Angel Batista is in pain. Not that he is complaining, mind you. It's just that being stabbed hurts, more so than most people think. The scar definitely isn't worth it. And besides, he can't feel sorry for himself at a time like this. He's safely in the hospital, recovering, and that's more than he can say for Debra Morgan. He looks up at the television, watching the press conference about the Ice Trucker Killer, hoping that the police have found a new clue -anything- that will help lead them to the kidnapped cop. She was a nice girl, bright too; like her brother and father, if what he had heard was true.
He focuses on the television, trying to dismiss his fond thoughts as his worry increased to a painful degree, but his annoying roommate is still chanting, "She knows, she knows", again and again. The guy clearly belongs in a different kind of hospital. The loony bin where the shouting would blend in unnoticed.
Angel tries to be the better man and just turn up the volume to listen to the press conference. It's not like his roommate is doing this to annoy him, it isn't his fault. Angel would even feel sorry for the guy if he wasn't so damn annoying. Even still, his temper snaps with the next 'she knows'.
"Yeah, well, if she knows, yapping about it isn't going to help anything, so shut the fuck up!" He bellows.
He wasn't a man quick to anger but there is only so much a guy can take. Being stabbed, having a fellow cop kidnapped by a serial murder, and being locked in a room with a man yelling 'she knows' for hours on end is just too much. He'll probably need to be thrown into the loony bin himself if he doesn't get out of there soon. His anger does no good of course, his roommate is still yelling 'she knows' just as loudly. Angel goes back to just trying to block him out. He returns his focus to the television.
"The suspect is operating under an alias, Rudy Cooper. We didn't have his fingerprints in our criminal database, so his identity is still unknown to us."
Angel leans back in his bed. He wishes he could help. The Ice Truck Killer has his coworker; Debra Morgan. He wishes he could help them find her and the mother fucker that took her. But he can't. Not from his bed in the hospital. He's useless. Instead he just closes his eyes and wills himself to fall asleep. When the nurse enters to give his roommate his meds, he doesn't acknowledge her, and she doesn't acknowledge him. Instead he just falls asleep.
The nurse never made small talk with Angel, and Angel never found out that they finger print psych patients and store their prints in their own database. They never ran the partial print from the cough drop wrapper against the mental institution's data base. They never identified Rudy Cooper, the Ice Truck Killer, as Brian Moser. They never looked up Brian Moser's records and found that he owns a house on 1235 Mangrove Drive. They never searched this house.
Help never came for Debra Morgan, or her brother.
I'm restricted when I wake up. I'm also sitting up-right, duct taped to a chair. My mind is too groggy to care though. I barely register it, filing it away as if it had happened to someone else. More fiction then fact. I lift my head, noting the amount of effort it takes, looking straight ahead. I'm in a kitchen, it's dark, with a hanging lamp giving light directly above the table I'm sitting at, almost like that of a cliché cop drama. Brian is sitting across from me, a beer in front of him.
Brian, my brother, who brought me here to my -our- childhood home. The recent memories come back to me. My mind starts to recall what happened, but I still can't seem to put things together. The needle in my neck. Brian drugged me, that makes sense. I understand now, but I still can't bring myself to care.
"Nothing personal. I just wanted to have a beer with you before we got started." Brian says, his voice thick. I can't quite tell if it's with anger or hurt. My drugged mind tries to figure out the full implications of what he just said, but I just can't think straight. I can barely keep my eyes open.
"You made that kind of difficult." He finishes. I try harder to bring my mind to focus. That's right, I was running around, ignoring him. I vaguely remember him saying something about beer, almost pleadingly.
"Sorry," I say shortly.
I'm not sure if it's the manners Harry drove into me in an attempt to make me appear normal, or if it is because I really do feel that I was in the wrong. I can't force my mind to think about it any longer either. Brian leans closer by a few inches, bringing his face into the light.
"You never have to apologize to me Dexter. Not for who you are, or anything you do." There's a meaning in his voice that misses me. He's trying to tell me something very important. I just can't figure out what it is yet. Instead I move to thoughts easier for my muddled brain to think.
