"Oh, no thank you." Kakashi starts with. "I am allergic to such suggestions."

But that didn't seem to sway anyone.

His old sensei, his Master, gives him a not quite so assessing look that turns bemused. "Kakashi. Please, share your thoughts with us all." He prompts, posture obnoxiously relaxed in his chair.

His pupil didn't need further convincing. Ignoring his Master's face he nods regally, to everyone. "Let me just fundamentally say this," he begins evenly. "I have a horrible track record."

"For what exactly?" Asks Master Senju from the left, her eyes dancing—to Kakashi's despair. "At being a Jedi or being around young impressionable children?"

Kakashi sighs at that, as he dispassionately surveys the rooms' grand architecture around before just simply shrugging. "Both." He chooses.

Nobody disagrees with him.

ooo

It starts, like all bad days for Kakashi do, with a loud disruptive banging noise and a cry from the force to go investigate.

He hates being so malleable and submissive to the force—especially at times like these where it puts him in a regrettable decision that flips his world over sideways. But the force has saved his reckless-self numerous times in the past, so he owes it to the living energy to be complaint. Most of the time.

He especially hates his decision to stop petting the baby convor and ditch his essentials, to go inspect the ruckus within the nearby cave, when he steps foot inside.

There is a tall stone slab in front of him, with a small opening at the top. He hears immediately, the sound of shoes scuffing rock from up and afar, and sudden harsh whispering.

Seeing as how the force brought him here, Kakashi has no problems with force-jumping his way to the top of the slab and purposely startling the lifeforms behind it.

Two screeches of surprise happen predictably to Kakashi's amusement, and he thinks that maybe the force isn't so bad after all.

But then he stares ahead to look at the creatures before him, and he takes it all back.

Two sooty dark beings, it would be too forgiving to say children, were standing there alone, eyeing him with strange expressions on their round faces.

The blonde one, Kakashi thinks to be a humanoid boy, has his eyes narrowed suspiciously up at him with arms crossed defiantly. He can sense that the boy hadn't bathed in a few days and can smell it better.

The other one, another human-like child with dirty pink hair and big eyes that remind Kakashi of the fluorescent fauna on Felucia, just stands there rigid as well, looking too wary for her own good.

And that's when Kakashi senses something characteristically prominent.

He pauses for a moment, to take everything in, before he blinks down at them slowly. Lifting up a hand in a short wave, Kakashi greets them mildly. "Yo."

The two children don't move, just continue to stare at his crouching person unnervingly.

Last time he was on Rodia, Kakashi distantly thinks to himself, he did not run into a couple of creepy grimy kids within a cave. But there was a first time for everything, he reasons. He sighs and starts to remove something from his pocket.

Finally the brash looking one speaks up first. He's holding something in one hand, that to Kakashi looks like a fire-poking stick, that he uses to threateningly stab the air towards his direction. "Stay back, you scavenger!" He grits out, alert. He's certainly passionate, Kakashi thinks, eying the twig. "There's no valuables here! So go away!"

Kakashi pulls out what he wanted from his thigh pouch and keeps it temporarily hidden in his grasp under the cloak. Valuables? Scavenger?

He frowns because his robes looked much nicer than scampy scavengers' clothes, thank you so very much, and most certainly nicer than their own but he doesn't say this.

Instead he asks, "How old are you?"

The boy stops moving, mouth dropping open as he stares at their intruder bizarrely. The pink-haired one steps closer, putting a hand on her companions' shoulder. "None of your business! Old man!" The blonde eventually shouts after getting his bearings.

At his resulting silence, the kid then starts swiping the stick around. Oh, Kakashi thinks, a new development.

"Careful kid, that branch looks like it could kill a bug if you're not careful." He comments before standing up swiftly, and abruptly jumping down from the high perch.

The kids scream again, as he lands on the ground, dust whirling around him. They scramble back a few steps.

The older man then begrudgingly admits to himself, that if the kids keep on thinking he was a threat, then this was going to be a very long day. Finally, he relents, sighing as he does so. "Maah…" Kakashi starts with. "Do any of you know where the nearest farm is?"

He is met with silence. Until warily, the boy in front of him starts to lower his stick.

Kakashi sees the confusion plain as day on each of their features. He gives them a easy smile. Eventually, the girl behind speaks up.

"You're not Rodian." She observes, skeptical.

"You're not either." Kakashi responds back lightly, stepping around to peer behind them to look at their measly camp. He notes their apprehension as he moves. They had practically nothing.

The blonde kid eventually realizes what he's doing and he's immediately out of his funk. "Hey!" He calls out. "What makes you think you can snoop around?!"

He points at him with his stick, but more out of accusation than defense. Progress, Kakashi thinks.

"I'll take that as a no, to the farm." He says, voice detached. But he does stop and turn around to face them once more.

The girl, now more sociable, speaks again. Kakashi is grateful that she does. She's a much more favorable conversationalist. "Who are you? And what do you want?" She asks, now standing a tad taller.

Kakashi shrugs back easily, before finally lifting up his arm and displaying his handful of Republic credits.

"Someone who wants to know where the nearest farm is, with the promise of an exchange of money." He says.

ooo

"This is the best path." The girl reasons as if trying to convince him, feet carefully but familiarly stepping along the jungle floor. Kakashi gathers that she was the type to be apologetic when faced with unfortunate circumstances, and decides to ceremoniously dub her 'Sheepy'.

