okay, okay, i know this chapter took SO long. i honestly had such a hard time with it, but i managed, and i'm rather pleased with the result. hope you guys are, too. thank you all for your support! i'm so happy you like this story.

i'd also like to mention that this story idea was given to me by a guest reviewer. i completely forgot to say that in the last chapter, but i would like to thank them for this prompt. it has certainly been a challenge.

anyway, stay safe everyone. hope you're all doing well.

-m


Chapter Two: Sarah

The minute she returned to the Outer Banks with John B, Sarah knew that the relationship between JJ and Kiara had changed.

Come on, she wasn't stupid. Or blind.

While she never saw them do anything more than hug or kiss each other's cheeks, her two friends acted differently around one another. In a way, it was almost like they were a couple, but Sarah was a hundred percent sure that they weren't.

She quickly realized that they were incredibly cute together, couple or not.

JJ was so affectionate with Kiara. He was always by the girl's side, as if there to protect her from any harm. He'd always offer his hand to her whenever she was getting off the H.M.S. Pogue, even though everyone knew that she didn't need any help. Way too often, he would pull her close and press his lips against her temple, silently supporting her. Any time Kiara had problems with her parents, JJ was the one who comforted her, the two of them usually laying in a hammock while talking about anything but her folks. In general, the blond was much more calm and reserved, even smoked less weed. The development was shocking. It was something that none of the other Pogues ever expected.

Yet it made sense.

After all the tragedies in his life, JJ needed someone to act as his anchor, and Kiara was perfect for that role. Sarah always felt her heart melt whenever she found her best friend holding JJ in her arms while he cried, the weight of his father, his mistakes, everything, having become too much for him to handle. The way Kiara hugged him tight and let him grieve his less than stellar life made it clear that they were more than just friends at this point.

They were soulmates.

The more Sarah thought about it, the more she wished that they would just figure themselves out and get together already. Like seriously, was it really that hard? It was so frustrating to see the romantic tension between the two teens, and all Sarah wanted was just to stick her nose into their business and mediate.

She decided not to, though. Because she knew that Kiara would never let her hear the end of it if she did. That was why she chose to just observe them, watch what happened, and hope that they came to their senses sooner or later.

About a month later Sarah started to notice yet another change, which led her to believe that her dream had finally come true. While she hadn't necessarily seen them kiss or anything like that, her gut told her that something had happened. She just wasn't sure what it was, but she intended to find out. It also seemed like their bond had grown stronger, if that was even possible at this point. They were always close to each other, sometimes even holding hands when they thought no one was looking. Sure, it was adorable, but Sarah couldn't understand the secrecy.

One day, she'd come to the Chateau looking for John B.

Almost immediately, she heard quiet sniffles coming from inside the fish shack that sounded a lot like Kiara. The amount of times the two of them had cried together about boys or grades or something had helped Sarah figure out that it was her.

"Hey," she said softly as she stepped in and found Kiara on the couch, weeping.

The brunette jerked in surprise. She quickly looked up and started wiping away her tears, only to give up when she realized who it was. "Oh, hey, Sarah," she said through a hiccup. "What are you doing here?"

"It doesn't matter," Sarah quickly assured. "What's going on, Kie?" she asked, and sat down beside her friend right as she started to cry again. "What is it?"

Kiara was quick to shake her head. "No, it's nothing," she replied weakly, her voice laced with defeat and anguish. "Everything's fine."

"Come on, Kie, I'm not an idiot." Sarah hated seeing the brunette like this. She knew that she needed to do something to help. "Do I need to kick someone's ass for you?"

Unable to help herself, Kiara laughed bitterly and ran a trembling hand through her hair. A small, sad smile graced the corners of her lips when Sarah interlocked their fingers together, her presence already making a difference. "It's … JJ." She took a deep, painful breath in an attempt to calm herself down, then continued, "We got together a few weeks ago." Letting out another laugh at the sight of Sarah literally lighting up, Kiara hung her head and closed her eyes, still grinning. At that moment, she looked like a lovestruck teenager thinking about her crush. "What a surprise, right?"

"Are you kidding me?!" Sarah exclaimed, practically jumping out of her seat in excitement. "I knew it! I'm so happy for you! What's it like?"

Kiara visibly blushed. "It's … incredible," she confessed.

"When did you two … you know? Make it official?"

"The night you came back."

"Holy shit! This is so …. ugh! I'm so happy for you, Kiara, you have no idea." She was saying this because all Sarah had wanted was for them to be girlfriend and boyfriend. Now, her wish had come true, and she was more than a little glad. "Did you say 'I love you' yet?" she found herself asking, almost desperate to know.

