A/N: I am so sorry that it took me over 4.5 months to update this story, but life just got ahead of me and so did school. Didn't realize how rough junior year in high school was. Luckily it's half way through and then I'll have a smooth senior year. Anyway, thanks for sticking with me! Here's the 8th chapter -- Enjoy!!!
Disclaimer: I do NOT own "The Suite Life of Zack and Cody".
Move Along – chapter eight: Carry On My Wayward Son
Three days had passed since Cody's awakening and today was the day Dr. O'Connor was removing Cody from the oxygen mask. If all went well with Cody, he was due to be discharged from Boston Memorial Hospital in a week's time.
Zack slipped into his brother's room and smiled, "Hey Cody, good to see you breathing on your own."
"Umm… not exactly, Zack. I've still got tubes up my nose."
"True, but no more ventilator or mask. That's gotta be a relief."
"Yeah I guess…"
Noticing his twin's cut-to-it replies and dismal attitude, Zack questioned, "Are you all right? You seem kind of depressed."
"It's nothing…really. I'm just tired of being stuck in a hospital bed for such long periods of time. Not to mention my head is killing me." He curiously glanced up at his brother, "Why is that?"
"You had an aneurysm burst from Mark's beating. Nearly killed you. You're gonna have a headache for awhile according to Dr. O'Connor." Zack saw Cody roll his eyes in disgust. "C'mon Codeman, be grateful you're alive."
"I am, Zack. I just wanna be pain free for a change."
"I know man; just give it time, alright?"
"Cody, lose the attitude already."
Just then Carey and Kurt entered the room.
"What attitude Zack?" asked Carey.
"Cody's been acting like a little punk since I came in here."
"Give him a break, kiddo. He's been through a lot."
"Dad, you don't understand."
"Zack, honey, why don't you go get a soda or something while your father and I speak with Cody."
"Good luck," Zack mumbled under his breath while leaving the room.
"Hey Codesters, glad to see you're doing better."
"Are you in any pain, sweetheart?"
"Just a headache, mom… nothing big."
"Your vocabulary seems to be back in tact."
"Everything is mom. I'm normal again… I just wanna leave this place."
"I know you do. And in a week you will, honey."
"Cody, do you remember Zack talking to you about Schuler and Maryann while you were unconscious?"
"No… who are they?"
"I think I'll take over now, Kurt. Why don't you go and join Zack with that soda?"
"What a great idea," Kurt chided, quickly leaving the room.
"Who's Schuler and Maryann, mom?" asked Cody, curious.
"Cody, a lot has changed while you've been… well… since your first accident. Anyway, I met Schuler and there's something between us. After your release at the end of the week, Schuler and I are going on our first, real date. He's got a three-year-old daughter, Maryann. Zack's bonded with them both and I only hope that you can too."
"You're seeing someone?"
"But why, mom?"
"Because I don't' want to live the rest of my life alone. I mean you and Zack will be graduating at the end of this school year leaving me all to myself."
"So you're replacing us?"
"No, of course not."
"When do I meet these people?"
"Later this afternoon."
"What if I don't like him, mom? I mean you're already basically saying dad and Zack love them and that it doesn't matter what I think."
"That isn't true. I care deeply what you think."
Cody looked at his mother – contemplating whether or not to believe her -, "I trust you, mom. Please don't turn on me like Zack and dad have."
"I won't baby. I love you."
"Love you too, mom."
"Daddy, we meet Cody today?"
"We sure do, pumpkin."
"Will he like us?"
"I don't know, sweetie. He's been through quite a lot."
"But Zackie likes us," Maryann pointed out. "And he is just like Zack, right?"
Schuler shook his head, "No sweetie, they are not alike. Zack and Cody are identical twins. They may look exactly alike, but they are two very different people."
"Daddy?" came the small, confused voice.
"You know how Danny and you liked different things, right?"
"Even though you're brother and sister?"
"It's the same way with Zack and Cody. Only difference is, they look the same."
"I get it."
"You do?" asked Schuler, surprised.
"They think dif'frent."
"Exactly. Good job, Maryann. You're a smart one."
There was a knock on the door and Schuler was surprised to see Zack standing on the other side.
"Zack, what are you doing here? Not that it's a bad thing, just shocked."
"Came over to warn you about Cody's new attitude."
"Zackie!" Maryann exclaimed, jumping into the teenager's arms.
"Hey Mary. It's great to see you again."
"I missed you," the little girl said, giving Zack a big, wet kiss.
"I missed you too! Can't believe its been a whole week."
"Maryann, go on out and play in the back yard for a while, okay? Zack and I have some adult stuff to talk about."
"Okay!" the girl complied, skipping outside.
Meanwhile, Schuler and Zack sat down on the sofa.
"So what's up?" pondered Schuler.
"Cody's being a real jerk."
"And why do you say that?"
"Okay, so I went into the room to talk to him, and he had such attitude. He's talking with no sign of brain damage – which is good – but he seems depressed and moody. Something's happened to him."
"Do you think it's due to the fact that maybe he's finally realized just how many times he's been one step way from death's door? Wouldn't you be bitter too if someone almost killed you after making fun of your disability? Are you trying to understand how Cody's dealing with all of this?"
"Not really I guess… before I had… but not this time I suppose. Man, how do you do it?"
