So I've had several people asking me to write one of these. So voila here we go my lovely readers. I'm very honoured that people trust me with this pairing and story. So without further or do, enjoy.

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Lauren was sat on one of the stools at the bar of the Vic. Her head was resting lazily on one hand whilst the other twirled the straw around her strong smelling vodka. She didn't know how much more she could take of her parents. Constantly they were on her case about any little thing she did. Especially when it came to her drinking. They wonder why I like to get away from them and have a drink she scoffed inwardly taking a sip of the beverage. She wasn't paying attention to anyone that was around her. The hustle and bustle of the pub was like an annoying white noise buzzing around her ears. All she wanted was some time alone.

She knew she was already a little buzzed by the alcohol she had been consuming and had caught Fatboy's eyes many times as he hesitated to serve his friend. But still he did, knowing that she would flip if he didn't. And so that's how her night continued. Consuming drink after drink as bitter thoughts of her parents, particularly her father, got more heated in her mind. She still couldn't get over his nerve, he swans back into their life and takes over everything. They were doing just fine without him, her and mum, getting on with their lives, battling the cancer. But then he turns up and takes command, pushing her out as if she had never been there.

Her musings though were cut short as she felt a strong hand on her shoulder and a musky scent that she had become familiar with reached her nostrils. "You alright Lauren?" Her incredibly handsome cousin drawled as he stopped alongside her.

She looked up at him and gave him a small smile and he noticed almost instantly that the grin didn't reach her eyes like it normally would. "Yeah, absolutely brilliant!" She spoke back sarcastically. "How about you?".

He looked at her curiously wondering where the obvious sarcasm had come from. It didn't take a genius to know that she was drunk and angry about something. And he was determined to get to the bottom of it. "I'm good. You're not though!" He said simply ordering a beer off Fatboy before he sat himself down on the stool next to her.

"What gave me away?" She smirked bitterly downing the dregs of her drink and ordering another.

"Well you're not exactly sunshine and rainbows on a daily basis Lauren, but you're sarcasm tonight is off the scale!" He said simply dark eyes flicking between his pint and his cousin.

"Charming!" She scoffed back at him simply turning herself to face the boy face on. "So, what you doing here then?" She asked curiously surprised not to see Lucy clinging to his arm. She knew it was her friend, but her actions constantly screamed desperation and she wanted to slap her silly for it.

"Can't a man enjoy a drink at his local?" He smiled back that cheeky grin gracing his face and it was impossible for her not to respond with one of her own. "I know you never need an excuse to go for a drink" He winked and another small laugh escaped her. In the small time he had known he already had her summed up to a tee. So he thought.

"Wow you're full of the compliments tonight aren't you?" She bit back humorously taking a sip from her drink. He just smiled at her as a comfortable silence fell over them.

"So… Come on then let's have it. What's up?" Joey asked kindly studying the girl intently. If it was anyone else he wouldn't have bothered asking, but since he had got here she's the only one who's had his back. She consoled him and helped him with the situation with Derek, always stood by him no matter what decision he made. And for the first time in a long time he enjoyed someone else's company. He enjoyed her company. And for Joey Branning to enjoy someone else's company was a feat. Growing up he may have had a lot of attention but he always preferred being alone, brooding in a corner somewhere with his own thoughts.

"Oh the usual really. Dysfunctional parents, moronic dad. I could go on!" She half snorted drunkenly still swirling the new drink in her hand as she swayed precariously on the bar stool.

"I know exactly where you're coming from" Joey replied sipping from his drink eyes still on the brunette. He knew one of the reasons they had bonded so easily was because of their issues with their families, particularly their fathers. He only knew the basics, but he knew that it ran far deeper than she ever let on. "So what's Max done exactly?" He pressed wanting to know more. He was completely intrigued by her and her history with her father, the history with their family. He had missed out on Uncle's and cousins, not that he minded when it came to the Uncle's, but the fact that he could have known the girl for a much longer period of time.

"What's he done? Where do I start?… He ruins my mums life, disappears, turns back up, ruins her life again, disappears. Leaves me to singlehandedly look after my cancer stricken mother and two younger siblings, swans back in again thinking he's the big I am. Takes over everything, the hospital visits and treatments, the house work, the income. Pushes me out like I hadn't given up 7 months of my life looking after her. All without even a thank you!" She spat angrily her hand tightening around her glass.

