Smiling in the Face of Hell

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Chapter 15

Just as Jackie had said, the moment she landed back in Hell, her wings disappeared back wherever they came from. She did not see or feel them at all, they were completely gone, and it became very hard to believe she really even had them.

However, she had little time to marvel over it as she found herself ducking out of the way of a very large arm.

Scout hopped back, closing the portal as Wrath, well, he Wrathed out.

He grew in size, much like Theodor did when he lost control, however, Wrath seemed to be holding back as he simply turned a dark navy blue colour as his arms seemed to begin to split.

Scout watched in amazement. She had learned about this from Lionel’s mind before but did not give it much thought until now. Their true form. There was such a thing that based on their power and will, they can change their appearance. Those able to do such a thing are usually older and stronger and have more human features. They are respected more than those who cannot shift their physical appearance. It was like a status thing, the more human one looked, the stronger they are viewed.

For example, Pers and the reason she wore a mask, because it made her look more human than she did without.

Lionel and the Seven Princes had their two forms and stayed in their more human form to be more superior.

Wrath was showing her just how much can be concealed under human features as he showed her half of what his true form was.

“Hey, Wrath, is this really a smart idea? You know Lionel will rip you a new one if you put your hands on me,” she said more worried about him if he actually managed to harm her, hoping that using Lionel’s name will help snap him out of it.

The man, now half beast, screeched right in her face giving her the answer she knew she’d get.

Looks like I’m going to have to just not get hurt.

She felt Lionel coming, she had to calm this guy down before Lionel finds a reason to lash out at Wrath once again.

Just as she was thinking that, she felt him right behind her. Damn it.

She was hoping he would not teleport, but surely he felt Wrath snap.

The second his eyes fell on the angry Wrath ready to attack Scout, Lionel himself almost snapped.

Scout put up a shield just as Wrath charged, putting a wall between her and him as well as put a wall between him and Lionel, who also attacked.

Scout was in a dangerous position, although she knew more than ever Lionel won't hurt her, but if she had to put too much energy towards fending off Lionels attacks on Wrath while Wrath was trying to go at it with her, she might slip up and get pummeled while keeping him from getting completely demolished by Lionel.

“Lionel, stop,” she called as Wrath began to hammer at her walls, completely oblivious to what could happen to him.

“Why are you protecting him, Scout,” he called back, more like yelled.

Oh boy, he was pissed, and now it was finally at her.

Scout did not back down to his yells and instead raised her voice to match his,” let me take care of it, Lionel!”

“Like you took care of shit last time?”

Scout winced, of course, he was mad about that, but did he have to use it against her like she did not know what she was doing. Both then and now she knew exactly what she was doing, but it almost felt like he was looking down on her.

His blows stopped so she was able to put her efforts back into Wrath who was just lost to the world, still trying to get to her like a rabid hungry lion, his size slowly but surely growing, a tail emerged from his lower back adding an extra limb to bang at her shield. Being ignored for the sake of conversation did not please him whatsoever.

“Lionel-” she began, trying to calm him and herself down, not wanting him also to rage out, cause then she would have no chance to hold both him and Wrath off.

“Don’t you EVER LEARN?!”

Scout tried not to lose her own temper, flaring tempers was the last thing this situation needed, but even though she knew that, she also knew that she had a temper of her own so one wrong thing could easily set her off, and what came from Lionel’s mouth was exactly the trigger she needed to let loose.

She nearly brought the entire place down as she pressed both Wrath and Lionel to the ground within a mere second, no longer playing games. Even Envy, who came at the last minute, was caught in the middle and was slammed to the ground the second he finished walking through the portal he made, groaning loudly.

“Don’t you dare look down on me Lionel,” she yelled, louder than she ever has in her entire life. This might be the first time she ever yelled.

“Just because I screwed up once does not mean I did not learn my lesson, I don’t need the likes of YOU holding that mistake over my shoulder for the rest of my days as an excuse for you to do as you please and get your way!”

Lionel fought her power with his own, pushing himself up with shaking arms, glaring up at her,” You almost died, and you are telling me to stop worrying about you,” his voice hitched, making her almost ease up, even scout realized how bad it could have been had she really died, but Scout was too far gone in her own rage to consider his side, nothing but her own side was being taken into consideration as she shot back unreasonably.

