Harry would be proud of him, Dexter thought to himself as he laid out the trap. Julio Chauzel had proven himself as a worthy adversary, but when he tried to open his car door, Dexter would end the career of one more serial pedophile. Slipping his hand into his pocket, Dexter checked the needle and scanned the empty garage. The hairs on the back of his neck stood up, and for one second, Dexter considered slipping away into the night and leaving Chauzel and his jammed lock for another day.
He might have. He might have just walked away, but he could feel the need to kill clawing at his guts, demanding that he act. If he didn't take this kill, he would be hard-pressed to play the smiling brother, the amiable co-worker, the perfect boyfriend. He needed this just as badly as the world needed Julio Chauzel dead. Harry would definitely approve of this one.
Seventeen children forever traumatized, and not one witness. They were all too young to identify their rapist, and the bastard always wore a condom, but luckily, Dexter didn't need to worry about admissibility and legality. A quick case of breaking and entering, and he'd found the man's trophies: tiny underpants and toddlers' jumpers—all folded and hidden in a secret compartment in the office of the gym he owned.
Usually Dexter didn't take his targets' crimes personally. Usually his only concern was whether they were evil enough to warrant Harry's condemnation. If his foster father would have called them evil, then Dexter felt free to kill them. This man, though…. this man offended Dexter in a way the others hadn't. The others were killers, were cold-blooded bastards just as much as Dexter himself, but Chauzel was the only one who targeted victims who were so young and helpless that they couldn't even speak for themselves.
Three of the children had been permanently mutilated by his rape and two died. This hunt wasn't just about killing to relieve the ever-present monster that hid in the very center of Dexter's soul… or at least the center of where another might have a soul… this one was about taking out trash that even Dexter couldn't tolerate.
Heavy footsteps pounded down the concrete stairs leading from the gym to the parking garage below, and Dexter crouched in the shadow of a pillar, waiting. The last employee had gone home, and now it was him and Julio… the predator and the prey. The shadowed garage with the ringing echoes of boots became the jungle in which they would play their deadly game, and Dexter had no doubt he would win. Chauzel might think of himself as powerful with his steroid-induced muscles, but Dexter knew the truth. The bodybuilder was a fraud hunting the most helpless of prey. Dexter was the real predator here.
The tickling on his neck returned, and Dexter glanced around. Only a sliver of moon was out, and the Dexter had disabled the light nearest Chauzel's mustang, so there was more shadow than light. He studied each pool of darkness, struggling to identify the source of his discomfort, but then Chauzel was there, softly cursing in Cuban as his key wouldn't turn in the lock.
Dexter was caught in indecision for just the briefest of moments, and then the sight of that wide, muscled back, the soft frustration of the man's curses, the sway of his black ponytail against the white wife-beater, it all overwhelmed any incipient discomfort. Darting forward, Dexter pressed the needle into the side of the man's neck and pressed the plunger.
With a roar, Chauzel spun as though to attack, and Dexter smiled in triumph as he danced backwards. Before Chauzel could take a single step or even finish his cursed comments on Dexter's parentage, the man slumped and then collapsed to the ground. Mr. Julio Chauzel, your time is over, Dexter thought triumphantly as he prepared to load the man into the mustang and drive him to the place where Julio would spend his final moments of life.
The act of securing his prey, of stripping them and strapping them down to the table, had become a ritual, and Dexter took his time arranging Julio and studying his lax form. This was the moment Dexter normally reveled in, that moment of knowing he was in the presence of another whose monster drove him. There was a kinship in the act of killing his own--killing serial killers. This time, Dexter didn't feel any of the connection or the driving curiosity to understand. That happened sometimes. The man who'd killed because he'd refused to stop driving drunk—Dexter had felt no connection at all. That man wasn't a true hunter; he was simply a selfish fool.
Chauzel clearly was a hunter, having to carefully target his prey and arrange the scene to allow him to escape, but Dexter still felt no kinship. Why he would target children? Dexter finished his preparations and waited for the man to awaken. It took longer than Dexter expected before the man finally started groaning.
