Ever since his dad disappeared six months ago, nothing about John B’s life had been normal, and Kiara had a feeling that Big John would want her to take care of JB’s little inconsequent ass.
His inconsequence had reached its peak the previous night at a kegger they went to. She didn’t understand why he thought that following two Maybanks around was a good idea. He knew the rumors as well as she did, “Luke Maybank is a criminal and his crackhead children are following the same path”, which she didn’t necessarily believe, but she was sure her mom would kill her if she tried finding out for herself. No one in the Outer Banks had any idea what Luke’s job was, they just knew he had a fairly nice house somewhere in The Cut, so people assumed he was some kind of drug lord.
The Maybanks siblings were recognizable by their blonde hair and overall “don’t fuck with me” attitude. JJ and Sarah were apparently homeschooled, and the only times they would be seen were at keggers, no more than twice a month. And that’s where they were that friday night.
As soon as they arrived, John B couldn’t shut up about them. He was sure the Maybanks had something to do with his dad’s disappearance, which Kiara brushed off immediately.
“Just because they’re kind of weird? You’re sounding like those kook Karens who freak out every time they see Luke… you know there’s no proof he’s a criminal, right?”
“Your mom is a kook Karen” he responded, not really paying much attention to her.
“Is that a yo mama joke or are you trying to say something about Mrs. Anna Carrera?”
John B didn’t answer this time, he was too busy paying attention to JJ and Sarah talking to each other. They were too far away for Kiara to see their faces in detail, but she fell a rush of excitement nonetheless; that was that closest she’d ever been to them. She had seen Luke here and there; but not his children.
JJ was taller than Sarah, and his hair was a slightly lighter blonde. Kiara couldn’t help but notice how strong he looked underneath his gray sweatshirt; she wished she could see his face better, though.
“Pope said he couldn’t come today because he was too busy studying. Who the fuck studies in the summer?” Kiara was trying to make small talk, in an attempt to distract John B from looking directly at the Maybanks.
“Pretty sure he’s avoiding you, Kie”. Oh, so mentioning Pope takes you out of your hypnotic state?
“Why would Pope be avoiding me?”
No response this time, just a dismissive shrug; he was done with the conversation and back to creepily staring at strangers.
“I’m gonna ask them about dad” he said after a while, his voice failing him.
“JB, don’t be dumb. Why would they know anything about Big John?”
“I need to try, Kie. What if I don’t get another chance? I just...” He took a deep breath. “I have a feeling”.
Oh, great. A ”feeling”.
“Okay”, Kiara sighed, rolling her eyes. “But if you go, I’m leaving. You know I can’t handle second-hand embarrassment”.
John B murmured a “kay” before running towards the Maybanks. Kiara turned around and left without looking back. Sorry, Big John… I know I drove him here, but the kegger is from walking distance from the chateau, and I’m too tired for your son’s BS right now.
After getting home she had tried texting him, with no luck. Ten hours later, still no response. She tried calling… nothing.
At around 11 am the next day, she finally got a text back.
Johnbee [11:06 am]: I’m fine
Kie [11:06 am]: why didn’t you answer my calls?
Kie [11:06 am]: pope said you didn’t answer his either
Johnbee [11:09 am]: I was busy kie, chill
Kie [11:09 am]: busy doing what? do u need something?
Kie [11:09 am]: I can come over
Johnbee [11:13 am]: I’m not at the chateau
Kie [11:13 am]: where are you then
Johnbee [11:13 am]: at the maybanks’
Johnbee [11:14 am]: and I kinda need you to pick me up
Kie [11:14 am]: you need a ride? How did you get there then?
Johnbee [11:16 am]: we walked
Kie [11:16 am]: why can’t you walk now? Are u hurt?
Johnbee [11:16 am]: no im just too tired, i didn’t sleep at all
Kie [11:16 am]: oh vomit
Johnbee [11:19 am]: kie if you can’t pick me up its okay I’ll ask pope
Kie [11:19 am]: jb shut up of course im going, I just have no idea where they live
Johnbee [11:23 am]: here’s the address:
“J, couldn’t you at least put a shirt on before making his food? You’re sweaty, that’s unsanitary”
“I can spit on it too if he’s into that” JJ shrugged as he spread peanut butter on the last of the five sandwiches he was being forced to make for John B. He and Sarah were sitting in the chair by the kitchen counter.
