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See How Bright We Shine

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Story Title: See How Bright We Shine

Type of story: Short/Medium fic.

Main Characters: Dex & April

BTTB rating: T (A in later parts)

Genre: Romance.

Does story include spoilers: Yes [Vague mention of events from episodes 5395 & 5406].

Any warnings: Sexual Content

Summary: And that is what it ultimately comes down to. Sex appeal. Or Dex’s lack thereof.

A/N: Title taken from ‘As Long As Your Mine’ from the musical Wicked.


See How Bright We Shine

Part One

Dex has plans.

Not just clean-his-room-before-his-dad-gets-home or meet-April-for-coffee-at-four sort of plans. But proper, long term, future plans. Plans that he’s had since he was thirteen and realised that the world was bigger and more exciting than anything his mum or dad could provide within the four walls of their suburban house.

Dexter Walker was destined for bigger things.

At least in Dex’s opinion.

The point is, Dex has had plans for most of his teenage years, and those plans have not changed. Graduate high school with straight As and be given Dux of the school, get a high ninety on the HSC and get accepted into a city university. Graduate with honours in four years, get a high paying job and be on the path to millionaire by the time he was 24.

What Dex never factored into his plans was having a girlfriend -- a gorgeous, smart, talented girlfriend -- at the age of eighteen, and suddenly the things that Dex previously had planned down to a tee, have had a spanner thrown into them, twisting them askew. The giant, metal spanner being the fact that April wants to become a doctor, and wants to ‘cool things down’ while she studies and waits for her results. So Dex finds himself as the one watching on as April gets accepted into a prestigious city university, while Dex has to settle for Northern Districts. Apparently Dex didn’t have the extra-curricula’s, and the field was very competitive, and none of it is much of a comfort.

So now the only thing Dex can focus on is April going to a university in the city, far away from Summer Bay, only commuting back on the weekends, unless she is on rotation at some fancy city hospital, in which case it may just be holidays when she returns to see her left-behind boyfriend.

And then the texts become fewer, some missed calls here and there, and suddenly Dex finds himself high and dry, dumped for some other doctor-in-training, who is far superior in intellect, and humour, and far more sexually appealing than Dex will ever be – what with his mediocre internet fame and father’s DNA which could make him more prone to a receding hair line. And that is what it ultimately comes down to.

Sex appeal.

Or Dex’s lack thereof.

But maybe Dex is being a bit melodramatic.

“You’re being melodramatic,” April tells him.

Dex huffs. “No, I’m not. You’re just not taking my needs seriously.”

“Your needs?” April asks, slightly incredulous. They’ve had this conversation before.

“Yes,” Dex nods seriously. “You don’t seem to find it concerning that you’re going to be leaving in two months for university and I’m going to be stuck here. Fading away to nothing ...”

“-Will you stop-“

“While you’re off socialising with psychologists, and partying with podiatrists...”

“-Really, Dex-“

“And hooking up with-“


“Fine,” Dex sighs. “You’re just lucky I couldn’t think of an area of the medical profession that started with ‘h’.”

April steps forward, placing her hands on Dex’s shoulders, making Dex look at her in the eye. She’s got that sincere look, the one where she is going to talk about feelings, and it always gives Dex this flippy-floppy sensation in his stomach.

“You’re my boyfriend.”

“But what about McDreamy?”

“You watch too much Grey’s Anatomy. I love you, Dex,” April tells him. And yep, there is that feeling again. Dex can’t help but smile.

“I love you too,” he replies, all joking long gone. Dex may be weird and quirky, and enjoy posting videos on the internet, but he’s still a boy -- a teenage boy at that-- so he’s not good at the whole talking about feelings thing. But when he does, when he gets to tell April exactly how he feels, then it’s a pretty good moment.

“Now, please stop being paranoid,” April says, lips still turned up into a coy smile.

And Dex tries not to be the Paranoid Boyfriend. He trusts April -- he really does -- but he can’t help but let his little insecurities nibble away at his insides, until they become the only thing he thinks about. And because he is a boy, most of those thoughts do revolve around sex. Or his lack thereof.

It has recently become apparent to Dex that he might be starting his university career as a big, fat virgin. And that, definitely, wasn’t part of the plan.


Dex tries to avoid doing what people expect of him, making fun of the clichés rather than contributing to them, but somehow he’s ticked quite a few of the ‘high school cliché’ boxes in one evening.

Buying two tickets to the formal. Check.

Rent a tux and show up on girlfriend’s doorstep with a corsage that perfectly matches her dress. Check.

Secretly book a hotel room using your dad’s credit card for afterwards. Check.

Have sex with girlfriend. Not yet.

