Unforgiven

Very few people knew that James Bishop had been born in freedom but spent nearly all this life in captivity. The thirty year war had swept through Europe and no one had cared for the living or the dead.

No one had cared for vampires either. People died left and right, whole villages were eradicated and blood flowed knee-deep through the towns. War, hunger, the plague and other diseases, poisoned wells and scorched earth, abandoned, lordless armies of mercenaries plundered and burned everything that crossed their path.

A single woman being drained of her blood in the nowhere between Saxony and the Czech border? It was doubtful that someone ever noticed she had died.

Hegeman was old already, six hundred years and more. He had seen the Crusades and the Great Plague, he had witnessed the rise and fall of countless countries and religions. Six hundred years and he had seen it all and was bored by it. Amusement was hard to come by, even in a time where he could do as he pleased to do without arousing any suspicion.

This woman was one of thousands he had killed in his time to quench his thirst. To him she was as special and unique as one raindrop was to another for a human.

The boy that jumped out behind a stone and attacked him with a sharpened stick couldn't be more than six or seven. He had dirt-crusted blonde hair and was so scrawny that every bone was outlined by his skin.

Hegeman easily hit him aside, splitting open the boys' lip. He picked him up by his neck.

"Do you fear death?" His eyes black as Hell and his teeth bared. He asked the boy but the boy stared at him with wide, fearful blue eyes. Then he saw his mother lying on the ground, ripped apart and fury returned to his expression as he tried to kick Hegeman with another angry growl.

Hegeman laughed, intrigued against his will.

"What is your name?"

"Jakob. Jakob Bischof."

"Well, Jakob, are you hungry?" Hegeman asked and Jakob nodded.

"We'll take him with us." Hegeman announced and no one dared to speak against him.

New blood joins this earth
And quickly he's subdued
Through constant pained disgrace
The young boy learns their rules

They slaughtered the next village as well, putting up a Swedish flag to lure anyone passing by into a trap.

Hegeman locked Jakob into a cellar with nothing but the body of his dead mother in it. Sooner or later the hunger would be too great, Hegeman knew that, and Jakob would learn his first lesson. After all he needed to forget his old family if he wanted to belong to this one.

With time the child draws in
This whipping boy done wrong
Deprived of all his thoughts
The young man struggles on and on he's known
A vow unto his own
That never from this day
His will they'll take away-

"I am surprised to hear from you after such a long time." Hegeman said to the older one of his visitors.

"We have long ignored our brothers and sisters, "Victor admitted, "but recent events forced me to remember old bonds. We are at war with the werewolves." Hegeman shuddered in disgust when Victor mentioned those vile creatures. "I hoped you would understand our need and let me send you our women for the time being."

"Of course, "Hegeman smiled affably, "but first let us take a drink on renewed bonds."

"Jakob!" He called and like the well-trained dog he was Jakob appeared in the door. They had returned to Amsterdam ten years ago when the war had ended and Jakob had grown into a tall and handsome young man. To his own surprise Hegeman had taken great pleasure in teaching the boy and sending him to other teachers, but he had ensured Jakob's loyalty by dangling the one thing in front of him Jakob wanted more than anything else: immortality.

Hegeman had assured very early in Jakob's education that the boy feared nothing more than death and that he saw Hegeman as the embodiment of that fear. Hegeman had made himself Jakob's God: he could take life and he could grant it.

"Ah, so this is your pet I've heard about." Victor leaned back and eyed Jakob.

"He is the son I've never had." Hegeman took Jakob's arm and bit into it. Maybe it was because he always only got so little of it but he thought that Jakob's blood tasted better than those of normal humans.

"Please, taste him." He gestured for Jakob to offer himself to his visitors. To his credit Jakob never flinched even thought Hegeman thought that Victor bit a bit too viciously into him but his nostrils flared when he saw the intrigued look on Victor's young companion as he drank from Jakob.

What I've felt
What I've known
Never shined through in what I've shown
Never be
Never see
Won't see what might have been
What I've felt
What I've known
Never shined through in what I've shown
Never free
Never me
So I dub thee UNFORGIVEN

In the end Hegeman left Amelia in charge and travelled with most men of his coven including Jakob with Victor and Nathaniel to Romania.

The war was long and bloody, taking years until Kraven managed to kill Lucian, the leader of the werewolves and they took Ordoghaz back from them, leaving none alive. The rest of them scattered like leaves in the wind because they were cowardly creatures when they couldn't take their wolf form.

During the victory celebration Hegeman noticed that Jakob had left without permission and so had Nathaniel.

He found them locked in an intimate embrace in Nathaniel's bed and Hegeman dragged them both still naked in front of Victor and demanded retribution for Nathaniel touching what was his.