Kakashi just hums in reply at that, not particularly minding the sodden floor and dense leafy trees in truth. It's hardly the worst terrain he's had to step foot on, and definitely not the worst company he's been subject to.

So far.

The boy ahead of them seems to be enjoying himself, whacking away foliage from his face with his trusty stick. "Yup!" He declares, before adding haughtily to the adult behind him. "You're lucky you found us old man! We know the best routes."

At that, Kakashi dodges a soaring branch and vine that the kid carelessly throws back his way, barely missing his face."Oh yes. Very lucky." He says flatly.

He redacts his earlier thought.

"Uh...Mister?" Sheepy questions after a minute from beside him, sounding suddenly really shy. Well, at least 'mister' was better than 'old man', he notes. Kakashi turns his head lazily to look at her.

"What do you need to go to a farm for?" She asks, not so subtly eyeing up his well-heeled clothing as she walks near him and away from a fallen log.

Kakashi tilts his head in cheeriness at her, continuing to move along. "Oh! You'll see. Just a simple trade deal." He assures.

ooo

"Nice livestock you have around here." Kakashi remarks, blandly. He lifts up a boot and kicks the wood post beside him. It tilts. "Hmm. And state of the art fencing as well." He mutters to the two kids behind them. They stifle a giggle.

The farmer a few feet ahead chews on the weed plant in his mouth, and crosses his arms. "This is the best taka-tey farmland around," The Rodian states gruffly. "Outsider."

Kakashi knows, even without consulting the force, or talking to the shady farmer, that this was the right place. He hums, and inspects the area and its poultry more closely. He faces the farmer warily. "The best?" He asks in interest.

The farmer nods his straw brimmed head forward. "My farm is the only one planetside who deals with taka-tey." He says.

Kakashi seems to perk up at that, raising an eyebrow at him. The two kids look up at their companions face with clear untampered interest. Kakashi regards his seller more squarely. "Well," he says. "I'm intrigued. Just how did you manage that Rodian?"

"I have my sources, outsider. A man who only deals to me in this sector."

Kakashi just nods along to that, in understanding. "Ah. I see. Oh—" he suddenly says, hand going near his hidden belt equipage. The three around him watch as he pulls out a hologram and it eagerly projects to life. "Do you mean this man? Nabrun Leids?" He asks.

The blue personage of the smuggler in question, streams silently.

The Rodian before them just freezes, like tonton milk during the winter time, Kakashi thinks; big dark blue eyes widen in horror.

Then he curses, turns around, and runs.

The stick-boy's eyebrows furrow together at the situation, confused, while the girl beside him blinks wide in sudden realization at the glowing holo.

Kakashi, already predicting where the Rodian was heading, sets down the hologram on the nearby fence post gently, before slowly turning to face his escorts. "Well I'll be off now." He says offhandedly. They stare at him. "I'll be right back with your payment if you choose to stick around."

And then he's gone, grabbing hold of the nearby sheet metal roofed barn and propelling himself up high, giving chase.

The two kids watch him go.

ooo

"Here you are." Kakashi says, turning his gloved palm downwards. Credits fall down leisurely into their palms.

The two dirty kids eye their shared wealth, and then look back up at their companion blankly.

"I assure you, that's the right amount." He says, tone casual. "You can count them if you don't believe me."

"Who are you." The girl asks instead.

What excellent gumption, Kakashi distantly thinks, approvingly, as he ignores her question.

He hums, and in a chiding tone responds. "How impolite. Shouldn't you tell me who you are first?"

Pink hair seems to bristle in strong annoyance at that—or exasperation, Kakashi couldn't say—as she snipes back her response. "I'm Haruno Sakura." She says and then she lifts up a hand and pinches the ear of the boy beside her. He wails in sudden pain. "And this is Uzumaki Naruto."

In revelation, Kakashi makes an acknowledging noise and smiles (although they can't see it behind his mask). "Well." He says genuinely "It's nice to meet your acquaintance." Before pivoting, and striding past them with the roughed-up and unconscious Rodian slung across his back. He heads towards his ship.

The boy, Naruto, Kakashi's brain quickly supplements, finally stops staring at the giant ship in the background entranced, raising his hands up into the air. "Oi!" He exclaims, affronted. "Where the heck do you think you're going?"

Kakashi halts and turns back around slowly to blink at them. "I'm going to my ship." He answers amiably.

Naruto and Sakura both make sudden high strained exasperated noises.

Feigning surprise, Kakashi tilts his head in consideration. "Oh." He states. "Do you by chance want to come with?"

This time, they don't just watch him go.

ooo

"So are you a bounty hunter or something?" Naruto brazenly questions. He's sitting in spare standard clothes Kakashi found in the back. Both kids were now clean, fed, and injected with numerous shots because Kakashi doesn't want to get rabies. "Because if so, I think we deserve half the share of this lot." He gestures to the still unconscious Rodian cuffed to the floor.

Sakura slides over closer, and steps onto his foot.

Naruto hisses and bemoans her cruel ways.

"Usually no." Kakashi answers back genially, while he cries. "I'm not a bounty hunter."

Naruto, still rubbing his sore foot, shares a glance with Sakura. The pink haired girl speaks up. "Well then why are you one today?" She inquiries.

