Chapter Two ~ Consequence

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I stepped into view of what remained of the village gates just as a plume of dust went up in a trail toward the Hokage mount. I blinked, then ignored it; it didn't seem like an attack. Probably just some dumbass genin racing.

I could easily slip through the makeshift barriers of the village, but had decided the best course of action with the least consequences would be to quickly own up to my actions. I had technically deserted the village and gone rogue. The village leaders no doubt knew that I was the individual referred to by other villages as Shatterclaw. That would be kept secret of course, to keep peace. It would most definitely not be ignored upon my return. At least, if war hadn't just been declared on Madara Uchiha.  However, my contribution towards the war effort would be valuable enough to use as leverage to attain minimal consequences.

I jumped down from the tree that I had used to scope out the current condition of the village. Everything was dull, brown, still in the process of rebuilding; nothing like the vibrant, bright village that had once existed to hide its shadowy underbelly. With Danzo dead so soon after Tsunade had fallen into a coma, people would be scrambling for someone to look up to for leadership. Hopefully, my return and any consequences of leaving would be pushed aside in favor of the bigger consequences currently hanging over our heads.

"Halt!" A guard ordered. I complied, holding my hands away from my side to show I had no weapons in my grasp. "Reveal yourself."

Slowly reaching up so they couldn't mistake my movement as aggressive, I pulled the cloth face covering down. Now that I was back and would no longer be travelling, I wouldn't need it, anyway. "I am Cashile Kuroki," I identified myself politely on the off chance they didn't recognize me. "May I see the Hokage or whoever's in charge?"

They exchanged glances and nodded, though their grips on their weapons didn't loosen at all. "I think our next Hokage was headed toward the Hokage Mount," one of the guards said. "Follow me."

I went first, his weapon at my back as we traveled through the still rebuilding village. Luckily, no one I knew saw me and came up to me. I did hear a voice that vaguely sounded like TenTen exclaim, "Is that Cashile? First Kakashi and sensei and now--" But my escort and I turned the corner before she could confirm what she saw or chase after me.

We made it up the Hokage Mount, scaffolding already in place to begin carving the next Hokage's face. "Behind me, now," the guard ordered so he could be between me and the next Hokage. I obeyed without complaint, amused that he thought he could offer protection if I meant any harm.

My shoulders stiffened and a shudder went through me as I heard the familiar sound of Guy and Lee sobbing as we climbed the last incline to the top. Lowering my head on the off chance they wouldn't spot me, I grimaced. What the hell? Of all people, Guy was going to be the next Hokage? I'd expected Shikaku, even Ibiki if he hadn't already been in charge of the intelligence division. But Guy? Never.

"They said you're going to be the next Hokage?" the guard affirmed uncertainly. Guy must have nodded, because his sobbing didn't stop. "I'm sorry to interrupt the preparation for carving—"

"Oh, no," an irritated voice exclaimed sarcastically. "No problem at all! I only need to dedicate all my time to prepare!"

Oh God, I shuddered. Guy's head was going to be carved into the fucking mountain. Every time I looked up I'd see his face.

"Sorry," the guard apologized again. "But, um, a rogue nin came back. At least, I think so, but I'm not sure we actually declared that, because..." Guys sensei had stopped crying, and the guard swallowed, composing himself. I couldn't blame him; he probably didn't speak to such important people very often, and Guy was unsettling. "What I'm trying to say is Cashile Kuroki has returned."

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