It was just a game. It was supposed to be fun.

But somewhere along the way, the fun and games had turned serious.

It had started innocently enough. The S.S Tipton had docked in Boston for a four day weekend. Zack, Cody and London were spending the weekend back home at the Tipton hotel, while Bailey and Woody were coming along as guests.

The first day had been wonderful for Bailey. Sadly, Maddie was off at college, but everyone else at the hotel was so nice. It was especially gratifying to be welcomed so warmly by Carey. The farm girl was relieved that her boyfriend's mother approved of her.

London had invited Bailey to stay in her penthouse. After rooming together for so long on the ship, the two girls had become great friends in spite of their vastly different personalities. But staying in the penthouse was a lot different than their small cabin. Now Bailey understood why the heiress complained about the shipboard accommodations so much.

The second day also started off very well. Many of Zack and Cody's old classmates came by and all the teens (minus London) spent the day going around Boston and showing Bailey and Woody all their favorite haunts. Bob and Barbara were there, along with Max, Mark, and the identical twins Janice and Jessica. Though all of them were friendly, this was where the first signs of tension started.

For one thing, Janice and Jessica got a lot of attention. The two girls had…matured…a bit since Zack and Cody had last seen them. One lovely, willowy girl with long golden hair and a charming British accent would have made quite an impression on most guys. But when you took such a girl and cloned her…that was too much. Woody could barely stop staring at the duo. Bailey saw Cody give the girls a couple of glances as well, but she forgave him. After all, he was still focusing most of his attentions towards Bailey herself.

No, the biggest problem with Janice and Jessica involved Zack. He flirted shamelessly with the twins. They didn't seem to mind…but Bailey thought that someone else did. She noticed that Max seemed to cast dark looks in Zack's direction every time he said something to one of the blondes. Bailey was willing to bet there was some major jealousy brewing there, which was a shame in her opinion. Max was a very attractive girl who shouldn't have to take a backseat to anyone.

But the British girls weren't the only cause of tension. Bailey felt at times that she was getting a weird vibe from Barbara. Cody's former girlfriend didn't say anything wrong, and she was acting friendly enough, but there seemed to be something simmering just under the surface. Bailey told herself that she was just being paranoid. After all, Barbara was with Bob now. No…that turned out to be incorrect. As the day wore on it was revealed that Barbara and Bob had ended their relationship amicably and were now just friends. That news did nothing to remedy Bailey's unease.

When the group got back to the hotel, they were greeted by London, who'd spent her day shopping with her friend Chelsea. She invited them all up to her penthouse for an impromptu party. Bailey felt the tensions lessen then. Everyone was having fun. Max seemed much happier after dancing a bit with Zack. He started paying the girl much more attention from that point on.

As time passed, some of the guests had to say goodbye. Chelsea had to leave first, and the guys all had to go once it got too late. Janice and Jessica departed a little while later. This left London and Bailey with Max and Barbara, both of whom had late curfews for the weekend.

Bailey couldn't even recall how the idea of playing Truth or Dare came up…but soon enough the four girls were playing.

It was quite enjoyable at first. Interesting little facts came up. London swore that the only cosmetic surgery she'd ever had was to have her ears done. Apparently they used to stick out like Dumbo. Bailey could have sworn that the heiress had once mentioned something about a nose job…but she didn't want to call her friend's honesty into question.

Bailey got off very easily the first two times she was called on. She had to admit to skinny dipping when she was fourteen. And then she had to perform I'm A Little Tea Pot which gave everyone a good laugh.

It was during some of Max's turns that things got really interesting. First, she reluctantly admitted that she had a crush on Zack. Later, she had to say whether or not she'd ever seen a porno film. (She had.) This eventually led to an outrageous dare from Barbara.

"I dare you to call up Zack and describe how a scene from that porn film would play out if you and he were in it."

That was greeted with exclamations of shock. Max protested that it was too late to call, but Barbara insisted that she either do the dare or admit defeat. Max was too prideful to bow out so she took out her cell phone and dialed Zack's number.

"Yo Max," he answered after seeing her name on his caller ID. "What's up?"

"Well, we're playing truth or dare and I have to call and tell you something," she said truthfully. "Um…are you alone or is there anyone else in the room?"

Zack's curiosity was piqued. He assured Max that his mother was downstairs and that Cody was in the other room. "So what have you got to tell me?"

"Okay," she replied. "Just picture this. I'm at home alone and my doorbell rings. I go and answer and it's you." She began with a bit of nervousness in her voice, but as she went on she began speaking more confidently.

Bailey had her mouth open as she listened to the increasingly steamy tale. She sincerely wished she could've seen Zack's face at that moment.

"And then you're behind me," Max continued on the phone. Her voice had gotten low and she was pausing often to take deep breaths. "You bend me over the kitchen counter. I…I tell you I want to feel you inside me."

The other girls all gasped in shock as Max went on. Her face was bright red as she finished, but there was also a look of triumph in her eyes.

"So that was what I had to tell you," she said quickly in conclusion. "And it was all just because of the game…so don't go getting any ideas. Goodnight." She then turned her phone off.

