Sailor Moon Fan Fiction ❯ Atonement - Rei's Story ❯ Chapter 5 ( Chapter 5 )

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

Chapter 5

It was that dream again. But, somehow, it felt different. The darkness and pain was all too
familiar, yet it felt stronger now. An intense feeling of sadness and resignation. But, she
had come to expect it, since she knew it was Ryoku, yet she wasn't sure why the feeling
was coming stronger than before.

Was this because she was so much closer to Ryoku? They were in the same building now; his
room was just down the hall from hers. For that matter, why was she still dreaming about
him? She could understand before, when Keiko was still alive, but the event had passed.

However, there was something else. There was resignation, but there was also a small hint
of determination as well. Then there was what he said in her dream. It was almost the same,
yet he was no longer crying and the words were slightly different.

"I'm sorry, Rei-chan.... I know you're trying to help me, but some things just can't be
done, I guess...."

Rei shifted, but found that sleep wasn't about to return any time soon. She was still
worried over Ryoku having to leave so soon after she had found him. It didn't seem right to
make him go back and suffer, but there wasn't anything she could do about it.

Before she had went to bed that night, she had called Makoto and told her that she had
found Ryoku and he was staying with them for the night. She had also reluctantly told her
that her Grandpa was going to make him go back the next day, even after she had tried to
convince him not to make him go back. Makoto was quiet for most of the conversation, but at
the end, she told her that she was going to try and arrange for another favor with her
guardian. It was only after she had hung up that she realized that she hadn't asked what
the first favor was.

A glance toward the window showed that dawn was very close to breaking. She tossed aside
her blankets and changed into clean robes as she prepared to start her day. Granted that it
would be a MUCH more early start than she was used to, but for some reason, she knew that
staying in bed wouldn't do her any good.

She quietly stepped down the hall over to where Ryoku was sleeping and gently slid the door
open a crack. Then slid it all the way open when she realized that he wasn't there. Had he
slipped away in the night? No, his backpack was still there, lying against the futon he had
folded up in the corner of the room. His blankets were folded on top of the futon.

'He seems to be rather neat... for a boy,' she mentally remarked to herself as she slid the
door closed. 'Well, if he's not there, maybe he's in the furo,' she surmised, wondering if
Ryoku had a penchant for cleanliness.

The bathroom showed no sign of being occupied, but to be sure, she knocked on the door and
waited for a reply before peering in. No sign of Ryoku. 'Maybe he's outside?'

Rei almost sighed in relief when she spotted Ryoku underneath the haiden's bells, praying
just like he had last night. She had almost believed that he had fled, abandoning his
backpack, just so that he wouldn't be sent back to his old boarding school. She shook her
head at the silliness of that thought. He wasn't that stupid. Right?

She was about to call out a good morning to him when she remembered that he never responded
to her when he was praying that night. Had he heard her? Maybe he was just so focused on
his prayers that he tuned her out or something. While it was rather rude to just ignore
someone when they were speaking, it still showed that he had a lot of focus. At least when
prayer was involved.

Well, maybe he wouldn't mind if she joined him.


After Ryoku concluded his entreaty for Keiko's forgiveness, he opened his eyes to discover
that Rei was standing next to him, praying as well. "Rei-chan?"

"Oh, so you're finished?" she asked, opening one eye and glancing at him from out of the
corner of it.

"Why are you up so early?" he asked turning a curious look on her.

Rei turned toward him. "I could ask you the same question, Ryoku-san."

He stared down at the ground. "I couldn't sleep. I've been thinking about what I'm going to
do now."

"Aren't you going back to...?"

"I'm not going back," he said, shaking his head. "I can't go back."

She frowned, perplexed. "Didn't you tell Grandpa that you were going back?"

"No, I said that I accepted his decision. I never agreed to return to Shirokoyama." He
turned and took a few steps toward the entrance and stood there with his arms folded and
his head bowed in deep thought.

