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. 3 – Gravity

Ivey and I got back to the station and decided to sack out in the crash room for a few hours.

I've been up for less than an hour and I only have one cup of coffee in me. None of this is particularly helpful.

Dexter. Fucking Dexter hasn't shown up either. I wonder what kind of shit he's pulling. What could he possibly be thinking?

Midmorning rolls around and the station's so busy. The noise—back chatter, ringing phones, a few of the plain clothes barking orders to the uniforms—all of this is going on and the only things I can focus on are the images of the twelve victims' autopsy photos and the burning of my eyes.

I sigh and rub my eyes again. I need to find the link to Chase. I know it's staring me right in the face, but for the life of me I can't figure it out. There's no way he's not wrapped up in this. He's linked to two of the three primary suspects.

The fucker's dirty. I just don't know how yet.


My head snaps up and I see Ivey standing in the hallway. She's waving a white paper bag with grease stains along the bottom and a tray of steaming paper cups in her other hand. She's all grins and I can't help but smile back a little.

It's fucking ridiculous.

When I was growing up, Dad used to tell me this story of how he met Mom. He was young, just starting out in uniform. He used to tell us, me and Dexter, how hard the job was. Then one night, he stops this girl from getting mugged as he was patrolling with his partner. They went out for coffee shortly thereafter and the rest is history. He used to tell us that life is hard and brutal, but it's worth it.

He used to tell us, before he died, that when things were bad and we were up to our necks, in so deep that it felt like we were drowning, not to give up. Life usually helped you out. He never called it God or whatever, Harry Morgan wasn't a religious man, but he would just say, "I know how hard it's going to be. Without me or your mom around, it's going to get tougher, but just remember that life always seems to find a way to balance things out. Recognize the gifts and find comfort in them."

He was always one to throw some philosophical bullshit in at the most annoying times. Like when he was laying on his deathbed and sucking in as much oxygen as possible, he'd wax optimistic bullshit and all I could think about was how we was leaving us.

But seeing Ivey there with that ridiculous grin and the food and coffee in her hands, I think maybe I understand a little bit about what he was trying to say. Joey would have made working this case that much harder. We fight too much and provide each other too little comfort.

Ivey seems to have all the right words at all the right times to reel me in.

It's weird shit.

I'm glad she's around.

So I push back from my desk and follow her to the briefing room we've put the case information up in. I watch as Ivey sets the bag down and says, "So I picked up some breakfast burritos. I don't think you can go wrong with some chorizo and egg. Also, some coffee that won't eat a hole in the bottom of your stomach." She looks up from passing out the food and wiggles her eyebrows. "You think maybe they did something to the coffee maker so all it makes is the equivalent of battery acid?"

"Maybe it's the filtration system that puts in one part acid and one part coffee," I joke back and unwrap my breakfast. We eat in silence and I appreciate it. I think after this I'm going to go grab a shower in the locker room and slip into some dirty clothes. Maybe sometime before the next decade hits, I'll find someplace to live. I could rent a motel for the week, that wouldn't be too bad. All I really need is a shower and a bed anyhow. I can do my clothes at a laundromat and worry about the rest later.

Ivey chews slowly, deliberately and I watch her study the board of victims. I don't need to look at their pictures to see their faces. I swallow the last bite of my burrito, ball up the wrapper and toss it in the trashcan by the desk.

"Thank you," I say and sip at the hot coffee. Groaning as it slides down my throat and warms my stomach. The need for a shower becomes more pronounced. "I think I'm going to go grab a shower and then we can hit up the case fresh. See if Masuka's got anything back on the house."

She nods and says around a mouth full of food, "I know I've only been on the case a few days, but," she swallows and glares at the case board, "I really want these fuckers." The anger in her voice makes me take a step back.

Through most of this, Ivey's been pretty calm. She's remained as professional as you can when you look at shit like this. It's good to see this is affecting her just as much as me, even if she doesn't show it.

I nod. "We'll get them," I promise.

"Morgan, Herrera." Our boss comes in with Masuka, Batista and a few other cops trailing behind her. "I need an update on the Barrel Girls."

Ivey wipes her mouth and comes around to the other side of the desk, the one I'm on, and stands next to me.

"What happened last night?" LaGuerta asks.

"Nothing much," I say, tucking my hands behind my back between the waistband of my jeans and skin.

"But you guys found something?" LaGuerta presses and I nod.

"Morgan and I were walking around to the front of Alex Tilden's home. We had gotten a call earlier from Jordan Chase with some information and went to Tilden's to follow up and have another conversation. Tilden's a known associate of Cole Harmon. Tilden wasn't as forthcoming as we thought he could be in the initial interview." Ivey pauses as she leans back against the desk and folds her arms across her chest casually. "Mr. Chase said that Tilden had called his offices wanting to talk to our suspect, but as we know, Harmon's been out of the picture for a while. When we showed up at the scene last night, the front door was open. Morgan and I swept the place and exited the rear door to the back yard. Coming around we found two sets of footprints leading away from the residence and to the vacant house next door. We followed up."

LaGuerta nods and looks to Vince Masuka. The little geek looks fucking happier than a pervert at a porn convention. Shit.

"I was going to find you, Deb," he starts off and hands me a folder. While I open it and hold it so Ivey and I can look at the findings together, he continues, "The tread patterns are run-of-the-mill shoes but there are a couple of things that are interesting. There are two different sizes, likely to be one male and one female. Also, the imprints are deeper for the ones we found leading between the houses. The ones leading away from the vacant house are lighter," he says this happily.

"Like they were carrying something?" Ivey asks not looking up from the reports.

"Exactly," Masuka confirms. "Deb, this fits into your theory about there being two vigilantes going after this group." My eyes snap up to him and he's all smiles. Fucking idiot.

LaGuerta looks sharply in my direction and she snips, "Do you want to fill us in on this, detective?"

I swallow the lump in my throat. I'm going to fucking kill Masuka when I get him alone. Fucking prick!

With Rita, the moments of domesticity were rather lackluster. I cared for Rita. In my own way, I was quite fond of her. She was a beautifully broken creature that provided Doomful Dexter a near-impenetrable façade. We worked at what we had. Or rather, she worked and I went along with it because I wanted to keep her happy. As long as my nighttime activities weren't interrupted too much, I pretty much did anything that she asked.

I could never tell her what I did when I was gone at night, but I'm sure she appreciated the fact that I kept her in the dark…

Up until the point she paid for the sins of her horrific husband, Death-dealing Dexter.

I regret nothing, but I wish she hadn't had to pay for loving me.

Nothing will change it and now here we are. The morning after Lumen's first kill. Lumen wouldn't be here if Rita were here. Lumen would more than likely be dead.

That thought is upsetting. More than I'm comfortable admitting.

