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A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away....

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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.


 

"Iruka."

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?”

Chapter Text

For the days it took to get back to Coruscant, Kakashi barely moved from his cabin on the ship. Iruka would check on him every now and then to bring him food but he was stoic and quiet every time other than a ‘thank you’ here and there.

Just as Iruka was beginning to worry, Kakashi ventured out into the kitchen one day, brows drawn and pensive as they sat across from each other. He looked tired and worried, tense from his fingers to his toes. Iruka couldn’t believe what he was seeing really. This was more emotion and passion running through his shoulders than Iruka had ever seen. It was worrisome.

“What happens now?”

Kakashi didn’t look up from his hands and managed to say, “I tell the Council. And the Council takes action.”

All of which was no good.

But once they got to Coruscant, Kakashi seemed to cover everything up. Everything Iruka had seen on his ship disappeared behind the curtain again but he could feel it was all still there, bubbling under all those layers. Alarming for a Jedi.

Iruka couldn’t go with him to the emergency Jedi High Council meeting. He’d waited a bit outside the Temple before deciding that he was better off getting food and going home. Back in his apartment that night, he could eat and instead stared across the dense buildings to where he knew the Jedi Temple was. He didn’t expect the knock at his door a few hours later. He least of all expected Kakashi.

“Hey,” He stepped aside for Kakashi to walk in and the Jedi sat on Iruka’s couch like he had many times before but he seemed empty, drained.

“How’d it go?” Iruka asked from the chair across the way and Kakashi took a deep breath.

“The Council doesn’t want to go after him.” Conflicting inside, emotions passed over Kakashi’s face ever so subtly but they were so noticeable to someone so used to a stoic Kakashi. Worry, guilt, anger, hurt. And it hurt Iruka just as much seeing him like this.

“They say there’s no hope for him anymore.” His hand clenched.

Unable to hold back the need to comfort, Iruka impulsively put his hand over Kakashi’s fist. He only realised as he was doing it that this was overstepping a boundary, his feelings for Kakashi wrapped up in that one selfish touch.

When Kakashi looked up at him, he wanted to withdraw and pretend it had never happened but he didn’t pull away. He instead seemed to calm as their gazes met. The stormy sea behind his eyes were becoming less thunderous. Whatever conflict inside him was softening and Iruka couldn’t stop the way his heart skipped a beat at the feeling of the hand under his turning up to hold their fingers together.

After a moment, Kakashi closed his eyes and Iruka watched as he took a deep breath and leaned his head ever so slightly down, falling into meditation with their hands bridging the gap between them. And Iruka stayed and held on for as long as his eyes could stay open, just being there for the friend he cared so much for.


 

As Iruka input coordinates, Kakashi was quiet in the co-pilot chair, watching and thinking.

Iruka could bet money he knew what he was thinking. He was probably thinking of how this was going to be dangerous, possible problems they would face along the way and the like. There was also a hint of something deep down that he pretended to keep hidden but Iruka knew what it meant when Kakashi slowly rubbed his index and thumb together; guilt. Either that or regret.

It wasn't the Jedi way to dwell on those feelings. It was the tiniest crack in the calm, calculating veneer of the great Jedi Master next to him, only visible if you spent hundreds upon thousands of days with him. It made Iruka feel both at home and nervous.

To see that flicker of emotion had been rare eight years ago. Now, it came in quick, inconsistent flashes like a storm was brewing under Kakashi's skin and it had Iruka worrying too.

The coordinates and their new route were plotted though. He had done it without a moment's hesitation after Kakashi explained his mission. Maybe it was just reflex to follow Kakashi without asking questions. Of course, back then, he’d been a lot more confrontational.

“So, this spy works for the Empire?” Iruka tried to distract Kakashi from his thoughts.

“Hm? Yes. Well, he used to until about a year ago.”

“What happened a year ago?”

Kakashi shrugged. “He died.”

“Oh,” Iruka tensed as he primed the hyperdrive. “He sounds lovely.”

“But he left his intel with someone.” The person they were heading towards.

Iruka could only nod, feeling very apprehensive.

“We can go home, if you want.” Kakashi was genuine in his offer but Iruka pursed his lips.

“You said he had important information?”

After a moment, Iruka saw the flicker of curiosity as Kakashi said, “He wouldn’t have reached out to us if he didn’t.”

“Then it’s decided.” With a crank of his arm, they bungeed into lightspeed. As soon as the light of stars and systems were flickering passed, Iruka felt as though a weight on his shoulders was lifted. All the stress he’d been under made way for a calm he hadn’t felt in a long time.

“You should sleep,” Kakashi had turned his chair to face Iruka.

“You should sleep,” Iruka echoed but Kakashi was reaching over to make Iruka’s seat face him, teasing smile flashing.

“I’ll take the first watch.”

It didn’t take much arguing or pushing to get Iruka to find a bed and collapse into it. Under all the pressure of the day, he couldn't believe that he was on a ship that he was piloting, back in the company of one of his oldest friends and heading towards the promise of adventure as if the wars and Iruka's imprisonment hadn't ever happened.

At the price of the thousands of lives onboard the ship he'd been serving on. All his colleagues were dead. He was on the run now. And it felt shamefully good to be free despite the cost.

He fell asleep with his face in the pillow and the last thoughts in his head that it would take three days to get to Kakashi’s liaison and that Kakashi was still as handsome as ever with that smile.


 

Kakashi had started coming over to his apartment more and more often now that the Council had ordered him to stay on Coruscant for a few more weeks just so the dust could settle. Meanwhile, Iruka was offered a job. One that he couldn’t refuse.

Both Senator Hiruzen and Senator Shimura were on their way to Corellia for a debate that Iruka only knew a bit about. He’d flown Hiruzen so many times in the past but this time had been different. As soon as he’d stepped aboard the yacht style starship for this transit, he could feel that things were strangely formal, like hands rubbed raw from soap.

While both senators bantered back and forth on their journey, Iruka could tell there was a tension not meant for friends. They didn’t talk about politics thankfully. Mostly, they talked about things to do on Corellia and the different planets they’d been on. Iruka mostly kept to himself until the end of the trip when he was pulled into conversation.

“How do you two know each other?” Senator Shimura asked when Hiruzen invited Iruka for a break in the common area.

“I’ve known this one since he was a boy,” Hiruzen quickly cut in and Iruka could sense that he was up to something but would wait to see what.

“We come from the same planet,” Iruka smiled politely and Senator Shimura hummed and nodded, studying Iruka suddenly very intensely.

“I see. You must be close.”

“We do cross paths often.” That was a modest statement on the old man’s part. Iruka just smiled though as Hiruzen went on, “He’s a great pilot, after all.”

He was a great pilot because Hiruzen had paid for his schooling and his entire apprenticeship. There was no personal talk, not like how Hiruzen had ever introduced him before.

As they disembarked in Corellia, Senator Shimura shook his hand personally but said in the most plain, uninterested tone, "Thank you, Captain Umino."

"You're welcome," Iruka had started but the senator was already off his ship and Hiruzen was patting him on the shoulder.

"Thank you, Iruka." He squeezed his shoulder and Iruka watched him nod before following the other senator. It left Iruka mildly confused but politics were never his strength.

He was still curious though.


 

As much as Iruka wanted to talk and hear about everything that had happened after they split, they only got a few hours together. Between sleeping and taking watch, they would get a few hours to talk and just relax. And Iruka was forever thankful for the times they didn’t talk about the Empire. As much as he wanted to know about everything going on too, he was much happier talking about nothing important and enjoying each other’s company.

The last few days in the Empire had been replaying in his head like a broken hologram and he was so glad for the peace that Kakashi brought. It was in a Jedi’s nature. They had been peacekeepers for so long because of their calming, inviting nature. Iruka didn’t think it was because Kakashi was a Jedi though. He had suppressed happy tears their second day in space because of something deeper that just admiration and atmosphere.

He wondered how he’d gone so long with the thought that he’d never see the other man.

With Kakashi across from him at the kitchen table again in his beige Jedi robes tattered and worn, memories kept bubbling up at random. Sleeping in open fields under stars, running from wild animals and Kakashi gripping the arms of his seat as Iruka took a hard turn, everything was at the surface of his thoughts and he had to shake them away. But he let himself stare sometimes and watch the older man and how he’d changed.

They were both much older now, after all. They were both in their thirties now and this trip to the Mid Rim of their galaxy felt like a vacation. Worn and tired, they talked about how they’d rather be on a warm planet somewhere that had a spring to ease their muscles but that this was pretty good as the ship sped through hyperspace.

When Iruka was alone, he tinkered around and dreamed of what Naruto was up to, how Sakura was spending her time and what they were planning to do to stop the Sith and ultimately Sasuke. There was still a part of him though that hoped Sasuke would see what the Sith were doing to the galaxy.

Iruka didn’t know much about the Force but he respected it and knew it had a strong sway over Jedi and Sith alike. He’d flown so many Jedi back in his early years across the galaxy and spent a lot of time talking to them and they all said that the light side and the dark side were two sides of the same coin. It was so easy to slip into the dark but just as easy to stay in the light. Sasuke had been one of the few Jedi he knew who turned to the dark and he remembered never having seen any clues.

