"The gun Hill used to shoot Dexter is a close match to the gun that shot Debra Morgan and Frank Lundy. They're still making comparisons but it's looking pretty solid."
"I want you to tell me I'm wrong... ...Look me in the eyes, and tell me that you didn't break in to Morgan's apartment and search the place."
"Why would I do that?"
"Your lips are moving, but I'm not hearing a reply."
"She's the oldest daughter of a man named Arthur Mitchell... …he was murdered yesterday morning."
"This case just gets better and better."
Give The Boys A Great Big Hand
Marcus L. Rowland
Jackson Memorial Hospital, Miami
"Okay," said Lieutenant LaGuerta, "your account of the shooting is substantially the same as everyone else's. Do you know why Hill was shooting at you?"
I shrugged and winced; shrugging really isn't a good idea when you have a freshly-stitched bullet hole in your shoulder. "I think she was shooting at Deb, but I have no idea why."
Batista looked at some papers he was holding. "Do you know anything about her family?"
"I suppose she has one... had one... but I don't know anything about them."
"You're sure about that?" asked LaGuerta.
"I don't think I've ever talked to her, except maybe to say 'Hi.' I don't think she ever mentioned her family, not to me anyway." I didn't need to act puzzled, I really had no idea what they were talking about.
"Her father was murdered three days ago. Arthur Mitchell, the car bomb case. You took blood samples."
"I remember the case. He was her father?" Again I didn't have to pretend to be surprised; I was astonished, in fact. Though it did explain a lot; maybe homicide ran in the family.
"We also believe she shot Frank Lundy and Debrah."
"She shot Deb?" I was putting the pieces together in my head, and guessed that she must have known that Mitchell was Trinity. Maybe she helped him with some of his killings. Careless, Arthur, very careless.
"We think she was after Lundy, Deb was just in the wrong place at the wrong time."
"Okay… I guess that makes sense;" I decided to start working on my own problem, "If we can figure out why she killed Lundy. Do you think she had something to do with the Bay Harbor Butcher?"
"Why the Butcher?"
"I was thinking it must have been her that hid the slides in my apartment, but it doesn't really make much sense."
"So what's your theory?" asked Batista.
"Damned if I know. Except…" I pretended to be thinking about something.
"Except what, Dexter?"
"You're not going to like it, Lieutenant."
"Try us," said LaGuerta.
"Let's say that Doakes really was the Butcher. What if he wasn't working alone?"
"Go on, Dexter." I could see that she didn't like the idea, but I wasn't there to win a popularity contest. I had to deflect attention, or at least create some plausible deniability.
"Okay. I have no idea why Quinn's girlfriend killed Lundy, or where her father fits in, but Lundy's death, and that hand the navy found, suddenly got us interested in the Butcher again. So you decided to get some outside help for an unofficial look at the case."
"What?" Batista seemed confused, and I had confirmation that LaGuerta had never told him what she was up to.
"Go on, Dexter."
"Westen and his friend. How did you know them?"
"James told me about them."
"You're fucking kidding," said Batista, and I really couldn't blame him one little bit. "You asked a friend of fucking Doakes to investigate his death?"
I said "It felt like things started to get weird as soon as they got involved."
"So what exactly is your theory?" asked LaGuerta.
"I'm not sure. I tried to track Westen down on line; I couldn't find a damn thing. I have no idea who he is, what he does for a living, anything since he left school. He's some sort of spook, maybe Special Forces like Doakes, and that's about all I know."
"And I don't trust him. Things started getting crazy after he got involved. Just a couple of days later Westen followed me in to work. I think it was the same day as the car bomb. And the day after that my apartment was broken into, and a box of blood slides mysteriously appeared."
"So your theory is what? Westen is trying to frame you?"
"I know it sounds crazy. Why would he do that? Loyalty to Doakes? It just doesn't make sense."
"Wait a minute," said Batista. "Maybe he's got something there."
"What are you thinking?" asked LaGuerta.
"Maybe Westen was involved in the killings. It could be they worked together, or maybe Westen was the Butcher and Doakes was an accomplice, feeding him information, identifying targets. When Doakes was killed Westen carried on, just a lot more carefully. He would have thought he was getting away with it. But then you called him out of the blue; told him that you know he was a friend of Doakes, and that you thought the Butcher was still out there. He would have to do something to throw us off the scent."
"That could be it," I said. "It makes more sense than my idea. But it doesn't explain the business with Quinn's girlfriend." I deliberately didn't mention the father. After all, I was going to pretend to be surprised when he turned out to be important.
