DISCLAIMER: I do not own Dexter, Buffy or any of the other characters that are not mine. Jimmy's mine and I have enough of a soft spot for him so…Fox, Showtime, Joss Whedon, Jeff Lindsay and other people that make way more than me, own the main characters. For fun, really not here for the money (and the benefits package leaves a bit to be desired too).
AUTHOR'S NOTE: A few things need to be discussed before any of you begin reading. We can also me being home ill today for the early posting. First – this story is the second piece of fiction set in the One Last Shot Universe. While I tried my best for yinz guys to not have to read One Last Shot, I think it would help. There's back story there and not all of it is explained here. So you will see some femslash (Buffy/Willow). If you don't like it, really you can close the browser window or tab now. It'll save you lots of grief and me the headache of wanting to beat people about the facial area with a dead fish. Second – For the crossover elements in the story, the Miami that Dexter lives in and Dexter himself (along with his family and co-workers) are an amalgamation of the series that airs on Showtime and the characters as they were written by Jeff Lindsay (for those of you that don't know, Dexter is based off of a novel the first book is called Darkly Dreaming Dexter, there are three other books that follow). Side note. Italics are internal dialogue i.e. telepathy between characters. Thank you – Didge and Valyssia, I'm sure there are others…it's uber early and I can't remember all of them right now. Oh, and thank you to Powerman 5000 for helping out with some musical inspiration while writing this. The chapter titles are lyrics from Heroes and Villains.
FEEDBACKGood, bad, I usually take it all…leave it here or drop me a line: whedonistic.tendencies@gmail.com
SPOILERS: All of Buffy and Dexter, both the books and the show as it is a bit of a mashing of the two mediums.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Dark Passenger
By Whedonist


Chapter 1 – Black Hat Born

Willow's hand firmly grips mine as my partner weaves in and out of traffic on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. She's got a death grip on my hand. It hurts, but it still makes me smile. They used to joke about me and my driving—'kay, so…lack of— driving skills. Since being in New York, I'm thinkin' I fit right in.

Jimmy honks the horn and shakes his fist out the car window. He curses, "You stupid mook, learn to fuckin' drive. I should ticket your ass and then maybe you'd get some damn sense!"

A giggle escapes my lips. The only thing I can do is sit back and enjoy the ride. I rest my head against the back of the seat and close my eyes. Jimmy will get us to the airport safe and sound. Will may need some oxygen for the hyperventilation, but—hey, we'll get there.

I turn my head and look at the skyline. It provides the classic backdrop to New York City. I've been in the city five years and I still find it pretty. As wacky as my life was, or is, being here is the best move that I could've made. At some point, I'm gonna have to bite the bullet and thank Faith for the suggestion.

Not sure who to thank for the whole career choice thing. Snyder? I stifle my giggle and decide to firmly not. There're times that being a cop…it feels a little surreal. Like Buffy got dropped in an alternate dimension. Four years of my adult life. Weird.

Funnier still is they think I'm good at it. Last year, Jimmy and I both received commendations and were bumped up to Detective First Grade. Wasn't really looking for it, but it happened. We still work Robbery Homicide out of the 24th; they just give me more money. And the best: I get a bigger clothing allowance. When our captain, Patrick Johnson, told me, it took every ounce of self control I had to not give him a bear hug.

All Jimmy did was give me a sideways glance and this look—the look that's reserved for me and only me. I hate that look. The other really good: I finally got Jimmy to throw away some of his ties. His ties need to be banned. They're like, weird torture devices. Seriously, they hurt me. We got him new ones and I got to two new suits.

Let's be honest, I may be able to find fashionable and affordable clothes…but those two suits at the Dolce and Gabbana Store on Madison needed to be bought.

I turn my attention from the receding skyline and look over at my lover, my best friend, my Will. We've been going strong for three years...our three year anniversary was this past April.

It was—she surprised me at the precinct. I had this uber-romantic thing planned. Reservations at the Rainbow Room. I'd hired a chauffeur to take us everywhere. But I was also in the middle of this huge case. The night got cancelled, or so I thought. She came and grabbed me for a private picnic on the rooftop of the station…just about perfect, even better than what I'd planned. Not gonna tell her that though.

And Will…she's been quite the busy college student. I'm so proud. I snagged a doctor. Mom would be thrilled. I don't really know how she'd feel about the doctor being a girl, but she took the 'slayer' thing…well, she got past it. The 'Buffy's gay' thing should've been no sweat for her. I know she'd have liked to see Will graduate med school. Hell, Will's parents even showed up.

They don't take to me being her lover that well. Sheila still doesn't get my name right. I'll do 'the admit' and say I'm horrible with names—one of the worst. But after twelve years, you'd think the big brain would remember. I told Jimmy that if she calls me Bunny or Bamby one more time, I'm gonna shoot her. Luckily, that time, Will got us out of their presence hastily.

"Cupcake, why the hell d'you have to pick La Guardia to fly out of?" Jimmy whines from the driver's seat. I pick my head up and meet his gaze in the rearview mirror.

"Because that's where the travel agent got 'em out of. And no, shooting or arresting the travel agent is not allowable," I joke back. The tickets were the right price for first class and everything else seemed to fall into place. Secretly, I'd been planning this trip for months. As soon as Will graduates, we're getting out of Dodge and going to Miami.

I get surf, sun, fun and a bikini clad redhead all to myself for an entire month. Neither Will, nor I, has had a vacation in three years. She's been school girl and New York and crime are like—they're like something that can't exist without the other. I've been busy.

The airport finally comes into view and I heave a sigh of relief. I think my hand's going to be permanently curled when Willow finally lets go. I look at her and see her visibly relax as Jimmy pulls up to the curb and puts the car in park. Gently, I ease my hand from her loosening grip and flex it to make sure it still works. Yep, curled. Oh well.

I step out of the nice air conditioned car into the muggy July weather. Stretching, I watch as Jimmy gets out and starts pulling our bags from the trunk and piling them on the curb.

"Cupcake, how many pieces of luggage do you actually need?" he asks, grunting under the weight of a rather large suitcase.

Will smiles and answers, "We're going to be gone for a month. A girl needs her things."

Jimmy rolls his eyes and snarks, "The fact that there are two'a yinz doesn't help. Damn women and their junk. Clears up all sortsa questions about why I'm still single."

I quirk an eyebrow and say, "Jimmy—you single—isn't 'cause we girls like our clothes. It's your taste in them."

He looks at me confused and cocks his head to the side. "The women or the clothes?"

I give it a brief moment of thought and then with a grin, reply, "Both."

He scowls as he heaves the last bag onto the curb and slams the trunk down. I walk over to him and wrap my right arm around his waist, leading him to the baggage check-in desk at the front of the terminal. One of the attendants grabs our stuff and throws it on a cart to follows us.

"Admit it," I say, "you'll miss us."

Willow attaches herself to his other side and I feel her hand brush my waist. "Yeah, Jimmy. What will you do without Buff to boss around for an entire month?" I look around Jimmy and see the mischief dance in my lover's eyes.

He lifts his arms and drapes them across our shoulders. Squeezing, he admits, "Well, I'm gonna hafta cook for one. I might actually do some work at the precinct. Yeah, yeah, I'll miss ya."

I grin and squeeze him back. This is going to be the longest we've been apart since we've been partnered. When Will came to me three April's ago, I got a few surprises. The first was that her and I finally got over whatever it was that kept us apart. She loves me. She loves me like I love her and we haven't been apart since.

The second is my Jimmy. Despite the year and a half we'd worked together, we'd never actually bonded. We trusted each other, but there— Will says it's 'cause I wouldn't get close to anyone. Maybe she's right. But Jimmy, he wormed? 'Kay, so…maybe not wormed…but he proved himself I guess. He proved he could be trusted…with everything. And by 'everything', I'm talkin' the whole enchilada…my past, Sunnydale, the existence of Slayers and demons. And he only passed out once.