“You think I don’t know that? I didn’t die though, did I? No, I am right here. I am learning Lionel, I can’t have you trying to do everything for me just because of that one close call, if you keep hiding me behind you every time something happens, I will never get to learn my own powers.”

His anger slowly turned to pain and unease as he spoke again, just pure emotions, his brows furrowed, jaw clenched,” so you want me to watch you die a third time, or a fourth time? Just so you can Learn? There are different ways to grow and learn. Don’t force me to watch you die again.”

Scout curled her fingers into fists, then relaxed them, taking a deep breath. She really was stupid, how could she so easily imply almost dying as a learning experience to him like that, especially when to everyone her fate was uncertain. He was clearly very distraught from it, even before when he killed her to make her what she is now, he was so scared, though he knew she would come back to him. This time he did not know if she was going to make it. Him having to make that decision to keep her in Heaven until she was completely recovered pained him, not knowing what happened to her once she was flown off into Heaven like that. Having to send the Prince’s up to check on her instead of himself the entire time.

She was an idiot to tell him to stop trying to protect her like she had.

She looked down at Wrath, who was already changed back to normal, kissing the ground painfully. Envy was struggling to keep his breath steady from the weight. Lionel was behind her, using all his strength to fight her temper that seemed to overpower his own, his swirling emotions smacking her on the back hard, almost like whips.

Was this all really ‘learning’, or just being idiotically stubborn?

Scout cursed under her breath, the pressure let up the second she teleported to the only other place in Hell she knew after sending Wrath elsewhere, she did not know where, just anywhere but in that mansion, for his own safety. Envy didn’t move from his spot.

The garden, the only other place she knew, which was just outside.

She enforced a shield on top of the flaming bubble the trees already immediately formed, blocking any and all visitors, including Lionel.

She had to calm down and get her shit together.

She knew he was emotionally into this soulmate thing way past what she felt was necessary, and she dared tell him to stand by and watch her get hurt after just returning from almost dying. That was a low blow even for her, why did she have to do that to him when she already knew he was a mess.

She finally returns to Hell and Lionel finds that one of his Prince’s is already trying to fight her and all she does is yell at him and refuse his help.

She crouched to hug her knees as she stared off into the plants that were spread in front of her, heaving a sigh. She needed to cool her head before she went back, or she would just hurt him more.

Scout spent hours sitting in that spot, just letting herself cool down.

Then, she had to figure out how to apologize to Lionel and that took many more hours.

This was one of the many things Scout lacked in, although she seemed to communicate fine when everything is normal, but now that things are tense and heated, she had no idea what to do, what to say, or how to say it, and it was driving her insane.

She was scared, she really screwed the pooch this time, she knew she was wrong, but how to tell him sorry was killing her, because apparently, just going to him and saying ‘I’m sorry’, was just too easy.

Her anxiety was high, it was like the longer she sat and thought about it the worst it felt as it grew harder and harder to think up of the right way to do something so damn simple.

She felt Lionel, he never left the grounds of his mansion. He paced back and forth in front of the window overlooking the garden that was covered by an extra thick flaming canopy that could not be seen past. He came out to stare at the entrance, that was also blocked by a thick wall, as well as her shield. He has not sat down since she basically locked herself inside the garden.

Wrath seemed to get the idea and stayed away, Envy seemed to stay after everything, watching Lionel stress out because of her.

None of the other Princes’ seemed bothered to come around at all, at any point.

Which in the end was fine, considering how things ended.

The longer she thought about it the more she got embarrassed about it. The more embarrassed she felt about it the harder it was to think of a way to apologize for it.

Throwing tantrums really did bring out an embarrassing childish side of people.

It looked like Wrath was not the only one who needed to work on controlling their anger.

Well shit, they probably all needed help with that.

She could not think of any other time in her life where she just exploded and actually got mad at stuff. She was usually pretty passive, never one to argue, very optimistic and just tried to find the positive in things. However, she found that that changed drastically once she got to Hell.

The worst part was that she wasn’t sure if it was the power that made her entitled, or just being surrounded by criminals and negative energy all the time was what had her patience at wit's end. For all she knew it was both and she was just turning into a big headed timebomb.

How did she escalate to such a high horse so damn quickly?

And here for a split second, she imagined she could be a peaceful humble person.

