Spoilers for 6x12 - (in which I start a fanfic to fulfill my need for closure after that giant emotional cliffhanger - Where Dexter’s season 6 finale left off from Debra’s POV)
—- CHAPTER 1: DISCOVERY —-
"What the fuck, Dex?" Debra stumbled back, her body slamming into the rough stone of the church’s walls. "I mean, what the fucking fuck? Jesus Christ, Dexter!" She steeled herself and started walking forward, her eyes darting back and forth from her brother to the dead man bleeding out on the table. "Is-Is that DDK? Is that Travis fuckin’ Marshall wrapped up in plastic like some fuckin’ deli meat? Jesus!"
"Deb -" Dexter began. Debra held up a hand to silence him.
"Don’t even fucking start. Jesus pissin’ Christ, I thought I knew my own brother but…" she tugged at her collar, unbuttoning one of the buttons. "This isn’t the first time you’ve fuckin’ done this, is it? Killed someone? Oh goddammit, I can’t breathe," she sputtered, doubling over and gasping for breath through her panic. Dexter rushed to her but she jerked away from him.
"Who are you?" she asked, staring into Dexter’s face. She wished that she could say she didn’t recognize the man before her, that the person she thought she’d known so well was gone. But the truth was, her brother was right there - his eyes filled with concern for her yet the rest of his face was blank, just a firmly set jaw and an indecipherable expression that she’d seen from him millions of times before.
"Deb, please -"
"Don’t. Speak. Please, Dex, I just gotta think. I can’t think right now." She wanted to run to him, confide in him but this time, he was the monster she was afraid of. It wasn’t who he had killed, because she wasn’t spilling any tears for the Doomsday Killer, but that smile on Dexter’s face as he shoved his knife into Marshall’s chest… it wasn’t human. It couldn’t be the brother she loved, the man she thought she was in love with. She spun away from him, yanking her hair out of her face just in time as she retched onto the stone floor.
She straightened up, wiping her mouth and groaning. She turned back to her brother, staring at him, unable to speak anymore. She took a deep breath and walked over to the altar of plastic her brother had erected to trap Travis Marshall, like a fly tightly wrapped in a spider’s web. “Dex… what is this?” Debra whimpered, hating herself for the weakness in her voice and the tears blurring her vision.
"Uh… He kidnapped Harrison. My son was going to be his sacrificial lamb on top of that tower."
Debra jerked her gaze away from the dead body before her. She locked eyes with her brother. “He tried to hurt Harrison?” Dexter nodded. A surge of protectiveness for her nephew moved through her before fading and leaving her with an empty numbness. “But, Dex, this… I could maybe understand if it was self defense or even if you killed him in a fit of fuckin’ rage - some heat of the moment kind of deal but this… This is cold and fuckin’ calculated and…” She couldn’t clear her head of the buzzing that seemed to be filling it, growing louder and louder and drowning out all reasonable thought. But how could she even begin to think reasonably with everything she had just learned?
Her breathing was becoming irregular again and she leaned a hand against the table to steady herself. She quickly pulled her hand away at the feel of the warm plastic. Looking down she understood why it had been so warm - fresh blood was trapped under the plastic. She studied her hand but it was clean.
Debra could see Dexter moving towards her out of the corner of her eye. “Stop. Stop where you are!” she yelled at him, pulling her gun and training it on his chest. He held up his hands, dropping the bloody knife that had still been clutched in his gloved fist.
"Are you gonna shoot me, Deb?" Dexter asked, still walking towards her slowly.
She cocked the gun. “S-Stop, Dex!” Debra shouted, her voice shaking. She gripped the gun tighter in her trembling hands. “I don’t wanna shoot you, goddammit. You’re my fuckin’ brother but, but… I-I gotta, I gotta take you in, Dex. I have to.”
"What about Harrison?" Dexter questioned softly, still walking closer in slow, measured steps.
"I can’t be your sister right now. I can’t let something like this slide. I’m lieutenant. I’m the fuckin’ lieutenant and I can’t, I can’t let you get away with this." Her voice was shaking even harder than before, as was the gun in her hands. She shut her eyes tightly for a second. Her defenses were down for one second but that was enough time for Dexter to lunge at her and grab the gun from her hand. He disarmed it, emptying the bullets from the clip. They clattered to the floor, rolling in all directions. Dexter cast the gun aside and Debra watched, frozen, as it skidded across the flagstone floor.
Dexter grabbed her in his arms, she struggled against him but he was so much stronger than she was, much stronger than she expected him to be. He clutched her tightly against him. “Listen to me.” She fought against him but he wouldn’t let go. “Listen to me, Deb! Please! I can’t leave Harrison without a mother and a father. Just go. I’ll take care of this. You were never here. You didn’t see this. Please, Deb, please. You have to let me go.” He whispered the last bit into her hair, making her shiver against him.
"What, What would you do if I didn’t let you go?" Her voice was small and scared. Would her brother be willing to kill her to keep his secret? She couldn’t voice that question out loud.
"I’d never hurt you," Dexter said quietly, as if he could read her mind. "But Harrison is my son, my number one priority, and if you take me away from him… I don’t want to hurt you."
