Sailor Moon Fan Fiction ❯ Atonement - Rei's Story ❯ Chapter 8 ( Chapter 8 )

[ P - Pre-Teen ]
Atonement: Rei's Story
by Jason C. Ulloa

Chapter 8

Rei sat on the opposite side of the sacred flame from Ryoku, her body's position mirroring
his in every way. The only exception was that her eyes were open so that she could watch
him move. She waited patiently, trying to sense when he was ready. His breathing was slow
and his body was relaxed. She could almost feel his intense concentration.

She couldn't help but smile a little. He was a swift learner and had soaked up everything
she had taught him. Not only that, but his skill improved at a rapid rate as well. The few
months she had been teaching him everything she knew had been enough to bring him to a level
not too far off from her own.

He had most of the knowledge that she did, but not the long years of practice. It would take
him a few years to get to her level, but with his level of dedication he would get there

It was now almost to the point where she could no longer teach him and Grandpa would have to
take over. After all, she was a miko-in-training and he was a priest-in-training. The basics
were similar, but after that, there were differences that she could not teach him. It would
be up to Grandpa after that.

There. He was ready now.

"Rin," she said as she brought her hands into the first position. Ryoku did the same at
almost the exact instant she did. That made her even more pleased, but this was only the
first position.

"Pyou," she continued, shifting her hands into the second position. Once again, Ryoku did
the same at almost the same time.

"Tou," she said and shifted her hands into the third position. Anyone watching them would
assume that they were moving simultaneously, since Ryoku's movements came so closely behind
her own.

"Sha," she said and shifted into the fourth position, as did Ryoku.

"Kai." She moved and so did he.





On the last hand position, the sacred flame roared higher than she had ever seen it jump
before, surprising her. Then again, it shouldn't have been so surprising. Both she and
Ryoku had been concentrating on the flame, so having it jump so high should've been
expected. After all, she could never do this exercise without concentrating as she usually

As one, they both lowered their arms down to their sides. "That was good, Ryo-kun. I think
you've got it now."

Ryoku nodded as he opened his eyes. "Thank you, Rei-chan," he said as he stood up. "You've
been a wonderful teacher."

She gave a small blush as he walked over and extended his hand to help her to her feet.
"Well, it's only because you've been such a good student," she replied as she stood up.
"You've learned everything I've taught you so quickly."

"That's because I want to do my best. For you and Grandpa, for taking care of me for so
long," he replied as he turned to leave. "I owe the both of you so much."

"Ryo-kun...," she said, watching him leave. After he left, she glanced back down at the
flame they were sitting between. He had come a long way from the desolate, grief-stricken
boy she had found all alone in Sankaku Park almost a year ago.

She smiled to herself as she stood up and headed toward the door. She liked to think that
a good deal of Ryoku's improvement was due to her influence and friendship. Every time
she thought that he was starting to fall back into a bout of depression, she would drag
him off and put him through some meditative exercises or made him practice something else
that would keep his mind occupied. More often than not, it worked well. Of course, she
had to do everything that he did as well - Grandpa insisted that she practice, too - but
as time went on, the times he grew depressed came less frequently.

However, even though his depression was lessening, he still continued to pray everyday
under the haiden's bells.

Most of the time, Rei left him alone as he prayed, but on occasions, she would join him
and just talk to him. Even now, she wasn't sure if he could hear her, since she could
never get a straight answer from him. Sure, he would apologize for not paying attention
to her, but he would never tell her yes or no. It was all right, though. She enjoyed
talking to him like this. She could always pretend that he was listening to her.

As she stepped outside, she saw that the sun was beginning to set. They must've been at
that exercise for longer than she thought. She glanced over to where the bells hung at
the end of the haiden.

There he was, same as usual.

"That was pretty amazing, wasn't it, Ryo-kun?" she asked as she leaned against one of the
support beams and watched him. "I've never seen the sacred flame leap so high! Have you?
You've improved so much in such a short time, you know." She turned to stare up at the sky
with her arms folded across her chest. "Of course, with me as your teacher, how could you
not improve so well?

"I've been wondering about what's going to happen to Mako-chan, Ryo-kun," she said as her
gaze lowered and she was staring out ahead of her at nothing in particular. "We haven't
heard anything as to where she's going to attend school next year. I mean, is she going to
stay at your old boarding school or will she go to you school or mine? Have you heard
anything from Myouken-san?"

No answer.

"I didn't think so," she sighed. "Still, I wonder if she managed to talk him into letting
her come to my school? I know it's a private school, and he may just put her in your
school to save money, but it would be so wonderful to have a friend like Mako-chan in my
school. Everyone there seems a little put off by my abilities and my religion, even if
most of them try not to show it." She sighed again. "Sometimes I wonder if you and
Mako-chan are the only real friends I have."

