Here it is, last chapter. I won't keep you guys waiting, I just wanted to say that throughout the whole story the only things that I ever owned were the plot line, Phil and the other cops. 'Fix You' is Coldplay's and everything else belongs to the all mighty Disney corporation, yadda, yadda, yadda, ON WITH THE ENDING!
"Zack, wait up!"
Cody groaned as Zack, once again, refused to respond to the sound of his brother's voice ricocheting up the main street of Boston.
The last thing Cody wanted was for Zack to be a block ahead of him on their walk home due to an argument, but looking back on the way that their first returning day at school together had panned out, it still seemed to Cody that the worst of their heated discussions were yet to come…
Bursting through the cafeteria doors after his elective, Cody's eyes darted around hastily for Zack. A content look then spread across his face as he finally spotted his brother, tray in hand, collecting some food. No surprise really.
Looking up upon Cody's approach, Zack smiled, "Hey man."
"How are you feeling?" Cody immediately asked, causing Zack to roll his eyes and sigh.
"Is that the fifth or five-hundredth time you've asked me that today?"
"Just say you're ok." Cody said in a slight tone of anxiety.
Zack rested a hand on Cody's shoulder, then spoke reassuringly, "I'm fine."
Cody returned the smile to his brother as he felt the majority of his angst disperse.
Fortunately for Zack, he didn't require any extra surgery for any of his injuries. Unfortunately, however, besides the fact that he had to go back to school pretty much straight away, there were a few choice people who weren't exactly willing to give him the homecoming he deserved. People like Drew.
"Well, look who's back." Zack and Cody both spun around to find Drew pushing past people in the lunch line, "Zack Martin."
Zack sensed Cody tense up where he stood beside him. He, on the other hand, simply groaned and remained calm. Zack had never really been that scared of Drew before, but especially now after everything that he had been through, the bully merely seemed about a million times more pathetic.
"What do you want, Drew?"
"I just wanted to welcome you back." He spoke in reply to Zack, "And tell you that while you were gone I looked after little Cody-Wody perfectly for you. Fed him all his meals, changed his diapers. Everything."
A few sniggers were heard throughout the cafeteria at the sound of Drew's sarcastic taunting of the twins. Zack felt his fist clench in the depths of his pocket as he caught a subtle glance of the embarrassment that lay across Cody's face.
"Ha, that was pretty good, Drew. I know how much you love your jokes." Zack said, remaining eerily calm, "But what do you think of this one of mine?"
Everyone watched in silence and shock as Drew found himself covered in spaghetti courtesy of Zack dumping his bowl on the bully's head. There was an immense group gasp that filled the whole room as everyone waited for Drew's reaction.
Eventually, he emitted an aggravated sigh and shot his enraged glare at Zack, "You did not just do that!"
Then before another word could be spoken, Drew pulled back his balled fist and went to take a sharp swing at Zack's jaw. Cody felt his heart stop as he impulsively leapt into defensive brother mode.
"Don't you dare touch my brother!"
Reeling from his unexpected inclusion in the dispute, Drew stumbled back as Cody pushed him away from Zack. Hysterical laughter exploded from each of the kids who were then witness to Drew falling backwards over a chair. Sadly for the twins, though, who were also caught in fits of laughter, there was one person who had entered the room that didn't particularly see the funny side of things.
"Zack and Cody Martin!"
All the laughter came to an abrupt cease as Principal Miletitch made her entrance into the cafeteria extremely obvious.
"My office! Now!"
Zack scoffed, "You can't be serious." He spat, "We were just defending ourselves!"
Bringing her voice back down to a hushed tone as she realised that all ears in the cafeteria were still perked up and paying attention, Principal Miletitch took a couple of seconds to calm down then walked closer to the twins.
Directing her awareness to Zack, she opened her mouth to speak again, "Look, Zack," the principal started quietly, "I know this can't be easy after everything you've been through, and things may seem a bit intimidating -"
"Intimidating?!" Zack suddenly snapped. Cody jerked his head up at the sound of anger that had blasted from his brother.
If there was one word that Zack could define after the hell that he had lived through, 'intimidation' was certainly one, and Drew did not fit the bill.
