Sailor Moon Fan Fiction ❯ Atonement - Rei's Story ❯ Chapter 9 ( Chapter 9 )

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

Chapter 9

The weeks until the beginning of the new school year seemed to drag on for obvious reason.
The preparations for Makoto's arrival at the Hikawa Jinja were finished. Ryoku would stop
by the room every now and then and move this, or adjust that, wanting everything to be
perfect when his sister finally arrived. Rei was less anxious, but only slightly.

There was much speculation as to where the younger Kino sibling would attend her next year
of school, but Grandpa didn't know and the old man was staying silent on the matter. Ryoku
had a sneaking suspicion that the old man was smirking at him over the phone the last time
he asked.

So the days crawled by until the Sunday before the first day of school arrived.

Ryoku was up early, expecting his sister to finally arrive today. After all, she still
hadn't arrived yet and tomorrow was the first day of school. He had no idea when she was
coming, though. So, he was up at half-past four in the morning, ready and waiting to pounce
on his younger sibling with a welcome hug.

Well, he was actually in front of the sacred fire, meditating. But that still didn't mean
he wasn't ready to take off running the moment Rei or Grandpa said that she was here.

His eyes were closed and hands held in front of him in the same position he had seen Rei do
hundreds of times. He concentrated on the fire, reaching out to it in the same manner she
had told him to do over and over again. It wasn't as easy to do without her there guiding
him, but he did manage after some time concentrating.

"Rin," he said as he brought his hands into the first position. He didn't open his eyes to
check and see if he did it correctly; he was sure he had it by now.

"Pyou," he continued, shifting his hands into the second position. It was coming to him
very easily. It should; he had practiced it enough.

"Tou." The shift into the third position was done with the same ease as the others. It was
too bad Rei wasn't up yet. She would be glad to see that her training was rubbing off on

"Sha," he said, shifting into the fourth position.






He paused for a moment, waiting. He frowned, sighing to himself. The flame hadn't jumped at
all. Well, just a little, but five centimeters hardly counted as a jump. Barely a hop,
even. Rei would've laughed at him if she saw that.

"That was pathetic. Didn't I teach you anything?"


Rei walked over and knelt down beside him in front of the fire. "Do you know what time it
is?" she asked simply.

"Um...," he replied, having not kept track of the time he spent concentrating on the flame.
He supposed it was a long time, but....

"It's almost seven," she replied seriously. "All that time and that-" she gestured toward
the fire, "-was all you could do?"

"Wait," he said, blinking. "How long were you watching me?"

"Long enough to tell that you still need a lot of work," she replied flatly. Her expression
shifted into a small smile. "But, I guess it's because your mind's on something else,

He frowned slightly. "I was trying to focus on the flame, like you taught me, but-"

"Don't worry about it for today," she interrupted, placing a hand on his. "I know I'm just
as excited as you are. After all, we haven't seen Mako-chan in almost half a year. That is
a long time."

"I know."

"So, let's go," she said, standing up and offering him her hand. "Grandpa's already made

Ryoku glanced up at Rei's hand and nodded as he took it, stood up, and went to go eat.


Grandpa smiled to himself as he ate. He wondered if the two children even realized how
close they were becoming. They had come in holding hands and not even noticing it. This was
most promising indeed. If this kept up, he wouldn't even have to do a thing.

"Grandpa, did Myouken-san say when Mako-chan was coming today?" Rei asked after putting
down her bowl.

He glanced over to his granddaughter, then to Ryoku, and shook his head. "No. I haven't
heard anything yet."

"Well, how will we know when to pick her up, then?" she huffed irritably.

"I can call him later, Rei-chan," Ryoku said as he set his bowl and chopsticks down.
"Please excuse me." He stood up and turned to leave.

Rei set her chopsticks down as well. "Please excuse me," she said and stood up to follow
him out.

Grandpa blinked, realizing that he was the only one still at the table. "Hmph. Leave an old
man to eat all by himself. How rude."


"Hey, Ryo-kun," she called out as she caught up with him.

"Hm?" he said, stopping and turning toward his friend.

"Do you want to practice what you were doing earlier? Sometime after you call Myouken-san?"

"Of course," he nodded.

"That's right," she nodded approvingly. "After all, if what you did earlier was all you
could do while distracted, then you definitely need more training." She gave him a stern
glare as she placed her hands on her hips. "You aren't slacking off on me, are you?"

