'Like Folding Papers'

Rayne no Akai Hinageshi

Volume 1: Chapter 5: A beginning of something different

Disclaimer: Characters used in this fanfiction are the properties of their respective owners. Ranma ½ belongs to Rumiko Takahashi as Maria-sama Ga Miteru belongs to Konno Oyuki. They're not my anymore than there are heaps upon heaps of idea which are being stolen from Excel Saga as we speaks… oh lord, just imagine what that would do to Like Folding Papers…

…Oh and Menchi rocks, by the way…

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"Here you go."

The steam was rising from the red liquid, which had been poured into a white cup, filling it three quarters full, and placed before my eyes.

It's a drink, black tea.

Okay, what's going on, why am I starring at a cup of tea?

Well you see; it sorta happened like this…

After hearing that Sachiko girl proclamation, everyone agreed to go back inside and discuss the matter properly, filing back through the door that had the "Meeting in Progress" sign hanging on it.

Sachiko, after naming me her petite soeur (Whatever the heck that is), squared her shoulders and marched straight-backed into the room. She looked like she was getting ready for a fight or something.

I imagined the long haired, well-groomed princess in a gi and nearly burst out laughing.

"Well. It looks like you're a little sister who's been left behind. What's a big sister to do?" One of the older girls, the one with short dark hair, told me gently. She kinda took my by the shoulder and lead me inside. I was lost so I didn't resist her.

Little sister? Big sister? Now this is getting even more confusing.

As I walked into the room I saw that Sachiko was already sitting on one of the chair around this big round-ish… oval, yeah, definitely oval… anyway; so she was already sitting, right? Then she turned around, saw me and suddenly had this panicked look on her face… like she's forgotten to do something important. She quickly hid it and pulled out the chair next to her own.

"Please have a seat."

Then everyone took their seats, and tea was served.

And that's brings us to why I'm starring into a cup of tea – which is black, by the way… weird. Whatever happens to good ole nice green tea – and why there's this girl with braided hair standing next to me.

"Would you like milk or sugar?" She asks politely.

"Both please." I say softly, trying no to bring any attention to myself. I look around and take in the surrounding.

The stairs and the halls were wooden and so are the floors and walls. While this room is within the school grounds, it did not feel like it's a part of the school. Except for the hallway side, there are wooden-framed bay windows on each of the three walls. Hanging on the windows are clean cotton curtains, tied back with thin ribbons. The room was about half the size of a classroom. There's a flower arrangement in the middle of the oval table where we're sitting around. It's less like a student council headquarter and more like the dining room of the Kuno's estate.

I have to admit; it feels odd sitting here like this – in girl uniform in a western style room and having tea with other similarly dressed girls – it's like I'm in one of those 'tea-party' rich ladies enjoy.

Not that I'm completely clueless, of course. I remember once pretending to be Kodachi's fiancée (Pretending! Kodachi's that rich insane girl who's been obsessing with me since forever. She's Kuno's sister… I'm sure you know what that means so there's no way I'd consider her to be my fiancée for real.) and attending a formal tea party with the White Lily, another rich nutcase rival of hers.

Beside there's that couple of days which I spent learning Martial Art Tea Ceremony.

…I see the look of disbelief has made a come back. Look, we've been over this already; just take everything I say on face value, okay? Otherwise we're going be at this for ages.

Okay, the silence is killing me again.

It seems that everyone has either forgotten about Sachiko's declaration or they all decided to not to talk about it. This suits me just fine, cause unless someone brings it up (And I'll be damn if it going to be me) then I don't have to deal with whatever being that girl's petite soeur means.

I eye the door with longing. It's not that rude to leave early is it?

Apparently someone thinks it is.

"You are always welcome to come here, Ranma-san. After all, as Sachiko's petite soeur, you are an important part of our group."

'Or not.' I mumble. 'Damn… oh well, I supposed it was too much to ask.'

I look at the person who has said it; it was that girl again, the one with short hair… Sachiko's older sister which was branded tyrannical and cruel a bit earlier. She has that aura of confident around her that's like my own. Regardless of what Camera-girl said about there being three leaders of equal powers; this girl is definitely the person in charge of the Yamayurikai.

"So, Rosa Chinensis. Does this means you approve of Sachiko's assertion?" Another one of the older girls, this one with a headband, asks her.

"Well, Rosa Foetida. If Sachiko has already made up her mind, it is already out of our hands, isn't it? Rosa Gigantea, what's your opinion?"