“Why does Naruto still have hope for him?” Iruka wondered one day in the brief hours they had together.

“The dark side is persuasive and easy,” Kakashi replied. He looked distant, thinking as he rubbed two fingers together. “Hate, passion and anger are all easy emotions to feel and draw the Force from. I think Naruto understands him more than anyone and wants to help.”

In the silence that followed, Iruka wondered what he meant by that. Had Naruto struggled with the dark side too? The concerned, parental side of him was about to ask but he held himself back. He hadn't seen Naruto in years. He was a man now. He would have changed since he was sixteen. It reminded him that Naruto was doing just fine without him and it made him bittersweetly happy.

"I guess I do too." Kakashi's muttered words almost went unnoticed but Iruka heard. He heard and he wondered what Kakashi meant.

Then he remembered what he had overheard Sasuke say to Kakashi on Corellia, about how he could feel darkness growing in Kakashi.

He wished he could sense the Force to feel that darkness and understand the struggle, maybe even help.


 

Finally, back on Coruscant, Iruka at first didn't go home. As he usually did, he went to check on his baby and found that she was still in ship shape. His idle hands drew him to tinkering again, taking apart an old comms system he'd picked up a few months back. The whole time, his brain was whirling.

"Hey," A voice from the door startled him into almost dropping everything. Spinning in his chair, Kakashi was leaning against the doorway as if he'd been there for hours.

"You better be glad I didn't have a phaser primed this time," he snapped, trying to catch his breath and Kakashi actually chucked.

"I doubt you would've hit me."

To that playfully insulting comment, Iruka huffed, "Tell that to the Force that helped you last time I almost shot you."

Realising that the last time they'd been in combat was when Obito when over to the dark side, Iruka was about to say sorry but Kakashi didn't even hesitate to shoot back, "The Force that I control."

He was smirking, cocky while Iruka was struggling between finding more banter and concern for his friend. Kakashi looked so much better than he had before Iruka had left. His robes where clean and pressed, his hair seemed to have seen a wash and his stance was back to being calm and collected.

He felt back at home both figuratively and metaphorically now that Kakashi seemed back to himself.

They eventually sat down together and talked about the trip and how Iruka was bothered.

"It was weird," Iruka mused over the encounter he'd had. "Like… It was so tense and weird. It felt like I was walking on thin ice the entire time but I didn't feel like Shimura was a bad guy. What do you think?"

"Hmm," Looking off into his memories, Kakashi answered, "I think I've met him a few times before but they've all been positive experiences as far as I can remember."

Feeling slightly downhearted, Iruka hummed to himself with a nod that sent them into tense silence. On one hand, he was still hooked on the feeling that Shimura wasn't all he seemed, but on the other, he trusted Kakashi entirely.

"I'm glad you're back."

Iruka snapped his eyes up from the floor, startled by the sudden tenderness in Kakashi's voice and the warmth in his eyes. It reminded him of how they'd held hands on his couch not that long ago and he flushed at the memory of intense feelings he'd felt.

"Glad to be back," He pushed back the rising warmth in his torso.

"I was told to go on vacation."

"Oh… Really?" It made sense after all that Kakashi had been through.

"And I was wondering if you would take me there."


 

The planet in the Mid Rim Kakashi had led them to was a dusty, hot box of sand that could only be described as the galaxy's worst beach.

"I've been in deserts colder than this," Iruka groaned as they trekked out of their stolen ship and into the sandy dunes that stretched on as far as the eye could see. The sun immediately hit the backs of their necks and Iruka envied how Kakashi could just pull up his hood and be kind of okay.

"Makes me think of Tatooine." Kakashi grinned over as they marched over the burning sands.

"Oh, come on. Tatooine was a million times worse!" Iruka scoffed, shivering in the memories of the windy sand planet. "So far, I don't have sand in underwear, just my boots. Hopefully, I don’t do any falling this time."

Kakashi simply chuckled along, both of them falling into silent remembrance of all the adventures they had when they were younger.

After a few minutes of walking under the burning sky, Kakashi put a hand on Iruka's shoulder to stop him, "Here."

He led them over another dune where the very tip of a spire was showing. The further they climbed, the more they saw of the pointed, rocky monument below. The red, gritted structure below was rounded out at the base and had a human-sized hole as a door. In that entrance, a cloaked person was standing, waiting.

On edge once again, they made their way in closer. As Iruka worried, Kakashi seemed as calm as ever and he greeted the stranger, "It's been a long time."

"Indeed," The hood was pulled down to reveal a human. With black hair and surprisingly pale skin for this planet, there wasn't much Iruka recognized but he did look familiar. It made him all the more nervous since their liaison looked eerily like someone he knew. "But you must leave soon or else we will both be found."

While the man stepped away from his home to meet them, Iruka kept his guard up. He felt like they were being watched even though there was nothing as far as the eye could see except for their ship.

The pair followed their liaison into the small alcove in the rock monument, stepping uneasily down a set of stairs that twisted into darkness. Just ahead, their host turned on a light source as they kept going and deeper and deeper. The sweat on their backs quickly turned cold with the heat subsiding and Iruka kept glancing behind them to find nothing.

Their steps then started to echo. The rock around them gave away to a cavern as large as their starship. Their guide's light hit the rocky surfaces to show a glimmering cavern of crystals. Before Iruka could take a closer look at them, Kakashi murmured under his breath, “Adegan.”

As if pulled back in time, Iruka remembered listening to Kakashi explaining lightsaber crystals to their kids. He’d been leaning on the doorframe as he watched the younger passengers listening intently. Sasuke had been pensive, Sakura astounded and Naruto confused. Days later, the whole ship had been quiet as the students meditated over their chosen crystals while Iruka and Kakashi lazed around in the cockpit, happy for the quiet time together after their long journey.

“That’s how you’ve been able to hide here unnoticed.” At Kakashi’s comment, Iruka came back to the realisation that this man had been a Jedi too. Or a Sith.

Oh, this was not where he wanted to be right now. Kakashi on the other hand stepped into the room and Iruka had to follow as the liaison spoke.

“We must be quick.” Their host moved through the crystals with a floating grace to the back where he reached in to reveal a metallic, rectangular prism that fit into his palm.

He came back just as fast and handed it to Kakashi. Instead of letting go, he leaned in and said words Iruka couldn’t hear. As he strained to listen into the whispers, he noticed a noise that caught his attention so much more.

“Guys,” He warned, knowing that sound all too well. It was an echoing cry, almost like heavy winds blowing passed an open hole but Iruka knew better than to suspect wind.

“We have to go,” He kicked into full speed, rushing up the steps to the entrance where he peeked out just the slightest. And he was horrified to find he was right. And that his Jedi wasn’t right behind him. “Kakashi!”

As much as he wanted to make a break for the ship, he stayed. As much as he didn’t want to go back to the life he’d been serving for years before just a few days ago, he waited those panicked few seconds as his time in the Empire and even how they treated him flashed through his mind.

"Shit." Kakashi was suddenly next to him, hand on his shoulder and looking up to see the black shape speeding across the sky in their direction.

"We have to run." Kakashi quickly grabbed Iruka's hand, looking him in the eyes. "Just keep running and don't look back, okay? I'll be right behind you."

"Okay. Try to keep up." He hadn’t even said it consciously. Heart beating so loud in his ears, Iruka squeezed Kakashi's hand for a second before they let go. Another second later, they shot off across the dunes.

Lungs immediately burning from the hot air, they beelined for the ship. The TIE fighter above them suddenly put on a burst of speed. Iruka could only see the ship though and what he had to do. As pilot, he had to get them out of there.

His legs burned though. He could feel sand in his boots. The suns above them were so hot but he kept pushing. The distance closed as if in slow motion as the threat above dove down towards them. He could practically hear the phasers priming. But he could only see his ship ahead.

Two lines of blasts fired at them. Iruka felt it just barely blast into the sand next to him but kept going. They were barely a few feet away now. Iruka couldn’t tell if Kakashi was behind him but he had a feeling.

The roar of the TIE fighter’s engines swept over just as he flew into the ship. Barrelling down the storage compartment and through the hall, he was so thankful he’d left the ship on idle as he flashed the computers back from sleep and flicked on the engines.

Yanking the throttle, the ship lurched forward and up so quickly that Iruka almost regretted not putting on his seatbelt.

He swung the ship around as the TIE fighter came into view, the other ship coming around from its dive. Hands shaking on the controls, Iruka couldn’t believe he still remembered how to get them off the ground so fast. As he faced the incoming Empire ship, he felt his grip tighten and his focus widen. He’d gotten out of situations like this before. Sure, that had been a while ago, but he felt more in control than ever.

“Okay, let’s play tag.” Iruka grinned to himself as he shot the ship forward. With a lurch, it zoomed right passed the fighter and straight against the horizon. Just as Iruka planned, the computers blipped that something had started following and he pressed on even quicker.

Losing the TIE fighter was top priority and Iruka had his own secret to losing people. He’d done it in the past so many times. Even though his mentors and passengers had all hated it, he’d been good at it. It just scared the living daylights out of everyone onboard. Mainly because people didn’t do hyperspace jumps blindly. The chances of crashing into a planet was so high. That’s what navigation computers were for. But navigation computers were trackable especially at this distance.