Joey just stared at her with sympathy and shock. He knew that Tanya hadn't long had the all clear when he turned up but he didn't know the burden that had been placed on Lauren's shoulders. Nor that it had affected her so much. She always seemed so confident, never showed her emotions to other's no matter how much things upset her. So to see her so vulnerable and sad pained him. Why he didn't know, but seeing her like this was having an impact on him. "I'm sorry about that, what you went through" He said quietly. He was good at listening but when it came to advice, he was a fish out of water. But he knew he had to try.

"Comes with being a Branning I suppose. You can relate to that. Our families are so screwed up Joey, and they wonder why I'm the way I am! You may not think it but trust me you had the easy way out not being a part of all this growing up!" She replied knocking back her drink.

"I don't think you're wrong there…" He agreed.

"It's mad. I hate my dad, I really do… But I can't help but love him either. I wish I didn't but I do… Then I think back to when I run him over a few years back, and I don't know whether I regret it or if I wish I had finished him off… I bet you think I'm a right psycho!" She slurred as unwanted tears pricked at her eyes.

Joey couldn't believe what he was hearing. She had tried to kill her dad. He must have done something bad, something awful to drive her to that. It was at that point that he realised how damaged she was. How hurt and bruised from her parents miss-doings she was. And how… How alike they truly were. The only difference between him and Lauren was that he hadn't tried to kill his dad, as much as he wanted to. "No…" He said gently, much more gentler than he had intended. He moved a little closer to her. "I don't think you're a psycho Lauren. Far from it. You were hurt by whatever Max did, and reacted. Not in the conventional way but that doesn't make you a psycho!" He reassured and she just nodded at him before chugging the last of her drink and sliding it away.

"Nothing has ever gone smoothly for me… They don't realise that everything they've done to each other has affected my life. So if you ever wondered why I drink so much, there's your answer. And if you're freaked out by it all you can go if you want?" She said with a shrug not expecting anyone to stick around with her after what she had revealed.

"I'm not going anywhere Lauren. I don't think any differently of you. You were young and upset and no one can blame you for that!" He said comfortingly and gently he put his hand on her knee and squeezed, physically showing her his reassurance. She nodded at him and bit at her lip still holding back the visible tears trying to force themselves out. She hadn't expected him to act like this. To be so kind and supporting.

"It means a lot. Honestly… I'm so glad you came to the square!" She spoke back meaning every word.

"Me too!" He grinned and finished his pint before ordering them another two drinks. "So… If you don't mind me asking… What made you run over your dad?" He enquired wanting to know more about her past and his new found family. What other secrets did they have?. Did she have?.

"Umm my dad was having an affair with my brothers fiancé!" She said simply and Joey looked at her in confusion. Brother? He knew she had a younger brother, but obviously there was another. "And I caught them, on Bradley and Stacey's wedding day kissing. I accidentally caught it on film and it ended up being shown on Christmas day to the entire family. It ruined my parent's marriage… then he was interfering with my relationship with Lucy's brother Peter and everything just got on top of me and I flipped… I got charged with GBH with intent and was on a two year suspended sentence" She said honestly, the drink refraining her from holding back on the details.

The more information he was getting the more interesting Lauren was becoming. "Sounds rough… I don't blame you though. There's only so much people can take! I would have done the same!" Joey replied moving even closer to the girl. His interest had been peaked and now he wanted to know more. He wanted to know more about this fascinating yet severely damaged girl. He'd always had a feeling that there was more to her, and she did come across as a bit of a wild girl, but never did he expect it to run so deep. "You said brother? Where's he now? I've never heard you mention a brother!".

"He's dead!" She said bluntly and Joey physically recoiled at it. He hadn't expected that. Not one bit. "He did marry Stacey afterwards, then something bad happened to her and she ended up murdering the man who had hurt her. Bradley took the blame and was running from the police when he fell off the top of this building!" She finished instinctively looking up at the ceiling. She hadn't thought about him in a long time, or the fact that she passes the exact spot he died at without a second thought.

"Jesus Lauren… I didn't know how rough you had it…" He answered honestly his hand still on her knee comfortingly. It just seemed to get worse and worse. And the more drink she had the more loose and open she was becoming, but the less of a grip she had on her emotions. He could now see why she acted the way she did. Why she hid behind her sharp tongue. Why she was always on the defensive. It was all making sense.

"Suppose I'm cursed. Did you know I was the product of an affair that my dad was having with my mum, behind his wife's back. Bradley's mum!" She scoffed again eyes staring straight into the glass. "I'm the first to admit that I'm messed up, so I hope this clears up a lot of why's for you!" She said finally looking into his all absorbing brown eyes which were filled with genuine sympathy and kindness.