Kakashi sits down in the pilot's chair, turning on auxiliary power and flipping on other switches. "I didn't say I was one today." He says, looking at them funny.

Sakura frowns.

When Kakashi is refueling the ship, well, more like handing over credits to the station worker while they stayed docked, Sakura and Naruto emerge from behind him.

"Where are you taking us?" Naruto interrogates. At his blank questioning gaze, Sakura elaborates. "Me and Naruto don't want to associate with you if you're some intergalactic smuggler going to a seedy star system." She says. "We're too young to go to prison."

Kakashi digests that. "I'm taking you back to Konoha." He informs plainly.

Sakura's face twists sideways, skeptical. "Why?"

Kakashi scratches under his chin, regarding her. Because you're both clueless force-sensitive pre-teen strays that need to be shuffled under the proverbial wings of the Republic ideally.

He shrugs. "Because I'm heading back there. I'll drop you both off once landed."

The two youths both exchange looks of wariness but also obvious appeasement. Konoha was known to be a reputable place.

No other words of negation was said.

Kakashi eye-smiles at them, satisfied, as he then turns back around to the ship. "Of course—" He says happily. They both look at him. "Not until I finish my mission. In the Outer Rim." The sleaziest sector around.

Naruto groans.

ooo

The smog around the cantina was just as ripe and filthy as Kakashi remembered. He eyes the tables around him lazily. Behind him, Naruto and Sakura are keeping close as they promised, big eyes getting larger the more they walk into the space.

They pass by multiple smugglers, assassins, and Outer Rim scum alike. Laughter and jeers following them. Pirates slosh their drinks in celebration in the far left corner, and that's where he wants to be.

Kakashi stops in his tracks halfway there, before turning around and addressing his fledglings. "Remember what I said, back in the ship." He stresses.

Sakura and Naruto have to peer out from underneath their giant hoods, but nod nonetheless up at him.

"We are to do as you say," Says Sakura dutifully. "And only run if you say so."

Kakashi nods promptly. "Yes, good. And what else?"

Naruto, looking up at Kakashi, adds, "We aren't to drink anything offered to us. Even if it's milk."

"Especially if its milk." Kakashi reiterates, before patting their heads in approval and turning back around, motioning them to follow.

ooo

"Oh my stars," Mutters Sakura as she dodges the elbows of the drunk Besalisk infront of her, while keeping her grip on Naruto.

Naruto finally picks up the pace, and helps her duck when someones glass mug flies over their heads. "Holy kriff," Naruto blurts out. "This guy is insane!"

Sakura doesn't have time to answer as they continue to run out of the cantina. Once she notices her friend is quiet, she looks to see him turned around and watching the whole spectacle. "Naruto!"

Naruto spins back around wildly, and eventually they make it to the exit, and jump over a fallen table to go through it. Blaster shots ring in their ears.

Once outside, they run to hide behind the street barrels like they were instructed to do. Naruto and Sakura both pant tiredly, as they crouch down. "Where is he?" Sakura questions after a minute passes, peering over the barrel.

Naruto perks up, and searches the environment too. "Do you think he died?" He whispers conspiratorially. "It was eight against one."

In answer he gets a smack to the chest. "Ow!"

"No I don't think that!" Sakura chides expertly, fixing her disgruntled skirt. A careful pause. "Perhaps brutally injured."

Eventually, after another minute passes—Kakashi saunters back outside. Black smoke covers half his body, though he looked unharmed. Both kids immediately look behind him to see if any blaster-fire was following.

Kakashi is glad that he knows where their priorities lie.

The latecomer lifts a gloved hand to brush off some debris from his shoulder as he stops in front of their barrels. "Well…" he says, voice strangely thoughtful. "That was marginally informative... Though the fireworks were a bit much."

Sakura distantly thinks he is way too blasé about being gunned down by eight drunken pirates and one trigger-happy Kowakian monkey-lizard, and looks at him dully.

Naruto just stares at him; like he was trying to put two misshapen soggy puzzle pieces together.

Both kids take his appearance as their cue to stand up. As they do, they look over his rudely unharmed person, senses finally come on air.

"How are you still in one piece?" Naruto eventually asks, sounding a mix between awed and genuinely frustrated.

ooo

"So that's it?" Asks Sakura him, as they swiftly walk down the busy market street of the dirt planet. Their feet kick up dust. "You give them the location, almost get killed, and you...just leave?"

Kakashi, keeping a healthy three steps ahead of his new travel compatriots, tilts his head to the side as he goes around the corner.

"Yes." He says.

Sakura makes a thoughtful face at that, and Naruto does the exact opposite. "Pft! What?" He contradicts, crossing his arms. Sakura leans to the side to avoid getting her eardrums ruined. "No way! That farmer was totally worth some actual credits...You should have made them cough some up!" Naruto says. "We got gypped!"

Kakashi makes an acknowledging noise at that, as he ducks under some hanging windchimes and beads. "Now why would we want that?" He asks, moving forward.

Naruto and Sakura heedlessly stay close behind—aiming to avoid getting rammed by the bustling and dangerous busy street. (Sakura especially, after some street-performer a block back gave her a serious evil eye.)

"What do you mean why?" Insists Naruto dubiously. He stares before harshly squinting his eyes up at him. "Just what kind of thug are you?"

