Smiling in the Face of Hell

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Chapter 12

The next time she opened her eyes, she was laying on her back in her bedroom.

She looked around confused, going through the same emotions as before, for a split second thinking she was a human again, before letting everything settle back in again.

Absentmindedly, she reached up to touch her nose, finding it dry and from what she could feel clean of any blood.

That sure was intense, she thought mildly as she slowly sat up, dropping her hand as she rubbed the back of her neck.

She heard someone bustling around in her kitchen making her stiffen before relaxing again.

With a sigh, she rolled out of her bed and slowly walked over to her door opening it.

She felt his presence much like she did Lionel’s only at a much lower scale. She felt him but not Lionel, which was all she needed to know to realize what was going on.

Somehow she seemed to have snuck up on the old man just by simply moving slowly for herself, since she was still very drained and weak.

In the doorway she cleared her throat, watching the man stiffen a millisecond before relaxing to turn and face her, in his hands was a red pitcher in one hand and a tall glass in the other.

“Grabbing a snack?”

She grinned as James resumed what he was doing, pouring himself a glass of cool blood that she knew she never had, so he must have brought it himself, a soft smile on his face.

Somehow watching an Elder of the vampires pour his meal from a pitcher was something she never thought was a thing. She more like imagined a harem of fresh ready humans around them ready to be fed upon, but to say the least, she appreciated the pitcher instead.

“Yes, I hope you do not mind I borrowed your fridge,” he said as he set down his glass to turn and place the pitcher in the fridge.

Scout shook her head,” not at all, go for it,” she said before taking advantage of the fact she did not get her own answer and pressed,” how long was I out for?”

James peeked over at her as he took his glass to begin sipping his cold, red beverage,” about a week, Lionel just returned to Hell about an hour ago.”

Scout nodded slowly as she pushed off the doorway frame that she ended up leaning heavily on to carefully sway her way over to her table to pull out a chair, flopping down hard.

James had quickly made his way over to aid to make sure she did not fall, he seemed very vigilant and actually cared about her wellbeing which was somewhat refreshing to feel from another other than Lionel.

James helped himself to a chair beside her,” how are you feeling?”

She kept her eyes on James or the table instead of his drink that was on the side away from her but still close enough to smell,” tired, more like exhausted, but other than that no pain at least.”

James nodded,” that is good I suppose. I was shocked when Lionel came to me asking me for a favor to watch over you during the times he had to return. He said he did not want to take you back in Hell in that condition so he was forced to leave you here instead.”

Scout nodded, it only made sense. A week would be more than enough time for someone possibly dangerous to learn that she was weak and out for the count in a place where everyone’s eyes were peeled for the slightest advantage.

“He asked his brother first but he has been busy himself so he made poor distraught Lionel come ask me for the days his brother were unable to watch you fully.”

Suddenly Scout was greeted finally with an onslaught of not so pleasant thoughts surrounding Lionel’s vampire brother.

One word rang through in every single thought, ‘workaholic’.

The complete opposite of Lionel, who would any day of the week ‘take necessary time off’ to just slack off, or as of recently, take care of her, whereas his brother can’t seem to commit to taking time off and had a very strict schedule that he needs to meet or he will get helplessly restless and cranky.

Even his brother's soulmate in need of looking over could keep him away from his work for long.

Scout ignorantly thought that twins were supposed to be the same, at least a little, but it looks like that was only true in looks in Lionel’s case, for they are literally polar opposites of each other.

Scout nodded deeply,” I see, a shame I wasn’t awake to meet him, he seems like an interesting kind.”

James snorted, shaking his head,”’Interesting’ she says. All I can say about that man is I truly feel bad for his soulmate, in the event he even finds the unlucky soul. He can be so childish, but the second something interferes with his work, he is suddenly the most serious man on the planet. I just do not understand that man. If anything he is just cruel for playing with his brother in a vulnerable time and enjoys being able to use his work as an excuse to stress him out.”

“Vulnerable?”

