Lee never told him to give up on Rin.
Oh, she made it clear that the girl would likely never like him back, that if she hadn't by now then that was surely a sign of something. However, she never said he should give up on her and try to move on, nor did she look at him with the same amused pity that Minato-sensei often did.
He'd often wanted to ask her why.
Even Obito knew chasing after Rin, after all these years, was a hopeless and pathetic endeavor.
Rin was perfectly aware of how Obito felt, probably knew it from their first day in the academy together, and had always made sure to carefully treat him as a friend and nothing more.
He never managed to muster the nerve, but then, as usual Lee made it clear that he didn't have to. With no particular prompting, on an ordinary day, she simply came out and told him.
"I'd be quite the hypocrite if I told you to give up on Nohara Rin when I've never really gotten over Minato."
They were eating takeout ramen, in the middle of watching one of her many English movies, and she'd said it with no prompting whatsoever. Obito choked on his ramen and spent the next minute trying to catch his breath.
"I ran into Minato earlier," Lee presented by way of explanation, "He was concerned, said Nohara has a new boyfriend, wasn't sure how you would take it. Since he's never been able to get through to you, he figured I should give it a whirl. This is me giving it a whirl."
"Rin has a what?!" Obito spluttered.
"A new boyfriend," Lee said, "Probably, apparently she's getting very chummy with some chunin. Minato says the kid seems nice enough, which of course means he's unbelievably boring."
Obito was fifteen, by this point, Rin had had a string of off and on again boyfriends. They usually didn't last long, usually didn't last longer than their first meeting with Bakashi and Obito, but this latest one was not the first nor would he be the last.
They were always sweet, good-looking enough, and as Lee succinctly summarized: dreadfully boring.
Still, it always felt like a knife in his heart to hear that, yet again, Rin was off dating someone else when Obito had been right there for years. And, as usual, she'd taken some pains to hide this from Obito.
"You're not looking so good," Lee noted as she glanced at Obito, who, probably wasn't looking so good.
"I've just found out the love of my life is dating someone else, again," Obito said, "Forgive me if I need five seconds to process this."
Lee nodded, as if this was the most natural thing in the world, and perhaps it was. He'd never asked, but he wondered how long it had taken her to truly process that Minato was dating, and later married, Uzumaki Kushina.
She gave him his five seconds and then some, enough for him to remember her words, and ask, "Minato asked you to tell me to give up?"
"Not in so many words," Lee mused, "But he's becoming concerned. Personally, I think he forgets what love is."
"I told you once," Lee said, "Love grants you no guarantees of being loved back. It's a messy business, really, but ultimately worth it. You chasing after Rin has nothing to do with whether she ever chooses to chase after you. You just have to… accept it as it is."
"Well, that's depressing," Obito said.
"Which is why Minato asked me to talk to you," Lee said, "But life is depressing, anyone who tells you otherwise is trying to sell you something."
"But you're saying there's no hope?"
"I never said that," Lee said, "But, if you're in this business solely so that Rin may one day love you back…"
"Right," he said dully.
With that, she turned her attention back to the show, apparently pleased with a job well done. Undoubtedly, she would tell Minato she'd told Obito everything he needed to hear and that it was all taken care of.
Because to her, she had watched Minato date and then marry Kushina without flinching.
Obito had considered it before but in that moment, he pictured Rin seriously dating and then marrying someone else. It was very likely, if he was being in honest, and it… hurt. However, he couldn't see anything changing because of it.
He would still be there, he had to be, and she knew how he felt. Surely, that was all that truly mattered.
As it was, Rin ended up breaking up with the guy within a week, and half a year later Obito had joined Eru Lee on a mission to a new dimension.
"I was wondering when you'd show up."
It was as if a single, clear, bell rang out through the silence.
Immediately, Anakin's fitful dream of Padme and Naboo was interrupted, and he found himself hurtling through the vastness of space. He found himself looking down at a solitary Jedi fighter, drifting through unnoticed through dozens of Republic and Separtists ships.
There was a single pilot, no droid for navigation, and yet that didn't seem to concern her. She wore only half the necessary gear for combat flight, her helmet and headset were missing, and at the moment she huddled shivering beneath a thermal blanket.
She was paler than she should have been, her eyes twice as bright, and there was a cold look of determination on her features.
Her ship idly drifted forward through what had once been Alderaan. It was not alone, there were many ships there now in the aftermath, searching for the planet and people that had simply disappeared.
Through her own will, and through some of his, hers alone was unnoticed.
In the dream, it seemed obvious to Anakin that Lee would come to Alderaan, he had known the moment Obito had set foot there. In the dream, as with many dreams Anakin had, everything seemed obvious.
