Sailor Moon Fan Fiction ❯ Atonement - Rei's Story ❯ Chapter 10 ( Chapter 10 )

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

Chapter 10

"So, what do you think of the school so far, Mako-chan?" Rei asked as she and Makoto were
walking home after school.

"I didn't know that it was a Catholic school," she replied. "I was kinda surprised."

"So was I when I first started," she told her.

"Doesn't it seem weird going to a Catholic school when you believe in Shintoism?"

"I know," Rei agreed emphatically. "Especially since I'm training to become a miko. Most
of the Sisters don't understand my religion that much, but at least they're nice. Well...
most of 'em, that is."

"Sister Rosa kept rapping my knuckles every time I started to doze off," Makoto complained.
"It's not my fault Math is so boring."

"You, too? Sister Annette hits mine when I fall asleep in Social Studies class," she
admitted. "Anyway, I usually meet Ryo-kun around here since he gets out at around the same
time I do."

"Rei-chan! Mako-chan!" Ryoku called out as they approached.

"Hi, Ryo-chan!" Makoto shouted as she waved to her brother.

"Ryo-kun, who's that?" Rei asked as she noticed someone waiting with him.

"Hi! I'm Tsukino Usagi!" the girl with long blonde hair done up in twin ponytails and
odango exclaimed cheerily as she shook both Rei's hand, then Makoto's hand. "I've heard so
much about you from Ryo-kun! I'm so glad I could finally meet you!"

"Um...," Makoto said uncertainly as she regarded the excited blonde.

"Don't mind Usagi-chan," Ryoku replied with a half-smile. "She gets excited easily. And for
the silliest reasons, too."

"Hey!" Usagi shot back. "I do not!"

"Sure seems like it to me," Rei remarked dryly.

"Anyways," Ryoku continued before Usagi could answer back, "Usagi-chan is one of my best
friends from school. After I told her that Mako-chan was going to be living with us and
going to your school, well.... she wanted to meet her."

"Oh," Makoto said, blinking. "So, how did you and Ryo-chan become friends, anyway?" she
asked, giving her a inquisitive look.

Usagi calmed down slightly as she turned her attention back to Makoto. "It was last year,
when Ryo-kun first came to Juuban Elementary. He got put in the same class as me. When I
first saw him, I thought he looked a little lonely, so I decided to try and talk to him."

"So we talked for a while and became friends after that," Ryoku added with a shrug. "For
some reason, she thinks I remind her of someone she used to know a few years ago."

"Wait," Rei interrupted. "Isn't she the friend you told me about when you came home the
first day?"

"The same," he nodded.

Rei glanced over at Usagi again. She was just standing there, smiling cheerfully. Now that
her original outburst was over, she supposed she wasn't really as annoying as she first
thought. Maybe the girl deserved a second chance.

"All right, then," she said as she continued on her way. "Let's get going. No sense
standing around here all day. Besides," she added, glancing over her shoulder at Ryoku,
"visiting friends or not, you still have to train."

He sighed and hung his head slightly as he followed her with the others. "I know. I know.
You don't have to remind me, Rei-chan."

"Train?" Usagi asked curiously. "Are you studying martial arts, Ryo-kun?"

"Well... yes and no," he replied with a shrug. "I do know some martial arts, but that's not
what Rei-chan was talking about."

"Oh," she said as she blinked. Rei blinked as well, but said nothing.

Ryoku grinned slightly at his friend's unspoken question. "I'm training to become a Shinto
priest," he told her. "Rei-chan's training me in the basics, then Grandpa will take over."

"Rei-chan's training you?" she said, surprised and impressed.

He nodded. "She's a miko-in-training and much more skilled than I am."

"Wow, that's really amazing!" Usagi said, openly admiring the two. "What about you,
Mako-chan? Are you training to become a miko, too?"

"Who, me?" Makoto asked, pointing at herself. "Nah, Ryo-chan's the one who wants to be a
priest. I'm just here to give him my support, that's all."

"Ah," Usagi nodded thoughtfully.


The rest of the walk to the shrine was spent between Rei and Ryoku discussing what he had
been learning recently, and Usagi expressing some interest in what Rei was learning as a
miko. Usagi, at one point, had wondered what it would be like to train as a miko, but Rei
had advised against it, stating that it was a very difficult path to follow, requiring a
great deal of effort and strict discipline.

Usagi quickly changed her mind upon hearing this.

Still, she thought Rei and Ryoku looked very cool in their Shinto robes. With the exception
of the color of their hakama pants - red for Rei and blue for Ryoku - they were dressed
exactly the same.

Makoto had elected to remain in her school uniform.

Usagi had been given a quick tour of the shrine by Grandpa, who had been happy to see that
they had brought a friend over for a visit. Makoto and Ryoku went along with them, leaving
Rei to get things ready for their training session in the sacred fire room. This time, she
wanted to see how well he could make and use ofuda. She had already gone over the
characters and the order several times before, enough so that she could make ofuda even in
her sleep, so she was hoping that all that practice that he had been putting in lately
would help get it through his thick head.

