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Lost Your Mind Trying To Get It Back

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Story Title: Lost Your Mind Trying To Get It Back

Type of story: Short/Medium fiction

Main Characters: Dex, Casey, April [Dex/Casey, Dex/April pairings]

BTTB rating: A

Genre: Angst

Does story include spoilers: No

Any warnings: Slash, Violence, Language

Summary: Dex doesn’t remember the accident.

A/N: This was --not the fic I intended to write. I don’t know where this idea came from, but I wanted to satisfy my need for angst as well as Dex/Casey and Dex/April. Title comes from “Innocent” by Taylor Swift, because for every bad day there is an appropriate Taylor Swift song.


Lost Your Mind Trying To Get It Back

Part One

Dex doesn’t remember the accident.

The first thing he remembers is opening his eyes; the white ceiling, the too-hard bed under his body and the smell of disinfectant. Hospital.

The next, is the face of his father looking down at him. Sid looks tired, Dex notices. Hair a little thinner, circles darker under his eyes. But Dex can see the relief sweep over him, his thin lips turning up at the edges as he says, “Dex.”

There are a lot of people after that. Rushing in and out of the room, shining a light in his eyes, asking Dex to say his name and when he was born. There are murmurs of things that sound like medical terms, that Dex only understands intermittently; “concussion” and “coma”.

A doctor is standing at the end of Dex’s bed looking at his chart. Sid is watching intently, waiting for him to look back up before asking, very slowly, “Dex, do you remember what happened?”

It takes a moment. A couple of steady breaths, a few seconds to search his mind, and it’s only when he realises that Sid is staring, and the doctor has his pen poised in anticipation, that they expect him to reply. But he can’t.

Dex is searching and thinking, and coming up empty. Dex shakes his head, and then realises that’s a really bad idea because the room begins to spin, and he thinks he might be ready to puke. He squeezes his eyes shut and takes a couple of deep breaths. It’s not that big of a deal, Dex figures.

Except when he opens his eyes again, Sid and the doctor exchange this look that is unreadable, and Dex maybe wants to cry.

“That’s okay,” the doctor says, placating. “You’ve had a very serious head trauma. It’s not really a surprise that you don’t remember the accident.”

It’s only at the mention of head trauma that Dex feels his head beginning to throb. He reaches up to the back of his neck, around his hair line and feels the thick bandage, a giant lump and the uneven stitches at the edge.

“What happened?” Dex asks, his voice still a little hoarse, sore.

“We don’t know either,” Indi replies, and Dex feels his breath hitch. He’s barely had time to register that his sister was in the room the entire time; she was so quiet, just blending into the background. She’d been standing there though, in the corner, watching them all. Now, she steps forward to Dex’s bed, and Dex sees her eyes flick away from his face, and Dex wonders for the first time how serious it actually is.

“Casey was the one who found you-” she gulps, “-at the bottom of the stairs and brought you to the hospital. Then he called me,” Indi continues.

“Who’s Casey?” Dex asks.

All remaining colour seems to drain from Indi’s already pale face, but maybe it was just the harsh fluorescent lighting of the room. But Dex sees his father tense, the doctor shoot him a worried look.

“Casey Braxton,” Indi repeats, slowly.

Dex stares back blankly. He feels this part of the conversation should be making sense. But it just isn’t.

“Dexter,” Sid says sternly. “What is the last thing you remember?”

Dex pauses. Eyes blurring out of focus between his dad and sister as he casts his mind back. What is the last thing he remembers doing? It’s a lot harder than Dex thinks it should be.

“The wedding,” Dex begins. “Is April back from Europe?” Indi and Sid exchange another glance that doesn’t go amiss. Dex feels like he’s given the wrong answer in front of a teacher, and quickly tries to correct himself. “Uh, Nicole is pregnant, right?”

“That was --” Indi stutters, “J--January.”

Dex’s eyes flick between his family members, trying to read their closed expressions.

“It’s now June,” Sid says resolutely.

“I don’t -- I don’t understand.” Dex frowns at himself. How could he get it so wrong?

“You were in a coma for three weeks, we weren’t even sure if you were going to come out of it, it’s not uncommon for there to be some memory loss,” the doctor injects.

“But will it come back?” Sid asks, voice tense but surprisingly unwavering.

“Sid,” the doctor replies with a sigh. “You know as well as I that there is no way to predict this sort of thing. The brain is a mysterious organ. Amnesia patients can regain all their memory at once, or gradually over time, or --" He catches himself, but the ‘not at all’ goes unspoken. “There are no hard and fast rules for these sorts of things.”

“I realise that. But we’re not just talking about a little bit of memory loss, here,” Sid says, straining to keep his voice even. “My son can’t remember the last five months of his life.”

“And I understand your frustration, but like I’ve said already. We just have to wait and see. There is nothing more we can do.” The doctor gives a small shrug, and hangs Dex’s chart off the edge of his bed. “You should rest,” he tells Dex before he leaves the room.

Dex waits. He watches his father sag back into a plastic chair at the side of Dex’s bed, his sister discreetly use the palm of her hand to squash a tear into her cheek, and feels like he’s somehow made everything inadvertently worse just by waking up.


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Part Two

A week later, and with no improvement in Dex’s memory, he is discharged from the hospital.

It’s a relief; not for Dex because he is still having trouble sleeping, a constant fear nagging inside his head that if he closes his eyes for too long he’s not going to wake up -- or worse: that he’s going to wake up and not remember his own name. But Dex can see that Sid is eager to pack up Dex’s room and get him loaded out of the wheelchair and into the car.

Sid has been at the hospital every day. In between his existing double shifts he comes into Dex’s room and talks to him. Or rather, asks him suspicious questions about the time Dex fell off his bike when he was six, or “Dex, do you remember when we went to the zoo for your birthday? You spent the entire time wanting to sit on the merry-go-round. Right?”

Dex nods in the right places, because yeah, he remembers that. It’s not early childhood memories that have mysteriously disappeared, and that makes it all the more frustrating. But Dex knows his dad is trying.

It’s not that Dex is doing nothing. He asks questions, sometimes, but most of the time he just tries to absorb it all. Because he’s just trying to avoid that look of disappointment on his father’s face when he realises that Dex is staring back blankly. So he listens, and tries to recall. Not just the accident, but the last six months of his life.

The drive home from the hospital is awkward. Indi isn’t with them, choosing to stay at home, which Dex thinks might be secret code for something -- if only he could work out what.

So Sid is trying to compensate.

Dex has his elbow resting on the window, fingers pressing lightly at his stiches. It hurts, an ache that reminds him that it all happened -- the accident -- that it isn’t just a figment of his imagination. The pain makes it real somehow.

As they are driving out to the farm Sid reaches down and turns on the radio, to fill the silence Dex assumes. A pop song with a country undertone fills the vehicle, and again, Dex is left wondering if he’s heard it before, whether there should be some memory attached to it, like a balloon on a string. But he’s let go, and can’t get it back.

Sid must see Dex’s look of concentration, he can feel his stiches pull taught as he knits his brow together, trying to focus on the lyrics -- now I’m searching the room for an empty seat -- seeing if they jog some sort of feeling, memory, anything. His dad flicks the music off, and once again silence takes over.

“It’ll be good,” Sid says finally. “Getting you home.”

There’s a little bit of hope there, a slight inflection in his tone that makes Dex’s stomach turn over.

All the doctors have been saying it. That getting Dex home, in a familiar surrounding might bring something back.

“Don’t answer too many questions,” the doctor had said. “We want him to be able to remember on his own.”

Dex can see the optimism there, and more than anything Dex wants to cling to it too. But it’s like a slippery rope. And Dex is holding on for dear life, but every time he thinks something might happen, it doesn’t. Then there’s that look again, on his father’s face as the reality kicks in, and they go back to square one.