John B was paying too much attention to his phone to bother with Sarah and JJ’s argument. When he finally looked up at them, he explained Kiara was coming over to pick him up.
“Dude, you told your girlfriend to come over? What the fuck were you thinking?”. JJ’s grip on the knife tightened, the guy had been testing his patience.
JJ just wanted to enjoy one of his rare nights out that are only possible when Luke is out of town under Clave orders. When he was home, the kids had to follow his rules very strictly, “no mingling with mundanes” included. The Outer Banks had zero demon activity, so Luke, as the only adult in the family, was sent by the Clave to bigger cities from time to time to help local shadowhunters, which was fair: the Clave paid them monthly, and had to get their money's worth.
John B appeared out of nowhere to disrupt JJ’s peace, approaching them in with a very accusatory tone which JJ didn’t like one bit; Sarah was able to calm him down before John B got a punch in the nose, though; she thought he was cute. When he notices one of JJ’s runes - “is that a neck tattoo, dude?” -, they get suspicious: humans aren’t supposed to see them, but he wasn’t a downworlder either; they would have sensed it. Sarah freaks out and makes them spend the whole night researching Luke’s Clave documents, photos… for any clues on John B’s dad, finding out that “Big John” was actually a famous Shadowhunter, making John B one too. Then, Sarah makes JJ make sandwiches for the guy as a peace offering for being too rude; and now he has the audacity to ask one of the hottest girls on the Outer Banks to come over to his house. JJ was supposed to be the one asking her to come over, one day.
“She’s not my girlfriend, John.”
“As if you could ever get a ten like her, John.”
“Can you guys shut up?”. Sarah raised her voice. “We walked here from the kegger and spent the whole night awake doing research; he doesn’t have our training J, he’s tired. I would drive him if Luke hadn’t taken the keys to the car, but he did, so stop whining!”
John B stared at Sarah, dumbfounded. JJ remembered him asking for her phone number at some point during the night. Who the fuck does that? Your dad disappears, then you discover he was a Shadowhunter and that you might be one too, and the only thing that’s on his mind is getting a girl’s number, and you’re not even smooth about it.
What else could you expect from someone who’s friends with Kiara Carrera but never tried anything with her? JJ just assumed the guy had no game.
“Aw, is baby twoo tiwed?” said JJ, handing John B the plate with the finished sandwiches; Sarah shot him a glare. “There’s too much mundie activity going on in the house, Sarah. The vibes are off”.
“You bring mundane girls here all the time when Luke and Wheezie are gone, J”. Sarah rolled her eyes. “Chill.”
“The fact that you guys call humans “mundanes” and “mundies” is by far the worst thing I learned about the Shadow World last night.” John B’s mouth was full and his tone was playful, he didn’t seem fazed by JJ’s comments or overall rudeness towards him. “Do you realize how much it sounds like “muggles”?”
JJ turned to face the sink, directing his attention to the dirty dishes. “Yeah, I guess it’s not as cool when you’re one of them”
“I’m not one of them, JJ.” John B’s expression suddenly turning serious. “If my dad’s one of you, then I am too.”
And he was right, JJ had to admit it. John Routledge had been an active Shadowhunter for years before falling in love with a mundane, which caused him to leave the Clave to be able to marry her. In his youth, he trained alongside Luke Maybank, as well as Sarah’s biological father, Ward Cameron. Those three families were the last shadowhunter families in the Outer Banks before Routledge’s “resignation” and Cameron’s exile from the Clave due to his attempts at ending all downworlder races – vampires, werewolves, warlocks… - a little after Wheezie’s birth. Ward ran away and, as a result, Luke adopted his girls.
JJ had a strong feeling Ward had something to do with Routledge’s disappearance, but he would never tell Sarah that. Her theory was that the group of vampires that had arrived at the Outer Banks a year prior were responsible for it. Although they had been peaceful, Sarah had a feeling they were here for the shadowhunters, and John B’s dad was an easy first target since he spent so many years without training. JJ also refrained from mentioning to her how much she sounded like her downworlder-hating father when she went off about not trusting the vampires, and wanting to investigate them.
