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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62. Chapter 61

Erebus did indeed keep his word, and he stood by Johnathon through all the challenges he faced. Erebus had been right in saying that raising a son would not be easy, and Dmitri was a crossbreed, which made it even more of a challenge. Eloise couldn’t see exact characteristics when she looked, all she saw was half-dark, half-normal, but she claimed that when he was older, she’d be able to tell, and some things would present themselves anyway. Unfortunately, Johnathon’s leadership was put to the test when rebel forces began to rise up. Angered by Eloise’s acceptance of the birth of a crossbreed, they used it as an excuse to fight, for the first time the rebels were actually posing a great threat. They ran around soiling the name of Souls, wreaking havoc and leaving piles of corpses. With Johnathon preoccupied with the rebels, Erebus would often stay at home and care for Dmitri, and the broken bond between Erebus McKoy and Johnathon Ignes gradually began mend.

19/02/2001:

“How much stuff does one kid need?” Erebus sighed. The houseboat was full of gifts for Dmitri, the day before had been his first birthday, and lots of people had decided to come along celebrate...the floor was carpeted in wrapping paper, cake crumbs, and streamers. Johnathon ignored Erebus’s remark, and continued to tidy. He smiled when he found yet another picture on the floor, this one was of Dmitri and his cake.

Dmitri was, to put it plainly, a one year old version of his father appearance wise. He had hair exactly the same shade of raven black hair, so straight and thin that if not brushed, each lock struck out from his scalp as if he’d been struck by lightning. As expected, in the same way Johnathon had gotten his green eyes from his father, Dmitri had inherited the bold jade colour. His skin was surprisingly pale too, but this was not without reason. Dmitri was not immortal, Eloise had seen that from the out, but, his life was to be prolonged. His cells would not divide infinitely, but they would still divide enough to double his life-span. Eloise had smiled at this, for she too knew how it felt, though it had been seventy years since her rebirth, she still looked around forty. She’s said it was because this life was more important than her future ones, Souls were only just beginning, so she would live a little longer in this lifetime than in her others. Dmitri’s ageing was the only crossbreed factor they knew about him, the rest would reveal themselves with time.

Johnathon’s thoughts were interrupted by an abrupt knock at the door. He got there before Erebus, and opened the door wide.

“Hello Bethany.” He grinned, “Thanks for all your help today.” Bethany had volunteered to watch Dmitri for a few hours whilst Johnathon and Erebus tidied up, she’d been assisting them a lot, she loved children, and thought Dmitri needed a motherly figure in his life.

“It was no problem, he was an absolute sweetheart.” Bethany assured him, handing over Dmitri into Johnathon’s capable arms. “We just went for a little walk around the park, he even made a wish in the fountain!” Johnathon heard Erebus chuckle from the back of the room, amused by the petty little gesture, but Johnathon just ignored him.

“Well...thanks again.” Johnathon made replied awkwardly, his eyes moving to the door, waiting for her to leave. No matter how much of an asset Bethany was, it still pained him to see her, she looked so much like her sister...and it brought back too many memories.

“You’re welcome, it looks like he needs a bit of sunshine anyway, I mean, he’s as white as a sheet.” She joked, moving gradually towards the door. Johnathon laughed along stiffly, and at last relaxed once she was out of the door.

“That girl... has the brain of a goldfish.” Erebus groaned, “‘he’s as white as a sheet’, we all are! Me, you, and him. How hasn’t she figured it out yet? She looks after him almost every afternoon during the week, and she still can’t tell his different from the other boys.”

“He’s not that different…” Johnathon trailed off, putting his son in the nearby high chair.

“He’s a Dark Soul crossbreed with the leader of the Dark Souls for a dad, his life will be twice as long as it should be, and he may or may not have other gifts that are yet to emerge.” Erebus argued, throwing a streamer in the bin with each item on his list.

“You’re right about the last part,” Johnathon admitted, “Maybe we shouldn’t let Bethany take care of him anymore, after all, his gifts could come through at any point. What if he unlocks his super speed when she’s with him?”

“Johnathon - he can’t even walk yet.” Erebus pointed out, rolling his eyes.

