Gluttony: Overindulgence or great appetite for anything; greedy or excessive indulgence

This is a one-shot for Lolly's April/May Mediator writing challenge. Check them out under her forum! :D

Gluttony: Overindulgence or great appetite for anything; greedy or excessive indulgence. Excessive love of pleasure.

--

The children ran around the room screaming as they chased each other relentlessly. One of the boys leaped over the couch, trying to tackle the other, and they crashed into the small table where the gilded box sat. With wide eyes, they watched as the box crashed to the ground, spilling its contents.

A high-pitched screech filled the room. "What have I told you about that box!"

The boys hung their heads in practiced sincerity while peaking adorably from under their lashes. "We're sorry mommy. We didn't mean to open it."

She knew she should be angry, but honestly they had her wrapped around their little fingers and they knew it. Sighing, she gestured to the mess. "Help me pick everything up before your father gets home. After all, if HE finds out…"

The boys shuddered. Their father was fun and easygoing, but he gave a mean spanking. Quickly they begin gathering up the dark and ugly things crawling around the floor.

Death, disease, pride, lust… they all went back into the box. Hurriedly they searched and grabbed all of the dark and dangerous things that their mother was responsible for.

"Pandora! I'm home!" A male voice boomed out and the mother snapped the lid of the box closed.

"Just a minute honey!!" She turned and whispered to the kids. "Quickly, go wash your hands and comb your hair, then come down to the dining room. We're almost ready to eat."

The boys scampered off and the woman went to greet her husband. Unnoticed lay a tiny sin, neglected as it lay unmoving on the rug. The sin was used to being overlooked in favor of its flashier siblings, but it had learned long ago to use that to its advantage. When everybody had left the room, the sin sluggishly burrowed its way outside, where it gleefully flung itself off the clouds that was the boundary between its world and the one it had been forced to leave so long ago.

Gluttony drifted down to the world below… looking for a new start… a new home…

--

The cat spat at me and backed away, even further out towards the thin unstable branches.

There was a gasp beneath me and Abby's frail little voice wailed. "Mr. Pumpkins! Please be careful!!" I rolled my eyes. In all likelihood, Mr. Pumpkins would be fine. After all, the stupid cat had climbed up here, I'm sure it could figure out a way down. But she had come to me for help, touched by Abby's distress, and I couldn't let her down.

Which is why I was up in this tree trying to convince the stupid beast to let me help it.

"C'mon, kitty… Let's get you back down on the ground…"

I inched towards it again as it crouched, hissing at me. At least it wasn't backing away anymore. "Come on Mr. Pumpkins…"

Then there was a crack and both Mr. Pumpkins and I froze. No, this couldn't be happening…

The branch gave way and with a yowl Mr. Pumpkins leapt onto me, digging his claws into my skin as he attempted to bound away. I grabbed him as we tumbled to the ground, bouncing from branch to branch until with a thud I hit the pavement below.

"Mr. Pumpkins!!" Small hands took the ball of fur that was currently hooked to my chest and I heard the darn thing purring up a storm. "Oh, thank you mister!!"

The little girl scampered away with her cat while I lay there on the sidewalk.

Smiling green eyes peered down at me. "Are you okay?"

Flushing in embarrassment, I swallowed a groan and got up, dusting myself off. Why was it that whenever she was around, I ended up acting like a fool? Not that I was normally dashing or anything, but somehow she always saw me in the worst light.

"I'm fine. I was just clumsy. It was probably stupid of me to have tried climbing the tree in the first place. I must have looked like an idiot."

She smiled warmly, and a thrill ran through me. "You looked magnificent. And Abby was so relieved to know her kitten was safe."

I blushed, pleased at her comment until I realized I was standing there like a love-struck goon.

Which, while technically true, didn't mean I had to act like it. I stuck my hands in my pockets and looked down at the ground nonchalantly.

"Would you care to walk with me a bit?"

