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I Almost Do

Guest Jen

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Story Title: I Almost Do
Type of story: One shot
Main Characters: Dex/April
BTTB rating: T
Genre: Romance
Does story include spoilers: No
Any warnings: None.
Summary: April’s eyes widen, and Dex knows he’s said the wrong thing.
A/N: Written for Quick Fanfic Contest #36. Posted here for archive purposes.


I Almost Do

April’s eyes widen, mouth agape and not in a good way.

She’s frozen underneath him, and Dex knows he’s said the wrong thing.

In one swift movement April is flinging back the covers, grabbing her bathrobe off the back of the desk chair and disappearing out the door without a backward glance.

Dex slumps into the mattress, letting the breath leave him. How is it possible that things went from unbelievably amazing we’re going to be together forever and have amazing sex to Dex should keep his big mouth shut and has just ruined the greatest thing in his life in less than 10 seconds? That has to be some sort of record.

He hears a loud bang from somewhere outside the bedroom and Dex knows he has to face her eventually – particularly since they are sort of living together again, even though ‘officially’ April is still living at Irene’s, but she may as well just move back into the farm permanently. She spends most of her time there anyway.

Dex is tugging his boxers on, grabbing his t-shirt off the floor as he goes to see what the source of the noise was.

April is in the kitchen, banging pots and pans around as she loads them into the sink – dishes they were going to clean up from dinner, but then they had got distracted.

“Is that my head?” Dex ventures.

April slams another pot down, the metal on metal clanks and Dex cringes. She spins around, “What do you want me to say?!”

It’s Dex’s turn to splutter. “I don’t know! I just thought that with how you were talking about everything looking up and seeing our future, so I just –“

“You just what?

“What – I don’t – I got caught up in the moment!”

“Well, in that moment there were about a million other things you could have said. ‘I love you,’; ‘Oh my god,’” She rolls her eyes, exasperated, towards the ceiling, “Even calling out the name of your sister would have been a better thing to say. But the one thing you shouldn’t say in the middle of sex is ‘Will you marry me?!

April is breathing heavily and Dex is just stunned. “Wait,” he says, “Why are you so mad? I thought you’d be happy.”

“Why would you think that?”

“Uh,” Dex says, not bothering to hide his irritation, “Because you were the one who started this whole thing, what with all your talk about us being together and having my babies. What was I supposed to think?”

April lets out a strangled breath, huffs a bit, crosses her arms over her chest and shakes her head. “If I have to explain about our future, then maybe we shouldn’t bother at all.”

She tugs her robe closer to her body and stalks past Dex standing in the living room.

The bedroom door slams closed and Dex is left standing there, bewildered.


“I wouldn’t normally ask, but oddly enough, I think you’re the only person I can talk to about this.”

Romeo looks across the table at Dex, whose staring down at the straw in his chocolate milkshake. He doesn’t even care that Irene gave him a funny look when he ordered it; he’s depressed and confused, and the only cure to those two things, is chocolate. Now he’s got Romeo giving him an equally strange look.

Not that Dex blames him; he was very cryptic in his text message.

“Okay, man. You’re going to have to give me a bit more information,” Romeo prompts.

Dex sighs. “I, sort of, asked April to marry me.”

There’s a pause, Dex braces himself, and then – “Dude, that’s amazing! Congratulations! Indi will be pissed that she didn’t find out first but –“ Romeo notices Dex’s sullen expression. “Wait. Why the long face?”

“She didn’t exactly say yes.”

“What happened?”

Dex stops swirling his straw, glances up at Romeo. “I may have – blurted it out – when I shouldn’t have.”

“What, like, with a mouthful of food? Or when she wasn’t wearing any makeup?”

Dex shakes his head. “It was sort of, in the middle of, you know ...” He raises his eyebrows, hopes to god Romeo catches on. “It.”

He watches as the penny drops. Romeo’s eyes widen. “Oh.” Dex slumps down in his chair so his chin is nearly resting on his chest, pushes his milkshake away. “What are you going to do now?” Romeo ventures.

“How am I supposed to know? April is mad at me, and she won’t talk to me about it.”

Romeo nods, thoughtfully. “Maybe she just needs time?”

“What, like, a couple of hours?”

“Maybe a bit longer,” Romeo replies, indicating the small space between his thumb and forefinger.

“How did you know?” Dex asks, sits up a little so he can actually talk to Romeo. This is why he called on Romeo in the first place – as opposed to his dad or Indi or Sasha. “How did you know that it was the right time for you and Indi? And be very careful how you answer because she’s still my sister.”

Romeo smiles, looks down at his hands. “It was Hawaii,” he says simply.

Dex is not in a position to whisk April away to a tropical island or exotic location and try again on the off-chance that she’ll say yes. And if she does – would she be saying yes because of Dex and his Grand Romantic Gesture, or because she actually wanted to marry him? He doesn’t want this to become an obligation.