When he woke up from his fitful sleep in Obi-Wan's cavern, his mind would undoubtedly turn back to Padme. If he remembered this at all, it would be with bitterness and confusion, that of all people he would choose to dream of Lee.
"You've been very quiet," Lee continued, "I thought, at least with Palpatine, you'd have something to say."
"Of course," Lee said, "Perhaps you always intended for me to kill him. Perhaps I was supposed to do it years ago, after he murdered Master Tobirama with no one the wiser. I can never tell with you. This though… This was you, wasn't it?"
He conjured the form of Minato Namikaze, the friend she no longer remembered, to stand just outside her windshield. Made from nothing more than shadows and light, his form held even in the void of space. He projected his words directly into the ship as he spoke.
"Lee, what are you looking for?"
She spared him a dull look, "My wayward apprentice."
She said it as if it were the most obvious thing in the galaxy.
"He abandoned you," he said, "Obito Uchiha is no longer a Jedi nor your padawan."
"And?" she asked in return.
"If he wanted to be found," he continued, twisting Minato's lips into a frown, "Wouldn't he have come to you?"
"And?" she asked once again.
"How will you find him?" he asked, "He was here, yes, but soon he could be anywhere at all, perhaps he is dead already, even I don't—"
"Do you honestly think that will stop me?" Lee asked, raising her eyebrows at him, and offering him a wan smile.
"Why?" he finally asked.
After all this, after everything he had done, he had not thought she would look for him. She had her children to consider, she had the welfare of her brother to consider, and in this world Obito Uchiha had left her first.
She had destroyed the Jedi Order, everything she had known and ever believed in, for an apprentice who was actively running from her.
"I don't think something like you would understand," she finally said, then, after a pause, she said, "No, perhaps you would understand most of all."
"We've been friends for a long time, Haruki. We've been together through thick and through thin, war and peace, through everything. I just destroyed your Jedi Order, your Republic, and turned my back on my own brother, who for all intents and purposes is your avatar. You just destroyed an entire planet, trying to stop me from reaching Obito, and yet here we are. The instant I called; you came."
"Why should I do anything less for Obito Uchiha?"
Obito contemplated the dark expanse of Kamui.
Or, rather, he stared at the dark expanse before him, what he contemplated was the cave he left behind.
Fully rested and grimly determined, Obito had a few things to consider. For obvious reasons, he wasn't going to appear directly in the cave. The ship would barely fit and then Skywalker would probably be standing right there.
The question was, just how far should he go?
Obito had transported himself in and out of Kamui many times now. So far as he could tell, the sky was the limit. He'd transported himself across Coruscant and Alderaan with ease multiple times. However, Obito had never tried transporting something this large that far of a distance.
Nor, for that matter, had he tried jumping from one planet to another or even just outside a planet's orbit.
Ideally, he could transport himself and the ship to the middle of space, far from Alderaan, and be on his merry way. However, if he couldn't, if he was wrong… Obito wasn't certain the sharingan worked in the same manner, but he'd seen what failed apparaition did to English wizards, and Obito could not afford to leave a few of his limbs behind.
However, if he appeared in Alderaan's airspace… Well, Obito would not put it past Haruki to have Alderaan's air defense system lock onto position the very second he reappeared.
He'd flip a coin, but unfortunately, the galaxy didn't believe in hard currency and everything was done via credits. Not to mention that, as a rogue Jedi, Obito had no money and had been stealing every material possession he had.
Well, where had playing it safe ever gotten him?
If he'd played it safe, then he'd still be a Jedi, wouldn't he?
He breathed out, forced himself to concentrate as he gripped the flight lever. Not too far outside of Alderaan's orbit, just outside of its orbital defense system, then he could take off into hyperspace.
"Here we go."
With practiced ease of memories, he had never truly lived, Obito turned on the engine, initiated lift off, and began to move forward. As he did, the sharingan flared to life, and he moved his chakra not only through himself but the ship at large, allowing the ship and everything inside it to slide through the curtain of Kamui and into the stars.
Only to immediately hear the ship's planetary proximity alarms blaring.
Obito fired the thrusters, compensating for the sudden lack of gravity he had been expecting, and desperately corrected course, away from Alderaan's moons which were not at all where they should have been.
"What the hell?" Obito checked his radar, then looked out into space.
The moons were accounted for, their orbits completely out of sync of what they should have been, but Alderaan itself was… gone.
Not even in pieces, not altered or off course, but simply not there at all.
An entire planet, populated with cities and life, orbited by multiple moons, had just disappeared.