I look around the house for the first real time. It seems so familiar, like waking up from a dream, left only with vague wisps that make no sense. I continue to look, hoping to find another lost memory to emerge. I want to know more. Brian joins me in looking around. He probably doesn't have any shortage of memories. I'm almost jealous.
"Looks just like it use to, doesn't it?" He says, looking back at me.
"Who does it belong it?" I ask. It seems fairly empty, clearly not in use.
"Me," he says, looking off to the side. "I got it for you actually," he informs me, looking at me out of the corner of his eye. The implications are still a lot, and my mind still isn't up to excessive thinking. I'm becoming more aware of things though. My natural reflex kicks in.
"I'm really more of an apartment person." I joke, even though I can't put any emotion into my voice. I don't need to joke here, I realize. Is that what Brian was trying to tell me? Maybe, I can't think about it any longer.
He sighs softly and shakes his head. Something I did met with his disapproval. My stomach tightens, and I wonder why I even care if I earn his disproval. Because he's my brother, something deep inside tells me. Blood, we share blood. Hot, sticky, messy blood binds us together, birthing and breaking us, if you wanted to be dramatic. And I do love blood.
"You're trapped in a lie, little brother." Brian tells me. My stomach flutters at the words 'little brother'; I don't understand why, the implications are still too much. "The same lie they tried forcing me into," he continues. My drugged mind is clear enough to realize one implication.
"Doctors, therapists, group leaders...What a family they were," he rolls his eyes as he says it. My interest perks. I know that this man is my brother, that we both witnessed our mother's death, but I know very little about his past next to that. He, on the other hand, knows so much about me.
"You were never put up for adoption." I state. Was he raised in institutions? I don't like that thought.
"Afraid not. You were three, a little bird with a broken wing. First cop on scene, Harry Morgan. Going to make you all better." Brian sounds so bitter, understandably so. I wonder vaguely why Harry only took me. That doesn't seem...fair. Even by my deranged standards.
"But me? I could see it in his eyes. All he saw was a fucked up kid. They all did. So they locked me up." He fills me in on his childhood, his view of what happened, looking a little distant for the first time.
My stomach turns again. The new information really doesn't sit well. I had a home, a family, and a true father who made sure I survived. Brian had none of that. And yet, there is no difference between us. Did I go to a better home simply because I lucked out? Yet Brian, he was locked up, forgotten about, left behind. A few years older, and we would have been together. I silently wish it did work out like that. That Harry saw two fucked up kids, instead of just the one.
"I didn't even know you existed." I say. This would have been a good thing to clue me in about. I would have wanted to know. I did want to know. I have a brother. In every sense of the word, I have a fucking brother.
"Of course you didn't. Harry wanted to keep you all to himself." Brian says with clear venom. He doesn't like Harry, so it seems. "And while you were being raised by the Morgan family, I only had a memory of a family."
He has a good reason to dislike Harry. Harry helped me, but what did he do for Brian? Let him rot in an institution, that's all. The reality clashes with my memories of Harry. He had lied about my...our father, and left Brian to rot. Then he covered it all up, tricked me.
"Me." I add the omitted word to Brian's last sentence. He wants his family, and I'm the only one left. I'm all he has.
"Mom always told me to look after you." He reminiscences. I try to remember our mom. The only memories I have of her are of us playing Hide-and-Seek and her getting cut up. As much as I wish for more memories, they don't come to me.
"Imagine how I felt when I tracked you down and found out you were exactly like me," Brian finishes. The idea still excites him, I see it in his eyes. I can understand why too.
"I don't have to imagine," because I don't. Sure, I didn't track him down, but to find out that I have a brother who is like myself...I feel the same way as him. I'm not alone.
Brian is pleased. He leans back and smiles; small, but genuine. It only lasts a brief moment though. He stands and grabs a knife off the table. I tense, panic rearing its head. Being duct taped to a chair, alone with a known sociopath holding a knife is usually not a good place to be. But he only cuts the tape tying me to the chair before placing the knife back on the table. I feel almost guilty for doubting my brother. He kneels next to me, looking at me.