His eyes fluttered open, a surprisingly delicate gesture on a grotesquely large body. The first words were soft curses, and then the anger turned to fear as Chauzel realized that he could not control his body.
"Who?" he finally demanded, peering to either side awkwardly with his head restrained. "What do you want? I've got money."
Attempts to bribe him always left Dexter in a foul mood. "I don't want money," Dexter said as he brought the scalpel up to the man's face. Chauzel started breathing heavily, each breath a furnace blast of stale beer and taco smell. With a flick, Dexter made a small cut on his cheek and took a single drop of blood as his trophy for this kill.
"Whatever you want… whatever… it's yours. I know guys. I know guys who can get things, but if you kill me, man, they will hunt you down. Comprende? Hunt you down and kill you dead."
Dexter ignored the ramblings as he prepared his slide and looked at it with pleasure. Some trophies he enjoyed more than others, and he would enjoy this one quite a lot. Holding it up so the light came through the blood making it seem to glow, Dexter sighed with satisfaction.
"Just tell me what you want," Chauzel begged.
"I want you dead," Dexter said with a cheerful smile. He picked up an electric saw and pressed the trigger making it whine in anticipation of the feast it was about to enjoy.
"Bloody waste, that," a voice interrupted, and Dexter swung around, saw still in hand as his heart pounded so heavily that he could feel his chest strain. "Do ya always do 'em so fast or do you ever take time to enjoy the suffering, stop and smell the roses so to speak?"
Just inside the doorway to the warehouse Dexter had chosen stood a man. He was the opposite of Chauzel… lean where Chauzel was wide, pale and blond where Chauzel was dark, smirking where Chauzel's mouth was twisted in fear. The smirk made Dexter pause.
Even when he let go of the trigger and the saw fell silent, the stranger smirked. "Took him down neat, mate. Figured he'd give you a bit of trouble, but you've obviously done this a time or two, haven't ya?" the stranger asked as he pulled out a cigarette and dangled it between his lips.
"Who are you?" Dexter asked. He hated himself for asking the moment it came out of his mouth. It was the clichéd response, the same he got from every victim as they woke. But he wasn't a victim.
The stranger smirked and the cigarette in his mouth bobbed as though mocking Dexter.
"You've been following me since Eastman," Dexter said as he put the saw down next to the other instruments he had laid out for the kill. The creeping feeling of unease had started with Eastman, and now Dexter understood why. With one hand he pulled off the face mask that would protect him from blood spray, and with the other he fingered the gun he carried tucked into a pocket. He hated guns; they were so much less personal than a knife, than the feeling of warm blood slipping over your skin. But he certainly had no trouble using one.
"That I have. You're a bit of a curiosity," the stranger agreed. He started circling the inside of the warehouse, considering the plastic sheeting hung from the walls with a casual ease that set off every alarm in Dexter's head. It also excited him like very little else could. Here was another predator, and he wasn't tied to Dexter's table; he was walking into Dexter's world on his own two feet.
"I'm simple. A man who can follow me, and who obviously hasn't called the police is far more interesting than I am," Dexter disagreed, catching his balance as he studied the man who looked so completely at home at the scene of a murder.
"Whoever you are, I'll pay you," Chauzel offered desperately, his muscles bunching as he fought the tranquilizer and the restraints. "This man is loco. I've never done anything to him. You have to save me." The stranger ignored him.
"I'm good sight more interestin'," he agreed. "But you… not what I expected from an officer of the law. Got a bit of a dark side to you, pet."
"I'm not an officer," Dexter said, and both his discomfort and his excitement ratcheted up. The man knew he worked for the police. Dexter tightened his grip around his gun.
The stranger stopped to consider him before slowly sauntering forward, closing in on the table that stood between them.
"Please," Chauzel begged, his eyes so wide that the white showed all the way around. The stranger pulled out a wicked knife and pressed the flat of the blade against Chauzel's bare thigh, pressing until the flesh bulged on either side.
"Told ya once, wanker. Shut up or you'll be in for even more pain."
Chauzel's mouth was open, but he fell silent as a drop of blood gathered at the tip of the stranger's knife. Then the man pulled the knife away and brought the gleaming blade to his mouth where he slowly licked the drop. Dexter shivered.