She shook her head as she pushed off from the support beam and started to leave. "I'm
going inside now." She glanced back at Ryoku as she left and gave him a considering
glance. "Don't stay out too long now, okay?"


Rei almosted jumped in surprise, but recovered quickly. "Don't surprise me like that,
Ryo-kun!" she huffed, frowning slightly at him as she turned around.

"Sorry, Rei-chan," he apologized as he bowed slightly.

She quickly waved it off and smiled. "Ah, forget it. Anyway, you finished sooner than I
thought you would. I thought you'd be praying for at least ten or fifteen more minutes."

He shrugged. "Does it matter?"

She shrugged back. "I guess not." She reached out and grabbed Ryoku's hand and started to
drag him behind her. "Come on, Ryo-kun. Grandpa should have dinner ready by now. And after
that, you need to take a bath. You're starting to smell."

"Hey!" he said, face scrunched up indignantly.

"It's true! You smell like sweat and you need a bath," she chided. "Don't complain."

"Well, then you need one, too," he shot back. "I'm not the only one who's sweaty."

Rei instantly dropped his hand and rounded sharply on him. "Are you saying that I stink?"

"Did I say that?" he replied, shrugging. "I know I didn't. I said you were sweaty, just
like I am. You're the one who said I stink, not me. If you didn't want to get so sweaty,
you shouldn't have had us sit so close to the sacred flame."

"Oh, so it's my fault that you stink?" she retorted, putting her hands on her hips.

"No, it's your fault that we're sweaty," he replied calmly.

"I didn't hear you complaining."

"You're the teacher. Why should I question my instructor?"

Grandpa chuckled to himself as he watched ten year old Rei chase eleven year old Ryoku
around the shrine grounds, yelling about how she was going to pound his smelly face in.
No matter how mature Ryoku was or Rei tried to be, they were still children. It was good
to see that Ryoku hadn't lost that much of himself. He had tried his best to keep the boy
from plunging too far down into depression, but he had a feeling that it was more of what
Rei did that what he did that kept him from backsliding into the depressive funks that he
used to fall into during his first couple of months there.

Additionally, he was beginning to notice that Rei liked to spend a lot of her time around
Ryoku. They would either talk, or play, or even practice like they were doing earlier. He
wondered if there was a possibility that she was starting to develop a crush on the boy. If
so, then he would most certainly give them his blessings. After all, if Ryoku returned her
feelings, and the two of them got married, then he could leave the shrine in their care
without any worries whatsoever.

But, he wasn't about to rush them or anything. Best to let them discover their feelings on
their own. He was content to watch, and maybe encourage them every once and a while.

But first, maybe he should go and pry Rei off of Ryoku's back. She really shouldn't shove
his face in the dirt like that.


The old man sighed tiredly. He hated paperwork.

He knew this was coming the moment he agreed to ask Hino-san if he would take the boy in.
Now that Makoto was about to return to school for another year, he had to fill out the
paperwork to have Makoto transfered to a new school as well.

Makoto had called him a month ago, telling him which school she wanted to be transferred
to. To be quite honest, her choice surprised him. He would've figured that she would want
to be in the same school that her brother went to, but apparently he was mistaken. Oh, she
still wanted him to ask Hino-san if he wouldn't mind taking her in as well, but he felt
that it would be intruding on the kind priest to look after both of his wards.

Still, the arrangement he currently had with Hino-san was quite beneficial. The cost of
'raising' the boy had dropped considerably once he had left his care. Instead of several
smaller costs, all this was costing him was a flat rate that was several ten thousands of
yen over the largest cost he had to pay for the boy, but by far less than the combination
of all those smaller costs. Especially since the boy was now in a public school, rather
than a boarding school.

The school that Makoto wanted to go to was a private one and a costly one at that. After
totalling the numbers, he found that if he did let her attend that school, then the cost
would offset his transferring the boy out of Shirokoyama and putting him in Hino-san's

However, if Hino-san did agree to take in Makoto....

He ran the numbers through again. Omitting cost of living and giving her the same flat rate
as her brother gave him a more manageable number. Still, maybe it would be better if she
went to her brother's school.

He thought about it a little more. The private school taught all grades all the way to high
school, so she wouldn't have to worry about high school entrance exams like her brother
would. Knowing him, the exams wouldn't be a problem. The boy was highly intelligent, which
was something he highly valued. Makoto, on the other hand, wasn't as concerned about her
grades as her brother was, but at least she wasn't an idiot. As it was, he was more
concerned over her education than her brother's.

