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In Sanguis, Veritas

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         This time, I knew I was dreaming right from the start.
    
         There was no playing catch up, no guessing games, no wake-up-washing-off-imaginary-blood-at-m
y-cozy-little-Dexter-sink.  No, this time I knew I was dreaming.  I knew I was dreaming because I had been here before and I could remember being here before.  Before and 
before
, and that was both new, and how I knew I was, once again, a dreaming Dexter.  

    
    But this place.  Even in my dreams, it confused me.  Why was I back here, staring at the unlocked door of a refrigerated container box?  The handle was in my hands, my already gloved in sanitary latex gloves hands.  Of course I was already wearing gloves.  This time, I knew I would be needing them.  I was surprised I didn't already have the knife.
    
    I pulled on the door and it slid open with hardly any effort at all.  There was no fear, this time.  I knew what I would find.  Only I didn't.  It was different this time.  No dear and darling Deborah waited for me inside, no, though the woman duct taped to the table was still familiar to me.
    
    "Rita," Dexter, she would say if this wasn't a dream, and there wasn't duct tape over her mouth, Thank God, you've come to get me out of here.   And I would have to shake my head and break her heart because no, no I haven't come to get her out of here.  Not in the way she wanted me to.  Because I knew, as I crossed the room in stunned, awed silence, what it was, who it was, that was creeping up behind me, knife in hand.
    
    "Brother..." the word was warm against my neck in the chill of the room, and everything was so perfect that I held out my hand before I could even really register the word.  He put the knife in my hand, like I'd known he would.  Like he had.  "Together," he breathed again, his lips just raising the hair on the back of my neck.  Rita looked up at me with eyes so wide and so beautiful.  Always before, it had been beautiful, but never quite like this, never until Deb, but Deb wasn't safe, Deb was family, Deb was Harry and the Code of Harry, looking me right in the face.
    
    Rita was not.
    
    "Together," I could tell my lips were curling up in a smile, and it was dizzying to actually feel what a real smile was like.  I'd learned to fake it so well, but the real thing was no comparison.  Rita didn't seem to like it, though she didn't struggle much, just tried to work her mouth under the tape.  An arm slid around me from behind, pulled me back against a body I knew as well as my own, was my own, and I forgot all about Rita for a moment.  He'd led me around like a puppet, before, but not like this, not with his hand locked over my own on the knife as I made the first incision.  Not pressed up against me tight, like a piece of tape against my skin.  Bare skin, his flesh cold where he'd slipped a hand up underneath one of my sillier Hawaiian shirts that I couldn't escape, even in a dream world.  And it felt... not exactlygood because even with the way he always made all of my emotions I'd thought I didn't have anymore surface and boil, I doubt I could feel something quite like that, but it felt an awful lot like...
    
    "I know.  That's why I picked her for you," lips against my neck, now, warmer than I would have thought with how cold his hands were.  And of course, I thought, as I guided his hand to make a second cut, parallel to the first, of course it would be perfect and beautiful.  His work was always beautiful.  His work had made me feel something when I was with Rita, so it was only fitting that Rita be here to help me feel...
    
    ... What exactly?  What exactly was I supposed to be feeling?  There was another vicious moment of vertigo, where I tried to figure out what fake human response I was supposed to be having here, and then an equally dizzying moment where I realized that I didn't have to.  I didn't have to.  My brother was here, and he understood and he loved me juuuust the way I was.
    
    "You understand," it was said, purred, into the side of my neck and I shuddered, maybe I moaned.  Dear Dexter doesn't feel desire-- but he can be overwhelmed, Brian had proven that over and over again.  So good, not having to pretend, not having to worry about the Code, not having to worry about playing the part, being the disguise more than the man inside it. 
    
    Even better when he bit into my neck, hard.  
    
    I have never cared for pain of the masochistic variety.  Never really feared it either, but it was never a sensation I'd sought out.  It wasn't the pain that made my little dream self go nearly limp in my brother's dream self's arms, nor any pleasure derived from it.  No, it was knowing then, right then, that's what he wanted to do.  That not only was I understood, but he was as well, that we knew one another, body and soul and blood.  And I knew, beyond a shadow of any kind of a doubt, right then and there, that in the whole game leading up to our confrontation, he had made one and only one mistake.

    If it hadn't have been Deb, I wouldn't have stopped and I wouldn't have looked back.

    If it hadn't been Deb, even the Code wouldn't have been able to save me.
    
    He laughed into the skin of my neck, the sound muffled, wet,
    
    "More," he said, his hands cold on me, chest and hips and legs lined up to mine, puzzle pieces placed finally, finally together.  "More," he breathed into my neck, his hands shifting mine around the knife, lifting it, and Rita had never been so lovely and I had never cared so less as the knife arced downwards.  And it was his idea, but it was my force behind the blow.
    
    "Mine," he said, in the moment afterwards.  The beginning had been messy and too swift, but I didn't mind.  It was to prove a point, and there was still plenty left to do before it was completely over, "My little brother.  My family," he left my hand on the knife, moved his to the back of my neck and pushed, until I rested my head next to it on the table.  On Rita.  On what used to be Rita.  So messy.  He was usually so neat, and he was getting all of that messy, sticky blood on me and he had to know how my stomach was all butterflies and turning flips.  He felt it too.  And of course he knew, that's why he'd made me bleed, why he was pushing me down in it.  He shuddered against me, because I let him, because I trusted him, because I was family.  There'd be time to drain the body later, to leave it so deliciously dry, like he did, like he'd thought of.  
    
    He was so clever, so playful.  Didn't all younger siblings look up to their older ones, never to be quite as good, always to search for their approval? 
    
    "Brother..." in the dream, my voice didn't stick on the word, "Yes..."

    
    "Yes..." something, someone moved, shifted next to me.  I didn't want to wake up, didn't want to leave that world where everything happened right and no innocent people were actually harmed in the making of this movie.
    
    "Mmm... Dexter... You should dream like that more often," the voice was familiar, and yet, when I opened my eyes, it took me a moment to register Rita, here and alive and not taped to a table and won't-be-messy-for-much-longer.  And, just like before, just like every time since then, I don't really know exactly what earth happened.
    
    But in my head, even as I enjoyed her alive (and I did enjoy her alive, even if she was just an elegant, elaborate disguise) all I could see was her eyes, glassy and open and sweetly disbelieving, and all I could feel was Brian pressed up against me, inside me, under my skin.
    
    In my flesh.
    
    In my bones.
    
    In my blood.