Chapter 1

"Survivor's Guilt"

Here comes the rain again
Falling from the stars
Drenched in my pain again
Becoming who we are
As my memory rests
But never forgets what I lost
Wake me up when September ends

"Wake Me Up When September Ends" by Green Day

Cody cinched his backpack tighter around his right shoulder to give himself a moment to think. Stapled on the information board in his homeroom class was a bright yellow piece of paper announcing that volleyball tryouts would be held at the end of the week. He had never really been good at sports, but he was finally starting to feel encumbered by the weight of his academic pursuits and wanted to do something to release his pent up energy. He needed a release.

"You should try out Cody," Barbara Brownstein said, coming up beside him. She kept a slight distance between them, still unsure of how he was feeling given all that had happened. Then there was the matter of her having gotten involved with his friend Bob while Cody was away at Seven Seas High School on board the S.S. Tipton. She had made repeated attempts to be nice to him ever since he'd returned and was trying to rekindle some of their old friendship. He decided to take her tone of voice and support at face value.

"I'd just embarrass myself," Cody admitted, thinking of how poor he was at all sports. At least volleyball wasn't a contact sport so he could be good at it given enough practice. His itching desire to do something physical was starting to overcome his self doubt. How hard could it be really?

"You'll do fine." Barbara tentatively rested her hand on his shoulder, smiling softly at him. An impulse passed through his body, one that he had to resist acting upon, as he looked at her lovely face. Her raven black hair seemed to have a soft glow coming from it and her warm brown eyes looked at him full of concern. He wanted to kiss her, like he had in the days before he'd left to travel the world abroad, but that just wasn't allowed anymore. She was going out with Bob now and Cody's heart had been stolen by a smart, funny, lovely and down to earth girl from a small town in Kansas.

"Couldn't hurt to try…" Cody finally gave in, momentarily distracted by the thought of Bailey Pickett's lips pressed against his own which always sent an electric tingle racing down his spine and warmed his entire body. He wished that she were here now so that he could hold her in his arms and give her his love, but Bailey had gone back home and as such she was over a thousand miles away.

"Cody?" He was snapped out of his daydream by Barbara's worried prompting. Cody was prone to zoning out at times and also having strange dreams when he fell asleep during some of his more boring classes. It was so unlike him, but nothing was the same after leaving his old life behind on the S.S. Tipton.

"I'm fine," He reassured her, committing the time and date of the tryouts to memory and promising himself that he'd be there. She turned to leave, but stopped and looked back at him.

"If there's anything I can do Cody…" She started, but he interrupted her with a dismissive hand gesture.

"I'm fine, really." Barbara gave him a hard look and then accepted his reassurances. She left and Cody jammed his hands into his pockets as the bell rang. He let out a deep sigh as he mentally prepared himself to face another long day.

Gloomy darkness pressed in upon him, the only light was a murky green glow coming through a porthole that was too small to escape through. The ocean poured in from some distant source, filling the hallway with salt water that chilled him to the bone. It was so cold that it had stolen his breath and he gasped desperately for air. He was dog paddling to stay afloat, his feet unable to touch the floor below, and kept his head above water in the air pocket at the top of the hallway.

"Zack!" Cody cried out, his lungs burning from the sudden expenditure of what little breath he had. The ship tilted and started to roll to one side forcing the water to smack against his head in little waves. He sputtered as he nearly swallowed several gulps of sea water. He was quite aware of the fact that the air pocket was growing smaller.

"I'm here!" Zack's voice cut through the darkness. He sounded afraid, but was trying to remain calm and keep his head on his shoulders. His brother was somewhere to his right and Cody turned to locate the source of his voice.

"Keep talking, I'm coming!" Cody swam as best as one could considering that he couldn't see where he was going in search of Zack.

"We've got to get out of here buddy!" Cody followed the source of his brother's voice and eventually bumped into him. One of Zack's hands closed around his arm and dragged him through the darkness.

"There's an open hatch down here, it leads out to the deck." Cody could see that the water below him was a brighter shade of green murkiness, it must be the open hatch. "You go first," Zack prompted him. He wanted to argue, wanted to tell Zack to go first, but then he just realized that it would be a waste of time trying to get his stubborn brother to do that. Time they didn't have Cody realized as he heard a terrible groan echo through the ship followed by the sound of screeching metal.

Cody took a deep breath and dove down into the dark ocean, feeling out with his hands for the frame of the hatch. He felt Zack's hand fall between his shoulder blades and guide him forward and then there was a muted splashing noise as he followed Cody underwater. His lungs were already starting to burn and the cold was robbing him of all his strength. They must be through the hatch by now…but which way was up?

