Chapter 1:


Rose From Another's Garden

Note: As a first chapter, this is longer than most of the later chapters. Expect them to be around less than half of the word count for this chapter. An exception may be made for very plot-intensive chapters.Bookmark here

"Hey, Asuka!"

A voice called out to her amidst the crowd of students dispersing for the day. Asuka turns away from opening her locker to see her short, black-haired friend Makoto approach her. Unsurprisingly, she's already dressed in her Gi, orange belt and all. She's given a few weird looks from passersby, but she's never been one to care about appearances.
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"Hey, Makoto! I see someone's excited for club today." Asuka giggles as she pulls out her Gi from her locker, closing it shut afterwards. "What, excited to try for your orange belt again today?" Bookmark here

Makoto grins and reaches her hand up to try to ruffle Asuka's dark-red hair, only for Asuka to swat it away playfully. "Nah, but that does come later! What, you haven't heard?" Makoto tilts her head to the side, seeing Asuka's lack of knowledge as a tad curious. Asuka just shrugs, motioning for Makoto to follow her outside.Bookmark here

"I guess I have been a little absorbed in work and training, haha... Guess I missed it?" Asuka couldn't help but crack a slight smile at the way Makoto deadpanned at her; jeez, was it that bad she missed out on the news?Bookmark here

"Well, you have been doing good lately, making blue belt and all! Look at my girl, moving up to the big leagues!" Makoto elbowed Asuka in the arm playfully, beaming.Bookmark here

"Y-Yeah- I mean, it's not like, expert level but-" Bookmark here

"-So!" Asuka sighs when Makoto suddenly interrupts her. "We're getting someone new today!"Bookmark here

Asuka perks up.Bookmark here

"Really? I thought Akisame-sensei wasn't taking anymore students?" As both of them come up on the building set aside for the Martial Arts club, they see a group of normally-dressed students gossiping near them.Bookmark here

"Yeah, we all did! But he announced he's taking on someone to 'motivate us to be better' or something like that! I think she's that new transfer student in our class?"Bookmark here

Asuka blinked.Bookmark here

"...Y-You do know we got a new transfer in class, right?"

"I-I may have...taken a nap in class today." Bookmark here

"Asu- Ugh, I'll get you my notes later, okay? Anyway, she's a-!" Makoto suddenly cuts herself off, covering her mouth and clearing her throat. "Ignore that - She's already got half the school talking about her! Apparently she's the daughter of some big CEO, gorgeous, and she's joining a club on the first day! Our club! Isn't that exciting?"Bookmark here

Asuka rolls her eyes playfully as they step inside the building. Both of them quickly duck into the girls' changing room, Makoto standing with her back to the wall as Asuka began putting on her uniform.Bookmark here

"It's nice to have a new member and all, but we're not gonna treat her differently from anyone else right? Hopefully the senior students don't haze her..." Asuka's voice drops a little. Makoto frowns for a split-second, patting Asuka on the shoulder as she finishes putting her uniform on.Bookmark here

"Hey, if they bother her, we'll be there! Besides, Akisame-sensei's on top of things way better than him, right?"Bookmark here

Asuka nodded almost immediately.Bookmark here

"Alright," Makoto double-pats Asuka's shoulder. "Now let's go out there and see if she's here yet! C'mon, let's go!" Makoto pulls Asuka into the main room, where rows of students are sitting waiting for their sensei. Asuka and Makoto quickly take two seats in the front, and it's not long before two bodies make their way to the front.Bookmark here

Akisame is a tall man with black hair and some very noticeable stubble; normally dressed in a suit when teaching Physical Education, he wears a white-and-blue hakama when it's time for club. Following next to him is the girl who Asuka can only assume is that transfer student Makoto brought up. She's striking, that's for sure.Bookmark here

She had blonde hair styled into these two really big curls, brown- No, red eyes, and instead of wearing a Gi she was wearing the normal school uniform, a red blazer with a black skirt. Shouldn't she have changed by now...?Bookmark here

"Everyone," Asuka sits up straight as her sensei speaks, "this is Seina Suzuki, a new transfer to Kiyosei High as I'm sure you're aware. You know the rules: Every member is to treat each other like family, and I expect you to make her feel welcome here. Understood?"Bookmark here

Immediately, sounds of agreement come from all the students; despite his generally pleasant demeanor, admittedly, he could get a bit scary when someone misbehaved or disobeyed...Bookmark here

