Chapter Ten

Stevie felt numb!

After months of feeling the extreme of all emotions, now she felt nothing but exhaustion. She had sobbed in Smithy's arms for what felt like an eternity. But she knew that the security of his arms couldn't last for ever.

Now she sat in the soft interview room at the station with some Force quack feeling the need to psychoanalyse her.

Scratch that! She did feel something, she felt pissed! She didn't need to talk to anyone it was pointless. It made her angry and frustrated that they thought they knew best. All eyes were upon her and she had never felt so self-conscious before in her life. A hand squeezed hers and she looked over at Smithy who smiled reassuringly.

"How are you feeling now Stevie?" The FME asked.

"Fine," she answered too quickly "I'm fine, there's nothing wrong with me,"

"There have been some concerns about your behaviour recently and I was hoping you might be able to tell me a little about how you've been feeling,"

"What does it matter?" she said sadly looking down at her feet.

"Your feelings matter a lot Stevie," the FME reassured "Tell me what's been happening?"

Still looking at the ground, Stevie fidgeted with the sleeves of the shirt and took a large breath, briefly she locked eyes with her best friend before turning back to the doctor in front of her.

"Sometimes…..." she sighed "Sometimes I feel like I'm not in control. It's like whatever I'm feeling is so intense that it's overwhelming,"

"What do you feel that's so overwhelming?"

"Everything!" she admitted her voice breaking. Fresh tears filled her eyes and she had to fight to control them. "Sometimes I feel like I've got popping candy in my head. You know, those sweets that feel like little explosions in your mouth. I can't keep up with myself. It's like my mind's running at hundred miles an hour and I'm just hanging on for the ride,"

"Everything's running in HD, sounds, colours…. even feelings," she carried on "The music's playing just for me and I can feel every note and vibration. I'm invincible, I can do anything, say anything, be anything and none of it matters. But then…." her voice faltered.

"Take your time sweetheart," Smithy whispered reaffirming the grip he had on her hand.

"But then…." she cleared her throat. His support, giving her the courage to go on "…like a light switch being flipped I feel the complete opposite, like I'm literally been dropped down a hole which I can't climb out of," she paused briefly to collect her thoughts. "And then I feel worthless. I feel like my body's crawling with self-hatred. I'm stupid, I'm ugly, no one will want me,"

Feeling Smithy's eyes upon her she risked a glance at him and noticed his eyes bloodshot with unshed tears. She felt wretched, she had caused this. "I'm sorry," she murmured feeling guilty.

"Don't be," he answered finding his voice "I just wish you'd come to me," pulling her hand up to his lips he kissed her fingers. It was fleeting, but it was all the encouragement she needed.

"Stevie," the FME said grabbing at her attention "From what you've told me I believe that you are suffering from bipolar disorder,"

"NO!" she snapped pulling her hand out of Smithy's and rising from her chair. Her action surprised both men in the room. She began pacing around agitated "No it's not that!"

"Stevie, it's ok," the FME reassured.

Stopping, she turned quickly and glared at the medic "Don't give me that! My sister has it. She's a walking bloody nightmare!"

"If untreated yes it can be, but we can get you the help that you need,"

"Please Stevie," Smithy appeased "Sit down darlin',"

Sighing Stevie sat back down.

"Have you by any chance been taking any unnecessary risks recently?"

Eyeing the gentleman, she shrugged "Yeah I suppose,"

"What have you been doing?"

Clearing her throat, she began "I've been spending money like I've won the lottery, going out and drinking so much that I wake up not knowing where I am. A couple of months ago I woke up in a bandstand in the middle of a park. I had no clue, how I got there or what had happened. And…"

Swallowing hard she felt fresh tears fall down her cheeks "…And sex, lots of sex with strangers,"

She heard Smithy take in a sharp breath and it broke her. She couldn't stop the sobs; she had never wanted him to have knowledge of that.

"Did you use protection?" the FME cut through her thoughts.

Enraged with herself, Stevie head snapped up and she spat "Doc, I don't remember what the blokes looked like let alone that!"

"Ok," The Doctor kept his voice even in an attempt to calm her "I'll arrange for you to take a pregnancy test as well a full STI screening,"

Smithy closed his eyes, this wasn't happening. How had he not realised how bad things has gotten? Hearing her admit to sleeping with numerous men made him feel sick to his stomach. The thought of any other man touching her the way he had so desperately wanted to, filled him with a rage that he hadn't felt since their encounter with Jason Devlin.

Pushing his feelings to one side he leant forward and wrapped his arm around her shoulder, pulling her into his side and kissing her temple.

"I'm a freak!" she cried, clutching at his shirt, hanging on for dear life. His heart shattered for her, all he wanted to do was hold her close and protect her from the world.

