Chapter 16

"Dawn of a New Year"

I don't own these characters, but it would be nice if I did.

Wait...In this story, I created some of the characters, so I will actually own them.

Anyways, I do promise to keep them true to themselves.

And as to the ones I create, who they are is up to me, so...

Boston, the following morning

Due to the impending winter weather that was due to hit New England later that Tuesday afternoon, Zack and Maya accepted an invitation to have breakfast with Cody and Bailey before they hit the road to head to New York City. The previous evening, Cody and Bailey had arrived safely back in Boston about six o'clock and were soon on their way to the Tipton Hotel for a couple of reasons. One, that is where there car was parked. And two, that evening was to be the second Christmas in Boston and time to exchange presents again with everyone finally in attendance. But, unfortunately for Carey and Arwin, the relaxing time was cut short by London showing up unannounced carrying numerous bridal magazines as well as a copy of the same checklist she had saved from Cody and Bailey's wedding. Luckily for them, they had the excuse of jet lag and two cats they had to get back home as a justifiable reasons for them to call it a night early. And the next morning, they could see that Zack and Maya looked exhausted.

"Long night?"

Maya sighed. "You could say that. London was like a dog with a bone last night. I really think she missed her calling as a wedding planner..."

Cody just shook his head and smiled. "I almost feel sorry for Mom. If she's not careful, London will try to make it the wedding the event of the season."

Zack laughed. "I know what you mean, but I think Mom was finally successful in getting her to accept that she wanted it to be very low key. London wasn't very happy about that, but she agreed to tone it down some if Mom and Arwin would agree to hold it in the same ballroom at the hotel that Maddie and Trevor got married in."

"That's not so bad. And if you think about, it is kind of poetic. I mean, Bailey and I got married where we had our first date, and the hotel is where Arwin and Mom first met." He paused and laughed. "I'm just glad I don't ever have to go through planning a wedding ever again..."

Bailey gave him a look. "Yeah, until its time for one of our children. I know you too well, Sweetie. You'll say you don't want to get involved, but you won't be able to help yourself. Remember Esteban's wedding?"

He sighed. "Do I ever. I still think eloping should always be a viable option. As much as I loved our wedding day, all the planning that lead up to it is a completely different story."

She nodded. "That's true. And something tells me Arturo is going to be busy as well this summer. Sophie wants me to call him and see if he would meet with her. He says he still owes me for inspiring him to design again, so I'm pretty sure he will though. I'm planning on calling him this week."

"Have fun with that..." Cody shook his head and turned to his brother. "You know, Zack, from what I've experienced this Christmas, I wouldn't have been shocked to have come home and discovered that you had proposed as well. Celebrity deaths seem to come in threes, why not proposals?"

"Not hardly!" Zack paused and tried to cover for himself when he saw the look his girlfriend was giving him. "Not that Maya doesn't know it is coming eventually, but I'm of the opinion that something like that shouldn't be blended with another special occasion. To me, it takes away from both events..."

Maya just shook her head and rolled her eyes. "Uh huh."

"Its true! Besides, when I do it, I want it to be very special. You know, they complete opposite of how the Codester did it." He turned to his brother and grinned. "No offense, Bro, but the way you proposed to Bailey was one of the most shameful things I've ever heard of..."

That caught Cody off guard. "Huh? Shameful? How?"

"Think about it. You had just gotten out of surgery and had been knocking on death's door. Of course, poor Bailey's emotions were going to be especially fragile right then, and she was very vulnerable. It wasn't cool to play on them like that just to get her to say yes..."

Cody was speechless but Bailey began laughing. "Oh please! The only emotion he played upon that night was the fact that I loved him and wanted to spend my life with him. And Zack, you of all people know why he chose right then and there to do propose then. The reason he did makes it even more special to me than anything else he could have chosen."

He shook his head. "If you say so, Sis..."

"I do..." She smirked at him. "Besides, you should be thanking us for when you finally do drop down on one knee...Bro."

Zack gave her a look. "Okay, I have to hear your explanation for this one. Why would I thank you two?"

"Think about it. Everything else, we've done first. You name it, and we paved the way for you to do it later on. Living together? Check. Getting engaged? Check. Getting married? Check. And every single time, we've been the ones that have dealt with the brunt of Carey's reactions to it first. You think she was that upset at the thought of you two living together as she was with us? Of course not! She had already faced the emotions of one of her little men growing up and dealt with them. By the time you did it, she was okay with the idea."

