DISCLAIMER: Debra and Dexter Morgan along with all the other folks from Jeff Lindsay's world don't belong to me…they belong to Jeff Lindsay and people at Showtime. I'm just trying to get Debra to bat for the team we all know she does. Thanks go to my primary beta – Dirk (you, jem you) & Howard R. for the spit and polish (thank you).
SPOILERS: Everything in canon is fair game up through Season 5 of the T.V. Show. This story replaces the last three episodes In The Beginning, Hop A Freighter & The Big One. Every time I see Debra Morgan on screen I just shake my head and think, "why aren't they giving her a girl, 'cause LaGuerta's a mixed bag most of the time and to me, really straight." So this is a fix for me on the last three epi's from S5. I disliked how they brought Lumen and Dexter together, I disliked what they did with Debra and Quinn and I disliked how they took Lumen out of the picture…this is my fix…Enjoy.
FEEDBACK: To whedonistic.tendencies[at]gmail.com
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

We Cry
By Whedonist


Ch. 1 – It's Empty in the Valley of Your Heart

Det. Joey Quinn's desk sits empty. I hang my head in my hands, trying to stop the headache that began sometime around the same time I was called to the scene of the now infamous Barrel Girl Murders. Twelve women murdered and stuffed into barrels of formaldehyde. The case broke open because four of those barrels and their contents were splashed on the pavement of a neighborhood intersection. This case is making my life suck more than there're words to tell.

But then again, so is my partner. Between the bullshit Quinn pulled on the off-the-books investigation into my brother, and the other general crap of dating your partner, it's just a big pile.

You'd think I would've learned?

Maybe Dad was right when he said, "Debra, I love you, but sometimes you make things too hard on yourself."

Yeah. Thanks, Pop.

I thought Quinn would be here, seeing as how I slept on the couch last night instead of the bed and he was gone when I got up, but he's not here.

Christ! Of all the fucking bullshit things he could have done…why investigate Dexter, thinking that he's some creep named Kyle Butler? It just doesn't add up.

I just don't get it. Why Dexter? Why me?

And why do I have such horrible taste in men?

Groaning, I cradle my head in my hands and look down at my keyboard.

It could be worse…?


At least he's not—no, I've been there; I don't need to relive it again… for the millionth time.

I just don't know what to do with this. He said he stopped the investigation before it went too far, but the fact is that the dick went behind my back. How he could think that Dexter would or even could be involved with the Trinity Killer…I just don't get it. What in the hell would make him think Dex would be involved with the guy that killed his wife?

I rub the back of my neck and tilt my head back, trying to stretch the knotted muscle from the night on the fucking couch. My eyes close as the left side of my neck loosens just a little, just enough to lighten the throbbing behind my left eye.

"Morgan," Lt. Maria LaGuerta's voice calls out.

"Fuck me," I mumble quietly. Cracking my eyes open, I tilt my head and look in the direction of my boss. She doesn't look pleased. I just got back to homicide…do I really need to be chewed out by the bitch?

Shaking it off, I stand and tug down the rumpled pale blue button-up I threw on this morning. She holds the door to her office open and I enter, stopping in front of her desk. The door clicks shut behind me and her heels make this clickety-clack sound on the linoleum. It grates and causes my head to thump a little harder.

"Why don't we take a seat?"

My head swivels around to find LaGuerta sitting on one of the couches in her office. She pats the seat next to her and smiles.

The involuntary curl to my upper lip and raised eyebrow cause her smile to falter. In true Maria 'Stab-You-in-the-Back' LaGuerta fashion, she recovers quickly. "We need to talk, detective."

I roll my eyes and trudge over to the couch, sink into the leather and sit back to wait on whatever in the hell we need to talk about to start.

Her hands fold in her lap as she sits on the edge of the couch. "The department knows that I was pulled into the investigation on Det. Liddy. What I didn't know until this morning was that the investigation wasn't only on him." I watch her swallow, her throat bobs up and down as her eyes skirt to the floor. "Internal Affairs had me call in Quinn early this morning. He's been placed on administrative leave pending a hearing with the union and its review board."

"No fucking way," I growl, sitting up.

Her hand goes up and she says, "I know. I couldn't believe it either. It's not just one thing. I.A. was less than impressed with the off-the-books investigation your partner conducted. That's only part of it. The other part has to do with evidence disappearing from the crime scenes he's worked." Her lips purse and the muscle in her jaw clenches. "A lot of the missing evidence has been money. Do you know anything about it?"

Do I what?

"You're shitting me, right?" I jump from my seat and begin to chew on the pad of my left thumb. "You think I—? Are they on my shit?"

"No. Joey's in trouble, pretty deep from what I was able to get out of the investigators. Since you're his partner, I'm required to ask, but there's been nothing to indicate that you're under investigation as well." She sighs and gently runs a hand through her hair. "I just— I wanted to talk to you first. I know…Debra; I owe you an apology for what happened with the Santa Muerte case. I'm sorry."

The apology stops my tight pace across the length of her office. Did she really just fucking apologize for that shit and the hell she put me through? My mouth hangs open and I'm about to rip into her when a knock on the door chokes the first 'fuck you' in my throat.

The knob twists and a head pokes through the crack in the door. "Lt. LaGuerta?" A woman with mahogany locks and golden brown eyes peers in.

Maria stands and meets the woman in the now open door way. I look her over. The tanned olive skin looks smooth against the crisp white blouse and cream colored slacks. Black frames are perched on her nose and her smile is wide. The shield at her hip and gun on her left tell me all I need to know about what she is.

"Det. Herrera?" LaGuerta asks.

"Yes. The desk officer sent me straight up. Should I come back?" Herrera hooks a thumb behind her and moves to leave, giving us back the room for our conversation, but LaGuerta stops her.

"No, no, come in." She ushers the detective in and closes the door behind her. LaGuerta spins on the low heel of her right pump and laces her fingers together. One index finger comes up and presses against her lips. She sighs and says, "Det. Debra Morgan, I would like you to meet your new partner, Det. Ivelisse Herrera. Det. Herrera comes to us from the Family Violence Unit out of the North Miami station." LaGuerta shoots me an apologetic look over my new partner's shoulder.

I close my eyes and shake my head. Just fan-fucking-tastic. If it's not one damn thing it's another. I swear to Christ on the fucking cross, I just don't need this shit today. I pinch the bridge of my nose and my right hand rests on my hip.

"I take it I came too early?" the woman asks of no one in particular.

My left eye pops open and I look at her from under my hand. "Just a little. Shit."

"Morgan," LaGuerta says, her tone holding the barest hint of a threat. "I know this is all a little sudden, but with these cases I can't have you running around without a partner and Angel is working on other investigations. You need a steady partner."

"And when Quinn comes back?" I snap.

"We don't know if he will," she says softly.

"Well isn't that just fucking peachy?" My hands drop to my sides and I look my new partner over. "Where are we putting her?"