"But you could hurt me… you could kill me if it meant keeping this a secret?"
"No!" Dexter finally released her. His face was contorted with frustration and anger as he paced back and forth. For the first time Debra didn’t recognize her brother. "I wouldn’t kill you! I don’t know what I’d do, Deb! I don’t know!" He pounded against his head with both fists and grunted.
"Jesus! Stop!" Debra grabbed his hands to stop him from hurting himself. "Dex! Dex! I’ll leave. I’ll leave. You take care of this however you have to. Alright? Call it in as a suicide or something so we can close the case, okay? Just… just you handle it. I can’t stay here. I can’t know how you fuckin’ do whatever it is you’re gonna do, alright?" Dexter stared blankly into her face. "Alright?" she pressed. He blinked and nodded. "Okay, I’m, I’m gonna go. I’m gonna go back to the station and do some paperwork or whatever and pretend I never saw any of this. Okay?" Dexter nodded again. "Good," Deb whispered softly, releasing his hands and half-running to the door. She slammed it behind her and bolted to her car, not stopping until she had slammed herself into the driver’s seat and locked the doors.
Debra buckled herself in, barely managing it with how badly her hands were shaking. She started up the car and grasped the wheel tightly, taking a minute to brace herself before taking off. The shock had kicked her into autopilot, so when she was parking in front of the station with no memory of getting there, she was surprised and impressed that she hadn’t gotten into a car accident on the way. She took an extra minute to compose herself, turning the rearview mirror and carefully dabbing at her messy eye makeup with her fingers.
"Pfft, okay, you got this. If you can keep it cool for a couple of hours you can handle any fuckin’ shit storm that comes flying at you from here on out," she muttered to herself as she slammed her car door shut and walked into the building.
She headed straight for her office with a determined purpose that no one disrupted. Clutching both hands on the doorknob to keep from slamming it, she gently shut her door. Her eyes peered at her fellow officers through the blinds. Everyone was consumed with finding DDK, completely unaware of the secret weighing in the pit of her stomach like a pound of maggots wriggling inside her. DDK was Dead. Dexter was a killer. She flipped the blinds shut and took a seat behind her desk, clenching and unclenching her fists in her lap.
The ticking of the second hand on the little watch on her wrist became the most fascinating thing, distracting her from the files she attempted to pore over while waiting for a call to come in. Debra slammed her head down on the pile of cases on her desk and groaned but her door bursting open a second later made her jump out of her seat.
"Sorry, ma’am," Detective Anderson apologized. "But your brother’s called in DDK’s apparent suicide at the abandoned church." Deb nodded mutely. "Lieutenant Morgan?" Anderson asked, clearly expecting something more from her minimal reaction.
"Fuckin’ A, yeah! Let’s get everyone over at the scene right the fuck n-now," Debra said, trying to channel her usual self. Anderson nodded and strode out of her office, rounding up Masuka and some officers to head over to the scene. She followed after the quickly-assembled team, getting in her car and chasing after the lights and sirens that guided her way back to the church.
—- CHAPTER 2: DENIAL —-
The church loomed out of the darkness as Debra’s car came to a crawl. Masuka ran by, snapping on a latex glove and nearly skipping past as she parked her car. She followed him into the church, stricken with a desperate urge to vomit for the second time that evening at what she saw. She moved forward, stepping to instinctually avoid the area of floor she had thrown up on earlier but when she glanced down she saw that, of course, Dexter had cleaned it up. He had cleaned it all up - no trace of evidence of his involvement in Travis Marshall’s death could be found, and no evidence of Debra witnessing that death. The sanctuary told a different story now.
Debra clapped a hand over her mouth and stepped forward to inspect Travis Marshall’s body, no longer trapped on a table. Now he sat sprawled naked at the foot of the crucifix with a slash in each cheek and the wound that Deb had seen Dexter stab into his chest, the source of a thick dried dribble of blood down his front. The knife lay loosely in his right palm. At his feet, a message had been scrawled out in blood. Deb steeled herself to read the words that she knew her brother had fabricated for Marshall’s suicide.
GOD FORGIVE ME - I HAVE FAILED YOU
It was all too perfect, the staging was meticulous and completely believable. She didn’t need a forensic eye to know Dexter had crafted the perfect cover-up to his crime.
"After all that, the guy just kills himself? Wow. Let-down," Masuka said with a giggle.
Debra turned to him and he immediately shrank back, the awkward smile sliding from his face as she spoke. “Are you fuckin’ kidding me? Bastard kills himself and you’re disappointed that, what? There weren’t fuckin’ pyrotechnics blasting into the sky to signify this shit-fucker’s death? How ‘bout being just a little fuckin’ happy that DDK’s dead and that he can’t kill any more innocent people?”
"Geez, sorry," Masuka muttered, taking another step back and averting his eyes from Debra.
The satisfaction she would have normally felt from yelling at Vince Masuka didn’t hit her, instead her eyes wandered over to Dexter and her heart sank in her chest. He looked no different than he would at any other crime scene. She didn’t know what she was looking for as she studied his face - maybe it was the hope for some glimmer of guilt or… humanity. She walked over to him, stopping a few feet away and standing there hesitantly for a moment. “Dex, can I, can I talk to you for a minute?” she asked quietly.
