i know | jj maybank
hellooooo i've risen from the dead and its with a fic about outer banks... i've fallen in love with jj... thats my baby
this was supposed to be a 5+1 concept and it still kinda is but i got really really carried away. as my new friend @captainpogue calls it the too much gene. so buckle up and grab a snack this is 21k words lmaoooo i hope you enjoy
i love you already
warnings: nothing more than what is mentioned in the show
You were laying on your stomach, on your bed, flipping through a book. It didn’t have your full attention as your mind was elsewhere. Music filtered in through your headphones but you weren’t really listening to it, either. It was almost dark outside and with the power still out, the few candles lit in your room did little to help you focus on the words in front of you.
It was also extremely hot. You were sweating just laying there. Your shirt was stuck to you and your shorts felt uncomfortable even if they were cloth sleeping shorts. Letting out a frustrated groan, you drop your head down to the book but immediately wince when you feel it get stuck to your forehead. You have to slowly lift your head and peel the page off with your fingers. Gross.
Moving the book, you lay your head down again and just try to breathe. The events of the day are finally catching up to you, making you a bit tired. Your mind is racing as the memories flash through like a movie playing behind your eyelids. Walking down the street and hearing a distressed, “Just shut up, Pope!” You recognized the voice like it was your own and rushed across the street where you came face to face with your group. JJ had looked at you, guilt shining in his eyes as he looked back at Shoupe, “Yeah, it was all me.”
A distressed sigh -one that matched the one you let out as you helplessly watched JJ get pushed into the back of the cop car- leaves your body in a rush and it makes your bed bounce just a little with the force of it. Kiara had moved up to you as you watched Pope let out a scream and storm off, his dad following him angrily with the hat Pope had thrown to the ground. She explained what she knew and all you could do was close your eyes and let out a breath. You knew JJ getting arrested, again, wouldn’t be good for him. He’s seventeen now, still a minor, but he’s so close to being tried as an adult and that scares you.
“Hey, you want to go to the police station, see if we can do something?” Kie had offered when she noticed that you’d done nothing but stare off in the direction the cop car had gone.
“No, his dad will most likely show up.” you stated and winced at your own words. “I’m just going to go home. I’d say text me but you know, towers are down. And my phone might even be dead with the whole no power thing.”
Kie laughed at your tone and it pulled a laugh out of you as well.
Rolling onto your back, you cover your face with your hands and try really hard to keep your frustrations at bay. You know JJ didn’t do shit this time around. You know what he’s covering for and why he’s doing it but god damn it you wished he had a little bit more common sense sometimes. You wish he wouldn’t put others before himself sometimes, even though that wasn’t in his nature. You wish he didn’t have such a temper sometimes, or the need to prove himself, because then that’d help him stay under the radar a bit easier. But you knew that JJ would never lose those parts of himself, that’s just who he was. Someone who cared about others too much because he didn’t want them to feel what he’s felt his whole life but had a temper like no other.
The temper is something you’ve tried working on with him for as long as you’ve known him. Since the first time you saw him lose it at the age of twelve. It was an unhealthy coping mechanism, to fly off the handles as soon as someone upset him enough. You guessed it was because he knew nothing else. Growing up around that kind of behavior, it just kind of sticks. He tries though, tries to keep it under control for as long as possible though, hating that he gets so angry so easily but people just make him so mad. You’ve told him that he gets that way because he bottles up everything he’s feeling when he’s feeling it and it just keeps building until he snaps. And when he snaps, it’s because he filled himself up with so much rage it has nowhere else to go than through his fists, or yelling, or apparently holding someone at gunpoint.
Tears of frustration for JJ start to build behind your eyelids and your nose starts to tingle but you just can’t help it. JJ doesn’t deserve the things he’s been put through, he really doesn’t. He’s a good person. He has good intentions behind most of the crazy shit he does. It’s just that he doesn’t think of the consequences before he goes through with his impulses. His snap judgement choices weigh out any other rational thought in his head.
Like he clearly didn’t think of what would happen to him when taking the blame for a felony charge and you really hope he’s okay. You kinda hope his dad didn’t show up to get him from the police station and that he’s still there because you know the outcome of the scenario. You’ve been on the comforting end of those scenarios more often than not and each time it breaks your heart. To see the boy cut up and bruised by the hand of his own father. He brushes it off every time, ‘It’s nothing I can’t handle’ but you see the pain there. The shine in his eyes and the deep breaths to keep himself from crying. You see it. Every. Time.
You can only hope that today won’t be one of those days where JJ will be littered with dark bruises and deep cuts. Your heart hammers in your chest at the thought of JJ not even making it out of his house today. That’s he’s too hurt to move and that makes a breath stutter out of you in the force of a sob. You press the heels of your hands harder to your closed eyelids in hopes to stop the tears from falling when you feel a weight drop down around your legs. You let out a yelp as your eyes fly open and you sit up in the process.
JJ stands there, at the end of your bed, with his hands on either side of your knees. Your heart nearly drops to your toes when you take in his appearance. Your hopes of him coming out of today unscathed were just that, hopes. The left side of his face is nearly purple, there’s cuts on his eyebrow, cheek, jaw, and a few around his neck line. His eyes are red rimmed and the tip of his nose is just as red. Jaw clenched and breathing ragged, you can tell he’s doing everything he can to hold back his tears. Some have already fallen, you know that, but that was when he was alone. Now he’s trying to act like everything’s fine when you know it’s not. When you both know it’s not.
“JJ,” you breathe out, removing your headphones and tossing your phone to the floor. His face crumples at your voice and you’re a bit relieved. He’s not going to hide how he feels and that just makes you whisper his name again, “JJ.”
That’s all it takes before JJ removes his backpack and climbs up the length of your body, pushing you to lay back down as he settles on top of you. He shakes against you as you wrap yourself around him. One hand goes up the back of his shirt and the other knocks off his hat so you can run your fingers through his hair. He lets out a shaky breath against your neck and then he’s crying. He shoves his face into your neck and you move a little to the side to let him get more comfortable, wanting to give him all the comfort in the world.
“Shh, it’s okay. You’re okay. You’re safe.” You repeat the words over and over again, hoping that they’ll sink in and bounce around in his head so he’ll believe them. “I was so worried about you. That’s why I was crying when you showed up. You worry me, JJ. You always do.”
He starts to settle down after that and you let out a breath, moving one of your hands to quickly remove the tears from your own cheeks before moving back to running your fingers through his hair. “It’s not a bad thing that you worry me. I only worry because I care about you. I care about you more than I care about anyone else.”
Stuttering breaths still fan over the skin of your neck and you just continue to run your hands over him. Your hand on his back is lightly scratching at the skin there, your fingernails leaving a trail of goosebumps. Your other hand is playing with the strands of his hair, untangling them and smoothing them over. “You’ll be okay, JJ.”
When you feel him nod, you know you got him back down to earth. “I’ll be okay.”
“Okay then, let’s go check out those cuts.”
You both get off the bed, JJ focusing too hard on the ground but nonetheless let’s you take his hand and guide him down the hall and into the bathroom. Once he’s seated, on the closed lid of the toilet, you move in between his legs to get close enough to inspect his face. His hands trail up the backs of your legs and wrap around your thighs. It’s a subconscious move on his part, it always is when you’re in this position. For some reason it brings him comfort, it grounds him, keeps him aware that you’re there and in front of him. His thumbs trace up and down on the outsides of your thighs as he tilts his head back for you.
You clean up the dry blood around his eyebrow, cheek, and lip. He hisses at the pressure to get it all off and whines when you clean the cuts with an antiseptic. You apologize by placing delicate kisses over the broken skin. A sigh escapes through his parted lips and his hands move up to the point where his fingers graze the bottom of your shorts.
“Hi, baby,” you whisper against his lips, ghosting yours over his to try and soothe the sting out of the cut. You’re not too sure how good it works but JJ relaxes a bit more under your touch.
A small smile pulls at JJ’s lips as his eyes meet yours, “Hi, baby,” he echoes and his lips brush against yours.
Running your fingers through his hair, you tug a little at the strands and his eyes fall closed once again. You take the opportunity to run your fingers carefully over the bruises littering his delicate skin. There’s nothing you wish for more than for your fingertips to magically heal the darkened, painful, skin of his face.
Another sigh leaves through his parted lips and this time he sounds a bit watery. You grab onto his face with both hands and push your thumbs up under his closed eyelids to see if tears will leak through. And when they do, you swipe them away. “I owe 30 grand in restitution for sinking the boat. My dad didn’t like that.”
The question of what happened would always sit there on the tip of your tongue but you always knew what happened so you would never ask. It was always the same, it was just the reason that changed. And JJ would tell you it every time, once he calmed enough to talk about it.
“You didn’t do it, JJ.”
JJ sighs, “Yeah, I know. But Pope doesn’t deserve that charge. He has so much to look forward to. A way to get out of here and I couldn’t let him throw that away.”
Your hands move his face to a position that when he opens his eyes, he’ll be looking right at you. He knows that so he does and when he does, tears slide down his cheeks before your thumbs have a chance to stop them. “Yeah, but what about you?”
“We all know where I come from. There’s no way I’ll ever be more than that.”
He cuts you off, “No, it’s true. Look at me? Look at the shit I’m in. I have nothing going for me. I have nothing to lose. I might as well start now, the life I’m destined to live.”
Your nose starts to tingle once again, the tears resurfacing, “JJ, stop.”
“What?” he scoffs, “You want me to stop telling the truth? When will you realize that I’m correct? That I’m not good for anyone.”
“You’re nothing like him, JJ. You never have been and that’s something you need to realize.” You tug on his hair again, to make sure you have his attention. “The way you care about those you love. I mean, today was a bit reckless but you protected your friend. You protect the entire friend group. You’d never hurt anyone just for the hell of it, just because you felt like it, that’s not you, JJ. “
Looking him in the eyes, you try your best to convey the severity of your words, “You say you have nothing to lose but you do. You have me for one, then there's John B, Kie, Pope. If you keep doing reckless shit you’ll lose us. We need you JJ, you’re the biggest support system in our little group.”
JJ doesn’t say anything, just closes his eyes and takes a deep breath. He taps on your thigh, signaling for you to move and when you do he just walks out of the bathroom. You let out a sigh and drop your head, leaving it to hang for a few moments while you steady your breathing to make sure you don’t cry. Everything you said was true and you wished he believed it. The group is full of strong personalities but JJ is the one that keeps everyone a bit sane. He stops people from bickering, he keeps the mood light when it gets to be heavy, he listens to everyone so intently that he knows every detail about anyone. He’s the first to speak up when others are talking down to your group, he's the first to throw a punch in defense. He’s the one, specifically, that brings light to your life every day.
You clean up the bathroom slowly, distracting yourself so you don’t cry. Now is not the time to be emotional, not when JJ’s headspace is so low. This isn’t the first time this has happened and you know it won’t be the last. The amount of self loathing that boy has for himself will stick around no matter what people tell him. It gets better at times but his dad has a way of making it come to the forefront of his brain more often than not.
It’s about fifteen minutes later, stalling as much as possible, before you make your way back to your room. You have a glass of water and some pain killers now because you know that JJ didn’t leave, that he wouldn’t leave. He never does.
“Here,” you murmur, handing over the glass and two pills. “Lay down and go to sleep.”
He has his shirt off and he watches as you move around the room. His gaze is heavy and it makes you feel even warmer than you’re already feeling. You pick up things around the room, dirty clothes, cups, pieces of trash, anything to keep you busy. It’s not something you want to do but you also want to give JJ some space. You won’t admit it but it upsets you every time he starts talking like that and you know he knows that. He always lasts about 13 minutes before he breaks down.