Rei continued to watch him thoughtfully. She was reasonably sure that he wasn't going to
just run away again without his backpack even with Grandpa's wish for him to return to his
boarding school looming over his head. She watched for a moment longer before turning and
heading back into the haiden. "Ryoku-san?" she said, pausing before entering the building.

"Yes, Rei-chan?"

"You WILL say good-bye before you leave, won't you?" she asked without turning back to look
at him.

"I will." She didn't move. "I promise," he added, deciding that that was she had been
waiting for. His guess seemed to be accurate as she merely nodded to herself and went all
the way inside.

After Rei went inside, Ryoku let his gaze wander around the shrine's grounds, taking in the
scenery. It was just the beginning of Autumn, so the various trees still had green on them,
but a good deal were beginning to show traces of brown. A few leaves fell here and there,
but it was hardly enough to notice. Many more would fall soon, though. There were a few
leaves dotting the grounds, but mostly were stone met natural ground.

Ryoku noticed a koi pond not too far from the main area of the jinja and headed over to it.
It had been a very long time since he'd seen a koi pond. Oyaji - his guardian, even though
he and Makoto only knew his last name, but the old man didn't care if they called him by
his name or not, so they just called him 'Oyaji' - had a large, ornate koi pond, but
somehow, this one seemed to be much more soothing. Maybe because it wasn't so overwhelming.
Maybe because it was because it was part of the jinja, and thus, meant to be simple.

'Wa', or harmony. He could feel it here. The difference between here and Shirokoyama was
palpable. The 'wa' of Shirokoyama was greatly disturbed after Keiko's death and he, being
so close to Keiko, felt it the most. While it would take some time before the impact of the
death would lessen and eventually fade away, for him it would remain fresh in his heart.
Especially as it was his inadvertently his fault. However, as he stared down at the koi
pond and watched the koi swimming lazily around, he could feel some small sliver of peace
stirring within him.

There was a few boulders placed around the koi pond, some perfect for sitting on. He did
so on one closest to the pond. Perhaps they wouldn't mind if he spent some of his remaining
time here before he left. Yes, he would just clear his mind and try to think of nothing.
At least, that way he wouldn't be thinking about... something.


"Is that what you called me for, Makoto?" The elderly voice inquired. "Do you understand
what this is you are asking me?"

"I understand," she answered humbly. "I only wish for the mental well-being of my brother.
You know I wouldn't ask this of you unless I couldn't see any other way."

The elderly man nodded to himself, even though she couldn't see him, and stroked his chin
thoughtfully. He felt a little bit of stubble; he would have to have another shave. Well,
at least he was still growing hair, even if it was underneath his chin.

Yes, the Kino siblings tended to be self-reliant, relying on only each other, rather than
coming to him for help. He rather liked that; they were very low-maintenance and thus he
didn't have to be bothered with them. From what he had seen of them from the short times
they had lived with him before he sent them to bording school, they did a better job
raising themselves than he ever could. Well, he would be the first to admit that he was
hardly parental material; the children knew and understanded that, thankfully. They were
grateful enough for him taking them both in before the government could place them in an
orphanage where there was the possibility of being split apart.

"Yes, Makoto. I know you wouldn't. But still.... What you're asking is... well...." He
paused, searching for the right words. "Have you really thought this through? Have you
talked with them about this?"

"I'm sure they'd agree to it!" she replied confidently. "It's only a matter of you talking
to them. I'm sure than once they hear from you, then everything will work out all right."

The elderly man let out a small sigh. He knew this tone of voice. She was completely sure
of her plan and she wasn't going to be persuaded otherwise. She could be very stubborn at
times like these. "I still think that you should think about this, Makoto."

"Please, Myouken-ojiisama?"

He grimaced. He usually didn't like being called 'ojiisama', or even 'ojiisan' for that
matter. He wasn't their grandfather and he never intended to be so. 'Oyaji' suited him well
enough, or even 'Myouken-san' if the children were in the company of the school's officials
or whatever. To hear her call him that.... She wanted this badly enough that she was
resorting to begging, or close enough. And that she was using that 'cute' tone of voice,

He hated that.

