A/N: I am re-watching the series before I meet SIMMONE and AARON in June (so freakin' excited that there are NO words!), and I always loved the scene in season 5 episode 'body blows' when Alex tells Stevie he's leaving, and she has this panicked look on her face. Half the dialogue is directly from the show and the other half is mine.


"So what's the plan?" she asked, as they walked towards the horse yards, Stevie a single step behind Alex.

"Well, for starters I'll get my stuff and move back to Wilgul," he explained.

"That is a good idea," she smiled. "You could really make somethin' of that place."

Alex scoffed. "Not this time, mate."

There was something about Alex's tone of voice that gave her an odd feeling in the pit of her stomach. Alex stopped at the fence and slipped his hands through the empty space, resting his forearms on the panels of wood. Stevie stood straight, watching the serious expression increase his wrinkles. "What do you mean?"

"Well, I'll be there long enough to work out what I'm doin' and then I'm off."

Off? Surely he didn't mean- "What, you're leaving?" she frowned.

"Yeah," he said leaning against the fence. "Maybe head up to Queensland. I dunno."

The odd feeling in her guts suddenly turned to deep twisted knots. "You can't," she said, trying to keep the panic from her voice. The thought of him leaving the district made her chest tighten and her heart ache. She didn't want to imagine him living in another state across the other side of Australia. Whatever the feeling was that was stirring inside her, she didn't like it one iota.

"I haven't got a choice," he replied.

Steve could see that he felt torn. Damn Harry, she cursed.

"That's so dumb," she stated matter-of-factly. "That is SO dumb. That's like something I would do." And she almost had. Stevie was willing to run away from her problems and go start a new life with Kane, and Alex had tried to talk her out of it. She had been too stubborn to listen, but maybe... "Just give it time. Think it through."

"Stevie, I have," he answered. "I'm leaving."

Stevie lost the ability to breathe.

Alex lay a gentle hand on her shoulder. "I have to go. I'll see you, mate."

"Yeah... see you," she muttered, as he walked away. What could she say?

'Don't go anywhere. I need you.'

'The thought of you not being here every day makes me feel like I've been run over by a freight train.'

'I can't breathe. Don't go.'

Stevie couldn't stop thinking about their conversation. How was she supposed to live on Drover's without him as her neighbour? Alex had been there from day one. She had helped him through the loss of Claire. He had tried to protect her through the entire Kane debacle. It wouldn't be the same without him. Who else would she fight with about interfering in each other's lives? Who else would she kiss on the side of the road after a heart to heart about moving on, and then pretend that it wasn't all that significant?

Stevie touched her finger to lips as she remembered the passion that ignited, surprising both of them. If she was honest, it hadn't been the same since. Every time he teased her or gave her one of his goofy grins, her heart felt whole.

He was her best friend.

Stevie didn't want to be without him. But how could she stop him? Alex Ryan was as stubborn as she was, and that was saying a lot.

There may be more to come as I continue the journey through to the end of the series. I'd love for you to review if you would... it'd mean a lot. :-)