So I'm back... with another story. I was going to post this tomorrow... but why wait? I wanted to write something a bit lighter after Haven/Sanctuary and this was what came about. It was originally going to be a one-shot but 21 pages in I knew it was more than that. Then I came up with a theme for the story. The title was already decided upon but I quickly realised some of the chapters resembled other films... so each chapter will be named after a Chick Flick and I'll have either taken a moment from the film as inspiration for the chapter or the title will directly represent what the chapter is about. And it seems I struggle with light and fluffy... so I can't promise there won't be some angst somewhere along the line.

One thing you should know... I've made a few things a bit different to the show. The story starts at the beginning of August 2012. Oh, and I guess you should be warned now that there is a lot of sex in this... And I mean... A LOT! Enjoy!

And can I just say... Lucy... what a b*tch! Kind of looking forward to and dreading next week in equal measures...

Friends with Benefits

Chapter 1: The Proposal.

"You seem pretty quiet, Lauren." Joey said as he stood behind the bar in R&R. "How come you're not with your friends?" He asked, nodding in the direction of all the gang.

She shrugged, "I felt a bit like a spare part..." she said as she took another swig of her drink, wincing slightly as the alcohol hit the back of her throat.

"You could be out on the dance floor finding someone if you wanted to." He said, passing two bottles of beer to a customer and taking their money.

She shrugged again, "I don't really want that sort of thing."

"What sort of thing?" He was truly interested in finding out more now. He hadn't really had a chance to get to know her properly since arriving in Walford. Most of the times there were too many people around to really be able to talk to just her.

"Casual hook ups..." she explained, not quite meeting his eyes.

"So you want a serious relationship?" he asked.

"Not really." She smiled, her cheeks flushing slightly, "I'm difficult to please, I guess." She added with a smile.

Joey leant on the bar in front of his cousin, a lull in customers at the club giving him a few minutes break. "So what is it you want?" Even in the dim light he could see the blush on her face and he noticed her look down at her glass self-consciously.

"It's difficult to explain..."

"Try me?" he asked with a lopsided smile.

"I don't want the tie of a long-term relationship. I'm not ready for something like that but at the same time, one-night stands aren't really what I need either. Half the square already thinks I've got loose morals without me just adding to that belief."

He frowned at her last statement but didn't comment on it. "Sounds like you need someone you can turn to for sex. A friend with benefits I guess you could call it."

"How do you have that sort of thing without feelings getting in the way and messing it up?"

"I didn't say I had all the answers, Lauren. It's just an idea." Another customer walked up and he left her briefly to go and serve them.

While he was at the other end of the bar Lauren considered her cousin's suggestion. It certainly had merits. It would be nice to be able to turn to someone when the urge struck so she could scratch that itch. It was a persistent itch too. Maybe it was seeing all her friends hooked up. Whitney had Tyler; Poppy had Fats; Lucy had got together with Tamwar of all people. Even her cousin Alice was seeing Anthony, despite the concern of her brother. It wasn't exactly boosting Lauren's confidence being the only single one of the group. Maybe there was something wrong with her. Was she giving off some kind of pheromone that repelled men? Maybe she wasn't pretty enough... she could lose some weight, that might make her more appealing. She felt a little better having made that decision and turned her thoughts back to Joey's idea. Everyone was loved up apart from her and while she wasn't sure if she wanted a heavy relationship, she missed having someone. As far as she could tell, all relationships led to was heartache. Her parents weren't exactly shining examples of the perfect relationship. Something less serious seemed a better option. Joey walked back over to her and gave her a new drink. "Thanks." She said, slightly distracted.

"You look serious." He said to her.

"Just thinking about what you said." She said, looking at his face. "It's not such a bad idea." She said, smiling at him.

"I'm not just a pretty face, Lauren." He said with a smirk.

"Not even that..." she told him, completely straight-faced. She burst into giggles when she saw the shock on his face. "Sorry, I couldn't resist."

"Cute..." he said, mock anger on his face.

She held her hands up in surrender, "I apologise, Joseph Branning. No offence meant." She downed the rest of her drink and got to her feet, "I'm going to head off..." she said. "Can you let them know I've gone home?" She asked, nodding in the direction of her friends.

"Do you want me to walk you home?" Joey asked. "I can take a break... I'll be like five minutes."

"I'll be fine. It's not like I've got far to walk." Lauren said.

"Lauren, your dad would have my guts if I let you go home on your own. Humour me, okay?"

"Okay." She said, realising it was easier to just give in than put up a fight. It wasn't like it was that much of a hardship for her to say yes.

*JL*JL*

Five minutes later the cousins were walking away from the club, back towards Lauren's house. It was still early so there were plenty of people milling around the streets. "So you're thinking about it then?" he asked as they walked through the market.

"Huh?"

"What I was saying earlier..."

"Oh... kind of. I'm not sure... I guess I don't really know that many single guys to consider it an option with. Well apart from Ian Beale," Lauren rolled her eyes and mimed throwing up, "or Michael Moon. And he just gives me the creeps." She shivered in horror.

"There's always me..." he said softly.

"You're my cousin." She said, stopping walking and turning to look at him.

"Exactly. It's extra protection against the possibility of any feelings coming into the mix." He said.

She looked at his face and she could see he was being serious. "I'm not sure, Joey."

He shrugged, "It's just an idea. You don't have to take me up on it. If you don't want to, it's not a problem." He started walking towards her house again and she followed him, jogging to catch him up. "Look, even if you don't want to do what I suggested I would like to get to know you more, Lauren. So if you ever want to talk... and I do mean just talk, you know where to find me, yeah?"

"Okay..." She said with a smile. They'd reached the stairs outside her house now. "I'd better get inside..." she said softly. "Thanks for walking me home, kind sir..." She did a little curtsey before him, a smirk on her face.

"You're welcome, milady," he said, smiling as he bowed in response.

"Go on, get back to work." Lauren said, running up the stairs and waving as he started to walk away. She opened the door and went into the house, going up to her room and lying in bed. She stared at the ceiling as she thought about her conversation with her cousin. It had been a strange evening all round really.

TBC

A/N: So what do you think? Are there any films you'd like to see included in the story? Let me know what you think or what you'd like to see.

COMING SOON... TO A FAN FIC SITE NEAR YOU... THE BACK-UP PLAN...