Sailor Moon Fan Fiction ❯ Atonement - Rei's Story ❯ Chapter 3 ( Chapter 3 )

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

Chapter 3

"I see...," the woman said as she frowned. Makoto sat in the chair on the other side of the
heavy wooden desk, waiting. She couldn't hear what was being said on the phone, but she had
a good idea of what it might be.

As soon as Ryoku left, she had made a call to their "guardian" - in name only, for legal
purposes - asking for a favor. She explained to the old man the reasons why Ryoku had run
away and begged him to cover for her brother while he was gone. The old man really didn't
care much about her or Ryoku - his taking them in after their parents died was a debt he
owed to their father, nothing more - but the idea of saying that Ryoku was being
home-schooled gave him the opportunity to temporarily cut off his financial funding for
Ryoku without legal repercussions in return for a small favor for the other child in his
responsibility. He saw no problems with that.

"Well, Ryoku is your responsibility and if you think he would be better taken care of under
your direct supervision...," the woman continued. "Yes... I see. Thank you for clearing
that up. I assure you that we will take good care of Makoto during the time it takes for
Ryoku to recover. Yes, good day, sir."

"Is that all you needed to see me for?" Makoto asked after the woman hung up the phone.

"Yes. Thank you for letting us know what happened with your brother. Although, we would've
rather had some advance notice of when your legal guardian was going to come and pick up
your brother...."

"That's just the way he is," Makoto explained with a shrug. "You know how eccentric old men
tend to get around his age...."

"I suppose...," the woman agreed half-heartedly. "Well then, Makoto, you had better be off.
Your first class should be starting in about twenty minutes."

"Yes, ma'am," Makoto said as she stood up, bowed, then left the room.

'I've bought you all the time you need, Ryo-chan,' she thought as she made her way down the
halls of Shirokoyama boarding school. 'All I can do now is wait and hope for you to get
better.... So, please... get better soon.

'I miss you so much already....'

Ryoku was getting a painful cramp in his left leg, but he ignored it. Physical pain was the
least of his problems. As far as he was concerned, he deserved every bit of pain and then

He owed it to Keiko.

He had no idea how long he had been kneeling in front of Keiko's headstone in the Juuban
cemetary, but he did know that dawn had already come and gone. There were a few people in
the cemetary this morning, but he paid them little heed. All his attention was focused on
begging Keiko for forgiveness.

Now that he had run away from Shirokoyama, he was like a boat set adrift with no paddles,
no sail, and no rudder. He had no direction and no idea of what he was going to do now.
There was no way he could go back; pain and misery waited for him there. The only thing
that kept him going was his promise to his younger sister. As much as he wanted to kneel
there and pray to Keiko's spirit, begging for forgiveness until he died of either
starvation or overexposure, he couldn't stay.

A small growling in his stomach told him that he was hungry. No wonder; he hadn't eaten
since yesterday, at Makoto's insistance. He had some food in his backpack, but it was of
the kind that requires a fire to be made first. Seeing that he was in the city and not the
woods left him with the option of buying something to eat instead.

With a great effort, he tried to get to his feet, only to have his left leg collapse on
him. The leg had fallen asleep and cramped up on him from all those hours of him kneeling
as he did. He remained sitting on the ground, letting blood circulate through his left leg
until he began to get some feeling back into it. He tried to stand up again and succeeded,
although his left leg still felt as if someone was using it as their own personal
pincushion. He could still walk on it, so he just ignored the pain. It would dissipate with

Ryoku walked through the streets of Juuban without even bothering to really look around.
He had already been here twice before - once with Keiko when she disappeared and once more
when she really and truly died. This place held no fascination for him, but for some almost
perverse reason, he felt as though this, of all of Tokyo or all of Japan, was where he had
to be, despite what this place meant to him. The place where he lost Keiko.

He had no particular destination, just one that would eventually lead him to food. It was a
destination prompted by a second, louder rumbling in his stomach. Perhaps there was some
sort of restaurant or something he could visit. Well, he would find it sooner or later.

As he turned a corner, he spotted an almost familiar raven-haired girl running past wearing
a gray school uniform. When he turned to get a better look at the girl, she was already

'Strange.... Do I know that girl? But I don't know any girls that live here in Juuban
besides Rei....' Ryoku paused for a moment and considered the thought. 'Maybe that was her.