The night is winding down and April looks up at Dex with a sparkle in her eyes, her curls coming loose around her face. She’s walking beside him on the beach, high heels in her hands rather than on her feet, their fingers intertwined and she slows down, bringing them to a halt.

The water laps at the sand while a cool breeze swirls around them as April huddles closer.

“Tonight was perfect,” she murmurs into Dex’s shoulder.

“You’re perfect,” Dex replies. He takes his hands, placing them on her hips, feeling her figure through the sheer fabric of her dress. Leaning down he kisses her, and she immediately opens up, allowing his tongue to explore her mouth, and he hears her moan from the back of her throat. It’s like a bolt from his head, all the way down his body from the noise she makes. Dex tugs her body closer, lining up their hips, sliding his hands around her waist as he kisses her deeper.

And this is it, Dex thinks. This is the moment where he is going to pull away slowly. She’s going to be breathless and beautiful and he’s going to declare his love, and then he’s going to suggest the perfect end to the perfect night. They’ll go back to the room, and April will be smiling and kissing him deeply and --

There’s a shrill noise and Dex startles himself backwards, making an embarrassingly high squawk as he jumps back. April is digging around in her small purse, pulling out her phone.

“Hello?” she asks, and Dex has to take a couple of deep breaths of his own as April’s brow furrows. Dex fiddles with his tie which has come loose as April nods into the phone and answers with a determined, “I’ll be right home.”

No. No, this is not how the night is supposed to end. Whatever it is that April thinks she has to be home for, it can’t be as important as where Dex thinks they should be going. She looks up at him, an apologetic smile already on her lips. “I’m sorry, Dex. That was Bianca, I have to go.”

“No, you don’t,” Dex replies, and okay, maybe that came out a little bit more forceful than he was intending. But tonight was so perfect, and it can still be perfect. Dex is not giving up that easily. “Whatever it is it can wait until tomorrow, right?”

“Dex, I’m sorry,” April insists. “It’s Irene, I need to be at home. You understand, right?”

Dex nods as April leans up and gives him a kiss on the cheek. “I had a great night. I’ll call you tomorrow.” Dex can do nothing but watch as April disappears into the darkness.


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Part Two

Dex can’t blame April; she hadn’t known that Dex had grand plans for after the formal. But he also recognises that time is ticking away and university is looming before him, with the distance between he and April becoming more apparent.

There’s a party, organised by one of their fellow graduating classmen and there is just enough hype surrounding it that Dex is able to convince April to go, without having to forcefully remove her from her university student handbook and lists of subjects she is choosing. So April says she’ll come, because apparently, everyone is going to be there, and Dex figures he might broach the subject of taking things further again.

Dex shouldn’t be this nervous. This is April -- the one person who he can unapologetically confide in -- but Dex feels his hands clam up as they wander through the caravan park. He takes a beer gratefully from Xavier as soon as they arrive, just so he has something to do with his hands, and April is unable to pick up on his anxiousness.

“Are you alright?” Aprils asks, after she’s watched Dex skull his beer in record time.

Dex gulps. “Fine,” he says, before cracking open the lid of a second drink.

April eyes him wearily, unconvinced.

Biting the bullet, Dex finally says, “There was something I wanted to talk to you about.”


“Yeah, um. It’s not a big deal or anything -- well, it’s sort of a big deal -- unless you don’t want it to be, in which case this doesn’t have to be a full production like Spring Awakening. In fact, I’d much prefer it if it didn’t turn out like Spring Awakening, with me crying over your grave and --"

“Dex!” April snaps. Dex closes his mouth. He knows he rambles when he’s nervous, and the alcohol in his system isn’t helping the situation. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“Sorry,” he says sheepishly. He takes a deep breath. “Okay, here’s the thing, I --“ and that is as far as Dex gets because Xavier appears at his side and clamps a hand on Dex’s shoulder, while Casey and Ruby squeeze in between them on Dex’s other side. They are now a closed-knit circle, and Dex is definitely not going to talk about his growing desires to have sex with April in front of them all. Xavier will look uncomfortable, and Casey will probably laugh, and Ruby will want to know what she can do to help. So yeah, Dex saves his breath and his own embarrassment.

“Having fun?” Ruby asks loudly so as to be heard over the booming music that has started up.

“Yeah,” April replies and Xavier positively beams at her across the circle. And okay, that’s new.

But the thing is, now that Dex has seen the way Xavier is looking at April, he can’t seem to ignore it. The way he smiles down at her, and leans across the circle to ask her about how her plans for medicine are going.