“You’ll be happy to know your room is still in the same place,” Sid says with a strained chuckle.

Dex nods, forcing his lips up slightly at the corners.

When they walk into the house, Dex sees Indi and Romeo on the couch. They are talking together, heads pressed close together, whispering, but they stop as soon as Dex walks in. Indi reaches out and hugs him, while Romeo stands off to the side, giving Dex a small wave.

“It’s good to see you, man,” Romeo says.

“Welcome home,” Indi says as she steps aside, and Dex follows them meekly towards the lounge.

The room is slightly dishevelled, and Dex picks up the faint scent of baby powder and then he notices the blue blanket with yellow ducks hanging over the arm of the chair. He files it away as something else he should know about but won’t ask.

There’s this awkward moment, again, where Dex isn’t sure what he’s supposed to do. Indi and Romeo sort of hover close to one another, eyeing the lounge, like maybe they were going to sit down, but now Dex is this extra third wheel that doesn’t exactly fit anywhere. Sid is clearing his throat and coming back from Dex’s room after offloading his bag.

“So, uh, I guess we should start thinking about dinner. I know you won’t be up for going out to the Diner, but I can still drop by, grab some take away. How does that sound? Romeo, you’re more than welcome to stay.”

“That sounds great, dad,” Indi replies, while Romeo echoes, “Thanks Dr Walker.”

Then they all simultaneously look to Dex, and Dex is still just standing there wondering whether he’s supposed to contribute at all.

Dex looks around, at his father, his sister, and her boyfriend, and it’s like trying to fit the pieces of a jigsaw back together. They should all go together, but Dex can’t help feeling like there’s a piece missing.

“I’m sort of tired,” Dex says finally. “I’m just going to bed.”

He’s not lying, the hospital has been giving him some strong pain medication for his head -- and, he later found out; the two broken ribs, and punctured lung -- that knocks him around a bit, and even just staying awake and alert on the drive home has made him exhausted.

Dex sees Indi’s crestfallen face, while Sid masks his disappointment with a tight smile. “Good idea. You get some rest.”

As Dex turns to head to his room, he wonders, not for the first time, if he’s somehow let them down.


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Part Three

It appears that five days is the maximum time limit that anyone is Summer Bay can go without stickybeaking into other people’s business. And to be honest, Dex is mildly surprised and amused that it’s taken them this long to want to come around and see the town freak show -- The Boy Who Can’t Remember.

It’s starts slowly at first, Sid coming home from the Diner with not just coffee and muffins (“Chocolate chip is still your favourite, right Dex?”) but also a casserole from Colleen and then later a cake from Leah. Dex doesn’t understand whether they expect an increase in food consumption to improve his memory, but regardless, he doesn’t say anything. Just accepts the extra cookie Irene tossed into the brown paper bag his dad hands him, and chews in silence.

Besides Romeo, the first person who isn’t family who sees Dex after the accident is April.

She comes around after school -- Dex knows this much because she’s still in her uniform -- and sits herself down beside Dex on the lounge as he reaches for the remote and switches off the tv.

With the numerous days Dex has been spending at home recovering, he’s taken to watching a lot of tv -- because he really doesn’t know what else to do with himself. But he finds it oddly comforting, particularly those daytime soap operas with the long winded storylines that seem to drag on forever. Because even though Dex has a gap of six months inside his brain, it doesn’t matter, because you can watch one episode and be caught up.

“How are you feeling?” April asks, slowly, a bit cautious at first, like she’s not sure how much she’s allowed to pry.

“Fine,” Dex replies automatically. He’s becoming used to saying it now, and he figures that if he says it enough, Dex might almost believe it.

Dex can see her eyes dart across his face. No doubt taking in his bruised cheek and red temple that hasn’t faded, not to mention the white bandage covering his stiches near the nape of his hair.

“Everyone at school is asking about you,” April says finally.

Dex nods to himself. He guesses it must be pretty exciting to have an amnesiac in such close proximity.

“It must be nice to be home,” April says conversationally.

Dex nods obediently, because he is definitely not ungrateful to not have to eat that weird green jelly at the hospital, but his bed feels different and every time he walks into a room the conversation always stops. With Sid’s cautious gaze following him twenty-four-seven, Dex can’t help but feel he has a permanent shadow.

“You probably can’t wait to get back to school though,” April adds, and Dex reflexively wrinkles his nose.

The thought of going to school, it terrifies him. If having Sid monitor his every movement at home was bad, Dex can imagine being in a place with over a hundred gossiping adolescents will be like. Right now, Dex will gladly sit on the lounge all day and watch mind-numbingly bad television until the cows come home.


“I brought you this,” April declares a few days later, placing the computer on Dex’s lap.

“Was this mine?”

“Yeah. You bought it at the start of the year. I was going to return it, but you left it at my house and then you--” April stalls, catching herself and giving a slight shake of her head. “So, I’m bringing it to you now.”

She seems so happy, smiling bright, and Dex almost can’t help but smile back as he opens the white laptop.

“It’s also a bit of a softener for this,” April adds as she places a couple of thicker books on the coffee table. “I know you’ll probably want to get caught up as soon as possible, so I made a list of topics we’ve covered so far this semester. Who knows, maybe it’ll all come back?”

And there it is again. That miniscule of hope. That by some miracle Dex is going to open one of the Calculus or Literature or Music -- Why was he even studying that? -- text books and it’s all going to come flooding back. And while Dex tries to stay strong about it, he knows that with every passing day the likelihood of his memory coming back diminishes.

He falls asleep to blackness, and wakes to the same. He doesn’t dream, doesn’t relive moments inside his head, and it’s almost like he’s slipping back under because the darkness seems to engulf him, drowning him like a sea of emptiness.

“Maybe,” Dex replies, but he doesn’t take his eyes off the black screen.

Dex is thumbing through one of his novels -- one of the many he’s supposedly already read -- when Sid returns home.

“Ah, I see April has been around again. It’s good to see you spending time with your friends.”

Dex looks up, momentarily confused, because last time he checked friends was a plural, implying more than one, and April seems to be the only person interested in him right now who isn’t immediate family or just wanting to openly stare. But Dex isn’t about to start an argument about semantics.

“How was your day?” Dex asks, absentmindedly still flipping through the pages of the book, eyes darting over character names and places, trying to recall their intangible links and meanings.

“Fine,” Sid replies slowly. “I actually have been doing some thinking, but didn’t want to make a decision without talking to you first.”

Dex places the book down and looks up at his dad, waiting patiently.

“I spoke to Dr Montgomery, and he was saying that despite the fact that we’re still having some temporary difficulties your recovery is going well. And he and I think that it might be time for you to return to school. Just half-days at first, I know how tired you get. But this is your HSC year, and despite the fact that you get special consideration on your exams, I think we need to be as proactive as possible about getting you back into a normal routine.”

“School?” Dex is hesitant.

“I know it might seem a bit overwhelming, but you were doing so well, and I’ve already spoken to some of your teachers about getting some extra help so you aren’t too far behind,” Sid assures him.

“No,” Dex says quickly, “No, I don’t want any tutors or anything.” He doesn’t want to be made to stick out any more than he already does. “April can help.”

Sid is cautious, eyeing him wearily. “If you’re sure,” he says. But he doesn’t argue outright, probably because he’s just glad Dex didn’t throw the whole school thing back in his face directly.

Dex is still worried; about the work, the kids, the teachers -- but he already feels like he’s disappointing his dad so much, that he can’t bear the thought of adding to that by refusing to go.


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Part Four

When Dex does return to school the other kids tiptoe around him, in a way that makes him think someone has died.

And on some level it’s like someone has.

Dex sits in English and History and all his other subjects and tries to make sense of notes he’s apparently written, on topics he’s already covered, but comes up with more questions than answers.

