Major spoilers for all seasons of Dexter to S4, then VERY AU. Warning, character death!
See earlier chapters for disclaimers etc.
On Twisting the Hellmouth
On Archive of our Own
Author's note: Since writing previous chapters I've realised that I got a few details of the Lundy murder and its aftermath wrong, most notably the length of Debrah's stay in hospital. For the purposes of this story she picked up an infection and spent several more days in hospital, and some other events occurred slightly differently or later than in the TV series. Some dialogue in this chapter is from Dexter episode 4.05, Dirty Harry. I'd almost finished writing this chapter when I saw Dexter episode 7.01, and have added one thing that was revealed in the episode, a very minor spoiler in the last "Dexter Morgan" section.
"What it comes down to is that we're suspecting Morgan because he has kids and because Abby thinks he should have run one extra test," said Tony DiNozzo, "and pretty much ignoring the fact that his sister was shot at the same time as Lundy. There's no firm evidence."
The decision to kill Trinity so impersonally hadn't come easily, but now that I knew he was dead, and that nobody else had been hurt, it was a weight off my mind.
"He's been busy, hasn't he?" Glass slides, each with a neatly centred red blob, filled nearly half the slots in the case.
"What the hell do we do?"
Marcus L. Rowland
When you're a spy, a lot of your training involves figuring out the hidden meaning of tiny clues. A spy finding a clue as blatant as Morgan's stash of slides would normally suspect a trap or a frame, because nobody is supposed to be so obliging. But this time I had no doubt that they were real, souvenirs of Morgan's victims. I had no idea how to prove it, without falling foul of the law.
"We've got to stop him, Michael." Fiona prefers direct solutions, of course. "He must have killed dozens of people."
"If Doakes wasn't the Butcher," said Sam, "it must be Morgan that killed him."
"Maybe," I said. "Or maybe Morgan is a copy-cat killer. Or maybe Doakes planted the slides there to frame him before he died."
"No way," said Fiona, "the blood looks much too fresh."
"Can you prove that?"
"I can't, but the police could."
"That would be interesting, considering that Morgan does their blood work, but go ahead; what are you suggesting we do?"
"Tell La Guerta, let her handle it."
"She can't be involved; neither can we," said Sam
"What?" Fiona got into business via the terrorist route, and has never had to worry about legalities; Sam and I had more experience of the problems.
I shrugged. "We've just conducted an illegal search, remember? Any evidence that comes out of it is tainted, can't be admissible in court. If we tell La Guerta, she'll be tainted too. We've got to find another way to handle it."
"What about the NCIS agents?"
"Same problem; If we tell them what we've found, they're involved in a criminal act."
"We need a reason for the cops to search the place, one that doesn't involve an illegal search. Or maybe we can force Morgan out into the open somehow. Now that we know that he's our man, we just have to prove it in a way that will work in court."
"We need a way to get the police in there without tipping our hand," said Fiona.
It took us all of five minutes to come up with a plan, then an hour of arguing to agree that it was the best thing to do.
Westen tailed me that evening, and didn't bother pretending that he wasn't there. There was no sign of his friend, but I noticed Westen talking on a cell-phone when we stopped at the lights, and had a feeling that he was somewhere around. It didn't matter, I was doing nothing I needed to hide from them, but if this went on for more than a few days it would start to be a real problem for me, and for my Dark Passenger. When I got to the hospital they had Debrah sedated again, so I left some flowers and a note promising to see her next day.
La Guerta, Quinn, and Batista caught up with the Vacation Killers the following afternoon. Johnny Rose was dead, killed by his girlfriend, Nikki Wald, and she was in our cells. I couldn't be involved in the investigation, since Debrah was supposed to be one of their victims, but I had to make a show of being pleased. In reality I didn't much care, since I was sure Mitchell had been the real culprit, but I couldn't give any indication of that.
I wanted to visit Debrah, so I arranged to leave work early and meet Rita there. There was no sign of Westen and his friend when I left work, which was a shame because I still wasn't doing anything I didn't want them to see. When I got there Debrah was awake, and thought that they might release her the following day. Rita was there, and while Debrah was in the john she told me that Debrah had broken up with Anton - or rather, Anton had broken up with Deb - because she'd been sleeping with Lundy. I guess I couldn't blame him for that, and at least he'd waited until she recovered before telling her. I had a feeling that a lot of tears and ice cream were looming large in Debrah's future - and ours, because she was coming back to stay with us, Anton had kicked her out. This was going to be awkward.
