okay, so i just wanna start this off by saying that my other story Discoveries is gonna be on a small hiatus for a bit. this new fic has been nagging at me for about two weeks now, so i need to put the other one on hold and follow what my muse says. thank you all for understanding. and a big thank you QueenofHeartbreak for helping me come to this decision.

now. this story is ... dark. it's gonna involve a decent amount of violence, a bit of starvation, and later, PTSD. it's gonna be a rough ride (JJ is gonna be put through the mill, don't hate me!), but i hope you guys enjoy it. any and all feedback would be greatly appreciated. love you all so much!

-m


Chapter One:

He honestly couldn't believe that he was being taken away.

As JJ held onto his girlfriend like his life depended on it while standing on the docks where the ferry would come in a few minutes, he felt so many emotions coursing through him. He didn't want to be separated from her, didn't want to lose her. His worst nightmare was actually coming true, and the reality of it scared him.

"Kie..," he whimpered weakly, his body trembling in fear and pain. The cuts and bruises mottling his skin were still healing slowly, and his cracked ribs were on the mend, but they hurt constantly, the agony never ceasing. The only person who could ever make it better was her.

"I know, JJ," Kiara murmured in his ear, one hand in his hair, massaging his scalp like he liked, the other on his cheek, wiping away the tears. She, too, was crying softly, unable to help it. This was the worst thing that could ever happen to them. Even though she understood why it was happening and that neither of them could stop it, she wished that this was just some kind of sick joke. That any minute now, they would be told that JJ wasn't going to be taken from her, that they could all just go home and go back to their normal, relatively happy lives. "It's okay." She pulled away so she could press their foreheads together, needing to touch him. "I promise, I'll get you back. I'll talk to my parents, convince them to do … something. I promise you, JJ."

Taking in a deep, agonizing breath, the blond nodded. "I love you," he said tiredly, so much submission in his voice. "You know that, right?"

"Of course, I do," Kiara assured him, pressing a quick, but desperate, kiss to his lips. He'd sounded so defeated, so lost. She hated that now with his father in prison, JJ was being forced onto the mainland to live with a foster family. Complete fucking strangers. This was going to break his spirit even more, and they both knew it. "I love you, too. So much. I'll get you back."

JJ was quick to pull her closer and smash his lips against her own. Heavy sobs were wracking his entire sturdy frame, the sounds absolutely gut wrenching to hear. "I'm sorry," he breathed out. "I'm so sorry."

"No, no, don't apologize. You have nothing to be sorry for."

This was his fault, Kiara wanted to say, but didn't. Your dad did this to you. None of this is because of what you did. How could he blame himself for something that wasn't his fault? How could he think that he'd done this, that he was responsible for being sent away from her. In reality, it wasn't true at all. How could he not see that?

"The minute I turn eighteen, Kie, I'm coming back," JJ vowed, studying his companion in an attempt to memorize every single little feature that was Kiara. He wanted to make sure that he never forgot anything about her, no matter how small. He couldn't afford to. "I swear. I'll come back."

"I'll bring you home before then, JJ," Kiara replied in a soothing voice, her hands resting on his chest. Suddenly, her eyes lit up slightly and she reached into her bag to take out the photo she'd printed out at the pharmacy. "Here," she said softly, and handed the picture to him with a watery smile pulling at the corners of her mouth. "Since you won't have a phone on you..."

"Oh, God … thank you, Kie." JJ let out a strangled gasp as he stared at the beautiful image. John B. had taken that photo without permission, all sneaky-like before the whole treasure hunt was ever a thing. Those were happier times.. It was of them kissing on the H.M.S. Pogue, right in front of a sunset. Their bodies looked like they were made for each other, like puzzle pieces that fit perfectly. That day, JJ felt so much adoration for his girlfriend, so much gratitude that she was in his life, his guiding beacon. His savior. He was so incredibly thankful that he now had something to help him remember the wonderful moments he'd shared with Kiara in the last two years. "Thank you."

Kissing him one more time, Kiara nodded and leaned in to rest her head on his shoulder blade, glad that he didn't hesitate to wrap his strong arms around her slim form. "I'll get you back," she repeated. "I promise you."

They took the next few minutes to just enjoy each other's presence. Kiara briefly heard JJ whisper even more 'I love you's' into her hair, but she was too heartbroken to say it back again. A soft moan escaped her when she heard his DCS agent clear her throat and explain that it was time to go. Why did it have to end so quickly?

"It's gonna be okay," she said quietly, and searched JJ's eyes, finding so much sadness and grief in those sky-blue orbs. "Everything's gonna be okay."

With a sad, exhausted grin, JJ leaned forward to kiss the top of her head gently, choosing not to answer. He slowly started pulling away from her to make her way towards the agent waiting for him, but made sure to squeeze her hand and not let go until he physically couldn't anymore.

He never let his gaze stray away from Kiara, not even when he got on the ferry, or when he felt it start to move. Take me back, his brain screamed at him. Jump off the boat, do anything to get back to her. Yet his body refused to listen. The minute Kiara fell out of his view, he felt himself deflate, and he had to hold back the tears that were threatening to escape. What if he'd never see her again?