Damn, she's as good as Nabiki. Deflecting a question like that… if I hadn't been living with Nabiki for so long, I would've missed it entirely.

I turn to Rosa Gigantea, the girl with sandy blonde hair and happy goes lucky smile on her face, wondering what she has to say.

"Approve or disapprove, we can't really decide that yet, can we? At least not until the main party stops looking around in fright and plain confusion."

Main party? Oh that's right… me and Sachiko. But wait, I'm not looking around in fright, what are you talking about?

"Poor girl. She can't quite grasp the situation."

The Rosas starts giggling at that.

I fume. Okay, so maybe it's funny for them. But if this is a joke, they should know I either didn't get it or it's not funny. Why? Because I'm not laughing, that's why.

I feel like slamming my hand onto the table and demand that they tell me what's going on but someone beats me to the punch.

"Anyone can say what they will, but Ranma is my petite soeur." Sachiko states coldly.

Yeah, about that word, can you tell me what it means now?

"Not from you, Sachiko, but from Ranma-san. I'd like to hear what she has to say about this situation."

Here's the chance Ranma, knock them dead with you ultimate conversation skill!

"Um…"

"I've said it quite clearly, have I not? There's no misunderstandings, are there? You don't need a confirmation from Ranma."

Well, so much for that thought.

"You seem intent on continuing this saga without letting Ranma gets a single word in, and that just won't do."

Although her face remains playful, Rosa Gigantea's eyes glints dangerously as she says this.

"Sachiko. You desire so strongly to escape the task assigned to you that you'd choose a person at random to be your petite soeur and irresponsibly drag Ranma-san into this?"

Task? Assigned? I was right; there's a lot more going on here than what it seems.

"Excuse me."

I crane my neck around to see who has just spoken. It's Tsutako the camera-girl, she's been completely quiet and I had forgotten all about her.

"What do you think, Takeshima Tsutako-san?"

"I'm honored you know my name, Rosa Gigantea."

The sandy haired girl smiles kindly before saying.

"I'm not sure about Ranma-san here. But everybody knows who you are. You're quite a celebrity around the school."

Tsutako fixes her glasses into place and continues.

"I know I'm an outsider, but can I say something here?"

"Certainly."

"I don't really know what's going on here. Why did Sachiko-sama have to suddenly introduce Ranma-san as her petite soeur? And how is that related to this "assigned task?" Camera-girl asks politely.

Rosa Gigantea looks to Rosa Foetida who nods and says.

"You're right. It would be rude of us not to explain."

"There is no need for an explanation. I have chosen a petite soeur (There's that word again, what the heck does it mean?) that is all. We are done for today." Sachiko says, standing up in a huff.

"What a selfish thing to say. If you want to break up the meeting, go home by yourself. Of course Ranma-san will stay put." Rosa Chinensis, Sachiko's older sister, says coolly. She steeples her fingers in front of her and stares at the long haired girl as if challenging her.

After a moment of tension, Sachiko sits back down.

"I'll give you a quick summary. Today, Sachiko refused to perform her school festival duties, which she had already promised to do."

Duties? I perk up a bit at hearing this. As a martial artist, duty is something I can relate to.

"You've got the story wrong." Sachiko cuts in. But before she could say anything more, Rosa Chinensis continues as if she hasn't been interrupted.

"You see, this year we're putting on a play at the school festival and all of us are participating in one form or another."

"Since we three Roses are busy everyday, serving as the executive committee for the school festival, we can only take the minor roles in the play. Naturally, our younger sisters play a pivotal role."

Pivotal, that's a new one…, wait, if minor means small then pivotal ought to mean the opposite… So Sachiko is playing the lead or something.

"We've made arrangements to borrow extras from the dance club." Rosa Foetida adds.

"Dance club? What kind of performance will this be?" Tsutako-san leans forward and asks.

I resist the urge to roll my eyes. She probably wanna take a photo or something. It's funny but I couldn't help but be reminded of my childhood friend Ukyou… Tsutako's probably as crazy about photos as Ucchan is about okonomiyaki.

"Cinderella. We're doing the ballroom scene and we decided that Sachiko is to play Cinderella."

That's odd. Isn't being the lead supposed to be every girl's dream or something? I mean Akane's not exactly your typical girl but even she wanted to play the lead heroine role in this Romeo and Juliet play we had at Furinkan a while back.

"At first there was no argument from her. But this year we're bringing in a guest from Hanadera, to which Sachiko objects."

"A guest?" Camera-girl asks.