Ryoku backed away from her glare. "W-what? Of course not! I'd never do that. I respect your
teaching too much to do that."

She stared at him for a little while longer, then nodded with a smile. "That's good to
hear, Ryo-kun." She turned and walked away, smiling where he couldn't see.

He watched her walk away with a confused look on his face, rubbing the back of his head as
he tried to figure out his friend. This wasn't the first time she did something like this
to him, and he doubted that it would be the last. Maybe she just liked to confuse him?

Nah. Why would she want to do that?


Makoto knocked lightly on the huge double doors and stepped into the darkened chamber a few
moments later. "Oyaji? You in here?" she called out as she walked further into the room,
her voice disappearing quickly in the large, heavy-carpeted chamber. The drapes were closed,
as usual, and several low-power lamps dimly lit the room, ringing around the wall almost
half a meter above her head.

"I see you're wearing your new school seifuku now," Myouken observed from his chair at the
far end of the room. "Come here so I can take a better look."

"I'm surpised they had one for my size," she remarked as she made her way across the
chamber. "Shirokoyama had to have my old seifuku specially made."

The old man nodded as he examined her school uniform. "It's not too tight is it? I recall
that you had quite a growth spurt last year. I had to pay to have a replacement made
because you were starting to... overfill... certain areas."

"Oyaji!" she exclaimed, blushing.

"Hm. Looks all right to me," he concluded, smirking faintly. "I see they made it a little
loose up top. Good. It would be bad for you to fill it in too quickly. I would hate to have
to pay for another one. Those things aren't cheap you know."

"Oyaji!" she exclaimed, blushing again. "Do we have to talk about this?"

His smirk grew wider by a fraction. "Can't an old man poke a little bit of fun at his ward?"

She snorted. "Dirty old man."

Myouken roared with laughter. "Maybe. But I'm too old for such things, you know."

"So you keep saying," she remarked dryly. "You're not that old, Oyaji. You're only in your

"Late-sixties, actually," he corrected. "More than four times your age, Makoto."

"I know, Oyaji," she replied with a fond grin. "I know. Still, you're not that old."

The phone on the small table next to Myouken's chair chose that moment to ring. "Myouken
speaking," he answered, picking up the phone.

"Oyaji, it's me."

"Oh, Ryoku," the old man said, surprised. "How nice to hear from you."

"Ryo-chan?" Makoto said, brightening instantly. "Can I talk to him?"

He held up one finger, indicating silence. Makoto grumbled, but remained quiet. "Is there
something you wanted?"

"Hey, Oyaji, when exactly is Mako-chan supposed to be coming here anyway?"

"Didn't I tell you already?" he asked, smirking smugly.

It wasn't that often that he had the opportunity to tease Ryoku. The boy could be all too
serious at times. Well, the same could've been said about him, but he did have his playful
moods from time to time. Like now, for instance.

Well, he had always been described as mercurial, except he was more prone to being gruff
and callous now. He was an old man, after all. It was mostly when Makoto was around when he
was able to break out of those fits of coldness.

"Oyaji...," Ryoku grumbled on his end.

"Makoto is here. Do you want to talk to her?"

"What? Are you kidding? Of course, I want to talk to her! Put her on!"

The old man waited.

"Um... please?"

"Makoto," Myouken said as he handed the phone over to her, "your brother wants to talk to

She eagerly took the phone from her guardian. "Thanks, Oyaji."

"Remember not to ruin the suprise, Makoto."

"I won't, Oyaji," she promised. "Ryo-chan?"

"It's good to hear your voice again, Mako-chan. So, when the heck are you gonna get here

"That... is a secret."

"Not you, too?" he grumbled irritably, then sighed. "Oyaji put you up to this, didn't he?"

"Maybe...." She struggled not to laugh at hearing her older brother grumbling over the

"Fine. Can't you at least say if you're coming today or not?"

Makoto glanced over to the old man and covered the receiver with her hand. "Can I tell him
if I'm going to arrive today?" she asked. Myouken shook his head. "No, I can't tell you if
I'm coming today or tomorrow," she replied.

There was a silence on the other end for a while. "So, you can't say that you will be
arriving tomorrow?"

"No, I can't."

