to hear that. Do you have any brothers or sisters?"
"No, sir. I'm the only one kid my mom had before my dad went to fight in Afghanistan, and then he was killed, and then it was just me and my mom until a couple of years ago when she met Dan. They got married and we moved from Lame Deer to Custer where Dan was from. He owns a gas station there and fixes cars. He was okay at first, but after my mom died, he started getting mad at me for anything I did. Then he started hitting me when I did something wrong or sometimes even if I didn't. He wouldn't even let me visit my grandparents. I finally got tired of it and I ran away two days ago. I was trying to get to my grandparents' house in Lame Deer, and then Mr. MacLaren and some of the other guys found me and brought me here. I was starting to get kinda hungry, and Mrs. MacLaren made sure that I had plenty to eat, and then Mr. MacLaren called you."
"Okay, that's good; thank you Cody. You've been very helpful. The case worker from CPS should be here soon. Mr. MacLaren, I wouldn't mind that cup of coffee now, if it's okay?"
"Sure. Let's go join the rest."
John came over to Deputy Stevens and handed him a copy of their report. They returned to the den. Cody still held Robbie's hand as they rejoined everyone. Sean got a cup for the deputy as the paramedics left. Cody reclaimed his place on Robbie's lap in the chair while they waited for the case worker. She showed up a couple of minutes later. Sean let her in the house, and then she came into the den and introduced herself.
"Hi, everyone, I'm Amber Plainfeather, the case worker assigned to this case. Hi, Tad, nice to see you again."
She glanced at the clipboard in her hand before she looked around the room.
Cody raised his hand. She smiled when she saw him sitting in Robbie's lap. She walked over to him and put out her hand. Cody took it and they shook hands.
"Hi, Cody. I'm going to talk with Deputy Stevens, and then would it be okay for you and I talk for a little bit? Mr. MacLaren, is there some place where I can talk to Cody for a few minutes?"
"Sure, you can use my study."
"Thank you. Tad, let's go in there and let me know what you have, and then Cody, you and I will have that talk?"
"Can Robbie come with me?"
"Code, I can't go with you for this; you'll need to talk to Ms. Plainfeather alone. I'll be right here when you come out, okay."
"Good, Cody, I'll have the Deputy bring you in the room when he and I finish talking."
Cody nodded and leaned back against Robbie and pulled his arms around to Cody's front. Amber looked at the two of them for a moment before she turned to the deputy.
"Let's go talk, Tad."
She and the deputy went into the study. Cody stayed in Robbie's lap while they were gone. They came out fifteen minutes later and Amber motioned for Cody to join her.
"I'm going to go make my report. See you folks around."
"Good bye, Deputy."
"You take care, Cody."
Cody got up, and looked at Robbie, who gave him an encouraging smile. He nodded and followed Amber into the room. They were in there for about thirty minutes. At fifteen minutes, Robbie got up and started pacing. The others watched him pace.
"Little brother, you look like an expectant father. Relax."
"I can't. What if she takes him with her tonight? He should stay here until we talk to his grandparents. He's safe here and he knows it."
Jake got up and put his arm around Robbie's shoulders.
"C'mon, sit down and relax. Everything will be fine."
"Yep, whatever happens, things will work out for the best."
He allowed Jake to steer him to a seat. When he sat down he was sitting on the edge of the seat, with his elbows on his knees. When they came out of the office, Robbie practically shot out of the chair and stood there nervously.
"Well, thank you, Cody, for talking to me. I think I have everything I need. Now this is what we're going to do next. Mr. MacLaren, Cody wishes to ask you something?"
Sean looked at Cody and nodded.
"Sir, can I stay here tonight?"
"Cody, Ms. Plainfeather, he can stay as long as necessary. I was planning on calling your grandparents in the morning and ask them to come out here tomorrow for lunch and we can talk."
"I think that's a good idea. I'll come by as well. I was going to call them in the morning, but I think you calling them will be better. Thank you, Mr. MacLaren. I guess I will see you all tomorrow afternoon. Take care, Cody."
"Good bye, Ms. Plainfeather."
