Summary: Sportacus/older Stephanie fluff. Stephanie has been keeping a secret from her friends; can Sportacus get to the bottom of it and save her before it's too late?
Author's Notes: First Lazy Town fanfiction. I tried to make it as original as possible, but I had heavy influences from 18lzytwner, MeowMix2, Becca (Let me save you), MurphysLuck and like m old. You guys rock ^^

(Disclaimer: I don't own the characters or rights to LazyTown, Magnus Scheving does)

Stephanie pushed a loose strand of pink hair from her face as she raced down the Lazy Town college steps, taking them two at a time in her haste. The afternoon sun had already begun to sink behind the trees clouding the horizon and she was the only person in sight. The college itself had finished its workday a few hours beforehand but Stephanie had needed to stay after school to complete a dance project and had lost herself in its steps, letting all other thoughts leave her mind. Throwing the CD she had been using clumsily into her shoulder bag, she ran down the familiar streets towards her Uncle's house in the middle of town.

Since Stephanie had first visited Lazy Town nine years ago she had come to love it and the people she had met during her regular summer vacations. Once she had graduated from her local high school and had heard that a Lazy Town college had been established the previous year, it was all she could do to stop herself signing up and heading off, to much protesting from her parents. Eventually they had caved in and agreed, with the exception that she return to visit them at least once a month and for a few weeks during holidays.

She still kept her hair shoulder-length but the colour had lightened. As well as this she continued to wear a dress, but the colour pink was shared with other light insignia such as yellow and blue, which drew less attention instead of making her stand out like a sore thumb.

She was so lost in her thoughts she barely registered the resounding footsteps coming from behind her and by the time she realised who they belonged to, it was too late. Feeling a firm grip on her shoulder she turned around and met the glare of a guy not much older than herself. He was also a Lazy Town college student, but in the year above Stephanie. He was accompanied by a couple of his friends.

"Stephanie," he sneered, "You shouldn't be out so late. Didn't your parents ever tell you what happens to little boys and girls who don't make their way home on time?"

"Get off me, Duncan," Stephanie hissed at the older boy, trying to pull her arm out of his grip.

He scoffed and held on tighter. Stephanie tried hard not to wince as the pain increased. Duncan was a big guy by all standards, but unlike one of her best friends, Ziggy, he wasn't without strength because of the food he ate. His eyes were seemingly endless pools of black and a long trench coat hung about him. His dark brown hair messily covered his face but highlighted his ears, giving the appearance of a large primate. His companions weren't much better either.

"I said get off!" She shouted, struggling.

A huge shadow fell over the students but they were too busy to notice.

"Maybe I don't want to. Where's the money you owe me?"

"I don't owe you anything you gorilla!"

Duncan narrowed his eyes, "You're gonna regret insulting me," he raised his other hand and Stephanie closed her eyes anticipating the blow, but it never came. Instead, a more muscular hand grasped the older bully's. Surprised, Duncan released his hold on Stephanie, who fell to the floor because of the sudden loss of support. She kept her eyes closed and huddled herself into a small ball, trying to block out all noise.

Sportacus was practically burning with rage and it took a great effort for him to prevent himself from punching the boy. Duncan let out a small whimper upon seeing Sportacus and ran off into the distance with his cronies. Watching them carefully to ensure they had really left, Sportacus turned back to Stephanie, still shaking slightly on the ground.

Crouching down beside her, he gently pulled her hands away from her face and offered her his warmest smile. Stephanie fell into his arms and unconsciously clutched his shirt.

"Are you alright, Stephanie?" The heavily accented Icelandic voice soothed her, and she nodded.

"Yes, thank you Sportacus…" She turned to hide her blush and retracted her grip.

He helped her up and they began to walk towards the mayor's house in the receding light. Sportacus hadn't changed much over the past few years. In fact, she wouldn't have guessed that he had aged a day. 'I guess the healthy diet works' she pondered to herself.

Neither of them spoke, and the silence deepened. Stephanie didn't seem to want to discuss what had just happened, and Sportacus didn't want to push her so he let the matter drop. Although he cared for her deeply, he didn't want to upset her further through questioning. She would tell him when she was ready.

As they neared the edge of Stephanie's street, he stopped walking and faced her.

"Stephanie, you know you can tell me anything,"


He waited to see if she would continue, but she remained silent, her gaze firmly fixed on the floor. It seemed as though recently Stephanie's life had been revolving around her college and work, so that the two friends rarely got to see one another. Sportacus was saddened by this, but understood how much college meant to her. He was happy that she was achieving so much and wanted her to be happy, even if that meant he couldn't see her as often. He still kept his airship housed over Lazy Town despite this, determined to be there if she, or any of the other kids ever needed him.

"Your Uncle will probably be worried about you, better head home,"

"Yes," He paused again but her gaze didn't falter. Resignedly, he gave in.

"Goodnight Stephanie. Drop me a note if you need anything, I'm always happy to help,"

Performing his trademark move, he flipped off back towards the airship ladder and Stephanie was left alone once more.

Even though Stephanie had moved to Lazy Town because she wanted to be nearer her friends, it was essentially pushing her further away from them. Trixie had jumped at the chance to escape from her hometown when she turned sixteen and was attending a different college miles away. Stingy, whom everyone could tell was affected by Trixie's departure, was less interested in playing sports and stayed inside, becoming isolated from the group. She still saw Ziggy often, but being different age groups he attended a school on the other side of town. Pixel was a year above her at the college, but arrived early and stayed late, so she only saw him in the evenings or during lunch. And Sportacus… Stephanie felt her heart clench, Sportacus had taken to spending days at a time in his airship, dropping down only to save the mayor from another of his accidents or the occasional cat.

Truth was, she had tried to distance herself from him. She didn't want Sportacus to feel like he had to save her. How would she ever learn to defend herself if he constantly protected her? She was also scared of what would happen if she continued to hang around with him. What had been a harmless friendship during her earlier years had matured into a fully-fledged feeling of love and the last thing she wanted was to ruin that friendship, especially when she knew it could never be returned.

With that thought, she took her house keys from her bag and let herself in, hoping her Uncle wasn't too angry.