Dexter looked at her blankly. “Uh, now’s not a great time, Deb. I have to finish photographing the scene,” he told her matter-of-factly.
"Right. Um, okay, later then?" He nodded and moved away from her, lifting his camera to eye level and snapping a shot that lit up the whole sanctuary for a split second.
Debra clenched and unclenched her jaw before walking over to Angel. He looked over at her and an expression of concern colored his features. “You okay, Deb?” he asked.
"Yeah, well, uh, no," she fumbled, pushing a stray lock of hair behind her ear. Angel raised an eyebrow at her. She cleared her throat and tried again. "Um, happy ‘bout the case closing, obviously, but I’m not feeling so hot so I think I’m gonna head out. Can you and Anderson take point on this for tonight?" she asked.
Angel nodded. Deb gave him a weak smile and started to walk towards the door. “You heading back to the precinct to prepare a statement?” he asked.
She turned back to him, a blank expression plastered to her face. “Uh…”
“‘Cause you know Maria’s gonna wanna hold a press conference the second you can declare the case officially closed,” Angel elaborated.
"Oh, shit. Right, LaGuerta and her fuckin’ press conferences," Debra muttered, running a hand over her forehead. Angel gave a little chuckle. Deb dropped her hand by her side. "Look, Angel, I-I just gotta get out of here for now. I’m feeling kinda sick. I’ll deal with LaGuerta in the morning."
"Okay. Are you sure you’re gonna be okay?" Angel asked, the concern still etched on his face.
"Yeah, I’ll be fine. I just need to get the fuck outta here. Thanks, Angel," she said giving him a clap on the shoulder before leaving the sanctuary. It took all the effort she had not to full-out run from the church.
It only took one knock for Jamie to open the door with Harrison resting on her hip. “Oh, hi Debra,” she said, looking slightly surprised to see her there.
"Hey. Just came to have a little quality time with my nephew. So, uh, I can take it from here," Debra said, stepping into Dexter’s apartment.
"Oh, sure. Let me just grab my things," Jamie said, putting Harrison down and grabbing up her textbooks from off the kitchen counter. She packed them into her bag and swung it over one shoulder before kneeling down in front of Harrison. "Hey buddy, I’m gonna go now but your Auntie Debra’s gonna play with you. I’ll see you tomorrow, okay?"
“‘Kay, bye bye Jamie,” Harrison said, giving his nanny a tiny hug.
"Thanks," Debra said as she shut the door behind Jamie. She turned to Harrison. "Hey Hare, how are ya?" Harrison gave her a brilliant smile before turning and running to his room. He giggled as he plopped down on the floor and began playing with the pieces of a large foam puzzle. Debra took a seat across from him and twirled one of the foam pieces on its edge. It flopped over onto the carpet and Harrison giggled again.
Debra smiled in spite of herself. “You’re a little angel, you know that?”
"Yeah," Harrison said nonchalantly, grabbing a tiny blue truck and rolling it over the puzzle pieces. He yawned.
"You tired, buddy?" Deb asked.
"No." Harrison shook his head defiantly and continued rolling the blue truck around. He yawned again.
"I’m not sure I believe ya, big man. Let’s get you to bed," Debra said, standing up and holding a hand out to Harrison. He pretended not to see it. "Fine. You leave me no choice," Deb said with a little sigh before grabbing him up under the armpits and flying him over to his crib like an airplane. Harrison shrieked with laughter, rolling around in his crib once she had put him down. Debra laid a hand on his stomach to calm him down. He settled down and she grabbed the folded-up blanket that hung over the edge of the crib and spread it over him. He looked up at her with big blue eyes.
"Want Daddy tuck me in," Harrison told her.
"He’ll be home in a little while to give you a goodnight kiss, alright?" Harrison nodded. Deb ruffled his blond hair and walked out of the room, pausing in the doorway to turn out the light. "Good night, Hare."
"Good nigh, Awny Deb."
Debra closed the door behind her and leaned against it for a moment. Her knees didn’t feel strong enough to keep her standing. She wobbled to the couch, plopping down on it and and taking a deep breath. She had to clutch her leg to keep it from bouncing nervously. She wanted to tear off that couch and rip through the apartment, looking for some evidence as to who her brother really was. But she remained rooted to the spot. The police officer in her couldn’t believe she wasn’t taking the opportunity to search the place but the sister in her hated that she was even considering breaching her brother’s privacy.
She took a deep breath and pulled out her cell phone, scrolling through the contacts and finding some small comfort in the sound of the beep that repeated as she went through each person’s name.
The door opened on her third run-through of contacts and she jumped up from the couch. Dexter stood framed in the doorway for a moment, studying her before stepping in and shutting the door behind him with a quick snap. Debra flinched at the small, harsh sound.
"T-Talk to me, Dex," Debra said softly, standing up and stowing her phone in her pocket. She hooked her thumbs through her belt loops as she waited for him to respond. Dexter let out a low stream of air as he perched on the edge of the couch’s armrest. "Dexter!" Debra prodded, her voice somewhere between a whine and a growl. It reminded her too much like her teenage self for her own taste.