It would have to be Paris. They talked about going to Paris together.

“Look, dude. I really think April is the one you need to have this conversation with,” Romeo says.

“Like I haven’t tried?” Dex replies, a hint of a whine. “I try and bring it up and she just gets mad! I need to figure out what I did wrong.”

This time Romeo sighs and Dex glances across to see him roll his eyes a little.

“Hey,” Dex points out, “If I recall your first marriage to Indi didn’t turn out so great either. I’m just trying to avoid the same mistakes you made.”

Romeo purses his lips, cheeks turning a faint shade of pink. He clears his throat, shuffles forward a bit in his chair. “I don’t know what advice I can give you –“

“Anything,” Dex says.

Romeo pauses, actually seems to consider this carefully for the first time since Dex brought it up. Then says, slowly, “Make sure you mean it.”


“I thought about bringing flowers,” Dex says when he arrives at Irene’s. “But it’s five in the evening and all the good ones are gone so there were just wilted daisies which isn’t very romantic.”

April looks up from where she’s reading on the lounge. Her expression is blank, unreadable, but as Dex slowly approaches he can see the pink around her eyes – has she been crying?

She quirks her mouth, tries to force a smile, but it falls flat. He can tell she’s only trying for his benefit. Dex approaches, slowly. This is new; he’s never really had to be cautious around April, now it feels like he’s walking on eggshells. Say the wrong thing again, and they will crack.

April puts her book down, and as she does Dex sees the cover – General Practice. It’s university reading. Dex knows how much April has been pushing herself to get ahead in her classes – he barely sees her some nights when she’s pulling late nights in the library doing extra research or meeting with other doctors-to-be to work on group projects. He knows how much this means to April, and why she’s willing to do anything to make sure she succeeds. But he can’t help but feel a little bit mad that she’s able to concentrate on prescribed reading when their relationship is hanging in the balance –

- At least, that’s how Dex sees it. Maybe he doesn’t have anything to apologise for after all?

He sits down in the arm chair, April crossing her hands neatly in her lap.

There’s a moment’s pause when they both hesitate, each waiting for the other to start.


“I’m sorry.”

April blinks, seems to take in Dex’s words. “What are you apologising for?”

“Well, you’re mad, so –”

“I’m not mad, Dex.”

“Then -?”

“If you’re going to say sorry you need to mean it,” April says, sighing.

“I do mean it,” Dex replies, “I’m sorry I asked you to marry me. I’m sorry I said it, and I’m sorry but I can’t take it back, but I wish I could.”

April is frozen, face unwavering, holding her resolve, but when she talks next her voice is thick, on the verge of tears. “You don’t want to marry me.”

“No, I didn’t – I didn’t say that,” Dex splutters, and April wipes at a tear that’s escaped, using the pad of her thumb to press it into her cheek, stop it from running. “Hang on, why are you upset? If anyone should be pissed it should be me.”

“And how do you figure that?”

“I proposed to you; you turned me down.”

“It’s not like it was a well-planned proposal,” April says, rolling her eyes skyward.

“So, it’s not the fact that I proposed,” Dex deduces, “It’s that I didn’t have a ring and get down on one knee?”

“It’s not about that,” April insists.

“Then what is it about, because I’m not going to be doctor so you’re going to have to explain your little ‘marriage-complex’ to me,” Dex bites out.

“I’m not going to be one of those girls who get hitched straight out of school, okay? I worked hard, and finally things are starting to pay off and I don’t want to throw it all away.” Her voice wavers, goes up in an inflection at the end. She’s trying hard to contain herself, keep her emotions in check, when she says, “When I was talking about all that stuff – having kids and settling down – I was talking about the future, our future. But that’s just it – it’s the future, not right now. I’m not ready now. And maybe it’s selfish of me but, I have other things I need to do first.”

Dex is quiet, considering, can’t meet her eye as he stands, saying, “I’m sorry I’m such an inconvenience.”

“Wait, Dex,” April calls after him, “I didn’t mean –”

“Yes, you did,” Dex replies with a nod, “And I meant what I said too.” He pauses at the door, looks back over his should at April, who seems to be frozen on the lounge, staring after him. “I’m sorry. For everything.”


Dex is nursing his second drink, and he must have been looking super depressed because Brax even put a little paper umbrella in it, without Dex even having to ask.

How did things go from so very right to so very very wrong in such a short space of time? How could Dex have read things so wrong?

Dex always thought he and April had a special connection – he’s not going to use the words ‘soul mates’ because he doesn’t necessarily believe in that sort of thing, but what he and April had was something special – complimenting each other in every way. She brought out his creative side, made him want to be better, aim higher, bring out those parts of himself that people had always told him were too weird, too quirky, that he spent most of his teenage years burying deep inside. And he allowed her to let loose, release the tension she always held in her shoulders, calmed the voice in her head that told her everything had to be perfect. The one thing she didn’t have to stress over was them.

