A/N: A little oneshot. I've been spitting out a lot of angst lately. I must be that subconsciously depressed or something. I'm not sure. But enjoy.

Disclaimer: Nope. Do I look like Dan Schneider to you?

--

The Blame Game

"I'm going to go to Covington to be with Zoey. She's not coming back, so I want to be there. I've thought about it, and I decided to tell you guys first. I'm out of here next week…"

There was a serious case of déjà vu around the lunch table, only a mere month after she had boarded a plane to England. Her being missing, was pretty obvious, and Stacy was a basket case, and the worse roommate ever. Just last night, having a sleepover at Maxwell didn't seem so bad, so they did it.

But now, there was Lola's shocked expression, Quinn's bewildered one, and Logan clearly thought the world was ending. Well, at least it would end with him being handsome. The only person that had everyone had expected to react didn't.

And that person was Michael Barrett.

The look in his eyes spoke volumes, so Chase didn't expect him to speak, but it would have been nice, if he did.

--

Michael Barrett was well-liked at Pacific Coast Academy, and naturally tried his best to be friends with everyone that came his way. Animals, included. It was strange to people as to why he would bond with a horse over a basket of cookies, but he did. That's just who he was. Michael couldn't help but sometimes wish that James and Zoey were over.

It was one of the harshest and one of the darkest to enter his conscious. He was aware of the possibilities of James and Zoey being over, and done with and then Chase – his best friend, his "brother from another mother" could re-enter his life. Chase and Zoey could be in a relationship and end the insanity that was supposed to end, three years ago.

He caught a glance at the laptop sitting on the single bed he slept in everyday, and sighed deeply.

The Chase and Michael Show were on one of the long hiatuses ever. And that was no fun.

--

"Dude, you can't continue to freeze me out like this…"

Yes, he could. Yes, he fucking could. Michael understood this was an affair of the heart. Really, he did, or he wouldn't have blown chunks all over the girl of his dreams. He was grateful for the humble attitude or the silver band on his left ring finger wouldn't be sitting there. Michael and Lisa had matching purity rings, and that was made their relationship special.

There was Michael and Lisa.

And then there was Chase and Zoey, but even so, Michael couldn't help but think that this was craziest thing he could possibly do.

"Okay, fine. What do you want me to say, Chase? What the hell should I tell you?" Michael asked, in frustration. "Being up at three in the morning to play around in dirt, I was cool with it. I was an accomplice to stealing Zoey's Tekmate, but I was cool with it, but this, man? I've always been your right-hand man. This has to be your craziest Zoey-related stunt – "

"Then why do you put with it?! Seriously, why do you put up with my 'stunts'?" Chase asked, yelling slightly with the frustration that was proved to be contagious. Chase understood why Michael was behaving the way he was, but if it were Lisa in her hometown, he was two hundred percent sure that Michael would do anything to get to Houston. "I thought you'd be supportive. Logan, surprisingly, has."

"Hi. I'm Michael. You must be completely gullible. Nice to meet you," he returned, using an even blend of humour and sarcasm. "Logan's been at the basketball for four hours straight every day last week. He's never there for that long. He's bruisin', man. He won't tell you straight out because you know how he is. But he's bruisin' over this," he sighed, hoping some of his anger would ebb away. "…and I put up with your crazy ideas, because we're best friends! We're like brothers, man. We just lost Zoey, and now you're going too?"

"We've been through a lot since the sixth grade, but I love her! Not the way, I loved my grandmother, or the way I love my dog, or my parents or my little sister. I'm in love with her, and I thought you, of all people would understand that," Chase said, running a hand through his hair. Michael shook his head, unable to still take it in. He was still unable to take in the fact that this room would be a lot barer, with just two occupants. Life without his best friend wouldn't be the same.

Michael sighed, turning away before meeting Chase's pleading face, the exact look in the green eyes matched perfectly. Michael wished his focus on anger was much stronger, or he had the power to block things out like Logan. It was almost like a superpower, but he just had to be his likeable self.

"I'll miss you, Logan, the girls, and this school," Chase told his best friend with sincerity. "…but this is something I have to do. Dude, if you were my best bud, you'd let me to do this."