But Iruka still knew that losing another ship on a desert planet was almost impossible. Speeding blindly across the flat, sandy surface, Iruka tapped the computer to show the map of the surrounding space and beyond.

All he had to do was pick a path that was easy but not too easy to aim for.

Or else he could smash into a planet at hyperspeed, scattering the ship and everything inside into dust across the galaxy.

Oh, he hadn’t remembered before that point how thrilling and amazing flying was. This was everything he’d been missing. This is what he was born to do and he felt like he was on fire, burning from the inside out with excitement.

With all the focus and intuition he had, he pressed even faster forward, pulling up to the skies suddenly with a jerk. He took aim and slammed into hyperdrive. The stars stretched and in a moment of breath-catching fear, the whole galaxy was around them.

Then the ship shot forward through the stars and Iruka held on for dear life to the hyperdrive shaft, feeling for the right moment.

There. And he slammed them out of hyperdrive with a grinding halt.

The stars around them were glittering. There were no planets in sight and when Iruka looked at the map, he found they were a good ways away now.

Hands shaking, he quickly turned the ship into a sharp turn and set the ship to head forward at top speed for the next hour while the hyperdrive cooled and primed again for their main jump towards home.

“Did you just do what I think you did?”

Kakashi stood in the doorway, hair a mess, robes askew and his face paler than usual as he panted and gripped the wall tightly as if the ship would suddenly jerk again.

“Yeah,” Iruka admitted, just as breathless and confused as he stood. He almost fell back into his seat though when Kakashi suddenly surged forward and hugged him.

With a start, Iruka froze in his warm embrace but quickly returned it.

“You’re insane.” Before Iruka could even gather himself so speak, Kakashi said against his hair, “I missed you.”

They broke out into panting laughter and somehow went back to sitting together in the cockpit. Iruka was still jittery with excitement and couldn’t really stop the amazement that was making him tremble and he knew Kakashi could sense that or at least see it on his face. They couldn’t stop grinning at each other for a while but not only because of their near-death experience. They’d had tons of those together already.

No, they were smiling because now, after eight years of flying abroad under the Empire’s keen watch, Iruka could finally go home.

He couldn’t sleep that night, excited to see the Jedi Naruto had become and everyone he knew. He wondered what had happened to the state of his garage or if someone had taken it over. Hopefully, someone had made use of it over the years.

Eventually, he got up and joined Kakashi in the common room. Even though he was deep in meditation, Iruka sat quietly next to him.

They eventually decided to quit taking shifts. They would both have to be awake when they got home. The package they were carrying was far too important for anyone to sleep on and Iruka wanted to be there to see what all the fuss was about.

The Empire ship he’d been serving on had blown up for this information and he owed it to his dead colleagues to find out, the average people who had just been doing their jobs. While they were dead from this war between sides, Iruka was sitting next to the man who he cared for the most in the galaxy.

Which was why he wanted to know as soon as possible.

“Please, Kakashi. We can’t just peek at it?”

“What if we’re captured before we get home? They would torture the information out of us.” And then all the death would have been for nothing.

It was a struggle but the next few days went by fast enough. He kept himself busy. He's started going through the shipping crates in the storage compartment from the previous owners. It was mainly filled with spices which Kakashi was thrilled to shop through. There was one crate out of all of them that carried brand new clothing.

Feeling his worn and battle torn engineer's uniform, Iruka quickly changed into something more comfortable and clean. When he stepped back into the common room, he didn’t miss the long stare Kakashi gave him out of the corner of his eye and couldn’t help the thrills up his spine.

It was nice to know that nothing had changed between them but Iruka could feel he wasn’t the same person anymore.

He was tired, so tired. They’d working him to the bone in the Empire and all he wanted now was so relax. He couldn’t wait to get home and get back to being himself. But nightmares had started plaguing his sleep and he would wake up in a cold sweat more than once a night.

But the last time was different.

Aboard a vessel he’d never seen before, he dreamed of dark grey walls of metal and a long walkway across a deep fall. On opposite sides, two figures walked in from bright corridors into the darkness. Not seconds later, two bright beams of their lightsabers shone to colourless life and Iruka couldn’t tell who they were.

And then they ran at each other, sabers clashing for the first time. There was an exchange of words he couldn’t hear but the fight became intense. Light flashed and whirled against each other in a horribly tense moment and Iruka could only watch.

And he watched as suddenly they broke apart, one stumbling back as they other watched. The victor watched as the other fell before walking out but Iruka was already gasping into reality.

Panting and gripping his sheets, he slowly came back to reality. He hoped dearly that he didn’t know anyone in that dream. But he knew that wasn’t the case. The last Jedi in the galaxy were all people he was close to. It shook him to the core and he couldn’t stand being in bed anymore. Padding through the cold hall, he didn’t know at first where he was going until he peeked into Kakashi’s room. When he found it empty, he headed to the common room as a heavy pit formed in his gut.

He could feel something was wrong but didn’t know from what until he searched the common room and found no Kakashi, instead heading to the cockpit. There, he did find Kakashi but not as expected.

The older man was standing, looking out into the hyperspace flying by them with his hair rumpled and his clothes down to the tunic and pants. He looked like he’d just woken from sleep but Iruka couldn’t see his face just yet.

“Kakashi?” There was no response.

Moving to the side, the flickering light of hyperspace bounced of the Jedi as Iruka circled him and he found something disturbing when he finally got a good look at the man.

Eyes glazed over and face slack, Kakashi was staring off into hyperspace as trails of tears fell down his face.

Chapter Text

First of all, Iruka knew from experience that Kakashi never took a vacation because Iruka had never taken one either. They were both dedicated to their craft.

Second, to take a vacation… Together. That had Iruka's mind turn into molasses.

He somehow found himself landing on a planet not far from his home planet a few days later and stepping out into lush forests of drooping greens and calming chirps from birds he couldn't see. The small cottage by a crystal blue lake was ethereal. The blues were so bright, the greens so vivid but not in a way that shocked, simply had you paying attention to the world around you.

They settled into the small home that was made almost of a singular piece of white granite. There was a room for meditation that overlooked the water and a kitchen with ample cookware. All that was missing was a garage where Iruka could tinker and get greasy but he could overlook that with his ship not far.

The first few days were spent in meditation for Kakashi and sleep for Iruka. He almost thought for a second that Kakashi would mediate the entire month they would be there but he was surprised to see Kakashi making food one morning. Iruka was almost embarrassed by how mussed he looked when he'd never been embarrassed before.

Walks through the forest, going to the markets for food and coming back to relax were all things they did to pass the time and it was so nice to just hang out. And it was amazing.

By the last week, he felt sad to go but ready to go back to reality and work. He was itching to fly again and he could tell Kakashi was feeling the same although without the anxiousness.

There were a few things that Iruka hoped they didn't leave behind when they left though and it felt selfish.

Jedi, especially ones as high tier as Kakashi almost never showed any form of physical affection either out of just propriety or respect. Which was why Iruka was almost always shocked when Kakashi would reach out for him or lean into him. Sure, his ponytail had been tugged too many times to count but these were much bolder. A hand would brush against his or touch his back. And Iruka didn’t hate it. If anything, he often leaned into them.

And Kakashi never seemed to refuse.

It was all so wonderful. At least, it was until their last night.

As small lights flickered across the lake with the sun setting in the distance, they were both leaning over the balcony where Kakashi usually meditated.

“I’m kind of sad to leave,” Iruka said truthfully. “But then I think of Naruto and how he might have burned my stuff down.”

Chuckling, Kakashi assured, “He would fix everything before you got back somehow. He respects you too much.”

Iruka could only hum and look out over the lake until he realised Kakashi wasn’t doing the same. Stormy eyes were on him again and he wondered what was going through the Jedi’s mind to have him looking so pensively at Iruka. He almost couldn’t help the burning in his cheeks.

Finally, he turned to make eye contact to find Kakashi’s hand in the air, moving towards his cheek. Light and barely there, his hands felt cool to the touch but his eyes were warm enough in contrast. There was so much he felt in that moment but his whole body stopped when Kakashi leaned in. In the slightest contact, their lips touched.

Iruka couldn’t move or do anything. The whole galaxy froze in that beautifully tender moment until Kakashi pulled away and Iruka could breathe again with the swirl of the thumb on his cheek. In a fluttering panic of not wanting this to end, Iruka pressed up and kissed Kakashi back, lips burning against each other as they moved together.

And then it was over.

They pulled away, pressing foreheads together. And Iruka could feel that this would be the first and last time that would ever happen between them. Jedi didn’t have relationships. And Iruka couldn’t bear to be the reason why Kakashi left the Jedi Order and he knew Kakashi would never do that on his own accord either. So, he took a deep breath, one last breath of the same air before he pulled back completely. The hand slid from his cheek and Kakashi didn’t look up as Iruka walked away.

That night, Iruka couldn’t sleep. He was just frozen stiff.

