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Relive Your Darkest Moments

Guest Jen

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Story Title: Relive Your Darkest Moments

Type of Story: One shot

Main Characters: Ruby, Dex

BTTB Rating: T

Genre: Angst

Does story include spoilers: Yes – from episode 5581 onwards.

Any warnings:

Summary: At first she wouldn’t have even recognized him … so to see Dexter Walker of all people arranging himself comfortably into a chair opposite her is startling.

A/N: Future fic in which Dex visits Ruby; a story of second chances and trying to reclaim what you’ve lost. Title from “Shake It Out” by Florence and the Machine.


relive your darkest moments

The ceilings are high, the walls pale and made of concrete. Every sound seems to echo, be amplified, so Ruby has to really concentrate to block out the noise. Footsteps sound like gunshots and the scrape of metal chair legs across the linoleum floor grates like nails on a chalkboard inside her skull. Her stomach turns over as she fervently glances around the room, waiting for him to arrive.

You’d think that after all this time she’d be used to it. That this would be normal or something, but today is far from normal for Ruby – even when ‘normal’ is a relative term to Ruby’s current situation. She sits on edge, back ramrod straight in the metal back chair as she looks up to see the doors at the far end of the dining hall swing open, the guards standing sternly either side, and he doesn’t seem phased at all. This, make Ruby feel even more nauseous.

At first she wouldn’t have even recognized him – which is surprising considering that she’s spent so long trying to block out the lines of his face. The brightness of his eyes, pale skin streaked with blood seemed to creep into her sleep, changing dreams to nightmares and waking her up with a muffled scream and clammy skin.

But he’s different now, walks slower, and in the time it takes him to walk the length of the hall she notices the slight limp in his step, the hunch of his shoulders as he holds himself carefully, deliberately, and keeps his eyes trained to the floor, like he’s careful he may trip.

Dex reaches the table and pulls out the chair, somehow managing to avoid the noise and lowers himself down into it.

Ruby doesn’t get visitors, she hasn’t had a single one after she left the Bay and was escorted to a police station in a neighbouring suburb out of pure humiliation, so to see Dexter Walker of all people arranging himself comfortably into a chair opposite her, folding his hands carefully onto the table just in front of him, is startling.

She wonders if she’s supposed to say something – she didn’t invite him to come, didn’t even want him to come – when Dex finally looks up at her from between the dark hair that he’s grown long over his forehead, covering most of his eyes.

“Dex, I-”

“Don’t,” Dex says, and even in that one syllable she hears the difference. It’s harsher, rawer than she remembers, and Ruby wonders what else has changed about him. “I’m not here for you, surprisingly. I’m here for me.”

“How did you even get here?”

“Casey drove me,” he says, and Ruby feels her stomach clench, turn in on itself because for all the time she’s spent trying to block out Dex, she’s spent a lot more trying to block out him. He was the one person, in spite of everything she did - what she became - still cared about her. “I knew he was the only one who wouldn’t ask too many questions. I think he’s still doing his own sort of penance too.” He pauses, thinking, then, “Didn’t want to come in though, not that I blame him.”

“Is he okay?” and Ruby hates herself for even asking. But it’s like a drug, this inextricable pull that makes her want to know, even if it’s not what she wants to hear.

Dex’s eyes are wandering all over the room, slowing taking in his new surroundings, like he’s trying to remember if he’s ever seen such a place before. He shouldn’t have. Why would he?

His eyes pause on the corner of the wooden table, and Ruby wonders whether he’s actually heard her, and then Dex is replying, “He’s okay,” and that’s all he offers.

“Are you -?” Ruby starts, before cutting herself off.

She left in such a state, a blur of anger and grief and mind-numbing sadness teetering on the edge of obsession, that she never thought it through, never considered the consequences of what she’d done. Sure, Romeo had told her that Dex was in the car, that he was in the hospital, but none of it seemed to register in Ruby’s mind.

Ruby remembers the call, being ushered out of the yard amid murmured whispers from the other female inmates, and being escorted down the corridor to the visiting room during her first week.

Ruby was handed a phone, Leah’s voice crackling down the line. It was a sliver of familiarity even though she didn’t deserve it; she didn’t deserve anything at that moment.

