The Wizard Heart
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This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
This story is copyrighted by Darrin Thomas, all rights reserved. Distribution, including but not limited to: posting on internet sites, newsgroups, or message boards, or in book form (either as a whole or part of a compilation), or on CD, DVD or any other electronic media, is expressly prohibited without the author's written consent.
David was deep in thought as he drove back to the farm. He was really starting to wonder if he had bitten off more than he could chew. He knew his new teaching position would be a challenge and take up quite a bit of his time. Then there was his new part time job as a trauma paramedic for the county. He had no clue how much time that would involve. He knew he really couldn't turn down the Sheriff's request for him to take the position for several reasons. He really wanted the Sheriff on their side for Eli's safety, as well as the fact that it would give him a good in with the whole community. His biggest responsibility, though, is to Eli's training.
Even though Eli was gaining control over his Gifts faster than any young Wizard David had ever trained, he still felt the boy needed more training. Eli was still gaining new Gifts, not as fast as he was, but they were still coming. David knew there were going to be many more, some of which he would need help, to be able to control them. David's goal for Eli was to have enough control over his Gifts to be able to handle The Wizard Heart when the time came.
David was still deep in thought when he walked into the kitchen and right into the middle of an argument between Eli and his mother. Eli was trying to convince his mom he should take at least another week off of school to not only gain more control over his Gifts, but also allow him to work on his Wizard History with Grandpa Max. David got blindsided as soon as he walked in, but his years in the classroom saved him from getting into trouble with Sherry.
"Don't you agree it would make sense, Dad? You said I needed to work hard to learn my Wizard history so I would be ready!" Eli asked as soon as David stepped into the room.
"Yes, I did say that, son. But, what are you asking me to agree to?"
"I think I should take another week off school! That way I can work on controlling my Gifts as well as work with Grandpa Max on my Wizard History and language. Mom said she was going to work with Grandpa Max on them, as well." Eli told his new Dad.
"Well, while I agree that working with Grandpa Max is very important for you both, I really feel that getting started at your new school is even more important right now."
"But, they are going to make fun of me. Not only will I be the smallest kid in school again, but now I am the NEW KID!" Eli screamed the last part.
"I know, son. You will be the new kid, and starting this week or next week isn't going to change that. However, you do have something that most kids don't have when it comes to being the new kid in school." David said, trying to think ahead to find some positives to help Eli with his fears.
David had looked around the school today while he was there. He was pretty sure that Eli would be the smallest student in school, but he also felt there was a very large portion of the school who were Wizards.
"Yeah, and what's that?" Eli snapped back.
"Not only are you the new kid, but your Dad is the new teacher in school. Not very many kids get to start a new school the same day their parent starts teaching at that school. So you and I will be in the same boat together, and together we will support each other!" David told the boy.
"Yeah, I guess. But I still bet I get picked on." The young Wizard said slumping down in a chair at the table.
"Well, if you do, you need to come and tell me, but with the way I am feeling you, through our bond, I should be able to know right away. I did get to meet the boy who is going to be your guide on Monday. He will have most of the same classes as you do, except for two or three, I think. Anyway, he will show you where all your classes are, and help you find anything around the school you need. He seemed like a cool kid when I met him today." David told him purposely leaving out that the boy was the son of the Principal.
Now that it looked like that crisis was over, David needed to tell them about his new position with the county. He felt he needed to talk to Sherry one on one about it first though.
"Sherry, I need to talk with you about something that happened today, alone, if I can?" He asked.
"You two can talk in here; I am going out to the ray building to do the evening feeding and check on the two females." Eli said before heading out the door.
"So, how did your day in town go? Did you have any problems with the school or meeting who you wanted to?" Sherry asked as soon as Eli was gone.
"Yes, I got to meet everyone I had hoped I would, today. The Monco is the local Judge and seemed like a really good guy. From everything I have heard about him, he really takes care of his people. I also met with the Sheriff. I told both the Sheriff and the Principal at the middle school the truth about Eli. I thought long and hard about this, and decided I needed more eyes in the community than I had, to help protect him from anything the Council might try."
"I know of both Ron Martin and Nevin Mills. They were a few years ahead of me when I was in school, but Nevin's younger sister and I were in the same class, and used to be friends. I know they are both good guys, well, at least they were back then." Sherry told David.