James took another sip from his glass as he nodded,” his soulmate falls unconscious in front of him while bleeding and there is nothing he could do but watch. Then he has to leave her on the surface, he is forced to lay his trust in his brother and friend to keep her safe while he was to return to Hell alone, in another world where he could not come back until a certain amount of time. I do not know what happened but he kept implying it was his fault. That brother of his knew how stressed Lionel was about everything yet he still had the gall to tell him to find another to watch over you. I may be his friend but I understand that there may be certain things he will openly admit he trusts me with. Something as important as his weak soulwoman was surly initially not one of those things at all. Imagine the turmoil he went through to come to me to practically beg to watch you. He was so torn and I don’t even blame the man. He waited until the last possible moment to come to me. If he was not his brother I would imagine Lionel seriously consider doing some physical harm to him for toying with his emotions like that.”

Scout nodded, of course outright murdering someone on the surface would undoubtedly get him in some serious trouble, no matter who they are.

This brother did sound somewhat of an asshole yet from memories of Lionel before this he seemed to genuinely seemed to still love his twin to no ends so she wondered if he honestly expected such a thing from his brother or if he was even pissed about it.

“Poor Lionel,” she said with a sigh.

She knew he acted unbothered as much as he could, both for her and himself, but as he found out the hard way with her, she found out far too much about him and knew that he was a riot of emotions when it came to her. He has had over thousands of years to polish and protect that mask of his, something he needed to brush up on if he had expected to survive as Hell’s King, before he had Scout completely sold and convinced but she knew now more than before now that he truly was a very emotional creature around her. It’s all new to even him so he did the next best thing until he figured himself out and hid it behind that shiny confident mask of his, when he really was a scared and insecure man.

She could only now imagine the mess he ended up being when she passed out from accidentally digging too far into his mind and past like she had. She was almost 100% certain he regretted being so old and easily letting her in. He was trying to let her in slowly but she went wild unintentionally and that backfired in his face and he was probably very scared, worried and mad at himself for not being more careful.

Hearing James just think about Lionel already confirmed everything, and it was just as he had said, Lionel was very vulnerable because of her.

James finished his glass and pushed it away before leaning back in his seat to cross his legs elegantly, clasping his hands in his lap,” if you don’t mind me prying, may I ask just what on earth happened to have the Queen of Hell falling unconscious so suddenly here on Earth.”

Scout leaned forward to prop her head in her hands, scrubbing her face,” I was only human not too long ago remember? I am still getting used to the change and I unintentionally went way too far and stepped way over my limits. The rush of it came a bit too fast, it seems I passed out right in the middle of a meal in a dinner.”

James reached out and patted her shoulder,” I wonder if you mean the whole mind reading thing, if so then I can imagine what a rush it would be to touch Lionel’s mind.”

Scout gave a deep nod before shrugging lightly,” yeah something like that, let's just say I know more about him now than I think he himself even remembers.”

James’ eyes widened,” I heard all demons have mind reading abilities but never quite one who can touch on unprovoked or forgotten memories. So that’s what you meant when you said your powers. I thought you just meant the basic demon change, not that plus more. I can not even imagine making it that far, now I just feel bad for you. No wonder you passed out.”

Scout snorted,” tell me about it I still don’t have that much control over it, it happens instantly most of the time. That means I also got a large whiff of your shit too.”

James barked out a loud laugh,” humans these days really do say the funniest things sometimes. Oh, I like that saying. However, do not worry, I do not have anything to hide, and even if I had, it doesn’t matter anyways I’m sure. Meeting those from Hell, I expect as much, maybe not to your extent, but none the less I still do not particularly care. I doubt you will go around telling others who do not even know I exist about this old Vampire. I am hardly that interesting.”

Scout grinned, he was somewhat of a background character, never was one to step out and do something. Always has been and still is, though she will not deny that even so, he still did have an interesting life even if he did not think so.

Scout rubbed her forehead, of course, she could not have expected the headache to up and leave after shutting her down once. It seemed as if she might have to take a seat and get used to it because until she can control herself, she doubted this deep-rooted head pain will be leaving anytime.

