Here’s the thing about being a member of the Hokage’s Guard: you are no longer a shinobi.
Or, rather, you are no longer just a shinobi.
It’s different than being ANBU, a little less, a little more. You are still yourself, but yourself has changed. Rather than getting hidden behind masks and callsigns, the Hokage’s Guard are faces and names that are out in the open yet overshadowed by their charge.
The Hokage’s Guard are chosen for a specific reason, because the Hokage’s Guard will never be more than that. They are the ones who survive, but don’t thrive. They are the ones who are steady and reliable, but not flashy or impossible.
They are bodyguards to someone stronger than themselves and that means they were never meant for legends. Only footnotes if they get written in at all.
It’s not a bad role to have, necessarily. Not the most glamorous, but not all shinobi are made for that kind of life. And there is honor in being the Hokage’s last line of defense.
So long as your Hokage doesn’t die before you, that is.
This generation has a lot riding on them; a lot of expectations to live up to, a lot of sins and debt just waiting in the wings.
It’s not their fault, but that’s just how life is.
“We can’t do it,” Raido says, scarred face made grimmer with a furrowed brow. Beside him, Genma’s mouth is a flat line around his senbon. Iwashi, too, is a silent show of long-seated wounds.
It’s not often that shinobi–regular, non-elite jounin shinobi, that is–will refuse the Hokage. But this is a special case, and it helps that the Sandaime is only asking, not ordering.
Hiruzen sighs, less out of frustration and more out of grief.
“It wasn’t your fault, any of you,” he says, though it’s something he’s repeated many times before, “You did what you could–”
“Not everything,” Iwashi murmurs, interrupting just like usual–another thing that these three are given leeway with, “we’re still alive.”
Hiruzen sighs once more.
“Gai would be a good choice,” Genma suggests, sidestepping the drama and getting to the heart of the matter. A quality that makes–made–him a good choice for the Hokage’s Guard, “He’ll teach them well. They won’t–” fail, he doesn’t say; reconsiders, says instead, “–I trust him.”
The other two members of the disbanded Yondaime’s Guard nod in agreement, before they all leave at Hiruzen’s dismissal.
He has done poorly by those three, blinded by his own mourning and the sudden reclaiming of a burden he’d thought passed on for good.
But the next Hokage’s Guard will be better–better trained, better treated, better prepared–they will be slated for this duty from the beginning of their shinobi careers and they will know, each step of the way, what kind of person their Hokage is.
Hiruzen isn’t sure who exactly their Hokage will be quite yet–though he has hopes for one in particular–but he knows it will be someone in next year’s graduating class.
For now, he’ll do his best to make the team from this year’s graduating class an unstoppable Hokage’s Guard.
The Godaime is still a little uncomfortable in her new position.
But that’s okay, so are her Guards.
After all, while the Sandaime might have prepared for this eventuality, he didn’t plan for this exact scenario. Or for it to happen so soon; the Hokage and her Guards all barely teenagers.
But maybe it’s better this way, for the Guards to grow around their Hokage. To watch her become the legend, to walk with her every step of the way. To know their Hokage not as a hero, but as a peer and a friend.
A precious person to protect.
A/N: ugh, writing is hard now (now the question is, is it writer’s block or is it the concussion? OR IS IT BOTH?)
I had some Hokage’s Guard feels because of the amazing Genma centric series The Life And Times of a Shinobi Den Mother which is a lot less cracky and a lot more feels and tears inducing than the title sounds, though I didn’t get to do a whole Yondaime Guard passing on the torch to Team Gai thing because I got a headache and had to stop.
But basically I was thinking, since in The Queen’s Council basically everyone of the Rookie Nine is going to be represented because they are clan heads, then what is Team Gai going to be. And then, well… yeah.
I think I might come back to this and add some more before posting it onto ao3. But since it’s already past midnight and my head hurts have this for now.