Instead of Rita, I have Lumen. I just don't know what to do with her. Sex is just sex, and if it's up to me, I go without. I'm not sure of her feelings on the subject, and given the situation, I wonder if she's put any thought into it at all. We're more than friends. We're more than the Dark Avenger and his sidekick, the Avenging Angel. I just don't know what we are.

After last night, putting a name to it would seem to cheapen the entire experience. I've shared with her more than I've ever shared with anyone else. Well, save for those that have come under my knife, but even then…

They've not seen both sides.

Even Miguel Prado—the mistake that he was—wanted revenge and revenge only. His purpose was power. It was a mistake I will fully accept the blame for. He of course did find himself on my table in the end. We don't murder to murder. We murder only those that truly deserve to be parted from their lives.

As I remind myself of this, I have to think that that's not entirely true. Would Alex Tilden, Cole Harmon or Jordan Chase have come under the gun? Would their sins be exposed through due process had I not interrupted it?

I scratch at my chin, careful to not shake Lumen, who is resting against my side as I do so.

I don't know the answer to that question.

In the end, justice is served and Lumen finds some peace after the pain she endured. I suppose that's enough. Moral dilemma solved.

"Don't you have work?" Lumen whispers, her lips sliding across the soft fabric of my t-shirt.

"They won't miss me for another hour or two. I thought it would be nice to sleep in this morning," I whisper back.



"Thank you," she breathes.

The arm that's encircling her shoulders gives a gentle squeeze. Affectionate movements are usually lost on me. I'd sooner stab a person than hug them, but for some reason, with Lumen, I know exactly what to do.

It's funny how this has turned out.

"Dexter?" she whispers again as I feel her shift along my side.

I look down into confused brown eyes.

"What…" she licks her lips.

What, what?

"I…what are we?"

I'm a little surprised by the question. Sure, I was just thinking the same thing, but it's funny to me that she was thinking the same thing.

"Dexter and Lumen," I answer. It's what we are.

"Well, your sister assumed and Astor assumed." She looks down at how we're laying and I feel her shudder. "I can't. Not yet and…"

"Can't what?" I ask.

"I can't…m...m...make love," she nearly cries.

"Oh," I say. Well, that answers my questions on whether or not she's wanting to have sex. I'm actually a bit relieved. "That's okay."

"No, it's not," she growls.

I shrug. "Why not?"

"Because…" she stops and props herself up on her elbow to look down at me. "Because it's something that I should be able to do."

I press my lips together and shake my head. I'm more than likely going to screw this up. This is an emotional conversation and I just plain suck at these. "Is that what you think I want?" I ask.

She falters for a second. Her lips move, but no sound comes out.

"I don't expect it, Lumen," I press. "If you want to…If or when you're ready, I'll be here, but I don't want you to think that's what this is." Her head drops. I take my free hand and tilt her chin up to look me in the eyes. "I'm not sure what we are either. I know I want you around. I like having you around. We can go at any pace you want."

Unshed tears magnify her eyes and her chin quivers under the force to not shed them.

There's something there, something between us that I can't seem to shake or deny. It speaks to me and my Dark Passenger. Calls to it and I'm forced to oblige. She needs reassurance. "Remember, I tried to get you to leave. To go home and forget about me and this place. You didn't," I pause and offer her a Dazzling Dexter smile, "Much to my annoyance. I am glad you're here. Being able to share what I am with you like I have…"

She nods her head in understanding.

"For now, we're friends. I won't let anything happen to you and you will never do something you don't want to again," I promise.

She leans down and presses warm, soft lips against my stubbled cheek. "Thank you."

She'll eventually learn that it's me that should be thanking her.

"I'm not sure," Ivey's voice rings through the car, causing my eyes to snap open and my head to come off the head rest, "if I should be offended or not."

I rub my eyes and mumble, "What the fuck are you talking about?"

She gives me a snort-laugh thing and I blink against the bright afternoon sun. "Well, you fell asleep. I could be flattered because that means that you trust my driving and are relaxed around me. Or… I could be offended because I'm terribly boring and can't keep you entertained."

I roll my eyes and slip my sunglasses on. Looking outside, I see we're stopped in the parking lot of a nice set of apartments. "Where are we?"

"My place," Ivey answers.

I look at her and raise an eyebrow. Why the hell are we here? She smiles at me and answers my unasked question, "Well, the way I've seen the last few days play out is this," she holds up her left index finger, ticking off the reasons, "One, you've broken up with your boyfriend, whom you were living with." Her middle finger joins the index, "Two, because of one, you've been sleeping at the station." The ring finger follows. "Three, if you make me crash in the bunks one more night, I won't be held responsible for who I kill tomorrow. And four," she holds up her pinky, her thumb tucked into her palm, "There are apartments that are open here, the rent's not bad and your neighbor would be me."

My mouth hangs open. She reaches over and gently closes my mouth.

"Look, I called my super and he said there's two furnished units ready to go. You need a new place. You get to check out potential new digs and I can change my clothes. It's win-win, Morgan." The knuckle that was resting under my now-closed mouth lingers and trails up my jaw line. Her smile falters as she takes her hand back. "Partners have each other's back. Given the case…you need help."

I give a low growl in the back of my throat and cough. "Fine," I mumble. "Let's go before I change my mind."

I watch as she exits her car and follow shortly after. This is just fucking great. First the meeting with LaGuerta that signed Masuka's death warrant and now we have to wait for LaGuerta to find a judge that actually has a pair to sign an injunction on Chase before he leaves the country. This day just fucking sucks.

I follow my partner towards the two-story, light blue stuccoed apartment building. I take a quick look around and notice it's relatively quiet.

"Ivey!" An older man comes from the lower corner apartment of the building. He's on the shorter side with a full head of white hair, black slacks and a white V-neck t-shirt.

She holds out her hand as the two meet in the parking lot. "Frankie, how're you doing?"

He eagerly shakes her hand and shrugs off the question. "Not bad. This your friend?" He looks over to me and holds out his hand.

"Yeah," Ivey answers as I shake his hand. "Frankie De Bease, this is my new partner, Det. Debra Morgan."

"Nice to meet you," I say.

"Same here." He retracts his hand and motions for us to follow him. As we walk, he talks, "We're a small complex. Twenty one units on the bottom and eighteen units on the top. The people here are pretty decent. Nice, they help each other out for the most part and we don't like people who cause trouble. Ivey gave you the okay so I'm willing to work something out 'cause she says you don't have a place right now." We trail up the steps and go to the left rear of the building. "Now the only units open are a corner unit and a lower level unit that needs some repair work. I hope you don't mind steps."

He takes us around and stops in front of the first door. He finds the right key and unlocks the front door. "I'd like to get a nice security door up so give me a day or two." He flips the light on and ushers the two of us into the space. It's nice. Like really fucking nice.