Maya had to nod and laugh. "She does has a point there, Zack. Anything else we do, your Mom will already be okay with. The only thing left for us that we can do first is give her a grandchild."

Cody laughed. "And with us waiting until we're out of school, you might catch up to us and pass us by then."

Zack frowned. "Hold up there for a minute! No one here is ready for anything like that yet! I say we change the subject!" He paused and grinned. "So, tell me, Bro...did the in-laws treat you guys any differently now that you're married?"

"Not really. I mean, we did get our own room with a lockable door to sleep in, but everything else was pretty much the same..." He paused. "Well, almost..."


"One night, one of the gifts Bailey gave me was a new Seattle Supersonics t-shirt. Everyone around there gave me pure hell about that. I guess years ago, I said I could never root for the Thunder after what their owner had done to the city of Seattle. Now, they asked me if I wasn't being a little hypocritical. How could I root for the new Sonics after what the city of Sacramento was going through?"

He paused and nodded. "Yeah, its kind of hard to swallow. Last week, the new Celtics were playing the Sonics. I felt confused because I felt bad rooting against either team. One is the team I grew up with, and the other is the one I adopted when we moved here."

Maya and Bailey just looked at each other and shook their heads. "Oh please!"

Zack gave his girlfriend a look. "This coming from the same person who once told me she kind of liked the Nets once they started playing in Brooklyn..."

"Yeah, yeah...How about we change the subject again?"

He grinned. "Fine. How about we talk about the fact that the Picketts are a lot more clever than I originally gave them credit for?"

Bailey sighed. "Thanks for the kind words about my family, but lets hear your reasoning for that statement. I betting its a good one...""

"Hey, I'm serious here! If you really think about it, what they did was pure genius! Face the facts. Us guys end up dying way before you girls will. Your family has already accepted the fact that you've become citified, Bailey, and that you are likely to stay around here once your done with school."

"So? What does that have to do with anything?"

"Think about it. Odds are that Broseph here will kick the bucket years before you do..."

She shuddered. "Gee, thanks. That's not a thought I really want to think about."

"I can understand that, but if Cody is to going to be worm food in Kansas, the odds are that you're more than likely going to be want to permanently be nearby so that you can visit him every day and feel close to him. They've found a way to get you to move back to Kettlecorn one day!"

Bailey paused. "Well...I hate to say that you're right..."

Cody interrupted her. "Wait a minute here! Who says I want to be buried anyways? I may want to be cremated or maybe even cryogenically frozen like Ted Williams and Walt Disney."

"If you do, get an urn or freezer big enough for two..." She paused and shuddered again. "Are we really talking about death? Can we please change the subject again to something that won't depress me?"

Maya smiled. "I tend to agree. Its a rather morbid topic, but leave it to Zack to think about it. Instead, what are you guys planning on doing today before the snow hits?"

"We actually have a lot to get done today."

"We really do. I'm heading off to the bookstore to pick up our new textbooks for our new classes for next Monday while Cody is taking Allie to the vet to get her spayed."

Zack couldn't help but laugh at hearing that. "I can't believe you guys brought back another cat. Are you a glutton for punishment, Bro? You finally start to get along with the one you already had, so you decide to go through it all over again. Plus, if you weren't married, I'd be really worry about you having two cats."

Cody rolled his eyes. "Everything will be just fine with Allie. I'm confident this one will go much easier with no attacks."

"If you say so..."

"Besides, having two around to keep each other company during the day should make things a lot more harmonious at home."

Bailey spoke up. "Anyways, after that, we're heading to the store to load up on food and supplies. Since we were gone for a week, there is hardly any food in the house right now. If everything goes according to plan, we should be pulling back into our garage about the time the meteorologist predicts the first flakes will begin to fall."

Maya nodded. "Good idea - if they're right. From my experience, they hardly ever are though." She checked her watch and sighed. "Speaking of the weather though, if we want to get to New York before its scheduled to begin falling there, we need to get going, Zack."

"Yeah, we should." He paused as he remembered something. "Oh yeah, Codester, while you're waiting at the vet's office, give Woodchuck a call. He called me on Christmas Day, but he was really trying to get a hold of you. He was afraid there was no cell phone reception in Kettlecorn, and he said he really needed your help with something big."

