Smiling in the Face of Hell

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Chapter 5

Scout did not know she said that out loud until Lionel slowed his pace, she felt his stare but she couldn’t look at him like she was. She was shocked, and once again she felt the fear that has been dancing in and out of her senses since she got here, only it wasn’t of Lionel specifically this time, it was of the unknown. What else does she not know? What else could she do to hurt someone else without meaning to for just being there.

“Scout, Hell is not like earth. If I show the slightest mercy against something like that, they will not learn. If I had not done that, she may have never stopped harassing you and degrading you. Those demons are here because they did not learn the first time that their mistakes had led them here, that there denial on confessing to those sins is why they are in such a shitty place. These demons are terrible beings and cannot be trusted with just a warning. Don’t mistake my cruelty for just being sadistic, I’m just being safe. I do not want anything to happen to you and I just could not stand someone calling you my toy, unforgivable.”

Scout wasn’t sure what to say, he was right, this was not earth, warnings probably have no meaning, these things around her were all criminals and down here for a reason. Even Lionel, Scout thought, wondering if she should even pursue an explanation for that yet.

She felt Lionel twitch, but he said nothing more as he walked them down the hall, taking different turns than the turns taken to get to the maid’s quarters.

She stayed quiet, knowing that anything she would say would just complicate things, she did not want to hurt people, but in the end Lionel was right, this was Hell, she had to be as strong as him or she would never survive.

“Can I show you something else,” he then asked, like an actual question, instead of just saying what he wanted like before.

“I don’t know, if you’re going to banish someone else, I would like to pass.”

That earned her a hearty chuckle, Scout was not sure if it comforted her, or just annoyed her that he was so calm while she was still haunted by all those terrified faces.

“No, I’m not going to banish anyone this time. Here hold on,” he then said, pulling Scout close once again, wrapping his arms around her waist before something strange happened. She felt her bare feet lift off the floor and a strong sense of displacement occurred, almost felt as if she was falling at first, before it all stopped almost as quickly as it came.

Scout still was held in the air, and she felt the heat at the bottom of her feet, her arms had snaked around his neck once she felt the heat, feeling the need to get as high as she could away from it to keep herself from burning. Lionel took that as an invitation to pull her up and seat her right on his shoulder, where, she had to admit, she fit rather perfectly.

“Wow, I feel like a child now,” Scout mused absentmindedly as she glanced around. The surroundings quickly rendered her speechless, Lionel simply snickering under his breath at her remark, seeming glad that she looked to have been enjoying it.

She saw a vast area of flaming trees first, off into the distance. They were literally trees made from some kind of metal and the fire played as leaves.

“What the hell are those,” she blurted, completely shocked at those trees just by themselves.

“They have a pretty boring name really, they are just called Flame Trees. They are rare and my garden is one of the only ones that have them. A couple of princes have one as well, but outside the royal grounds, there are none other.”

Scout scoffed,” they are such beautiful trees, it’s almost insulting for them to have such lame names,” she said, watching the flames flicker and sway on the branches. They almost looked alive, moving on their own as if swaying in some breeze that did not actually exist.

They even swayed together as one.

“Hah, I agree, however, they are known to retaliate if someone they do not like gets near.”

Scout looked down at him,” they really are alive,” she squeaked.

Lionel chuckled, his face completely relaxed,” in a sense yes. I would show you exactly what I mean, but I have no where to set you without you getting hurt, so I will save that for another day.”

“So, they like attack you then?”

Lionel smiled up at her like it was completely normal,” yes, they sense who is around them, and usually they tend to attack the wicked. They all have their own preferences, they can be very dangerous if you get on their bad side.”

Scout looked back out at the trees, they were too beautiful of course in turn, they would have a dangerous element to them,” wow, trees that fight people they don’t like, this may be a first for me,” she said sarcastically.

Another chuckle rumbled his chest, vibrating the parts that touched her,” yes, apparently, the last time I checked, the surface still does not have a tree that thinks on their own.”

“Well if it does, I have yet to hear about it,” she said, peeling her eyes off the trees to look at the rest of the garden.

She saw plenty of colourful plants that, for obvious reasons, do not exist on earth. There were neon pinks, pastel greens, light greys, grimy browns. They were very intriguing to look at. She was sure some of them even glowed.

“Somehow, this was not the reaction I was actually expecting,” Lionel admitted, making Scout turn to find him staring up at her with the most serene face.

Scout blew up in a blush from his intimate gaze, clearing her throat as she returned her view to the strange flowers and plants in attempt to hide it,” what do you mean?”

