Author/Disclaimer's Note: I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE, THE HALO BOOK AND/OR CHARACTERS…because if I did…*looks guiltily at the floor* well, let's just say that the ending would be different. But that's why I'm writing this story!

~Property of Alexandra Adornetto~

When I opened my eyes again, I was sitting on a faded rug on the floor with my back propped against a cold plaster wall. I knew I must have been slumped there for a while because the cold of the room had seeped through my clothes and into my skin. My hands were bound, and my fingers tingled when I wriggled the. My arms were aching from being in the same position for too long. Someone had wound a rope tightly around my waist and gagged me with a dirty rag, making it difficult to breathe. I thought I could smell gasoline.

I peered around the dim surroundings, trying to make out where Jake had taken me. It wasn't a dungeon as I had first imagined. Instead I appeared to be in the formal sitting room of a Victorian house. The room was large and airy and had high ceilings and light fixtures in the shape of twisted rosebuds. The rich tones of the carpet suggest it was Persian, but it smelled musty. The stale odor of cigar smoke also hung in the air. Two wide chesterfield couches, which had seen better days, sat opposite each other, with marble-topped side tables nearby. A deep mahogany sideboard held decanters so dusty you could barely make out the amber and plum liquids inside. In the middle of the room stood a long, polished cedar dining table with elaborately carved legs. The high-backed chairs positioned around it were upholstered in burgundy velvet, and in the center of the table sat an immense silver candelabra, its lighted candles casting elongated shadows across the room. Strange markings and symbols were scrawled on the walls, which were covered in peeling striped wallpaper. Portraits in heave gilt frames hung above the marble mantle piece, and their faces watched me archly as if they were in on a secret I had yet to discover. There was one of a Renaissance-looking gentleman in a ruffled collar, and another of a woman surrounded by five nymph-like daughters, all with Pre-Raphaelite hair and swirling dresses.

A film of dust lay over everything, including the paintings. I wondered how long it had been since anyone had lived in the house. It seemed to be frozen in time. A giant spider's web swooped gracefully across the width of the ceiling like a sheet of muslin. When I looked more closely, I saw that everything reeked of decay. The dining chairs looked moth-eaten, the picture frames were lopsided, the leather sofa sagged, and there were patches of damp on the ceiling where water had seeped through. Everything was still in place, as though the owners of the house had left in a hurry and never come back. The windows were boarded up so that only a few bars of natural light filtered into the room to fall in random beams across the carpet.

My whole body ached, and my head felt leaden and foggy. I could hear distant voices coming from somewhere, but no one appeared. I sat there for what felt like hours and started to realize what Gabriel had meant about the human body having certain requirements. I was feeling faint with hunger, my throat was dry and parched from the lack of hydration, and I desperately need to use the bathroom. I drifted into a semiconscious state, until eventually I was aware of someone coming into the room.

When I focused my eyes and sat up, I saw Jake Thorn seated at the head of the dining table. He was wearing a smoking jacket of all things and had his arms crossed. On his face he wore his trademark sneer.

"I'm sorry it had to end like this, Bethany", he said. He glided over to untie the gag from around my mouth. His voice was like honey. "I did try to offer you a chance at a life together."

"A life with you would be worse than death", I said in a hoarse whisper.

I saw Jake's face harden. His cat eyes, which were black again, seemed to glaze over.

"Your stoicism is admirable", he said. "In fact, I think it may be one of the things I like best about you. However, in this case I think you will come to regret the choice you have made."

"You can't hurt me", I said. "I'll only return to the life I knew."

"That's very true." He smiled. "What a shame your other half will be left behind. I wonder what will become of him when you're not here."

"Don't you dare threaten him!"

"Struck a nerve?" Jake asked. "I do wonder how Xavier will react when he finds his precious one dead. I hope he doesn't do anything rash—grief can make men behave in strange ways."

"Leave him out of this." I struggled against the rope. "We can settle this ourselves."

"I don't think you're in a position to bargain, do you?"

"Why are you doing this, Jake? What do you'll think you'll gain?"

