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It Means "Peace"

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-1995, in the United States-

Hands in his sweatpants pockets, his cloudy gaze fell onto that distant afternoon horizon. Seagulls squawked as the waves crashed against the docks of an air force base within Langley, Virginia. Being military meant McDonell Benedict Miller was granted clearance to most government areas with little to no problem.

It didn't hurt that he had once (rather loosely) ‘allied’ himself with Zero’s Patriots, although his permanently returning to the States required a new name for this new life.

The frustrations that Big Boss eventually returned to the States due to his war hero status (eventually switching identities back with his Phantom being a closely guarded secret) was simply a ‘しようがない—There's no helping it’ situation.

Kazuhira was fine, not necessarily content, to play his part. Yet the fatigue he felt from missing his Boss—Venom Snake—let alone concerns over Ocelot’s ‘promise’ eleven years prior, let alone attempting to ensure training David went smoothly…

Kaz sighed, removing his aviators—worn from use over his many years on this Earth—to rub a tired eye.

Oddly enough, Miller’s finalized divorce papers were a quiet comfort. He couldn't blame Nadine due to his hectic work schedule as a drill instructor, and Catherine needed to live with her mother at a tender age such as 12.

What was Venom up to in South Africa, these days? And was Ocelot continuing to provide V with whatever assistance he needed? Was…Quiet…still alive, protecting him from the shadows?

And what if his training David came to a head, and both men that Miller greatly respected were forced to…

Kaz shook his head once his sunglasses returned to their proper resting place, smiling bitterly that his life up until this point had been anything but peaceful.

So much for his namesake, it would seem.

He wanted more than anything else, these days, to see David grow into a strong man. A fine man. How he used to be. Disappointment still lingered within Kaz, that despite never having met her—only hearing the vaguest of information from Snake himself—that woman would’ve certainly been extremely disappointed by Big Boss’s path in life.

Perhaps she would’ve been relieved by Venom Snake’s gradual agreement for nuclear disarmament, for giving orphaned children under their care proper, potential, lives. Despite the negative influences Big Boss had on V, Kaz sleeping at night was possible due to ensuring Venom Snake retained his gentle nature, if nothing else. Kazuhira had seen to that, himself.

That’s why Venom—their most trusted medic and friend once upon a time—ultimately siding with Big Boss’s schemes against Cipher, had stung so harshly.

Kaz’s eyes fell shut, heart heavy. The horizon almost appeared milky, now, as sea gulls circled around for a quick bite within the waters below.

Miller’s own guilt was relentless. Truthfully, was he any better than Big Boss? Essentially having used the phantom for his own revenge against XOF, Miller would prefer to not repeat the same mistake with David.

Peace personally coming to him was an impossible dream, he knew, and perhaps Kazuhira wasn’t doing anything as noble as ensuring peace for the future, yet…

He wanted David, and that generation, to have the power of choice. That’s why he forced David to push himself, constantly. Beads of sweat accumulating against the young man’s brow while running five extra laps, or was barked at to perform yet another set of deadlifts…

Failure against whatever Cipher or Big Boss’s twisted ideals brought, was simply not an option. This situation out of Miller’s hands, David had to be the hope spot in this otherwise bleak situation.

Ensuring a sense of normalcy in life honestly shouldn’t be as hectic as it was.

“Penny for your thoughts?”

Turning to the source of the voice behind him, Miller let out a ‘hmph’ at those barely existent footfalls. Of course, that man wasn’t a sneaking master for nothing.

Hands in his trench coat pockets, Big Boss offered a light smile. “Shame the recruits wore us ragged this morning. Beautiful day for fishing.”

He couldn’t help but let out a quip: “Don't think I didn't see the smirk on your face during David’s 50th lap.”

Snake chuckled, his smile becoming that same smirk from earlier. “…Maybe.”

Silence.

Comfortable, awkward, who could say?

They gazed towards the sea, ocean waves and cries of gulls bringing back hazy reminiscence of a sunset and guitar music. Of the warmth of one another’s hand, and their somewhat calloused lips touching…

Kazuhira ever so slowly exhaled, lifting his head to ensure their eyes met. “It doesn’t have to be this way.”

Another chuckle, a bizarre display of warmth within Snake’s lone eye. “Whatever happens to me, happens. I trust Ahab to put an end to those bastards.”

Miller’s prosthetic hand clenched, forming into a tight fist. “Now when you’re an old man, you follow her path? Why so fatalist?”

Shrug. Odd that he continued to stare beyond the docks without a lit cigar in his mouth. With bitter realization…Snake missed their sunset dates, most of all.

“It’s nothing like that. Moreso whatever happens, happens.”

Kazuhira, for his part, sighed tiredly. Perhaps attempts at talking were pointless.

More than anything, he just wanted rest.

A hand squeezing his shoulder resulted in Kaz raising an eyebrow. “…What?”

“Don’t worry so much about us or the past. You just do you. Fair enough?”

“…Hmph. I wasn’t planning on worrying about us, Snake.”

Absentmindedly rubbing at his eyepatch, John cleared his throat. “Look, Kaz. I still lo—care. Despite our difference of opinion, these days.”

“This goes beyond a difference of opinion and you damn well—”

“I get it. You can’t just stand by and do nothing.”

The grenade, back then, automatically bolstered respect in Big Boss’s eye.

Those calm words and that familiar warmth—these days, wasn’t it a weight?—on his shoulder, Miller wasn’t certain what to feel about any of it.

Not anymore.

Cigar smoke wafting through the slight breeze, it was an abrupt, harsh, tug to his ponytail that brought Kaz out of his own wandering mind.

Scent overwhelming his senses, his dull blue eyes fell to his prosthetic hand.

Kaz remembered the sunsets, too.

Following Big Boss a few steps behind, they returned to FOXHOUND together.