"Oh... fine."

Especially since it was effective more often than not. Why did he have to have a soft spot
for that damn girl anyway? And she KNEW it, too! Damn kids!

"Thanks a lot, Oyaji!!!" Makoto crowed happily. "You don't know how much this means to me!"

"I can imagine," he muttered stolidly. "Look, I'll call them later and make the
arrangements, so just get back to class or whatever, all right?"

"Sure thing, Oyaji!" she said gratefully. "Thanks again!" She hung up the phone.

The old man hung up his phone, leaned back in his chair, and sighed heavily. Those two damn
kids were always causing problems for him.

Still, they had their moments.

"Now... what was that number Makoto gave me again...?"


Grandpa Hino watched the boy as he swept the temple grounds while Rei was busy inside. The
boy seemed a bit less subdued during breakfast, but he just chalked that up to getting over
his ordeal last night. Nothing a good night's sleep couldn't cure. Still, there was
something about the boy that bothered him.

It had been a surprise to see Rei up so early. Usually, he was the first one up and fixing
breakfast. Today, not only was she up earlier than him, but she had already started on her
daily chores around the shrine. Well, it was certainly a pleasant surprise, to say the

Seeing the boy up so early hadn't been that big of a surprise, even though he had been
expecting him to just lie listlessly in the guest room until it was time for him to go.
Instead, he was out here, sweeping. The boy had said that he wanted to repay their
generosity and had volunteered to sweep up the shrine grounds to start.

After watching the boy from the moment he arrived up until now, he had begun to like the
boy, despite his tendancy to wallow in angst. The boy was very polite and respectful.
Furthermore, Rei liked him and considered him a friend, which was a very big plus for him.

Rei didn't have very many friends at her school. Most were put off by either her religion -
T*A was a Catholic girls school and she was a devout Shinto - or the fact that she had a
sort of sixth sense that was slowly beginning to develop. He could sense that about his
granddaughter, and it was starting to manifest in the way she could sense things that were
going to happen in the near future from dreams that she had been having.

She didn't quite believe it about herself, yet, but he knew from what dreams she did tell
him about that did come to pass. He didn't see any need to tell her about it yet, as she
would start to learn about it herself in due time. She would come to him and ask him about
it when she was ready.

He turned his attention back to the boy. He was still sweeping, oblivious to anything but
the task at hand. After the boy had approached him after spending an hour or so in deep
contemplation in front of the koi pond, he had noted the slight change in demeanor when he
asked if there was anything that needed to be done around the shrine. After he had
mentioned that the leaves and such needed to be swept, the boy had turned and started
searching for the nearest broom. No asking for permission or if it was Rei's job to sweep;
he just went and started sweeping.

He had been watching him sweep for a good twenty minutes, trying to figure out this boy.
He was young; he had to Rei's age, at least. The thought of a ten year old boy wanting to
kill himself was quite unsettling. Normally, he would've thought that a boy claiming to be
in love probably didn't really know what love was, but upon seeing the boy for himself, he
had changed his opinion. The boy's eyes told volumes. There was a sign of innocence lost,
of a life all but extinguished. Seeing that look on a person would draw plenty of sympathy.
Seeing that look on a child.... It was very sobering, to say the least. His heart went out
to the poor soul. He wanted to do more for him - for the boy's sake as much as because Rei
was so concerned for the boy - but the boy wasn't his responsibility.

He really wasn't looking forward to sending him back to where he belonged.

"Grandpa!" Rei called out from inside. "Phone for you! It's a person named 'Myouken-san'!"

He frowned slightly. He didn't know anyone named 'Myouken'. His gaze slid over to the boy
who had started at the mention of the name. Perhaps Myouken-san was the boy's legal
guardian? If so, perhaps he should have a talk with him.