"I cannot believe you did that!" Barbara exclaimed.

"Yeah, well…I'm going to come up with something good for you later in the game," Max replied.

From that point on, everyone's questions and dares got more extreme. The bar had been raised. But as questions about sex and each girl's love life became more and more prevalent, the strange vibe that Bailey had felt earlier from Barbara returned. Barbara kept picking Bailey whenever it was her turn and the questions always seemed to involve Cody somehow. The farm girl felt things were getting too personal. So eventually she chose a question for Barbara.

"Do you want to get back together with Cody?"

Barbara's expression remained neutral when she heard the question. Oddly enough, this made Bailey sure that the girl had designs on her man.

"Cody's with you now," Barbara said coolly.

"That wasn't my question," Bailey replied.

Barbara folded her arms and looked the farm girl directly in the eyes. "In the spirit of the game, I'll answer truthfully. Yes. I want Cody back."

There was an awkward silence then as the two girls engaged in a staring contest. The next voice that sounded belonged to neither of them.

"You can't have him. He's Bailey's boyfriend."

All eyes turned to London. The heiress was frowning at Barbara.

"I know that. I didn't say I'd do anything to get him back. I just said I wanted him back. There's a difference."

Bailey wasn't very happy with Barbara at the moment, but she could concede that point.

"I did ask the question," the farm girl said. "And I can understand any girl wanting Cody. He's a great guy." She paused. "Let's just get back to the game."

And so things continued normally…until it was London's turn. She picked Barbara, who chose truth.

"If you want Cody so much, why'd you throw yourself at Bob the second Cody got on the ship?"

"I did not throw myself at anyone!" Barbara protested. A huge argument followed as accusations flew and the events that ended Cody and Barbara's relationship were re-hashed. Eventually Max and Bailey took Barbara and London into separate rooms to calm them both down.

"Look I appreciate you 'defending my turf' as it were," Bailey told the heiress. "But it's not necessary. Cody's with me and I know he's not going back to Barbara. That's what's important."

"She's got some nerve," London replied, still angry. "She doesn't deserve Cody."

After further conversation, all four girls eventually returned to the living room.

"Now let's just finish the game and not get upset anymore," Max suggested.

"Yes, let's throw out the last question," Bailey added. "London, take your turn over."

The heiress pouted a bit. "Okay I choose Barbara…but I won't ask any questions about Cody."

"Doesn't matter," Barbara replied pointedly. "I'll take a dare this time."

London was silent a moment, but then an evil smile appeared on her face. "I dare you to get your head shaved."

"WHAT!?"

"You heard me," London laughed. "Have your head shaved. We can do it right now."

Bailey and Max both started arguing that such a dare was too much.

"Hey, it's the rules of the game," the heiress countered. "She doesn't have to do it. She can just quit and admit she's the loser."

Everyone noticed how London stressed the word 'loser' as she looked towards Barbara.

"It's not fair," Barbara responded. "It's not like you'd take that dare."

"Well, that doesn't matter. I came up with the idea before anyone else and I dared you. Are you going to do it or not?"

"Wait a second," Max said. "If this is how the game is going to go…let's be fair. If Barbara bows out then there's nothing to stop Bailey or me from using a dare like that on our next turns."

"I don't want to do that," Bailey chimed in.

"Okay, so I have an idea," Max went on. "London, if you're going to make a dare like that, you should be willing to accept the same dare."

"Yeah," Barbara added.

"What are you suggesting?" Bailey asked. "If Barbara does the dare then London has to shave her head too?"

"No way!" the heiress exclaimed.

"Look the dare is obviously designed to eliminate someone from the game, so how about this?" Max continued as she turned to London and Barbara. "Both of you have to put yourself at risk. Either one of you will back down and be out of the game or...we'll flip a coin. The winner shaves the loser's head."

Bailey had to admit that Max's idea was fair…but as she looked at Barbara and London she saw a dangerous amount of foolish pride. Both were obviously scared of losing their hair, but neither wanted to give the other one an easy victory.

"You going to back down?" the heiress asked Barbara.

The girl swallowed hard but looked defiant. "Are you?"

Bailey whispered to Max. "We can't let them do this."

Max shrugged. "I've got nothing against London and Barb's been a friend for years…but it's up to them to stop this. If they won't, it's on them."

It soon became obvious that neither girl would give ground. Max pulled out a quarter. There was some bickering about who would flip and who would get the call, but it was finally decided that Barbara would get to call and Max would flip, with Bailey watching closely.

"Tails," Barbara all but shouted as the coin was tossed in the air. "No, wait--"

"Too late," Max said as she caught the coin. "You already called."

Bailey looked over into the other girl's hand to see the result. "Oh no…"she gasped.

"Barbara wins," Max announced solemnly.

London let out a terrified squeal and suddenly felt faint. She stumbled to the couch. Barbara also felt faint. She was too relieved to let out any shouts of victory and simply sat down on a nearby chair. Bailey rushed to London's side. The heiress appeared to be in shock.