And right on the dot, as you have an armful of dirty clothes to drop in the hamper, he speaks up. “Will you come lay down?”
“I’m going to take a shower. I feel gross.”
JJ lets out a tired sigh, “I’ve calmed down, please come here.”
“I feel gross,” you argue. He may have calmed down but you’re still hurt at his words. You know he doesn’t do it on purpose but it hurts to know that he believes he’s not worth anything, that he’s not afraid of losing you or anyone else that cares about him.
“There’s no point in showering, if I’m not going to shower and we end up pressed against each other anyway. We’ll be sweaty regardless.” He reasons, his voice on the verge of despair and you know that he needs you close right now. That he needs the comfort he seeks. “Please?”
Your heart softens at the tone of his voice and you cave. Dropping the clothes into the hamper you shuffle over to the empty side of your bed. JJ turns his back to you and you settle in behind him, shoving one arm under his neck and wrapping the other one around his waist. You pull him close to you, both palms flat against his chest, molding your body against his. JJ brings a hand to the top of yours and laces his fingers with yours. He lets out a stuttering breath when you place your lips to the back of his neck.
“I have one thing to lose,” he breathes out, “and it’s you.” You press another kiss to the back of his neck before digging your nose to the skin there. “I love you, you know”
“Yeah, I know.” You squeeze his hand and he squeezes back. “I love you, you know.”
JJ sighs and relaxes completely, like he’d been waiting for you to say those exact words, “I know.”
He falls asleep a few minutes later.
It’s about three days later when you’re walking down the street when you notice a familiar looking jeep coming towards you. Your hopes for it to just keep driving die before they’re fully even there because it stops next to you, making you stumble a bit at the closeness.
“Topper.” you sigh, stepping up to his driver window. “I have a name.”
“Yeah, but I don’t really care.” He looks you up and down before smirking, “But I could.”
You roll your eyes, “Hm, in your dreams. What do you want?”
“Just wanted to see how your little group of Pogues are doing with your precious Pope in the slammer?” He raises an eyebrow in question.
You cross your arms over your chest and step closer. You’re not above fighting. You know how to, you were taught how to fight correctly, your dad teaching you at a young age. He felt the need to, with where you live and the stability you have in such an area.
“Yeah, see, JJ was the one that ended up there.”
Topper’s face falls and his skin turns a bit pale at your words. He won’t ever admit it, but you know that he’s secretly scared of JJ. Him and his friends, they all are. Never once have you seen them go to him one on one. They always have 2 or more and it always fills you with pride because JJ does know how to fight but it’s never fair because he’s just one and they gang up on him.
“Why?” he questions.
“Well, Top, that’s because he’s a good person. Unlike you.” you sneer, not backing down. He’s bigger than you, probably stronger than you but you’re not scared of him. You never have been.
“I didn’t want to press the charges, it wasn’t me!” His cocky demeanor falls quickly at the newfound information and it makes you laugh. “It was my mom, I swear.”
“Right, so you couldn’t have stopped her? Couldn’t have done anything when you know the reason it was done in the first place was because you jumped someone who was just trying to do their job. Someone who works for their money. Does someone working to keep themselves afloat scare you? What is it! Huh? You don’t like it?” You can’t help yourself. The force in which your voice is coming out startles you just as much as it does Topper.
“Oh please,” Topper scoffs, rolling his eyes in the process, “don’t act like they’re all innocent. I had a gun held to my head.”
“Yeah, true, but you were about to kill one of our friends! You’re no better than any of us. Oh! And should I mention how you almost killed another one the other night at the outdoor movie? Should I bring that up to someone? Hm? Maybe your mom or maybe the police?” You tilt your head to the side, taunting him a bit.
“Like anyone would believe someone like you,” Topper laughs.
You laugh right back, “Do you forget that I’m actually right under you, status wise? That my family just chooses to live where we do because we’re not a bunch of prissy snobs. People would believe me.”
“Do your Pogues know about you?”
“Of course they do. Do you think that me having money changes anything?” You question, rolling your eyes. “Actually, this conversation is going nowhere. I’m done. I have somewhere I need to be.”
When you step back and start walking, Topper gets out and follows you. “Come back here!”
“For what! What do you want?”
“You need to be knocked down a peg or two. Remind you where you are and who you hang out with,” He steps up to you, trying to seem threatening.
You look up at him bored, “Okay, Topper. Why don’t you get back in your car and drive away. Go do some drugs or beat up on someone working.”
He grabs at your arm and pulls you chest to chest with him, getting in your face in the process. “You don’t know me!”
“And I don’t want to. Now, let me go.”
When you fight against his grip he just holds on tighter. You wince and you know it’ll bruise, “I’m not above hitting a girl. Especially when she’s asking for it.”
“Do it, I dare you.” you challenge, stepping up to nearly pressing your nose to his. You’re not too sure how you didn’t see it coming, probably because you were really challenging him. But he didn’t seem to think the same thing because he surges forward to press his lips to yours. You back away as far as possible but his grip on you doesn’t let you go far and his lips make contact with yours. “Get off of me!”
You stomp on his foot and knee him in the stomach and that gets him to let go. “You bitch!” he grumbles out and reaches for your leg, pulling it out from under you. You land on the ground with a groan and kick at him when he grabs your ankle and bends down to punch you across the face, “Fucking stop!”
“You’re the one that grabbed me, now let go!” You kick at him again and get him in the groin this time. And when he bends over you get enough momentum to deliver a punch to the side of his face. He lands on his side and you push him around until he’s on his back and punch him again before standing up. You stick your boot up under his chin and step on his neck just enough to make it harder for him to breathe. “Don’t ever fucking touch me again.”
“You bitch!” He exclaims again, trying to lunge up at you again but when it doesn’t work he scratches down your leg, cutting into the skin. You push into his neck more when he doesn’t stop. “You do belong with the Pogues.”
“I know,” you smirk, leaning down. “You get your mom to drop the charges against JJ and I’ll make sure he doesn’t come after you for what you just pulled.”
“You think I’m scared of him!” He yells out, choking a bit when your foot slips against his movement.
“I know that you are. And after he finds out it was you that did this to me, it’ll be a whole other type of anger from him.” you whisper, shoving against his throat again. “Drop the charges and I’ll keep him away from you, for this.”
Topper gasps and starts to grab at your ankle but you don’t move it and you won’t move it until he agrees. It only takes a few seconds before he caves, “Okay! Okay, I’ll do it!”
“Good,” you smile, pulling back a little and a gasping breath echoes loudly between the two of you. “Do it now.”
Topper groans and tries to fight you once again, punching at your thigh this time around and it makes you stumble back but not enough because you slam your foot down on his chest, knocking the wind out of him. “Do it now.”
He lets out a breath and fumbles around in his pocket before his phone is presented and he puts it to his ear. “On speaker.”
Once Topper hangs up the phone, after spitting out some bullshit excuse, his mom agrees. She sounds reluctant but she agrees nonetheless. Topper punches you in the thigh once again, this time harder, losing your balance and hitting the ground once more. He kicks at you, foot coming in contact with your lower back after you turned away from him.
“You won’t ever do that to me again, you hear me?” Topper yells, standing up above you.
You laugh and turn over onto your back, “What? Your ego hurt after being held down by a girl.” His face turns red and you can tell he’s trying his hardest not to kick you again. It just makes you laugh more as you stand up to your full height once more. “Don’t let the charges being dropped fall through. If they do? I won’t have any control over what happens.”
You start to walk away and another laugh escapes when you hear Topper, from behind you, let out a frustrated scream before his car door slams and he speeds away. He’s too easy. Messing with him is one of your favorite things to do, even if it ends up with you limping a bit and blood trickling down your leg.
When you reach your destination, The Chateau as always, you’re relieved to only see Kie at the dock you’re all supposed to be meeting at. You initially thought you’d be the last one to show up, your run in with Topper added at least 20 extra minutes to your journey, but you’re glad it doesn’t seem that way. Kie looks up when a branch snaps under your foot and you can see a smile outlining her face when she spots you but it quickly turns into a frown when she sees the state you’re in.
“What the hell happened to you?” she screeches, meeting you halfway.
You look around the property, in search of a certain blonde boy because you absolutely had no idea how you were going to explain this to him. JJ was absolutely going to lose it once he saw you and he absolutely isn’t going to let it go until he knows the truth. You thought about lying to him but he knows you better than he knows himself and he’d see through the lie before it would even have a chance to leave your mouth.
“Where are the guys? I thought I’d be late.”
Kie gives you an unimpressed look at your obvious avoidance of the subject, “I don’t know, something about Figure 8 and Sarah Cameron. That’s all I heard on the phone call.”
You nod, not really caring where they are in the slightest, “Cool. Now will you help me clean up a bit. It doesn’t feel as bad as it looks, I promise.”
She runs her eyes down your whole body before meeting your eyes, “That’s a lie. Do you not feel the blood actively running down your leg?”
Looking down, your eyes widen at just how much blood is covering your leg. “Shit,” you mutter, pressing a palm to your forehead.
“I ran into Topper,” you sigh, the adrenaline quickly leaving your body now that you’re standing still.
Kiara gasps loudly, “By yourself!”
“Yes,” you groan, not really seeing the big deal. “He looks worse.”
Kie looks like she doesn’t believe you and she’s clearly about to question you when the van pulls up and JJ loudly gets out, yelling out to you both, “Yo, guys, someone beat the shit out of Topper and it wasn’t even us!”
He clearly hasn’t taken in the sight of you yet but you turn your attention back to Kie and you can’t help but smirk at the shocked expression on her face. “JJ’s going to lose his shit in about 2 seconds.”
And just as Kiara closes her mouth, JJ’s voice nearly echoes through the trees, “What in the fuck!” You wince at his tone and just how loud it is.
He was still behind you, you purposely kept your eyes locked on Kiara so you don’t have to face him just yet. But that’s clearly not going to stand because JJ steps in front of you, effectively pushing Kie out of the way. “Who did this?”
“I fell?” You raise your voice as if asking a question, scrunching your face up into your shoulders. The deadpan look on your boyfriend's face makes you let out a sigh and drop your shoulders. “I’d like to say for you to see the other guy but you already have.”
Pope’s voice cuts in before JJ even has a chance to process your words, “You did that to Topper!” He sounds impressed and a big smile pulls at your lips as you turn your head to look at him.
“Holy shit,” John B exhales staring at you in complete awe. “He was fucked up.”
A laugh bubbles past your lips and your cheeks heat up at the attention you’re receiving. The admiration on the two boys' faces almost makes you forget about the other boy in your presence. The one that’s been awfully quiet. You turn back to him and the look on his face makes you frown. His pupils are blown and his jaw is clenched so tight you’re positive his teeth hurt. His focus is dead set on the base of your throat.
Waving your hand in front of his face, you snap your fingers as well, trying to bring him back to you, “Earth to JJ. Come back to me.”
“Topper did this to you?” he asks and when you nod, something flashes in his eyes so quick you find yourself trying to chase it. Figure out what’s going through his head. “I’m going to kill him.”
You’re stunned at the way his voice sounds, deep and raspy, filled with so much hatred. You’re almost positive his voice has never been so low before and it sends chills down your spine. You blink at him but when you open your eyes he’s not in front of you anymore. He’s only a few steps away but you can’t really move as the pain in your leg finally settled in.
