Dexter has told Debra that he's a killer a thousand times, but never out loud. Dexter has shown Debra what he is a thousand times, but never so she could see. Dexter has wanted Debra to know his secret since the minute he had a secret to tell. Dexter has always understood that one day, Debra would find out the truth, and then the rest of his story would be told through her - one way or another.
But not like this; knife chest-deep in a darkened church, a body still twitching before him, warm blood pooling in the plastic wrap.
Her face, whitening.
Her hands lying limply at her sides.
Her rattling breath.
Her eyes, almost childishly puzzled.
The gun on her hip.
"Oh, God." The words come out before he knows he's said anything, jerked from inside him. He has time to note the irony of calling upon God in a moment like this, because Debra doesn't speak.
A minute passes and she doesn't say anything. Doesn't move. Dexter can't breathe. His whole life has been leading to this judgement. Forget God. Besides his son, Deb is the only thing, the only person, who matters to him. The only other person he promised he would never harm. The only other person he loves.
Her slow blinking as the story before her spins into sharp relief; Travis's final tableau. The plastic wrapping. The carefully prepared scene. The ritual. The truth. She is smart. She's a good cop – a great cop, better than their father had ever been. She gets it, and she gets it fast. Dexter sees the moment it clicks into place for her, and he's never felt a sickness like it in his life.
He's frozen, the knife caught in Travis's breastbone, Travis's eyes sinking into themselves and turning away, glazing over, his chest still struggling vainly to close itself, lungs still trying to breathe.
The gun on her hip, which one hand has unconsciously settled on, rhythmically flexing.
The first thing Deb says is the last thing Dexter expects.
"Sorry, I… for…" She shakes her head, mouth working soundlessly. "I should have called."
The words fill the cold space between them and echo, echo, echo.
Deb swallows, and puts one hand over her mouth and one on her forehead, her brows knitting. She leans forward, rocking a little. Through her fingers: "You're busy, so…"
Dexter stays frozen as she turns around, stumbling against the wall. Blood rises over the hilt of the knife as Travis's heart finally gives out. Dexter can only move when he hears the double doors of the church open and her uneven footsteps retreating.
He doesn't know how he got outside, because all he can think is DebDebDebDebDebDeb, like a Gregorian chant in his head, tuned to the painful point. He's dropped the knife somewhere. There's still blood on his hands.
She is doubled over in the church grounds, boots sinking into the turf, heaving her guts out. Ropey vomit splatters the ground, and she raises one hand, limply, as if to warn him away.
"Don't come near me."
He steps closer. DebDEBDebDebDEB. It's all he can hear, all he knows.
"I mean it, Dex. You ca – yyuggh…" She bends again, emptying the last of her onto the soil, back heaving and hands planted on her knees as she sways in place.
Dexter says nothing, because he doesn't have words for this. He rehearsed this scenario a thousand times in his head, and all his carefully prepared excuses, reasons, explanations, justifications, apologies, pleas… gone. DebDebDebDebDeb.
Debra finally stands upright and faces him, her eyes taking him in from head to toe. He doesn't know what kind of a picture he's making in the moonlight, but it can't be good. He wonders, almost vaguely, who she's seeing when she looks at him.
When she speaks again, her voice is dull.
"Do you know why I came here?" she asks him.
Dexter's throat is closed.
"Because I'd finally figured something out, something so important…" She laughs then, and it's a choking, half-sob. "Fucking joke's on me, isn't it. Always on Deb."
It's not a question.
Dexter steps towards her, and she steps back. "I mean it, Dex. Stay there … or I might fucking shoot you." She laughs again, brittle. "Maybe. Shit. Fuck. Shoot you? God-fucking-dammit."
She doubles over again, and this time a dry sob wrenches out of her with a physical force. One hand draws her gun and it dangles loosely by her side. "What. Do I. Do now? Jesus."
Dexter finds his voice. "I'm sorry, Deb."
She glares, white-lipped, and – there is no other word for the harsh, hysterical sound that comes from her throat – barks at him. The gun raises a little. "You're … sorry. SORRY. Fucking SORRY."
Dexter holds his hands out. "For everything. All of it. This. Me."
"Oh, God." Her words mirror his own, and she sits down suddenly, unheeding, legs going out from under her like a colt.
Dexter rushes to her, crouches next to her, puts a hand on her shoulder. She jerks away like she's been burned, and that's the part that hurts him the most. "Deb…"
From her huddle, she peers up at him, gun still clutched in a shaky fist. "Don't explain. Okay? Dex? Don't fucking explain. Don't talk."
She drops the gun and pushes at him, wildly, and he has to steady himself with one hand to stop from falling. "You've ruined everything, do you know that? I was coming here to… to…"
She suddenly grabs his face between her hands, fingers clenching at his cheeks, and kisses him roughly, desperately. Somehow, Dexter is not surprised by this. He kisses her back, because DebDebDeb and this is the right thing to do now and probably always was the right thing and now he understands.
Her tears begin in earnest. Dexter reaches out and gathers her to him as she sobs.
She cries into his shirt for half an hour. Dexter can't cry, but everything hurts.
Debra rests her forehead on his, gently, and says, "You've ruined everything. All of it. This. Me."
He barely notices when the handcuffs click shut on his wrists.