"I know what you have been going through all these years. The isolation...the otherness...the hunger that is never satisfied," and his words are so true. One of the most real things I've ever heard; they're beautiful. "But you're not alone anymore, Dexter." He says as he takes my hand with both of his.
They're are warm, hot even. I can feel his pulse beat quickly. He's excited. I still haven't fully woken up, but the idea excites me too. "With me. Your real, genuine self," and the thought gives me shivers. No more pretending. It's an idea I presumed would never become reality. I presumed wrongly.
"Takes the breath away, doesn't it?" he mutters.
And it does. After constantly pretending and acting, day in and day out, to be able to talk to someone, to really talk and say my true thoughts...It's a revolutionary idea.
Another memory comes to me. I'm playing cars in the hallway, Brian's arms around me. A sense of familiarity comes to me this time. It's no longer me watching little Dexter and little Brian; it's me and my brother, how we use to be. I turn to Brian and place my hand on his, an agreement. To show him that I'm with him, that I won't turn from him. That the idea does take my breath away.
He shows his understanding by letting out a relieved breath and sliding the knife into my hands.
"I think we are ready for Debra." He tells me.
The words take a second to sink in. He wants me to kill her. My mind goes numb as the euphoric feeling gives way to reality. I feel a hand on my shoulder, beckoning me to stand. Brian is there, ready to go. I stand in a daze, numbed legs wanting to buckle. Deb or Brian? I'm not ready to make that choice. I can't choose. Brian's hand is on my back, guiding me to the back door. He's going to make me choose. I let him herd me. I can't fight him. If I fight him, it's still making the choice, and it's choosing Deb. I want my brother. I hold the knife tightly in my hand as we leave the house and enter a long shed in the back. I also want my sister.
Deb is inside, prepared just the way I like it. Things just got real again. Not like before, inside the house filled with happy thoughts of brotherhood. Even when we left the house, killing Deb was still just a concept. But now...She's here, ready and waiting; real. This is the downside of it all. Throwing away the life that Harry worked so hard to construct for me. Starting with Deb, so it seems is Brian's plan.
"I prepared her just the way you like." Brian says from a few feet behind me.
I'm ignoring him again. Deb is prepared just right. Drugged asleep and naked, lying on a well-lit table, just the right height for me, constricted with plastic wrap. So perfectly my style, just not my hands. The only thing is her mouth. Brian duct taped her mouth, it'll leave residue, not to mention it's hard to remove and replace for conversation. Not that I would want to talk to Deb like this. This scene is all wrong. I don't want to go through my pre-murder chat. I usually accuse my victim of whatever evil deed they did. But Deb did nothing. There'd be nothing to say other than sorry. It'd be all wrong. Against everything Harry taught me. That's why Brian choose Deb, it's the epitome of severing my ties with Harry. My brother does love symbolism.
"This time we'll do it together." Brian says.
He wants to kill Deb with me. I turn around and look at him. I can't kill Deb. But I can't not kill Deb. I don't want to choose, but I really can't post-pone this for long. Deb or Brian? Sister or brother? The Code or freedom?
"Does it have to be Deb?" I ask, even though I know the answer. It's just my pitiful and round-about way to beg to not have to choose between my brother and my sister. As though I could live with both. Wishful thinking, I know.
"It's the only way," comes Brian's calm response. He's expecting this, my hesitance. He's certain, though, that I'll choose him. He always seems to know exactly what will happen and when. Does he know my actions before even I know them? However he knows all he knows, it seems to tell him that I'll choose him. But will I? I can't imagine killing Deb. I can't imagine turning my back on my brother either.
"But she's my-" I start, but am interrupted.
"Fake sister, I know." He corrects me, still so calm, so sure.
My fake sister, my mind boggles. I've never considered her fake. I'm not sure why, when everything else I do is just part of the act. Maybe because Harry made her more than that. Someone I have to protect. If I kill Deb, it'll fly in the face of everything Harry taught me. Then why I am still considering it?
Brian pushes a cart full of tools towards the table. It gives off a gentle rattle as it collides with the table. The tools used for cutting and maiming flesh seem to call out to me, begging to be used. Everything seems so right. It's just the person on the table that is wrong. So terribly wrong.
