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Things Pogues don't talk about

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Sarah and Cleo go off in search of coconuts or something and Kie has to stifle the very unfeminist thoughts that pop up from feeling left out of the new friendship.

Then things get worse.

"So when we … you know? .. what was it that made it -" Pope asks, and despite his tripping over his words and half sentences even John B manages to catch onto his meaning if the sudden deer in the headlight look is anything to go by. JJ is suddenly still, only his eyes darting between them. Kie just hopes the sunburn she has been trying to avoid is helping cover her blush.

"It was fine!" She tries to defend but both John B and JJ make wounded noises at that and Pope glances between them like he is suddenly realizing how not great his timing was. "Look it wasn't - physically it was good?" She winces at her phrasing and turns pleading eyes on the two boys. JJ snorts and John B shrugs and she debates stomping away like a child. "Is this about Cleo?" She finally settles on and now JJ is staring at her while John B looks confused.

"Why would it -" he starts and Kie just glares.

"There are 6 of us on this island." She deadpans and Pope ducks his head. "I mean I assume if it was about either of these two you wouldn't have waited to bring it up until those two were on the other side of the island. And I'm also just going to rule out Sarah for obvious reasons." She gestures to John B who looks as love sick as any other time Sarah is mentioned.

"So when you say fine -" JJ starts and Kie leans over to hit his arm which only makes him smile harder. "I'm just saying I've never had a girl say it was fine." He had his hands up like he means no harm and Kie rolls her eyes at him.

"Maybe that's because they don't usually stick around long enough to leave a review." Kie fires back and JJ looks delighted. It's the first time since his almost drowning that Kie has engaged in the flirty arguing they often get themselves engaged in.

"Oh because you have had such a long list of boyfriends." JJ has his eyebrow raised playfully and Pope groans when she gestures towards him.

"Sarah likes when it's romantic." John B offers and all three of them throw something at him.

"Did she cum?" JJ asks, eyes fixed on Pope and Kie makes a sound in protest. The situation is only made worse when Pope just looks at her and then the other boys are all looking at her.

"Oh my god." She knows they can all see her blush now and she tries not to glare at Pope but this situation is mostly his fault. "Can we not?" She practically pleads and JJ makes another noise like her answer is telling enough. "Ok. Fine. Yes"

"See was that so hard Kiara?" JJ teases so she sticks her tongue out at him. "It's all about the foreplay and chemistry." He tells Pope seriously. Kie snorts at his tone.

"Love doesn't hurt." John B helpfully adds and three of them all exchange a look.

"It wasn't the sex." Kie grinds out, and winces when all the boys' eyes turn to her. She makes herself focus on Pope, despite the awkwardness. "After.. it just felt?" She tucks her hair behind her head to buy herself a second. "Like we should do the Pogue handshake?" She hates how her voice wavers even though Pope seems more settled like she didn't totally botch that explanation. "I just kept thinking that I should want to cuddle or something?" She adds and JJ chokes trying not to laugh so she glares at him.

"I'm just saying if you could think after maybe it was just fine?" JJ has an eyebrow raised in a challenge she wished she knew the rules to. He deflates slightly when she doesn't take the bait. "You don't like being touched when you are - emotional?" She knows he means scared. Knows he picks the best word he can find, but she still glares at the sexism she feels from that term. And maybe she resents that she was scared, that she pushed herself into a relationship just to feel secure in something, that she had laid there after terrified that she had ruined one of the only things she could count on and trust in. She wonders how JJ knows, but he's always been the most observant. Hyper vigilant about the slightest change in moods.

"This isn't really helping." Pope tells them and JJ nods and refocuses on that best friend like he didn't just put Kie's brain in a salad spinner.

"Look Cleo seems assertive? And honest!" JJ glances at Kie, like he wants validation on his word choice. She smiles slightly and he lets out a relieved puff of air. "Just tell her what you want and make sure she is comfortable enough to tell you what she wants." Pope nods and John B let's out an impressed whistle. Kie starts the slow clap this time and they all join in until JJ gets up to take a bow.

"Maybe we can find rose petals." John B says like it's a serious consideration.

------

"You good?" JJ interrupts their nightly watching the tides. It's just the two of them, everyone else asleep or close to. He has been watching her more today, or maybe she has just noticed suddenly.

"Yea?" He gestures to the fire and their makeshift shelter where she knows John B and Sarah are snuggled up together and Pope and Cleo are just close enough to suggest the start of something. She shakes her head slightly then refocuses on the water. "I'm a little relieved?" She feels terrible thinking it, tenses up waiting for judgement she knows better than to expect from JJ.

"Because he's moving on?" He asks and she nods slightly. It's not that she thought she ruined relationships for him for all time or anything. It's just -

"I don't have to feel as guilty for everything that went down." She admits.

"I can't believe you guys had sex." He jokes, and she tries to fight the smile. "Look he made his choices and you made yours." She nods, but doesn't know how to explain the way she constantly feels guilty for so many things, the way it quickly spirals into being mad at herself for feeling guilty over not being in love with him.

“It was weird.” She admits, and grinds her teeth to keep more words in.

“We don’t have to -” He offers and she just shrugs slightly in response.

