Sailor Moon Fan Fiction ❯ Atonement - Rei's Story ❯ Chapter 11 ( Chapter 11 )

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

Chapter 11

Ryoku sighed for the third time in twenty minutes as he made his way through the throng of
people shopping in the Ginza. It wasn't the crowd of people that was making him sigh,

"Ryo-chan, that was the fourth store we've been in and you still haven't gotten anything!
How long are you going to take before you finally decide on something?"

He sighed again as he made his way past a pair of high school girls, still in their
school uniforms. "This would go faster if you would actually give me a hand in looking for
something for Rei-chan's birthday."

"Sorry, Ryo-chan," Makoto replied, shaking her head. "No can do. You've gotta find your
own gift to give to Rei-chan. After all," she added, moving up beside him to whisper
conspiratorially, "this is your big chance to show her how you feel."

Ryoku paused in front of a clothing store and glanced back at his sister. "And what do you
mean by that?" he asked flatly.

Makoto's small grin widened a bit and even started curving into a small smirk. "Come on.
You know what I'm talking about."

"I think you're probably mistaken, Mako-chan," he replied as he gave the store an
appraising look, then sighed again. "I'm not sure what kinds of clothes she likes," he
grumbled to himself and moved on, his sister following close behind, shopping bag bouncing
in her hand.

"I'd love to help you, Ryo-chan," she said, putting a consoling hand on her brother's
shoulder. "Really, I would. BUt, you know what Rei-chan would think when she learned that
you didn't pick it out by yourself."

"She'd probably accuse me of cheating and make me sleep in the sacred fire room," he
lamented ruefully. "Again."

"Again?" she asked curiously.

"Well, she'd try it again, at least," he amended. "Grandpa tried to make Rei-chan ease up
on me, but she was so mad, even he was having a hard time getting her to calm down. I ended
up sleeping in the sacred fire room, but I at least got to bring my pillow and blanket."

"What did you do, Ryo-chan?"

"I'm still not really sure," he admitted, rubbing the back of his head sheepishly. "I don't
want to ask Rei-chan and risk her getting mad at me again.

"You know," he added thoughtfully after a moment, "it wasn't that bad, now that I think
about it. Sure, the floor was hard, but it was really warm. I'll have to try it again

"Let me know when you do. I might just grab my futon and join you," she added with a
playful wink.

"Hey, what about that store?" Makoto suggested as she pointed down toward a bookstore that
was situated between a busy coffee shop and another clothing store.

"Hmm?" he said as he glanced toward the store his sister indicated. "That one?"

"Yeah, that one."

"Hmm.... Why not? I'm not having much luck with anything else, anyway. Lead the way."

The bookstore wasn't very big, but it had a friendly atmosphere to it that seemed at odds
with the bustle of the busy pedestrian traffic outside. It was quiet and relaxing; perfect
for sitting down and reading a good book. The merchandise was set in easily accessible
shelves, paperback on one side and hardcover on another. The best sellers were up in front
of the store, followed by non-fiction, then fiction, then reference books at the back of
the store.

"Well, I guess it wouldn't hurt to look around," Ryoku shrugged as he wandered off toward
the fiction section. He passed by the manga, feeling that it was a bit too impersonal for
a birthday present, despite the fact that he knew Rei had a small, yet respectable
collection in her room. He gave the romance novels a quick look-over before deciding that
he had no idea which one would be a good choice. After all, most of the story summaries
sounded exactly the same.

"Found anything, Ryo-chan?" Makoto asked as she came up beside her brother and peeked at
what he was looking at over his shoulder. "Romance novels, hmm?"

"I don't know, Mako-chan," he said as he put the book back. "I don't think this'll work,

"Oh, don't give up so soon, Ryo-chan!" she said, folding her arms underneath her breasts.
"At least give some of the other books a look."

"All right," he replied as he continued down the aisles. No matter where he looked, he
couldn't find anything of interest.

"No luck?" Makoto asked sympathetically as she met her brother in the middle of the store.

"Not really," Ryoku sighed as he shook his head. "I guess we'll have to try...."

"Ryo-chan?" she asked as she noticed her brother gazing off toward one end of the store.

"That's funny...," he said speculatively as he glanced up at a light brown, leather-bound
hardcover book that he could've sworn he hadn't seen earlier.

