Sacrifices of Love
Summary: When it comes to love, sometimes you have to make sacrifices to save someone but what if it's the wrong thing to do. Can things ever be truly fixed when it leads to a life changing event. Four-shot. Enjoy! Based on upcoming spoilers so if you don't want to know, don't read! :)
Joey had been watching her everyday slowly start destroying herself with her behaviour. Something was wrong but she wouldn't say what. He tried several times to get her to open up but she wouldn't; whatever secret it was she was hiding was slowly destroying her. Knowing he couldn't sit back and watch her, the love of his life, slowly self destruct, he knew he had to try and talk to her again; make her understand how much it was killing him to see her slowly killing herself by drinking herself into oblivion. He'd already shown signs of his disappointment the other day by walking out the Vic when she made a scene in front of their friends with her drunken antics. And then she had been so drunk the previous day she had completely forgot about his marathon which she promised she would be there supporting him for and as a result, he had refused to talk to her the previous night, being to frustrated when she called. But that was the least of his worries; it was more her health and safety he was worried about.
Having to plan it so they could be alone, Joey had asked her to come over knowing she was on a break from college for Easter. Knowing his sister was busy babysitting Scarlett and Kat was at work on the stall, he knew they would have the house to themselves to talk. He was bracing himself for an argument, as that was Lauren's usual style when it came to confrontations, especially to do with her abusive behaviour towards alcohol.
Hearing the doorbell ring, Joey stood up from the couch nervously and went to let his nineteen year old girlfriend in. He just hoped after the end of their conversation he could still call her his girlfriend.
"Hey, Babe." Joey smiled, watching as she leaned up and kissed him before walking past. "What's up? I got your message. I saw Alice in the square with Scarlett; are you trying to make the most of an empty house?" Lauren raised her eyebrows suggestively as Joey shook his head. She was virtually irresistible but he knew he needed to be serious right now. Lauren had virtually seemed to ignore his actions when he walked out the other day; well more likely forgotten it even happened with how drunk she was.
Taking her hand in his, he led her into the front room, "As much as I'd love to, there is something more important that we need to do right now. We need to talk."
Pulling her down onto the couch next to him, Joey took her hands in his, "We need to talk about your drinking and what's causing it."
Lauren rolled her eyes, "Joey, I've told you, it's not an issue."
"But it is, Lauren. Something's bothering you and you're keeping it to yourself. You have to let me in, babe. What's making you drink so much?"
This was harder than Joey thought it was going to be; Lauren was putting her usual barriers up and he knew it, he could see it happening, "There is nothing wrong with my drinking! And there is nothing wrong with me, just usual stupid, bloody, family stuff."
"Well explain to me why you're drinking so much, enough to the point where you don't even remember where you are or what's happened? Lauren, it's killing me to see you destroying yourself. Do you know what it's like to see the person you love throw their life away because they let someone else's troubles push them to a dark place. I hate it." The strong male argued, his voice rising while looking at the girl next to him dead in the eye.
He knew Lauren could see the desperation in his eyes and was even convinced she could see the tears forming from all the hurt he had been trying to deal with, "Joey..."
"No, Lauren, I'm sick of pretending that everything is ok. You're drinking is getting out of control and just because something is wrong, it doesn't mean you need to turn to drink. Let me in, babe; let me help you with whatever is bothering you." Joey was on his feet now and pacing in frustration as Lauren absorbed his words.
Standing up, Lauren grabbed onto her pacing boyfriend's hands and stopped him, forcing him to look at her, "I'm sorry. I really am. I had no idea. No one's ever cared enough before to be impacted. I'm going to change, Joey. I'm going to change for you."
The dark haired male shook his head, "I don't want you to change completely, just the drinking."
"I promise you, Joey, I'm giving it up. I'll prove to you that you mean more to me than any drink ever could." Squeezing his hands, Lauren let him loosen his grip and wrap his arms around her.
"Thank you." Pulling her close, she leaned up and kissed the man she loved softly.
Lauren Branning stood there in her boyfriend's arms with a determination she'd never had before; she was going to prove to him she was sorry and was going to change to save their relationship.
For the past week, Lauren hadn't touched a drop of alcohol and she and Joey had both found they had reconnected on an even deeper level; their relationship going from strength to strength and she couldn't remember feeling so happy. She had eventually confessed to Joey about all the hidden baby drama going on and her being forced into staying quiet because of her Dad and Kirsty forcing her to.
Tonight they were going out with some of their friends just to the Vic. The previous day her Mum had found out about Kirsty's pregnancy, not from Lauren but from Kirsty herself who couldn't resist rubbing her Mum's face in it. So while it wasn't the best of situations, it had taken a bit of pressure of Lauren who didn't have to hide the secret in order to protect her Mum anymore.