JJ argued that conducting an investigation without Luke’s supervision was too big a rule to break. He wasn’t a stranger to breaking the “no mundanes in the house” rule, but this seemed too risky. Sarah didn’t care, though; she wasn’t as afraid of Luke as JJ was, which was good. It meant that Luke treated the girls better than he treated him, and that’s all JJ could ever ask for.
And it’s not like they didn’t break other rules: Shadowhunters aren’t allowed to have social media, - orders from the Clave - but that didn’t stop JJ and Sarah from having fake accounts. While Sarah used mainly instagram, where she followed cute boys and recipes for food that she would ask JJ to make, since she couldn’t even boil water; JJ was particularly interested in Kiara Carrera’s singing videos on youtube. Sometimes she sang acapella, sometimes she had a ukulele in hand, and she looked good every single time. He would catch himself checking in on her page almost every day to see if a new one had been posted; he had fallen asleep listening to her voice many times.
During the night the three of them – John B, JJ and Sarah – spent researching Luke’s stuff for information on Routledge, JJ made over twenty comments about Kiara being John B’s girlfriend, partially to annoy him, partially to be sure she wasn’t. When Sarah teased him about the fact that he was too interested in Kiara’s dating life, he pretended to be doing that to make sure John B was single for her, which was a blatant lie.
“She’s here”. John B’s voice brought JJ back to earth. “Holy shit, I have no idea how I’m going to hide all of this from Kie. I can’t lie to her”.
As Sarah went to open the door for Kiara, JJ took a deep breath. Be chill, man. She doesn’t know you stalk her on Youtube. She doesn’t know you know all the lyrics to every single song she has ever covered; and her originals too. He decided to keep focusing on washing the dishes. Fuck, I should put a shirt on. I don’t want her to see the runes or the scars.
It was too late, though. Without turning around, he felt their presence in the kitchen again, and heard John B, his voice quavering. “Kie, this is other John. He’s Sarah’s brother.”
“Dude, I made you a sandwhiches as a peace offering. You sure you wanna get all smart?” JJ said, finally turning to face them.
The first thing he noticed about Kiara much shorter she was than what he had expected. Maybe her angelic voice and overall badass attitude on her Youtube videos made him think of her metaphorically tall, unreachable; which, in his subconscious, translated to her being physically tall as well. Taller than him; better than him; out of his league. But, instead, she was shorter, - 5’8 maybe? – and she was a girl, not an angel, a remarkably beautiful and talented girl, but a girl nonetheless.
He also noticed that her curly hair was in a bun, instead of down like in all of her videos, and somehow, she looked even more beautiful. Kiara was staring at him with a wary expression that shifted into awe as her eyes went down at his shirtless torso. JJ’s heart stopped. “She’s looking at the runes and the scars, she’s disgusted”. Then she… blushed; looking away as fast as she could.
“I thought your name was JJ”. She gave a small smirk; focusing on his eyes, as if to not be tempted to look down.
Then he realized. Humans can’t your runes or the scars you get from other shadowhunters or downworlders, you dumb fuck. That’s not disgust, she’s enjoying what she’s seeing. JJ immediately puffed his chest.
That’s why he loved hooking up with mundane girls; there were no questions about bruises or scars, they didn’t see what he saw in the mirror every day. He wished he had that luxury.
“It is. Your boyfriend thinks he can call me John, but he can’t”. he lowered his voice a bit, as if pretending to tell her a secret but making sure everyone, especially John B, could hear. “You can, though. You can call me whatever you want.”
Kiara’s laugh filled the room and gave JJ chills. As beautiful as her singing.
“JB’s not my boyfriend, ew. And I think I’ll stick with JJ for now.” she offered him a hand. “I’m Kie”.
Oh, I know. “Nice to meet you”. He took her hand.
“Okay Kie, you’ve met them, now let’s go”. John B was visibly uncomfortable, pacing around the kitchen. JJ imagined he was worried that Kiara might realize something was off.
“You wanted to meet us?” JJ had no idea she even knew who they were, let alone that she had any interest in them.
“Yeah, I wanted to draw my own conclusions about the Maybanks”. She gave him a sweet smile. “People talk a lot of shit about you guys, but I don’t like believing in rumors”.
“Kie, you can’t say that.” John B’s voice was quiet but reprimanding.
“It’s okay, we’re recluses. Obviously, people are wary of us”. Sarah gave John B a look that probably meant this is how shadowhunters live, you’ll have to get used to it.