“JJ,” you cry out, half out of pain and half to get his attention. “Don’t do anything! Come back here.”
You swivel in your spot and watch him as he continues to stomp into the house. A few things crash around before he comes back out, shoving what you assume is the gun into the back of his pants. “JB, give me the keys.”
“No, don’t give them to him!” You yell out. You need to get his attention.
“What are you thinking? Do you really think I’m just going to sit here and do nothing when that piece of shit put his hands on you?” JJ shouts, standing a few feet away from you now.
Pope comes up behind JJ and puts both hands to his shoulder, “Calm down, man,” he says but JJ roughly shrugs his shoulder and pushes Pope off of him. He puts his hands up in surrender but stays close. “You can’t just go pull a gun out on him and kill him.” He reasons.
“Oh yeah?” He challenges. “Watch me.”
“JJ, stop it,” Kie cries out now.
“Yeah man, you saw what Topper looked like. You should be happy that she’s the one who did it.” John B points out, gesturing to you and JJ follows the movement of his hand and he looks to you again.
He looks at you with his brows furrowed, a storm swirling around in his eyes as he stares you down. The eye contact isn’t something you normally back down from but the intensity in his eyes right now throws you off. It feels like you’re being chastised. You know he’s trying to figure out why you fought Topper. He knows that you don’t just out right fight someone, even if they start it first. He knows that the only time you ever fight is in self defense or to defend someone you care about.
“What did you do?” JJ asks because he knows you did this for a reason. Something more than just for yourself because you don’t personally care for Topper, you’d never give him the time of day and that includes fighting him. “Why’d you fight him?”
“Well,” you shrug, looking down to your feet. Your leg was still bleeding. You should probably do something about that. “He made me mad.”
JJ scoffs, “Your temper is not as bad as mine. There’s more to it. Tell me, now, or I will go kill him.”
You hesitate some more, fixated on your feet and the way they look in your boots. They’re a bit scuffed but they still look good. You focus on that and not the four sets of eyes burning into your frame. Telling them, telling JJ why you fought would result in JJ feeling like shit. You really don’t want him to feel like shit because you did what you did to help him. But he’ll feel like shit because you got hurt and you got hurt on his behalf. There’s nothing he hates more than someone standing up for him and getting hurt because of it.
“Today, please.” JJ snaps and you look up at him to see the anger plastered on his face.
“I was walking here when he pulled up beside me. He wanted to taunt me about Pope being in jail for the whole boat thing and I told him that it was you that took the blame for it. He tried arguing with me but when I started to walk away he grabbed me,” you take a breath when you see JJ step forward like he’s ready to protect you from the words you’re about to say. “And well, when I was challenging him to hit me he kissed me but I -“
“He did what now?” JJ cuts in, his voice so deep and slow your eyes widen at him. Kiara and Pope’s jaw drops at the same time and John B looks taken aback at the way his best friend sounds. Never have they ever heard him sound so angry. You’ve never even heard him so angry before.
Everyone, but you and JJ, glances at each other in confusion but you don’t even dare to look away from JJ. They don’t know what’s going on or why JJ would get so mad at the idea of someone else kissing you. Kiara had a suspicion long ago that the two of you were dating but you shot it down even though she was right. That was almost a year ago and as far as you know they don’t know you’re actually together. At this point you’re not too sure why they don’t even know or why you haven’t told them but you have a feeling they’re about to be real surprised here soon. The look in JJ’s eyes is possessive, it’s down right a claim that you’re his and no one has the right to kiss you.
“Let me finish,” you put a hand up. “I kicked him, shoved him down to the ground, punched him, then held him by the throat with my foot-“
“My god,” John B breathes out, once again looking in awe. Pope just nods in agreement, almost in a daze. Kiara, well she just looks impressed.
“While I slightly choked him with my foot,” you pause for a second, preparing yourself for the worst reaction from JJ, “I got him to drop the charges on the boat.”
It goes deathly quiet for a few moments before three voices come at you all at one, “What?”
You ignore them, still looking at JJ, “By the end of the day your name should be cleared. You won’t be held responsible for the boat anymore.”
JJ doesn’t say anything, he just continues to stare but you watch him carefully. His breaths are deep and calculated, his jaw is clenching and unclenching, his fists loosen and he rests his palms against his thighs. You can practically see the wheels inside his brain working through the information, processing the fact that you did this for him. He’s not used to someone caring for him this way, no matter how long you’ve been there for him, he’s still not used to the love you have for him. He went so long without it, it takes him a while to process it.
But you see the moment it finally settles in his brain, the second that he fully processed the information you’d given him. His chest stutters briefly and you know the tears are going to come next. He breathes in a long breath, and holds it in his lungs before it rushes out through his nose. He’s trying to keep up his tough front, but he’s failing. His eyes finally soften and they go back to the normal light they usually are.
Then, in the blink of an eye he’s in front of you. His hands cradle your face before his body collides with yours, hard, and his lips are on yours. The kiss is hard, it’s possessive, passionate, sincere but hasty, fervent, needy, desperate. It’s overwhelming and so full of emotion that it takes you a second to respond but when you do, JJ sighs into it and pulls you impossibly closer. One hand moves to your lower back and the other one stays on your jaw where his thumb pushes against your face to open your mouth even more. He is absolutely, unquestionably claiming you right here, right now. Not that you need to be claimed but you don’t mind. You’ve never felt so alive before.
The love JJ is conveying through this kiss is everything you’ve ever needed and you reciprocate the best that you can. You want him to know that you’re his and he’s yours. Just how it should be.
JJ whines when you pull away and he chases after you but you need to breathe, “Jesus, J.”
“I’ll say,” Kiara agrees, a little out of breath herself at what she just witnessed. Two seventeen year olds should not know how to share such a passionate looking kiss.
“I didn’t know friends kiss like that,” John B jokes, nudging Pope when he laughs.
“That’s because they don’t.” he continues laughing.
JJ ignores everything they say, “You didn’t have to do that.”
“I know, but I did.” You shrug, shifting on your feet and wincing at the pain that shoots through your leg and JJ notices that. “But like can we go get me cleaned up or something, I need to sit down.”
“Yeah,” JJ nods hastily, “you guys go ahead and go out without us,” he looks at the other three, that still look like they’re in complete shock, and doesn’t wait for their response before he looks back to you, “can you walk?”
You nod but he doesn’t listen. JJ swiftly throws you over his shoulder and starts walking towards the house. “I love you, you know,” he says once he’s far enough away from everyone.
It’s the next day when you and JJ make an appearance after staying inside all day the day before. Once you had showered and iced down the parts of your body that hurt, you fell asleep and stayed asleep until it was dark. The adrenaline in your system was completely gone and you were in a lot of pain so sleep came naturally.
You met John B, Pope, Kie, and even Sarah, at the beach. It was around 11am when you and JJ walked up to them as they were sitting there in the sand. As you approached, they went quiet and watched as JJ helped you sit, hand you a bottle of water before sitting down behind you. His legs press against yours on either side of your body and his hands rest on top of your thighs. You can feel four sets of eyes on you and you give it about 3 more seconds before someone breaks the quiet.
“How are you feeling?” Kie is the one to break it. You glance at her and give her a smile, one that she returns.
“Sore but I’ll be fine.”
John B laughs a bit of a disbelieving laugh, “What you explained yesterday was pretty badass.”
“Hell yeah it was,” Pope excitedly cuts in. “I should say thank you, as well.”
You just shrug, “I would’ve done it for any of you.”
“Did Topper really do that to you?” Sarah questions you, quizzically looking you up and down. Your face bruised and so did your leg. The scratches down your leg are scabbed and also bruised.
The hands on your thighs tighten and dig into the skin there. You gently place your hands on his, soothing the anger that still sits there. He calmed down yesterday, barely, but he did enough to listen to what happened when you explained it again. Adding in the details you knew would calm him down. He tried to argue with you a few times but you finally got through to him, made him accept the fact that you did what you did and there’s no turning back now.
“What a dick. I can’t believe I dated him,” Sarah continues when you nod at her.
As everyone laughs and starts to pick on Sarah for her choices, you shift your upper body enough to twist around and look at JJ. His eyes are dark and his jaw is clenched tight, pushing out the muscles in his neck. You let out a sigh and bring a hand up to his cheek, soothing your fingers over his jaw to get him to unclench. He’s angry, that much you can tell, but he’s trying his best to keep a wraps on it. It’s been very difficult to keep him steady. Every time he looks at you, he tenses and his breathing gets all deep. It’ll be like that for a few days.
“JJ, calm down,” you whisper to him. The fingers digging into your thighs tighten some more before he relaxes, his eyes meeting yours and the dark anger in them fizzling away slowly. “Hey, there you are.”
“I still can’t believe you won’t let me go kick his ass,” JJ scoffs, moving to lean back on his hands. The movement makes you sway a little, having not realized how much you were relying on him to keep you upright. “I just want to kick his ass.”
He always wants to kick his ass but you know the underlying anger in him would take it further than that and that’s not something you want. Also, “If you kick his ass the charges will come back,” you remind him.
JJ closes his eyes and takes a breath. You move around between his legs and sit sideways, your legs bent over one of his now so you don’t have to be so twisted to look at him. Your back hurts a bit too much for that. He pulls up the leg that’s against your back and presses it into you, giving you something to lean on. You place a hand on his thigh, up by his hip, and lean into him a bit, “I’m sure you’ll get the chance to kick his ass again but just not for this, okay? I hit him just as much as he hit me.”
That brings a smirk to his face, “You know, I wouldn’t mind seeing you choke someone out with those boots you wear. I’m a bit mad I missed it, I’m sure it was hot as fuck.”
And that catches the attention of everyone else and you turn your head when John B speaks up, “Fuck, I was thinking the same thing,” he laughs and laughs even harder when Sarah gasps. “I’m just saying.”
“Actually,” Kie shrugs, “I wouldn’t mind picking a fight with Topper just to see that.”
You let out a loud laugh, your head thrown back at the sheer force in which it comes out, “Can we wait a few days maybe, I hurt.”
JJ immediately brings a hand up to soothe over your leg. It does look bad and honestly it does hurt as bad as it looks. It only takes a few seconds for his other hand to brush over the nasty looking bruise on your back too. Four sets of eyes track the movements, “Does it hurt that bad?”
“Yeah, actually. The cuts sting the worst and the sun makes them feel like they’re burning.” Your answer makes JJ frown. His eyes flicker with anger once more, “Stay calm,” you state a bit forcefully.
You can tell that the group wants to question the movements between you and JJ. The kiss you shared in front of them yesterday was anything but the friendly kisses that you share with the group most days and it’s been on the forefront of their brains ever since. Sarah is the only one that doesn’t track the movements for more than what they are, she didn’t see the kiss and the closeness is no different than what it usually is for the both of you.
The good thing about being with JJ is that nothing really changed between the two of you when you started dating. As kids, you were alway closer than with anyone else. JJ trusted you, protected you, cared deeply for you from the beginning. The touchiness started when you were 15, feelings between you a little too strong to ignore so you went from the friendly hugs and touches to a bit more. Hands would rest in more intimate places, no longer would they rest on knees but now on thighs. No longer on the waist but more on the curve of hips or high up on the rib cage near the chest. Everything was taken in stride, the older everyone got the more common it was and no one questioned a thing about it. It was mostly friendly, being so used to being near JJ for years that the change in touches barely registered in your head, it was all normal.