Somebody started shaking him, gently moving his shoulder side to side. Someone was calling his name, but Zack couldn't be speaking underwater…That was impossible, wasn't it? His whole world fell away and with a start Cody jerked awake. He had dozed off in his calculus class and now his teacher was standing over him trying to rouse him from the nightmare memory that he had been reliving once again. His whole class was watching silently.

"Sorry…" Cody mumbled, head still in a daze. Mrs. Sullivan smiled warmly at him, she wasn't mad that he had fallen asleep. Not only had Cody been her best student before and after Seven Seas High, but she knew full well what he was going through and gave him his space in addition to a great helping of patience.

"Go ahead and copy down the homework assignment," She said, gesturing at one side of the blackboard, "And then you can go outside for some fresh air if you want to." Cody thanked his teacher, scribbled down the assignment, shoved his book into his backpack and quietly left the room, aware of all the stares he was receiving. Then again he was used to it, having once been the dorky nerd. Now he was the quiet one suffering from clinical depression, suicidal thoughts and horrible nightmares.

Out in the hallway it was quiet, but Cody could feel the charged atmosphere since the day was just minutes away from being over. Soon the hallway would be filled by throngs of students hurrying to get home or go do some fun after school activity. He'd rather not be there when everyone came rushing out. It was more trouble than it was worth so he simply walked off campus. No one bothered to stop him, the school's security and staff were used to the seniors leaving early to help ease the inevitable traffic jam that would eventually happen and Cody could almost pass for one.

The Tipton Hotel was home once again, his mother Carey Martin still worked there as the cabaret singer and room and board were a part of her contract. After a year at sea, Cody realized just how much he'd missed the place and his old life that was so closely tied to it. The first stable home he and Zack had had in their entire lives. They had lived there since they were twelve and then they had lived aboard the S.S. Tipton for a year just before they had turned sixteen.

Cody walked home through the business district, completely self absorbed in his own thoughts as he let his feet pick the path home on their own without any thought from him. He contemplated catching the downtown metro bus, but it was only two miles to the Tipton. A long walk and some fresh air would probably do him some good. Just what the doctor ordered.

He groaned, suddenly remembering that he had an appointment today. How had he forgotten about that? Cody turned back around and started heading back to school where his mother was going to pick him up and take him there.

Cody stepped out into the cross walk, ignoring the bright orange hand on the crosswalk signal telling him not to step out into traffic. He paid the price as a delivery truck driver who wasn't paying close attention or just didn't expect anyone to step out into traffic slammed into him. Pain exploded through his body as he bounced off the hood and went airborne for a few seconds before slamming into the hard unforgiving pavement. It felt like every bone in his body was broken and he lay in a pool of blood staring up at the sky, wishing that the end would come quickly.

Sighing in annoyance Cody shook off the fantasy that his mind had engineered, watched the delivery truck pass by him and then made his way across the intersection as the signal turned into the white stick figure. He often saw things like that, his mind would dream up several interesting ways for him to die every week, but Cody never gave into the impulses. Still, he had confided in his mother about these suicidal thoughts in a rare moment of openness when he had wanted to talk to her and that, on top of what had already happened, made her seek out professional help for him.

"The Doctor will see you now." The polite middle aged receptionist emerged from Dr. Calloway's office and held the door open inviting Cody inside. He looked up from the National Geographic magazine that he was reading at the woman. Carey Martin grabbed a hold of Cody's right hand with both of hers, gave it a little reassuring squeeze and then kissed him on the cheek.

"What's that for?" Cody wondered aloud in puzzlement as he stood up, his mother's hands falling away.

"Love you honey," She answered simply as Cody was led into the Doctor's office and then left alone with him. Calloway was your picture perfect psychiatrist, an old man with graying hair, intense blue eyes and dressed in an old gray suit that belonged from another generation. His office was pretty spartan as well, devoid of dangerous objects or suggestive material in case a patient got violent. Cody had never had a severe emotional outburst in the Doctor's presence before in the previous two visits, but he always ended up storming out believing that this man was just full of it.

"Hello Cody. Have a seat won't you?" Calloway gestured to the stereotypical reclined chair with enough room for him to stretch out his long legs comfortably. He made himself comfortable and mentally resigned himself to cooperate as best as possible and keep his cool. There were two desirable outcomes he wished for, one was that there might be some slim chance that this man could help him, but the other was that if he was a 'good little boy' he wouldn't have to come here any more. "How are you feeling?"

"I'm fine," Cody automatically lied, feeling the emotions and memories suppressed with a great force of willpower stir inside of him. Calloway frowned and then shook his head in such a manner that he was reminded of an adult politely telling a child that they were wrong about something.