Kakashi, glancing semi-interested at the box of spare parts for sale to his right, hums back. "We'll that's just defamation of character..." He remarks, brushing more soot off his shoulder that he finds. "I'm not a thug."

And that would have been believable, if a hasty Nimbanel runaway with a pouch full of stolen credits didn't scramble into their paths, resulting in Kakashi taking action via leg tripping.

Naruto and Sakura take a second to regard the dazed prone body before them a beat later—with lack of empathy—before they quickly usher themselves forward to catch up with their bizarre chaperone who hadn't even stopped for an explanation.

Or to grab the pouch of money.

ooo

"He must be a dangerous mercenary, or something." Naruto whispers in realization a half an hour later after the 'tripping incident', peeking over to eye Kakashi. The man was patting a passing-by dog on the head contentedly. Both kids were watching him. "Either that or a figment of our imagination."

Sakura leaves him to pet the dog.

ooo

In hindsight really, Kakashi should have expected it.

Trouble does seem to gravitate towards him like he was his own planet, but to be fair he wasn't used to being around living creatures that weren't a) Jedi, or b) criminals.

So he should have known that toting around two defenseless walking disasters, would result in him being spellbound to bad luck as well.

But that doesn't mean he was losing his touch on changing his unfavorable luck around.
(He was professionally good at that. Famous for it, really.)

So when he feels the force around him seem to tremor and prod at him, on their way back to the ship, he acts.

He identifies, to his further irritation, some new problematic factors. There were what looks to be four MagnaGuards stopping and authorizing traffic up ahead under the gate—the only way in and out of the market district.

He can tell when Naruto and Sakura realize their predicament too, because they both gawk and abruptly halt their steps.

"Those are battle droids!" Sakura helpfully announces with wide eyes. She and Naruto stand terrified stiff.

Kakashi keeps walking.

The young teens get with the program quickly enough and clamber over, dodging lifeforms in effort to catch up.

Circling the congested crowd, Kakashi decidedly takes a detour. Leading them away from the gate, he finds a narrowed blocked-off alleyway, miscellaneous crates and other debris littered about. There was also a dark murky fume, Kakashi notices, to add just a touch of character. Sakura plugs her nose.

It was also a dead end.

Before either teen could comment on the unimpressive impasse, not the first time either of them had questioned his sanity, a compress of air fell over them.

Naruto and Sakura don't even take an inhale of breath before they are floating high. After getting lifted over, with a strangled yelp from both of them, they are unceremoniously dumped over the ledge.

After their startled noises leave them, both are scuttling back in winded surprise.

Not missing a beat and keeping a weary but sharp eye on the straggling droids mosing about to their left, Kakashi ushers his still starry-eyed convoy to the right and through the city.

Half-ignoring and half-enjoying their expressions, Kakashi reminisces.

Who says he doesn't have good luck?

ooo

"Wow you have bad luck." Remarks Naruto, as they come into the clearing. Their docked ship definitely did not look the same as how they had left it.

Upon closer inspection, the three notice gunfire and laser skidmarks riddling the aircrafts flanks and underbelly. How laser fire got under there, Kakashi will never know.

Knowing they were still on a not-very-friendly planet thrumming with felonious and unlawful cowboys alike, (not to mention Jawa) who in which would be downright awful if they ever ran into them knowing who he was, Kakashi makes an executive decision: they require other transportation.

Looking over to the neighboring docking ports and pay-booths, past Naruto picking at the threads of his robe and Sakura eyeing the street-performer a few feet away with bizarre fixation, Kakashi sees the solution to their problems.

Hmm. Speeders it was then.

ooo

Naruto, watching Kakashi wave a hand in front of the vehicle salesman, and talk to him soothingly till he relinquishes three speeders, whips his head to look up at the older man beside him as if seeing him in a new light.

"Holy Sith." He blurts out, eyes big.

Sakura turns her head around to watch him in interest, but Naruto ignores her. Knowing an epiphany had just taken place, seeing the metaphorical cogs turn in his small adolescent head, Kakashi looks down at the kid silently.

Naruto appears to nod slowly to himself—mouth opening as if everything was now making sense.

"You're a Mind-Witch!" He declares in awe.

Kakashi suffers a sigh.

ooo

Kakashi likes to meditate. He finds peace within himself during such sessions, and can focus on the here and now, instead of the grueling past. It relaxes his mind, soul and body. It was a favorable pastime, he would say.

But even that action, wouldn't save him from the stress that has developed because of the three urchin before him.

'Sasuke' He says his name is, stands perfectly straight and sullen by his comrades. His left boot was no longer dangling dangerously near the sarlacc pit, and Naruto and Sakura were finally done putting bacta patches on their scrapes and sand burns. Kakashi sighs.

Apparently, if you're name was either Sakura or Naruto, and you used to attend temple youth classes on Konoha tenish years ago with some sullen elf boy—then that is apparently enough incentive to dive over in a speeder when you see the aforementioned elf boy in peril, and save him from his teethy doom.

Kakashi has always hated Tatooine.

ooo

After cashing in for an old favor from a familiar yet not celebratory acquaintance—Kakashi manages to acquire them all a new ship. It wasn't the best model, the millage so long it probably has seen the beginning of the universe, but Kakashi seriously doubts anyone would file a complaint.

Especially because soon after he cashed in his favor, his so-called acquaintance double-crossed them and sent the local militia after them.

