Author's Note: Yes, I'm alive. Barely. Writer's block has been slowly killing me all this time and I just haven't been able to beat it. I thought maybe a break would do me some good. Then a lot of life-drama happened and all that jazz. I didn't have internet for a while so really all I could do was write and experiment and that's where this little one-shot came from.

So, I was just fooling around with points of view here I guess. I thought a story like this might be interesting to write. It's kind of super boring and not really worth reading, but it was kind of fun to write. I tried to make it more general, to relate to all audiences, hopefully it works. Yes, there is an OC, but again, it's written very generally so that you could put yourself in their shoes easily. You know, just for fun.

No slash, just friendship.

Disclaimer: I don't own anything.

The Power of Play

A long, deep sigh escapes you as you sit on a lone bench in the Palm Woods park. The wind is nice and cool, while the sun prevents chills. It's the perfect L.A. day outside. Other residents are running around the park, yelling and laughing and playing together in the carefree atmosphere around you.

You can't bring yourself to smile though. You can't bring yourself to ask to join anyone else in their games, or to strike up a conversation with a random but friendly looking stranger that shares your building. You can't even bring yourself to look up from your lap. You may know everyone's name here, having been living in the building for at least a month, but even still; you don't feel comfortable enough to approach anyone.

Not that talking to complete strangers is even on your mind now anyways. No, your mind is held hostage by other stresses. Even though you've been in the dream-making city of Los Angeles for a month now, nothing has happened for you. Every attempt at a record deal ends up in rejection. Every attempt at an audition ends in rejection. Every attempt at a band signing; rejection.

All you've ever come into contact with since moving here is rejection. They don't like your face. They don't want your voice. They don't believe your acting. They don't appreciate your playing. You haven't been making any money at all since you've been here, and your first and only payment on your hotel room is about to expire. Soon, you will be kicked out of the Palm Woods, and have to find a way back home without a ride. Your father barely agreed to sending you down here in the first place; there's no way he's going to pay for a trip back after you failed anyways. He was right all along; you would never make it out here.

Failure. Untalented. Nothing special. That's all you've heard all your life, and nothing has changed. You moved halfway across the world, lived on your own for a whole month, and even still, that's all you ever are. You haven't changed anything like you thought you would, you haven't proved anyone wrong. You're just the same Nobody you were when you first got here. The only difference is that you are less naive now. Your eyes have been opened to the reality that you can't do it.

Another sigh flows through your lips, this one a little more shaky than the last. You can feel the lump of sorrow forming in your throat, growing with each thought of failure that passes through your mind. No. You can't cry now. You can't give them the satisfaction of breaking you. What kind of image are you painting for yourself if you start crying in the middle of the park for no reason? No, you have to be stronger than that.

But are you? You haven't proved that point at all yet since you came out here. You haven't booked anything that would show you could make it in the world on your own. You haven't shown any strength. You've been weak your whole life, and now, here in this new city, isn't any different.

At least that's how you feel.

Your head is getting heavier with the stress, so you lean your elbows on your knees and rest your head in your hands. It's times like these that you really miss your mother. She was always there to comfort you and erase all your self-conscious thoughts with her gentle and sweet and caring voice. She always knew just what to say, and sometimes she didn't even need to say anything; she would just wrap her arms around you and squeeze until you had no choice but to burst into carefree laughter. Her smile was infectious, her laugh was contagious, and her mood was engulfing.

It has been five years since she died. Sometimes it doesn't even feel that long. Sometimes you can almost hear her voice soothing you when you're upset. Sometimes you can hear her singing softly while you cry. Sometimes you can feel her stroking your hair and back softly, before she kisses you good night.

Other times though, you can barely remember her face. Other times, you forget how she used to smell, or the sensation of her soft touch. Other times, you can't hear her as clearly, no matter how loud you shout for her; no matter how long you cry for her.

Your nose suddenly feels wet, and you sniffle to keep it from dripping. You miss your mother. You wish she was here to give you the confidence you need to look for another gig, or another audition, or even to make a friend. A friend would definitely be nice to have in this big and intimidating world of celebrities and talent. Someone to comfort you and reassure you and encourage you. Someone to help you out and be there for you when you need to lean on them. But you've been working too hard trying to make it out here that you haven't had the chance to talk to anyone. You haven't even made one friend in the month you've been here, and you're starting to feel a bit lonely.

Untalented and lonely. That's all you are now. Just another Nobody that doesn't belong with the Somebodys. No one wants to hang out with you. No one wants to approach you and get to know you and befriend you. You're not worth their time; they have important auditions and rehearsals to attend, because they have what the big people are looking for. They have the talent and the flare and the fire. What do you have? A guitar with a broken string, a voice that squeaks, acne problems, and stage fright. You should have known better; this was no place for someone like you to try and leave your mark; to be noticed.

