Sailor Moon Fan Fiction ❯ Atonement - Rei's Story ❯ Chapter 4 ( Chapter 4 )

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

Chapter 4

It was getting darker and Rei still had no luck. Juuban was a pretty large portion of Tokyo
and Ryoku could be anywhere. Streetlamps flickered to life as she ran down one street,
scanning the area for any sign of him. She would've called out to him, but she had to save
her breath for running.

'Stupid Ryoku-san,' she thought at she ran. 'Doesn't he realize that people would worry if
he ran away like he did? I ought to tell him off when I find him. How could he go and make
me and Mako-chan worry about him like this?'

She came to a stop at the street corner and paused to catch her breath. There weren't as
many people out as earlier before, but there was still several people out, walking to some
destination or another. The crowds of people didn't make her search any easier; she had to
backtrack a couple of times when she saw someone who she mistook for Ryoku.

On a hunch, the cemetary was the first place she checked, since the last thing he had said
to her was that he was going to visit Keiko. However, he wasn't there. That meant that he
could be anywhere and that she had no clue where to start searching.

An hour had already passed and she was starting to get tired from all her running. But, she
couldn't stop running. Not yet. He was still out there and she was going to find him. Then,
she was going to pound him for putting her through this.

As the light changed, indicating that it was not safe for her to cross the street, she came
to the realization that she could run up and down the streets of Juuban all night and the
likelihood of finding Ryoku wasn't very good. That didn't mean that she was going to stop
looking, but it did mean that she was going to have to change the way she was searching.

Maybe if she tried to think like Ryoku.... But, how would she go about doing that? She had
no clue how the boy thought. All she knew was that he was very, very depressed and probably
wanted to kill himself and....

She quickly broke that train of thought. She knew she had to try something else, since what
she was doing wasn't working very well. Since it was getting very late, he had to find some
place to sleep. Maybe... a park? She had already checked Shiba, but not Sankaku Park. Maybe
he was there. It was worth a look.

As soon as she had finished crossing the street, she turned in the direction of Sankaku
Park and started running again. She just hoped that he was there.


It was cold.

Ryoku had tried to pick a place as far away from the normal flow of pedestrian traffic as
possible, since he didn't want any trouble. The last thing he wanted was for some policeman
to walk up to him and demand for him to go with him to some police station somewhere just
so they can find out that he's a runaway and send him back to Shirokoyama.

Sleeping on the ground wasn't that bad, but despite the softness of the grass, it was
uncomfortable since the grass was slightly damp. He could feel it seeping slightly into the
back of his shirt and pants. Just slightly uncomfortable. No big deal, though. It was just
water. The ground was slightly elevated due to it having a tree planted there, but that was
what he wanted. Sleeping under a tree would be good in case of rain. And his pack made a
passable pillow.

Since he was on his back, he had a clear view of the sky. The stars were out now. He could
make out many of the constellations easily. Orion... Leo... Sagittarius... Draco...

Lying under a tree, staring up at the sky.... He sighed softly and sadly to himself.
Everything seemed to come back to her....


Ry oku sat under the tree in the field the students usually played in during recess. It was
almost midnight, but he wasn't tired. The Moon was directly overhead, and the moonlight
combined with the light of the stars made just enough illumination to make out soft
outlines of various objects. Had he not known beforehand what was out in the field, his
imagination would be making those outlines up to be any kind of scary monster, just waiting
to attack him. He never stayed up this late before and it felt... boring. Waiting was a

"Ryo-chan?" a soft voice called out in the darkness. Ryoku smiled at the way she called him
that. Besides Makoto, she was the only person who called him 'Ryo-chan'.

"Red?" he replied just as softly. That was his special nickname for her. He only used it
when they were alone. Makoto always tended to put too much into him calling her that, so he
made sure to only call her that when they were alone. She never seemed to mind,
fortunately. "I'm over here, under the tree."

"Okay, I'm coming."

"Watch where you step," he warned, getting to his feet.

"Don't worry, Ryo-chan," she retorted, walking carefully toward him. "I'm not going to
trip." Just as she said this, she tripped. Ryoku quickly rushed forward and caught her in
his arms.

"Really, Red?" he mocked lightly. "Then, I don't have anything to worry about." He wasn't
sure, but he thought he could see her face turning a slight shade of red.