Kakashi had never rewired and fixed a malfunctioning hyperdrive so fast before in his life.

They still have three more moon-cycles to go before they arrive at Konoha—one firefight and pistop later after their rocky departure—before Sasuke makes his appearance known.

Kakashi is reading his paperback surreptitiously, though not really if honest, while sitting in the pilot's chair watching the stars glisten by. It was their first real break after everything; atmosphere finally settling and decompressing. Sakura and Naruto were without a doubt snoozing away in their quarters.

Unsurprisingly, he gets interrupted. Casting a heavy but all-too-aware eye over towards the decks new visitor, Kakashi doesn't bother to offer words of any kind. The kid seems to read it as the leeway it is and crosses his arms.

"I can't go to Konoha." He says.

Kakashi reads another line of text, before deciding to give the boy the bait he wants. "Why?" He asks generously.

"I have...history there." The sullen teen eventually retorts. At Kakashi's expectant eyebrow he grits out, "unpleasant history."

At that Kakashi sighs, and closes his book, the spine cracking. This obviously demanded his full attention, and mediocre authoritative skills.

"Fair enough." He gives. He watches as Sasuke subtlety fidgets near the doorway, eyes narrowed dubiously at the environment and man before him. "But oddly vague and impossible. Try again."

The boy blossoms like a volcano, just as Kakashi expected, though not in a fiery explosive way, sadly. Akin to more of an underwater volcano the elf-boy rages quietly.

Eventually he gives. "My brother. He was there last time I heard." And according to his stormy eyes, and crossed limbs, this was not someone he wanted to brush shoulders with. "Drop me off somewhere else."

Kakashi hums like he was actually considering the offer. "Tell me why you don't want to see your brother first, and I'll consider it."

A dark frown follows. "That's none of your business."

Kakashi hums again, seeming unbothered. Then he looks over, leveling him with a look that makes Sasuke still. "I could make it my business."

Letting the silence be for a while, Sasuke finally relents—realizing that he wasn't going anywhere nor getting off this rickety ship without divulging at least some of his unlikable past.

It seems Kakashi shares his same abating thoughts, for the man eye smiles, lifts a hand, and pats the seat next to him invitingly.

Sasuke hates him just a little.

ooo

They are refueling and restocking their supplies, (because really the ship had almost none to begin with except a few blankets and ration bars) for the last time before they arrive at Konoha.

Knowing his little walking cargos needed to smell fresh air, stretch their legs and get some energy wiped from their reserves, Kakashi gives them a small errand to complete.

He's rewarded by them returning without major injuries or scarring a half hour later, although Naruto does have a wet foot and is missing a shoe, but Kakashi doesn't judge.

As they sit in the local diner, eating the food that Kakashi paid for after they rendezvoused, the Jedi decides it was probably time he leveled with them.

"So." Kakashi starts with, ignoring the fact that Naruto was using excessive use of condiments on his fries. "There is a slight dilemma."

Sakura stops sipping her overly-giant drink, and Sasuke just scowls when Naruto starts to chew loudly, elbowing him in the process. "What dilemma?" Elf boy asks.

Kakashi takes an even breathe then, consulting the force for a way he can deliver this news without riling up his skittish wards. (For young impressionable minds were so easily corrupted and insulted. He would have to think about his delivery carefully.)

'We are taking a slight detour' is what comes to him first. Then: 'I heard you guys have never had a vacation before so, surprise! Today is your lucky day.' Comes to his mind next.

In the end he just goes with. "We can't leave yet—our turbolift is shot."

Because honestly was always the best policy according to Kakashi's Master; It was a code to live by—He still thought this even as Naruto chokes on his food.

"What? Why?" The kid eventually gets out, after harshly swallowing his soaked mash.

After explaining that flying with that turbolift for another parsec would result in it blowing up, and their eyeballs sucked out into space next—Sasuke stares at him unimpressed while Naruto just chokes some more. Sakura pats him on the back.

Sluggishly, it seems to seep into their brains that they were stuck there in the city. With him. Sakura shares a quick mutual look with her friends, setting her cup down evenly on the counter. "For how long?" She asks, apparently their newly appointed spokesperson.

Kakashi takes a moment to pretend he's doing the calculations in his head. "Mhm. Repairs will be about two moon-cycles." He says as he peppers his colo claw yoke.

Sakura's mouth does a funny opening and closing thing—that Kakashi finds mildly fascinating—while Sasuke's glower increases by a minuscule, and Naruto just lets his head bang on the headrest behind him.

Well, the Jedi thinks pleasantly, grabbing the holo-menu to contemplate the dessert section while the kids glower at him, that went better than he expected.

ooo

The planet was gray and dusty, the buildings infrastructures were made of the local metal, and the residents were all gossiping about either the upcoming yearly feast, or tight-lipped and haughty with foreigners passing by.

Needless to say, their company wasn't recepted well.

With nothing to spend their time doing, they aimlessly walk around the city district trying to find out what they could of the evasive town.

Fog seemed to settle around noonday, the citizens going about their day, accustomed to the area.

"How can the outside seating's be full?" Remarks Naruto as they pass by some eateries, his nose wrinkling. "Do these people like the taste of fog in their food?"

Sakura rolls her eyes vividly and readjusts her recently-bought paper mask around her mouth. "These people have lived here their whole life dummy." She replies. "They're probably used to it."

