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"What're you doing here, brat?"
Not moving from his spot, Kakashi closed his eyes briefly, murmuring, "Thinking."
Settling himself down beside the younger man, Jiraiya patted a patch of grass and lay down, folding his hands behind his head. It wasn't often he got the time and chance to talk to Kakashi like this. He had been training Naruto, while Kakashi had been running many solo missions lately. He felt guilt pool in his belly. He had neglected the brat, even after promising his father to take care of him.
"Sometimes...sometimes, I wonder...if all these are worth it..."
The soft whisper set all of Jiraiya's senses on high alert. It wouldn't do to have the last Hatake fall into the shadows of his father and walk down the same path of self-destruction. He kept silent, encouraging him to continue.
Kakashi stared up at the skies, regarding them silently for a moment longer, before continuing.
"Sometimes, it gets tiring, and it makes me wonder...whether what I've been doing is enough...enough to make up for everything I haven't..."
"Br-Kakashi, you've done all you could have done for your comrades. Even your sensei, Rin and Obito."
Kakashi tensed, and Jiraiya realised he's hit home.
"It's been so many years, Kakashi. I didn't realise you haven't gotten over it. I'm sorry I haven't been around much." He ruffled the hair at the back of his head guiltily as he propped himself up on one elbow, eyebrows drawing together as he watched his old charge's student.
Kakashi shook his head silently.
"Have you watched the skies recently?"
Jiraiya frowned, taking one look up at the dark, gloomy sky, before continuing to scrutinise the younger man closely, confused as to where the conversation was heading. He decided to settle for a light-hearted reply.
"Shikamaru rubbing off you?"
Kakashi smiled lightly, small crinkles appearing at the corner of his uncovered eye.
"Not really. It's a habit I picked up...from sensei...We used to lie on the roof of Rin's house, watching the stars together after missions. It used to be really noisy; what with Obito's endless chattering, but...over the years...it got quieter...a whole lot quieter..."
"Kakashi," Jiraiya started, without knowing what to say.
"Sensei liked it the most, I think. He used to point out all the brighter stars to us, and we'd lay there for hours. I stopped coming after...After."
Jiraiya didn't need to ask what 'after' meant, it rang all too clear in the quiet night. Hearing Kakashi talk like that was painful too. He looked up into the sky, looking for the brightest stars. This was exactly like Minato, stargazing. He almost smiled at the memory.
There was a pause then, like Kakashi was trying to steady himself enough to ask a question. Jiraiya kept quiet, appreciating the beauty of the night sky.
"I like to think they're happier now. Happy, and safe...Jiraiya, do you," he inhaled sharply, "Do you think they're happy now...together?"
Jiraiya closed his eyes, trying to alleviate the sting in his eyes. The seemingly harmless and innocent question shivered poignantly in the air, weighing down on the both of them, and giving voices to all the emotions that Kakashi had been repressing for years. One question, and all the memories came rushing back. Hearing of Obito's death, watching Minato discreetly dry his tears while comforting his two Genin, and seeing Kakashi with a banadage wrapped around his left eye. Then fast-forward a few more years, Rin not returning from her mission, seeing Kakashi join ANBU to rid himself of the pain, seeing Minato sacrifice himself for the village, and noticing the tremble of Kakashi's hands as he laid a single white rose on the coffin.
Jiraiya let out a breath he did not even realise he had been holding.
"Yes, brat, I believe they're happy, and they will be, as long as you are."
"Thank you." That hushed whisper followed by the shaky laugh made Jiraiya's heart go all out to the Jounin lying next to him. He sat up, ignoring the tear that ran down his cheek, and leant over to ruffle the younger man's hair, not letting his gaze linger on the red rim of Kakashi's eye.
"Stupid boy," he breathed, lips turned up at the corners. He turned back to stare up at the sky again. It could have just been his imagination, but it did seem like the sky was a softer velvet than before, and the stars, brighter and more sparkly.