He nodded and just continued to stare at her. He didn't know what to say. What could he say?. Her eyes were giving away so much right now that he couldn't look away. She was so exposed, and he wanted to go over to her house and knock seven bells out of her father for putting her through what she had. An overwhelming urge to protect her from any more hurt. Any more pain. Because he really didn't know if she would be able to take it again. She was so fragile and delicate and that need to wrap her up and protect her from the world was increasing by the second. He passed it off as protecting a member of his family but a little voice in the back of his head was telling him otherwise. Telling him that it was something more than familial.

Lauren just kept her gaze locked on him trying to read his expressions, trying to find something that would tell her that he was feigning feeling any kind of sympathy for her. But she couldn't find anything. His eyes were large and dark and mysterious, he always seemed so hard but she could see the softer side to him. A softer side she thought even Lucy probably hadn't seen. She didn't know he was capable of comfort. He was always so moody and quiet, lost in his own bubble with no concept of others. So angry and determined to get back at his father. So why was he so interested in listening to her, in comforting her. Suddenly his large hand on her knee felt incredibly warm and she wanted to wrench it from his grasp. He was her cousin. There was limit to physical contact. But the dark and drunken side to her mind enjoyed it. Enjoyed the attention from him. Attention that she hadn't received from anyone for a long time. She couldn't lie to herself anymore. He was gorgeous, exactly the kind of man she went for. But those thoughts were cut short as she remembered that he was her cousin. Blood. Relatives.

The intensity of their gazes, and the tension crackling around them was increasing by the second and so to break the awkwardness Lauren coughed lightly and the rational part of her mind kicked into gear and she slowly dropped her knee a little causing his hand to leave it. "I uhhh… I'm sorry for ruining your night!" She laughed lightly knowing that she must have depressed him to no end.

He sent her one of those dazzling smile the awkwardness effectively quelled. "Well I know how mad my family really is now at least!" He laughed and she gave him a small one back. Already her shoulders felt lighter and the pain that those thoughts brought with it had eased considerably. All thanks to the kind ear of Joey.

"I guess you do… Fat's get me two shots of vodka will you!" She said and Fatboy hesitated once again but complied with his friends wishes.

"I think you need to slow down on those drinks Lauren!" Joey chuckled as he watched her eye the shots greedily. She slid one over to him and he picked it up, one eyebrow raised.

"Oh shut up!" She laughed back at him as she lifted the drink. "Call it a thank you for listening, come on I've depressed you enough tonight, how about we have some fun now. Lighter conversation!" She laughed and he smiled back at her and they clinked their shots together.

"Let's do it!".

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Joey and Lauren exited the pub both highly intoxicated, one more than the other. Lauren could hardly walk as she laughed loudly. "I'll walk you home!" Joey laughed at her as she stumbled blindly across the place. Lauren turned her head to say something back to him but she completely lost her footing. Just as she was about to face plant the floor she felt two strong muscled arms wrap around her waist and swing her back up but the action made Joey lose his own footing too and the both of them tumbled to the ground. Lauren landed almost directly on top of her cousin and couldn't help but laugh at his expression of shock that he had gone down with her. "Shut up!" He chuckled and she dropped her head onto his chest, muffling her laughs with his shirt. His smell. The musky smell was once again intoxicating, more so than the alcohol. He was so warm under her hands. She looked up at him still on the floor beneath her and smirked before she rolled off and stumbled back to her feet. Lauren put a shaky hand out for him to take and slowly he too got up to his feet.

"I don't trust you to walk on your own" He bellowed loudly and he regained his composure. In one swift movement he slung her up onto his back effectively giving her a piggy back. She couldn't help but squeal at the sudden action but didn't mind. Better than walking. When she looked up she noticed that he was walking them towards hers.

"No… I can't go back to mine Joey. They'll kill me if I go home like this! Whenever I drink I usually go to Whitney's… But she's not there!" Lauren groaned worriedly letting her head drop on his muscled shoulder as he adjusted her position on his back.

"You can come back to Lucy's then. As long as you're happy with a couch!" He said and she nodded against his back.

"Thanks Joey. You're a star!" She beamed glad that she could avoid her parents for at least another few hours until she had sobered up and wouldn't end up saying something she regretted.

"Oh I know!" He grinned back and she slapped him gently with her free hand. "Alright big head! Modest much?!".