"Or she could stay in your old apartment," said Rita, and right away I knew I was in trouble.
"My old apartment?"
"I had a call from the super there while you were on your way over. Someone broke in and wrecked the place, he wants you to come over and check what's missing, and talk to the police. Dexter, you said you'd got rid of it."
I thought fast "Oh… I was just hanging on to the place until the lease ran out, that way I can claim the security deposit back."
"Why did you tell me you got rid of it?"
"I said that?"
Harrison began to cry, and Rita said "We'll talk about this later." I could tell that she wasn't happy.
8240 Palm Terrace, apartment #10B
The super was waiting outside the apartment, along with a couple of bored-looking uniforms, Murphy and Levinson. I didn't know them, but they asked me all the standard questions; when was I last at the apartment, had I seen anyone hanging around, was there anyone who might have a grudge against me? I gave them the story about waiting for the lease to run out, but I wasn't sure that they bought it, so I added that sometimes I slept there when the baby got to be too much. Showing my ID helped to speed things up, and they eventually let me take a look inside.
The apartment was a mess. Someone had torn through the place, allegedly looking for valuables, and as I looked around I noticed that the front was off the air conditioner where I keep my souvenirs. I could even see the slide box at the back of the cavity. I wanted to put the conditioner back, but knew better than to pay it any special attention while the police were there.
"Anything missing?" asked Murphy.
"I don't think so." Nothing seemed to be gone; they hadn't even taken Harry's shotgun from the old trunk where I keep it, though they'd broken the lock. More importantly, they didn't seem to have found the secret compartment under it, where I keep the tools needed for my hobby. Not that I was going to look in there with the uniforms watching.
"That's odd," said Levinson. "That's a nice gun, probably worth a couple of hundred to a collector. People who make a mess like this usually take anything that isn't nailed down."
"They didn't touch the TV either," said Murphy. "Are you sure there's nothing missing?"
"I really don't think so," I said. "Maybe they were disturbed before they had a chance to start taking things out."
"The super doesn't think so. Nobody reported anything until this morning, when someone noticed the open door."
"Maybe they were after something hidden here before you moved in," said Levinson.
"It's possible." It was unlikely, because I moved into a completely bare apartment, but theoretically possible.
"Must have been looking for something," said Murphy, "they even looked inside the air conditioner."
"Weird." And of course Levinson leaned close to take a better look. "Is there anything valuable in this box?"
What could I say? What possible answer could I give? If I said it was anything valuable they'd want to see inside, if I said it was worthless they probably wouldn't believe me: "Box? What box?"
"There's a wooden box in here," said Levinson. "Flat, you could maybe put some jewellery in there, or papers, or a small gun."
I moved to where I could see it, said "what the heck?" and pretended to reach out without thinking. I was within an inch when Murphy grabbed my wrist and stopped me. I cursed mentally; I try to be careful, remembering what happened to my first box of souvenirs, but my fingerprints might be on the box or slides, and now there was no way I could 'accidentally' touch things to explain them. Only one thing for it; do it by the book, lead from the front, and try to bluff my way out if things got sticky.
"Don't touch it!" said Levinson, "If you didn't put it there it could be anything, maybe even a bomb."
"It doesn't look like one. If I had to guess, I'd say it was a microscope slide box. Holy crap! Get some gloves and an evidence bag."
Levinson looked dubious, but went out to their car to get them, and I got out my phone. "Lieutenant? This is Dexter Morgan. I think you may be right, the Bay Harbor Butcher might still be around."
"What? What makes you say that?"
"Someone broke into my old apartment. There's nothing missing, but the uniforms just found a wooden box. I think it's a slide box, and it looks pretty much identical to the one they found in Doakes' car."
"Stay there, don't touch anything. I'll get a homicide team out to you." She hung off.
"The Bay Harbor Butcher?" said Murphy. "You're shitting me."
"I hope so. I thought we'd buried that monster… Christ, the Lieutenant was right. Doakes must have been innocent, and nobody believed her."
"But that was… what, three years ago?"