"What do you want me to say, Deb?" Dexter asked quietly.
"Fuck if I know! Just… something. I don’t know what to think here. Help me out." She unhooked her thumbs from the belt loops and crossed her arms in front of her chest, shifting her weight from one hip and then the other. The silence pressed in on her ears until it felt like her head might implode.
"Dex -" the words began to tumble from her mouth before she could sort through them and process what she was saying, "You don’t think I didn’t fuckin’ recognize the way you laid out DDK? It’s the same way Rudy or Brian or whatever the fuck his name was - It’s, it’s the same way he tried to kill me years ago! He said he was paying homage to another killer. He knew about Doakes, he knew about how he wrapped his victims in plastic. The Ice Truck Killer and the Bay Harbor Butcher - Those are who you’re modeling yourself after? Dexter… just… what the fuck?" She collapsed back onto the couch, no longer able to speak.
She hadn’t consciously made the connection between what her ex-fiance had done to her years ago and what she had seen Dexter do to DDK until she had spoken the words out loud. It was all too unsettling, the sort of revelation she would desperately need to share with her brother. And she had done just that. Only Dexter no longer felt like the safe place she could go to to clear her head and sort things out. And yet he was still the only place she had.
"I know," Dexter finally said. He seemed to be searching for his words. Debra hated how he always remained so composed and measured. "I know my methods were reminiscent of those killers, but Deb, I work for the police, I know the ins and outs of those cases. I saw what was effective… and I used it."
"Effective? Yeah, until they got caught!" Debra ran a hand through her hair, standing and pacing in agitation. "Effective? Jesus Christ, Dexter, I always knew you could be cold but not that you were made of fuckin’ ice. What you did to DDK wasn’t about ‘effective’. It was about what… felt right to you. Look, I’d be lying if I said I was sad to see a psycho killer kick it but… I just wan’t fuckin’ ready to see you -“
"You weren’t ready to see me?" Dexter cut her off softly. Debra faltered, stopping her pacing and looking into her brother’s face.
"You, you never answered me in the church." She couldn’t ask the question in her head. She didn’t want the answer. But she needed it. She clenched and unclenched her jaw, finally prying the words out from down in her throat. "Was this the first time you’ve done this?" She looked for a clue, any kind of reaction in his face that she could read, but as usual, he was a blank slate - forever guarded around her, around everyone.
"Look, Deb, this… was premeditated. I’ll admit that. But I swear, I haven’t done this before.” He tore his gaze from hers, taking a breath and studying his hands as he continued. “I just… I made my plan and I executed it. Now it’s over. It’s done.”
"Are you kidding me? It’s not over!" Debra yelled.
"Sh! Harrison," Dexter said, holding a hand out in the direction of his son’s room.
Debra took a deep breath and lowered her voice. “Y-You’re a fuckin’ killer. And even if this was your first time… now I know about it. I know that my brother killed someone and it’s a secret that I’m going to have to carry around for you forever. Which pretty much goes against every fucking moral code I believe in, not to mention the code of our jobs! Serve and fuckin’ protect, not turn into a vigilante. The guy was a royal bastard, but you can’t just take it upon yourself to take him out.”
"He killed so many people and -" Dexter started.
"That doesn’t justify shit! ‘Cause now you killed him! You killed him. You’re a killer now. What he did or didn’t do - I think you’re missing the fuckin’ point here, Dex!” Debra growled.
"No, I understand. Everything you’re saying makes sense but it’s not going to get us anywhere. It’s not going to get us past this. I did what I had to. Now you have to do what you need to to get over it." His tone was no longer calm and careful. It was accusatory, like somehow Debra’s reaction was exhausting him and he just needed her to grow up and get past it.
"Well, excuse me for needing some fuckin’ time to process this situation, asshole!" she yelled.
"Stop. You’re going to wake up Harrsion," Dexter hissed. The fire drained out of Debra. She didn’t know what else to say or how to get him to understand where she was coming from. She slumped down onto the couch and sighed.
"Deb, I know the difference between right and wrong but… what I did isn’t as black and white as that."
"Jesus, fuck," Debra whispered, pressing a hand against her chest. It hurt to try to get in a deep breath. Dexter stood from his perch on the armrest and made to go over to her but she jumped up, holding her hands out to ward him off. "Just - just stay the fuck away from me, Dexter," she muttered, slipping by him and out of the apartment.
—- CHAPTER 3: DREAM —-
Debra was happy to turn the press conference over to LaGuerta’s control. She stood at Maria’s right side, just a few steps behind the podium while the cameras rolled and flashed in her face. She could practically hear the smile in Maria’s voice as she delivered the news to the press. Once she was done with her statement the press fielded their question to Debra. She cleared her throat and switched places with LaGuerta, gripping the sides of the podium to steady herself.
The minute the conference ended Debra slipped away. “Deb!” Maria called to her in the hall. Debra turned to her, hand tapping against her knee in some desperate antsy morse code. “Would you like to grab lunch to celebrate?”
"Uh, raincheck?" Deb shot back, not really waiting for an answer before escaping.