It changed almost a year ago. The feelings you held for JJ getting to be too much to control, you felt they were getting more and more noticeable every day. JJ was getting closer and closer, lingering longer than usual, snapping quicker when someone offended you, acting a bit more possessive and it was a lot to process. One night, after a particularly large fight with the Kooks, you and JJ were alone on the hammock outside The Chateau when he kissed you. It was a real kiss, one with emotion and fervor, not just a friendly peck that you’d gotten so used to sharing.
You guys have been dating ever since. Keeping it to yourself. You share everything else with the group, nothing was ever private but this was something you wanted to yourselves. To enjoy with no pressure. It was only supposed to be that way for a few months, while you got used to the change in relationship, but you got so comfortable with the way you guys got to have each other in private, you just never mentioned it.
But with how deeply you loved each other, it was obviously getting harder to hide. Not that it’s really that important.
“Are you guy-“
“What the fuck!”
JJ, Pope, and Sarah all speak at the same time but everyone focuses on Sarah’s distressed, ‘what the fuck,’ and looks to her. Everyone then follows her line of sight and what’s caught her attention. JJ immediately tenses and he sits back, ready to jump up. You tense yourself, pushing harder into your hold on him.
“Rafe, what the fuck are you doing here?” Sarah screeches standing up. John B follows her. Kie and Pope stand too, standing more in front of you and JJ.
“Let me go,” JJ whispers, his voice coming out harsh, especially when Topper pops up from behind Rafe.
JJ huffs, an annoyed sigh heaving through his nose. His vision is locked on the two boys approaching your group. “We just wanted to check up on our favorite people,” Rafe jokes, the sarcasm rolling off of him in waves. You move completely around in front of JJ when you feel his body start to shake a bit at his continued words, “Especially the one who beat up my boy here.”
Wrapping your legs around JJ’s waist, you pull him closer to you before grasping his face in your hands. “Hey baby, how are you today?” you question, whispering to not gain the attention of everyone else. Pope and Kie are doing a decent job of keeping you hidden but JJ’s eyes are still locked on where Rafe and Topper are standing.
“Which one of you did it? He won’t tell me and I’d like to have a word.”
A twitch goes through JJ’s body, like he’s about to get up but you hold him tighter. Stroking your fingers through his hair, you tug on it a bit to get his attention. It works. “It’s okay.”
“None of you look like you got your asses handed to them, so I ask again. Who did it?” Rafe hums, clicking his tongue as you assume he looks around at everyone. You know that you and JJ aren’t completely covered and he’s bound to finally see you two.
“Rafe, just leave.” Sarah intervenes.
“Oh, Daddy’s little princess, I don’t think so. Not until someone steps up. I might even hang out with you today. I think it would be fun.”
“No, leave them alone. You come for them enough without reason. Go home!” Her voice is stern but Rafe is off the walls, you highly doubt he’ll listen. “Topper deserved what happened to him anyway.”
“Ah,” Rafe lets out, “So you know who did it? You think she’ll own up to it any time soon, I’m tired.”
You wince when JJ roughly grabs you and shoves you away from him. The movement makes you tumble into the back of Kie’s legs and she helps you up as JJ pushes to the front of the group, in the blink of an eye. You let out a groan as you get steady on your feet, your back burning with pain.
John B slaps a hand down on JJ’s shoulder as he steps in front of him, to keep him from attacking. You let out a sigh and shake your head as JJ puffs out his chest, making himself seem bigger. “Why don’t you leave her out of this,” his tone is menacing.
“Oh! You know who did it too?” Rafe exclaims, feigning ignorance.
“Rafe, I told you it’s not a big deal. Let’s go.” Topper interjects.
“No, man. Look at the bruise on your neck. Someone just doesn’t get away with that. Even if they’re a girl,” Rafe finishes, looking directly at you. You stare back, unimpressed, arms crossed over your chest.
JJ lunges for Rafe, “Keep her out of it!”
Rafe laughs as John B and Pope hold JJ back, “But it’s her fault!”
“Not when he’s all over her first! Come on, Top, be a big man and admit it was your fault!” JJ taunts, struggling against the hold JB and Pope have on him.
You sigh once more before stepping out of Kie’s grip, she squeezes you for a second but let’s you go when you keep walking. Stepping in between JJ and Rafe, your chest brushes his, and you challenge him. You want to protect JJ in this moment because you know if a fight was to break out, JJ wouldn’t have it fair because looking past Rafe’s shoulder you spot the rest of their little gang.
“Get out of the way,” JJ yells, placing a hand to your waist. His fingers squeeze into your side but you don’t back down.
“No, JJ!” you yell back, “this is something you can’t fight over. I told you that!”
JJ presses his chest to your back, trying to get as close as possible to the situation but you push back. “Damn it, let me do something!”
You ignore him, turning to Rafe who has a smug expression on his face from the exchange, “Leave. This has nothing to do with you!”
Sarah steps you beside you and shoves at her brother, making him stumble. “Go home.”
“Sarah, this has nothing to do with you.”
You take a step forward, “And it doesn’t with you, either. I’d leave before you end up like your buddy.” Your temper is rising very quickly. The continuous smug look on his face from not listening to you or his own sister making your skin crawl. Your blood is hot and you can feel yourself vibrating in JJ’s hold, the taunting of his words and the way he speaks them as if he’s demeaning you.
“Like you co-“ you don’t even let him finish before you’re throwing a punch across his face, hard. He falls to the ground with the force of it and you’re about to lurch forward to continue throwing punches but arms wrap around your waist and pull you back. Your legs kick up in the air as you fight against the hold, “You bitch!”
Sarah jumps in between you and her brother, knowing he wouldn’t hit her. “Rafe, leave,” but he just shoved her aside and tried to get to you. You’re still fighting in JJ’s hold, yelling at him to let you go but he just continues to pull you away. Topper jumps in to keep Rafe back, desperately trying to get him to listen. For once Topper is doing something smart.
“Let me fight him!” You scream, tired of him and all his friends constantly looking down at you like you’re no more than a piece of garbage on the ground. It’s tiring, frustrating, and you’re absolutely sick of it. You’re tired of having to constantly be on alert, wondering if you’re going to get attacked again just because you’re hanging out somewhere or walking down the street. “Let me go!”
“No!” JJ yells back, “if you won’t let me fight, you’re not going to either!”
“I’m not letting you fight because I don’t want you in jail, asshole!” You’re still struggling against him but his hold is too tight and you’re losing air. “I’m just trying to protect you, god damn it, let me do something for you!”
In your fit of rage you don’t even notice that JJ has dragged you both a few feet away from everyone else until he’s in front of you, hands grasping at your face, “Hey hey hey, will you calm down? Breathe, calm down, baby.”
“JJ, let me go!” You exclaim, still trying to pull away from his grasp. It bothers the bruise on your face but you ignore it. You just want to fight, to attack anything that puts JJ in danger. You’re not too sure where this sudden wave of protectiveness came from, granted you always want to protect him, but it’s a really strong urge these past few days.
“No, calm down. I’m not letting you go until you’re breathing properly again.” JJ argues. He soothes his thumbs over your cheeks but you’re barely registering them there. Your mind is still reeling, wanting to do anything to fight, to keep JJ safe and with you. “What is going on with you? Why do you want to fight so bad? You’re not one to fight.”
The questions seem to drain the fight right out of you, the adrenaline running through your system leaving your body in a single breath. It makes you sag against JJ, his hands on your cheeks the main thing keeping you up. “I don’t know.”
“Come on, dig a little. I need an answer so we can work on moving forward.” JJ throws your own words back at you. You smile a little at him, happy that he’s grasping onto the tactics you use to get him to open up about what he’s going through. JJ notices you smile and chuckles, “Yeah, yeah I listen to you after all.”
That makes you full on laugh, your whole body shaking as the laugh rips through you. Reaching up, you rest a hand to his cheek, “You’re so stubborn, I’m a bit surprised.” He leans into your touch a bit, eyes closing as he takes in a deep breath. Your laughter dies down and you just smile at him. “The idea of you not being with me, scares me.”
JJ frowns and steps closer, as if either of you would disappear if he wasn’t close enough. “I just-“ you breathe out when he places your free hand on his ribs, your place of comfort, your grounding place. “I just want to do something for you. I want you to be safe. I want to protect you.”
“Have you not realized that’s what you’ve been doing for me since we were like 9?” JJ laughs, shaking his head. “Baby, you’ve been the one protecting me for years. How many times have you taken the blame for something when you weren’t even there? How many times have you hid me in your closet so your parents don’t find out I’ve sneaked in after a particularly bad day with my dad? How many times have you patched me up and held me when things got too bad? It’s too many to count. You do things for me every day. You smiling at me, holding my hand, sitting beside me, sharing food with me, looking at me, hell just being in the same room as me; gets me through any day.”
The four others stare on in a bit of a daze. Rafe and his followers long gone so their attention has been solely on the two of you. But there’s no way either of you could’ve known. Emotions are running high between you and JJ that there’s no way you’d pay attention to anything other than him until you knew his mind was steady. You knew JJ was going through the same thing.
“Are they like.... together?” Sarah questions, to no one in particular. She always just assumed the two of you were just closer. That your friendship was just that, a friendship. She’s noticed that the entire group of Pogues were close and touchy, but it was always a bit more between the two of you.
“Yeah,” Pope answers.
Sarah gasps, “Why didn’t I know!”
“Because we don’t even know,” John B answers.
“What do you mean?” Sarah’s brows furrow. That has got to be one of the most confusing things she’s ever been told. “That doesn’t make sense.”
“They haven’t told us,” Kie shrugs, “But, I mean, it’s obvious. I figured it out like six months ago maybe?”
“Really?” Pope, raises an eyebrow. “I figured it out like 3 months ago.”
“Mmm,” John B hums, “I’m pretty sure I witnessed their first official kiss. You know how she kisses all of us?” he asks, looking around to the others. Kie and Pope nod while Sarah just watches on. “Well, one night, like last year some time. I saw them kiss and it wasn’t like the ones she gives all of us. Their dynamic changed the next day.”
Sarah looks around completely baffled. She feels like she should’ve known, should’ve realized but she just assumed because no one acted like you two were dating. But she didn’t grow up with you all, she hasn’t seen how the two of you dating wouldn’t be a shock. And the newfound information still doesn’t stop Sarah from letting out a gasp when you surge forward to kiss JJ.
The kiss is like the one you shared yesterday but this time it’s you pouring everything you’ve got into it. Pouring in every ounce of love your body has to offer. It’s deep and warm and all things good. It’s needy and greedy, needing to have his attention and wanting to take it all. He reciprocates with just as much fervor, hastily kissing back like his life depended on it. His hands are tight on your waist as he pulls you impossibly closer, always closer, and your arms wrap around his neck. Hands shoved in his hair, you kiss him with unrelenting fury. It’s a kiss that could easily turn into something more if you weren’t in public so you try to tone it down but JJ is having none of that. He just wraps both arms around your back and holds you to him when you try to pull away.
You step back though, breathing heavily against JJ’s lips. Your breaths mix with his and your lips desperately brush as you both just breathe, trying to come back to earth. You place a quick kiss to his lips and one to his nose, “I love you, you know.”
“I know,” he responds with a quick kiss to your lips and your nose.
The van is entirely too tense for your liking. The atmosphere is so thick, it makes it feel like you can’t breathe. John B is yelling profusely at JJ as he drives, like he’s part of a car chase, through the back roads of The Cut to get to where his brain has focused on.
It was a pretty normal day up until about 26 minutes ago.