"Haven't answered me yet, seems rude to ignore a question."
Dexter knew exactly what the man had asked, but he kept his features calm as he shrugged. "I don't generally have this conversation with strangers, and you haven't introduced yourself."
"You're insisting on manners?" The stranger looked even more amused now as he pulled the cigarette from his mouth. Dexter noted the chipped black polish, the leather coat and the dark eyeliner. The punk exterior didn't match the amused, British voice, but then Dexter knew his own childlike face didn't match his murderous center, either.
"Dexter Morgan," Dexter introduced himself. Chauzel gave a pained whine.
"Spike," the stranger introduced himself.
"Alright, Spike," Dexter said slowly, watching the knife that Spike slowly tilted as the florescent light danced on the shined surface. "I usually end it quite quickly. The joy is in the hunt."
"Bloody waste that. You seem like the kind of bloke who would enjoy hearing the screams and the pleas for mercy," Spike commented as casually as Batista might comment on the weather. "If you're not in it for the pleasure of feeling 'em twist on the end of your knife, their hot blood sliding over your skin, why bother at all?" Spike asked as he again started circling.
"I—" Dexter stopped. He'd tried to explain the need to Harry once, but Harry hadn't actually wanted to know. Harry focused on channeling the need, on controlling it so that Dexter wouldn't ever be caught. "I need to do this," he finally offered Spike.
Spike stopped and tilted his head in Dexter's direction. "Need?"
Dexter laughed, almost giddy with a sense of freedom as he said out loud the truth that he kept hidden the rest of the time. Freedom. It tasted wonderful. "I need to feel him die. I need to know that I have the power to rip his life away from him," Dexter admitted. Not even with Harry had he ever been so plainly honest. Chauzel started sobbing, but Spike just nodded as though he'd expected the answer. "I have a monster in me," Dexter finished.
"Lookin' to find yourself a cure?" Spike asked with a nod toward Chauzel, and Dexter just knew that Spike didn't want the answer that Harry always had. Dexter had trained himself to express his need to be normal, but right now, he didn't want to be normal at all. Right now, he wanted this predator to join with him in his prey.
"No, I'm feeding the monster," Dexter said. Spike nodded again. "You're the same," Dexter said with confidence.
Spike laughed, honestly laughed. With his head thrown back, and his cigarette dangling from one hand, he laughed until his face distorted and shifted, new angles and planes defining his features, and yellow eyes staring at Dexter… the yellow eyes of something alien and dangerous. Dexter took a step forward, fascinated by what he saw.
"Not goin' to run for some church, confess to a priest and beg him to make the demon go away, then?" Spike asked. Dexter tilted his own head and considered the stranger as the smell of urine from Chauzel filled the air. The pedophile was praying softly, his mouth muttering words to the Virgin Mary and the Saints, which seemed to amuse Spike who twitched an eyebrow in the prey's direction.
Dexter was a scientist. He didn't believe in anything he couldn't see and measure, but right now, this demon—this vampire—was looking fairly empirical. "Where do vampires come from? Are they truly demons or demon hybrids?" Dexter asked. That appeared to surprise Spike.
"Hybrids, pet. Pure demons are big, world-ending buggers. Vampires have a bit of demon to 'em, but they have human bits too."
"Long as some wanker doesn't stick a bit of wood in ya, yeah," Spike shrugged.
"Why hunt me?" Dexter asked, suddenly sure that Spike had been hunting him. The fact that Dexter was prey just made the excitement sharper. He wasn't dead yet, and now he had a better idea of how to fight. The gun would probably slow Spike, especially if he took out a knee joint. Behind the plastic sheeting, wood pallets were stacked in the corner. A well-placed shot should crack the wood so he could pull a weapon-sized chunk free.
"Why do you hunt gits like this and not just grab some nob heading home from work?" Spike shot right back.
"He's a monster," Dexter quickly answered.
"So are you, mate. For that matter, so am I. Of the three of us, I'm guessing he's caused the fewest deaths."