"Tell me something. Your victims, are they all killers?" He asks with disbelief and a hint of disrespect. He doesn't approve of The Code. I'm starting to doubt it myself.
"Yes," I reply numbly. All of them. I've made certain of that. And Harry made certain that I'd make certain. Harry. Sometimes he seems more like a puppet master than a father. But maybe people like me need puppet masters more than fathers.
"Harry teach you that?" He says with such venom in his voice. It was posed as a question, but clearly wasn't.
"He taught me a code...To survive," because it is all about survival, right? Rule number one, don't get caught. Then why are there rules about who to kill?
"So, you're an avenger." He mocks carefully. He's wrong. He walks around the table and stands next to me. He knows he's wrong. He's leading me down this mental trail, baiting me to think just the right way. I can't bother to feel violated right now. Not by my brother anyway. Harry, on the other hand...
"That's not why I kill." He makes me say it, to remind me that I'm no better than my victims.
"You can be yourself around me." He tries to get me to come all the way out. To share with him what I don't even dare tell myself. I stay silent. I can't. "Who am I?" Brian asks, pulling me further into the forbidden thought zone. The area where I question all that Harry taught me and why I should follow it.
"A killer." I state. Just like all of my victims. He doesn't seem at all put off though. Instead he just gives a slow nod, telling me to expand on that thought. "Without reason, or regret," I say it to demonize Brian, to try to show him that The Code gives me purpose, but even as I say the words, I long to join him in his senseless life. "Free," I end. Free of reason and regret. Free of The Code.
"You can be that way too," he tells me. How does he always know exactly what to say and when? Because how I do want to be that way. The idea excites me. To kill freely along side my brother. But I can't, if it means killing Deb. I can't disobey Harry like that. Right?
"But The Code," the one constant in my life. The unquestionable code. The one that I am questioning. I can't just let go...Can I? Is it truly just that easy?
Brian laughs at that thought. "Dexter, you don't have a code!" Brian shouts playfully, but he still doesn't hide the frustration tinting his voice. "Harry did. And he's been dead ten years. You can't keep him sitting on your shoulder like Johnny fucking Cricket," he tells me as he guides me next to Deb.
He laughs, and I do to, because for one brief moment, the question crosses my mind. Why should I follow The Code? But everything that Harry has taught me pushes that question out of my head. I follow The Code because The Code tells me to.
"You need to embrace who you are now." Brian continues to urge me, pulling me away from Harry and closer to him. Like a siren, he calls to me, promising me freedom. And I know he's not lying.
Part of me wants to follow him so badly, to throw Harry's Code out the window and be free, but that is only a small part. Everything else is screaming at me to stop. To end this all and run back to my normal life. That this is wrong in every way. That Brian is trying to trick me, corrupt The Code. I can't go though. I can't leave Brian. It's a choice I can't make. I can't kill Deb, but I can't leave Brian either. I also can't sit in this room voicing my uncertainty forever. A choice has to be made.
I look down at Deb, and that one rebellious part of me makes a discovery. Without The Code, I have no clue what to do. How to kill, how to hunt, or how to think. It's all based on The Code.
"I don't know who I am," I share this discovery with my brother. It's one of the most real things I've ever said, a real problem stated without any half-truths or lies. An honest concern to my honest brother.
"Of course you don't. You've been away from your family since you were three," Brian says with bitterness. An honest reply from my honest brother. I have been away from my family for so long. Or am I being dragged away from my family now? Brian or Deb?
"But I'm here now. I can help you. We can take this journey together." Brian smiles and takes a step back, because in the end, it's still my hand that will be behind Deb's death. Brian wants to free me. Or does he want to trick me? I clench the knife tightly with both hands. It shakes slightly. I look down at Deb. The part of me that wants freedom wills the knife to move, to go into her chest. To slice flesh and rupture arteries, pulling her life right our of her body and ending all that is Debra Morgan.
But it doesn't. My hands won't move. I simply cannot kill her. "I can't," I whisper to Brian. "Not Deb," not my sister. My real sister. And I hold my breath, because I know the choice has been made. I wish I could kill Deb, but I can't. For so many reasons, I cannot.