“Would you like to try some painkillers?”

Scout peeked up at him from under her hand as he continued,” I can go pick some up from the store nearby.”

She can easily say that along with the cold blood in a pitcher in the fridge, him talking about going to a store was also another thing Scout did not think she would hear or see from an elder. He sure was mundane for a 700+ year-old vampire, not that she even knew any old vampire other than him, so who knew, this all was probably very normal for all she knew.

With a weak smile she gave a small shrug,” will it even work?”

James tilted his head lightly,” I cannot say for sure, I do not know if any of the Princes or Lionel himself has tried, it seems worth a shot though,” he said lightly.

Scout nodded, demons were somewhat immune to normal human things, their bodies are completely rewired to purposefully suffer in Hell, their sin gauges how much one will suffer, so things that might have been dangerous on the surface is kind of forgotten about since ultimately no one other than the King and the Princes’, and select council members, are never allowed back on Earth and most likely never will see it or walk on it again.

Scout was still a fresh demon but still was a demon so she might be completely immune to its effects, but there was nothing particularly dangerous about it either. Just as James said it was worth a try.

“I have some,” she began pushing herself out of her chair to go get some when James stood quickly, putting his hands on her shoulders to gently push her back into her seat,” just tell me where, just relax.”

Scout smiled up at James, biting back her words that almost slipped out when she got her answer without even saying it. She could not tell him to stop being so kind to her, thinking initially it was only because she was Lionel’s soulmate, but he was actually genuine and wanted her to take it easy.

“You sure are good at taking care of people,” she then said instead as she pointed at the drawer that was not that far away in her kitchen,” but it’s just right over there.”

James glanced over at the drawer, needing to only take one wide step to reach it, shrugging anyways,” I have someone that I care deeply for here on the surface, sadly she gets sick too easily so I take care of her when she is sick.”

Scout’s eyes drifted to the multicolored toe socks and sandals he wore on his feet absentmindedly, knowing exactly who he was talking about it. He knew she knew too, but he continued talking anyway because he liked talking about her, knowing Scout wasn’t an enemy. It was easy to just be and enjoy conversations.

“Oh, what’s her name,” she then asked as she was handed four painkillers from the bottle, not too concerned about the amount.

James turned to get a clean glass and filled it with water for her before returning to the table where he sat, pushing the glass to her,” Tammy, she is the sweetest little angel, so young so pure, but so bright. She gives me something to look forward to each day.”

“Then what are you doing here in New York taking care of a complete stranger instead of being over in Spain with Tammy?”

James gave her a reassuring smile,” I have my eyes on her do not worry. I told her a friend needed me and she told me to go right away. I would really like to get to know you better as a person, not the Queen of Hell.”

Scout glanced down at her hands, the concept of ‘friends’ was foreign to her, Lionel and Dirge were the only two in her life whom she considered might be a friend, and Dirge did not even want her to feel that way for her own safety. The few days she spent in Hell, although heavily sheltered and guided by Lionel, gave her somewhat of a deep impression that she could no longer make friends, that she could not trust anyone, that she was bound to live a lonely life. The thought of actually making a friend who is not in Hell and actually on the surface, someone she would not have even met had she not turned into a demon and the Queen of Hell, it was somewhat nice. She did not feel uneasy either since, unfortunately, all of poor James was permanently imprinted in her head, and she knows he is definitely a true, trustworthy, kind and genuine person who truly wished to make more of his own friends.

The surface was not Hell, at this point, she literally had no reason to be so alert, Lionel himself was the prime example of just that, further reminding her that she had nothing to be afraid of on the surface, because the surface was not Hell.

He knew she was aware that he was genuine, she did not need any further proof. To her, James was, unfortunately, an open book.

James then continued,” plus to compensate, Lionel was kind enough to give me a portal to get back and forth when I felt the need, so I literally have my eyes on both of you, there is nothing to worry about in that regard.”

