Zack was no longer in the mood for his mother's worry as he knelt before the toilet. "Yes I'm just absolutely fantastic," he wanted to yell each time she knocked on the door and asked if he was doing okay. "I always spend my spare time in the bathroom puking my guts out and I happen to love it." Well, he would have said that if he could have found the time between the dry heaves that felt as if they were tearing his insides apart.

After what seemed like a year everything stopped and Zack wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. He pushed away from the porcelain throne and collapsed on the cool tile floor, moaning. He reached a shaky hand up to the towel rack and pulled a huge towel down and covered himself, having decided he was too tired to get up and go back to bed. "I'll just lay here for a little bit and get my energy back," he told himself as his eyes closed.

Carey was sitting out in the living room trying to not hear her son being sick but couldn't help it no matter how much attention she paid to whatever the horrible movie that happened to be on at five in the morning was called. Something with Jamie Lee What'sherface and an electrical space virus. Not much of a chance that movie won any awards, she thought to herself.

Carey had always said she'd switch places with either of her children in a second when they were sick or hurt but after seeing two days of this it might take her as long as ten seconds to swap with her oldest. Not a sound had come out of the bathroom in a few minutes so she pulled herself out of her chair and walked to the door.

"Zack?" she said as she rapped lightly. "Zack?" Getting no response she cracked the door open and looked in. She looked on with a heavy heart as she saw her son curled up and covered with a fluffy white towel. Part of her wanted to wake him up and get him back in bed but this was the first sound sleep he'd really had since this all started so she left him there, making a quick trip to grab a pillow and a real blanket from the couch to make him a little more comfortable.

She returned to the living room and glanced at the clock, figuring she had at least two hours before Cody got up and those hours would best be spent asleep. Jamie Lee Curtis, Carey suddenly remembered as she flipped the television off and went back to her room. She willed herself to remember to call the school in the morning.

Shortly before seven Cody woke up and plodded his way to the bathroom. His hazy mind took a moment to realize exactly what was laying before the toilet but once it did he giggled. "Move over, Zack," he said, toeing his brother in the leg. "I have to pee."

A single eye opened and stared at him. "So pee then."

"You're kinda in the way."

"Tough. Not moving." Zack pulled the blanket over his head. "Dribble on me and die," came muffled from beneath.

Cody looked at his brother for a moment and knelt down in front of him. "C'mon, let's get you back to bed."

"Mom let me sleep here."

"That's because Mom can't pick you up anymore. I can. I think."

Zack groaned. "I don't feel good, Cody, leave me alone."

"Nope. Put your hand around my neck and I'll lift you up."

"Just pee, dammit, and leave me alone," Zack protested even as he slipped an arm around his brother's neck and let Cody's fingers go around his waist and under his knees.

"Where's your shirt?" Cody asked him as the towel and blanket slid away, leaving Zack in only a pair of sweatpants.

"In the tub. Puked on it."


"Just don't drop me, Cody. I think I might break," Zack told him, his voice sounding very far away.

"I promise." Cody slowly got to his feet, swaying slightly under his brother's weight, and started walking back to their bedroom. Cody was about to tell Zack that if he stayed sick another few days he'd be as thin as he was but a light snore told him that his brother had already fallen back to sleep. Cody grinned as he laid Zack on the bed and pulled the covers over him, only then realizing how much his arms were burning from the effort. With his brother now taken care of, he could now go about getting ready for school.

Zack woke up sometime around noon and put his arms behind his head and tried to go back to sleep. He laid in bed for a few minutes before he had the feeling he was being watched. He shot a glance over to Cody's bed and saw his mother laying on it, watching him.

"Hey sunshine," she said with a smile. "That must have been some dream you were having."


"You were mumbling and tossing around like crazy. You don't remember?" Zack shook his head in a definitive 'no'. "That might be good then. My mother always said that was a sign you were starting to get better."

"She also said she could talk to dogs," Zack told her with as straight a face as he could manage.

"Well, maybe she could." Carey couldn't help but grin. "So how're you feeling? Any better?"

"Maybe. I think I might actually be hungry."

"Toast it is," Carey said to him.

"How about a cheeseburger?

"How about we see if you can keep the toast down and then we'll talk about a cheeseburger? Or you can go hungry."

"Toast it is," Zack told her. He watched his mother hop off the bed and walk out of the room and into the kitchen, returning a few minutes with two pieces of toast. She rubbed his head and then left him to the business of eating.

Zack managed to keep the toast down for nearly an entire hour. Needless to say there was no cheeseburger in the Martin household that afternoon.

After Zack had washed his mouth out for what seemed like the hundredth time over the last few days he crawled back in to bed and pulled his new laptop in with him. Kurt had bought each boy a new computer a week ago after the band signed a record deal and received a rather hefty advance. He'd wanted to do more but Carey said that would be more than enough for now since their birthdays weren't that far off and he could spoil them then.

So Zack fired it up and started messing around, trying to remember some of what he'd seen Cody do since he wasn't much of a computer geek on his own. He could get on the 'net and play a few games but that was about it. Eventually he became bored with solitaire and somehow came to find himself in a chat room. Zack lurked for a few minutes, watching the multiple conversations zip past almost faster than he could read them.

He was laughing at a joke when a little window popped up and blinked at him. "Hey" it said and naturally Zack replied the same. Half an hour later found him still chatting with a kid named Kevin who'd recently moved from Philly to just outside of Boston. GoodbyeAI, or so Kevin was called on the messenger, seemed like a pretty cool kid to Zack. They spent the next two hours talking basketball, each trying to prove to the other that their teams weren't as bad as their records showed.

"It's been fun talking to you, Zack, but I've got to go now," Kevin typed.

"Yeah, it's been a blast," Zack replied.

"Talk to you tomorrow if we're both still sick?"

"For sure!"

"Later days then," Kevin said as he signed off.

Zack snoozed for the remainder of the afternoon, waking up only to try eating again around dinner time. This attempt was more successful and he was almost, almost mind you, ready to go back to school. He stayed home the next day just to be on the safe side and spent the majority of the day chatting with Kevin again.

The following day was only different in that he didn't have his new friend to hang out with all day. Zack played around and wasted the day until he got a message shortly after three.

"So, do you think the Celtics will win twenty games all season?" Kevin greeted Zack that afternoon.

"Pffft no."

"Me neither," Kevin shot back. "Sorry I've got to keep this short but I went back to school today and have a ton of work to catch up on. I do have some news though."

"Oh? What's up?"

"My mother is going to be in the city on Saturday on some business and if you're feeling up to it we could meet somewhere and hang out for a few hours."

"Dude! That would be awesome!" Zack typed back. "When?"

"Around three or so. Any idea of where we should go?"

"Well," Zack said, hesitating, "there's a mall about a mile from my house. Colonial Park or something like that. There's a big arcade and all sorts of other things."

"I think that sounds like a plan," Kevin told him.

"Cool. I'll wear my white Celtics hat and black jacket and meet you in front of the arcade at about three."

The two kids finalized their plans before Kevin disappeared to tackle the mountain of homework. Zack closed his messenger and laid back on his pillow and thought about the homework that would be awaiting him tomorrow. "Ugh," Zack said as he pulled the blankets over his head. As tired as he was of laying in bed and eating whatever his mother deemed 'sick food', the thought of all the work he'd have to make up made seeing all his friends seem not quite as awesome an idea.

If he could make it through one day of school though...he'd have the weekend to catch up on some of the work as well as meet his new friend.