So here's a little story I started just after the Christmas episodes and finally decided to finish today. It starts during the Branning showdown at Number 5 Albert Square on 21st December. I wanted to write it so it didn't end up with Lauren throwing up on the lounge floor. I think my version is a bit better. Hope you think so too...

The Lies She's Told.

Lauren's face stung and she stared at her mother, her eyes wide. Never had she thought her mum would raise her hand to her again. It took her straight back to the last time it happened. Just over a year ago at a time which, coincidentally, was the last time Lauren had found out she was lying to her as well; she'd slapped her in order to shut her up.

She remembered all the time she'd spent with her mum over the last few weeks since the car crash, the tears she'd shed because the love of her life had broken her heart. She'd poured her heart out to her mother, thinking she understood. And now she found out that everything she'd believed to be true wasn't. It hurt to know she'd been lied to about something so important; that some of the most important people to her had torn her heart in two. And were now doing it all over again.

Lauren's shoulders sagged and she went to take a swig of vodka from the bottle but her mum snatched the bottle from her and stepped further away from her.

Her eyes moved slightly right and she saw her dad and sister standing watching. Tears quickly welled in her eyes as what had been happening finally began to sink in.

Joey had lied to her.

Joey had decided spiting his dad was more important to him than she was.

Joey loved her.

Joey loved her. Lauren gasped as this sank in. She fell to the floor, all strength leaving her body. She suddenly felt completely sober despite everything she'd drunk that night. The tears began as soon as she hit the floor. She was focused on herself and didn't see the heated conversation take place between her parents. She didn't see Abi taking her sister's mobile phone out of her jacket that lay over the arm of the couch. All Lauren could focus on was the ache in her body that started at her heart and was gradually ripping through each cell trapped within her skin.

*JL*JL*

His mobile rang and he looked at the screen, sighing when he saw her name written across it. He answered it after a slight hesitation, "I told you this isn't going to happen, Lauren."

"Joey?" The voice was upset but it clearly wasn't Lauren's.

"Abi?" Joey said, checking his phone again and finding she was calling him on Lauren's phone. "Are you okay?"

"I'm fine but Lauren isn't."

"Abs..."

"Joey, she knows. Mum told her everything and Lauren's told dad about the two of you." Joey doesn't say anything as he thinks about what his cousin, the sister of the girl he loved had just told him. "Joey, she needs you..." Abi whispered. "She's falling apart and I don't know if anyone else can put her back together apart from you."

"I can't come back there, Abi." He said softly. "I'm doing this for her."

"So am I." Abi said firmly, "It's time everyone stopped lying to her. She's scared and alone and she doesn't believe you love her. Even though mum says you do, she's lied to her too many times for Lauren to take her word for it."

"So what do you want me to do, Abi? I can't come back there, put her back together again and then head back off into the sunset."

"You could stay..." Abi suggested. "Please Joey..." she whispered, practically begging him to do as she asked.

"Okay." Joey said softly. In his heart he knew he could never turn Lauren down. His leaving Walford was only ever going to be temporary, he'd known that when he'd packed his things. It already hurt to leave her, there would be no way he'd be able to break that bond with her completely. She meant too much to him. "I'll text when I'm at your house." He said softly, turning round and moving back the way he just came.

*JL*JL*

He sent the text as he walked towards their house. The four foot Rudolph still greeted him at the door and he smirked as he saw the flashing red nose. The door opened and Abi stood there. He could hear a loud discussion happening in the kitchen, behind closed doors. Abi noticed the direction he was looking and supplied the answer, "Mum and dad... discussing what happened tonight." Joey arched his eyebrow, "Dad's not impressed with mum for lying to Lauren. He's even less impressed with your dad, which I believe is what they're talking about now."

"Oh." Abi moved back and let him into the house.

"She's in the lounge." Abi whispered. "I'll leave you to it." She added, smiling at her cousin.

Joey dumped his bag on the floor and went to the doorway. He stood there for several seconds seeing her sitting on the floor. She was crying and she was completely unaware that he was there. He toed off his shoes and walked over to her. She still ignored him, so locked up in her own misery she didn't notice him. "Babe..." he whispered as he sat on the floor in front of her.

"Joe?" she said, her voice breaking as she looked up and saw him.

"It's me. I'm here..." he said softly.

"Joey..." she whispered.

