So I've (temporarily) put Haven on hold - until the updating issue is resolved. However, I'm hopeful that a new story may have more luck appearing on the site - and being readable. Anyway, this is my thoughts on what might have happened after Friday's episode...

Miscommunication.

Lauren staggered through the door of number 23, following Alice into the lounge. "You going to wait for him here?" Alice asked. Lauren nodded and sat down on the couch. "Well I'm going to bed. I'll see you in the morning, alright?" Another nod from Lauren. "Please try not to be too loud..." she said, smirking at the shocked expression on Lauren's face, "What?" Lauren's face was now turning bright red. Alice laughed and left the room, walking towards her room.

Lauren was shocked. Who knew her cousin had such a wicked sense of humour? She glanced at the time and knew Joey wouldn't be home for more than an hour. She turned on the TV, turning down the volume. She found something that might keep her entertained while she was waiting for her boyfriend to come home.

She was wrong. It didn't distract her. However, instead of thinking about Joey, her thoughts were on the events of the evening. She wished Joey had been with her. It might have made the evening easier for her to deal with. She probably wouldn't have drunk so much. Joey being there hadn't been a possibility though. Firstly, he hadn't been invited... in fact she'd been told he shouldn't be there, which had upset Lauren more than she'd thought it would. She could understand Whitney and Tyler's reluctance for him being there. Joey had pissed them both off in the last few months but never more so than last week. But it saddened Lauren to know her friends didn't like her boyfriend. It was another hurdle for Lauren and her boyfriend to get past, they seemed to increase on a daily basis. The second reason for him not being there though was the fact he was working. He'd been taking quite a few shifts at the bar recently and Lauren wasn't sure why. Had his feelings for her changed? Was she no longer a challenge for him? That thought brought her up short and she blinked away the tears that flooded her eyes.

She left the lounge quickly, needing to try and calm herself somehow from the depressing thoughts swirling round her head. In the kitchen she saw a partially drunk bottle of wine and she quickly poured herself a glass. She shrugged, she was already drunk, what difference was one more glass going to make? She ambled back into the lounge, glass and bottle in her hands and re-took her seat on the couch, taking a large gulp from the wine glass.

However much she didn't want to think about it, her last thought was now all she could think about. This whole evening was turning into a disaster. She glanced at the time again and she knew R&R's would be closed by now. Why wasn't he home? He didn't know she was waiting for him so there was no reason for him to avoid the house. She swiped at her face quickly, feeling the hot tears that'd been threatening for some time finally fall down her cheeks. She drunk the rest of the glass of wine, hoping to drink enough that she'd fall asleep and be able to stop thinking.

It took another glass of wine and a lot more tears before Lauren felt the tiredness begin to affect her. She finished the glass and put it on the table. Her coat was pushed off the couch and onto the floor. She lay on the couch and closed her eyes, a sob escaping her throat as her misery continued.

*JL*JL*

Joey pushed open the door, surprised to see lights still on in the hall and lounge. He was shattered. His shift had been really long and all he wanted now was to go home and get into bed. Actually that wasn't the complete truth. What he really wanted was no doubt at home in her bed at number 5 Albert Square. He hadn't heard from her all night and he was a little worried. His instincts had told him she was slightly dreading the impromptu party she'd gone to tonight. Things had been strained between Lauren and her friends for quite a while now and Joey knew that was mainly his fault.

Joey tiredly pulled off his jacket and hung it up. He went down to the kitchen and saw the lights on. Grabbing a glass of water he flicked off the light and walked towards the lounge. He could hear the TV was switched on, the volume turned down low. He strode over to it and turned off the power, turning back towards the door and seeing his girlfriend lying on the couch. He could see she was asleep. He took in the empty bottle and wine glass on the table with a sigh. He moved them to one side and put down his own glass of water, perching on the table and staring at Lauren. His hand automatically went to push her hair back from her face, tucking it behind her ear and his finger stroking her cheek as he pulled it away. He remembered a time just after the car crash when he'd been in a pretty similar position doing just the same thing. He frowned slightly as he realised her face was a bit blotchy and his heart twisted when he realised she'd been crying. Who'd upset her?