"Because he's a weak coward," Dexter pointed out. Chauzel might have exploded at being called a coward on any other day, but today he just sobbed even heavier.
"Yeah, mate, he bloody well is. Doesn't deserve a quick death. Even a demon's got standards, and this git has earned a bit of pain." Spike moved to the table, his stride a dangerous prowl that entranced Dexter.
"A code… he doesn't have a code."
Spike looked up at Dexter's words and smiled as he dropped his cigarette to the ground and crushed it under his boot.
"No soddin' code at all. I'll kill and rape as fast as the next demon, but I don't bloody rape children. If ya want to be seen as strong, ya go after the strongest, not the weakest." Spike again pressed his knife to Chauzel's thigh, this time hard enough that a small rivulet of blood welled up and spilled down onto the table. Chauzel screamed, but Spike just tipped his head back and breathed deeply as though savoring the moment.
Dexter shivered at the sound. "Wanna play, pet?" Spike asked as he drew the knife toward him, the sharp edge parting the flesh so that Dexter could see the layers of flesh for just a second before blood welled in the wound. Chauzel shrieked and started thrashing in his bonds.
"Please. Anything. Dios mio," he whined.
Dexter moved forward as though pulled by some invisible thread. The scream. Usually his victims had time for only one before they died. Harry had been so very specific. Screams brought people to investigate. You couldn't let them scream like that. "The police," Dexter whispered, his eyes still on the bleeding leg.
"Won't let ya get caught, pet. Haven't been this interested in someone in a long time, and it'd be bloody boring seeing you in a jail cell," Spike promised him, the words a blessing that promised nirvana if Dexter would only join in. Releasing the gun in his pocket, Dexter reached for the bone saw laid out on the tray next to his power saw.
Chauzel's screams intensified as Dexter pulled the sharp teeth across his shin, slicing the skin and rasping across the bone. Blood squirted and flowed in patterns that Dexter couldn't take his eyes off.
"That's right, pet. Feels good, don't it?" Spike asked as he slipped around the table, and for the first time, there was nothing between them as Dexter faced the vampire. Dexter had forgotten to put his face shield back on and he could feel warm drops cooling on his skin as he smiled at Spike, a peace he had never felt during a kill setting over his heart, calming that monstrous center that always howled at him. Reaching up, Spike ran a thumb across Dexter's cheek, gathering the cooling blood before he brought it to his mouth and sucked at it sensuously.
"Do you want to eat him?" Dexter asked with a frown as he realized that the man's blood was spilling to the ground.
"Don't worry, mate. Play with your food like a good little monster," Spike said affectionately as he slipped a hand up to Dexter's cheek, cupping it for a second before he nodded toward the table. "He won't last long, so waste not, pet."
Dexter smiled and turned to the pedophile now twisting and panting in pain. The monster in Dexter's heart roared, and he grabbed his scalpel.
"You think you have a right to put this in children," Dexter said as he focused on Chauzel's genitals. Maybe the man was too far gone to understand, and maybe he was just in denial, but he didn't react until Dexter drew the scalpel down the length of his penis. The roar from Chauzel wasn't human, and something in Dexter answered the inhuman call with inhumanity of his own. Catching at the edge of the cut skin, Dexter pulled back, feeling the tissues give with a series of satisfying pops as the raw flesh of the cock appeared one centimeter at a time.
Chauzel fell silent and Dexter glanced up at his slack features before staring at the damage he had done. The genitals weren't bleeding profusely, but the mangled skin fascinated Dexter. He bent closer to look, and then Spike was behind him, pressing him into the edge of the table.
"Beautiful work pet. All that power in your hands. He'd do bloody anything for you, and you don't need him one bit, do you?" Spike breathed the words into Dexter's ear, and something stirred, that monster center of his rose its hoary head and sniffed the air as something new and dangerous entered Dexter's universe.
"I need him to die. I need him to suffer," Dexter disagreed.
"That you do, pet. Lost your soul somewhere along the way, didn't you? You're as much monster as me." Coming from Spike, the words weren't an insult but an invitation, a chance to be part a group where Dexter understood the rules. And a little logical part of his brain warned him that he was prey in this game, but if it meant belonging… if it meant looking in another's eyes and understanding without that deepset feeling of failure and disconnection, Dexter was willing to pay that price.