"It's customary. Lillian and Hanadera Academy are fellow schools on the same hill. The student councils send helpers to each other for the culture festivals. After all, we helped them out last month when Hanadera Academy's culture festival was held."

"It's not that I'm opposed to bringing in a guest. But surely there's no need for the Hanadera student president have to go to all the trouble to play the prince?" Sachiko's voice fades away as she spoke.

Damn, she's doing that changing voice thingie again. What happened to all that energy she had a second ago? Girls are so hard to understand.

"So what would you have him do? Play Cinderella? And you would play the prince?"

Good thing I finished my tea ages ago, because otherwise there would be three tea soaked people sitting in front of me right now. Where the heck had that came from?

"Why does it have to be the prince? What about backgrounds, costumes, work behind the scenes—"

"We can't have the guest behind the scenes, can we? Over there, we were judges at their main event. They didn't just have us doing petty errands like making tea. You didn't come that day, so you probably didn't know this."

"I can't understand why we would change the cast now, when it's only two weeks until the school festival," Sachiko counter, changing from the topic she was losing into a new one.

I start to doze off… this meeting has turned in a one on one word battle between the two sister and to be honest, it's getting boring.

"That's why we decided from the very beginning that the prince would be the Hanadera student council president."

"That's a lie. Up until yesterday's script reading, wasn't Rei reading the prince's lines?"

"Ah, I knew I was a stand-in from the beginning." The girl with really short and boyish hair cut says, rising her hand.

"Hey, look. Everyone except Sachiko knew about it. If you still harbor suspicions, ask the sewing club. Because when they ordered material, the prince's costume was the Hanadera student council president's size."

"That decision was made in my absence."

Now Sachiko sounds like she's almost at the point where she's going to cry. Well that or she's about to whip out a hammer from thin air and starts bashing people.

But then again, maybe it's only Akane who do that sorta thing.

"You're imagining things. We're not holding secret meetings. Ah, I know what it was." Rosa Chinensis says, tapping her chin.

"How many times have you skipped out on meetings? It was probably one of those times when you weren't there when we decided. If that's the case, you get what you deserve. Whenever we had meetings with Hanadera, you made sure you weren't there. Your hatred of men is too much; you'll just have to put up with him."

Hatred of men? Oh oh… that sounds exactly like Akane. This could be bad.

Speaking of which, why am I still here?

"I understand but what does Sachiko-sama's disapproval of the lead role have to do with Ranma-san being her petite soeur? The sign said 'Meeting in progress,' but were you discussing changing the lead role?"

Ah bless you Ceme… no, Tsutako, bless you Tsutako.

"At first, this was a meeting, if I recall correctly." This time it was Rosa Foetida, the headband girl who answers. "The main topic of discussion was simply making decisions, so, it was going along smoothly."

"We were in the middle of arrangements for our play, when Sachiko raised a fuss." Rosa Gigantea adds next.

"We tried to quiet her down, with little jabbing at her tender spots, but then she blew up. Although Sachiko is popular because she presents a nice outward appearance, actually she has the temperament of a tantrum-throwing brat." Rosa Chinensis states simply.

Ouch. Maybe I should come to her defense or something… I mean, somebody should; it's like she's fighting a three on one battle. It's not really fair is it?

"Wait just one minute! Those weren't little jabs; those were stabs right at my heart!" Sachiko protests loudly.

"'People without petite soeur have no sense of responsibility and therefore, have no right to speak'… that's what you said!"

"If I recall correctly, I did say that. But I did not mean 'anyone would be fine as a petite soeur.' To dash out of the room, seize upon the first first-year student you met, and make her your petite soeur, that's done right outrageous. You're trying to spin gold from straw." Rosa Chinensis counters, still as calm as ever.

Wait a minute.

Gold from straw?

So I'm a piece of straw?

My eyelid is twitching madly right now. I can just feel it.

"What's wrong with spinning straw into gold?"

"So, you intend to use Ranma-san as a stopgap measure? You cannot do that. As your grande soeur it would be an affront to my dignity." Rosa Chinensis says, her voice starting to rise. You don't have to be a mind reader to tell how pissed off she's right now.

Oh boy, this can't end well.

"I will take care of Ranma. I will work hard to produce an elegant Rosa Chinensis." Sachiko objects.

"I suggest you stop saying the first thing that comes to mind, Sachiko."

"Why do you suggest that?"

"Didn't you meet Ranma-san just now? How do you think making a girl you just met your soeur on the spot fulfills your promise?"