You were the last one to be picked up for the day, JJ greeting you at the sliding door of the van with a quick hello kiss to your lips before grabbing your hand and helping you in. Kisses got placed on everyone, even Sarah -who was pleasantly surprised, because even if she won’t admit it, she was upset to find out that you’ve kissed everyone but her- before sitting down on the floor in front of the bench. JJ sat behind you and you wrapped your arms around his legs. All of you were going to head out to the boat, spend the day on the water and soak up some sun. Just hang out like teenagers are supposed to do.
That was until a supposed cop car pulled up behind the van out of nowhere and ordered for you to pull over. John B does as told but in the blink of an eye, there’s a shot gun being aimed in his face and orders are being thrown for everyone to get out. Orders thrown for us to lay down flat in the ditch.
Something about knowing Rafe and how he’s going after people to collect money he owes. JJ was constantly telling him that you’re all a bunch of Pogues, that he won’t find anything but of course he found the cash you keep in your backpack, along with the weed you hold for JJ. There were a few other things he found that he deemed good enough to steal but you didn’t get enough of a look to see what he found. It’s like he noticed every time one of you moved because he’d be quick to aim the gun at any of you who moved and threaten to shoot.
Which is why it was so surprising when JB was able to get into the car without the guy noticing. After that, it was amazing how fast the guy ended up on the ground, wheezing and groaning in pain.
“Oh, I know this guy! He sells coke to my dad!” JJ yelled before he kicked him in the stomach.
“No wonder he was talking about Rafe.” Sarah interjected, scoffing in disbelief.
JJ punched the guy across the face once more before reaching into his pocket and taking the guys wallet. “We have one more stop to make!” he laughs menacingly.
So, that leads you up to where you are now. Pacing the front lawn of a run down drug house. Crashes are coming from inside, along with the yells and screams from JJ and John B. Every time something hits the ground, you startle, completely on edge by the whole situation. JJ has damn near lost his mind, his eyes too wide and too unfocused. If you didn’t know any better you’d say he did a line of coke for breakfast this morning.
Deep down, you know this behavior is only fueled by the way he’s been treated his whole life. That he’s reached his limit at how much he can actually take. That he’s fed up with his life and what he feels like he’s worth. He’s snapped, something you’ve been trying to prevent for years, and there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it. You’re not scared of him, you know that you’d be able to calm him down but you know there’d be a fight before that happened. A fight you don’t want to go through. It’s only been four days since your fight with Topper and you’re still exhausted from it. You’re not ready to handle a fight with JJ.
“God, they sound like they’re killing each other in there,” Kie groans, pacing just as much as you. She looks worried.
Pope stands completely still, an anxious look on his face as he stares at the front door of the house. It looks like he believes he’ll summon them out with just his gaze in the door.
And Sarah, well, she just looks out of place.
You continue to pace, anxiously waiting, not daring to look at the door. You don’t want to know what’s going on. You wish you couldn’t hear what was going on either. You honestly feel like you’re going to wear a path down in the dead grass with all your back and forth.
“Now!” you jump at the sudden voice before the screen door to the house slams open. JJ steps out with a wad of cash in his hands. “We can all have, let’s see-“ he pauses for a second as he sorts through the stack, “5 grand each!”
John B looks aggravated, like he’s talking to a child that keeps asking ‘why’ for absolutely no reason, as he follows closely behind JJ.
“What are we doing! Stealing from drug dealers now?” Kiara exclaims.
JJ stares at her, throwing his arms around. “Aren’t you guys tired of this? We got a gun! A gun pulled on us today. We were robbed! Us!” JJ exclaims, face red. “I don’t know about you but I’m tired! I’m tired of being treated like absolute shit just because of where we live!”
You stare on in complete shock. JJ’s lips are parted and his eyes are wide, breathing ragged. This is a whole other type of anger that you’ve never seen out of JJ before. You’re not too sure how to handle this.
“Relax, JJ,” John B continues after him, his anger showing through as well. He starts pushing up against JJ, getting in his face.
“How’d you feel, huh? That shit was right there in your face,” JJ argues back.
“I’m putting it back,” John B moves to snatch the bag JJ has in his grasp and that leads to JJ shoving JB up against the van, hard. The impact of it echoes around the small area you’re in.
“You feel like a tough guy, huh?” John B snaps, not even trying to fight against the hold JJ has on him. He knows that JJ would never lay a hand on him, no matter how mad he got. “What will you do when he comes for us?”
“We punch him, in the throat,” JJ retorts, his voice coming out low and threatening. It does fit with JJ, he shouldn’t be capable of getting his voice to sound like that.
JB scoffs, “Oh, good fuckin’ idea, JJ.”
JJ steps back, a relieving sigh coming from you as he does, “I’m not putting it back,” he mutters and shoves past JB and gets into the van. From your vantage point, you can’t see him inside. You’re still so shocked to the spot, you can’t move. It’s only a few seconds of everyone just standing around before he gets back out. “What!?” he snaps.
“We’re sick of your shit.”
That seems to get you to snap out of whatever trance you’re in. You finally look away from JJ and look at everyone else. The worried look on Pope’s face, at his best friend's obvious breakdown. The indifference Sarah radiates because she doesn’t know JJ enough to feel any other way. The anger in John B’s stance as he looks at his best friend and the recklessness he’s showing. The disbelief on Kiara’s face as she looks at JJ like she’s never seen him before, “Yeah, you’re pulling guns out on people shit.”
“JJ come on man, put it back,” Pope tries to reason but JJ just snaps.
“Pope, come on! I took the fall for you, I owed 30k in restitution. The charges may drop but they can still sue me for that money. Might as well be ahead of the game!”
“I didn’t ask you to do that!” Pope exclaims.
“Yeah, well I did. Sorry for caring.” JJ mutters, looking around to everyone. He misses your frame, like he forgot you were even with them. “You know what? I’m just going to go by myself.”
All you do is watch as JJ starts to walk away, his head is down and you can see the hurt in his face as he walks by. The mask he holds up every day, faltering as soon as he can’t be seen anymore. He meets your eye and the wild anger that was there seconds ago is gone, all that’s left is watery eyes and disappointment. You take a step towards him, to give him the comfort he needs to get through this but he just shakes his head and keeps walking.
“JJ!” Pope hell’s out but it falls on deaf ears, JJ continuing his trek out of the area.
“Just let him go.” JB sighs, “let him do his thing.”
It’s quiet, so quiet you can hear the wind in the trees rustling each leaf, as JJ walks out of sight. It doesn’t take long for the last few minutes to settle into your brain and leave your blood running hot. When you turn away from where JJ had gone, you see everyone looking to you for some sort of guidance. They know you’re the only one that can successfully bring JJ back to earth, back to the present and out of his head. It’s been that way for years now. They just look at you helplessly, like you have all the answers. And you don’t.
It makes you angrier. It angers you that JJ did this. That he snapped and decided it would be a good idea to rob someone, a drug dealer at that. You would’ve much rather dealt with him getting into another fight with someone over having to deal with stolen money.
And it makes you angry that his best friends are apparently sick of him. It doesn’t sit right with you in the slightest.
“I can believe you guys,” you shake your head at them.
John B looks taken aback by your words, “Us!?”
“You can’t sit here and tell us you support him for what he just did!” Kie yells at you, stepping forward.
“Of course not!” You shake your head, “but I’m not going to sit here and shit on someone who is already down. JJ doesn’t deserve you guys to be talking to him like that, like you’re sick of him. That boy does everything he can to get things right with you guys. You mean so much to him and you’re just going to shit on him for it?”
“He’s robbing drug dealers, y/n.” Pope tries to reason but you just shake your head at him.
“One that just threatened to kill, each and every one of you.” You argue back, “Yes, stealing probably wasn’t the best thing he could’ve done and I’ll try and get it back so we don’t get into anymore fucking trouble. But, for you guys to turn on him the second he does something you don’t agree with is a bit fucked.”
You step towards them again, not realizing you were so far away from the group to begin with, “Pope, I know you didn’t ask him to, but he just took the fall for you so you wouldn’t lose your scholarship opportunity. He told me it’s because he’s not worth more than jail time, that you have so much more to look forward to than him.”
“Kie, who was the first person to accept you back into the group after you wanted to experience life as a kook? It was JJ. He sat there multiple nights, telling us that you haven’t changed, that you’d still be the same Kiara you were before. The one that’s understanding and supportive of everyone’s reckless behavior.”
“And John B,” you frown, “JJ was the one that was there for you when your dad went missing. He held you through the nights, made you eat and drink water. Did everything in his power to bring you out of your pain, while he was going through his own set of pain. He made sure you didn’t lose yourself when you lost your dad.”
“And for me? He’s been there for me through so much shit, quick to smile just so I would smile back. He could be in so much physical and emotional pain but he’s the first person to smile. The first person to crack a joke. The first person to offer comfort just because he doesn’t want people to feel what he feels from someone who is supposed to care for him. He may act like a jackass or someone who is tough and happy but he’s not. He’s really not.”
“You guys don’t see the way that mask falls off as soon as he’s alone. You don’t see how he beats himself up over the tiny details of his life. How he views himself as nothing more than a piece of trash for not being able to stand up to his dad. How he thinks he’s going to end up just like him. He’s scared, terrified of losing us. It’s why he’s so quick to fight, to protect, to make sure we’re happy. We’re literally the only thing, the only good thing, he has in his life. And you hurt him today.”
You hang your head after your rant, the weight of your words leaving you feeling empty after having said them. Your shoulders ache a bit but it’s still quiet. “I know, none of us agree with the stealing of the money. It was stupid and dangerous. But you didn’t have to tell him that you’re tired of him. You could’ve let Pope follow him like he wanted, to show him that he’s not alone.”
“Well, you didn’t follow him either.” Sarah steps in.
“He told me not to. I respect him for that. He knows what he did was a bit much. He wants to calm down, he was just mad that we all could’ve just died.” You shrug, looking around to everyone. They all look a bit guilty, realizing what it is that they just insinuated to their best friend.
“We didn’t mean it in a bad way,” John B says, running his hands through his hair like he’s stressed. And he is.
“Yeah, but do you think he’ll take it that way?” You question, eyebrow raised.
“We just want him to calm down.”
You nod, “I get that but you could’ve gone at it another way. That’s just me though. I’m gonna go home though. Be there just in case.”
Before they have a chance to say anything you walk away, in the opposite direction of JJ because you live in opposite directions. And that sudden thought makes your heart drop at the realization that JJ might try and go home. To show his dad that he can do something right, that he can get the money to pay off his debts.
You don’t hear from JJ for the rest of the day. Just your unread message of I know, to his I love you, you know, that he sent a few minutes after he left the group in the afternoon.
You didn’t see JJ until the following night. And when you did you kinda wished you hadn’t. You wish he hadn’t gone missing for over 24 hours. You wish you’d seen him all day and that this wasn’t the first time you were seeing him. As soon as your eyes landed on him, you knew something was wrong. Something went terribly wrong.
You and Kie had been together all day, running errands and shopping, picking up things for the movie night, dinner, at the Chateau. The Pogues all decided it would be a good idea because you knew that JJ would show up and they wanted to apologize to him. Everyone was worried about him, having not been able to locate him since he’d gone off the walls. But you knew him, you knew no matter how upset he gets about his friend, he’ll always come back to them. Always.
“I’m really worried about JJ,” Kie had said at one point. The two of you were picking up his favorite candy when she said it, looking forlorn into the shopping cart.
You felt her pain, but you shrugged nonchalant anyway, not wanting to alarm her with just how worried you were. If you were overly -which you were- worried about JJ then everyone knows it’s bad, “Shit happens in friend groups, Kie.”