“It just felt like everyone was expecting me to be someone different suddenly.” It’s the main reason she hasn’t seriously dated in the past. The way she would go from being herself to being someone’s girlfriend in other people’s eyes. She has to shake the thought away before she gets angry at the world again. “I told my parents.” At his raised eyebrow and surprised face she elaborates, “They were yelling and I told them I slept with one of you too - I don't know? Shock them?”

He’s silent for long enough that she gets worried, knees his thigh gently to get his attention again. “You know they probably think it was me right?” He says it jokingly but there is something a little self deprecating mixed in there and she can’t read into every line of his face like she is used to doing.

“Are you mad that it wasn’t?” She asks, and it’s a challenge and a check in that she has been too nervous to bring up. She has always been careful not to pick favorites between the boys.

“Not mad.” He says, but he’s wringing his hands. “Look - it was confusing? But if you were looking for stability, Pope makes sense.” It’s a peace offering but she winces and immediately shakes her head.

“You are stable JJ.” She is using her serious tone and he is doing his puppy dog head tilt like he wants to believe in what she is saying but can’t yet. “No really, on any given day you don’t know what Pope you might get. But I don’t have to worry about him the way I worry about you.”

“I wouldn’t hurt you.”

“That isn’t what I worry about.” She chances a touch of her fingertips to his temple, brushing back his unruly hair. “I never want to be another person who lets you down.” She admits and she can tell he is startled so she just holds her chin up and stays as steady as possible, even as her fingers shake slightly where she has pulled them away so they are almost but not touching him.
The thing is he is a survivor, more resilient then he should have ever needed to be. But she knows he has scars, both physical and emotional, mostly given to him by the people he should have been able to trust. So she always keeps a little bit of distance when she feels like a bomb, always pulls him in a little too tight when his smile doesn’t reach his eyes. It’s a tightrope, and she is exhausted.

“I love you.” She admits, “But I don’t think either of us are ready for -”

“Shut up.” He reaches up and tangles his fingers with her still awkwardly outstretched ones. “I love you too.” She laughs, has to duck her head against his shoulder to hide her smile and tears.

“I’m a mess.” She reminds him, like he doesn’t know every part of her. He presses a kiss against her temple. She pulls away to look at his face, but then they are kissing. And the tiny bit of worry that it was just her trying to feel something is washed away. Her stomach feels like when she first drops into a killer wave. He brings one hand up to brush her hair from her face as he kisses across her cheekbone. She steadys her breath before kissing him again, this time swinging a leg over to settle into his lap. They both groan at the contact. Her hands go to his shoulders, one wrapping around enough to tangle in his hair. His free hand goes to her hip, steadying her the same way he has done countless times on the Pogue.

“Kie.” It’s barely a whisper, but she can feel the breath against her ear. “We have to be careful.” He reminds her, like that isn’t her line.

“I trust you.” She promises, leans her head back as his hips buck up to meet hers. His lips press barely there kisses against the column of her neck, she whimpers at the brush of teeth when he smiles. “What was it you were saying earlier? Just tell her what you want and listen?” She asks in a faux serious tone and he groans softly against her neck.

“I want you.” He bites then sucks against her collar bone, and she wants to tease him for it but she can’t make her mouth make the words come out, instead she just grips the back of his head and holds him there.

-------

“So like Fuck Marry Kill?” Sarah asks the next day. Kie blushes, hates that she picked going with Cleo and Sarah today over the awkwardness of the day before with her and the boys. Hates the lack of make-up and sweaters to hide the places JJ had marked, though he bruised even easier and made the best sound when she sucked or bit just a little bit harder then she normally would.

“Seriously?” She tries her best unimpressed look and Cleo snorts.

“Come on, you gotta give us something!” Sarah complains, almost tripping over her own feet trying to keep up with Kie’s quick pace. “Just -” She holds her hands up in surrender when Kie finally turns to glare at her. “It was good right?”

“Did someone put you up to this?” Kie asks, crosses her arms and raises an eyebrow.

“No!” Sarah practically shouts, shoots a look at Cleo. “You might not know this but JJ has a pretty strong reputation on both sides of the island.”

“It wasn’t about that.” Kie settles on, takes Sarah’s hand and pulls the group towards the water where they can see if any of the boys sneak up on them. She is not looking forward to a repeat of the conversation from yesterday. “Look we uh didn’t -” She gestures to the island around them. “Honestly please tell me you and JB aren’t, without any protection?”

“Of course not.” Sarah says, though the blush climbing up her cheeks alludes to something Kie would rather not know.

“Anyway, we were uh trying to calm down and he, we, did the pogue handshake?” Kie laughs at the offended and confused looks from the other two. “It was an inside joke?” She shakes her head and ducks her head to hide her smile. “The kissing and everything was great, like best ever, but then he treated me like always, not like I was -”

“Like you are his girlfriend?” Sarah asks, and Kie rolls her eyes at the judging tone. Sarah has always liked being the girlfriend. Kie doesn’t know how to explain how much she didn’t want the same things. Sure she wants someone who is a partner in crime, and she wouldn't hate having someone look at her the way John B looks at Sarah, but she also wants someone who pushes her to surf a bigger wave, and someone to argue with and someone who will throw her french fries across her dad's restaurant.

“It was actually kind of perfect.” Kie admits instead of trying to explain.