I've always considered myself a man of God. Ever since that incident, the one that signaled the end of my career, I have followed the Lord faithfully, never breaking stride. I studied His teachings daily, and even well into the night when I could. I had sworn myself to devote my life to Him, even becoming celibate. I never looked at anyone with lust-filled eyes, never took a second glance to a revealingly dressed woman (save to reprimand her and let her borrow my scarf until she could find a decent outfit), and if ever a wrong thought crept up on me, I would smother it in prayers until I could consider myself clean again. Everything the Father considered evil or impure, I did as well. Most consider me obsessive. I suppose you could say that.

But lately…I have found myself stumbling.

It was several months ago that I met Primo Vongola and was accepted into his little band. He was a good man and had a bright idea, even if the other characters in the group were a bit rough. But I figured I could help clean them up. None of them were very religious at all, so part of the reason I agreed to help them was also to get a chance to introduce God to them. So far…still not much luck.

Almost a year from the day I first met all of them, I was found sitting in a lush armchair in the main room of the house, close to the fire, my precious Bible in my hand. …I had another dream last night and I had already spent all day praying over it at the church. I would still be there, actually, except they had to lock down for the storm that was approaching. Already there was heavy rain beating on the shutters and roof, sounding rather melodic when coupled with the crackling flames. Normally, this would be a perfect time to get some reading done…but I couldn't concentrate. The words swarm in front of my eyes, as my mind wandered back to those horrible images from the dream. Or in my case, it was more a nightmare.

Eventually giving up, I took off my glasses and set them and the Bible onto the small table beside me, land leaned my face in my hands as I tried to pray it away again. But only a few words in, I was interrupted by footsteps on the staircase. Turning, I jumped a little to see who it was exactly. The last person I wished to see. The one in my dream. The one in all my dreams.

"Oi, what are you still doing up?" he asked, his low smooth voice gliding through the air, caressing my ears in a way only his voice could.

"I couldn't sleep," I replied, averting my gaze towards the fire as I sat up straighter. 'This is wrong, why are you feeling this? Stop it, you're disgracing yourself. You're disgracing the Lord!' But no matter what I told myself, my stomach remained filled with butterflies as he sat across from me, crossing his legs as he rested his cheek on his hand.

"Worried you'll have another dream?"

Freezing at these words, I could feel my face turn a deep shade of red. …It was too late by this point. He knew everything; he was a devourer of information. He could read a person like a book, yet no one could read him. He could watch you with those strikingly blue eyes of his and tell you things you hardly even knew about yourself, yet he was as open as a solid brick wall. The silence between us grew longer, and the longer it grew, the deeper the hole I was in. It was too late to go back. Luckily, he didn't need an answer at this point. I wondered if he even needed one at all, really.

"You're so noisy when you sleep. The whole house can hear you, you know," he said, carefully pulling the top off a wine bottle that sat beside him. "For a priest in training, you aren't doing very well," smirking over the glass he had poured himself, the blue-eyed man watched me carefully, enjoying the sight of me squirming no doubt. But when still no answer came from me, his smirk turned to a more annoyed look as he sipped his wine, now turning to the fire. "Do you know the meaning of those dreams? They take on a lot of meanings, have a lot of reasons for showing up…but the most common is simple curiousity."

Turning my eyes to the floor now, I kept my lips pressed shut. Curiousity…? Of what sort? I wasn't the least bit curious about trying any of those things my dreams came up with! Neither was I even slightly interested in the blond man across from me! No, my heart belonged to God and Him only! On the verge of snapping this to him, to tell him he was a liar, the man continued, his voice raised just enough to show that he knew I was going to try and cut in there.

"You are celibate, correct? Or claim to be? That isn't for everyone, you understand. If you continue these types of dreams, consider giving it up. If you control too much…you'll lose completely," he said coolly, finishing his glass and standing. "Now, go to bed. Primo will get worried if he found you were still up all this time. Oh…" Stopping at the staircase, his slender hand rested on the wall as he glanced over his shoulder at me. "And be sure to keep it down next time."