Scout glanced up at the man, giving him an apologetic smile,” I’m sorry then for making your life difficult,” she began, before getting cut off by James.

“Nonsense, you see, there may be some work, but nothing that cannot be dealt with later, I would truly choose this over working anyways, I have no idea why Lionel’s brother is stuck on not missing a single day, he acts like there is mountains of work, when really there is not.”

Scout let out a small snicker, she knew he was bold-faced lying, but she was sure he knew she did as well, no regrets in his mind. He truly was just enjoying the time away from all that, knowing that with Lionel involved, he could not particularly get in too much trouble.

Who knew that Vampire Elders had actually quite a lot of paperwork to shuffle through each day. There really was an entire world of creatures, full with leaders, treaties, agreements, laws, the whole nine yards. What a stressful situation it must be finding oneself right in the middle of that, acting and living as a human all while actually being a supernatural creature that also had laws and rules to follow.

She could see some conflict of interest with some of the creatures, while there were others that had little conflicts between the human law and the laws of their kind. That was another interesting thing she realized, that every creature had its own set of laws that transcended imaginary human borders. The world truly was a huge wonder that she used to live in and never once truly knew about.

She nodded though, letting him do as he pleased, she may now be a Queen but she was hundreds of years to early to be trying to lecture the old vampire about slacking off or doing as he pleased. He had the game down more than she ever will, so who was she to say he should go back to work.

There was very little that could happen to him, it was not like Lionel, who could be severely punished for failing to do his job. Punishments and consequences for skipping work were nothing severe. The pile-up is possibly the worst that can happen to him, other than that he was free to do as he pleased, he would just have to handle the backup.

“Looks like your mind is set so I will drop it then,” she said with a smile.

James showed his content through his own light smile, nodding,” good, now is there anything you would like,” he then asked standing up to take his blood glass to the sink to wash it right away, instead of setting it in her dish rack right next to the sink to dry he pulled out a kitchen towel to hand dry it and put it right back where he got it, how unexpectedly responsible of an elder.

In Scout’s mind, Elders were somewhat of maybe an equivalent to rich folk, the kind that has everything done for them and not a finger of their own has to be lifted. However, James was a very unique case for he seemed to always do things on his own and had no one to do it for him. Even through all the years of his life, he remained strong and independent. She was unsure if all three of the elders were the same, but it was certain that James sure was his own being and he had no qualms with it.

She tried not to dig in his mind further to answer her own questions, trying to take a hold on this uncontrolled power of hers and looked down at her hands to further avoid his eyes to help her keep a lid on it,” why don’t you have assistants or helpers to do stuff like that for you?”

She heard James shuffle close, taking his seat, without looking at him it invited her other senses to take over a bit and observe from beyond just her vision.

He had a very oddly clean scent although he looked as if he would smell, frankly, like an old person. She smelled the soft scent of fabric softener on his clothes, she also smelled aftershave and even lotion. This man sure was somehow shocking.

He seemed like a very clean and well-kept man despite being an old royal vampire.

Not that she imagined a vampire elder to be dirty per se, but for some reason, she did almost expect him to be old and dusty. Not that she was rudely going to admit that to him.

“I don’t like people around me or around my possessions. I just find no use in getting lazy and letting others handle things I am fully capable of doing on my own.”

She took a moment to listen and understand his words, keeping the tightest lid she possibly could have on her free-roaming mind. It seemed looking away may be the one way just not to do such a thing, so she was unsure of how much is actually helping if it is at all.

“Is it actually common for someone in your power and position to have that mindset and not the ‘it’s pointless to do it if others can do it for me’ kind of attitude?”

James did not seem to mind her not looking at him as she spoke, she felt like he understood what she was doing without her actually peeking into his mind to get her answers for herself,” common? I would say no. Some value normality over superiority more than others, and some the other way around. I feel like for me and most of my kind, in a way we ring similar to demons,” he said making Scout tilt her head as he continued,” we all were once humans once upon a time. Some of us enjoy the power and immortality and wish to live as a being higher than the humans we all once were. While others wish to keep in touch with our humanity and wish to continue on as they would if they were still human.”