"About that. He must have changed his MO, gone underground. Why the hell would he surface now?"
Levinson came back, and I filled him in on the situation then hustled them out to wait for the forensics team to arrive.
Miami Metro Crime Laboratory
Vince Masuka pulled on gloves and a face mask. "You too." His voice was slightly muffled. "Face masks, gloves, and stay well back. I don't want any of your saliva or epithelials getting onto the slides and confusing things."
Batista followed instructions. Outside LaGuerta, Gibbs, and DiNozzo watched intensely through the laboratory window as Masuka took the box from an evidence bag, got Batista to take several pictures, then carefully opened it.
"Okay," said Vince, getting a white plastic rod and speaking into a recorder. "I'm pointing at the first pair of slides. I'm working with Sergeant Batista because my usual colleague, Dexter Morgan, may be a suspect in this case. Okay, Sergeant, I need a couple of photos showing the position of these slides in the box, then the slides before I start to test the blood. We'll need that for each pair of slides as I examine them."
"Think there's something hinky about this, boss?" asked DiNozzo.
"How could we tell?" said Gibbs. "Maybe it was the Butcher that left it there. Maybe someone planted it to make us think that Morgan is the Butcher. Hell, maybe Morgan is the Butcher and someone found out, ripped the place apart so that the police would find the evidence. Whatever went down, that box is pretty much guaranteed to be tainted evidence. I'm not sure I'd trust it if there was a fingerprint on every slide."
Masuka carefully pried the first pair of slides apart, took four swabs of the blood and put them in separate tubes, then bagged the slides for eventual fingerprinting.
"You think Dexter might be the Butcher?" asked LaGuerta. "He seems to be the one that suggested it might be the Butcher's work when they found the slides."
"Best way to avoid suspicion."
"So what do you think went down?"
"Damned if I know. Where's Morgan now?"
"After we questioned him we sent him home. He's potentially a suspect in every major case we're handling; we can't have him working here."
"You sent him home? Back to the apartment?" Gibbs was incredulous.
"Of course not. That's not his home any more; I really don't know why he didn't sell it. We still have people there, if he has any sense he's gone home to his wife and children."
"Check on that," said Gibbs, heading for the door. DiNozzo scrambled to his feet and followed him.
"Where are you going?" asked LaGuerta.
"The apartment; I want to see for myself."
"I'll warn Quinn you're coming."
As they went out Gibbs said "DiNozzo, call Ziva. There's something as hinky as all hell about this, get her to find out what her friends know about it."
I wanted to go back to the apartment and get rid of my knives and the rest of my equipment, but there were probably still detectives there. I just had to wait until they were done, and hope that they didn't get too enthusiastic in their search. There were other things concealed in the apartment, including my emergency stash of money and fake passports; it was unlikely they'd find them, but if they did it would be almost impossible to explain.
How had this happened? What could I possibly do about it?
My guess was that the cause of my woes was Westen and his friend. They hadn't bought my act, and I should have been warned by Westen following me. Finding out about the apartment wouldn't be difficult, and searching it would be a natural reaction for someone like him. But why not go to the police? The obvious reason, of course; He'd searched the apartment illegally and nothing he found would be admissible as evidence. Even admitting that he'd been there would taint the evidence. So instead he'd given the police a reason to look around the apartment, with predictable results.
I wanted to kill them, but it wouldn't do me any good. Anything I did to harm them would just add to the evidence against me; the only option was to play the cards I'd been dealt, pretend to be puzzled, and pray that nobody found anything more incriminating. Meanwhile, I might just as well go to the hospital and help Rita move Debrah to our home.
We got her checked out, and were manoeuvring her wheelchair down the ramp to my car, when I noticed Quinn's girlfriend, the reporter, waiting nearby. She started towards us, and I moved to intercept her. "I'm sorry," I said, "maybe in a few days. Right now Debrah isn't well enough for interviews."
"Interviews. You think I want a fucking interview?" She reached into her bag and pulled out a gun, screamed "It's your fault he's dead, you bitch," and started to aim at Rita and Debrah.
"Put the gun down," I said as calmly as I could, "whatever the problem is, this won't help." I think it was possibly the most stupid thing I've ever said, especially since I was in the line of fire when she started shooting. There was a fusillade of shots and, to use a regrettably accurate cliché, everything went black.