She looked like she was close to tears, “But we’re not a normal friend group. We’re family.”
You nodded at her and held her in the middle of the market.
Now you felt like you were the one that needed to be held.
The sight in front of you was wrong. It didn’t belong in front of you. It didn’t belong anywhere near here yet, here it was staring you right in the face. You want to close your eyes and when you open them back up, you want it to be gone but you knew that wasn’t going to happen. Your heart is lodged in your throat and it was going to stay there until you knew everything was going to be okay.
“What did you do, JJ?” Pope gasps, in absolute disbelief as the three of you come up on JJ sitting in a hot tub, surrounded by hundreds of Christmas lights.
JJ looks up and scans over you, Kie, and Pope. You can barely see his eyes over the brim of his sunglasses. Why is he wearing sunglasses at night? You’re not too sure. “Oh, good you’re here. Come on, you have to get in right now! I have a jet going in my butt!”
He’s drunk, overly so, but that doesn’t stop him from drinking the champagne in his hands, right out of the bottle. Pope just drops his jaw, “How much did all this cost?”
“Well when you look at it; the generator, petrol, lights.. I don’t know? All of it?”
“All of it!?”
“All of it.”
“You spent all that money in one day?” Pope exclaims, leaning forward in his spot. It sounds like he doesn’t believe it. Like he doesn’t even want to.
“Yeah, burned a whole right through my pocket!” JJ waves his hand flippantly like it’s not a big deal. When it is. “But I mean, like, look, come on guys look at all of this.”
His voice is too high. It’s tight and too pitched to sound normal. To sound like he’s not seconds away from snapping. It brings tears to your eyes as you watch from the sidelines. Watch as your boyfriend crumbles right before you.
“Kie, what?” JJ says, causing you to look to her. She looks pained, absolutely shattered. “I mean,” JJ laughs but it’s anything but joyful. It sounds just as pained as Kiara’s face looks. “Can’t a man have a little luxury in life?”
He waves his hands dramatically. Showing off what he’s done outside of the Chateau, desperately looking for approval. That what he did was the right thing. “All this, scrapin’,” he trails off, as he rips off the sunglasses. “Come on, guys,” he looks around again, his eyes lingering on yours a bit longer before looking to the water. “I mean, like, guys, we-“ his voice cracks and he takes a desperate breath in. You find yourself copying his breath. “You only live once, right?” His hand comes up out of the water as he limply holds up one finger. Like the movement is too much for him.
The look on JJ’s face as he makes eye contact again screams sadness. Screams validation. He wants, so desperately for you to agree with him, for all of you to agree with him. But he doesn’t realize everyone is on the verge of tears, the breakdown too much for anyone to handle. His face wobbles a bit and you can see it pinch up through the steam around him. He’s seconds away from tears.
When no one responds, he does his best to wipe away the emotions. He fails. But he shakes his head and keeps going, “Enough of this emotional shit. Come on, get in.”
JJ cuts Kie off in a second, “Come on, get in! I almost forgot! There’s a disco mode.”
Fountains of water spit out across the surface and different colored lights shine through each arch. JJ smiles triumphantly and throws his arms up in the air, leaning back against the side of the hot tub again.
“Are you kidding me!” Pope shouts and your tears fall at how fast JJ’s face paints his disappointment. “You could’ve done anything else with the money.”
“You could’ve given it to charity!” Kie interjects, sounding a bit annoyed now. JJ turns his head to the side and rubs at his eyes. His breathing is calculated and you just know he’s doing whatever he can to stop from crying.
“Better yet,” Pope exclaims, “You could’ve given it back!”
“Ok, well you know what!” JJ yells, “I didn’t-“ he stands up and the ground almost falls out from underneath you at the sight, “I didn’t do that! I got a hot tub!”
Your hands shake against your face, just as much as JJ’s voice shakes. The deep, dark, bruises littering his abdomen and ribs, glues you to the spot. You can’t do anything but gape at him. When did this happen and why hadn’t he come to you, to anyone. Where did he go when he was clearly not okay, mentally and physically. Kie and Pope just stare, clearly not knowing what to do with themselves and most likely thinking the same exact thing. JJ just keeps clambering on, like he didn’t just shake the very ground you stand on.
“For my friends! Actually no, screw friends, for my family. I got a hot tub for my family!” His voice is shaky and still too high pitched. He looks and sounds frantic as he keeps moving back and forth in the hot tub.
“JJ, what the hell?” Kie cries out, trying to interrupt him.
If he hears her, he ignores her, “Look at what I did for us! I did this for us! So we can be a family!”
“JJ,” She tries again.
“No,” JJ holds up a hand, shaking his head desperately. “No, stop. Stop being emotional. It’s fine, okay?”
The way the word okay flies out of his mouth, fast and unsteady. The quiver his lips make around the word, breaks the spell that was put on your body. You work on taking off your shoes as fast as possible. Not once looking away from JJ as he bows his head and sucks in deep breaths through his teeth.
You pull off your last sock as he starts talking again, “It’s sweet? Yeah?”
You crash into him as he cries out, “Just get in.”
Wrapping your arms around him, you pull him into you, like you have many times before, and the movement punches a sob right out of him. He leans his entire body weight onto you and just sobs. It only takes a few seconds before you feel another pair of arms. “I just couldn’t take it!” he sobs.
His body shakes against yours and he holds onto you so tight it knocks the wind out of you a bit, “I can’t take him anymore!” The sobs hit at full force, leaving him breathless. “I almost killed him.”
You hold on a bit tighter, running your hands up and down his back. You’re trying to force every ounce of comfort you have in your body into his. Feed him what he so desperately craves. “I just want to do the right thing.” he cries out, sounding so small and vulnerable it shatters your heart into pieces.
“I know,” you and Kie whisper at the same time. You’re glad she’s here. Pope comes in next, his arms wrapping around everyone. JJ lets out a sigh as three pairs of arms wrap around him before he lets out another sob. His weight being held up by the three of you. “I know.”
You’re not too sure how long you’re there, standing in the middle of the hot tub, just listening to JJ sob but you know it’s more than half an hour before John B walks up, startling everyone a bit. JJ has calmed down enough and is just being held while he sniffles every once in a while. But his sobs come back as soon as John B asks, “What the fuck is all this?”
John B looks alarmed and quickly let’s go of Sarah to climb into the hot tub, immediately wrapping the group up in his arms. Once he’s here, knowing that there’s a stronger force, you let out your cries. It hurts to see JJ in so much pain, to see him suffering so much. You want to protect him from everything. You want to go to his dad and fight him, make him hurt the way your boyfriend does. But doing that would do nothing to help JJ. If you were to get hurt on JJ’s behalf, once again, but by his dad he’d never forgive himself. And that would hurt him even more.
You want to hold the broken boy in your arms until he’s pieced back together and is never in any pain ever again. But you know that’s not possible, that’s not something that can logically happen.
But what you can do is help him get out of physical pain. Help him get comfortable and hold him until he sleeps. Hold him until he receives the love and comfort he wants and needs. And that’s something you will always do.
“We should get out,” you whisper but everyone hears you. Even Sarah, seeing as she rushes forward to start helping you guys out. After a few moments it’s only you and JJ, the rest hovering around the steps to make sure you can get him out. He clutches on a little tighter when you try to step back, “JJ, baby, come on. We’re gonna get out.”
He nods a bit, his lips brushing the skin of your neck briefly, before he pulls away. He doesn’t go very far before he rests his forehead against yours, blinking languidly at you. He looks so tired and it rips your heart to shreds. A deep breath fans out across your face and his eyes close as he pushes his forehead heavier into yours. You stroke his cheeks and place a kiss to the corner of his mouth, running a comforting hand through his hair.
“Come on, baby, let’s go.” He nods his head once more and moves away. You grab his hand and four other hands reach out to help him out. John B gets his free hand first and basically picks him up and out of the hot tub. Once he’s steady on the ground, he immediately turns back to you, watching you get out. He looks so hopeless, young, vulnerable, and seconds away from crumbling to the ground. It only takes you a few seconds to have him in your arms again and moving towards the house.
“I’ll start dinner,” Kie murmurs, nodding towards the bathroom. You smile gratefully at her and shuffle towards the bathroom while the others move into the kitchen. They give you all curious glances before they’re out of sight and you’re alone with JJ.
You sit him down on the toilet and move around to get the shower started. Getting a glass of water from the sink you shove it in his hands and make him drink it. Once he’s done, you fill it up again and give it back with some pain medicine this time. He finishes it quickly and looks up to you. His eyes are watery and red, his bottom lip trembling. You’re not much better, you caught a glance of yourself in the mirror, but you try to hold it in for him. He continues to look at you as you brush your thumbs over his cheekbones, under his eyes, and move a hand through his hair.
“I’m sorry,” he whispers, his bottom lip quivering once again. You start to shake your head, shaking it the whole way down as you try to place a shaky kiss to his lips. He doesn’t kiss back. “No, stop it. I don’t deserve it. I fucked up.”
He cuts you off with an abrupt shake to his head. “No! I did. I fucked up. I always fuck up. My anger gets to me and I’m sorry. You don’t deserve someone who is going to fly off the walls every time something goes wrong. I robbed a fucking drug dealer for fucks sake! And I didn’t even give the money to something good, I wasted it all. All of it.”
JJ let’s out a painful cry as his body deflates, his head coming to rest on your stomach. “I can't do anything right.”
“You were scared of us dying, baby, it’s a decent reason to fly off the walls,” you try to reason but he just vehemently shakes his head.
“No, you shouldn’t be with someone like me!”
“JJ, please. We went over this a few days ago!”
“And look at what all has happened since then. You fought Topper and got hurt because of it. You still have the black eye and the limp from your leg being fucked up! We almost got killed, I robbed a drug dealer, I got beat up by my dad and I almost killed him! Can’t you see how fucked up this is. You don’t need to be here with us! With me!”
You let out a choked sob as he stands up, pushing you out of the way. It's getting steamy in the bathroom, too hot, and it’s making it even harder for you to breathe. JJ looks at you with his own tears in his eyes, “I can’t keep putting you through this.”
“No!” you cry out, hiccuping at the force of it. “No, JJ! I have been with you since I was 9! Nothing has fucking changed! We’ve always loved each other, we just kiss now! You’re not going to end this just because you feel like you’re not worth it! If you weren’t worth it, I wouldn’t have stuck around as long as I have!”
Your chest is heaving and you feel like you’re on the verge of a panic attack. You need to get out of here. Shaking your head, you back up to the door, “Shower, JJ. I’ll put fresh clothes on the sink for you.”
JJ’s entire face crumbles and his shoulders slump forward as if you took every ounce of energy out of him. “I-“
Stumbling out of the bathroom, arms wrap around you as soon as you’re in the hallway. They’re strong and familiar and you break down as soon as they hold you to their chest. Kie is in front of you a few moments later, cupping your face in her hands and trying anything she can to get you to focus on her. Your breathing is too harsh and your vision is spotty. The next thing you know, your legs are barely holding you up and then you’re on the ground. John B holds you to him and he tries to get you to breathe properly.
It’s all too much. The events of the last few days finally catching up to you and breaking through the surface at full force. JJ getting hurt, twice, by his dad. The Pogues almost dying. JJ stealing a large amount of money. JJ trying to end it, twice in the same week, just because he’s feeling so low. It’s all too much and you just don’t know what to do. The love you hold for JJ, for this entire group, outweighs anything in your life. There’s no way in hell you’d ever be without them. No matter what you go through with them. You choose them every day of your life. It’s never been any other way. Ever.