"Good! Now, due to a mistake on my part, I'm afraid Seina cannot stay for long. Got the wrong size uniform..." Akisame sighed at himself before shaking his head. "In any case, she's fine with-"Bookmark here

"May I?" Her deep voice makes Asuka jump a little, her eyes turning to the bold transfer student. A few whispers of surprise are heard, but no one dares to speak loudly. Seina bows to Akisame, who simply chuckles and nods his head. Raising her head, Seina crosses her arms and steps forward.Bookmark here

"I'm being given a choice for my belt exam: Demonstrate appropriate techniques, or sparring with the lot of you. I'm choosing the latter. If anyone wishes to embarrass themselves, please, stand up."Bookmark here

Now the whispers are growing into fairly audible comments. Most were shaming her for her arrogance, and Asuka was close to thinking she was being over-confident too, but... Well, you couldn't judge someone from words alone, right? She sees Akisame lean in to whisper, Seina rolling her eyes in response.Bookmark here

"Right - If it matters to anyone, I study Karate, Jujutsu, Chinese Kenpo,  Muay Thai, and I'm hoping to branch out into Taekwondo while I'm studying here. We fight under the rules of this dojo, and seeing as how most of you are Karate practitioners-"Bookmark here

-How did she know that-?Bookmark here

"-I'll just use Karate as well. Who's game?"Bookmark here

Judging from the way the crowd got silent, very few were. Asuka could still see the disapproving glances aimed at Seina, likely mentally blasting her for not being 'polite' or 'meek' the same way they did Asuka when she first joined.Bookmark here

Huh. Same way, hm...?Bookmark here

Standing up slowly, Asuka bowed while keeping her eyes on Seina, the latter meeting her gaze with no hesitation. Bookmark here

"I guess I don't mind. We'll use Karate like you said, 'kay?"Bookmark here

Murmurs came from the crowd; rarely did Asuka ever get hyped up by the crowd, but apparently she was now the class favorite to win.Bookmark here

Of course they wanted her to gang up on the new girl...Bookmark here

Well, she wasn't going to go easy on her, but she could at least be friendly.Bookmark here

"Sure. Do try not to hold a grudge, will you?"Bookmark here

Keyword was try.Bookmark here

"Right... Sensei?" Asuka looks over to Akisame, eyes silently pleading with him to take over for her.Bookmark here

"Heh...right. Everyone, clear to the sides to make room for the ring." Akisame clapped his hands, causing the whole class aside from Asuka and Seina to disperse. Both of them slowly walked over to the mat in the center, Asuka stretching her limbs while Seina merely stared her down. Was she trying to gauge Asuka from looks alone, or was she just judging her...?Bookmark here

She hates how self-conscious she feels under that gaze.Bookmark here

"Now, the rules are as follows: The time limit is two minutes, and you'll be doing point-sparring. You only need three points to win, and-"
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"May we strike the face?" Seina said, her lips curling into what could only be described as an evil smirk.Bookmark here

"You may not." Akisame smiled as he denied Seina; Asuka, meanwhile, was just wondering what the hell was up with this girl. Seina huffed in response while Sensei simply went on. "Clean hits are one point, and leaving the ring is an automatic loss. Begin when ready!"Bookmark here

Both Asuka and Seina went into their stances immediately.Bookmark here

Asuka, making sure her back was straight, raised her left hand in an open palm while her right stayed at her side. Bending her rear (right) leg at the knee and her front only slightly, Asuka prepared to strike-Bookmark here

-Only to hesitate when Seina took her stance.Bookmark here

What in the world...?Bookmark here

She could hear other students whispering about it too, and rightfully so. Seina had her arms raised slightly above her head, hands in open palms facing Asuka while her fingers were slightly bent towards the ceiling. Asuka stepped forward to approach-Bookmark here

-Before stepping back.Bookmark here

She'd never seen this stance before, but anyone with an eye could see how well-defended this stance made her from the front. Asuka glanced to her Sensei who seemed to be enjoying this display.Bookmark here

Display?Bookmark here

Yes, a display.Bookmark here

Asuka held her stance, but truth be told, she was- was pretty scared to approach. Usually, she had no problems participating in spars, even with her betters, but...Bookmark here