She smiled another one of her smiles, one that lit up her whole face, and time stood still. "I'd love to."

I swallowed nervously, my heart thundering in my chest. "Maybe down to the beach? It's almost dusk, there shouldn't be many people around."

I tried not to wince. I shouldn't have brought that up, about people not being around. I didn't want her to think…

A gentle hand touched my arm and I looked up in surprise. Her warm eyes looked at me compassionately. "Don't worry, I understand what you meant."

I smiled, the tension draining out of me. Somehow she always knew what was bothering me and how to reassure me. It must be a gift, but whenever I mentioned it she would just smile and shake her head.

We walked quietly on the beach and I sneaked a glance out of the corner of my eye. She was so beautiful, so perfect. Her white blouse topped with a pink cardigan and long grey skirt might have made some girls look drab, but with her dark hair stylishly swept up and her fair skin the ideal canvas for those beautiful eyes… she was a vision.

If only I wasn't the only one who could see her.

She glanced at me curiously and I smiled, forgetting my dark thoughts. But then being around her always did that. It was like she was the sun, and shadows could not exist within her glorious presence.

I winced. Poetry was not one of my strong points.

Night had just fallen, and the moon hung low over the ocean, the darkness of the sky above and the even darker water below framing it perfectly. Soft waves washed upon the shore, the normally white foam silver and incandescent in the moonlight. Evelyn stopped and drank in the sight.

She sighed and turned to me. "I'm sorry, it's just so beautiful."

The words were out before I could stop them. "Not as beautiful as you."

Her eyes went wide and her lips parted, lips that beckoned me. My mind was frozen, but apparently the rest of me knew what to do because I leaned forward and pressed my mouth against hers.

Horrified, I pulled back. "I'm sorry, I don't know what came over me. I just…"

She laid one soft finger against my lips. "I didn't mind."

I blinked, something slowly building inside me. "You didn't?"

She smiled, her cheeks stained with embarrassment. "No, I rather liked it."

Tentatively I leaned my head forward again and this time her head raised up to meet me. Our lips met again somewhat awkwardly, until hers relaxed and moved gently on mine. I shuddered, trying to contain the impure thoughts that sprang to life as her lips parted for me. Boldly, I put my hand on her waist.

"OH!" She flinched and I hastily let go and stepped away.

"Evelyn? Are you all right?" I bit my lip and berated myself. I shouldn't have gone so fast, been so pushy…

She looked at me with dazed eyes. "Yes, I just… My arm… it hurts…"

Concerned, I turned her so I could see her arm better. "Um, could you take off your sweater? Just so.."

She chuckled weakly at my embarrassment and slipped off the pink cardigan before turning her arm back to me. I gasped. Curled on her upper arm, just under the edge of her sleeve, was a bloated white larvae-type thing. It looked like a cross between a slug and a caterpillar, but the way it was burrowing its head underneath her flesh reminded me of a tunneling worm. I frowned. Her flesh, while firm and solid to me, was non-existent. How was this… this… thing… I shook my head. It didn't matter, what mattered was getting rid of it. I reached into my pocket and grabbed a handkerchief, then with trembling fingers wrapped it around the parasite. I wrinkled my nose in disgust, the flabby body feeling like softened lard underneath my hand, squishing slightly as I tried to pull it out of Evelyn's arm.

I tugged, but the leech refused to let go. Evelyn was white, whether with pain or fear I wasn't sure, but she didn't make a sound of complaint. Grimly I used my other hand to press on her arm, squeezing upwards towards the point of entry, just like I had seen my sister do when trying to get rid of a pimple. The spongy body wriggled frantically in my fingers, but I refused to release it as I tried to pry the rest of it out. Then there was a squeal and it literally came apart in my hands. The part that I had been gripping twitched and then was still. I opened the handkerchief and saw with disgust that it had been torn in two, and started looking around to see if I could find the other half of it. Then the half I was holding squirmed, and I dropped it with a mutter.