"You're not fine young man. You've been through a lot. Shall we begin?"

"Sure," Cody agreed.

"Are you still having the nightmares?" Cody nodded and Calloway pressed on in the familiar routine, "What about the thoughts of hurting yourself?" It was a moment before he answered as Cody considered what he should tell him. In the end it was the truth.

"They come and go. In fact it happened to me just before I came here…"

"Tell me about it." Calloway leaned forward in interest.

"I was walking home because I forgot about this appointment and then when I remembered I turned around to go back to school and meet up with my mom. I crossed into the road right into oncoming traffic and was hit by a truck."

"I see."

"What does that mean?"

"Cody. I believe that your sub conscious mind is trying to express something to you. As you are right now, it's obvious that your mind is conjuring up these suicidal images for a reason."

"Which is?"

"Your mind is showing you your death in many ways because you haven't let it properly grieve and move on. You're suffering from survivor's guilt,"

"I am not!" Cody protested weakly, knowing the truth of Calloway's diagnosis. He was holding in so much and he was always thinking about how unfair the universe was.

"You're asking yourself why you had the right to live and he didn't. You're wishing that you had either escaped together or died alongside of him. You're even wishing that it could have been you instead of him. But worst of all, you're wondering, 'why me?', 'why do I deserve to live?'" Calloway corrected him in a firm grave voice, the truth of his words hitting home with resounding bangs.

Silence…Then finally…

"I guess you're right."

"The best thing for you to do right now Cody is to let yourself grieve at home and find something to take your mind off of what happened during the day. Something like playing a sport, getting involved in the community or hanging out with your friends."

"I was thinking about trying out for volleyball…?"

"Perfect. Some physical exercise is just the sort of thing that you need, plus you're bound to make some friends on the team and get invited into their social circles every now and then which will help you get back to being comfortable when dealing with other people."

The meeting with Dr. Calloway lasted about twenty more minutes where he worked with Cody about his emotional control, making it clear that he needed to grieve in order to flush out all of the negative thoughts and make headway on clearing up his depression. He suggested that Cody take the next day off of school which Carey also had off, being in the middle of the week, and let go of everything while she was there to watch over him and offer comfort. Calloway also couldn't seem to emphasize enough that Cody needed to find things to keep his mind and body busy when he wasn't grieving to help him recover. He explained it as, 'If you do nothing and let yourself feel depressed all of the time, then you will always be depressed. Your wheels will just keep spinning in the mud and you'll get nowhere'.

After Cody left the doctor's office his mother went in for a short briefing of instructions on how to help him get better. The receptionist sitting at the desk nearby smiled warmly at him and offered him a peppermint candy sitting in the crystal bowl of goodies on her desk. Cody decided that there was no harm in acting on the impulse and took one, thanking the nice lady. He rolled the peppermint across his tongue back and forth from cheek to cheek, enjoying its powerful refreshing taste as memories started coming to him. Memories set free by the thought of candy, specifically the hordes of chocolate that he and Zack used to buy from Maddie at the candy counter when they were younger. With a sudden abruptness the memories ceased as Cody slammed his mind shut, keeping the flood of images, sounds and smells out of his consciousness.

Carey soon emerged from the doctor's office carrying a slip of white paper, frowning when she met his accusing eyes. Had it finally come to the point where they would try to solve his problems by using drugs?

"What is it?" Cody grumbled, wringing his hands for lack of anything better to do with them as he was unable to sit still now.

"Anti-Depressant, sixty capsules to be taken once a day for two months after breakfast starting the day after tomorrow," Carey answered, not bothering to deceive him with misinformation to make him feel better about the situation. She knew that he was too intelligent to be easily fooled. Cody had thought that this meeting with the doctor had gone pretty well, all things considered, and had exited the office feeling a small glimmer of hope. Now he just felt empty.

"Happy pills…" Cody corrected his mother, getting up to leave resigning himself to having to put up with the drugs for the next two months. He wondered how well they would work.

A/N: This is my newest side project which has been taking up most of my creative thoughts. I didn't want to publish it until I had a second chapter written and a third one in the works to make sure that it was just a passing interest. This story borrows a little bit from the never revealed end plot of 'Just Visiting'. This story, unlike my other ones, is completely cannon up to the beginning of the story (Season 1-3 TSLOZAC and Season 1 TSLOD occurred). This story picks up after summer break somewhere in Season 2, but after the Crossover episode it has nothing to do anymore with TSLOD's plot (I just wanted to provide a time frame).

This is also a new writing technique that I'm trying out, letting the reader observe and piece together what is eating at Cody rather than having him openly tell them.

I hope you all liked this first chapter and my portrayal of a depressed Cody, please review =)