"We need to talk about the implications of his involvement," said LaGuerta, "decide how we're going to handle it. Dexter, we'll need to speak to you again, I'm sure. Meanwhile you need to concentrate on recovering."
Rita came to see me an hour later. "What happened, Dexter? Why was that woman trying to kill you?"
"I think she was trying to kill Deb, not me. I just got in the way."
"You have to be more careful, Dexter. You have a family, a wife and children. What would we do if she'd killed you?"
"Use my insurance to put the kids through college?" It was obviously not the right thing to say, because she burst into tears again. I made "There, there" noises (what does that even mean?), supplied Kleenex, and waited her out.
"I don't know how I'm going to cope with two of you injured. I was counting on you to help with Debrah."
"I'm not too bad. I should be out of here tomorrow, I'll have my arm in a sling for a couple of weeks but it's all superficial."
"And the apartment?"
"You said you had an explanation. What is it? And why are the police investigating you? What's going on?"
"Truthfully…" I began to lie. "I was going to sell it when we got married, but the deal fell through, and a couple of times I ended up crashing there after a double shift when I couldn't face the drive home. So I kept putting it off, and I left stuff there I didn't want to keep around the kids or aboard the boat, things like Harry's gun. Eventually it felt like it made more sense to wait until the lease ran out and get the deposit back. I should have asked you to handle it, you're better at this stuff than I am. But it's a real mess now, I'll have to clean it out and make some repairs before we can get rid of it."
"And the investigation? The microscope slides?"
We'd already been through it the previous day, but I gave her the story again. "LaGuerta thinks that the Bay Harbor Butcher is still around, and trying to cover his tracks. The attack on Deb might be part of it, I'm not sure, what I do know is that someone hid the slides in the apartment. I spotted it after the break-in and called it in, but of course they have to investigate it properly. It gets me a few days off with pay, that can't be bad."
We talked for a while longer, and eventually she seemed to get over most of her doubts. I had to agree to get rid of the apartment, which really wasn't a problem for me; it wasn't a safe place any more, there was too much official attention. Clearing it out and making sure that everything was sanitized would have to wait until I was out of the hospital, and temporarily out from under Rita's loving thumb.
NCIS Headquarters, Washington
Abby Sciuto hugged her stuffed hippo Bert, and smiled sadly as he farted. She wanted Gibbs and his team back, but until she had some results there was nothing she could do to help him.
The phone rang, and a familiar voice said "What have you got for me, Abs?"
"Right now? A load of nothing. The DNA lab is bogged down with the last batch of casualties from Afghanistan, they're trying to squeeze our samples through but it might not be until tomorrow."
"There are a couple more on their way to you by courier; a woman named Christine Hill and her father, Arthur Mitchell."
"What am I looking for?"
"Anything that connects them to any of Lundy's cases," said Gibbs. "It's likely that Hill killed Frank Lundy, what I don't know is why."
"Can't you ask them?"
"Not unless you know a good medium."
"Okaaaay. Not really my scene, though I do know a tarot reader who kinda qualifies, but I'll see what I can find from their DNA."
Abby's computer beeped, and she added "Wait a second; we're got a couple of early results. Let's see… okay, we've got two unknowns, a man and a woman, then someone called Clemson Galt; he's a wanted fugitive, escaped from court in Miami."
"I remember; he's on the terrorist watch list. Anyone else?"
"Next we've got a very familiar name and face… Nathan Marten, come on down! And… Oh! That's weird…"
"I thought the Bay Harbor Butcher only killed murderers. This is a cop! Officer Zoey Kruger, from some place called Pembroke Pines in Florida."
"Get all the details out to McGee."
"Okay. When are you coming home?"
"It should be soon, Abs; I know who killed Marten, I just need to prove it."
Miami Metro Police Department
"I'm under a lot of pressure to take you off this case," said Deputy Chief Matthews; "You, Batista, and Quinn."
"I'll admit I've made some errors of judgement, so has Quinn, but where does Batista come into it?"
"You're screwing him, and that's against departmental regulations."
"Are you planning to run the case personally?"
"You'd like that, especially if I fell on my face. No, I said that I'm under pressure, not that I was going to do it. Quinn's off the case, you and Batista stay on it. This is turning into a cluster-fuck; I don't want any part of it."
"Okay, I guess I see that. So... who does want the case?"
"Let's see… NCIS, the FBI, Miami-Dade and half a dozen other police departments, the Governor, the DA, probably the CIA and the fucking Secret Service. They all want a piece of this, and they're all going to be blaming us if it goes wrong."
"You're setting me up to fail."
"Think of it as character building."