"Get me to answer you honestly and fully all the time? I never talk to my dad like this."
"I've always been good with kids. My mom's friends always used me to baby-sit their kids. My sister used to get jealous because she rarely got to baby-sit – only when I was sick and forbidden to go near the kids."
Zack stalled for a moment before confessing, "Schuler, no matter what Cody tells mom about what he thinks about you, I want you to know this – If my mom remarries, I can see no better man for her than you."
"Thanks Zack, that means a lot. Are you afraid of what Cody will say to me and Maryann?"
Zack nodded, " I don't want Mary to get her feelings hurt. I mean she's been pumped to get to know Cody and I know you have been too. I'm just afraid Cody feels the opposite."
"How 'bout this – I go to the hospital now and talk to him. You say here with Maryann. I'm sure she'd love to go for a car ride around the city. Then I'll give your cell a ring to tell you whether or not to bring Maryann in."
"That's a perfect plan. Thank you, Schuler."
"No problem. Hey Maryann, come in here please."
Skidding to a halt, the little girl responded, "Yes, daddy?"
"Zack's gonna stay with you for a while and even take you for a car ride into Boston."
"Rweally?" Her eyes were shining brightly.
"Danks daddy! Zack, let's go!" Maryann shouted, grabbing Zack's hand and tugging him her way in the direction of the front door.
Zack laughed, "In a second, Mary. Give your father a chance to leave."
Sighing and pouting, the child replied, "O…kay."
Kurt and Cody were playing chess to waste the hours away.
"Dad, why would mom start liking a guy when I was in no condition to tell her if I liked him or not?"
"Because Cody, it wasn't looking all too good for you. You weren't expected to make it. Your mother didn't want to let someone go who she believed was in her future. Can you really blame her?"
"But dad, you guys divorced when Zack and I were five years old. Why must she make a change so drastic twelve years later?"
"Because you two boys will be gone soon and she'll be left alone. Your mother's always put you boys first – doesn't she finally deserve that same privilege?"
Cody shrugged, " I don't know."
"Oh – I think you do know but you're just being too stubborn to believe it."
Cody rolled his eyes, "You don't know anything, dad."
"Promise me this."
"What?" came the agitated response.
"Be civil to Schuler and Maryann when they show up later on. They've done nothing wrong. And believe me when I say this – they are good people. Honestly."
"I'll give him a chance, alright?"
"That's all I'm asking, son."
Cautiously pushing the door open, Schuler asked hesitantly, "Is it all right if I come in?"
"Sure," Kurt replied.
Cody propped himself father up into a sitting position, his curiosity getting the better of him.
"Dad?" questioned Cody.
"Cody, this is Schuler. Schuler, Cody."
"Hi Cody, I've been told so much about you."
Schuler offered his hand and the two of them shook.
"I'll leave you two alone," Kurt said as he slipped out the door.
"So you're Schuler?" Cody asked unsure, studying the man before him. "Where's your daughter?"
"I thought it'd be best if I came to see you first, alone."
"You don't trust me," Cody concluded incredulously. "Hell we haven't even met, but you're already giving me a bad first impression."
"Cody, calm down. I was going to bring Maryann along but Zack insisted that I didn't."
"Oh he did, did he?"
"Don't be upset. He just didn't want you lashing out at a three-year-old. I'm glad he showed up at my place. You seem tense."
"I wouldn't hurt your daughter. I'm not that kind of person. I'm offended you'd even think that."
"I'm sorry. I shouldn't have assumed. But I know we do have to deal with the tension brewing between the two of us."
"You're right. I'll work with you but I can't promise anything."
"That's all I'm asking. So what are you in to?"
Cody suddenly felt like crawling into his own shell and being left well enough alone. "Leave. I wanna sleep."
"Cody, what's wrong?" Schuler asked, concerned.
"Just' weave pwease. Wanna sleep." Schuler's heart broke at the sight of the boy's pleading eyes.
Schuler nodded and left the room. Once alone in the room, Cody curled up into a ball and pulled the covers tightly around his trembling body and began feeling fear and abandonment within his heart. A deep, abyss hole had formed in his very soul; and Cody couldn't find a way to escape.
A week had passed since Cody's episode in the hospital. He seemed to be back to his normal self, but Carey and Kurt were still greatly concerned. Once Zack got back from school and arrived at the hospital, Cody was being released. Four hours had passed, but Cody finally found himself standing outside the Tipton Hotel's doorway entrance.
"C'mon sweetie, let's get you inside where it's nice and warm."
There was something in his boy's eyes that startled Kurt, "What is it, son?"
"I'm scared," came the muffled confession.
"What are you scared of?"
"Dad, I can't go home. It doesn't feel right."
"Buddy, nothing's gonna happen to you. I've got your back," Zack promised sincerely.
Cody nodded, "I know Zack, I know."
Taking a deep breath, Cody nodded in reassurance to himself, and willed himself inside. Tonight was going to be a long night.
A/N: I have the rest of the chapters outlined and I know where I'm headed with this story. There are 11 more chapters to go… and then I'm thinking a sequel may be needed. When I find the time to write these chapters I will. I promise. This story is NOT dead. I wrote this chapter in two days (yesterday and today). Please leave me a review and let me know what you thought of this chapter! Will reply to all who review me! --Stacey--