Sailor Moon Fan Fiction ❯ Atonement - Rei's Story ❯ Chapter 2 ( Chapter 2 )

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

Chapter 2

Five days had passed before she finally heard the news.

She was performing her sweeping chore as usual when she spotted a familiar brunette girl
walk up the steps of the Hikawa Jinja wearing a somber-looking black dress. The girl walked
over toward the haiden, rang the bell, and bowed her head in quiet prayer.

Rei waited until the girl was finished before walking up to her. "Mako-chan?" she called
out tentatively, sensing her solemn mood.

"Rei-chan?" Makoto said as she slowly turned around and saw her standing behind her,
wearing her shrine maiden robes. "I didn't know you worked here."

"In a way. I live here. This is my grandpa's shrine."

"So, you're a miko?"

"I'm still in training," Rei replied. "And it'll be a while before I'm a full priestess."

"Oh...," Makoto said, then fell quiet as she stared down at the ground.

"Did you know that the police finally gave up on Keiko-chan two days ago?" she finally
said despairingly. Rei reached out and put a hand on her shoulder comfortingly. "They never
found a trace of her or the man that had kidnapped her. They officially declared her
legally dead yesterday."

"I'm sorry," Rei said consolingly. "Where's Ryoku-san? Is he with you?"

"He's over at the cemetary. Even though there's no body to bury, Keiko's family is having
a memorial service for her here. Ryo-chan and I came all the way from Shirokoyama to
attend the service."

"How's your brother taking Keiko-san's death?" she asked concernedly.

Makoto sighed sadly and wearily. "Terrible. He can't sleep at night and when he does, he
always has nightmares. When we learned that the police had given up on Keiko-chan, he cried
for hours.

"He keeps blaming himself for what happened," she continued, her expression distraught.
"I've never seen him so miserable in his life."

"Mako-chan, how is his knife wound?" Rei asked, changing the subject.

"It wasn't as deep as I thought it was," Makoto explained. "However, the doctor said that
when he strained to keep hold of Keiko-chan for as long as he did, he made the injury
worse. Ryo-chan got some stitches, but luckily enough, the wound will more than likely heal
without a scar." She sighed again. "Ryo-chan feels as though he should've ended up with a
scar. He said that he deserved one. 'A constant reminder of his failure,' he said."

"Poor Ryoku-san...."

Makoto nodded absently as she turned to leave. "I have to go, Rei-chan. The service should
be starting soon. I need to be there for Ryo-chan."

"Wait," Rei said as she set aside her broom. "I'll go with you. Just let me change."

Makoto turned back toward her and smiled faintly. "Thank you, Rei-chan. I'm sure Ryo-chan
would appreciate your being there as well."

"I'll only be a minute," Rei said as she ran toward her room as fast as she could go.


The memorial service was a Western-style one, Rei noted as she and Makoto sat on either
side of Ryoku and listened to the man up front deliver the eulogy for Keiko. The casket up
front was closed for obvious reasons - the fact that there was no body to bury being one
of them - and there was a blown-up picture of Keiko on a stand between the casket and the
podium up front where the speaker was delivering the eulogy.

Even though she hadn't known Keiko for very long, she had a feeling that the picture really
didn't do her justice. She looked quiet and calm in that picture, which seemed to be the
opposite of her happy, playful nature. Then again, she only knew that one side of Keiko.
How should she know if Keiko had a quiet side or not?

"I wish they had chosen a better picture of Keiko," Ryoku muttered in a tight voice,
speaking for the first time since she had joined him. "Whoever chose that picture certainly
didn't know her like I did."

"I know, Ryo-chan," Makoto said as she took his right hand in hers and held it tightly.
"She's too stiff in that picture."

Rei watched Ryoku with a concerned look on her face. His eyes were bloodshot and he had a
slightly haunted look in his eyes that screamed of the pain he was obviously feeling. He
looked utterly wretched and pathetic, and it almost hurt to see him reduced to such a

When she saw that Makoto had taken Ryoku's hand in hers, she decided to follow her lead and
took his left hand in hers, giving his hand a supporting squeeze. When Ryoku turned his
head to look at her, she saw that although the pain was still present, it had lessened
slightly so that it wasn't as overwhelming as before.