'Well, it doesn't matter. First thing's first. I need to get something to eat. Good thing I
remembered to take all my money with me. Too bad it won't last me forever....'

With that last thought in mind, Ryoku went in search of a place to go eat.


Rei slowed down in her running and glanced back down the toward street she passed a few
moments ago. She could've sworn that that figure she passed was familiar. She could've
sworn that the person she passed was Ryoku, because of the familiar-looking ponytail, but
she knew that it couldn't be him. He lived in a different city. So there was no reason for
him to be here wearing a large backpack....

Still, she was curious as to who had caught her attention back there. However, her
curiosity lasted only as long as it took her to realize that she would be late for school
if she wasted any more time.

As she ran down the street, her mind drifted back to the dream she had last night. It was
the same as the one she had before she met Ryoku. In the darkness, she could see a small,
lone figure sitting with his back turned toward her. She knew now that it was him. Ryoku.
He was shaking as if he was crying, which was understandable, since Keiko had died. She had
tried to go to him, but she was unable to reach him, just like last time. She had tried to
talk to him, but he wouldn't listen and just kept sobbing, his short ponytail bobbing along
with his shaking form.

She was almost about to give up on him, when he suddenly turned toward her with a pleading
look in his eyes. 'Please, Rei-chan, don't give up on me. I know you're trying to help me,
so please don't give up on me....'

She still had no idea why she was dreaming of Ryoku. Maybe it was because she was still so
concerned for him. The last time she had seen him, he was so miserable and heartbroken that
it hurt. She still thought about him, wondering how he was doing since she had last seen
him, wishing there was some way she could help him. She felt so sorry for him.

Maybe she could talk to Makoto later. She knew where she went to school, so it shouldn't
be that hard to contact her. She could see how he was doing.

Yeah. She would do that when she got home. Besides, it would be good to talk to Makoto

Ryoku found himself sitting in a bench in the middle of some park late in the afternoon. It
wasn't like he had anything to do. He didn't have school anymore since he ran away, he had
left his guitar with Makoto, and everything that he needed to survive for the time being
was sitting in the backpack next to him.

What could he do? No matter what, his supplies and money couldn't sustain him forever.
Sooner or later, he had to go back.

But, he couldn't go back.

What could he do? He had no place to go to. His home was back in Shirokoyama with Makoto.
His bed was there. It was warmer there than outside at night. The night was cold... and
lonely. Unless he wanted to get sick from too many nights sleeping outside, he had to go

But, he couldn't go back.

What could he do? Soon enough he had to go back.

But, he couldn't go back.

He stood up and walked over to the fountain that was standing not too far from the bench he
had chosen to plop down in after his aimless wandering earlier in the morning. He blinked
as he looked at his reflection. Sure, the face was the same, but his eyes looked different.
They made him look older than he was. But, then again, he wasn't really that surprised.
Tragedies usually have a way of aging people prematurely.

He sighed as he backed away from the fountain and collapsed back onto the bench. 'Well, I
certainly look as bad as I feel right now,' he thought with another sigh.

"Ryoku-san?" a familiar voice called out to him from behind. He blinked in surprise as he
turned around to see Rei standing behind him with a puzzled look on her face. "It is you.
What are you doing here?"

"Well...," he began as he searched his mind for an excuse.

"I saw you earlier this morning on my way to school," she continued with a small frown.
"You were carrying that backpack on your back as well."

"I... um...," he stammered, thinking rapidly. "I'm here to see my guardian."

"Your guardian?"

"Yeah. He's the one paying for the boarding school Mako-chan and I attend," he explained.
'Or rather, the one Mako-chan attends, now.'

"Oh, I see.... You want to stay with him for a while until you get over Keiko-chan's death."

He nodded. "Something like that." He stood up and reached down for his backpack before she
could ask any more questions about why he was here.

"Wait, Ryoku-san," she said, putting a hand on his shoulder before he could leave. She
waited until he turned back toward her before speaking again. "Don't go yet. I want to talk
with you for a little while," she said with a concerned expression on her face. "Please?"
He didn't say anything, but his grip on his backpack relaxed slightly.

"I'm worried about you, Ryoku-san," she began as she moved around him to look him in the
face. "You seemed so heartbroken at Keiko's funeral, like nothing around you mattered
anymore. I just wanna know if you're going to be all right."

"I'll be all right," he lied. "Don't worry about me."

