So this isn't my new story - still working on that... but let's just say I was inspired by tonights episode and leave it at that.

Our Thing.

LAUREN POV

It was supposed to be a celebration of Granddad's birthday but it was awkward. It felt like everyone was talking about me... and I could sense they were all waiting for me to fail. The only highlight of it was Joey being there. I hadn't thought he was going to show and then he walked through the door. I couldn't help but notice how he stared at me and it set my heart racing... and might have thrown me slightly off my A game.

The fact everyone wasn't drinking had been getting to me anyway and I may have gone too far, literally trying to force the glasses on them because then I didn't feel so self-conscious. I was already feeling like a failure because I'd nearly succumbed... there was a glass of wine on the side and I wanted to pick it up and down the remnants. A few weeks ago I would've done but this time I resisted. I'd call that a good thing... actually I'd say it was fucking great.

One thing I know I couldn't have survived the party if it hadn't been for Joey if I'm being honest. He covered for me when I knocked over the bottle of wine and he was always there, keeping an eye on me and making sure I was okay. Why did it feel so much better when he did that... but with dad, it feels like he's smothering me?

Joey came into the kitchen after the party had pretty much finished and we were talking. I thought there was something between us and then he said the f word. FRIENDS. We're friends...! Why does that break my heart?

So I ask him if that's all we are and I can see the indecision on his face; in his eyes. Then he called me babe and there it goes again... my heart racing away... Right up until the point he mentions my recovery. Why does everyone keep focusing on that? I'm perfectly capable of sorting this myself. I have a plan and I'm sticking to it; keeping myself busy, finding things to do and then there's my running.

So I bite the bullet and ask him straight out... do you still love me... because I know my answer to that question, it's a resounding yes. I never stopped. I've loved him pretty much from the first day I met him and each day those feelings get a little stronger. He tells me he doesn't want to be the reason that I don't get better properly but in truth he's the main reason I intend to. I know that my one chance of us getting back together is if I'm better. I know he still thinks he's to blame for what happened to me but I know the truth... my problems stem back much further than the two of us getting back together. I actually think that my relationship with Joey delayed what happened to me just a few weeks ago by several months. If I hadn't got together with him, I'd probably have gone off the rails much earlier and I wouldn't have had the motivation he gave me to get better either. I'd probably be dead. It's a sobering thought... pun very much intended.

There's this moment of silence between us once he says that and I think he's going to push me away but then his hand rises to my face and it's like everything is happening in slow motion... he tucks my hair behind my ear and we both know what that means. HE LOVES ME! Okay, he may not have said it in words but those few seconds where he pushed the hair behind my ear mean more to me than anything he could say. It's our thing, you see. It's not something he's ever done to Lucy and I know that because she told me so... but I really don't want to think about that her now... I want to savour what happened next... or maybe I should say what nearly happened. We nearly kissed... I couldn't tell you who made the first move, I actually think it was more of a joint effort and we were so close to that moment of perfection and then Kirsty walked in and before I could even say anything he was gone, taking a large part of my still racing heart with him.

So I'm sitting here, thinking it all through and wishing that karma wasn't such a bitch, punishing me for walking in on my dad and his wife last week. Nevertheless I can't help the ever growing feeling of hope that's now building inside me because he did our thing... and I can never forget that. I don't ever want to forget the moment he "told" me he loved me again and I believed him. I just wish I'd been able to share that kiss with him.

I can feel myself getting antsy again... and the lack of anything to do makes me realise one thing. Time for another run.

*JL*JL*

I'm listening to my iPod, trying to blot out the sight of the people milling around outside the pub, pints of beer or glasses of wine in their hands. I listen to the words of the songs... is it wrong that every single one reminds me of a certain tall dark gorgeous guy who loves me?

I've been running for about ten minutes, having done a circuit that is now becoming familiar to me. I focus on my breathing... the rhythm of my feet as I run... the music blaring through my headphones... blocking everything out except for one thought... He loves me...

*JL*JL*

Thirty minutes later I'm running back down Bridge Street... heading back towards the Vic and the enticement of what's within... but I'm not going to fail. I'm going to get better... I have an incentive that no one else will ever have. I smile and I'm sure I'd probably look like an idiot if anyone was to see me.

An arm winds round my waist, yanking into the alleyway beside the Vic and I can't help but shriek. I shut my eyes... which is a ridiculous thing to do but it gives me a moment to centre myself and psych myself up for the ass kicking I'm about to give. The arm is gone and I spin round... to find a smirking Joey in front of me. I tug the headphones out of my ears, "What are you doing? Trying to give me a heart attack?"

"Sorry babe..." he said softly but I don't believe him for a second. He steps closer to me and I can't help but notice the heat in his eyes. I lick my lips and his eyes flicker to them. "We were interrupted before..." he whispers to me and my heart goes just a little faster.

"We were..." I agree.

"I thought maybe we should try again..." he murmured and his statement had so many meanings I wasn't sure quite what he was trying to say. "Now where was I?" he breathed. "Oh yeah... I remember..."

He moved slowly, giving me a chance to move away from him I guess... like that was ever going to happen. Then his lips were on mine and I fell in love with him all over again. His hands clasp either side of my head as he deepens the kiss. Surely it must be illegal to be this good a kisser... I'd actually forgotten just how good he was... or maybe it's because I'm sober now. Oh God... one hand moves and he pulls the band out of my hair. I wonder what he's doing and then he does our thing again, his fingertips caressing the curve of my ear as they move. He presses me back against the wall of the alleyway and it reminds me of those first few days of our relationship when I'd dragged him down here so we could talk... and kiss. This was so much better though... this meant more. He pulls his mouth from mine and we're staring into each other's eyes, so many emotions visible for me to see and I'm sure my eyes are saying just the same. I lean forward and kiss him this time, feeling the slight smirk on his lips as I do so... I don't want this moment to end. "Joey..." I moan as we separate again.

"You need to concentrate on your recovery, babe..." he whispers and my heart starts to rip in two, "but I promise I'll be there for you. Every step of the way and when you're better, there'll be plenty more of this..." he kisses me softly, "and this..." his hand tucks my hair behind my ear, "and this..." there's a smirk on his face as he presses himself against my body and I have to close my eyes and take a deep breath, "waiting for you..."

"I believe you." I whisper as I open my eyes and look at his face. He smiles at me, a look I know he saves just for me and then he's gone. I lean my head back against the wall, closing my eyes. I lift my hand and trace my lips, still the shadow of his on them. I'm going to get better... because, let's face it, who needs drink when you have Joey Branning on tap?

THE END.

A/N: What did you think? Let me know. Really wish this is what would happen and not what we're going to see... Sure the powers that be have something planned though. I live in hope...