"Just help me up," she replied. They walked over toward the tree and sat underneath it

"Isn't it great staying up past midnight?" he commented excitedly as he gathered his legs
to his chest and started rocking back and forth.

"Yes," she replied and started to copy what Ryoku was doing. "Isn't the Moon beautiful
tonight, Ryo-chan?"

"What?" he replied and glanced up at the Moon. "Sure, I guess." He stopped rocking and
released his legs, letting them straighten out on the ground. "Look, Red, that's Orion!" he
said pointing to the constellation in the sky.

"Yeah! And, there's Ursa Major and Minor!" she replied pointing toward two more

"Aren't those the Big Dipper and the Little Dipper?" he asked, turning toward her.

"Uh-huh," she agreed, nodding without looking away from the sky.

"Then, why didn't you say so?"

"I wanted to see if you were paying attention," she told him, glancing at him for a moment,
then looking back up into the sky.

"What?" he replied, slightly confused.

"There's Pegasus," she said, pointing to another constellation.

He shook his head in confusion, then shrugged. "You always were good at Astronomy," he
said, gazing back up into the sky as well.

"I wonder if there is life on other planets," she mused almost to herself.

"Maybe there is," he replied.

"You think so?" she asked, turning toward him.

"Why not? If there's life here on Earth, who says there can't be any life on the other side
of the galaxy or something like that," he told her earnestly as he turned to look at her
again. "As far as we know, there could be or could've been life on... oh, Jupiter or some
other planet."


Ryoku shrugged. "Just an example."

Keiko regarded him for a moment. "Ryo-chan, can I ask you something?"

"Anything. What is it?"

"Could you...?" she began, then trailed off hesitantly.

"Could I what?" he asked encouragingly.

"Could you kiss me? Please?" she asked softly as she moved close to him.

"What? Kiss you?" he exclaimed.


"O... okay," he agreed and lightly kissed her on the cheek.

"That wasn't what I meant, Ryo-chan," she told him as she stared into his eyes.

Ryoku stared unblinkingly back into her hazel eyes for what seemed to be hours. Slowly, he
moved closer to Keiko and kissed her lightly on the lips. She closed her eyes and moved
closer to him, wrapping her arms around him. His eyes slowly began to close as he gently
embraced her. They kissed under the tree in the moonlight for what seemed like forever, but
was only an instant.


' Yes.... It was a night almost like this... in another time... and another life.' Ryoku
blinked as a small teardrop rolled out unnoticed from the corner of his right eye and
trailed down to fall to the grass beside his head.

"I wonder if there are any new stars in the sky tonight?" he murmured softly as he let his
gaze drift out into the starry night above. "Is one of them your spirit, looking down on
me... Red?"

"Who's Red?" a soft voice asked from a short distance away.

"Who's there!" Ryoku said, almost springing to his feet, when he recognized the voice.

Rei pushed her way past a group of small bushes and walked up to where he was laying. She
stared down at him with her hands on her hips and tight frown on her mouth. The scowl
might've been fierce, if not for the hint of a tear glistening at the corner of her eye
from the light of the lamps in the park.

"So," she said with as much sternness as she could muster which, at the moment, wasn't very
much, "here's where you've been hiding yourself, Ryoku-san. And here I thought you'd be off
staying with your guardian. Nice of you to let me know that he lives over in Yokosuka!"

Ryoku's head snapped up. "How did you...?"

"I talked with your sister, Ryoku-san," she continued, her voice sounding more upset than
remprimanding. "She told me what happened." She saw his head droop silently. "Why couldn't
you tell me, Ryoku-san?" she asked earnestly. "I thought we were friends. Why didn't you
think that you could talk to me about this?"

He didn't say anything or even move his head. Rei stared down at his bowed head and waited.
"What's going to happen now?" he asked in a tired, defeated voice. "Am I going to be sent
back?" He whipped up his head and stared pleadingly into her eyes, causing her to almost
shy away from the intensity of the gaze. "Please don't make me go back! I can't go back!
There're too many memories there.... Everything there reminds me of her.... It hurts just
to be there. Please!"

"Ryoku-san...," she murmured quietly as she stepped forward and placed a consoling hand on
his shoulder. His eyes followed her hand until it rested on his shoulder and remained there
as if he was reminding himself that it was her hand he was feeling on his shoulder and not
somebody else's.

It was a long time before he looked back at her again. "What's...?" He paused to swallow
almost nervously. "What's going to happen to me?"