Obviously not.

Temptation of power seemed to already jack up her ego perhaps past the point of returning.

Scout scrubbed at her hair, groaning.

Suddenly that one movement, after so many hours stewing in her embarrassment and anxiety, had brought her attention to something new that she had not realized before. Her hair had not only grown quite a few unnatural inches, but it also turned a grey silver colour.

She held a handful of hair in front of her to examine, grey hairs now?

Before she could unnecessarily stress herself over possible grey hairs, she paused to remember Lionel mentioning that her body would go through some changes in appearance.

But still, Scout groaned, grey hair?

Here she was thinking Lionel was a mess, she was quickly figuring out she was just as messed up as him.

The tree had been trying to comfort her the entire time. Scout felt bad for ignoring it, but it knew everything and was having none of it as it just steadily tried soothing her wild emotions in the best way it could.

It seemed they were all a mess, Scout fit right in.

She needed to pull herself together.

Just go apologize, damn it, she internally yelled at herself, the only thing she got out of that was a roll of the eyes when she literally did not move.

The thought of facing Lionel was just something she was not ready for. The thought of just leaving the garden frightened her.

Why did it feel like she was back at square one?

She’d sooner face Johan than Lionel.

Suddenly she shoulders sagged.

Johan.

It was out there, she felt it, it’s tiny presence to everyone else, it was hiding. Lionel seemed to have missed it, he probably did not even know it was involved. Hardly anyone in the group that it was with on the surface even knew it participated. She knew Johan never made it officially to the group and only managed to sneak in last minute. The only ones who knew it was up there got annihilated by Scout, which sent them all back to Hell, countdowns restarted, and Lionel surly already handled them personally once he made it back, none of them were thinking about Johan.

Johan was so invisible, it evaded the eternal punishment the rest of them and all of Hell faced.

The Tree knew what she was thinking, and it flashed her images from somewhere deep in Hell, showing where Johan was at this moment.

Scout peeked over at the actual tree itself. This being was far more than a Tree and it’s endless abilities stunned her. This entity knew she was curious, but did not let her in. Other than Lionel, the Tree was the only other one to keep her out, or at least not let her roam where it did not want her.

The Tree was being mischievous, it wanted her to learn about it slowly, not all at once like it knew she could.

This was no ‘tree’ or ‘plant’ this was one of the few actual pure creatures, extremely rare, in disguise of a Tree.

That was all it let her catch before it gently pushed her out, not letting her further into its knowledge bank.

Instead of entertaining her more about itself, the Tree pressed the image of Johan on her again, as if encouraging her to take care of it. So maybe by the time she was done, she will have gained some courage to face Lionel, since sitting was doing her no good.

Scout agreed, but she really did not want to.

She knew what she had to do, and Lionel will surely know the second she goes to Johan, and if it does not get the same punishment as the others than he will find a way to give it himself.

Even though he told her not to trust it, she did and it proved to turn out just as he had suspected.

He clearly did not even know it was there and was the cause of her almost dying, along with her own stupidity.

With a sigh she stood, looking at the field around her, slowly walking towards where the entrance should be, letting her hand brush over every plant she passed, letting the sense of normality flow over her to steady and clear her head before reaching the wall of the tree’s fiery veins.

Once again, the tree creature decided to surprise her, this time with a portal.

The portal was different than the portals her and the others can make, it was clear and bright, unlike their dark purple voids.

Scout narrowed her eyes at the sight, there was something oddly familiar about the portal, although it was nothing she personally saw, she saw it from someone else, but she could not remember who exactly even though it seemed not too long ago.

With a sigh, she dropped that stray thought and stepped through instead, figuring she can always figure it out later.

She felt the breeze that was in the garden fade off as she stepped into a very dark space.

It took her eyes a moment to adjust, but not long enough for Johan to understand what was happening. It looked like it was hiding in a cave somewhere on the other side of Hell.

Not only that, it was one of the few spots that not many could reach. When it fell back through the gate, it seems it got ‘lucky’ which may be the real reason it did not receive punishment, because it was unreachable by many including Lionel himself, not even his own portals or teleportation could get him where the Tree got her.

The portal came and went, it did not stay long to light up the darkness, so Johan was really blind and could not see, especially not after getting blinded by the gate.