Joey moved to kneel beside the couch and he pressed his mouth to hers in a gentle kiss. She stirred beneath him and he saw the sorrow in her eyes as they fluttered open. "I wasn't expecting to see you tonight." He told her softly.

Lauren pulled herself upright and picked up her coat, "I'll go then." She said quietly.

Joey reached for her, taking her small hand in his larger one and squeezing it gently. "I didn't say I didn't want to see you." He said, lifting their hands and pressing his lips to the back of her hand. "I thought you'd be at home." She stood beside him, standing awkwardly and refusing to look at him. "What's wrong?" he asked her gently.

"Nothing. I should go." She said, pulling her hand from his.

Joey had a sinking feeling it was him that had upset her, but for the life of him he couldn't work out what he'd done. He watched as she began to leave the room. "Stay..." he said, his voice almost a whisper.

"Is that what you really want?" she asked, freezing in the door, her back to him.

"Have I done something to upset you, Lauren?" A silence hung between them and he knew she wasn't going to answer him. "Babe, talk to me... what's going on inside that pretty head of yours?"

"Have your feelings changed?" she whispered.

Joey actually gasped when he heard her question. The pain those words caused him took his breath away, "Why would you think that?" he asked, not meaning to not answer her question but needing to know why she would think he didn't love her anymore.

"We hardly see each other anymore and you're always working. I thought that maybe, now the challenge has gone, I wasn't quite so attractive to you anymore." Once she'd finished speaking Lauren moved again, heading towards the front door.

Joey was slow to move after her, her words causing him to freeze again. By the time he reached her the front door was open. He ran for her, shoving the door shut with a slam, his hand pushing against it and holding it in place. "Why are you pushing me away?" he whispered into her hair as he stepped as close to her as he could get, his arm wrapping around her waist and pulling her against his chest.

"You've been pushing me away for days, Joe." She said quietly.

"I haven't." He protested.

She turned her head to look at his face, "The last two evenings we've spent any time together was the night you ended up having a fight with Tyler in the Vic, curtailing our night out, might I add and then the other night when you'd punched Michael bloody Moon but we both had our sisters to worry about." She turned her head away from him again, "I can't even remember the last time we've done anything apart from kiss." She muttered. "It's obvious you don't feel the same way about me anymore. I just wish you'd tell me and end this permanent misery."

Joey turned her sharply so he was able to see her face. His lips met hers in almost rage as the fire from her words ignited. He pushed her back against the wall behind her, grinding his body against hers, hoping she realised just how much he still felt from her. Her arms came around his neck, her fingers scratching through his hair. He dragged his mouth from hers, "Does it feel like I don't want you?" he growled at her, "God Lauren, I want you so much, I'm pretty much permanently walking round with a hard on. Don't you know what you do to me?"

"But we've..."

"Yeah, I know. I was giving you space. You've been going through all the shit with your family and I didn't want you to think I was only interested in sex. I was trying to be a nice supportive boyfriend." He laughed at the irony of his words.

"You've been doing so many shifts, I thought..."

"Babe, I've been doing extra shifts..." he lowered his eyes, his face flushing slightly, "Well, its Valentine's Day next week and I wanted to get you something nice. So the extra shifts helped and... well, it's the only way I could convince Sharon to give me that night off." Lauren stared at him, her eyes wide. "Say something..."

"You should've told me..." she whispered.

"You're right I should've... but I wanted to surprise you." He whispered back to her. They were silent for a minute or so. "So are you going to stay?" he asked her gently.

"Do you want me to?" she asked.

