Fandom: Dexter
Title: Underneath the Surface
Characters: Dexter, Lumen and one very cute cameo
Description: Dexter feels like the worst parent ever.
Word Count: 1080
Rating: K+
Disclaimer: Dexter is a Showtime production inspired from the novels by Jeff Lindsay. The characters and all other creative elements derived from the source material belong exclusively to the show's rightful owners. No copyright infringement is intended and no financial gain is sought by this fan fiction. So all you lawyers can suck it.
A/N: A coda fic to Episode 5.10, "In the Beginning"

Barely surviving has become my purpose
'Cause I'm so used to living underneath the surface

Lifehouse, "Storm"

The morning after their first time came sooner than either of them had expected. Dexter had fallen asleep, soothed by the rarest tranquility that came with being frank and honest, in all it's gruesome authenticity. As always, he rested in the blackest of slumber, for Dexter didn't sleep to dream. It was still dark when he heard his phone ring.

He'd meant to set it to vibrate and put it under his pillow. That's what he used to do, back when Rita was alive. But the habit had fallen away like so much else with his previous life.

"Here," Lumen said, handing him the phone off of the nightstand. By the sound of her voice and speed of her response, he guessed that she hadn't been sleeping as well as he had.

"Thanks," he mumbled, and blinking, looked at the caller ID. It was Sonja. He sat up, tossing his legs over the edge of the bed.

"What happened?" he answered anxiously.

"Hello, Dexter, "Sonja replied, with some accusation.

"Hello, Sonja," he said hurriedly.

"I'm calling because Harrison woke up not 20 minutes ago screaming and—"

"Why? Did he hurt himself?" Dexter asked.

"What is it?" Lumen asked, drawing closer.

"He started calling for you, da-da da-da, then began walking about the house look—"

"Where is he?" Dexter interrupted.

"Wait, but then—"

"Where is he now?" Dexter demanded.

"Dexter! Allow me to finish," she scolded in her genteel Irish way. Dexter sighed impatiently. "He's here in my arms. The worst of it is over, but he's still a bit weepy. I guess he realized that you aren't here and it scared him a bit. I thought he might like to hear your voice."

"OK," Dexter nodded, calming some. A moment later, he heard a familiar voice.

"Da-da," he heard on the other end of the phone.

"Hey, Harrison!" he sang. "You OK, buddy?"

"Da-da, he repeated, more sing song this time.

"You'll be back soon, buddy, OK?"

"Da ba ka ba, boooo," was Harrison's cheerful reply.

"Just call me if you need something, OK?"

There was no reply.

"Good night Harrison."

"Da-da," was his sign-off. There were sounds of shuffling.

"OK," Sonja said, returning to the phone. "He seems to be a bit merrier."

"Glad to hear it," Dexter said.

"Well if there's nothing else, good night, Dexter. I'll call you tomorrow."

Dexter nodded. "Talk to you tomorrow. Goodnight, Sonja."

"Wait!" Sonja called, just as Dexter was about to hang up.

"Dexter?" It was Cody.

"Hey, Cody," Dexter chirped. "What are you doing up?"

"Harrison was screaming. Everybody's up."

"Gosh," Dexter said. "He never does that here. I don't know when I've heard him scream. Maybe if he hurts himself."

"I guess he misses you," Cody said. "I miss you sometimes too."

For some reason, Dexter turned to Lumen at that moment. The room suddenly felt crowded. She returned a look that was somewhere between worry and anticipation. He nodded reassuringly.

"Just sometimes?" he joked.

"Dexter," Cody replied. "Are you coming up for Easter? My friend Sikora has a huge Easter egg hunt at her house and Harrison would have a lot of fun."

"Harrison would have fun, huh?"

"And me," he added sheepishly.

"I'll see what I can do," Dexter said. He glanced at the clock. It wasn't even three. "Wow, you gotta get in the bed, buddy. Talk later?"

"Yeah. Good night, Dexter," he said.

"Good n—" Dexter started, but Cody had already hung up. Dexter placed his phone on the nightstand and leaned into his hands.

"Everything alright?" Lumen asked, placing a hand on his back. He turned around, meeting her eyes.

"Yeah," he shrugged. "Harrison's fine. Just a little homesick, I guess."

"I'm talking about you," Lumen clarified.

"Me? I'm fine."

She gave him an incredulous look.

Dexter paused a moment, then sighed. "I guess every time I talk to them I feel like, I dunno, the worst parent ever. Like I'm failing them. Failing myself. Failing…" he stopped.

"Failing Rita?" Lumen said. It took Dexter a moment to respond.

"She was an awesome mother. If she could see what's happened to everyone—"

"If she could see what happened to everyone, she would be proud of you," Lumen interjected. "It's obvious you love those kids."

Dexter looked on, letting the words sink in. "It is?"

"Yeah," Lumen assured him. She crept closer, taking one of his hands. "I know what's it like to have darkness, and I know you think you're a monster. But you aren't. If you were a monster, Rita would have never trusted you with her kids in the first place."

Instinctively, Dexter looked down at his wedding ring, twirling it around his finger. Before he could catch himself, Lumen looked at him and sat back some. Dexter didn't miss the uneasiness on her face.

"It's late," she said after a moment. She turned off the lamp and, pulling the covers back over herself, turned back towards the wall. Dexter followed suit, but, very far from sleepy, he just leaned against the headboard. He watched Lumen a long while as she lay motionless.

"She never knew," he said finally. There was no response, but he was sure she wasn't asleep. "Like you know."

Lumen sighed gently. "You don't have to say that."

More silence.

"She couldn't," he added, "know." Lumen turned over at him. "It was different then."

She didn't say anything, and Dexter thought she wouldn't when, all of a sudden, she spoke.

"You can't just stop loving someone," she said. "I… understand that."

Dexter didn't have a response, not at first, and after a moment she turned back over.

"I need you, Lumen," he said finally. "At first I thought I didn't, but I do." She turned back to him. "I want you to stay."

The faintest of smiles crept around her lips, around her eyes, and after a moment she reached out from under the covers and took his hand.

"I'm not going anywhere," she assured him.

Dexter nodded and impulsively kissed her hand.

"Hold me, Dexter?" Lumen asked. Dexter slid down under the covers, and took Lumen in his arms.

And in a world that had always felt to Dexter like too much—too much responsibility, too much expectation, too much hiding what he truly was—this felt like just enough, for maybe the first time ever. This? This felt manageable. It felt certain. It felt right. And, most of all, it felt real.