“Johan,” Scout then said, crouching to get eye level with it as it’s eyes widened from hearing her voice.

“Q-queen,” it stuttered, it’s mind reeling back, replaying it’s own act in stabbing Scout through.

It’s thoughts were so strikingly dark, she never had a chance to notice. By the time her mind reading became what it was, she had already kicked Johan and the others out, and she never saw it again after that.

Lionel saw, and knew.

Scout let her head fall in regret.

Of course, he knew.

Why wouldn’t he?

Scout needed to swallow her stubbornness and maybe listen to Lionel more instead of insisting and fighting him all the time. She was in no place to argue with him on things that he knew more about, and she should know this, but she really was just stubborn and did not want to believe Johan was bad.

He let her learn alright, or he would have never let Johan stick around, even though Scout kicked the thing out eventually anyway.

She had a lot of apologizing to do it seemed.

She had questions, but she got all her answers from the little demon's mind all on her own, making her sigh. She really somehow got attached to this thing enough to ignore the clear warnings she got the last second before she let it in and the others were able to follow. She ignored it all deliberately because she wanted so badly to believe in it. She had no idea why she wanted to hold on to it so badly, but that mistake nearly cost her life.

Her silence gave Johan what it thought was an opening to turn and run the other way, smacking the wall frantically to help it find it’s way.

Scout did not stand, she did not lift her head, all she did was lift her hand, palm out.

The little demon was suddenly yanked back as if it was hooked up to a rubber band, and it flew all the way back to Scout, where it’s bare flesh touched her hand.

The second her palm touched it’s sweat-slick skin, it fell to the ground stiff as a brick, instantly paralyzed.

Johan whimpered on the ground as Scout finally stood, looking down at it.

“I going to save the lecture. Just know you are getting off the hook, I am letting you keep your years lived down here, I hope you appreciate that,” she said with a sigh. That moment she summoned a portal, where certain creatures waited for her call, the only others besides the Tree creature who can reach the place.

When the gate opened, two very familiar beast like creatures stepped out, finding and scooping the paralyzed Johan effortlessly through the portal without a single word said.

As soon as the gate to the ‘dungeons’ closed, another bright, familiar inviting light portal appeared right behind her.

She heaved another sigh as she stood and turned to step through, ready to be back in the garden to think of a solid plan to come out and apologize to Lionel, when she found herself stepping into a familiar room instead.

Before she could take a step back through that portal, the thing closed right in her face, making her wonder for a split second if Trees could be sent to the dungeon as well.

Envy was shocked and shot to his feet, the confusion on where that strange portal came from and where it went was fresh on his mind, not so much curious on where she herself came from.

Scout smiled tightly to Envy, “Hey, sorry about earlier,” she said to him, referring to the fact that during her temper tantrum, she made him eat the floor with no real reason to do so.

Envy snapped out of his awe and shook his head,” yeah, no, it’s completely fine, it didn’t hurt at all,” he said, straight-faced, lying through his teeth. It was probably a confusing and uncomfortable situation for him to be stuck in the middle with Wrath, who was the main cause of their arguing.

She glanced over at Lionel, who was not shocked by her presence, which told her she was wrong. Instead of the restless man she imagined him being by following his presence all that day, he still seemed pissed. He stood staring out the window with his hands resting on his lower back, clasped loosely.

She cleared her throat, looking back at Envy,” you should go,” she said drifting off just as Lionel turned to face her, his striking eyes nearly piercing holes through her face, cutting off any other words she might have thought of saying after that.

Envy did not argue, one glance between the two of them, the silence was deafening, he gave a quick bow and turned to disappear. The act unexpectedly brought a bit of what Envy was thinking about that portal. One surprise after another.

Oh yeah, still mad.

The two of them stared at each other for a long time. Scout lost all her ability to speak, but she had to get it out. She could not find the right words to speak even though nothing else was being done or said and she had ample opportunities to speak first.

Scout cleared her throat, clasping her hands in front of her before finally working up the courage to speak. She knew Lionel was waiting, he was being patient with her even though he was clearly still understandably mad.

“I’m sorry Lionel. I was being stubborn and stupid and did not think first before I spoke,” she said, wringing her fingers tightly in front of her as if the roles have switched and she was now the child being scolded.

She was so lost, she did not know what else to say she knew she was in the wrong but putting it into words felt impossible with the weight of Lionel’s stare.