Somehow, the morning came quicker than he thought and he was nervous to leave his room but he somehow did. And he was met with Kakashi in the kitchen with a spatula in hand. They locked eyes and both froze, equally nervous and worried they’d messed up. Somehow, that made things a lot easier and Iruka automatically cracked a grin, “Back to reality.”

When Kakashi’s shoulders dropped their tension, Iruka knew they would be okay and that things would go back to normal, just like they were before. And they did. They traveled back to the capital and within a week were traveling to a new planet with a new goal.

And for the most part, it felt like nothing had ever happened. But Iruka could feel Kakashi stealing glances every now and then. He couldn’t blame him.

Because Iruka stole the same looks too.


 

For a moment, Iruka couldn’t say anything. He couldn’t move or breathe out of fear, panic. This was wrong. So, so wrong.

“Kakashi?” He finally demanded but the other man didn’t move for a long time.

It was only when Iruka grabbed his hand that he jolted back to reality, turning his head slowly to meet Iruka’s worried gaze.

“What’s happening?” Iruka urged.

But Kakashi seemed to have no words, unable to articulate as his mouth opened and closed.

“Kakashi, you’re scaring me.”

Finally, he shut his mouth and eyes as he turned his head down, squeezing Iruka’s hand tightly. “I’m sorry.”

For a long time, Iruka didn’t know what to do or say. They just stood there in silence with the hum of space zooming passed them. Eventually, they sat in their respective chairs with the hands linked across the gap and Iruka couldn’t tell what was going on. Kakashi didn’t say a word since, shoulders tense in the seat across. He couldn’t look Iruka in the eye.

Something was deeply wrong and Iruka didn’t know what. But he wasn’t an idiot. There hadn’t been any communications to or from the ship. They were still in hyperspace. Whatever was going had to be through the Force and that was even more nerve wracking because Iruka couldn’t feel what Kakashi was feeling or sensing. He was in the dark, waiting for Kakashi to say anything. He didn’t though even when he face was dry.

But he had the sneaking suspicion that it had to do with where they were going: home.

He watched the map as the ship got closer and closer to their destination, whole body tightening like a bow string.

As the final seconds ticked by, he felt Kakashi squeeze his hand again tighter than ever.

The stars flying by in streaks of white suddenly disappeared into dark blue. The sun in the distance burned into the dark and glimpsed across the occasional asteroid. There was no blue-green planet though.

Iruka glanced down at the map. This couldn’t be right. They must have jumped too far or not far enough.

The map said they were in the right place though. This was exactly where they were supposed to be but Alderaan wasn’t.

A piece of asteroid knocked into the ship’s shields and Iruka felt everything inside him quake at the realisation that there weren’t just a few asteroids. There were so many more, hundreds upon thousands scattered ahead in a mess of giant to microscopic where the sun didn’t reach.

He dropped Kakashi’s hand and stood on shaking legs, looking out on the remains of his home planet and couldn’t comprehend what was happening. His beautiful, evergreen home was wiped away from the galaxy, rubble floating in space.

“It’s gone…” His body didn’t know what to do or feel. All he could do was stare. “Why?”

In the distance next to him, he could hear Kakashi’s voice lightyears away muttering, “We didn’t think they’d finish it so soon.”

“What?” Iruka finally ripped his eyes to the Jedi next to him, gripping his seat as he demanded. “Finish what?”

With a deep swallow, Kakashi looked up from the floor and answered him, “DS-1. The ultimate weapon.”

“I don’t know what that means,” Iruka almost yelled, digging his nails in.

“It’s a weapon the size of a planet.” Their voices were getting louder now, the air tense as Kakashi explained firmly, “The Empire built it to wipe out anything. Even entire planets.”

And Kakashi knew so much about it. His blood was starting to quake under his own skin, unable to look at the man he trusted with his life. “Why am I just hearing about this now?”

“I didn’t want you to worry,” Was all Kakashi could say, eyes as dark and serious as Iruka was fuming.

“Worry?” He demanded, panting and losing control over the anger spilling through. “You didn’t want me to worry? My planet is gone, Kakashi. My home. My...”

And then the worse set in. The images of the rolling hills and tall, snow-covered peaks brought him to memories that were so intertwined with not only Kakashi but three little kids he once knew. And they had been headed to see two of them.

“My kids.”

The words hung in the air, settling into the cold air of the ship.

Through it all, Kakashi hadn’t broken eye contact. Even then, Iruka could see his own pain and fears reflected back towards him and it made his eyes tear up.

“Kakashi…” There was one ray of hope and he was holding onto it. “Please, tell me you can feel him. Please.”

The Jedi had been able to sense Naruto’s presence before and Iruka wanted desperately to hear just one word, anything come out of Kakashi’s mouth.

Clouded eyes staring back up at him turned down, closing the conversation plainly and Iruka almost felt faint for a second.

He didn’t remember walking out of the room. He was suddenly in the hallway, staring at the grate floors as his eyes swam.


 

Walking up the rolling hills of grass, Iruka climbed the slow ascent to his garage where he knew Naruto would be. The boy had taken to hanging out around all his spare parts and tools when Iruka was away on flights and Iruka didn’t mind at all. At least at his garage, he knew Naruto would be out of trouble and safe. His garage would probably be more of a mess by the time he came back but you give and you take.

Cresting over the hill, the main door of his garage had been left wide open. While Iruka used this base mainly for tinkering and experimenting, he was still worried that Naruto had accidentally left the doors open again.

Hurrying across the launch pad, he swept through the open hangar door that led into the main garage and the rooms hidden under the hill.

Confused by the quiet, he slowly checked the fully lit basement for Naruto or any stray creatures. He didn't want an infestation, not again.

The storage room was empty except for crates and bins of electronics and ship parts. The next room down the hall was the common room and as he headed towards it, he could hear soft shuffling.

Rounding the corner, he had half expected Naruto and was half surprised. The boy was there, looking like a usual twelve-year-old, but he was holding his hands out into the air as a sphere of trembling liquids hovered high above his hands.

He didn't notice Iruka at first and the pilot could only stare, unmoving and in awe because he knew powers like those. He knew a Jedi Knight who could do incredible things like that, who had a strong connection with the Force just like what Naruto was presenting right now.

Iruka knew that potential like this didn't come up every day or more than multiple times on one planet. He'd always believed Naruto was special. Now, this proved he was more than special.

There was a force inside him that ached for what would happen next. He just couldn't sit around and not do anything. He knew a Jedi Knight, a powerful one at that who could train his boy. But he knew how the lifestyle could take its toll. He'd seen firsthand the dangers all through Kakashi and worried.

But he'd see so much good come out of it. And how amazing Jedi were. And he couldn't be the one to decide if Naruto had potential or if Naruto even wanted that life. He could just present a new option.

Leaning against the doorway, he bit the bullet, "Hey, kiddo."

With a splash, the water came flopping down onto Naruto's head, "Ah!"


 

“Iruka.”

The pilot looked up blearily from where he was propped up against the hallway wall. A few feet away, Kakashi stood uncertainly with his hands clenched and dark circles under his eyes.

“We have to move the ship. They might find us here.” His voice was quiet but rough from the last hour of insanity. The practical side of Iruka's brain lit up and he dragged himself up, not seeing the hand Kakashi had held out of a moment.

Boots hitting metal then the dull plastic of the control room, Iruka avoided looking through the window as he took control over the ship once more.

"Where do we go?" He managed to ask through his own sore throat and Kakashi was at his side in a second.

"Yavin 4. There's an old base there." Iruka knew the planet vaguely and pulled up the map to head them in that direction. A few minutes later, they jumped into hyperspace, whole bodies deflating once again but this time Iruka didn't leave.

He knew he wasn't the only one hurting. He could only imagine what Kakashi was going through, having felt everything through the Force.

Out of the corner of his eye, Kakashi was stiffly sitting, his fingers constantly rubbing together without end. It hurt to see him like that, going through the same thing Iruka was.

Abruptly standing, Kakashi was about to head for the door when Iruka followed, "Kakashi."

Pausing in the door, the Jedi turned and there was a moment of just taking each other in. They were two people traveling through space without a people to call home. Iruka hated the fact that Kakashi had now lived through two genocides; the Jedi order and now Alderaan. And yet he was studying Iruka as though he felt nothing, empty and cold.

He'd never asked for anything of Kakashi. He'd never tried to push them passed what they were unless Kakashi did but now he couldn't stop himself.

He was tired. He was angry. And he just wanted to hold the man he cared so much for and cry.

So, he did. In a second, he'd moved forward into the Jedi's personal space and his arms were around his waist.

"I'm sorry," He muttered into the other man's shoulder as arms surprisingly settled on his shoulders. "I'm sorry for yelling at you."

"It's okay," was the whisper so close to his ear and he felt safe. "I should've told you."

Shaking his head into Kakashi's shoulder, he muttered. "No, you didn't have to."

Instead of a response, the arms around him tightened and he could feel a nose pressing into his neck.

Eventually, they parted ways and Iruka was left alone in his pilot's seat as tears made their way down his face quietly.


 

"And what makes you think I'd want to bunk with you?"

The yelling had been going on for so long now. Ever since Naruto had joined their group, the bickering between the two boys Kakashi was mentoring was endless.