The old man sighed again. As much as he didn't want to get involved with those two kids,
once again, Makoto had cajoled him into not one, but two favors on her brother's behalf.
Well, the first favor wasn't too bad; if Ryoku wanted to be independant for a change, well,
good for him. It would do the boy good not to have to depend on anyone for financial
support. Of course, he knew that the boy had no chance whatsoever of surviving on his own
two legs without any financial support from him, but if that's what he wanted.... Of
course, once the boy was ready to admit defeat, then he'd take him back, but until then it
was less of a burden for him. The other favor, however....

"Yes, Hino-san," he replied to the priest's earlier question. "I am Ryoku's legal guardian.
Makoto informed me of Ryoku's running away only yesterday." Actually, he already knew about
it from day one. "She also told me this morning that you had found him and allowed him to
stay at your shrine for the night. I must thank you for finding and taking care of my ward."

"You are welcome, Myouken-san," Grandpa Hino replied on his end. "Ryoku is a very curteous
and polite guest. You've raised him very well."

The old man snorted. "Me? Raised him? Hardly. I'm just their guardian for legal purposes
only. I have nothing to do with their upbringing and I prefer to keep it that way."

"Then who did raise the boy, if I may ask?"

"Both the boy and his sister did a very good job of raising themselves, if I say so myself.
They both know that I'm not exactly parenting material," he added dryly.

"Why did you even agree to become their guardian?"

"It was a debt I owed to their father. I felt it would be best paid if I took in his
children in order to keep them from being separated from each other. If anything, both
Ryoku and Makoto are extremely grateful to me for that, which is why they forgive me for my
lack of parenting skills. Is there anything else you wish to ask me?"

The elderly priest was quiet for a moment. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to be rude."

"I understand. You sound as if you're just concerned for the boy. I don't blame you at all.
In fact, I'm glad that you're so concerned for Ryoku. It makes things that much easier."

"I don't understand," Grandpa Hino said, bewildered.

"I would like to make a request of you concerning Ryoku, if it is all right," the old man

"What is it?" he asked curiously.

"Makoto has told me all about what has been happening at Shirokoyama. With everything that
has happened as of late, I can sympathize somewhat for my ward and understand why he does
not want to return to the boarding school. However, he still needs to attend school and I
don't wish to separate Ryoku from his sister.

"After learning that you had offered shelter to my ward and that your granddaughter is a
friend of both Ryoku's and Makoto's, I feel that he might be better off where he is now,
rather than coming all the way over here in Yokosuka."

"So, what you're saying is that you want me to allow Ryoku to live here?" Grandpa Hino

"Yes, if you don't mind."

"You're just going to hand over your ward and...."

"I didn't say that," the old man interrupted. "I just wanted to know if he could live
there. I am willing to offer a reasonable amount of money as rent for him to live there and
I expect for him to also earn his keep as well. That's one lesson I made sure to instill
into them, even if I wasn't planning raising them."

Grandpa Hino was silent for a while, considering. "What about his schooling?"

"I can arrange for him to attend a public school near to the Hikawa Jinja. I believe Juuban
Elementary is the closest one."

"And you don't mind if I try to raise him?"

"You're more than welcome to. I'm certainly not going to do it."

"Then, I accept your offer Myouken-san. Ryoku can stay here."

The old man nodded to himself. 'Well, I'll be damned. Makoto was right, after all.'

"Thank you, Hino-san. I'll begin the arrangements at once. Good day."

"Wait a minute," Grandpa Hino interjected before he could hang up. "Don't you want to at
least say something to Ryoku?"

A pause. "I believe you know the answer to that, Hino-san. Good day." The sound of a phone
hanging up was soon followed by a dial tone.


"Do you know who Myouken-san is?" Rei asked Ryoku as soon as Grandpa went in to answer the

"That's my guardian's name," he told her. "But, how does Oyaji know where I am?"

"Oyaji?" she repeated quizzically.

"That's what Mako-chan and I call him," he explained.

"You call him 'old man'?" she asked, frowning in perplexity. "That's not very respectful."

"Actually, he doesn't mind it. I think he actually prefers that we call him that."

Rei blinked. "Why?"