Kie is still in front of you, her hands still holding onto your face. Her thumbs are swiping across your face and she’s trying to say something but you’re not picking up on it. Blood is rushing through your ears and pounding around in your head. Absolutely no other noise is coming through so you just shake your head, anything to let them know you can’t hear them. Kie seems to understand and she places your hands on her chest, keeping them there. It takes you a few seconds but you realize she’s trying to get you to copy her breathing.
It works. You start to follow her. Follow her hand movements and feel her breathing under your hands. Soon, you can hear everything once more. Kie praising you, John B trying to soothe you, Pope’s voice mumbling from somewhere in the distance, Sarah talking a bunch of nonsense but calming nonsense.
“I’m okay. Everything’s fine. Just lost my breathing there for a second.” You mumble, sitting up a bit. Kie reaches out to you quickly when you sway in your spot a bit. You do feel a bit dizzy. “I’m fine. Just tired.”
“Come on, let’s get you some food and water,” John B says, hoisting you up with him as he stands. “You know JJ isn’t going anywhere. He’s not going to break up with you.”
You nod, “I know. It still panics me to hear it.”
Sarah comes up next with the food you and Kie had bought earlier in the day and a glass of water. You smile thankfully at her and sit down at the dining room table, not making any movement to eat it. John B sits down in front of you and places a hand on your knee, “Has this happened before?”
“Mm, remember that time about 5 months ago when I didn’t come around for a few days? Right after the first time JJ’s dad beat on him in months?”
Both Kie and John B nod. “JJ was unbearable to be around,” Kie groans.
An unamused chuckle falls past your lips and you shake your head, “Yeah.....” you trail off. “He told me that he wasn’t worth it. That he was too weak to be with me. That if he couldn’t even defend himself against his father then he wouldn’t be able to handle anything else, even a relationship. I told him to leave and only come back when he came to his senses. It was harsh but I needed him to realize the only thing that changed was that we kissed, now.”
“He’s scared of losing you,” John B states.
“He is,” you agree, “of all of us. He feels if he does it on his own terms, it’ll be ok. That we’ll leave if we think he’s weak. But he doesn’t always think like that, it’s only when he gets into it with his dad.”
It goes silent after that, the words sinking into everyone’s brains. You pick at your food a bit, eating a few bites as Kie puts together plates for everyone else. Sarah sits down beside John B and Kie comes to sit next to you, placing a comforting hand to your leg. Sending her a quick smile, you grab her hand and hold it to you. The conversation starts to pick up around you and you try to listen, you really do but your mind is just quiet. It’s blank to anything other than JJ.
Your heart aches at the thought of JJ being in pain. Physical or emotional pain. He does stupid things but he doesn’t deserve the things he goes through. There’s not much that he hasn’t gone through since the time you’ve met and you’d like to be able to protect him from the bad things of the world. No matter how often he tries to push you away when he feels like he doesn’t deserve the love.
“Okay,” Pope breathes out as he walks into the dining area. “He’s out of the shower,” he comments, resting a hand to your shoulder, “are you okay?”
Glancing around at everyone, they’re all staring at you expectantly. If you could guess, they’ve probably been staring at you long before Pope asked if you were okay. You nod and you’re about to give a more reassuring answer when you hear shuffling behind Pope. He turns around and you get a full few of JJ, he’s wrapped up in a hoodie that’s too big for him, his face is swollen and a bit blotchy. He looks like he would be twelve and it makes your heart clench in your chest, a lump forming in your throat at his glossy eyes.
He looks at you and only you, “Can we go to bed?” You look away and to your hands, to the one that Kie has wrapped firmly in hers. “I’ve calmed down, please?” When you look back up at him, the glossiness of his eyes is now watery with unshed tears. “Please?”
There’s absolutely no way in the world you’d ever be able to say no to such a sad boy. To the boy in general. JJ turns around as soon as you stand up and you don’t even think twice about following him. He gets into bed, turning his back to you and you follow. You wrap yourself around him, shoving an arm under his head and one around his waist. Both hands press flat into his chest as you mold yourself against his back. Knees to knees, chest to back, and JJ lacing your fingers together.
“I’m so sorry,” he whispers, placing a kiss to your fingers, “I know that you wouldn’t be with me unless I was worth it to you. I’m sorry that I get knocked down so much that I feel useless to everyone. Especially you. I never want to be anything less than enough for you.”
You press a kiss to the back of his neck, “You’ve always been enough for me, JJ. Always.” You pull on his shoulder a bit, trying to get him to turn over. When he does, you place a hand on his cheek, soothing over the skin there, “You’ve always been enough for me, JJ. You have nothing to apologize for. You’ve been beaten down your whole life, that is not your fault.”
A tear slips down his cheek and you wipe it away. The motion makes him press a kiss to your wrist. “You’re the person that keeps me going,” JJ whispers. “I’m nothing without you.”
“Don’t say that, JJ.” you shake your head. He’s so much more than that. So much more. “You’re caring, loving, protective, sympathetic, and empathetic. I’m just a perk to your qualities.”
That pulls a giggle out of JJ. A few tears slipping from his eyes at the surprise of laughter. You push forward to place a kiss to his lips. Loving the feeling of him actually kissing you back this time. He pushes in deeper, an arm around your waist, pulling your bodies flush. You kiss with so much intensity, it knocks you on your back and JJ follows, hovering over you as he kisses back with just as much. It makes your blood warm, makes you feel like you’re on fire as his free hand trails down over your waist, over your hip and to the back of your thigh to hitch it over his own hip.
The passion being exchanged is absolutely mind blowing, your brain short circuiting at the overwhelming feeling of love flowing between the two of you. It’s ardent and you want nothing more for it to continue but when you slip a hand over JJ’s ribs, he winces, sucking in a deep breath against your lips.
“I’m sorry,” you breathe out, quickly switching positions with him and pushing up his hoodie, “I forgot.”
“It’s okay. I definitely just forgot about them.” JJ wiggles his eyebrows at you as the hand on your thigh moves to caress the skin. “Let’s continue to forget about them.”
You place three quick, consecutive, sticky kisses to his lips before moving down to place one on his chin, to the base of his neck at his throat. Before placing delicate kisses over the battered skin of his torso. JJ’s breathing hitches in his throat and he lets out a watery sigh when your lips brush over the sensitive skin of his ribs. The hand on your thigh squeezes tightly at your movement, almost as a warning, but you ignore it and continue to sprinkle your love over the bruises on his skin. You know it won’t heal them but you can wish that it will.
A groan is punched out of JJ when your tongue lightly brushes over one of the bruises above his belly button and you chuckle a little bit. He’s turned into a bit of a heaving mess, gasping for air. You know it feels weird, like a mixture of pain and pleasure and JJ has no idea how to react to it. So, he just breathes heavily. He moves one hand to lace his fingers with yours as the other rests at the bottom of your spine.
Placing a few more kisses to the bruise over his right rib, you pull his hoodie back down over his stomach, and move up to place a few kisses on his neck. He moves his head to the side to give you some room and you suck a bruise into the juncture of his neck, right where it meets with his shoulder. A soft moan escapes him as you do. “There,” you kiss over your work when you pull away. “A good bruise to look at. One from love, not hate.”
The breath JJ lets out sounds more like a sob and he pushes into you once again. Wrapping his arms around you and shoving his face into your neck, he’s almost completely settled on top of you once he gets comfortable. He kisses at your skin, where he can reach, a few times and squeezes you as if you’re the only thing keeping him alive. You hold him back tightly, giving him the comfort he needs.
“I love you, you know,” he murmurs.
You kiss at his hairline, “I know.”
He doesn’t fall asleep until he repeats his I know, back to you.
JJ was finally feeling back to normal. The few days after his breakdown in the hot tub, things were a bit tense. A little too quiet for his liking. The day after, he laid in bed all day really only getting up to pee. He didn’t eat until you had come back to the Chateau, after doing something with your parents, and forced him to eat something. You had to basically force feed him to eat the food you made for him. He was grateful for you, you kept him together when all he wanted to do was break down. JJ was positive that there’d never be another person to care for him quite like you do.
Yesterday, the entire Chateau was empty when he woke up and it unsettled him a bit. It was never a good thing when it was quiet around there and he didn’t think he could handle anything else that was bad. He wandered around a bit, pulling on a hoodie because he didn't really want everyone else to stare him down, until he found everyone sitting at the hammocks. It was barely sunrise and he was confused as to why everyone was up already for no reason, and why they hadn’t woken him up either. You looked up from your spot in the hammock as he approached and held your arms out. He climbed in with you immediately and fell asleep only seconds later, to the sound of you quietly talking with Kie. The rest of the day was spent in bed with you, everyone giving him space to regroup. It was nice. He got kisses and other things that made him feel like himself.
Then today, everything is relatively back to how it should be. With loud laughter, stupid jokes, and sarcastic comments. Today is a day out on the HMS Pogue and JJ is absolutely loving it. There’s nothing he loves more than being out with his friends. With the people he loves and cares for the most as you all do stupid shit togeher. It’s his favorite thing. Also, to feel your skin against his, especially when it’s a bit warm and sweaty. That just feels nice. It's a major plus.
You’re currently resting against his side, his arm slung over your shoulder and his hand resting comfortably between your boobs. You’re laughing at something Sarah said and it’s probably the most relaxed he’s seen you in a few weeks. Your head thrown back, nearly resting on his clavicle and your hand slapping against his thigh. He wishes he was paying attention to what was being said, just so he could repeat it to see you laugh like this again. So carefree, the way that you should always be.
The sun is beating down harshly on everyone, making everyone sweat just a bit but no one seems uncomfortable by it. In fact everyone just settles in more, sitting in complete bathing suits and drinking beer.
“Did you guys really start dating? And not tell us?” Pope asks out of nowhere, completely unprompted. But the more he stares at Pope, the more he realizes he was just lazily kissing at the side of your neck where he just so happened to be resting his head.
“Yeah!” John B exclaims, resting back in the drivers seat of the boat, Sarah settling with him, “What the fuck is up with that?”
JJ shrugs, “Wanted to be able to mack on my girl in private.”
“JJ, shut up.” You laugh, sitting up and making him go with you. “We just wanted to make sure it was serious? I guess. Wanted to make sure that it wasn’t just silly feelings from knowing each other for so long. It would’ve felt different if everyone knew.”
“We wouldn’t have judged,” Kie says, leaning in with her elbows on her knees.
“It wasn’t about that,” You shake your head, “it was more like, nothing is really private with us. We share everything with each other. And this was something that needed to be figured out with just the two of us. Nothing really changed between us so then we just kinda forgot to mention it.”
JJ can’t help but wrap an arm around you. Kissing you the night that he did was the best decision he’s ever made in his life. He took a leap of faith and it was the right thing to do. The moment you kissed him back he knew that everything was right, nothing could ever be wrong about his decision. He had a feeling things were changing between the two of you for a few months. Jealousy was shining through when one or the other would end up flirting with someone at a party. Touches were getting more intimate and possessive. The flirting was getting more and more serious.
You have been a constant in his life since he was nine. Always the first person who was willing to listen to his crazy ideas or go on his absurd adventures. You were the first one he went to every time his dad hit him. The only person that ever saw him in that moment of vulnerability. And that’s still to this day. You’re the only person he trusts, truly trusts. He knows that you’d never turn against him with the things he’s told you, shown you. You have years of knowledge on him, and he you, that you could crush him in a heartbeat but he knows you never will. You’ll never betray him. Even if you weren’t in his life anymore, there’s no way you’d ever do that. He just knows.