Technically, Kakashi was only supposed to be mentoring Sasuke but the Council had made an exception for Iruka's charge since he possessed amazing abilities and a brightness to him that rivaled any sun. Which made for an interesting combination when paired with Sasuke, interesting meaning explosive.

"I don't want to bunk with you either, bastard!"

The arguing had been cute at first, brotherly rivalry between friends. Now on their third trip together, it was starting to get annoying. How could Kakashi stand to mentor the both? At the same time? The man had so much patience.

Turning to him, Iruka groaned out, "Please? I did it last time."

With a heavy sigh, Kakashi dragged himself to the hall, saying over his shoulder, "Fine, but you owe me."

Iruka grinned cheekily and a few minutes later the bickering stopped entirely. There was peace on board and Iruka relaxed into his seat happily.

When Kakashi came back in, Iruka chortled and asked, "What did you do? Jedi mind trick them into being quiet?"

"No, I told them that one of them could have my cabin on the way back."

"Oh? Where will you sleep?" Iruka worried, hoping he wasn't going to sacrifice a good night's sleep on the uncomfortable common room couches.

"I was thinking with you." Kakashi said bluntly, watching as Iruka's face dipped into shocked pink. "If you don't mind, of course."

"I… I don't mind," He tried to sound indifferent but knew his face was still burning.

Thankfully, that wasn't what he focused on as they stepped out into a beautiful, ancient palace guarded by men in burgundy and browns. The bright halls led them in deeper to an open terrace where a group of people awaited them.

While the handmaidens were dressed beautifully in their simple flowing dressed, they couldn’t compare to the princess they were matched with.

Her hair was pulled up into intricate braids and swirls, held up high while her dress extended out around her in rich, colourful fabrics that looked too expensive to touch.

But Iruka could only focus on the fact that she wasn’t even a woman yet. She was still just a little girl, as young as the boys in training next to him.

“Thank you for taking your time to escort me, Master Jedi,” She said stiffly as Kakashi stepped forward to bow.

“It’s our pleasure, princess.”

With the formalities out of the way, they escorted the small princess to their ship where they showed her to her quarters, the special guest quarters that Iruka had made sure stayed untouched.

It was only later when they brought her food that Iruka realised why the ship had been so quiet as they flew through space. The two Jedi in training were sitting with the princess, happily chatting and goofing off. Even the princess seemed to let lose, hooting as the two boys concentrated on winning a contest of who could levitated their pillow for the longest.

Iruka didn’t see who won but he heard cheers and Naruto pleading, “Oh, come on! Let me try one more time, Sakura!”


 

Even though Yavin 4 was days away, the trip felt short. Maybe it was because he'd spent most of the time just staring off into space, losing track of time.

He couldn't bear the idea of the kids he'd watched grow up suddenly being gone all except for Sasuke. There was a part of him that wanted to take what Kakashi had said about how maybe they hadn't been on the planet and hold onto that. He had been in the room when Kakashi sat down to meditate though. He'd seen the frown and defeated sigh. It hurt more that Kakashi wouldn't look him in the eye after.

Eventually, they made it to Yavin space, coming out of hyperspace a ways away from the planet.

"Sorry," Iruka engaged the thrusters and pushed them forward to the planet, ashamed he'd misjudged the landing point by so much.

"We're here," Kakashi reassured as they moved in closer, reaching across the board of lights and levers to flick on the communications systems that they had shut off until then. "It's still a rebel base so we'll probably find other people there. Maybe find someone to give this to."

Iruka didn't have to see what he was talking about to know Kakashi was talking about their small cargo of information. He just wanted to give it to someone and go, let the rest of the galaxy handle their problems so they could grieve in peace.

"Yavin 4 to unmarked transport, come in," A voice suddenly buzzed into the room.

Glancing at each other with a small beam of hope, Kakashi pressed a button to reply, "Transport to Yavin 4, we read."

"State your business." The person on the line got right to the point, at least.

"Kakashi Hatake requesting landing."

There was a long, drawn out pause because the person on the line came back with surprise, "Request granted, Master Kakashi. Welcome back."

"Thank you, Yavin 4." The line cut out and they sat in warm silence before Iruka cracked.

"Master Kakashi," He parroted and the Jedi next to him cracked a smile.

"Yeah, yeah," Kakashi brushed off the comment but there were still small smiles in the cabin as they headed down to the jungle-filled moon that orbited the smouldering, red gas giant in the distance, Yavin.

Following the directions Kakashi gave for the rebel base, they headed across rivers and lakes and over the thick, impenetrable forest of tall, winding trees. In the distance, a break.in the trees signaled civilization and they slowed down, hovering over the giant, ancient temple below and its surrounding landing area.

The land was smooth but as Kakashi stood to leave, Iruka stayed, watching the display of so many people moving to and from the main temple. He hadn’t seen so many people band together for the good of the galaxy before and was in awe. It was uplifting.

“I think I’ll stay here and get the ship settled in.”

Kakashi looked at him for a moment before nodding, “I’ll go find whoever’s in charge now and give them the intel.”

“Sounds good.”

Iruka followed him as he exited the ship and watched him cross the expanse of dirt to the temple, his worn cloak flicking with each step.

Eventually, he went back inside and shut down the ship. He didn’t know how long they’d be here but he could at least give his stolen ship a break. Setting a few scans to run on the software and sensors, he finally fully stepped outside to check in exterior for a few minutes. As he stared up at the drive units, a debate started in his head about going in to find Kakashi.

“Hey, mister.”

At the tiny voice, Iruka found a little girl staring up at him, squinting through her glasses. “Do you have a permit to park there?”

Half surprised, Iruka hesitated, “Uh, yes.”

“Good,” The girl kept staring at him for a few moments before finally relaxing and coming up to stand right next to Iruka. “Your ship is cool.”

“Thanks,” Iruka replied uncertainly, wondering why this little dark-haired girl looked so familiar.

“Sarada! What did I tell you about talking to…” The sudden motherly scolding trailed off as Iruka turned to see who was yelling at them.

“If we had them, then it would make our lives a lot easier,” Shikamaru was saying but Naruto could only hum in response, lost in thought as he stared at the holograms depicting their galaxy, their allies and the forces they were fighting against. The worrying thing was all the grey areas on the map, the undecided and the civilians. They had no stake in anything, just trying to live their lives without being bothered.

“We could always go to their leaders and persuade them,” Naruto offered, grasping at straws and so tired. He hadn’t slept much at all since Alderaan became rubble and it was starting to show. “Maybe after what happened, they’ll see what the Empire really is.”

“We can’t assume they’ll join us though,” Shikamaru pointed out. From the people moving around them, a rebel in uniform came out from the shadows with a newcomer in tow but the two men at the war table were so wrapped up in their own thoughts they didn’t see the man approaching them.

“Maybe if you give them a plan, they’d join,” Kakashi said casually as he sauntered over and all eyes were suddenly on him.

“Kakashi,” Naruto immediately grinned and swooped in for a quick, squeezing hug that Kakashi didn’t mind at all. “You made it. Did you get it?”

“I did,” Holding the databank up, he commented, “This place is very confusing, by the way. Too many hallways that lead to nowhere.”

“Got lost on the way here, huh?” Shikamaru joked as he respectfully shook the older man’s hand.

“Sort of. Naruto, there’s someone I think you should see.” The databank was plucked from his fingers though and jammed quickly into the holotable, his words going barely noticed.

“Maybe later.” Naruto brushed him off as he started tapping away at the screen.

“We need to get this to the strategies division as soon as possible,” Shikamaru was saying.

“Naruto,” Kakashi firmly interjected, his teacher voice coming out. The young man immediately flicked his attention back over, seeing the warmth and gravity that poured through his otherwise emotionless master.

With a frown, Naruto turned his body to really face him and take in what was being said and projected to him. From all the years they’d spent together, he could easily read the subtleties of his teacher’s stance, tone and movements. When he looked over the man now, he saw something he hadn’t seen in years. Something that came only ever from one specific person in this entire galaxy.

Naruto shook his head, face going into shock. “No…”

“No what?” A new voice asked from behind the rebels.

Leaning against a wall, Iruka grinned and winked at their stunned expressions. "No applause?"

Unlike when he and Kakashi were reunited, Naruto didn't have the hang ups that other Jedi had. Iruka had no time to really look at him at all because Naruto was quick to surge forward and throw himself at Iruka.

"Ah! Naruto!" Iruka laughed as his legs gave over under the weight. In a tangle of arms and legs, they both laughed and cried and joked about how heavy Naruto was and how much weaker Iruka got.

But what really hit Iruka in his gut, heart and entire body was Naruto's, "I knew it."

"These plans don't detail all of the weapon since it's almost 160 kilometers in diameter but it does detail the most important parts like canons, shields and even the hyperdrives," One of the analysts was saying a few hours later after they'd toured the facility and Naruto showed Iruka off thoroughly to anyone he knew.

Now, they were gathered quietly in a room packed with people listening to people explaining weak points of the so-called Death Star.