Our relationship is different, I can't find the words. He's not like a father…or a brother. It's more. Besides Will, he's the only person I trust implicitly. I trust him with her. Which is huge. Words usually fail me when I try to think about it or talk about it. Words fail me anyhow, but he's like my left leg and arm. Will's the right part, he's the left part. I guess that's as good as I'm gonna get. Never was one for word-smithing.

Will goes to the clerk and begins checking our bags. I search through my carry on and make sure I have my badge and red tag signaling that I'm carrying a live fire arm onto a plane. The F.A.A. is kinda strict about that. After making sure that everything is in order, I turn to Jimmy and smile. He's got this weird half-smile going on. He only gets it when he's about to be mushy. I do an internal eye roll and grab his hand.

"Cupcake," he starts out. Quickly clearing his throat to mask the sappy, he continues, "You keep each other safe. I know you can take care of yourself and Red's more'n capable, but I don't need to tell you how cranky I'd be if I got a call sayin' somethin' happened to you both."

I nod and pull him into a hug. I stifle a laugh as he stiffens. He still gets a little skittish when I hug him. Too bad, I'm a hugger. Deal. I pull back, looking into his soft green eyes before I reply, "Don't worry about me and the missus—" he grins as I use his verbiage for Will and me "—we'll be fine. Vacation. Miami. It's going to be low key and relaxing. I'm more worried about you."

"Awe shucks Kiddo, I'll be good. Pat put me with Vice until you come back so it should be fun." He smiles ruefully. I know what Vice is like and it's not a barrel of laughs. It's the anti-barrel.

"That's exactly my point!" I exclaim, "That squad's nothing but a bunch of…of cowboys." Damn, I need to find a better word to describe their haphazard respect for life. "Something happens to you while I'm gone—all bets are off."

He grins, winks and nods. He's the only one that I know that can pull that off. Weird. "I'll be good," he says. "I'll try to stick to desk work."

The smile he wears tells me it's a lie. He hates desk work. He hates it more than I do and that's saying something. 'Cuz I really, really, really hate sitting at my desk. Flashing him a wry grin, I snark, "Right…and I'll come back with a boob job and a cabana boy."

He shakes his head and is about ready to comment when Will joins the conversation, her eyebrows in her hairline. I think she may've caught that last part.

"Sweetie, you get a boob job and bring back a cabana boy, I better be dead." She grins at us both and my cheeks flame red.

"Well, there you go. We have to come back okay." I smile nodding my agreement.

Jimmy slings an arm over Willow's shoulder and walks us to the terminal doors. "Cupcake, Red, enjoy the vacation. Call me when you land."

We nod and pull him into a huge group hug. My eye's lock with Will's and we come to a silent agreement. Pulling him in tighter, we both take a cheek and plant firm kisses on our respective sides. I feel the heat rise up in his face and let him go.

"Love you, old man," Will and I both say at the same time.

He nods and says, "Love you ladies too. Be good. Don't get arrested. I hate Florida. I ain't comin' to bail ya out." With that he turns and walks back to the car.

We wave one last time before he disappears inside the car and takes off. I look around the area as Will grabs my hand. We walk hand in hand into the airport and off to a month long, sorely needed vacation.

My face scrunches up with concern as I look around this place and watch Buffy go to the front desk of the hotel—Miami Beach Resort & Spa—to check us in. She never told me how much this whole trip was going to cost us. Now, sure, we don't really have to worry about money. Giles made sure of that…but this, it's a bit much.

It reminds me of that hotel in Pretty Woman, where Richard Gere stayed. It's on par, that's for sure, all marbled and shiny. Everyone on staff looks like they're waiting for me to snap my fingers and demand something. It kinda bugs.

I've been lots of places—every major city in the world and some really unknown ones too—but this is different. I've never really traveled the States. Sunnydale to L.A., then New York, that's it. Yes, I know, very sad…but the rest of my time was spent tracking down slayers. I've never stayed in a place like this. Buffy's going to have some explaining to do.

I roll my shoulders, easing some of the tension the flight wrought on my poor back. I don't think first class makes much of a difference. It's a seat that you have to sit in for hours on end. At least everything was arranged. Buffy's put a lot of work into this vacation. From the moment we landed, a driver awaited us. Buffy hired a limo. While she spends money, it's usually not so willy nilly.

I watch her turn around and point at me and our bags. The bell hop hasn't left my side. She flashes me a smile and turns back to the desk clerk, handing over our bank card. Goddess, that makes me nervous. He smiles warmly and hands her two room keys. She turns back around to me and she's got this look. I've kinda only seen it over the past few years. It's a good look for her. It screams happy. I love seeing her happy. I love seeing her, period.

She grabs my hand and I follow. Nope, not much changes in the Willow – Buffy camp. She leads, I follow. Good system. She pulls us further back in the hotel, following the bellhop. I move in closer and my hand brushes her side. I pause for minute and feel the raised flesh beneath the fabric of her shirt.

It's one of the few scars she has remaining from that…from him. It's one of the scars that made me worried happy wasn't going to exist after everything that happened when I first came to stay with her. The thing with Nekko, the deaths and the kidnapping. She took all of it in stride, just brushed it off. Which is still weird. I mean, usually she'll get all repressy and carry-onish, but that last major deal—she just let it go. The injuries she suffered, all of it–water under the bridge.

I asked her about the why a few months after everything was said and done, after the case died down and Faith had the baby. We were getting ready to go out to James' club and she had had a hard time choosing an outfit that wouldn't show the scars she had remaining. I watched her scowl at her wardrobe as she stood there in her underwear, showing off in the black lace ones I got for her.

I sat on the bed, looking at the most prominent mark on her left side. He hadn't caused many scars. Surprisingly enough, out of the thirty-four cuts she received, only six scarred. Three on her torso, one on each arm and the last ran along the inside of her thigh.

I had to ask and I did. Her response was not what I expected. She said to me, "Will, I know it's weird. I just can't explain and have it make sense. It's not the torture…it's whatever. I've done worse to myself. Granted, I didn't leave behind the nifty visible scars, but there are some invisible ones. I just—my biggest thought while I was there was about you. Was about how I'd failed you. When you came in, after I woke up, I was just relieved you were okay. You weren't…I didn't lose you. The rest doesn't matter."

I listened to her response. I may not've completely understood it but I accepted it. Admittedly, I was…gone. There was too much going on at the time. And sanity was temporarily absent. So I accepted and moved on.

"Will, you wanna go in or are you gonna stand outside the door all day?" Buffy asks, cutting through my thoughts. I look around at where we are. How'd we get to our room? When did that happen? I shake off the thoughts and go back to focusing on the confused girl looking at me.

I offer her a small apologetic smile and enter our suite. I can't help but smile. The décor is so…tropical. It's white on white and the furniture is very modern, all steel and glass. I think I might break something if we stay here for our entire trip. Gonna hafta be careful.

I watch the bell hop unload our luggage and place it in the foyer. Buffy slips him some money and closes the door behind him. She turns to me with that smirk—the smirk that makes me go all weak in the knees. That smirk should be a registered weapon.

She comes up to me and presses herself against me. I shiver as her mouth zeros in on my neck and she begins a gentle nipping, sucking thing that has a tendency to curl my toes. My arms automatically go around her, pulling her close.

Hey, where'd her mouth go?! Oh, ear, hmmm, ear. Her warm breath tickles my ear and I hear her whisper, "I think we can say vacation's officially begun."

I let her steer me to the couch in the living room and push me down. I watch as she backs up and positions herself over my lap so that she's straddling my thighs. Her hair hangs down and falls forward, curtaining our faces. I love her hair down. It's something that I don't see a lot.

