Guiltless

On the 11th of January 1937 Johnathon Ignes is born. He is a suitable weight, in good health...but different from all the other babies in the ward, because he is born immune to guilt. 2 years and 235 days later, worldwide war breaks out.
Sent away as an evacuee, Johnathon grows up away from his mother, and meets Erebus, a cheeky paperboy. Erebus too, has no guilt, and under his influence, Johnathon grows up into a monster.
This is the story of how that monster, became a leader.
- The prequel to 'Souls' (but will make sense if you haven't read it) -

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46. Chapter 45

12/1/1975:

When Johnathon woke up Adele was nowhere to be seen. The double bed was only creased on one side, and her suitcase was still zipped up in the corner. She hadn’t slept in their room that night. Sighing, Johnathon lay back, looking up at the ceiling.

Because you are the rightful leader.

Eloise’s words haunted his mind like bad dream. Was he? Did is stubborn resilience make him strong and powerful, or untrustworthy and childish? Was Erebus right in assuming he’d never be a successful leader? Or was Eloise correct in thinking he had great potential? And why wasn’t Adele at his side? She was always there for him when he needed her. Why not now?

Being at Kris’s house reminded Johnathon of his time as an evacuee, he’d spent most of those years wanting more than anything to be left alone. Ironically, in that moment he had never wanted anything less. As a child, he had believed that isolation was heaven, and that people different to him were what made his life tiresome. He no longer felt that way, and he was just realising that. People were like locks and keys, matches were what made the world work. If you never found your key, your house of a mind just gathered dust for years and years. Could he be the key to people’s locks? Could he lead the Dark Souls?

Getting out of bed, Johnathon stumbled over to the bathroom. Looking in the mirror, he discovered that he was a wreck. Black stains under his eyes stood out against his pale complexion, and dragged his whole face down. His eyes were distant, and didn’t seem to be looking at anything in particular. He wasn’t frowning, but his eyebrows dropped, making him look slightly grumpy. Most of all however, he just looked tired.

Refusing to give in to his exhaustion, Johnathon got dressed. Fixing his collar and buttoning his jacket did seem to give him some form of satisfaction. As he swept the comb through his hair, he swept back all of the negativity and insecurity he had woken up to. And as he tied up his shoelaces, he tied up all the loose ends he had thought up about the previous night.  The next time he looked in the mirror, he looked like himself again. Sharp, sophisticated, and intelligent.

Heading downstairs, he found an Adele shaped figure resigned on the sofa. He crept over, kneeling down to whisper in her ear.

“Good morning” he murmured. Adele stiffened, her eyes darting open. When she saw Johnathon, she relaxed again, shifting in her position so she could look at him. “You slept on the sofa?”

“I thought you might want some alone time” she yawned, sitting up and making room for him to sit beside her, which he gladly did.

“Kris has a lot of rooms” Johnathon reminded her.

“I was too shy to ask” she confessed, a small blush tinting her cheeks. Johnathon chuckled, leaning in to kiss her. “No…” she moaned, “I have morning breath”.

“I don’t care” Johnathon assured he, kissing her anyway. She did have morning breath, but it was actually sort of pleasant. It was rich and fruity, like a glass of quality wine.

“Have you thought any more about…”

“About last night?” Johnathon guessed, “Yes, I have.”

“...and?” Adele prompted him, curious as to what his decision was.

“I’m still not sure.” Johnathon sighed, “I mean, me? A leader?”

“You’d be a great leader.” Adele encouraged him, placing her hands in his. Johnathon grinned, glad for her support. He came close to deciding, but then a new thought came to mind.

“What about Erebus?” He winced. Adele rolled her eyes, taking her hands away, and leaning back...clearly frustrated.

“That man only cares about himself. Honestly, I don’t know why you put up with him.” She shook her head.

“He wants to be the leader,” Johnathon told her, “He’ll never forgive me if I say yes.” Adele sat back up, leaning in closer to Johnathon so their eyes met directly.