He checked his dash again, his coordinates were where he had expected them, by all accounts he should have rematerialized just outside of Alderaan's orbit. It wasn't the sharingan that was the problem, or at least, not unless the sharingan had failed him at the same time as his navigation systems…
A cold feeling began to sink through him even as he carefully prepped for the jump to hyperspace. A realization was slowly growing in the back of his mind, so that by the time he launched them forward into hyperspace, it wasn't just gravity that knocked the breath out of him.
There had been a great, blinding, light as he'd come back for Kakashi and Rin…
He heard movement from the back of the ship, groaning, coughing, as Kakashi and or Rin came back to life. While a part of Obito's mind focused on them, on the noise and the movement, the larger part of him stared blindly forward into the stream of starlight that encompassed hyperspace.
Obito wasn't sure what to think, no, he wasn't thinking at all. Instead of thoughts there was this white noise in his head and the distant notion of how many days in hyperspace it would take him to get out past the outerrim from the core systems.
His knuckles turned white from how hard he was gripping the steering wheel.
"Obito?" Rin's voice, harsh and cracked, sounded behind him.
As he turned back toward her, she offered him a weary smile. Under the ship's lighting, it was easier to see the extent of her injuries. Minor bruises, cuts, scattered across her skin. Her hair mussed and in disarray, ash still smudged across her face.
She supported Kakashi's larger weight and bulk under one shoulder, slumping underneath it, but standing all the same.
She opened her mouth as she stared him directly in the eye, then closed it, the words dying on her tongue.
Finally, she simply said, "You took us with you after all."
Obito turned back to look at the stars, saying nothing. Rin didn't appear to mind his silence and, carefully setting Kakashi down in the doorway, made her way into the cockpit to stand just behind him, "Thank you, Obito, I—"
"Skywalker would not have killed you," Obito said, and that much he believed. Perhaps, the Force might have goaded Skywalker to take them as hostages, just to see how much it could make Obito twitch, but he would not have killed them outright.
Except, of course, the Force had not chosen to do that.
No, it had—
It had done something Obito could scarcely wrap his head around.
"No, Obito," Rin said slowly, stunned tears welling in her eyes, as if she could scarcely believe her own words either, "You saved our lives. You—"
She trailed off, looked out past him to the horizon through the glass, then said the damning words, "It's all gone. All of it—just like that. An entire planet is just—"
"I'll be dropping you and Kakashi off shortly," Obito said, "Somewhere in the outerrim, someplace no one will ever visit, what you do from there—Well, that's your business."
"What do you mean?" Rin asked, sounding alarmed.
"This was it," Obito said with a sense of finality, "This is as far as our paths go together."
"What are you talking about?" Rin asked, "Obito, don't you understand what's happened?! Alderaan, an entire planet, is just gone—"
"Oh, I know perfectly well what happened," Obito said with a bitter laugh, feeling a little deranged, as if he was standing at the edge of a great abyss, "Which is why I'm getting rid of you two at my earliest convenience. It's been fun, I won't say I'm not glad you're alive, but sentimentality can only get you so far, you know."
Rin just laughed, "You know what happened? Do you really? Because I don't!"
She shook her head, her thin padawan's braid moving back and forth, "I just know that one of my oldest friends—my best friends—suddenly became a Sith who is not a Sith, the Jedi Order has completely collapsed, and now a planet has disappeared!"
Was that all?
To her, it was overwhelming, to him that was nothing.
Nothing in the face of what he was now reeling with.
Alderaan was gone, not even blown up, but simply taken out of existence. Rin had all but confirmed it, and connected to the Force as she was, she must know. Haruki had destroyed a world and every life on it because Obito had once dared to set foot on its soil.
If Obito hadn't delayed his departure, if he hadn't caught up on sleep in Kamui, or even if he had simply waited too long to leave the cave…
Sharingan or not, surely, that would have been it. Obito would be gone, dead, just like everyone else on that miserable planet.
The blood of billions upon billions of people now rested on his hands...
And more was undoubtedly coming.
The Force had gone this far, Obito didn't have to guess to know it would go further. Any planet Obito landed on, any time his foot so much as touched the ground, and the entire planet would be facing a death warrant.
Obito had become a plague upon this universe, just as the Force himself had promised him, and it would not end until Obito was subdued or eliminated.
It suddenly struck Obito that, in challenging the Force, he truly had challenged a god in his own domain. He remembered his determination, not so long ago, his acknowledgement of the difficulty of his task but…
He didn't think it'd truly sunk in, until now, exactly what that meant.
And yet, even so, he could not turn back.
It simply meant that he was out of time.