"Well, Sheriff Mills offered me a job. I told him I would take it, as long as it was alright with you and Eli." David said in a rush.
"Wait, I thought you just told Eli you would be starting at the school on Monday with him?"
"Yes I will be. I kind of took on a part time job on top of my teaching position." David said while looking at the table.
"You mean to tell me, you plan on working full time teaching at the middle school, working part time for the sheriff's office, training Eli to become king, and trying to see if there is anything between us? And, do this all at the same time!" Sherry said with her voice rising with each word.
"Yeah, I know it sounds like a lot, but I really don't think it is. See, the Sheriff asked if I would be willing to be a part time Trauma Paramedic for the county on a volunteer basis. He informed me the county was lacking properly trained paramedics who are trained for trauma. I happen to be certified in dealing with trauma and have loads of experience in it. I thought about it hard and then he offered me the key to figuring it out. See, the cell phone reception out here on the farm isn't good at all. He told me it is that way in most of the rural areas around here. So by becoming a part time, as needed Volunteer Trauma Paramedic for the county I get a county issued two way radio. This will allow us to be in contact with the Sheriff at all times. This could be our only way to call for help if needed, either from a Wizard attack or human attack. Although, I really do not think it is going to come down to that. I told Sheriff Mills my training of Eli would come first no matter what, but I just can't stand by and see someone suffer if I could do something about it." David tried to defend himself.
"David, while I still think you might have taken on too much, you are right. You have a skill that this area is lacking, and you could make a great difference in someone's life. I think you were in the right when you took the position, even if it is only part time." Sherry said while giving David a kiss on the cheek. Then it was her turn to talk to David without Eli around.
"There is something else you need to know about. Eli is really worried about his rays. Several of his breeding females aren't eating, and haven't since the move. He has suspended all orders until further notice. I have tried to talk to him about it, but I think I am just making things worse. Grandpa Max and he spent the whole day together, and he seems a lot better, but I can tell he is still really upset. Do you think maybe you could walk out there and talk to him? Not about how to take care of his rays, but about him keeping his spirits up and not to give up."
"Sure, I can do that." David said, this time him being the one to give the other a kiss, only his wasn't on the cheek.
David walked out to the building Eli was using to house his fish. He was a little shocked to see what he did when he walked into the building. Eli was sitting cross-legged on an upside down galvanized trash can lid. This would have been strange in itself even if the lid wasn't floating four feet off the ground. David tried to stay quiet and watch to see what Eli was doing. He was amazed to see Eli was directing the flight of the lid like it was a flying carpet. He was using the lid to be able to reach areas of the tanks he normally wouldn't be able to. To say David was impressed would have been an understatement.
David waited until Eli was in a safe place before letting his presence be known to the boy. David didn't want Eli to lose concentration and come crashing down. Once Eli was on his own feet, David started to clap. He really wanted Eli to know he was proud of him, as well as being very impressed.
"WOW! Son, that was awesome. I can't get over the amount of control you have gotten over your Gifts. When and why did you start using the trashcan lid as a flying saucer?" David asked while giving the boy a hug.
"You're not mad at me? I was scared you would think I was being careless or it was unsafe or something."
"No son, I am not mad at you. I do want to try and find something better then the trashcan lid for you to use. Maybe we can have something made for you at some point. I saw you lift my trailer, move it, and hook it up to your grandpa's car without touching it. Why do you think I would be upset with you for finding new ways to use your Gifts?"
"I don't know. I just thought you might think I was putting myself in danger." Eli said while looking at his feet.
"Son, did you think you were putting yourself in danger?" David said while placing his fingers under the boys chin and lifting his eyes up to him.
"No, that's why I used the trashcan lid upside down. I figured if it tilted, the lip around the bottom of the lid would keep me from sliding off."
"That was very good thinking. However, I did see a slight problem with your landing though. Do you know what I am referring to?"
"Yeah, but I don't know what to do about it. I tried to get off before it is on the ground, but I can't hold the lid steady enough and always end up falling." Eli told his dad while rubbing his bottom.
David had to laugh at that. The thought of Eli falling just a couple of feet over and over again while trying to get off the lid of the trashcan was funny to him. He didn't think Eli thought it was as funny until the boy giggled as well.