Her eyes sparkle as she asks, "So, what's on our agenda the rest of the day?" I lean in and capture her lips. I've got your agenda, missy. I've got it all planned out.

My brain and hands connect and they begin to roam down her back, over her butt and back up. They end up tangled in her hair and I manage between kisses, "Sun, relaxation, you, nakedness. It's all planned out in my head."

I move to the faint scar on her neck and alternate between sucking it and biting it. She'll never admit it, but for some reason having Angel's bite mark nibbled turns her on. Moreover, it's the only scar that's lasted over the years she's been slaying. I wonder… Oh great, jumping Diana! Her hands slide down my front and cup my breasts. She pushes herself further into me. I avoid the impulse to rip at the sundress she wears. It's a pretty dress, blue with a weird rippley pattern. It makes the blue flecks in her hazel eyes stand out. Don't rip it, Willow. Be good.

Instead, I motion for her to stand and I follow her up. I slip the spaghetti straps down her shoulders and kiss the exposed skin. I breathe her in and my head swims. I'm not sure how. Didn't really think it was possible, but the sex—it's gotten better. Oh, hands—hands in familiar places. Where'd my pants go? Wait does it matter? Oh, gods! She's doin' tha…

Floors are good. I can work with floors. I don't have to stand. My legs aren't working right. Stupid legs. Somehow she's gotten both of us naked and the coffee table is…its elsewhere. I need to get some control before she has her way with me. Right, I can work with being on top.

I flip us over and chuckle. Ha! Slayer strength my patootie! Straddling her waist I work my way down her body and spread her open, exposing her to me. My head dips down and the last thought that sticks is this is going to be the best vacation ever.

The moon hangs fat and grotesque in the night sky. The crickets chirp in time with the other creatures of the dark, creating the perfect music to accompany my little break in. The air is thick and heavy, suffocating even the most seasoned residents of Miami. Mid July brings nothing but heat and humidity. The later wraps around you like a steaming wet blanket determined to squeeze the life from you.

I move silently through the house of one 'Mr. Charles Gilbertson,' plumber extraordinaire. Our dear Charlie garnered the attention of 'Dexter the Demon' one week ago when a string of missing housewives became fodder for our obtuse local news. Everyone was up in arms over the disappearance of Elaine Fischer, Maria Montalvo, and Susanna Castaneda. The police weren't able to find anything and no one had any clues.

It was my other self, my Dark Passenger, who stood to attention in the backseat of Darling Dexter's theoretical soul and snickered knowingly at the news as the latest disappearance made waves. When I set to work, finding the fiend that had taken the lives of our three missing missus, I didn't know where it would lead. I just knew it'd lead somewhere and that our fair ladies were dead. This meant there was another beast in my area.

Even the daftest individual has to know they had shuffled off this mortal coil, but it was how they did it that pushed me towards finding out who was responsible. I smelled blood in the water. When things require serious research, I turn to my trusty computer. It's very rarely failed me in my search for the truth. With a few strokes of some keys and convivial clicks of my mouse, I found an interesting pattern emerge in the lives our three, presumed missing, but actually departed dames.

Miami's crack shot team of crime fighters neglected to notice the van parked down the street from every single house that had a lost lamb. It took some clever enhancement of grainy newspaper photos, but I was able to make out the numbers painted on the front of our Mystery Machine. It tracked back to Mr. Gilbertson's plumbing business and from there it became nothing more than fulfilling the Code of Harry.

As I rifle though Chipper Charlie's drawers, a slight tug takes me back to remember my dear foster father. He was a great man. A man who knew what I was before I did. If it hadn't been for him, I would just be another statistic for the F.B.I. to use in profiling monsters like me. Instead, Harry took me in. He trained me when, how and who to subject to my dark desires. Everyone who's fallen under the knife of Dexter Demented has met Harry's requirements.

People—men and women alike—who commit despicable acts—acts they cover up and with community profiles that usually put them above suspicion…well they create problems. Harry, as good a cop as he was, never could find enough evidence to convict the few that he uncovered. So the rules he gave me are simple. Make sure they are guilty, gather enough evidence to prove to yourself that they did what you think they did, then act.

"Son," he said to me on one of our fishing trips, "When you finally begin. You have to prove it. You have to make sure you are careful. And when I say careful, I'm not just talking about not getting caught. You're different, Dex. You don't feel what other people do. You have to learn to pretend."

So I have. I'm 'Dexter the Great Pretender.' Here to amuse and take out your garbage. Learn to smile at the right times, laugh at the appropriate jokes, or frown when others do because it's supposed to be, whatever it is that's supposed to be, upsetting. Mr. Gilbertson is a pretender too. He's just sloppier than some and happened to fall under the notice of someone more skilled.

I follow Harry's rules. They've only failed me once, but that was a…an exceptional circumstance. Even then, they helped see me through. So tonight, I work my way meticulously through our Robust Rooter's home, looking for that scrap of evidence that'll condemn him to a night with the Dark Avenger.

I search through his closet, then under his bed and through two dressers. I have one left. Let's see what we find. The top three drawers contain the standard articles of clothing, underwear, socks, some pants and shorts. The bottom drawer holds old t-shirts, but the drawer isn't very deep. I cock my head to the side, briefly confused. Shoving the drawer back in, I survey its depth. Ah…I smile knowingly and pull the drawer back open. Carefully, I remove the t-shirts and place them in a neat pile.

Gently, I lift the false bottom and pull the thin wood up to reveal a treasure trove of digital cassettes. I wonder what's on these. I think there was a video camera set up on the living room T.V. How convenient. As I make my way to the living room, I glance down at my watch to make sure I still have enough time. My studies of his habits will put him home tonight at approximately 8:00 pm. He'll have left work at 6, then head on over to a sports bar called 'Angel's' to enjoy his dinner and a few beers. This leaves me another hour before I need to disappear.

I slip the first cassette into the recorder and power up the T.V. Light fills the room and I watch, transfixed, as Charlie lumbers across the screen. He stops in front of a duct taped package, removes a knife from his boot and slits the tape open. From the opening, a body emerges much like a butterfly would from a cocoon. Of course, this butterfly doesn't live to spread its wings. No, this butterfly perishes sooner than most at the hands of Mr. Gilbertson.

It takes a second more of inspecting the footage to recognize the terrified face of Elaine Fischer. She writhes out of her duct tape cocoon and my Mindful Monster is satisfied that Harry's guidelines are met. I don't need to see the other tapes in my hand to know that Charles Gilbertson is officially being assigned a confrontation with Dexter the Dark Knight.

I remove the tape and slip it into my pocket. As I make my way back to the master bedroom, I replace everything I moved or disturbed. On my way out, I make one last sweep of the house to make insure I left no traces of my presence here tonight. I make my way down to my car parked on the other side of the block. Light in step and heart, I'm secure in the knowledge that I will soon be able to quiet my Dark Passenger and go back to be being Dashing Dexter the Dull.


Chapter 2 – Sometimes the Good Guys…

The warm sea breeze caresses my skin like an old lover and the sun warms me under its intense gaze. I'm not usually one to wax poetic about things, but God how I've missed the beach. We've not even been here a week and the beach still feels all shiny and new. Sure, New York has lots. Lots of great stuff, in fact. Their beaches aren't part of the great. Not by a long shot.

Closing my eyes, I open my other senses to their full capacity. The first that hits is smell. The mix of suntan lotion, sweat and hormones causes my nostrils to flare. The smells bring back distant memories of summers spent with the gang in Sunnydale, of happier times with my mom and Dawnie, spending a day in Santa Monica.

Sweat beads and drips down my legs and arms. And the distinct hum of having Willow near causes me to relax. My muscles go slack as I rest against the back of my lounge chair. Cracking my right eye open, I spy Willow. A white sarong covers her bottom half, her upper body bare except for a white halter style bikini top. The large hat she wears shields her face from the sun.