"That depends on your definition of gain. I am but a servant of Lucifer. Do you know what Lucifer's biggest sin was?"

"Pride", I answered.

"Precisely, so you really shouldn't have wounded mine. I didn't appreciate it."

"I didn't mean to wound you, Jake…"

He cut me off. "That was your mistake, and this is the part where I get even. It will be quite a show watching the perfect school captain take his own life. My, my, what will everybody say?"

"Xavier would never do that!" I hiss feeling my heart skip a beat.

"No, he wouldn't", Jake agreed, "not without a little help from me. I can get inside his head and offer some useful suggestions. It shouldn't be hard. He'll already have lost the love of his life, right? That ought to make him very vulnerable? What shall I make him do? Throw himself onto the rocks at Shipwreck Coast? Wrap his car around a tree, cut his wrists, walk into the ocean? So many choices to consider."

"You're doing this because you're hurt", I said. "But killing Xavier won't make you happy again. Killing me won't bring you satisfaction."

"Enough tiresome talk!"

He drew a sharp knife from the inside of his jacket and bent to slice through the ropes that held me with small, deft movements. My arms and hands ached even more once they were free. Jake pulled me up so that I was kneeling at his feet. I saw his polished black shoes with their pointed toes, and at that moment, I didn't care about the pain in my limbs or the pounding in my head or about feeling sick and weak from lack of nourishment. All I cared about was getting to my feet. I would not bow to before an Agent of Darkness. I would rather die than betray my Heavenly allegiance by surrendering to him.

I put a hand out to the wall and used it to haul myself to my feet. It took all my energy, and I didn't know how long I could keep it up. My knees wanted to buckle beneath me.

Jake looked at me with wild amusement.

"Hardly the time for loyalty", he jeered. "You do realize I hold your life in my hands? Worship me if you want to live to see your Xavier again."

"I renounce you and all your works", I said calmly.

This seemed to enrage him, and he lifted me off my feet and threw me across the dining room table. My head hit the surface with a crack before I careered onto the floor and landed in a heap. Something sticky was snaking its way down my forehead.

"All right down there?" Jake asked smugly from his position, leaning against the side of the table. He roughly stroked the wound on my face and his hands radiated heat.

"It doesn't have to be this way", he purred. He waited for a sign of agreement, but I remained mute.

~End of A.A's property ~

He shrugged. "Suit yourself. I was thinking about giving you a quick death, but what the hell? I'll let you suffer even more."

As if on cue the two Goth girls, Alicia and Alexandra, walked in dragging a beaten body I instantly recognized. He wasn't supposed to be here! How could have Gabriel let Xavier just come for me knowing the danger that was involved?

Jake retrieved his knife once again and held it to Xavier's throat. Maybe this Xavier is just an illusion. My hope is soon crushed when Jake draws out blood and a groan escapes Xavier's lips.

"S-stop!" I yell.

Jake smirks. "Something wrong, love?"

I sighed in defeat. Tears started to run down my face. "Fine, I'll…" I gulped down the disgust I felt for the words I was about to say. "I'll go with you in exchange for Xavier's safety."

Jake seems to ponder this for a moment before nodding. "Deal."

He whispers something to the girls. They nod, and drag Xavier out.

"Wait, w-where are they taking him?"

"I think that is no longer your business. We have a deal, you in exchange for his safety. I am a man of my word, Bethany."

He takes my hand and gently pulls me up. My knees are still a bit weak so I have to lean on him for support.

"Come now, darling. We can't keep our ride waiting." Jake purrs seductively.

"Where are we going?"

"Back to my home realm", he replied nonchalantly.

I felt myself being carried. I was probably already fainting due to the possible concussion I received. The sun was still bright when Jake and I stepped into the limousine. I started to wonder how he had got it but I had a massive headache to really concentrate. The last thing I remember was watching the beautiful Venus Cove slip right past us.

Okay, so what did you all think? I haven't gotten the chance to read the second book to Halo, so my apologies if in the next chapter Hell isn't exactly how it is in the book. Please don't forget to review!