Mr Copeland keeps pausing at various intervals during his long spiels about character and symbolism, and ends with a flourish of, “Right, Dex?” Like he’s expecting something. All Dex does is smile curtly, and Mr Copeland gives him a disappointed nod and returns to the board.

Dex goes home at lunchtime because he just can’t bare it any longer.


April is helping Dex with his English homework on a book supposedly Dex has read before but he doesn’t recall.

Dex is tempted to just get onto SparkNotes and download the summary, but April keeps giving him different page references to key parts of the plot even though he’s sort of given up listening. He’s just becoming frustrated because he knows that he used to be good at school -- it was his thing, but now. Now, he has a novel he doesn’t understand and an essay he’s supposed to write and it’s all becoming too much.

With a sigh, Dex opens his laptop -- not before he sees April give him a weary look -- and goes online.

To his surprise, what comes up isn’t Google or Yahoo or any normal homepage, but a blogging website -- http://dexsworld.wordpress.com/ the site address reads, and Dex is forced to just stop and stare. He blinks a few times, scanning the big, bolded title and the series of posts underneath it, all with titles and videos embedded.

“Dex? Dex, are you even listening to me?” Dex forces himself to blink and look away from the screen. April is staring at him with an alarming amount of confusion and worry. “Are you okay?”

“Uh, I don’t --” Dex can’t even form proper sentences at the moment, let alone formulate what his brain is trying to process.

April stands and comes around to his side of the table, peering over his shoulder at the webpage.

“Oh,” she says finally.

“What is this?” Dex says, still slightly bewildered. It’s just very odd, to see his own face on a thumbnail staring back at him.

“You made videos. Blog entries, really.” April pauses, considering her next words carefully. “You -- you don’t remember?”

Dex shakes his head slowly, still unable to take his eyes off the screen. The arrow of his mouse hovers dangerously close to the play button.

“It might help,” April suggests, like she’s reading his (albeit still scrambled) mind.

So, Dex hits play, on a video entitled Double Standards and suddenly his own face is animated and his voice is loud. The shots are intercut with ones of April and Dex can feel April watching him instead of the screen, trying to gauge his reaction.

They are silent, well after the video has faded to black.

Dex has to remember to keep breathing, because it’s like he’s been punched in the gut. He’s just watched himself from a few months earlier and this person, the one in the videos, is barely recognisable. He’s lively and entertaining and compelling, making a stand about things that matter to him. And now it’s like Dex is watching through a plate glass window, viewing the scene from somewhere in the distance. Because while that is undeniably him in those videos, he doesn’t remember it at all.

He feels himself getting desperate -- breaths shorter and heart beginning to pound harder -- then immediately feels stupid, because God he should be used to this by now. The feeling of being so close, and yet a million miles away.

Dex knows there’s a story there. The reason behind the video -- why it was made, who it was about -- and right now he just can’t. It shouldn’t be this hard.

“Why did I do it?” Dex asks, hating the way his voice wavers, cutting out on him slightly as he strains to keep it under control. “Why did I make the video?”

April lowers herself down into the chair next to Dex, before telling him. “At the time, Ruby slept with Romeo.” A beat. “Then Casey.”

“Casey? The one who --?”

April nods. “Found you. Yeah.”


After some serious unsubtle hints from Sid, Dex ends up at the Diner with April. Sid insists on paying too, which Dex guesses, is supposed to be some sort of incentive.

They’ve got a table in the corner, away from the main congestion of patrons wanting coffee or families ordering dinner. Indi is working tonight, and she keeps glancing over at Dex at intermittent intervals, keeping a close eye on him -- ready to step in if he gets overwhelmed. Dex hasn’t really been in a serious social setting since the accident.

Dex can feel the eyes on him -- not just his sister, who is glancing at him like it’s her job -- but Irene, and Colleen, and other diners who stare at his yellowing skin where the bruises are beginning to fade. Summer Bay is a small town, so naturally, everyone seems to know what happened. Or at least, they think they do.

There has been speculation, Dex knows. He heard the murmurs at school. Hushed words passed from lips to ears at the lockers or written down on paper and passed in class. Everyone seems to have a theory about what actually happened to Dex, except Dex himself.

Colleen scoots her way over to take their order, but not before pointedly staring at Dex’s scar at the back of his neck. He doesn’t have to wear a bandage anymore, but the wound is still raw and red, and completely obvious to anyone who walks by.

“Now, what can I get you?” Colleen asks, without taking her eyes off Dex.

“I’ll have a salad,” April says firmly, as if trying to distract Colleen.

“Me too,” Dex adds quickly, just wanting this whole ordeal to be over and done with as soon as possible.

“Do you want me to write that down for you?” Colleen asks.

“I’m sorry, what?” Dex questions.

“Write down your order so you don’t lose track. I know what it’s like to be a bit forgetful. I put down my keys the other day and couldn’t for the life of me remember where,” Colleen declares, like she’s totally been through the same thing as Dex. “I can’t imagine what it’s like for someone so young, having your whole life ahead of you, only to have it snatched away --”

Thankfully they are interrupted by a grumpy Irene, so Dex doesn’t have to think up some politically correct response to Colleen’s offensiveness. Irene apologises to them and ushers her away into the kitchen.

“You know she doesn’t mean it like that,” April says sympathetically.

“Yeah, I know,” Dex replies with a sigh. “Doesn’t make it any less true though.” April raises a questioning eyebrow. “Just, I feel like ever since the accident my life has done a complete one-eighty. I’m not the person everyone expects me to be. I’m different now, April, and that’s not going to change any time soon.”

April reaches out and takes his hand across the table. “The Dexter Walker I knew didn’t do the things that were expected of him either, so I don’t really see the difference.” She’s smiling coyly and Dex lets the corners of his own lips turn up.

They sit like that for a while, hands intertwined across the tabletop, sitting in silence, until April’s eyes flick down to their linked fingers and she pulls away suddenly. She clears her throat, looking around sheepishly, like she’s been caught doing something wrong.

It takes a moment, before he remembers Xavier, and April mentioning casually that they were dating. Dex hasn’t seen much of Xavier mind, just the occasional moment at school when they just so happen to be walking down the corridor at the same time. He’s always civil, but Dex guesses it must be awkward that his girlfriend is spending so much time with another boy.

When Dex looks over at April again she’s looking at something over his shoulder. He turns, following her line of sight and landing his gaze on the boy at the counter.

“That’s him,” Dex hears himself say.

Casey Braxton looks every bit the stereotypical bad boy. He’s got the short, shaggy haircut, the low slung jeans and dark t-shirt. It’s not that Dex remembers Casey from prior to the accident -- like he’s having some sort of epiphany in the middle of the Diner -- but April pointed him out at school. They haven’t spoken at all, because Casey sits up the back of the room, while Dex is at the front, and he always seems to avoid Dex’s eye. But Dex can’t be sure that he’s doing it deliberately.

Without looking back at April, Dex rises and walks over to him.

“Uh, hi,” Dex says awkwardly, and Casey looks across, a small ripple of shock crossing his features.

“Hey,” Casey replies, and Dex can tell he’s uncomfortable, which isn’t Dex’s intention at all.

“Look, um, everyone says you saved me, so I just wanted to say, thanks. For doing that.”

“It’s not a big deal,” Casey says, turning back to the counter, and Dex is getting the distinct impression that he’s trying to get rid of him.

Dex understands not wanting to play the hero, but he can’t help but feel that maybe there is something else going on that he’s unaware of. He wouldn’t be surprised if they were sworn enemies or something, so Dex walking up to Casey unannounced in the Diner was very out of character. But Dex has been very out of character since he woke up, so there’s not a lot he can do about it now.

“No, I’m serious. You didn’t have to do that, so I guess I owe you my life,” Dex insists.

“Seriously,” Casey stresses. “Just, forget about it. You don’t owe me anything.”