He personally held Jakob's head in place and compelled him to keep his eyes open as they flayed Nathaniel's back and rubbed garlic into his wounds, when they pushed him onto uninvited ground and watched him crawl back to them while his skin melted from his flesh.

"This is how we treat mistakes." Hegeman whispered to Jakob.

"This is how we punish the weak-willed."

"This is my mercy: You will life but you will never commit such sodomy again. You are mine, Jakob, and you better remember that."

They dedicate their lives
To RUNNING all of his
He tries to please THEM all
This bitter man he is
Throughout his life the same
He's battled constantly
This fight he cannot win
A tired man they see no longer cares
The old man then prepares
To die regretfully
That old man here is me

Hegeman finally turned Jakob shortly before he led his Coven to America. He hadn't slipped up in his devotion to Hegeman once since that incident with Nathaniel.

At nearly forty Jakob was still a handsome man with strangely piercing yet calm blue eyes and sun-yellow hair.

It was such a pleasure to pin this boy under him and finally, finally drink all his blood until the last drop before feeding him some of his own.

He still kept Jakob inside for couple days, half-mad with hunger and punished him each time Jakob forgot his humility, before he let him loose on the citizen of Amsterdam.

"We're going to America." Hegeman announced.

"Why?" Jakob asked and Hegeman promptly hit him across the face.

"Never question me, my son." He warned him but he answered nonetheless. "I am tired and want to sleep. There is too much upheaval in Europe. America will be safe for us to rest."

He missed how Jakob's eyes glittered when he said those words.

Never Free
Never Me
So I dub thee UNFORGIVEN
You labeled me
I'll label you
So I dub thee UNFORGIVEN
Never Free
Never Me
So I dub thee UNFORGIVEN
You labeled me
I'll label you
So I dub thee UNFORGIVEN
Never Free
Never Me
So I dub thee UNFORGIVEN

Unforgiven II

Lay beside me, tell me what they've done
Speak the words I wanna hear, to make my demons run
The door is locked now, but it's opened if you're true
If you can understand the me, then I can understand the you

They were just South of Boston. Aidan shared his tent with an American or so he claimed but Aidan was sure that James Bishop's accent was a lot of things but definitely not American. Aidan suspected that he was an immigrant from a country that supported the British side of the war.

He never asked because he liked Bishop. Everything around them was descending into madness and chaos too quickly but Bishop barely seemed to notice even when injuries, hunger, cold and sickness began to take a greater toll on them with every day.

"Why did you join?" Bishop asked him one evening. Fire wood was hard to come by especially since they were so hastily retreating from the British at the moment and had no time to collect and dry whatever wood they could find.

"It seemed like a good idea at the time," Aidan answered. Truth was that he hardly knew anymore. It had been an unplanned decision, made in the euphoria about the declaration of independence. In his mind he could see his wife glowing from the pregnancy and her pride kissing him on the cheek when he told her that he had enlisted. Two days later she had begged him to reconsider his decision.

Aidan brushed the memory away.

"Why did you?" He asked instead.

"Freedom," was Bishop's laconic answer.

"I thought that applied only to slaves," Aidan joked but Bishop gave him a sharp look.

"There are many forms of slavery," he said cryptically.

"Sorry, " Aidan offered, "I didn't mean to pry."

Bishop made a dismissive gesture, "It happened a long time ago. It's me who should apologize; I thought I had let it go." He grinned disarmingly. "What would you say to fowl for dinner?"

"In these woods in this season?" Aidan asked doubtfully.

"Trust me," Bishop replied and for a moment it seemed as if the half light of dusk darkened his eyes and sharpened his teeth.

Lay beside me, under wicked sky
Black of day, dark of night, we share this pair of lives
The door cracks open, but there's no sun shining through
Black heart scarring darker still, but there's no sun shining through
No, there's no sun shining through
No, there's no sun shining

Then there came the message from the southern front that Aidan's home town had been annihilated by troops unknown. Neither the British nor the militia wanted to claim responsibility for that act of cruelty.

Bishop held him through it, held him while Aidan sobbed into his shoulder, clinging to him as if the world would end if he let go. Bishop hadn't judged him, had simply brought him tea and whatever alcohol was available at the camp and listened to him.

Somewhere between the cold and the blood Bishop became his everything. He was just there, dependable, soothing, calm while everyone else around them was falling. Bullets, bayonets, cannon balls and illness decimated their lines that were filled with new recruits every day but Aidan stopped to bother to get to know them. They died anyway. Only Bishop remained and was Aidan's only constant in this world. Aidan suspected that outside the army Bishop didn't have anywhere to go either because he never spoke about the past.