Scout cleared her throat. It was just like Lionel doing something like eating, although it is not needed, it is a human ritual that he wished to still participate in to remind himself that he too was once a human. It was a deep feeling of nostalgia that they find little joys in. Even herself, her human self demanded her to stay on the surface to remember who she was before because she was scared of forgetting even though it had only been a few days. She still wanted to know she was human, she clearly did not want to lose that at all, and everything happened so fast that her human side truly and deeply felt threatened.

Then there were those like Theodor and Guo who lost all who they were as humans and wished nothing but to rise in power and cared little about remembering such things. She also knew there were far worst cases in Hell where some were so gone they were reduced to nothing but rage and animalistic behaviors and had no humanity left in them that they are sure to attack on sight because they long forgot how to speak, communicate, act, just be human altogether.

While some at least kept their communication and behavior somewhat on check, all shreds of morals and common sense of a human are out the window and is replaced with a power-hungry demon with a superiority complex.

She supposed it was no different for vampires. Both demons and vampires were robbed of their human lives in some way, shape or fashion. It would only be natural for some to miss it.

“I see,” she said with a slow nod.

“May I ask some questions now?”

Scout lifted her head an inch before stopping herself, her eyes glued on his clasped hands.

Finally looking at him, she did manage to learn the feeling her mind gave when it reached out to connect with the other it wished to infiltrate. She took a moment to properly grasp it and keep it from making it into James’ mind, taking note on how she did it and every feeling of her effort for practice in the future.

She had to be looking at some part of them, not just exclusively their eyes, but just any part of them at all was enough for her mind to find its way to theirs.

“Yeah, of course, shot.”

He did not care to mention her strange pause and went on,” what’s your favorite colour?”

Scout took a moment to register his question, she was expecting a ‘how does it feel to be the queen of Hell’ or ‘do you hate Lionel for pulling you into Hell as he did’, not a question about her favorite colour.

Instead of questioning it, she went with his flow, it was harmless and on top of that, it was normal, and maybe she should be appreciating it instead of wondering why,” Orange I think,” she said slowly,” or yellow, I guess a bit of both. How about you?”

She heard James suck in a thoughtful breath, one of his hands raised to rub his chin, she kept her eyes on the one still in his lap, not wishing to push it just yet when she just seemed to get a small hold on her power’s leash,” I honestly have not thought of such a thing in hundreds of years until recently Tammy cared to ask me. It took me a month to get the answer to answer her truthfully. I found that I favor the colour blue.”

Scout suddenly glanced up, her curiosity somewhat overrode her focus at trying to keep her mind out of his that something about his answer had her glancing up.

Just as she expected it would the second she let her walls fall on accident, it all came rushing in. Since the memory was still quite recent, she got a clear playback of how he come to favor the colour blue.

She watched Tammy take her little whiteboard asking James what colour he liked. She watched poor James struggle to give her a clear answer. Next thing she knew she was riding through James’ own journey to find the answer.

He hadn’t paid much attention to something like colour in so long it was like Tammy brought out a new vision as he took the time to familiarize himself with colours once again just to find an answer for her.

She watched him genuinely try, and it was somewhat heartwarming and wholesome.

He could not figure it out, he was never drawn to any specific colour, until Tammy was gifted a little polka dotted sky blue bow from one of her teachers. He fell in love with the little accessory and immediately he grew to love the colour blue because it looked so nice on Tammy.

Scout looked away pinching the bridge of her nose, the act brought a hitch in her head pain, but the gesture was more so out of frustration from so easily failing.

James leaned forward, breathing out a snicker at her struggles as he patted her back,” don’t worry you will get it soon,” he said with a tone that hinted a pinch of teasing.

Scout shot him a narrowed eye look before looking away again, heaving a sigh,” so this is the reason for the strange question,” she accused.

