Fragility - Like glass. Even the strongest can break. And every little piece reflects a shattering image that hurts. Even from afar.
Summary: Time. You don't think about it. Nothing bad ever happens to you…right? "We'll always have time, Cody." One startling incident. One innocent life. Sometimes, time is not on your side.
Disclaimer: I do not own the Suite Life series or any of its characters.
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"The long unmeasured pulse of time moves everything. There is nothing hidden that it cannot bring to light, nothing once known that may not become unknown. Nothing is impossible." - SOPHOCLES, Ajax
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"Hey buddy," Zack called cheerfully as he closed the door behind him.
Cody looked up and stared at his twin warily. "Zack," he said flatly. "What do you want?"
Zack shrugged and patted his shoulder. "What? Can't I come and say hi to my little brother?"
The younger twin scowled. Pointedly looking away, Cody returned to his desk, scribbling loudly on his homework.
"Come on, man. You're not still bitter over that History homework, are you?" Zack arched an eyebrow when Cody began scribbling harder. He rolled his eyes. "Oh, don't give me the silent treatment."
Cody's jaw tightened. His chair turned away slightly from Zack, effectively presenting the older Martin with a view of his twin's back.
"Okay, okay." Zack raised his arms in surrender. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to drop it off the ship…" He tapped Cody's shoulder tentatively. "The wind blew it away."
Cody scoffed. "You mean that lady blew you away." Dropping his pen, he swiveled to face Zack, a stern frown weaved stubbornly onto his features. His mouth opened, as if seeming to work to find the right words to say. "I still ca-"
Zack lowered his hands and stared at Cody seriously. "I'm sorry."
Cody inhaled loudly and glared at his brother. "Zack, I'm not-"
"I'm sorry." A sad expression took on the older twin's features.
Cody pressed his thumb to his temple with a sigh. "You are impossible." Eyeing his twin out of the corner of his eyes, he felt a faint tug at the corners of his lips.
Zack grinned. "So I'm forgiven?" he asked brightly. "Thanks, Codes." He patted his brother's shoulder warmly before jumping onto Cody's bed. "So where's Woody?"
Cody picked up his pen again. "He was hungry. Went to find some food."
The older Martin nodded absent-mindedly. When he heard the familiar sound of pen against paper again, he looked up from his position to stare at Cody blankly.
A brief pause and some more scribbling. "Yeah?"
Zack frowned when his brother's back was to him again. Annoyed, he flopped back onto the mattress. "Can you stop that?"
"Stop what?" Distractedly.
Zack took a pillow and covered his face with it. "Stop doing your homework and turn around." His voice was muffled.
Cody paused in his writing. "What? I didn't hear you." He turned to look at Zack when the latter didn't reply. He lifted an eyebrow, amused, when he saw a pillow firmly pressed against his brother's head. "Zack?" Cody got up and tugged the pillow away. Crossing his arms, Cody almost laughed. "You could have suffocated yourself, you know."
"Yeah, whatever." Zack sat up. "Can you not do your homework when we're together? Do it when Bailey's around. Or Woody. Not me."
"Okay?" Cody said slowly, making it more a question than a statement. He sat down beside Zack. "Do you hate homework that much?"
Zack rolled his eyes. "No," he stretched the word out experimentally. He could feel his brother waiting in mild amusement. The older twin laughed. "Okay, fine! Maybe I do." Zack flopped back onto the bed, dropping his arm onto his stomach and tucked the other firmly behind his head. He bit his lip. "I don't know, Cody," he finally said
Cody turned his head questioningly. "Know what?"
"You know…" Zack trailed off. He sighed. "You spend all your time on homework. And Bailey. And paying attention in class. We should go check out some ladies" – noting the expression on his brother's face, Zack backpedalled immediately – "or play some stuff together. Remember those times I completely crushed you in video games?" Wistfully. Zack stared into space for a moment until he caught himself.
He coughed and laughed. "Have a life, dude. I'm worried for your sanity."
Instead of the usual irritation he would have felt, Cody smiled knowingly at his twin. "Or we could just sit down and talk."
Zack pretended to think about it. He nodded slowly as a sly grin stretched across his lips. "We could do that too."
The twins smiled at each other; Zack silently grateful that Cody hadn't mocked him for wanting to spend more time with his brother; and Cody felt a warmth swell contentedly in his heart that his twin had missed him enough to do something about it.
A comfortable silence hung in the air, weaving between the occupants of the room gently. It was moments like this that both siblings held precious to their hearts. Between the constant bickering and disagreements (that they really couldn't help but have), it was this peace and tranquility that showed their brotherhood at its strongest. For once, just closing your eyes and knowing that there's someone beside you. The mere comfort of knowing you're not alone, and accompanied by one whom you know without doubt would never abandon you.
