Sketchy's Author's Note: Hello again, Mr. Ghost here. Sorry for the lack of updates, I don't really have a decent excuse... maybe Finn does. Look for one in her note at the end of the chapter. Basically, this is another chapter half-written by both of us. This time I wrote the first half, Finn wrote the second. Hope you like it.

Chapter 5: Tapeworm's Regrets

Zack watched numbly as the paramedics lifted his twin into the ambulance. He could barely breathe.

A particularly serious-looking medic was walking toward him. The stony look on his face sent a shiver down Zack's spine.

"Son, where is your mother?" he asked. He was maybe an inch or two taller than Zack's fifteen-year-old build. He had slightly grayed black hair and some strangely odd-looking glasses.

"O-Over there…" Zack choked out, pointing to his mother. Carey was sitting on a bench outside the hotel, watching the events unfold as Maddie tried to console her. Mr. Moseby was talking to the doctors who had put Cody in the ambulance and kept glancing nervously at the ill teen.

The serious paramedic started toward Carey, but Zack grabbed him. He looked at the nametag.

"Dr. Kendrick. You will help Cody, won't you?"

"I—"

"I mean, you have to."

"Son, I can't—"

"I don't know what I'd do without him."

"Son, I can't make any promises right now," Dr. Kendrick said. "We will do all that we can for your brother, but we don't know what's going to happen just yet." Zack let the man go and stood staring into space.

He might as well have said Cody's gonna die.

---

"I'm going," Zack heard his mother say. He looked at her tear-stricken face. "I'm going," she repeated.

Dr. Kendrick sighed. "Alright. But that's all, no one else can come."

Zack knew what they were talking about. "Who says?" he asked angrily. He didn't like this Kendrick guy.

"Zack—" Carey started.

"Mom, I'm going to the hospital with Cody. You can't stop me, and neither can this creep doctor!"

"Zack!" Carey said. "If he says you have to stay behind, that's that!"

"Why can't you stay behind?" Zack shot at his mother. Carey looked astounded.

"I'm his mother, Zack. I can't leave Cody all alone!"

"Mom, I'm his TWIN!" Zack yelled. "I know him even better than you do! Better than you EVER will!" He ran off toward the ambulance.

"I won't leave you, Cody," he said into the window to the limp body of his twin. "I'll never leave you. And you'll never leave me, will you?"

Zack broke down when he got no answer.

---

Carey was hurt by Zack's comments, but she knew it was just because he was just as stressed as she was.

He's probably been hit the hardest, she thought. "Doctor," she called to Dr. Kendrick.

"Yes, ma'am?" Kendrick said in the stony solemn voice of his.

"Are you sure there's no way for two people to come along?"

"Ma'am, rules state that—"

"Please, sir," Carey begged. "My son could be in critical physical condition. But my other son is scared emotionally for his best friend and I will not leave him behind."

Dr. Kendrick sighed. He said something inaudible into a walkie-talkie he had and waited for a reply.

"Fine, you can both come," he said. He put his hand on Carey's shoulder.

"I know what you're going through."

Carey stood silently as he walked away. What did he mean by that?

---

Five minutes later Carey and Zack were sitting next to Cody in the back of the speeding ambulance. After minutes of silence, Zack finally looked up at Carey.

"I'm sorry," he whispered.

"Oh Zack," Carey said, pulling him into a hug as they both began to cry. "It's not your fault."

Yes it is, Zack kept thinking over and over. Yes it is.

They stayed, not breaking the embrace for several moments. When they finally pulled apart, Carey leaned forward toward Cody's face and stroked his bloodstained cheek.

"Mom…" Zack said.

"Yes?" Carey said, her voice cracking.

"Do you have your cell phone?" Zack asked. "I think I should call some people."

Carey seemed to be thinking. Finally, she sighed and said, "Alright." She pulled the phone out of her coat pocket and handed it to Zack.

"But," she said just before Zack dialed the first number. "Don't call your dad."

Zack obeyed without asking why. He and Cody had come to find out when it came to their father and their mother, asking why wasn't exactly a good idea.