And Dex is almost about to object again but then Irene is appearing with a brown paper bag and handing it to Casey, then he’s walking out, without so much as a backward glance.


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Part Five

After Dex’s brief conversation with Casey at the Diner, that night is the first night that Dex dreams.

Your lips are still tingling as you leave, and you have to carefully school your features into a neutral expression as you reappear in the real world.

Darkness has fallen.

Retracing your path out of the school grounds is simple, you’ve done this so many times. But this time, something is different. Initially you can’t figure out what has changed, why the world seems to be slightly off its axis. So you quicken your pace, reaching the top of the stairs with your bag hoisted on your shoulder, tie hanging loosely around your neck, shirt untucked because you’ve become careless.

There is another set of footsteps coming from behind, and even though you know it goes against your better judgement to just keep moving -- you haven’t done anything wrong -- you turn around.

Dex wakes with a start, and in the silence of night can hear his own heart beating inside his chest. It’s only a dream, Dex tells himself. But he has this nagging feeling that maybe it’s just a bit too familiar.


Dex knows he’s being insufferable and April is only trying to help. But throughout all his classes he hasn’t been able to concentrate, and now he is even further behind than he was before, and Dex is just about ready to throw in the towel.

“This is pointless,” Dex complains, snapping his novel shut and tossing it angrily across the room. It lands with a flutter of pages on the floor, the title facing back at him mockingly.

“It’s fine,” April reassures him. “We’ll just take a break, and then switch to maths, okay?” Dex nods and lets out a sigh as April stands from the table and wanders into the kitchen.

They are working at Irene’s today because Dex is sort of getting sick of only looking at the inside of his house, and Sid is upping the ante in regards to watching him ever since he got back to school. But Dex has been distracted all day. He finally managed to fall back to sleep sometime in the early hours of the morning, but when he woke for the second time -- this time after the sun had risen -- he couldn’t remember the dream.

He knew there was something there. It was too real and personal for it to be just a figment of his overworked imagination. But no matter how long he sat and stewed over it, he couldn’t remember what it had been about.

Begrudgingly, as April pottered around in the kitchen, pouring them both glasses of orange juice, Dex flips open his maths book and reads the title; ‘Derivatives’. He scans the page, the list of questions in two neat columns, and begins writing them out on a new page in his notebook.

When April sits down opposite, she doesn’t say anything for a moment, but Dex can feel her eyes on him.

He stops writing and looks up at her. “What?”

“Dex,” April begins. “What are you doing?”

“Baking a cake, what does it look like I’m doing?” Dex is already on a short tethered string. He is definitely not up for any sort of mind games right now.

“No, that’s not what I meant.” She nods towards his page. “That wasn’t the homework.”

Dex lets out a groan. It would be just his luck that he’s been working on the wrong problems all this time. He goes to rip his answers out of his notebook, but April reaches out quickly and places her hand on top of his.

“Uh, what?”

“Dex, this is derivatives.”

“Yeah, so? You already told me it was wrong.”

“No, it’s not wrong. It’s right.” April is speaking very slowly, almost like she’s addressing a small child. Dex rolls his eyes. He’s officially lost with what is going on right now.

“Stop speaking in code.”

“You answered those questions correctly, Dex. Questions that we did months ago.”

It takes Dex a full five seconds to process what April has just told him. And then it hits him. Dex was doing work he’s already done -- using formulas from that part of his memory that got lost in the accident. April is beaming and Dex is grabbing hold of April’s hand and squeezing tightly, because God, it feels so good.

“You don’t think --?” Dex trails off. Surely, if his memory was back he would know. He’d feel it, right?

“Only one way to find out,” April replies. Dex is still holding on to her hand, adjusting his grip so their fingers are locked as April asks, “What happened the night of the accident?”

Dex closes his eyes and waits.

He waits and waits.

April is still holding on tightly, and when Dex opens his eyes her face immediately falls.

“It’s okay,” she assures him. “At least it’s a start?”

Dex nods, unconvinced.


You’ve never been one for taking risks. You have always taken the safe option, the path most travelled. But that’s only because you didn’t know what it felt like.

The rush of adrenaline, the pumping of your heart as you sneak around the bend, checking frantically over your shoulder, making sure you aren’t being followed. The build up of tension as you turn the door knob, biting down hard on your lip as it squeaks on its hinges, even though you know you’re the only two left in the building. The corridor is clearly empty.

As soon as the door snaps shut, your breath hitches in your chest as a familiar voice says, “I almost thought you wouldn’t come.”

You can hear the smile in their tone.

This time Dex wakes slowly, but with every passing second the image fades. His heart rate slows, breathing returning to normal until there is only the vaguest recollection in the back of Dex’s mind. Nothing specific, just a non-descript feeling that there is something in there that is just out of reach.

By the time Dex goes to school, it’s gone completely.


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Part Six

“Why do you do that?” Dex asks one day. He’s got his maths book propped open on his knee, while April is arranging her pens in a straight line along the edge of the coffee table.

“Do what?” she replies, distracted as she realigns the red next to the blue.

“That,” Dex says with a nod.

April freezes for a moment and then she pulls her hands away from the stationery, like it’s hot and she’s just been burned.

“Sorry,” April says. “I don’t -- I don’t realise I’m doing it. When I’m nervous or stressed the OCD comes back a bit, that’s all.”


“Uh, yeah,” April replies, sitting back on her heels. “A whole bunch of crazy stuff happened and I sort got messed up in my own head for a while.” She shrugs.

“Why were you worried?” Dex asks, trying to connect the dots between OCD and being around him. He’s almost afraid of what she’s going to say.

“Oh, just,” April ducks her head sheepishly. “You. I wasn’t sure -- I wasn’t sure if we’d get to do this anymore. It’s not a big deal or anything, we don’t have to talk about it.”

“But I want to,” Dex says quickly. “Unless, you don’t want to.”

April catches his eye. “No, it’s okay. We can talk. What do you want to know?”

It’s the first time someone has asked Dex straight out what kind of answers he wants, where the gap in his mind is -- how wide, how long, what it takes to fill it. It’s almost unnerving at first, a bit disconcerting to have such a direct question pointed at him, rather than the convoluted ones his dad or the other doctors at the hospital ask him.

“Uh, everything,” Dex replies sheepishly. “What happened?”

April gives a small sigh and a shake of her head, like she’s actually casting her mind back to that moment exactly. “My councillor says it was coming for a while, I was always so pedantic about things growing up. Things having to be perfect. But then, I don’t know, things ended with Xavier after the chemicals --”

“What chemicals?” Dex pipes up already feeling a bit of his confidence returning.

“Oh, I sort of tried to steal some chemicals from the school and then Xav poured them down the sink at Irene’s and we passed out. Understandably, we broke up,” she says with a strained laugh, but then she’s returning to the original story. “Anyway, after that I sort of didn’t want anything else to go wrong. Everything was so messed up so I took to ordering everything else. It got way out of control.” April pauses, considering Dex closely. “Actually, it was because of you that I got help. You told Liam and then Bianca found out. You were there for me the entire time.”

They are silent for a moment, and Dex is desperately wracking his brain for something, some feeling, so scrap of recognition so he can verify what April is saying is true. Not that she would lie, but Dex just wants to be able to know for certain.

“It’s okay now,” April assures him, and Dex really wants to believe her.


Dex feels the eyes on him before he sees it.

He’s studying in an empty classroom, trying to get caught up on his English essay. He’s struggling with one particular quote and can feel the lines on his forehead getting deeper with every moment as he crinkles his eyebrows tighter. He sighs, long and loud, frustrated -- with his schoolwork, with his overprotective father (who is still keeping very close tabs on Dex’s movements), with himself -- and he throws his pen down on the desk with a clatter.