Throughout the service, they remained like that. Even as they stood up and watched as the
casket was finally lifted up and lowered ceremoniously into the ground, both girls never
let go of his hands. They offered him their support as he watched the final part of the
memorial service with an unreadable expression on his face.

When the service ended, and the two girls relinquished Ryoku's hands, they both left him
to stand his silent vigil over Keiko's grave as the rest of the people who attended the
service started to leave.

"Will he be all right, Mako-chan?" Rei asked worriedly. "I mean, they way he went cold and
emotionless during the final part of the ceremony...."

Makoto glanced over to where Ryoku was standing watch over the grave along with Keiko's
parents and frowned. "Right now, even I don't know. This's going to change him forever,
Rei-chan." As her gaze slid from Ryoku to Keiko's grave, her expression turned grim.

"I have a bad feeling that the Ryoku that I once knew has been buried along with Keiko,"
she murmured in a tone so bleak that Rei unconsciously shivered.


When Rei returned to the Hikawa Jinja after she had said goodbye to Makoto and Ryoku, she
resumed her chores, perfoming them automatically, rather than with a conscious effort. Her
mind was on other things.

The way Ryoku looked as she left. His eyes, his expression... they all seemed so...
lifeless. Makoto had said that Ryoku was going to change, but to her eyes, the change had
already taken place. All the life in him was gone, drowned in a sea of misery, grief, and
pain. All that was left was an empty shell, a ghost of the person she once knew as Kino

When she finished her chores and went to her room, she sat down on her bed and stared at
nothing as she recalled the short time that she knew Keiko and Ryoku. They both seemed so
happy and alive. It seemed to come naturally for them; they could make anything boring into
something more bearable, especially when they were together.

But, things were different now.

At first, it was only a few tears rolling down her cheeks, but those few tears soon became
many tears, and then she was lying flat on her bed, her head in her pillow and crying in

"Rei?" Grandpa's voice called out from outside her room. "Are you all right, Rei?" He
quietly slid open the door to her room and poked his head inside. "Is something wrong?"

"Grandpa...," Rei said unsteadily as she lifted her head from her pillow and looked at him
with tears in her eyes.

"What is it?" he said as he walked over and sat down next to her on the bed.

Rei quickly stifled her tears and wiped them from her eyes. "Grandpa... a friend died a few
days ago."

Grandpa said nothing, but nodded for her to continue.

"I didn't know Keiko for very long, but we became good friends very quickly. I also became
friends with her boyfriend, Ryoku, and his sister, Makoto, who were with her when I met her.

"Keiko-chan, Mako-chan, Ryoku-san and I all went to that museum that my school had a field
trip to," she continued. "They all went to the same boarding school... Shirokoyama, I

"Some man had broken a display and stole something. Ryoku-san tried to stop him while
Keiko-chan and I tried to stop Ryoku-san from confronting that dangerous man. When the
guards finally came, the man took Keiko-chan as a hostage and ran.

"I missed most of what happened since Mako-chan and I were busy telling the guards what had
happened and gave them the man's description, but when we finally caught up with Ryoku-san
at the Tenth Street bridge...." Rei trailed off quietly as she recalled the memory of
seeing her friend in such anguish.

"I see...," he said quietly. "Yes, I remember hearing about that in the news. So, the one
that went over the bridge was your friend, Keiko-san?"

Rei nodded silently. "They had a burial ceremony for her at the cemetary," she told him.
"Ryoku-san and Mako-chan were both there. Mako-chan came here to pray for Keiko-chan, but I
have a feeling she came to pray for her brother as well."

"He was taking her death very badly?" he asked.