"Obito, are you even listening to me?!" Rin asked, grasping his shoulder in blind desperation.
"Either I'm dropping you off on a planet or I'm shoving you out the airlock," Obito said coldly, "End of discussion."
"Well, when you give us those choices—" Kakashi murmured from the doorway, barely audible and coughing on the last word.
"Obito," Rin said, "Whatever is happening—"
"Oh, what do you know about what's happening?" Obito asked, "Don't you have your own problems to worry about? What about your precious Jedi Order? Didn't you have some grandiose plans to find the others and rebuild? You certainly wouldn't want me involved with any of that—"
"And why not?!" Rin asked.
"Because you're a Sith?" She motioned towards him, "Because you're supposed to be a Sith?"
"What do you mean, supposed to be—"
"I don't know what happened to you," Rin said, "I don't know what the Force thinks happened to you, but you are not gone, Obito. You saved our lives! Even now, when you could shove us out the airlock just like you're threatening to, you haven't yet!"
"As for the Jedi…" Rin trailed off, grimacing, "As for anything, Obito, ever since you left it feels like all the rules have been rewritten. I only know that whatever path I'm walking, it's not one that diverges from yours."
Of course it wasn't, Obito thought in dumb amazement, because that would not serve the Force's purposes.
Oh, this was all very touching, wasn't it? It very nearly fooled him, not the least because Rin herself undoubtedly believed it. However, in the end she would follow him to the ends of the universe because that was what the Force required of her and Kakashi.
If they left Obito now, what use were they?
She might not be a puppet, but she dangled from strings all the same.
"I'm afraid, Rin, that this truly is the end of the line," Obito said.
"And just what are you doing that's so much more important?" Kakashi asked, opening bleary eyes to stare at Obito, "Just where is it you have to go that isn't some planet where no one will ever find you?"
"That's my business," Obito said, but Kakashi just gave him an insufferable smirk.
"Is it?" Kakashi asked, "You know, I always knew you were more perceptive than anyone but your master gave you credit for."
"Kakashi—" Rin warned as Kakashi took a deep, rattling breath.
"Hot-headed, sure, loudmouthed, certainly, but you were never stupid," Kakashi continued despite Rin's warning, "I find it a little convenient, my old friend, that just after you decide to become a Sith with no warning whatsoever, the Jedi Order launches a coup, and now a planet simply disappears."
He wasn't wrong, of course, but it wasn't for Obito to tell him that. Idly, Obito wondered what the Force made of its sentients suddenly wondering why the shape of their universe had changed so dramatically. Given how he had once, not so long ago, treated Kenobi, Obito was certain he thought nothing of it.
"Good for you," Obito said, "I don't care."
Kakashi looked upwards towards the ceiling of the ship, as if towards the heavens, and said, "The Force seems to care."
He couldn't help it, those words, a few simple words that were so innocuous and perhaps even uplifting to Kakashi, pushed him over the edge. Suddenly, it was all terribly, horribly, funny in how this unwitting pawn, a man who shouldn't have ever existed, hit the nail right on the head.
The Force seemed to care.
Obito tried to gather himself, tried to look back at Kakashi, but it just caused him to laugh harder.
"Oh, I know the Force cares," Obito finally managed to get out, "In fact, I could let you in on a little secret, I could let you know just how much the Force really cares."
He doubted they believed him, doubted they'd be capable of it. After all, what good would it do Haruki if Kakashi and Rin were to believe Obito's dirty little secret: the truth of their entire existence. That would only get in the way of their spying on Obito for him.
But then, maybe that was exactly why Obito wanted to tell them, because he wanted to watch them squirm for once.
"The Force would gladly murder every sentient in the galaxy, destroy every planet you've ever heard of, just so he can get me to play along with this farce you call reality. And if he can't do that, well then, I guess he'll just have to kill me."
Obito tapped the dashboard knowingly, a deranged grin spreading across his face, "Any second now, I'm sure, he's going to turn off the engines or cut the oxygen, I'm frankly a little surprised he hasn't already, it must be hyperspace slowing him down."
Perhaps, because Obito and Rin did not know where Obito was, the Force could not guess either. Otherwise, Obito was sure he would have had to disappear into Kamui by now. That, or he was relying on Rin and Kakashi to get with the program and try to murder Obito outright.
"The Force cares nothing for any of you," Obito said, "You are not even motes of dust in his eye and that is the end of the story."
Obito motioned to his illustrious, stolen, patched together ship, "You want to stay here? Cut yourself off from the Force completely. Anything less, any hint of communication with the Force, and we will all die agonizing deaths. Or, you will, at least, as I shove you out the airlock and leave you to his tender mercy."