I blink and look around the apartment. The place smells like paint and wax. The hardwood floors shine and the fresh off-white walls are free of any marks. The living room sits off to my left, the kitchen and dining off to my right. All one big open space. I like it. The granite kitchen counters gleam under the light and there's a well-worn living room set that looks like it was made just for this apartment. A built-in entertainment center and bookshelves take up one wall in the living room. "My son just finished the floors, there's a fresh coat of paint, and we had to replace the tile in the shower so I hope they're okay."

I spin around and look at Ivey. She's propped against the kitchen island, her arms folded across her chest. "He's serious," she tells me.

"You comin'?" Frankie says, his head peeking around the corner of the entrance to the hallway.

I hold my hands up and follow him.

He stands by two open doors pointing a finger behind me. "Second bedroom is behind you, bathroom's here," he hooks a finger to his left. "The master bedroom," he says pointing to his right, "is here." He lets me go first and I look around. It's larger than I expect and there's a large window that will either be a friend or an enemy. "Now, I don't have the new lighting fixture up. I was thinking of putting in a ceiling fan. Would that be all right with you?"

"You shitting me?" I ask, spinning around to him, my hands on my hips.

"No. I figure if you take the place, then you should have a say so, considering you'll be sleeping in here." He stuffs his hands in his pockets and shrugs.

"I don't care," I say surprised.

"Okay. White or brown?" he asks. I raise an eyebrow. "You know for the fan blades. White or brown?"

"Don't care," I answer again.

"Brown then. It'll hide the dust that can build up." He sends me a charming smile and says, "You don't strike me as a June Cleaver type. If you work like Ivey does, you'll be lucky to see this place six times a week." He winks at me and I shake my head.

He turns around instead of saying anything else and limps back towards the living room. Ivey's sitting on top of the island, swinging her legs. I watch as he pulls a folded piece of paper from his back pocket. "Now, the only utilities you need to worry about are electric and cable service if you want it. Gas, water, sewage and trash are rolled into the rent. When you start to bring your stuff, you can drop off the first month's rent along with a five-hundred dollar security deposit and a hundred for the door."

"You shitting me?" I ask again. Running a hand through my hair I look between Ivey and Frankie.

"Detective," Frankie says slowly letting the title linger like you would saying the name of a child who you were trying to explain something to, "Ivey vouches for you. I hate making these things difficult. The place is yours, showing you around was for your benefit not mine. Rent's seven-fifty a month which is cheap. Sign the papers, take the keys and don't look a gift horse in the mouth."

"He's right," Ivey takes his side. "This place is a steal and you won't find a better landlord."

I look between the two and summarize the situation I have myself in. I have no place to go. No furniture. Nothing really. This place is really nice. The rent's super cheap. Ivey trusts him. I shrug. Fuck it.

"Okay," I go over to the island and scribble my name on the bottom of the lease.

"Great." Frankie takes two keys off his key ring and hands them over to me. "Good to know you're smarter than you look."

"Hey!" I glare at him.

Ivey laughs. "She's pretty though, isn't she?"

"She's not hard on the eyes, Ivelisse. You never did have bad taste." He winks at my partner.

"She's still right fucking here," I snip.

"And she cusses more than a Marine." Ivey winks at our landlord and he laughs.

"Oh, for fuck's sake." I throw my hands up in the air. "We done?"

"Pretty much. I'll see you two later. I want to go get that ceiling fan and door. Also, since you're here, you got a bed or should I go get one of them too?" he asks, tucking the lease in his back pocket.

I shake my head.

He nods. "We'll take care of that. Give me a day or two."

I laugh. The first feel-good laugh I've had in a really long time. He's like a damn fairy godfather.


Ch.4 – Sensible Attack

"Come in, please," Ivey directs me inside her apartment. "I haven't been home recently. New job. New crazy partner that keeps crazy hours, so I'm sorry if it's not as tidy as I usually keep it," she teases me.

I flip her off as I pass by her extended arm. She grins and swats my ass as I walk past. Shooting her a glare, I say, "Hands above the waist, Herrera."

"You say that now, Morgan." Shutting the front door, she turns to me and wags her finger, "If it changes, don't come crying to me. Relax, take a load off. Beer?"

I nod and she takes my bag, sets it on the kitchen island and tosses her keys in a dish by the bag. I hear loose change rattle and paper rustle as the keys land. The apartment is more than I expected from her. It's definitely a home to her. A thick area rug is under the dark oak coffee table. The soft black leather couch feels wonderful as I sink into it. There are a few paintings hanging up and photos scattered throughout the living room.

I run a hand through my hair and let myself relax for the first time in four days. I'm exhausted.

"I hope you like Mexican beer," my partner says.

I crack my eyes open and lift my head to look at her. She's standing next to me holding out a brown bottle of Pacifico, a lime wedge is stuffed into the top. I shrug. "Thanks."

She nods and sits down next to me, drawing a leg underneath her and propping her right elbow on to the back of the couch. I stuff the lime down the neck of the bottle and take a pull of the beer. It tastes wonderful and I moan in appreciation.

"That's damn good," I mumble.

"It's not bad. One of my favorite imports actually." She clinks her bottle against mine and says, "To being stuck on a shitty case with a new partner and primary suspects that go missing."

I roll my eyes, but join in the toast. "Could be worse."

"How so?" she asks around the mouth of her own bottle.

"Your new partner could be a complete asshole instead of me," I snicker.

Her eyebrows hike to near her hairline and she jokes back, "Who says you're not?"

I flip her off for good measure and then start bitching, "Jesus Christ. I knew we should have gone after Chase before." I thump my head off the back of the couch and close my eyes. That fucking prick.

"Hey, at least LaGuerta came through on the order. Jordan Chase will turn up one way or another. The man is kind of famous. Someone will recognize him and call us," Ivey tries to make this okay.

But it's not okay. We went to stop him before he left the country on a tour and he didn't show. His offices don't know where he's at. His personal assistant is clueless and said this was very out of character for her boss.

Dumb woman. She has no idea what exactly her boss is capable of. All the idiot wanted to do was protect her precious Jordan Chase.

I growl.

"Debra, seriously, there isn't anything we can do for the rest of the night. Relax. For both of our sakes." Ivey's hand rests on my knee. The skin heats up and she gives it a gentle squeeze.

I turn my head and open up my eyes to look at her. "I should be at the station going over everything. There has to be something there."

She shakes her head; her lips form a thin line. "Deb, he's not around. We've got an A.P.B. out on him. You heard Batista. He just about threw us out of the station. Let's take his advice," she says gently.

My eyebrows knit together and I sigh. "This is just such…God; it's all so fucked up."

"Why?" she wonders.