Spike's hands slid around Dexter, holding him, freeing him from the protective layer of plastic and then of clothing. Standing under Spike's hands, Dexter allowed himself to be tenderly stripped, to be disarmed, and the whole time, he watched the glittering yellow eyes that held him captive.
"Bloody beautiful. Strong, and all trapped in that human body," Spike muttered as he pushed Dexter's pants and underwear down. The boots were too large for the pants to fit over them, so Dexter was hobbled and helpless under Spike's gaze, and for the first time, Dexter understood another. Spike was judging him, deciding whether Dexter had crossed that line between deserving and undeserving, comparing Dexter to whatever code Spike used just as Dexter had judged Chauzel.
Spike reached past Dexter, pressing his body to Dexter and forcing him back against the table and the prisoner slowly bleeding to death on the table. His fingers trailed in Chauzel's blood and then came back to trace over Dexter's nipples, down over his stomach and to his slowly hardening cock. Dexter stared at his own flesh in amazement.
"Never played before, pet?" Spike asked.
Dexter shook his head as Spike closed his bloody fist around Dexter's cock, stroking him with the blood of a dying man. Sex had always been a chore for Dexter, a struggle to come and a struggle to prevent his partner from seeing the monster at his center, but not this time. Dexter breathed faster as need stronger than he had ever felt clawed up through him.
Spike pulled back and turned Dexter, strong hands on his hips forcing him to turn and face Chauzel. A finger circled his ass, and Dexter understood what was coming. He wasn't alpha, but he was a part of this the way he had never before been part of the act of sex. He wasn't just putting his body through the motions, but his true self, his monster, was coming out to revel in the moment.
When the finger went inside, Dexter spread his legs as far as he could and bent over the table, his stomach braced against Chauzel and the blood making their warm bodies slide against each other. Dexter moaned.
"Patience, pet," Spike whispered against his neck. And then there was pain…. clarifying pain… deep pain that reached all the way down past fear and Harry's code and even past the monster that lived in Dexter's center and touched his soul. Trembling, Dexter struggled to relax even as his body tried to tense up and reject the invader. He could feel himself tear, his blood added to Chauzel's, and that was right, too. Dexter arched his back and felt himself harden as the unexpected pain transformed into something familiar and welcome, into something that felt like belonging.
Chauzel slowly stirred, his eyelashes twitching, and Dexter panted as Spike pounded into him harder and harder. Dexter's legs were beginning to feel unreal and cold when Chauzel finally woke and began to scream, and then Spike's weight was on Dexter's back, forcing him down onto Chauzel so that Dexter could feel every tortured breath and the drying blood between them clung to him. What a blood spray pattern they had to be creating, Dexter thought as Chauzel started to gurgle blood, his screams now wet and strained with the shadow of death.
Something cold pressed against his hand, and Dexter opened his eyes to find Spike pressing a knife into his hand. Without a thought, Dexter sank it so deep into Chauzel's stomach that his fingers slid into the viscera within, and the eroticism of that act, of becoming part of his prey, drove Dexter past an edge that he had never known existed. He came in a blaze of need that whited out the entire world.
Leaning against the table and gasping to get his breath, Dexter waited for the killing blow, for the bite or the shot or the knife that would end his own life, and he supposed that his own death fit into Harry's code. Harry never wanted him to enjoy the act. The strike never came. Spike pulled out, his own orgasm spent.
When Dexter pushed up on one elbow, turning to see Spike zip up his jeans, Spike twitched a smile at him.
"You aren't killing me?" Dexter asked in confusion.
"Mate, you know I am," Spike said as he stepped close. Dexter stood, his ass sending up burning pain that lanced through his body, but he watched Spike, for the first time confused by the expression on the vampire's face. "Just don't plan on leavin' ya dead," the vampire said as he stepped close and cupped Dexter's cheek with a blood-stained hand. Dexter studied Spike's face for a moment before he tilted his head to the side and exposed his neck. He was prey, but he was finally home.