"There's the empty desk to your left that she can use," my lieutenant answers.

I nod as my lips press together. I look over at Herrera. Guilt gives me a solid sucker punch. It's not her fault. Shit. Shit. Shit. "Sorry, detective. Look, why don't you come with me and I'll show you around. Are we done?" I direct the question to my superior.

LaGuerta nods and adds, "Ivelisse, I'll have a few pieces of paperwork for you to sign once you get settled. Deb, if you need to talk about this, my door's open."

I brush past her so she can't see the eye roll I give her. I don't need to be busted down to meter maid duty, or worse: fucking filing room duty. I'll eat my service weapon if I have to see that place longer than five minutes.

I hear a set of footsteps follow me out of LaGuerta's office. Pointing to the empty desk next to mine, I say, "If you have anything that you need to bring up, I'll help. You can set up here. Let me know what extension's on your phone and I'll have the desk put it on the sheet."

The short, lithe, detective looks around and shrugs. She turns to me and rests one hand on her left hip. "Why don't we try again? I've been told of the situation so it's not like I was expecting a welcome party, but a proper introduction seems like it would go farther at this point. Hi, I'm Ivelisse Herrera; most call me Ivey or Herrera." She thrusts her right hand in my direction.

For some reason, I can hear my father chiding me for having shitty manners. I let the annoyed frown show a little as I reach for her hand. "Debra Morgan," I say as I slip my hand into hers. Her hand is warm and incredibly soft. It's a stark contrast to my calloused palms. It doesn't matter how much lotion I slather on myself, my hands are usually pretty dry. Her fingers linger along my palm as our hands pull apart. "Sorry about that in there." I'm trying to be less of a bitch. This really isn't her fault.

To my amazement, she smiles; it's wide and shows off her teeth. Not too white and not too straight. The smile, much to my annoyance, is welcome. No one's smiled around here for a long fucking time. "Apology accepted."

I take a glance down at my watch. I still need to run over to Chase's office. Shit. I need to catch Ivey up on the case too. "All right, so how about this? We have some leads to track down. Why don't I fill you in on our way over to the first person we're going to fuck with today?"

She nods and I turn to grab my purse and car keys.

"Leave your keys; I can drive while you bring me up to speed?" Herrera offers.

I shrug and toss the keys back on top of my desk and snatch up the primary folder for the case. We head down and out into the bright Miami morning. It's still early, but the sun is making sure that we know it's around. I hear the beep of the alarm and see the lights of one of the best looking cars blink on and off. A 2011 GT500 Shelby Mustang, bright white with black racing stripes sits in the parking lot. I swivel my head and look at my new partner.

She grins, her lips don't part, but the smile is smug as she slips into the driver's side. I jog around and look inside before I dive into the passenger seat. The interior is red leather. "Holy shit," I breathe.

Sunglasses drop from her visor and she replaces the eyeglasses she's wearing with designer shades. Herrera wiggles her eyebrows as the car growls to life. Her nose crinkles and the smile is wider as she says, "I know she's sexy. Try not to drool on the dashboard."

I buckle up and snort, "All-fucking-right." I grin as she peels out of the parking lot.

"I wanted to show you something," Lumen says as she gets up from the couch. An eyebrow arcs as I watch her move out of the living room and around the kitchen counter. The door to the bedroom clicks softly and I hear the lock engage.

I press my lips together, my palms rubbing against my lower thighs by my knees. I turn my attention back to the chest that was brought out of my closet. Unlocking the trunk, I pull the top tray out and grab my tools, the oil rag and the bottle of oil.

That's one of a few things that she does. If she's in a room with a lock, the lock is engaged. Not that I mind. Locks are a good thing. For everyone, but especially for me. They keep my secrets hidden, behind lock and key for no one to see. Except those that I show and those few have come in small clusters with Lumen being the latest. The case is rolled out and I begin to meticulously shine and oil each knife.

It wasn't that I intended for her to see. She was at the wrong place at the wrong time…

Or perhaps she was right where she needed to be. Our situation isn't ideal and I tried unsuccessfully to make her go away. She didn't. She stuck around and now I'm having a hard time seeing why I wanted her to go away to begin with. Lumen Ann Pierce creates complications for Dearest Dexter, but she gives him something, she gives me something too.

The problem with that is that I don't know what to do with it. I'm not as well versed in the etiquette surrounding how to court—if that's even what I want—a woman who was tortured for days or weeks on end and gang raped for that period of time as well.

There are parallels between her and Rita that don't escape my keen insight. I think Dexter the Dashing has an eye for blondes—blondes who have been hurt, wounded and left broken. I also know that a romantic relationship isn't something either of us needs right now.

I sigh and mop my face with my hand. I admit to liking her. I admit to the sense of happiness having her around brings. Her voice chases away the loneliness.

But there is something more pressing.

Helping her is giving me a sense of purpose. I am enjoying helping her and it's something that I feel compelled to do. The Dark Avenger does not interact with the helpless he saves, normally. It seems Lumen is causing me to break all sorts of rules that have been put in place to protect Dexter the Demon.

It should cause more alarm that I can't seem to muster up the proper fake emotion to care. She's seen me, all of me and yet, she still wants to be around me. Lumen even seems to enjoy my company, as limited as my company may be.

The lock disengages and the door opens. I move to my messenger bag and grab Lumen's present before she rounds into the kitchen. I want to give Lumen her gift and show her the tools of her new trade.

I stuff the gloves in my back pocket and look up from the collection of knives to one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen. She stands there in black leggings and a tight dark blue shirt very similar to my olive green one. Her hands fidget with each other in front of her stomach.

She looks nervous. I try for a smile, but find one is already on my face. The corners of my mouth tug a little wider as I step in front of her.

Lumen looks to the carpet then shyly back up when she says, "I wanted…I wanted to get something similar to your outfit." She tucks a strand of stray hair behind her ear and swallows. "I probably look stupid. I'll just go…"

She turns to leave, but I stop her by reaching for her left hand. She tenses under my touch briefly, but then I feel her relax and stop resisting me. "Don't," I say, my voice a little deeper than intended. "You look nice. Beautiful even." It's my turn to be nervous as I let her hand go and stammer, "I – uh – actually, I picked something up for you today."

Her face lights up for a brief second before the frown that's been a permanent fixture settles back on to her pleasant features. Sometimes, she allows herself to be happy and then just as suddenly she remembers what happened to her. It steals away the brief moments of joy.

It has added to my…anger at Chase and his merry band of miscreants. I'm a firm believer that most things happen to people because said people have it coming to them. I don't visit the scout leader down the street that volunteers at the Coconut Grove rest home for a reason. I've also accepted the loss of Rita as something that was my fault. I lost her; the children lost her because of me. I deserved that. The kids didn't, but they're in Dishonest Dexter's orbit. They get caught in the gravitational pull …that's reason enough for me to be happy that they're with their grandparents.