"What was it?" Evelyn's voice was shaking and I turned to her in concern.

"I'm not sure." I admitted. "Are you alright? How's your arm?" I ran my finger over the spot where the thing had tried to burrow into her, but the skin was smooth and unblemished.

She shivered. "I'm fine… just a little…" She shook her head and backed away as I tried to reach for her. "I'm sorry Dominic, but I… I need to go."

And then she was gone.

Feeling melancholy, I walked over to a log and sat down. It was probably for the best that something had interrupted us. After all, what had I been thinking, being so forward? And how was this helping her move on?

With a sigh, I searched my heart. If I were to be honest with myself, I didn't want her to move on. I enjoyed her company, her sly wit, her luminous beauty… I looked forward to seeing her every moment I could, picked out my clothing with care… I wasn't a fool. I understood what was going on.

I loved her. I loved the way her smile lit up her face. I loved the way she made me laugh, especially at myself. I loved her kindness towards others, the way she had come to get me when little Abby's cat had gotten stuck in the tree.

I loved her.

But the truth of the matter was, she was dead. We had no future together. For the first time, I cursed this gift of mine. Father O'Leary had told me many years ago, when I had first whispered my secret to him during confession, that God had anointed me to help his lost souls return home. It was a sacred duty, one that I should embrace, because what greater satisfaction could there be than to work his will?

And so I had done my poor best, comforting the lost and helping them to find their way… until she had appeared to me. My Evelyn. I tried to mediate her, but she had wrinkled her nose at me and laughed, telling me I was much too stuffy, and my poor heart had promptly fallen to pieces. Pieces that were only patched together when she was around me. I knew it was wrong, knew that nothing good could come of it, but I didn't care. She completed me, made me feel whole and alive. The world had more color, more laughter, when she was there. And when she wasn't…

I reached in my pocket and pulled out the ring. It wasn't much, barely a chip of a diamond in a plain silver setting, but I wanted more than anything to give it to her. To show her my intentions were honorable, to tell her what she meant to me.

And yet I hesitated.

How could my intentions be honorable when honor was denied us? I couldn't take her home to meet my family, couldn't take her out on dates… And marriage, children… those things couldn't exist. Not between her and I anyway.

But I loved her.

Father O'Leary had been scandalized. Satan was trying to corrupt my gift, working his wiles on me. She might be a lovely girl, but she was dead.

"God told us to go out and populate- how can this occur if she is dead? If not leading you to unite in holy wedlock with the purpose of conceiving children, this 'love' you feel is a sin. An affront against God and all that is holy…" I had taken my ten Hail Mary's as penance and gone home, deciding not to bring it up to him again.

After all, how could he possibly understand? He was a priest.

A priest. How could he possibly understand the love a man had for a woman? Just because she might be invisible to the world didn't mean she didn't exist for me. And the way I felt when I was with her…

Shoving the ring in my pocket, I went home.

--

That night I was reading in bed when I felt a ghost materialize. Looking up, I was shocked to see her beautiful green eyes glittering at me. "Evelyn? What's wrong? Why are you here?"

She sat down on the side of the bed and I shifted away from her, swallowing hard. "Evelyn, this is rather unseemly. You being here I mean. Is there something you need?"

Her voice whispered to me, dry and cracked with longing. "I'm hungry."

I put my book down, shock driving all of my other thoughts out. "Hungry? But…"

She leaned toward me. "I tried to eat, but there was no flavor. Please, help me. I need… I need to eat. To taste…"

Frowning, I studied her. "Evelyn, you're a ghost. Ghosts don't…"

"PLEASE!!"

I pushed back my blankets and grabbed my robe. I didn't understand what was going on, but Evelyn needed me. Leading her downstairs, I made my way quietly to the darkened kitchen. "What do you feel like?"

She moaned in what sounded like pain. "Anything. Please, hurry. I'm starving…"

I grabbed my mother's orange and brown Tupperware containers and started peeling off the ridged lids to see what leftovers I could find. Evelyn grabbed a bowl of spaghetti and started eating it with her fingers, slurping the strands up with gusto.