"No, no. Don't...Don't say that," Brian pleads, thrown off, the string of my rejection clear. My chest tightens with guilt. He was wrong. Whatever forces tells him what to say and what will happen lied. I can't kill Deb. And he knows that. He's horrified.
"I'm very...fond of her," I tell Brian. Is it just Harry's teaching? Or do I really care for her? I'm not sure anymore. I don't know where Harry ends and I begin.
"You can't be a hero and a killer." He mutters, almost boiling before my eyes with pure rage. The anger that I always knew was there comes out and spills all over him, drenching him in hatred. "It doesn't work that way!" He yells. I look at him, my happy dreams shattering. The rebellious part of me returns to the dark recesses of my mind. My teaching, Harry, The Code, it all comes back to me.
And Brian may have once been my brother, but now he is a mad man, a ruthless killer. I have no loyalties to the man yelling at me. My loyalties lie with Harry and Deb. I wonder how I could have even considered killing her in favor of the man in front of me. His once calm and accepting face has twisted into something wicked and evil, filled with hatred. Just like all of my other victims. The ones that I kill without hesitance.
He grabs the knife out of my hand and raises it, preparing to stab Deb. My mind doesn't think, my hands, the hands that refused to let the knife enter her chest once before, do it again. I catch his wrist before the blade ever touches Deb. Deb's eyes open just as I catch Brian's hand. Her eyes are watching me now, this moment is no longer private. The mask slips back on with the ease of years of practice.
I push Brian against the wall, because he's not my brother anymore. He's dangerous, an enemy. I twist his wrist while he is still in shock. The knife drops with a clatter, but neither of us reach for it. I briefly wonder why, because it could easily decide the winner.
He swings around me and uses his free hand to get me into a head lock. I panic, this is not a good place to be. His arm tightens around my neck, cutting off air and blood. I struggle and kick, trying to get him off me, but to no avail. My limbs begin to go numb, and I know I will black out soon. I try again to free my head, but I can't. I drop to my knees, gasping. I claw at his arms weakly, my last attempt at victory. His arm just tightens around my neck.
"Sorry Dex." Brian says softly. He's back to being Big Brother Brian, and not the ruthless Ice Truck Killer. The thought is comforting, that I'll be with family, even though it's illogical. I don't have enough time to realize the absurdity of this thought before the darkness comes over me yet again.
Dexter goes limp in Brian's arms. Too limp. Worry floods him, and he has to check his brother's pulse. It's irrational, he knows, but when it comes to his little brother, he tends to worry. It's the first proper emotion he had felt in years. He sighs, partly in relief, partly in frustration. His brother is fine, but that is just about the only thing that went right for him. There's the sound of plastic stretching and muffled screams. Debra's awake.
Anger hits him, quick and fast, washing away and replacing the despair that inhabited him prior. The knife is just a few feet away. Dexter is out cold. Debra is restrained, her cries muffled. Such easy prey. It all seems to fall together, in a neat package that spells murder.
He gets up and walks to her. Tears are running down her face, she's wiggling and trying her best to scream for help through the duct tape. He places his hands on the edge of the table, his fingers digging into her arms, and leans over her. There is no amusement in his face. The quiet excitement that had been with him before is gone. His eyes are cold, hard, and ruthless. Bloodthirsty. The knife is right there on the floor, just begging for blood.
Brian really, really, really wants to kill her. She's the closest thing to Harry that he will ever be able to kill. The physical manifestation that keeps Dexter from him. The woman who dared to replace him as Dexter's sibling. She is the very symbol of everything that went wrong with his brotherhood. And a killable symbol no less. His apple.
Debra breaths heavily, trying to lean as far away from Brian as possible. She manages to move a whole inch within her plastic prison. Brian only scowls at her. He truly would love to kill her. He would like to say that she knows too much, she has to be killed. He would like Dexter to wake up, apologize for the fight, and skip town with him. Brian would like many things, but he knows how life works. His plan failed. Dexter didn't kill Debra. Dexter couldn't.
Brian stands up and walks towards his supplies. His plan failed. He knows what that means. He knows from far too much experience that the natural need to carry on with the failed plan is detrimental. It's pathetic too. And Brian Moser is not pathetic.