"If there's nothing else…"
"Not quite. Explain it to me. Talk me through it. Tell me how we've ended up with more bodies than Hamlet, and why Harry fucking Morgan's son is your best suspect."
8240 Palm Terrace, apartment #10B
I discharged myself from hospital early the following day, hoping to gain some time, but lost some of my lead lurking near my apartment block, watching the parking lot and waiting for the forensics team to leave. I'd been back at the apartment and tidying for less than an hour when the doorbell rang. I wasn't surprised to see LaGuerta, Gibbs, and Batista waiting outside.
"Dexter, something came up when we read through Quinn's case reports. We need to take a look at your apartment again."
"Okay. Come in, would you like some coffee?"
"This isn't a social call," said LaGuerta, "maybe we'd better skip it."
"You don't seem surprised to see us," said Gibbs.
"Actually, I was a little surprised that nobody was here when I got here. I thought the forensics guys would be finishing off. I guess they worked fast."
"They thought they had finished," said LaGuerta. "Agent Gibbs has some concerns. He asked Quinn to get the forensics team to check them out, but Quinn was called to the hospital before he'd given the instructions."
"How can I help?"
"We need another look at the trunk you keep your shotgun in," said Batista.
I shrugged. "Okay." I led the way to the bedroom, where the trunk was still out in the middle of the floor. "It's really Harry's shotgun." At Gibbs' quizzical look I added "My father. It hasn't been used in years."
"It isn't the gun we're interested in," said LaGuerta.
"Did you know that this trunk has a secret compartment?" asked Gibbs.
"Any idea what's in there?"
"Family papers and a few things I didn't want the kids getting into." It was true, now; I'd been busy since I got home. I showed Batista how to open it, and let them look through the stuff I'd hastily hidden there; a couple of boxes of shotgun shells, some papers from my student loan days, dad's death certificate and watch, a silver spoon and fork that someone gave Harry when he was a baby, my passport (well, one of them - the real one), a couple of hundred dollars, and the lease to the apartment. There was nothing incriminating or very exciting. The usual contents would have raised more eyebrows.
"That's odd," said Gibbs, "I thought I saw some of those papers on the floor when the forensics team was here." Another reminder that he was the real threat here.
"Some were. I realised I should keep them safer, put them in here while I was clearing the mess."
Gibbs leafed through my passport, looking at the border stamps, which showed a couple of trips to Mexico, one to Canada and four to the Bahamas, my European vacation a couple of years ago, and most recently my honeymoon. There was nothing too unusual, I hoped; I don't usually kill people outside Miami, though I'd made exceptions in Bimini and Paris… oh, and twice in Mexico, but one of those was when I was in college. I'm always careful, and it would be difficult to establish a pattern based on my passport alone. He gave it back without comment.
"I think that's about it," said LaGuerta; "Unless there's something else, Agent Gibbs?"
"No, that's about it for now."
I needed to get rid of them, but I didn't want to make that obvious. So I said "Okay. Are you sure about that coffee? I was going to make some anyway, I guess."
"I need to follow up on some other leads," said Gibbs. "We'll get back to you."
"Good night, Dexter," said LaGuerta.
I watched them leave, and got on with tidying the place. I had a feeling it wasn't over. Sure enough, about thirty minutes later the doorbell rang again; this time it was DiNozzo and David.
I said "If you were looking for Gibbs you've missed him, he was here about half an hour ago."
"We were," said DiNozzo, "but it can wait. I was wondering if you're okay, it's never fun to be shot."
"So far it's a first," I said. "I could have lived without the experience. Come in, would you like some coffee?"
"If you're making it."
I guessed that they were being the 'good cops,' sympathetic and less formal than Gibbs. I'd have to be careful not to slip up.
"Sorry about the mess, I'm still trying to get things organised."
"It's understandable; whoever broke in must have searched the place pretty thoroughly. Did you find anything that you weren't expecting, apart from the blood slides?"
"Not so far, and believe me, I'm looking."
"It is a nice apartment," said David, "though the kitchen is a little small."
I had a brainwave, and said "Do you want to rent it?"
"I beg your pardon?"
"I'm going to have to get rid of it. I should have done that when I married Rita, but the deal fell through, now she's a little upset that I didn't tell her. Maybe you could rent it, use it when you're in town."
"Nice idea," said DiNozzo, "but we're usually here on the government's dime, they'd never spring for permanent accommodation."
"Oh well," I said, "it was worth a shot. Shame, it's a great bachelor apartment, and you're right in the heart of the singles community."
"Hypothetically," said DiNozzo, "what sort of rent would we be talking?"
"Tony," said David. "No… Gibbs would not be amused."