Another silence. "Ah, I see. Thanks, Mako-chan. Hey, as long as you're on the phone, do you
want to talk to Rei-chan?"

"Yeah, can you put her on please?"

"Got it. Hey, Rei-chan! Phone! It's Mako-chan!" Ryoku's voice became distant as if he had
turned away from the receiver. "Ah, here she is."

"Mako-chan?" Rei's voice said over the phone.

Makoto smiled happily. "Hi, Rei-chan! How've you been?"

"I'm fine. We're just waiting for you to get over here, that's all. We've got everything
ready for you; Ryo-kun's been obsessing over every little detail-"

"I have not been obsessing!" Ryoku's voice shouted in the background.

"Shut up, Ryo-kun! I'm talking to Mako-chan! Don't you know it's rude to interrupt someone
on the phone?" Rei shot back, her voice sounding like she was talking away from the phone.

"It sounds like you two are getting along well," Makoto remarked, once again resisting the
urge to laugh.

"I guess you can say that," Rei agreed. "I'm always having to take care of the poor guy,
you know. Sometimes I wonder how he'd ever get by without me."

"Rei-chan!" Ryoku complained again.

"Oh, quiet you!" she snapped back. "Mako-chan, you have to hurry and get over here so you
can help me take care of that idiot of an older brother of yours."


This time, Makoto did burst out laughing. Myouken glanced over at her and raised an
eyebrow, but said nothing as he turned back to what he was working on.


"So, how has Ryo-chan's training been going, Rei-chan?" Makoto asked after getting herself
back under control. "Has he learned to receive visions or any of that stuff?"

"Are you kidding?" Rei asked. "He's nowhere near that level yet! However, he is a quick
learner. I wouldn't be surprised if started getting the hang of things within the next few
months or so."

"Really?" she asked, eyes widening appreciatively. "Well, I'm not really that surprised.
My brother's always been a fast learner, especially when he's really interested in
something. The more he's interested, the quicker he learns. If he's learning as fast as you
say he is, then you must really have his interest, Rei-chan."

There was a slight pause on Rei's end. "You think so?" she asked thoughtfully.

"Yeah. Definitely."

Rei glanced behind her. Ryoku was no longer standing behind her, having left while she was
busy talking to Makoto. Now that she thought about it, he never did say why he wanted to
pursue the path of the Shinto religion. From what Makoto was saying, it sounded almost like
he did it because... he was interested in her?

No way. He was just a friend. That's all. Besides, she and Ryoku were both too young for
that. She had just barely turned eleven, and Ryoku had been twelve years old for months now.
They were only in sixth grade!

Then again, Keiko and Ryoku were together over a year ago, so there was a precedent. But
she wasn't Keiko. Sure, she liked Ryoku - liked him a lot, in fact - but Keiko was in love
with him. And he, with her.

That's right! It was still too early for him to forget about Keiko. He should be spending
at least another year or two in mourning, and then....

'What am I thinking?' Rei mentally smacked herself. 'The poor guy was in agony over Keiko.
The sooner he gets over her, the better. What am I getting so worked up over anyway? This
is Ryo-kun. My friend. It's not like he's like other immature boys his age, right? One of
the main reasons why I like him so much.' She nodded to herself.


"Oh, sorry, Mako-chan," Rei said sheepishly. "My mind kind of wandered for a moment. What
were we talking about again?"

"We were talking about my brother," she replied. "So, tell me what his training is like."

"Hmm...," Rei murmured musingly. "Well, where should I begin...?"


After Rei hung up the phone, she went outside to go look for Ryoku. He had practice to do.
It didn't take her long to look for him, since he was waiting for her while sitting on one
of the large rocks near the koi pond. He was staring quietly down into the pond, the look
of a person in a deep contemplative mood spread over his face.

"There's just something about koi that seems to make you want to stop and think, don't you
think?" Ryoku said without turning from the pond as soon as Rei reached him. "They just
swim here and there, not a care in the world. They don't even have to worry about food; we
feed them everyday. No worries at all."

She sat down on the rock beside him and stared down at the pond as well. "They're very
relaxing to watch, aren't they?" she asked, glancing over at him.

"Yes," he replied, not taking his eyes from the pond. "But sometimes they make me think
about things that I'd rather forget about."

"About Keiko-chan?" Rei asked, noting the depressive look on his face.