“Well, this is your first day here, seeing such alien things must be a shock to you. I mean, you aren’t scared of the flame trees that have the ability to kill you in the event they hate you. You surprise me once again by taking everything in stride,” he mused, his voice indicated he did not look away and was enjoying his view while Scout made sure to purposely not look down to avoid embarrassing herself further by glowing in the bright body blush she was cursed with.

Scout shrugged lightly, her eyes catching a particular flower that almost looked like it was a dog face. A lime green dog face and a pink center, adding the look of a healthy tongue in its mouth.

“I have been like this all my life. Things shock me at first, but I seem to just accept them quickly. It was the same with the gatekeeper job, with as little information on it as I had and oblivious to the true dangers of it, I just quickly got used to it and it became normal for me fast. I used to use fear as an excuse, but I’m starting to think that is just how I am. If it is in my face and I see it, then ok, it’s there, then boom, shock over.”

Lionel chuckled again, he clearly was finding her very amusing,” I must say, I have met many people in my days, I can’t say I have met anyone quite like you.”

Scout nodded in mock pride,” good, originality is a good trait to have.”

Lionel shook his head, smile on his face,” that it is,” he said in a low voice, making Scout turn to see what was wrong.

He went for the kill, taking Scout completely off guard as he reached up to pull her face down gently and kissed her right on the lips.

It was a gentle kiss, his lips were surprisingly soft, filled with nothing but passion, something Scout was pretty unfamiliar with. It was short, but enough to swell Scout’s heart.

Her reaction felt way too exaggerated, her body hitched up in temperature, especially where he was touching. Her heart hammered against her ribs and her mind made sure she was aware of every inch that touched her. She felt faint from the heat all around them. If he hadn’t been holding on to her legs, she most likely would have tipped back or sideways right off his shoulder, but he kept a firm hold on her to keep her where she was at.

Lionel pulled back, a soft smile on his lips,” let’s return quickly, the heat must be getting to you,” he teased, knowing full well that he was part of the heat.

Scout cleared her throat, blinking back the small dizzy spell that came and went, not trusting her voice, a thin sheet of sweat already covered her skin from the very short time being out there, she was completely unable to straighten her back, stuck in the slouch that Lionel pulled her down to reach her lips.

Once again, she felt that feeling of falling and before she knew it she was back in Lionel’s home, in a room that she recalled him dragging her to in the beginning when he retrieved the rings.

Scout still could not find her voice to argue when he went straight for the bed on the other side of the very large room, however, he clearly felt her distress when he gently placed her on the covered bed,” Scout relax, I’m not going to jump you like this, when I take you, I will make sure you are hot and ready for me,” he purred, making Scout blow up in colours once again, falling back from the sudden dizziness that twisted her world, knowing exactly what he meant.

She never once felt the want to curse this man out, but now more than ever she really wanted to give him a piece of her mind with all fear banished. He was lucky she was too overheated to retaliate. Well, that was what she told herself.

Lionel laughed out loud, earning him a weak glare from Scout who was slowly depleting, her energy going down from all the heat and excitement all at once,” just relax, ok? A lot has happened and I do not wish to harm you from pushing it when you are still in your human body. I will have Johan come in to help cool the room down for you, so just rest for now. If you need anything, just let me know, I will be right here.”

Scout allowed herself to relax next to Lionel who occasionally brushed his palm across her cheek, sending odd soothing ribbons that only further coaxed her to quickly fall asleep.

Scout woke in a dark room, making herself sit up to find she was covered with a thin sheet. She felt so comfortable, something in her just did not feel the need to check her surroundings.

She felt cool air brush against her exposed cheeks and arms, but could not clearly see the cause. Lionel did mention he was going to get Johan in to help cool the place off for her, she did not have a single clue on how Johan did it, but it definitely was cooler, it was nice. Especially with the unmistakable heat at the side of her hip, that moved with her, a warm arm snaking around her waist and pulling her close.

“So Hell has day and night,” Scout asked out of nowhere, not even checking if the man was fully awake.

“Mhm, but I can’t say it is lined up with day and night from where you are from,” he said in a very sexy half asleep voice that had Scout shivering.

Wow, his voice sure was a turn on-er- it sure was nice.

Lionel moved closer, laying his head in her lap, his arms crossing over her lower back, only then did she realize he was shirtless,” hmm, I believe we still have the same hours as night and day, but it’s more aligned with Italy’s time zone instead of where the main Hell gate is, what was it, New York? I can speak about everything and anything you want so you can hear my voice if you wish,” he purred.