"Is there something I can help you with?" a young woman asked as she walked up behind him.
"Oops!" she said to herself as she noticed the book he was staring at. "Now how did that
get there? I'll have to talk with Eimi-chan about sorting and stocking books again," she
lamented as she reached for the book. "That's the third time she's done this today."

"Excuse me."

"Hmm?" the woman said as she plucked the book from its place on the shelf. "Can I help you?"

"That book you're holding," he began, pointing at the book in her hands. "What is it?"

"This?" she said, raising an eyebrow. "It's a collection of poetry from around the world.
All of the poems are kept in their original languages with their transliterations
following." She looked back at the shelf the book was sitting on. "I don't know why she put
this book with the non-fiction. This's supposed to go with the rest of the books on poetry."

"Can I see it?" he asked.

"Sure," she said as she handed him the book.

Ryoku looked over the book as he turned it over a couple of times in his hands. The leather
covering felt smooth and cool to the touch; its texture giving off a feeling of erudite
sophistication. The bottom cover was clear, but the top cover held only the title of the
book in simple gold foil embossment - the kanji for "Collected" over the kanji for

Opening the book, he flipped past the title page, the introduction, and so on, skimming
over the poems printed on the pages of the thick book in his hands. Some of the English
poems he could read, and a few words in a couple of the Chinese poems, but for the most
part, he had to refer to the hirigana and kanji following the poems in order to understand
what the poems said.

"Thinking of getting it, Ryo-chan?" Makoto asked, glancing over her brother's shoulder at
the book.

"I have a feeling she might like this," Ryoku said as he closed the book. "How much is this
book?" he asked the woman. "I didn't see a price on it."

"Let me see," the woman requested as she took the book and examined the inside cover. "Ah.
Here we are. It's 5000¥."

"5000¥?" Ryoku repeated as he reached for his wallet. "I think I've got enough for that."

"All right. Shall I ring you up, then?" she asked. "Or, are you still looking for something

"No, I think that will be it," he told her.

"Very well. I can help you at the register." With that, the woman went over to the register
with the book.

"We did it!" Makoto cheered.

"And it only took what? Five stores?" he countered gibingly.

"Oh, shut up," she retorted, punching his arm as the two went to the counter to pay for the


It was the day before her birthday and Rei was getting frustrated. She knew this shrine
better than both of them, yet she couldn't find where Makoto or Ryoku hid her birthday
presents! She knew they each got something for her, so why couldn't she find where they hid

Ever since she was four years old, when Grandpa had told her she could open her birthday
present early if she could find it, she had played this game with him every year. She knew
by now that the game was devised to help her develop her extrasensory abilities, but
nevertheless, she enjoying playing the game. In fact, she never yet failed to find her
Grandpa's present, no matter how cleverly it was hidden, including this year, when he hid
her birthday present in one of the trees outside. The wrapping paper was colored to match
the blossoms to aid in hiding it, but she had found it all the same.

Ryoku's and Makoto's presents, on the other hand, still eluded her, even now. How could
they hide it so well?

When they had learned of the annual tradition from Grandpa, the siblings seemed eager to
give it a try. They immediately went into a huddle and discussed hiding places for a
moment, then Ryoku ran off with both presents in his hands, while Makoto dragged her off
to go for a walk while her brother hid their presents.

They had talked for a while as they walked around the neighborhood. She had told Makoto
about how her father left her with her grandfather after her mother died and totally
immersed himself into his political career, while Makoto told her about how their parents
died in a plane crash when they were young and about how Myouken-san took them in.

From what Makoto told her, apparently Myouken-san was involved in some illegal dealings
when he was younger but he wouldn't elaborate any further than that. Makoto told her that
although he wouldn't talk to her about his sordid past, he did tell her that it was her
father that somehow managed to break him free from the darkness he had trapped himself in.
As such, he practically owed him his life and vowed that he would pay him back someday if
he ever needed it.

Myouken-san had slowly rebuilt his life from scratch using what he could salvage from his
past life and managed to build a decent amount of wealth using both the knowledge he had
picked up from his darker dealings as well as some of his old contacts that were more
legitimate than not. Once he was finanically set for the remainder of his life, he had
attempted to contact Makoto's father, offering whatever it was in his power to give him in
return for saving his life. However, by that time, both he and his wife had died in a plane
crash over the Pyrenees mountains that left no survivors. It was then that he learned about
Makoto and her older brother were about to be put up for adoption, which subsequently led
to him legally taking in the Kino siblings as a foster parent.

