So here is my newest story… posted slightly later than I'd originally wanted but there you go. This was originally going to be a one-shot… but as they usually seem to do these days… it turned into something bigger. That being said, it's not the length of some of my other stories either. Big thanks to my super friend, Eastendersfan444 for all her suggestions and editing genius. So anyway, here it is… it's a 'what would've happened if…' story… something a bit different but not too far out there. Some things are different to the show but hopefully that will become clear as you read it… or I'll point it out in an AN. On with the show… or story… Enjoy!

Eternal Flame.

Chapter One.

16th September 2014.

Joey walked into the hospital, a sense of urgency in his steps. He stopped briefly at the reception and asked for directions to the intensive care ward. A small wave of sympathy washed over the older woman's face as she saw the distress on his and then she gave him the directions of where he needed to go. He nodded his head in thanks and then he was walking towards the direction she'd pointed him in. He ran up the stairs, rather than take the lift, needing to be doing something, not wanting the inactivity of standing still. He was soon walking down the corridor until he saw the entrance to the intensive care ward and then he slowed down… to the point where he was barely moving. His hands clenched at his sides as he took a few calming breaths.

His heart was racing as he pulled open the last door and then he saw a person he recognised sitting a few feet in front of him. He walked over to them and sat down, already feeling fidgety, "I got here as soon as I could… Thanks for calling me… for letting me know…" he said quietly. "How is she?" he asked.

"I don't know…" he said. "The doctors are with her now…"

"Do you know what happened? How she…?" Joey trailed off unable to say the words.

"I didn't get back to the square until the paramedics were bringing her out to the ambulance and I came here with her… but I was told what happened…" He stopped speaking and Joey could see he was upset.

"And…?" he prodded gently.

His uncle turned his head and looked at him and Joey could see the tears in his eyes… on his face… "She was babysitting… Kat and Alfie's twins…" he said. "She'd been doing it at our house… Kat and Alfie were at Sharon and Phil's hen and stag do's…" He closed his eyes, "I was going to the stag after I got back to the square… I'd just taken Abs to the train station… her and Jay were going up to Bolton to look at places to live when she goes to university…" He lowered his head, "Or they had been anyway… I called them not long ago and they're on their way back. Tan and Oscar are coming up too… I called Tan just after I spoke to you…" Joey nodded his head, glad he hadn't had to make that phone call. "So anyway, Fatboy said that he'd seen Lauren take the twins over to Kat and Alfie's house as he was making his way to Phil's stag do… There was an explosion at the house… I've no idea what caused it but the twins and Lauren were in it… The fire brigade arrived and went into the house when Fatboy told them he thought she might be in there. She was… they brought her out just as I drove up…" He stopped speaking, closing his eyes and Joey knew he was remembering what he'd seen. "Fatboy told me quickly what had happened as they put her in the back of the ambulance…"

"What about the twins?" Joey whispered, knowing how much Lauren would hate it if anything had happened to them.

Max lifted his head again, smiling slightly at his nephew. "She protected them… The paramedic told me when we were on our way here… she was shielding them with her body when she was found…"

Joey nodded his head, relieved that they were okay but still worried about Lauren. He glanced around, "Where's Peter?" he asked suddenly, "She told me things between her and Peter were getting more serious… that there could be something there… That was what she said when I spoke to her a couple of weeks ago anyway…"

"He chose not to come here." Max told him.

"What?" Joey said in shock. "She's been there for him since Lucy died… and he turns his back on her when she needs him…?" Joey's voice rose with each word he said. He got to his feet and began pacing in front of the seats, striding back and forth for several minutes, needing to move once more as the surge of anger ebbed through his body.

"He's not here because she didn't want him here, Joey…" Max said softly as he watching his nephew pace in front of him.

"She said that?" Joey said, coming to a standstill and staring at his uncle.

"Not exactly…" Max admitted.

"I don't understand…" Joey whispered.

Max looked up at his face, seeing the confusion on it, "She was screaming your name, Joey… she wanted you… she made that very clear…" he explained softly.

"What?" he gasped, his face paling as he took in what Max had just said.

"She was screaming for you… the only thing she said from the time they brought her out of the building was your name… over and over… all the way to the hospital… It's why I called you…"

A/N: So there was chapter one. What did you think? Send me a review and let me know. How do you think Joey will take Max's news…? Do you think Lauren will be okay? Okay, changes from the show are: Abi is going to university (with Jay), there is no Emma and Max and Lauren and Joey have been keeping in contact with each other (don't know if this happened in the show but I've assumed it didn't). Anyway, back tomorrow with the next chapter… Don't forget to review... xx