"I'll tell you what's intimidating," Zack recommenced, the annoyance coating his voice, "intimidating is being kidnapped and held prisoner by some crazy psycho. Intimidating is escaping from said psycho's car only to be hit by another one thirty seconds later. Intimidating is being threatened with a gun in your face!"
As soon as the last sentence left Zack's mouth, his eyes widened in sync with a devastated gasp from Cody. He instantly peered over his shoulder to see a look of immeasurable distraught in place of where Cody's smile was no more than two minutes ago.
Amongst the awkward silence that had taken over the whole room, Zack rapidly attained the urge to kick himself as hard as he possibly could. Not wanting to worry Cody or Carey about what Phil had done to him, he hadn't yet opened up to them about anything, but now Cody had learnt about the gun, which apparently tore him up inside.
"Aw man." Zack mused as he dropped an arm over Cody's shoulder. "Come on, buddy, it's ok."
While the uncomfortable stillness slowly began to revert back to teenage gossip and whispers throughout the room, Zack lead Cody past all the tables and chairs and headed on their way to Principal Miletitch's office.
Cody shook his head as his memories from earlier gradually faded.
Shortly after that last moment, Cody had demanded that Zack fill him in on everything that happened, starting with the gun. When Zack refused to go into any detail whatsoever that was pretty much when the arguments started.
Focusing his attention back to his brother, Cody rolled his eyes, "Come on, Zack!"
Just as Cody felt he was about to break into a sprint to try and catch up to Zack, he was interrupted by the easing arrival of a car pulling up next to him.
The navy blue Ford had black tinted windows and a long antenna projecting from the boot. While Cody was just beginning to wonder who it was inside, the window started to roll down little by little.
Cody smiled in surprise, "Hey Shannon."
"How are you doing?" She asked, returning the smile, only to see Cody's expression drop.
"Honestly?" He inquired.
"Uh oh." Shannon responded, "What happened?"
As much as Cody may have disliked Shannon at first, it was since then that they both had their own opportunities to open up about their siblings and even learn a few things off one another, because after all, she had just been trying to do her job. But aside from all that, Cody definitely didn't want to let go of the chance to see her take on the situation either.
"It was nothing really. This jerk at school was trying to -" Cody paused as he came across a way to conclude his sentence, "intimidate Zack. But then Zack got really angry and started yelling about stuff from when he was… you know."
That was where Cody's recount came to a halt, but reading his expression, Shannon had a feeling that there was still more to come, "Is that everything?"
Cody hesitated, "He said something about a…"
As Cody trailed off, Shannon indecisively bit her lip and then opted to finish his sentence, "A gun?"
Cody shot her a stare of shock and confusion, "You know about that?"
"Sorry Cody." Shannon spoke with a soft smile, "Zack told Tray and I everything. We're not exactly allowed to go parading it around or anything like that, though. Confidentiality and all that."
Cody folded his arms across his chest in a slump, "Well now Zack's mad at me because I keep asking him questions about what happened."
"Cody, Zack might not want to put you and your family through anything else right now." Shannon explained, taking her hands away from the steering wheel, "I'm sure he'll talk to you when he's ready."
"He seemed ready enough to yell it in front of the whole school."
Shannon sighed at Cody's retort, "Look, Cody, I wish I could stay and chat some more, but I really gotta go."
Cody unfolded his arms and let them hang by his side as he watched Shannon restart the car's engine and release the hand brake, "Another big case?" He asked curiously.
"Nah, I've taken some leave." Shannon replied, "I'm flying out to Colorado to stay with my parents for a few days." There was another standstill in the conversation before Shannon added boldly, "I'm going to see my sister."
Creating a bit of an awkward pause, Cody gazed down at his shoes as the conversation he had had with Shannon about Zack and Roxy rebuilt in his mind, and it wasn't long before he was also reminded of many other intense memories from that same night which he would much rather forget.
"Cody, you got your second chance, I didn't." Shannon said, snapping Cody back into reality, "Don't blow it."
Remaining frozen for a few seconds, Cody eventually nodded his head at Shannon's advice. All the way through the entire experience, Cody had to keep reminding himself that what he had lived through was only a insignificant fraction of the pain that Shannon felt without her sister every day. He wasn't going to let that happen to him and Zack.
"Any time kiddo." She replied, "I'll tell Tray you said hi?"