Hmm.... Perhaps this was was a wise investment, after all. He would have to contact
Hino-san later to discuss the possibility of his taking Makoto in as well. Perhaps he could
speak with Hino-san's granddaughter as well. Makoto said that she was attending the school
that she wanted to go to. That would be a good way to find out about the school from a
student's perspective.

The best decisions were always made with the most facts available. He would make his final
decision after speaking with both Hino-san and his granddaughter.

But first, he needed to finish Makoto's transfer papers.

He sighed tiredly again. He hated paperwork.


Rei sat immersed in her bath, staring out of the high window at the stars. Soaking in the
warm water felt so good.

She couldn't help but smile as she thought back to earlier that day. Chasing Ryoku around
like that was fun. So was smashing his face into the ground, although she had a feeling
that he let her do it.

That was all right. It was still fun.

"Hey, Rei-chan!" Ryoku's voice called from the hallway. "Are you done yet! I want to take a
bath, too, you know!"

She couldn't help smirking to herself. "Too bad, Ryo-kun! You're just going to have to wait
until I'm done." She would've stuck her tongue out as well, but he wouldn't be able to see

"Che! Fine, then!" he grumbled and stomped off.

"Ryo-kun, I'm just kidding!" she called after him, but she didn't know if he heard or not.
"Hmph! He didn't have to take it so personally. I was only kidding." Her good mood ruined,
she started to get out of the bath and dry herself off.

"Rei, phone for you!" Grandpa called out as soon as he saw her emerge from the bathroom.

"Who is it, Grandpa?" she asked, curious.

"It's Ryo-kun's guardian, Myouken-san," he told her as he handed her the phone. "He wants
to ask you a few questions about your school."

"Myouken-san?" she repeated, surprised. About her school? Maybe this was about whether or
not Makoto would be going to her school. "Hello? Myouken-san?"

"Yes," the elderly voice replied on the other end. "Hino Rei, correct? I hear from Makoto
that you attend T*A School for Girls."

"Yes, that's right," she replied, nodding. "It's a very good school."

"I'm sure. Is the schoolwork very hard?"

"Oh, of course," she confirmed. "I have homework everyday and I usually have to study for
hours in order to-"

"Please don't lie to me," Myouken cut off firmly. "I understand that you would want your
friend to go to the same school as you, but lying to me in order to convince me to do so
will not help."

She frowned slightly. "I wasn't-"

"I could hear it in your voice," he continued, rolling over what she wanted to say. "You do
not need to try and convince me. I will make my decision mostly based on facts I get
elsewhere. What I want from you is what you truly think of your school. That is all."

She blinked in bewilderment. She was still surprised that he could tell she was exaggerating
just by listening to her voice. "So, you just want to know what I honestly think of T*A
School for Girls?"

"If you would, please."

"It's not a bad school, but I honestly wish I had more friends there," she told him. "The
teachers are understanding, but most of the girls there tend to ignore me."

"I see. And the schoolwork?"

"It's not very hard all the time, but sometimes it is. We do get a lot of homework, but
not everyday."

"And do you have to study a lot for your classes?"

"Yes, sometimes I do."

"I see. Thank you. If you would, could you please let me speak with your grandfather now?"

"Yes," she replied and lowered the phone. "Grandpa, Myouken-san wants to talk with you

Grandpa Hino came into the room a few moments later. "Thank you, Rei," he said after she
handed him the phone. "Myouken-san?"

"Thank you for allowing me to speak with your granddaughter, Hino-san," Myouken said
politely. "I think I have enough information to make a decision now."

"I'm glad that she could be of some help," Grandpa replied. "However, I get the feeling
that speaking with Rei isn't the only reason for your call."

There was a pause on the other end. "You are a very astute man, Hino-san. Yes, there is
another reason for my call. I have another request of you concerning Makoto. I would like
to request that she be allowed to live there as well. I am only asking this because you
are already allowing Ryoku to live there and I know that they hate being apart from each
other for too long. I am willing to accept the same conditions for Makoto that you have
offered for Ryoku. Is this acceptable, Hino-san?"

"It is," Grandpa Hino agreed after some thought. "If I may ask, what school are you going
to be sending her to?"

"I think I will save that information for when Makoto gets there," Myouken said with a hint
of amusement in his voice. "She should be arriving at the beginning of the new school year."

"A surprise, is it?"

"In a way."

"I see. Well, I'll be sure to let the children know that they can expect Makoto to be
living here soon."

"That will be fine," the elderly man replied. "If you will excuse me, I must call Makoto
and inform her of my decision. Good day." With that, he hung up the phone.

"Rei! Ryo-kun!"

"Ryo-kun's in the bath now, Grandpa," Rei said as she came into the room.