My eyes travel down, starting from the top and roaming over her form. It's funny. Three years we've been together and we've had our ups and downs—much like her legs. They go up. Well, one does. Her right one's bent at the knee causing the wrap to slip open and reveal creamy white thigh. To tas…

Right…focus—back to the focusing.

Relaxy, mind-drifty goodness. Tearing my gaze away from the woman next to me, I look at the people on the beach. I don't think I've seen this many people on one stretch of sand. People are lined up everywhere. Umbrellas, blankets and toys cover a lot. I sit up a little and start to people watch. A particular group of older teens catch my eye. They're getting ready to start a barbeque. They look pretty happy together.

The last time me and the gang were together was for Dawn's birthday last July. Everyone came for it. Xander and Faith came in from Cleveland with Isabella. Giles took time from running the school in Scotland to fly in too.

My little brat sister is Head Watcher in London. I know there's an official title, I can't remember it. She's all grown up and so much has changed. Well not lots, lots, but enough.

Xander and Faith hold down the fort in Cleveland. They don't lose nearly as many slayers now. The only problem is that Dawn's little translation was correct. There are no new slayers being called. Isabella's it. She's the last of us.

After I got out of the hospital—after the abduction—Giles had the entire Council get together. I had to be there. And I listened as he explained that the girls we had were going to be it. That time would tell if the slayer line would be bound to the Lehane bloodline and what that would mean if it was.

Truthfully, it doesn't matter. There are slayers now. The demon populace is either going to dwindle or we're going to have to come to some type of agreement on how to coexist…my guess…we're gonna go for genocide. I don't see many demons being all woo and hoo about trying not to kill us.

I can see it now. On this beach even. Everyone here that's enjoying a nice, fun filled day at the beach, the kids playing in the surf twenty feet from me or the women and girls sunbathing all around will laugh and mingle with Golrache, Chaos, and Lacroth demons. It'll be a thing.

Clem can finally join the regular population and try to explain his kitten fetish. Xander and the boys in the group of barbequers could join some vamps in the evening for campfire sing-a-longs and s'mores. Uh huh, that'll happen right after I have sex with Angel again.

Although, Xander's the best at trying to keep Will and I posted on the goings on. Is it bad that I don't want to know? It's nice that they care. It's good even that they are happy doing that. I'd like to say I was. It'd be a lie. Glad to save the world. Happy to do my duty, but my duty's done. So sayeth my witch.

'Kay, so, I still patrol. They're light patrols and Willow always comes with. Jimmy too sometimes if he can stay awake. I take care of my little corner of the world and let the rest take care of itself. Jo, my precinct therapist, says I've grown leaps and bounds in that whole responsibility department.

It's not one girl anymore—it's not just the 'Chosen One.' I'm me, free to do whatever I want. I want to help people. I do. Color me job satisfied…finally.

My gaze keeps on drifting over to Willow. She's—I never understood that whole 'growing into yourself' thing. I always thought that you were just you. She's grown. More than I could have imagined. I've been around for some of it. But the growing—it's more than a physical thing. Maybe she's just got that whole 'comfy in my skin thing' down.

I think she's ousted me as the style maven of our group now. Her argument during the shopping spree we took right before we came here was that she wasn't coming to Miami with a bikini that's three years old…so outdated. Really, who could argue with that? You gotta keep up on the styles. That and—Willow, me, shopping for swimsuits? I so need a montage of that. We barely made it out of the dressing rooms.

She bought the white one—which gotta say, totally sexy. And I have a stylish one piece. She insists that it looks good. I pout. How am I supposed to get a nice even tan?

"Baby," her soft voice brings me out of my reverie. Shielding my eyes, I look over to her and smile. I know it's a goofy smile, but I can't seem to help it.

"What?" I question as she peers over her sunglasses at me. I think I may have missed something. Oops.

"Where'd you go? I've been asking if you're ready to go." She smirks and shakes her head.

Busted. I bite my lower lip and shrug. Better make with the honest. "I was just thinkin' about what a good idea this trip was."

"It was—a good idea that is—and so needed."

I nod in agreement, taking her hand in mine. "So you were asking about leaving? Why would we leave?"

Willow turns her head and nods in the direction of the horizon, saying, "The sun's setting and we've got reservations at Barton's for seven. I don't know about you, but I need a shower. I'm all sticky."

I smirk and wiggle my eyebrows. For my crude innuendo, I get a playful swat on my arm and the 'Buffy, behave look' that hasn't changed since we've met. I laugh and say, "It's not that late, we've only been here…" I fumble for my cell phone and light up the display. Okay so we've been sitting on the beach four hours. "Right…so, going—showers are good. I could use one myself."

She rises to her feet before nodding. Her outstretched hand offers assistance in getting me out of the chair I've been lounging in. I gladly accept and we gather our things, making our way back to our hotel. Gotta say lovin' the vacation so far.

As the cab pulls to a stop in front of our hotel, I frown. What is that? It feels like a tickle in the back of my brain. Something involving magick has happened around here, or is happening. It bugs, but what am I gonna do? Go hunt it down? I really don't think so. I've got plans with a blonde tonight and if I track down every vibration from magick that I feel, that's all that I'd do.

So, I should probably just ignore it. Yep, ignoring. It's a good thing to do. No magical buzz, check. Let's try to do more focusing on the way I'm being looked at. I return the look my lover gives me and step out of the taxi, taking her hand. The night is warm, not much different than New York. Well, that's not true, it's more humid. Which I didn't think was possible.

With my free hand, I push the hair from in front of my eyes and follow her through the hotel lobby. Dinner was excellent. Buffy enjoyed it, which I guess is the most important part. They were all flashy with the service and the chocolate fountain at desert. And, umm, wow…I don't think my stomach's gonna forgive me anytime soon.

The elevator dings and I follow her on. I turn, ready to wrap my arms around her waist and begin nibbling her neck, but stop when another couple steps in the cab with us. Damn. Double damn. I've wanted to get my nibble on since the start of dinner. I send a glare to the brunette and her carbon copy GQ boyfriend, which of course they don't see.

We are the first to exit…and damnit…there it is again. Willow, get a grip, just ignore the tinglies and go back to Buffy. Remember the time spent studying, the time away from Buffy, the time we're making up for now. Setting my jaw, I ignore the slight tug at my senses. Back to Buffy. Resolve's a good, good thing.

I follow my slayer to our door and don't have much of an opportunity to get through before I'm pulled in. Well, patience was never one of her strong suits. Before the door shuts, I have her lips pressed over mine, her body molded to my body. We half-walk, half-stumble towards… Wait! The kitchen?

I stop the smoochies and raise an eyebrow. She smiles and turns, practically bouncing, towards the refrigerator. I peer over her shoulder as she looks into the fridge and see what she was apparently coming to get. A tray of strawberries, cheese, and a bottle of champagne are waiting for us. Awe, how sweet. When did she learn to plan like this?

I slide up behind her and kiss the back of her ear, whispering, "Why don't you go get more comfy. I'll bring this in." I offer because—hey, she thought of it. It's the least I can do. I feel her nod and watch her depart, appreciating the view.

I pull the tray out, careful not to tip the bucket holding the champagne and appraise the goodies Buffy ordered. There are over two dozen strawberries, some covered in chocolate, some not. The cheese is pretty standard, brie. And the Champagne—well, I don't know labels, so I'll just assume it's good.

Damn, the ice has melted. I place the bottle on the counter and tip the bucket out into the sink. We should have some in the fridge. I pull the freezer compartment open and frown. No ice. Why isn't there an ice maker? Great. Okay, so I think there's one down the hall…?

I turn and make my way to the bedroom. I knock and Buffy's voice answers, "Don't come in here yet." What is she planning? Oh well, wasn't ready anyhow.