JJ studied Kiara for a bit. She was leaned against the kitchen counter, with a look that made him think she knew they were hiding something, and was just waiting for them to tell her. John B’s demeanor probably gave that away; JJ could already tell he was a terrible liar. Thankfully, JJ wasn’t.
“So Kie, as you can tell, John B slept here,” JJ fabricated a suggestive look towards Sarah, who immediately blushed. “and the two love birds were thinking about going out again tonight. Why don’t we make it a double date?”
Kiara narrowed her eyes, the corners of her mouth lifting up into a smirk. “Sure, but first, you guys have to tell me what the fuck is going on.”
Kiara had known John B her whole life and loved him like a brother. Obviously, she knew something was going on from the moment she got out of the car and saw his face. He was worried and anxious around her, like he was hiding something from her specifically. She asked him if he had met the infamous Luke Maybank, but John B said he wasn’t home. That gave Kiara the courage to ask to go in; if John B was perfectly fine after a night at the Maybanks, she would be too. Kiara had been bold, but thankfully Sarah was nice enough to let her in, despite John B’s protests. What is he hiding? If he has spent the night there just hooking up with Sarah, he wouldn’t be this nervous. Maybe he actually found something out about Big John.
While in their kitchen, she grilled John B into telling her everything until he agreed. JJ and Sarah protested, but eventually figured out that even if John B didn’t tell her at that moment, he would eventually. So, they spent the better half of the afternoon trying to explain to Kiara, and she was still a bit confused.
Wrapping her head around the fact that demons existed, and that there were vampires, werewolves, and warlocks coexisting with humans took a while, but she was never a close-minded person. JJ and Sarah showed her the weapons room, in an attempt to prove they were in fact demon hunters. JJ even got one of his swords so she could have a closer look; “Can I touch it?” she had asked. Smirking, he responded: “easy now, we just met”.
Kiara learned that Luke Maybank spent a lot of time out of town, serving as backup for other shadowhunters in bigger cities with more demon activity, and that he was taking their younger sister Wheezie with him so she could get used to battle, just like he used to do with JJ and Sarah when they were younger. She also learned that, as a mundane – ugh, just say “human”- she couldn’t see a lot of things John B could, having Shadowhunter blood he inherited from Big John.
For example, she couldn’t see were the “runes” shadowhunters applied for power, apparently JJ and Sarah had tons of them all over their bodies. That was hard for her to wrap her head around, having seen JJ shirtless and noticing nothing but toned muscles – she tried not to think about how long she stared at them for, though. She tried not to think about the amount of time she spent just looking at him, but she couldn’t help it. He was relatively calm during the entire conversation, but Kiara did notice slight changes in his demeanor: the moment John B mentioned the runes, he froze; he also got very agitated every time Sarah talked about Luke, like he was being suddenly reminded that telling a mundane about their business would get them in trouble with the Cleve, Cleave? Kiara had no idea.
As they were leaving, Sarah reminded John B that she and would be going to another kegger that night to investigate vampire activity, telling him to call her if he decided he would like to go. Apparently, John B had liked the idea of training as a shadowhunter, which didn’t surprise Kiara one bit.
“I don’t wanna spend the whole night third-wheeling again, love birds.” JJ had said; and Kiara offered to join them.
And that’s where she found herself, at the same place and the same time as the night before, with a whole new world of knowledge acquired. She looked around at the oblivious teenagers, feeling bad for them. She knew now that vampires were on the loose, and maybe had something to do with Big John’s disappearance, but they didn’t. Maybe that was better, though; knowing they existed didn’t really give Kiara an upper hand in defending herself. She decided not to think too much about that, focusing on the fact that JJ and Sarah would probably protect her. She started walking away from the kegger, stopping after a while, finally finding a tree to lean against.
“Hey there. Watcha thinking?”
She realized how far away from the kegger the had gotten in her walk, and JJ had followed her with two cups of beer, offering one to her. He was wearing a cut off this time, and cargo shorts with tons of pockets, probably where he was carrying his knives and other small weapons. Kiara remembered Sarah mentioned they didn’t really bother covering up their runes from vampires because they could sense their shadowhunter blood anyway. Kiara tried to imagine how JJ would look like if she could see them; John B told her they were drawings they would make on their skin with a “stele”, and that each one had a meaning and a purpose in battle; apparently they looked like burns when they were new, and plain black tattoos if they were old.