"Why?" I snip, "Why wouldn't it be?" I look her in the eyes and summarize the past week of my life, "Let's start off with the suspension and investigation of my former partner, Joey Quinn, who I was living and sleeping with. We'll segue into twelve dead women who were raped and tortured whose killers or at least suspected killers keep on coming up missing. On top of that, they find Quinn's buddy, former police detective Stan Liddy, dead from a shot to the head in his apartment this afternoon." I point my beer at her and ask, "So what about that isn't fucked up?"

She sighs, shifts her position to mirror mine, but doesn't remove her hand. "Don't know," Ivey finally agrees.

That's what I thought.

I place the beer between my legs and lace my fingers behind my head. It is fucked up. Kind of a standard around here for the most part…but fuck, why can't things be just…halfway fucking normal for a change? Is that so much to ask?

I could unload on her further and ask her what in the hell she thinks she's doing to me? She's all touchy, and normally, touchy is bad. I've broken a few fingers and hands because others couldn't keep their hands to themselves, but she just sort of…ignores my walls.

It's annoying.

Take for instance the hand she has on my knee. That should bug the shit out of me…now, I kind of like it. What the hell is up with that…it sort of feels like…

I shake my head to rid myself of the thoughts…nope. Not a good idea to go down that road. I don't need it.

It's got to be the exhaustion. That's the only thing I can come up with. I pry my eyes open and turn to look her over. She's staring at me when I meet her gaze and I quirk an eyebrow.

"I got something on my face?" I ask.

She smiles and shakes her head. "Nope."

"Then what's up?"

"Nothing. Just trying to figure out if you make everything as difficult as possible?" The smile she gives me removes the sting from the words.

"What's that supposed to mean?" I ask, my tone lighter than I feel.

She shrugs and uses the nail of her left thumb to pick at the label on her bottle. "Nothing," she sighs, "Look, just…come on. Let's get you settled into bed and we'll start fresh in the morning."

"I'm fine here," I say making a show of slipping my shoes off and curling my legs under me.

"Nuh-huh. Come on, Morgan, don't fight me on this. We've spent the past how many nights on cots that really aren't fit for POW's. You need to sleep in a real bed." She stands and sets her empty bottle on a coaster on the coffee table.

"Where are you putting me?" I ask resignedly before draining my own beer and setting the empty bottle next to hers.

"If you behave yourself, you'll sleep in my bed, if you're cool with me sharing it. If not, I'll take the couch." She grabs my hand and pulls me up. She doesn't let go as she leads me down the short hallway and through the open bedroom door. Flicking the light switch, a lamp in the corner comes on and bathes the room in soft light.

I stand by the bed as she drops my hand and spins towards me. "I think I may have…" Ivey trails off and her eyes rake up my body. "I'm sure there's something somewhere in my closet that'll fit you."

Her left index finger taps her chin. I can't help but smile. She's shorter than me by a good four maybe five inches. Looking her over she sort of reminds me of an older Rosario Dawson, but shorter. I don't think there's anything in her closet that will fit.

"Hmm," she turns towards one of the chest of drawers along the right wall. I decide to let her figure it out and remove my gun and badge to set on the left side nightstand.

"Here," Ivey grabs my attention by tossing some clothes in my direction. "I think these'll fit." She smiles and gives me a once over again. "If not, then well, Morgan, you can sleep in your underwear." She winks at me and my stomach does this weird flip.

I roll my eyes in an effort to not give away that that idea wouldn't be too bad an option. Ivey takes my reaction to her words as discomfort, so she tries to joke, "It'll be the most action I've seen in months."

"You're fucking joking?" I ask before I have time to censor the question.

She shakes her head. "Unfortunately not."

I look her over. It would be a fat fucking lie to say that I didn't think she was hot. The hair, those eyes, and she's got these full pouty lips…ah…yeah…okay. "Well," I cough, "you are obviously not looking in the right places."

I can feel the heat on my cheeks. I turn away from her and begin to strip. My pants go first and then my shirt. I grab the t-shirt from the bed and hold it up. It's a Miami PD shirt that looks nearly the right size. I pull it over my head and tug it down. "Shit," I mumble as it only comes to just above my belly button. I sigh and grab the shorts. They're loose in the hips, but short in the legs. "I look like a fucking giant in midget's clothes," I grumble.

I turn around to face my snickering partner. Even under her dark olive toned skin I see the blush. I see her swallow and cover her mouth with her left hand.

"Fuck off," I retort and fling the covers down my side of the bed. "I'm going to sleep."

"I'll be in in a bit," she finally says. "G'night, partner."

My eyes are closed and I'm halfway to dreamland, but I manage to mumble, "G'night."

"Dexter," Harry says from the passenger seat, "think about what you're doing, Son."

My jaw clenches at the delusion's words. I've yet to figure out if he's my subconscious reflected back at me or if he merely is a delusion and a symptom of my psychosis.

Even though I would hardly consider me psychotic. I've seen psychotic. While I've come close, you do need a firmer and broader base of emotions to be psychotic.

"You have no idea what to expect when you go out there."

Harry Morgan. Always the voice of reason. He's not wrong here either.

The last few days have been stressful: the discovery of Liddy's body, Debra meeting Lumen, and the coup de grace of my day today, a call from Jordan Chase telling me he has Lumen.

The white-knuckled grip I have causes the plastic and leather under my hands to groan in protest. I went to Emily Birch's house. What did I find? Blood. No bodies.

"I know that, Dad," I take my eyes from the road and look at him. His eyes are sad and worried. Much like the way they looked when he was in the hospital and worrying over whether or not I was going to be caught for my after-dark avocations. "But he has her and I don't know how much time I have," my voice is barely a whisper.

"You don't even know if you have the right location," he tries to reason again.

"I don't have any other choice," I state. I have to be right. The camp was the only location that fits. It's where I would go if the roles were reversed. My Dark Passenger agreed when we saw the printouts from the Hall of Records.

The campsite where it all started and Jordan Chase, a.k.a. Eugene Greer, got his start as a motivational speaker, serial rapist and murderer. He and his friends took advantage of Emily Birch, his first and last victim.

Why else would he keep a vial of her blood around his neck? Trophies will get you caught. Someone should have told him that.

Everything just seems to be falling apart. Lumen should have stayed at home. I told her it wasn't safe. But she went and tried to talk to Emily again.

For her trouble she got abducted by Chase. Emily's house was devoid of everything but the blood spatter.

Why did she go?

Why does it have to be her?

Looking down at the paper in my lap, I see the address of the campsite and check it against the passing buildings. I'm on the right road, but it looks like the site is a few miles up the road. I depress the gas Emily's car a little more and it takes off.

"What are you going to do with him, Dexter? What if she's already dead?" my dad asks.

"She won't be," I spit. "She'll be alive and untouched."

"You can't guarantee that," he pushes.

