One word. It all comes back. I shake my head in denial.
"I murdered him."
"Who, baby?" Del's eyes widen in question. "Who?"
"Him." The story spills out as if telling it will free me from the guilt. As I tell it I pace. Afraid to look at them.
When I finish Lenny sighs. "I did wonder if you were responsible. I heard he'd been killed. He was a good man."
"But you said nothing." I turn to stare at him then lower my gaze. I feel my guilt deeply, still.
He spreads his hands in acceptance of my words. "I was torn between telling you what I thought, not knowing how you'd react, and leaving you as you were so there'd be one less slayer of my kind taking up his sword against us."
Pete puts in his own two cents worth. "Trev, you were only doing what you're programmed to do."
"Fuck that. No one should leave their morals behind. Do you, Pete? Do you go out and kill whoever you're pointed at, with no thought about whether they deserve it not?"
He blows out a long breath. "I used to. Then Vik showed me that wasn't right." He stares at me hard. "Maybe this was your awakening, Trevor, or the second one. The more crucial one. You've already accepted that Vik's one of the good guys, even though he is a Vampyre. Now you've met two more. Unfortunately, you had to kill one of them before the lesson really sank in."
I run my hands through my hair and clasp them behind my head. Nod as I think about what he said. "Hell of a way to learn something isn't it?"
Del has been listening. Now he asks. "How did the accident happen? Were you..." He hesitates.
"Trying to kill myself? I don't know, Del." I say, more to myself than him, "I don't know. I was riding blind. Running from what I'd done and the guilt I felt. From the realization of what I am."
"What you were," Del says adamantly.
"We don't know that. Yeah, I feel like the lowest thing crawling right now, but who's to say that the next time I run into a Vampyre I won't do the same thing again. Pete's right. I was programmed to kill them from the day I was born. It's been all that I am. The reason for my existence."
"Then change, Trevor." Lenny approaches. Puts his hand on my arm. "I can't stress this strongly enough. We are not all the enemy." He smiles slightly, "Although many of us are, unfortunately. We're like any species. There are good and bad. With Vampyres the bad ones out number the good by a lot, I'm afraid. We're predators, humans are our prey. That's the way it is and the way it's perceived by too many of my kind."
"And those are the ones I have to destroy. But how do I know? How do I decide which one should live and which should die?"
"The same way Pete does." Del looks between us. "You study them. You don't believe what you've been told about one until you've checked for yourself."
Lenny agrees. "It won't be easy, Trevor. I know, if you're like most Dhampir, that you spend your nights out and about searching for Vampyres. Ninety percent of the time it will be obvious from their actions that they deserve to die. But if you feel even the slightest doubt, hold back. Find their lair, their home—and then wait. See if they kill or if they just feed. Hell, I don't have to give you the details. You're more than aware of what's what. Just don't let your hatred be your guide line."
"I'm going to try. I owe that much to you and Vik and most of all, to the one I murdered in cold blood."
Del takes my hands in his. "I'll be there with you. I'll..."
"Smack him up side the head if he screws up?" Pete laughs.
"Yes, that too." Del grins. And then says to me, "I love you, so I'm going to make certain that you don't go off the deep end again, for both our sakes."
"I love you, too." I realize that's the truth. I tip his chin up. Kiss him gently. He wraps his arms around me. Returns it.
I hear Pete ask Lenny. "Can they use your bedroom?"
Break the kiss to glare at him. Then grin. "We'll wait till we get home."
I go over to Lenny. My arm still around Del. I'm not letting go of him just yet. "I don't know how to thank you. You saved my life in more ways than one. I'll never forget that, as I'm your enemy, you had every right to kill me—and didn't."
"What you have to remember is that we're all of us human." He waggles his hand. "So to speak. We have the same scruples, good or bad, as anyone else. Keep that in mind from now on and you'll do well, Trevor." He actually hugs me then. "I'm glad we met. If you're ever in the neighborhood again, stop in. All right?"
"I will. You're good people, especially," I grin, "for a Vampyre."
"You're not too bad either—for a Dhampir."
"One who's learned a big lesson that I won't forget." I take Del's hand, holding it tight. "Let's go home."