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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59. Chapter 58

After visiting his mother, Johnathon’s mind was made up. She’d shown him how life can continue without the ones you love beside you, and that filled him with confidence for the future. As for Adele, she just got sicker and sicker, with little time left to the birth, Johnathon woke up beside each morning relieved to hear her still breathing. Peter even moved in with them so he could keep an eye on her 24/7. Still, she insisted on carrying the child, despite all the pain it put her through.

18/02/2000:

“How is she?” Johnathon asked as soon as Peter emerged from the staircase.

“No better than yesterday, but no worse.” Peter told him, keeping it brief. Johnathon was tense and impatient when it came to Adele’s check-ups. She stayed in bed all day, barely able to lift a finger, all her energy went into the child. “It won’t be long now, she’s due in four days.” Johnathon  didn’t need reminding, he counted down the seconds until Adele’s labour was expected. He knew full well that those might be the last few days he had left with her.

“Should I…?”

“She’s sleeping.” Peter answered Johnathon’s unfinished question.

“I see.” Johnathon sighed, turning to walk away.

“What about you?” Peter stopped him in his tracks, “You know, you don’t look too good yourself.”

“I’m not the one dying Peter.” Johnathon pointed out, not at all bothered over his current wellbeing.

“Still, you should look after yourself. How about some fresh air? It’s a beautiful day.” Peter suggested, keen to keep both his patients healthy.

“Fine.” Johnathon gave in, “But we’ll just go sit on the platform outside the door, I’m not leaving this boat.” Peter just shrugged, happy with the compromise.

Peter had been correct in saying it was a beautiful day, the sun lit up the vibrant blue sky, outlining the small scatter of white clouds with an amber glow. The brown wood on the deck shined in the sunlight, and shone upwards towards where Adele’s daffodils sat on the windowsill. Johnathon smiled weakly, and reclined back on a nearby chair, Peter soon copied him. They sat in silence for a while, just soaking up the sunrays. Johnathon didn’t spend a lot of time outside, for all he knew his neighbour could be a trained hunter. Much to his distaste, Dustwood had become something of a base for hunters over the years, the town’s small size made it’s safety irrelevant to the government, and if it was destroyed in a conflict of some sort of conflict, it would be much less of a scandal. Adele did all the shopping and socialising, they both knew that all it took was one hunter with a good eye to finish him for good.

“What’s it like? Leading the Dark Souls?” Peter asked him out of the blue, interrupting his thoughts. Johnathon sat up, confused by the question.

“What do you mean?”

“Well...how does it feel? You wake up every morning knowing that you’re in charge on an entire Soul race, doesn’t it ever make you nervous? Do you ever regret accepting?” Peter elaborated, leaning forward with his hands held across his lap, and his front teeth firmly digging into his lower lip.

“It’s best not to think about it that way.” Johnathon shrugged, “Take each day as it comes, and just always try your best. Besides, a lot of Dark Souls don’t care about me anyway, I mostly help the ones who want it, and ignore the ones who don’t.”

“Like Erebus?” Peter struck a nerve, going the one place Johnathon had been hoping he would not go.

“I suppose you’re always going to make enemies in this business.” Johnathon tried to act relaxed and calm, but his stomach was a knot inside him.

“When was the last time you saw him?” Peter inquired, accidentally pouring lemon into the open wound.

“The morning of the baby shower.” Johnathon replied bluntly, the memory of their conversation playing in their mind. As much as he despised Erebus, he could see why he’d become such an awful person, and if he could, Johnathon was sure he’d feel sorry for him. It almost felt wrong to hear him be referred to by that name, when his true one was kept under lock and key somewhere, never to be spoken aloud again.

“Anyway, what about the ones who do want your help?” Peter changed the topic, finally picking up on Johnathon’s discomfort.

“They receive it.” Johnathon stated simply, “I sort them out with a house, an identity...and anything else they need to have a close-to-normal life.”

“I see…” Peter trailed off. Johnathon looked at him, judging his contemplative expression.

“Is there a reason you’re asking me this?” He suddenly thought. Peter shifted in his seat, suddenly uncomfortable.

“It’s just, well, you see…” he fumbled, unable to get the words out, “Eloise and I talked the other day and, uh, she wants me to take over from Andrew.” Johnathon leaned back, thinking for a moment, unsure of how to react.

“Aren’t you a little young?” He questioned him, Peter was barely an adult in his eyes.

“I’m twenty-nine, I’ll be thirty next year.” Peter corrected him, his tone slightly offended.

“Oh.” Johnathon sighed, everyone seemed to be growing up so fast around him...Eloise was right, immortality was a curse.

“So...do you think I could do it? Lead the Knowledge Souls?” Peter got back on topic, eager for an answer.

“Eloise certainly does, and you should trust her judgement, I do.” Johnathon admitted, “But if you tell her that...I’ll chop of your fingers in your sleep.” He added on, only half-joking.

“Right, well then I suppose…”

Peter was cut short by the most horrific scream escalating out from inside the house, shaking the boat with it as it went, and causing all other thoughts either of them to halt. They both looked at each other in equal knowledge of what was happening.

Adele had gone into labour.

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