"How are we going to do this?" Max asked in a serious tone. "You have some scissors somewhere, I assume."

Barbara, who now felt better as her victory was starting to sink in, stood up. "We could use some clippers."

Bailey gently asked London if she had any haircutting tools.

"There are some clippers with Ivana's brushes," London said in a flat voice.

Bailey began to feel sick. She couldn't believe that her friend was about to lose her hair…and that they were going to use dog grooming tools to cut it off. Of course, when Max went and found the clippers it turned out that they were pearl-handled and encrusted with jewels. Nothing but the best for London's Pomeranian.

"Do you want to keep any of your hair?" Bailey asked London. "We could pull it all into a ponytail and cut that off."

The heiress nodded and Bailey quickly got some hair ties. In a moment most of the rich girl's long black tresses were gathered into a full ponytail.

The cutting proved difficult. The ponytail was so thick that the scissors had a hard time of it. Fortunately Max soon figured out how she could use the edge of the clippers to bite right through the hair. London's tears started to flow freely when she saw the detached ponytail laid on the coffee table. Bailey held her hand and tried to provide some comfort.

Max handed the clippers to Barbara. The victorious girl actually felt bad for the crying heiress and considered stopping the proceedings. Losing the ponytail was probably enough punishment. But then again, this had been London's idea in the first place…and Barbara figured she'd have been shaved bald if the coin toss had ended differently. So she placed the clippers at the top of London's forehead and then slowly pulled them back over the girl's crown. A wide bald swath appeared. Not wanting to prolong the agony, Barbara worked quickly to buzz off the rest of London's hair.

"You actually look good," Max told the heiress in a supportive tone. "Seriously."

Bailey looked at her friend and had to agree. It was a shock to see London like this, but she did have beautiful features…the lack of hair didn't change that.

"Do my ears stick out?" the heiress asked is a sad voice.

"Not at all," Bailey answered. "They're very cute ears."

Even Barbara had some complimentary words. "You look way better bald than I would have."

London's eyes showed a flash of emotion and she sat up straighter. "Well, of course I do," she replied. "I look better than you no matter what."

Barbara let the insult pass. She was satisfied that she'd won the coin toss and took the other girl's hair.

By this time it was quite late. Nobody felt like continuing the game now anyway. Max and Barbara left, while Bailey sat on the couch next to London.

"You want to see what you look like?" Bailey asked. London had made no move towards a mirror since her hair had been removed. The heiress nodded and Bailey walked with her to the bathroom. London shrieked when she saw her reflection, but then studied her image for a time.

"I do like the way my face looks," she said.

Bailey was happy to hear the positive attitude. "See, you're still pretty."

"I don't like this stubble though," London continued. She looked thoughtful for a moment and then reached for a razor. "I've gone this far, I might as well go all the way."

A short while later, with Bailey's help, London's head was devoid of stubble. She actually smiled at the mirror.

"I totally make this look work," she declared.

"Are you going to go out in public like this?" Bailey asked.

London considered the matter. "Maybe. I can buy plenty of wigs, but I might let my head go uncovered sometimes." She laughed. "Maybe I'll start a fashion trend."

Bailey was glad the heiress was taking it all so well, but she still felt bad at the way things had ended up.

"I wish you hadn't started something with Barbara," she told the heiress. "I could have handled her."

"The girl has no right to Cody," London said adamantly. "She shouldn't even be allowed to think about him."

Bailey and the heiress talked on the matter further, but London refused to soften her stance in the least. At one point she even declared that she'd risk staying bald forever if it would keep Barbara away from Cody. That was when Bailey realized something.

"This wasn't about me, was it?" she asked. "You were only thinking about Cody."

The heiress paused and appeared a little flustered for a moment. "You're my friend, Bailey. And you're Cody's girlfriend. I think you two are great together."

"You think I'm…worthy of him?" It was as much a statement as a question. "You think I'm worthy of Cody and Barbara isn't."

London nodded. "Yeah. That's a good way to put it."

The farm girl was quiet for a long while. Then she made an unexpected request.

"I want to play one more round of Truth or Dare," she said. "Which do you want?"

The heiress found this odd, but there was something in Bailey's eyes that wasn't to be argued with.

"Okay, I don't feel like another dare. Truth."

"Are you in love with my boyfriend?" Bailey asked.

London looked her friend and roommate in the eyes. "I…can't answer that question. I guess you win the game."

It was the most unsatisfying victory Bailey had ever known.


To be continued...

author's notes: This started out as a simple story but changed so much in the planning stages that it's not even funny. It was meant to be a fun little one-shot to give me a chance to play with the Suite Life characters while I was busy with other projects...but now it's getting multiple chapters.

Thanks to Riana Kaiba (Max's part is for you) and James Doyle for some ideas and special thanks to Elianna22 and woundehearts...who sent me more insightful and entertaining e-mails than I can count.

Oh, and the final dare between London and Barbara…that was decided by a real coin toss. If it had gone the other way, Barbara would have lost her hair. Though I have a feeling that the conversation between London and Bailey would still have happened.

You know I love feedback...so please review.