“Great!” April replies enthusiastically, and then she starts explaining about specialisation and course loads and Dex sort of zones out. It’s not that he’s disinterested; it’s just that every time April talks about her plans for the future and how she’s so looking forward to just getting in there and starting, you know? Dex feels this horrible knot in his stomach form, because Dex realises that April is quite content to make plans without him.

Dex excuses himself from the group under the premise of getting another drink. So he wanders slowly through the party, dodging couples making out in shadowy alcoves, hoping that April will be done talking by the time he returns. He grabs a beer from the esky and turns back, preparing to make the walk back to the circle of his friends.

Except now, looking back, Ruby and Casey appear to have disappeared, so now it’s only Xavier and April standing there. Dex takes a big gulp of his drink and studies them for a few moments. He’s laughing at something April has just said, and okay, that could be nothing. They’re friends; of course Xavier is going to find her funny, plus April has a great sense of humour.

Dex continues to drain his drink, and is feeling quite light headed by the time he focuses his eyes back on his girlfriend and her ex, and okay. Xavier is leaning in quite close, whispering something into April’s ear, and Dex feels the heat rush to his cheeks. But Dex is not the jealous type, he doesn’t act on impulse. He thinks and plans and evaluates; but April is looking up at Xavier with those long, dark eyelashes and smiling at him, before Xavier moves his finger delicately over April’s cheek.

Maybe planning is overrated.

Dex storms across the party, tripping over his own feet as he reaches the pair.

“Dex!” April looks surprised to see him, like maybe she even forgot she had a boyfriend for a while. Xavier doesn’t get a chance to say or do anything as Dex grabs tightly on to April’s hand and leads her away. “Dex, what are you doing?”

April is still demanding to be let go, and asking what has happened to Dex as he leads her to his car. Coming from the farm, Dex had picked April up on the way to the party, and he had every intention of staying sober tonight, but there seemed to be so much at stake and Dex is only now realising how much he’s actually had to drink.

“Dex, stop!” April calls, digging her heels into the ground, and Dex is forced to turn back and look at her. She looks shocked and hurt and altogether confused by the whole situation. “What is going on?”

“I love you, April,” Dex says, and then he’s rushing forward and cupping her cheeks and pulling her in to a kiss. It’s hard and Dex breaks away quickly, before unlocking the back door of his car. He stumbles forward, collapsing on the back seat, and since his fingers are still tied with April’s he drags her in after him.

April is on top of him in a dress that Dex is only now realising is very short. Dex has a hand looped with April’s fingers, the other trailing up her leg as he kisses her again.

Dex’s head is spinning as he realises that April is kissing him back, flicking her tongue over his lips, sucking at his mouth, gripping their fingers tighter together as she takes in a breath.


It is the single greatest syllable to ever be uttered, ever. And April’s voice is low and hushed and Dex just wants this even more. He feels himself harden under her touch, the feeling of her hand on his chest as she places it there, keeping herself flush on top of Dex’s body.

There are only two layers of clothing between them, and the kissing is becoming less careful and more haphazard, as Dex uses his mouth to nip at April’s neck.

“God, you’re beautiful,” he tells her, a definite slur in his voice, but Dex doesn’t really notice because his girlfriend is making out with him in the back of his car, and screwing planning is actually working out pretty well for Dex right now.

He ventures further; one hand low on April’s back, the other slipping over the strap on her dress, fingers messily tracing patterns into her shoulder, her chest, and the curves of her perfect skin. Dex is practically aching with want, in a way that he didn’t realise was possible, and there is no way April isn’t getting the hint at what Dex hopes to do tonight.

“I want to have sex, with you,” Dex murmurs into her skin, “I want you to be my first,” into her mouth, “I want you now.”

Dex is nuzzling at the crook of her neck, fingers that feel out of control searching for the zip of her dress and at first Dex is too caught up in his own whirlwind of thoughts -- of is-this-really-happening-this-is-happening -- to recognise that April is speaking.

“--Dex, stop.” Her voice is low, almost a whisper, but it’s there. “Dex, wait.” This time more insistent as April sits up, extracting herself from Dex’s embrace. She immediately attempts to pull down the hem of her dress, which has ridden up. “What are you doing?” April asks.

She looks slightly dishevelled, hair less put-together than when they arrived, lip gloss no longer shiny, but Dex still thinks she’s beautiful, and now is not the time for them to be talking about things. Because Dex is done with talking -- he's planned, and planned, and talked about wanting to do this -- and doesn’t want to think about what it’ll mean if April turns him down. He can already feel her slipping away, making plans that are bigger and better than he can ever be. So Dex is doing everything he can to keep her by his side.

“I’m doing this,” Dex whispers, in what he hopes is a seductive tone and he leans forward, placing a kiss on her lips. April uses both hands to push him away.