"How about I remove the handle for you, then we can make a landing pad for you to land on so it will be even safer for you to use? Think that will help?" David asked.
"Really, you would do that?" Eli asked, more than surprised.
"Yes, and I am still going to think about a way to make it even safer for you to do this. I would like for you to not do it when you're alone though, just for a little while. I think your mom would freak out if she saw you flying around on it. Think you can do that for me?"
"Sure, Dad! We don't want mom to freak out and ground us!" Eli said while cracking up. "Get it, ground us?"
"Good pun son! Good pun. Now, explain to me what is going on with your rays. Your mom told me something about some of them not eating?"
"Sure. Two of my females aren't eating, and haven't been since the move. It would be explainable if we had used new water, or if they were put in with other fish whom they might be fighting with. But, these two are sisters who have been with each other forever. Both of them are acting the same way. I just don't understand."
"Has anything with the set up changed from when you were at your old house?" David asked.
"Well, not really. We had to replace a couple of fittings and add some extra pipe because we have more room here, but that would be for all the tanks, not just this one."
"Maybe by walking me through how you have things set up you will find something. So, with that in mind, treat me like I am clueless and explain to me your set up."
Eli went through each step of the set up, from how the different filters work, to what each piece of equipment does. Nothing was standing out as being the problem.
"Eli, if one of your tanks gets some kind of infection, it would spread to all the different tanks, correct?"
"Well, it could, but you see these valves here, this allows me to isolate each tank from the others, and this prevents any back flow through the pipes. OH SHIT! How could I have missed that?" The boy shouted and started to rush around.
"Dad, grab that portable pump over there with the grey hose." Once David had the pump and had given it to Eli, the boy started to pump water out of the affected tank.
As soon as he got about half the tank drained, he turned one of the valves and the tank started to fill up again. He then turned a different valve on the other side of the room and watched everything very closely. Soon he shut the second valve off and walked back over to David and wrapped his arms around him.
"Thanks, Dad! I don't know how I missed it, but the return valve for this tank was shut off, so the water wasn't being filtered. I thought it was fine, because the tank had plenty of current in it, but this is one of the tanks where I use power heads to keep the current high because the female rays like it that way. I feel so stupid for not checking the valves before now." Eli said still hugging David.
"Sometimes we are just too close to a problem and aren't able to see what is obvious. There are going to be lots of times when you need to do just what we did here, take a step back and look at it step by step and look at each and every part of a problem. You can't let yourself get so frustrated you can't see the bigger picture. I am proud of you for solving this problem, you didn't give up! That is a very big deal. Most people would have given up, or called someone else to deal with it, but you stuck with the problem."
"Yeah, but if it wasn't for you I would have never found it." Eli said with tears in his eyes.
"You would have, but I gave you a different way to look at things. But, you could have just as easily fought me and not done what I asked. You could have thought I was just teasing you or pacifying you to act like I was trying to help. But, you didn't, you took finding the problem seriously and stuck with it. Eli, that is huge. Many people, kids and adults wouldn't do that."
"Thanks, Dad." Eli gave another squeeze before stepping back.
"Now, son, there is something else I need to talk to you about. I didn't mean to make you feel like your mom and I were keeping secrets from you. I just needed to make sure I am treating your mom as a partner so there are no hard feelings between us. What I asked to speak to her alone about didn't really have anything directly to do with you. But, I could feel that it hurt your feelings a bit when I asked you to step out. Now that I have had the chance to talk to your mom first about it, I am going to talk to you about it."
"It's alright, Dad. I know that there will be sometimes when you need to talk adult talk with mom, and I really don't want to be there. I am just not used to it, yet. But by the time I got out here I realized I didn't need to be there during that kind of talk." Eli said with a giggle.
"Well, I thank you for that. However, this time it wasn't that kind of talk. What it was about was, today I met with some people; several of them are going to be important to us. The first one was Dr. Ron Martin. He is a Class IV Wizard who is the Principal at the middle school. He and I hit it off right away. I decided it would be a good idea if I had an extra pair of eyes in the school to help keep you safe. So I told him all about you, the truth about you. I made sure he knew this information needed to be kept quiet. He is a very strong believer of protecting children, and I could read that about him. I have no problem believing he will keep our secret. Now, he strongly recommended I talk to Sheriff Nevin Mills and to tell him, as well. I decided to meet with him, but hold off on whether or not to tell him about you, depending on our meeting. Sheriff Mills is also a Class IV Wizard. He is a really neat guy and very protective. I could tell right away he was someone we wanted on our side. So, now, we have two others who will be helping me keep an eye out for your protection. I also met with the local Monco. I didn't tell him anything about you being the Dexas, but I did ask him to keep his ears open to any gossip about me from the Council of Wizards. I really don't think we are going to have any problems with any of these guys."