Dex runs his hand through his hair, fingers absentmindedly ending up on his scar at the back of his neck. He traces the jagged line of the stitches under his fingertips, pressing just hard enough that it still stings. His eyelids flutter shut and Dex’s head lolls back, and that’s when he feels the eyes on him. He’s been caught unguarded, candid, and Dex immediately stiffens. Because he thinks he’s been doing such a good job of keeping it together, of convincing everyone (himself) that it’s all going to be okay. Even in front of April, Dex keeps this little piece of himself safe -- the part of himself that asks too many questions, and still wants to know all the answers, but has somehow lost the courage to do so -- and only lets it out sometimes, when no one is looking.

So, Dex knows when someone is watching, when he is no longer alone.

Dex recomposes himself at the desk, schooling his features into practiced nonchalance, before he flicks his eyes up to the door.

“Uh, sorry,” Casey says, almost like he wasn’t expecting Dex to notice.

“It’s okay,” Dex replies with a shrug. “Just wallowing in my own self-pity.” It’s self-deprecating, and a little bit bitter, and sits strangely on Dex’s tongue.

Casey walks into the classroom slowly, hands pushed deep into his pockets. “Anything I can help with?”

Dex huffs a bit. “You’ve saved my life. I think you’ve done enough.”

Casey shakes his head a little bit too ferociously for the situation. “English?” Casey asks with a nod towards Dex’s essay.

Dex sighs, flicking at his pen with his finger. “And it’s kicking my ass.”

“But you’re good at this stuff,” Casey says sincerely.

Used to be good at this stuff,” Dex emphasises as Casey pulls up a plastic chair and sits opposite.

There’s a moment of silence, and Dex hears the sporadic yelps of students running around outside, using up their lunchtime to expel excess amounts of energy. Dex should be out there with them, except he gets exhausted from just walking to school from the farm every day, and he still feels like he’s drowning in schoolwork, so he chooses to stay indoors during break, while April promises to bring him back a muffin from the Diner.

“So,” Casey begins, cautious, “No progress on the whole remembering thing?”

Dex shakes his head. “Unfortunately, no. I just wish --” Casey is surveying Dex, a mixture of wariness and curiosity, and Dex doesn’t know why, but when he catches Casey’s eyes in a glance he feels like his tongue is becoming loose. “I wish I knew either way, you know?”

“So, then you could stop hoping for something that isn’t going to come back.”

Casey is quiet and timid, and not at all like the tough-shelled bravado he carries around like a shield on a regular basis. He’s staring at Dex, not accusatory, but with understanding. Casey remains unwavering, refusing to drop his gaze, and Dex wishes he could interpret exactly what Casey is trying to wrap up and tell him.


It’s a set of firm arms wrapped around your frame, tugging you closer, nudging your legs apart so they can get a stronger hold.

There’s friction between you. Two bodies rubbing up against one another and a sound escapes from between your lips.

You’re embarrassed, because God, who makes that sort of noise? -- But there’s a comforting chuckle, and then a pair of warm lips are pressed against yours, and being awkward is the last thing you are thinking about.

But there’s a part of your brain that is still worried. In between kisses you pull back just enough.

“We shouldn’t be doing this,” you say, voice hushed.

“No one knows we’re here,” he replies, and even in the dully-lit classroom you can hear his smile.

His breath is warm as he leans in again, but you gently place your hands on his chest. You don’t think you’ll ever get over being able to do that. Just placing your hands there and being able to feel.

“I should go,” you say.

He says, “Don’t.”

“I have to.” You really don’t want to.

“No, you don’t.”

You open your mouth to protest again -- albeit weakly -- but you don’t get the chance. Its mouths being pressed together, his tongue skirting along your bottom lip, hips are connecting as he backs you against the wall, holding you down.

It takes all your self-restraint to push him away (eventually). He’s pouting and you can’t help but let out a huff, lips quirked up into a smile.

“Dex,” he whines. You can’t help but think he looks adorable when he looks at you through his eyelashes, bottom lip tilted downwards, but he doesn’t mean it.


“Five more minutes.”

“You said that ten minutes ago,” you say with a laugh.

Casey rolls his eyes, shrugging.

You say, “I’m going,” before hoisting your bag over your shoulder and heading out the door. You look over your should for a moment and catch him staring after you. It makes your stomach flip-flop in a way that’s both exciting and terrifying.


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Part Seven

Dex wakes up with his heart pounding, sweating, and tongue stuck somewhere in his throat.

He’s panting and flicking his eyes around the room and attempting to try and control his breathing.

It can’t be real, Dex decides. He’s on some serious pain medication, and he hasn’t exactly been sleeping well, so it’s no surprise his mind is playing tricks on him. He barely knows what day it is, let alone what his first class is when he arrives at school.

“Are you okay?” April asks, as soon as she sees him at his locker, grabbing some random notebook and slamming the door shut. “You look sort of pale.”

“Hmm? Yeah, I’m fine,” Dex replies distractedly. He’s got Casey in his mind, the friction of two bodies together, a playful smile on his lips, and he has to take a deep breath, shut his eyes for a moment because even at the thought of this his heart begins to race.

“Are you sure? Maybe you need to see the nurse. Or I can call your dad --”

“April,” Dex cuts her off. “I’m fine.”

She’s staring at him wearily, like she really doesn’t believe him, and God, Dex really feels like crawling into a hole and dying. She’s refusing to drop her gaze and Dex is forced to pick up his bag and hoist it over his shoulder with her intent glare watching him.

Dex begins to walk away, down the hall, hoping to be swept up in the before school rush and lost in the crowd.

“Oh my God,” April says slowly, and Dex hears her feet pitter-patter behind him as she quickly catches up. “You remembered something, didn’t you?” Is he really that transparent?

Dex stops walking, locks eyes with April and says, “April, I didn’t remember. And besides, don’t you think that if I did, that you’d be the first person I’d tell.”

Her lips are set in a thin line, like she’s still unconvinced but she replies, “I guess so,” and Dex forces himself to quirk his own mouth into something that resembles a smile.


The day is agonisingly slow.

Dex is still trying to figure out why he felt the need to lie to April when he escapes for lunch, carefully ducking behind tree so he doesn’t run into her as he heads for the beach. He just wants to be alone.

So, maybe he didn’t technically lie. Dex still doesn’t know what happened on the night of the accident, and maybe he never will. But now his brain seems to be telling him that he’s been making out with Casey in his spare time, and that’s not something you can casually bring up in everyday conversation. And Dex doesn’t even have any proof that what he dreamt was real. It could be some weird subliminal message from his subconscious, or an after effect of the accident -- Dex did fall and hit his head after all.

But then Dex is sitting in biology at the front of the class, copying notes off the board and he can just feel the eyes on him. Most of the class is either scribbling their own diagrams or at least pretending to do so, so they aren’t paying attention to Dex. But Dex chances a glance over his shoulder and sure enough, there he is. Casey is sitting in the very far back corner, slumped against the classroom wall. He’s got his pen hanging loosely from his fingers, and Dex can definitely see that his page is blank. But all of that detail soon becomes irrelevant because he’s staring. Staring at Dex.

It’s unnerving and Dex feels his stomach curl up inside him in a way that it’s never done before, so he quickly turns back around to the front of the room and forces himself to focus on his own work. But it’s no use.

Now he knows Casey is staring and Dex still isn’t sure why. Well, maybe Dex is beginning to join some pretty faint dots between his dream and Casey’s strange attitude towards him, but again, it’s all sort of circumstantial, and Dex’s brain isn’t the most reliable of sources. Besides, even assuming that what Dex dreamt was true, Dex has never shown any interest in boys before, let alone Casey Braxton. He couldn’t even get a girlfriend, so how the hell could he, Dexter Walker, end up kissing Casey? It just didn’t make any sense.

Dex doesn’t even know him. Not really.