"You ready, babe?" Joey asked, calling up the stairs to where his girlfriend was. Lauren was being a typical girl who couldn't decide if she looked good enough, even though it was just a few drinks with friends.
Walking down the stairs, Joey smiled as he watched her; he was so proud of her for everything she'd done to curb her drinking. If she hadn't of gotten it under control, he knew he would have had to seriously question their relationship. He couldn't be in a relationship with her if she couldn't look after herself. Despite having recognised how hard she was trying to prove herself, there was always a small hint of doubt in his mind as to whether she could be strong enough to keep on resisting and to have given it up for good that easily.
"Do I look ok?" Lauren asked, slipping her black leather jacket on over her black and cream stripe shirt with her skinny black jeans and black wedged ankle boots.
"You look gorgeous as always, babe. Now come on, our friends are waiting." Rolling her eyes, she allowed Joey to drag her out the house.
Pulling him back just before they walked in, she pulled him to a stop, "Wait."
Joey furrowed his eyebrows in confusion, "What..." He trailed off as his girlfriend wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled herself to him; her lips landing on his as she kissed him slowly yet lovingly. "Hmm... What was that for?"
"Just because I love you and everything you've done for me." Her eyes were genuine as she spoke.
"I love you too, babe. Come on; let's go have some fun tonight."
Lucy Beale jealously sat across the table from her 'best friend' Lauren, watching her in disgust. She had barely left Joey alone all evening, the two of them flaunting their relationship once again. It made her blood boil seeing her so called 'best friend' with the man she still loved. The one she stole from her. A few days ago she had tried to be nice by warning Lauren about what Joey had said the night of Jack's stag but instead she'd been made out to be a grass by Joey; Lauren was obviously turning Joey against her. And she wasn't going to stand for it anymore. Having heard about Lauren's latest plan to 'become sober', she was determined to show Joey it wouldn't last; it was purely a short term thing for his attention. Joey needed to see the real Lauren; the one who couldn't keep her promises.
"I'll get the next round; everyone want the same?" Lucy asked, standing up, her gaze focusing on the couple who finally turned their attention to her.
A collection of yes' came from Tyler, Whitney, Joey and Lauren as the scheming blonde moved to the bar and put her plan into action; it would be an innocent mistake to order the wrong drink, not just a plain coke as requested, out of old habit, right?
Lauren laughed and rolled her eyes at Tyler's lame joke. He was such a typical East End geezer. Since her Uncle Jack's stag, Tyler and Joey seemed to have calmed around each other, much to her relief, knowing they could finally socialise as a couple with her friends. It was only a small thing but she knew it was a big step in people getting closer to really accepting them. Thinking back over the last six months, Lauren couldn't believe it had only been six months; with all the dramas it had felt a lot longer.
Watching Lucy at the bar as she ordered their drinks, she smiled. Even her best friend seemed to be settling a little, despite her little bit of stirring last week about Joey at Jack's stag. It was still a step in the right direction because she knew Lucy was trying to look out for her. Her guard was still up against the blonde but it felt good to slowly be returning back to normality by being able to be with her friends with Lucy.
"I'm going to go talk to Lucy."
Joey gave his girlfriend a slightly confused look, "You sure that's a good idea?"
Lauren nodded, "Don't worry, after last week, I'll be conscious of any stirring but I don't think there will be anything because what could she possibly say when I've been with you all evening?"
Joey relented and allowed Lauren to move past him to get out, "Just promise me you won't let her get to you again?"
"I promise." Pecking the cautious male's lips once more, she headed over to the bar. "You alright, Luce?"
The blue eyed blonde twisted slightly, "Lauren," She sounded nervous but then seemed to compose herself before her next comment, "Managed to detach your lips from Joey's then?"
Lauren picked up instantly on the slight abhorrence tone to Lucy's voice, "I thought we were over this, Luce."
"I have been trying but are you really that ignorant of other people's feelings? Rubbing it in my face by flaunting your relationship and reminding me he didn't want me? Maybe you should think about others for once and not be the selfish cow you are. You don't deserve someone as kind as Joey; we both know at the end of the day you'll hurt him. Do you really think you'll never have a drink again?"The young business woman challenged, not mincing her words.
"I've told you, it's different this time. I love him. If you still can't accept it then you're the one who's blind to everything." Lauren wasn't one to back down, especially when it came to defending herself and Joey. She was always prepared to give as good as she got.