“Stop doing that,” she says, and this time she actually sounds hurt.

“April, what’s wrong?” Dex asks.

“You,” April replies, and Dex realises this should sting, but the beer he’s consumed over a very short space of time is doing a pretty good job of clouding his mind right now. “You won’t talk to me. We’ve always been honest, Dex. You can’t just do something like this without talking to me first.”

“I’ve tried talking to you about this!” Dex replies crankily. “I’ve tried, April. And it’s always school or medicine or Xavier--"


“Yeah, you’re going to get back together with him, or you’re going to meet someone else who’s far more exciting than nerdy old me, and I’m never going to see you again.”

“Not this again,” April replies, exasperated. “Dex, the only one who is making me think about leaving you right now is you.” And okay, that stings a bit. “And if you think that by having sex with me is the only way to keep me around, then you were sorely mistaken.”

Before Dex can even respond, April is pushing open the door and climbing out of the car.


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Part Three

Dex spends the next two days on the couch watching old re-runs of Saved By The Bell. Everything is so simple, with all problems wrapped up neatly in twenty-two minutes, and Dex pretends he doesn’t feel guilty about ignoring April.

After April had left him on the night of the party, Dex had fallen asleep in the back of his car. He was woken to the sun glaring through his front windscreen and on to his face, and a throbbing headache right behind his eyes. He checked his phone for messages, a horrible recollection of the previous night playing on repeat in his head. But April hadn’t called or texted, only his dad, wanting to make sure he was okay. Which, well, depends on your definition of ‘okay’. Dex was certainly alive, having not been attacked during the night, but Dex felt ashamed and embarrassed and promised to himself that he would never leave the house again.

April deserved better. Even if she had agreed to have sex with him that night, she deserved more than the backseat of a car. She deserved better than Dex.

Finally, on the third day there was a tap at the front door. Dex slowly rose from the lounge; bedspread still wrapped around his shoulder like some sort of long and bulky cape, and trudged into the hall. He opened the door and looked out with his bleary eyes. His vision hadn’t seen much of the outside world in a while, and took a moment to adjust. But when it did, he saw April standing before him.

“Hi,” she says and Dex feels something hot pool in his stomach. A feeling between shame and embarrassment to needing and wanting all at once. He wants to kiss her and hold her and promise not to hurt her again, and also wants to shut the door and retreat to his bedroom for the next century. But before he can do anything of the sort April is asking whether she can come in and Dex obliges.

She sits next to him on the lounge, but Dex remains wrapped in his cocoon of dooner and is sort of refusing to meet her eye.

“We need to talk,” April says, and she must see the way Dex rolls his eyes, because they have talked before and got nowhere, and Dex is not expecting any sort of miracle here. Dex isn’t expecting sex right there and then, and he’s not expecting April to give up medicine for him so he can be secure in their relationship, and he’s also not willing to be capable of explaining everything he’s feeling right there and then. “Really talk,” she emphasises.

Dex sighs, hugging his bedspread tighter around his shoulders. “I’m sorry,” is the first thing that comes out of his mouth, and it feels woefully inadequate.

“Do you really love me?” April asks, and it takes Dex a moment to process the question. And in that second of hesitation April interprets it as uncertainty, and that is definitely not the case. He sees her look to her feet, begin to clasp her fingers together repetitively and Dex needs to fix this. Now.

He loses the bedspread, dropping it to the floor and moving closer to her on the lounge, placing a hand over hers. “April,” Dex says and he waits until she’s looking at him before he continues. “April, I do. I do love you, you’re my best friend.”

April nods, somewhat reluctantly. “But is that a reason to have sex?”

“I don’t -- All I know is that I love you and I want to do everything with you, and yes, you are going to go off and do bigger and better things, and I can’t begrudge you that. Not at all. I just, I don’t want to lose you, and maybe that’s a stupid reason, but I can see us drifting apart, and as much as it kills me inside I’m not going to be the one to hold you back.

“Maybe I should have said this before, but I trust you April, and that’s why I want to have sex with you. Because from all accounts the first time is going to be scary and awkward and I wouldn’t want to do it with anyone else. Because then, regardless of what happens in the future we will always have that.” Dex looks into her eyes and says with all the sincerity in the world, “I want it to mean something.”

“Dex, I--" April begins, but then she’s shaking her head sadly, and Dex knows that there’s not much more he can do. “I think that we should go back to being friends. Not right now, but before I leave, because then neither of us can feel guilty about holding the other one back.”

Dex can see the tears welling up in April’s eyes and Dex reaches out and pulls her in to a hug. She buries her face in his neck, and Dex doesn’t want it to end.