Scout bit back a groan of embarrassment, she had been found out,” it’s fine, I-I was just being curious,” she tried to play it off, but her words and tone did not match.

Lionel then suddenly sat up, she felt his face just inches from hers, his breath warm against her cheek,” you sure, because I am all yours, you know.”

Scout swallowed the lump in her throat, she had the unexplainable urge to touch him, but she refrained, she had to keep her head cool until she properly got her bearings,” yeah, I’m sure, I have a feeling I got plenty of time to take you up on that,” she said, only to bite the inside of her cheek, she was totally flirting back, she never thought she had such a thing in her.

Lionel leaned in, pressing his soft lips to hers for a short peck, the smile was wide, impossible not to feel,” hearing you say that makes me very happy. Does that mean you are ok with it? I mean staying at my side, ruling with me as my Queen?”

Scout blushed further, looking down, she had no confidence to rule a whole underworld, but with him, she felt like she could at least try. She had no idea where this comfort and confidence around him came from, but she sure didn’t mind the boost. With the strange boosts, she could possibly be running right into a trap, but she still did not mind it seemed, for the only thing she could think of was; he would never do anything to hurt me, and she was absolutely convinced strongly of that now.

“I was never the leader type, I am too nice, just like you said, probably so naive it’s painful to look at, but if you don’t leave me then I think I can do it.”

Suddenly, Scout was shoved down, and the heat of his entire body engulfed her as he laid himself right on top of her, arms under her, squeezing her close as she felt him bury his face in her shoulder. She could feel his relief like it was a sweet summer breeze against her heart.

“Never. I will never leave your side, I am at your disposal. I will love you till the end of my days,” he said, scattering butterfly kisses across her neck.

Scout was completely comfortable, his happiness was refreshing and warmed her to the core. If things stayed like this, then she seriously had nothing to lose staying in a place she never thought she would find herself in.

Things were just buzzing past her in high speed, she was for sure she was supposed to be dizzy and confused. However, she was not, no matter how much she tried to convince herself she should be. It was as if she was already sold and ready to do this, knowing she really did not have anywhere else to turn or go.

She was stuck.

However, she really and truly did not mind at this point anymore.

Without thinking, she lifted her arms and buried her fingers in his long soft hair, keeping him close. He stiffened for only a moment before melting completely onto her. If he could seriously purr, Scout had no doubt in her mind he would be purring like no tomorrow.

They stayed like that for probably hours, just simply enjoying each other’s warmth. Scout combed through his hair, never getting tired of its silky feeling, while Lionel laid on her chest, watching her. It was amazing how neither of them got bored of it, they just shamelessly enjoyed it as if they were the only two beings in all the worlds.

It must have been just early morning when the two woke up, because light soon began to rise in the room. It was not the familiar glow of the sun, this light seemed much redder and hotter. She wasn’t sure what Hell’s source of daylight was at all, she would not be surprised if it was not even a star.

She wanted to continue with how things were, but her mundane needs were calling, like her grumbling stomach, or dry mouth, or the growing pressure in her blatter.

“Are you hungry? I can see what I can get for you to eat if you would like. I’m really not sure how much of Hell’s food here is edible for a human, but I’m sure I can find something,” Lionel asked, sitting up on his elbows, much like he had the first time they met, just yesterday, in fact, Scout mused.

Her fingers stayed tangled in his hair as she peeked up at his eyes. They were nearly sparkling, it was beautiful the more the Hell’s source of daylight hit them,” what if you just took my soul out instead. I mean, if I’m going to stay and all, it would just be troublesome to try and stay human. Plus, you kind of said so yourself, live human’s don’t belong in Hell, so no doubt the food here would be toxic in some way for me no matter what.”

Lionel seemed to sit up further, moving one of his hands to her face as he spoke gently,” Are you sure you are ready for that so soon? It will be quite painful.”

Scout sighed,” keep telling me things like that and I will never truly be ready,” she said lightly, smiling up at him,” plus, you said it at least didn’t last long right, so why not?”

“Yes, I did say that, but do you understand what really happens during this process?”

Scout cleared her throat,” you are basically killing me right?”

Lionel pressed his forehead to hers,” yes, it’s the fact that I will kill you. Are you ok with that?”

What a blunt way to word that, but Scout imagined that he must have been thinking hard about that himself. She could not even register the emotional turmoil Lionel would have to go through to kill his soulmate which is supposedly a one time deal. It was obvious, out of the two, he was far more into this whole soulmate thing, so understanding Lionels feelings on this is impossible considering how far behind Scout was compared to Lionel, who dove face first right from the start.