To be fair, he did take out the bags of cumpled up ofuda that he had failed to make. She
was afraid that if they burned them, the fire department would come, thinking that their
shrine was on fire.

After a while, Ryoku walked into the room by himself with a tired smile on his face.
"Where's everyone else?" she asked, raising an eyebrow slightly.

"Usagi-chan went home and Mako-chan is helping Grandpa make dinner," he told her as he sat
down across from his teacher.

"Is she normally like that?" Rei asked.

"Not really," he replied with a slight tilt of his head. "To be honest, she gets excitable
very easily, but like I told you before, she's a very warm, friendly person. You'd like her
once you get to know her, Rei-chan."

She gave him a flat look for a few moments, then snorted. "We'll see," she said as she
placed a single slip of paper in front of him with a calligraphy brush and inkwell. There
was ink already in the well.

Ryoku wordlessly picked up the brush and rolled the bristles onto the flat inkwell, coating
the brush with the dark, black ink. Once satisfied, he carefully removed any excess ink and
transferred the brush to the paper. With quick, practiced strokes, he traced out each of
the familiar characters onto the slip of paper, each one in its proper order.

Rei nodded as soon as he finished, a small smile showing on her face. "You've definitely
improved quite a bit, Ryo-kun. It's not as good as mine," she added with a teasing smirk,
"but I think they're useable. I think Grandpa would think so, too."

"Good," he sighed in relief. "I'd hate to think that with all that practice, I still
couldn't get it right."

"Now, do you remember what I said about using ofuda?" she asked.

"It's basically the same as how we focus on the sacred fire, but we channel our energy into
the ofuda through our bodies, rather than just mentally reaching out to it, like with the
sacred flame," he replied. "Am I right?"

Rei nodded again. "Good. Now, try to do what you said and I'll watch to see if you're
screwing something up. When you think you're ready, fling the ofuda at...," she glanced
around the room for a moment, " that!" she said, flinging her arm toward the door
and pointed at a raven that happened to land in the doorway. Said raven squawked in
surprise before quickly taking off as if it knew what she was planning. "Hey! Come back
here, Phobos!"

"Phobos?" Ryoku blinked quizzically. "That raven?"

"Yes, him and his twin sister, Deimos," she explained. "Those two ravens have been hanging
around here for as long as I can remember, so I gave them names and started feeding them
whenever they come around. They're almost like my pets."

"Interesting pets," he commented with a dry grin. "Well, since my target seems to have
flown off, what shall I aim for now?"

"Never mind," she sighed vexedly. "There's no point now. Nothing here for you to aim at,
and I'm certainly NOT going to let you throw an ofuda at me, so we might as well move on."

Ryoku shrugged and pocketed his ofuda. "More meditation exercises?" he asked.

"No, not this time," she said as she stood up while gesturing for him to do the same. "You
told Usagi-san that you practice martial arts, right?"

"Yes. Both Mako-chan and I practiced a little of our family's style of kempo, though we can
never learn any advanced moves or techniques since there's no one left to teach us," he
said with a sad sigh. "We haven't really tried to continue learning the art since it will
always be incomplete, but we do like to practice what we do know every now and then. Why do
you ask?"

"I've been wanting to learn a little bit of martial arts for a while, but I've been too
busy training you to try to learn," she explained. "Since you and your sister know a little
bit, why don't you two teach me a little of what you know? I'll be fun, don't you think?"

Ryoku gave her a lopsided grin as he stood up. "Well, let's go see what Mako-chan says,
shall we?"


For most of the year, Rei and Ryoku continued to train each other, Ryoku in his Shinto
religion and Rei in Ryoku's family's martial arts style with Makoto's help. Occasionally,
Usagi could come by, either to spend time with Ryoku, or Makoto, or even Rei, although the
ditzy, yet endearing blonde tended of get on her nerves every now and then. She was loathe
to admit it, but she was starting to like Usagi, despite herself. Even worse, Ryoku seemed
to know it and enjoyed pointing it out to her as to say he told her so. Even though he sort
of did.

That made it all the more annoying.

Ryoku continued to pray under the haiden's bells everyday. Every now and then, Makoto would
join her brother under the bells and pray, even though she knew that he would never notice.
She had told her that those times when she joined her brother in prayer, it was mostly to
keep him company and offer what support she could.

Soon afterward, Rei began to join Ryoku in his daily prayers more often, mostly to keep him
company, like his sister. However, soon after beginning this new routine, she found herself
wondering why she was doing this, especially since he would never know she was there unless
she told him later. However, she still enjoyed just talking to him as though he was
listening intently to every word she said.

It was comforting just to lean against the supporting beams of the haiden, or to sit down
on the floor of the shrine, and just talk about what she was thinking or feeling at the
time. She could imagine him listening to every word she said, nodding at the appropriate
times, agreeing with what she had to say, understanding whatever point she was trying to
make.... Things like that. There were times when she wondered what it would be like if he
actually was listening.