She took her hand off his shoulder and stepped back one step. "It's getting dark and cold
out here," she said as she turned around. "Come on, Ryoku-san, let's get going."

"Where to?" he asked as he slowly stood up.

"Grandpa is worried about you as well, even though he hasn't even met you, yet," she said
as she glanced over her shoulder at him. "He'll let you stay with us tonight, since it's
too late for you to go anywhere."

Ryoku gave her a surprised look as he bent down to pick up his backpack, then gave her a
grateful look. "Thank you very much, Rei-chan," he said as he bowed his head toward her.
"I'm very grateful toward you and your Grandfather."

She nodded as she and Ryoku made their way through the bushes and out onto the grassy area
leading up to the paved path through the park. "I'm still upset with you, though," she said
without looking back at him. "You did lie to me earlier and you made me and Mako-chan
worry about you."

"I'm sorry, Rei-chan," he said, bowing deeply. "I didn't mean to lie to you, but I didn't
want you to know that I ran away. I don't want to go back to Shirokoyama. I thought if you
knew that I had run away, then I would be sent back."

She looked behind her and saw that he had stopped and was now staring at the ground in
front of him. He looked the very picture of desolation and grief. "Don't worry about that
right now, Ryoku-san," she said comfortingly as she walked back over to him and took one of
his arms. "Right now, we're going home. We'll worry about that later, okay?" she said as
she started to drag him after her. "Just trust me."

He followed behind her with no resistance at all.


"Gran dpa!" Rei called out as she made her way up the steps to the jinja, passing underneath
the torii at the top of the stairs. "I'm back, Grandpa! I've got Ryoku-san with me!"

Grandpa stepped out from within the honden and turned to see Rei dragging a rather
miserable-looking boy after her. "I'm glad to see you're back safe, Rei," he said as his
granddaughter came to a stop a short distance in front of him, dragging her friend behind

"I found him, Grandpa," she said as she glanced back at her friend, who was staring down at
the ground in fron of him.

He turned toward Ryoku. "So, you're Kino Ryoku?" he asked as he stepped toward him and
gave him a quick, scrutinizing look.

"Yes...," he replied, staring down at the ground. He raised his head to return his gaze for
only a moment before dropping his gaze again.

"Grandpa... I need to talk to you for a moment," Rei began as she walked over to him.
"Ryoku-san, would you mind waiting there for me?"

"All right," he replied without raising his head.

"What is it, Rei?" Grandpa asked when Rei had led him a short distance away.

"Grandpa, what's going to happen now that we've found Ryoku-san?" she asked concernedly.
"Are you going to send him back to his boarding school?"

"I have to," he replied. "He isn't our responsibility. If his guardian has put him in a
boarding school, then that's where he needs to be."

"But, Grandpa, he can't stay there!" she retorted. "His girlfriend used to go there before
she died! Just being there is hurting him! Grandpa, Ryoku-san, tried to kill himself before
he ran away."

His eyes widened slightly for a second before returning to normal. "Is that true?" he asked
as he glanced over at the boy in question, who was still standing exactly where Rei had
left him and staring down at the ground with a desolate expression on his face. He had the
look of a man on trial for murder mentally preparing himself to hear the verdict of
'guilty' and resigning himself to his inevitable death sentence.

"His sister told me so, herself," she confirmed. "That's why he ran away; because he
promised her that he wouldn't kill himself. But, he needed to get away from there in order
to keep it." She looked back at him with a worried look on her face.

Grandpa shifted his gaze to his granddaughter, then back to Ryoku, then back to her again.
"I know you're worried about him, Rei," he said, giving her an understanding look.

"I know I've only known him for a short time, but there's something about him that feels
very familiar to me," she told him as she turned to face him. "It's almost like I used to
know him from somewhere...." She trailed off as she glanced over her shoulder at Ryoku. "It
felt the same way with his sister, too...."

She turned back toward Grandpa again. "Besides, I made a promise to Mako-chan before I went
to go find Ryoku-san."

"A promise?"

"I promised that I wouldn't try to make him go back to his boarding school."

Grandpa slowly nodded. "I see.... So, if you don't want him to go back, then where should
he go?" he asked.

She paused. "I... I don't know."

"Does he have anywhere to go here? Any relatives or friends?"

"No...," she admitted as he expression fell. "He only has his sister, Makoto. His legal
guardian lives in Yokosuka."