Debra found herself seeking refuge in her car again, taking a moment to collect herself before starting it up and heading to her apartment. She collapsed onto her unmade bed the minute she got in, flopping against the loose sheets. She lied there for a minute before sitting up and stripping off her clothes and yanking a sheet over her. She tried to focus on the cool material against her skin instead of the feeling of bugs crawling beneath her flesh. She let her eyes fall shut as she attempted to take deep, calming breaths. She was falling apart at the seams, impressed that she was keeping it together in public as much as she was but realizing that was only true because she was limiting her exposure to the outside world.
A knock against the partially ajar bedroom door made her shoot up in bed. “Deb?” Dexter’s voice spoke quietly through the door. She grabbed her top from off the floor and yanked it over her head.
What the hell is he doing here? she thought, panic making her heartbeat flutter up into the base of her throat.
"Deb, are you okay?" Dexter asked softly as he entered her room, brow furrowing with concern for her. She nodded weakly, biting her lip and wishing that her brother wasn’t standing in front of her right then. He closed the distance between them, taking a seat next to her on the bed.
"Uh, y— Well… sorta," Debra muttered, unable to look him in the eye. She let out a slow stream of air before attempting to say anything else. "No, actually, I’m not okay. I’m fuckin’ losing it here and —" she was cut off by Dexter’s lips brushing against hers. She felt her breath catch in her chest, frozen in shock. But instead of pushing him off, she found her eyes sliding shut as she allowed herself to enjoy the kiss, putting her arms around Dexter’s neck and feeling a tingle down her spine when he wrapped his arms around her waist. Dexter leaned in, pressing Debra back onto the bed. She felt his hands drift from her back to her sides and then to her stomach, grabbing the hem of her shirt and sliding it up over her ribs. She moaned quietly, waiting for his next move. She couldn’t explain why she was taking comfort and distraction in the very person she wanted to run from, should run from, but she chose not to question it.
"Is this okay?" Dexter whispered against her lips.
"Y-Yeah," Debra replied softly. They kissed again, only breaking apart for Dexter to pull Debra’s shirt off. Dexter leaned back, inspecting Deb for a moment. She felt a sudden wave of self-consciousness and shame. She wrapped her arms around herself but Dexter grabbed her hands in his. "You’re beautiful," he said quietly, eyes staring intently at her.
"Why are you doing this?" Debra asked so softly she wasn’t even sure if she had spoken the words aloud. He didn’t answer so she just watched as one of Dexter’s hands hovered above the button of her jeans. He waited for her to protest and when she didn’t, he undid the button, moving on to the zipper where he slid it down one tooth at a time. His other hand reached for something behind Deb’s head. She tried to look behind her but she couldn’t get the right angle to see. She felt something cool in his hand drag down between the bed and her back. It sent a shiver through her spine. When he got down to her hip he pulled his hand out from under her, a knife clenched in his fist.
"Dex, what —?" He plunged the knife into her belly. She shrieked in pain as he yanked it out and swung it back in. She could feel her blood flowing freely, spilling out of her and down her sides. She tried to struggle against her brother but the knife was in so deep that it pinned her in place. And even while screaming for him to stop she was still screaming to him to save her.
Debra shot up in bed, sobbing and clutching her stomach. But her skin was smooth and dry and she felt no pain. Fuck. You were asleep. It’s okay. It was only a nightmare, only a fuckin’ creepy-ass murderous… incestuous nightmare, she thought to herself, shuddering. Just a nightmare. She forced herself to lie back down, grabbing fistfuls of the sheets and yanking them up to her chin.
Debra paused outside her therapist’s office, staring at the gleaming nameplate on the door that read ‘Dr. Michelle Ross’. What was she going to say? She was ready to burst but she couldn’t tell Ross about Dexter’s secret. She took a deep breath and knocked on the door. “Come in,” Michelle’s voice called from inside the office.
You’re gonna have to bullshit. You can’t tell her… you just can’t tell her anything. Wow, lying to your therapist, yeah, that’s gonna help you get at the real fuckin’ issues, Debra thought as she entered, avoiding Michelle’s gaze and taking a seat. Just focus on the dream. You can talk about the dream, she told herself as she shifted on the couch. Fuck, I don’t wanna talk about the dream.
"Are you alright, Debra? You seem a little preoccupied," Michelle prodded with a gentle smile, breaking through her thoughts. Debra finally looked at her, blinking for a moment as she waited for the right words to arrange themselves in her brain so she could speak.
"I had a really fucked up nightmare," Deb said tersely.
"What happened in the nightmare?" Michelle asked, intertwining her fingers in her lap and waiting for Debra to elaborate.
"Dexter was…" Debra took a deep breath, needing to steel herself against the shame and guilt that didn’t want to let her speak. "He was on top of me, kissing me… and then he just, he fuckin’ stabbed me. Right in the gut."
"What do you think that means?" Michelle asked thoughtfully, studying Debra with curious eyes.