It was frightening how armed the planet killer was, fully stocked with hundreds of canons and full to the brim with stormtroopers. People were bouncing back and forth with ideas of how to destroy the thing and how the weakest point was a tiny circuit near the center of the weapon, hiding near one of the security rooms so well that even the engineers who had built and designed the weapon didn't think about it.

That was their target to killing the shields and leaving the whole ship vulnerable; the weakest link between the shields and the reactor that powered them. A bit of rewiring would send power flowing the opposite direction and spiralling back the way it came, overloading everything. And yet more of the people around them argued that it was a pipe dream. That it wouldn’t work. They had to somehow get inside the ship to take it down first. And that whoever was in there had a slim chance of making it out before the fleet took aim or before the Death Star engineers got the shields running again.

Iruka should have really expected it when Naruto stepped up next to him. “Then let’s use me as bait.”

“Naruto, that’s insane,” Sakura voiced, echoing Iruka’s own opinion.

“But I’m the one they want. Sasuke, Madara, Danzo; all of them want me dead personally. Serve me up with a bowl of noodles and they’ll jump at the chance to kill me themselves.”

The room went quiet for a moment, feeling that it wasn’t a bad idea but that it wasn’t a good one either.

“For extra measure,” Kakashi stood up from a few people down and Iruka knew that the Jedi was going to say something equally stupid. “I’ll come along.”

“The last two Jedi in the galaxy. A hard deal to pass up.” Naruto grinned at his own genius, crazy plan. Meanwhile, Iruka glared at them both in horror from behind. He just got here and they were going to leave again to possibly die? Even after everything they’d been through.

“I agree with Naruto,” Shikamaru’s opinion had the room warming up to the idea but his words made everyone go quiet. “But which one of you is going to blow the system? And how are you going to even get back?”

The two of them went quiet. They had no prowess in electronics or engineering. Anyone else who did know how was staying quiet. The fact of the matter was that this was a suicide mission. A reversal of that size so close to the hypermatter reactor would have an effect within minutes. And if the station was so huge, it would take minutes just to run back.

And yet there was a ship bay moderately deep into the battle station, a personal one meant for the Emperor and his closest allies. The quickest way in and the quickest way out. Iruka knew for a fact that he’d flown through tighter spaces at higher speeds. And he knew how to rewire a complex repeater. And he’d just escaped the Empire.

“I can.”

Everyone’s heads turned to him, confused and wondering who this person was who spoke up and even Shikamaru looked skeptical.

“He’s one of the best pilots in the galaxy.” From his side of the room, Kakashi was smiling fondly, knowing that this would be another adventure whether they died or not. And Iruka was okay with whatever happened.

Because then at least he’d be with his family.

After the specifics were sorted out and everyone had dispersed, Iruka and Naruto had found a spot near the canteen to relax for a bit while everyone prepared.

“It’s a shame Alderaan’s gone,” The young man was saying and Iruka nodded over his drink.

“Kakashi and I both thought you were on it.”

With a weary grin, he explained, “Yeah, well, we were on it a few hours before. We put together a squad to hit it a bit, test its shields. Then we had to really make a run for it.”

“I can imagine,” Iruka chuckled, studying the person who he had once known as a teenager who was now a man, confident and so much calmer. When Naruto caught him staring, he immediately brought up, “I can’t believe Sakura’s a mother.”

“Yeah,” Naruto winced.

“Who’s the…” As he spoke, Naruto kept his lips pursed even further and Iruka could tell exactly what he was thinking. “No… You’ve got to be kidding me.”

“She was pregnant when Oder 66 was sent out,” He explained. “She didn’t even know until a week or so later and then we had to lay low for a while.”

“Does Sasuke know?” Iruka asked.

When Naruto nodded, Iruka asked further, “How did he react?”

Looking off into memory, Naruto hummed, “Not good. We were on Mustafar. We heard they were gathering up people kill them. We thought… Well, Sakura was really pregnant around then. He almost killed her but thankfully Kakashi was there.”

“Where were you?” Iruka wondered and the Jedi flushed, looking embarrassed.

“Following another lead, looking for you.”

With a grin, Iruka playfully ruffled his hair and joked, “Aw, looking for little old me, huh?

“Yeah, yeah. I wasn’t the only one looking!” Naruto defended. “Kakashi looked even harder than I did.”

Iruka’s laugh cut off in his throat with the warmth traveling up his neck.

“He barely slept, barely ate. He even went back to the crash site when the planet was still crawling with troopers just to find you. Kinda creepy.”

Iruka didn’t find it creepy at all. He felt like it made up for all the nights he spent in a cell or in his cabins on Empire ships, wondering if they were looking for him, wishing they’d find him.

“Oh, uh, by the way,” Naruto flushed. “Maybe once this is over, you can meet my kids.”

“He has kids, Kakashi,” Iruka muttered under his stunned breath as they walked back to their ship. “Two of them.”

“He does,” Kakashi chuckled, leading them across the dirt path. “After the Jedi Order fell, he fell too.”

“So, you Jedi just decided to go crazy when the rules disappeared,” He chided and Kakashi smirked.

“Not really. We just stopped focusing so much on following rules and instead following the Force.” He looked to find Iruka unconvinced and chuckled again. “We stopped living in the future and started living in the moment instead. Besides, how was I going to punish him without you?”

Despite the prickling in his cheeks, Iruka agreed, “True, you couldn’t have wrangled him even if you wanted to.”

They made their way into the ship and were almost at their cabins when Iruka grinned, “I had to even wrangle you most of the time, I can’t imagine the chaos after I was gone.”

“It wasn’t good.” That stopped Iruka in his tracks and Kakashi said truthfully, “We were lost for a long time. But then we found purpose. Something to keep us going. And here we are.”

Standing just outside Iruka’s door, they studied each other in the dimly lit hair, moonlight reflecting off Kakashi’s hair and dancing over Iruka’s clothes. He couldn’t imagine what they had gone through, what they’d been through without him. All he knew was how he’d at least been used for labour while they had been on the run. He’d been given food, clothes and a bed despite keeping him on a tight leash but never once did they stop their hunt for the Jedi. Iruka wondered how that had affected them. They seemed okay but a few words from a Sith rolled around in his head.

"I can feel the darkness growing in you."

As if of the same mind, they reached out to squeeze each other’s hand for just a moment as Iruka assured, “We’re alive.”

And then they drifted apart with lingering glances before closing the doors to their rooms for the night.


 

“The kids are getting along well,” Iruka mused as he pulled his jacket off and replaced his shirt with a tunic he kept for sleep. Kakashi was already in their bunk, reading under the lamplight and he hummed in response.

“When Sasuke and Naruto aren’t arguing,” Kakashi muttered as he flipped a page, glancing over at the other man undressing before going back to his book.

“Still. They don’t argue as much anymore.” Iruka’s hopeful tone made Kakashi look up to study him.

“You are full of hope, Iruka Umino.”

The pilot climbed into bed beside him and winked. “Full of hope and noodles.”

He flicked off the light as Kakashi chuckled into the dark.

They eventually settled down next to each other, backs pressed together in the small space. Iruka had ordered a new, bigger cot for his cabin along with a set of bunk beds for the boys’ room so that Kakashi could choose whichever room he wanted.

Iruka mostly hoped he’d choose his cabin even though it was small. He’d gotten so used to sleeping with someone next to him, that warmth and the eventuality that they would always wake up in the morning as a tangle of limbs and hair.


 

His cover was that he’d followed Kakashi to the Rebel base, pretending to be an ally when he’d really followed to bring back intel for the Empire. He instead jumped the ship to the Death Star instead of Kakashi’s coordinates and was bringing them in for a reward: his freedom.

It was a good plan. Iruka was just nervous. So tense that he’d missed the lead up to them leaving and suddenly he was taking off, propelled up into the sky and the stars beyond.

It would be a short flight, only a day or so until they reached the edge of the Death Star's sensors. Behind them, the entire fleet of Rebel ships were following just until that point. Then, they would split and their team would be all alone, on a mission to get those shields down no matter what. And they had a little less than twenty minutes to do it.

But for now, they had a little window of time to relax in but Iruka had other plans.

As if on cue, Kakashi let himself into the cockpit with a smirk, "Ready for another close encounter with death?"

"As always," Iruka replied half heartedly and chose his next words carefully. "Hey… Kakashi? Are you sure you're good to do this?"

"Hm?" Kakashi stilled and his smirk fell as if sensing what Iruka was thinking about. "What do you mean?"

"I mean… I heard Sasuke say on Corellia that he could sense darkness in you. And we're headed for the darkest place in the galaxy right now." Iruka didn't know if one affected the other but by the way Kakashi studied him, he guessed he wasn't wrong.

"I'll be okay." Kakashi didn't smile this time, taking Iruka's concerns seriously.

Maybe it was the worry in Iruka's face or the need to share but Kakashi continued on just a bit more, letting Iruka into his world a nudge more, "I used to struggle with it a lot in the past. Obito going over was the start of it."

Iruka remembered those days well and how horrible it had been to watch Kakashi deal with Obito becoming a Sith.

"The Council could see that too and sent me away to straighten myself out a bit. Even after such an amazing vacation, the darkness was still there. So, faded that the Council couldn't see it, but I knew it was there. And then Order 66 turned the peace I made with it upside down."