"I wasn't. There's no ice. I'm gonna go refill the Champagne bucket."

"Oh…'kay, but hurry up, Will. I'm almost ready," she drawls the last part, teasing me. What's she scheming? Her and scheming are bad. They just shouldn't be done.

Shaking my head, I turn from the door. Grabbing the ice bucket and key card, I make my way out of our suite. I think the ice machine's down at the other end of the hall. Oh for Goddess' sake, there it is again. Okay, so someone's either praying to the gods or there's something up.

Y'know, you try to ignore things and… Nope. Just can't do it. Going towards it anyhow, might as well try and find out why my witchy warning's all twitchy. Getting closer now and—hey, look, ice machine. Go me!

I turn to the door that's hiding the low-level hum I've been feeling since we pulled up in the cab. Okay, so, it's more belting now than humming. I'm closer to the source. It's gonna happen. Should I knock? I raise my hand and stop. Well, fudge…I knew I shouldn't have. I should've kept ignoring. It would've been better.

Oh, great honking Hecate—like I really need to not see the blood on the door. One lousy vacation—just one stinking, lousy time where I don't have to see blood. It's a simple request. Fuck!

Buffy's not gonna be happy. I turn and quickly make my way back to our room. Wasn't I carrying…must have dropped it. I slip the key into the door and make a beeline towards the bedroom, calling for my lover, "Buffy, get decent."

She's out the door in a robe before I have my hand on the handle. Her face is creased with concern and I can only offer her a tight smile. "Will, what's wrong? Ice?" she asks the last part hopefully. It would be cute if it didn't smack you in the face with the feeble.

I shake my head and say, "I'll assume Jimmy's corrupted you enough and you brought your gun and badge. Grab it and put some clothes on."

She scowls and turns back around. I follow her into the bedroom and watch her dress. She says something, but it doesn't register. I'm too busy looking around the room. There are candles everywhere—well, not 'everywhere,' but there's enough and my flowers. She has my favorite flowers spread all over. My chest tightens just a bit as I look at the Lily on the bed. She went to all this trouble. I'm not gonna get weepy. There's no time for it.

"Will, talk to me. What's up?" her voice cuts through the sentimental fuss I'm making.

I shake it off and say, "You were setting all of this up. When did you start?"

She walks over to me and grabs my shoulders. The smile on her face is tender and sad. "Since like forever, but that's not what I asked. We can come back to this. What's going on?" she persists.

I fidget as I sit on the bed. "I, right, so when we pulled up there was some flareage, I felt a magical something. I was gonna ignore it, but when I went to go get the ice, it just got stronger. I figured I was headed there anyhow might as well have a quick look. I didn't go in, but the door that's hiding what's sending my senses in to overtime has some blood on it," I babble out and she nods. Her eyes are kinda sad and she has a half smile on her face that I think's apologetic, or it might be annoyed. I can't really tell right now.

She offers me her hand and I pull myself up from the bed. Her hand feels good in mine. It's the most natural thing—the thing that can center me the quickest. Good, Buffy's here. We're gonna go have a look.

I lead her down the hall and up to the offending door. I just know this isn't gonna be good. The door's shut and the blood peeks out from the frame. It's not a lot. A small smear and if you didn't know what drying blood looks like, you'd pass right by it.

"Do you have anything to cover my hand with?" she asks and I shake my head. Didn't really think I'd need latex gloves on vacation. Sure, we like our little kink, but latex anything…really not my style.

I watch as she uses her t-shirt to cover her hand. The lock is firm, but Buffy—well, she's usually stronger. I listen to the metal groan under the force of her grip and the door pops open. That's my Buffy; she uses her own brand of magic when I could have done it easier. I decide not to point that out right now though. Maybe later.

She goes in first. She always does. And her hand goes up to try and stop me, but I ignore it and walk in. Bad idea. Mistake too.

I'm not sure what causes my stomach to flip flop first. Is it the blood spatter covering the wall and ceiling by the bed? Is it the body flayed open like a cadaver on the slab at the morgue? Or maybe it's the dark magic that assaults me as soon as I cross the threshold? I stumble and grab Buffy's shoulder for support.

Oh, spinning. Never good. Always bad. Even when you're on a carnival ride. Oh, she, it, he, the…it's face down. Why's it face down? And how'd I get so close to the bed? I peer at the corpse for a moment longer and know. It's missing its kidneys. Okay, well, uhm, that's special. I need to get out of here.

Apparently, Buffy feels the same because she's tugging on my arm, dragging me backwards out of the room. Right, she's gonna call it in. Good. The cops need to be here. Not sure if they can help. This isn't a human thing. It's one for the latest creature feature. I think vacation's over.

What's buzzing? I turn off my cordless Skill saw, remove my blood coated glove and start searching my pockets. I really should've turned my phone off before I started. I look at the display and roll my eyes. Great. Just what I need. I flip it open and bring it to my ear.

Putting on the best supportive voice I can muster, I answer, "Sis, what's up?"

"Where are you?" she growls. Ah that's my sister, she has less social skills than I do and she's the normal one.

"Taking care of some garbage," I answer vaguely, glancing down at the parted, bloody mess of Charles Gilbertson. She doesn't know 'Dexter the Avenger' has struck again. I'm sure I'll get more questions when we can talk privately.

"Fuckin' Christ, Dex. Alright, we need you at a scene, Miami Resort and Spa. Y'know, the one off Collins."

I take a quick glance around my mess and shrug. Guess I'll just have to move quicker than usual. I factor in clean up time and work an estimate out. "It's gonna take me a bit. I can be there in 45 minutes."

I can hear her roll her eyes. "Jesus, Dexter. Fine, but fucking move your ass. It's a fucking bloody mess here." I want to say it's a fucking bloody mess here too, but I resist the urge and keep my mouth shut.

I nod and answer, "I'll be there in a jiff," smiling, even though I know she can't see it.

The line goes dead without any other response from my sibling. Ah Deb. Now she's a character. When Harry and Doris Morgan took me in, they also gave me a younger sister, Debra or Deb.

She's a good sister and a fairly competent cop. Of course, she cusses like a sailor and has a chip on her shoulder the size of Mount Everest. But you win some you lose some, I guess. She started out in Vice. The force seemed to think that her ample chest and long legs would help her in undercover work as a hooker.

She hated it. Her constant bitch was that no one would take her seriously after working Vice. "Dex," she said during her last case for that department, "I need you to get me out of here. I'm the laughing stock of the office."

She was, of course, referring to no one valuing her opinion because she was all tits and ass and no investigative experience. She got switched to homicide when The Ice Truck killings started. She worked the hooker beat when they began. With my help, she was able to latch on and weasel her way out of Vice and into Homicide. The move was good for her. Maybe bad for me, but worth it in the long run.

I shove the last remaining part of Charlie into the doubled garbage bag and make my way to my car.

All cleaned up and ready to go, I place the bags containing my recent indiscretion in the back seat. After covering the bags up with a blanket, I climb into the driver's side. Not going to have anytime to dispose of the 'Rooter That Was' before I get to the hotel. I'm going to have to be careful.

I make my way North, up the ninety-five, towards the heart of Miami. My mind churns as I anticipate the scene waiting for me. I cross over the Julia Tuttle Causeway and turn right onto Collins Avenue, the flashing red and blue lights up ahead my target. I park a block down and fish for my ID. After hanging it around my neck, I grab my kit from the trunk and move towards the hotel.

It's as it usually is when the cops are around and a murder has happened, uniforms quarantine off the area and I pass under the barricade. I show my C.S.U. identification to the young uniform blocking the way into the hotel and he nods, letting me pass through un-accosted.

I look over and see what I assume to be the hotel manager yelling at one of the cops about discretion and how bad this is going to be for business. I smile and go inside.