It was an interesting story, Rei had thought as the pair had returned home. She couldn't
help but wonder about the kind of life their guardian had led prior to meeting their
father and what kind of person their father was to be able to help someone like that, but
by the time they arrived back at the jinja, Ryoku was there to greet them with a
challenging smirk on his face, as if to say that she could never find where he hid her
birthday presents. Of course, she had to prove him wrong.

However, that was proving easier said than done. Tomorrow was the deadline and she was
getting nowhere. She had tried divinging, meditation, and even old-fashioned room-to-room
searching, waiting until everyone was out of the shrine, of course. Each search method had
failed to produce any results, much to her irritation. There was no way that she would
allow herself to lose her perfect record!

It was time to use drastic measures. Namely, the sacred flame.

Normally, she would consider this something close cheating, but right now, this was her
last resort. As such, it wasn't considered cheating at all. After all, if she couldn't find
it using normal methods, then using advanced methods was perfectly acceptable. Besides,
this game was about honing her abilities, right? So, using this method was perfectly

And so, here she was, sitting in front of the sacred fire, meditating. If she couldn't find
it this way, then she might as well give up. But she wasn't about to let Ryoku beat her.
She'd find those presents, then she'd rub it in his face.

It was almost second nature to clear her mind to the point where she could let her
consciousness reach out to the sacred flame. Her hands moved in the familiar poses that she
had gone through time and again while sitting in front of this same flame. Once finished,
she let her mind clear once again and waited for any images to come to her. This method
didn't always give her results and sometimes the results that she did get were so vague
that she might as well not have even bothered. However, those times that she did get any
images that did help, those images were almost never wrong.

After several minutes of concentration, an image finally did come to her. She could see
the entire shrine as if she was a ghost; flying over the shrine, passing through the
shrine, and so on. In essence, she was everywhere at once.

However, there was one place where she could not see. Her own room was completely
transparent to her as if she could not look into it. Her eyes seemed to go through it, or
slide around it as if she could not look directly at it. Just as she was about to reach
out to it, her consciousness returned to her and her eyes fluttered open.

"So...," Rei murmured to herself as she rose to her feet. "That's where they are." Calmly,
she slid open the door and stepped outside, gently closing the door behind her. Now that
she knew where to look, there was no need to hurry. Especially since it was her room that
she had to search.

"Clever, Ryo-kun," she laughed to herself until her breath. "I'll have to ask you later
how you managed to hide them from my senses. But first...."

Rei strolled down the hallway in the direction of her room, a tiny smirk playing across her
lips. On her way to her room, she passed by Ryoku, who was on his way out of the bathroom.
As she passed by him, she whispered in his ear, "I win," and continued on, leaving him to
stare confusedly after her.

Once inside her room, she immediately set about searching the place for Ryoku's hiding
place. At first glance, it seemed as though there were very few places for him to hide
something but after a few moments of thought, she narrowed her choices down to her closet,
her dresser, and underneath her bed. Searches of both her closet and dresser turned up with
nothing, so the hiding place had to be underneath her bed.

As she glanced underneath her bed, she blinked at finding nothing. She had already turned
her entire closet and dresser inside out, so they had to be here. She was about to get up
when she noticed a small piece of ribbon sticking out from where her hand was holding the
bed skirts. Following the ribbon led to a pair of wrapped boxes stuck up inside the box
spring matress, each with a single ofuda stuck onto it.

"So, that's how you managed to hide them from me...," she murmured, half-impressed. "Not
bad, Ryo-kun. Looks like you're learning, after all." She plucked both presents out from
her matress and sat down on her bed. She was about to go find Ryoku and rub it in his face
that she had won, but stopped.

No, she had a better idea.


Later that night, Rei stepped out of the shrine and headed over to the haiden, finding
Ryoku in his usual place, praying underneath the haiden's bells.

"Hi, Ryo-kun," she greeted as she leaned against the post next to where he was praying.
"Nice night, isn't it?" As usual, there was no reply, indicating to her that he was deep in
prayer, as usual.

"I found your little hiding place, Ryo-kun," she told him smugly. "Thought you were clever,
did you? Sticking those ofuda on the presents to mess with my senses like that was a good
idea, but you're years from being able to beat me! Oh, ho, ho, ho!" she laughed haughtily.