Michael felt the rational side of him taking control, and the angry, outlandish part of him dissipate. He had the patience and understanding of a freaking god. It wasn't normal. Smiling in resolution, Chase and Michael slapped hands doing the secret handshake, the three boys had made up way back when they were in sixth grade.

It ended in a one-armed hug, and the boys pulled away.

"Bring your crazy, bushy-haired, Zoey-whipped self back, and maybe she'll finally be your girl," Michael teased, making Chase roll his eyes in a teasing manner.

"Will do. And then we'll discuss the matter of you being Lisa-stoned over spicy tuna rolls…"

Things were somewhat normal, right?

--

Blame someone, his darker conscience told him, blame anyone.

It never really occurred to him to that until he actually heard Logan's weird logic.

"Frankly, I blame both of them," he had admitted, in a tone that said 'duh', as he slipped a shirt over his muscular body. "They should have just dealt with it, and none of us would be dealing with this crap now. Later."

"Later, man. Where are you off to in a rush?"

"Don't worry about that," was Logan's cryptic answer, when in reality he was going to meet Quinn at one of their many secluded hiding parts.

Michael knew he wasn't as forward as his roommate, and he knew he wouldn't admit to missing Chase, but by shutting out James, this proved this fact. James Garrett was a good guy, he would admit. And he was appreciative when James comforted him over the loss of Sparkplug, er, Winchester.

It was something so trivial, but it was sad, and Michael couldn't help that he was just that sensitive which was why he really couldn't blame anyone.

--

"Oh, come on. Don't cry. I promise I'll be back," Chase said to the two brunettes in front of him, trying to comfort them. No words were said, as the two girls, Lola and Quinn, hugged him and he wrapped an arm around the both of them in a double hug. Today was it. The last day at Pacific Coast Academy for a while. By this time soon, he'd be in an entirely new country, and everything would be unfamiliar.

It was the ultimate cause though – Zoey Brooks.

"Lola, don't caught up in any schemes," he warned, playfully, as the two pulled away from him. He directed the same sad smile to the brunette prodigy in front of them. "Quinn, try not to blow up the school."

"Funny, Zoey warned Mark to make sure I don't do that either," she laughed, wiping at her eyes. Lola dabbed at her eyes.

"We'll miss you, Chase…"

"Same here," he whispered, and was overwhelmed with the number of kids that had come out to say goodbye as soon as they found out he was leaving for London. It was about nine in the morning, and his flight to London was at noon. He swallowed the lump forming in his throat, as he came face-to-face with his roommate and his closest friends, Michael and Logan. "So, I guess this is it."

"Aw, damn. And I thought we were going to go on a road trip to Vegas and gamble," Logan put in, only half-joking. It was either joke or be sad. Logan Reese didn't do sad, even though his conscience begged to differ. Michael spoke next, with a reassuring gaze from his girlfriend, Lisa. Lisa Perkins knew how close Michael and Chase were, and was doing the best she could to be the supportive and loyal girlfriend.

"We'll miss you, dude," he said, trying not to be sad, and possibly cry. He had done enough crying, and told himself over and over that it'll be okay. Michael told himself that through every dark tunnel, there had to be a light shining at the end, even though it was just a crack. A sliver of light was better than nothing, right?

In a final goodbye, the three boys sealed their friendship forever.

They were truly like brothers.

The secret handshake that was so simply performed between the three of them, originated from their first days at PCA, became especially sacred on that particular day.

It was fine, Michael reassured himself, because they'd do the same secret handshake the day he got back.

--

He could the attraction between Zoey and Chase, and couldn't help but sympathize with James. Michael could blame James, like Lola did. But despite being close friends than most people would expect, Michael and Lola were two different people at the end of the spectrum. He rested, shifting more of his weight into the couch by the window. He really was confused, even though he was the most level-headed of his friends. Time seemed to stop, but the ticking clock, and the digital LED clock told him that time was indeed going forward. He ran a list of 'what if's?' in his mind.

What if Chase and Zoey were at the dance together?

What if Chase had been the lead in the play instead of Logan, and they had kissed?

What if Zoey actually found out about the message Chase had sent her during Spring Break?