Nodding his head eagerly, Shannon smiled for a final time before flicking her right blinker on, "Take care."
As the window flew back up and the wheels turned away from the curb, Cody watched Shannon's car roll up the street, around the corner and out of sight. The grin that had appeared on his face during their conversation quickly dropped, however, as Cody then remembered what he had been doing prior to her arrival. He twisted back on his heels and peered up the street, though much like Shannon's car, Zack was nowhere to be seen. Apparently, he too was capable of a speedy departure.
Walking into the suite, Cody immediately came face to face with Zack, who still didn't seem all that willing to talk to him.
"Don't even bother." He snapped as Cody closed the door.
Luckily for them, Cody thought, Carey was in rehearsal. As was Kurt, who had insisted to rent a room in the hotel and stick around until Zack was feeling one hundred percent better. He was making a living by singing duets with Carey in her shows, and was spending a lot more time with the twins, which definitely suited them both just fine. Unluckily, however, the boys still weren't exactly on the same page as one another.
"Why won't you just talk to me?" Cody pleaded.
"Cause I don't want to." Zack answered simply.
Cody rolled his eyes at his brother's stubbornness, "Oh, but you'll talk to Tray and Shannon." He retorted.
Zack shot his vision up from the television screen and gave his brother a look a stupidity, "I'm not sure if you've noticed Cody," he began, "but Tray and Shannon are cops. It's their job, even if Phil did get away, they still need to have it on record and make sure that I don't need some kind of post traumatic counselling - or whatever."
Cody's attention remained directed at the floor as Zack spoke. No matter how lame an excuse Zack was able to come up with, the part that was hurting Cody the most was the fact that his brother refused to let him in.
"Just tell me what happened." Cody attempted again, sounding stern and on the verge of frustration.
Letting out a huge sigh and finally giving into the aggravation that had built up in the pit of his stomach, Zack turned off the TV and stood up off the couch.
"Cody, seriously, stop." Zack paused as he swallowed back the majority of the anger he was tempted to let loose, "You have no idea how much I strongly dislike you right now."
Being that it wasn't the particular line he was expecting, Cody shifted his weight from one foot to the other and gazed at Zack in confusion, studying him up and down and trying to read his expression.
"Strongly dislike?" He eventually conceded.
Pausing again, Zack froze and considered whether or not to explain himself. Deciding against the option, he brushed off the thought and gradually turned on his heels, headed towards his bedroom door, "Just drop it."
With that said Cody was then left alone in the lounge room of the suite, the scenario that had just played out revolving through his mind over and over again.
Not only was it unlike Zack to keep his cool in a confrontation, but after delivering an insult like 'strongly dislike' and then being the one to abandon all conflict, Cody presumed that there was something about the conversation that needed to be decrypted. And then, as a smile slowly appeared across Cody's face, he figured it out.
After about half an hour, Cody stood nervously in front of his bedroom door holding two glasses of orange juice - one with pulp for Zack and one without for himself. It may have been a pretty lame peace offering, but Cody was willing to try just about anything to get back on the same side as his brother.
Upon entering the room, Cody found Zack sprawled out on his bed playing video games. He glanced up from the screen for a split second and gazed at Cody, but quickly shifted his attention back to where it was needed.
Cody set Zack's glass down on the side.
"Thanks." Zack spoke, hardly putting any strain on his voice box.
Without replying, Cody stood beside Zack's bed in silence and waited to see if any other dialogue would come. When it didn't, Cody reluctantly turned around and began walking back towards the bedroom door.
"And thanks for doing what you did to Drew at school today."
Cody smiled at the sound of Zack's voice from behind him. He swivelled back around on the spot to see that Zack had now paused his game.
"Thank you for sticking up for me. Again." Cody replied, "No matter who's picking on me, I can always count on you."
Listening to his brother's words of gratitude, Zack felt a sudden twinge of guilt flick on inside him, "Cody, I don't want to be pissed off at you after everything we've been through."
"Don't worry." Cody said as he placed his drink down and sat on the end of Zack's bed, "I know you're not that mad at me."
Zack's brow wrinkled, "Come again?"
Cody hesitated for a moment and recalled on his memories of what Zack had said to him earlier in the suite.
"Whenever you get angry," Cody started, "you go on a total rampage. You don't care what you say or who you say it to."