Their tent was home now to Aidan and Bishop was the only person that matters anymore, his family in a way. In the deepest of winter they slept together, blankets and bedrolls piled together. Bishop was always hesitant to touch but then Aidan suspected that Bishop had lost someone or something important to him before, maybe he had been like Aidan once: a young soldier who had lost everything in a war and then decided to leave for a new world.

The men often talked about their live after the war, how it would be to live in a new world where they would be free and the families they would return to. Wives and children, sons and daughters in law and grandchildren for some and, just around the edges, talk of desertion. Bishop didn't join in, never had. He talked about his future as much as he talked his past. Aidan used to join in before but he had Bishop now and he felt no need to run. He had no plans for a life after the war either but then, he couldn't imagine that this war would ever end.

What I've felt, what I've known
Turn the pages, turn to stone
Behind the door, should I open it for you?
Yeah
What I've felt, what I've known
Sick and tired, I stand alone
Could you be there, 'cause I'm the one who waits for you
Or are you unforgiven too?

Aidan scared Bishop a bit if he was honest. His hair was darker and longer and his voice deeper but else it was too easy for Bishop to look at Aidan and see Nathaniel. Hegeman slept at the moment, wouldn't wake in another 46 years but he still held power over Bishop. And he still saw Nathaniel's skin melting from his bones in his dreams. Hegeman had taught him that humans were either food or servants but Bishop couldn't help but respect Aidan for his strong will, admire him for his resilience. Other men had shot themselves when they heard news from home that their families were dead, but not Aidan.

He liked the way Aidan's eyes lit up when he laughed and how warm his large hands felt when he touched Bishop. He tried his best to keep Aidan alive, never came to their tent when he hadn't fed because the temptation of Aidan's blood would be too much otherwise.

Hegeman never ordered him not to turn someone else but Bishop was afraid of what Hegeman would do when he woke and found Aidan at Bishop's side. Hegeman would just have to look at Aidan and see the resemblance to Nathaniel and kill him.

If Bishop had learned one thing about Hegeman it is that he never shared what he had claimed as his.

Come lay beside me, this won't hurt I swear
She loves me not, she loves me still, but she'll never love again
She lay beside me, but she'll be there when I'm gone
Black heart scarring darker still, yes she'll be there when I'm gone
Yes she'll be there when I'm gone
Dead sure she'll be there

"Shh, shh," Aidan felt Bishop stroking his face. "Don't move. You're hurt."

"I don't want to die." Aidan whispered. Bishop laid a finger on his lips.

"You don't have to." But Aidan was shaking, freezing. He had seen what blood loss did, he recognised it and yet Bishop didn't look like he was lying and Aidan trusted Bishop like no one else left in the world.

"I can give you life."

"How?" Bishop's eyes turned black.

"I am Death. I decide who lives and who dies." He leaned closer, lips brushing Aidan's ear. "And I've decided you live."

Death felt different than Aidan thought it would. Death was blood and violence and sin.

For his first meal Bishop took Aidan to a small British camp and let him loose. He had never witnessed the feral exuberance of a newly turned vampire and found that it was a thing of beauty. Aidan's unbound youth and beauty with his flashing black eyes covered in blood aroused Bishop like nothing before since Nathaniel had touched him in an empty hallway in Ordoghaz.

Lay beside me, tell me what I've done
The door is closed, so are your eyes
But now I see the sun, now I see the sun
Yes, now I see it

"Who's the whelp?" Hegeman asked sharply, looking Aidan over closely who fought the desire to inch closer to Bishop.

"I turned him. We fought the war together."

"You found some amusement then," Hegeman replied, shifting his attention from Aidan to Bishop.

"He's proved his loyalty to me and the coven." Bishop said defensively.

"I meant the war." Hegeman dismissed the other vampires with a wave of his hand and looked around the coven's house, seized from British Loyalists and given to Bishop in reward for his service. He missed the hateful look Bishop gave him as soon as his head was turned and the relief when Aidan left the room as unharmed as he had entered it.

"Since you proved yourself worthy of this coven you continue to lead it until Amelia arrives."

"Will you go back to sleep?"

"I have business in the old world."

"What business?" Bishop asked before he thought about it. Hegeman's slap to his face was strong enough to split his lip and made him go down.

"Don't forget where your place is," Hegeman hissed, grabbing him by the hair to force him onto his knees.

"Forgive me," Bishop whispered, averting his eyes. Hegeman twisted his head sideways, exposing his neck and sinking his fangs into it. Bishop shuddered but held as still as he could. It wouldn't do for him to provoke more of Hegeman's temper than he had already done. Still, every instinct in him screamed to fight Hegeman off.