I glance at Sachiko, wondering what she's going to do. Now that the true has come out, how is she going to keep arguing?

"Isn't it true that you didn't know Ranma-san's name until just now?"

"That…"

"All right, isn't that enough? Now you're just being stubborn. Just stop."

Guess that's that. Well it's been fun (Not really, but I feel like I should say it anyway.) but I ought to have been home about half an hour ago. So I guess I'll just…

"Wait."

What is it now?

I turn around and see that it's Shimako the weird ginko loving, wavy haired girl from lunch, who said something this time.

"I do not think this is the first time Sachiko-sama and Ranma-san have met."

"Why do you think that?" Rosa Gigantea asks her own younger sister.

Hmm… about that, is it just me or does these sisters looks nothing alike? I mean, Tsutako said Shimako is Rosa Gigantea little sis and from what I gather, Sachiko is Rosa Chinensis younger sister as well… yet, none of them look like sisters.

"Because Ranma-san came here looking for Sachiko-sama."

"She didn't come here with you, Shimako-san?"

The wavy haired girl shakes her head.

"That's right. It seems we forgot to ask why Ranma-san and Tsutako-san are here." Rosa Chinensis comments. She turns to me and asks gently. "Is this true, Ranma-san?"

Is what true? Now that I think about it, why am I here? Why did I come in the first place?

"Yes," Tsutako cuts in. "And we have proof too."

Proof? I whip my head around. Camera-girl is passing a photo to the leader of the Yamayurikai. If my guess is correct, that's photo is the one of me and Sachiko together that she's taken this morning.

The three Rosas crowd together and exam the photo.

"I see. You two know each other from before. Please excuse my mistake." Rosa Chinensis says by way of an apology.

The snapshot slowly makes its way around the table. It eventually reaches Sachiko who was probably wondering what the heck just happened. Not that I blame her.

I'm probably more confused than she is.

As expected Sachiko looks kinda shocked when she sees the photo.

Oh great, now she'll think we're some sort of stalker. Though, she's probably used to them by now. I mean look at Akane, she's not all that pretty but you know how Gosunkugi acts around her. With her looks, Sachiko most likely has more than a few.

"I wonder where we've met."

Okay, I'm not sure if Sachiko meant for me to hear that or not. But damn it, she lectured me out and she didn't even remember?

No I'm not disappointed! Stop looking at me like that.

"As you can see from this photo, Ranma and I are very close." Sachiko states.

Huh? That's quick turnaround from 'I wonder where we've met.' What's she trying to do now?

"I'm sure there's no further reason why she can't be my petite soeur, is there?"

"True. Even though I think you're doing this for temporary relief, I have no right to voice an objection to your actually choosing a soeur, much less tear you two apart. After all, you are a student here."

Sachiko begins to brighten almost right away after hearing this.

"However…" Rosa Chinensis smiles. "I do not accept your resignation from the role of Cinderella. Don't forget that."

"But your promise!?!" Sachiko practically screams. The cups rattle a bit from her pounding the table.

"Promise?" Rosa Chinensis repeats, laughing under her breath for a second there. "That was just something you shouted yourself back then, wasn't it? I said 'People without a soeur have no right to speak.' So just now you're free to speak."

"Then please accept my resignation from the role."

Wow, she really doesn't give up.

"No."

"Why?"

"Your hatred of men cannot be the big reason why you quit the role. In your case, doesn't just seeing a man cause you to break out in a rash, to feel sick to your stomach? You can't go around saying 'no' to everything, one after another. That's selfish. Don't you think the next Rosa Chinensis should know this?"

"As one of the three roses you have responsibilities to the yamayurikai. You must learn to put your petty feelings aside. Like you said, it's two weeks before the play. If you simply drop out of the role, who is going to fill in?"

Rosa Chinensis, after saying this, puts her own hands on her cheeks and let out a big, intentional-sounding, sigh.

"It's my own fault for not teaching you enough. But I never imagined you wouldn't understand such things."

Sachiko is stunned.

I see the look on Tsutako face; she couldn't understand.

But I could. Rosa Chinensis's words… the tone… it was so full of pity. She could've hurled much more hurtful insults and Sachiko was probably able to shrug them off. But the pitying tone and words… they were too much.

"I'm going home." She says, standing up.

"Wait."

…Come on!! Just let her goes already!! Don't you think she has taken enough punishment?

"Confirm one thing for me. What is Ranma-san to you?"

"What?"