Lucy shook her head, "You don't get it, Lauren; you never get it. Just forget it now. Here." Lucy grabbed the spiked drink and handed it to her friend, thankful it had already been served before Lauren reached her to hear Roxy repeat what it was.
"Fine but this isn't over, Lucy. You either have to accept us together or you stay out of our lives for good. I'm not putting up with your bullshit any longer." With that, Lauren turned and stalked over to Joey, drink in hand as Lucy followed behind.
"Everything ok?" Joey whispered into his brunette girlfriend's ear, having seen but not heard the little confrontation going down with his ex-girlfriend.
Lauren nodded, taking a sip of her slightly strange tasting drink, although she ignored it thinking it was probably just because the dispenser had probably nearly run out and so she was left with the dregs, "I'm good. I didn't slap her so I'd say that's a success. I give up trying to call a truce with her."
"Maybe it's for the best."
"Yeah, I think it probably is." Lauren leaned into Joey's arm, which had sneaked its way around her waist to rest on her hip; yep, this was definitely so much more fulfilling than any drink ever could be.
Joey watched on confused as Lauren laughed loudly with Whitney. Somehow in the last hour, her behaviour had changed. Something was wrong but he hadn't figured it out yet. Lauren and Lucy hadn't said anything else to each other since earlier, Lucy too busy talking to Tamwar who had joined the group along with Fatboy and Poppy or constantly getting the drinks in.
Turning to someone he didn't expect to for an opinion, he spoke, "Something is wrong with Lauren."
Tyler looked at his girlfriend's best friend and observed her, understanding what Joey meant, the familiar behaviour he'd been witness to many times in the few years he had been in Walford reappearing, "She's drunk."
Joey watched her again as Tyler's words made complete sense; she could barely stand up straight, she was laughing at anything and everything and after looking at her a little harder, he could see her slightly bloodshot and glazed eyes. The anger brewed in him at the thought of her breaking her promise; was their relationship really not worth giving up the drink for? He thought she had it conquered; appeared sober for days now. Was he not enough? Maybe Lucy was right; his girlfriend is just a drunk.
"Try her drink." Tyler suggested, breaking Joey's thoughts, knowing that Lauren was supposed to have been on just coke all evening. Joey grabbed her drink and took a sip, wincing slightly at the taste. "Sorry, mate."
"Not your fault, Tyler. Turns out my girlfriend doesn't know how to help herself, let alone others, anymore." Tyler watched as Joey regretfully stood up, grabbing Lauren by the arm and pulling her out the Vic. He had a feeling what was about to happen and if he was correct, Lauren was about to go off the rails again. But he couldn't change it because everyone knew Lauren's her own worst enemy.
"Joey?! What the hell?!" Lauren exclaimed, gripping his arm with her free arm to stop herself falling over.
Exasperated, Joey dropped her arm and ran his exhausted hand over his face, "Do you even care about anyone anymore?"
The young Branning started at her boyfriend confused and slurring slightly, "What are you talking about?"
Joey scoffed, "Don't lie to me, Lauren. I know what you've been doing; making me think you could change; that you had stopped drinking. Look at you, you're a mess."
This time it was Lauren who scoffed, looking at her boyfriend incredulously, "Don't you dare have a go at me! I haven't touched anything other than coke all evening. I'm just having fun with my friends!"
Shaking his head, the brown haired male looked away, trying to keep his temper in check at her lies, "Lauren, I tasted it; that wasn't just coke. What, did you pay Roxy a little something to slip some into your drink every time? You know what, I don't even care anymore, Lauren. Just go back in, go get wasted and throw your life away. Just don't expect me to be a part of it anymore because we're done. It's over, Lauren."
"Joey!" Lauren called after her boyfriend, following him as he headed back towards number twenty three, grabbing from behind his arm.
"You know, I guess it is true what they say, a leopard doesn't change its spots." With that, Joey walked away, pulling his arm free, leaving a heartbroken Lauren helplessly watching.
The worst thing was, she had no idea how they had ended up at this; she genuinely thought her tipsiness was just adrenaline because as far as she knew, she'd been on coke all night and hadn't touched a single drop of alcohol since she made her promise to Joey. But now, without him, he'd already jumped to conclusions, so maybe she should just forget everything and live up to her so called reputation of being a drunk.
If only she knew what the consequences of tonight's actions would be...
A/N: So I finally have something to post again! You can thank the lovely Abiee and Laura for encouraging me to write this, although this thing has gone from a one-shot to a two-shot to now a four-shot mini story. It's obviously based on the upcoming spoilers but my own take. Hope you like it! It's all written and ready to be posted. Leave a review if you liked it and want me to post the rest please! Thank you! See you tomorrow! :)