Rei almost started to cry again, but quickly stifled it. "Grandpa... he looked so...
lifeless! I could almost feel his misery and pain. There was no life in his eyes at all;
like a doll's eyes, only much, much worse. Dolls don't look like they want to die."

Grandpa reached out to Rei and gathered her up in a hug. "It sounds as though your friend
has been through a lot," he told her as he tried to soothe her. "Don't worry. I'm sure that
he'll get better with time. I'm sure that his sister will be there for him as well, so
there's nothing for you to worry about."

She let out a long breath and looked up at her grandpa with a smile. "Thank you, Grandpa."

He smiled and nodded as he let her go and stood up. "Are you feeling better now, Rei?"

"A little," she replied.

"Good. Maybe you should get some sleep. I know it's a little early, but I'm sure you'll
feel better in the morning." With that, he left the room and slid the door closed behind

'I sure hope so,' she thought as she began to change out of her robes and into her pajamas,
then climbed into bed. 'Take care, Mako-chan, Ryoku-san. I hope you both feel better soon.'


Mak oto couldn't sleep. It had already been two weeks since Keiko died, and instead of
getting better, Ryoku was steadily getting worse. He stopped crying, but he spent most of
his time alone, he avoided his friends.... She knew that some of that was to be expected
from someone in mourning, but when he started to avoid her....

She and Ryoku were very close. Closer than most siblings, especially after their parents'
deaths years ago. Back then, they had to rely on each other to make it through life. She
wanted so much to help her brother through his pain, but how could she when he wouldn't
even let her talk to him?

She quietly slid out of her bed and crept toward the door of the dormatory she stayed in,
then slipped out and closed the door behind her.

The halls of the school were dark and silent. What was once bright and welcome was
transformed into something completely opposite - gloomy and foreboding - in the absence of
illumination. She ignored all of that as she went out in search of her brother. She had a
feeling she knew where he was going to be.

She exited the school proper and walked down the grassy field that she sometimes played in
with Ryoku and Keiko. There he was, sitting underneath the huge tree standing out in the
middle of the field.

That was the tree where he and Keiko spent almost all of their free time underneath.

"What are you doing out here so late, Ryo-chan?" she asked concernedly. "Are you all
right?" she asked as she moved closer toward him. He was staring down at the ground and
hadn't looked up at her yet.

"There's no hope, is there, Mako-chan?" he asked without looking up at her.

"What are you talking about?" she asked as she knelt down in front of him and put a hand on
his knee.

"She's really gone," he murmured quietly. "I had always hoped that despite what everyone
thought, Keiko wasn't really dead. I had hoped that one day, she'd walk up the steps to the
school and say how great it was to be back. She'd tell us how hard it was for her to find
her way back and we'd all be happy again." He sighed as he sniffled, tears threatening to
flow once again. "After all, her body was never found. If there's no dead body, then
there's still hope that she's still alive, right?

"Hah. What a fool I am," he muttered as his head drooped further. "If she was still alive,
then we should've heard SOMETHING by now. I've been deluding myself into thinking that she
was still alive and that there might still be hope. But, there's no hope. She's really and
truly... dead."

"I know, Ryo-chan," Makoto said quietly as she reached out to hug her brother. As she
hugged him, her eyes spotted something glistening in the moonlight. She stiffened as her
eyes widened. It couldn't be....

"So... you saw it," Ryoku said flatly as she moved away from him, but held onto his hands
tightly, if only to keep him from reaching for the knife that was sitting within his reach.

"Don't do it, Ryo-chan!" she pleaded urgently. "You can't kill yourself!"

"Sure, I can," he said bitterly. "I killed Keiko, didn't I?"

"What?!?" Makoto exclaimed as she stared at him in shock.

"If I hadn't gone after that man, none of you would've followed me," he explained. "Keiko
wouldn't've been kidnapped and she wouldn't've fallen to her death over that bridge."

Makoto began to wince as Ryoku clenched his hands tightly in self-hatred while squeezing
her hands painfully.