I finger the gloves in the back pocket of my pants, trying to gauge what her reaction may be. Lumen didn't deserve what happened her. She truly was in the wrong place at the wrong time and I think that reason dictates the magnitude of her suffering should only be reserved for abusers and monsters worse than me.

"Here," I say, pulling the gloves from my pocket and laying them gently in her hands. Her right hand comes up and covers mine, smoothing down the hairs on the back of my hand. My sharp intake of breath at her touch startles her. Her caress goes away and the soft leather of the gloves with her. "They're uh, like mine. I think they're the right size."

"Thank you…I—uh—I should try them on," she manages between the short breaths of anxiety.

I nod and turn back to the knives. I lift one of the larger ones and see Lumen reflected in the steel of the blade. She's tugging her last glove on and I turn to her, knife still in hand. She smiles at me as her fingers flex, adjusting to the constriction the new leather gives.

"They fit?" I ask and the lick the dry skin of my bottom lip.

She nods. "Well, thank you."

I nod my own approval while she takes a look at the knife in my hand. I hand it over and allow her to get a feel for the weight in her hands. I watch transfixed as she wields the blade, slightly clumsy at first, but it takes her the barest of moments to adjust.

I step forward and adjust her grip, showing her exactly how to hold the blade. She quickly changes position and grip. My girl adapts quickly. She's smart.


Internally I shake my head. Thoughts like this won't go well, but it doesn't squash the sense of pride I feel. It doesn't stop the affection tightening my chest. It's a situation that I've never before experienced. Today we learned of the source of Jordan Chase's depravity, of how he and his flock began. It all began with Emily Birch. Tonight we get to visit the home of Alex Tilden, a member of Chase's group, to see what we can find.

We found the DVDs at Cole Harmon's house. All thirteen women's abuse and rape laid bare for a video camera. They taped each and every second of their sadistic whims. Luckily, I managed to get Lumen's before it was discovered. I gave that earlier today too.

It doesn't escape me that I am not a good person. I'm a monster, educated and well-behaved more often than not, but a monster still. I've done things to people that most would lose their lunch over. So what does it say that I was only three seconds into her DVD, to verify I had the right one, before I had to choke back the bile in my throat?

"Like this?" Lumen asks. She thrusts the knife down.

"Don't arc the thrust," I correct and she makes the adjustment.

I smile, thinking about what lays ahead. We may not get to all of Chase's boys tonight, tomorrow or a week from today, but when we do…

It will be a thing of beauty.

A pen gets tossed across the table and a disgruntled sound is given off by my partner on my right. "I've been on the force since I was nineteen years old. Ten years in Philadelphia, the rest of it here in Miami and you know what?" Ivey doesn't leave me room to comment as she barrels forward, "I don't think I've ever seen anything quite like this."

I look at her out of the corner of my eye and see the muscles in her jaw clench and release. "I want these bastards."

"Join the fucking club," I retort. Rubbing my eyes, I groan and then run a hand through my hair. "This is so fucked up; this would make ninety-nine percent of the prison population puke."

She stops the seventh DVD from playing.

"Chase isn't rabbiting," I say to the air. I mean there's no damn finer way to state the obvious.

"Yeah, well, I'm thinking Cole's gone. We need more information about these jerks. Was the nerd herd able to get anything from the samples pulled at Cole's house?" Deceptively long fingers reach for the coffee cup that's been filled more times than I can count today.

"No. Sorry I didn't get a chance to introduce you today, but I'll wrangle my brother tomorrow and introduce you two." I take a sip of my own cold coffee and wince. "Damn that shit's gross."

She smirks. "Didn't know he was your brother. You have any other family on the force?"

"My dad. He died a while back. Dex is our spatter analyst. He likes shit like that," I say shrugging.

"You don't?" She leans back and stretches and I follow the lines her arms create as she arcs back, the pops heard clearly even with the chatter behind us.

"I like catching the bad guys. I like the chase and I like figuring the shit out. Dexter likes the order," I inform.

Righting herself, her head bobs. "I get that. When I first joined the force it was hard, you know? It's like your work days are nothing but barely controlled chaos. You learn to deal with it or you get out."

"Ain't that the truth?"

Ivey smirks at me, the gold flecks in her eyes sparkling just so to highlight the amusement.

"So why'd you come to Miami?"

"Change of scenery and a nasty break-up," Herrera offers and I nod.

"I know how that goes. You like Miami?" I wonder. Not that I've ever thought of leaving. It's my home. A fucked up home, but where else can I get a frita or chorizo at all hours of the day?

"It's nice. Really different than Philly, but I like it. My parents won't visit, even if I pay for the trip, but most days, when I go home and look around my place, I think that's a good thing. My mother would die." Ivey winks at me. "What about you? You from around here?"

"Born and raised. Never saw much value in leaving. Dexter's here. My job's here," I answer.

"Makes sense," she agrees and looks at the watch on her arm. "It's late, you should go home. Weren't you here way before you were supposed to be?"

I groan. Of course she had to bring that up. "Um, no, I think I need to sit and go through these videos again. We had to miss something the first three times we looked at them. You should go though. Get some sleep for the both of us."

Her head cocks to the side and she studies me like I study a witness in an interview room. "I think we need to sit and go through these videos. I'm the new kid on the block. I need to pull my weight. How good would it look if my partner's here and I'm not here to back your play?" Ivey sucks in her lower lip right before she goes for the kill, "We'll go grab some food and you can tell me why you don't want to go home."

I shake my head.

"Come on, Morgan." Ivey grabs my hand and hoists me up. "Let's go. The only thing I've eaten today are the grinds I found floating in my coffee. I'll fly, you'll buy and you can spill."

"Fat-fucking-chance, Herrera," I grumble, but follow her.

Grabbing our purses on the way out, I direct her to a taco stand down the block. Not really something we can drive to, which is a little disappointing. Her car…fucking sex on wheels.

The night is warm as we sit outside with our cheap orange plastic trays and three orders of the best fish tacos God ever put on the planet.

"So," Ivey breaks the silence of our meal, "since you don't want to talk about going home or what's at home, tell me about your partner Quinn."

I cringe. I really don't want to think about him right now. I really don't want to fucking think about what the hell I'm going to do about my living situation. "It's all sort of related."

Her eyebrows hike into her hairline and she stops sucking on the straw in her mouth.

I swallow the bite of taco and give her the abbreviated version, "Quinn's my partner—was my partner—shit I don't know. He's also the person I'm staying with right now. See, a few months ago, my sister-in-law was murdered. At the time, I was renting my brother's condo. Rita died in their house. He couldn't stay there so he moved back in with me. Which was cool, but with my nephew and Dexter it got to be too much. Quinn offered to let me couch surf, which turned to bed surfing and now the fucker's being investigated by Internal Affairs."