Blushing again, I watched him leave until the footsteps melted into the sound of the rain. Realizing I had been holding my breath for the majority of the time, I let it out finally and rubbed my face. Augh, he had to show up at the wrong time…like always. He seemed to know exactly when to step out of the cave that was his bedroom, it made you wonder if he was somehow watching us all… Sighing, I leaned my head back in the armchair and closed my eyes. Thinking about it…I was pretty lucky, actually. Despite the timing being so wrong, I didn't mind too much. He rarely spoke with anyone ever, and always seemed to resent me. I would like to think the reason he came to speak with me tonight was because the work I was putting into him was helping him break out of his shell. But, knowing him, it was probably just to confirm his hypothesis of those strange noises in the night were, no doubt.

I wondered, though…what was I supposed to do? I would rather not give up my celibacy. I felt being a priest was my true calling. But what if it really wasn't? Was it a delusion? Something I made up myself? Something I just wished to be after what had happened? I didn't know. I didn't know a lot of things, I realized. I didn't know what these feelings were that the blue-eyed blond gave me. I didn't know if it was normal, if it was weird… One thing I did know, though, that it bothered me despite it also making me feel good. No…it didn't bother me. It disgusted me. I was disgusting for these thoughts, for these feelings. It was wrong, that I knew. I knew I had to stop.

It wasn't like he would return them, anyways…

The next morning, everyone sat around the table as usual. Or, most of us did. Just like usual, he had take his share and started for the stairs, intent on going back to his reading as he ate, no doubt.

"Oi, Alaude, we haven't even said grace yet!" I called out, hands on my hips as set down the last bowl. "Lampo, you, too!" Snapping, I glared at the youngest out of us all, who groaned, dropping the porridge laden spoon.

"Ehhh? The food always gets cold by the time you're done! Let's just skip it this time!" he whined, slouched back in his chair.

"If you whine about it, I'll make it extremely long!" I warned, though as I lifted my head back towards the stairs, Alaude was already off. Well, guess it couldn't be helped…

Once grace was said, food was eaten, and the meal was cleaned up, we all bundled up to go clean up the mess caused by the storm outside. Luckily nothing was too broken, just pieces of wood were scattered around. Lampo complained about it like he always did, causing G to yell at him, causing Asari to try and calm the two before they were ripped apart. Giotto, off to the side with me, chuckled fondly at our friend's antics. Though his smile soon faded as he noticed mine was forced.

"Something the matter, Knuckle?" he asked softly, taking this chance while the others were occupied.

Glancing to him, I hesitated, not quite sure how my response would be. I wanted to ask a question, but I didn't know what I wanted to ask about. But before the silence could get too uncomfortable, I decided. "I was just wondering…what I want to be when I grow up," I replied, looking up at the sky somewhat wistfully, an almost playful smile on my lips.

But instead of chuckling like I expected him to, his demeanor seemed a lot more serious now. "You've changed your mind about being a priest?"

"No, of course not!" I bristled up on reflex, making him almost jump. "No, I mean…I'm not sure if that's really what I'm supposed to be, anymore," I finally explain, scratching the back of my head in embarrassment.

"I see…" he hummed, tapping a finger on his lips. "And you've already—"

"Prayed, yes. All night long!" Which was why I hadn't dreamt again last night.

"…Well, you're still young, so you have plenty of time to think it over," Primo finally smiled, clapping me on the shoulder (mind you, hearing this coming from someone younger than you felt a little odd). "For now, just relax and don't worry too much. I'll give you home and a job, so you can spend your time doing whatever it is you want, until you decide how you'd like to be for the rest of your life." And with that, he walked off, leaving me still highly confused with what I was supposed to do…

It was another week or so, until I had another dream. I had almost stopped sleeping completely, passing out only when absolutely necessary. I dreaded dreaming about him again and end up saying his name or anything too incriminating. I was already worried enough that the others knew about them-knew who the dreams were about. But they were playing it calm, they never let off that they knew, save for Alaude. But he always gave that sort of air around him…

Lying in bed, I shivered, covered in a film of sweat from having just woken up from a particularly vivid dream. I didn't understand. Why would they keep coming? Why were they like this? I wasn't curious about him at all! 'That is a lie.' I wasn't curious about how it would feel! 'That is a lie.' I wasn't curious to know what it was like! 'That is a lie.' I wasn't curious about Alaude at all!


