Chapter 1

The New Girl

"Come on Toko, we're going to be late for gym," Hana called.

"C-coming," I called back and shoved my books in my bag then hurried down stairs.

"Today's going to be such a drag! We're playing basketball with the boys, and it's a girl against boys' game," Hana moaned as we got changed. I just shrugged my shoulders as I pulled on my tee-shirt. We hopped outside to the court and found the boys were all ready warming up. They had the unfair advantage of being over six feet while we were only about five and a half feet. They also had the majority of the basketball team with them. One of the boys smiled kindly at us and threw us a ball.

"Why don't you warm up," he called. Hana shrugged her shoulders at me and we waltzed onto the court. It had been a while since I'd played so I started with dribbling. I dribbled around the perimeter of the court and then practiced dribbling between my legs. I grabbed the ball and threw it all the way down the court and I nodded to myself as I heard the satisfying swish as the basket ball soared through the hoop. A boy ran up to me, he had dark brown eyes and warm eyes.

"Do you mind practicing with us?" he asked politely.

"Not at all," I said and followed him to a group of boys. I recognized some of them from the school basketball team and they grinned at me as I approached.

"We were just discussing some one-on-one matches, are you game?" a boy with black hair and blue eyes.

"Sure, sounds like fun," I said with a grin. He nodded then turned to the boy who brought me over.

"Why don't you fight her, Marco," the boy said.

"B-but Akiko," the Marco whined.

"Nope, you're playing her and that is that," Akiko said firmly.

"Yes captain," Marco sighed, utterly defeated. We found an empty court and flipped a coin to see who got the ball first.

"Heads," I called.

"Tails," Marco called. Akiko looked down at the coin and said, "Marco get's the ball first. Uh… hey what's your name?"

"Toko," I answered.

"Okay Toko, the rules are simple. You need to steal the ball from Marco, dribble it down to the other side of the court and make a basket. First one to score is the winner but absolutely no rough housing," Akiko said sternly, looking at both of us. We nodded and took our positions in the middle of the court.

"You know I'm not going easy on you because you're a girl, right?" Marco asked raising an eyebrow. I frowned and nodded, I hated when people went easy on me because of my gender. The coach came over and asked, "What's going on here?"

"We're just playing some one-on-one matches coach," Akiko said lightly. The coach raised an eyebrow at me and said, "I'll referee."

He blew the whistle and I leapt backwards all the way down under the hoop. Marco stared at me stunned, but regained his composer quickly and began dribbling down the court. I narrowed my eyes and watched his feet. I picked up on his rhythm and sped towards him at full speed. I grabbed the ball in mid dribble and headed down to my end of the court. He spun around and leapt in front of me, his arms raised. I smiled broadly and decided to show off a bit. I bunched up the muscles in my legs and jumped over Marco and dunking the ball into the basket. I landed gracefully on my feet and caught the ball as it bounced on the court floor.

"Winner, Toko Matsuki," the coach yelled. Everyone stared at me in shock and Marco's mouth hung open so wide, you could fit a whale in there. I grinned and tossed the ball to him which he caught easily.

"Thank you very much for the game," I said with a bow, and then headed off the court, but the coach and Akiko blocked me as I tried walking away.

"Toko, will you join the basketball team?" the coach asked seriously.

"Isn't it a boy's basketball team?" I asked. The coach suddenly placed a team hat on my head, covering the majority of my ponytail. Akiko nodded and said, "It will do for games, but we'll need special permission to let her wear it during games."

"Don't worry, I got that covered," the coach said.

"Do you seriously want me to join?" I asked, already knowing the answer. The coach, Akiko, Marco, and some of the other players bowed and, in unison, shouted, "Please accept our offer!"

"O-okay, but please don't be so formal," I said raising my hands in front of my face.

"Come to practice this afternoon right after school. We'll get your measurements and get you a uniform," the coach said, nodding in approval. I nodded and Akiko patted me on the head and went on the court with another boy. I grabbed a spare towel hanging around and wiped the sweat off my brow. I watched the match between Akiko and Sho(who I learned about from Marco) with wide eyes. It was a completely one sided match, Akiko just completely over powered the poor boy. Sho came out of the court, shoulders slumped, and had such a depressed face. Akiko patted him on the back and came over to the bench, grabbing his towel and a water bottle. We headed back to the locker rooms to get changed and I told Hana about the game.