New York City

Late that afternoon, Maya and Zack finally arrived in Manhattan before the weather began getting bad and slowly eased their way through the gridlocked traffic until they got to the building in which she had grown up and her parents still lived. Fortunately, the garage attendant was expecting their arrival which meant parking the car was a cinch. When they got upstairs, hugs and handshakes were doled around as the Bennetts immediately tried to play catch up on what was going on in their daughter's life. And as it got later, they all went out to eat before calling it a night so that everyone could rest up after a long day. However, about two o'clock in the morning, Maya was awoken by a strange noise. Getting up, she went to investigate what it was and found her father looking out the kitchen window.

"Daddy, what's going on? What was that noise?"

Tony Bennett turned around and smiled at his daughter. "As far as I can tell, a car slipped on some ice on the street and crashed into some trash cans. Looks like you two got here at the right time. I would have hated if you two had to travel in these conditions."

She looked out the window herself to see everything blanketed in white. "Yeah, it certainly looks that way." She paused and laughed. "Well, that certainly woke me up. I hope I can eventually get back to sleep."

"I certainly hope so...its still early. Besides, are you telling me you don't hear random things on the streets of Boston that wake you up from time to time?"

Maya shook her head. "Not really. Remember, we do live on the 23rd floor after all. For us to actually hear something, it would have to be really big and really loud."

He paused to think before laughing. "Yeah, I guess so. So, how about some warm milk to help us both get back to sleep?"

She smiled. "Works for me. It always did when I was a little girl."

"Yeah, it did." He paused again and shook his head. "Of course, you're not so little anymore, and you're now a 22 year old woman. Seems like it was just yesterday we were bringing you home from the hospital."

"Well, it wasn't, Daddy."

"I know. So, be honest with me. How are things really going for you, Maya?"

She shrugged and smiled. "For the most part, they couldn't be better."

Tony gave his a daughter a look. "For the most part?"

Maya sighed. "Well, yeah, just one little bump in the road lately. You remember my old friend from school here, Will?"

He stopped to think again before finally nodding. "Yeah, I think I remember that kid."

So, Maya proceeded to tell her Dad everything that had happened over the past couple of months. "I guess I was just too blind to see what was really going on. But, I do now, and I've told him to leave me alone from here on out."

He shook his head. "I never did like that kid! Now, Sweetheart, if he does anything else, you let me know. Nobody and I mean nobody messes with my little girl!"

She smiled at him. "I appreciate the offer, Daddy, but I can take care of myself. I am after all a black belt now."

"That may be so, but that still doesn't mean that little punk won't have to deal with me too if he gets stupid again."

"Just forget about it, Dad. I may still live in the same city as him again now, but I doubt I'll run into him any more. And eventually, while I plan on staying in Boston, I'm sure he'll eventually move away which means I'll never have to worry about him ever again."

"My daughter is now a Bostonian..." He laughed. "Never thought I'd ever see the day."

Maya laughed too. "Oh, I'll still be a New York sports fan till I die, but Boston isn't nearly as evil as I once thought it was. Its actually a very cool town."

"I hope so...because that name will be all over your diploma when you graduate!"

She paused again. "Speaking of that. I have some more news that might not be so good. It looks like I won't be graduating until December of 2017 now. Unfortunately, due to a professor retiring and a change in the class schedule, I won't be able to get all the classes I need before then."

He shrugged. "Yeah, I know all about how that goes. Same thing happened to me back in the day."

"But Zack says it might be a good thing for me. That gives me another six months or so to figure out what I want to do after I do graduate."

Tony smiled. "You know, all you have to do is ask, and I can make some phone calls to some of the pro teams up there. I'm pretty sure I can get you a job just like that..."

She smiled. "I appreciate that too, Daddy, but I'm starting to think I'd rather do something where I wasn't on the road half the time. That works for you because Mom is able to go with you everywhere now, but I wouldn't want to be away from Zack that much. Besides, I really like what I'm doing now with rehab and would prefer to work in a sports medicine and rehab office."

He nodded. "I guess I can understand that."

"Plus, his grandmother thinks I might want to start my own office someday. And the more I think about it, I think I would like being my own boss. Plus, I'll have access to someone with a MBA to help me with the business side of things."

He smiled again. "I can definitely see you being very successful at that. You always were at everything you tried."

"Thanks, Daddy, but I think you're a little biased. Zack is too because he says the exact same thing."