Tapping a 'uniform' on the shoulder, I ask, "Excuse me, where's the scene?"

"Fourth floor," he replies. His tone is curt and he continues his sentry duty. I nod, smiling my gratitude. I may have to fake my emotions, but sometimes I wonder if others—others that are supposed be 'normal' fake them just like I do.

I step off the elevator and stride down the hall, passing cops as I go. I also wonder why, as the monster in their midst, I'm unnoticed. I work with them day in and day out. My job at the Metro Dade police station as one of the few Blood Spatter Analysts puts me in their presence consistently. They're supposed to be trained to find and convict animals like me. But none, except for one, has ever come close to figuring out what I am. Being 'Debonair Dexter' works well for me.

I see Deb at the entrance to the room I assume holds the body. She looks up, meets my gaze and nods grimly.

"What took you so fucking long?" she asks as I set my case by the side of the door.

I grin up at her and say, "What no Hello, Dex. How was your evening going?"

She gives me her characteristic snarky response, "Eat me," and flips me off.

"Deb, not in this lifetime." I flash my teeth and power up my camera. "So, what do we have?"

"Female, between twenty and thirty years old. Masuka's inside finishing everything up. We've been waiting for you to get your fucking ass here. I have two witnesses to interview. I'll catch up with you when I'm done." She shoves me inside the door and disappears.

My first impression of the room is that someone had some fun. The area by the bed is splattered with blood. From floor to ceiling, arcs of arterial blood coat every surface imaginable. I look up and snap off a few pictures of the ceiling. Interesting. Whoever did this didn't care about the mess.

Dexter the Dark's curiosity is piqued when I near the bed. The body hasn't been moved and it's very similar to the body found a few days ago. I think she's missing a different organ, but the M.O.s the same. Maybe I'll get to do some more hunting after all.

"Dexter Fucking Morgan," Vincent Masuka calls out to me. Ah, Vince, my perverted Asian comrade. "Wondering when you were gonna show."

I nod and say, "Vince, would I miss this?"

"Hell no, buddy." He smiles and points to the body. "She's a bit different than the last one, but I think it's the same. The same type of knife was used. Hell of a way to let a pretty piece like that go. Didn't even bang her. Just tied her down and cut her open."

I shake my head at his crass comments. That is the way of Vince though. Part of our beloved C.S.U. team and very much socially inadequate. I have a good hunch he pretends much the same way I do. He's just more geared towards the sexual side of things. Him and Deb always trade inappropriate barbs.

As I snap pictures of the scene, I remark flippantly, "Well, some guys just don't know how to have fun."

He nods and goes back to his examinations. I direct some of the subordinate forensic team members to start collecting samples and make my way out of the room.

This is the second victim with a similar pattern. The first, an unidentified female, was found much the same way as this new body. The first was missing her liver. It seems like someone's collecting parts. Very interesting choice of trophies. They never preserve as well. There's all that mess the formaldehyde causes. My little collection of slides is much less conspicuous. Really, I'm not sure how some killer's get away with it.

If I was ever caught, the only thing that the police would find is a nice, small wooden box, with unmarked, unidentifiable slides of blood drops inside. To date, including the one in my pocket, there are forty-three. They are the only tie-in to my corrupted compulsions.

I approach my sister and Angelo 'Angel' Batista, her partner for the time, as they interview two young women. One has blonde hair falling down between her shoulders and another redheaded woman, her hair shorter, resting just above her shoulders. She's taller than the blonde next to her.

I catch Angel's gaze and nod. He smiles over to me and makes the gesture to wait. Angel, as cops go, is one of my favorites. The closest thing 'Dexter the Dazzling' has to a best friend. He's a good part of my mask—the disguise that's needed to hide my truer self, 'Dexter the Deranged.'

As I stand and listen to the four of them talk, the two young women both look up at the same time and meet my gaze. A chill sweeps up my spine and the closest thing to emotion, provided I could truly feel emotion, drums through me. Their gaze is unwavering as they continue to speak to Deb and Angel.

Curious. Very curious. They don't look at all upset at having walked into a room that held what could be described as the marketing poster for the macabre. They look annoyed that they're still talking to the two nice police officers. Now why would two such seemingly normal looking ladies appear unflustered by a room that was drenched in blood and home to a flayed open body?

The redhead's gaze stirs the beast in the back seat. My other self sniffs and begins a low rumbling chuckle in the back of my mind. Me thinks that I'm going to have to look into these two a bit more. After all, like gravitates to like, and these ladies are calling to me and my Dark Passenger.


Chapter 3 - …They Don't Wear White

I swear if I have to listen to this twerp anymore I'm going to toss him out on his ass. He wakes me up. Wakes Will up. I was cocooned in soft redhead and he comes knocking at nine a.m. to apologize for the dead body. Like he did it. Like he could have prevented it. And sure it's sweet that he wants to move us and comp the stay…well comp the stay would be good, but move us? For what?

I roll my eyes and put my hand on his shoulder stopping his nervous babbling. "…Ms. Summers I don't wan…"

"Mr. uhm…" I know he told me his name…

"Cruzado" he supplies kindly.

"Mr. Cruzado, I understand what you're trying to do, but can I maybe step in with a different suggestion." I smile the best smile I have – the one reserved for telling people their loved ones are dead – and continue, "My partner and I don't want to move. We're comfortable here. But, if you'd like, in exchange for not suing you, you can comp our stay." I know my grin now resembles a shark about ready to feed, but hey, it's a free room.

If Will had any idea what this vacation was setting us back, she'd have kittens. Maybe puppies too. I couldn't pass it up though. It's not only one of the top rated hotels in Miami. It's on the beach too. This is a special vacation. So no expense was spared.

He cocks his head to the side. I'm pretty sure he's confused. He's got the classic confused look. "So," he stutters, "sso, you don't want to move, you won't sue us and all you want is us to comp the stay?" he finishes off with a bit of wonder in his voice.

I suppress the laugh and urge to dance around in glee. Instead I shrug. "That seems fair."

The funny – I hear his heart slow down and his breathing regulate. He wipes the nervous sweat from his brow and starts, "I – I think that can be arranged. I'll just need you and your…"

"Girlfriend works."

He nods. "Girlfriend to sign a small waiver before you leave."

I pause and pretend to think it over. "Sure, why not."

"Well, uhm, well, then I'll make sure that everything is arranged and leave you and your partner to enjoy the rest of your stay." He hands me his card before turning to the door and says, "If you should need anything at all, please call or show that to the associate at the front desk." He flashes what I'm sure cost him thousands in pearly whites and leaves.

Thank God!

I look down at the card and toss it on the kitchen counter. Free room. Free room! Oh, wow! Will's gonna be so happy. It should make the day a bit better. After the gruesome that was last night, good news will do my doctor good.

It was – last night was just weird. I mean, not new, hey slayer and cop, but it was different. Then with everything else Will was wiggin' about one of the CSU's. Said he was giving her funny looks. I'm blowing it off. I told her maybe he just thought she was hot. I mean she is hot, I think so, and well, Willow's never been good at noticing when someone's interested in her.

We left the scene early because of him. The bottle of Champagne later, some blissful naughtiness and the ugly was forgotten. Until today. Gonna hafta call the gang and let them know. Whatever killed that girl wasn't human. I could feel the presence once I walked in. Will musta been on overload. I think maybe vacation's gonna be cut short.

I enter our bedroom and look to the lump under the covers. Dropping my robe to the floor, I crawl back into bed and mold myself against Willow's backside. She stirs and asks, "What was that all about?"

"The General Manager wanted to apologize for the dead body," I whisper in her ear.

"Ah, anything else?"

I kiss her shoulder and back up to her ear mumbling, "We now get to stay here for free."