The thought was so terrifying, it literally sent shivers up his spine. Panic started to rear its ugly head right at him, threatening to overpower him and send him into a fit. To try and calm down, JJ took out the sacred picture from his front pocket and stared at it for what seemed like an eternity. The sight of Kiara never failed to make him feel better, calmer, safer. He hated that he wouldn't be able to hug her again, or wake up beside her, or laugh with her. It was painful to imagine a world without her, yet that was what was happening to him right now. He was about to live in that said world now, alone and afraid.

His brain quickly found its way back to the day that had started it all. The day where everything fell apart.

JJ, despite Kiara's vehement protests, had decided to go back to his childhood home to pick up some of his things. The plan had been to just get in and get out, grab whatever he needed and never come back to that hellhole again. Unfortunately, luck hadn't been on his side that day, like usual, because right as he was about to head out, Luke came.

It was clear that he was seriously drunk, practically struggling to stay on his feet. But the minute his eyes fell on his son, he straightened up in an attempt to look more menacing, anger written all over him.

"The fuck do you think you're doing?" he growled out, advancing on JJ, who had already started to move away from him.

And while he knew that he probably should have made some half-assed excuse and gotten the hell out of there, JJ suddenly felt the need to stand up to his dad. He didn't know why, but he did. "I'm leaving," he said firmly, despite the worry gripping at his racing heart. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he knew that he had just said the wrong thing.

"What does that fucking mean?" Luke asked, fists clenched at his sides. His eyes were already looking around the room, searching for a weapon, no doubt about it.

"Exactly what you think it does," JJ replied as he silently started searching for the nearest exit and planning his escape. "I'm leaving, Dad. I can't live with you anymore."

Deathly silence surrounded them for a few seconds as Luke processed what had just said, nodding his head in an almost mocking manner. "After everything I did for your sorry ass," he finally said coldly, and reached for the baseball bat randomly lying on the ground, "you're leaving? Just like that?! You useless … fucking …. piece …. of shit!"

Before JJ had a chance to beeline out, Luke had shoved him right on the dirty floor and started beating him with the wooden bat, putting way too much strength into his blows. Poor JJ immediately curled up into a tight ball to try and protect himself, but he could feel his ribs shift, could feel the bruises already start to form. Cries of pain escaped him as Luke forced him up by the collar of his shirt and shoved him against a wall, delivering hard punches all over his body, showing absolutely no mercy..

"This should teach you not to fuck with me!" he yelled, not even caring when he drew blood. "You wanna leave so bad? Fine!"

The blows seemed to last forever, and they were so painful that JJ barely noticed as he was led outside to the front porch and thrown out to the dirt, his father still refusing to stop. The blond felt himself struggling to breathe properly, felt the world around him start to close in him, suffocating him. He tried so hard to escape from Luke's clutches, but there was absolutely no use. When he finally realized that, JJ simply slumped into submission and stopped fighting all together, taking the hits and the kicks and the screaming. His body went numb. The only thing he could feel were the small droplets of rain that had begun to fall earlier. It was almost like the sky - and whatever that was up there - was crying with him. For him.

By the time that Luke had enough, poor JJ was lying on the cold, hard ground, convulsing violently and unable to move. Before he went back into the dilapidated house, the alcoholic took a moment to look at his son one more time. There was absolutely no remorse in his eyes, just pure hot anger. "Don't come back," he muttered, taking a moment to spit and then walking off.

JJ honestly wasn't sure what had happened after that, only that Kiara found him hours later and rushed him to the hospital. After he woke up from a mini-coma as he liked to call it, his girlfriend had explained that she'd gone looking for him when he didn't show up for their date. When she finally managed to get to him, it had been pouring rain for a while. The shock, his injuries, and the cold had ultimately given JJ a severe case of hypothermia, and it took a while for doctors to warm him back up once they'd treated all his wounds. Kiara had said that she'd never been so scared in her life, that she'd never felt something as cold as he was on that awful day.

They weren't able to hide the truth about what had really happened to JJ from the police. Somewhere along the way, someone revealed that Luke Maybank was the one responsible, which led to the cops arresting him and leaving JJ parent-less. Despite both Pope and Kiara's protests, their own parents had refused to take their friend in, so the DCS had to get involved. While he had been promised that he'd be put with a nice, loving family, JJ doubted that he'd be so fortunate. It seemed like the odds had never been in his favor. Why would they start to be now?

Now, as the young man stood on the ferry, all he wanted to do was run. Run back to Kiara, and Pope, his only two remaining friends. Losing them was way too painful to think about, even more painful than his cracked ribs, or the heavy cuts and bruises on his face.

But instead, he took comfort in the gentle wind that was ruffling his hair, similar to how Kiara sometimes would. He thought about the love of his life, her beautiful smile, her laugh, her love for him. It helped JJ calm down and focus on happy things, even though there really wasn't anything to be happy about anymore.

TBC