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Scarce To Be Counted (the Stars In Their Multitude remix)

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Given the choice between becoming an accomplice to the murder of another cop and delivering her brother to what will surely result in death by execution, Debra picks her conscience over her heart. She saves LaGuerta, and she arrests her brother.

 

***

 

She walks by his holding cell several times over the first few days, on her way to interviews after interrogations after statements. It's surprisingly easy to forget, blend out; the station is her workplace, an environment she knows as well as her own home, maybe better. And Dexter belongs here, too. Just not in the place he is now. And that's exactly it, why she can't go see him. She put him there, but seeing him behind bars might make the wrongness of it all seem real.

Debra knows she'll have to deal with that eventually. But repression is a fine family tradition, and she figured out to how to excel at it a long time ago.

 

***

 

After she's fired, she wakes every day with the intention of going to see him. Well, it's not the first thought going through her mind, usually – that's Harrison wailing for his daddy, and things go from there. But now there's not only the fact that it's her brother in jail where she fucking put him, but also going back to the station itself, looking in from the outside. This job meant everything to her, and it's gone. Dexter meant everything to her, and he too is gone. She still doesn't regret her decision to put the cuffs on him, but all that she lost lies within the walls of that building and... nope. It might get easier once he's processed and moved to a state facility, she tells herself. She'll go see him then.

 

***

 

She lets go of Harrison, putting him with the part of his family that doesn't have blood on its hands. She loved being an aunt, but she is no mother, and he deserves so much better than she could give him. In the time that follows, until Angel relays Dexter made a request for her to see him, Debra doesn't think about visiting him so much, and at the same time it's all she thinks about. Maybe it would be what she needs; to see the consequences of her actions, look into his eyes and let it all in. But she can hardly look at his face in a photograph. She does not visit him. She hates him with every fiber of her being. She still loves him so much.

Finally answering one of his calls is meeting both these emotions in the middle. She spits acid at him while he's only able to see her, can't look at her face and see right through her. Debra says her piece, curses and accuses. Hearing his voice splits her neatly in half and once the call disconnects she feels like an abyss has opened in her heart and will swallow her from the inside, but that only lasts for a few minutes.

From there on in, it's easier. She misses him like she'd miss a limb, she misses the past and the family he stands for and that she now knows never existed quite like that anyway. But the stabbing pain dulls to an ache, and she manages to quit raging, at least.

 

***

 

The trial is both as bad as she imagined it and the best fucking thing that ever happened to her. It drags all her families' skeletons out in the open. That means they're there to be examined by everyone who cares to look, but it also means she's got something to burn and bury. There's a reason why new growth sometimes needs scorched earth to develop.

Somehow she works up the strength to look him square in the eye when she testifies. His face doesn't reflect any emotions at all, like looking at a still-life, a snapshot, a painting of her brother. The psychologist that testifies on the behest of his lawyers explains that in elegant, smart words, but Debra interprets all that as such: all he ever did was pretend, and now that his true self is revealed, he doesn't see a reason to bother with that anymore. The worst thing about this revelation is that she doesn't really see a difference, in comparison. All that's wrong with him was always there for her to see. She just never saw.

After his conviction, she stands in her mess of an apartment, neatly befitting the mess that has become her life, her scorched earth, and decides that no fire could be cleansing enough. Debra runs as far as she possibly can without leaving the continent. She can't live with the reminder, can't keep seeing her old life superimposed on everything she sees, rising over every corner of the city like ghosts she knows she would never be able to exorcise.

 

***

 

An exorcism she does have, though, and it hurts all the way through. Debra has been raised into the Miami heat, one of those southern grown people who starts bitching as soon as the sun stops beating down on her skin, and instead of sunburns she now weathers the cold. Anchorage is her penance as well as her salvation, and it's a long way yet until it can also be a home. Her skin cracks and splits; her mind slowly heals.

She goes back to Miami once, to Dexter's funeral. She couldn't watch him die despite the many voices in her head she should be there to witness his execution, what with her being the one who tumbled the first domino to make that outcome possible. It's a testament to how far she's come, with distance and time, that she manages to remind herself that she didn't set in motion jack shit. She stopped him. Every single step of the way until then was all his.

From the moment she steps out of the plane, her lungs scream under the weight of the humidity she never noticed before, and she sweats with the heat she is no longer used to, her body recoded into a much colder climate. She's outgrown this place, outgrown her family and her past. Debra watches as her brother's coffin is lowered into the ground, and she is able to mourn the brother while still hating the killer.

 

***

 

She burned all pictures of her brother and her father before she left Miami, but she sees them whenever Harrison visits, reflected in his face. He too seems rattled by the cold at first, but he loves the snow, and in a way it's good to make memories with him in front of a backdrop that's so radically different from where she grew up with his dad.

Angel comes to visit and Maria – having become so much more than LaGuerta after Debra chose to save her life over her brother's – calls almost weekly. She figures out how to think about them without thinking about Dexter, how to hear stories from Miami or from the force without imagining Dexter and herself in them. Her family throws long shadows, but not so long they cannot be outrun. Without noticing quite when and how, Debra figures out how to be herself without being a daughter and a sister.

Life goes on.