Deb looked around the room, unable to handle Michelle’s gaze. “I don’t fucking know! But it’s like the image that I had of my brother has been completely fuckin’ shattered into a million pieces and I don’t know what to think or how to feel or how the fuck I’m gonna get a handle on it. And, and —”
"Alright, Debra, I want you to breathe. In and out, nice and slow. Did anything else happen in the dream? Breathe and tell me what happened."
Debra tried to do as she was told but a sense of panic was mounting in her chest that she couldn’t suppress. “No. Nothing. He stabbed me and I woke up screaming and crying like a little fuckin’ kid. That’s it.”
"Did he say anything to you?" Michelle prodded.
"Uh, he asked me if what he was doing was okay," Deb said, still avoiding looking at her therapist.
"If what was okay?"
"Kissing me," Deb said in an almost inaudible whisper.
"And what did you say?"
"I said yes." She chanced a glance at Michelle. She couldn’t read her expression so she just waited for her response.
"And is that when he stabbed you?" Michelle asked after a moment.
"Yeah. He, he called me beautiful and then he grabbed a knife from somewhere behind me and yeah, then he stabbed me."
"So you didn’t see the knife at first?"
"No. What are all these questions supposed to get at here?" Debra asked, her tone more defensive than she had expected it would be.
"I don’t know yet, Debra. I’m just trying to get a better sense of the dream so we can get at the root of what it means," Michelle said with a soft smile that was meant to reassure Debra but only felt patronizing to her.
"Well, uh, it probably means I shouldn’t be with Dexter," Deb said coldly, crossing her arms in front of her chest and sinking down a little further into the couch in a defiant way.
"Because he’ll end up hurting you the way other men in your life have?"
"How about because he’s my fuckin’ brother and it just shouldn’t be something that ever enters my fuckin’ brain? And, and who the fuck are you to try to push me in that direction? What kind of sick agenda are you trying to push to get me with him? Why would you want me with him?" Debra looked at Michelle now, standing up and clenching her fists at her side.
"Debra, I’m not here to push you to do anything, I only want to help you realize —"
"I can’t trust you. I can’t trust him. I don’t have anyone to fucking go to!" Debra burst out, shaking her hands out before jamming them through her hair. "Fuck, I-I gotta go. I can’t handle this shit right now," Deb muttered as she ran from the office. Michelle followed after her, calling to her as she sped down the hall.
"Please come back and at least finish the session, I don’t want you leaving in this state," Michelle said. Debra ignored her, making her way out of the building without a glance back.
—- CHAPTER 4: DARK —-
Debra found herself staring out at the marina, watching the waves created by passing boats. She sat down on the dock, slipping off her shoes and dipping her feet into the cool water. She sat like that for a while, taking in slow, deep breaths. Against her better judgment, she found herself texting her brother, telling him to meet her there. She put the phone down beside her on the dock. Barely a moment passed until she heard the buzz of the cell vibrating against the wood. She opened Dexter’s reply.
OK. Be there in half hour.
The image Debra had of her brother now was tainted. The altar of plastic, the knife, the elaborate cover-up, her dream… And while the last one wasn’t technically his fault, it still felt real. He was no longer just the boy she grew up with. He was something else now too. The minutes ticked by slowly. As each one passed, she felt the panic bubble up in her, until it was overpowering and telling her to run away. But she couldn’t. She had to confront him. He hadn’t given her enough to make sense of it. Or maybe he had and she just wasn’t willing to put the pieces together.
A shadow grew over her. She jerked around to see Dexter standing behind her. She stood on the dock to face him, water pooling at her feet.
"You wanted to talk?" Dexter asked. Debra nodded, licking her lips nervously and trying to figure out exactly what she wanted to say.
She picked her shoes up off the dock and began walking. Her brother strode along beside her, leaving a foot of space between them. She was careful to maintain that distance. “Like… five years ago, when that motherfucker, Doakes, was gunning for you…” she began, again feeling the sensation of not knowing what she was going to say until she said it. “It’s ‘cause he knew there was something in you, something that was —” she cast about for a word that could fit her brother. What she had seen him do to DDK could be labeled evil. But she couldn’t call him that. She couldn’t think of Dexter in that way. “Something that was… dark,” Deb finished, squinting against the sun as she stared into her brother’s face. There was a vague flicker there, something that looked like relief.
"A dark passenger," Dexter whispered, a spark lighting somewhere behind his usually guarded eyes.
Debra shook her head in confusion. “What?” she asked.
The spark extinguished itself. “Nothing,” Dexter said with a shake of his head.
"Goddammit, Dex!" Debra grunted, leaning down and slipping her shoes back on before settling her hands on her hips. "Don’t shut me out. I need to know what’s going on with you!"
"You know. You just wish you didn’t. And I’m sorry. I wish you didn’t have to know either. But you do now. I don’t know how to fix that."
Debra sighed. He was right. She desperately wished she hadn’t seen what she’d seen. Better yet, she wished there was no big, dark secret in the first place. Nothing to uncover. Dexter was her brother. He was the father of a sweet little boy. He wasn’t supposed to be this other thing. This person with a dark passenger.
"Where does that leave us?" Deb asked after a moment of silence.
"I don’t know."
"Fan-fuckin’-tastic," Deb murmured. She raked a hand through her hair and sighed. "I’m gonna, I’m gonna go," she said.