She gave him a sideways glance, then nodded. "If you say so...," she replied almost

He said nothing as he turned back around and picked up his backpack. "Where're you going,
Ryoku-san?" she asked curiously.

He stopped for a moment as he thought about his answer. "To see Keiko," he replied before
he continued walking away, leaving Rei behind to watch him go.

Rei thought about going after him, but decided against it for now. Right now, he didn't
seem as if he was ready to talk. Well, that was all right. In a way, she almost expected
that. No problem; he was going to stay with his guardian, wasn't he? In that case, she
would probably be seeing him around sooner or later. At least, she hoped so.

She turned around and continued on her way home. She still had her chores to do and Grandpa
wasn't about to let her shirk them. Then, there was her homework.... She let out a small
sigh. Maybe she should've gone after Ryoku anyway. At least then she wouldn't have to get
back to her homework and chores right away....


I t was getting dark.

Ryoku stood up from kneeling in front of Keiko's headstone and shouldered his backpack.
"I'll see you tomorrow, Keiko-chan," he said with a small, wistfull sigh, then turned to
leave as the lamps that lined the walkways began to light up.

Once he left the cemetary, he began to wander aimlessly through the city, turning left and
right and up and down the streets, not knowing where he was going, nor caring. Some of the
passersby glanced at his backpack and looked at him as if he was some runaway child.

Well, in a way, they were right. He was a runaway. He had run away from his problems, only
to have different problems take their place. Like where was he going to sleep? The park?
Not the most luxurious of places, but it did seem to be the best place at the moment. He
couldn't afford to stay anywhere else and sleeping on the streets was out of the question.
Of course, he could aways travel out of the city and sleep out in the countryside, like he
had originally planned to do before he came here, but he didn't want to travel too far.
Besides, who knew what kind of dangerous animals lived out there? Probably the only reason
he wasn't attacked attacked on his way here was because he had stayed as close to the main
roads as possible.

Now that he thought about it, he should've brought a sleeping bag with him when he left
Shirokoyama... or at least a blanket. 'Too late now,' he supposed. 'Not that it really

He frowned slightly at the thought that had just passed through his head. With most of his
concerns focused on the basic needs for survival, he had little time to brood over Keiko's
death or to feel sorry for himself. But now his mind had come full circle and his thoughts
inevitably returned to his lost love. With a grimace, he forced himself to concentrate back
on his current situation.

'I have to find a place to sleep first. Then, I can think about Keiko. I promised Mako-chan
that I would stay alive, and I can't break that promise. But, where can I sleep?' After
mentally going over his options again, he came up with the same conclusion.

'I never really had a choice, did I?' he thought with a tired sigh. 'I'd go see the old
man, but he's over in Yokosuka. It'd take me a few days to walk over there.... No, for some
reason, I need to be here.' He frowned again at the thought. 'I don't know why, but I know
I should stay in Tokyo.'

With a resigned shrug, he turned around and headed for the park he had met Rei a few hours
ago. It wasn't that far away.


"Shi rokoyama boarding school."

"Hello. Can I talk to one of the students that goes to your school?" Rei asked.

"I'm sorry, young lady, but this number is for school business only, not for personal

Rei almost flinched from the phone at the cold tone of the woman on the other end. "Oh. I'm

"If you want to talk to one of the students here, I can give you the number of whichever
dormitory he or she is staying in...."

"Oh, thank you," she said, relieved.

"What is the student's name?"

"Kino Makoto."

"One moment, please."

Rei waited as the clicking sound of computer keys could be faintly heard in the background.

"Here is the number you need to call."

She nodded as she wrote down the phone number the woman read off to her. "Thank you, ma'am."

"You're welcome," the woman said and hung up her phone.

Rei hung up the phone and quickly dialed the new number that she had wrote down, then
waited. The phone rang for two minutes, but no one was picking up the phone. She was just
about to hang up the phone when someone finally answered.

"Yeah?" a young girl's voice answered.

"Is Kino Makoto there?"

"Mako-chan?" the girl asked. "Hold on.

"Mako-chan!!!" Rei heard the girl yell out loud. "Phone!!! No, it's not Ryo-kun. It's a
girl. I don't know; I didn't ask. Here."


"Mako-chan? It's Rei."

"Rei-chan?" Makoto said in pleasant surprise. "How'd you get this number? I thought I
forgot to give it to you."