Gathering herself together April sits back for a moment, but she doesn’t let go of Dex’s hands.

“Okay,” she says, and at first Dex doesn’t understand. In less than three weeks April will be going off to the city and may or may not come back, and maybe she’s just reaffirming that fact, but then it is slowly dawning on Dex that she’s saying yes. Like, actually saying yes to him, so he kisses her, long and slow and sweet, savouring this moment, because he knows it won’t always be like this.


There’s another misunderstanding before the year closes out. April gets Dux of the school, and okay, maybe Dex had had his heart set on it, and actually thought he had a chance at getting one little thing checked off his list. But that wasn’t the case.

So Dex mopes around the house for twenty-four hours (give or take) -- agonising over marks he could have got and answers that teacher’s refused to accept were correct -- but ultimately gets really bored really fast, and is easily persuaded by April and Xavier to join them at the beach.

The sun is warm and golden, no trace of breeze in the air. The water is still and blue as April splashes about in the shallows, while Dex and Xavier pass a tennis ball back and forth along the shore.

April surfaces, and catches Dex’s eye from the ocean, smiling coyly at him. She’s all tanned skin and perfect curves and Dex can’t suppress the smile spreading over his lips. He’s brought out of his blatant staring by Xavier throwing the tennis ball straight at the side of his head.

Dex lets out an indignant “Hey!” and Xavier just rolls his eyes. “Focus, man! Keep your eyes on the ball.”

“I’m trying,” Dex replies, picking up the tennis ball at his feet. “But hand-eye coordination is not my strong suit.”

“Looks like your eyes are just fine,” Xavier jokes, and Dex ditches the ball back at him with as much strength as he can muster. It’s a poor throw, soaring far out to the left, and Xavier is made to jog down the beach to retrieve the ball, so it’s not very menacing overall.

After that the game dissolves, with Xavier complaining he’s hot and diving into the water, leaving Dex on the sand.

Dex is applying his third layer on sunscreen -- because he can’t afford to not be careful -- when April sits down beside him on her towel.

“Enjoying the view?” she asks, quirking an eyebrow in his direction.

“Very much,” Dex replies, and he’s not sure whether they are talking about the picturesque horizon or him ogling her before. Not that Dex minds either way. He leans in and kisses her on the cheek, tasting the salt on her skin. Slowly, April turns her head, brushes a hand along Dex’s arm, and despite the sun beating down on them, he shivers. He watches as April closes her eyes, leaning in, brushing her lips across his mouth that’s still slightly agape. Dex inhales before kissing April back, sliding his lips over hers, before shuffling over in the sand so he’s pressed against her body and they’re sharing her towel.

“Get a room!” a call comes from nearby and they break apart, April’s cheeks tinged pink and Dex shooting Xavier a glare as he strolls towards them dripping wet. Like a dog, he shakes his hair, spraying them both in water, and April squeals, burying her head in Dex’s neck.

“I just got dry!” she protests, although she’s giggling. When she locks eyes with Dex her eyes are dark, shadowed by her long lashes, and there’s something in there that Dex hasn’t been before. This want that makes Dex suck in a breath.

“Milkshakes?” Xavier suggests and Dex has to tear his eyes April to shrug up at Xavier, still standing over them both.

“Actually,” April says, “I think Dex and I might head back to Irene’s. I promised I’d start packing up some of my stuff for when I leave, and Dex was going to help.”

This is news to Dex. He doesn’t remember April mentioning beginning to pack already, although he supposes it’s reasonable that April would be thinking about that sort of thing. But it’s exactly the sort of thing Dex has been avoiding -- the reminders that April is leaving -- the fact that they are running out of time.

“I wish you had told me earlier about wanting to pack, I could have brought more boxes from the farm. We still have some left over from when Indi moved back in,” Dex says as April unlocks the door to the Beach House.

She’s got her towel tied low around her waist and tosses the keys on the kitchen counter before turning back to face Dex. She’s staring at Dex and she shakes her head slowly.

“For someone who’s as smart as you, sometimes you can be really dumb, Dex,” April says, voice coming out low.

At first Dex is offended, because it’s one thing to take the Dux away from him, but it’s a whole other issue if April is going to rub it in his face. But then April is untying her towel, leaving it in a heap at her feet, so she’s standing before him in nothing but her bikini and Dex is quickly distracted. Slowly, April approaches, and the only thing Dex is seeing is her bronze skin, her hips, her body, and Dex can’t resist leaning down and kissing her.

It’s slow at first, tight-lipped, and Dex doesn’t quite know what to do with his hands. He feels April, warm and strong, take a step back, and intertwine their fingers. She’s looking up at him with her brown eyes, dark hair beginning to dry and curl at the ends and frame her face.