What if Rebecca and Chase hadn't met over the summer break?

What if they were in the United States – at the same time, together, and Zoey wasn't dating his roommate? Well, his new one.

And yet, he couldn't invent a time machine, and make sure to avoid that. Sure, the outcome would be very different from the present, but Michael was no Quinn. And he thanked the Lord for that. Seriously.

But the thoughts all currently occupying his mind were replaced with the familiar ring tone, and his current theme song. He kept this song on repeat, among all of the songs jammed up in his 8 GB GEO MP3 player. But this song was like his crack.

Every couple had their song – the one that defined their relationship – and this was Michael and Lisa's. So, maybe they had slow danced to this song on the beach before.

--

"So, whaddya think, Miss. Perkins? I'm not a bad dancer for someone that can't touch his toes, huh?" Michael teased, as they slow-danced to one of his new-found favourite slow-jams, which was currently playing from the dock that his Geo was nestled in. It was a beautiful night, and as cheesy as it did sound, the sunset was truly romantic, and breath-taking.

Her eyes twinkled, and a smile wide enough to be contagious, grew on her face. It was truly that bright. He placed his hands at her waist, and she wrapped her arms snugly around his neck.

She laughed, "Well, I'd have to agree, but we'll get those toes soon, Mr. Barrett. But you know what else you are?"

"What?"

"You're my boyfriend, and I'd like to kiss you right now," Lisa admitted shyly, biting down slightly on her glossed bottom lip. Michael pretended to ponder, while holding her frame close to him.

"Well, let me think: kiss my sexy girlfriend or…kiss my sexy girlfriend," he said, weighing out his 'options'. The soft piano blended nicely with the smooth voice, and he answered. "Yeah, I'll make out with my sexy girlfriend on the beach."

Michael felt pure bliss, once he kissed her.

And in the back of his mind, he was strangely grateful towards Chase for driving his race car out of control.

--

"I wanna make love in this club (make love in this club, in this club, in this club). I wanna make love in this club (in this club, in this club, in this – "

"Hey Lil' Lisa," he greeted his girlfriend on the phone, caught Usher off quickly.

"Michael, you didn't forget, did you?" she questioned him, exasperated, and he heard a small sigh escape her. His face showed confusion. What could he have forgotten? The clock showed that it was quarter-past two. What could have forgotten besides the fact that tonight was Open Mic Night, and – oh crap.

"Oh, crap. Tonight was supposed to be our double date with Zoey and James, and then we were supposed to rehearse again for Open Mic Night," he remembered, slapping his forehead, with his palm.

"Exactly, so hurry, please?"

"Okay, well, I'm on my way right now. Sushi Rox, right?" he asked, for clarification, jamming his keys in his pockets.

"Yup. See you in a few. Love you, babe…"

"Love you too," he replied, and closed his phone with an inaudible snap. As he basically sped out of his dorm, leaving the door to slam, his thoughts returned at the exactly same speed. He had a double date with Zoey, and her boyfriend, James. The whole concept of it all, was still foreign to Michael, and the semester was winding down so quickly.

He still was adjusting to Chase not being here, and a small part of him hoped that it was Chase that would be with Zoey, not James. Not that he was gunning for James to be heartbroken or anything, because as tempting as it was, he wasn't going to go down like that.

Michael could have blamed Chase for waiting too long. Or Zoey for being way too oblivious.

He shook the thought from his head, as he could see Sushi Rox in clear view. He could have blamed her, him or even both until it rained potato chips, but The Blame Game clearly wasn't Michael's forté. So, he let it go for now, and willed himself to focus on the present.

The Blame Game was one game Michael Barrett wasn't going to play, because he didn't know how to win.


A/N: So, there you have it. Even though, you wanted 'Corsage', I had more inspiration on this, so this will be posted first, along with an update on 'Guidance' and a new update on 'All Year Round' (read/review if you haven't already. I hate odd numbers, and 64 seems solid, lol). Wow, this is more popular than my previously popular one, "Like A Chameleon" – read if you haven't.

I'm currently fleshing out 'Corsage', and have a quarter of it finished. Okay, so the bell just rang, and I have to run for class.

Reviews are good, yes?

-Erika