"Uh… do you want a fork? Or I could reheat it…"

She shook her head as she shoved the food in her mouth. "More… please, I must have more…"

She was finishing her third container, this one of beef stroganoff, when I looked up and saw the tears running down her face.

"Evelyn, what's wrong? I don't understand what's going on..."

Glassy eyes turned to me. "It's not enough! There's this huge emptiness inside, and it hurts so much… but no matter how much I eat, I can't fill it!"

I bit my lip. I had never heard of such a thing before. Trying to gain some time, I peeled an orange for her, my hands slightly sticky from the juice. I handed her a section, but she frowned. "Feed me?" Her voice was wounded, and with shaking fingers I lifted a piece up to her lips. She bit down and juice squirted, running down my fingers and her chin.

She looked up at me with astonished eyes. "I tasted that. More. Feed me more!"

Her mouth opened and I popped another piece of orange in, much like one might toss a tablescrap to a dog. She chewed it and swallowed and stared at me in confusion. "Why couldn't I taste that?" Ignoring the piece of orange in my fingers, she grabbed my hand and brought it up to her mouth, licking the sticky juice from my fingers.

I froze, my heart thumping erratically, my breathing shallow, and… well, it was a good thing I was sitting down with the table covering my lap.

Gently I tried to disengage my hand from her, but she glared at me with such ferocity that I gave in as her tongue moved over my palm with short kittenish strokes.

"Evelyn… please… we need to talk this through…"

She ignored me, her eyes closed and a look of rapture on her face. "It's you. I can feel you. Taste you. You can satisfy the hunger…" She opened her eyes and I blanched at the purely predatory look in them.

"Feed me Dominic. Please. Satiate the beast inside me, the one that can't get enough…" Her voice was whispering to me and my eyes were trapped in hers, deep green emeralds that beckoned to me, beseeched me to assuage the hunger eating away at her. I barely noticed when she pushed my chair back and climbed on my lap, straddling me as she stared down at my face. Then her head bent down and she kissed me, her tongue sliding against my lips and I gasped, giving her entry to my mouth.

"More… I need to feel more..." Her hands slipped down to mine and then wrapped them around her waist. Cautiously I tightened them around her and she sighed happily. It felt wrong to have my sticky dirty hands on her, but everytime I tried to remove them she whimpered as if in pain. She grabbed my hand and moved it up to her ribcage, and then…

She gasped. "Yes, that's it… more. Give me more. Please…"

My mind was screaming at me, but recklessly I ignored it and gave in to the sensations. Feeling her breasts in my hands, her tongue in my mouth... She was moaning on my lap, moving up and down against me and a craving I had never known before started flaring within me. I wanted to rip off the offending clothing keeping us apart and touch her, taste her, feel her… I hungered for her… for… for… why couldn't I remember her name?! My eyes snapped open and I pushed her off my lap. She looked at me from the floor in shock.

"Dominic, what's wrong?"

I sighed and stepped away from her. "Evelyn, there's something horribly wrong. This hunger consuming you, it isn't natural.

"I don't care! I just need to be rid of it! Please… feed me Dominic. Feed me, satiate me, quench this gnawing inside me. Slake this burning… this craving that's eating me alive…"

I stared at her trembling lips and watched glistening tears drip down her face. "Evelyn…"

She stood up and keeping her eyes locked with mine, pulled off her cardigan, dropping it on the floor. Then she reached around and slowly undid the buttons on her blouse, before that dropped on the floor as well. Then her skirt went until she was standing before me in her half slip and chemise. I swallowed hard, unable to look away from her perfection.

"Satisfy me Dominic. You are the only one who can, the only one I can touch, the only one who can feel the silk of my skin…"

I heard a rasping noise, which I finally identified as my breath desperately rattling in my lungs. Swallowing hard, I forced myself to speak. "Evelyn, this isn't you. Please, you must fight the hunger."

