A/N: Hello all, thank you for checking out this fic.

This is my first Dexter fic as I've just gotten into watching it again. I watched bits here and there but have gotten caught up in seasons 6 and 7 recently, and of course the in progress 8.

I love twisty, dark, complicated relationships which blur lines and boundaries and I think we can all agree that the one between Dex and Deb (Debster!) is that and a whole lot more. To want a simple romantic pairing between these two is an over simplification of an incredibly complex and layered world the writers have spent almost a decade setting up now. They're not HEA material but that being said, I do think there is an amazing amount of emotion and heart to be explored between them. I personally think Debster are already engaged in a romance... an infinitely weird, twisted and complicated one but their need for one another is undeniable. And who gets to define what love is anyway? The concept of love is a nebulous one. It means different things to different people and romantic love is the most fleeting of all the personifications of love IMO. Romance is a starting point for some but not all relationships – it's what comes next, how that love evolves and grows which defines love for any given couple.

So, all that being said, I'm interested in pushing more boundaries in the Debster relationship and throwing up new circumstances for them to deal with. Deb's love for Dexter isn't going to 'cure' him anymore than Dex's love for Deb can fix her. It's more complicated than that with what they're offering one another and they'll never be a relationship which you can tie a neat bow on after placing it in a box. They're more than brother/sister, arguably more than lovers as well. Their lives are inexorably entwined around each other with sometimes resulting in more strength, sometimes strangling the other.

Never before have the words 'it's complicated' better summed up a relationship then Dexter and Debra Morgan. LOL

Anyways, this is me playing around with some concepts the writers have laid down between the two. I'm picking this up from S8 Episode 4 where Deb has watched the DVD Vogler made of her father struggling with living with what he'd helped created in Dexter after witnessing Dex's first kill. However, my story picks up before the scene where Deb drives the two of them into the water in a murder/suicide attempt. Man, that would have made for a short season if she'd managed to get that right. LOL That was a very Deb reaction to hearing confirmation that Dex was the reason her beloved father killed himself. I was curious to play it out another way, hence this fic.

For those of you who are wondering about the title, I'm taking this from the poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge – 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner' (1798). For those of you who don't know the story, the short version is the Ancient Mariner's ship becomes caught in ice and everyone feared they were lost until they saw an albatross circling in the sky. An albatross is generally seen as a good omen and they were freed from the ice but then the Ancient Mariner ups and shoots the bird, thus cursing the ship. The albatross is hung around the AM's neck by way of punishment (hence the saying – an albatross around the neck) but it's too late to save the rest of the ship and the AM is forced to watch his 200 shipmates perish. The albatross finally drops from the AM neck when, even during his utter desolation, he managed to offer up praise to God of the water snakes circling his ship and the curse is lifted.

And so, the point of all that, I hear you ask? LOL It's simple - the albatross is a symbol of personal guilt from which freedom has to be earned. It's used as a symbol of an oppressive influence which is difficult to escape from. I felt that kind of fitted the situation both Deb and Dex find themselves in and wanted to expand that concept with this fic.

Okay, mammoth intro, sorry about that but if you made it this far, I really hope you'll keep on reading the actual story.

Hope you enjoy...

PS. I've tried to follow the style of the show with having Dexter's internal monolog in the first person and set apart by italic. I hope that works for you because this is the first time I've written in this kind of format and I'm rather enjoying it. :D


Chapter ONE

`God save thee, ancient Mariner,
From the fiends that plague thee thus! -
Why look'st thou so?' -"With my crossbow
I shot the Albatross."

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

The creak of the floorboards had Dexter's eyes flying open, instantly awake from his slumber. He lifted his head from the pillow, his whole body tensing as his eyes quickly adjusted to the dark room, ready to defend himself if needed. It was the hallmark of the predator, to always be on the alert for danger and he'd always been a predator. He was in his bedroom and it was late at night, no one should be walking into his room. Dexter blinked in surprise, muscles relaxing as he quickly focused on the figure standing by his bed, looking down at him.


Dexter tensed up again, so much still hanging between them that it actually made his head hurt to think about it.

I haven't seen her for over a week now, cloistered away by Dr Vogel and her promises of being able to fix what I'd broken in my sister. Manage mys expectations the psychiatrist cautioned me but the ability to manage anything when it comes to Debra was lost to me long ago. It was lost the moment she'd found out the truth about who her brother really was, or rather what I am. Ever since walking in on me killing Travis, Debra had been an uncontrollable force in my life. One I can't fix anymore than I can quit.

His eyes swept up and down her body, taking in the t-shirt and sweat pants shorts she was wearing.