“Mr Braxton,” Mrs Palmer says, pulling Dex out of his own daze. “Can you at least pretend like you’re paying attention?”

“Sorry,” Casey mumbles, but he doesn’t sound all that sincere.

“Fine. If you want to waste my time, then I’ll be happy to waste yours. I’ll see you after class.”

Dex flicks his eyes back and watches as Casey waits until Mrs Palmer has turned back to the board before rolling his eyes.

When the bell finally rings Dex can’t wait to just leave. He’s had it with Casey and his stupid staring, and his stupid ability to invade Dex’s mind, when all he wants is to get back to passing his classes and getting a good night sleep. But all that is stopped when Mrs Palmer says to him, “Dex, can you wait as well? I want to talk to you.”

Dex nods and sits back down at his desk and waits for the rest of the class to vacate the room.

Mrs Palmer is shuffling papers around on her desk as she begins talking.

“Okay, Dex, I know you’ve been catching up in all your classes, and that it all must be a bit overwhelming, but I need to discuss with you the possibility of getting some special provisions for your HSC. I know you don’t want to be treated differently,” she says with a wry smile, “but you’ve missed so much school that I really think this is the best option for --”

She’s cut off as there is a short, sharp tap on the door and Mr Copeland pokes his head into the room.

“Oh!” he says, “Sorry to interrupt, but Gina, we’ve got a bit of an emergency going on in one of the corridors.”

Mrs Palmer nods and heads for the door. “Just wait here boys, I’ll be right back.”

Boys? It takes Dex a moment to remember that he’s not alone, but he is certainly not going to turn around and acknowledge that he knows Casey is there.

The silence seems to stretch on for what seems like hours, and Dex has taken to watching the second hand move slowly around the clock face just to occupy himself.

Casey clears his throat from the back of the room. “Well, this is sufficiently awkward.”

Dex sets his mouth into a straight line and keeps clock-watching.

The silence continues until Dex can’t take it anymore. It’s obvious they’ve been forgotten, or abandoned by more serious school issues, and the clock is becoming more and more boring, so Dex is beginning to get caught up in his own head again -- thinking back to the dream, and the realism of it all, and Casey, now staring at him from the back of the room. It needs to stop.

Dex spins around rapidly in his chair, snapping at Casey, “Was there anything you wanted?”


“Don’t play stupid, I know you’ve been staring at me. You’re not exactly subtle.”

“I’m just trying to work out what’s going on in that head of yours,” Casey replies with a shrug. And despite the fact that he’s acting casual, like it’s something perfectly normal to ponder, it’s too true, hitting far too close to home for Dex’s comfort.

So Dex gets up, not caring that his chair gives a loud screech as it scrapes across the floor and begins heading for the door. Mrs Palmer can talk to him about make up tests and special provisions another time. Right now, he needs to get as far away from Casey as possible.

“Dex, wait!” Casey calls out, and Dex must be asking for trouble because he actually stalls at the door and looks back.


“I just --” Casey stands from his place, reaches out his hand pathetically before dropping it to his side. “I don’t know how to be around you.”

It sounds like a confession, but Dex isn’t sure what for.

“I used to think I knew you,” Casey says, and he suddenly sounds sort of sad. Dex shifts uncomfortably from one foot to the other, adjusting his bag on his shoulder. “You were witty and funny and too smart for your own good. And now, it’s like, I’m not even sure what I’m supposed to say.” He finishes with a sort of half shrug in defeat and Dex realises just how tightly he’s been holding on to his bag strap. He looks down and sees that his knuckles are beginning to turn white.

“Were we f-” Dex clears his throat when his voice cracks, coming out quieter, more uncertain than he was hoping. He takes a breath. “Were we friends or something?”

Casey blinks, face unreadable. “Or something.”

And it seems more like a question than a statement. Like he’s begging Dex for something, trying to jog something in his memory that may or may not be there, and Dex is having flashes of lips on lips and body heat and hands holding him that are bigger than his own.

They’re interrupted by Mrs Palmer bursting in through the door, catching Dex off-guard and he stumbles to regain his footing, and even though Casey is still in the back corner Dex sees out of the corner of his eye the way his hands stretch out on reflex, like he’s trying to catch him.

“Oh! Casey, Dex!” Mrs Palmer appears to have forgotten that they were even waiting for her. She’s clearly flustered, and she’s muttering something about parents and phone calls that need to be made, that Dex is only just catching up when he realises she’s stopped talking and they’ve both been dismissed.

There is this awkward moment in the hallway where they are sort of hovering around each other. Mrs Palmer has disappeared down the corridor, and Dex knows he should be going home too and Casey probably has somewhere else to be, but they’re just standing there in the empty hall not saying anything.

Casey looks like he’s about to say something then thinks better of it just saying, “See ya,” and with a quick nod he’s walking away.

And maybe for a split second Dex thinks about following him. About storming after Casey and demanding that he tells him what it all means, because Dex is sick and tired of being constantly confused and unsure. He wants to ask a simple question and get a simple answer, not rely on hazy dreams that may or may not be real.

But he doesn’t. Dex just sighs to himself and turns the other way, heading out the doors and home.


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Part Eight

The first part is familiar. He’s dreamt this bit before. It comes back to him with a frightening amount of ease.

Your lips are still tingling as you leave, and you have to carefully school your features into a neutral expression as you reappear in the real world.

Darkness has fallen.

Retracing your path out of the school grounds is simple, you’ve done this so many times. But this time, something is different. Initially you can’t figure out what has changed, why the world seems to be slightly off its axis. So you quicken your pace, reaching the top of the stairs with your bag hoisted on your shoulder, tie hanging loosely around your neck, shirt untucked because you’ve become careless.

There is another set of footsteps coming from behind, and even though you know it goes against your better judgement to just keep moving, you haven’t done anything wrong, you turn around.

There is darkness and Dex recognises that he’s in this in-between stage where he knows he is dreaming and could probably force himself awake, but he doesn’t.

“Little boys should be tucked in bed,” Heath says menacingly. The one fluorescent light flickers off the side of the building, covering half his face in shadow. “Being out this late, it looks like you might be up to something.”

“Forgot my science book,” you reply, although in the back of your head you are wondering why you owe him any sort of explanation.

“Ah, well. Don’t let me keep you then.”

You turn, praying that he’s looking for someone else, and he’s just happened upon you by mistake. That you’re too short, too thin, too anything, to bother to pick a fight. Although that’s never stopped him before.

“Actually,” Heath calls out, louder this time as you begin to descend the stairs. “I was wondering if you could answer something for me. A question of sorts.”

He’s teasing and you know it. Playing it cool and casual, seeing if he can get a rise. But you’ve done nothing wrong -- Keep telling yourself, you’ve done nothing wrong.

“Maybe another time,” you say, and there is the slightest waver, an inflection, so Heath knows he’s got you rattled.

He knows nothing.

“Actually, now works for me,” Heath says firmly, and suddenly there’s a hand on your shoulder, and you almost topple over immediately.

A tall, broad man has you in a firm hold, his grip like a vice on your arm as he forces you up, and there is nothing you can do as more of them appear from the shadows.

“Hypothetically speaking,” Heath begins, staring down at you. He’s only a couple of steps up, but he looks so much taller. Not to mention that your knees are practically buckling under your weight, bringing you closer to the ground. “Hypothetically, what would happen to a little boy who got involved in something he shouldn’t? If he started messing around in things where he didn’t belong?”

You force yourself to swallow even though your mouth has gone dry. But you say nothing.

He knows nothing.

“Hypothetically speaking, what would happen if he was some kind of fairy, thinking he could spread his pixie dust wherever he pleased?”

There’s a grunt of disapproval from somewhere beside Heath. But Heath is clearly enjoying himself. He holds out a subtle hand, silently telling them to keep their cool.