Her body started shaking, trembling, and she sank to the floor. It took all of my self-control not to go to her. "NO! You don't understand! I'm so empty inside..." She looked at me with beseeching eyes. "I thought you cared about me… was I mistaken? Or did you only care when it didn't inconvenience you? Am I such a pariah that the thought of touching me fills you with such dread?"

I kneeled in front of her. "Evelyn, I do care about you. There is nothing I want more than to be with you. But not like this. Not because of some mindless need that doesn't care who we are or what we share. Evelyn, please. Fight whatever is doing this to you. Fight it and come back to me…" I thought of the ring upstairs in my room, how there was nothing I wanted more than to see it on her finger. "Evelyn, please. You must fight this."

"She can't." I twirled around and saw a glowing woman standing there looking at me sadly. I narrowed my eyes. I was used to glowing figures appearing out of nowhere, but this woman was different. Her glow was more of a golden nimbus, accentuating her blond hair piled loosely on her head and the white gown reminiscent of a roman toga. She reminded me of a picture I had seen in a book of fairy tales, one about gods and goddesses…

The woman smiled kindly. "My name is Pandora. Unfortunately one of my charges escaped today, and I'm afraid it has infected her." She held up a glass bottle and I saw half of the larvae-like creature twitching helplessly in its prison.

"That's…"

"Half of Gluttony. The other half is within her."

"Gluttony?" I shook my head, not wanting to waste time on the trivial details. I looked at Evelyn who was moaning on the floor. "Look, whatever it is, get it out! Can't you see how badly it's hurting her?"

Pandora looked at me with sorrowful eyes "I can't. If she were still flesh and blood, I could probably extract it, but she is just a soul now. And her very soul has been contaminated."

I hadn't realized how tightly I was gripping the back of the chair until the wood cracked in my hand. I bit back my curse and glared at Pandora. "So what happens now? If you can't remove that thing, what happens to her?

"She's being consumed by hunger that can never be satisfied. Hunger for food, for sensations, for luxuries, for pleasure of the flesh… She craves it all, but no matter how much she consumes, it will never be enough. The need will not let her rest though. It will drive her to seek out more and more until she loses all concept of the person she was. She will steal, seduce, and murder, all in a vain attempt to fill the emptiness within her. Once the need has completely taken her over, those that come in contact with her will become breeders and Gluttony will spread."

With a shock I remembered the ferocious need that had driven me to my knees. "Will I… I mean…"

Pandora smiled sadly. "No, she is not yet completely consumed. But you have a choice to make young mediator. You can either do nothing, and let her continue her existence until Gluttony has managed to extract every last drop of her essence, or you can spare her and the world by removing the remaining piece of Gluttony before it can propagate within her."

I looked at Pandora sharply. "I thought you said it couldn't be removed!"

"It can't. She can be removed before it has a chance to finish feeding though."

I blinked in confusion when suddenly what she wanted hit me. "No. I won't do that."

Bending down, I picked up Evelyn's shaking body and cradled it closely to mine. She was whimpering and my heart ached in frustration.

"You can't save her. Nothing can save her now that it's inside her."

Ignoring Pandora, I carried Evelyn upstairs to my room and put her gently on the bed. She tossed, moaning slightly, and I got a cool washcloth and gently sponged her face with it.

Sparkling green eyes shining with tears looked up at me. "I heard what she said."

I frowned. "Don't pay any attention to her. She doesn't know what she's talking about."

Evelyn closed her eyes in pain. "Yes, she does. I can feel it Dom. Feel it eating at away at me, driving me in search of sustenance… and it hurts… so very very much… This emptiness inside me, this craving…"

"Evelyn…"

She opened her eyes and locked gazes with me. "Please, Dominic, don't let it make me into a monster. Please, I could never live with myself if it came to that. And knowing that other people would die because of me…"

I shook my head. "You don't know that's going to happen! Evelyn, we'll fight this thing together. I'll go to the library tomorrow and…"

"Dominic…" her voice was but a whisper. "Please."