She pulled her hands free from his hair, letting it fall and curtain over his shoulders, trapping her in his space as she pressed her hands to his cheeks tenderly, feeling the strong need to comfort him,” Lionel, I will be fine, please don’t think too hard about that, ok, or it will just be difficult for you too. I trust you, as strange as that may sound, considering we were just strangers yesterday. I trust that you will make it as painless as you can, I also know you will be there the entire time, so it’s fine. Don’t think of it as killing me, think of it as rebirth or something,” she said, smiling when he cracked his own smile eventually, clearly very happy with the fact she trusted him so much.

“If you are truly ready to become part of Hell, then I will be honored, and I will not let you down,” he said before pressing another soft kiss to her lips, taking her by surprise once again.

Her heart hammered and her insides flipped, with reactions like that, she was not sure when she would ever get used to him.

He then suddenly rolled out of bed, pulling Scout with him.

A moment later, Scout was screeching in shock.

He was not only shirtless, but he was completely nude.

Lionel snickered, keeping her pulled close even as she pushed back, his abs were very warm and felt actually great under her hands, not like she’d admit that out loud, especially in such an embarrassing situation,” what a cute reaction, no need to fight it, after all, I’m all yours,” he grinned when she pulled her hands back just to cover her burning face, the glimpses of his body she got were almost too much to handle.

He was certainly a fine specimen.

Lionel suddenly burst out laughing, Scout peeked through her fingers to see what he was laughing about.

“Did you just call me a fine specimen?”

Scout groaned once again in embarrassment, momentarily confused,” I did not mean to say that out loud.”

Lionel covered his face with one hand, an attempt to hide his own blush he suddenly sprouted out of the blue,” it’s fine, I mean, I find you are mighty fine yourself,” he purred in her ear, making her shiver again, she did not miss the gentle poke she felt at her waist.

The room suddenly grew very warm, and at first, she did not realize why until the skin of Lionel that was touching Scout’s also grew very, inhumanly hot. The sensation was quite abrupt and took her off guard, she suddenly thought she was having a heat flash, but it turned out Lionel was literally emitting this intense heat that was an exact representation of his excitement. She was pretty sure he had not even realized it happened.

Lionel saw her struggling and moved her back to the bed, making her sit,” I will get some clothes alright, relax,” he said, still grinning.

Scout kept her hands over her face, refusing to look at any time, more worried that she would do something weird if she did not control herself knowing her strange and sometimes strong random urges to do something way out of her character. She heard him chuckling all the way to his closet.

A few moments passed, she heard the rustle of fabric before a soft knock on the door.

Lionel seemed to have been expecting company as he called out from the closet,” come in.”

Scout dropped her hands from her still burning face, Lionel somewhere in his closet, glancing at the door to see Johan step through,” you called master?”

Called? He did?

Scout stayed quiet as she watched Lionel emerge from the closet, coming out in what looked to be a simple pair of black latex or leather pants with a breezy flowing shirt.

“Yes, prepare a bath for Scout,” he began, total business mode, listing off specific instructions to Johan, for none other than her ‘rebirth’.

Scout was transfixed on Lionel, he seemed like he knew what he was doing, she hoped that in the end, neither one of them regret this.

Soon after Johan left to do as it was told, Lionel turned to face Scout, taking a moment to just stare before approaching her, holding his hand out for her to grab,” are you ready?”

Scout swallowed the nervous lump in her throat and nodded, reaching out to take Lionel by the hand, letting him pull her to his side and lead her out. They took their time to arrive at what looked to be the same exact bathroom as the one she first bathed in. The tub was full of water that was boiling like a hot tub, except she knew it was way hotter than one and if she were to try and stick a finger in, her skin would most likely sear back and melt off like wax, all the way to the bone.

That was somehow scarier than the fact her soul was about to be ripped out.

Johan was on the side, Scout noticed a pile of clothes next to it, sitting on a table. They looked similar to the ones she wore, white, loose, comfortable, simple. This was really happening.

“Alright Scout, I’m sorry for being repetitive, but I must ask one last time; are you sure you are ready?”

Scout cleared her throat as she was pulled to the center of the bathroom, beside the boiling tub of water,” if you keep asking, I might chicken out and change my mind,” she said nervously, intending for it to be a joke, but it came out a little more tense than she wanted,” yes, I’m ready.”