Her normal sleep attire.

Habit also had him checking her for weapons in the same sweep.

Debra's heated words of regret of killing the wrong person that night in the shipping container were still ringing in my ears, maybe even carved into my flesh somewhere only the two of us could see. I didn't blame her for her emotional outburst. How could I when I agreed with her assessment? Debra did kill the wrong person. Laguerta was an innocent and I'm anything but. I can't imagine a life without my sister in it but for Debra, a life without me must seem like a sweet relief at this point. Maybe she was here to remove the suffering in her life once and for all? It was what we both knew I deserved.

Debra threw the keys she had in her hand on his bedside table, still not speaking. Dexter relaxed again when he saw that was the only thing she was holding.

No weapons then, only her words and I fear them the most. It's past midnight and my sister is standing over me in my bed after I destroyed everything she thought she knew about herself. Could any good come of that? Was she about to tell me she was done, that there was nothing more she had to give me? Was this the last few seconds of me being able to say I had a sister who loved me?

Debra kicked of her shoes and silently climbed into bed with him. In shock, Dexter moved away to make room for her. Debra rolled onto her side, back to him as she curled up in the warm spot his body heat had left behind. Dexter remained still, uncertain what was happening.

I was expecting Deb to talk, to tell me how I'd hurt her, the damage I'd done to her. I didn't need to be told because I could see the haunted look in my sister's eyes every time she looked at me. But that was how Debra operated, her emotions all raw and on the surface, for all the world to see. I'd watch her howl at the moon with each new trauma in her life and know it'd do her no good but it didn't stop her. Being able to feel that much, all the time, I just can't understand it. Sometimes I think Deb is just going to splinter into a million pieces with the force of all of those feelings and there isn't anything I can do about it. I can't even empathise. So few things touch me, her depth of emotion about so many things is a mystery to me. But now she is silent and I didn't know what that means. When she gave me emotions, I had cues to know how to respond, what she wanted from me. With silence I have no prompts to tell me my next moves. I'd always relied on Debra's vocalness and depth of emotions to guide me in our interactions. I mimic and react to the stimulus of other people, that's how I work out what they want from me. Debra has left me alone to fend for myself for the first time in our relationship and I don't know what the hell I should do next.

His gaze drifted over the back of Debra's head, the set of her slight shoulders as she lay next to him on the bed. Dexter laid his head back on his pillow, uncertain what to do next.

Six months of estrangement and suddenly Deb's turning up in my house in the middle of the night and climbing into my bed.

Dexter blinked.

What did that mean? When she was little, Deb would suffer from nightmares and she'd crawl into my bed in the middle of the night, looking to be saved from her bad dreams by her big brother.

Dexter grimaced, regret marking his face.

Only now I'm the nightmare she needs saving from. I'm the big bad under her bed, stealing away Deb's sleep, her rest and peace of mind. But yet she's still here. Was that what Deb was looking for tonight, a big brother to keep her safe from the monster under her bed, even if he was that monster? Maybe there was a kind of warped sense to that. Who else could protect her from the monster than the creature itself? Better the devil you know never seemed so apt as it did right then.

The minutes ticked by. Dexter could hear Debra's breathing slowly becoming deeper and slower as she drifted off to sleep as they lay there together. He moved a little closer and put a protective arm around her waist, letting her feel the warmth of his body behind her, letting her know he was there. A part of him braced himself for rejection at the offer of solace but it didn't happen. A nearly asleep Debra reached out for his hand in the dark and laid hers over the top of his before sleep claimed her properly. Dexter settled in next to her, slowly letting the last of the tension leave his body as sleep started to nip at his heels as well.

I don't know what any of this means and maybe I don't want to know. Maybe this is the lull before the inevitable storm between us. I don't care because for right now I can close my eyes and convince myself that nothing has changed between us and everything that has happened in the last year was just a bad dream.

He drew in a deep breath, the scent of Debra's shampoo intoxicatingly familiar and comforting.

That smell and the warmth of Deb's body are home to me. As much as someone like me can know a home. And maybe that home wasn't exactly a picket fenced, white-washed, all-American dream home. Maybe it was more of a gothic mansion with a pet cemetery out the front and a rusted gate which squeaked noisily in the wind which always seemed to be blowing. That didn't make it not a home, even if maybe no one else would be crazy enough to want to live in it with them. What was the saying – each to their own?

The thought was a comforting one as well as an uncharacteristically optimistic one for him. It was also the last one Dexter had before drifting off into a dreamless sleep...

A/N: So, anyone curious with where I'm going with all of this? Why Deb is there? Let me know if you're interested in reading more if you are and I'll keep going.