She hadn’t slept since she’d arrived, scared out of her mind about what happened at night, the noises she heard and stories that were passed along the long dining tables at meal times. It had got around fast; why a girl, so much younger and prettier than the rest of them had been put in a place like this. She was a danger, so it was the right thing to do. It was the first ‘right’ thing she’d done in a while.

Nevertheless, even though Ruby wasn’t owed any sort of explanation – she honestly hadn’t comprehended the severity of the situation she had caused – Leah told her that Dex had woken up.

And hearing that news was the greatest and worst moment of Ruby’s life.

Dex was alive. He wasn’t dead, which meant he would be okay, right? He had to be –- and that was when it hit Ruby. It smacked her right in the face that he could have died and it would have been all her fault.

This wasn’t like Charlie, which was a result of some crazy scheme gone awry. Charlie, being her passionate, impulsive self, getting caught up in something wildly out of her control, and while it felt like it could have been prevented – could Ruby have stopped it, really?

Dexter, however, – Romeo, Indi, the brakes – that was all down to Ruby and her actions, and she actually could have killed him.

Ruby had given up on praying – she didn’t have anything to pray for anymore (no family to keep safe, love to be grateful for), but in that moment something shifted.

She cried, sobbed, for the first time since the act, and she felt the tears dribbling down her chin, her whole body shaking as she took rasping breaths for air, but she didn’t stop and Leah didn’t try to soothe her.

Ruby felt for the first time in months, something other than a dull ache in the pit of her stomach.

The haziness in her mind had lifted and her heart pounded and nerves surged, and Ruby felt the sharp stab in her chest of what she had done.

“I need to know what happened,” Dex is saying.


“I need to know,” Dex repeats, his tone calm, even, undecipherable.

“You don’t know what happened?” Ruby asks.

“I’ve been told what happened that day,” Dex clarifies. “I can’t actually remember anything from that week. I’ve had Indi and April and Dad tell me what happened, but I need to know. From you.”

They lock eyes and Ruby swallows.

“Uh, I don’t –”

“From the beginning,” Dex tells her, and Ruby has to drop her gaze. She picks at her fingernails and tries to decide how much to say – can she possibly incriminate herself further? But she knows she owes Dex this, even if he doesn’t say so – she owes him a sort of explanation. Now she just has to figure out where it all went wrong.

“I guess it started after Charlie died,” Ruby begins, and she knows it doesn’t hurt as much to talk about it now, but the words are still slightly jarring to say out loud.

“It started with Charlie and I was just feeling so alone, and I thought -- I thought that if I could keep Romeo then I would stop feeling that way. Like, the whole world was passing me by and I wasn’t part of it. I almost didn’t want to be a part of it.”

The last part is a whispered, shameful confession, and even though she talks about it with the counselor, it’s different saying it out loud, in a room where anyone could hear. Ruby glances around quickly, but all the other girls with visitors are caught up in their own worlds – their links to the outside world.

“It had all become a blur; I think … I was looking for a way to feel something again. I lied, and then blamed other people, which I know was wrong; I see that now. But at the time it made sense.” She shakes her head to herself, staring at her lap. “I know it sounds crazy.”

“On the day of the –” and Dex suddenly stops, but Ruby knows what he was going to say.

’It wasn’t an accident,’ her mind supplies, ‘It was deliberate.’

She looks up and Dex’s brow is furrowed, like he’s thinking. His eyes are vacant and staring, mouthing slightly (no sound coming out), and it’s almost as if Ruby can see the cogs turning, piecing together something Ruby doesn’t understand.

“Cr-crash,” Dex finally says, not using the word she thought he was. “On the day of the crash, what did you do?”

“I had, uh,” Ruby begins, “ I had just seen Indi. She’d, uh, she’d just told Romeo that they were over. But Romeo was in love with her, was always going to be in love with her, and she had just cast him aside. And I loved him, okay? I was in love with him and he was never going to love me back in the way that I wanted him to.”

It sounds … pathetic.

Love, being the most powerful of emotions, can drive even the most sane person to do the unthinkable. But looking back on it, laying it out on the table like this, Ruby realizes how messed up she truly was. Is?

“I wanted her to hurt,” Ruby continues, because if she stops now she’s never going to be able to say it. “I wanted her to hurt in the same way she hurt him. I saw the car outside the Surf Club and the opportunity was just … there.” She trails off, remembering the feel of the knife in her grasp, how she hadn’t really known what she was doing, just that she was breaking something of Indi’s and it felt good.

