Through the endless sea of grass over the rolling hills, a young pilot in training made his way towards where he saw a lull in the grass and a familiar tuft of hair. Once only a few feet away, he paused in hesitation. He could finally see the other person completely and wondered if he should disturb them.
Back straight, head tilted down to his chest and his fingers laced in his lap, Kakashi was deep in meditation. The soft blowing winds tickling his pale robes and hair had been tuned out. The rest of the world was gone except him and the Force, a connection that Iruka couldn't fully understand but he respected it. As he watched Kakashi's still and handsome features, wondering if he should interrupt, a hand slid from Kakashi's lap and patted the grass.
Taking the sign, Iruka tried to quietly sit himself in the grass and for a while they sat there with the winds whispering by. As Iruka relaxed and lost himself in the beautiful and familiar sight of the rivers beyond winding around hills of his home planet, he didn't notice the quirk of Kakashi's lips.
“Sir, the ship can’t take more damage.” He waited for a response as heat started to climb up behind him. Looking back, the fire that had broken out at the hull was starting to breach into the rest of the ship and Iruka was more than nervous at this point. Anxiously waiting at the telecoms, the captain’s voice finally responded.
“She can hold on for a bit longer. Just keep her-”
There was a thundering jolt that sent Iruka onto his ass. He scrambled back to his feet but when he grabbed the telecom ear again, there was a silence that had him throwing the ear back at the telecom without looking back as he shot for the escape pods.
Pounding down the hallway of the flaming ship, he rounded the wall that partitioned the mass of pipes from the escape pods just as a pod shot away from the ship and Iruka swore under his breath when he saw the last one wasn’t even primed. The ship suddenly began to list to one side and a gust of air engulfed him and his worst fear was confirmed. Sprinting to the control panel of the last pod, he began frantically holding and pressing buttons, hoping that the ship would last a few more minutes for him to get out. That really wasn’t up to him though, it was up to the giant hole that had probably been blown into control room or somewhere along the line of communication.
“Please, please, please,” he muttered as the lights inside the pod flickered for a moment and powered on. “Yes!”
The doors were sliding open but the light inside suddenly flicked out to the sad drop of his heart. Iruka quickly slid through the gap in the frozen doors and into the pod to rip off the control panel inside with a tool from his belt. Ripping out wires and swearing more, the ship was at such a steep angle that Iruka’s foot was on the back of the pilot's seat as he strained to get the tiny pod running but the strain faded as the weightlessness of space started to kick in.
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw debris flying into the space beyond the ship. They were headed towards the planet below and if Iruka had the mind to worry about where he’d go after the pod was free, he would. The ship suddenly started shaking more than Iruka’s fingers were just as the pod powered up.
With a shout of fearful glee, the doors slid shut behind him and he was strapping himself into the seat when the pod lurched away from the ship. Panting and wiping the sweat from his brow, he turned his eyes to the window to try and spy the white specs of other pods. He would have spotted them too if the ship wouldn’t have exploded just a few feet away.
He jolted awake at the hand nudging his shoulder and immediately filled with shame when he realised who had woken him.
"Kakashi," As he wiped the drool from his cheek, he annoyingly felt his cheeks burn as Kakashi simply gave a small smile. "You're back."
"I see you've been studying for once." The Jedi noted as he flipped through one of the many textbooks strewn over the table. While he was distracted, Iruka covertly wiped the table where his head had been just in case.
"Yeah, I kind of really want to pass this one." Not that Iruka had studied for any previous exams. He'd passed those with flying colours but this one… This one was the last and final exam before he'd officially be done his piloting apprenticeship. He was kind of nervous.
Kakashi hummed in agreement, leaning against the table’s edge. “Almost died today.”
“What?” Iruka completely forgot about everything else and he immediately wanted to grab at Kakashi’s robes, demanding, “You almost died?! Kakashi!”
There was a simple shrug and the Jedi knight slowly mused, “Our pilot almost wasn’t fast enough to get us out of enemy skies.”
Pointedly looking at Iruka, he smirked, “Didn’t have my usual pilot to get us out.”
“Kakashi,” Iruka ground out, knowing that he was trying to distract Iruka and compliment him in that weird backwards way that confused Iruka to no end.