“See, here’s the thing. Casey might think he knows what he wants, might tell you things that you like to hear. But in reality all he’s doing is trying to get back at us. He’s using you, and your little secret hook-ups to try and inch his way out.”

’No,’ you think. ’Casey would never –’

“But River Boys don’t give up that easily. And we also don’t appreciate ladies like yourself getting involved in our family business.” Heath jumps the last two stairs in one bound.

Before you can do anything, say anything, explain that it’s all been one giant misunderstanding, the hand on your arm is gone and you stumble to regain your footing. There are River Boys blocking both the top and bottom of the staircase and closing in with every passing moment. You can’t fight back, and although you want to scream -- you know Casey is still inside -- your tongue is firmly lodged inside your mouth, unwilling to move no matter what your brain is telling it to do.

The first hit comes from the left, and you hear a crack. Your knees buckle and you hit the floor, both shock and pain radiating from your cheek. You can already taste blood. There’s a rumble of satisfied chuckles and someone off to the side mutters a slur under their breath. It’s vulgar and horrible, and you can feel the tears swelling up, but you are not going to cry. It’ll only make it worse.

After that it’s a blur. Of fists and feet, grappling to get at every part of your body.

You try to stumble to your feet although your vision is blurred, and there is one final punch.

You feel yourself falling backwards before you blackout.

Dex’s head is thumping, his brain is practically pushing at his scalp trying to escape, to cope with the rush of everything. He’s got adrenaline pumping through his veins and Dex has to bite down on his bottom lip to stop himself from screaming, but holymotherofGod, it hurts!

But Dex knows -- He knows that Nicole had a baby boy, that George was living with them; that Marilyn moved out sometime after that; that Indi and Romeo broke up because Romeo slept with Ruby and she was with Casey; that he had a blog and made videos and April helped, and he really liked the way she smiled when they were finished.

Then Casey is beaming from somewhere inside his head, and Dex understands everything. All the sidelong glances, the staring, and the indescribable pull towards this other boy, like nothing he’s ever felt before.

In the midst of it all, Dex realises what it all means. And for a moment wonders whether it would have been simpler if he just never remembered at all.


It’s ridiculously early, the sun barely showing its golden head over the horizon, but Dex is about to burst out of his own skin. His head has been pounding constantly, a dull ache always in the back of his mind, poking at him, telling him, ’Yes, this is all real.’

Before Sid or Indi are awake Dex is out of the house, on instinct heading to the beach, and sure enough, he is there.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” Dex demands.

“You remembered?” Casey asks, still taken aback by Dex’s sudden surge of anger.

“Did you really think I wouldn’t?” Dex snaps. “Or were you hoping?”

“It’s not like that.”

“Then, what?”

“You wouldn’t understand,” Casey replies, with a sad shake of his head.

“Then explain it to me. Please!”

“I just thought -- When I first heard that you didn’t remember anything, it was the universe’s way of telling me to let you go. The world was giving you a chance to start over, and to get it right. Who was I to take that away from you?”

“Your brothers beat me up and put me in a coma. You knew they did this and you didn’t say anything.” Casey opens his mouth to object (again), but Dex isn’t finished. He’s been living in a haze of confusion for so long, feeling frustrated with everything, and he’s now got perfect clarity. He’s not walking away or backing down. “You’re a coward,” Dex tells Casey. “I don’t know what I saw in you, why I put myself in that position in the first place, so maybe it is supposed to end up like this.”

“Like what?’

“Going our separate ways,” Dex says with as much finality as possible before he walks away.

And suddenly another thought occurs to Dex, and he’s spinning back around to Casey’s stunned expression.

“You know what the worst part is?” Dex doesn’t give Casey a chance to answer, continuing quickly. All his fear and anger and frustration is bubbling over and coming out in a way that sounds like he’s trying to talk underwater. “I was told that no one could have done this on purpose. That, I must have slipped. Fell down the stairs and hit my head. But it wasn’t an accident, Casey. The worst part is that this was deliberate.”

“But I didn’t know at the time!” Casey splutters out.

“And that makes it okay?” Dex is incredulous.

“No! No, of course not.” Casey is shaking his head furiously, before holding out his hand towards Dex. “I just -- I never meant for you to get hurt. You’ve got to believe me.”

“I don’t know what to believe anymore,” Dex replies, letting his voice fall into a whisper.

There’s a pause as Dex catches his breath, watches intently as Casey slowly steps forward. It’s the first time he’s approached Dex and he seems uneasy.

Casey, the one who was cool, and confident, and always in control is now cautious and timid, and it’s almost sad to see him looking this pathetic. But then he seems to pull himself together, catching Dex’s eye, and it’s like he’s pleading with Dex. Refusing to drop his gaze, he closes the gap between them, until he’s right there.

Casey leans in, whispering, “Believe me,” right into Dex’s skin before he’s pressing their lips together.

Dex wants to object, to turn and run, but Casey reaches up and uses his hand to cradle Dex’s neck and he pushes their mouths together. It’s too much, too overwhelming as Dex feels the warmth of Casey’s tongue. Then Casey is pulling away and Dex hates himself for refusing to let him go. He pushes their lips back together, because it’s not enough, and Dex remembers why he became so addicted to this, why he risked everything to do this -- with Casey.

Casey is cupping Dex’s cheek, his fingers trailing lightly over his scar. It burns white hot, as Dex gets a flash behind his eyes -- of Heath’s menacing smile, the taste of copper in his mouth, the suffocating darkness -- and Dex rips himself out of Casey’s grasp.

I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry,” Dex repeats, hushed and too fast.

Casey’s eyes are wide, lips still wet from where they were just against Dex’s. He’s just staring, mouth slightly agape as Dex backs away.

“Dex --" Casey begins, but this time Dex does turn, and he runs, and he doesn’t look back.


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Part Nine

Dex is running, taking shallow, erratic breaths, feet tripping over the uneven slabs and he staggers, trying to regain his footing. He runs, now reaching the outskirts of town, the opposite direction of the farm, just wanting to put as much distance between himself and Casey as possible. At just the thought of him, Dex’s scar seems to seer. Tears prickle in his eyes and Dex scrubs roughly at his face with his fists.

He’s still running, until his foot catches on something and he goes sprawling on the bitumen.

On instinct Dex slams his hands out in front of him, stopping himself from face-planting into the cement, but a stab of pain shoots up from his palms to his wrists on impact. Dex’s breathing is short and sharp, tears now streaming down his face as he tries to pull himself together, but he’s exhausted. His wrist hurts from where he landed on it, his mind is drumming against his skull and Dex just gives up. He pulls his knees to his chest, and falls apart on the side of the road.

He can’t deal with it.

Dex thought remembering would make things easier; everything making sense again. But the only thing it’s done is confused him even more, told him things he didn’t want to know, and force him to make a choice he didn’t think he would ever have to make.

All Dex knows now, is that he can’t go back. He won’t, because if he has to see Casey again he will, he’ll -- he doesn’t know what he’ll do -- probably stop breathing entirely.

Dex doesn’t know how long he stays there. The ground is hard and rough, his hands are cut up, the knees of his jeans spotted with blood, but Dex doesn’t move -- it’s like he’s forgotten how.

A car pulls up and Dex vaguely recognises someone getting out and crouching in front of him.

A hand rests on his shoulder and Miles asks him in a quiet, soothing voice whether he is okay. Dex remembers shaking his head; no.

Dex ends up back at the hospital, doctors wanting to run more tests, psychologists asking him to describe what he is feeling, but Dex refuses. He can’t -- he just can’t.

He sits on the edge of the bed and doesn’t meet his father’s eye. He’s still wearing his clothes from that morning, although his knee has been patched up with some gauze. The doctors want to keep him overnight, keep him under observation, but Sid bends down so he’s eye level with Dex asking him in a calm voice, “Do you want to go home?”

