A/N: I apologize for the day delay! would not let me upload, even though I tried every five minutes it seemed like. Well. Here it is. The end of the road. It's been so much fun writing this and hearing from all of you. THANKS SO MUCH to all the reviewers. Without you this story would never have gotten past chapter four, so thanks a million. The sequel is due out in a few days so keep a lookout for that if you're interested, and if you want a summary just PM me whenever. So here you are, the last chapter, and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as Ienjoyed writing it. Which is a heck of a lot.
Disclaimer: I do not own The Suite Life of Zack and Cody.
No other road, no other way... no day but today.
"You…Nervous, or anything?"
"A little bit."
Cody nodded solemnly, biting his lower lip and clearing his throat awkwardly as he stood with his twin brother in their little room.
"I'll…email, you know, and-and call and stuff,"
Cody tried to smile, tried to make his voice seem carefree and light. "Yeah, I know you will. I will, too," it came out sounding fake and cheap.
"I might, like, come up during Spring Break,"
Cody looked up from his gaze on the carpet. "Really?"
Zack shrugged. "If everything's going good at dad's place, then maybe."
Cody sighed and nodded. "Yeah."
It was the worst kind of silence that had shrouded them all morning. The kind where you could hear your own heart beat a tattoo against your ribcage and where every noise is suddenly magnified to the loudest sound ever heard by human ears. A tense silence. A scared silence.
A silent silence.
"I gotta get to school pretty soon." Cody said quietly.
"Oh-you're-you're going, then," Zack looked surprised for a moment, but he tried quickly to cover it up. Tried to make like he didn't care.
"Well, yeah," Cody felt his cheeks reddening. "I have this-test in math…"
Zack smiled but he knew it looked as forced as it felt. "Yeah, advanced math. Wouldn't want to miss that."
"Right," Cody agreed slowly, hesitantly.
They stood again in silence, until Cody looked at the clock and saw that it read seven fifteen. School would start in a half hour.
"I should-go," he said softly, taking a shaky breath.
"Okay," Zack said, his voice thick with a false tone of confidence and acceptance, a poor mockery to his old carelessness. "I guess, then…" his voice faded away and he sniffed loudly.
"Yeah," said Cody. "Keep in touch, man, okay?"
Zack gave another fake grin. "Yeah, yeah, you, too."
"I will." Cody cleared his throat and swallowed thickly, swinging his backpack over his shoulder. He walked to the door and paused with his hand on the doorknob.
"Hey, Cody," Zack called out.
Cody turned around to look at him, feeling a burning in the back of his eyes.
Zack smiled a real smile this time, blue eyes bright. "Thanks,"
Cody returned the grin and nodded quickly, trying hard not to cry. "Yeah," he said, laughing a little even as a tear leaked out of the corners of his eyes. "No problem,"
"You really-really saved my life," Zack continued, unshed tears glittered in his eyes. "It meant-a lot, you know?"
Cody nodded again. "You're my brother, man; you'd have done the same thing for me."
Zack sighed and Cody turned the knob, stepping out into of the room. "Bye, Zack," he said quietly and closed the door gently behind him.
Zack watched it close, cryingsilently as he looked around the room. For once his bed was made and his things were neat. Well, what things he was leaving, that was. He would be taking most of it; the only things that remained were his old basketball trophies and textbooks. He told himself he'd be back someday. He would be. When all this was safely behind him. He would come home.
Hearing the door to the suite close and the voices fade Zack sniffed and wiped away his tears. Sitting on his bed he pulled out his new guitar; black with that little spark, a real beauty. Perfect. But it would always remind him of the day he had gotten it, and the days that had come before. Of Luke and his mom.
Telling himself not to cry anymore, Zack laid the guitar in his lap and began to play. He had all the lyrics he would ever need. He just had to write them.
And at that moment he played better than he'd ever played before.
"You okay?" Carrey asked her younger son as they rode the elevator down to the lobby. He hadn't said a word since saying goodbye to his brother and she could have sworn that she had seen him wipe his eyes earlier.
"Yeah, I'm good," he said, nodding. His voice was quiet, and she smoothed down his blonde hair in comfort. He was getting tall; almost as tall as she.
"He'll be back in a few months," she said gently.
"I know." Cody answered, his voice a little stronger.
The elevator reached the ground floor and they walked out together. Mother and son paused as the reached the sliding doors, prolonging the moment. "We'll do something tonight, just you and me," Carrey told him.
"Okay," Cody smiled slightly, sadly.
"Okay," Carrey hugged him tightly, and he did not resist. They released each other and he nodded more to himself than to his mother.
"Bye, mom," he said.
"Have a nice day," she said as he walked off down the street.
And as he met up with Tapeworm at his locker Cody tried to himself that it was for the best. That Zack needed this, needed to go away for a little while. He'd be back a few months. He would.
And Cody headed off towards his math class with Tapeworm.
"Do you have everything you need?"
"Yeah, mom, I got it all."
Carrey sighed and smoothed down her son's long blonde hair. Smiling sadly she held out a smaller suitcase than the two he already carried.
"For when you get there," she said quietly, watching as he took it carefully and didn't look inside.
"Thanks," he said quietly, readjusting the weight of his baggage. He blew out his breath and turned around slowly where a taxi stood waiting, door held open despite the rain that fell from the sky in torrents.
"Listen to your father," Carrey told him, eyes filling up with tears.
"I will, mom," he said and began to turn away.
"Zack-," she grasped his arm and looked him in his blue eyes. "This is your last chance," she looked down to collect herself, gulping back a sob. "Please," she looked at him pleadingly. "Don't let me down. Don't let us down."
He nodded. "Bye," he said and ducking under the rain he hurried to the taxi, slinging his luggage inside and sliding in behind it. "I love you, mom!" he shouted to her as the door closed.
"Oh, Zack," she whispered as the taxi began to pull away from the curb. "I love you, too," and as it disappeared from sight she began to cry.
Zack watched The Tipton disappear from view as the taxi pulled into the streets.In four minutes,he'd be leaving Boston and everything he knew far behind, and he had expected to feel regret. Four minutes to leave the city. Four minutes before the taxi took him somewhere he'd never been before. Somewhere new. Somewhere free. Four minutes.
He'd made mistakes. A lot of them. Maybe too many. But his dad still wanted him, still opened his home to him. It made Zack feel okay about this, it made the anxiety a little less harsh. He was getting a second chance.
Achance without Cody, without his brother for the first time in his life.
He'd be back in a few months. He would be.
Taking out his guitar he gently ran a finger along the smooth surface. "Do you mind if I play a little?" he asked the cab driver.
"Go ahead, kid," the man said, shrugging and turning off the radio.
"Thanks," Zack whispered, placing his fingers over familiar cords and closing his eyes as he took a deep breath. He looked up once at the sky above them. It was going to rain.
And as Boston slowly faded behind him, Zack returned his attention to the guitar.