“Nothing important” Kiara said, taking the beer. “just our impending doom”.
He narrowed his eyes and opened his mouth, pretending to be shocked. “That’s not very optimistic, is it?”.
“You’re used to all of this, I’m not!” Her tone betrayed her; she didn’t want to sound like a complete coward in front of him.
JJ looked down at his feet, running a hand through his hair to adjust it, looking apprehensive. “I shouldn’t have let John B tell you”
“Don’t beat yourself up.” Her lips curling into a smile. “I would have gotten that out of him one way or another.”
That made JJ look her in the eyes. Smirking, he said “You’re really stubborn, Miss “Save The Turtles”, I like that.”
Miss “Save The Turtles”? Kiara looked down at her outfit and noticed the shirt she had put on for the occasion: once an oversized white shirt, now a crop top – that she had cut herself - with the phrase “save the turtles” in green.
“Yeah… I guess I put this on to remind myself we have more important issues to worry about than vampires roaming around, or the existence of demons”. Kiara tried to sound lighthearted, but JJ’s expression made her realize she wasn’t successful.
“We brought you into this; you’re our responsibility.” He stepped closer to her; with a serious expression she hadn’t seen before. “I’d never let anything bad happen to you.”
The fact that he said “I” puzzled her. Noticing her confusion, JJ tried shifting the tone of the conversation quickly. “And besides, your fans would never forgive me if I let something happen to the best singer in the Outer Banks”, he said with a forced laugh.
“My fans? Wait… how do you know I post singing videos? I thought you couldn’t have internet”
His blue eyes widened, shifting weight from one leg to another, he cleared his throat. “Hm… we can’t post anything, but we can use it. I’ve seen one or two of your covers on youtube”
“One or two, huh?”. Kiara held back a laugh, taking a sip of her beer; she could see right through him. “Did you like them?”
“Yeah, your voice is…” there was a pause, as if he was trying to find the right word. “…good. You’re also not bad to look at, so, two birds one stone.”, JJ added with a suggestive smirk, desperately trying not to let that conversation get too personal.
Kiara had been trying to pass off his attempts of flirting; he seemed like the type of guy to flirt with anyone. But right now, she was realizing she didn’t mind it that much; so what if he was just flirting with her because he could, and had no interest in anything serious? She wasn’t a stranger to one-night stands.
And it’s not like she was actively trying to hide her attraction to him, especially after she found out he killed demons for a living. It’s hot.
In the car ride to the chateau, John B had made fun of her because of the way she acted around JJ. “It was like you’ve never seen a good-looking dude, Kie; embarrassing”.
“So you agree that he’s good-looking?”
“Objectively, yes. I’m not gonna sit here and lie to you”
“Like you could ever lie to me”
“Seriously, Kie. Sarah said he brings a lot of girls home. Doesn’t strike me as a guy who would be serious about you.”
“So what? I’m single and I can have a little fun if I want to.”
“But what about…”
“You’re not that bad to look at either.” She tried for the best sultry voice she had.
JJ bit his lip, which made her stomach tighten. “Well, thank you Kiara”.
“You can call me Kie.” Her voice quiet.
“I like Kiara better, though.”
She didn’t like when people called her by her full name, it reminded her too much of being reprimanded by her mom; she for sure was enjoying the way JJ was saying it.
“Your real name is John, right? Why do people call you JJ?
“John is a common name for shadowhunters”. He shrugged. “Usually they get a middle name too, like your friend Booker. But my old man just… didn’t bother. As Wheezie got older she found that really funny and started calling me Just John, and then JJ.”
“Wheezie sounds adorable.” Kiara smiled. “It’s a cute relationship you seem to have with your sisters.”
JJ’s face lit up. “Oh no, she’s the devil, but I love her. Sarah is great too, but has awful taste in men, based on the fact that she’s totally simping for John B.” Kiara remembered seeing them talking very closely before stepping away from the kegger. “What about your family?”
“Oh, they’re just… normal, I guess.” Kiara shrugged. “Mom is kinda strict, though. Doesn’t like me hanging with John B.”
“Mama’s got a point”. He laughed.