He reached for her, moving his legs so he could pull her between them. His arms wrapped around her and she leant against him. He kissed the top of her head and brushed his hand through her hair. "I'm sorry, babe." He whispered. He tilted her chin back so he could see her face, his other hand reaching for her hair and pushing it back behind her ear.

"Why did you lie to me?" she whispered.

"I was trying to protect you."

"I don't need to be protected..." she protested.

"You do." He said, kissing her forehead, "I won't let Derek hurt you, babe. I have to protect you from that."

"By breaking my heart..." she whispered. "By lying to me and making me believe you didn't love me?"

"I..."

"You could've done what he wanted... stayed there and made nice."

"You know I couldn't do that, babe." He brushed his thumb over her cheek, "I didn't have a choice, did I?"

"Yes you did. You could've chosen me!" She said, her eyes filling with tears, "You ripped my heart to shreds, Joe."

"Can you forgive me?"

"I don't know," She admitted as she stared at him and saw the sadness in his eyes.

"I'm so so sorry..." he whispered, his eyes filling with tears, "It broke my heart too. Every time I saw you it was just as painful for me because I couldn't do what I wanted to do so badly."

"Which was?"

"This..." he breathed before moving to kiss her. Their lips met and they quickly forgot about everything else. It was as if the last four weeks hadn't happened; were completely erased from history. Lauren moaned into his mouth and reluctantly she pulled away from him.

"Are you staying?" she whispered to him.

"If you'll have me..." he murmured.

She leant forward and wrapped her arms around his body, "As if that was ever in doubt." She whispered to him, kissing him just in front of his ear.

"Come here..." he breathed into her hair, pulling her against his body. His hands grasped her, brushing across her back. "I've missed you, babe." He groaned. "I've missed you so fucking much."

"Don't ever do that again, Joey. I don't think I could cope if you were to leave me again."

"Never..." he promised her. He kissed her mouth passionately but then pulled away and scrabbled to his feet, grabbing both her hands and pulling her up from the floor. He lifted her off the floor and her legs automatically found his waist, her arms his neck and her hands his hair. He walked just three steps and lowered her to the couch, climbing on as well so he was hovering over her. He pushed her red checked shirt off her shoulders as his mouth found her neck. At the same time she worked at removing his jacket and she threw it on the floor.

"Shouldn't we take this elsewhere?" she gasped as he sucked on her skin.

"What's wrong with here? It was good enough the first time..." he whispered in her ear.

"My parents are in the house..." she moaned as she squirmed beneath him.

"And they know about us..." he reminded her.

"There's knowing and there's finding us at it on the couch, Joe." she whispered to him.

He paused and lifted himself off her slightly, looking down at her flushed face. "You don't want to do this?"

"Oh, I do, babe. Never doubt that... but what I really want tonight is just for you to hold me in your arms. Somehow I don't think dad will let that happen if he finds us in the throes of passion on his couch. I want to wake up with you in the morning and know you're going to be here, not wonder if dad will have killed you as we sleep."

"I'm going nowhere." He rolled to the side so his back was against the back of the couch. He pulled her towards him and she ended up with her back against his chest. She reached to the back of the couch and pulled down the purple blanket so it covered them both. She sighed as she felt his arms curl around her waist. His hand crept under her vest top and rested against her skin and she wriggled back against him, hearing his own moan as an already pretty interested part of his anatomy became even more attentive. "Babe..." he groaned, "Please don't tease me."

"It's only teasing if you have no intention of following through..." she told him softly.

"But you said..."

"We're just going to have to wait a while, babe." She shifted against him and Joey inhaled sharply. "Sorry," she giggled.

"Enough of the punishment, babe, okay. I get it. I screwed up and I made a mistake."

She turned her head to look at him, her eyes wide. "I'm not punishing you..." she whispered. Her lips were on his before he could respond and it was a kiss that quickly deepened. It was only footsteps in the hallway that pulled them apart. Lauren rolled over on the couch and nestled against Joey's body. Nothing was going to convince her to be moving from she was currently situated. Joey's lips pressed against her forehead and she closed her eyes, a small smile tugging at the corners of her mouth.

"Lauren?" It was her father and when Lauren turned her head to look at him he was standing in the doorway, staring at the two of them. She'd expected the usual look of disappointment on his face but for once it wasn't there and that surprised her. "We'll see you in the morning." He said, "Both of you. We'll discuss this then and work out what happens now."

"Okay." She said softly, "Thanks dad." She added.

"Don't thank me yet, Lauren. I'm not promising anything... and I going to trust you not to take advantage of my allowing you both to stay down here. Together." He told them both, "No funny business."