Ryoku finished his sweeping chore and leaned the broom against the wall, then sat down on
the steps leading up to the haiden. "It's kind of a long story," he began as Rei sat down
next to him. "Oyaji sorta owed my father some kind of huge debt for some reason which he
doesn't want to tell us about. He says that that's the only reason that he took in
Mako-chan and me."

"That doesn't sound very nice of him," Rei remarked.

He shook his head. "It's not that he doesn't like us. It's just that he would rather we
think of him as an old man that is doing us a favor by allowing us to remain together
without having to worry about the government forcing us to go to an orphanage.

"We have him to thank for keeping us from that orphanage. If we had gone there, there
would've been a very good chance that I might've been separated from Mako-chan permanently.
Neither one of us would ever allow that to happen, but thanks to Oyaji, we don't have to
worry about it.

"Actually, we started calling him 'Myouken-ojiisan' at first, but he kept replying that he
wasn't our grandfather, so we shouldn't call him that. We kept on calling him 'Myouken-san'
for the most part, but when I called him 'Oyaji' without thinking about it, he actually
grinned and said that he didn't mind the sound of that. So, we called him 'Oyaji' ever

Rei nodded as she took all that in. "So, if Myouken-san didn't raise you, then who did?"

"After our parents died, we had to raise each other," Ryoku told her. "We had to rely on
each other until Oyaji took us in. Even after that, we still mostly rely on ourselves. All
in all, I think we did all right. Even Oyaji thinks so."

She nodded again, then smiled at him. "You know, Ryoku-san, I've noticed that you sound
much more mature than you look. Are you sure you're ten years old?"

Ryoku blinked. Then blinked again. "Huh?"

This time, she laughed. "That look on your face! You should see yourself, Ryoku-san! You
look so funny!"

He scowled irritably. "Hey!"

Rei's laughter cut off as Grandpa reappeared. "Rei-chan, Ryoku-san, I've got some good

"Ryoku-san doesn't have to go back to his old boarding school?" she asked hopefully.

He shook his head. "No, he doesn't."

Ryoku sighed in obvious relief.

"There's more though. I've made some arrangements with your guardian, Ryoku-san. You'll be
living here with us for now."

Both Ryoku's and Rei's eyes widened in complete disbelief. "He'll be living... here?" Rei
asked, stunned.

Grandpa nodded. "Ryoku-san is also being transferred from Shirokoyama to Juuban Elementary.
He'll be attending school there."

Ryoku frowned worriedly "What about Mako-chan?" he asked. "Did he say anything about

"Who? Oh, you mean your sister? Makoto, was it? Well, he did mention her, but that was all."

Ryoku calmed down a bit. 'So, Oyaji hasn't forgotten about her. He might just be letting
Mako-chan finish up her school year there. She might be preparing to transfer to the same
school next year. Oyaji knows that we prefer to stay together. He wouldn't keep us apart
for too long. He's not cruel. Well, at least I'm not going back. That's definitely
something I have to be grateful for. Thanks, Oyaji.'

"Once again, I am grateful to you for allowing me to stay here," Ryoku said with a small
half-smile and a polite bow. "Thank you...."

"You can call me 'Grandpa', Ryoku-san."

On an impulse, he stepped forward and hugged the elderly priest. "Thank you, Grandpa."

Grandpa smiled. "You're certainly welcome."

After Grandpa went back inside, Ryoku sat back down beside Rei. "Can you believe it,
Rei-chan? I'm gonna be living here." He glanced up at the sky and sighed pensively. "I
wonder what Mako-chan will say when she finds out."

"I'm sure she'll be happy for you, Ryoku-san," Rei said. "She was really worried about you
having to go back there. At least, now you don't have to go back."

"Yeah," he agreed as he shifted his gaze from the sky to the ground. "But, I'm gonna miss
her, though."

"It's not like she can't visit you, you know," she pointed out.

"I know, but things are different now. Before, I knew that she was always within walking
distance. If I wanted to see her, I would go see her. Now, she's a little farther away." He
shook his head and sighed. "It'll take some getting used to, Rei-chan."

The two silently remained sitting there for a long time afterward.


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.