"Oh. Anyway, I just finished speaking with Myouken-san. He told me that he's made a decision
as to where your friend, Makoto, will be attending school," he informed her.

"Really?" she asked, excited. "Where?"

"He didn't say. He wanted it to be a surprise for you two."

"Oh," she said, her shoulders drooping slightly in disappointment.

"I've got more good news, though," he continued, grinning cheekily. "I've agreed to let
Makoto come live here as well. She'll arrive when school starts."

Rei's eyes widened at that news. "Thank you, Grandpa!" she exclaimed as she flung her arms
around him and squeezed in a huge hug.

"Rei.... Can't... breathe...."

"Ah! Sorry, Grandpa!" she apologized as she released him. "Oh! Ryo-kun! I've got to tell
Ryo-kun!" she said as she ran out of the room.

Grandpa blinked as he stared at the doorway she had just ran out of. "But, didn't you say
that he was taking a bath...?"


Ryoku held his breath and dunked his head into the warm bath water. His hair had gotten
very dirty after everything that had happened today. Sweat from sitting in front of the
sacred fire for a couple of hours combined with rolling around in the dirt. He hadn't done
anything like that since he left Shirokoyama, when Keiko was still alive....

He lifted his head back up out of the water and sat there with his eyes closed, letting
the excess water run through his unbound hair and down his back. It happened again. No
matter what, his thoughts somehow tended to find their way back to Keiko. It was fortunate
that it didn't happen as often as before, but it still happened quite a bit.

He ran a hand through his hair, brushing out the rest of the excess water and reclined
against the side of the bathtub, his eyes still closed as he tried to clear his mind, just
like Rei had showed him. Doing this had helped him to alleviate most of his bouts of
depression, or at least dampen them somewhat. It still hurt, but it just wasn't as
overwhelming as before.

Once his mind was clear, he stood up and started to step out of the bathtub.

"Ryo-kun! You'll never guess what happened!" Rei exclaimed as she flung open the door.

Both froze in shock for a few moments.

"I'm so sorry!" Rei choked out as she spun around and covered her eyes and blushed
furiously, just as Ryoku leapt over to where his towel was lying and quickly wrapped it
around himself, also blushing something fierce.

"I-it's all right, Rei-chan," he stammered slightly.

"I didn't mean to see you... like that!" she said, shaking her head. Her hands were
still covering her eyes.

"I know," he said, walking up to her. "It was an accident. Now, what was it you wanted
to tell me? It must be important for you to burst in while I'm taking a bath."

"I thought you'd still be in the water," she said as she turned back toward him,
carefully removing her hands from her face.

"I'm covered, if that's what you're worried about," he said, rubbing the back of his
head while giving her a chagrined smile. "So, what did you want to tell me?"

"Oh!" she said, recovering her earlier excitement. "Grandpa says that Myouken-san has
finally decided where he's going to transfer Mako-chan to. Not only that, but Grandpa's
going to let Mako-chan live here with us!"

Ryoku's eyes widened considerably. "Really?"

She nodded excitedly. "Yes! Really!"

He let out a shout of joy and flung his arms around her, squeezing her in a huge hug. "This
is wonderful news! Did Grandpa say where Mako-chan's going?"

Rei shook her head. "No. He said that Myouken-san wanted to keep it a surprise. He also
said that Mako-chan would be coming when school starts again."

"So, she should be here soon," he said, still smiling. "I can hardly wait, Rei-chan."

"Me, neither."

"Oh, what do we have here?" Grandpa said as he walked into the bathroom and noticed them
hugging. "Am I interrupting anything?"

That brought them to remember Ryoku's current state of dress. Both children quickly moved
away from each other, blushing even more than before.

"All right, everyone out!" Ryoku said quickly, shooing them away. "I want to get dressed
and I can't do it with everyone watching me!"

"Come on, Rei," Grandpa said as he left with his granddaughter. "We can start getting that
spare room ready for Makoto, even if she won't be here for a few weeks."

"All right, Grandpa," she said, then turned back around toward Ryoku. "I'm really sorry,
Ryo-kun!" she said again and slid the door closed.

Ryoku stared at the door for a while longer, clothed in just his towel. "Why me?" he
sighed as he sat down on the floor and shook his head in vexation.


Disclaimer: All original materials belong to their respective owners. Sailor Moon belongs
to Naoko Takeuchi and a bunch of big companies. No copyright infringement is intended. This
story belongs me, so I would appreciate it very much if you would ask for permission before
posting it anywhere else. Thank you.

The Question and all stories included are:
Copyright © July 6, 2001 Jason C. Ulloa.
All Rights Reserved.