He paused. "Speak of the devil, where is he? Didn't that noise wake him up too?"

Maya laughed. "Of course not! He's a very sound sleeper. For Christmas, I bought him an alarm clock that shoots water on him to make sure he wakes up. I'm pretty sure he could sleep through a bomb going off. You should get him to tell you the story of what he did on Christmas Day our senior year of high school when Moseby wanted him to be at work at 6 AM."

Tony laughed too. "I definitely will. He sounds like your mother in that regards. Early on in our marriage, she would sleep so soundly, I'd put a mirror underneath her nose just to make sure she was still breathing." He looked up at the clock on the wall. "Oh well, we should probably try to get some sleep ourselves or tomorrow is going to be a long day."

"Good call." She kissed his cheek. "Goodnight, Daddy."

"Goodnight, Sweetheart." After she left the kitchen, Tony finished drinking his warm milk. "Actually, Maya, I need to make a phone call tomorrow. I know of someone looking to expand their own clinic in a couple of years who could possibly use a business partner in a potential Boston branch..."

Boston, New Year's Eve

By four o'clock on New Year's Eve afternoon, Cody and Bailey had baby proofed their townhouse as best as they could in anticipation of their babysitting duties that evening. And that was fortunate as just as they finished, Maddie and Trevor showed up to drop little Zoey into their care. Of course, by the amount of stuff they brought with them (toys, baby food, diapers, mobile crib, mobile high chair, etc...), you would have thought Cody and Bailey were going to be keeping her for longer than just a day. And even though it was only going to be a day, when it was time for them to leave, Trevor essentially had to drag Maddie out of the house as she didn't want to leave her baby.

Even more fortunate for Cody and Bailey, Zoey seemed to be going fairly easy on them. She wasn't crying at all, and like Maddie had said right after she was born, she naturally took to Bailey. But Bailey wasn't too heartbroken when she learned she wasn't Zoey's favorite living creature in the house. Instead of her normal toys, Zoey was more focused on playing with Albert and Allie. And to Bailey's relief, the cats were very well behaved around the little girl and were very gently playing with her. They didn't even get mad when she yanked on their tails. Of course, Cody hadn't been worried in the least as he had earlier in the day bribed the cats with treats and future cans of tuna to ensure their cooperation in playing along. But, by seven o'clock the evening, they realized the fun times may be over as it was time to feed Zoey, then bathe her, and then put her to bed. So, to ensure everything was divided up fairly, they drew tasks to do out of a hat. Thus, Cody drew feeding and reading her a bed time story while Bailey got bath time and diaper duty.

So, once Zoey was fed, Cody began fixing the adult dinner. While he did that, Bailey bathed Zoey. And once she was cleaned up and in her jammies, they switched off as Bailey would take over cooking while Cody got Zoey to go to sleep. And as Bailey was chopping up some vegetable, the doorbell rang again. Opening it up, she saw Max standing there.

"Hey, come on in!"

"Thanks, and thank you again for letting me hang out with you guys again tonight. My grandmother is actually planning on going to bed by ten o'clock..."

Bailey smiled. "No problem. Besides, we'll gladly take another pair of eyes to keep on Zoey tonight. Cody's upstairs with her right now reading her a bedtime story while I finish dinner."

"Well, whatever you're cooking, it smells great."

"Cody and I have our own special recipe for tacos. I personally think their delicious."

Max smiled. "After Thanksgiving, I imagine they will be."

So, the ladies headed back to the kitchen where Bailey tended to the ground beef simmering on the stove top while Max sat on one of the bar stools. "So, did you guys have a good Christmas in Kansas?"

"Yeah, we did. Besides the usual, we found out the Cody's mom and my sister both got engaged over Christmas. So, we have a couple of wedding to attend in our future."

Max laughed. "Arwin proposed to Carey? Good for him!"

"Good for the both of them. From what we hear, he popped the question while they were on a Christmas Eve carriage ride over in Boston Common. Her having a personal life of her own has been so nice. She can focus on it and spend less time worrying about ours."

She nodded. "Not bad...not bad at all." She paused. "I just realized I've never heard how Cody proposed to you? Did he do something romantic like Arwin did?"

Bailey paused as she stirred the beef before she began laughing. "Well, sort of. I mean, on its face, it doesn't seem that romantic, but it really was. I absolutely loved it."

"What did he do?"