Both Rin and Kakashi stared at him, open mouthed, and eyes wide. Obito had not simply spewed blasphemy, he had spewed the kind of mad blasphemy that went far beyond what even the Sith spoke and said it all with a straight face.
"Well," Kakashi drawled after a second, "I wasn't expecting that."
"Obito—" Rin started, then stopped, looked down at Kakashi as if for a clue of how to proceed, "Um, why—where did you hear any of this?"
What had he even expected?
"On the back of a cereal box," Obito snapped.
"Yes, but—" Rin trailed off again, tried and failed to smile, "Obito, you realize that sounds—"
"Completely and utterly insane," Kakashi finished for her, winning a glare from Rin.
"Oh, and I suppose Alderaan disappeared because it felt like it," Obito said, then sighed, "Look, it's not your problem, you're being dropped off."
"No, we're going to Dogbah," Kakashi corrected, "And you're coming with us."
"When did I agree to that?!" Obito asked.
"When you told us that the Force is out to get you," Kakashi said, as if this was the most reasonable answer to give, "Dogbah's very nice, I hear, it has a lot of trees. You've always liked trees."
"Fuck you and fuck your trees!"
"I'm not hearing a no," Kakashi pointed out.
And no, he wasn't, because as it was…
Dogbah might very well be the place Obito needed to go. He had originally written it off because Kakashi had brought it up but… Obito had no time. Sooner or later, he would falter, and the Force would eliminate him.
He knew Dogbah was deeply connected with the Force, off the top of his head, it was the only place he knew of besides Coruscant itself.
If he went with Kakashi and Rin now, the Force might think he was simply sentimental, it might set up an ambush on the planet rather than dispose of Obito out in space. It might not blow up the planet the moment he touched down. No, it wouldn't in fact, because then it knew Obito would simply disappear back into Kamui. It would set some other trap for Obito. It might not realize just what Obito was up to until, hopefully, it was already too late.
If Obito waited, if he got rid of Kakashi and Rin first then circled back, then it was far more likely he'd be discovered.
However, it was a long way to Dogbah, and he'd been travelling in the opposite direction. If the Force found them in the vastness of space, Obito imagined it wouldn't hesitate to eliminate him in transit.
"If you do not cut yourself off from the Force," Obito said, voice entirely drained of any emotion, anything but raw determination, "Then I will throw you out the air lock."
Rin and Kakashi's faces fell as they realized he was perfectly serious.
However, much he had hesitated until now, there would be none later. If anything, even minor, were to happen to this ship, if they were to be intercepted by bandits, Separatists, the Republic, former Jedi, or anything at all, then he would throw them out the air lock.
And then whatever waited for him on Dogbah…
It would be whatever waited for him on Dogbah. Their final battleground had been set.
"Obito, if Kakashi cuts himself off from the Force…" Rin started, looking down at Kakashi and his extensive injuries, "I don't know what will happen to him."
"If Kakashi is thrown out the airlock then he will certainly die," Obito countered.
"Fine," Kakashi said, ignoring the way Rin's head whipped towards him, "Rin and I will play by your rules."
"Kakashi, you could die!"
"Everyone dies," Kakashi said with a wave of his hand, very dismissive of his own mortality, "Forgive me if I want to do so in the company of friends."
"Friends with a mad Sith?" Obito asked but Kakashi just smiled.
"You may very well be a lunatic, Obito, but forgive me if I can't quite make myself believe you're a Sith."
Kakashi motioned out towards the world around them, "Whatever brave new world we've entered, whatever you might believe, I don't think you are the one behind any of this. Perhaps you have the right of it, perhaps the Force is too clouded for us to see in. Maybe, in this case, what's needed is a little perspective."
"You're as mad as he is," Rin said, motioning to Obito.
"Well, I don't believe the Force is actively trying to eliminate our dear friend," Kakashi said, as if to believe such nonsense was absurd, "Perhaps the Sith who brainwashed him and blew up a planet are. Well, them and the rest of the Jedi Order. And Skywalker."
Kakashi considered Obito for a moment, "I see why you think the world is out to get you."
"Kakashi, stop it!" Rin said.
She looked between Kakashi, who appeared to have accepted his fate, and then Obito. She was clearly very torn, wanting to demand both to be reasonable, but after a moment of looking at them both gave a small nod.
"Fine, fine, but only until Dogbah."
Only until Dogbah and then…
All bets were off.
Author's Note: As you can probably tell, we're getting close ish to the end here, this is very exciting news.
Thanks to readers and reviewers, reviews are much appreciated.
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter, Naruto, or Star Wars