"You shouldn't make me do this to you all the time," Hegeman said full of contempt, licking Bishop's blood from his lips. "It's becoming tedious after over a hundred years."

"Forgive me," Bishop said again.

"That's better," Hegeman petted his hair as if he was a dog. "Now go and pack my chest. I have some letters to write. But get cleaned up first. I don't want your blood all over my things."

"As you wish," Bishop could feel Aidan outside, waiting for him but he wouldn't let Aidan see him like this. Instead of the main door he took the secret path behind a panel that led to the kitchen.

I take this key (never free)
And I bury it (never me) in you
Because you're unforgiven too!

Unforgiven III:

How could he know this new dawn's light
Would change his life forever?
Set sail to sea but pulled off course
By the light of golden treasure

If his life was a movie it should be titled "When Aidan met Josh". Looking back he couldn't believe how little it had taken to change his life around Josh. His fall for Bishop had been slow and gradual but for Josh he had fallen faster and harder than he would ever want to admit to himself.

"Hey, you know, there's a better way to do this?" Aidan asked, once more trying to get Josh to agree to move in with him. He was playing on Josh's yearning for normalcy and couldn't decide whether that made him a good friend or an opportunistic schemer.

Probably both.

"Do what? Be a better monster? No, thank you."

"Or dignified monster." He hadn't begged so far but he wasn't above it when it was absolutely necessary. Mostly, he thought, he wanted to make Josh happy. To give him what he wanted and see him smile at Aidan because Aidan was the reason he was happy.

That likely made him more of an opportunistic schemer than a good friend.

"You're joking, right?"

"You shouldn't have to run into the woods every time that you turn", Aidan tried to convince him. It was also give him more opportunities to see Josh naked.

Definitely an opportunistic schemer.

"Pretty sure the gang down at the Econolodge wouldn't take too kindly to me doing it there. So..."

"So what about what I said? What about the apartment?" He was close, he could see it in Josh's face.

"We'll, we'll, uh, we'll have full moon parties. We'll invite the neighbours over and eat them."

Or not.

Was he the one causing pain
With his careless dreaming?
Been afraid
Always afraid
Of the things he's feeling
He could just be gone
He would just sail on
He'll just sail on

Josh would be different, Aidan promised himself that. He wouldn't die by Aidan's hand like Jane and he wouldn't let Josh be part of his side of their world, Bishop wouldn't scare him away like he had done with Celine.

Josh would be different because he wasn't human, because he knew the truth about Aidan and there was no hiding, no lying, no making up excuses.

Aidan would keep Josh alive and safe whatever the cost.

"Are you serious?" Josh asked when Aidan sat down next to him.

"About what?" Aidan asked even thought he knew but he wanted to hear Josh say it.

"Being normal? Trying to be…" He trailed off, looking at Aidan with uncertainty and Aidan would have loved nothing more than to reassure Josh, to hold him close and tell him that he wanted nothing more than him.

Like he had done 200 years ago when his wife had begged him not to go.

He listened to Josh talking about his curse and he wanted so badly to make it stop hurt for Josh.

"I can't do this anymore."

These days drift on inside a fog
It's thick and suffocating
This seeking life outside its hell
Inside intoxicating
He's run aground
Like his life
Water's much too shallow
Slipping fast
Down with the ship
Fading in the shadows now
A castaway

He loved it, loved the routine and the housework, the repairs and bickering with Josh over everything and nothing. This was what he thought he had lost forever.

Sally was unexpected but soon enough she was just as much a part of this little family as him or Josh. A real family like the one he used to have once upon a time and not the sick, twisted version the coven had represented. The family he had lost more than a century ago.

He should have known that Bishop would never let him go that easily. They knew each other too well, had hurt each other too often, too easily and too deeply.

And Aiden still made too many mistakes that he didn't want Josh to know about and that Bishop could hold over his head.

They've
All gone
Away
They've gone away

All of his hopes and dreams were shot to hell the moment he saw Josh in that cage.

He had failed.

Josh was better off without him. He would have the house and Sally and Aidan would return where he belonged: to Bishop, to the edge where the monsters lived.

That night, after Bishop told him that the Dutch would kill him the next day, Aidan came to Bishop. He knew Bishop had anticipated this, planned for this but he also knew that Aidan knew it.

He didn't lock the door that night. Whether Bishop wanted to show that he didn't fear Hegeman or that he didn't fear death, Aidan didn't know.

That night Bishop buried one hand in Aidan's hair, holding on as he told him everything, and it was impossible, even years afterwards, to decide whether it was an act of trust of revenge.

Forgive me
Forgive me not
Forgive me
Forgive me not
Forgive me
Forgive me not
Forgive me
Forgive me, why can't I forgive me?