He throws a scowl at Debra one more time before preparing more tranquilizer. No, Brian knows how to adapt to change. He knows that he can't kill Debra. No matter how much he loves the thought, he knows that regaining Dexter as a brother takes priority. And Dexter doesn't want Debra killed. What Dexter wants, Dexter gets. That had always been how it worked.
Dexter needs to trust him. Brian knows it'll be the key from here on out. With all the alias and lies that they threw at each other, the truth is what they need. Brian doesn't take his eyes off Debra, even as he draws the drugs into the syringe.
How could he ever expect Dexter to trust him if he killed Debra? Brian sighs, frustrated. He was really looking forward to killing Debra. With Dexter too, but he can't live in the past. It's time to start something new, try a new route.
He plunges the syringe in Debra's neck. She is out within moments. The thought of just letting her go leaves a bitter taste in his mouth.
Brian looks back at Dexter. This is such a mess. He knew that rushing things wasn't good. He needed more time with Dexter before he moved. But it all happened too soon. Severe underestimates threw everything off.
Brian frowns, wandering around, gauging the situation. It appears it caught in a middle ground of sorts. Debra, who he wanted to be dead by now, is merely unconscious. Dexter, who he was hoping to be skipping town with by now, is also unconscious. Not a total failure, but far from a success.
He walks quietly and softly, with all the expertise of the predator that he is, to Debra's limp form. It kills him on the inside, it truly, truly does, but he can't kill Debra either. If he kills Debra, he knows Dexter would never forgive him. Or at least never give him the chance to earn forgiveness. He can only play the brother card so much. He can kill Debra and lose Dexter, or spare Debra and try to regain some of Dexter's trust. It's really not much of a choice. Giving up a brother, the only family he has left - and the best one he could ask for - for petty revenge? Even if the revenge would be the sweetest kill he's ever enjoyed, it's still far from worth it.
"You're just lucky, that's all." Brian whispers to Debra's still form. That's all she is, after all. It's sheer luck that Harry took Dexter in and taught him the way he did. She has her own person guardian angle, or demon, as the case may be.
Jealousy hits him with all the force of a tidal wave as his hands returned to balled fists. How hard did he have to work for his brother's respect, attention, and loyalties? How much more does he deserve them than this woman that dares to call him 'brother'? And yet, he still calls her his sibling, and not him. Debra is still his preferred over him. And she doesn't even realize it. She's so fucking lucky, and has no idea.
The urge to pick up the knife and put an end to this sinful mockery of their brotherhood returns to him. His fingers twitch with the urges and needs that have plagued him for so long. He even picks of the knife and rests it gently in his hands. How light it feels...How easy it would be to send the blade slicing through air and flesh. One good cut to a major artery and Debra's heart would do the rest, pumping the blood out and all over the room. He traces one of his long fingers along the blade. It's cool, waiting and ready.
He sighs deeply, enjoying the thought, picturing how it would look like, and how it would feel, to put an end to Debra. He has to force his fingers to release the knife. It falls to the floor with a small clatter. He pushes the dark images and thoughts out of his head. He wills himself to return to reality. Debra won't die. Not today, not tomorrow, not ever. Not by his hands at least. He needs to work to regain whatever trust and loyalties that Dexter may still have to him. It won't be easy.
"But you're so fucking lucky." He whispers in Deb's ear. He moves away from her and sits down against the wall, near where Dexter lies.
"I hope you appreciate this little brother," he continues, still speaking softly. "The ball is in your court now," he says, looking down. He needs to convince Dexter that they are not enemies. Right now, that's probably where Dexter it categorizing him, as an enemy. That...hurts.
Dexter has learned a lot over the past few days. Too much. He was pushed too far too fast. Right now he needs space. Control. Brian loves control, and it stands to reason that Dexter does too. It's always a comfort. With handing over control to Dexter, Brian should earn some trust. So it's all up to Dexter now. He can do whatever he wants. Control is the key to trust, and trust is the key to fixing this mess. So the ball is in Dexter's court now, he can do whatever he wants.
Brian sighs. This will take a while, and he knows it.