I closed my eyes in pain. "Evelyn, I… I can't send you away. It would destroy me."

She squeezed my hand softly. "And staying here will destroy me. Please. You need to let me go." She gasped and bit her lip in pain. "Dominic, please. It hurts so much…"

With tears in my eyes, I reached into my bedside drawer for the little black book that held all of my mediating notes that I had collected over the years. There was a Latin incantation that I had only used once, but it had proved highly effective at exorcism. Sitting next to it was the ring. I hesitated and then picked it up. If not now, when?

I kneeled by her side. "Evelyn, before we do this, I need to ask you something." I wet my lips nervously. I had imagined this moment for so long, and yet now that it was here I had no idea what to do or say. I tried to remember the poetry I had studied, tried to find a verse that would explain everything that she meant to me, when a painful whimper brought my eyes back to hers.

Her eyes, looking at me with such trust and devotion. I closed my own in pain and spoke out of the hollowness that was my heart. "You mean more to me than I could ever put into words. You are my first thought upon waking, and the last face I see at night. You are the one who completes me, who brings the warmth and joy into my life. I love you. I have always loved you, from the moment you first mocked me and wrinkled your pert little nose at me. I truly believe you are my soul-mate, the one woman God intended for me to love. I know that there would be difficulties, but I want to share my life with you. Evelyn, will you marry me?"

I opened my eyes, and met hers, tears streaming silently down her face. "Oh, Dominic… I… I love you too."

I smiled sadly. "Is that a yes?"

She laughed, her voice trying to swallow a sob. "Yes, my darling."

I slipped the ring on her finger and she lifted her shaking hand to study it. "It's so beautiful…"

I stroked her cheek gently. "Not nearly as beautiful as you." Her back arched and her face scrunched up in pain.

"Dominic, please, hurry…"

I swallowed the lump in my throat. "Are you sure?"

She nodded, her teeth gritted with pain. Quickly I set out the candles and lit them before picking up the book and turning to the appropriate page. The words blurred before me and I almost threw the book across the room. What was I thinking? This was Evelyn, my love…

"Dominic!" Her voice was filled with anxiety and pain, and I forced myself to stare at the words until they came into focus. Quietly I began to chant, the sonorous sounds calming and steadying me.

I felt pressure swirling around us until the very air above my bed tore open to reveal a black void. It was almost complete. I stopped and looked at Evelyn one last time. She smiled at me, looking utterly at peace. "I'll wait for you my love. For all eternity, until we can be together at last."

I read the last line in the incantation, and then the darkness flared and she was gone.

Silently I stared at where she had been. There was no indentation on the bed, nothing to tell she had ever been here. Nothing except… Pandora reached past me and picked up the grub that had started all this, that had been the root of all this trouble.

"Mediator…"

I didn't turn to look at her. "Go. Please. I don't wish to speak to you about it."

She didn't say anything, but I felt as her presence dissipated behind me.

Feeling empty, I walked around the room, extinguishing the candles. It didn't seem real. Rather it felt like a bad dream, one that I wanted desperately wanted to wake up from. But somehow I knew it wasn't.

Three days later I was still in bed, staring at the ceiling blindly. Something was digging into my back, but I didn't particularly care. Nothing mattered anymore. Evelyn was gone, and I was the one who had sent her away. I heard hushed voices outside my bedroom door and shifted to my side. I had refused to speak to anyone, and I knew my family was becoming worried. They had probably called in Father O'Leary to see if he could identify what was going on with me.

As I turned, whatever had been digging into my back poked me. Irritated, I swept my hand through the sheets when my fingers came in contact with cool metal. Pulling it out, I saw Evelyn's ring sparkling at me.

Her voice echoed in my mind. "I'll wait for you my love. For all eternity…"

I broke down and cried.