“You’ll do fine.” With a warm squeeze of Iruka’s shoulder, Kakashi swept back through the library, leaving Iruka emotionally conflicted and no less stressed.
“Who was the pilot?” He called out after Kakashi but the Knight just gave an off the shoulder wave. After watching Kakashi leave, he turned back to his work with a lighter heart at the thought of Kakashi being back and a sigh.
It wasn’t the sound of hissing that woke him back up but the smell of fresh, natural air. He hadn’t been on a solid planet in months and while the smell brought back memories of the planet he was born on. It also shocked him back to reality because he hadn't seen his home planet in years. His eyes drooped open and he could feel how his blood was drawn to his fingers. Beyond the haze, there was the window in front of him and he thought for a moment he was still in space. A red spot dripped onto the window and he uncomfortably brought a hand to his face to find that it was blood coming from his nose.
With a sharp intake of breath at the realisation of the world around him, Iruka quickly moved to unbuckle himself, struggled for a moment before almost falling out of the chair and hitting the industrial glass that was keeping the ocean below outside and the air inside. At the edges of the window, there was still the hope of daylight peeking through but there was water already trickling inside. He carefully swung a leg over to the handle next to the window and slid his other arm out of the safety of the chair. Using the adrenaline pulsing through him, he somehow managed to climb onto the back of the seat. It was a tight fit at this odd angle with gravity pulling him down but he managed to curl himself between the door and the seat. He took a moment to find the emergency latch before carefully reaching for it and tugging. The hiss turned into a gust of air but with the air came water.
“Okay,” Iruka mumbled to himself as he braced himself against the chair and heaved with his back pressed against the door. Sliding off easily, water started pouring in but Iruka was already climbing out through it and swimming. As the pod sank into the deep blue, Iruka sputtered but found shore and started for it.
His quiet desperation drove him to the beach. With each reach of his arm, the waves helped to push him along. Waterlogged and weighed down by his boots, he dragged himself onto the beach and flopped down into the sand. It was pure bliss and the fear he had faded away into a calm that was made by his exhaustion. Everything went quiet and peace finally settled over him.
The sand was so warm under his cheek and the sun above was like a blanket, pure bliss falling over his tired body.
His breathing settled after many long minutes and he slowly rolled over onto his back to see the bright spots of yellow and orange in the sky. They were moving towards the sea, falling from space; parts of the heavy freighter that were a constellation masses of metal and glass in the sky above.
Not too far away, there was another ship awaiting in the space above that was untouched.
With a shiver, Iruka sat himself up and scanned the beach around him. There were lush trees and a thick underbrush that seemed to coat the edge. It looked extremely dense and probably just as dangerous but the threat looming in the sky above was far more frightening. Painfully, he got up even as his muscles screamed and he moved to scavenge the part of ship that were already on the beach and washing up.
There had been rumours going around the ship before the crash.
Special cargo. That usually meant one of two things and Iruka didn’t think that drugs were the reason a ship of the Empire would suddenly blast one of their own without any warning. The other reason was the main rumour that Iruka had been ignoring. It had been too hopeful to even think of even now.
Looking back, he was regretful he hadn’t listened to the whispers. The only thing he heard was that they were freighting someone special to Coruscant.
What drove him to search the wreckage wasn’t to find this person’s body though. There had to be something he could use. There must have been some way to get off this planet and back home. He could almost taste freedom on his tongue and also a bit of blood but the memory of being back home was enough to ignore it because this was his chance.
He was free. Almost free. After eight years of serving the Empire, he had a chance to get back home. That was all the motivation he needed to scour the wreckage and attempt to find something useful. He didn’t know how long he’d be there for but he had to save any technology he could from what was left.
He spent a whole two minutes shuffling through water until he heard a soft hissing. It was coming from far above, the very specific noise of a starship coming into atmosphere. Far above, the assault ship he’d spotted earlier was still hanging up in the ship near the wreck but there were three prominent shapes moving into the planet’s range, towards the beach. Starships.