"Just think about it," I said. "Miami vacations whenever you want them, without the hassle of hotel reservations. Or buy it and rent it out for now, live here once you retire." I did my best to give it a hard sell; not that I wanted him within a thousand miles of the apartment, but I didn't want to give them the impression I wanted to get rid of them.
"So what do you plan to do with yourself?" DiNozzo asked a few minutes into my pitch.
"Do with myself?"
"Well, it's going to be difficult carrying on working in law enforcement. You're a suspect in a murder case. Even if you're cleared the defence will probably bring it up any time you give evidence. Happened to me once, someone framed me for murder and I spent a couple of nights in jail. Even though they got the real guy I still hear about it in court occasionally."
"I really hadn't thought about it." And I guess I hadn't. I'd always thought that if I was ever caught things would go quickly, not drag on indefinitely.
"You should. Mud sticks, and when it comes to something like this, it could take forever to get to the bottom of it."
"I guess I'll have to speak to my union rep if it becomes a problem." Somehow I doubted that AFSCME would help defend me from a murder charge, but short of that their help might actually be useful; if nothing else, it was the sort of thing normal people do, and I wanted to look normal.
"You might want to think about a good lawyer too."
"If someone actually charges me with something I'll do that. Until then it can wait. You'll find the truth soon enough." The trick, always, is to pretend that I'm innocent, avoid acting like a criminal. If the first thing I did was to lawyer up, they'd think that they were right; which is insulting to innocent people who get legal help, of course, but that's the police mind at work.
"So what do you think really happened?"
"Well, everyone seems to think Quinn's girlfriend… um, Hill… shot my sister and Lundy, I guess it must be right. She was certainly doing her best to kill us in the parking lot. And I should thank you for that," I added to David, "She could have hit Rita or Deb or the baby."
"It is part of my duty to protect the innocent." I got a distinct impression that she didn't necessarily include me in that, fortunately the others qualified. I wonder if she would have hesitated if I'd been the only target.
"LaGuerta told me Hill's father was killed a couple of days ago, I guess that must be connected somehow. Maybe she just went mad and decided to kill everyone she knew… no, then she would have killed Quinn too, I guess. It's a real mystery, and what I can't figure out is how that connects to whoever framed me with the microscope slides."
"Framed you?" said David.
"I can't think why else they were left there, unless it was to taunt me in some way." I thought about trying to pass on my 'suspicions' of Weston again, but I'd already laid the groundwork with Gibbs and LaGuerta, it was pointless repeating myself.
Eventually they got tired of my 'helpfulness' and left. I carried on clearing for a while, then took a couple of bags down to the trash and pretended not to notice that someone I didn't know, probably a cop, was watching me from a parked car. I stopped and listened as soon as I was out of sight, and heard a clang which I guessed was someone doing some impromptu dumpster diving. Half-way back upstairs I passed the fire bucket where I'd hidden most of my kill kit earlier that afternoon, buried under a layer of sand and cigarette ends; it was probably safe for a day or two, provided nobody dug too deep in the sand, I just hoped no-one would notice that it was now full to the rim, not half-empty. When I thought the coast was clear I'd smuggle it out and dump it.
Miami Metro Police Department
"None of the DNA from the slides can be traced to anyone who went missing more recently than Clemson Galt," said Vince, "with the exception of Zoey Kruger. She vanished a week before the slides were found, the evidence Pembroke Pines PD found suggested she'd run." He wrote her name on the whiteboard in the conference room. "She was treated as a victim in a home invasion case last year, when her husband and kid were killed, but take a look at the pictures, especially numbers eighteen and nineteen." He put the pictures on the table.
"What am I looking at here?" asked LaGuerta.
"Blood spatter," said Vince. "Look at her arms. There's blood spatter from her shoulders down, but most of it stops at her wrists. She must have been wearing gloves, and that means she killed her husband and her daughter."
"How did she get away with it?" asked Batista
"I spoke to their blood guy this morning. He wanted to follow up on it, but the chief of police there went with the perp Kruger shot. My guess is she knew where a few bodies were buried."
"So how does this help us?" asked LaGuerta.
"Know who he asked for a second opinion? Dexter fucking Morgan. Want to guess whose wife and kids were out of town for three days around the time she went missing?"
"It's not proof," said LaGuerta, "but it's as suggestive as all hell."
"I can't believe I worked next to him and didn't spot anything."
"We've got our smoking gun," said Batista.
Note: When I began this story many months ago I had no idea that the plot of Dexter S7 would cover some of the same ground. I'm doing my best to avoid copying the plot too closely; hopefully nothing I write will spoil you for the show.