He just chuckled again at his words as he navigated their way to Lucy's which was literally across the road. When they got to the door he lowered her back down to the ground and she stood on shaky legs sniggering lightly. "Shh!" He said pressing his finger to his lips as he turned the key in the door and opened it quietly. The two shuffled in and made their way to the living room. Lauren sat on the edge of the settee trying to gather her thoughts. She hadn't had a night like this in a long time. She had poured her heart out to him. And he listened intently. Then they began on the shots, and card games and jokes and the singing. It was a night filled with mixed emotions, and she was so glad that it was with Joey.

He rummaged around quietly in the cupboard under the stairs and pulled out a sleeping bag and some pillows. He dropped them down on the settee and settled down next to her. "You're gonna have a killer hangover in the morning Lauren!" He whispered and she groaned knowing that he was right. She would.

"You won't be too fresh yourself!" She replied and he nodded agreeing with her. The comfortableness and easy banter which flowed between them was something completely new to both of them. But they relished it. They had been challenging each other all night. Winding the other up. It was refreshing and comforting at the same time.

"Please don't remind me. I've got work lunch time!" Joey groaned leaning his head back against the settee.

"Aww poor you!" Lauren sniggered quietly rolling her eyes at him. A silence fell between them, like it had many times that night. But the awkwardness of their first silence at the start of the night had blurred into the background. The physical contact between them both had only increased. From a hand on a knee, to an arm around the shoulders, to the swatting of arms and chests. Joey took this as his opportunity to stand and say his goodnights. As he was about to walk to the stairs he felt a small warm hand clasp around his forearm. "Joey… thank you for tonight. It really, really meant a lot, to know that you've got my back!" She said softly looking up at him from her seated position.

"Pleasure was mine Lauren!" He said and he bent down a little and gave her a warm hug. She wrapped her arms around his muscled torso and he responded instinctively by tightening his hold around her own body. She unknowingly nuzzled into his shoulder, his smell once again filling her senses. She knew it was wrong. Hugs with your cousin are never this long. Never this intimate. But again that dark side that emerged when she drank thought it felt so nice. Finally they pulled apart cheeks skimming each other showing their proximity. "Sleep tight Lauren!" Joey said to her sheepishly before departing surprisingly swift up the stairs.

She fell back onto the pillows pulling the sleeping bag over her. What the hell was going on she screamed inwardly rubbing her tired eyes wearily. That hug meant nothing. It was just a drunken cuddle between family. Cousins. Lauren cringed and pushed her head into her pillow. Cousins. Family. It meant nothing she kept repeating to herself but the more she did, the more that deeper, darker voice in her brain was telling her what she knew was true. She was developing feelings for Joey. Joey Branning. Her cousin.

Joey quietly slipped into the bed, Lucy still fast asleep next to him. His head was spinning as the alcohol he had consumed caught up with him. He sent a look at Lucy and sighed. His mind continually drifted to the dark haired damaged girl who was just downstairs on the settee. Tonight had made him see her in a complete different light. Sure he knew that they had always had a connection. When he first met her that day he met his dad again he instantly thought she was incredibly attractive. Dark hair, dark eyes, quirky styled. And then she revealed that she was his cousin. And so those thoughts left him and he turned his head to the blonde headed companion.

But now, those dark thoughts had reared it's ugly head at him once more. Seeing her there, exposing herself to him, her secrets, her fears, her history. Opening up and letting him in. Dropping the Ice Queen façade that she constantly held up. Now he knew why she held it up. She was a puzzle. And he love puzzled. She was on his wave length. Interested in similar things as he was. She is your cousin the rational sober side of him screamed disgust lacing the voice in his brain. But then he remembered the proximity of her when she fell on top of him. When he unconsciously put his hand on her knee. Carrying her to the house. The feel of her hand on his arm and her body in his arms. That's when he realised he liked it. That contact. That closeness. He knew that the feelings that Lauren Branning was stirring up inside of him were more than familial. Much more.

Oh brother

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So my friends this one is dedicated KlarolinexDelenaxx. She asked me to write a story on Joey and Lauren and their upcoming romance and crash storyline. If you've read my other story then you know that I enjoy writing sensitive and controversial stories. But if you don't like the pairing then don't read, I mean seriously. I don't support incest, not one bit. But there's something so intriguing about their dynamic, their interaction and chemistry on screen. And the fact they didn't grow up together is another big factor. So if you're enjoying then do drop me a review. I want to know your thoughts because I write these stories for you guys that want them.

Peace out all.

Gwen!