Panic sparked and the beach was far behind Iruka when he sprinted into the jungle. He didn’t have time to worry about flora or fauna. He was more afraid of the slow death of being found and brought in again. The sound kept getting louder and louder until it passed overhead, shaking the branches and leaves. Iruka skipped to a stop as he heard the ship slow down up ahead. The sounds of people and ships told him that this wasn’t an uninhabited planet, that he should hide.
Ducking behind a tree, Iruka stuck himself under the huge roots and hid. Being found wasn’t an option.
There were loud clangs further inland. It sounded like ships landing. There was probably a station of some sort up ahead. That was good. That meant options. He could probably stow away on a ship or swindle his way into work if it was a big station.
With a plan in his head, Iruka was gathering his courage when movement between the trees to his left caught his eye. Peaking out to get a better look, a ways away he saw someone in a cloak moving through the trees quietly towards the station.
They didn’t seem to be part of the Empire, not with the hiding at least. A spy maybe?
Something was going to happen. Iruka could feel a chance in his bones.
Taking that sliver of hope, he quietly made his way through the trees. It was a slow process, hiding and following. Soon enough, he started to see grey through the trees and what looked like a base of some sort. That was about the same time he lost sight of his lead.
The trees gave him enough cover to get close, staying as hidden as possible. By what he could see, this was the edge of a shipyard by the looks of it which was more than what he’d been hoping for. From what he could make out from the sounds and the tones of grey, the roof of the entire station was one giant landing pad with large ships scattered over the top that were in repair, fueling up or unloading. Between the ships, there were round pockets in the landing pad that were made to be hangars for the smaller ships. At the edges, there were a few communication towers that were watching the perimeter that were a little intimidating but a bright orange and red flag in the distance gave him hope.
The wavy background like a sunset and white star in the middle, the flag of Corellia was a sight for sore eyes.
It also meant that he was in the thick of everything and this could go very poorly. As one of the Core Worlds, Corellia was very, very close to capital planet Coruscant and therefore definitely part of the Empire. He had to be very, very careful.
But he was also very curious about the person he’d been following. They weren’t in sight anymore and if they did see him, they sure as hell didn’t think he was a threat. He hoped they hadn't even seen him, just in case.
The beginnings of a plan were forming in his mind from what he knew of this planet and how to blend in just as he crept closer to the landing pads, the same moment when there was loud noise and a tremble in the earth. Having just been in an exploding ship, Iruka knew what that noise was and took his chance. The guards watching the perimeter were distracted, looking at the source of the sound off somewhere amongst the landing pads. He was still wearing his engineer uniform. He just had to act cool and casual.
Striding from the jungle, cold sweat beaded down his back as the guards started running off to somewhere in the station. The ones left behind paid him no mind and he slipped down one of the staircases into the station.
By sheer luck, no one was calling after him. But he was in a dark corridor he didn’t know with no way out and no idea where he was going, rid lights and an alarm going off to signal a state of emergency.
The lights flickered on as he stepped inside and he could see that the hall twisted and turned further in. With his wits in hand, Iruka strode through with a confidence he didn’t have. The smell of smoke started to drift to his nose as he turned a corner and was almost knocked down by someone running by.
It was a man, panicked and barely paying Iruka any attention. Their uniform was of a person of low rank but Iruka didn’t have time to say anything before they bolted. They hadn’t even given Iruka a second glance. He ripped his eyes from the man running away in the direction he’d came and saw the billowing smoke and flickering further down.
Now, Iruka’s chances had been slim from the start. He wasn’t the smartest man on the planet and probably in the galaxy but he knew how to fix ships, fly them and act fast. This was time to act fast. So, he hurried down the hall towards where the fire was coming from. He could hear the sound of engines and flames and it was oddly nostalgic.
The turn at the end of the hall revealed a metal access walkway that disappeared around the sides of a giant landing pad. The sky that should have been visible in the hole above was obscured by smoke. The scene below though was much most. A ship in the middle of the pad was in flames, setting fire to anything nearby. The small hangar cubbies around it that housed ships were slowly catching flame too.
Hurrying along one side, Iruka headed for the nearest. There had to be a ship he could take. Anything, anything at all that could fly and hit lightspeed. There was no point of running if your ship couldn’t enter hyperspace, after all. He’d already learned that lesson the hard way.