“I’m ready,” she tells him and it takes Dex a moment -- he blinks once, twice -- before he realises what April is exactly ready for. Then he can feel his eyes widen, his palms start to sweat and his first instinct is to run -- which is strange because Dex has been wanting this for so long -- because it’s suddenly real and in front of him, and they are actually going to do this.

If Dex ever manages to speak again.

“Good,” Dex finally manages, his voice cracking slightly, and all fantasies about Dex being Mr. Smooth-and-Romantic are thrown out the window for good. April lets out a small giggle and begins to lead him towards her bedroom, hands still held tightly together.


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Part Four

Door closed, Dex stands awkwardly in the doorway. If he’s honest with himself, all those previous attempts at seducing April never would have worked, and Dex himself wasn’t even prepared for it then. Now, there’s a feeling pooling low in his stomach, spiralling down, and it comes out as a warm fondness as April sits down on the end of her bed.

She pats the spot next to her and Dex walks over and joins her.

“Are you okay?” April asks, a look of concern sweeping across her features.

“Uh, yeah,” Dex replies, and wishes he could be a bit more convincing.

“We don’t have to do this if you don’t want to,” April says in a rush.

“No, I mean, yes. I mean -- I do want to do this,” Dex replies shakily. “Just a bit nervous, I guess.” As soon as it’s out, Dex regrets it, because he’s a guy, and he’s the one that’s supposed to be in charge, because he’s definitely ready, and supposes that if they are going to have sex then they should probably be doing things rather than just talking about things.

But April just smiles and leans in and presses her lips to the side of his mouth. He can feel her warm breath on his skin, and it tingles a bit, and Dex is reaching up, cupping the side of her face and aligning their lips.

It’s slow and careful at first, slipping into an easy rhythm when Dex slides his tongue into April, and when she sucks on it, it does things to him that he never realised before, and certainly didn’t feel -- even though they’ve made out before -- because it’s different, more important this time.

April shuffles along the bed, resting on her elbow up near the headboard; Dex follows, allowing his fingers to trace up April’s bare leg -- leg, hip, waist -- as he settles alongside her. He combs a finger through her hair, resting at the nape of her neck before leaning in and kissing her again.

This time it’s April that applies more pressure, she’s sucking on his tongue and pushing forward and wrapping one of her legs around Dex’s, and Dex is already feeling himself going hard inside his boardshorts. He tugs her closer, hips knocking together, April’s hand apparently coming from nowhere and tugging at the hem of his shirt, fingers hovering very close to the string of his boardies.

Dex is aware of every movement, of mapping out every inch of April’s skin. He moves from just kissing her mouth, to under her jaw, a point down her throat, until he’s eyes-closed and inhaling everything that is body heat, and sea salt, and something that is just so April.

They spend the rest of the afternoon discarding the final remnants of their childhood.

In Dex’s mind it’s nerve-wracking, and thrilling, and wonderful; even with the moment where someone’s elbow got completely in the way, but neither of them are going to admit it was their fault. April also lost it for a full minute, dissolving into giggles when Dex had finally been coaxed out of his shirt and pants only to be absolutely certain that he heard Irene come home. The mood was killed for only a short time before Dex pulled April’s body under his and it was nothing but skin on skin, and Dex was once again distracted by April’s brilliant features; her dark lashes fanned out against her blushing cheeks, and red lips, dented from where she had been biting down on them.

Side by side they lie under the covers of April’s bed, clothes still on the floor, when April speaks first. Dex had been dozing on and off for a while as the sun was beginning to set. He was thinking about maybe getting dressed, because his dad would probably notice if he didn’t come home.

“I don’t want to go,” April says, and her voice wavers, sounding like she’s on the verge of tears.

Dex’s eyes flicker open. “What?”

April sniffles. “I don’t want to go. I don’t want to leave. I can’t.”

“Why? Because you’re scared? That’s not a reason to not do something.”

“It’s just going to be so hard,” she rolls over to face Dex. “Especially after today.”

Now it’s Dex’s turn to be the strong one. “April, you are going to be brilliant. And sure, maybe you’ll never find someone as awesome as me--” April slaps him playfully on the arm, “--but you’re destined for things bigger than Summer Bay.”

A tear has escaped, rolling down April’s cheek and Dex wipes it away with the pad of his thumb. “We walk out of here friends,” Dex says, although he has no idea where his resoluteness has come from.

April nods sadly, and Dex pulls her closer. They continue to lay there, April’s head resting on Dex’s chest while Dex runs fingers through her hair until the sun is well and truly set and Dex begrudgingly has to go home. Before he leaves Dex kisses April on the cheek, a sad smile on his lips, and even though they know it’s not the end, it feels sort of final.