"Do you still think of Ranma-san as your petite soeur?"

"Certainly. Ranma is my petite soeur."

"Onee-sama, are you trying to insult me? Did you really think I'm just using Ranma as a soeur to get out of the play?"

Yes?

A brief starring contest occurs here but in the end Rosa Chinensis smiles wryly and looks away.

"Fine" She says suddenly, her smile grows really cold. "If you were to abandon Ranma-san here, I would also be forced to sever our own bonds of sisterhood."

Petite soeur. That word again! That's it I'm getting sick of this, I'm figuring this out now.

Okay, I know 'soeur' means 'sister' or something because Rosa Chinensis said that she's Sachiko's grande soeur and she's Sachiko's onee-sama. And that they have a bond of sisterhood. Therefore petite soeur should mean little sister.

So it doesn't mean fiancée. Good, I'm kinda glad now. Because really, if you think about it, that would mean she accepts that we're fiancée even though I looked like a girl.

That kinda thought isn't what I want to deal with right now.

"Have you already given her your rosary?"

"Not yet. If you wish, shall I perform the ritual in front of everyone?"

"That would be fine."

Okay, now it just turns into a big game of chicken. Would Sachiko really go through with it?

There's a soft tingling as the long haired girl takes off her rosary. She forms a loop with it and steps closer to me.

The tingling is thundering in the dead quiet room.

"Please wait a moment." Shimako calls out once again. It seems like she's the only level headed one in this crowd. "Sachiko-sama and onee-samas, aren't we all forgetting something important?"

"Something important?"

"Ranma-san's feelings."

"Ranma-san's feelings?"

There's a moment of silence as everyone thinks about what Shimako said. Finally it was Rosa Chinensis who broke the silence.

"Yes, I see your point for asking. After all, you did turn down Sachiko's rosary." She says to Shimako before turning to me "Sachiko would like you to be her petite soeur. How do you feel about accepting her rosary?"

What should I do?

This is all a big mess and we all know it. Sachiko picked a random person to be her sister in order to get out of a stupid play. But now that that hasn't work, she still has to go through with it or she might lose her own older sister as well.

The best thing to do is probably just to say no, right?

Right.

Right?

I look up into Sachiko's face, not sure of what I was expecting to find there. What was I expecting? I donno… hope maybe, hope that I might say no so she's not stuck with a sister she doesn't want…

But what I didn't expect was sadness… lots of it… like, heaps and heaps of disappointment and despair…kinda like what I see on Ryoga face when he uses the Shi Shi Hou Godan… There's no tear or quivering lips… just a firm understanding of your own doom…

It's so depressing.

I had enough of it so I opened my mouth and said no.

"Yes."

Huh?

"Yes, I'd like that."

Sachiko smiles and steps forward once again.

And for the third times that day, Sachiko Ogasawara, now my onee-sama, places her arms around my shoulders. The rosary doesn't feel cold against my skin like I'd expected at all. It tingles softly one more time before falling into place between my breasts.

… I'm so going to regret this…

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End of Volume One: A beginning of something different.

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Preview of Volume Two:

Ranma: What the hell! That made absolutely no sense what so ever!!!

Sachiko: Quiet Ranma, you should not say such unladylike things.

Ranma: Like heck, I'd listen to you, you stuck up chick! You used me!

Sachiko: …Ranma…

Ranma: Yeah, you even forgotten about me… even after you saw that photo, you still couldn't remember!

Sachiko: …Ranma…

Ranma: Whatever, I can't believe I took your rosary… Which, I'd like to say again, made absolutely no sense what so ever… rant…. rant… rant…

Bam!

Sachiko: On the next exciting volume of Like Folding Papers we have; Ranma as Cinderella! Evil older sister Me! And in more ways than one is well. (In the tale, Cinderella has two older sisters.) Nerima cast finally makes an appearance. Some hard learned lessons for Ranma-chan and many more!!!

Ranma: …. that didn't hurt, you weak, pampered Ojou-sama…

Bam! Bam! Bam!

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Author's note:

Oho ho ho ho ho, I finally finish volume one. How's the big finale? Did you like it? Hate it? I know the last part is confusing… it was written that way on purpose… Ranma won't know why he decided to accept the rosary until the very end… so Nya!!!

As always, please review. I typed 4k words in two days… that should get me something, right?

Rayne no Akai Hinageshi.

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See you in Volume Two: My kind of a fairy tale

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p.s. Yes. I did buy Excel Saga! Oho ho ho ho . Menchi rocks…