"And here I am," Ivey groans. "I'm sorry, Morgan." Her hand reaches out and squeezes my wrist. It lingers as I look at the hand, the arm it's attached to, and then the mildly surprised brown eyes of my new partner.

Her hand retreats and I confirm, "Here you fucking are. So right now, going back to Quinn's apartment isn't something I'm looking to do. Dex said he'd drop by and pick up my duffle tomorrow morning. Besides, I'd rather try and shake something loose from this piece of shit case we've landed in."

She nods. "Well then, we should pick up some more coffee on our way back to the station. The stuff you guys are brewing in there is enough to send my body into shock. We need something that's not going to eat away the lining of my stomach."

"Yeah," I snort, "I think they dump battery acid in the grinds when no one's looking."

"Better than the arsenic-laced cat litter they served over at North," Ivey jokes back. "Come on, partner, let's go crack us a ring of serial rapists and murders."

"You know," I say, dumping the remnants of the lunch/dinner into the trash, "If you're going to stay my partner, I'm going to need to adjust."

"Why?" she asks, turning on her boot heel to walk backwards and talk to me.

"'Cause Quinn's not nearly as much fun as this." I send her a wink, and even under the shitty lighting of the streetlamps. I see the red dust her cheeks.

My car door slams shut and I look up against the bright morning sun to stare at Quinn's apartment door. Too much seems to weigh on this one visit. He has information that I need, and while normally torturing someone for that information would seem very effective and satisfying, in this case I can't.

I'm not sure what to be annoyed about more: the idea that I can't go, as my wonderful sister would say, "fucking gorilla nuts on his ass" and get the information that I need to secure Devious Dexter's dishonorable deeds, or that he's hurt Debra.

Either way, Quinn's going to tell me what I need to know. I'll have to remember to thank Deb with a donut for allowing me to come pick up her stuff this morning. It's providing an excellent opportunity to clean up Quinn's mess.

I trot up the stairs and knock on the door. It's just past seven a.m. I hope I'm waking him up.

The dead bolt slides free and I hear, "What, you forget your key?" My lips press together and I shove my hands in my pockets, rocking back on my heels, I wait as he opens the door.

"Deb?" he squints against the light pouring in from the outside.

"The other Morgan," I chirp and step inside the apartment. I brush past him and smell the booze.

I've been to bars that didn't stink of as much stale alcohol as Quinn is right now.

"What the…where's Debra?" he fumbles with the door and it closes.

"Don't know. She asked me to come by this morning and pick up her stuff," I inform him and head to the bedroom. I usually dislike being this impolite, but considering Quinn's hangover and I'm angry, it's a justified state.

The apartment isn't the cleanest, but I manage to find her duffle bag and begin gathering her clothes.

"Well—wait, why isn't she here? She could come by and get her stuff," Quinn tries to reason.

In the time it takes Quinn to figure out what I'm doing and begin to question it, I have Deb's bag half packed. "Are you hungover because you're probably going to lose your job, you fucked your girlfriend over, or something else?" I ask turning to face him.

He's slumped forward in his chair. His hands are clasped together and his elbows rest on his knees. His head comes up and he looks at me, one eye closed and he shakes his head. "Look, you've got every right to be pissed at me. I fucked up. I know that. So me being hungover is a side effect of all the fucked up shit that's happened. I didn't want to hurt Deb. You're fucking weird, but she loves you. I didn't respect that."

"You investigated me off-the-books because you thought I was Kyle Butler," I bark. I need to at least make it seem like I'm indignant. I am Kyle Butler. He was right, but he doesn't need to know that. "You sent Stan Liddy after me."

His head drops to his hands.

"Just what in the hell did you think Deb was going to do when she found out what you've been doing?" I wonder as I spot a pile of Deb's dirty clothes.

"I don't know," he groans. "But did you tell LaGuerta about the money at the scene?"

I shake my head. "I told you I could care less. I didn't even tell Deb, why would I tell LaGuerta? Quinn, you have no one to blame but yourself."

He sighs and nods. "Look, just tell me. Tell me what I can do to make it right."

"I've looked into Liddy. He's not a clean guy. I know you have your moments, Quinn, but not like Liddy. What does he think he knows?"

Quinn shakes his head. "Speculation at this point. He doesn't like you. Hell, I don't like you."

I snort. "I don't care."

Heading into the bathroom, I find the toiletries that I think belong to Debra and silently thank whatever higher power could potentially be listening that my sister's hygiene routines border on militaristic. Gathering the items, I bring them into the bedroom and dump them into the bag. Much to my surprise, Quinn's moved and is now sitting next to the bag with an envelope in his hands.

"Here," he says thrusting the envelope towards me. "I haven't opened it. I don't know what's in it, but it's what Liddy has, if it's anything."

I take the folder and bend it to fit in my back pocket.

"I stuffed the rest of Deb's clothes in there, too," he says zipping up the bag.

Hefting the duffle over my shoulder, I look down at Joey Quinn. Nothing really strikes me about the man. I'm fairly indifferent, but I recognize that he did hurt Deb, even though he only tried to hurt me.

"Let's be clear, Quinn," I say locking eyes with him, "I could give a shit what happens to you, but if you even think of coming near my family again, you will see a side of me that's best left in the dark."

My dark passenger beats its chest in the back seat of Dexter's make believe soul, gnashing its teeth as Quinn breaks first and looks away. Not bothering with any more pleasantries, I spin away and head back to the car.

Pulling open the car door, I slip in and look over. Harry Morgan, in all my delusional glory, stares back at me. The fact that I know it's not him, that he's a figment of my imagination, does not deter me as I dump the bag right into Harry's lap.

"Do you think that was a smart move, Dexter?" he asks, his tone flat, even.

"Yes," is my simple reply.

"You need to be careful. Just because he's in trouble doesn't mean he still can't cause some for you. Also, you need to neutralize Liddy. Any thoughts?"

I shake my head. "I'll take a look inside the envelope when I get to work. Liddy first, then Tilden."

I just need to figure out how to do it.


Ch.2 – The Sea and the Tide

I settle into one of the two free chairs in front of the banker's desk. Ivey sits in the other.

"I'm Alex Tilden. How can I help you?"

Leaning back in my seat I listen and watch my new partner answer, "I'm Det. Herrera, this is my partner Det. Morgan. We're investigating a series of homicides."

His face shows genuine surprise, his posture doesn't. Tilden is tense. The set of his shoulders and his hands are laced together; the knuckles white. "Oh, homicide. Okay, what's going on?"

Ivey explains, "You may have even heard about it. It's been on the news. A number of girls were murdered and their bodies were stored in barrels."

He licks his lips. "Yeah, I saw it on the news, pretty shocking. What does that have to do with me?"

"Your name came up on a list of acquaintances of a person of interest in this case and we're making the rounds of everyone on that list. How do you know Cole Harmon?" Ivey's posture is relaxed, establishing herself as the nice cop in this interview.