And he doesn’t even want to think about that possibility. You not being in his life just doesn’t make sense. He doesn’t want to find out what it’d be like.
“You know, we’ve known for months.” Kie laughs, pulling JJ out of his thoughts.
You gasp at her words, “What? How?”
“I saw your guys’ first kiss.” John B smiles, looking all sorts of smug.
“I’m pretty sure you didn’t,” JJ chuckles, taking a sip of his beer. “It was at a party only we went to when we were 14.”
“Wait, what?” You question, turning to look at him.
JJ smirks, “Mhmm, remember the first time you smoked with me?” he looks to you for affirmation. When you nod, he continues, “Remember the game of truth or dare? You were dared to make out with the person you thought was the hottest. It was me.”
Your mouth drops open in shock, “Holy shit. That’s right. How could I forget?” The red suddenly tinting your cheeks is enough to make JJ’s heart skip a beat. To know he has such an affect on you, makes him feel good.
“You can’t handle your shit, baby,” he teases, leaning forward to flick at your forehead. You gasp and try to smack him but he grabs your wrist, leaning in to kiss you instead.
“Who knew they could get more annoying?” Pope groans. “You guys should’ve kept this to yourselves.”
“They were getting sloppy Pope,” Kie shrugs, “they wouldn’t have been able to hide it for much longer. You see the gross amount of love that oozes out of them when they look at each other.”
Everyone starts laughing but you just look at JJ and the look that's shining in your eyes is the same one they’re talking about. He knows the same thing must be reflecting in his own eyes because you lean forward and press a sweet kiss to his lips. On that he greedily accepts and returns. He smirks when he pulls away, placing a kiss to your forehead.
“So, John B what kiss did you see then?”
“One night in the hammock, like last year some time. I saw it and then the next days you guys were just different.” He shrugs, pulling Sarah into him some more.
You move into his side once again and look to Kie, “When did you notice?”
“Like six months ago?” She turns her head from side to side, trying to remember. “It was after breakfast at John B’s one morning. You guys thought you were alone in the kitchen. JJ was the one cleaning the kitchen, oddly, and you were on the counter by the sink. The way you were talking, it was about a date and you said that you loved each other but it was different than the way you’d usually say it. I left after that.”
JJ’s heart is starting to beat a little quicker in his chest. Something about talking about you or your relationship together just makes him excited. He loves it. He loves you.
“Saw the secret hand holding at The Wreck one afternoon. Thought it was weird, seeing as you held hands all the time. There was no need to hide it but your fingers were doing that soft caress thing, it was obvious.” He says the whole thing like he’s disinterested in the topic. It makes JJ laugh.
“I think it’s amazing how long you’ve all known each other.” Sarah smiles and it makes a smile appear on everyone’s face.
John B then decides it's time to move the boat, to go somewhere to swim. Everyone gets excited, standing up and removing any leftover clothing, while the boat is moving, so once it’s anchored the swimming can begin without any sort of hesitation. It was too hot out now.
But then the boat comes to an abrupt stop and a few high pitched screams fill JJ’s ears before a splash of water. He’s been jolted to the very front of the bow, hitting his head on the seat there. It takes him a moment to connect the dots before he stands up to make sure everyone is okay. Kie and Pope are a couple inches away from him, groaning as they sit back up. John B rubbing his head, clearly hitting it on the window in front of him. And Sarah regains her balance as she stands up from the bench behind John B. You were nowhere in sight.
“Y/n!” He yells out, scrambling to his feet. “Baby! Where’s y/n!”
That seems to knock everyone out of their stupor and scramble to their feet. “JJ!” you groan out just as he spots your hand on the side of the boat. A cry rips through you as JJ and Pope rush to try and pull you up into the boat. You rip yourself away from them before they even get a chance to reach you properly.
“Baby, what’s wrong? Come on, grab onto me!” JJ yells, trying to keep in his panic. He has no idea if you’re hurt or not and the fact that you’re crying isn’t helping settle him at all.
“JJ! Please get me out of this fucking water!” You yell out, reaching up for him once more.
He immediately bends down, the panic in your voice, making him desperate to get you into the boat. He hears everyone else yelling, asking what happened, wondering why you’re having such a hard time getting out on your own, asking if you’re okay. But he ignores them all, finally getting his hand in yours and reaching down below your elbow to haul you up. Pope on the other side doing the same. You crash into him and with the force of his movement to pull you up and over the edge, he falls back into the other side of the boat, you landing on top of him.
You cry out in pain and flinch away from him, “Holy shit,” Pope gapes as he helps sit you up.
“What!” JJ exclaims, sitting up, running his eyes all over your body to find what’s wrong. It doesn’t take long for him to land on the giant red mark covering almost the entirety of your abdomen. “Oh, fuck. A jellyfish got you?”
“What?” You gasp, looking down to where his attention is. Kie shoves a water into your hand and Sarah sits behind you, wrapping her arms across the top of your chest. “Fuck,” you sigh out when you catch sight of it.
“Did you not feel that?” John B asks and JJ looks up to him for a second before back to you, trying to catch your eye. If you didn’t feel that, something else must be wrong.
“No! I think my ankle is broken!” You yell out, startling JJ a bit. He trails his eyes down your body until he reaches your ankle and fuck. Yeah.
“That looks broken,” Pope voices his thoughts perfectly.
“What the fuck happened, John B?” JJ snaps, his anger getting to him quickly. You getting hurt is the quickest way to get him angry. He hates seeing you hurt. In any way.
“The last storm must’ve changed the stream or something. We hit a sand bank. We haven’t been out here since then,” John B explains. “Let’s get back to the Chateau, we have to get y/n to the hospital.
JJ grabs your face in his hands and wipes away the water there. “Are you hurt anywhere else?”
“No, I don’t think so,” you breathe out. It comes out in a harsh breath, like you’re in too much pain and it sends a wave of panic through JJ. You’re never one to show that you were in pain unless it was an unbearable amount.
“Are you sure?”
He watches as you clench your eyes shut, trying to regulate your breathing. You just nod your head, not opening your eyes again. JJ places a kiss to your cheek and moves down in a line until he meets your lips. He lets out a breath when you kiss him back. Anything to keep you distracted. He pulls back and looks around to everyone else, not knowing what else he can do. Kie has a hand gripped tight in hers, Sarah is running her fingers through your hair, and Pope is holding your leg steady from the bouncing of the boat. JJ feels absolutely useless.
And it’s like you can sense his distress because you grab onto one of his hands and squeeze tight. “JJ stop overthinking. Tell me something. Tell me a story.”
So he quickly jumps into recounting one of your many dates. Asking if you remember it. Telling you how you looked in your outfit, how you made him feel. How much he loves going on dates with you. How he likes that you like to go surfing with him, hiking, biking, anything that requires physical activity. You giggle and laugh at parts that are funny, at how he nearly puked before picking you up to go on your first official date. Everyone else joined in on the laughs too. Soaking up the information they’re receiving.
It helps because you stop crying and wincing at every little movement and it helps calm JJ down as well. He picks you up into his arms when the boat docks and everyone rushes to gather the necessities and get you to the van. JJ lays you down and rests your head in his lap as he continues to tell you about how much he just loves doing simple things with you. Grocery shopping. Clothes shopping, the dishes. Eating food. Anything he can think of, he tells you. He just wants you to know how much he loves you. It’s the only thing he can think of doing. He doesn’t know why but it’s the only thing rattling around in his brain.
How much he loves you.
When the van pulls up to the hospital, everyone is still in a mad panic. It startles the nurses and those in the emergency room when 6 teenagers come bursting into the waiting room, in near hysterics. They don’t really handle each other being in pain well.
The nurse forces him to stay in the waiting room, putting a hand to his chest when he tries to follow you back more than once. You look at him and tell him it’s okay, that you’ll be okay, and as soon as it’s fine he can come back. It does nothing to settle him and he just paces back and forth in front of the 4 other Pogues.
“JJ, sit down. She’s going to be fine.”
“I know,” he sighs, stopping. “She just scared the shit out of me. If she had hit her head instead of her ankle on the side of the boat, she could’ve drowned.”
John B stands to bring him into a hug, “But she didn’t. She’s okay and you’ll see her in a bit.”
And he was right. The doctor came out about twenty minutes later and let JJ go back since your parents weren’t there yet. The rest of the Pogues decided to wait in the waiting room no matter what, saying that they would like to see you too but for obvious reasons to let JJ go first. He’s thankful for that because he feels like he’s about to vibrate right out of his skin.
“Hey, tough stuff,” he jokes as he walks into your room. Your eyes open and you smile at him lazily.
“Hi, baby,” you murmur, reaching a hand out for him. You make grabby hands at him until he’s in reach and it makes him laugh.
He grabs onto your hand and leans down to place a kiss to your lips. You’re still in your bikini but it looks like the sting on your stomach has been taken care of and the lower half of your leg is in a black cast. “Hi, baby,” he whispers back once he meets your eyes again. “How’re you feeling?”
“Well now,” you let out a giggle, “I’m feeling absolutely great. The pain medicine they have me on is wonderful.”
JJ lets out a laugh and caresses your cheek, “You’re higher than a kite, my love.”
You let out a laugh, “Damn straight. You should be so jealous.”
“Oh,” JJ nods, “I am. Don’t you worry about that.”
You let out a content hum, nestling into his hand a bit. Closing your eyes, you rest back into your pillow. “I broke my ankle. And the jellyfish sting isn’t as bad as it looks.”
He runs a hand through your matted hair, “You scared the shit out of me.”
“I’m fine, baby,” you mumble, giving him the smile that melts his entire being. And when you open up your eyes he can see that you really mean it. “Did you really think our dates were that good?”
“Everything we do is that amazing,” JJ points out.
Pulling on his hand, you murmur, “Come take a nap with me. Please. I would like to be close to you. Help me relax.”
JJ doesn’t hesitate to slip into the bed next to you, the vibration of his skin is still there and he knows that it won’t go away until he’s close to you. You turn your back to him and he settles in behind you, curving his body around yours. His arm wraps around your middle and his hand comes to rest on your chest, your steading heartbeat calming down the vibration of his body. You melt down against him and he just holds you to him even tighter.
“I would appreciate it if you stopped getting hurt,” he murmurs, moving your hair out of the way to kiss at the back of your shoulder.
“Yeah, so would I.”
“How about we both stop getting hurt,” JJ suggests, his kisses moving up to the side of your neck. His heart rate has calmed down significantly in just the few seconds of laying here.
“I can do that,” you hum, resting further into his front. “You don’t have to promise it, but just know I’ll always be there to help you when you do get hurt.”
JJ feels a lump form in his throat at your words. He knows what you mean, it’s not something you have to explain to him. You turn your head to look at him up and over your shoulder, a smile gracing your face. JJ nearly cries at the sight, the beautiful sight that it is leaves him breathless. When you pucker your lips, JJ obliges, swooping down in no time and pressing a firm kiss to your lips. His skin tingles at the feeling and he wishes you were anywhere else than in a damn hospital.
“I love you, you know.” You smile at him, kissing at his lips once again.
“I know.” he says against your lips.
If there’s one thing he knows. He knows that you love him. That you’ve given him love every day since the day you met. The only person to give him continuous love, love that he needs. And he knows that you know how much he loves you. How much he will always love you.
So, when you finally fall asleep, nestled in his arms, he sleeps. He sleeps comfortably. The only way he can, when you’re with him
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