"Good, I will be glad when it all comes out, so we don't have to lie to everyone anymore."
"I totally agree with you about that." David said to the boy.
"But, why couldn't I be there for that info, why did you have to tell mom all that before me? You said it wasn't anything to do with me, but that was all about me."
"Well, that wasn't really what I needed to tell her about without you there. See, while I was meeting with the Sheriff, he offered me a job and I accepted it."
"WHAT?! I thought you were going to be teaching at my school!"
"And I will be! But, the Sheriff told me the county was in desperate need for a certified trauma paramedic, someone who could handle the really big or really bad calls. This is a part time position where I will only be used when needed. I am certified to do this, but it might take time away from you and your mom, as well as your training. If you have a problem, then I will let the Sheriff know that I am not going to be able to do it." David explained to Eli.
"No, you're right, you have the training and the experience to help, and you should help. I would feel really bad if someone died because I didn't want you to be gone!"
"There is another big part of this that made me agree to do it. I will be getting a county issued radio, one that has a private channel to the Sheriff. As you know, we have found out that the cell phones aren't much good out here. Having the radio will allow us to be able to call for help when needed or if he needs to give us a heads up. To me, this is very important. Having eyes around town doesn't do any good if they can't let us know when they see something." David explained.
"Are they going to give you a new truck, too?" Eli asked getting into the mood now.
"Nope, but he said they are going to pay to have lights and a siren put on the Explorer! They will also reimburse me for any gas I use. I think it is a pretty good deal all around. It will also help with us getting to know the area and the community we are now living in."
Eli and David talked a while longer about Eli's fears for the new school. David worked on trying to get Eli to see that the fears wouldn't come to pass if he was positive with his attitude.
Eli worked hard all weekend. As Eli watched his rays to make sure they were doing better, he spent time with Grandpa Max and his mom learning Wizard history and some new words. He also spent time with Uncle Matt and Grandpa Max teaching them all about his fish and the business. He taught the older guys what they would be doing to help run the company. David was shocked to see how much computer knowledge his Uncle truly had.
David kept his eye on Eli all weekend. He was amazed at how Eli could switch from student to teacher without blinking an eye. While Eli worked with the others, David went to work on a landing pad for Eli's flying lid. He was able to pry the handle off the top and smooth down the rough spots where it had been. This was what caused Eli the most problems when landing. David then built a wooden frame the lid would rest in. This would allow Eli to land the lid without tipping over because of the curve of the lid. Sherry had wondered what the heck he was building. Once she had been told about Eli flying, she recommended a seat belt of sorts. Once they had that figured out, they had Eli try it out. It worked great and both adults felt it was much safer. However, the restrictions still applied, Eli was grounded unless an adult was there with him.
Sunday, Gerald had come over and started a big dinner. He had planned a bar-b-que to celebrate the David and Eli starting at the new school. Sherry had told her dad about Eli's fears with starting a new school. Gerald, Uncle Matt, and Grandpa Max had all talked and wanted to encourage Eli to have a positive outlook with the new school.
Eli had been out in the fish building, with Grandpa Max and Uncle Matt, while Sherry helped her Dad in the kitchen, David was working on his lesson plans for his new classes. David wasn't really surprised when the phone rang and he was told by Sherry that it was his twin.
"Hey Bro, what's going on?" David said picking up the phone in the living room.
"Hey Bro, things are going great. Cody was let out of the hospital yesterday and we have the meeting with the judge in two weeks to get his guardianship approved. We are being told by our lawyer this meeting is just a formality. Anyway, both Karen and I are nervous. I am sure that Cody is as well, but he hasn't said anything about it to us."
"I am sure he is a bit nervous. After all, what happens to him is up to someone else to decide. I am sure he feels he really has no say in what happens to him or where he goes. I hope you and Karen are letting him know he does have a voice in matters?"