Over a year later Dex is in the throes of putting the final editing touches on his assignment when he gets a call. He’s got his laptop open, headphones deep in his ears, three empty mugs of coffee holding down the corners of his storyboard on the table, and he’s so deep into finishing his work that he doesn’t hear his mobile ring. It’s not until Dex sees it vibrate across the tabletop that he pulls the buds out of his ears and answers the call.

“Dex.” The voice at the other end is trembling, and he can tell it’s April without her even having to say so.

“April, are you okay?”

There’s a pause. “Yeah,” but it’s unconvincing.

After April had packed up and moved to the city, they had stayed in touch at first. Emails every other day, not to mention the daily texts -- everything from cant decide if guy in lecture is friendly or checking me out from Dex, to i miss u from April -- but they had slowed over the recent months as both of them became engulfed in their new lifestyles. But now April is on the other end of the line and she sounds as though she is barely keeping it together.

“Where are you?” Dex asks, because he did find out from his dad that Northern Districts Hospital was taking a rotation of medical students, and he’d sent a text off to April asking if that included her, but never got a reply.

“Uh, home,” she says, although she sounds so small and uncertain that Dex isn’t sure whether she means her dorm at uni or back in the bay. “Irene’s,” April finally confirms.

Without a second thought Dex is saying, “I’ll be right over,” and he’s leaving his assignment with 12 hours until the due date, which he’s never done before, and grabbing his car keys and driving into town.

Dex knocks on the door before walking in. He sees April sitting on the lounge, feet curled up underneath her body, and as he approaches, Dex notices the opened wine bottle on the coffee table.

Carefully, Dex sits down beside her and immediately can tell that she has been crying. April takes a deep breath. “You didn’t have to come.”

“Yes, I did. Tell me what happened.”

April sighs, hugs her arms a bit tighter around her body. “I knew it was going to be hard; all the studying and work. But I just never thought it would be so ...” she searches for the word, “sad.”

Dex crinkles his brow, shifts a bit closer and waits for April to continue.

“Once I settled on medicine it was because I wanted to help people. And I guess in the back of my mind I knew it wouldn’t always be possible, but I just didn’t -- I can’t handle not being able to do anything. Just having to sit back and watch someone die. I just -- I don’t --" Dex engulfs her in a hug, his arms around her, as April sniffles and tries to suppress her tears.

She’s pulling away, rubbing a hand over her face, and apologising. “I’m such a mess,” she says.

“No, you’re not,” Dex says, and April scoffs. “Okay, maybe right now is not the greatest. But you care, April. And that is never going to be a bad thing.”

“I’m sorry we lost touch,” April says, resting her head on Dex’s shoulder.

“Me too.”

Without thinking Dex angles his head and presses a kiss to April’s forehead. He feels her stiffen under him and shift away slightly. They’re friends, Dex has to remind himself, friends. But then April is leaning in, for real this time, and kissing Dex. And Dex knows they shouldn’t do this. Not now; not when April is upset and emotional and not altogether sober but it feels so good, so familiar.

April pulls back, mouth hovering over Dex’s whispering, “Please. I need you.”


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Part Five

Dex doesn’t forgive himself for what he did.

Leaving a sleeping April in bed while he got dressed and snuck out the back door, without so much as a note. But Dex knew that there was one sure-fire way of ruining a friendship -- it would be to become ‘friends with benefits’ -- and April meant too much to Dex for him to risk it. So he left.

He changes his number, and immerses himself in his classes. Goes to parties he normally would have turned down, hooks up with girls (and that one guy) he would have previously ignored, just so he doesn’t have to think about it.

And Dex figures he’s doing a pretty good job of it. That is, until he receives a letter in the mail, a cream-coloured envelope, which he opens out of curiosity.

You have been cordially invited to the wedding of

Ruby Buckton to Casey Braxton

Dex doesn’t particularly want to go, but they are his friends, and he doesn’t want to look as though he doesn’t care. Dex has a moment where he considers tearing up the invitation and just ignoring it, because it feels like they are rubbing salt into his wounds of his complete lack of a functional relationship. But then he feels bad, because they’ve obviously thought about him enough to want to invite him to the wedding, so before Dex can change his mind he’s sending back the RSVP.

There are a lot of familiar faces at the reception, and Dex isn’t sure whether that it is a good thing or not, that they all immediately recognise him. Xavier slaps him on the shoulder as soon as he sees him, asking if he’s got a girlfriend.

“No,” Dex mumbles, doing his best not to sound like he’s overly depressed about that fact.

