A/N: Apologies for the late chapter, between work issues, my computer dying and other things I just haven't had a chance. It was a really pleasure writing this, and I hope you all enjoy the epilogue.
6 Months Later...
I get home at my usual time, smell dinner, take in the clutter that only three kids can produce, hear the inevitable din that usually greets me on my entry. Astor complains about not being able to find her favorite jeans for her date with Jeff, Cody makes noise from whatever video game he's playing on his laptop and Harrison sits hypnotized by some cartoon about a sponge with big eyes and rectangular shorts.
Once upon a time, this image made me want to run the other way, now it just makes me smile. Maybe it's the result of knowing how lonely the alternative can be. Maybe I am finally starting to grow up. Or maybe it's the beautiful woman who comes in as I stand there, smiles at me and announces dinner's ready.
The kids drop whatever they are doing and head for the dining room, Lumen waits patiently until all the kids are out of earshot before leaning in to kiss me.
"How was work today?" She asks with a smile.
"Fine, spent most of the day in court. A murderer walked free on a technicality, brought the case file home with me. You?" I say with a very different kind of smile.
"Pretty slow actually, I left a little early, stopped by the hardware store on the way home." She says, giving me a very different kind of smile in return.
We start to go towards the dining room, knowing we'll have a lot more to talk about once the kids are asleep.
"Oh, Deb called while you were out, she says she and Quinn can watch the kids next time we want a night out. I get the feeling Deb's almost as happy as you are they decided to stay with us permanently."
We walk to the kitchen together, Lumen sits down as I go to the kitchen to get what she made for us.
Another routine we have down now.
As we eat, I look around the table. Of all of us, Lumen has adjusted the best to all of this. For someone who ran from the family life once, she has really taken to things here. Astor actually asks her for advice about boys, friends, ... female issues that make me as uncomfortable as normal people get about dismembered bodies. It makes me glad that Astor has someone who can understand what she's going through, in a way I never could even if I was normal.
Astor reminds me she has to leave in a right after dinner for her date with Jeff. I remind her to be home by ten, she rolls her eyes; but I can see a hint of a smile. I have to admit he has been a good influence on her. I remember how happy he was when the cops told him his father had "mysteriously disappeared", always nice to see my hobbies have a positive effect in the world.
These days, Cody is all about baseball and video games. Other than having to sit through all of his games and pretend to enjoy watching kids hit a ball with a stick, I couldn't be happier. He's the normal kid I always wished I could be.
Then I turn to Harrison. He smiles at me, nothing predatory or cold, just a little kid smile. He hasn't scratched anyone in play group since that one incident. I was actually stating to feel relieved, until he got into Astor's room last month and pulled the head off a doll she left out.
Lumen said it was just a little kid thing, that he ad no idea what he was doing. As scared as I am, I know all I can do is wait and see. I remember the conversation Lumen and I had that night.
"Dexter, calm down, he's a little kid. He had no idea what he was doing."
"What if it is a sign? What happens if next time it's the neighbors pet? Or we get a call from a teacher that he stabbed a classmate? How are we supposed to leave him alone then; or let him around the other kids?" I say, almost hysterical.
Lumen put her hand on my shoulder. "Even if it is as bad as you think, we can handle this together. Harry did it with you, we can teach him how to manage it, give him the Code. Harry taught you to hide it from his wife and your sister, if we work together, we can teach him to hide it from Astor and Cody."
I sit down on the bed, fold into myself. She sits down beside me.
"You don't understand," I whisper.
"Harry hated teaching me how to kill, but he loved me enough to do it anyway. He could be the person I needed because he ran on love. I don't have that in me. The idea of teaching my son how to live like I do... I don't want that for him."
"Dexter, every father wants more for his son then he had. And you have more love in you than Harry ever saw. All the things you did for me, everything you taught me. As crazy as it sounds, that's love; doing things you ate doing because you know it's the only way to help someone."
We don't talk anymore, I lie down, she holds me through the night...
Sitting here, I see she was right. As much as I hate the idea, I would do anything for my son, even teach him how to be like me.
I look around at my perfectly imperfect house, and my perfectly imperfect life, I have no idea how our story will end.
But I look forward to finding out.
A/N: Thanks to everyone who has read, reviewed and/or added me to their lists.