After a moment, Zack broke the silence. "We're docking tomorrow morning right?" He lifted his left arm and uncurled his fingers. He stared absent-mindedly at the back of his palm.
Cody watched the movement of his twin's hand almost cautiously. "Yeap. England."
Excitement gleamed in the older's eyes. "England," he repeated, a bright smile dominating his facial features. "We're so going to have so much fun."
"Will most definitely allow us off the ship," Zack cut in, a mischievous glint in his eyes. "He wouldn't even have us on the ship if he could help it."
Cody felt the beginnings of a smile tug at his lips. Zack always wanted to have fun. Cody couldn't remember the amount of times he had been caught up with his brother for causing trouble. The smile quickly faded as he realized something.
Zack must have seen the hesitation in his brother's eyes as his face took on a solemn expression. "You have something on tomorrow?"
"Umm…yeah. With Bailey," Cody said reluctantly. "We're going to stay on the ship."
"Oh." Cody tried to meet his twin's eyes, but Zack had pointedly looked away.
"I'm sorry, Zack. We could always do something before we leave port, right?" He tried to keep his voice upbeat.
"Yeah." Zack nodded, trying to conceal the disappointment that lay heavy in his stomach. Knowing his twin felt guilty, he tried to put on a genuine smile. "It's okay, buddy. I can always get Woody to come along. You know how he is." He laughed, hoping to ease the sudden tension in the air. "We'll both have fun. There's always time for the two of us to hang out another day."
Cody smiled guiltily. "Thanks Zack."
Zack elbowed him playfully. "Anything, buddy."
Cody watched quietly as his twin slowly closed his eyes, his breathing evening out. He still could feel the tinge of guilt aggravating his mind. Zack was right. They hadn't spent a whole lot of time together since they boarded the S.S. Tipton. And after he met Bailey…Cody had to confess there was a point in his life where he had forgotten Zack. The guilt churned in his gut uncomfortably.
Cody bit his lip. He never did think that Zack would miss him. He guessed that it would hardly matter. His brother had always been the outgoing one. The overconfident, smug, strong – and lazy, he added almost fondly – twin. Cody realized that his brother had always been the one to miss him and not the other way round. Like the time I went to Math camp. He tried to 'bail' me out of there.
He sighed. He really should spend more time with his brother.
Cody looked up, startled, and his face met with a pillow. His eyebrow twitched as his twin laughed.
"Zack," he complained, clutching the pillow hard to his chest before Zack could snatch it back. Two pairs of identical eyes met, one mischievously playful.
Zack grinned. "You know there are more pillows here for me to take, Cody." His hands reached behind him, his fingers curling delicately around the pillow.
"Oh no you're not." Cody shook his head violently. "You won't be the one cleaning the room!"
"Oh yeah?" With one quick whoosh of his hand, Zack whacked the pillow into Cody's, carefully avoiding his head this time.
With one loud exclamation, Cody slapped his brother's pillow away with his own, then methodically pounced on his brother. Both fell to the ground with a loud thud, panting slightly. It slowly escalated into a short wrestling match which had both brothers laughing.
"For someone who only has eyes for his homework, you're pretty good." Zack tumbled on his back and smiled breathlessly at the ceiling.
Cody eyed him out of his peripheral vision. "I don't…" He sucked in a deep breath. "Only have eyes for homework."
Zack nudged his elbow and laughed teasingly. "What? Out of breath already? I take back my words."
Cody sat up and glared half-heartedly at his brother. It had been so long since they just went wild like this. For a moment there, Cody started to miss life back at the hotel. Where it had just been them, and their mum and Mr Moseby and London and Maddie and…everyone.
"Don't worry about it, Codes."
Cody felt something brush his hair. He stared at his twin in surprise. "Zack?"
The older Martin smiled sheepishly and ran a hand through his hair. "There's always time for us hang out one day. Just us. Go do what you want and whenever."
When Cody just stared at him, Zack looked away, embarrassed. "I mean…"
"Yeah, I know." A small smile crept into the younger's features. "We'll always have time," he echoed.
Anyone – Bailey, Woody, London, even Mr Moseby – could keep them busy. But if there was one thing the Martin twins were certain about, it was that there was always plenty of time to catch up.
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"The bad news is that time flies. The good news is that you're the pilot." -BEN WILLIS, Cashback
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This chapter is rather short. But I wanted the beginning to be a slow start. This fic is a small idea that just popped up in my head. So just tell me what you guys think. Is this fic worth continuing, or any suggestions?
Next chapter: The S.S. Tipton docks at England. For once, Zack is compassionate for one other than himself. A car. A collision. When tears fall and a cry so haunting echoes in his ears, one of the twins learn that time will not always be on their side.
Please review! Constructive criticism is greatly appreciated. :)