"He proposed to me from his hospital bed."

"Yeah, that doesn't sound too..." Max paused before her eyes went wide. "Hospital bed? What was he doing in a hospital bed?"

"Appendicitis. He collapsed on me right as we were leaving our last final the spring semester of our sophomore years." She smiled. "Once I found out he was going to be okay, I think I would have agreed to anything he said right then. But, he said after having a scare like that, he didn't want to waste another minute before making me his fiancee."

"Wow...I guess I can see that though. Yeah, not the most romantic thing in the world, but I can see the sentiment behind it. And it does certainly sound 100% like something Cody would do. Though, I do hope he did much better in the Christmas gifts he got you this year."

Bailey laughed again. "Oh yeah. Other than the things I had dropped mad hints to him on, he had three surprises for me that I never would have saw coming."

"Yeah, like what?"

She nodded over to the kitchen window. "Well, we were watching TV one night when one of those Chia pet commercials came on. I happened to mention that I knew it was silly, but I had wanted one of those since I was a little girl. Well, he must of remembered somehow as I opened up a box to find my very own Chia Einstein."

Max laughed. "Very nice. And again, very Cody."

"And similarly, we were watching TV another time when that commercial with the Ipads where they were playing Heart & Soul..."

She cut her off. "Playing what?"

"You know, the piano duet they did in the movie Big?"

"Oh yeah! The one they did on that big long piano pad. I always wanted one of those..."

"Anyways, I causally mentioned to him that I always wished I could have taken piano lessons when I was younger. Well, Christmas morning, I open a gift and find my very own keyboard along with a laminated card good for a piano less from Cody whenever I wanted one."

Max laughed again. "Smooth one, Cody. And, I can verify that he actually does know how to play the piano. He was the keyboardist in our band back in the day."

"Yeah, he's told me some stories. And, he wrote the piano part for a song that Jordin Sparks recorded."


"Yeah, we met her on the boat."

Max shook her head. "The more I hear about that place, the more I wish I could have been there."

"A lot of people tell us that. Anyways, last but certainly not least, Cody gave me this..." Bailey pulled out her new necklace that had two intertwined hearts with two emeralds in the middle of them both.

"Ooo...very nice!"

"And it perfectly matches my engagement ring." And with that, Bailey showed Max her ring.

"Wow...I gotta give Cody credit for having such good taste."

From behind them, they heard a laugh. "Darn right I do!"

Both turned to see Cody standing there grinning at them.

"Is Zoey asleep?"

"You got it, and I have the monitor right here in case she wakes up. It was actually easier than I thought. I just told her the story of Hansel and Greg, and she was out like a light."

Max frowned. "Hansel and Greg? I thought it was Hansel and Gretel?"

Cody paused. "Artistic choice...and at least my version didn't have them mowing down witches with semiautomatic weapons..."

New York City

About the same time as Cody, Bailey and Max were sitting down for dinner, Zack and Maya found themselves sitting down at a table at a quaint little bistro in the Greenwich Village with Marcus and Courtney. Despite the harsh weather conditions outside, the city was still hustling and bustling with activity. And fortunately for the quartet, Marcus had made reservations well in advance as the restaurant was packed more than normal. As they made their drink orders, everyone looked out the window and could only shake their heads at the throngs of people making their way towards Times Square for the evening's festivities despite their being at least a foot of snow on the sidewalks.

"You sure you guys don't want to head down to see the ball drop again? I know its late, but I can make some phone calls if you do..."

Zack laughed. "No thank you! Do you not see the weather outside? Its snowing almost as hard right now as it was when Cody, Woody and I were in Antarctica. In fact, if it weren't for the neon lights on some signs, I could swear I was back there again."

"Yeah, I think I've heard that story before..." Marcus paused. "Is that when Woody almost went crazy and contemplated eating you two?"

"Yeah..." He paused too. "Well, one of the few times he did anyways."

"Hopefully, he won't have that urge when everyone comes here for Valentine's Day in a month and a half. Though, it will be glad to see everyone again."

Courtney nodded. "Its a shame everyone couldn't come down for tonight too. It seems like we don't get to see you guys as often as we'd like. I mean, its not like we live all that far away from each other."

Maya smiled. "While that's true, everyone is just super busy nowadays. I know we have been in Boston, and I'm sure you have been with law school."