Cody found himself stopping for an instant as he tried to hold back a laugh at the fact that Zack was nodding his head in agreement and not protesting to the statement.
Regathering his thoughts, Cody continued, "Strongly dislike?" He asked in disbelief, "If you were really pissed off you would've broken that promise you made to me at the hospital."
"Hey, promises that are meant to be broken are ones like 'yes Mum, I'll be home by ten'." Zack spoke, "Not ones you make to your twin brother."
From where his eyesight sat glued to the bed spread, Cody beamed to himself. Zack had promised never to tell his brother that he hated him ever again, and him keeping that promise meant the absolute world to Cody.
As the twins both fell into quiet, Cody contemplated what to say next, or to be more precise, how he was going to ask Zack what happened again.
"Zack," He commenced, deciding to get straight to the point, "what happened?"
Dropping his jaw in staggering amazement at Cody's persistence, Zack groaned and went back to his video game.
"I just want you to talk to me so we can have some sense of getting back on track." Cody said, urgently trying to make Zack stop ignoring him. He sighed, "You can talk to me more than anyone else in the entire world."
"I know that." Zack replied through gritted teeth, taking his anger out on a space ship on his video game.
Cody sighed again as he watched the last remnants of the space ship blow up on the screen. He couldn't believe that Zack was more interested in playing his Xbox than working stuff out with him, nor could he comprehend it.
"Ya know," he began, clearly starting to sound upset, "I thought I was never going to see or talk to you ever again, Zack."
Re-pausing his game in a slight outburst of frustration, Zack snapped his head around and glared at Cody, "Don't you think I felt that too? Look at yourself, Cody, you're getting upset!"
Taken back to some extent by the heated tone that caked Zack's voice, Cody sank into a slump where he sat on the bed and fought back the yearning to show any more distress.
"I get that you want me to leave you alone." Cody spoke, his voice cracking, "But we both know I'm not strong enough to do that."
Instantly feeling most of his anger fade, Zack looked at the emotional heap that Cody had collected himself in, again, and slowly began to shake his head.
"Not strong enough?" Zack echoed in doubt, "Cody, you've lived through what most other kids our age can't even imagine. You are strong enough, to do anything, even if you don't realise it yet."
Cody gazed up at his brother with tears staining his eyes and shot him a look as to second guess Zack's theory.
"I just don't want to say anything that's going to upset you." Zack said.
"Well I don't want to go the rest of my life wondering what happened to my brother."
Zack's expression dropped at the conflicting response that came from Cody. It had certainly become obvious to Zack that Cody wasn't going to give up until he knew the full story, and it probably wasn't helping his imagination that much considering he knew that a gun was involved. But what had happened to Zack had scared the living hell out of him – one could only visualise how Cody would deal with being told every single last little detail.
"Please Zack." Cody begged.
Zack studied the persona that currently had its grip on his brother. Cody definitely looked composed and undoubtedly ready to hear anything, but Zack remained unsure. He was supposed to protect Cody from all the evil things of the world – not open up the door and let them in to see him. But in saying that, it had been Zack who told Cody that he was strong enough for anything.
As all these words of hesitation, and more, circled Zack's head, he reluctantly threw his pillow to the ground from where he sat rested against his bed head and patted the empty spot next to him.
"Ok," he said, "where should I start?"
An immense smile stretched across Cody's face as he bounded across the bed and propped himself against the head of the bed next to Zack.
"The beginning might be a good place."
Zack barked out a small laugh at the cynical smile that Cody was directing at him.
The two had without a doubt come a long way in the past week or so, to say the least, and not only was it proven that nothing could tear apart the bond that the boys shared, but with their arguments, pranks, and Phil far behind them now, the only way from here was straight up.
Zack beamed lovingly at Cody and nudged him in the arm,
Yay, that's it. DONE. Kinda sad though :/ I was enjoying writing that one. Did ya like it?!
Thank you so, so, so, so, SO much to everyone who reviewed. My highest amount of reviews before this story was, like, 24 or something, so this means so much to me :)
I am thinking sequel, if anyone's interested that is, but I do have another Z&C idea that I'm thinking of going with first. I'll see how I feel.
So, anyway, thanks again guys. Everyone who ever reviewed this story is a total and utter LEGEND xD