Sean walked her to the door. Cody reclaimed his seat on Robbie's lap.
"Well, it's been an eventful day. I should probably get going as well."
"I'll be back tomorrow, Code. I'll see you then."
"Nonsense, Robbie. There's plenty of room; you should stay here tonight."
"Yeah, stay, please?"
"Since you ask, Cody, I'll stay."
"Okay, boys, it's getting late. You need to get cleaned up and get to bed. Cody, after you get cleaned up, I'll show you where you can sleep. Robbie, you know which room you can use. Boys, why don't you see if you have something that Cody can change into after he gets cleaned up?"
"Okay, Grandfather. C'mon, Cody, let's get cleaned up."
The boys left and ushered Cody along with them. Once they got to the boys' room, they started digging through their clothes to see if they could find some clean clothes for Cody. He was only a little smaller than them, so they were able to find some sweat pants that he could wear to bed, and some jeans and a shirt that would fit him well enough until his stuff could be cleaned. After giving the clothes to Cody, the boys started undressing. Cody watched and then he realized there were the two queen beds in this room.
"Whose room is this?"
"Ours. All of us stay in here."
"Who sleeps in the beds?"
"We all do. Trevor and Zach sleep in that one, and me and Jeremy sleep in this one."
"You sleep together?"
"But Dan said that only babies and fags sleep together."
The other boys stopped what they were doing. Each of them were in different states of undress, and they looked at Cody as silence came into the room. Cody started to feel nervous because everyone was looking at him, but he didn't see any hostility on their faces. Trevor, who was just in his underwear by that time, walked over to him and put his hands on Cody's shoulders. Cody had flinched a little when Trevor raised his arms, but held still, ready to run if necessary. Trevor looked Cody directly in the eyes.
"Cody, I have to ask you not to use that word... fag. It is a mean and hateful word."
"That's what Dan always said."
"I can believe that, but a nicer word is gay, and yes, we are all gay. Zach and I are boyfriends; you might have guessed that from what you saw at the pond. Jared and Jeremy are also boyfriends. We like boys instead of girls, so that makes us gay. We don't like the words 'fag, faggot, homo, queer' or anything like that. They are all demeaning words, used only to hurt others. So please don't use them around us; it's not nice."
"Okay. I didn't know. That's the only kind of words I hear people say, sorry."
Trevor leaned closer and touched his forehead to Cody's, and then he allowed his eyes to glow a little. Cody's eyes got wide and he started to pull away, but stopped himself when he felt only friendship and love coming from Trevor. He moved closer and put his arms around Trevor and hugged him. Trevor stopped the glow and returned the hug. When they pulled apart, both were smiling.
"Thanks, Trevor. I understand."
"I knew you would. I know you're a good guy, I can feel it. Let's get cleaned up. I'll show you where you can take a shower."
Cody nodded and gathered up the clothes that they had loaned him and followed Trevor, still in his underwear, to one of the bathrooms. Cody went in and shut the door. Jared and Jeremy were already in one bathroom, so Trevor went back to the bedroom to wait for an empty shower. Once Jared and Jeremy were done, Trevor and Zach took their shower. The five boys were all in the bedroom when Sean came to find Cody.
"All done, boys?"
"Good. Cody, come with me. I'll show you where you can sleep. Boys, time to get to bed."
Cody followed him to a smaller room that had a single queen bed.
"This guest room is for you. Have a good night."
"Goodnight, sir, and thank you for letting me stay."
"You are welcome to stay as long as you wish."
"Thank you, sir."
Sean smiled and left the room, closing the door behind him. Cody turned on the lamp next to the bed, and after turning the overhead light off, he got into bed. He had just scooted under the covers and was looking up at the ceiling when there was a knock on the door.
The door opened, Robbie came in and walked over to the side of the bed. Cody smiled when he saw Robbie.
"Hi Code, may I sit down?"
Cody scooted a little to make sure there was room. Robbie sat down and smoothed the hair back from Cody's forehead, gently stroking his head. Cody's smile got wider.
"I wanted to see if everything was okay with you before I went to bed. You know, make sure you're all right."
