Chapter 1

As I saw the Camaro speed away with Lumen Pierces face pressed into the rear window, having jumped into a car full of random men, I could see the panic in her wide eyes and we both knew that one of our lives was over, one way or the other. I quickly noted the plate number, but it wouldn't matter. They would be gone by the time I got back to my SUV and what was I going to do go up to their Frat house and say 'hi guys, you know that crazy woman you rescued? Well I kind of saved her first so I'd like her returned…' Yeah that would go over well.

Harry spoke up from behind me, which was always an ill omen, "Well, maybe this solves both of our problems? Maybe they will kill the girl so you don't have to. Admit it, that's why you took down the plate number; if she turns up dead then you have a whole new client base! To think, they say good things never happy to good people…"

I wheeled on him angrily, shouting at him in public and not really caring, "You would like that wouldn't you? Wouldn't you Harry!"

"Well right now it looks like that is the only thing keeping you out of Old Sparky, so yes I would like that Dexter! If you just would have put the girl back in the room where you found her this wouldn't be an issue. She would be dead soon enough and it wouldn't be your fault."

I stormed back to my car and didn't even bother going around the muddy culvert, my shoes were ruined anyway. "You only want me out here so that I can keep doing your dirty work. I know now I wasn't insane, you help to create this!"

"Right, so says the man screaming at himself. I'm not really here and your lack of collusion is making things more difficult. Besides, you don't think there are murderers in prison? That's where you could do your greatest work. I'm just thinking of the children…"

"Oh, whatever Harry! You're not thinking of the kids…" I barked as I slammed the car door.

"You should pull the room down in case she is able to bring the police here… It will help to destroy her credibility. It will also help to cover your tracks…"

I knew he was right, but I didn't want to admit it. My training took over and I went into what I like to call Doakes Mode. I went to work tearing down the room in record time. I even rearranged a lot of the junk to make her wonder if she was in the right place and I scattered our foot and tire prints on the way out.

I had my car detailed and then went to the boat yard and fine toothed the Slice of Life with Luminal. I went home and boiled my knives and soaked them in ammonia. I then did the unthinkable; I put them in a kitchen drawer with the normal cutlery and I silently begged them to forgive this sacrilege. I wiped down the whole house and vacuumed six times then tossed the entire vacuum over board along with the knife sleeve which could hold blood and everything that had her blood on it. For some reason I kept the rags she was wearing when I found her. I had placed them in an evidence bag and I hid it in a cold case box at work. I just couldn't bring myself to destroy the symbolic embodiment of ultimate suffering and torment. It wasn't my place to destroy it; that right belonged to her.

The days drew on and every day I cleaned and cleaned and even had the stroke of genius to bring my blood slide collection to work and sit it right next to my computer in plain sight. I typed up a list of animals and taped it in there and numbered it as though they were examples of raccoon blood etc. No one here would ever know differently.

Friday came at last and the moon was growing full. It was way too soon to risk a play date, but maybe I would take the boat out legitimately tonight. It was past nine when I got to work but this being my first week back I didn't want to push myself too hard; I might pull something. I did my usual donut rounds and had more left than normal, apparently my minions had learned to sustain themselves in other ways in my absence. I turned from the detective pool to retreat to my quiet little island in the mist of chaos and I felt the flutter of internal wings, a warning.

I casually scanned as I turned but kept my head and eyes turning, as Harry had taught me. Keep everything moving. But as my eyes passed over her, it was no use. She was glowering at me from twenty feet away, in front of the elevators. I tried to fool myself into thinking it was someone else… anyone else. Her eyes were narrowed into slits and her cheeks were red, she was trembling slightly and at first I thought she was afraid. Then I realized it was far worse, it was rage. There were two detectives between us and I had little choice but to turn away. Very slowly I lowered the box as well as my eyes and I slowly turned left and as though retreating from a wild animal, I tried to make seem like I wasn't fleeing. I felt like at any moment she was going to start screaming MURDERER and hurling Swingline staplers at me.

I slumped onto my stool and put my head in my hands and waited for them to come for me, I watched as the pictures of a happy family of five flashed by on my screen saver, a family that had been reduced to two and would now be one, with Harrison going to children and family services. I heard her voice speaking to Angel for a few minutes before a huge dark shadow descended over my office and I wondered whether or not Deb still had the Power of Attorney document I created for her.

"Sorry about this Angel, but I think we've both had better days…" I said gloomily.

Angel didn't say anything but after along moment she spoke, "Say something… anything…"

I turned and looked and it was just her in the doorway and Angel at his desk on the phone, "Something… anything."

"Great, you're a real funny guy. Fine, make jokes and go ahead and call me angel, baby, sugar, doll, or any of that nonsense one more time," she was boiling over and I could see she was about ready to lose it.