"No, you're not sweetheart," Smithy shushed "You're ill,"

"I threw myself in front of a car Smithy," she admitted "I thought you were all listening to me. I thought you could hear my thoughts. That makes me a freak,"

"It really doesn't Stevie," The FME interjected "You have a condition, a condition many people have. And with our help you can manage it,"

"I'm so tired doctor," she murmured sadly, turning in Smithy's arms to face him. He never let go though, just kept her in his grasp. "I'm always tired, it never stops,"

"Let's get you referred to a consultant and try you on some medication to start with,"

Nodding she pulled her legs up under her on the sofa and curled up in Smithy's arms. She wasn't sure how long she has been asleep but awoke to the sound of voices beside her. "Hey Stevie," she recognised the voice being Neil's and went to sit up. "No, it's fine don't get up. You look rather comfortable there and I don't want to disturb you," he smiled sitting on the edge of the coffee table beside her "I just wanted to check you were alright. You had us worried,"

"Sorry sir," she answered sadly "Does everybody know?" she sounded anxious. Smithy understood, Stevie although always warm and friendly kept her personal life separate to work. Ever the professional, the idea of being station gossip terrified her.

"You don't need to worry about that," Neil assured "Everyone who matters knows there's a reason and anyone else will have me to deal with if they even so much as look at you the wrong way,"

She matched the inspectors grin and Smithy could have sworn that was the first time he had seen a genuine smile from Stevie in a long time. "Thank you, Neil,". He squeezed her hand and turned to the man beside her. "Maybe you should take her home Smithy,"

"That sounds like a good idea," Smithy placed a kiss on her head and moved position to get her to sit up "Come on Moss, let's make our escape," Pulling on her up, he placed his arm around her waist and she went back to leaning into his body.

"Stevie, I don't want you back for the rest of the week,"

"But…" she looked panicked.

"Don't look so worried, I just want you to rest. I'll pop around Friday and we'll have a chat,"

"Ok,"

"You have our full support Stevie. We all love you and want to help wherever we can,"

"Thank you,"

"Come on little legs," Smithy teased motioning to the door "Let's get you home,"

The car journey had mostly been in silence, with the occasional glances and hand squeezes. When they did speak it was mainly Stevie again apologising for the scene in the ladies toilet earlier that day. Stevie leant against the passenger window, staring at the motion blur that was the world passing by.

Smithy opened the door and allowed Stevie to step inside before following her through the hallway and into the front room.

"Sorry about the mess," referring to the dirty dishes and clothes abandoned around the room "I haven't really had the motivation to do anything productive recently,"

"That's ok," Smithy smiled

"A couple of months ago when I was up, the place was spotless,"

"Don't worry about that. I'm going to go and run you a bath. Then when your out we'll grab some food,"

"You don't have to stay if you don't want to,"

"I want to," he smiled cupping her face in his hands and reaching down to place a feather like kiss to her lips.

"Dale?" she asked using his forename

His eyes were so warm and full of love as he stared down at her "Let's go and run you a bath," He took her hand in his and led her upstairs.

By the time she came back down dressed in pyjamas and a fluffy dressing gown, Smithy had cleaned both the living room and the kitchen.

"You didn't have to do that," she said from behind him, making him jump.

"Jeez Stevie!" he exclaimed "You nearly gave me a heart attack. It's nothing, I don't mind helping,"

He led her over to the sofa and sat down, pulling her onto his lap. The action surprised her, but she curled up into his side. They sat silently for a minute before Smithy asked, "Are you asleep shorty?"

She smiled weakly "Yeah, I'm still with you,"

"Good,"

He began to run his fingers through her hair, moving it from her eyes. She turned in his arms and looked at him inquisitively.

"What?"

"You're never normally this affectionate,"

"Just want to show you how much you mean to me," he smiled before kissing her gently. She allowed herself to enjoy the moment briefly before pulling away.

"Smithy?" she questioned.

"I love you Moss," he confessed pressing their foreheads together. It was a small act of affection, but it meant so much.

"Look you know you don't have to do this to make me feel better,"

"I thought you were the bright one," he laughed rolling his eyes "I've loved you for the longest time,"

"But why now?" she asked.

"Today I realised that over the last couple of months I've come close to losing you," He sighed "And it's made me brave enough to tell you how I feel," He placed his fingers under her chin and gently lifted her face to meet his gaze. "I know you think this is only happening because I want to support you, but that couldn't be further from the truth,"

Stevie chewed her lower lip. She had spent what felt like an eternity wanting Smithy's affection. "I love you too," she admitted. Off his beaming smile she continued "But right now, with all that I have going on, I really just need my friend,"

Smiling weakly at her he nodded. Leaning forward he soft kissed her forehead before adding "Then I'll wait until you're ready," Pulling her back into his arms he wrapped his arms around her waist, while she leant back against his chest. He buried his face into the side of her neck, taking in her sent. She smelt like cherries and Smithy knew there was nowhere else he would rather be.

"What if that takes forever?" she said sadly.

"Then I'll wait forever!"