"Good. I'm glad. I'm happy you're here and safe now. Remember, everyone here will help you. You can trust us."
"I know. Thanks for helping me."
"No thanks needed. That's what we do, help people."
"I'm glad. Where are you sleeping?"
"I'm in the room next door. So if you need me, you know where I'm at. Good night, Code."
Robbie leaned down and planted a kiss on his forehead. Cody reached up and put his arms around Robbie's neck and hugged him. He finished with a kiss on the cheek before he let Robbie go. Robbie smiled at him and got up from the bed. As he closed the door, he turned back to Cody.
"Night, Code. See ya in the morning."
Robbie closed the door and turned around. Jake was standing there, leaning against the wall with a huge grin on his face.
"Nothing, little brother, just wanted to say good night."
They walked to Robbie's room and Jake followed him inside, shutting the door behind them and leaning against it.
"So, little brother, what are you going to do about him?"
"You know... Cody. What are you going to do about him?'
"What can I do? He'll be with his grandparents tomorrow and everything will be okay for him."
"Bro, you okay with that?"
"Of course, he'll be with his family, and will be treated better than he would with that ass of a stepfather, so yeah, its okay."
"You sure? Let me ask you a question, purely hypothetical of course. What if he didn't have any grandparents?"
Robbie sat on the edge of the bed and looked down at his clasped hands. Jake waited patiently, his arms folded in front of him. Robbie looked up.
"I would take him with me. I would have to talk to Ginny, but I would want him to live with us."
Jake walked over and sat on the bed next to him. He put his arm across Robbie's shoulders and pulled him to his side a little.
"That's what I thought. I felt the same way about Trevor."
"I'm not sure what to do. Do you think his grandparents will let me visit him?"
"I don't see why not. You're a good guy. You'd be a good role model, so I guess you should ask them tomorrow."
"Yeah, it won't be the same, but I'll take what I can get."
"I'm sure everything will work out. Get some sleep, little brother."
They hugged and Jake left to go to his own room. About an hour later a figure crept down the hall and entered Robbie's room. Robbie jerked awake when he felt someone shake him. He turned to see who had shaken him. When he turned on the bedside lamp, he found Cody standing by his bed.
"Ro... Robbie, I can't sleep; can I sleep in here with you?"
"Sure buddy. Get in."
Cody smiled as Robbie lifted the covers and allowed him to get in the bed. Cody turned on his side once he got in the bed and scooted his back up against Robbie's chest. He then reached over and pulled Robbie's arm in front of him and hugged it against him. Robbie gave him a quick hug and a kiss on the back of his head, before they both closed their eyes, settled down and soon were asleep.
A couple of police cars and an unmarked car pulled up to a house in Custer. They walked up to the door and knocked. Inside there was the sound of footsteps nearing the door. The knob turned and the door opened to show a man in his mid-thirties, around six feet tall and around 180 pounds. He had brown hair and eyes that were now studying the two deputies at the door.
"Yeah, what can I do for you, deputy?"
"May we come in and talk to you, sir."
"Is there a problem?"
"Sir, we need to speak to you about something, and it would be better if we talked inside, rather than out here."
"Can this wait until tomorrow? I was just getting ready to get to bed; I have work tomorrow."
"No I'm afraid it can't wait."
"So what is this about?"
The two deputies looked at each other for a moment and turn back.
"It's about your son, Cody."
"What about him? You got him locked up and need me to bail him out? I won't; maybe he needs to spend the night there. Straighten him up. Kid's a pain in the ass. Too lazy."
"No sir, he is not locked up. We need to talk to you about him. Do you know where he is?"
"Probably at one of his friends' house."
"Well, could we come in and talk to you about him? It is important that we talk to you; it won't take long."
"Okay, come in."
Dan unlocked the screen door and opened it. One of the deputies pulled it fully opened, and just as Dan turned to lead them back in, the other moved quickly and grabbed Dan's arm, and pulled him outside, as the other deputy let the screen door close and moved to assist his partner.
"What the hell are you do...?"
"Mr. Halston. You are under arrest for child abuse, assault and battery on a child, child neglect, and a few other charges."