Tilden bobs his head and admits, "Yeah, sure I know Cole."

"Do you speak often?" she asks, folding her hands across her left knee.

Tilden gives off a short laugh. "We're in this fantasy football league together. I've been pestering him to give up one of his players all season."

"Sure. Have you heard from him recently?" she sets him up.

It's not so much that we think he's dirty, but the man's hiding something.

"No," Tilden answers shortly.

"No?" Ivey keeps her tone light. I keep my arms folded across my chest and stare at him.

"What's going on here?" Tilden finally asks, breaking the small lapse in conversation.

"What about any of Cole's friends?" I speak up. "Dan Mendell, he's a kid's dentist?"

"Don't have kids," he answers shortly. Leaning forward, his shoulders hunch slightly as he rests on his elbows.

"Do you know him?" I ask. Fucker's avoiding the question.

"No," he snips.

Lying prick. "What about Boyd Fowler? That name ring any bells?" I press.

"Detective," Tilden sighs annoyed. "I don't know either of those men. Would you like to tell me what this is about?"

Ivey and I remain silent and somewhere behind Tilden several phones ring.

"Then unless I'm in some sort of trouble, I need to get back to work. There's a closing in fifteen minutes that I should be getting prepared for." He meets my eyes, locking there.

"One more name," I give in, "Jordan Chase?"

Pressing his lips together, he looks between me and my partner. "Jordan Chase, the Jordan Chase? He's messed up in this?"

"Do you know him?" I retort.

Tilden shakes his head. "I've never met him. I've always wanted to."

I wait for him to give us something more, but nothing comes. Ivey's legs uncross and she fishes for a card. "Well if you do hear from Mr. Harmon, please give us a call." She passes the card over to the man and stands.

Standing with us, Tilden tucks the card in his pants pocket and agrees, "I'll do that."

I'm the last to stand and follow Ivey out of the bank. Taking the sunglasses that were hooked to my shirt, I slip them on and look over at my partner. "Yeah, I don't see that happening unless Cole can make phone calls from six feet under."

"Do you really think that someone or ones is going after these guys?" she asks a little skeptical.

I shrug as we head down the street towards her car. "If it were me, if I survived the shit that they put those other twelve women through, you better fucking believe I would try."

Her head tilts back in thought. "I just have a hard time thinking that a person would be that functional after something that traumatic."

"You came from F.C.U. and you don't think that people are functional after trauma?" I prod. I've heard some of the stories that came out of that unit. It's not all just stupid drunk husbands beating their wives. F.C.U. also deals with cases involving kids.

She removes her car keys from her pants pocket and fingers the alarm to open the doors. She still hasn't answered me as we get in and drive off. This is another thing, small, but very different than working with Quinn. He was quick to agree. To either knock down my ideas or help build them. Ivey doesn't do that. She thinks before she speaks. Right now she's taking too fucking long. "Wasn't supposed to fucking render you mute, Herrera," I snip.

Her lips purse and then screw to the side as she absently taps the beat out to some rock song playing on the stereo. "I know. I'm trying to figure out what I want to say before I say it. Chill out, lady." She grins at me and winks.

I roll my eyes then lean back against the soft leather of the seat and close my eyes. The temperature in the car is just right and I'm tired as hell. We spent the night at the station going through the videos again. The images are scattered and broken, but the horror of them linger in my head. I bite the inside of my cheek, trying to turn my attention to anything other than the screams, pleas and cries I heard all night.

At least I have my clothes. Dexter, good ole fucking reliable brother of mine, stopped and picked up my things. When I told him my theory this morning about the vigilante murderer he seemed less than impressed, but how else do you explain Harmon and Fowler's sudden disappearance?

Number thirteen, whoever she is, got away. Mendell, Harmon and Cole were some of the players and Thirteen is tracking down the remaining guys. My arms come up and I lace my fingers behind my head. Chewing on my lower lip, I go through the details again. The same conclusions come back to me. The same name keeps coming up: Jordan Chase. That slimy piece of shit is tied up in this. I just need to figure out how.

"How could she function?" Ivey's voice startles me out of my thoughts and draws me out of my head. I crack an eye open and look at her.

"Don't get me wrong, Deb, I've seen some pretty sick things, but this…" she pauses, puffing out her cheeks. The air escapes in a slow breath. "I watched those DVDs with you all last night. If Number Thirteen did get away, if she survived, if she is capable of cognitive thought, I find it unlikely that she would seek these men out." She licks her lips and takes her eyes off the road for a second to look at me. "Just think about what we saw last night. These women were raped, gang raped, repeatedly. They were beaten, sodomized, tortured. That's not something you bounce back from; to just turn around and go on a revenge-fueled killing spree seems…like a reach."

She goes back to watching the road. "And also how did she find these guys? I haven't had a chance to dig into the victims profiles as much as I would like, but from what I did read, these girls have nothing in common besides looks. How were they found, what made them a target, and more to my point, how is this woman finding these men?"

I grunt. She brings up some good points. I shrug and fold my arms across my chest. "Jesus, I don't know, but you can't sit there and tell me it's a completely shit idea. There's something there."

"Maybe," she relents. "I'm not saying it couldn't happen. I'm just saying that I think it's unlikely."

I growl at her and she just laughs. "You should work on being a little surlier," she teases.

"Fuck off," I mumble and go back to resting my eyes. I hate that she has a point.

"Dexter," Harry's visage says gently, but urgent, "You don't have time."

I look at my watch again. He's right. I don't. I'm supposed to be back at the station in ten minutes. With Miami traffic, I have a better chance of getting a Presidential pardon on every crime I've ever committed.

Instead of worrying about my limited amount of time, I look at Stan Liddy, wrapped up and passed out as he sits upright in one of his kitchen chairs. "I know this," I grit out. "Do you think this is what I wanted?"

My father looks away. I didn't want this. I came to talk Liddy into backing off. I wanted nothing to happen, but what does he do?

He attacks me two minutes into the conversation.

The evidence of the altercation is given by the ragged teeth marks on my arm.

If he would have just cooperated instead of attacking me, this wouldn't be an issue. Instead, I have a piece of my t-shirt wrapped around the wound while particles of my skin, hair and blood are in his foul mouth.

I need to think this through.

"You've contaminated the scene, Dex. How can are you going to contain this?" Harry asks persistent in his quest to damage my demeanor further.

Really it's the evidence in his mouth that's the issue. I can't guarantee that I'll get it all if I try to clean his mouth out. I can't let him go. Not now.



I can't fake gun powder residue. It's one of the first things the ME checks. I also need to worry about the trajectory of the bullet and blood spatter. I rub my eyes. Shit.

First things first, find what he has. I search his pockets and come up with his wallet, a few wrappers and a set of keys. I pocket the keys. Looking around the apartment, there are no electronics except for the ancient T.V. that sits on a decrepit stand.