A wall of fire erupted straight from the hangar he’d been heading to and shook the grated walkway, throwing Iruka against the rail and almost knocking him over the side. Instead, Iruka was left staring down through the hole at the long, long drop to the ground and the walkway below him. Without thinking, he scrambled back up and slid down one of the connecting ladders just as the metal frame he’d just been on started to give above him.
“Perfect,” Iruka didn’t stop the climb downwards even at the next level. The whole metal system of access paths was trembling and that was not a good sign at all. He was just a few feet from the ground when the ladder peeled away from the wall and sent Iruka flying back. He hit the ground and tumbled, dodging metal and concrete as everything fell.
Rolling to his feet, Iruka coughed against the dust and felt another blast shake the landing pad. He was only barely on his feet, surrounded by rubble and fire when he saw a familiar hooded figure in the dust; the figure from the forest. Explosions just as this person got there. Not just a coincidence. Iruka immediately crouched down and slid against a large boulder. But he hadn’t expected to see a new person coming out of the dust from the dust out of the corner of his eye.
Out of the smoke and dust, Iruka could see that this person’s face wasn’t hidden though. Iruka wondered if his mind was just putting two faces that looked alike together. That had to be it.
The sudden glow of red-light materialising from the hilt in this man's hand told Iruka that his mind wasn’t playing tricks on him. He just never expected to ever see Sasuke Uchiha again, especially in these circumstances.
He had to get out of here. If Sasuke saw him, there was no doubt in his mind that he’d be killed instantly. The ships had to be somewhere on the perimeter. If he could just get to a wall and follow it then he could…
But what if…
Peeking his head over the edge of his rock cover, Iruka tried desperately to be quiet as he strained to see any hints of the hooded person across from Sasuke. He was stuck watching and waiting to see even though he knew he should run. He wasn’t a Jedi or a Sith. This wasn’t his turf.
But he still wanted to know who this person was. He was too hopeful in the fact that it could be Naruto or someone else he knew. He’d spent so many nights aboard Empire ships hoping for this day to come when he’d have a chance to see any of the people he loved again. Even just seeing Sasuke’s face gave a deformed sense of excitement, even though he’d done so many terrible things. He craved so desperately just to see that little boy with hopeful eyes once more time, the boy he’d taught and raised. The memories floating to his mind kept him stuck in place but the faces of the dead reminded him to leave. And the grim reminder that Naruto too might be long gone had him ducking away from the eminent fight.
Mind a whirl, Iruka followed the edge of the wall, keeping his eyes open through the thick smoke for any movement at all. Getting to a hangar and finding any ship at all that was functional was his primary goal. He had to keep his mind on that, the present. Not the past.
Front hand slipping around a corner, Iruka didn’t have to look to know that the heat and light inside this hangar was a fire. He had to move quicker. If any of the flames spread, he and anyone else in there would be dead meat.
Crouching low, he scurried under the smoke and dust that was obscuring everything.
The next cubby though had a ship, a heavy and slow freighter that filled most of the hangar. It could run. Iruka could easily hot wire this rust bucket but… It wasn’t fast.
Caught between the need for something better and his urgency telling him to take this one, Iruka snuck past the hangar opening to the other side. He needed something fast to get out of here. Once on the other side though, he hesitated. What if there was nothing else though?
Out of the dust, a metal beam flew straight into the ship and it exploded in a blast of blue and orange, throwing Iruka back.
Decision made for him, Iruka rolled to his knees before taking up a sprint for the next hangar. Whatever ship he found, he would take at this point because he didn’t want to know if that beam had been aimed at his head or not.
Sliding to a stop, he looked in and found that there was indeed a ship in this one. Iruka’s face was painted with a giant grin for the first time in months at the sight of the plain and average transport starship. It was perfect.
Sprinting to the back of the hangar where the open causeway led up into the ship, Iruka kept muttering to himself, “Beautiful, beautiful, absolutely gorgeous ship.”
Through the storage hold filled with metal crates, Iruka could hear the echoes of a battle happening outside. There were sounds of a lightsaber swinging. Iruka could pinpoint that sound anywhere, humming and comparable to nothing else in the galaxy. He almost wished he could watch whatever was going on.