"Sometimes. Not as often as I used to, but sometimes." Ryoku let out a long, heartfelt
sigh. "Sometimes I wonder what I could've done differently. I realize that her death was
not entirely my fault - something that you taught me, by the way," he added, smiling wanly
at her.

"It was a hard lesson to beat into your hard head," she retorted, lightly rapping him on
the head with her knuckles. "But I'm glad you've finally stopped blaming yourself."

"I've gotten past that, Rei-chan," he said, shrugging slightly.

"So, what's wrong, Ryo-kun?" she asked sympathetically.

He glanced at her for a moment, staring at her face without saying anything. "You know,
it's funny," he finally said, breaking the awkward silence. "There are times when I think
I've gotten a handle on it, then suddenly something reminds me of her and it starts all
over again. Oh, sure, it's not as bad as it used to be; more of a squeezing feeling on the
heart, rather than the crushing suffocation that I used to feel. Still, I wish this pain
would just... go away." He turned to stare Rei straight in the eyes, his gaze tired, yet
determined. "That's one of the reasons why I chose this path, Rei-chan. I want to become
stronger spiritually; to have better control over myself."

"One?" she asked curiously. "What are the other reasons, Ryo-kun?"

He frowned pensively for a moment, then turned away. "Those reasons are for another day."

"What?" Rei said, glaring at him. "You can't just leave me in suspense like that! That's
not fair!"

"I'm sorry, but as I said before, my reasons are my own," he told her as he stood up.

Rei huffed as she stood up as well. "Fine. Now, if you're done moping around, we're going
to work on that pitiful excuse of a performance of yours until you get it right." She
reached out and grabbed his arm and started dragging him behind her. "Now, come on."

"Hey, no need to get so upset, Rei-chan!"

"Oh, shut up, baka Ryo-kun!"


The next day, Rei was up early, along with Ryoku. Both of them were already dressed in
their school uniforms, and were outside waiting. Ryoku had grabbed a broom and was sweeping
one corner of the grounds where a pile of leaves had accumulated over the past few days.
Rei had opted to just sit on the top of the stone steps and wait.

Makoto was coming today. After all, today was the first day of school and Myouken had said
that she was going to be completely transfered and attending today. So, that meant that
unless he was planning on driving her to her school himself - not very likely, since he
absolutely hated to go anywhere unless it was absolutely necessary - she would be meeting
them here.

"Any guess who's school she's going to?" Ryoku asked as he set aside his broom after
sweeping the pile into the trees.

"She's probably going to your school," she replied over her shoulder. "You two are the
inseparable pair, after all. Besides, T*A is expensive compared to a public school like
Juuban Elementary."

"Well, Oyaji's always liked Mako-chan, so we'll see where he sent her to," he said

The waiting continued for several more minutes. As it grew closer to the time when school
would commence, the pair slowly began to get anxious. Ryoku would occasionally glance at
his watch to make sure that they still have time to make it to school. They still had
enough time for them to get to school by walking, but any longer and they would have to run
the entire way in order to keep from being late.

"Rei-chan," Ryoku said as the time to depart drew close, but stopped as he noticed that
someone had started to climb the stone steps to the shrine.

Rei took one look and jumped to her feet, recognizing both the girl and the uniform she
wore. After all, she wore one exactly like it. Only smaller.

"Mako-chan!" she shouted as she ran down the stairs and embraced her friend, with Ryoku
not far behind her. "I can't believe it! You're going to MY school?"

"Yeah," she nodded, her ponytail bobbing behind her. "Oyaji said that since you don't have
to worry about high school exams, it was a good way to make sure that I wouldn't be left
behind when Ryo-chan goes to high school. He's not too confident in my grades, you know,"
she added in a faked conspiritorial whisper.

"You're not that bad, Mako-chan," Ryoku laughed. "Anyway, Rei-chan?"

"Right!" she said as both she and Ryoku stood side by side on the steps and slightly bowed

"Welcome home," they said in complete unison.

"It's a little late now, but...," she said, shrugging playfully. "I'm home! But not for
long, right?"

"AAH! We're gonna be late!!!" Rei and Ryoku cried as they darted down the stairs with
Makoto not far behind them.

At the top of the stairs, Grandpa smiled as he watched the three children race to get to
their schools on time. "It looks like it's going to be even more livelier here now."


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.