You can feel your eyes stinging by now, and you continue to blink hard in an attempt to block the tears that threaten to fall. This task is proving harder than you thought however, and requires your almost complete concentration. You're so focused on the task that you don't notice the yells directed towards you for a while. Finally, a particularly loud shout catches your attention. Confusion clouds your mind and you don't understand what's going on for a moment.

"What?" You say dumbly.

"The ball!" One boy yells.

Finally you look to your feet and notice a football laying before you. You can almost visualize its eyes rolling at your incompetence and you blush in embarrassment. You pick up the ball, but before you even attempt to throw it back, the owner has made his way over and stands before you. Shyly, you hand the ball his way, keeping your gaze and pathetically red eyes fixed downward. "Sorry." You mumble in apology for ignoring the boys' cries for so long.

The boy takes the ball with a shrug, and soon his comrades join his side; all staring at you. "It's no problem." The boy says nonchalantly.

You can feel all four of the boys' eyes boring into you, and you instinctively shrink into yourself, subtly scooting into the end of the bench. You pray that the boys will just leave you alone now and get back to their game, so that you can get back to your wallowing in self-pity. But it seems the boys have other ideas.

"Hey, you're new here, aren't you?" The ball owner asks.

You nod sheepishly to his question. "Just moved in a month ago." You mentally cringe at how scratchy your voice is; clear and mocking evidence that you'd just been crying a minute ago.

"Well, hey!" Ball boy greets cheerfully. "It's nice to meet you! I'm Carlos! This is James,". He points down the line of his friends as he introduces them. "That's Kendall, and he's Logan!"

"We're in a band." The boy 'Carlos' had introduced as James boasts as he jerks the opening of his jacket in a complacent manner.

"So, what are you out here for? Singer? Actor?" You believe this is the 'Kendall' one that asks.

You shrug meekly. "Anything really. Haven't been having any luck though." You say in a low and dejected voice.

"Man, do we know how that is." The 'Logan' boy mutters with a hint of bitterness, thus conveying his understanding to how you feel. Your own lips curl up into the tiniest and bitter smile at his comment.

Kendall scoffs, nodding his head in agreement. "Oh yeah." He stresses with a chuckle. "I can't even count how many times we were almost kicked out and sent back home since we've been here; all because one person didn't like our stuff."

"But we convinced them otherwise." Carlos boasts proudly.

"Yeah, or we were lucky." Logan mumbles.

James smacks Logan's arm lightly. "Hey, they're the lucky ones for deciding to keep us here and listen to our golden voices all day long."

You hear a small chuckle, and realize that it, in fact, came from you. Without you even knowing it, these boys' lighthearted banter has managed to distract you from your troubles temporarily, and warm your aching heart just enough to allow that one small carefree sound of joy to erupt in your throat.

"Anyways,". Kendall stresses to steer back on the main topic. Then he turns back to you. "I'm sure something will come eventually. You just gotta stay positive; don't give up. You never know what could happen." He offers an encouraging smile.

That's exactly what you've craved this whole time; this friendly banter and encouraging words to help you get back on your feet. An actual smile breaks out on your face before you can stop it. "Thanks." You say sincerely.

"Hey, you wanna play with us?" Carlos offers excitedly; you're reminded of a small child asking their parents to play ball with them.

"Yeah, we're playing catch right now." James explains.

"If you join then we can let Katie play too." Kendall says. "Make it even. She's been dying to join us all morning." He chuckles.

"So, what do you say?" Logan asks you.

You survey them for a moment; their gleaming faces, the hopeful sparks in their eyes, and their friendly and inviting smiles. Potential friends; how could you pass that up?

You sniffle long and loud, sucking up any lingering sadness and hiding it away for another day. You have people in front of you that have finally risked approaching you and you'd be damned if you missed this opportunity.

"Sure." You nod as you stand.

"Sweet!" Carlos fist pumps, then he grabs hold of your arm excitedly. "You're on my team!"

"We'll kick their butts good." Kendall smiles, moving to stand on your other side.

James crosses his arms in front of him as Logan waves off to someone, then they stare at you. "We'll see about that." James says smugly. Logan crosses his arms then as a small girl runs over to stand by him, then mimics both of them.

"I'm Katie, by the way." The girl says with a smile, then her eyes narrow deviously. "And you're so going down."

"Alright everyone, places!" Kendall announces, then he and Carlos lead you to one side of the wide open park. James, Logan and Katie line up on the other side adjacent from you.

Carlos moves to the middle, laying the football on the ground. He looks to each side, preparing everyone, then he smiles. "Game on!"

And just like that, the field fills with screaming and shouting and laughing and carefree fun. And for once, you're a part of it.