I know I've posted a few one-shots recently but before anyone worries I'm still working on my long-fics. This is just side stuff. :D

Modern Avatar AU, set during early season 3 of Dexter.


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The man was probably fully conscious a few minutes before he opened his eyes. Dexter wasn't fooled. He had been doing this for a long time – he knew barely imperceptible signs of a body coming into wakefulness, even if the mind was doing its very best to hide it.

Besides, He had been following this particular trophy for some time -- Harry's Code required that he be sure this man was guilty before making the kill -- And along the way, Dexter had learned a few fun facts about his new favorite victim: He was a highly disciplined man – a master of the style of Northern Shaolin Kung Fu, a killer in the business world, and although it had taken Dexter months to find the solid proof he needed, a killer in the real world as well.

Dexter let the man play dead. It gave him time to organize his tools. All rituals must be observed even when his Dark Passenger was crowding into his consciousness, like a hungry lion circling closer, ever so closer, to a wounded wildebeest.

Finally, he could hold it in no longer. All the tools had been made ready, the moon was high in the sky, and the Dark Passenger inside was screaming that the time was now, now, now!

Dexter stood by the man's head and with a causal motion, flicked his forehead. "You can stop the act," he said, and his voice had taken a detached smoothness as the Dark Passenger slipped into the driver's seat. "I know you're awake."

The man jerked slightly, snorted through his long aquiline nose – odd for one with such prominent Asian features. His eyes opened and those were odd too; nearly so light brown they were almost golden. But unsurprised. So, he had been awake, probably subtly testing the bonds that had strapped him, naked, to the gurney. There was no hope of escape. Dexter had him in so much clear plastic-wrap he could barely twitch a muscle.

It was so much cleaner that way.

The man's oddly colored eyes took it all in a flash; the plastic-wrapped room, the way he was bound, and the glint of light across freshly sharpened knifes lying on another table, just to the side. "What is this?" he hissed. Then, just as Dexter had planned, his gaze traveled upward.

The only light from the room came from dozens upon dozens of small, squat candles stacked upon a shelf above them. Normally Dexter liked to work under more illumination – the Dark Passenger craved every detail, every splash of blood and neat slice of flesh – but he had to admit that the flickering light did provide a nice sort of ambiance. Especially since he had carefully placed framed pictures in between every forth candle.

In truth, there had been hundreds of bald, slightly wizened men and women that should share space on the shelf, but apparently Buddhist monks and nuns weren't big on having their pictures taken. And as they were dead, this was the best that Dexter could do.

"Do you like it?" Dexter asked, in what, in other circumstances could almost be classified as a low soothing purr. "I know not all of these deaths can be laid on your head. Your grandfather was the one who fire-bombed that Buddhist temple, but that never stopped you from continuing his good work, did it Ozai? Picking off the survivors?"

Ozai's eyes snapped back to his own; something hot and burning in them, but strangely unafraid. Calculating. "Release me."

"I have to admit," Dexter continued, "It took me longer than usual to get the evidence I needed. Then I realized that the blood wasn't on your hands directly. You sent others to do your dirty work for you, but not everyone liked that… Did she?" He gestured with his chin and Ozai followed his gaze.

There, in a picture set slightly apart from the rest was a beautiful dark haired woman, sitting serene with her hands in her lap. Looking at her, Ozai's mask slipped ever so slightly. The Dark Passenger read guilt, betrayal and genuine pain in his face before the mask came on again and Ozai was staring daggers back up at him. "What happened to Ursa was…a tragic accident. It's a matter of public record."

"Car fire," Dexter said, in a clinical dry tone as he turned towards his table of instruments. "Caused by a faulty fuel-valve. Tragic, yes, and a horrible way to die, I can only imagine. But you and I know it was no accident, Ozai." He turned, scalpel in hand and with a practiced cut drew a long diagonal gash across Ozai's cheek. Then with a pipette, took a few droplets of leaking blood.

This was the point where most of his victims broke. He supposed there must have been something physiologically shattering about being tied down and cut, in pain and knowing there was no escape. Some started screaming – that's what the balls of gaze were for. Some wept. Ozai simply locked his eyes on the image of his dead wife. He swallowed, his throat making a dry click. He was the third type, then: The ones who felt a need to confess.

"She didn't understand," Ozai said, at last.

Dexter didn't answer. With careful precision, he tapped a droplet of blood onto the slide. He allowed himself only the hint of a smile as he sealed it between another clear plate of glass and held the enlarged droplet to the candlelight; admiring his trophy before slipping it into his pocket. Then he reached around and grabbed a large, freshly sharpened knife.

"Are you a father?"

Ozai's question brought him up short – knife in one hand, balled up gauze in another. For a moment the Dark Passenger receded and there was only Dexter, head tilted to the side, confused. Rita was hardly along, the baby not even as long as his tiniest fingernail. Was such a thing alive? And did that then make him a father? Dear Demented Dexter who only brought Death… now Destined to be a future Daddy? He could hardly wrap his dazed mind around it.

Ozai seemed to take his silence as an affirmative. "Then perhaps you know what it's like. A son grows into the image of his father."

"Were you—" Dexter began, and then paused in surprise because it really was him speaking, not the Dark Passenger. He began again, "When did you start to feel like a father?"

"I wanted too." And for the first time, a trace of true emotion entered Ozai's voice: sadness. "I did with my second child, my daughter. You're supposed to take pride in your son. Instead I got this... this weak, pathetic thing." His upper lip ticked up in a silent snarl. "Lucky to be born at all."

"So you arranged another accident, at his chemistry class." The Dark Passenger's voice again, but with a thread of anger that was all Dexter. There was another picture on the wall, right next to the serene woman who had been Ursa. An image of a thirteen year old boy with light golden eyes just like his father – clear faced and smiling. Happy, once.

"It was like looking in a mirror," Ozai ground out, through clenched teeth. "Every disappointment reflected back on me. The acid was only meant to take that away, at least. The rest was an accident. Ursa never understood that Zuko was never meant to die."

"Even a small explosion of sulfuric acid to the face can have… unintended side effects. Very messy." Dexter said, calmly. The Dark Passenger was in control again, releasing the gauze. He wanted to hear this one's every last moment.

"He was weak." Ozai snapped. "A son is supposed to bring pride to the father, to reflect back his accomplishments and exceed them. You're a father. You should know this."

The Dark Passenger was oddly silent in his own head, almost as if considering his words. Dexter stared down at his victim for a moment, then with his decision made, snapped the clear plastic visor over his own face. "That's where you're wrong, Ozai. If I'm lucky, my child will be nothing like me."

The knife plunged down.

Ozai's blood, Dexter reflected, during a lengthy – yet satisfying – cleanup process, had been abnormally hot.


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