Naruto just makes a face, looking genuinely betrayed at the mere thought. He sticks his tongue out beneath his own mask. "Yuck. I'd rather have our bland rations from the ship."

Sakura snickers at that and even Sasuke seems somewhat amused, by the marginal twitch of his mouth, as they continue their slow pace down the cobblestone road.

Kakashi doesn't say anything, letting them bicker and converse without his reciprocation. He stops a little to think. He's had a bad feeling ever since they left their hotel lodgings this morning, the unsettling feeling growing worse the more they spent outside.

He makes a decision.

"We're heading back." He says.

The fog clears away from him as he turns and leads them down another way. The teens gaze up at him inquiringly at the abrupt words, but follow.

They're approaching the districts blue-gray courtyard, where they need to cross to meet the residential area, when they all notice its bareness.

Sakura turns her head sideways, left to right, pink hair swishing. "Where are all the people?" She asks.

Sasuke scowls behind his face protector and backs-up to encircle his peers. Naruto looks around too, befuddled.

A darker energy is soon afire. Kakashi feels it through the force and gazes outward, his body still, no longer slouching. He's searching through the fog—although Naruto, Sasuke, and Sakura can't tell what it is exactly he's trying to see.

The fog increases. Sakura, not wanting to get somehow disoriented, grabs for her friends' hands.
A diminutive noise appears from up ahead and
Sasuke tracks Kakashi's hand as it moves closer to the right side of his robes.

A raspy and guttural voice chuckles, through the clouds, and goosebumps run up the kid's arms. It sounds oddly robotic and Sakura shivers like the idea unnerves her, Kakashi notes.

"Master Jedi," Calls out the same voice followed by what sounds like metal steps on the stone road. "Your unforeseen presence is an honor."

Kakashi neatly unfastens his weapon and holds it downward, cloak rustling at the movement. Of course, they'd run into trouble here, he thinks... because remote planets are such hotspots for odd reunions.

"Can't say I feel the same." He says back.

He's not noticeably moving, but he makes sure his stance shifts to better shield his audience. Naruto frowns up at him, at the strange exchange, and the dark chuckle sounds off again followed by a harsh bout of coughing.

A couple of glowing blades of ash ignite up ahead, and Kakashi hears Sakura make a noise behind him. The inhuman-sounding creature then finally steps out through the cloudiness.

A mask covering his face is seen, and brown short hair along the scalp. Well, what was rest of it anyway. He was to the kid's astonishment and horror, almost completely constructed with ship metal and wiring.

Kakashi doesn't waste a second to ignite his own as well, the force relaying to him that this particular reunion in question, will require conflict. The blade beams familiarly.

Naruto gapes in disbelief and wonder, like a Patrolian fish, while the others fall deathly silent, too intimidated to leave.

Before the trio could ask anything, Kakashi is moving far and far away from them, quick as lightning and striking his foe.

Sabers clash, and sparks sound-off in the fog. Naruto tries to crane his neck around but can only see shadowy figures, and loses them as they move among the white.

Sakura is soon exclaiming something unintelligible and pivoting, crudely yanking her friends' arms behind her. They run only a few steps before a shift through the air stirs and a body is blocking them.

Sakura shrieks at the terrifying masked figure, nobody doing anything until another body slashes in front of them, creating distance.

Kakashi swings his saber hilt and spins it as he evades and blocks every blow. Soon, seeing his opening, he then darts and upheaves his blade to slash his opponent's robotic arm.

It shorts-out and makes a terrible noise as it falls to the ground—but Kakashi force summons the fallen saber before it can fall too, as he leaps back several feet. The stranger makes an animalistic noise in surprised anger.

Kakashi uses his disoriented state to his advantage, and lifts up both hands to force-push his adversary.

The three teens peer around their escort to watch as a mighty gush of sudden wind, propels the metal man backwards. He crashes into the tall windowless building, sound vibrating off as chunks of debris falls over him.

"Time to go." Says Kakashi, dispelling his lightsaber—and in one fell swoop, ushers them outside of the courtyard.

They don't wait around to see if the mutilated man gets back up.

ooo

"Kriff," Mutters Naruto, dazed, as he fixes his torn sleeve cuffs. He stares down at his pants, and accepts the glass of water handed to him. "Holy Kriff."

"That's my line." Says Sakura weakly beside him. She's not bothering to remove the buckling on her red boots, even though they're indoors, and leans against the panel.

Sasuke just sits there at the nearby table, silently and with haunted eyes that flicker to the outside window every few seconds.

After staring into space, the three of them lift up their water glasses and simultaneously drink.

Kakashi sighs from behind Sasuke, nearby the door, and puts his own mug on the nearby radiator that protrudes from the wall—which was just another weird thing Kakashi didn't like here. "Well," He starts with, eager to move past their recent brush of death. "I'm sure you're all exhausted."

Sasuke sits up straighter, turns in his dark robes, and sends him a no-nonsense expression. "What was that thing."

Naruto and Sakura look up at him beseechingly too, hands holding their cups of tea water tightly.

"A Kamino cyborg." He relents only after a brief moment of hesitation. Memories of the past resurface. "His name is Zabuza."

"You know him?" Sakura asks.

Before he could answer, Sasuke makes a 'Tch' noise and crosses his arms, careful of his outfits arm plating. "Of course they're acquainted." He states.