"I know you can't hear me, but I just wanted to tell you that I won and I'm going to enjoy
the look on your face tomorrow when I show you the presents that you thought you had safely
hidden away from me." She moved over to Ryoku and stared closely at him. "Though, I really
am impressed with the ofuda you made. Though how you made it block off my senses is
something I'll have to ask you later.

"You know," she said as she leaned against him and gazed up at the clear night sky, "it's
almost been a year since you came to live with us. There have been times where you've made
me angry with you, and times when I've wondered why I even put up with you, but for the
most part, I'm glad you're here.

"Have I ever told you about how lonely I used to be at times?" she asked pensively. "I
didn't have very many friends growing up. It was mostly due to people not understanding my
psychic powers and being afraid of me. Of course, being a shrine miko that went to a
Catholic girls' school didn't help matters any. I think you, Makoto and Keiko were the
first real friends I had made in a long time.

"Of course, that made it hurt all the more when I learned that Keiko was pronounced dead.
I was hoping that she would come back, saying that she had escaped from that evil man, but
it just isn't going to happen."

She slowly embraced Ryoku and leaned her head on his shoulder. "I'm so sorry that you had
to lose someone like Keiko, but just remember that you have people who care for you.
Grandpa, Makoto.... They care for you and worry about you. Just as much as I care for you
and worry about you.

"You've come a long way from how you used to be, Ryo-kun," she said as she reached up to
gently touch his cheek. "You're no longer falling into depressions and you're no longer
blaming yourself for what happened to Keiko. You're also doing so well in your studies to
become a priest. Grandpa and I am so proud of how fast you're learning. At the rate you're
learning, you're going to catch up to me in a year or two, which is amazing considering
that I've been doing this my entire life, while you've been training for a little under a

"I've been thinking, Ryo-kun," Rei continued as she let him go and turned her back to lean
against him once again. "Maybe one day, when I inherit this shrine from Grandpa, you could
help me run it. What do you think?"

She stood up and turned to look at him again before turning to leave. "I'm going to go take
a bath. Don't stay out too late, Ryo-kun. All right?" With that, she headed back into the
shrine, leaving Ryoku to finish his prayer.


As Rei came out of the bathroom and started toward her room, she noticed Ryoku coming down
the hallway as well, headed for his room. "Finished with your nightly prayer, Ryo-kun?"
she asked as he reached the door to his room.

"Yes, I'm done for tonight," he replied as he opened the door. "How about you?" he asked,
noting that she had just taken a bath. "Getting ready for bed?"

"Yeah. I'm feeling kinda tired tonight. I spent a lot of time looking around the shrine,
you know."

"Oh?" he asked, raising an eyebrow. "Really? Did you find what you were looking for?"

"Not really," she replied with a small shrug. "After all, the shrine's a big place. What I
was looking for could be anywhere, like in the main room, the kitchen, or the sacred fire
room. Why, it could even be in my own room for all I know." She paused as she waited for
any sign that he had noticed the hint she had given him.

"Hmm.... Well, I'm sure you'll find it eventually," he replied with a small smile. "After
all, it's not like someone's taken whatever it is you're searching for and left decoys in
its place, right? Well, good night, Rei-chan." With that, he went into his room and closed
the door behind him.

Rei blinked as she stared at his door for a moment. Decoys? He couldn't've....

She quickly ran to her bedroom and dove into her dresser, rummaging around for the two
wrapped boxes she had found earlier. Finding them in her undergarments drawer between her
bras and panties, exactly where she had left them, she pulled out both boxes and quickly
tore open both boxes.

Inside both boxes were slips of paper with the same exact message written on both of them.

'I win, Rei-chan. Love, Ryo-kun.'

"Damn you, Ryoku!" she growled as she threw the boxes at the wall in the direction of
Ryoku's room.


At the same time, in Ryoku's room, Ryoku was grinning to himself as he changing into his
sleeping clothes. "Looks like she found the note," he sighed to himself.

He knew that hiding her presents somewhere away from the shrine was cheating, but this was
the only way he could make sure she got her birthday presents on her birthday. He still had
to make her think that they were still somewhere hidden in the shrine, though, so he hid
them in the least likely of places, complete with something to confuse her senses so she
wouldn't be able to find them very easily. Too bad it didn't work as long as he thought
they would.

"I guess she wins, after all," he sighed again.


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.