Well this story has taken a lot longer to publish than I'd anticipated... but then again it is also my longest story to date as well (both in chapter number and number of words). When I think back to the first few days of writing this, it very nearly got no further than a few thousand words... and then I sent it to my fabulous friend Eastendersfan444 and she convinced me to continue it (some would say bullied and nagged but not me!). She has read every word and helped me more than I could've hoped for – encouraging me when I became disheartened and gave me ideas when I wasn't sure what to do next. She even gave me some professional advice with a couple of the chapters which has (hopefully) enabled me to keep some realism to it. This story really wouldn't be what it is today (or anywhere near the length it is) if not for her so a massive huge fank you to her!

So here is my new story... which is my version of Eastenders and includes surprises throughout (I hope). It different to the show in many ways but it's kind of what I'd like to have seen in it. I hope you all like it and for Eastendersfan444 – BEARHUGS!

Sins of the Father.

Chapter 1.

Joseph Christopher Branning was a sweet little boy who had been dealt a rough hand in the game of life. He was born to two parents, Derek and Sarah Branning and his life appeared perfect. He was surrounded by many family members and whenever any of them saw him, he normally had a smile on his face that could light up the whole of Walford. By far though the person who doted on little Joey Branning the most was his uncle and godfather, Max Branning. He had taken to his nephew as soon as he was born and it was a bond that continued to grow between them as Joey did. Unca Maxy and Auntie Tan were the best as far as Joey Branning was concerned too.

So, like I said, his life appeared perfect. But things were not as they seemed. Behind closed doors, life for three year old Joey was far from perfect. And it wasn't until Christmas Eve that anyone realised what a mess things really were.

This story begins with someone knocking on the door of number 5 Albert Square, the day before Christmas. It was early in the morning... about seven o'clock in fact and neither Max nor Tanya were expecting visitors, especially not at that time of the day. They both had already finished work for Christmas and were still in bed, planning on having a quiet build up to Christmas. Max threw on his dressing gown and ran down the stairs, heading for the front door, hearing the knocking starting to fade. It was still dark outside so he switched on the light as he pulled open the front door. What he saw would remain with him for many years to come.

There on the doorstep stood a crying Joey, which was a heartbreaking enough sight... especially for Max... but it wasn't that that shook Max up so much. It was the fact Joey was covered in blood... his clothes, his arms, legs and some of his face all a dark shade of red. Max crouched down in front of him and Joey dived at him, his whole body shaking against his uncle's as his crying strengthened once more. He finally felt safe in the arms of his uncle. Max noticed Joey was only wearing his pyjamas... he didn't even have shoes on... and he was freezing. Max picked up the sobbing toddler, staring at the door and seeing bloody handprints on it where Joey had been hitting it. What was going on?

A/N: So there you go... What has happened at Joey's house? Just a little teaser... more to come later. Let me know what you think. Read and review. Back soon...