Kakashi sighed. "With the Jedi Order wiped out, another teammate of mine gone over to the dark side again and…"

He trailed off as eyes wandered over to Iruka, his mind still remembering as he muttered with so much feeling behind his words, "Losing you."

There weren't any other words needed for Iruka to know that the darkness had been so strong back then. He could feel it in Kakashi's words, see it in Kakashi's dark eyes.

"Darkness breeds darkness. But there's so much light in the galaxy, in the Force." The Jedi smiled again and reached across the space between them, a hand Iruka didn't hesitate to take. "So, don't worry about me. I'll be fine."

There was some reassurance in his words and Iruka knew all he could do was trust that Kakashi was right.

"Or we'll all die in a blaze of glory anyway," Iruka joked and the other man scoffed, squeezing his hand.

"I guess that would be a good way to go."

"Better than whatever they'd have cooked up for us if they find us."

"Oh, don't worry. They'll just kill us," Kakashi joked right back and they both groaned in anxious tension.

Then it was quiet for a long time, their hands still twined together even as Iruka's fingers started to go numb from the angle. Together as they flew through space, Iruka could help being thankful for everything that had happened. He was so thankful for having met Kakashi and Naruto and Sakura. He felt like he'd done good. He'd had a good life.

He still didn't want to die, that was a given but at least he didn't have any regrets.

The signal finally came that they had reached the meeting point and their fingers slid out of each other as Kakashi stood to get ready.

But in the quiet, Iruka shot up and caught him by the wrist before he could leave.

As Kakashi turned in confusion, a warm kiss pressed to his cheek and Iruka went back to his seat. He could have said how he felt. It had been a great moment for it but… He didn't feel like he had to. Kakashi knew.

After a moment, he heard the door slide open and shut again. Then he was alone, waiting for the signal to go.

It didn't take long. A few minutes later and they were off again at the announcement over the comms. It didn't take long at all to get to where they were going after that but Iruka wouldn't have even seen the planet killer if it hadn't been for his map.

It was like looking at night upon night. The dark exterior of the base blended almost completely with the night sky except for the side facing the sun of this system. It was huge from a distance but even more massive as they got closer.

"DS-1 to unidentified starship. Read."

"Starship to DS-1, copy." Iruka tried to say confidently.

"Starship, you don't have clearance to fly into this space. Turn around or be terminated."

Oh, Iruka did not like the sound of termination.

"DS-1, I have an urgent gift for the Emperor. Naruto Uzumaki and Kakashi Hatake." Iruka paused but there was no reply so her urged, "Please, before they find out where I've taken them here."

A deadly silence fell over the ship and it felt like everything was falling apart. This wasn’t going to work. He was such an idiot. Why did he even suggest doing this?

“Starship, you’ve been cleared for landing. Please proceed to bay 66 for processing.”

He was a genius.

Pressing the ship forward faster, he giddily searched the planet for any dock or bay numbers, finding that only one was waiting open, light blinking green right above the door. And the closer they got, the better he could see the canons trained on the ship. And suddenly they were in the tunnel, flying through towards a doorway he could see opening not too far ahead. He knew the plan. He knew what he had to do.

So, he jerked the ship up. Not too far to hit into the Death Star but just enough to make it seem like his flight pattern was erratic. He wiped into the hangar so quickly, the stormtroopers below taking up their weapons. Activating the landing procedure, he let the ship do what it needed to as he ran through the ship to the exit. Messing his hair, tugging at his clothes and just making himself look like he was in a struggle, he hurried down the gangplank that hadn’t even touched the ground yet and put on his best acting skills.

“Help!” And he pretended to trip and fall. Thankfully, he’d thrown himself off ships before because he wouldn’t have instinctively caught himself on the edge of the walkway if he didn’t. Hearing the troopers call out to him, he ignored them and dropped the few feet left to the floor. Scurrying to his feet, he ran to the side to avoid getting crushed by the ship with a fearful, nervous look on his face.

A trooper was suddenly in his face, yelling at him to get on his knees and he complied, yelling, “They’re in there!”

The ship hit the floor and Iruka watched with a flicker of panic as troopers ran inside. And as if the world was reversed, he saw Naruto and Kakashi escorted out of the ship in cuffs. He knew their lightsabers were concealed on them and that they had things under control but he still couldn’t help but wonder if this is how they felt when they realised that they’d left him behind.

And then he was cuffed too.

And he almost started to panic until someone in a dark uniform came up to him.

“Congratulations on your find, Captain…”

“Umino.”

“Captain Umino. The Emperor would like to thank you personally for your contribution to the galaxy. I hope you don’t mind the safety precautions.” Their voice strict and quick, the man with obvious power smiled in a way that was almost sincere but mostly nasty.

“Sure, I guess.” Iruka was hauled after the group, their quick march was hard to keep up with but he anxiously stepped into line. The moved passed the exit and through winding halls. All the while, Iruka tried to memorize the layout, remembering the map of the ship.

The Emperor’s chambers were massive as they suddenly turned into a doorway. With glossy, black floors and walls, the ceiling extended on so high into the ship as a dais with a dark throne looked over the entire room.

“It’s been such a long time, Jedi,” Voice dark and croaking, the chair turned to reveal Emperor Danzo in a dark cloak but not as Iruka remembered him. He had aged so quickly. His face was worn and wrinkled more than an old bag and angry red eyes grew from his skin like an infection. If he hadn’t been expecting him, Iruka couldn’t have recognized Danzo at all.

“Leave us,” He suddenly said sharply and the troopers marched out on command but the man with Iruka lingered.

“My liege, this is the pilot who brought them here. How would you like him to be compensated?”

“Give him whatever he wants.” The order left everyone stunned but when two other figures came out of a dark passageway to the side, Iruka’s escort grabbed Iruka’s elbow and started dragging him out. Iruka glanced back one more time to see the two Jedi focused on the Sith who had entered the room. He mentally wished them good luck and was led back the way they came.

Now, Iruka was all alone with the commander-looking guy escorting him back to the ship.

He seemed pale and nervous from that interaction so Iruka decided to poke the bear now that he had a chance.

“So, anything I want?” He grinned and the commander sighed.

“Yes, anything you want, Captain.”

“How about these cuffs off for a first?” He persuaded.

There was an eye roll but the man went along with Iruka’s request. Moving to grab a ring of keys from his pocket and unlock the cuffs, he didn’t expect Iruka to swing his arms around and smack him right in the temple.

Staring at the man now unconscious on the floor, Iruka marveled at how quick he’d gone down before hurrying to undo the cuffs himself. Free, he grabbed the keys and dragged the new body to the nearest doorway. Inside the small, unlocked storage compartment, Iruka quickly tied the man up and took his keys and things. He didn’t have time to change into the man’s clothes. That was a risk he’d have to take.

Hurrying back up the hall, he passed the Emperor’s chambers and hoped those sounds of lightsabers humming and sparking were a good sign.

He didn’t stay to find out. He just kept going. When there wasn’t anyone in the halls, he sprinted the entire length. He only stopped once at a window that looked deep into the weapon itself. Down below, there was a metal walkway that stretched across a giant air shaft. It was the light of two sabers that caught Iruka’s eye; one a synthetic, bleeding red while the other was a brilliant green. One he could tell was Sasuke, eyes burning hatefully at the other man across from him.

But it wasn’t Naruto or Kakashi. It was instead an oddly familiar figure, one he’d only met a few days ago. Their dark hair was still pulled back, wearing the same cloak from the dusty planet.

“Kill me then,” Their spy said as Sasuke panted ferociously.

“Goodbye, brother,” Sasuke declared as he swooped in and sliced right through the other man. But they didn’t fall. Instead, Sasuke flew right through their body as if they weren’t there, like he was a hologram.

Both Iruka and Sasuke looked in confusion as the man Sasuke had just zoomed right through disappeared with a wave. He didn’t stay for Sasuke to look up and see him.

He had other things to worry about. Getting caught by personnel was one of them.

At one point, he encountered a group of stormtroopers heading passed him but he kept his eyes up and confident, pretending like he belonged there. It worked like a charm for the most part. It was only as he was about to turn the last corner when a voice called out, “Hey! You’re not supposed to be here.”

Another person in the same black uniform was marching up the hall menacingly, hand on his hip where a blaster was holstered.

“Hey,” Iruka put up a disarming smile and went for a tactic he knew well. “I was working over in sector 4 but they sent me up here to find a General Wu. Have you seen him by any chance?”

“What? I’ve never heard of a General-” Iruka’s own weapon hit him right in the chest and sent him flying to the floor. Iruka waited one second to see if he would get up and another to listen for anyone coming. Nothing on both ends. This was going surprisingly well. He just had to hide the body.

Grabbing the body and starting to drag him back, he heard someone gasp.

He looked up and saw an employee with a lunch tray staring at Iruka, both of them frozen.

“Help!” He quickly called, not knowing if they’d seen Iruka shoot him. “Can’t you see this man is having a heart attack!”

“Oh, shit,” He heard them swear and drop their tray to quickly hurry over to Iruka. Before they could see the wound, Iruka had laid the man down and took the obviously shaken employee's shoulder. “I’ll go get help.”