"I can. He'll want me there." I lick my lips and look at Harry out of the corner of my eye. "I'd want me there. To watch. To hear her scream. To plead. He's waiting for me."

Harry doesn't respond to this. Instead, he folds his arms across his chest and stares out the windshield. I seem to have convinced him.

Now, as the signs for the campsite come into view, I have to convince myself.

I'm coming, Lumen.

Ivey follows behind me as we come out of the empty office building. Of all the fucked up…

I cock my fist back and hit the first thing within striking distance. I pull back to strike again, but a strong arm prevents my fist from hitting the palm tree again.

"Whoa, Mike Tyson, chill," Ivey says. Her arm hooks around my bicep and she spins me around. "Partner, seriously, we don't have time to take you to the emergency room."

I shrug her off and flex my hand. The initial numbness begins to wear off and I enjoy the feel of the slow burn running up the length of my arm.

"Goddammit, Debra," she hisses and looks at the now busted knuckles of my right hand. "I just don't get you."

I shrug. "This is fucking bullshit," I spit as she leads me away from the tree and over to her car. She opens the passenger door and points to the seat.

"Sit your crazy white ass down," she demands going to the trunk of her car.

I glare at her, but do as directed. My right hand rests in my lap and I look at it. The knuckles are swollen and puffy already. The skin is tattered and bleeding. It feels good. It feels better than the frustration and anger I've felt since I got to the station this morning.

I should have known when I woke up this morning, in Ivey's bed no less, with her curled up to my right side, that today was just going to be shitty beyond recognition. I should have listened to my instincts and pulled the covers over my head and ignored today like the emotional cripple that I am.

Instead, Ivey gets me up and hands me my clean clothes, she apparently did them when I fell asleep last night. Not only that but she also cooked breakfast while I was in the shower. She's got this thing about her. It's fucking annoying 'cause I hate being taken care of, but I let her do it and I've known her less than a week.

How fucking crazy is that shit?

Thats's why I don't say anything as she comes back with a first aid kit, bottle of water and towel. Ivey gently takes my busted hand and opens the water to pour over the broken, battered skin. I say nothing and she says nothing as she cleans off my hand and inspects the damage.

I look down at the clean wounds and figure that at the very worst I broke a few knuckles. Big deal. I want to find Jordan Chase-slash-Eugene Greer and break my hand on his face. The self-righteous, arrogant, fucking rapist prick.

I bite my lip as she uses some band aids from the kit and a few pieces of tape to wrap my hand. Her thumb ghosts over the covered wounds and she looks up at me, her eyebrows knitted together.

"Don't do stupid shit like that." Ivey's voice is calm and even, but there is steel behind her voice.

"I, uh, fuck…" I stammer and rub the back of my neck.

"Shut up, Deb." She closes the first aid kit and I swing my legs into her car.

A few minutes later, she slips into the driver's seat and looks over at me. "So what's the next location on that list?" she asks pointing to the print out from the Hall of Records. The list contains all of the property holdings for Jordan Chase Enterprises. I pick up the list and look it over.

"This is like playing lawn darts in the pitch black with a greased up midget. It'll take fucking forever!" I grunt, tossing the list on the dashboard once again. I run my busted hand through my hair and look at my partner.

Her mouth is slightly parted and she's looking at me like I have something grotesque on my face. "What?" I snip.

She just shakes her head. I'm ready to rip into her when my phone starts to vibrate on my hip. I look at the display and pray that Batista has some good news. Answering, I say, "Morgan."

"Deb, I have a tip that came through dispatch," Batista tells me. "A guy selling fruit on the corner of southwest four-twenty-fourth and the One-South said he saw Jordan Chase in a BMW."

My eyebrows hike up. "That all?"

"The man swears that he heard someone thrashing around in the back of the car, like the trunk area. You and Herrera want to go talk to the guy?"

"Hell yes. We're en route. Thanks Angel," I say before disconnecting. "Head South," I direct my partner. "There was a guy selling fruit on a street corner that claims he saw Jordan Chase."

She nods and puts the car in gear. Buckling up, I hang on to the dashboard as we rocket out of the empty parking lot.

"Look at you! All grown up," Jordan Chase coos from the table he's strapped to. "I made you, Lumen. If it weren't for me, you'd be just another filthy cunt wasting her life." He looks her up and down and then snickers, "Now you're embracing life. You should be kissing my feet, you worthless bitch!"

I've had enough. The sound of the palm hitting his cheek is the only thing that registers. "Shut up!" I snap.

His eyes refocus and he glares at me. His mouth opens to speak, but I'm in no mood to hear any more of his bullshit. So I take the rag that I was using to stop the blood from the cut on my brow and cram it down his throat.

There's so much evidence to clean up. The initial trap that Chase set, a tractor parked in the middle of the road, the wrecked car, the blood on the floor belonging to all three of us, my bloody rag in Jordan Chase's mouth. I shake my head. I need to keep focused on the task at hand. Lumen is safe. I'm safe. Jordan Chase is about to die. All of this adds up to things going Dreadful Dexter's delightful way.

I'm just thankful that I got here in time. Granted, I came in cuffed and at gunpoint, but the table's quickly turned. The stupid prick thought he could one-up me. He actually thought he had the upper hand here.

I want to kill him just for that.

Let alone what he's done to the women that've crossed his path.

"Dexter," Lumen says softly.

I tear my gaze away from the monster on my slab and look up at her. She swallows and asks without asking if I'm okay. I dip my chin and she nods.

She comes around to stand next to me as I look over my knives. "We'll have to get you a set if you want," I tell her. "Something very similar. What do you think?" I ask looking down at her.

Amazingly enough, she offers me this little half smile and nods. "I want to use that one," she points to the knife that my right hand is resting on top of. "Also, if you want, I'll go with you to Harrison's birthday. I'd like to meet the rest of your family."

I pull out the ten-inch carving knife and nod, handing the blade to her. "I think I would like that too."

"Thank you," she says and turns toward her second victim.

Life is defined in small moments. It's never the big things that make a memory. It's always the small ones. This small snippet in time will define Lumen Ann Pierce for decades. I couldn't be prouder.

I watch, arms folded across my chest, standing opposite Lumen as she looks down at Jordan Chase. Her face gives nothing away. She's the picture of cold calculation as she gently runs her fingertips over the blade of the knife.

Jordan sputters behind the gag in his mouth causing Lumen to purse her lips. She looks slightly annoyed.

That look doesn't last long. Her arms rise up, lifting the knife in her hands. It comes down swift and accurate, burying the blade to the hilt in Chase's chest. His sputtering and wheezing dies out.

Before I know it, I'm behind Lumen, supporting her as she collapses crying in my arms.

"Habla Español?" the fruit seller asks for the millionth fucking time.