In his bedroom, I contemplate getting a suit from my kit in the car. It's a mess. A few empty fast food bags, half-empty and empty bottles of booze and a few beers are scattered throughout the place. Then there are the clothes. I think the smell is from the clothes, but I can't be too sure.

Shaking my head I go back to the dining room where Liddy is still sleeping. Whatever he has it isn't here. It's somewhere else and my guess is the keys to it are in my pocket.

I go back to Liddy. He's still unconscious and still very much a problem.

I purse my lips, run my hand through my hair and scratch the stubble on my chin.

I look at him. I look around. There's no neat way for me to do this. I grab my pocket knife and attack the plastic wrap that has been bound to the rickety kitchen chair. He slumps forward as the last bit of wrap gets tossed to my right. I poke his shoulder giving him a slight shove left. He teeters for a brief second before slipping to the floor.

I leave him and gather the few things that I brought while making sure to shove the used wrap in a side pocket of my duffle to dispose of later. I set it by the front door and go back to Liddy. I use my foot and turn him onto his back.

He's still very much unconscious which makes this so much easier. I grab the revolver from the kitchen counter and stand over him, taking careful aim of where the bullet will hit. The trajectory lines up in my mind's eye. Breathing out, I squeeze the trigger and watch as the lower part of his face explodes.

Grimacing, I pocket the gun to dispose of with the wrap and head outside, swiftly moving away from the crime scene. Sweat peppers my brow and upper lip. Murder is never an un-laborious task. With what I just did, it's also a little annoying. I generally like to have a bit more finesse when I kill people. The idea of leaving a scene like that creates a bad taste in my mouth…or it may just be the after taste of the acrid smell of gunpowder. One can never be too sure of these things.

As I hit the parking lot, I take off my gloves and jam them in my back pocket. Looking around, I see no curious eyes around. The parking lot of Liddy's apartment complex houses only a few cars. One of them being mine. There are two aged compact cars, a truck and a white van. I move towards the van. The key slips easily into the driver's door. I don't unlock it, but instead choose to pocket the keys and head back to work. I'll have to come back later for the vehicle.

I get to my car and head towards the station. Whatever Liddy has is in that van. I need to get to it before his body's discovered. Maybe tonight after we take care of Tilden.

"Do you think you covered your tracks well enough?" My father asks from the passenger seat.

"Can you ever really cover all of your tracks in a murder?" I answer his question with one of my own. We both know the answer to that.

At least it ties up one loose end. I seem to be unfortunate in having lots of those recently.

Oh, just fuck me with a live grenade and get it over with.

And whatever the fuck is making that stupid noise needs to shut itself the fuck up.

I feel like shit on toast baking in the Miami summer sun.

"Debra," a voice croaks from somewhere beside me.

"Turn it off," I mumble and bury my head underneath the thin pillow. The cot springs creek and groan as I shift around on the slim mattress.

The annoying shitting sound finally turns off.

"We need to get up," Ivey says thickly.

I groan. This is what I get for taking a nap in the bunks. I feel worse than before I got a few hours of sleep. "Just shoot me. Fucking shoot me and end my misery," I whine into the pillow.

I hear my partner snicker.

"Come on, partner. You get up and I'll buy coffee. I might even spring for a donut if you pretty yourself up enough," Ivey purrs.

"You know I didn't have to deal with this shit with Quinn right?" I snip, still buried underneath the pillow.

"Maybe," she says, "but I'm way hotter and I'd bet a month's pay that I'm better in bed."

I feel my cheeks heat up under the fabric. Quinn wasn't horrible in bed. Not the best I've ever had, but not bad either. I remove the pillow from my face and look around for her. She's propped up on one elbow, cradling her head in her hands on the cot across from me. In what could only be described as an impish smile, her lips curl upward. I glare at her.

"We got our three hours. Come on, we'll get cleaned up and grab some food." She sits up and stretches. I hear her back pop in several places as she stretches.

I can't seem to look away either. Her back arcs as her arms extend over her head and back. She may actually have a point about being hotter than Quinn.

Oh, just fuck. I need to go back to sleep. I don't need more complications. I mentally smack myself upside the head and follow her lead. Sitting up, I stretch and feel a small spasm begin in my lower back.

"Ow, ow, fucking ow," I moan.


"Back," I say through clenched teeth trying to breathe through the pain. Fuck locking people in a box for interrogation. We should just make them spend the night in here. That should get anyone to start talking.

My partner's by my side instantly pushing me to the side so my back's turned to her. "Where?" she asks.

"Lower," I manage.

Her hands slip under my shirt and she feels around. As her left hits the knotted muscle I try to jerk away, but she has a hold of my shirt. "Shut up," she orders as two fingers dig along my spine and she applies pressure. "Breathe in."

I do as instructed and she follows up one command with another, "Breathe out." I exhale and feel the spasm begin to ebb. "Again."

Again, I do as instructed. I finally blink to clear away some of the tears. Soft hands glide over my back and she kneads a little more, finishing the job.

Groaning when my back relaxes further, Ivey laughs. "Your back does not like these cots."

"No shit," I say, biting my lip as her hands slip free and their heat goes away.

"But," she points out poking my side, "You're all better now."

I huff and tug my shirt down. "Do you always give new partners back rubs?"

I see the shrug as I turn around to face her. "Depends on if they really need it or not. Back spasms. I've been there. Got a t-shirt I really didn't want."

"Hmm," I mumble and head towards the lockers. I need to change my shirt and wash the nap-taste from my mouth. I also need a minute to gather my thoughts. She touched me and I really didn't mind. I'm not a prude. Far from it, but I don't really like to be touched unless I'm the one initiating or doing some touching myself.

Just what the fuck was that and why am I having a hard time caring that it felt like my new partner was flirting with me?

Maybe it's the lack of sleep and the stress. That fucks a lot of people up. As soon as this case is over, I'm taking a few days. LaGuerta can kiss my ass if she doesn't approve the time off.

I spin the combination on the lock to my locker, remove it and begin to strip. I slip my button down off my shoulders and toss it towards the back of the locker. Thing needs a wash. I rifle through my duffle bag and come up with mostly dirty clothes and one semi-clean shirt that's wrinkled all to hell.

"Fuck me," I growl.

"You keep asking, Morgan…," Ivey trails off. My head snaps up and she's looking me over. Both of us are standing in our bras. Mine's a little more utilitarian, but she's in this purple lacy number that causes my mouth to dry up. I feel the blush rise as she wiggles her eyebrows at me.

Just…just…fuck…fuck…fuck. I drop my gaze back to my poor wardrobe options.

"You really do cuss a lot. Is it just because you like the words or do you find it hard to express yourself in any other fashion?" I hear her ask next to me. "Also, here." She thrusts a shirt under my nose. "I'm a little bigger in the chest, but this t-shirt's tight on me. It should fit you okay."