Images of the too recent fight flash before their eyes, and the way their companion handled the situation habitually.

Sakura eyes him. "You're a Jedi." She says.

Kakashi walks past them and over to the cramped small window, looking up around the corners as he places a small device there. Satisfied, and knowing they needed the truth, he then turns to face them. "I am."

Naruto is (unsurprisingly) the first to loudly respond.

He's immediately up on his feet, and Sakura promptly takes his glass so he doesn't have the chance to throw it. "You didn't tell us! What the Sith Old man!"

"Naruto!" Sakura hisses, mindful of their neighbors next door. "Sit down." She tugs at his sleeve, and casts a quick look over at Kakashi, almost as if she was worried about him being offended. The air was tense so Kakashi didn't blame her.

He was honestly slightly touched, even though the worry was unfounded. "Guilty." Kakashi admits to them, lifting a hand and rubbing the back of his head.

Naruto sputters, before crossing his arms and portraying a truly impressive frown. Almost as impressive as Sasuke's, Kakashi notes, but not quite.

"Just when were you gonna tell us?" Sakura pipes up to ask. Color was beginning to come back to her pale features.

Kakashi's eyes lazily scour the room, responding to her semi-distracted. "Hmm. Sometime? In the near future?" He answers unrepentant.

Sasuke scowls from his chair.

"Unbelievable." Naruto states, looking and sounding completely frustrated. And tired. He sits back down beside Sakura heavily, and she pacifically gives his water back to him.

"...Surprise?" Kakashi says.

Sakura chucks her boot at him.

ooo

"So." Sasuke initiates. "You're a Jedi."

Sakura and Naruto were passed out for the night, both resting with their backs to one another on the bed. A habit Kakashi thinks, that the two developed some time ago.

Kakashi himself was sitting on the hotel rooms carpentered floor, crisscross, with his eyes closed up against the wall. He knows without seeing that Sasuke is looking out the single room window to his left.

"Hmm." Kakashi confirms, continuing his meditation.

He peeks open an eye to watch Sasuke as he turns away from the window to look at his sleeping friends.

After the impromptu revelation earlier of his profession, the kids rounded off for hours asking him numerous questions in spades and demanding he make it up to them. Kakashi deemed himself to be exonerated.

Sasuke however stayed silent the whole while, just watching Kakashi with unrelenting interest. Until now that is.

Sasuke turns back, and lifts up a gloved hand to inspect the small device that was placed there hours before. "A signal jammer?" He asks.

Kakashi hums again, closing his eyes once more. "You never know when someone could be spying." He says contentedly.

Sasuke huffs before lowering his hand, and walking over to the table to set down his glass of water. His shoulders relax most of their tension, as he finally turns to sit by his friends on the chair by the bed to sleep.

Kakashi takes that as the acceptance it is, and settles into his sentinel role for the night.

ooo

After two nights spent on that odd planet, where they stayed hidden, (avoiding the regions crime syndicate that most likely had ties with the Separatists) and where Kakashi had to routinely refuse Naruto to 'see his lightsaber', they were off to once again make headway to Konoha in their newly fixed ship.

"I can't believe they picked my pockets!" Naruto laments as he rummages through his empty pants, hands coming up empty. The three teens were seated in the ships lounge area, settling in for the journey.

"He told us the natives at the port were cunning and gluttonous Naruto." Sakura says, referring to Kakashi's warning about thieves the day before. She was much more trustworthy of Kakashi lately, after learning of his status. "Don't you know what thieves do?"

Naruto frowns. "But who knew everyone was gonna be like that?" He argues to Sakura. He sits down on the cot with a huff. "I trusted that little old lady!"

"The town was literally called 'Thief Alley' Naruto."

Naruto makes a loud frustrating sound as he falls onto his back dejectedly. "Our next pit-stop better not be like anything like that." He grumbles to no one in particular.

Kakashi, from his seat at the cockpit, turns slightly sideways to see his entourage, posture relaxed. "Actually, our next stop is Konoha." He informs.

Sasuke, fixing the weapon holster he had on his right leg, stops his movements and peers up. Sakura too stops combing her hair and game of holo-chess.

Naruto however doesn't waste any time in surprise. He sits up quickly and leans against the ship wall. "Well," He announces cheerfully after a few seconds pass. "About time!"

Kakashi doesn't miss his forced smile, the apprehensive look Sakura wears, or the noticeably stormy Sasuke sitting to her right, but Kakashi figures he will find out soon enough and he just hums in reply.

ooo

After he calls ahead of time to announce their arrival, they land their filthy rickety gray ship and the three hesitant kids follow Kakashi out. He sighs. Konoha's crisp and lush atmosphere was just as he remembered.

"So, there really is a giant tree in the middle." Is the first thing Naruto remarks as they arrive at the wide temple steps. He sounds genuinely surprised at the situation.

Kakashi turns to him. "Did you think I was lying?" He asks.

Naruto looks back and forth, exchanging looks with his friends. "Yes." The three simultaneously say.

Kakashi blinks at them silently, before taking the first step up the marble stairs.

"Brats." He says fondly.

ooo

Master Senju and Sarutobi were there when they arrived, as well as Shizune—Master Senju's past apprentice.