The lights in the hall leading up to the control cabin flickered on with his run through. As expected, the door to the control room didn’t slide open automatically. But Iruka knew how to deal with locked cabins. He’d locked himself out of so many before that he knew exactly where to kick on the access panel that the metal fell off easily. He just needed a few seconds to revert the locking current and then he’d be out of there.
As he found that bright green cable he’d been looking for, he didn’t have time to cry out in triumph before the sound of rocks hit the ship.
It was a second later and he had the door sliding open thanks to his panic.
Stepping inside, the whole room lit with a dim light. The whole board of keys, switches and levers spanning the length of the windshield lit up in blinking colours. The pilot and co-pilot seats were both a stark white against it all but the control wheels were both a sleek metal, triggers and all.
It would have made Iruka tear up from nostalgia if he didn’t see the insanity happening outside.
In the murky area beyond the confines of the hangar, the distinct glow of Sasuke’s burning ruby lightsaber flashes in and out of view. Two bodies were barely visible as they fought but every now and then they would get closer and clearer. Sasuke hadn’t immediately killed whoever his opponent was. They were strong and that was just the spark Iruka’s hope needed to dig up years of repressed memories of people he once knew, including a very skilled Jedi that wasn’t Naruto.
Skidding to a stop, the cloaked person flew out of the smoke barely a few feet away from Iruka’s starship with Sasuke coming closer. Iruka ducked behind the control panel as they paused their fight but could hear what Sasuke called out.
“Draw your weapon, Jedi.” Mocking.
Stunned at hearing those words and the tone, Iruka was caught between staying hidden or giving in to the possibility of revealing himself. It was more of a chance of disappointment.
He didn’t want to pick. Instead, he reached up to the control panel and started priming the shields. Avoiding problems was one of his specialties, piloting and engineering close runners up. That’s how you stayed alive in a galaxy where people dropped like flies, especially now that the Empire was in control.
That's what had kept him alive for so long. That's what he'd tried to advise all the crew members he'd had and all the passengers he'd ever ferried, including at least one of the people battling on the launch pad. If they had been Jedi than Iruka had definitely flown with them more than once.
As the shields started up, Iruka got busy from his worried thoughts with the rest of the start-up sequence. A beep and a light turning green confirmed the shields activated and Iruka slid smoothly into the pilot's seat. Gripping the cold steering, Iruka debated waiting for a second as he watched the battle outside rage on.
Sasuke's dark robes and the black cloak of his opponent were the only markers in the smoke. His voice could be heard through the mess, "I can feel the darkness growing in you. Too bad I don't feel like sparing you anymore."
He flicked on the switches to prime the engines and hyperdrive. This was his way out, his chance to get back home. This was one opportunity he wasn't going to miss. He was already going through the motions of getting the ship off the ground.
Then with a violent pull of the steering, the ship lifted off the ground of the hangar before he immediately pushed and sent it swinging forward before the cargo door even started closing automatically. The ship lurched through the smoke and dust towards the fight and Iruka caught a glimpse of light out of the corner of his eye on the floor ahead, silver. His mind was already too gone to notice.
Like he was on autopilot, Iruka pulled up and the ship swung just over the people below, barely grazing the walls of the landing pad but definitely clipping metal, probably the fallen walkways.
Iruka kept the ship swinging, circling up towards the exit. And then it was open skies. The adrenaline had Iruka gripping the steering hard even as it flew easily into the sky towards the stars.
Hand shaking, he reached for the control panel. He plotted a course for home with his insides quivering. It wasn't the direct way. He would have to jump into empty space for a bit to get to the next hyperspace route and fly the rest of the way. He had to avoid major planets of the Empire but the course was set.
And seconds later, he was sending the ship into hyperspace. The galaxy outside the window stretched for a moment, the stars becoming lines before he was slingshot forward, into the speeding lights that whizzed. The pull of hyperdrive suddenly released the ship into empty space with nothing but the twinkling of stars around. The longest part of his journey was now starting.
Autopilot set to stop once the ship was ready to jump again, Iruka could let go of the steering for a few hours. The ship hummed through space steadily and Iruka could let himself relax.