“He’s had his first steps!” Johnathon got defensive.

“He took two steps then got bored and stopped trying.” Erebus rephrased, “He’s as lazy as you are…” Johnathon turned to glare at Erebus, then shifted his attention back to his son. Dmitri’s eyes had been alive and energetic when he’d first arrived back from his little park visit, but they had turned tired and droopy. His entire body was slumped in his chair, his arm fell loosely over the edge. He sighed, picking him up.

“I’m taking him up to bed.” He announced, heading up the stairs.

“Like I said, lazy.” Erebus called after him, finishing the tidying up. Johnathon shook his head, ignoring the comment.

Dmitri’s room was the first one on the left, opposite Johnathon’s own on the right, and next door to Erebus’s. Erebus had moved in ‘temporarily’ so that he could ‘assist Johnathon better’ , or, to put it more truthfully, so he didn't have to drive in from Cantumville everyday. The shift in the house dynamics had been interesting for Johnathon, he’d expected it to feel similar to when Erebus had lived with him years back, but for some reason it wasn’t. Weather that was due to the change in scenery or the new addition to the family was unclear, but it didn’t feel the same at all. Erebus smocked outside, and didn’t drink until after noon, he even tidied up after himself and volunteered to do the grocery shopping...it wasn’t their house, it was Johnathon’s house. The fact that Erebus understood that was not only surprising and remarkable, but also extremely calming.

Inside Dmitri’s bedroom, the decor was simple and unfinished. The only decorations inside were gifts, such as soft toys and books. The colour scheme was very white, Johnathon hadn’t gotten around to painting the room yet, or rather, he’d been putting it off. He didn’t know what colour to use, and even though it seemed like a small decision, it somehow meant a lot. Erebus had suggested black, but that seemed a little too cliche for Johnathon. A small line of tiny baby shoes and socks acted as a doorstop for the bedroom, and his other clothing was piled up on the windowsill. In the centre of the room sat his cot, lined with a strawberry scented blanket that’s scent had turned sour and rotten over the year. Johnathon lay his son down inside it, gently tucking him in with steady and level hands. He drew the curtains shut and pecked his forehead in a minimalistic gesture before picking up a book from the floor and beginning to read.

“There once was a rabbit named Elliot, who was smart and strong and loved to play. Every morning he would wake up and smile and eat his breakfast and happily welcome the day. He had a friend named Benny, who was a dinosaur. Benny had a temper, you didn’t want to hear him roar. One day Elliot and Benny hopped down the road to the park, and played and danced and ate ice cream, but before they knew it it was dark. Lost in the night Elliot was scared, but Benny said ‘don’t be sad’, he took Elliot in hand and together they found his dad, and they went home together that night. They learnt to stay calm, they learnt to stay together, lessons they never forgot. Elliot grew up and bucks of his own, he wanted to teach them all he knew, so he told them this story a lot.” Johnathon hated the cheesy rhyming tales that he read aloud to his son, but they did seem to help him sleep, so he told them anyway. In his eyes, they painted the world as so utopian that they were misleading to young children. In life a lot worse will happen than being lost in the park at night, and you can’t just run to your dad when trouble hits you, however, it was fair to suppose that perhaps seeing the world in this naive way could make you a happier person, even if it made you an idiot too. “Shall I tell you something Dmitri?” Johnathon spoke to his half-asleep son, “Shall I tell you a true bedtime story? Once upon a time there was a bunny named John, he had a friend named Ed, Ed was wicked and cruel and mean, and yet, John believed everything Ed said. If Ed told John to go to the park at night, John would so straight away. They developed a bond so strong and so tough that they wasted away each day. One fine evening John was about to do another meaningless deed for Ed, when he saw a bunny named Amy, and decided to hop after her instead. Ed got jealous but John got happy, and he and Amy fell in love. Amy got pregnant with one special buck, and John thought he’d been blessed from above. Then Amy got sick, and Ed came back, and the buck was born at last. John grew tired and weaker from this, everyone was hopping too fast. Ed slowed down and helped John by hopping at his chosen pace, and now John has a buck who he can tell this ‘slow and steady wins the race’.”

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