"He was afraid we'd sue. So, in exchange for not suing, he's comping our stay."

She turns facing me, confusion clearly written on her features, "Uh, again."

I kiss the tip of her nose and smirk.

"Buffy…" she warns. Crap. Why does she gotta look at me like that?

I roll my eyes, "Seriously Will. He was all nervous. I guess there've been threats. Since we found the body, he wanted to take care of us first. No big. Just free stuff."


"Really, really." I smile reassuringly and continue, "So, what are we gonna do about the body?" I know I shouldn't be asking this, but it needs to be addressed.

Crinkling her nose she ponders the question and I kiss her forehead. She's too cute when her face goes all scrunchy. "I don't know. Proly call Dawnie and see if we can get her to send us any information?"

I nod and bury my head in her shoulder. Going on a Scooby expedition wasn't something planned for this trip. For the rest of my life really. The things I did plan got cocked up last night.

Cocked up? When did I get British?

Anyhow, last night was supposed to be special. It was, in the gory, dead things way. But not in the "Will, I wanna do a 'commitment' type thing. Here's the paperwork for a legally binding domestic partnership. 'Wanna get hitched'? type way" I planned. The candles, the flowers, the food, and drink. The paperwork's in my bag. Asking was going to happen last night. Pop THE Question. Instead I get death and missing organs.


Now I have to plan the whole thing again. Stupid demons. And it was a demon. I know it. And the major suck: Will and I are gonna hafta do the hunting. Not like we can just let it go.

I continue to melt into the mattress and Willow. This is the place. Excellent, nice, warm, soft…OW! What the…? Did she just ram her finger in my side? I look up at my witch and scowl. I know my scowl has questions, like what was that for and why so hard?

"Buffy, you're phone," she says, frowning at me.

Oh. I reach behind me and pick up the stupid thing. The display reads a New York exchange. "Yeah," I answer

"Cupcake, that you?" Jimmy's voice comes through.

"Nope, Jamie Lee Curtis." I smile. He's got a thing for her and teasing him about its just fun.

"Kiddo…" he growls.

"Yes," I sing song and wait.

"What's goin' on? How's the vacation? Did you ask?" his voice drops on the last question. I resist the urge to snark and remind myself that she can't hear him. I don't. I'm nice.

While planning the vacation, I let Jimmy in on the what and the why. In fact, he did a lot of the leg work and helped get me the paperwork. He was so excited when I told him. He started to plan a reception even before I did.

"Well, things were going great up until last night." I leave him with the cryptic. He knew when I was gonna ask.

"She didn't. I mean, seriously. Cupcake, what'd she say?" his tone's wicked worried.

I stop stringing him along. "Didn't. There was an interruption. Will found a dead body." I look over to Willow as she moves. She mouths the word 'shower' and I nod. "Jimmy, hang on." I give her a kiss and watch her pad naked into the bathroom.

"I'm done hangin', Cupcake. What do you mean Red found a dead body?" his annoyance at being put on hold apparent.

So I start to explain. I give him enough details and I know he's writing this down. I can pretty much guarantee I'll have a copy of the police reports before the end of the day.

I walk out of the bathroom wrapped in a towel and look over to Buffy. She's still on the phone, but now there are some papers spread out in front of her on the bed. The phone's jammed between her shoulder and ear and she's looking over…they look like fax papers. Jimmy.

Of course he would, those two together are worse than Starsky and Hutch. I think they also have a better solve rate. He probably got hold of the police reports which is a good. We're gonna need them.

Slipping a tank top over my head to complete my outfit, I turn back to the bed. Looks like Buffy chose something similar. She's got shorts and a tank top on and the shorts give you a nice view of her legs.

She looks over at me and mouths 'sorry'. Her eyes tell a different story. I roll my eyes, smile, lean down and kiss her on top of her head. Mouthing the words 'Dawn' and 'info', I grab my cell and head for the kitchen.

I know this sounds bad. But, I mean, I was really hoping to get away from the dead things. Even ya know, with the lack of Scoobiage, there's still dead things. That's what Buffy deals with daily. I'm going to be looking at them daily soon enough. I just, gosh darn it; I just wanted some time away from the killing. Human or non-human.

Silly to ask for given the running scorecard of my life, but it…it just wasn't supposed to happen. I'm sure if I tried really hard I could remember all of the dead people and things that I've seen. Don't want to. I also know that if I did, I've seen more than nintey-nine point eight percent of the population. It was apparently too much to ask for a few weeks without.

Shifting on the kitchen island stool, I wait for Dawn to pick up. It's not late enough for her to be asleep. Hopefully.

"Hello?" Dawn's voice is rushed as she answers.


"Willow!" she takes on an excited tone and I hear her talk to someone in the background, "excuse me for a minute. It's my…uh, it's my sister type person."

I shake my head and wait for her to get some place more private. The background noise lessens and I hear a toilet flush. Thanks Dawn. Bathroom talk is just what I need. Criminey.

"Will, how's it going? What's going on? Vacation? I thought you guys were supposed to be spending a month in Miami?" Her rapid fire questions punctuated with a stall door slamming in the background.

"I'm the babbler of the family Dawn, give it back," I joke and can nearly hear the smile.

"You are, but…uhm, any news you want to tell me?" she asks really hopeful and it causes me to pause. What news would I have to tell her? Does she know? Who told her?

"I was calling for help. Is there news I need to know?"

"Nope," she quickly answers. "You need help. What can I do?" Why does she sound…she - worry about it later. Demon, dead things, missing organs.

"Buffy and I found a dead girl last night. Demon related and I need some info since I'm sans books." I go over the details of what I remember and enough for her to go on for now. She 'hmms' and asks questions during my explanation.

"I think I have everything. Call me if you get more info." She pauses like she wants to say something. It's one of those pregnant silences that begin to turn uncomfortable. She salvages it by saying, "If you, uhm, if this is going to ruin anything, why don't I send a team down there? There's a group in Myrtle Beach that's stationed permanently, they could take care of this."

"That's sweet, but we've already met the local cops. I think it'd just be easier for us to handle it from here."

"I gotcha. Uhm, so how is everything else going?"

"Great up until last night. The beaches are nice. The people are, uhm, well; I think I prefer New Yorkers actually. But, oh, Dawn, we need to come here together, there's this restaurant that I took Buffy to last night, and it's…the desert is this chocolate fountain type thing. So tasty."

"You said the magic words, chocolate and fountain. Anything else? How's Buffy? You two are…?"

Okay, uh, this is … "No, nothing else, you're sister's good and we're good." There's something she's not telling me. I just know it. She's also worse at keeping secrets than me. Let's see if I can put two and two together, she sounds slightly worried, consistently asking for more news other than the dead stuff, what is she trying not to say? Darn it, I know I'm missing something. "You wanna talk to Buffy?"

"Yeah," she sounds relieved. I walk into the bedroom just as she is walking towards the door.

"It's Dawn," I say handing her the phone.

She laughs and hands me hers, "Jimmy wants to talk to you."

Sometimes it's just scary weird. "Hi, Jimmy." I smile into the phone.

"Red, I'm not gonna let you leave the state of New York if this keeps up."

"Hey, it's not my fault," I pout.

"I know Red. How is everything else?"

"It's good. Or it was. If we can get this figured before the end of the week, I'll be lots happier."

"I get that kid, I told your old lady that if you two want, I'll take a leave and come down to help out. Just let me know."

"Jimmy, it's not, we'll be fine. One little demon won't hurt us. Besides didn't you tell me you hated Miami?"

"I did, but I can make exceptions."

Where'd Buffy go? I look towards the bathroom door and its shut. Hmm… "We'll be fine. How are you?"

"Okay, I can't cook to save my Irish ass and Vice is worse than foot work." I lounge on the bed careful not to disturb some of the papers lying on top of the covers. "I got pulled into this small Sting OP for Friday night. Let's just say it went to shit faster than it takes Cupcake to eat a slice of pizza."