They had moved quickly enough to have complete surprise on Dan and quickly had him handcuffed.
"Let me outta these. I haven't done nothing wrong. A parent has the right to discipline his child when he gets outta line. That's all I did."
"Discipline doesn't leave bruises and cuts. Mr. Halston, you have the right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law..."
The deputy continued to read his rights as they took him to the car and put him in the backseat. A man came out of the unmarked car and walked over to the cruiser to look down at Dan Halston, holding out a piece of paper.
"Mr. Halston, this is a warrant giving me permission to search your house. Is there someone that we can call to take care of your house when I finish?"
"Yeah, my friend Rick."
"Give me the number and I'll call him and let him know to come and make sure the house is locked up."
The detective took the number down and walked toward the house as the cruiser with Dan in it pulled away. The detective called Dan's friend Rick and told him what was going on while he walked through the house. The house was clean and not cluttered, well maintained. He saw pictures of the family as he walked through the house. He found Cody's room; it was well kept. There was nothing really out of the ordinary as he made his way back to the front door as Rick pulled up. They talked for a bit and Rick made sure the house was locked up. They both left after the deputy gave Rick his business card.
Early the next morning Robbie woke up lying on his back. Cody was curled up next to him, with one arm thrown over his chest. He and Cody had obviously moved around a bit during the night. Robbie felt the need to answer nature's call, and carefully moved out from underneath Cody's arm. He walked over to the chair in the room, grabbed his jeans and put them on. He glanced back at Cody, sleeping peacefully, to make sure he hadn't disturbed him, and padded out of the bedroom, down the hall to the bathroom. When he was done there, he walked downstairs and found Sean, Shayna and Jake sitting at the kitchen table drinking coffee.
"Morning, bro. How'd you sleep?"
"How about Cody?"
Jake was looking at him with a grin.
"He's ah, still asleep, but I think he slept okay. How'd you know?"
"I heard him when he got up and went into your room. The door was open to his room and noticed he wasn't there, so I figured he stayed with you."
"Oh. Yeah, he did."
Robbie accepted the cup of coffee from Shayna and looked out the window with a faint smile. The other three exchanged smiles. Sean cleared his throat.
"Robbie. Why don't you give Ginny a call and tell her about what happened, you know about Cody and all that?"
Robbie glanced at the clock and nodded.
"That's a good idea. I need to talk to her about something. I'll wait another hour; she's probably not up yet, but she should be up soon. Thanks for reminding me."
"Jake, Robbie, why don't you get the others up? Tom and Terry need to get on the road this morning; they have a long drive. I want to get breakfast going. Scoot."
They got up and went to wake everyone. Upstairs, Jake ran into Tom carrying a suitcase. They exchanged 'Good Mornings'. Jake went into the boys' room and woke them up, and told them to get cleaned up for breakfast, and reminded them that Tom and Terry were leaving today. The boys nodded and jumped out of bed, and picked up their underwear from the floor, where they had left them, and put them on before they left the room to get cleaned up, completely unselfconscious to being naked in front of Jake. Jake smiled at them and went to finish cleaning up himself. Robbie walked into his bedroom to find Cody sitting up in bed, looking around sleepily with a confused look on his face. He brightened when he saw Robbie enter the room. Robbie went and sat down next to him and put his arm around him.
"Morning, Cody, how did you sleep?"
"Real good. I couldn't sleep in the other room by myself. It was better in here with you."
"I'm glad. It's time to get cleaned up and brush your teeth."
"Uh, I don't have a toothbrush."
"Go and look in the bathroom, there are extras in there. Just ask one of the boys. Once you get cleaned up, come downstairs for breakfast."
"Okay, thanks, Robbie... for last night."
"Anytime, I liked waking up with you next to me."
Robbie gave him a quick hug before he went to finish getting dressed. Cody left the room and opened the door to the bathroom. He found Zach and Trevor in the bathroom, standing in front of the sink in their underwear. They were just finishing up with brushing their teeth. They smiled and nodded to him before spitting into the sink.
"Oh, uh, sorry, I didn't know anyone was in here. I'll come back."