"Jordan Chase?" I try again with my hands on my hips. It can't be this fucking difficult to communicate with another human being.

The man's large brown eyes grow a little bigger and he nods. I perk up and ask, "Which direction did he go?"

"Chase," he says in a thick Dominican accent.

I look to Ivey. Her sunglasses are mirrored and reflecting the bright afternoon sun. The t-shirt she's wearing is tucked into the tan slacks and her hands are on her hips, her posture just like mine.

She shakes her head and shrugs.

"What the fuck does that mean?" I snip at her. "You're fucking Hispanic!"

She smirks and holds her hands up. "I'm also the darkest white girl you've ever met. I don't speak Spanish. I was raised in a suburb of Philadelphia. Irish and Puerto Rican, Deb. I only habla American, you know, the poor man's English."


I throw my hands up in the air and spit, "I swear I'm fucking learning Spanish after this!"

This causes Ivey to laugh loudly.

"Direction?" she directs the question to the seller.

I watch the exchange and he points south.

Fuck, at least it's something.

She nods and says, "Gracias."

I roll my eyes and get in the car.

Snatching the list of properties off the dashboard I look at the intersection again and place myself on the mental map of Miami that's stored in my head. He's got to be around here somewhere.

My finger's drum across the paper in my lap and I look down, searching the addresses. Nothing. Where the hell is he going?

Ivey says, "Buckle up."

I toss the paper on the dashboard and do as instructed. She peels out, gravel kicking up behind us. She weaves in and out of traffic, the lights that are clipped to her visor reflecting off the windshield. We're running silent, but people move out of the way anyhow.

A few miles down, I see a faded sign to the River Jordan Camp for Boys and Girls and point to it. It can't be a coincidence.

"Got it," she says.

The car goes into a slide, but she handles her vehicle well. Grabbing the 'oh shit' handle, I hang on and try not to freak out too much. The car evens out and we're zipping down the dirt road before I can blink.

We come around a bend in the road and she stomps on the brakes. Dirt, rocks and debris go flying around the car, pinging against the metal and glass of her Mustang. "Holy shit!" she breathes.

"Uh," I manage as the car comes to a stop and the noise dies down. "Shit."

We hop out of the car and take a look around. A Ford Taurus rests on its hood, but there are no bodies inside or around the outside of the car. I wonder if this belongs to the vigilantes.

"Come on," Ivey says, "there's nothing here. We can come back later."

I nod as we run back to the car and take off again, this time going around the tractor and the car. The drive evens out and begins to circle around to a line of cabins. The last cabin on the right has one car parked in front of it.

Jordan Chase's BMW.

"Fucking all right!" I slap the dashboard earning a glare from my partner.

"Hey, be gentle," she chides.

I grin at her and jump out of the car before it comes to a stop. My gun is drawn and I feel Ivey flank me to the left. Looking around, nothing seems out of place. She taps my shoulder and points to the open door. I nod and take point.

The inside is dusty and looks like no one's been in here for years. The only indication that humans came through here are varying sets of footprints that disturbed the layer of dust and dirt on the floor. The paths they create lead me to an open door. I look down at the set of steps just inside the door.

I flick the safety off on my gun and begin the decent.

I duck down and see nothing in my line of sight initially. I ease down the steps. I hit the bottom and scan my surroundings; I know exactly where we are. Sonuvabitch. This is the room on the DVDs. My teeth grind together.

I feel Ivey behind me and move deeper into the room and see the body of Jordan Chase on top of a table. He's strapped down with a knife sticking out of his chest.

Mother fuck me!

I shake it off and move along. At the very back of the room there's a curtain of translucent plastic tarp. Two silhouettes are behind it whispering quietly.

"Miami P.D.!" I holler. That gets the voices to stop chattering.

"Don't move. Just don't fucking move!" I holler "Whatever's in your hand, set it down then keep your hands up!"

Ivey comes around to my right and lowers her weapon.

I don't know what to do.

I look at my partner. Her warm brown eyes hold no answers.


She does nod. It's a signal.

She's going to back my play.

Whatever that may be right now.

"Look," I start out, licking my lips, "I…I get it. If it were me, I'd probably do the same thing." I'm not sure where these words are coming from, but I know I need to say something. "I'm sorry," going for broke, I may as well try to make something of this. "Whoever you are, I'm sorry that they did this to you. Whoever your partner is, I'm sorry too. This whole situation is seven exits past fucked up and I'm sorry."

I swallow and look back to my partner who already has her weapon holstered.

I suck in a breath and continue, "But I'm a cop and I have to call this in. It'll take about an hour before a response unit shows up."

Ivey moves before I do. I hear her make her way up the steps. Slowly, I back up and lower my weapon. I don't need to see who is behind the tarp. I just know they'll be gone by the time we come back here.


Ch.5 – Timshel

"So tell me again why you didn't take up your friend's offer to go out tonight?" Ivey asks me from the other side of the small table we are seated at.

I shrug looking around the club my ex used to bring me to. We didn't come here often, but it was always nice. The memory's less comforting tonight than what I was hoping for. I sigh and sip at my beer. I wasn't as kind to the musician as I should have been.

Hell, I was a fucking bitch and he didn't deserve it.

Maybe sometime before I die, I'll find him and apologize.

"Be right back," Ivey slips from her seat and I watch her bounce over to the bar. She leans over and talks to the bartender, a smart looking girl that looks a little out of place. My guess is a struggling college student.

I take another pull of my beer and wonder, for nowhere near the final time tonight, if I did the right thing. Was letting the vigilantes go the right thing?

Running a hand through my hair, I tip my chair back and blink, looking up at a guy in a suit. He's cute, nice smile, nice clothes, but his eyes are blurry and there's a light band round his left ring finger.

I roll my eyes, pull my badge out of my back pocket and flash him a smile. He pales and backs away. Smirking, I drink the rest of my beer and find Ivey staring at me from across the small club. Her eyebrow's quirked and her arms are folded across her chest.

I smile at her and set the empty beer bottle down as I pocket my badge.

The badge is like a big red neon 'no' sign and causes a dick to limp quicker than a kick to the balls.

"Okay," Ivey says as she places four shot glasses on our table and sits down, "What was that?"

"Drunk husband looking for a little fun outside the home," I answer and look between my new partner and the shot glasses. I point to them and ask, "What's this?"

"This," Ivey says finishing off her beer, "is a top shelf tequila and us spending some quality time."

"Tequila? What about rum and whiskey?" I ask, unable to keep the grin off of my face as I watch her smack her lips and line up the shots.

"Look, Det. Morgan, just because I'm Puerto Rican and Irish doesn't mean that you can sit back and make jokes about my choice in alcohol. I take my tequila very seriously." She winks at me and I feel my cheeks flush. "Now, what I need to know from you, partner," she purrs and rolls the 'r's, "are all cases like this in your department?"