James laughed,” of course what better way to help you get used to your powers than to have little conversations like this. I am helping you as well as getting to know you, killing two birds with one stone.”

Scout snorted, he may not read minds but he sure was good and quick at picking things up. She did not even fully explain what her powers were but he understood it just fine by her somewhat vague comment on it.

I guess there isn’t really much to explain when I said I learned more about Lionel than I even think he knows or even remembers himself, pretty self explanatory, she thought inwardly, trying to stop herself from giveing James too much credit and overestimating him just because he was a vampire.

She could not say she got bored, she was between focusing on not reading his mind and actually learning small things that her first initial few trips through his head seemed to have passed up.

James seemed true to his word of genuinely just wanting to get to know her, all the while tying in her practice into the conversation, doing just as he said, killing two birds with one stone.

She enjoyed the conversation, it was minimal, but still informative. The topics were mundane and very normal.

James truly did help her human self feel that feeling of being a human again. His outlook on life was still pretty bright and seemed to know how to keep the conversation off the supernatural and things like heaven and hell.

He was just like Lionel was with her before, and it takes quite a bit of time to remember just who she is talking to again.

Time passed quicker than either of them seemed to notice, it was not until Lionel was there, right in the middle of her kitchen, staring over at the two of them that they even realized.

Scout glanced up at him watching his movement. She had her own small block that she had been building the entire day, but she felt Lionel go that extra step and have his closed of tightly.

He was so silent.

James stood and stepped over to Lionel to pat his shoulder,” relax, she is fine.”

His friends words seemed to bring him little comfort, as if he just did not have it in him to ask her himself while she was sitting there watching them two have their moment.

She saw the stress and worry in his eyes, she did not need to dig in his head to visibly see it on his face.

His face even seemed gaunt, and did not even know that could happen, but regardless, the stress did take a huge chunk out of him, and he was definitely not the big tough Lionel she remembered.

It was like just like that, their roles switched, Scout went from the one breaking down and seeking comfort in Lionel and the surface, to being the one who was somewhat stable with some comforting scheduled to be given here in a few minutes to Lionel.

She now saw what James had been saying the entire time. As a result, she frankly kind of wanted to give his brother a nice punch in the jaw, just once, since she knew he wasn’t the full cause of Lionel’s stress, but apparently a large contributor.

James then turned, walking towards the front door of her place, letting himself out,” I will be in Spain if any of you need me, take your time catching up. It was nice talking to you Scout,” he then said.

Scout did not look away from Lionel as she turned her head a bit to respond,” it was great talking to you too James, tell Tammy high for me,” she called, watching Lionel shift at the name.

He did not know who Tammy was.

James also noticed his friends confusion as he snickered, doing nothing to explain himself as he nodded,” will do. Take it easy,” he then said before nodding his goodbyes and closed the door behind him, leaving Scout and Lionel alone.

She did not know how on edge he was but he looked terrible, she did not want to rush him so she stayed in her seat, letting him collect himself.

She was shocked at how long it took, she had not fully realized the extent of how much he blamed himself over something so small until she saw him up close struggling to speak, hesitating, looking scared to get too close.

After roughly ten minutes of standing and staring Scout finally made the first move,” I am not dead you know,” she said softly.

“I know,” he replied back, matching her soft tone, before then saying,” I hurt you.”

Scout then suddenly, unexpectedly retaliated, and in no way she should have been doing in her condition as she actually sent the man to his knees from her pressure she released from the anger, she heard the building around her moan and groan.

She had this recurring thought that he might actually say something like that, and she played out the many ways she should have responded, she had not realized somewhere along the way she actually got angry for him daring to blame himself over something that in the least was more of her own fault than his own.

Scout jumped out of her chair, immediately letting up after she realized what she had done,” Jesus, I’m sorry, that wasn’t on purpose, it just happened.”

Lionel snapped out of his shock to quickly stand, grabbing her arms gently, pushing her back to her seat,” don’t worry about me, I’m fine.”

“If only you can see your face, you would be having your doubts,” she said with somewhat of a glare, watching him straighten his back.