She sighed. "You can say that again. This past semester has taught me that I really hate bell curves, and I've come to despise Socrates and his idiotic method of teaching. I'm just glad I only have a semester left of them telling me what I have to take. I thought this past semester was bad with Contracts, Torts, Criminal Law, Civil Procedure and Legal Research and Writing, but next semester will be Contracts II, Property, Constitutional Law I, Civil Procedure II and even more research and writing."

Zack paused and frowned. "Okay, I keep hearing about tort reform from all the talking heads on TV..."

Marcus laughed. "Yeah right!"

"Okay, I catch soundbites when I'm flipping the channels. What is a tort exactly?"

"Oh, its your basic civil lawsuits ranging from slip and falls to libel and slander to medical malpractice. Its really not all that exciting. Law school is actually rather boring."

Marcus shook his head and laughed. "Don't let her act like she hates it that much. She got a 3.60 this past semester and is in the top fifteen percent of her class. My girl is kicking butts and taking names!"

Courtney smiled at him. "Thank you, Marcus."

Zack laughed and held up his glass. "Hey, a 3.6 is outstanding! I somehow pulled off a 3.3 myself. And somehow, I'm in the top half of my class as well. And speaking of well our girlfriends are doing, Maya continues to dominate in the classroom while essentially running the BU fit&rec center. I say we toast to celebrate our good fortune."

Marcus just gave him a look. "You...Zack a 3.3 at Harvard? You being the same person who couldn't even pull a 3.0 and barely stayed above a 2.0 at Seven Seas High? I ain't buying it!"

He shrugged. "I guess those who said I had potential if I would ever unleash it were right. Who knew?"

"Certainly not me. And I'm not sure if Tut would be proud of you or want to strangle you for not doing it sooner..."

Maya laughed. "Probably both...just like everyone else like his his Mom, his Dad, Cody, Bailey, Moseby..."

Zack cut her off. "Yeah, yeah..." He turned to Marcus. "How about you though? As the only non student here at the table, how have you been keeping yourself busy?"

Marcus grinned. "Oh, that's easy. I've finished the rough draft on my new musical based on our adventures back on the boat. After the first of the year, I have some people going to take a look at it to see what they think. If they're on board, I'll have to begin writing some new songs for it."

He shook his head and sighed. "Marcus the Broadway mogul. I should have known this was coming when you cleaned up that time we played musical charades. I was thinking...and praying that was just a fluke."

Marcus laughed again. "Thanks, Man."

"All I ask is that you don't pick some loser to play me when the time comes."

"Man, we're nowhere close to that casting anything yet. But, now that you mention it, the roles based on you and Cody will be the hardest ones to cast. I have absolutely no idea how many sets of twins are out there who both would want to audition and actually have some talent."

"I would myself, but like Maya said, I'm too busy. Just make sure the cool one plays me though!"

He laughed yet again. "If you say so, but then again, the one who plays the Cody character will be the main male romantic lead..."

"Cody and romantic lead don't belong in the same sentence!" Zack rolled his eyes and grumbled. "Just because he met Bailey our sophomore years and I didn't meet Maya until our senior year..."

"That, and nerds in love are the big rage nowadays. People have had enough of jocks in love who reform their ways in the final act. They want to see the underdogs win. But don't worry, I did include the story of you two in there as well. I'm hoping to get both the Can't Hardly Wait audience as well as the She's All That one as well."

Maya smiled. "Well, we look forward to it with eager anticipation."

Zack paused. "Yeah, I guess so. But I still wonder who in their right mind would want to see a show about Cody, Bailey and their romance..."


About eleven thirty that evening, Bailey and Max were sitting on the couch after having just watching the video of Cody and Bailey's wedding. Cody had been watching with them, but halfway through, Zoey announced to them over the baby monitor that she was awake and wanted some attention. So, since getting her back to sleep was his job, he headed upstairs to try to appease his goddaughter. But this time, he was going to try to get her back to slumber land in what he called a story based on true events called Beauty and the Geek.

"I have to say, Bailey, your wedding was absolutely beautiful. I just wish I had been there to see it in person."

"Thanks. While we planned it, I did worry a lot about how it would all turn out, but I couldn't have been any happier in how it did."

Max smiled. "Well, your vows were very heartwarming." She paused and sighed. "Unfortunately, I came to learn that several of the people in our touring company that were also married didn't share your same viewpoints on a few fronts."