"No problemo, bro. We were just finishing."
They wiped their mouths and put their toothbrushes back in the holder.
"Uh, Robbie said that there were extra toothbrushes in here."
Trevor opened a drawer and pulled out a brand new plastic wrapped toothbrush and handed it to Cody. Cody took it.
"See you downstairs, Cody."
They quickly left the bathroom, went to the room and got dressed. Fifteen minutes later, everyone was downstairs at the dining room table. Cody was now dressed in the jeans and shirt that had been loaned to him by the boys. The breakfast was excellent as always. After breakfast they gathered out front to say goodbye to Tom and Terry. They hugged the boys.
"Well, guys, this is it. You mind Jake now. Listen to what he says. Learn what you need to learn. We'll see you in a few weeks. Call us if you need anything."
"'Kay, Dad. Bye, Mom. Drive safe. Call us when you get home, so we know you made it safely."
"It'll be a couple of days. We're going to take our time going back, but we'll call when we get home. Jake, I'll keep you up to date on the business. Sean, Shayna, thank you for everything."
Jake and Tom shook hands and Terry gave him a hug goodbye. Everyone waved as they drove away. Sean turned to the boys.
"Cody, do you know how to ride a horse?"
"I haven't ridden one for awhile, but yes, sir."
"Good. Boys, why don't you take Cody to the stables, and all of you go for a ride? That is, if you think you're not too sore still."
"No sir, that would be fun. Thank you."
"Boys, take care of Cody. If you need anything, let us know and don't go too far."
The boys headed to the stables, while the adults went inside. Shayna got some more coffee going.
"Robbie, don't you have a call to make? After you finish, I'll call Cody's grandparents. I got their phone number from Ms. Plainfeather. Use the study, Robbie."
They sat down and waited for Robbie to come back. He rejoined them after about twenty minutes. Sean went and got the phone and pulled a paper out of his pocket. He waited for someone to pick up the phone.
"Mr. Redwolf?... Hello, this is Sean MacLaren.... Yes, sir, the same... Thank you same to you... I would like talk to you about your grandson Cody... No, actually he's doing fine right now... He's out riding with my grandsons... Yes, I know about Dan... That's part of the reason Cody's here at my ranch... Yes, you're right, he's a great kid... We have all come to care for him... I would like to invite you and your wife out here for lunch today... Sure, come out whenever you wish... We look forward to meeting you... See you then."
He hung up the phone and turned to the others.
"They'll be here in about an hour. So Robbie, how is your young lady?"
"Good. Glad to hear it."
Outside after the boys got the horses saddled; they went riding in some of the nearby pastures. Soon they were all laughing and racing each other around the pasture. Cody proved that he was a pretty fair rider. When lunch time neared, they headed back to the stables to take care of the horses. While they were taking care of the horses, they were interrupted by a call behind them.
Cody whipped around and dropped his brush when he saw who had called him. His quick movement caused the others to turn around as well. They saw a much older Indian couple standing with Sean and the other adults. Cody started running to them.
He threw his arms around his grandmother and then switched to his grandfather. They all had tears on their faces as they enjoyed their reunion. After several minutes they broke apart and followed Sean into the house. Cody held the hands of his two grandparents as they walked to the house. Just before they entered, he stopped them.
"Sorry, grandpa, I have to go take care of my horse."
"Of course, go, we'll be here. You never forget to take care of your horse before yourself."
Cody smiled and ran back to the stables to finish with his horse. Once the boys were all done with the horses, they hurried into the house. Everyone else was just sitting down to lunch when they entered.
"Go wash up, boys."
When they finished, they rejoined the rest. Cody sat between his grandparents as everyone chatted during lunch. Right as they finished lunch, the doorbell rang. Sean got up to answer it and came back in with Ms. Plainfeather behind him. She greeted everyone and they adjourned to the den.
"Mr. and Mrs. Redwolf, I'm Amber Plainfeather, Cody's caseworker. First I want you all to know, Dan Halston was arrested last night on assault and child abuse charges. He will be arraigned tomorrow. Because of that, his parental rights have been suspended, and he is not allowed to come near Cody."
