This was just a short little something to help me pass the time and try to get my mind in proper order for more rigorous writing ^^ I hope to be back soon with the P.O.Y. conclusion! Hope you enjoy in the meantime! ^o^

"Hey, dad?" Glancing over to the small figure that clung to the side of the couch, Kurz smiled and continued assembling the mount for his newly acquired rifle sight. He'd just received it in the mail, and though it didn't have quite everything he'd asked for, the US Military was hardly ever one to disappoint when it came to any sort of upgrades that would help their own on the field. Still, he did miss the way all of the Mithril techs used to complain about all the demands he made of them.

"What's up Zacky? Shouldn't you be doin' your homework or somethin'?" Laughing at the look that came across his son's face, he just let it go and returned to securing his new sight to the rifle mount. "Just make sure you get it done before school tomorrow okay? I know you don't like it, but neither did I when I was your age. Just grin and bear it though, okay buddy?"

"Yeah, yeah, I know. But hey Dad, can I ask you something?" Still focused on making sure the sight was now fully secured to the mount, Kurz smiled and reached over to ruffle his son's dark hair. 'Just like his Mom's hair...' he mused to himself before returning to his task of making sure his sight was calibrated correctly.

"Sure, what's on your mind?"

"Is...has it ever been hard? You know, doing what you do?" The question caught him off guard, making him flinch and dropping the custom sight he had been so focused on calibrating. Turning his head, Kurz looked down at the questioning look in his son's eyes, not sure exactly what it was he could or should say in response. Turning back to pick up his fallen sight, Kurz tried not to let it so obviously show that Zack's question had shaken him.

"Can I ask what brought this on pal?"

"I heard some of the other kids talking around the base, about what their parents do and stuff. When I told them what you do, the more we all talked about it, I just started to wonder if it's ever been hard for you."

"Well Zack, I won't lie and say that over time I haven't had any doubts about what I do. It's hard on all soldiers, no matter what position they have, but you're right in assuming that for those like me, it always hits a little closer to home whenever we're out there." Setting the sight on the table next to his rifle, he leaned back and ran a hand through his hair as he settled into the fluffy couch cushions. Patting his leg, he smiled as Zack climbed up and sat himself in his lap, his arms wrapping around his son's small figure as his gaze drifted to a random spot on the ceiling. His brain already hurting at the notion of how to approach the subject carefully, Kurz decided to just throw caution to the wind and tell his son the truth, and let the chips fall where they may.

"All military's will tell their soldiers to be strong, for both themselves as well as the ones they want to protect, but that's not always as easy as it may sound. You can be the most physically capable, or the most talented at doing something, but it's a whole other ballgame when it means the life and death of the people you care about."

"You mean like Mom and Uncle?"

"Yeah. During a fight, a single soldier might shoot blindly, never really knowing if he hits the target or not. But for a sniper, for people like me, a shot from us is a guaranteed death. It takes a toll on you after a while, knowing that every time you look through that sight, you will most certainly end the life of another person. A person that may also have had a family and friends, people who loved them and will be sad when they don't come home." Zack looked up at his father, the man he idolized above all others, and worried at the faraway look on his face as he spoke. He kept quiet though, since interrupting would mean missing out on learning more about him.

"I may be one of the best at what I do Zack, but that doesn't mean it's always made me happy or proud. I've had times where I was forced to ignore my feelings and pull the trigger, even when it felt wrong, because that single shot meant that I did what I had to in order to keep the ones I love safe. I do take pride in my skills, but those same skills have also left me wondering if I wouldn't have been better without them at times. Being strong enough to pull that trigger, it's not as easy as it looks, and it's even harder sometimes when you're the one that gets to walk away." Glancing down, his heart melted at the look on Zack's small face. The poor kid almost looked close to tears. Tightening his arms around him for a quick hug and reassuring the boy, Kurz smiled warmly at him. "But you know what Zacky?"

"Yeah Dad?"

"I'd go through all that and more, a million times over, as long as it meant that I could still have you and your Mom to come home to at night." His spirits lifting from seeing the smile come back to his son's face, in that moment, everything he'd ever seen and done, seemed almost trivial. Yes his life hadn't been the easiest, or the happiest, but he could have been a lot worse off. Considering that he could have ended up as cold as his master had been, and probably have never met Melissa, grow to genuinely love her, and have her return that love a thousand fold by giving him a son. That he had been blessed enough to have Mel and Zack come into his life, Kurz had to wonder if any day now he would wake up to find himself still on that old submarine, alone in his bunk and another empty six pack on the floor. Still, if that day ever came, and if all of this ended up being nothing but a dream, he knew exactly what he'd do. He'd pick up one of those empty bottles, raise it above his head, and and say cheers to the best damn dream he'd ever had.

"Hey dad?"


"Love you."

"You too Zacky boy. Always will too."