Dex nods.


Dex stays in bed for the next three days. Sid comes in through the night under the pretence of checking his temperature; Indi comes in during the day with plates of sandwiches and glasses of water. Dex doesn’t touch any of it, and doesn’t say a word to anyone.

Not until the fourth day when there is a faint knock on Dex’s door. He continues to lie on his side, hands curled up under his pillow assuming it will be his dad or sister. But instead, there is a small voice asking, “Dex? Can I come in?” and Dex recognises that it’s April.

He doesn’t say anything as she cautiously steps into the room and closes the door behind her. She crosses the room and sits on the edge of Dex’s bed, reaching out she puts her hand under Dex’s pillow and threads her fingers through his.

“Dex,” April says, soft and sad, and Dex can feel the tears welling up behind his eyes. The room is beginning to go blurry and Dex blinks, feeling a tear escape, running down his cheek. “Oh, Dex.”

And that is when Dex finally breaks. He sits up and April pulls him into a hug, and Dex clings to her shoulders, tugging her body close. It’s warm and solid and feels so good, comfortable, that Dex cries even harder.

Dex tries his hardest to just turn his head and bury himself in April’s neck. He’s fisting at April’s cardigan and pushing his face into her shoulder, but April is strong, and she grips on to Dex just as tight, refusing to let him go, refusing to let him forget.

He’s spent so long trying to remember -- every detail, every aspect of his life -- only to find out that it was better when he just forgot. Because then he could just pretend that it didn’t happen, he didn’t have to deal with Casey, kissing him and getting the living crap beaten out of him for that very reason. But now it’s there, clear as day, and Dex seems to have the feeling of Casey’s lips memorised and he doesn’t know if he’s ever going to be able to let go -- but he can’t go back. Casey has to know that he’s not going back.

Finally Dex pulls away, using his hands to haphazardly wipe at his face, dry the last of his tears before finally catching April’s eye. It looks like she’s been crying too. Her eyes are red-rimmed and she’s sniffling a bit as Dex crosses his legs and sits up on the bed. April kicks her feet up too and sits opposite. She reaches out and takes his hands, intertwining their fingers, and this Dex thinks, is what it’s supposed to feel like.

April doesn’t ask him to talk about it. She doesn’t want details or even vague assurance that Dex’s memory is actually all intact. She just nods understandably when Dex opens his mouth to talk, her way of saying, ‘I know’.

Sid is not so calm about the whole thing.

Some time before sunset Dex finally follows April out of his bedroom and Sid looks up, a mixture of relief and confusion and worry flash across his face as he sees Dex standing before him.

“Dex, are you okay? We need -- we need to talk about this, and should probably call your doctor at the hospital.”

“Doctor Walker?” April asks, slightly timidly. Dex instinctively clamps their hands together again for support. She gives his a squeeze before she says, “If it’s alright, I think Dex just wants a shower and maybe something to eat.” Sid looks over at Dex, who nods. “Can the questions wait?”

Sid’s eyes flick from Dex to April and back again, and he’s eyeing Dex wearily, but ultimately satisfied when he says, “Sure,” and Dex disappears into the bathroom.


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Part Ten

Going back to school the second time is definitely harder than the first, because this time Dex knows. And not only that, but Casey knows as well.

Dex has this recurring nightmare that he’s going to turn up to school and Casey will have told the entire student body that they used to hook up, and as a result everyone turns on him. He has slanderous words scrawled into his locker and has to have the whispered gay synonyms follow him around like a shadow. But for some reason Casey remains untouched. He stands tall among his peers while they taunt and tease him, even though Dex realises there are worse things to be called than just gay. But still, it’s isolating and humiliating and every day Dex arrives with a knot in his stomach as he fervently glances around the crowded hall. It seems however, that the gossip mill is still churning, and Dex and Casey’s previous exploits are not the topic of discussion, so Dex breathes easy for another day.

Not that Dex thinks Casey would actually tell. He’s had plenty of opportunity to do so, so Dex figures that if he was going to spill the beans he would have done it by now. In fact, Casey has just taken to ignoring Dex outright. He avoids Dex’s eye when he walks into biology, deliberately takes alternative corridors when he sees Dex at his locker and immediately walks out of the Diner when he sees Dex sitting at a table with April. And Dex wouldn’t mind so much, except for the fact that every time he sees Casey his heart starts to beat just a fraction faster and there doesn’t seem to be a thing Dex can do to stop it.

He hates himself for letting himself get worked up like this. Because Dex is absolutely resolute, that whatever happened between him and Casey is over, and there is never going to be a repeat performance. Dex has the scars to prove that it’s a much too dangerous conquest to even be seen socialising with Casey outside of school time, let alone getting romantically involved. But the biggest kicker, is that Dex realises he doesn’t really feel anything for Casey.

At least, that’s what he tells himself.

April is peering at him curiously over her salad, and Dex knows he’s been lost inside his own head for too long.


“You’ve got that look again,” April says.

“What look?” Dex replies, raising his eyebrows apprehensively

“That look; the one where you’ve obviously been thinking and now you’re trying to convince me you weren’t.” It’s almost scary how well she knows him.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Dex says, feigning innocence.

“Dex,” she says sternly. “I know there is something you’re not telling me.”

Dex is not going to tell her. He doesn’t plan on telling anyone, not ever. April is taking a deep breath, opening her mouth to start asking him questions relating to getting his memory back, and how it’s a good idea to share things, even if they appear to be insignificant, when Ruby waltzes up to the table.

“There’s a party,” she declares loudly, right by Dex’s ear. “And you’re invited.”

“Party?” April asks, looking up at Ruby and her bouncing curls.

“A party,” she repeats, shooting a confused look between the two of them. “Like, loud music and hot guys and lots of alcohol. Although, the hot guys part of the equation pertains mostly to me, but whatever. There’s still music and booze.”

“I know what a party is,” April replies with a roll of her eyes and a quick glance at Dex, who hasn’t said anything. “I meant, whose party is it?”

Ruby shrugs. “Don’t know, don’t care. You just need to be there.” She points her fingers between April and Dex with a certain amount of authority, indicating that she’s going to personally make them attend, before she flounces away.

They sit in silence for a moment, letting the intensity die down, before April lets out a huff. “Well, that was interesting.”

Dex raises an eyebrow in agreement.


“What?” Dex replies. It’s not that Dex dislikes Ruby exactly; he just, doesn’t find her all that interesting, so he sort of stopped listening the moment she approached the table.

“The party,” April prompts. “Should we go?”

Dex shrugs. He doesn’t particularly care. Dex has bigger things to worry about, like how he possibly ended up making out with Casey after hours. That still doesn’t make any sense.

“Come on,” she encourages. “It might be fun. We could go together.”

She’s got this small smile on her lips, and Dex can’t really look at her face because if he does his eyes might betray how he really feels.

“What about Xavier?”

“Xavier?” April crinkles her eyebrows together.

“Yeah, Xavier. Your boyfriend, remember him? I think he would have something to say about us attending a party together; however lame the party turns out to be.”

“Oh, right,” April finally replies, looking sheepishly away from Dex.

“Look, April,” Dex says, leaning forward in his chair. He thinks about reaching out and taking her hands, it wouldn’t be the first time they’ve done it. But somehow, with Dex no longer oblivious to everything going on around him, it seems like it would be crossing some sort of line. “I really, really appreciate everything you’ve done for me. Like, more than you will probably ever know, but --”

“Don’t,” April says, cutting him off. “Don’t say anything. I get it.” She nods and Dex suddenly feels horrible for being like this. It isn’t April’s fault Dex is mentally unstable, she is the one person who has been his constant throughout this whole ordeal, and now he’s trying to push her away for no good reason. “And don’t stress about the party,” April adds as she stands and leaves Dex at the table by himself.


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