Then again, considering some of the things she was saying, thinking that he wasn't
listening.... It was better that he didn't hear any of it. It would severely embarrass her
if he did.

Grade school was over and soon they would be heading into seventh grade. This wouldn't mean
very much to either her or Makoto, but now Ryoku had to get used to a new path to school
everyday. Not only was Juuban Junior High slightly farther than Juuban Elementary, but it
was in an entirely different direction. On the fortunate side, if they both went a certain
way, they could spend more time walking together.

She had heard from Ryoku that Usagi was going to Juuban Junior High as well. There were
times when she really didn't know what to think about Usagi. One the one hand, she was his
friend from school. She really seemed to like him, which for some strange reason, seemed to
annoy her greatly. She didn't hate her - almost the opposite, in fact - but there were
times when she wished she wouldn't hang around Ryoku that much.

Makoto had said at one time that she was jealous of Usagi, but she heatedly denied that
claim. After all, what was there to be jealous of? The thought of that was just plain

Rei glanced up at the full moon from where she leaned against the haiden's support beam.
It was late March, so in a few weeks, it would be her twelfth birthday. They had already
celebrated Ryoku's thirteenth birthday last month, which still came as a surprise to him,
since neither he or his sister really celebrated their birthdays that much ever since they
lost their parents. Grandpa made it a point to celebrate theirs ever since learning that.
The surprise on Ryoku's face the first time they celebrated his birthday here and the
similar one on Makoto's face last year were priceless.

She took in a deep breath as she stared up at the night sky. There were so many stars up
there; more than she could ever count. Some shone brightly, while others were so dim, she
could barely make them out. The light from the moon and stars played across the shrine
grounds, covering everything in soft illumination.

"The sky seems so beautiful tonight, don't you think, Ryo-kun?" she asked as she glanced
over at him. "It's so clear, you can see everything."

She pushed herself off of the haiden and walked over to him. "You know, in a couple of
weeks, it's gonna be my birthday," she told him. "You'd better get me something nice,
Ryo-kun, or I'll have to punish you." She smiled impishly. "And you're not going to
Mako-chan for help on this one, either. In fact, I'm gonna tell her not to help you at all."

As usual, Ryoku was silent and unmoving.

"You know, sometimes I get really tired of how you like to keep things to yourself," she
sighed as she turned around and leaned against him. She had learned a few months ago, that
not only did he seem not to hear anything, he didn't seem to feel anything either.

Well, that wasn't exactly true. A sharp kick to the groin would snap him out of it. She had
apologized profusely to him for a full week afterward.

"It's been almost a year since you told me one of the reasons why you wanted to learn to be
a priest, Ryo-kun. A year, and you haven't said anything since. How long do you expect me
to wait? Do you like keeping things from your friends? Do you like keeping things from me?
One of these days, you will have to tell me why. You owe me that much after what we've been
through together."

She sighed again as she continued to lean against Ryoku while he prayed. Sometimes she
couldn't figure him out. There were times where he'd make her laugh, other times where he'd
irritate her to no end. Times where she couldn't stand being anywhere near him, times where
she just wanted to be around him for no particular reason, and times....

...well, times like now, where she couldn't really figure out what she was feeling.

"Why do you do this to me, Ryo-kun?" she whispered quietly. "Do you like confusing me like
this?" She was about to say something else when Ryoku lifted his head, causing her to
quickly move away from him.

"Rei-chan, were you leaning on me again?" he asked as he turned toward the raven-haired

"O-of course not!" she retorted as she tossed her head and half-turned away to keep him
from seeing her cheeks pink slightly. "What makes you think that?"

He sighed as he shook his head slightly. "Never mind. Were you waiting long for me?"

"Not really," she replied as turned back toward him. "But you were taking longer than
usual. Is something wrong?"

"Wrong?" He shook his head lightly. "No. Nothing's wrong. I just had a lot to pray about
tonight, I guess."

"Oh," Rei said as Ryoku turned and walked up to her.

"Mako-chan's making dinner tonight, isn't she?" he asked.

"She should be done right about now," she said. "We should go inside before they start to
wonder about what happened to us."

"All right," Ryoku nodded as he followed Rei inside.


"Got a lot on your mind tonight?" Makoto asked as she passed her brother on his way to the
furo. She had already finished using it after dinner, so she left it ready for her brother
to use as soon as she was out.

"You might say that," he replied tiredly. "I have a few things in my mind that I need to
try and sort out."

"Is it about Rei-chan?" she asked quickly.

"Not really," he replied as he walked past her and continued on toward the furo. "It's
mostly things about myself that I've come to realize."

"Like what?" she asked, curious.

"If I knew that, Mako-chan, I wouldn't have to spend time sorting it out," he replied as he
opened the door to the furo and closed it behind him, flipping the "Occupied" sign over as
he did.

"Besides," he said to himself as he stared at his reflection in the mirror across the room,
"I have no right to think about that when I can't even straighten out myself."


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.