Bailey shook her head. "I don't see why anyone would get married if they don't. I know I take mine very seriously, and I know Cody does too. Even before we got married, people learned the hard way that if you tried to come between us, things would not work out well for them."

"I'm glad. After seeing that, I really need to thank you again."

"For what?"

Max smiled again. "For what? Come on, I saw it on the video myself. My boy is absolutely nutso for you, and its obvious you are for him too. And in person, I've never seen him happier, and I know you're the reason for that."

Bailey smiled too. "Well, it works both ways."

"And that's why I'm grateful to you. Years ago, I worried about my boys and what would happen to them when they got older. With Tapeworm..." She paused. "I'm sorry, I just can't call him Dennis. Anyways, he was so shy and quiet that I wondered if he would ever be able to talk to a girl. But, after meeting Gertie, I know he has a keeper in her."

"Yeah, she's the best. London is one of my best friends and all, but Gertie was by far...other than Cody...the best roommate I ever had. She's the one who actually devised a plan to get him, so I know she truly loves him."

Max nodded. "Yeah, I could see that. And then there's Zack. I wondered if he would ever settle down with just one girl. And now, he's practically engaged himself. Thinking about it, Maya is exactly what he needed in his life. He needed someone who wouldn't put up with his antics but would rather help him focus his energies in a positive way. I mean, look at where he is now."

Bailey laughed. "Very true. I never thought I'd see him doing as well as he is. Back on the boat, it seemed he would much rather goof off or pull pranks than do his homework. And that would often get him into trouble...with very large female wrestlers."

"I can definitely see that! That sounds like the same Zack I remember when we were younger. But he's grown up and matured so much." She paused and laughed. "And then there is Cody. I remember fearing that some girl would take advantage of him because she could tell he was going to do big things in the future. I thought she would try to latch on for the ride while trying to mold him into being something he wasn't. But, I'm glad to see I was wrong. He's still just as goofy as ever...except that he's now about a half a foot taller than I am."

Bailey laughed again. "Yeah, I know. When we first started dating, I had to slouch to look him eye to eye. When his growth spurt hit, it took me a while to get used to looking up to him. But its so much better now, and I like to think I fit perfectly under his arm."

"I think you do. And I can tell you love him just the way he is."

"That I do. Sure, from time to time, he can do something that will drive me up the wall. But I also know that nobody in this world could ever know me or love me like he does. I keep saying it, but besides being my husband, he's also my best friend. And I know some people ask me if I don't ever get tired of seeing him all the time because we're in the same classes together and then at home together, but I never do or ever will. I think its going to come to a real shock to the both of us in a few years when we don't get to spend all of our time together."

Max smiled. "I think you two will find a way to deal with it."

She nodded. "Yeah, we will." She paused and began laughing. "You know, seven and a half years ago, when I first boarded the S.S. Tipton, I thought I was going to begin the educational experience of a lifetime. I had no idea how much that decision was going to change my life. Not only did I get said education, but I also made some of the best friends I'll ever have plus I met my soulmate. I shudder to think what my life had been like if I had been too scared to go through with it."

Max nodded but she looked pensive. "So, that one decision really change your whole life that much?"

"Yeah, it did. It taught me that taking a chance and taking a risk can be the best thing you ever do."

"Maybe I should try that for myself then?"

Bailey gave her a quizzical look. "What are you talking about, Max?"

She sighed. "Well, I haven't told anyone yet because I was still trying to decide for myself what to do, but I actually did go for an interview at the Boston Conservatory last week."

"Oh yeah? How did it go? Did you get in?"

Max paused again. "Sort of. They told me with all of my experience that I was much farther advanced than a lot of their new students they get who applied."

"Oh...Wait a minute, what do you mean by sort of then?"

"Well, they offered me the chance to test out of things I was already proficient in and move ahead to more advanced classes more commiserate with my abilities. Plus, they want me to help teach some of the beginning classes."

Bailey's eyes went wide. "That's amazing! Are you going to do it?"

She shrugged. "I don't know. I know its a great opportunity they've given me, but if I accept it, I'll be finally admitting to myself that my career as a dancer is officially over. Plus, I've always heard the expression that those who can't, teach. And I'm not sure I'm ready to close that chapter of my life just yet."

"I can certainly understand that. But look at it this way, no matter what you do choose to do, all of your friends will support your decision."