Joey rolled his eyes and pressed his hips into hers, "What do you think?" he said. He leant forward and kissed her tenderly, "With me is the only place I ever want you to be, babe." She nodded, biting her lip in hesitation. "Let me go and clear up the mess. I'll be right back." Joey kissed her again, trying to reassure her he wasn't lying. He walked back to the lounge, picking up the glass of water and turning off the light and moved to the bottom of the stairs. He held out his empty hand towards her and smiled when she came to his side and took it in hers. He squeezed it slightly as he led her up the stairs to his room.

He sat on the bed once they were in his room and she stood between his legs. He took a drink from his glass and then held it out towards her. She took it and did the same, putting it on the bedside table once she'd done. "So, Valentine's Day..." she whispered with a small smile. "What do you have planned?"

"I'm not sure. I thought we could go out for a nice meal somewhere..." he told her as he lifted the jumper she was wearing from her body. His hands moved to her jeans but she stopped him.

"Can we not go out?" she said softly. He looked up at her face and saw the vulnerability on her face.

"I thought we could now everyone knows about us."

"I'd really like it to just be us." She told him, "I don't want to spend the whole night trying not to notice the judgmental looks whenever we do anything vaguely coupley."

"If we hide it they're never going to accept it..." he said.

"I don't want to hide but I'd really like a night off. I don't want it to spoil the night." She bit her lip again, "Is that okay?" she asked, shifting from one foot to the other.

"Mmm, spend the night at a nice restaurant where the most exciting thing we could get up to is playing footsie under the table, or a night alone, just the two of us? I might have to think about it..." He saw her face fall and he smiled at her brightly, "Thought about it... no competition. You know I'd choose time alone with you over everything else, right?" She released his hands and he went back to undoing her jeans. "How was the party at the Vic?" he asked and he felt her tense.

"It was okay..." she whispered.

Joey pushed her jeans off her hips and she helped him by wriggling out of them until they were at her ankles. Skinny jeans were great for showing her amazing legs, not so great however when you're trying to seduce her out of said clothing. He glanced at her face and saw her smiling when she saw the frustration on his face. "I'm going to insist next week that you wear as little as possible all night." He threatened.

She pushed his shoulders so he was lying on his bed and climbed up so she was straddling his thighs, "I like the way you think, Mr. Branning." Her hands were working on the zipper of his trousers now and he groaned as she lightly touched his length through the material beneath. "There are many things I like about you, you know that, right?"

"I do..." he gasped.

He shifted so he was now leaning on his lower arms, watching as she slowly undid the buttons of his shirt, starting at the bottom and gradually working up. She opened his shirt and brushed her hands down his chest. "I've missed this." She whispered.

"What?" he asked as he was torn between watching her hands and looking at her face.

"Touching you." She said, leaning forward and kissing his chest. He smiled until her hair fell forward and hid her completely from view. Joey brushed her hair back, tucking it behind her ear. She paused what she was doing and looked up at him, "What's wrong?"

"I can't see you." He told her. "I want to see you."

"Well, I wouldn't want to let you down, now would I?" she smirked at him, sitting back upright. She reached behind her and undid her bra, dropping to the floor. Ever so slowly she leant forward again and placed her hands on the mattress either side of his head. Slowly she moved her face closer to his, making sure she pressed her body against his in the process. He moaned into her mouth and she couldn't help but smile. She lifted her mouth from his, "Is that better?" she whispered.

"Can't you tell?" he asked, quirking an eyebrow at her.

She wriggled slightly against him and saw him glare at her, "Maybe..." she replied. "Are you planning on doing anything with that, Joe?" she asked him in a whisper. "You see, I've not just missed touching you. I've missed you touching me... as well as other things."

Joey needed no encouragement from her from that point. He put his arm around her waist and held her head against his mouth so he could kiss her deeply. Once she was suitably distracted he rolled them both so he was now on top of her. His mouth moved from hers, down her jaw and then her neck. He heard her moan softly when he settled against the soft spot at the base of her neck. He'd discovered this was a hotspot for her early on in their relationship and as her hand pressed his face further into her neck he knew she was enjoying it. He practically tore his shirt from his body, somewhat relieved he had plenty of spares when he heard an ominous ripping sound. She giggled and the sound made him smile. She rarely did that anymore. It was something he missed greatly. "You should do that more..." he breathed against her throat.