He did it. Turning his seat away from the light outside, he almost didn't know what to do with himself. He'd never been so free before. He didn't have to do anything.
Except kill the tracking system. He'd almost forgotten about that. And find food. He had had time to think of how hungry or tired he was.
"Wouldn't want an Empire tracking system in this puppy," Iruka pushed up with a groan, heading for hall where he knew the tracking plug in was. All ships to fly in the Empire had to have one. Unless you were a smuggler. Which Iruka might technically be now.
Running his fingers against the sleek metal walls, he ambled passed the captain's quarters and other doors before coming to a halt where the plug in would be located under the access panel at Iruka's feet.
His trusty screwdriver popped the panel open and he was down in the cables for just a few seconds. Grey box in hand, Iruka hoisted himself back out with a hoot.
He was about to kick the panel back into place but stopped. He'd heard something faint, like someone moving as quietly as possible. It had come from behind him, down the hall towards the cargo bay, towards the only way in and out.
Panic rose. What if it was Sasuke?
Against his will, he looked over his shoulder.
It was someone in black but it wasn't Sasuke. This stranger's cloak was very different from Sasuke's Sith robes; the same set of cloaks he saw outside and inside the hangars. Standing tall in the doorway at the end of the hall, the person didn't move until Iruka uneasily stood and faced them.
"Well, well," The voice hit Iruka's ears and he dropped everything. The chuckle was one he'd heard a million times yet never expected to hear again. Stepping up, the light of the hall hit the smiling face of one Kakashi Hatake.
"I didn't expect the galaxy's best pilot to be hiding on Corellia." Kakashi's words echoed but Iruka still couldn't move or reply. He was frozen stiff, almost too afraid that if he'd move everything would disappear. It was too good to be true.
His chest was about to burst, overwhelmed with feelings.
That smile never faded from the Jedi's face even as he moved forward, pushing his hood back. Even when he was standing right in front of him, Iruka couldn't even move.
"Hey," Kakashi softly through chuckles, his lips still curled up in the happiest smile Iruka had ever seen on him as he stepped up close.
Like a switch, Iruka broke out into a wobbly grin, impulsively reaching out and holding Kakashi's wrists. He had to make sure this wasn't a dream. This was real. Kakashi was alive, here. And Kakashi held his hand back with a smile that said he was just as relieved and shocked.
They both broke out into stilted laughs. It had been eight years since they'd last seen each other. Iruka could only remember bits and pieces of what had happened. They had gotten the news of the new rulership in transit from somewhere he couldn't remember. His ship had been attacked. There had been so many ships on their tail. One of the wings had been heavily damaged and he'd just been trying to keep her straight as they dived towards the planet. Naruto and Sakura had been somewhere in the back. He'd heard Kakashi call his name just as they crash landed, knocking him out.
But they were now both here and alive and well, him and the Jedi he'd been ferrying since they were both kids.
And he was holding this Jedi's hand. He suddenly was very aware of the physical contact but Kakashi was still smiling and he was at ease again.
“Kakashi!” Iruka called through the smoke and hurried down the flaming palace corridor. The ship was ready. He just needed his damn Jedi.
After waiting in the burning hangar for barely a minute, he sprinted out into the hall and started calling out. His stupidly brave Jedi was going to get himself killed one of these days but today was not going to be that day, he decided.
As he was just about to turn a corner, the wall in front of him caved in a blast of light. Ducking around the corner, he pulled out his own phaser. Someone had shot at him. He didn’t have time for this. Shit.
With a deep breath, he readied his weapon and spun around the corner with a blast right towards a head far down the hall. And it was reflected back down the hall, narrowly missing Iruka’s head. Both shocked and horrified, Iruka made out the shape of a flare of silver in the smoke.
“Kakashi,” Was all he had time to say before the Jedi swept him up and dragged him back to the hangar. Kakashi was deadly quiet and Iruka knew that something was wrong. He didn’t bother asking yet. They just needed to get out of there.
It took them a matter of intense seconds before they were back in the ship and in the air. He set the ship to autopilot in the few minutes it would take to get back to the station. Kakashi hadn’t joined him in the cockpit as usual. Setting out to find him, it didn’t take Iruka long.