"I know, and I'm totally grateful for that. And while part of me would love go back on the road and be able to perform again, another part of me is relishing being back here in Boston among my old friends and new friends alike. I know they also say you can never go home again, but I feel like I have."

Bailey smiled. "Well, its certainly been nice finally getting to know you. For the past seven years, Cody kept telling me stories about his friend, Max, and it was finally good to be able to put a face to the stories."

Max laughed. "Thanks, I think. And, it has been nice to finally find someone who can actually give me a game in ping pong. I taught Cody as best as I could back in the day, but you are definitely a rise in level of competition..."

She laughed. "You did fine. You took me to extra points in that one game, and you probably haven't played in a while. I've played pretty constantly as Cody and I were four time intramural champs at Yale."

"I can definitely see that. Though, I am demanding a rematch once I get this brace off of my knee. I think it was definitely affecting my mobility!"

"You got long as you make me a copy of the video of you and Cody at that dance competition. That may be the funniest thing I've ever seen before in my life!"

New York

About the same time, Maya, Zack, Marcus and Courtney were sitting around Marcus apartment in the warmth it provided as the snow continued to fall outside. The TV was on and turned to the festivities as a bottle of champagne had been popped with a glass poured for everyone.

"Here's to 2016, yet another leap year that will bring us another day this year to enjoy."

"Here, here!"

Marcus paused and laughed. "Okay, Zack, I do have to ask...what was the deal with that guy who was hounding you on the street outside of my building?"

Zack shrugged. "I don't know, Man. He acted like he knew me and started calling me, Julian. I had to show him my driver's license to prove to him that I wasn't who he thought I was. He just ended up apologizing before getting back on his bike to go deliver some cheesecake or something like that."

"If you say so. I thought it might have been someone you had upset or pulled a prank on back in the day."

"Nah. As far as I know, I don't currently have anyone out there who has any kind of grudge against me."

Courtney spoke up. "Well, how about we change the subject? I mean, there is only about thirty seconds left of 2015. I say we enjoy what we have left of it."

Marcus smiled. "Good call. Here's to 2015 – yet another year that somehow I've managed to convince the most beautiful lady I know to spend it with me. And here's to hoping I can convince her to do the same in 2016."

She smiled at him before leaning in and kissing him. "I think you have a better than average chance of that happening..."

Maya turned to Zack and grinned. "And here's to yet another year I get to spend with the man I love as well."

He leaned in and kissed her. "Right back at ya, babe. May 2016 be a year even more memorable than 2015."

At that moment, they heard the countdown beginning on the television. So, they all turned to join along. And when the clock struck midnight, they all once again shared a kiss with their respective significant others.


Meanwhile, with a couple of minutes left in 2015, Cody walked into the living room carrying a bottle of champagne and three classes.

"Made it back just in the nick of time. Zoey is once again asleep, and she has her two furry guards watching over her...or sleeping on the floor by her crib..."

Bailey smiled at him. "Good. Now, hurry up and pour us each a glass so we can make toasts."

So, he did and handed each of them a glass.

"I would like to propose a toast first. I would like to thank my beautiful wife for marrying me this year and making this the first New Year's I get to ring in with her as a married couple. I look forward to more and more of these as our lives continue to go on. Though, hopefully, someday, it will be someone else watching our children to give us some time to ourselves. I would like to also like to toast my friend Max who I hope will continue to stay in Boston and part of our lives."

Max smiled at him. "And I would like to make a toast as well. I know the song says something about lest old acquaintances be forgotten, but I like to think this is a celebration of being reunited with old friends as well as the new ones I've been able to make these past few months. So, here's to 2016 being a continuance of getting to spend more time with them, and I look forward to the new adventures it will bring to my life."

Bailey held up her glass. "And I would like to make a toast to my husband, Cody. Every new year I get to spend with you is even better than the last. And I too look forward to spending every single New Year's Eve with you for the rest of our lives. I know 2015 saw me finally getting to marry my perfect feller, and I eagerly look forward to seeing what 2016 has in store for us as well." She leaned in and kissed him. "I love you."

"I love you too."

And with that, they heard the countdown beginning on their television as well. At the strike of midnight, they too all hugged each other as the welcomed in the new year.

In New York and Boston both, 2016 had finally replaced 2015, and with it came another year of new adventures, tribulations and joy. But by the time it would give away to 2017, several would find their lives in directions they never could have imagined.

To be Continued...