"Oh my gosh, you're a member of the team filled with the hottest guys in school," she squealed and I face palmed dramatically. The bell rang and I grabbed my bag and headed back out to the gym. Marco ran up to me and grabbed my wrist, dragging me over to the coach.

"She's here," he called in a sing song voice.

"Great, Akiko, can you take her down to the nurse's office and get her measurements for her uniform?" the coach asked. Akiko nodded and Marco handed me off to him. He grabbed my wrist and ran out into the hall, laughing loudly. He slid open the door to the nurses office and threw me inside.

"Hey Mrs. Anzu, can you do her measurements?" Akiko called then turned to me and said in a very commanding voice, "come back to the gym as soon as you're done."

I nodded and he shut the door behind him. I sunk to my knees, utterly drained by the rush.

"You okay there honey?" the nurse asked kindly as she helped me up.

"Are they always like that," I asked. She laughed and nodded then rummaged in her desk till she found a tape measure.

"Hold out your arms like a't'," she instructed. I did as I was told as she measured my chest, torso, waist, and legs. She wrote the information down and said, "Come a bit early tomorrow morning and your uniform will be ready. Now hurry back to the gym before they think you ran away."

I laughed and thanked her, then ran back to the gym as fast as I could. The coach was waiting for me in the doorway and threw me a basketball as I walked gestured to Akiko, Sho and Marco standing near one of the baskets and looking at me expectantly.

"I want to see if you can get past all three of them," the coach said. I nodded and walked to the middle of the gym. They stood in a straight line and the coach blew the whistle to start the exercise. I charged forward with every little ounce of speed I had and dribbled the ball at an alarming speed. Sho came at me first, but I easily slipped by him as he tried to grab me. Marco was next and held his arms out to stop me. I smiled and threw the ball high over his head, then slid underneath his open legs. Finally, Akiko stepped in front of me, watching my feet intently. I gathered all my energy into my legs and jumped as high as I could. Suddenly, I felt something grab my ankle and looked down. Akiko had caught me in midair and I narrowed my eyes. I threw the ball into the basket and nodded as I heard the satisfying swish as the ball past through the basket. But Akiko was already pulling me to the ground and my back slammed into the ground, causing all the air from my lungs to vanish. I turned on my side and began coughing violently, holding my chest with one hand. I heard a lot of screaming and shouting, but it all sounded distant.

"TOKO MATSUKI, HOW DARE YOU GET SO EASILY FLIPPED!" an all too familiar voice screamed. I sat up and found my mom standing in the door way with her arms crossed and her eyes narrowed. Her long brown hair was tied up in a ponytail and she was still wearing her karate uniform from our dojo.

"Um, hi mom," I said as I stood up. She marched over to me and ruffled my hair like I was a five year old.

"Geez, you're the star of our dojo and a senior black belt. It looks bad to get flipped like that, even if it was unintentional," my mom said with a sigh.

"Sorry," I mumbled.

"Wait a second, little Toko is a black belt?" Marco asked, his voice going an octave higher.

"Yes, she has trained since she was little and is the pride of our dojo. She is by far, the strongest youngster We've ever seen," my mom boasted proudly. I blushed a crimson red as I felt every single eye in the room on me.

"Is that how she has such great reflexes, can jump abnormally high, and she has amazingly good accuracy?" Akiko asked. My mom laughed and nodded. I looked at the time and gasped.

"Mom, the three o'clock class will start in eleven minutes," I said as I ran to grab my stuff.

"Oops," my mom said and we ran out the door like racing horses. We arrived at the dojo three minutes early, just enough time for me to get changed. I ran to the back and quickly pulled on my gi and my black belt. I ran back out to the dojo and a loud shout greeted me.

"HELLO MASTER," the class yelled to me in unison.

'Well, looks like the start of another beautiful lesson,' I thought with a mental sigh.