"Oh you know we are. Even though he isn't saying much, I can tell it is starting to get through to him. So, how is the old fart doing?"
"Did you know that he is an expert on the computer?" David asked his brother.
"You are kidding, right? I would have been surprised to know he knew how to turn one on." Stephen laughed.
"Nope, I am not kidding at all. He even has his own iPad! He has taken over for Sherry on Eli's website, and she told me it was so much better than what she had for him. She has been picking his brain with some of her accounts as well, now, and he loves every minute of it. He plans on helping Eli with the fish almost 30 hours a week, at least so far, he is. He is also teaching Eli and Sherry the Wizard history, and the language of the Wizards. Sherry is really getting into the Wizard history, but is having some issues with the language. Eli is doing great with both."
"He never fails to amaze me! That old coot is the reason why I am calling today. I really want Cody to meet him. Melinda is really missing him, too. I was wondering if we could come up there for a long weekend."
"When were you thinking of, Stephen?"
"Well, next week Karen has some extra time off, and I have a 4 day weekend. We wanted to do it before Cody starts back at school because of how behind he is. Do you think this would be a problem?"
"Oh, man, Bro, I don't know. I will have to talk to Sherry and Eli to see what they say. You know that Eli and Cody don't, or haven't, gotten along for a long time. I don't know how Eli would react at this point, and I don't want to stress him out. He is already stressed because he is starting a new school tomorrow. It might be best if I brought Uncle Max down there for the weekend."
"I totally understand what you are saying, Bro. However, one of the reasons we want to come up there is Eli. The judge in Cody's case wants Cody to make peace with his past victims. The school informed the judge what Cody did to Eli and several other children. However, it was mostly Eli who Cody bullied. The psychologist who has been working with Cody thinks having Cody spend time with Eli will really help him gain the confidence he lost thanks to that ass who called himself Cody's father. I do understand the pressure this will place on Eli's shoulders, but Dr. Carter thinks this could help Eli as much as it would help Cody." Stephen said in a rush.
"Stephen, I do understand what your trying to do, however, I am still not sure if this is the right time to do this." David started while trying to think of a way to tell his brother no without letting it out about who Eli really was.
"David, I am not sure you totally understand what I was saying about the judge. If Eli doesn't tell Judge Robertson he forgives Cody for what he has done, Cody will go into the foster care system, not with Karen and me! Cody told his psychologist about Eli now being like his cousin, how you have taken him on as your Step-son. It was the psychologist who made the recommendation to Judge Robertson that Cody make peace with Eli before being placed with us. We tried to explain to the judge about you all moving to the farm, six hours away, but he said family is family. David, I really need your help, here."
This was the first time David had ever heard his brother sound desperate. He was really torn, on one hand there was a child about to be lost in a system that would destroy his life, but on the other hand, helping this child would hurt the son he loved and had vowed to never allow harm to come to him.
"Fine Stephen. I will see you all on Friday afternoon. Plan to arrive after 4:30 P. M. on Friday, as that is about the time Eli and I should be home. You, Karen and the kids can stay here at the farm. If Eli feels uncomfortable with Cody staying in the same house, we can go stay over with Gerald for the weekend."
"David, I don't want to run you out of your own house. But this is really important, so I will leave it up to you and Sherry to decide what is best. I can't tell you how much I appreciate you agreeing to this for us." Stephen told his brother.
David sat doing nothing but staring out the window for almost an hour, before Sherry came in to get him. She could tell right away something major was bothering him.
"What is wrong, David? You look like someone died. Is everything alright?"
"Everyone is alright, no one has died. But, we do have a bit of a problem. Cody has been released from the hospital. Stephen just called to let me know of a problem they are having with his guardianship. It seems that Cody has been totally open with his psychologist about his bullying. This is where the problem lies. The shrink told the judge in Cody's case, that Cody shouldn't be a part of the same family with his main victim. So now, Cody has to spend some time with Eli and Eli has to tell the judge he forgives Cody in order for Stephen and Karen to become his guardians."
"Oh David! I don't know if Eli can handle that."