"There hasn't been much to laugh about, has there?" she said in a whisper.

"We're going to change that, babe. I promise you. Things will get better." He lifted his head and looked at her face, again her vulnerability was clearly on display and it made his heart ache.

"Do you mean that, Joe?"

A tear ran down her face and he quickly brushed it away with his lips. "I do, Lauren. If it's the only promise I keep, I will make it come true."

Her hands moved to his trousers that still clung loosely to his body and she pushed them down past Joey's hips. "Please, Joey..." she whimpered.

Joey kissed her gently then moved away from her so he could finish stripping. He could feel the gaze of her eyes heating his skin. He turned back to her and she didn't even try to hide her stare, "See something you like?" he teased her.

"Oh yes." She whispered.

"I'm glad about that, babe."

"While I'm enjoying the view... it'd be even better if you were here, with me."

Joey was beside her in an instant, "Well, I'd hate to disappoint you." He told her gently.

"I don't think you'd know how to..." she confided in him.

Joey stared at her, moving closer and pushing his length into her, "You always know how to make me feel like a better man, Lauren." He watched her face, seeing her eyes close at he moved in her, "Let me make you feel better, babe." They moved against each other, hands brushing across skin, lips pressing on flesh, breaths increasing in frequency as they moved with each other. The passion built between them until Lauren cried out Joey's name and Joey moaned into her neck. As they calmed Joey held her in his arms. He pulled the covers over the top of them and pulled her relaxed body against his. "Are you going to tell me what's on your mind?"

"I don't know what you're talking about."

"I know you, Lauren Branning. There's something you aren't telling me and I wish you would trust me enough to tell me what it is."

"I do trust you, Joey."

"Then tell me."

"It's the party..."

"What about it?"

"Whit and Tyler got engaged... that's what it was for." Lauren whispered.

"Glad I wasn't there then... Don't suppose I would've been welcome."

"I wish I hadn't been there." She murmured, clutching his hand in hers.

"Babe..." Joey breathed into her hair, "I thought they were your friends."

"I'm being silly..." she admitted.

"Never." He told her, "Tell me..."

She turned in his arms and Joey rolled onto his back, pulling her with him. She rested her head on his chest and Joey could almost hear the cogs turning in her head as she thought whatever it was through. "Everyone was so happy for them..." she whispered. "Nobody judged them for being together. No one was against them loving each other and showing that love to everyone else." She looked up at his face, tears welling in her eyes, "We're never going to have that, are we?" Tears fells from her eyes, "We're never going to be accepted by our friends and family."

"We can't believe that, Lauren. We have to believe their opinion will change. They'll get used to seeing us together. We need to show them we don't care what they think."

"But I do care..." she whispered. "Does that make me awful?"

"No. It's what I love about you, Lauren. I love the fact you care about what people think." He kissed her softly. "When are you going to believe me when I say I love you, Lauren?"

"I do believe you."

"It didn't sound like it earlier..." he told her gently, brushing her hair behind her ear.

She smiled at him, "You show me every time you do that..." she murmured, "but it is nice to hear you say it too."

He stared at her face, "Is that what you want?"

"What?"

"Marriage?" He stared at her face after he asked the question. He wished he knew what she was thinking. "Is that what you want from me? For me to ask you to marry you?" he whispered to her, "Because I would if it would make you happy..."

"I am happy." She said, lowering her face to his chest again, "Anyway, I'm allergic to weddings; possibly engagements too." She added softly.

Joey smiled and kissed the top of her head, "Whatever you say, babe."

THE END.

A/N: So what did you think? Let me know... send a review. I'm off to write something else while I wait for story updates to begin posting properly again and then Haven can continue. It's such a shame because I was going to post so many chapters this weekend...