Lauren rolled her eyes but there was absolutely no reaction from Joey. Max flicked off the light switch and closed the door. They could hear his footsteps slowly climbing the stairs. "Now where were we?" Lauren whispered.

"Babe... your dad just said not to get up to any funny business."

"What he doesn't know won't hurt him." She whispered.

"Lauren, babe, there is no way that if we do this he isn't going to know about it. You aren't exactly known for being quiet, darling."

"Joe... I need this. I need you. It's been too long." Her hand reached for him, brushing across his length through his trousers. "I'll be quiet," she promised.

"Liar..." he chuckled. Her hand squeezed him a little tighter and his eyes rolled back into his head. "Fortunately for you, I need you too." He smirked at her, it just visible in the lights from the Christmas tree. "I've missed you and I really want you. I've even missed this couch. It's time to re-christen it, babe." He kissed her deeply, rolling them so he lay on top of her. They moved quickly and quietly, silently stripping the clothing from each other. Joey moved to her, his hands running over her body, refreshing his memory of what it was like to feel her with his hands. "Beautiful..." he whispered, his mouth sucking on her skin. They settled back on the couch, both lying on their sides, facing each other.

"So we're doing this then?" she whispered.

"This as in sex or this as in a relationship?"

She smirked, "Both."

His hand ran down her leg, hitching it up and pulling it up to his waist. "I'm game if you are..." he told her, brushing his cock against her body.

"Now who's teasing?" she whispered.

"I'm fully prepared to follow through on it though." He said huskily. He pulled her closer and eased his length into her. She moaned and he laughed, "I said you couldn't be quiet."

"Joe..." she breathed as he set a slow pace.

"You know I never would've left for long. Even if Abi hadn't phoned me. I was always going to come back. I couldn't leave you, not really."

"She called you?"

"I was just leaving and she rang. I thought it was you because she used your phone. She told me to come back here; that you needed me."

"I did." Lauren sighed, "I'll always need you, Joe. I told you when we first got together that this was never going to just be over." She moaned as he sped up slightly. "I love you, Joey." She gasped, her breath hot against his skin. It was the first time she'd told him. The first time she'd said the actual words and he stared at her face in wonder.

He rolled them over, now lying on top of her and again switched gear with the aim of bringing this to an end. The couch was protesting somewhat at the activity taking place on top of it but neither of them paid any attention, all their focus on each other only. Joey could feel his peak very close in his future but he wanted Lauren to get there first. He kissed her jaw and slowly moved his mouth down her neck, sucking on the skin and marking it; a visual record of his love for her. He moved on her faster, each inward stroke pressing deeper into her and she moved her other leg, wrapping it around his waist. His pace faltered slightly as he brushed deeper inside her. His arms were either side of her head and there was more tension in his shoulders and neck as he strained to bring her to her peak. "Come on, babe..." he urged her. "I love you, babe. I love you more than I've ever loved anyone. I'm sorry I lied to you and made you think I'd never felt that way. It was a mistake that I regretted as soon as I uttered the words but then it was too late to take them back." Lauren's hands clutched his shoulders and her breath's were shallow and frequent. "I want to thank you as well." He whispered. "Thank you for taking me back and for not making me suffer like I've made you in the last month. I wish I could take it all back." She gasped as her orgasm struck and her back arched beneath him, pressing her chest against his. Joey smiled and kissed her deeply, swallowing the noise she couldn't hold back. It was another lie she'd told that he could easily forgive her for. In the scheme of things it was a little white lie and far more forgivable than any that had been told to her in the last few weeks.

*JL*JL*

Abi walked down the stairs the following morning, her parents still upstairs and she highly doubted her sister was even conscious. She pushed open the door to the lounge and a smile appeared on her face as she saw her sister and her cousin lying on the couch. Lauren was cradled in Joey's arms and there was a smile on each of their faces. Fortunately there was a blanket covering them but she could clearly see they were wearing little, if any, clothing beneath it. In the back of her mind she realised there was a little part of her that should be disgusted with what her sister was doing but she'd witnessed her over the last month or so and she couldn't begrudge her sister some happiness. She'd hated seeing her so miserable since the car crash and if Joey was what made her happy, who was she to kick up a fuss about it. She just wished neither of them had been forced through such heartache in order to get to this point.

THE END.

A/N: Not sure about the ending but it's the best I can come up with at the moment. Let me know what you think.