Kakashi sees the recognition in the council members eyes, heads turning to view the trio behind him. Hiruzen nods in welcome to the weirdly on-edge teens, and Tsunade gives Kakashi an analyzing look which he ignores. The temple halls, once comforting and zen, were now very uneasy.

How terrible.

Tsunade comes forward first to greet them, her sandy blonde hair framing her face. "Hatake." She says. "Welcome back." She then turns to eye the kids for the first time while motioning to Shizune.

"This is Jedi Knight Shizune Kato. She'll escort you three for the time being."

Although it wasn't said unkindly, Naruto still noticeably deflates and looks at Kakashi, before stubbornly crossing his arms and looking away. Kakashi blinks once in surprise at the blonds unusually dour behavior. Sakura and Sasuke nod along, but both have a similar look on their faces too.

Before Kakashi can ask, Shizune steps up, bows, and pleasantly tells the young visitors that their first stop will be the museum of temple history and efficiently moves them along like little ducklings.

Once gone, Kakashi breathes out in relief, glad he didn't have to escort the three throughout the galaxy anymore, but stops dead in his tracks when Master Sarutobi tells him he's expected for a meeting with the council.

Kakashi cringes but follows along, still ignoring the sly look Tsunade now wore permanently in his direction.

He had a feeling he knew what the meeting was about, but was sincerely hoping he was wrong.

ooo

Minato walks pleasantly beside him, down the wide temple halls, minutes after the meeting. The meeting which just took the rug out from under his well-balanced feet. "Be reasonable now, Kakashi." He remarks not unkindly.

Kakashi sighs and tries not to imagine his Master walking into a granite pillar. "Reasonable about what."

"You are in a different position than the rest of us." He starts, ignoring Kakashi's past sentence. "You currently have no padawans. I know you don't."

Kakashi stops walking, and faces his teacher, his confidant. He squints. "Are you trying to pimp me out?"

"It's just temporary. Until we can find them all suitable Masters." The man soothes.

Kakashi frowns, half resigned. "I'm not a library holo."

"No..." Minato allows, hair shining by the open window. His smile is warm and familiar. "But you are a skilled and capable Jedi Knight."

ooo

His guest leans against the doorframe, looking down at him in the meditation room with dry amusement an hour later. "Still in limbo about it, are ya kid?"

Kakashi just lifts one eye open, looking up at his visitor blandly. "Go away Jiraiya."

Jiraiya clears his throat loudly, and shuffles his feet. "You know, kids can actually be worth being around…" He starts.

Kakashi doesn't move. "I'm seriously ignoring you now."

"Teaching is a privilege…" Jiraiya continues.

Kakashi sighs long-sufferingly before sitting up straight to bargain. "If you leave right now, I'll tell Minato-Sensei that you talked me into considering." He says frankly. "But only if we never discuss this ever again."

"Deal." Jiraiya replies back eagerly and businesslike, before unleaning from the door and leaving as fast as he can.

ooo

The next day, taking his time to navigate through the temple during noon and feet heading to the back eastgardens, Kakashi stops at the sound of familiar voices talking.

His feet find the mess, and he peers through the doorway to see his rowdy adolescent group of three (and when did he start calling them 'his'?) eating grub and socializing with the resident padawan learners.

Naruto was watching in silent amazement as a Jedi youngling, an unfamiliar Togruta, was floating his half-drunk cup of blue milk precariously around with the force.

Sakura was chatting nearby with a Jedi healer's apprentice, both peering over a hardbound medical text in the corner.

And Sasuke was eating between them—watching from afar a group of younglings sparring outside with their training sticks, with a look of unconcealed interest.

After a beat, Kakashi's feet unwillingly take him back to the council meeting room.

ooo

"Okay." Kakashi says, after having a full day to reflect and contemplate on the issue (decision).
"I have come to an understanding."

Grandiosely, Tsunade sits up in her chair. "What? That you're a sucker for young orphaned brats who have promising futures as Jedi knights?" She asks.

She said it as if it was a well-known fact that everyone at the temple knew.

Kakashi inwardly sighs. Maybe they did.

He blinks, seemingly already accepting. "You don't pull your punches, do you Master?" He counters with, already mourning his independence.

Tsunade doesn't even bother to answer him as she talks aloud to the council and puts the motion to vote.

Although Kakashi does catch the twinkle in her eye.

ooo

They ambush him after he comes out, body moving slow and head hanging tiredly.

"Come on Sensei." Naruto greets amicably, tugging at his arm. Kakashi blinks at him, at the new name. "Time to go. You have to escort us to the fitting rooms!"

"Weren't you three occupied in the Mess." He states.

Sasuke and Sakura nod along soothingly, as they steer him out of the walkway and down the temple's long corridors, like he was some wayward farm animal. "We're getting our robes outfitted today." Sakura comments.

Kakashi just sighs and lets them tug him away.

"...You could at least pretend that you didn't know I was gonna say yes." He eventually says to them.

They unanimously ignore him.

After ushering them out of the room a couple hours later, his charges walking with red hands from the old tailor whacking them with his cane, (after Naruto asks if he's killed a man before, Sakura picks undo some stitching and Sasuke tells him his colors are off) Kakashi sighs, finally conceding to the living energy around him.

Perhaps, he thinks to himself slowly, looking down at his grumbling yet happy students, chest feeling surprisingly lighter, listening to the force wasn't such a bad idea after all.

Fin.