"Did he say where he was going to live?"

She shook her head. "No."

"Where did you find him?"

"In the park, lying on the ground as if he was going to sleep there."

Grandpa nodded slowly. "So, he has nowhere to go. That's another reason why he has to go
back. Even if it hurts him, he cannot live out on the streets. In the end, that would hurt
him more than living with the ghost of his girlfriend."

Rei began to grimace. "But, Grandpa, do we really have to make him go back? I made a
promise to Makoto that I wouldn't make him go back!"

He sighed as he placed a hand on her shoulder. "I understand, Rei, but think about it. What
other choice is there? He can stay tonight, but tomorrow, he has to go back."

She was about to reply when Ryoku suddenly appeared at her side. "I understand," he said
as he bowed formally. "I never meant to intrude or impose on either of you. If that is your
decision, then I will accept it." He stood up and turned toward Grandpa. "I thank you for
allowing me to stay here for the night." He bowed again, then turned toward the haiden. He
reached up and rang the bell, then bowed his head as he began to pray.

"It seems that we don't have to break the news to him after all," Grandpa said as he
watched Ryoku pray quietly at the haiden. "It makes things easier that way."

Rei just watched him quietly. After seeing how desperate he was to keep from going back to
his boarding school, how could he just give up and accept this so easily? It didn't seem
right. He didn't seem to be the type to just give up without a fight. After all, he chased
after an armed man in order to try to save Keiko. He was wounded in that attempt, but he
never stopped trying until the end. If he had the strength and the will to fight that hard,
then how could he just fold like this without even putting up a fight?

"Are you coming inside, Rei?" Grandpa asked as he turned back toward the jinja. "It's
getting late."

"I'll just stay out here with Ryoku-san a little more, Grandpa," she replied.

"All right, but don't stay out too late. Make sure you show Ryoku-san where the guest room
is at before you go to bed. You may not have any school tomorrow, but that doesn't mean you
can stay out all night, either."

"Yes, Grandpa," she replied as she turned back toward Ryoku and just continued to watch
him pray. "Goodnight."

"Goodnight, Rei," he replied, then went inside.

As she watched Ryoku pray, she slowly began to grow upset with him. After all, she was
trying to help keep him from going back to his boarding school. The least he could've done
was try. But all he did was give up without a fight.

"Stupid Ryoku-san," she muttered under her breath as he continued to pray. She quickly
closed her mouth as she realized that she had said that aloud, but he never showed any sign
that he heard her.

"Did... did you hear that?" she asked hesitantly and apologetically.

He still didn't move or speak.



"Hey, Ryoku-san?"


"I know you can hear me, Ryoku-san. Are you ignoring me?"


Now, she was getting angry. "Stupid Ryoku-san! I don't know why I tried to help out such an
idiot! I promised Mako-chan that I wouldn't force you to go back. The least you could've
done was try! Why did you give up so easily? The Ryoku-san that pursued Keiko's kidnapper
and got stabbed while trying to save her never gave up that easily. I can't believe that
you're even the same guy! Did her death drain away all of your backbone as well?"


She was sorely tempted to hit him, just to make him react. However, she was a
miko-in-training. Smacking someone in the head while they were praying just wasn't done.

"I'm sorry."

She snapped her head up to look at him and saw that his expression was very apologetic. Was
he sorry about ignoring her? Well, it was probably too late for that. She was about to say
so when he spoke again.

"I didn't want to press your Grandfather about my staying away from Shirokoyama," he told
her quietly. "He's right; I'm not your responsibility. He's not my guardian. He has every
right to send me back." He sighed. "But, I don't want to go back. There is nothing for me
there but misery and suffering. If Mako-chan wasn't there, I would more than likely go
insane with grief."

He turned away from the haiden and started toward Rei. "I wanted to let you know that I
appreciated you coming after me like you did. You are a good friend, Rei-chan. Thank you."

She turned away from him and started walking toward the honden. "Come on, Ryoku-san," she
said over her shoulder with a small smile. "I'm going to show you where you can sleep for
tonight." He nodded and started to follow her as she walked up to the door and slid it open.

"And...," she said as she paused before going through the door, "you're welcome, Ryoku-san.
I'm just sorry that I can't keep my promise to Mako-chan. I really wanted to help you."

"You already have," he said as he followed her inside.


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.