"You did forget," she told her. "I had my grandpa find the number to your boarding school.
He told me I had to call myself, so I did, but I called the school office. The woman there
gave me this number."

"I didn't mean to forget to give you this number, Rei-chan," Makoto said apologetically.

"You were worried about Ryoku-san. I understand."

"Thanks, Rei-chan."

Rei smiled. "Of course, Mako-chan." Her smile faded as she remembered why she had called.

"I saw Ryoku-san today, Mako-chan."

There was a sudden silence on Makoto's end, which made Rei slightly uneasy for some reason.


"What? I'm sorry, what were you saying?" Makoto replied suddenly.

Rei blinked for a moment in confusion. "I said I saw Ryoku-san today, Mako-chan. He told me
that he was going to go stay with his guardian."

"He did?" Makoto said in surprise, almost to herself. "I wonder if that's why the old man
accepted so quickly? I was beginning to worry, but I'm glad he's found a place. Still,
it'll take Ryo-chan days to walk there...."

"Walk where?" she asked, even more confused.


"Yokosuka?!?" Rei exclaimed. "I thought he lived here!"

There was another pause on Makoto's end. "No, he lives in Yokosuka. Did he tell you that he
lived there?"

"No, he just said that he was here to see his guardian. I thought that he meant that he was
going to stay with him...." Rei's confused frown slowly deepened. "Mako-chan, where's your
school at?"

"It's on the edge of the Nakai ward of Tokyo," she told her. "If it was out any further,
we wouldn't even be in Tokyo anymore."

Her confused frown deepened even further. "Do you have any family that lives here in

"No, Ryo-chan and I are the only living members of our family." Another pause. "Why do you
ask?" she asked, her voice sounding very concerned.

"If your guardian lives in Yokosuka, your school is in Nakai ward, and you don't have any
family in Juuban ward, then where is Ryoku-san staying at?"

The long period of silence was unnerving to both girls.

"I don't know," Makoto said, finally breaking the silence between them.

"Mako-chan, what's going on?" she asked worriedly.

"Listen, Rei-chan," Makoto said quietly. "Here's what happened, as far as I know. Ryo-chan
has run away...."

"Run away?!?"

"Yes, yes," she said quickly, her voice urging her to calm down. "I only helped him run
away because it was hurting him to stay here. If I hadn't made him promise not to kill
himself, then he wouln't even be alive right now."

Rei gasped. Ryoku wanted to kill himself? He seemed all right when she saw him sitting on
the bench in Shiba Park. He didn't look like he wanted to kill himself, even if he did seem
to be depressed.

"I was so concerned about helping him run away that I forgot to think about where he was
going to stay," Makoto continued. "I had a feeling he'd go visit Keiko's grave, but after
that, I had no idea. I would've called you and asked you to look out for him, but I don't
know your phone number."

"Mako-chan, I'm getting worried about Ryoku-san," Rei told her. "I'm going to go out and
look for him."

"All right, but can you promise me something, Rei-chan?"

"What is it?"

"Please don't try to get Ryo-chan to come back here," she requested pleadingly. "This place
holds only pain and misery for him. I don't want him to come back here if it's going to
hurt him."

"I promise, Mako-chan," she pledged. "I'll call you later if I find him."

"Good luck, Rei-chan."

With that, Rei hung up the phone and ran to her room. She hurriedly snatched up her violet
jacket and rushed out of her room.

"Grandpa!" she called out as she left her room. "I'm going out to look for Ryoku-san!"

"What?" Grandpa asked confusedly as he poked his head out of his room just in time for her
to run past. "What's wrong, Rei? You look worried."

"I said I was going to look for my friend, Ryoku-san, Grandpa," she told him, stopping
right in front of the door. "I heard from my friend, Mako-chan, that he ran away from his
boarding school."

"He what?" he said, frowning partly in astonishment and partly in concern.

"I saw him earlier today, but I didn't know he had run away until I talked with Mako-chan,"
she explained. "I'm going to go find him, Grandpa," she added determinedly with an equally
determined expression on her face.

"All right," he nodded as he stepped out of his room. "I'll go look, too."

"But, Grandpa, I don't think you know what he looks like," she pointed out.

Grandpa blinked and grimaced sheepishly. "Oh, yeah.... Well, you go on then. If you find
him, bring him back here."

Rei nodded. "I will, Grandpa," she promised as she opened the door and ran out into the
night in search for her friend.


Di sclaimer: 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.