--

-forty some years later-

I watched them through the hospital window silently. They were so absorbed in each other, they didn't notice me standing there. And why should they? If anyone else bothered to glance in, what would they see? A heavily bruised and bandaged girl on painkillers smiling softly at thin air? Nothing particularly unusual there.

Susannah's eyes sparkled at something Jesse said and I sighed heavily. I had been thinking about her words ever since the beach. "One true love that would last an eternity." No, it hadn't seemed silly or stupid to me. The question was what to do about it now. My hand rose up to touch the ring I wore about my neck underneath my shirt. I had never removed it, not since the morning I had found it, waiting for me.

I watched Jesse gently touch her cheek and the adoration that filled Susannah's face. I needed to put a stop to this. Before things got any more out of hand. I hated to exorcise anyone, much less a spirit as honorable as Jesse obviously was. But this would only end in pain. For Susannah's sake, I had to end this quickly. Maybe it was foolish, but when I saw Susannah's green eyes flaring with emotion, I saw a part of Evelyn there inside her. Combined with her mediating abilities, it was almost as if Susannah was the daughter, well, maybe granddaughter, we would have had if fate had not been so unkind.

I had to protect her. If I sent Jesse away, it would hurt her terribly, at least at first, but she'd get over it. Wouldn't she?

And yet Jesse was older than either Evelyn or I had been. He understood that nothing would come of this, and treated her much the way an older brother would. And I must admit that I felt better about Susannah's safety when he was around. If he hadn't been there that night… I shuddered when I thought of what could have happened.

Susannah's friend Gina burst through the door to her room and with a final smile Jesse dematerialized, only to reappear beside me. "What troubles you Father?"

I looked over at him carefully. "Susannah appears to be very fond of you." My voice was neutral but Jesse arched a brow in surprise.

"We are friends Padre. She has been alone for a very long time, with no one to confide it. Our friendship does not preclude her from going out with her peers or other young men." His mouth twisted in annoyance. "Even if sometimes she forgets herself and behaves somewhat inappropriately with them."

I let out a sigh of relief. "I just wanted to make sure we understood each other. Susannah is very young still, and…"

Jesse cut me off. "Padre, I promised her father that I would be her friend and watch over her. Obviously, she is in need of both." He shook his head in amazement. "You would think someone so familiar with death would have a little more respect for it, instead of courting it every chance she had…"

I choked back a laugh. The irritation in his tone had been illuminating. We said our farewells and slowly I walked to the exit. I fiddled with the ring again. I had lost so much that night, and every instinct within me screamed to protect Susannah from the same fate. But isn't this why Evelyn had insisted on leaving? To give others a chance at the love and happiness that had been denied us?

Gluttony had threatened to turn humanity into nothing more than rutting animals, turning us inward so we could only focus on our own wants and needs; our own desires. In essence, Gluttony is a sin in which man lives to please only himself.

Looking at Jesse and Susannah, it was obvious they were in love, even if they hadn't admitted it yet to either themselves or each other.

Their love was everything Gluttony was not. It was pure. It was selfless. For that reason alone, I should try and encourage it. But I couldn't. Because it was something that I had only been allowed to glimpse, and I would never find again.

And that hurt. Deeper and sharper than I could ever imagine. Even after all this time, I still felt Evelyn's loss keenly.

It was the first thing I felt when I awoke, and the last thought I had before I slept. Her memory tortured me, a true phantasm that haunted me the way no mere ghost ever could.

And if she were here, she would be cheering Jesse and Susannah on, not begrudging them their happiness. I closed my eyes in pain. Did Gluttony still have its hooks in me? Was I so selfish that I would deny them their chance?

I swallowed hard. For Evelyn, I wouldn't act rashly. I would wait and observe. I would give them their moment. That was the only way to prove we had truly triumphed over Gluttony.

I couldn't do it for myself. But for her…

For Evelyn. My light, my treasure.

My love.

I could do it for her.

For Evelyn.

--

AN: Please review!