She hesitates; Ruby doesn’t want to talk about Indi like this, not in front of Dex. She is his sister after all.

“G-go on,” Dex urges, voice hollow, sounding altogether different from before. The stutter is new too, but Ruby doesn’t think much of it. Nerves and uncomfortableness, she assumes.

Ruby flicks her eyes up, his voice startling her slightly, but he’s still there, silently following her story. It sounds like something out of a bad drama – the other woman scorned looking for payback and vying for the affection of the man of her dreams.

“I didn’t -- I didn’t think it through and by the time I realized what I had done I tried calling Indi telling her not to drive the car, but you were gone.”

She stops then, looks up and meets Dex’s eye.

“Dex,” Ruby says, pouring every ounce of sincerity into her voice, because more than his forgiveness, Ruby wants him to understand this. “Dex, you have to know that I didn’t know you’d drive the car. If I had known it was going to be you then I never would have –”

And as soon as it’s out of her mouth she knows she’s said the wrong thing. Dex’s brow furrows and he opens his mouth to speak, cutting Ruby off.

“Bruising, broken ribs, bleeding on the brain,” Dex lists, “You know, you can do a lot of damage by rolling a car at full speed off the edge of the road. Not to mention what happens when you stop breathing altogether.”

She’s talked it through with the counselor and thought she was making progress. And in theory, she has. Ruby has accepted responsibility for her actions, recognizes that she acted rashly, and that there are always consequences. But

this? This is so much worse than anything Ruby could have come up with by herself.

Ruby sits, bites on the insides of her cheek as she feels the bile rise up into her throat. She swallows; waits.

Dex stretches out his hand for the first time, and Ruby sees the way his fingers tremble slightly, the miniscule tremor between his right thumb and first finger that she hadn’t yet noticed. He uses that hand to reach up slowly, fingers curling ever so slightly and he brushes away the hair covering his face, and Ruby hears herself suck in a breath; gasps.

The skin on Dex’s forehead is stretched tightly, almost translucently pale, yellow under the harsh fluorescent lighting of the dining hall. No longer smooth -- perfection brought about by youth -- the skin runs harshly back into Dex’s hairline like it’s been pulled at, sewn back together, a kind of permanent scar you’d get from a burn that’s too deep to heal.

And that’s what it is – the twitching fingers, scarred forehead, loss of words – all of these things are Dex’s constant reminders of that day, of what Ruby did, and yet he doesn’t remember any of it. And that is probably worse than Ruby’s recurring nightmares.

There is nothing scarier than the unknown.

“I don’t know how you can stand to be in the same room as me,” Ruby whispers.

Dex doesn’t move, and Ruby tries to read his face, figure out what he’s thinking. But even before the accident Ruby couldn’t understand half of what went through Dex’s head. He was always in a league of his own - so much smarter and wittier than she ever could be - but now it’s this thing. Something he can hold over her for the rest of both their lives, and he could do whatever he wants with that. Ruby wouldn’t blame him, really, so when Dex speaks it floors Ruby with how put-together he is.

“I’ve tried being angry. Trust me, I’ve tried,” Dex explains. “I want to rage and be mad, and I want to hate you for what you did.” He drops his gaze, clenching his hand into a fist, watching the smallest unconscious quiver of his skin, before releasing it. “I want to feel all those things because it’s how I’m supposed to feel, right? But mostly I’m frustrated at myself, because I can’t remember anything about what happened before and I don’t know if I could have done something to stop it.”

Ruby blinks slowly, lets Dex’s words sink in. It’s the most he’s said at once since he’s arrived, and she wants to feel grateful for what Dex is saying, but everything is just so … wrong. Dex shouldn’t be the one who he feels so lost, so guilty; the one who had something snatched away. Ruby is the one with no freedom, nothing to look forward to, no one waiting for her.

She supposes there’s something to be said about not remembering what it is you’ve lost. That way, you can’t miss it.

“When you get out of here,” Dex says, “And I do hope you get out; don’t come back to Summer Bay.” Ruby doesn’t try to protest, just lets Dex talk. “Don’t come near my family or my friends. You may want to, to show them how changed and h-healed you are, but don’t. Indi will want revenge; I see how she bottles up her anger, pushes it deep down inside. And you showing up could just push her over the edge. You know she hasn’t been in a long-term relationship since that day? She can’t do it anymore.”