He gave her a reassuring smile, with brows up in worry, not at all looking that convincing with his conflicting mixed expression,” now I want you to close your eyes and focus on me as best as you can. Listen to my voice, feel my body, feel my presence, it will help ease the pain, but that is all I can really do for the few minutes of excruciating pain you will encounter.”

With a shaky breath, she nodded and closed her eyes, gripping his arms with all her might. She felt him move one of her hands that gripped his arms to his waist, she wanted to ask why he moved her hand but nothing came out as she got her answer.

She felt his hand drive right through her chest. Scout’s eyes shot open as she felt pain like she had never felt before. Her hands loosened their grip on Lionel as his hand moved, gipping what felt like her heart.

Blood spewed from her mouth, making it impossible to speak or make a noise of any kind. She heard a painful sound above her, a pain filled moan that had to have been Lionel. She had no energy to look up but felt him squeeze her heart.

Although she was surely dead, she still heard and felt Lionel, who held her close. She heard the most saddening sobs come from him, she wondered why he was crying so hard, his hand still embedded in her chest.

It was the next part that took her for the real ride.

She thought it was over, but it was not as Lionel began to pull his hand out. He had hold of something that made Scout scream out. She had no idea how she was able to make such a noise, but she made it, and she felt as if she was being squished and ripped free from her human skin. She felt every yank and rip as he kept pulling at her. She felt it as she was pulled from her body by force, through the little hole that Lionel had created.

Her screams were deafening, to even her, it was almost unbearable, then it suddenly all stopped. She was free from her body, she could feel it.

Her body felt like it was on fire from the sudden transition from unbearable pain to no pain at all. Somehow, she was able to welcome it, being that was all she could really feel, she otherwise felt pretty numb. The air seemed silent, it was hard to tell if she really could hear anything or not because of the silence, the only thing to help her get even a little of her bearings was a faint slash of what sounded like water.

Slowly, she began to come through, she regained feeling in her arms and legs and was able to move her fingers and toes. She also felt warm water splashing over her face in a gentle, careful manner. She was finally able to feel Lionel’s hands stroking her face and arms.

Slowly, she opened her eyes, the light in the room seemed blinding, it was difficult to keep her eyes open, it was if she was looking directly into the sun. She heard herself groan, but her voice was slightly different, almost a bit deeper, but she was unsure if that was because of the screaming or if it really changed because of the unnatural separation from her human body.

“Scout, can you hear me,” she then heard Lionel ask softly, his thumb gently stroking her eyelids, warm water sliding down her face.

“Nn,” was all she managed to get out before her voice cracked. Jeez, what was she, a boy who was just going through puberty?

She felt Lionel lean over to press his lips on her wet cheek, she could feel the small smile,” it’s ok, it will get easier to adjust to things in a few moments, don’t rush, I’m right here, your senses are hypersensitive right now, which is why it seems so bright, soon they will tone down and be back to normal, to an extent?”

Scout felt her lips twitch, as she slowly spoke out, her voice both deeper like she had noticed before, and a bit horse probably from all the screaming she had done just before,” ’to an extent’?”

Lionel brushed his fingers through her wet hair, massaging her scalp,” well yes, to an extent. Everyone changes differently, your hearing, smell, or eyesight could improve, it’s impossible to tell until things settled down and are back to as normal as you will get down here, which means after your complete change.”

Scout slowly nodded,” right,” she groaned, slowly trying to open her eyes again, wanting to see Lionel’s face.

When she was able to get them open and focused, she found Lionel’s hand hovering over her eyes, shielding them from what she found out was nothing but a single lit candle.

She turned into his chest, not at all minding that he seemed to have gotten himself in his birthday suit again,” wow, that’s pretty bright,” she groaned, testing out the strength of her limbs.

Her movements were sluggish, but she felt her strength slowly but surely find its way back to her as she lifted her arm in front of her face.

Scout frowned, pale?

“What’s wrong,” Lionel asked, moving his hand to gently intertwined their fingers.

“Was I always this pale, or am I just seeing things,” she asked, noting that she indeed has gotten paler, because Lionel’s skin colour was almost the same as hers before, if not paler, but now she looked completely white, out-paleing Lionel now by a landslide.

“You are not seeing things, you have changed quite a bit. It seems since things were out of order upon your arrival, you have already began to change into a demon during the transition out of your human state, instead of keeping your human features like others who die naturally,” of course naturally probably meant died on the surface and was already a spirit before stepping into Hell instead of stepping in as a human and ‘dying’ in Hell.

She flexed her fingers, stretching them out in his hands, finding they have gotten longer and slimmer.

Well hell, that was fast.

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