"I thought you wanted to talk," Dexter said in a maddeningly calm voice. Of course she wanted to talk. But wanting something and being able to do it were two entirely different things, and in this case, irreconcilable.
"Yeah, well neither one of us knows what the fuck to say so the point’s kinda moot, isn’t it?" Debra shouted, turning back the way they had come and half-running to her car. Attempting to confront something and then running in the opposite direction, it was becoming a pattern for Deb. One that she wasn’t particularly proud of, but it was all she could manage.
o O o
She took a seat behind her desk, steepling her fingers together and brushing her chin over her fingertips as she thought. The shades were drawn but she could still catch glimpses of movement from beyond the glass. An interaction she had had with her brother years ago popped into her head. It felt like something she had stuffed into a back drawer in her brain. Only the drawer had sprung open all of a sudden and she remembered so clearly it could have happened yesterday.
"Can you take a look at this for me?" she asked, handing Dexter the profile she had compiled.
Dexter flipped through the pages before looking at her. “Copycat killer?” he asked, a slight note of incredulity humming in his voice.
"I worked all night on that profile," she told her brother proudly. "I’d like to give it to LaGuerta but I want to make sure it’s good enough."
"I’m honored," Dexter said, looking back down to the file. He began to read aloud from it. “‘The similar manner in which the victim’s body was displayed suggests this killer feels a connection to the Ice Truck Killer… excited by what he’s doing. The cut on the victim’s cheek, while not fatal, appears to be a signature of sorts. Because of the lack of evidence found at the crime scene the suspect may be familiar with law enforcement or forensics procedure.’ Huh."
"Ugh, why’d you quit? You’re just gettin’ to the good stuff," she said with a grin.
"Let me guess. Single white male in his thirties, lives alone, disconnected from his emotions. It’s a little textbook, don’t ya think?" He gave her a sympathetic smile that bordered on condescending.
"But it totally fits this case," Deb pressed.
"Or you’re trying to make it fit. My advice," he handed the file back to her, "Keep this to yourself."
Deb pressed a hand to her mouth as the memory faded out of focus, slipping itself inconspicuously back into that drawer tucked away in her mind. She had been on to something. Not something. Someone specifically. Dexter. She never would have guessed at the time but the description fit him like a glove. He had protected his secret then, at the expense of knocking her confidence down a few pegs. She was ashamed to realize she wasn’t sure what she was more upset about: that Dexter really was this horrible person who had killed before or that he had been an unsupportive brother to her. A tiny manic laugh erupted from her lips. She stifled it quickly and shook her head.
Deb thought back to a discussion she had had with LaGuerta after Doakes had been killed and his name besmirched with the moniker of the Bay Harbor Butcher. She remembered realizing that LaGuerta’s conscious denial made perfect sense. If LaGuerta could be tricked by someone so close to her (a murderer, according to everyone), she wouldn’t be able to trust anyone else ever again.
She’d never be able to trust her own judgment again. LaGuerta couldn’t. And neither could Debra.
Everything that had happened in the past was suddenly called into question. Lundy had noted that the depressions in skin of the Bay Harbor Butcher’s victims indicated that he wrapped them in plastic.
The plastic altar DDK had been trussed up in like a goddamn turkey shrink-wrapped at the supermarket. The plastic that Rudy… Brian had wrapped Debra herself in.
Debra shuddered in her seat. Doakes wasn’t the Bay Harbor Butcher. He hadn’t been chasing after Dexter because he sensed a darkness in him. He had been gunning for Dex because he knew that Dexter was the Butcher.
It all clicked into place. It was chillingly simple. Of course, Debra had no real proof to back up her gut, but she knew she was right. She had been in denial for years. The clues were there along the way but she had never pieced them together. She hadn’t wanted to. Or maybe it wasn’t denial. Maybe it was blindness or stupidity. She couldn’t have fathomed it a few days ago. But now she could. And she wished to god she couldn’t.
She slipped out of work an hour early, drove over to Dexter’s and parked outside his apartment. She just waited for him to get home. She knew what she had to do once he arrived. An hour and twenty-three minutes later, Dexter’s car pulled in beside hers. The exchanged glances through the windows of their cars before walking to his apartment together. He held the door open for her without a word. She stepped inside.
"Hey, look who’s home!" Jamie said excitedly to Harrison. He clapped his hands and ran over to his father.
Dexter picked him and spun around. “Hey buddy!” He lifted Harrison up high so the little boy could sit on his shoulders. “Thanks Jamie,” he said as he pulled his wallet from his pocket and paid her for the week. She smiled and nodded before leaving.
Debra pushed the curtain aside a bit to watch Jamie walking away. When she was out of sight, Debra turned back to Dexter. She glanced up at the grinning blond boy on his shoulders before quickly bringing her focus back to her brother.
"Look… I put it together," she said. Dexter cocked his head slightly and opened his mouth but she cut him off before he could begin. "Don’t say anything. Don’t play dumb. I know." Dexter stood frozen for a few seconds. Then he gave a curt little nod and waited for her to continue while Harrison ran his little hands through Dexter’s hair.