Ruby had assumed that after she left, under the hushed cover of an unmarked police car, that things would go back to normal. Any dent she had made, bridges she had burned, would be rebuilt and the memory of Ruby would fade into oblivion. She’d spent a lot of time - time when she was trying to fall asleep at night - imagining what Summer Bay was like post-Ruby. Indi back with Romeo, glowing and happy, and possibly pregnant, and not even giving a second thought to what Ruby was doing. It’s jarring to realize that some things haven’t just slotted back together the way she thought they would.

Dex is continuing, not allowing Ruby to dwell too much.

“My dad; he’ll try to be strong – he’s kept it together this whole time without my mum – but I don’t want him to ever have to go through something like this again. He still doesn’t sleep at night, even when he’s not working. I hear him, in the middle of the night, opening my door to check on me. He just stands there, watching me sleep, making sure I’m okay. He lives in constant fear that something is going to happen again. That my brain will cut out and I’ll forget to breathe, or I’ll forget my name or forget who he is.”

Ruby never had a relationship with her father. Not her biological one, anyway. Ross was as close to a father figure that she had, and she remembers him fondly. But she also recalls those final days when Ross would walk around in a daze, eyes fogged over as his brain slowly withered and faded until he couldn’t even recall who she was. She can’t imagine Dex like that. Dex, so full of life, being something of a vegetable, but apparently that’s now a possibility and it shakes her.

She swallows carefully, unable to answer. Dex doesn’t expect her to.

“Things are different now between April and I. We’re not the same people we were before. But we’re together, and we’re okay most of the time. But seeing you, I don’t know what April would do. She’s unpredictable like that. You think she’ll react one way and then she just … doesn’t. So, I n–” Dex stops suddenly, swallows hard, lips stuttering slightly over the word, “N-need this from you. I need you to get your life back on track and get as far away from me as possible and start again, because that’s what I’m trying to do.”

When he finishes Ruby is crying, silent tears streaming down her cheek and she reaches up with the back of her hand to try and stop them. The look Dex is giving her is one that can only be described as pity. After everything that’s happened, everything Dex has no doubt been through that Ruby can’t even fathom, he’s the one dishing out the sympathy. It makes her feel worse, if that was possible.

Slowly, Dex stands, using his hands to push himself up from the chair. He steps away from Ruby, still sitting, trying to stem her crying before someone else sees.

This is why she blocked it out for so long. Because when you feel things, you not only open yourself up to all the good things in life (joy, happiness, love), but you also have to deal with the hurt, pain, the guilt that coils low in your stomach and haunts your every thought, until you wonder if you’re capable of feeling anything else.

Dex stretches slightly, raising his shoulders then letting them fall back into place. He watches her for a moment, and Ruby wonders how he feels, whether he got what he wanted, when he says,

“You get a second chance, Ruby. Don’t waste it.”

Ruby vaguely registers Dex turning and walking away, the shuffle of his footsteps on the wooden floor.

The room seems to fall away as Ruby hears Dex’s voice echoing in her mind.

Second chance.

She knows at the end of the day she’ll go back to her room, with its plain concrete walls and flat mattress and no other furnishings. That she’ll have kitchen duty on Tuesday and counseling on Thursday. That she’ll have months of this repetitiveness until someone decides it’s okay. That she’s okay.

Don’t waste it.

Dex is probably already in the passenger seat, Casey driving, the distance increasing between them, making plans for dinner with April, talking with Indi on the phone, or his dad running him to appointments at the hospital. And despite all of these things Dex has, he also has to live with scars, both visible and not, that stop him from picking up and starting all over and leaving everything behind.

She makes a silent promise to do what Dex asked. When she gets out -- she will get out -- she’ll start again somewhere else. Maybe the city like she originally planned, or some place else; it doesn’t matter really, but she won’t go looking for him.

Ruby hopes Dex knows that she’ll think of him sometimes. That she’ll wonder if he’s okay, whether he’s still with April, and if he still became a nurse like he planned, but she won’t contact him.

She’ll take her second chance with both hands and do with it what she can, even though she’s never been more terrified.



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