They were easy – not in that way – but things felt easier with April around. But maybe Dex had come to take that for granted. Just assume that she would always be there, not realising she was unhappy or didn’t see their future in the same way Dex did.

April spoke of babies and being together like it was nothing; she didn’t worry about marriage – they’d never really spoken about it before earlier today – so of course, she was going to freak out when Dex brought it up in that way.

God, how could Dex be so stupid?

The next time he looks up, Xavier is sliding into a stool beside him, saying, “Heard you could use a boys night.”

“Really? Who told you that?”

“Romeo,” Xavier says with a shrug, signals to Brax at the bar to bring him and Dex more drinks. “I know what April’s like. I did used to date her, remember?”

“Thank you,” Dex dead pans, “For reminding me.”

Brax puts their drinks on the bar, and Xavier hands over the cash. “You guys having a big one?”

“Yes,” Xavier replies, at the say time Dex says, “No,” and Brax huffs a laugh at them both.

“Well, when you make up your mind, let me know.” He turns back to them, momentarily, “Just remember, it’s a school night.” Brax is then called away to the kitchen, leaving Xavier to nudge Dex’s new drink in front of him.

“He has a point,” Dex says, eyeing the full glass. “Don’t you have work tomorrow?”

“Late shift,” Xavier replies, raising his glass towards Dex. “Now, are we going to have a girl-free night, or what?”


“So, who exactly wears the pants in your relationship?” Xavier asks, all seriousness as Dex drains the last of his drink, smacking his lips to get the tiny droplets at the corner of his mouth. No sense wasting it when Brax keeps supplying them.

“Me,” Dex says, “Definitely me.”

“You may wear the pants, but I’m pretty sure April’s got your belt,” Romeo chimes in. Xavier had texted him after the first round, and after finishing work had joined them at Angelo’s. His tie is now loose around his neck, suit jacket hanging off the chair and he leans across to talk directly to Dex.

Xavier barks a laugh, “From what I hear Indi keeps you on a pretty short leash, man.”

“Oi!” Romeo retorts, clumsily reaching over to punch Xavier in the shoulder. “Shut it! How’s your love life going? Oh, that’s right. You don’t have one.”

“Just because things didn’t work out with Sasha doesn’t mean –”

“Careful,” Dex warns, “She’s still my sister.” The initial buzz of his drinks has started to wane, the sleepiness and exhaustion creeping into his bones, tugging on his eyes, making him tired.

“You know,” Romeo says, slowly, “If Xave and Sasha had gotten married then you guys would have been brothers.”

“Brothers-in-law,” Dex corrects automatically, staring off into space.

“Maaate,” Xavier replies, drawing out the vow, “We could have been family!”

“Not to mention the fact that you dated for like, a month. That’s hardly grounds for a lifelong commitment,” Dex says. “Now, four years,” he ponders, “That’s long enough to know what you want. To say, ‘yes, I want to spend my life with you and no one else.’”

When Dex stops, both Romeo and Xavier have gone quiet. Dex doesn’t look up from swirling his thumb around the rim of his empty beer bottle.

“Don’t worry, this is for the best. You don’t want to be married anyway,” Xavier says, clamping Dex on the back.

“I don’t?”

“No! No, you don’t want to be tied down for the rest of your life,” he emphasises.

“Woah,” Romeo cuts in, “Tied down? Dex is not being tied down. They love each other. If they want to get married then they should get married.”

“Says the marriage expert - How’d that first separation from Indi go? Yours is not the marriage Dex wants to imitate.”

“My marriage is fine. And sure, maybe we got married young, but everything worked out in the end.”

“Yeah, that’s exactly what Dex is going for; things ‘working out’ in the end.” Xavier rolls his eyes, and Romeo scoffs.

“You’re just jealous.”

“Jealous? Of what?”

“You’re just jealous that both Dex and I are settling down and you’re still bouncing from girl to girl.”

“I fail to see how that’s a problem.”

“You’re scared of commitment, and are worried that no girl is ever going to want to marry you, so you’re trying to stop Dex –“

“-From making the biggest mistake of his life-“ Xavier interjects.

“Uh, guys?” Dex pipes up.

“-It’s not a mistake to want to say to someone, “I want to spend my life with you,” –“

“-He’s twenty! He’s got the rest of his life to get married. It doesn’t mean he has to do it right now!-”


Romeo and Xavier stop, stare at Dex like he’s the crazy one.

It’s like this conversation that was once about cheering Dex up, assuring him life isn’t as bad as he thought it was, and he’ll be okay no matter what happens between him and April. You know, the sort of thing you would expect from a night out with two mates.