...being in a spar with someone like this was just different.Bookmark here

Being in the ring like this, blocking out the crowd and trying to focus- Seina staring at her primed and ready for her approach... She didn't even have an idea on how to approach much less-Bookmark here

"Well?" Seina's impatient voice interrupted Asuka.Bookmark here

Quickly, she stepped forward and shot her open palm forward.Bookmark here

Suddenly, she was reeling back and holding her chin.Bookmark here

"Contact!"Bookmark here

Wha...?Bookmark here

"You can do it Asuka!" Asuka heard Makoto chant from the crowd, but now wasn't the time for that-Bookmark here

"Did you just hit me?Bookmark here

"Are we not fighting?" Seina smirked despite her warning and got back into position. Asuka shook her head, got back into position and took in a deep breath.Bookmark here

She exhaled, then shot forward.Bookmark here

And then Seina was on her side.Bookmark here

She felt a fist dig hard into her ribs. nearly sending her off the mat. Bookmark here

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Despite the proclamation, Asuka was slightly bent over and clutching her side. It wasn't agonizing, but she had clearly put way more force into it than she had to for a point-Bookmark here

"Done?" Now that voice was not just full of smugness, but superiority, like Seina knew she had this won.Bookmark here

How wrong she was gonna be-!Bookmark here

Getting back into her stance, Asuka watched Seina get back into her defensive stance and opened with a sharp high-kick as soon as her Sensei gave the go-ahead. Seina blocked it as expected, giving Asuka the chance to spin on her heel and try to kick Seina in the side of the head. Feeling her leg get blocked again, Asuka retreated as far as she could on the mat-Bookmark here

-And then ended up on her butt off of it.Bookmark here

Blinking, she cringed when the hard hit against her abs finally started to register in her mind.Bookmark here

"Point and ring-out! Seina wins!"Bookmark here

Asuka wasn't listening hard enough to tell if the crowd cheered, booed, or didn't speak at all; she was too busy staring at Seina, who stood triumphantly over her.Bookmark here

"Thank you for the match, A-su-ka." Seina slowly drawled out her name teasingly, bowing to her before stepping off and bowing to the rest of the class. Soon, many of them started to run up to Seina, bombarding her with questions and praises for her performance.Bookmark here

And as soon as one fails, they go and follow and praise the one they were thrashing not moments ago...Bookmark here

Asuka slowly stood up, Makoto rushing up to her side and helping her with it. Bookmark here

"Hey, Asuka, are you-?"Bookmark here

"Fine." Asuka rolled her shoulders as she stared at the crowd around Seina. Would they have praised her like that if she won? ...Probably not; they only wanted her to win so Seina would lose, but now that she couldn't do that-Bookmark here

"You both did your best," Akisame walked up to the crowd and I'm excited to see potential like this in your generation! Why, when I was a lad-!" Bookmark here

"Excuse me, Akisame-sensei," Seina casually interrupted, "but I'm afraid I need to go. I have something important to tend to, as I've told you." Seina steps away from the crowd and gives Akisame a deep bow of respect.Bookmark here

"Right, right. I may test you further when you come back, but I'm very impressed for now. Oh, I nearly forgot! Asuka, come over here and shake hands with Seina."Bookmark here

Asuka winces, and Seina giggles.Bookmark here

Sighing, Asuka walked over to Seina and put on the most friendly smile she could muster as she held out her hand. Bookmark here

"Hey, good match! Here's to...being friends? Sparring partners?"Bookmark here

"Acquaintances." Came Seina's now overly formal voice as she grasped Asuka's hand, squeezing much tighter than she had to.Bookmark here

Yeah, they were not going to get along.Bookmark here

Seina bids farewell to the club and leaves, the rest of the class gossiping about what had happened before Akisame orders them all to prepare for today's exercises.Bookmark here

By the time class is over, Asuka is exhausted.Bookmark here

Did you see how she fell on her ass?Bookmark here

What a lame way to go out!Bookmark here

Is she gonna lose her belt?Bookmark here

About time her foreigner genes didn't give her a free win.Bookmark here

Asuka bids Makoto a quick farewell as she walks home. Bookmark here

She's coming up on her fairly beautiful home when, just before she opens the door, she looks up to the sky and grits her teeth.Bookmark here

Next time, she'd win.Bookmark here

At the very least, she wouldn't look down on her like that again.Bookmark here

No one would.Bookmark here

Joe Gold
Taylor Victoria
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