I shook my head, "Oh, no… that's Angel, Angel Batista. I figured he was coming to handcuff me…"

She looked back at Angel and then to me, although she didn't seem any less angry. She closed the door slowly, "So, is he like you too Dexter Morgan?"

I really need to stop bringing my home life to work with me, my colleges keep outing me. I sighed, "Not that I am aware of."

"But, he knows about what you are…"

"Again: not that I am aware of, why?" She seemed to calm down a little.

"I asked about you and he called you Socio?"

I laughed and she jumped all the way back up to DEFCON 5, "No, I'm not laughing at you, I'm laughing at him. Socio means partner in Spanish, I think it's funny because it's the beginning of sociopath in English and Spanish."

She squeezed her eyes shut and her fists were clenched so tight that they were white."There is exactly one thing that can save your life Dexter Morgan," she said in a deceptively calm tone.

"What?" I asked nervously.

"The shirt, where is the shirt?"

I shrugged, honestly miffed, "What shirt?"

I had finally said something wrong, "My shirt!" she clutched at her heart. "What did you do with it?" she shrieked.

In all fairness to me, I always thought of it as a rag not an actual article of clothing. I held up my hand motioning I was fine, several people had looked over in alarm. "I still have it; I sealed it in an evidence bag and hid it downstairs." I shrugged, "It seemed wrong for me to burn it; I thought you might want to one day…"

All the blood seemed to drain out of her head and the rage went with it. She looked relieved but it also looked like she was going to faint, "You look like you're going to pass out. Sit down, here sip this…" I handed her a Red Bull out of our mini-fridge.

She sipped it and broke out into a mantra of 'thank God, oh thank Gods…' she exhaled heavily.

"Why do I feel like I am missing something here?"

"That asshole up stairs doesn't believe me! He isn't going to do anything!" she had now shifted to despair, which was at least quieter.

I held up my hands in a calming fashion, "Who? Homicide is right here, you came to report me, right?"

"No, I was talking to Det. Nelson in SVU. He doesn't believe me, or doesn't care. I didn't really see anything and I don't know where I was. He said without DNA he couldn't do anything…"

"Umm, he's dead? I know who he is; I can tell you who he was…"

"No, I don't need DNA on that one. I need it on all of the others."

"…others?" I said out reflex as the missing piece fell into place.

"Yes, there were others. Six, maybe eight, I'm not really sure."

"Okay, I can either run the lab work or give it to you. So, what are you going to do?"

"Do? I don't know…"

"So, are you going to turn me in, or let me go? What?"

"Look, I don't know! I didn't plan on this!"

I mused, "I think we've had this chat before, only in reverse roles."

She looked at some blood patterns on the walls, "What do you do?"

"I'm a blood spatter analyst. Murders are messy, I can tell you what happened by looking at the blood."

"That's the missing piece." She backed away slowly, "You wrapped the place you kept me in plastic. Now I know why. You were going to kill me if I didn't agree to let you go…"

Wow, I hadn't thought of that before, she was as sharp as one of my knives. "No, I had that ready for him, only things didn't work out right. I had to use newspaper at his place instead, ad hoc. I never could have hurt you…" I said genuinely.

She snorted in disbelief. After a long minute she said, "Here's the deal. You're going to help me find those men, so I can kill them and you are going to help me get away with it… Once I do the first one, we are in it together."

I would have probably helped her, but I don't condone blackmail. "Let's get this straight from the start, I will help but I am the brains of this outfit. You don't do anything with my knowing about it first. If I tell you to do something you do it. That includes pulling the plug if it gets too hot. We are in this together," I motioned to my monitor, "but I have three kids to think about…"

Her eyes flicked from a picture of the five of us to my left hand, "Don't you mean a wife and three kids?" she said harshly.

"My wife was brutally murdered. That's why I do this…" I said in my coldest possible voice.

She looked horrorstruck, "I… I don't know what to say. I don't want to say I'm sorry. I know you must despise that. I know I do already, the case workers at the shelter keep saying it."

"Thanks. Saying she was brutally murdered is like saying you were kidnapped and raped. No two words can possibly convey what you went through."

"You're right… I agree to your terms Socio," she gave me the world's briefest hand shake.

"Alright, Socio it is…" I smiled. "Why are you in the same clothes, you said you were at a shelter?"

She looked at me like I was an idiot, "because I am not from Miami. I don't know anyone or have anything. The hotel people stole anything of value and the rest I left when I ran. I have money in the bank, but no ID. After those guys let me out I found a police officer and she took me to a shelter for battered women."

"Well, let's see if we can fix your bank issue," I printed her DMV sheet. "Let's see if Angel's badge carries any sway at your bank. Either way, we'll get you out of that shelter and get you some clothes…" As I locked my office, I said a silent prayer hoping to live to regret meeting Lumen Pierce.