But now, it appears that Dex has lost his two friends and gained an angel and devil sitting on each of his shoulders debating his future. Although, in this scenario, Dex isn’t sure which is which.

“You’re forgetting one very important thing,” Dex says slowly, “April didn’t say yes.”

“That doesn’t mean anything,” Romeo replies immediately.

Xavier snorts. “I’m pretty sure it means she doesn’t want to get married.”

Romeo promptly leans over and hits Xavier in the arm, promptly shutting him up. He hisses, goes to retaliate, but Dex just sighs. Both boys notice Dex’s sullen expression.

“No, don’t,” Dex says, shaking his head. “Don’t. We’re not broken up, we’re not. We can sort this out – I want to sort this out.” He stands on unsteady legs, getting up from his stool, while Xavier and Romeo share a pointed look. “I’m going to go home.”


Dex nods, says, “I’m going to go talk to April. I need to talk to her.”

“What are you going to say?” Xavier asks.

“Yeah, what’s changed from this afternoon?” Romeo queries.

“Nothing,” Dex says, finally, “Nothing’s changed, but I love April and I need to know if we have any sort of future together, whe--whether she wants to marry me or not.”

“Are you okay to get home?” Xavier asks, glancing between Dex’s tired face and the aggregate of empty bottles at their table. It’s a pretty even split between the three of them, but it is more than Dex normally drinks. As he stands he realises how woozy his body feels – his legs too weak, head too light – and he staggers a little as he shakes his head and goes to the door.

“You sure, Dex?” Romeo calls after him, but Dex can do little more than just hold up a hand in some sort of salute and keep his eyes trained to the floor as he puts one foot in front of the other, making his way down the stairs and out of the bar.


“Still no word from Dex,” Bianca says, coming over to sit beside April on the lounge. She tried reading – she’s been trying to read since the early afternoon and Dex left – but after reading the same paragraph a dozen times has since given up. Bianca holds out a steaming mug of tea, and April takes it gratefully.

She’s done crying, has been tearing up on and off all day, at just the thought of Dex and the look of absolute sadness on his face when she’d turned him down. Like a slap to the face, and she’s been turning that moment over in her mind, over and over.

“I didn’t want to hurt him,” she says, when Bianca settles beside her with her own cup. She takes a sip, but doesn’t know how to explain. “But the thought of marrying Dex – it’s scary. You shouldn’t feel that way about a person when you’re my age. When we’re both this young.”

“Feel what way?” Bianca asks.

“Like, they’re the only person that matters. That the thought of them not being around is worse than anything. Like, you don’t know how to be yourself when they’re not there.” April holds onto her cup with one hand, uses the other to comb through her hair. She’s been over all of this in her head already, and it doesn’t sound any less terrifying saying it out loud.

She shouldn’t feel like this. She can’t feel like this – so dependent on another person.

But it’s not just another person. It’s Dex. He’s always been her exception.

“But you can’t agree to something to just keep someone else happy,” Bianca reasons, as if she’s reading April’s mind.

“You’re not going to tell me I’m making a mistake?”

“You need to do what’s right for you,” Bianca says, leaning a little into April’s shoulder reassuringly, “And if that means needing more time, then Dex will understand.”

April nods her head minutely. “It’s not that I don’t want to marry him,” April says, because she needs to say this bit out loud. “It’s just that I don’t want to do it right now. I could do it, you know. I could say yes, but I need to know for certain. It’s like I ...” she struggles for the right words, “It’s like I almost do, you know?”

She looks over at her sister, whose expression is contemplative. Bianca nods in understanding.

There’s a knock at the door and April startles a little.

She hesitates for a moment, glancing over at the closed kitchen door, and Bianca gives her a soft nudge in the side. “Looks like you’re going to get your chance to tell Dex that you almost do.”

April puts her tea down and gets up from the lounge, going to the door.

She knows they have to talk, and feels better than she did that afternoon. The shock worn off, and she’s finally left with an understanding – her whole future laid in front of her – and all the time in the world.

April opens the door with a small smile already creeping onto her lips. “You know you don’t have to knock –“ she begins, but then stops, smile dropping when she sees that it’s Xavier on the doorstep.

“I thought you were going to be Dex,” she says, and then she notices the way Xavier shifts on his feet. He’s dishevelled, hair sticking up, dark circles around his eyes, but he can’t seem to meet her gaze. April’s stomach drops, and she vaguely hears Bianca shift, come and stand behind her. “Xavier, what’s going on?”

Finally Xavier looks up, voice trembles as he says, “Dex was coming to see you. He got hit by a car.” April feels the hot prickle of tears already forming behind her eyes. She has to swallow around the lump in her throat, shrug off Bianca’s touch to her shoulder, focus on Xavier in front of her, lips forming the words, sound coming out, but April doesn’t understand.

“He’s dead.”


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