"I thought you might feel that way. To continue, we now need to see to Cody's disposition. Mr. MacLaren told me last night that he was going to call you and ask you out here, so that is why you did not hear from me. I am here to see that Cody is taken care of. So Mr... "
"Ms. Plainfeather, please call us Joseph, or rather Joe and Nancy."
"Very well. Joe, are you able to take Cody in, as you are his nearest kin?"
"We talked about this on the way here, and we would gladly take him in with us. We love our grandson very much and we have missed spending time with him since his mother died. That... ba... man never let him visit us or allowed us to visit him. So we are grateful for Mr. MacLaren for helping him. We have some concerns though for him. We're almost seventy and we're afraid that we could not give him the home that he needs. It's not the money; we saved so that we could retire comfortably, so that is not the problem. We have some health issues as well. Nancy has diabetes and I don't get around as well as I used to. So it might be hard for us to take care of him, but we will do everything we can and will gladly take him with us to live."
"Joe, we can get you some assistance if you wish, but as his nearest relatives, it would be good for him to be with someone rather than in foster care."
"I could help, Grandpa. I could help you and Grandma around the house. I don't want to be put in some home with strangers."
"I know you would, Cody, but we want what's best for you. If having you move in with us is the best idea, then that is what we will do."
"Uh... excuse me."
Robbie had been quiet at lunch, and during most of the discussion, he had mostly sat back and listened until now. They focused their attention on him.
"I might have another solution?"
"I would be happy to take Cody in."
"That's a little irregular. He has relatives that he can live with, who obviously love him. Why take him away from that."
"Well, I don't want to take him away from that either. What I'm suggesting is, I take guardianship of Cody. He can live with me in Hardin; I teach at Hardin Middle School."
"I don't know whether the judge would go for that. A... how old are you?"
"A twenty-six-year-old single man, taking in a young boy that he just met."
"I'm only going to be single for another couple of weeks. I'm getting married to another teacher at the school."
"Congratulations then, but still, you are not related to him, and you just met him yesterday?"
"True, but he needs someone to be a dad, someone much better than the person who he has had to live with for awhile now. Not that I believe Mr. Red Wolf incapable of doing that, but he raises concerns about his age which I understand. Cody is eleven now and he's is going to be a teenager soon, and no matter how good he is, raising a teenager can be hard. I'm going to be blunt here. By the time Cody turns eighteen, the Red Wolfs will be almost eighty years old."
"Still they are his relatives, and they have a claim on him."
"Yes, that is true, and I would never get between a boy and his relatives. My solution would not do that. I would make sure that he visited them whenever he wanted, and they would be free to visit him as well. He would be right there in Hardin; that's not too far from Lame Deer. I would never keep him from his grandparents. He can learn a lot from them. About his ancestors, his family, and about himself."
"What about you're soon to be wife. What would she think about this?"
"I've already talked to her this morning. She is all in favor of it and thinks it is a great idea."
Robbie walked over and knelt down in front of Cody. He put his hands on Cody's knees and looked up at him.
"What do you think, Code? Could you stand living with a guy like me? I know you'll like Ginny. I would love to have you live with me. You could see or talk to your grandparents whenever you wanted."
Cody looked at Robbie and then at both of his grandparents. He looked back at Robbie and could see the same things that he had felt last night when they slept together, caring, compassion and love. He scooted forward and gave Robbie a hug.
"You would want me to live with you for real?"
"Without a doubt. I want you to be happy. If happy is living with your grandparents, then that's perfect and I'll come and visit you. But if you came to live with me, that would be great too."
Cody let go and sat back. The Red Wolfs looked at Sean. "Momahtatane, can we speak with you privately, and Cody?"
"Of course, we can go into the study."
The three followed Sean to his study and closed the door behind them. Amber turned to the others. "Momahtatane?"
"Medicine Man. Sean is an elder of the Cheyenne nation. People of the nation come to him for advice sometimes. This may be one of those times."
While they waited, Shayna brought out some ice tea and other cool drinks for everyone.
"Mr. Brave Horse, why do want to do this?"