In his room, Kakashi had dropped onto his cot, head limp and propped up against the wall behind him like a doll. He wasn’t moving, didn’t speak. Iruka slowly moved in, sitting down next to the man who looked defeated and lifeless.
“Kakashi?” He didn’t know what was going on, what had happened on the planet below. It wasn’t good though.
He didn’t expect the hand that gripped his sleeve and the forehead that pressed against his shoulder. They didn’t speak. They didn’t move. But Iruka could feel aching sadness and pain from the Jedi he knew to be so collected and unfazed.
After many long minutes, he heard a faint, “He went over.”
A few minutes later, they were sitting on the comfortable couches of the kitchen, relaxing and catching up as the ship flew through space.
"What happened after the ship crashed?"
Kakashi had to remember for a moment, but he sighed, "It was like they had calculated down to the very second where we would be."
His brows pressed together with the memories and his voice was barely a murmur, "We didn't know what to do or what was happening but we knew it wasn't good. We didn't have time for anything. I just remember fighting. We somehow got out and ran.”
Avoiding Iruka’s eyes, Kakashi took a moment before muttering, “And then we realised you weren’t with us.”
While they’d been on the run, Iruka remembered waking up to a spinning world and stumbling into a small town where’d he’d been immediately arrested and sentenced to serve a lifetime for aiding escaping traitors to the galaxy. He’d then learned that the Galactic Republic had been traded in for an Empire of Sith.
“We thought you were dead.”
The whisper pulled Iruka out of his memories and he could see things that he had never seen before in the man across from him. He looked tired, worn and worried from everything that was happening around them. The wars had taken their toll and there was a sadness poking through that Iruka had never seen before on the man in all the years of travelling and with good reason. Order 66, the order to the troopers to kill all Jedi had changed everything. Iruka just hadn’t expected to ever see such heavy regret on Kakashi Hatake’s face. He hadn't expected to ever see Kakashi's face ever again for that matter.
If Kakashi would have been anyone else, Iruka would have leaned across the table and held his hand to comfort but he held himself back, smiling, "And yet, here we are."
The emotions that had peeked through immediately withdrew back behind a calm stare and warm smile. “I knew you were hard to kill, Iruka, but I didn’t know you were invincible.”
Remembering all too well how he’d proudly said that many years ago while standing in front of a ship he’d crashed landed before it exploded in flames in front of the convoy he’d been escorting, he groaned, “Oh god, I thought that joke was dead.”
Kakashi simply chuckled. The conversation turned to what Iruka had been doing under the Empire. Kakashi listened and asked questions but Iruka couldn't help but be distracted and feel nervous. It had been so long that they'd seen each other and they'd been so close before. It was like nothing and everything had changed at once. They talked like it was just another day but their words were about the years they'd spent apart.
The galaxy was under Empire rule. Kakashi simply being alive was a threat to the current government and the Sith inside it but Kakashi explained that there were people banning together to overtake the Sith.
"The Rebel Alliance is trying to resist their control. And would you like to guess who is their main motivator?" Kakashi gave him a knowing smile as Iruka hesitated to say the person who is brain had automatically thought of.
"No. You've got to be kidding me." When Kakashi nodded slowly, the pilot ran his hands against his face in shock. He was caught between worry and excitement but the stunned scoff he let out powered his excitement. "Naruto is leading them?"
A slow nod later, Iruka was reeling. That crazy, amazing boy. The same amazing boy Iruka had practically raised. He missed that kid so much.
"I think he'll be very surprised too."
"Surprised?" Iruka was still far off in his own mind and Kakashi seemed to be just as content, watching him warmly.
"To see you."
"Wait, where is he?" Iruka was ready to immediately go to the cockpit and reroute their course.
"We're headed in the right direction," Kakashi assured before chuckling and looking out the window. "Well, technically we're not moving at all."
The ship was ready to jump again, unmoving and still in space.
“Iruka.” Kakashi had his hands folded on the table between them calmly but his face was determinedly the opposite. “I have a favour to ask.”
With a sinking feeling in his gut, he half knew what Kakashi wanted to ask. “A favour?”