And then he ran. He didn’t bother looking back at all when he heard the scream.

He just kept running, legs going as fast as they could. He just had to make it to the wing where that circuit was and shut himself in for a bit.

As he thought that, the whole hall went red and a siren started blaring. Okay, he had a lot less time than he thought.

He was only a few turns away though. He could do this. Keeping that in mind, he kept his phaser at the ready and pulled a screwdriver out of his belt in preparation as he turned the last corner. With a happy grin, he saw the panel Shikamaru had shown him about halfway up the hall, right in the alcove of a doorway. Hurrying into that little hideaway, he jammed the screwdriver into the base of the panel and ripped it off.

Beneath, a whole network of neat, tidy cables awaited him and he was so happy it wasn’t a mess like all the other ship he’d hijacked or blown up. That made ripping out cables and hot wiring them a lot easier.

What didn’t make it easier was the group of stormtroopers who started yelling from down the hall, “We’ve found him. Fire!”

He did not miss being target practise at all to say the least and he ducked into the corner as he worked, hiding and occasionally letting a blast go before ducking again and working even harder.

And then he fused the last ones together and the whole hall went dark for a second before coming back up like the lights had blinked.

He’d done it. The shields should be down in a matter of minutes. He just had to get out of there before then so that they wouldn’t get blasted out of the system.

The stormtroopers constantly firing at him weren’t helping.

Scanning the small alcove, he tried the room he was backed up against and found that fate was on his side. The long room was a conference room with another exit at the back. He fired a few times down the hall to give the impression he was still there before making a break for it. Out the other side, he sprinted away from the sound of weapons firing, back towards the way he’d come. The alert was still going on, covering the halls with red light over and over again as he ran faster with every step. Home. He just wanted to go home.

Willing himself forward, he heard the sound of footsteps running down the hall ahead of him and stopped just short of the corridor he had to take. He waited and listened for the right moment, holding up his gun. Throwing himself into the hall, he almost shot and took off Kakashi's head as he and Naruto sprinted towards him.

The two of them were bloody and torn but alive.

Thankfully, he hadn't fired.

"You're alive," he called against the alarm above as Naruto took the lead.

Kakashi was obviously okay by the way he sassed, "But I almost wasn't just now."

"You would've avoided it," He reassured with a grin but Kakashi held back a similar smile as they took off down another hall.

"They blocked one hall to the ship. We'll have to go around," Naruto was explaining as they wound through the ship. It was only when they got to the very last door that they found trouble again. The last problem before the flying part.

Up ahead, a wall of troopers were blocking the exit, guns drawn and ready to blast them down. As soon as they saw the three of them, they fired and the trio ducked down and hid in doorways.

"So, just to let you know," Iruka called out in the chaos. "The shields are down and the Alliance is definitely shooting at this thing right now so… we don't really have much time. Like, maybe in about five minutes tops."

The ground suddenly shook and he heard Naruto yell back, "Five is more than enough!"

"Stay behind me," Kakashi called into his ear like he had done so many times before and both Jedi stepped out into the path of the beams flying by.

Cloaks flying and lightsabers flicking to life, Iruka watched as they stepped into the line of fire like they were made of smoke. With a whirl of their blades, they knocked away beams aimed for their heads and danced around each other as they got closer and closer to the wall blocking them. Within seconds, they were in their faces, slicing through their armour and weapons.

It was breathtaking every time and Iruka couldn’t help but watch. And none of them noticed the lone trooper at the back to took aim except him. And the fear he should have felt for his family instead manifested into pure rage. Through the smoke and blinking red light, he stepped out with his blaster aimed at the trooper’s head and shot them dead.

The three of them stood panting in the hall for barely a second before jolting into action, ripping the doors open and sprinting to the ship. Just like Iruka left it, the ship was still hot and ready in sleep mode. Running ahead of them, he flew back through the ship and into his seat like he was on fire. His shaking hands pressed buttons. Kakashi strapped himself in beside him but he was already thrusting them forward as the station shook again.

Grinding against the floor, the feet retracted into the ship as they gained speed. The cramped space had Iruka gripping the wheel tightly and pouring all his focus into just getting them out quickly and in one piece.

A ding to one side told them they’d hit something. Another clang to the other side had Iruka only moving faster. The ship around them was moving, shaking and knocking them around from the inside out.

He suddenly blacked out, unconscious to what he was doing until suddenly there was darkness all around them. They were out. They were safe, surrounded by endless space.

He numbly heard a blast go off. A light behind them propelled them further into space and he heard Naruto’s muffled cheering in the background, “We did it! Yes! It’s gone!”

“We did it, Rebels.” Shikamaru’s voice came in through the intercoms.

Feeling weak and lightheaded, Iruka closed his eyes and dropped his head back against the headrest.

A soft hand on his shoulder had him looking over to find Kakashi standing above him, smiling warmly. The haze of pure bliss all around him, he felt at peace.


 

The light from the grey, raining skies dripped through the bars onto Iruka’s head. Jolting awake in his small, cold cell, he tried to recall what happened. He didn’t know where he was or how he got there. He just knew he wasn’t with Kakashi and the kids.

Looking up at the dripping skies, he pushed away the upcoming panic and assured himself that whatever happened, everything was going to be okay. He’d find his family. He’d get back to them somehow. Even though his head was hurting and his body ached, he knew where he wanted to be. He just had to get there. He had to get home.


 

Naboo was just as beautiful the last time Iruka had seen it. The rolling fields and city were all as majestic as he remembered. The garage Sakura had given him wasn’t like his old one. It was smaller, cleaner and definitely didn’t have all his parts inside it but it was a place to store his stolen ship and he was very happy with it.

Nowadays, he was content to tinker, sit around by the lakes and babysit the children whenever their parents were away on business. Naruto would come everyday to visit with or without his sweet kids and Iruka appreciated his company no matter what.

His life was so much calmer now that they’d settled on Sakura’s home planet. He taught pilots in the city and lived out in the fields in a small home near the garage and by the lakeside, happy to keep to himself most of the time. It gave him ample time to reflect and come to terms with himself.

Of course, Iruka would have asked for a place closer to the city and his kids but the solitude of his tiny home had brought one man to his homestead to almost never leave.

Kakashi was more of a homebody than Iruka could ever be, preferring to stay at home with the garden he’d started and Iruka was very much okay with that. He’d spent too many years chasing after that crazy Jedi and too many more flying him out of trouble to ever do it again. They’d both settled down into their new, peaceful lives quite well and Iruka felt that this was enough.

Sure, he loved Kakashi down to his bones and knew that the man cared about him too but he was happy with the way things were. Maybe one day they’d move forward but they had all the time in the galaxy for that.

It was months later after they’d destroyed the Death Star. The galaxy was taking break to figure things out. The Emperor was declared dead as was Sith lord Obito. Iruka didn’t ask what happened but did notice that nothing was said about Sasuke. But he didn’t ask and they all moved on to their new lives in the open, without hiding or orders.

Padding through his home one evening, Iruka found that the meditation room was empty as was the rest of the home. Driven by curiosity, he stepped outside and found the garden empty too. His gut told him that Kakashi wasn’t far and followed that feeling down to the lake. Just as predicted, the Jedi was standing at the water’s edge, outlined by the glow of sunset and the shimmering of the lake.

Without needing to say hi, Iruka walked down to stand beside him, taking in the amazing view of the sun going down beyond the horizon as one of the other two suns set behind it. Enjoying the light and the company, they both stayed quiet with their minds thoughtless and hearts swelled with awe. Iruka only looked up many minutes later to find Kakashi looking over at him. He raised a brow and Kakashi only smirked, looking away.

“What?” Iruka finally broke the silence.

The quirk of Kakashi’s lips was mesmerising. “I was just thinking how this felt oddly familiar.”

He didn’t have to ask to know what Kakashi was thinking about and flushed, “It does.”

“We should go back there sometime.” The comment was provoking, hinting that he wanted to go not just for the view.

“We can go. Just say the word.” Iruka promised, both of them looking at each other through the corner of their eyes.

“How about right now?”

Iruka scoffed. “I am not taking you halfway across the galaxy at this time of night just so...”

His words trailed off as Kakashi took one of his hands and his mind went blank as Kakashi leaned in a stole his words right from his lips. This time, instead of moving away, they leaned into each other. Hands and arms wound around each other as lips moved together, taking each other’s breath away. The dizzy feeling of being so close and so perfectly fitted was intoxicating, losing their minds to the feeling of being with each other until they finally pulled away to breathe.

With their breath coming out hot and heavy, they stayed close, foreheads pressed together and noses tracing cheekbones. The warm sun beaming down couldn’t compare to what it felt like to finally be so close, basking in each other’s warmth.

As breathless as Iruka was, he felt so happy. So infinitely happy. He couldn’t help the small chuckled that escaped and found that they were both breaking down into giddy laughter. Panting and pulling each other closer for a tight, lingering hug, Kakashi muttered, “How about we go back home?”

With a grin, Iruka pulled back to grab Kakashi’s hand and pull him back the way they’d came.

“Home.”