I raise an eyebrow and look at her. She just smiles and shakes the shirt at me.

I roll my eyes at her and give a surly, "I cuss because it's usually the first thing that pops into my damn head and I could give two shits what anyone thinks, but thanks." I take the shirt from her and she gives me a lopsided smile.

I slip it on and look at the mirror at the end of the row of lockers. Not bad. A little looser than I like my tops, but it's comfortable, really soft and smells like her.

It's got this warm vanilla, cinnamon-type smell. Not too girly, but nice enough. I manage to smell like whatever deodorant I'm wearing for the day…I peek into my locker and notice the Secret that's supposed to make me smell like lavender. I shrug and lift the shirt to roll some on. Better than stinking all day. I grab my toothbrush and toothpaste. Ivey's already at one of the open sinks as I turn the water on and start up.

I will admit, it's kinda nice that I have a partner I can borrow some clothes from. Quinn's shirt always smelled like his cologne or his sweat…it wasn't that appealing. Also, another bonus, she won't give me shit when I've got cramps and just want to rip someone's head off.

"They're clean, Morgan," Ivey singsongs next to me. She's leaning against the sink to my left.

"Wha?" I say around my toothbrush.

"Your teeth. You've been scrubbing them for five minutes or close to it. Trust me; your dentist would be proud." She smirks again and I growl at her…again…

I am starting to sense a pattern. Leaning over I spit and rinse my mouth and toothbrush.

"Here," she hands off a paper towel.

I take it and wipe my chin as my left ass cheek starts vibrating. I toss the paper towel in the trash and reach for my phone. "Morgan," I answer.

"Det. Morgan, this is Jordan Chase," a voice says.

"How can I help you, Mr. Chase?" I ask as Ivey comes up next to me and I pull the phone away from my ear so she can listen in.

"Actually, it's what I can do for you. A man named Alex Tilden called my offices this morning. He was looking for Cole and he was quite agitated. Now, I know this may be a stretch, but I've heard Cole mention him before. A fishing buddy of some sort." Chase pauses while I strain to hear what's going on around him. "I got to thinking that if something did happen to Cole, something might happen to Mr. Tilden. I don't want to assume anything, it just, what is it that you said? It fits."


Looking at Ivey, she gives me the go-ahead and I say, "Thank you, Mr. Chase. We'll swing by his place and make sure everything's okay."

"Thank you. It takes a load off my mind. I just want to help out here. It seems that there've been enough people hurt."

The line goes dead and I pocket the phone.

"So now what?" Ivey looks to me for an answer.

I don't know, shit.

Instead of voicing my indecisiveness, I run a hand through my hair. What are the chances?

"We go grab some coffee and food, quickly, maybe even eat on the fly, and then swing by Tilden's home. See if anything is weird. Chase is right. If Tilden is wrapped up in this, which I think he is, he'll be on that list."

Ivey shrugs. "Sounds like a plan. Let's go."

I've never been one to ruminate on the existence of God. It's never inspired me to spend large chunks of my time so that I may brood on an idea of his existence. I really can't express the lack of caring on my part, but I do think that life provides a certain amount of balance.

For instance, my existence has been a give and take. Dark Dexter was born in blood, but found some modicum of hope by being taken in by the Morgans. Now I am still a monster, still a thing anointed in the blood of my mother, but instead of turning my Dark Passenger's craving on random innocents I get to pick and choose. And mostly The Dark Avenger chooses those worthy to spend an evening with me and my wonderful weapons.

On a similar note, as I look down on the frightened features of Alex Tilden, Lumen also gets to feel a little bit of Life's balance.

My eyes flick up to her, the budding sociopath.

I find it odd that one can go through life plodding along with nary the urge to plunge a knife into someone's chest, to feel the satisfaction of their life ebbing away. After all, I can't remember a time when I didn't want to do that. But for some, like Lumen, something happens, something so profound that it's created in you a need so strong that denying it is the most insane thing you can do.

Lumen, I feel, is on the cusp of satisfying that urge tonight. I tried to get her to go away, go home so that she wouldn't become a part of this. It didn't work. She was already tainted, scarred by her experience so there was no other choice for her but to move forward. And while she's been with me when I've dispatched Damnable Dexter's playthings, she's not taken a life.

The look in her eyes tonight tells me that her rebirth will be complete. She stands over him, the gag in Tilden's mouth preventing him from saying anything or screaming. Given our location, I think that's a good thing, but the fear has become a palpable smell that I savor.

I step up to the table to which Tilden is secured. Standing over his head, my scalpel glints in the light and I press the blade along his cheek making a clean cut. The blood leaks out as I grab the pipette and empty slide in my pocket. Ritual is adhered to as I collect a sample and place it on the slide. Securing the cover, I slip it into my pocket.

"I'm going to remove the gag now," my voice cold and even, "if you scream I will stuff it back down your throat." I wait for the acceptance of my terms.

He nods his head and I remove the gag.

His eyes dart, once again, to the images we've laid out for him. "Who, what?" he croaks.

"Do you remember me?" The rage coursing beneath the surface is clearly audible and Tilden blinks, looking up at Lumen.

Slowly, nearly childlike in the way his face dawns with recognition, his mouth drops open. "You…"

"Me," Lumen presses a hand to her chest, "me. Do you know who I am? Do you remember what you did to me? Do you remember me? Because I remember you," she spits. She's not crying yet. Her dark brown eyes are watery, but she holds herself together.

Tilden tries to apologize. "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry," he whimpers.

She hauls off and smacks him across the face. "Don't! You don't get to say that!"

A few large tears trail down her cheeks and I grab her hand before it strikes him again. I find her eyes; force her to look at me. Below us Tilden whimpers and cries. I'll deal with him in a second. Lumen stares back, finding stability in my connection to her. The shadow of madness passes through and I see her square her shoulders, regaining her composure. There's my girl. That's right, Lumen.

Step away from that brink and come back to me. Focused. Cold. Calculating. Be what you need to be to satisfy your own Dark Passenger.

Her hand goes limp in my grip and I let it go. She rubs her hands over her hair smoothing it back. "I'm sorry. That's not the way this is done."

"It's okay," I say gently accepting her apology. Our first times never go smoothly. Just ask Nurse Mary.

"I'm okay," she states. More for her benefit, I think, than for mine.

"I'll give you anything you want," Tilden speaks up for the first time since Lumen's small outburst. "Anything," he begs, "Just please, please let me go."

My hand whips down and I clamp around his jaw, going nose to nose with him. I want him to see that there is no way out of this. "Shut up," I spit, "You don't get to get out of this." Rage, cold and burning, flows through me. "You made your choice. Look around, Alex Tilden." I stand off to the side, so that he can see the victims, so he can see that he's orchestrated his own death. We're just the vicious angels assigned to his annihilation. "You did this. You raped, you tortured, you murdered these women." I point his head in Lumen's direction.