Tears filled Deb’s eyes and her voice choked in her throat. “You have to leave. You’re my brother. I love you. I can’t turn you in. I can’t make my nephew an orphan,” she whispered, clearing her throat and regaining her voice. “You need to take Harrison and go. Far away. Don’t tell me where. I can’t know. But you need to go, like, now.”
Deb stared at her big brother. She had expected something more. Some fight. Indignation, anger. Anything.
"Alright," Dexter said again.
"Okay then," Debra said with a terse nod. She exhaled slowly and reached for the door handle to leave.
"Thank you," Dexter said softly as she slid the door open. She nodded, unable to speak, before slipping out.
She managed to get all the way back home before collapsing on the kitchen floor in a mess of sobs. She cried harder than she ever had before, her throat raw and aching, her cheeks burning, tears and snot sliding down her face. Her mother was gone, so was her father, and now Dexter too. But never in a billion years would she have expected to lose him this way. They were both supposed to grow old, siblings and best friends and they’d die together in their nineties.
Debra wasn’t supposed to lose him to this terrible secret. To lose her brother to this monster he really was. She wasn’t supposed to banish him because she was a coward who couldn’t do what her job demanded of her. She loved him too much for him to stay. She couldn’t risk anyone discovering what he was. And she couldn’t risk seeing him every day and only seeing a killer.
o O o
Dexter wasn’t at work the next day. When asked about it Debra redirected with a “Oh, he hasn’t called in or anything. I don’t know where he is. I’ll give him a call.” She retreated to her office again, pulling out her cell phone and scrolling through her contacts until she reached Dexter’s name. She stared at it for a moment then shut the phone off.
He wasn’t there the day after either. She didn’t know what she’d expected. She had told him to leave. Did she think he’d still show up at the office? Maybe pack up a few things before hitting the road? Debra found an email in her inbox titled ‘Resignation’. She clicked on it and saw that it had been forwarded to everyone else in their division as well.
I’m sorry I’m not saying a proper goodbye but I wanted to let you all know I’m leaving Miami. I will deeply value the time I spent working with you. Thank you.
She stared at the words on the screen. They shimmered and blurred as her vision became clouded by tears. Masuka burst into her office, waving a page in his hand. It was a print-out of Dexter’s email.
"What the hell is this supposed to mean?" he asked indignantly, thrusting the page in front of her.
She shrugged. “I don’t know. I just saw. He, he didn’t talk to me about it,” Debra said, shrugging again and fighting to keep from bursting into tears in front of Masuka of all people.
"What? You’re his sister and he didn’t tell you any—"
"FUCK OFF, MASUKA!" Debra screamed, rising from her desk and gripping its edges tightly. She balled up the printed email and threw it in his face. He hurried from her office, muttering nervously under his breath as he went. She followed and closed the door behind him before returning to her seat and noticing another email in her inbox. It had no subject title but it was from Dexter. She clicked on it. This message was sent only to her.
I love you.
As closure went, it didn’t seem particularly heartfelt or satisfying but Deb knew it was the best she’d get. She heard a knock on her door, followed by Angel peering his head into her office. “Hey Deb, did you see th—”
"Yeah," she cut him off. "I don’t know anymore than you. Could you just… could you go out there and tell everyone that? Tell them I don’t wanna talk about it. I’m looking for someone to fill the position and that’s all they need to know."
"Angel, please," Deb begged. He nodded, tipping his hat to her over his knitted eyebrows before leaving her office.
She pulled her cell phone out and called Dexter. It went immediately to voicemail. “You’ve reached Dexter Morgan’s cell phone. Leave a message.” Deb hung up before the beep. She vowed not to call again.
After a grueling day of work and a very concerned call from LaGuerta about Dexter’s sudden departure, Deb left the precinct and drove the familiar route to her brother’s apartment. The door was ajar. She slipped inside to see the place completely empty. He really was gone.
She broke the promise she had made to herself just a few hours ago not to call again. She wanted to hear his stupid fucking voice, even if it was just a recording, even just for a few seconds.
An automated message greeted her. “I’m sorry. The number you have dialed is not in service at this time.” She hung up the phone and slid down the wall beside the door, crumpling in upon herself, a tangle of limbs.
Her brother was gone from her. Really, truly gone. She had sent him away. She had done what she thought she had to. She wanted to say she didn’t regret it. But that old familiar instinct to turn to Dexter when she wasn’t sure of herself gnawed at her. She couldn’t turn to him anymore. He had left. Deb wondered if he was gone forever, if she’d ever see him again.
She never did.
A/N: The flashback memory is directly from episode 1x06 “Return to Sender”, written by Tim Schlattmann. All dialogue from that scene belongs to him.
So that’s all folks, the end. Horrible ending, but if I’m honest, I could sort of see it happening. Not necessarily in the actual series because the show is so set in Miami and with the cast of characters it has that to send Dexter off and away would totally mess with that. But I could see this being something the characters would do if they weren’t bound by the constrictions of their own medium.
And just because Deb never saw Dexter again, it doesn’t mean he didn’t check up on her. I think he would. He’d make sure she wouldn’t know and he’d watch and make sure she was alright.