Before he could open his mouth for another apology Scout cut him off,” say it’s your fault one more time,” she warned under her breath.

Lionel snapped his jaw shut, shoulders sagged like a kid getting scolded. As old as he was and he did not know how to properly deal with this kind of situation. It was somehow amazing to even imagine, she was sure he would have the steady head on their shoulders when something happens, but now he was far from steady, and she knew she would laugh and tease him later for it, but at that given moment, she was a bit lost herself.

It was like they kept going back and forth between giving support to each other, not quite at a healthy happy medium yet. She wondered if they will ever get steady or if things will just keep happening back to back and comfort is tossed back and forth constantly with no middle ground whatsoever.

A work in progress, some serious work on it’s way hopefully.

“Relax Lionel, I am fine. It was me that got carried away, so stop stressing over something as small as this,” she assured, trying to find the right approach to reach him, she needed to find the right things to say.

Who thought she would be in this position.

“I let you in.”

She watched him from her seat shift the weight on his feet. He truly did look like a child.

“Ok,” she drawled with a slow nod,” an I went in all on my own, I was aware of what i was doing, I just overestimated myself and went too far. So if you must insist, yeah, it’s your fault.” She said thoughtfully, he looked 100% ready to accept that,” but it is also mine. It’s both our faults.”

His shoulders sagged even further, but he did not argue.

She wasn’t sure what else to say, seeing him so beat up over this really only highlighted how truly emotional and vulnerable he could be, especially where she was concerned. It was starting to worry Scout if it was really alright for her to be at his side if he is unable to keep himself sane. She could just be inviting the worst possible luck if others in Hell realize this.

Once again, she questioned if Lionel truly was the King of Hell.

“What else is bothering you Lionel,” she asked, help him sort things out.

As much as she hated thinking about it or acknowledging it, he can not live without her. She has not reached this level yet, but it was clear that after the ring was on her finger, he dove straight in without looking back and in the span of less than a week and he is already so far in he could not look back. He placed everything he had on this soulmate thing to a human who never loved in her life. She was too busy getting adjusted to her new life that she was not realizing how dangerously far Lionel was getting in such a little amount of time. She didn’t know what to do, he seemed to have no intentions of backing up, any wrong move and she could destroy this man and all he worked for up until now. She could ruin him entirely, and she knew every way that she could as well. Even though she never would do such a thing, it was still slightly unsettling to know that she still had the know how to such a dangerous thing in her head.

Leaving his side to have him figure himself out is no longer an option, she doubted there was ever a split second that that even was an option for him alone by how quickly he fell into this whole soulmate thing.

He remained silent, as if he didn’t know what to say, he barely even knew what was wrong, he just saw that it was his fault. It did not help that since what happened last time, his mind was sealed tighter than ever.

“Come on Lionel, I can’t let you go back to Hell looking like that. Talk to me. Have you been in Hell showing this face?”

She realized that she did sound like a parent at that moment, but she could not help it, he looked so lost, it was like some maternal instincts came out. She became very worried that he will get into some trouble in Hell if he did not get assured that everything was fine.

Sure he was strong, but at the right time with the right plan, he could possibly get taken out so easily by someone right now if not careful.

She could not have that happening.

Lionel’s face softened at her question, clearly hearing her worry,” of course not, like I said, I have had hundreds of years of practice to make sure no one sees anything they don’t need to see.”

Scout pulled out the chair that James had used before Lionel came, patting the cool seat invitingly, ”yet you have zero practice with little things like this,” she asked, implying his very stressed and scared self he was now even after seeing and hearing that she was fine.

Lionel hesitated before giving in, stepping over to sit right in the chair, moving it closer so that he was sitting right across from her,” of course I have no experience, you only get one soulmate in a lifetime.”

Scout raised her brows, she knew this but it was still seemingly shocking her to hear again,” you never liked someone else enough to worry about them?”

Lionel shook his head,” the guys are the only ones I care about in even the slightest, but for obvious reasons, not even close to this much.”

