yet another story! a big thanks to QueenOfHeartbreak for giving me the encouragement i needed to post this. i hope you guys enjoy! the next chapter will be coming up soon.

thank you for all your support!

-m


Chapter One:

The minute the doctor led her to the room, Kiara rushed inside and collapsed by JJ's bedside, tears in her wide eyes. "Oh, my god, JJ," she whispered, her gaze traveling to the thick bandages wrapped around her boyfriend's arm.

"Hey, Kie," the blond said softly, a weak, tired smile playing across his bruised face. There was a rather deep cut on his bottom lip; no doubt, it was from his monster of a father. "I promise, it's not as bad as it looks."

"Jesus, JJ, what happened?" Kiara found herself asking as she took his hand and pressed a kiss to his calloused knuckles. The poor thing looked to be in so much pain, regardless of what he tried to tell her.

"My dad, he … he got angry last night," JJ started to explain with a shaky sigh. His vision was already starting to blur, and he cursed himself for not holding it together in front of Kiara. "Roughed me up a bit. I went to bed after. When I woke up, the entire house was on fire. The bastard must have left a cigarette on some papers or something. The paramedics found me outside, unconscious. Doc said I inhaled a bunch of smoke and got a second degree burn, whatever the Hell that means."

Nodding, Kiara sniffled. The idea of JJ being trapped and surrounded by flames was terrifying to think about. What if she'd lost him? she couldn't help but think. "And your dad? Is he okay?"

JJ seemed to deflate at her question, a single tear slowly making its way down his cheek. "He … he didn't make it."

"Oh, JJ," Kiara breathed out. "I'm so sorry."

"It's fine. Honestly, I'm glad he's gone." JJ locked gazes with the girl he loved so much, so many emotions coursing through him, threatening to overpower him. "But the DCS is coming soon. They're probably gonna take me away."

"No. No, they can't." Kiara started shaking her head desperately, her hand tightening over JJ's. She couldn't have him get put into foster care. Even with Sheriff Peterkin's help, he probably would get sent to the mainland, away from her. And worse, the family they put him with could be just as abusive as his father was. It would only kill his spirit even more. She needed him to stay with her. "No, I won't let that happen."

"What can you do, Kie?" JJ asked, exhaustion lacing his words. A brief wave of pain suddenly hit him and he gasped quietly, arching his back to try and escape the scorching sensation in his arm. The doctor who'd treated him had said that the wound would take up to a month to heal. In that time, he would have to be on top of changing the bandages and putting special ointments on it, something he certainly wasn't looking forward to. Thankfully, Kiara was there while he fought off the agony, stroking the top of his shaking hand gently. "You can't just come up to the DCS and tell them to fuck off," he continued once the wave passed.

Kiara fell silent, clearly thinking of what to do. She couldn't afford to lose him. There was too much love in her heart for her to let it happen. "What if I ask my parents to be your legal guardians?" she suddenly asked, her eyes lighting up at the idea. This was it. This was what was going to save him, and keep him here, with her. "Like what Ward Cameron did with John B?"

Their friend had been living with his girlfriend and the rest of her family for a few days now, and it seemed to be going well so far. Kiara didn't see why she couldn't do the same for JJ.

"You know your parents don't like me all that much, Kie," JJ said sadly. While her folks knew that they were together, they didn't approve. If anything, they just thought that he was nothing more than a phase their daughter would get out of sooner or later. They were wrong. While JJ was confused as to what Kiara saw in him, he knew that the two of them loved one another, and didn't want to be separated.

"I can convince them," Kiara replied, smiling. "You'll be eighteen in about a year and half, so you'll be able to live on your own. You can live with us until then. It's perfect!" The girl looked up at her partner, unable to resist leaning forward to kiss him gently. "I can't lose you, JJ. So I'll do whatever it takes to make sure you stay in Outer Banks."

"Only if you're sure, Kie," JJ said, clearly worried.

"I am," the girl assured him, kissing him again. "I'll ask them when they get here, okay? In the meantime, maybe you should get some sleep?"

"You saying I look like shit?" JJ joked, only to earn a playful slap on the wrist. "Just come here," he murmured as he opened up his arms, inviting her in.

Kiara wasted no time in joining him on the small bed, curling into him while his strong arm wrapped around her slim form.

"Thanks, Kie," he murmured against her hair. He loved having her in his embrace - it was his favorite feeling.

"I'm not letting anyone take you away. I can't." Looking up to meet his gaze, Kiara cupped JJ's cheek and ran her fingers over his smooth skin. "Just sleep. I'll be here."