"You're not…? They didn't get you hurt?" They get him damaged before we get back Buffy's gonna kill, well, okay not kill, but she'll hurt I know that much.

"Nah, I'm good. Only a little nick."


"A nick, a scratch. That's all. No bullet holes or heart attacks or knife wounds. Oh, and you two'd be so proud, one of the ladies on the team wants to have dinner with me."

I gape. "You and a date?"

He laughs and says, "Yeah, the old fart's gotta date. Don't tell Buffy though, she'll make me wait till yinz get back."

I nod knowingly. The last date he had, Buffy insisted that she meet her prior to Jimmy taking her out. She was insistent to check for the possibility of evilness. "I won't say a word, but she's human right? Non-evil human?"

"Non-evil human. Yeah, I asked your questions."

"Oh goody, then you're gonna have to tell me how it went."

I hear someone in the background call his name and know what's coming. "Heya Red, I gotta motor. Tell Cupcake I said bye."

"Will do. Jimmy, wait! Be careful please?" I hope my tone conveys my message. While it's not like I distrust everyone else, I also know that Buffy, she takes care of her people. She takes care of her people lots better than anyone else would take care of them. If something happened to him, well, I'm not sure how either of us would deal.

The smile he wears comes through as he says, "I'm good kiddo, I've got a few people to watch my six until the blonde one comes back. You be careful too, okay?"

"Promise. Love you, Jimmy."

I hear a voice boom in the background, "Jimmy if that's one of your girlfriends tell her she can talk dirty to you later. Move!" Jimmy tries to cover the receiver with his hand and yells back, "Hey Copowski, blow it the fuck out your ass. I'll be there in a minute!"

"Red, I gotta…ditto on the last part. Take care of short stuff," he says then the line goes dead.

For some reason, I'm missing New York.

Now you should be able to type any blood given a large enough sample. So why is it that I've got a fair sample amount, but am unable to type it? Three hours sitting here sorting through the blood from the hotel and 'Dogged Dexter' is about ready to throw in the towel. I push back from my lab table and rub my eyes. The samples that were collected were done so properly.

I checked everything three times for contamination and still, I come up empty handed. Pressing my index finger and thumb to my eyes, I try and regroup. It's been an interesting morning and it seems to want to continue.

After I left the scene last night, I was almost distracted enough by the two witnesses that I nearly forgot about my parted plumber in the back seat. By the time I got home, the sun was coming up and I needed to get to work. It was, after all, my turn to bring the doughnuts. As soon as I stepped into the office, Deb grabbed me and dragged me to Lieutenant Pascal's task force meeting on the new body. Metro Dade's had a rash of serial killers so she was taking this very seriously.

The meeting boiled down to nothing. They didn't know anything and they weren't coming up with anything. The first victim couldn't be identified and the second one hasn't made it through the system far enough. I yawned and faked interest for the hour Deb kept me there.

After the task force, I went back to my lab and now here I am, stuck. Rolling over to my desk I look over the notes Deb gave me. We talked a little about the witnesses. A Buffy Summers and Willow Rosenberg. The interesting part is that they are on vacation and Buffy herself is a Detective for the N.Y.P.D.

While that could explain some of the detachment I witnessed last night, the tickle in the back of my mind thinks otherwise. I look over what Deb gave me for Willow and there's nothing unusual about it. Contact information.

Let's refocus, I have two different blood samples and one I can't type. This is going to be a challenge. If I didn't know better, I would say it wasn't human. Now Dexter, let's be serious. While there are monsters around, there aren't real monsters. Aliens perhaps?

Yes, I can see it now. Lt. Pascal I've got your killer. It's an alien from Alpha Centauri come to collect vital organs from human beings. It may just be worth it for the look. Maybe it's just a corrupted sample. In that case, I'm required to go and collect more samples.

I perk up at the thought. Now, that might hold some potential. But before 'Dedicated Dexter' decides to go to the hotel, let's see if 'Dexter Determined' can find out anything about the two ladies that have stirred 'The Dark One.'

Powering up my machine, I begin my search. The information is fairly standard as I begin. Detective Summers is quite the decorated officer. Impressive even by my standards. She and Ms. Rosenberg own a house together. So then I will assume that they are more than just friends enjoying the toned tummy's that Miami Beach has to offer. Explains the close proximity.

Sunnydale, California…well, now that's…what happened to that town? Ah yes, fault line caused it to become a hole. As I understand it now, the government is using it as a landfill. They were both residents of.

Yes, now this is more like it. I glance up at the clock and realize that it's taken me longer to dig than what I had anticipated. Their records were buried pretty thoroughly. I hit print and let the computer print out arrest records on Buffy Summers. Willow Rosenberg didn't have near as much in her files, but her association with the good officer is enough for me.

'Buffy the Teen' was wanted under suspicion for three murders and cleared each time. Willow was questioned all three times and she even has a few disparaging remarks and inquires regarding her use of computers. These two aren't as clean as they appear. My obedient beast snickers and urges me to look closer. He is rarely ever wrong when it comes to these matters.

But what do I know and what is it that I'm suspecting them of? So they may just be fiends like me. They don't live and prey in my area. They live elsewhere. What would it matter? I try to convince myself that it doesn't. That I shouldn't concern myself. But last night. It sits like a weight and I know I have to. If they are, then they might be involved in what is happening with these other ladies.

I look at the note pad and realize that the times line up well. They arrived in Miami the day before the first victim was found. The second victim they found. They didn't act right at the scene. If it were possible to spook me, I think Willow did.

Is that what this is? Am I getting carried away because I, 'Dispassionate Dexter', felt a stirring, a challenge as the redhead met my gaze? Why?

I knew, I don't want to know, but I do know. I've been challenged once before. The Ice Truck Killer. He was – it started with a hooker. They found her chopped up and bloodless. That's what started it. No blood. While I do what I do, I have a thing with blood. I hate it. And the Ice Truck Killer, Brian Moser, used it against me. He challenged me and in the end, I found out why.

He caused me to go on an excursion to the dark depths of Dexter's past. I found out what happened to my mother. I found out why I am the way I am.

You see, 'Dearest Dexter' at the tender age of three was forced to watch a man take a chainsaw to his mother. I was found in a shipment container sitting in a pool of my mother's blood. Harry found me. Harry adopted me. It was at the tender age of three, 'Demon Dexter' was born.

What I didn't know was that I had a brother and Brian Moser was it. My biological brother. My heart soared with the knowledge when I found out. Someone like me. Someone I could share my evil escapades with. He understood and oh, how I needed that understanding.

He challenged me to find everything out. In the end, he pushed too far. He kidnapped Debra. His gift to me was to be her death. He wanted us to kill her together. While I don't love Debra, I do feel affection for her. She's the last true tie to Harry that I have. She is my sister even if we are not bound by blood.

In the end, it was Brian who fell under my knife and my truer self was exposed to my pseudo-sibling. Deb found out just how dark her beloved brother was. The fall out was – it was unpleasant, but she finally understood. We don't talk of it much. But she knows and just her knowing has lifted a weight from my shoulders I didn't know existed.

Brian freed me. That's what he wanted. At least that's what he said he wanted. He wanted me to be me. He gave me that gift by allowing me to expose myself to Deb.

Although, I don't think that's what he had in mind when I slit his throat.

Rolling away from my desk, I go back to my lab table and pull one last smear from the sample I can't type. Let's look at you one last time before I head over to the hotel. Maybe the tenth time's the charm.

My brother, Biny is what I called him when we were little, was the last person to challenge me. And with these two women, I feel it again. There's a stirring and it's an irrational notion if ever I've had one. It's there though. And I'm compelled. One might even call it primal.

Part 4

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