"Why'd you do it?" I wonder.

"Why'd you do it?" she asks back.

I shake my head and feel the tears sting my eyes. Fuck. Like I need this. I close my eyes and will the tears away. Ivey's hand finds mine, covering it with a soft grip.

"I did it because it was the right thing to do," her voice close, soft and warm against my cheek. "You made the right decision. I backed you up because your heart was in the right place."

I open my eyes and look at her off to my right. She's leaning into me and there's no malice in her features. Her eyes are soft and kind, an understanding reflected back at me that I really don't fucking deserve right now.

I shake my head and swipe at the corner of my left eye with the heel of my palm.

"I also think that this conversation, whatever it is, was a mistake to start. I'm sorry." She takes her free hand and nudges the tequila in my direction. "We can be introspective when we're hung over. It makes things more interesting that way." She winks at me and I growl.

"Fuck you," I manage thickly.

"Maybe if you're a good girl," she retorts.

I just sigh.

"But until I get you into my bed, it's time to open up." She raises the shot glass for a toast. I take mine and meet hers in the air. "To new partners and cases that will never be closed."

We bring them together and let them clink softly. I rest the glass against my lips and tip it back, letting the alcohol hit the back of my throat and slide down, surprised when it offers little burn.

She over turns the glass on the table and I follow suit. "Now," she winces slightly and takes the other in her hand, "This is for the hell of it. We deserve it and I'll be damned if I let a good tequila shot go to waste." Offering me a smirk she quickly takes the shot and I make a face as the second shot burns more on its way down.

The alcohol settles low in my stomach causing a pleasant enough warmth and I feel my eyes droop slightly, the buzz hitting me. Not drunk, just lose enough to allow me a small pleasure in resting my head against Ivey's shoulder.

This is nice. Just being here. No expectations, no need for conversation. My partner is okay with me not talking. Not like I have much to fucking say right now. What I really wanna do is crawl into a bed and sleep for a few days.

That won't happen, but I can dream, damn it.

She leans her head against mine and says, "Come on, it's been a really long fucking day."

I groan and turn my nose into her, briefly enjoying the smell of my partner before I sit up straight and rub my eyes. Ivey drops a twenty on the table and hands me my coat. We walk together, out of the club and to her car. I slide into the soft leather seat and close my eyes as I feel her put the car in gear and take off.

The drive is shorter than expected and I lift my head up as she parks in the complex's lot. "I talked to Frankie. He said he'll have everything ready for you tomorrow." She kills the engine and I hop out of the car before she continues. "Until then, you're welcome at mine."

"Thanks," I say and lead the way to her apartment.

I feel her behind me, hyperaware of every single move she makes. I can't tell if it's the alcohol or something else that's causing it and Ivey seems to be ignoring it.

Maybe that's a good fucking idea.

Ignore it and it'll go away. It's not like I need any more fucking complications.

She lets us in and I sigh, running a hand through my hair, trying to cool some of the tension that's coiled in the pit of my stomach. I lead us to the bedroom where I kick off my shoes and hang my jacket over a chair.

I start to unbutton my shirt, but a hand on my upper arm stops me. I turn around, letting Ivey guide me.

She's smirking at me, amusement reflected in her features and I let her hand trail down my arm.

I close my eyes. This is fucking stupid. Debra, I tell myself, this is epically, royally, stupendously fucking stupid.

"Quit overthinking things, Morgan," Ivey whispers, cutting into the mental ass chewing I was giving myself.

I don't open my eyes as I say, "Yeah 'cause sleeping with you is gonna end so well."

"It may if you let me steer," she whispers and begins to undo the buttons on my shirt.

I finally open my eyes and look down to meet her gaze.

She's still fucking smirking at me. "Stop fucking laughing at me," I whine and laugh self-consciously at the same time.

I let her back me up to the bed and my shirt drops as she lowers us down on to it.

"Just let go, Debra," she whispers against my ear, offering it a quick nip before continuing, "There's no one here to hurt you or make fun of you. Just me." Her tongue trails down my neck and she nibbles on the skin between my shoulder and neck. "And right now, the only thing I really feel compelled to do is pleasure you." Her mouth works its way back up my neck and she kisses me right behind my left earlobe before whispering, "Let me, please?"

I clamp my eyes shut tight and feel myself nod despite the distantly logical part of my brain that's saying I should leave.

Since when have I ever done the smart thing?

"You ready?" I ask Lumen out of the corner of my mouth as we approach the park where my son, friends and family are.

"I don't know," Lumen answers me honestly, but by then it's too late.

My nanny is already coming at us with Harrison in her arms, a grin wide on her face as Harrison looks at me, his face lighting up in recognition. My mouth tugs upwards and I coo, "Harrison! Who's a big boy today?" I wrap my arms around my son and hold him close; breathing him in before I set him on my hip. "Oh, daddy's missed you so much." I kiss the top his head and he buries into my chest.

"Hi, Harrison," Lumen sing songs and rubs his back. My son gives a gurgle of pleasure at the attention as I see Astor and Cody come running towards me.

Without needing to be asked, Lumen happily takes Harrison as I drop to one knee and gather Cody in my arms. "Hey big guy," I say into the crook of his neck.

"Dexter," he shouts happily and returns my strong embrace with equal fervor. "I missed you."

His words are short, sweet and do more for me than I thought possible. "I missed you too, buddy."

He finally lets go and I rise up to be hugged by Astor. Since her little stint with her friend, since I stopped that despicable piece of shit from hurting Astor's friend, she and I have seemed to come to some form of truce. "Hi, Astor."

"Dexter, we missed you," she says against my chest.

"I missed you too." I pull her away and look her over. More grown up than I remember ever seeing her, she looks like her mom and I smile, happy that there are pieces of Rita left in this world.

Mr. and Mrs. Bennett, Astor and Cody's grandparents, are next in the list of people I greet. They warily eye Lumen as she holds Harrison, but keep the introduction pleasant. The kids follow them as they go and take a seat at a park bench.

We get our hellos in with Maria LaGuerta and Angel Batista. Masuka has even shown up. I make a note to check the presents and hide the one from my friend from the lab.

Debra and her new partner, Ivey, are standing off to the side talking quietly to each other. Harrison, now back in my arms, giggles when he sees his aunt and her face lights up in turn. I owe Debra, more than she knows. Two days ago she had every right and should have arrested Lumen and myself.

Instead, she chose to let us go, seeing value in what we were doing.

Granted this last set of chosen were done more for revenge, but they would have come under my Dark Passenger's knife eventually. Lumen just sped up the process a little bit.

Lumen smiles at me, encouraging me to take Harrison to my sister's waiting arms. As I approach I see her partner's hand go to the small of her back. I cock my head to the side trying to get a sense of reaction from Debra. To my surprise, she leans back into the touch and shoots a coy smile to the short Latina.

