They didn't get back to Konoha until almost the second week of May, as the Palace needed cleaning and temporary structures built until actual repairs and rebuilding could commence, plus assurances had to be made to the Daimyo that the threat was no longer a threat for the moment. When he had been told who, in fact, the targets were--Asuka and Sachiko--he had calmed down a little. And helped make sure the Konoha contingent could be ready to move out at any time.
The trip home had been happily uneventful. Ibiki had ordered Asuka and Sachiko to walk on opposite sides width-wise of the caravan tail. Both kunoichi had a very visible ANBU guard apiece who wouldn't even let them so much as take a piss by themselves. Sachiko didn't care (except when she had to step into the bushes), she spent most of her time focused inward, rousing only when addressed but her short, clipped responses quickly ended any attempts at conversation.
Once back in Konoha, most everyone was allowed to go home. Sachiko and Asuka, oh joy of joys, had first a chat with Ibiki one-on-one, and then a group chat where Tsurude could ask questions. Then they could go home.
The night where she'd gotten thoroughly drunk with Kiba had been fun, though fleeting. Not too long after, she and Naruko had The Talk with Sakurai, to explain everything,
She still needed something to do, and other types of training besides the mindwalking didn't much appeal. And she couldn't really do too much with the mindwalking, anyway, because Kureno was in the hospital. (Because of saving her, she remembered being told.) And she did continue the genjutsu-training with Sakurai, though the majority of his time was (of course) wrapped up with the hospital. Just how things were.
Without the hope of advancement that would've come with taking the chuunin exam, and without her sensei to give them team-things in general, her motivation to train drained swiftly. Oh, she could have used the reasoning of how she needed to better herself for whenever she had the final confrontation with Itae, but the thought angered her more. Wasn't she trying to live beyond her hatred? To live her life outside of what Itae wanted her to do? Re-elevating her sister's demise back to her highest ambition instead of letting it be one of a few just annoyed and frustrated her. Neither emotion inspired her to work, this time.
For a few days she had simply wasted hours standing in a spot along the main thoroughfare where she could see the giant gates, the high walls baked yellow-orange by the sun, the sentry towers where shinobi watched those coming and goings of other shinobi and of civilians while also checking travel papers. Messangers were also stalled for verification, and Sachiko bet someone was watching the skys for hawks though the mews were housed next to the Tower.
The first day no one took especial notice of her presence. She had remained in the shade for the most part, moving either with the sun or to get something from the overpriced food stall when the whim to eat struck her. The second day, at one of the shift-changes, a serious-eyed chuunin with a slight limp gave her a hard, overlong onceover on the way to the right-side sentry tower. The message was loud and clear: We know you've been hanging about here, and we don't appreciate it. Sachiko's reply had been a glance of surly innocence, stating she had as much right as anyone to lollygag around, since she had nothing better to do. The third day passed without incident, and on the fourth day, the watch commander on duty finally approached and told her to move along before she got a write-up for loitering. Sachiko hid the quiet temper-flare, choosing to nod with the expected deference shown a superior officer.
She wandered to one of the side gates to resume her gate-watching vigil. The sentries there chased her off at the end of her second day. At another side-gate she didn't even get through the whole day before getting ordered to go away.
( May journal entry #1 )
Without that little bit to do, she started sleeping more. Not that Neko minded--the cat would happily curl up with her while an oscillating fan beat the air cooler. But the inactivity only aggravated Sachiko more, as she filled with useless energy she couldn't release in any constructive manner. Going for walks fouled her mood, as everyone else continued on with their lives and people prepared for the upcoming chuunin exam and the tourists that would bring. Someone's exceptionally cheerful tone finally pushed Sachiko to run so she wouldn't have to listen.
When she slowed a few blocks away, she had a small revelation. The running felt good. It was mindless and it exercised her while not falling into training. Plain and simple running was freedom of movement that relaxed her. Cheered, she kept running. She had an okay endurance level, so she kept running for some time.
Then had to keep herself from simply collapsing later from heat and thirst. At least she had forced herself to walk, and as she drank purchased a sports drink she thought about running regulary. Why not? Aside from the newly discovered benefits she had nothing else going on, it gave her something to do, and it would have long-term benefits. Maybe she could increase her distance-speed...
( May journal entry #2 )
Having finally secured Leigh's advice and occasional running companionship, Sachiko let herself coast, mentally. She didn't want to think about her future, whatever it might be, and just ran. Every couple of days she went by Tentsuke's to see the animals and practice her projectile throwing in his backyard. That way she can tell him truthfully that she hadn't been slacking in her practicing.
( June journal entry #1 )
( June journal entry #2 )
She did decide to take Leigh up on the offer of wearing weights strapped to her shins. She drew the line at wearing the green suit, however.
( June journal entry #3 )
Otherwise, the month consists of running, racing Leigh occasionally (and losing every time), projectile training, and checking on Bloodfang and Mika.
THe Chuunin exam begins and Sachiko tries her damnedest to ignore it, but it's kind of hard to not see the foreign clothes and out-village forehead protectors when one runs daily through the central commercial district. She gets looks of course, but usually from the boys. When she ran with Leigh, though, all the gaijin stared but at the thick-browed, largely-endowed green-clad girl. Leigh ignored it in favor of chattering at Sachiko or just running in silence. The running in silence always strikes Sachiko as odd, as the chattering felt much more normal for the other. But the quiet was nice, too.
( July journal entry #1 )
Now with fresh frustration to boost her energy, Sachiko continues her running, focusing more on that than the projectiles since working on projectiles at Tentsuke's is just aggravating her more.
As is her approaching birthday.