I drop my voice and growl in his ear, "But one got away. Look at her." His eyes clamp shut and I smack him in the forehead. "I said look at her!" Reluctantly, he opens his eyes. "Nothing you say, do or promise will change the outcome of tonight's events."

I release his face and he closes his eyes. His body shakes under the translucent wrap. I turn around and grab the knife Lumen picked out. I turn back to her and she nods.

"I want to do it," she whispers.

Looking at her instead of my – our – victim, I hand the knife over to her without question. She grips the knife just like I showed her. Lumen eyes the spot where the heart is and looks to me for confirmation. I dip my chin and in one breathtaking moment, she pulls up. The blade hovers before slashing through the air to be driven home into Alex Tilden's heart.

Lumen tears her eyes away from her first kill and grins at me. Dexter's deteriorated dark heart sputters for a second as my Other Self rises up and spreads its wings.

It seems the Dark Avenger has a sidekick.

"Can you fucking believe it?" I ask sitting back down on the couch.

"That Tilden went and disappeared or that you found two sets of footprints that corroborate your insane idea?" Ivey asks back.

I shrug. "What are the chances that we get to Tilden's, find the shoe prints and then the house next door, cleaner than a damn morgue." I sigh. It was a long night, and given that it's nearly three in the morning, I really want to go to sleep, but Ivey's still here with me at Dexter's apartment and we have cases to go over.

I just wonder where Dexter's at. Why isn't he home?

Ivey hands the file over to me and I go back to looking it over while I take a pull of one of the beers I brought from the kitchen. "Masuka and the team should have something back for us by late tomorrow afternoon," I say not looking up from the profile of one of the barrel girls.

"Do you think they'll really find anything?" she wonders.

"If there's something to find, you bet your ass they will." I chew my lower lip and finally look up at her. "I just don't know if there's anything to find. Tilden's house didn't give us much. A few things that …"

"That we thought may be trophies." She grunts and throws herself back into the couch. I watch as she runs short manicured nails through her hair. "This is frustrating. I'm used to the system. Dealing with families and kids, it can be beyond frustrating, but this…" She trails off and I watch as cheeks puff out. She holds the breath a moment before letting it go. Her full lips blowing a soft raspberry.

"Just different," I say. "When I worked Vice, the frustration was geared towards some of the victims, but mostly the perps because you're running in hookers. Women, men, sometimes kids that if they could just… or shit I don't know maybe if the circumstances were different could not turn tricks. They could get out of it."

"Sometimes," she agrees. "Sometimes there isn't another way for them."

"Or, they actually like it." I shudder. That was something that I never understood.

"There's that," she agrees.

I go to respond, but the lock turns in the front door. Dexter walks in with a small blonde behind him. He stops short, his hand still on the door knob. The girl runs into his back and he stumbles forward. It shakes him free and he ushers her in. "Deb," he says warily, "and…?"

"My new partner," I stand and put my hands on my hips. "Dex and…?" I throw the question back at him.

"Uh, this is…," he stammers.

"Lumen," the blonde steps around him and offers me her hand. I look her over as my jaw clenches.

Just what in the hell is going on here? He sent Harrison down to his grandparents for what? So he could spend time with his new girlfriend? "Just what in the fuck, brother?"

Lumen's hand drops to her side and her face falls.

"Deb," Dexter says warningly.

I look between my new partner and Lumen.

I sigh.


"I'm sorry," I apologize. If he's trying to find someone else or scratch an itch or whatever, I can't judge him for it.

I hold out my hand and Lumen takes it tentatively. Her grip is soft so I loosen up. "Sorry," I mumble again.

"No, no, it's okay." The blonde drops my hand and then extends hers to Ivey. "Hi, Lumen."

"Det. Ivelisse Herrera, Debra's partner." Ivey takes the offered hand of Lumen and then Dexter.

"Hi, Ivelisse," Dexter says.

"'Ivey', please. People call me 'Ivelisse' and I think I'm in trouble." My partner sends my brother a teasing smile.

"So…?" I ask.

"So," Dexter answers.

Well this won't get us nowhere. Just…fuck it.

I make a decision and spin around to gather the files I brought home with me. "You know, we're going to go. Give you two some privacy."

Ivey takes my cue and begins to help, packing up the folders in the messenger bag I brought home.

"No, please, stay," Lumen says.

No invite from Dexter. That tells me everything that I need to know.

"No, it's okay. I didn't mean to interrupt." I turn back around and sling my bag over my shoulder. Moving past Dexter and Lumen, I head for the door with Ivey on my heels.

I don't need this right now.

A few feet outside, I hear the front door open and Dexter calling my name, "Deb! Debra wait!"

I stop and spin around. "What?"

"It's not what it looks like," he tries to explain.

I stop him with a slight shove against his broad chest. "Dex, shut up. I don't need to fucking hear it, okay? Everyone's got needs. I'm just surprised is all." I shift my weight from foot to foot. "I need to go, though. I'll be at the station."

I try to turn to leave, but Dexter grips my upper arm. "Don't, Deb, please. Lumen's a friend, that's all." He licks his lips and explains further, "I've had a hard time selling the house. I met Lumen and she needed a place so she was staying there. Then there was an attempted break in so I offered to let her stay here until the locks get changed and a security system is installed. That's all."

I eye him. The bad part of being Dexter's family is that I have a hard time telling when he's lying. The bastard has the most earnest, most infuriatingly innocent face. I throw his arm off and try to get away by saying, "Look, you don't need to explain. I get it." Which is a total lie. "I probably should have called anyhow. We need to go. Catch up with me tomorrow morning?"

He nods and I turn around catching up to Ivey who's standing at the end of the walkway by the steps.

She doesn't say anything to me. Ivey just leads me to her car and we head back to the station.

"You okay?" she asks quietly when we pull into the parking lot.

I run a hand through my hair and shrug. "Yeah, no…I don't know. I'm just surprised. I mean…"

What the hell am I supposed to say. That I'm shocked my brother is doing this so soon after Rita. I roll my eyes at myself. I'm a bitch. I get that. "I was just caught off guard. He tells me... We're close. At least I think we are. Do you have any brothers? Sisters?"

"Yeah. An older sister, Vickie."

"You two close?" I've never been real good at telling what passes for a normal family or not or maybe not normal just not as fucked up as mine.

"Depends on your definition of close," she gives me.

"What's that mean?"

"It means that she lives fifteen hundred miles away and we rarely speak, but when we see each other it's like we're both kids again." She grins at me and winks. "Think of it as a give and take. We do okay. Better than most families I've seen."

I nod. Her hand reaches out and slides down my thigh giving my knee a squeeze. "Come on, we can spend the night at the station again and really make my fish feel neglected."

I sigh again and follow her out of the car, preparing myself for another really long day.

Part 3

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