OBX

"Kiara, we are not taking that boy into our home!" Mike exclaimed, shocked that his daughter would even suggest something like that. At first, he had thought that Kiara had finally come to her senses and broke up with the blond boy he hated so much, but when he realized what she actually wanted, he was absolutely dumbfounded.

"What do you mean?!" Kiara cried, tears already filling her eyes.

"I know he's your … boyfriend, honey," her mother said sweetly, struggling to even refer to JJ as Kiara's romantic partner, "but taking him in is not an option. He's too reckless, too unpredictable."

"You're just scared of being looked at by the other Kooks," the girl said, voice cold and full of fury. How could they do this? To her? To JJ? "You're no better than the rest of those rich assholes.

"That's not it, sweetheart, it's just-"

"What?! What reason could you possibly have?" Kiara was getting angrier and angrier by the second. "JJ's father just died, and he's hurt, and he's about to be sent away. I'm gonna lose him. He's all alone now. He needs me. Please, it'll only be until he's eighteen. And he could work the entire time! Then he can get a place of his own once he's of age. Please!"

By the time she finished, Kiara was crying. She looked at JJ through the window of his room, smiling at the sight of him sleeping soundly. He looked so peaceful, so beautiful, even with his wounds. Facing her parents again, she could see the gears in their heads start to turn, and she prayed that they would give in.

"Let us think about it, sweetheart," Anna said, smiling assuringly. It didn't make her feel any better. "Just … give us some time."

"Okay," Kiara muttered in defeat, hanging her head. All she wanted was to get back to JJ and lay in his arms again. That was where she felt most safe. Secretly, she was already starting to plan what would happen if they said no. She'd run away with him if she had to, she decided.

Upon returning back to the room, the girl sighed and rushed to wipe away the remaining tears. She didn't want JJ to see her upset; he had enough on his plate already. Sitting on the chair next to his bed, Kiara reached for his hand and squeezed gently, surprised when he woke up. It was clear that he wasn't sleeping as soundly as she'd thought.

"Hey," she said softly, and looked at the burn on his arm, pain filling her heart. "How are you feeling?"

"Drowsy," JJ answered, referring to the morphine in his system. "What did your folks say?"

"That they'll think about it," Kiara said as she hung her head.

"Well, it was worth a try," the young man said, a small smile pulling at the corners of his mouth. "Don't worry about it, Kie. We'll figure it out." He leaned forward so he could cup his girlfriend's face and press a quick kiss to her forehead.

Even though she wanted to protest, Kiara chose to leave it be and just be there for JJ. He had been through so much in the past twenty-four hours. From beatings, to fires, to hospitals - he must have been completely exhausted at this point. So, instead of pitching any more ideas, she returned JJ's charming grin and made her way back on the bed again. Just like earlier, he hugged her and pulled her body close, burying his face in the crook of her shoulder.

"I love you," she suddenly announced.

Chuckling softly, JJ closed his eyes. "I love you, too."

They laid there for about an hour, unmoving. Whenever a fit of pain overtook her companion, Kiara made sure to hold him close and mutter words of assurance into his ear. It was the only thing she could think of, glad that it was enough for him to get through it each time.

However, their time together was cut short when Kiara's parents entered the room, unreadable expressions on their faces.

JJ immediately sat up in an attempt to look more presentable. He wasn't sure why he wanted to now, when he'd never cared about it before, and he doubted that he looked good enough to even remotely make some kind of impression. "Hey, Mr. and Mrs. Carrera," he said hesitantly.

"Hello, JJ," Anna said. "So … my husband and I have thought about what Kiara told us. We are so sorry for what happened."

"Thanks," JJ said, a shiver traveling up his spine at the thought of his father. A sigh escaped him when Kiara placed a gentle hand on his chest in support.

"We've made our decision," Mike said, though he didn't sound all that friendly. "We're gonna take you in and act as your legal guardians until you're eighteen, that is if you want."

JJ's eyes widened, having not expected that. "Holy…" He quickly cut himself off so he wouldn't make Kiara's parents hate him even more. "Yeah, I'd love that. Thank you."

"There are definitely going to be some rules in place, and you will have to find a well-paying job once you're well enough," Anna said, "but we'll take care of you, however we can."

"We'll also pay for your medical bills," the older man continued. "But if you make one wrong move, or hurt Kiara in any way, you're out of here."

"Yes, sir," JJ managed to say through his shock. He couldn't believe this. Pressing a kiss to Kiara's temple and pulling her close, the blond couldn't help but smile widely. "Thank you so much."

Locking gazes with the girl lying beside him, he felt so grateful to have her in his life. "And thank you," he whispered, kissing her.

He heard Kiara laugh against his mouth, a sound that warmed his heart and made all his worries go away.

TBC