“Whatever you do, you should do it for you. Not for Eloise, not for me, and certainly not for Erebus. You have to do what you want.” Adele guided him. Johnathon grimaced, turning and burying his head in his hands. He felt Adele next to him, sitting and waiting patiently for him to clear his mind. She could read him like a book, and always knew what to do around him. She put his best interests before her own, she wasn’t afraid to stand up to him, she managed to persuade him to do anything she wanted him to do...Adele was his leader. His leader was telling him to do what he wanted. So what was he to do? With no guidance, no instructions, no team...What do you do when your leader puts their opinion second?

You become the leader.

Adele was letting Johnathon lead. It was a small, sweet gesture, but it was also a useful test. What sort of leader can’t even manage their own life? Johnathon had to prove he could guide himself before he’d feel confident enough to guide an entire race of people.

“I want...to be a good man” Johnathon decided.

“Then the answer is simple,” Adele nodded her head as she spoke, pleased by Johnathon’s verdict, “Say yes. Say yes and be the leader. Show everyone how kind, and thoughtful, and selfless you can be. Be the leader. Be the good man I know you already are.” There was genuine frustration in her voice, she obviously found Johnathon’s lack of self-belief irritating. Johnathon did believe in himself. He believed he could do bad things and not feel bad because of it. He believed he was stronger and faster and that could prove to be a deadly gift. What he did not yet believe, was that he could be more than just a Dark Soul. Adele knew this, but unlike her second half, she believed wholeheartedly in the man behind the skin.

“These people have known me in my darkest days, it may be hard for them to accept the more benevolent aspects of my personality.” Johnathon recalled many memories whilst he spoke these words, and though no regret came with the images, he did gain an understanding of why his point was correct. When he’d knocked Felicity out at Gael’s party, the spite he’d shown towards Tao when they first met, when he’d sent Eloise a wordless message…

“I saw you kill a man that night at the theatre,” Adele cut off his thoughts, he voice quieter than before, “I watched as you took a life. Yet despite the horror and the fear and the worry, there was a part of me that recognised a different person to the monster I’d witnessed kill through your words. I then fell in love with that person, and now, here I am. I saw the good in you Johnathon, and they will too. Do you know why? Because you want to prove yourself, and I know that determination will outshine the insecurity inside you.” Johnathon didn’t reply to Adele’s encouraging words verbally, instead he leaned in closer to her. He inched his head nearer and nearer to hers, kissing her neck repeatedly, moving upwards from her collarbone. Adele leant back, letting him get sidetracked for a moment, wrapping her arms around his waist and welcoming his passion. Johnathon had just reached her cheekbone when they both heard a cough come from the stairway.

“Am I interrupting something?” Kris asked, leaning against the wall casually. “You know there is a perfectly good double bed upstairs which might be better suited to... those sort of activities.” Adele stiffened her posture, turning slightly away from Johnathon, who sat back up, slightly annoyed at the intrusion. He shot a glare at Kris, who simply shrugged. “Just be thankful it was me who came down first, and not someone else. Can you imagine if young Gael found you two both like that?”

“Sorry,” Adele apologised, knowing Johnathon wouldn’t, “We just got a little distracted”.

“I understand,” Kris wasn’t all too bothered, “I too, can get a little distracted sometimes.” Adele blushed, slightly uncomfortable. Johnathon got up off the sofa and walked over to the sink, getting a drink. “So, have you thought about Eloise’s offer?” Kris couldn’t contain his curiosity for much longer.

“A lot, and between us two, I think I might accept it.” Johnathon confessed, becoming more certain by the minute, but still a little hesitant.

“Last night you seemed a little uneasy, what changed your mind?” Kris inquired.

“Not what, who” Johnathon gestured to Adele. Kris grinned, nodding as if a part of him could relate to the feelings of true love.

After having a small breakfast and a cold glass of water, Johnathon headed back upstairs to seek out Eloise, ready to accept his position as leader of the Dark Souls.

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