He was about to dial Max's number when he remembered. Tapeworm.

Tapeworm was the only one who was actually nice to Cody now, ever since the championship game. He should be the first to call.

---

"Hello?"

"Hi, Mrs. Axle?" Zack said.

"Yes, hello… Zack?"

"Yeah. Listen, can I talk to Tapeworm? It's important." Mrs. Axle seemed to hear the urgency in his voice and obliged.

"SEAN!" she called. Tapeworm came galumphing down the stairs.

"Yeah, Mom?" he asked.

"Phone," Mrs. Axle said. "It's Zack. He says it's important."

Tapeworm felt his stomach turn over in fear. No, he told himself. Cody's fine.

"Hey, Zack," he said once he had the phone in his grasp. "What's going on?"

"Tapeworm, it's Cody," Zack said, more tears springing to his eyes. It hurt to even talk about it. "He… he took an overdose of Ipecac. He's unconscious, man, he's really sick!"

Tapeworm dropped the phone, stunned. Zack heard the crash as the receiver dropped to the floor. Without picking it back up or anything, Tapeworm ran for the door.

"MOM, IT'S AN EMERGENCY!" he cried. "WE NEED TO GET TO THE HOSPITAL!"

---

Tapeworm ran through the hospital doors, colliding with Zack who was standing grimly in front of everyone. Mrs. Axle followed, her face creased with lines of worry.

Zack rushed him over to the waiting room where they met up with Carey, who Mrs. Axle started talking anxiously to. Tapeworm sat next to Zack who started to cry, his shoulders shaking with sobs.

"My God, Zack, how is he?" Tapeworm wanted to know.

"He's really bad, Tapeworm. He's really bad…" Zack's voice came out in a painfully high gasp. "I don't know why, Tapeworm," he looked up at his friend, his face white and his eyes red. "Why would he have to do something like that? He knows I love him… he knows I love him no matter what he does… why would I care if he were a crummy athlete… why would he need to lose weight? Why did that championship mean so much to him… it's not his fault… Does it have something to do with what I said to him, Tape? Did I hurt him really bad without meaning to?" His voice cracked with pain, and Tapeworm could only look on, feeling his insides twist with agony.

Zack continued, "If I did, Tape, I just want to take it back… I never would want to hurt Cody… I can't… I can't live without him, Tapeworm. I won't be able to make it if he doesn't… I can't…" he gasped hard, his eyelashes matted together by his tears. "I can't… this is all my fault, Tapeworm… this is all my fault, and I just wish I could take it all back. It's my fault. It's my fault."

"It's not," Tapeworm whispered guiltily, as Zack turned to glance at him. "It's mine. I should have told you, Zack. I should have told you. I told him I would tell you… I told him that if he didn't stop I'd tell you… I'd tell you and your mom, but he asked me not to, Zack. He asked me not to… he begged me not to," Tapeworm shuddered and looked at Zack for forgiveness. "I couldn't do it… I couldn't hurt him… and look where it's gotten me. It's all my fault, I'm sorry Zack. You needed to know—you're his brother, his twin. I should have told you—I should have been a strong friend and let you know… But he was so scared," Tapeworm paused, breathing hard and remembering.

"He was so scared," he continued, "and he knew what he was doing was wrong and he just wanted to stop but he couldn't. He couldn't let us down—he thought it was what we wanted of him. He thought it was what you expected of him. He wanted to do something for us… to prove everybody that he could be what they didn't think he could… oh God, Zack. It's my fault… I knew and I didn't tell you and now it's too late… It's too late…"

Finn's Author's Note: Mr. Ghost did the first part, and I did the last part because I love Tapeworm more than anything else, lmfao. I hope you enjoyed--you're probably screaming, "Don't die, Cody! Don't die!"--but you won't find out what happens until you review. So click the button already, and tell us what you think. Mr. Ghost has no control over the next chapter, because that's up to me to write. Oh, and if you don't review, Mr. Ghost will personally start hyperventilating and pass out, and I'll have to wake him up--a ratherarduous activity that could be avoided, don't you think?