A/N: Okay, so, I'm posting this because I miss posting on Fanfic, and I miss reviews. I don't know if anyone will take positively to my writing (mostly because you all seem to love their intraband love and that's just…not my thing), but I'd like the criticism anyway. This is a random piece that I actually wrote, and finished, for a James fic I've been working on for a while. I don't know if I'll ever get it posted, but I really wanted to share this…

Before we start:

Yes, James is abused. His mom is too drunk to give a fuck his dad's a piece of shit who beats the hell out of him just 'cause he feels like it.

No, him and his best friend have no history (at this point) past friendship. She's been best friends with him since before the boys entered his life and his number one even after, but him and Kendall are still tight. Kendall's knowledge of the abuse isn't nonexistent, but James goes to Brooke when he needs to talk. That's just how it works and if I could ever finish or even begin to approach finding a way to wrap this story all together, I'd give it to you guys to read as a whole. My apologies for that, to anyone who ends up liking this two page piece.

I can't think of anything else I really need to address, but if you feel necessary, ask questions in reviews or PMs, or whatever you feel. I'd love to answer them.

Thank you for reading this longass A/N if you did. I'm so fuckin' appreciative. Hahaha.

The cold hit James' face as he emerged onto the white glass, psyched for the game more so now that he could feel the weight of all his gear, and hear the blades on his skates cutting across the surface of the ice, echoing off the building's walls. As he skimmed the small crowd of families on the benches, still partially hidden in their coats, scarves and hats, he spotted Kendall's mom and Katie. Mrs. Knight looked so proud something inside him ached. No matter how hard he stared into that small mass of people, his parents would never be there to cheer him on. His mother was too drunk to know what day of the week it was most of the time and his father just didn't care. The more James thought about it, the less focused his mind was on the game, but a sudden shake of his shoulders alerted him to his friend's presence skating backwards beside him.

"Smile. Camera's watching," Kendall chuckled, gesturing to where Brooke was standing against the boards, her camera in hand surrounded by her favorite black fingerless gloves. Her smile was infectious and he couldn't help but return it as she waved at him very subtly with her fingertips curled around the lens of her camera. Despite the noise in the rink, he could hear her shout "good luck" and a calm settled over him at the realization that if no one else was there for him, the petite brunette wrapped up in an army green parka and a dark grey ski cap, already snapping photographs of him and the team, would be—always. That thought seemed to chase away any negative ones and allowed him to focus on the game that lie ahead of him.

Once the puck hit the ice, everything melted away. Halfway through the second period, the score was in their favor by three goals, and if they kept it up, a shut out finish was in their grasp. James scored goal four and, excitedly, he looked over to where his best friend was wielding her camera, hoping she had gotten the picture—and something inside his chest weighted like a rock. The smile spread across her face that should have been for him was directed at hulky senior Craig Lucas standing next to her, cocky grin in place. James couldn't hear her, but the expression on her face was one he recognized from their late night movie nights in her living room when he couldn't go back home; the memorable peals of giggles rang in his ears like deafening dynamite, even if he couldn't hear it now. He remembered how his throwing popcorn at her had resulted in a pillow fight that woke Belle from a sound sleep, but all he could think of at that moment was how his one-person cheer section had missed his goal. Something collided with him, catching him off guard, and his mind broke out of it's fog to see Carlos skating around him with a huge grin.

"Nice shot, but c'mon, James! Game's not over, yet!" he exclaimed. He replied absentmindedly, but nothing about the game not being over yet comforted him. The remaining period was a blur of terrible passes, faulty defense, and failed goals—all because he couldn't keep his head on the ice. The opposing team scored their winning goal at the buzzer and James could've sworn someone else's legs were carrying him into the locker room afterwards because everything felt numb. And he was sure none of it had to do with the fact that he was cold.

Kendall was talking to him while they changed, but none of it sunk in. All the taller boy could focus on was the image of that thing hovering over Brooke while she worked; what bothered him more was that she didn't seem to mind. What right did Craig Lucas have flirting with his best friend, anyway? It was his best friend, after all.

"James," his friend's voice broke through the haze and he turned to see Kendall staring at him, eyebrows knit together with worry. "Don't worry, man. We'll get 'em next time." He clapped him on the back and went on to continue asking what he'd been trying to before. "Mom wanted me to see if you needed a ride home."

He really didn't know. Naturally, he assumed Brooke could give him a ride, but today? Nothing was natural about today. Regardless, he hoped the situation hadn't changed.

"I think I'm catching a ride with Brooke," he stated blankly. "Tell her thanks."

"Yeah, sure thing." Another clap on the back and Kendall was out of the locker room—and so was the rest of the team, James noticed. As he swept up his hockey gear and headed towards the door, he heard the familiar giggles of his best friend echoing from the hall outside. Without a thought, he came out smiling, expecting all to be normal.

"Craig, c'mon!" Brooke laughed, reaching as far as she could with short arms. "Give it back!"

"What's the magic word?" he teased, dangling her camera over her head.

"Give it back, jerk," she replied, out of breath. He shook his head and handed her back the object anyway.

"Incorrect. But I'll give it to you, anyway, 'cause you're cute."

"Yeah, yeah, whatever." As she said it, she was smiling—right up until a loud crack rattled the walls behind them. Her smirk was instantly replaced by surprise as she spun around to see her best friend storming towards the building's exit, with two broken halves of his hockey stick in hand. "James!" The teenager didn't turn around to even acknowledge that he had heard her, so she shot Craig an apologetic look, snatched her camera bag off the ground and ran after him. "James, wait up!"

"What?" he snapped, abruptly coming to a halt in the lobby, between the locker room exit and the building's front doors.

"I'm sorry you lost, but Jesus, take it out on the stick much?" she chuckled, in hopes he would lighten up, if only a little. He didn't say anything in response, but instead continued towards the doors. "Don't you need a ride home?"

"No," James retorted before the door slammed shut behind him and he tried to do his best not to look more upset when he reached the Knights' minivan, asking for the ride he had refused.

Brooke stood watching silently through the glass, confusion written all over her face and her camera dangling from one hand.

"What was that all about?" Craig inquired as he came up behind her from the locker room hall.

"I have no friggin' clue. He doesn't act that way over losing a game." She was tempted to amend that he didn't act that way at all, but something told her that wasn't one hundred percent true.

"Huh. Well, you can talk to him later. Can I catch a ride with you?"

"Sure." The nod in response was absentminded because she really had no idea that her best friend would avoid her, deliberately, for the next two weeks.