Tears of frustration running down my face, I sat up, pressing my palms against my eyes, holding back a yell. "I hate him!" I declared. "I hate him!" I hated his eyes, how they were so deep and sparkled with a knowledge you'd never receive. I hated his hair, how soft it looked and how it fell perfectly around his face, allowing him to hide as he so liked to do. I hated his smirk, his lips in general. I hated his nose, his ears, his jaw, his neck, his shoulders, his arms, his hands, his chest, his waist, his hips, his legs, his feet. I hated how he dressed, I hated how he walked, I hated how he spoke how it sent chills down my spine. I hated the mysterious air around him, I hated how he knew everything. I hated how strong he was, how able he was. I hated how interesting he was, how little I knew about him.

But most of all…

I hated how much I loved him.

I…I couldn't take it anymore at this point. Jumping up, I ran out of my room, not bothering to get dressed. Racing down the hall, I skidded to a stop by the blond's room and pounded at it frantically, not caring if the others woke up. "Alaude! Alaude, I need to talk to you!" I shouted, as my heartbeat rang in my ears, making me almost dizzy. I couldn't stop shaking, crying. What was I doing? This was crazy. This was stupid. But it was too late.

The door swinging open, a rather murderous aura seeped out of the room and engulfed me, but I was too stuck in my little bubble to back down. "What?" he growled, a few other doors creaking open as the others wanted to see what the commotion was about.

"Alaude… I LOVE YOU!" I shouted, eyes closed tightly, hands clenched to fists by my side. "I love you to the ultimate extreme!"

There was a heavy pause, the only sound I could hear was my own frantic heart and heavy breathing. Then, there was…

"No, you don't."

It felt like time stopped there or maybe it was just my heart. Opening my eyes, I looked up at him slowly, the colour draining from my face as he simply leaned against the doorframe, arms crossed, clearly unamused.

"I heard your dreams, I know who is in them. What you feel isn't love, it's lust. Know the difference," he said, taking a step back and closing the door in my face.

Staring at the wooden door, I could feel the tears streak my cheeks, dripping down my chin in quick succession. I couldn't breathe. Was my heart beating still? All I could hear was ringing in my ears. Placing my hands on the door, I leaned against it, willing it to open, or maybe if I could go through it. Did he really think that? That it was nothing more than lust? What about all the time we spent together? The efforts I made to get to know him better. Did that come off as simply lust? What about the times he had too much to drink and I had to help him home? Sure…it wasn't until just now did I realize it…that I loved him. But all those things we had done together, all that time… Wasn't that enough for a real love to blossom? Or at least so much as be planted?

"Alaude…" Closing my eyes, I leaned my head against his door, hands clenching into fists again. I wouldn't deny that there wasn't some lust. I did want to know what it felt like to be held by him, to kiss him, to…possibly even sleep with him. But it wasn't just that. There was more…

After what felt like forever, I was finally calmed down and I straightened back up. "Fine then," I called out, in case he had gone back to sleep. "If this isn't love, than I don't want to know what it really feels like! Because I don't think a real person's heart could possibly hold that much emotion without breaking! It already hurts enough as it is, I don't want to feel even more pain than I already do! So I'll remain celibate and I'll never love or lust like this about anyone else ever again!" Speaking hotly, I turned, and began heading back to my room. Though behind me, I heard the soft click of the latch being undone.

"Oi, Knuckle."

Stopping, I held my breath. Had he understood what I meant?

"…You're an idiot. Go to bed." And with that, he closed the door, leaving me even more confused than I began…

It took me a long time to figure it out, and in the end, I wasn't sure if I really did. He never acted any different around me, and I found it easier to be myself around him, too. If anything, the air around us was more comfortable, though that could have come with the time we spent together. I still never found out what he tasted like, or how it felt to hold him. But I think I was okay with it. Sometimes, I was saddened at the thought, but I managed through with some uplifting scriptures. I had come to terms with my disgust over the whole situation long ago. It still felt wrong when I thought about other people loving those of the same sex like that…but remembering the genuine feelings I held, I did my best to accept their choice. As long as theirs were as pure as mine, of course.

Some people would tell me that my love was simply a close friendship. I let them believe what they'd like. Others say you can't really know if you love someone until you've at least shared one kiss. I'm rather incredulous about this… But tonight, as we're going drinking, maybe I'll give it a try once he's had a few drinks. This sounds wrong, sure. But if I tried any other way, I may not live to see tomorrow! Ahaha~

-Knuckle, First Sun Guardian