But Xavier’s face breaks into a broad grin. “Awesome. Because I have it on good authority that two of those bridesmaids are single. So, that’s one for you and one for me,” he says with a not-so-subtle jab in the ribs.

“I thought you’d want them both for yourself,” Dex replies, trying to make a joke out of it, rather than acknowledging the ill feeling in his stomach. Xavier lets out a loud laugh and holds up his half-empty glass in a salute. Dex just nods in reply.

They stand off to the side for a while, and Dex thinks they’ve moved away from the topic of girls as Xavier tells him all about the new car he’s just re-done, when Xavier abruptly changes the subject. He’s scanning the room when he says, “April said she was coming.”

It’s like Dex’s heart literally skips a beat, and he has to swallow before stammering out a pathetic, “W-what?”

“Yeah,” Xavier replies with a shrug, “She told me she was working, but would try and make it for the reception. Seems like she must have got caught up.” He then disappears towards the bar, to no doubt begin his mission to hit on every available and single girl.

Even though the news of Xavier being in touch with April came as a surprise, Dex is somewhat relieved. One of his main reservations about coming to the wedding was not only running into every familiar face from Summer Bay, but in particular, having to see April. So at least now he can relax and enjoy himself, rather than being on edge the entire time.

He does end up dancing with one of the bridesmaids, and Xavier shoots him an approving thumbs up, but all that falls away when Dex looks out across the dance floor and sees her. She’s being tackled into a hug by Ruby -- big, white wedding dress and all -- but when she looks up, their eyes meet, and Dex suddenly feels very nervous, and very very eighteen again.

Dex figures there are enough people here that he doesn’t have to actively seek April out. It’s not like he’s the only person April knows at this wedding; most of the people in attendance were, at some point, Summer Bay residents. But then again, avoiding April makes it look like he doesn’t want to see her at all -- which is pretty much the opposite of what he’s feeling -- however, Dex doesn’t want to put any pressure on April to be interested in anything he has to say.

So he’s caught in this internal ping-pong match of going over there and speaking to April and pretending everything is okay or just turning and running away (again). Dex doesn’t end up having to make that decision because Xavier rushes past and engulfs her in a hug, before taking her hand and leading her towards Dex.

“Hey, April,” Dex says shakily, and April just nods in reply, looking very uncomfortable and possibly seeking a way of escaping.

“I’m going to leave you two to catch up,” Xavier says brightly, and Dex is shooting massive, sharp, hurtful daggers with his eyes as Xavier wanders back to find his single bridesmaid.

Dex lets out an awkward laugh. “How’ve you been?” he asks.

“Oh, so now you’re going to talk to me?” Her voice is strained, cold.

“April, I’m --" he doesn’t even get out the ‘sorry’ part, because April is rolling her eyes and beginning to walk away.

And this is it, Dex thinks. He’s been given this chance to make things right, and he needs to do something now.

He follows behind April as she disappears outside, walking briskly across the grass and away from the reception venue.

“April. April, wait!” Dex calls out after her. “April, please, wait!”

Reluctantly, she stops, but she doesn’t turn back to face him.

“April, I’m sorry,” Dex begins. “I’m sorry for everything.”

April spins around. “You left, Dex! You left without telling me or saying goodbye! What was I supposed to think?”

“I don’t -- I don’t know, okay! I stuffed up, but I can’t just be friends with you, April.”

She seems to stall, her angry momentarily subsiding, as she blinks back at him, taking in his admission. “Well, if we can’t be friends then, what? We can’t go back to the way things were. We’re not eighteen anymore.”

“I know that,” Dex replies. “The reason we broke up in the first place was because we didn’t want to hold each other back, but I’ve finally figured it out.”

“Figured what out?” April asks, almost shyly, like she’s scared of his answer.

But she doesn’t have to worry, because Dex has finally worked out what has been missing; why all his relationships after April never would have worked out, why he felt like he had to break off all contact, and why he never wants to be apart from her again.

Dex takes a step forward. “I’m in love with you, April,” he says with a small shrug, like it’s the most obvious thing in the world. “And when you’re in love with someone you don’t hold them back, you are the one pushing them forward.”

April doesn’t look shocked. She seems to let out a breath, letting her hands fall to her side. “So, what does that mean?”

“Look, I don’t know if you’ve got a boyfriend, or have big plans for the future, but what I do know is that all my plans involve you.”

Dex closes the gap between them, and stands there waiting for April to say something, anything.

“I do,” April says.


“I do -- have a boyfriend, that is.”

“Oh.” Dex feels his stomach sink, but April is smiling.

She’s leaning up, hovering her lips dangerously close to Dex’s.

“You,” she whispers, before she closes the final space between them.



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