It took her a few moments for her to realize he was talking about the Prince’s. Of course Lionel knew that they were in the end his enemy, but he truly did like them and to a certain extent cared about them.

“Isn’t it dangerous to care about the Prince’s, don’t you know how to control your emotions a bit better than this,” she asked, watching him lean forward, putting his elbows on his knees, clasping his hands in front of him.

“It is, but I don’t think you understand the difference between my ‘care’ for them and my care for you. I don’t have a soul bond with them,” he said softly, glancing up at her.

His eyes seemed to almost gitter, how torn was this man?

“Ok, maybe I don’t know exact details yet somehow, but one thing I do know is you jumped into this head first before I even got a chance to wrap my head around everything and you are making yourself dangerously vulnerable,” she told him, knowing he probably already knew this, putting her hands on top of his clasped ones. Voice was a golden comfort ticket for him, but like she noticed before, touch had a convenient soothing effect as well that was very close to the voices effect, if not better, maybe having some kind of contact will keep him steady as they talked.

Lionel’ glistening eyes flashed knowingly, he let out and uneasy laugh as he looked down at her hands, twisting his to grab hers firmly, his long hair for the first time that she ever noticed, fell in front of his face. Even when she saw him sleeping, his hair was never in his face.

It was hair, and he had a full head of it stretching down his back, nothing about his hair falling in front of his face should have been shocking, but the gesture was more on purpose than he thought she knew. He was a mess and he knew it, so he was using his hair to block her view of his face.

“I know.”

Scout squeezed his hands,” you make me feel like I am yelling at a kid, look at me Lionel.”

Lionel looked up at her, sad puppy eyes activated, she seriously was scolding a kid wasn’t she,” look, clearly, we are in a bit too deep, but that’s fine. There is a lot of work ahead of us is all. However you have to be prepared for the worst, you told me yourself that it was only going to get worse from here, I need to know that you will not drive yourself into the dirt worrying about me or regretting anything. I’m new at everything, I am going to stumble and fall a lot, but I need to worry about bouncing back, I can’t be worried that you are leaving yourself open while I’m recovering. It will just make things harder for the both of us if both of us are down and weak.”

Lionel scooted to the edge of his chair to lean forward and put his head on her shoulder, burying his face in her neck,” I know,” he breathed, shaking his head,” more than anyone I know. It’s just I was not prepared, it happened all fast, I underestimated you and you overestimated yourself, and before I knew it you were bleeding and passed out. How could I not get worried.”

She appreciated the inclusion of her own wrong as well as she nodded resting her cheek on his head,” I heard your brother added to your stress too,” she said, inviting him to get anything he needed off his chest.

Lionel scoffed, she felt his anxiety and worry slowly seep away the longer they talked, which was all she could ask for, knowing she could help as much as he was a help to her all the time. It was nice to be reminded she had the same power to return the favor,” that ass, he does not even begin to understand my struggling. I swear I hope if he ever finds his soul partner that they give him grief to the max,” he ground out.

From the King of Hell himself.

No wishes for him to rot in Hell, no wishing a lifetime of stubbing his toe every day of his life, nothing of the sort other than hoping that if he had a soulmate that they give him their own version of Hell. How entertaining.

She patted his back softly, grinning,” me too,” she agreed, earning a laugh from Lionel.

After a moment of just being, Scout patted his back gently,” you good now? Do I have level headed Lionel back?”

Lionel scoffed, nodding,” yes, I’m better, I promise.”

Scout pulled back to get a clear look at his face, his eyes no longer gittering with possible tears, looking genuinely stronger and no more regret.

The edges of Lionel’s lips curled up as he leaned in for a kill shot.

His lips on hers was best thing she has come to ever know. It’s like she felt all his emotions, without having to risk exposing her to too much again, a simple kiss like this gave her what she needed to be put at ease.

Suddenly a Hell gate was open, she felt it, but something was wrong.

It was not just one, but multiple, all around them.

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