"I really like Cody and he and I have just clicked. He seems to be a great kid who has had some tough breaks. His father died in the war, his mother died of cancer, he's had to live with a cruel man who does not care for him, and he's been cut off from his mother's people. I want to give all of that back to him and more. Ginny feels the same way. I was thinking about this last night, and I wanted to see his grandparents before I said anything. I only put forth the suggestion when I realized how old they were, and since being that I am around kids just entering their teens everyday, I really believe that this could be hard on the Red Wolfs. So I made the suggestion."
"That's very kind of you. I guess we wait now."
Thirty minutes later, Sean and the others came out from the study and Cody ran to Robbie and wrapped his arms around his waist. He looked up at Robbie with a big grin. Robbie smoothed his hair back as he looked down at him.
"So I guess my suggestion meets with your approval."
"Is that true, Mr. Red Wolf? You have decided that you would like Cody to live with Mr. Brave Horse?"
"Yes Ms. Plainfeather, we have asked Sean about Robbie Brave Horse and he told us all about him. We think he would be the perfect person to raise our grandson."
"Okay. Well, then, I have some papers that I need to get filled out and sent in on Mr. Brave Horse."
"Please call me Robbie."
"Robbie, you of course will have to have a background check. I'm sure you had one when you got your job at the school, but we need a new one. I also have some guardianship papers to fill out. The whole process will take a few days, so Cody needs a place to stay until then."
"He can stay here, Ms. Plainfeather. We have a room for him. My grandsons are here to keep him company. Robbie works for me on the ranch during the summer, so he'll be here every day, so they can get to know each other better."
"That sounds fine, Mr. MacLaren. I'm going to have you fill out some temporary guardianship papers that you will need to sign, so that you can take care of him if he is hurt while under your care."
Amber took some forms out of her briefcase and started filling them out. Once she was done she gave them to Robbie and Sean to fill out and sign and then they were passed to the Red Wolfs for their signature. When everything was signed, she put them back in her case and got up to leave.
"Well, I think that's everything. I'll be in touch. Cody, you take care. Mr. and… sorry, Joe and Nancy, I will contact you soon as well."
"Ms. Plainfeather, would it be possible to take Cody to his old house and get any of his stuff that he would like to take with him?"
"That can be arranged, Mr. Brave Horse. Call me tomorrow morning and we'll arrange it. Goodbye now."
Sean showed her to the door and closed it after they shook hands. The Red Wolfs stood up.
"Momahtatane, Mr. MacLaren, thank you for everything. All of you, we don't know how we can thank you for everything you have done for our grandson. We were worried we would never see him again and you have brought him back into our lives. Robbie... what can we say... but thank you for caring for him. We look forward to having you as part of our family. Remember your promise. We want to be part of his life again."
"You have my word before the Great Spirit. He will be in your life."
"Thank you. Cody, will you walk us out?"
They shook hands all around and left the house. Cody returned about five minutes later and went over to Robbie and hugged him.
"Code, I am so happy that your grandparents will let you live with me. It'll be great, I promise. Now, not to put a damper on all this, but I have to go home."
"Well, I need to visit Ginny, my fiancée and talk to her about us. I want to tell her all about you, and tomorrow I'll bring her out here to meet you. In the meantime, have fun. My nephews are great boys; I think you'll find that they will be good cousins to you."
"Okay, but don't forget to come tomorrow, and tell your girlfriend I can't wait to meet her."
"I will. See you all tomorrow; take care of Code for me."
"Sure, little brother, we'll take good care of him. You better get going. I'm sure Ginny has a bunch of questions. Don't forget to talk to your parents too. They might be a little interested to know that they have a grandson before you even got married."
"Yeah, I'll do that. Bye, big brother. Bye everyone. I'll see you tomorrow."
He gave everyone hugs goodbye and went outside with Cody shadowing him. Outside Cody hugged Robbie goodbye and stood there as he drove away. Once he was out of sight, Cody turned and went back inside.
"Cody, you want to play some video games?"
Cody left with the boys and went to play some games. He felt happier now than he had felt for a long time.