"Yeah," Kiara replied shyly, attempting to hide behind her hair. After a short pause, she locked eyes with the blonde and realized that she couldn't keep holding this inside. "God, Sarah, I love him so much. I don't know what it is, but he just makes me … so complete. I feel so safe with him nearby. I love him so fucking much, I don't know what to do with all of it." A sudden onslaught of tears started to flood her vision, prompting her to sigh heavily. "That's why I hate seeing him so hurt … We got into a fight today because he wanted to try again with his father, 'make it right' according to him, but I know that nothing good will come out of it. We just went back and forth for like an hour, but he refused to listen and stormed off. Said he was going fishing with John B." Another deep, painful exhale. "I just don't want him to go through anymore pain."

By the time she finished, her head was resting on Sarah's shoulder, and the other girl was gently her hand massaging her scalp and unknotting her hair. Kiara was shaking with emotion, crying in full force. It shocked Sarah as to how much she felt for JJ, how much she hurt with him, even though she wasn't the one in the abusive relationship. It intrigued her.

"You'll get through to him, Kie," started to say. "His grief is just clouding his judgement. I'm sure he knows that you love him and don't want anything to happen to him. It'll take some time."

"What if he runs out of time?" Kiara whispered, clearly terrified of the possibility of losing JJ. "What if he decides to fix things with his dad, but ends up dead in a fucking ditch somewhere because of it? I can't live without him. I need him."

"Don't think like that. It won't happen."

"How do you know?"

There was so much uncertainty in Kiara's voice, it shattered Sarah's heart into a million little pieces. She'd never known that the love she had for JJ was this strong. She never would have guessed.

"I don't. What I do know is that you won't let that happen. I know you. You'll get through to him, I'm sure of it." Sarah pressed a small kiss to the top of her friend's head in support, pulling her close. "You know, when John B. was on the run, I was so scared for him. I wanted to do everything I could to help him. Even though it didn't completely work out, we survived. We managed to make it back to the Outer Banks. I'm a hundred percent sure that you'll be able to do the same for JJ." A small smile crept up on her face as she spoke. "Even though he's the most stubborn fucking person I've ever met."

They both erupted into giggles then, unable to stop, and feeling absolutely drained when they finally did.

"Jesus, we fell in love with assholes, didn't we?" Kiara murmured, though there were a weak grin pulling at the corners of her mouth.

"At least they're hot as fuck, right?"

Even more laughter followed.

A few hours later, JJ and John B. returned. Almost immediately, the former asked to talk to Kiara, who was quick to say yes. Sarah decided to respect their privacy and let them speak alone at the back of the Chateau, but she was fairly certain that it went well when they came back inside with small smiles on their faces and their fingers secretly woven together.

They'd managed to work things out.

As more time passed, Sarah continued to observe the two of them. Any time Kiara needed to talk to her about the relationship, she gladly listened and tried to give her advice. She was happy to help, and she could tell that Kiara was grateful for it, too.

On the night of Kiara's birthday, all the Pogues found themselves partying at the Chateau, celebrating. The day before, the girl had come to Sarah and asked if she should finally announce to the others that she and JJ were together. It took no thought at all for Sarah to instantly say yes. Sure, she knew that it would probably lead to some problems; she had an inkling that Pope had some sort of crush on Kiara. But it was important to tell them, regardless of the consequences. Secrets were the greatest, at least in her experiences.

"Of course, you should!" she'd said. "I can't wait to see the looks on their faces."

"You don't think they'll be mad?"

"I think they'll be upset at the beginning, but they'll get over it. I'll talk to John B. He'll just have to deal. You're probably gonna have to Pope, though."

"Yeah. Thanks, Sarah."

Now, Sarah was sitting on the couch with her boyfriend, trying to console him. After JJ and Kiara revealed that they were together, Pope had stormed off, so they decided to go after him. John B. was extremely shocked, though Sarah didn't understand why because there were plenty of clues that hinted at his friends dating.

"Did you know about this?" he asked, running a hand through his long, unruly locks. Something in his tone screamed feelings of betrayal.

"I did," Sarah replied, wondering exactly how he would react next.

"Jesus…"

"You should go talk to them, or at least just JJ," the blonde offered, pressing a gentle kiss to his cheek.

"Yeah, probably."

Within an hour, the young man went off to speak to his best friend, leaving Sarah alone on the comfortable pullout, lost in her own thoughts.

Her job was officially done.

TBC