“So, it’s decided, from now on I call you Just John” she raised an eyebrow, challenging him.
He laughed. “I already told you: you can call me whatever you want.” His eyes studied her face as if waiting for something; a sign?
She decided she was done waiting for him, so she grabbed his face gently, pulling him closer; closing the gap between them. Their lips touched, and for a second Kiara panicked, thinking she had just embarrassed herself beyond repair. Those thoughts disappeared, though, as soon as he grabbed her waist with both his hands, pulling her up towards him, making her stand on her tiptoes. JJ was the one who opened his mouth for tongue first; Kiara following right after, while moving her hand from his neck to his blond hair, tugging on it.
While one of his hands moved to the small of her back – she felt the cold of his rings against the exposed skin below her crop top -, the other one went up, and he got a handful of her hair, gently, never pulling it; he kissed her hard and desperately, sometimes biting her lower lip. They stayed like that for a while, until she felt him hard against her, and she felt compelled to change things up a bit.
Kiara pulled away, which made JJ immediately let go of her hair, with a horrified look on his face; she spoke quickly, to reassure him he hadn’t done anything wrong.
“So…” she cleared her throat, trying not to blush. “John B told me he saw a rune on your neck, and that’s how you and Sarah knew he wasn’t a mundane. Is that true?”
“Hm… yes?” JJ looked like he wasn’t sure where she was going with this.
Kiara ran the tips of her fingers through the left side of his neck, making him shiver. “Is it here?”, she whispered.
JJ had a dazed look, as if he was hypnotized by the feel of her fingers moving against his skin. “Yeah”, he struggled to get the word out.
“Does it hurt?” she asked, suddenly worried after remembering that runes feel like burns when they’re new.
“No, it was like… my first or second one.” He looked at her with a confused expression.
“So I can do this?” Kiara pressed her lips to the same part of his neck she was touching before; first licking it, then kissing and sucking on it, which warranted softs groans from JJ. He tightened his grip on her, pressing her against his hardness. With that, Kiara gently nibbled at his neck, her hands still tugging on his hair.
“Shit. You’re killing me, Kiara” his voice breathy from arousal. “I never thought I’d have a chance with you. Not in a million years”.
That’s when it came to her. She suddenly realized John B’s worries, “I think he’s avoiding you”; “But what about…”. What about… Pope? Pope had said something similar to her a few weeks ago.
“We’ve been friends forever and I never thought I’d have a chance with you; I still don’t, but… I think you should know I love you, Kie.”
She remembered her rejection and how hurt he had looked; which took her completely out of it, so she broke away from JJ abruptly. He had that terrified look again, that got worse when he saw her expression.
“Did I do something wrong? I pushed it, didn’t I?” he asked; his tone desperate. “I fucked it up. I’m so sorry, Kie, I didn’t mean to…”
“No! I’m just…” she took a deep breath, “…not in the mood anymore. It’s not your fault, I promise.”
He looked down at his feet, running his hand through his hair, Kiara assumed he did that every time he was nervous. “That's hard to believe” he whispered to himself, almost too quiet for her to hear.
“I need some air, you know?” he gestured to his pants, forcing a smile. “To calm the situation”.
With that, he left. Hands on his pockets, looking at his feet as he walked. JJ seemed so distraught at the thought that he may have hurt her in some way… it really touched her. She wanted to run after him, to make sure he wasn’t blaming himself, but she just couldn’t shake Pope’s voice from her head, telling her the same thing JJ did.
Walking even further from the kegger, she found herself far enough that the dancing teenagers looked like small little dots. She stared at the calm ocean, trying to understand what she was feeling. She didn’t love Pope the way he loved her, and she may have just fucked up any chance with JJ. Good one, Kiara.
“Hey, baby girl” a deep voice called behind her. “Your shadowhunter friends left you all alone, huh?”
Turning around to face the owner of the voice, she saw a short but buff guy, with his brown hair in a bun, dark eyes and a sleazy smile. But how does he…
“You know damn well what I’m talking about, Kiara.” He stepped closer. Kiara was too shocked to run, but deep down she felt like that wasn’t going to save her. “I’m sorry for what I’m about to do, baby girl, nothing personal.”
He smiled again, this time she noticed his sharp teeth, and the last thing Kiara felt was a hand holding her mouth closed, and an excruciating pain on the side her neck.