It was not the admitting she was wrong, it was just openly putting it into words that choked her up.

Why was she like this?

“I know you want to be a strong Queen. With your abilities, you probably subconsciously heard the expectations from others you faced and now you probably feel the need to meet those expectations. You also know that Hell is no place to be weak and you don’t want to be relying on me,” he then said, hitting a closer mark, only because that was the one she was for sure aware of and always feared inside because she knew what Hell would do to her if she hid behind Lionel for everything, it would be like non stop Pride and Greed all over again.

She learned from him that she had to show her powers and strength in order to be left alone. The second she showed any kind of weakness in the eyes of Hell, who knows what that could bring.

She just wanted to be left alone, she wanted everyone to know she was as strong as Lionel so that no one would dare mess with her. How was she supposed to do that letting Lionel deal with everything for her.?

“Scout, you can still learn by letting me help, you don’t have to do every single thing by yourself, like fighting off a prince alone after just recovering. Or single-handedly taking out every single gate at once without any help. Me and you are strong, but together we are stronger, and all I want is for you to let me help. Tell me what you are planning and we can figure it out together. You don’t need to be alone to be strong,” he explained with a steady voice as he stepped closer, stopping right in front of her, his eyes never leaving hers,” Please let me be there by your side.”

Scout closed her eyes, sucking in a deep breath. He was probably right all the way through, she had nothing she could fight him on. She slowly nodded looking down at her hands that were tightly clasped in front of her,” I’m sorry. I will try and be a little less stubborn from now on.”

Lionel jumped on that opportunity to lightly tease and lift the tense atmosphere with a simple shift in tone,” just a little? That’s it?”

Scout peeked up at him with an apologetic smile, lifting one hand to pinch a small piece of air between her thumb and index finger, nodding, unable to verbally say so without getting emotional.

Every day she learned something new about herself. Today she learned she really did not handle tense situations well at all. Lionel’s crack in his serious tone and flat expression had gave her a rush of relief, and because of that, she felt the urge to cry it out. However that was the very last thing she wanted to do, cry because things got heated for a minute, she wasn’t going to let herself cry over something so little.

She was relieved that her half baked apologie made it through, she knew she should say more to explain, but nothing wanted to come out, however, the second he understood, she was thankful that he got it. Clearly, expressing herself in a professional and adult manner was something she was still unable to do.

Lionel’s expression softened as he chuckled at her, his arms snaking around her waist to pull her in for a tight hug, one hand at the small of her back and the other nestled at the base of her neck, fingers through her hair.

“I am just glad you made it back to me.”

Scout felt goosebumps spread across the surface of her skin, once again his voice was full of emotions that she did not realize he possessed. She really was putting this man through an emotional wringer.

She buried her face in his shoulder, nodding, pressing those cursed tears that ended up escaping anyways into his shirt, trying to hide them, failing terribly.

She never did take the time to really think about the fact that she did almost die, all she had been doing is tossing it around without truly acknowledging the fact.

All she has done since she got here was cause some kind of ruckus. Changing into a Demon has brought nothing but a lot of trouble, overconfidence, and stubbornness she never knew she had. Not only that, but this temper as well.

The hand on her back began to rub soothing circles, warming her skin as well as sending endless ribbons of comfort and ease through her.

“This soulmate thing really was amazing,” Scout then mused out loud, sniffing loudly, trying to play off the fact she actually cried.

She felt Lionel grin as he pressed his lips to her shoulder,” between humans, the soulbond is much weaker, the effects aren’t as strong. However a bond between a supernatural being and a human, or two supernatural beings, the bond effects are more than doubled. More like they are on steroids and are well over ten times that of the human bond. Really depends on the ones involved and their strength and power. So yes, in that way, it is extraordinary, as well as very convenient.”

There was definitely a long way to go on figuring out this soulmate thing out. Although Lionel had his heart laid out for her already, Scout was going to put her foot down and slow this down for her own sake and get her thoughts and feelings together as to where she and Lionel stood.


This is not the last you will see of the King and Queen.


MCU inspired Extra Chapter will be included with the published Smiling In the Face of Hell in the very near future so please look forward to that. Updates will be on my Twitter Page, @PannikattheRudy (Rudy Palinski).

Thank you for reading.

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