Disclaimer: I own a copy of the game, not the franchise and/or copyright.

Kratos sat down with a sigh. Another long night lay ahead of him. Sometimes the thing he missed most about being completely human was being able to sleep. He glanced over at Lloyd, who was stretched out under a nearby outcropping of rock. He must have been exhausted to fall asleep so fast, but that made sense. It had been a long day. If Kratos remembered correctly, it had been Raine's suggestion for he and Lloyd to go on a trip together. Something about them needing to re-form their father-son bond. He wasn't sure why he had agreed to it. In fact, he wondered how he could have ever thought this would work. As much as he hated to admit it, he simply didn't know his son anymore. The Lloyd he had known was gone, lost outside the cause of his most recent heartache--a human ranch. After all, he couldn't very well treat an 18 year old like a 3 year old. It wasn't the same. Even the smallest details were different. He would have wrestled with and hugged and kissed and just plain loved on 3 year old Lloyd, but even the closest and most intimate friends of 18 year old Lloyd asked permission to get within touching distance. Kratos was sure that was a result of being raised by a dwarf, although he would never dare to even come close to suggesting that Dirk had been a bad father in any way. He had done an excellent job, probably in some ways a better job than Kratos himself could have done. It wouldn't have surprised Kratos if Lloyd refused to spend time with him at all. Yet just the previous afternoon they had shared what Colette might call a "sacred" moment. Kratos had finally worked up the courage to ask what had been burdening his mind. "Lloyd, do you remember anything about us?"

"You mean when you and me and Mom were still together?"

"...Yes."

"Well, I remember some little stuff...stupid stuff." Lloyd's face had turned a slight shade of pink in embarassment.

"Like what?"

"You know, just dumb stuff. Like how I always used to want to ride on your shoulders and how we always looked at the stars together. And how you always used to dance with Mom when you thought I was asleep."

Kratos couldn't help but laugh. "You remember all that? It's not dumb..."

"Yeah, yeah, you would ask her why she was there, and she'd tell you that she had come for the Great Ball, but that there was no band playing for it. She'd ask you what music you could dance to. And you'd take her in your arms and tell her that the stars were playing for you, and that she just had to listen. And then you'd lean over and hum in her ear while you waltzed her around. I've got a good memory, huh, Dad?"

That was the first time Lloyd had called him "Dad" since they had reunited the worlds. Kratos laid back and stared at the stars. He had once told Colette that she should count the stars when she couldn't sleep, even though it was impossible to count them all in a human lifetime. Kratos had lived over one hundred human lifetimes and still hadn't counted them all, because the stars are ever-changing--there are always some dying and some being born. And as he laid on the soft grass and began his nightly ritual of counting the stars, he spotted a special rarity--a shooting star. It brought a smile to his lips and a wish to his heart:" I wish I could have one more dance with my Anna..." But in an instant the shooting star was gone, and it left him feeling suddenly empty inside. He sighed and rolled over, only to jump to his feet-for standing not ten feet away from him was his wife. She was as beautiful as he remembered her. When she walked up to him he automatically put his arms around her waist. "What is a noble lady like you doing all the way out here?"

"Well, I came for the Grand Ball, but there's no band to play. How will we dance?"

"The stars are playing for us. Listen..."

Lloyd blinked groggily. Some impulse had coaxed him awake, though he wasn't sure what. But suddenly he knew, because he looked over to where his dad had been sitting when he had fallen asleep and he saw his parents dancing, his dad humming in his mom's ear. And then they stopped, and leaned in for a kiss, and she was gone--Kratos lurched forward, almost painfully--then slumped on the ground, knees to his chest, and gave a choked, baseline whimper--the closest an angel could get to crying. Then he sprawled out on his back, a pained expression on his face. Lloyd felt a sudden urge, a craving he hadn't felt in 15 years--he wanted to be held. He stumbled sleepily to his feet and staggered over to his father's prone form, then laid his head on Kratos' chest and went back to sleep. And as Kratos ran his fingers through his only son's hair, he counted the stars and hummed quietly to himself.

END