My eyebrows rise, but I say nothing as Harrison goes into the arms of his aunt.

"Hi, bro," Deb says wrapping her free arm around my waist.

"Hi, sis," I say kissing the top of her head. She looks up at me a little shocked. I would be too, considering I give affection about as often as a pimp shows it to his three dollar hookers. I surprise her further when my pride at being a part of the Morgan clan takes hold and I lean down and whisper, "Thank you."

She looks up at me confused and I smile a most inscrutable smile then direct my attention to Ivey.

"Hello, Ivelisse," I say extending a hand to her.

She takes it and smiles her own charming smile. "Hi, Dexter who insists on making me feel like I've done something I shouldn't have. And," she peers over my shoulder to Lumen standing close behind me, "Lumen. It's nice to see you again."

"Hi," Lumen says quietly.

"Ivey," Debra introduces, bouncing Harrison on her hip, "This is the little man of the hour, my nephew, Harrison Morgan."

"Hi Harrison," Ivey says gently, shaking his hand. He seems to like that as he laughs and then buries his face in Deb's neck.

We watch as he peeks up and bats his lashes at my sister's new partner.

The two detectives share another look and my curiosity deepens. Knowing about Debra's sex life has never been a highlight of mine, but this…if I'm right…will need to be explained to me.

Lumen steps up beside me and she says, "He loves her."

"Harrison has always been partial to his Auntie Deb," I agree.

"And don't you fu…forget it," my sister catches herself.

"Seriously, Deb, there are kids around," Ivey's exasperated tone carries a note playfulness. "I'm going to have to get a gag, aren't I?"

My sister's cheeks flush at the joke and she shakes her head. "You know what I want to say, but I can't 'cause I've got impressionable ears around."

Ivey just smiles and winks at my sister. "Go on," Deb says, "go visit with Astor and Cody and everyone. Ivey and I'll take Harrison for a few." She turns her attention to my son, "Isn't that right, Harrison? Tell Daddy to go away so we can go play."

I take my leave and wave goodbye for a few minutes.

"She's nicer than I thought she would be," Lumen tells me.

I shrug. "We owe Deb and her partner. Does Hallmark make cards for cops that let serial killers get away?"

For some reason, this causes Lumen to lose it and she doubles over in laughter. I join her for a few minutes. It feels good to laugh and as she rights herself and takes my arm for support, she says, "A fruit basket may go over better."

"Hmm, you may be right."

We share a look, a moment like so many that has passed between us over the last few weeks. I smile at her, just happy that she's here.

I spot Astor and Cody talking with Angel and their grandparents. The words that escape my lips are unplanned, but true, "I want the kids back with me. I want you with me too, Lumen."

Her head tilts to the side and she smiles at me again, this time there are no memories that chase away the small bit of joy she reflects back at me. "Then we'll work it out."

I sigh a deep sigh of relief and my Dark Passenger's chest puffs out proudly. I suppose that's the most a monster like me can ask.

"Oh, my fucking back," I groan and hold the lower part of the thing I'm cussing. "I'm done. Fuck moving the rest of my shit. It can just…stay wherever the fuck it's at."

Ivey drops a box on the kitchen counter and laughs. I send her a dirty look and kick another box out of my way. Who knew I had this much shit in Dexter's storage space?

"You should have been with me when I moved. I have one room that's a dedicated library. You ever move a small library?" she asks.

I wipe some of the sweat from my face with the bottom of the tank top I have on and shake my head. "I didn't know you were a big geek," I tease.

"I am," she confirms and saunters over to me, "I'm also a sports geek, car geek and a music geek. You still want to work with me?" Her hands slip over my hips and my stomach drops.

I bite my bottom lip and can only nod.

"Well that's good. You're quite a detective to keep up with." She trails a nail down the slope of my nose. She nips my chin and purrs, "You may even be able to teach this old dog a few tricks."

I can't help the laugh that bubbles forth, "You're not old."

Her eyebrow quirks as she pulls back. "Good answer, detective, but I am older."

No she's not. If she's as old as me I'll be shocked.

"Let me help you. I was born in Sixty-eight. I'll give you a cookie if you can tell me how old I am." She bats her long black lashes at me and I quickly do the math.

"You're forty-two?" Okay that came out more like a question.

She can't be forty-two…she doesn't even look thirty. I'd put her late twenties if I didn't know better.

"You're cute when you're all confused." She taps the tip of my nose and dances away from my reaching fingers.

I run a hand through my hair instead and shake off the shock. "Well, it's just that—shit—I mean, you don't—"

"Yes?" she sings a few feet away from me.

"Well," I start then stop to rub the back of my neck. I should be able to just say it. I mean, it doesn't—I roll my eyes at my own stupidity. "You just don't look forty-two."

Her lips press together and she nods giving me this look to tell me she knows there's more that I want to say.

"And," I shuffle my feet, stalling, "well, you're pretty," my cheeks flame, "I just didn't think…"

I watch as she soaks up my discomfort. I really should be pissed, but she's not doing it in a mean way. She's teasing me, but being nice about it and it's fucking annoying. But it's not.

She puts me out of my misery, sliding back up to me and gathering me in her arms. They're small, but strong. I'm still a little out of my element; the shock of how I fit in them and don't mind still fucks with my head.

"You can think I'm sexy, Deb. I had a hard time thinking when I saw you in LaGuerta's office. I wasn't at my most smooth."

"Huh, see, I didn't notice. I was too fuckin' pissed." I wince, remembering the encounter. Not horrible, but I was a bitch that morning. "I'm sorry about that, by the way."

She shakes her head. "Not really your fault. Besides, I was too busy checking out your ass to pay much attention anyhow." She wiggled her eyebrows at me and I smack her arm.

"Fuckin' pervert."

She just shrugs and begins walking backwards towards the bedroom. "A little," she admits. "I'm cute enough to get away with it, though."

"The hell you are," I argue.

She may be, but I don't think I need to feed the ego on display anymore.

"I am. You don't need to tell me. I know it."

I roll my eyes as I shuffle down the hall and into my bedroom. My new bed, queen sized and quite nice, sits in the center of the room.

"I need to get Frankie something nice for helping you," Ivey says as her knees hit the edge of the bed.

I lower myself down and follow her as she scoots up the mattress. I let our bodies, still cooling from bringing my stuff up, slide together.

Ivey's all smiles as she works my belt free and I shimmy out of my pants. I work her cargo pants off her hips and lean down to nip at her exposed skin.

I smile up at her and she smoothes my hair back away from my face. "I think I'm going to enjoy having the weekend off." Her voice carries promises of quality time spent in bed. I work my way back up and press our centers together, rolling my hips.

I can't argue really…it's been a helluva year.

The End

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