"I know, however, if he doesn't do this, then Cody will get put into the foster care system. You and I both know what would happen to him if that happens. He will get lost in the system and won't get the help he needs to make it back from what has happened to him in the past year. I am going to leave this up to Eli, but I told David to go ahead and come up next weekend. They have a 4 day weekend so would work well for them. I will stay with them here and you can take Eli to your Dads if you or Eli want. I do not want to force him to do this, but I have to tell him what will happen to Cody if he decides not to help. Stephen told me he and Karen will try to understand if he refuses to help. Now I just have to figure out how to tell him."
"Well, you can tell him after dinner. Let's go, Dad said it was almost ready. I already told the boys to get cleaned up." She laughed as she walked out of the room.
David was sitting at the table when Eli came in with the older guys. He stopped and looked at David as soon as he came in.
"What's wrong, Dad?" Eli asked after looking his new dad over for a minute.
"I have a dilemma, son, that I am working on. I will fill you in after dinner. I just need to think about it for a bit. How did you know something was wrong?"
"I don't know, I guess I just felt what you're feeling."
"That's good, Son, you are really starting to gain your Gifts." David said with pride.
"Son, I hate to correct you in front of your son, but I think you're wrong. This isn't one of your son's Gifts which is allowing him to feel what you are feeling. This is part of the Mintanka kicking in, allowing this to happen. I believe if he tries hard enough he will know just what is bothering you." Grandpa Max told his nephew.
"You are probably right. But, Eli, please wait until after dinner to see if you can figure it out. I really don't want to ruin your grandpa's great dinner. Can you do that for me, Son?" David asked Eli.
"Sure, Dad, I can do that." The boy replied.
They all sat down for a fantastic dinner that Gerald and Sherry had prepared together. Even though the food was superb, the tensions at the table couldn't be denied. About half way through the meal, Eli had enough.
"Ahh! I can't take this anymore! We are acting like there isn't anything wrong, but yet we all know there is a huge problem. Why not just talk about it and get it over with!? And to think, I am the child here!" Eli yelled.
"Alright, Eli, calm down. You are right; we should have just dealt with this before we sat down to eat. You can't demand David to tell you what is bothering him. His feelings are his alone." Sherry tried to calm her son down.
"I know that, Mom, I really do. But for what ever reason, I know what is bothering him. I didn't mean to, but I can tell." Eli told his mom while starting to tear up.
Eli was afraid his new dad would be mad or upset with him for not respecting his wishes regarding finding out what was bothering him. Eli just could tell what it was about, he didn't try to, but it just came to him.
"Son, I am not upset with you at all! I couldn't be more proud of you. What you have accomplished in such a short amount of time is nothing but amazing. It is such an honor for me to be your Ietanka." David told the boy then got up and went to Eli and gave him a tight hug.
"Thanks, Dad. I like being your Ketanka, too. What I don't understand is why you're so worried."
"Well, Son, what do you think is going on, what has me worried?" David asked. He really wanted to test how strong or accurate Eli's connection with him was.
"You're worried about how I am going to react to having Uncle Stephen and Aunt Karen come up this weekend. I know Cody is coming, too. But there is something else you are really scared about, but I can't tell what that is." Eli said in a rush.
"That is very good, Son, and very correct. How about I tell you everything, then we can talk about it?"
"Well, Stephen called earlier today to let me know what is going on. While Cody was in the hospital, he started seeing a psychologist to help him deal with everything that has happened to him. He was totally honest with his doctor and even told him all about you. Cody explained to his doctor how he treated you and how he got others to bully you as well. The psychologist is worried about him becoming a member of our family and how you will react. Dr. Carter told the judge in Cody's case all about the bullying and that has caused a bit of a problem. The judge has declared if you don't forgive Cody for what he has done, he will not be placed in Stephen and Karen's care. You have to agree to Cody becoming a member of our family, or he goes into the foster care system. I do not want that much pressure put on you, but we really don't have a choice."
"But, Dad, I forgave Cody the day we found him in his old house. He told me he regretted what he did, and I know he was telling me the truth. At one time we were friends, but that was a long time ago." Eli couldn't understand what the big problem was.
"David, what I suggest is we stop worrying about this and wait and see what happens. If when they get here Eli is uncomfortable, then he can go stay with his grandpa. Eli, is that alright with you?" Sherry tried to end the tension.
"Sure, that sounds good to me. I am not worried about Cody, because it's not like he is going to be living here all the time. I am more worried about starting school tomorrow than anything." Eli told the adults.