"Don't you see?" he exclaimed in anguish as he finally looked up at her with all his agony
clearly visible on his face. "Keiko's death is all my fault! If I hadn't been so damn
arrogant and cocky, she'd still be alive right now!"

"That's not true, Ryo-chan!" Makoto insisted, but he merely shook his head in response.

"Of course you'd say that," he said somberly. "But don't worry, Mako-chan. I'm not going to
kill myself. Remember our promise?"

Makoto nodded, partly in relief. "I was worried you would've forgotten," she said as she
released his hands and sat down next to him. However, she tossed the knife away from him
for good measure.

"I had never forgotten and I never will," he replied quietly. "When our parents died, I
promised you I'd never leave you alone. And on my honor, I have kept my promise, even when
we were forced to attend different schools."

"I know," Makoto said as she leaned against her brother. "I promised you I wouldn't leave
you alone, either. We're all that's left. Father.... Mother.... I don't know how I could've
made it without you. You can't leave me now, Ryo-chan."

"I have never broken a promise made on my honor, and I never will," he replied stiffly,
then sighed as he leaned back against the tree and stared blankly up at the sky. "But that
doesn't stop me from longing for it," he continued. "You do realize that now you're living
for the both of us. Once you die, so will I."

Makoto frowned at the bluntness of his remark. "Please, Ryo-chan, don't talk like that...."

"I'm sorry, Mako-chan...," he said quietly. "But, you don't know how hard it is for me to
keep myself from running after that knife and just ending it right now. Everything here
reminds me of her. No matter where I look, I can see Keiko's smiling face... just before
she plummets into the dark waters below.

"I can't sleep anymore. I can't bring myself to care about anything. It is pure torture
just for me to even be alive!" He paused as he stared gravely into his sister's eyes. "But
I will bare all of it and more. I have made you a promise and I will keep it no matter how
much it hurts."

"Ryo-chan...," Makoto said softly as she turned away and stared down at the ground. She
didn't like the sound of that. If he was suffering because of her.... She didn't want to be
the cause of his suffering, but they had made a promise. She didn't want him to die, even
if he had to live in misery.

The more she thought about it, the worse it sounded. Being forced to endure mental and
emotional torture just for a promise didn't seem right no matter how she looked at it. But
she couldn't let him die. She wouldn't! But how could he escape his memories of Keiko in
this place, where they all originated...?

Wait. That was it! She'd have to release him from one of his promises, but he would still
be alive and he wouldn't be surrounded by torturous memories anymore.

"I don't want you to be in pain anymore, Ryo-chan," she said softly as she hugged him
tightly. "I couldn't stand it if I had to watch you endure endless torture for my sake. As
much as I want you to stay with me, I must let you go, for your own sake."

Ryoku stared at Makoto, stunned. "What are you saying?"

"I'm not letting you kill yourself, but I will release you from your promise to always stay
with me," she continued as a tear began to roll down her cheek. "If you can't bear to stay
here anymore, then you should run away."

"Mako-chan...," he said in disbelief.

"Don't worry," she said as she moved back and looked at him with a fond smile on her face
accompanied by a few small tears on her cheeks. "I'll find you wherever you are and join

"But, couldn't you come with me?" he asked worriedly.

"No," she said sadly. "You know that if we both go then they'd send police searching for
us. If I'm there, I can cover for you by making up some story about a special emergency of
some sort. That way, you don't have to worry about being forced to come back here. I'll be
fine, so don't worry."

Ryoku nodded as he glanced back toward the school. "All right," he said after staring at
the school for a long time. "I'll do it." His mind made up, he got to his feet and helped
Makoto to hers, then headed for the building with a look of grim determination on his face.


An hour later, Makoto watched from the window as Ryoku exited the building with a large
backpack on his back. He stopped and waved goodbye. As soon as he saw her waving back, he
turned and started on his way.

"Goodbye, Ryo-chan," Makoto wispered under her breath as she watched until she could no
longer see him from the window. "I promise you we'll be together again. Until then, please
get better.

"I love you, oniichan."


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.