Sequel: Faith
Status: Complete.


"I am not difficult!"

"You didn't tell me you were sweet on her, Tommy."

Both brothers were standing back, watching Jade work the heavy bag. Tommy had allowed himself one day to help her and Brendan get started off on the right foot. Tomorrow was when his real training would start.

"Never said I was."

Brendan chuckled. "You didn't have to. Good for you though, you seem happy. Well, as happy as you really get, I guess."

They watched her in silence for a while, Brendan observing while Tommy couldn't help but look on in pride. Jade really was something, that's for sure.

"You shoulda seen her when she first started, Bren. She's come a ways since. Switch!" he called out, Jade seamlessly changing from jabs and crosses to hooks.

"She looks good. Good form, decent power for a girl."

Jade paused to toss them a smug look over her shoulder. "This girl can hear everything you're saying, you know. You may know a lot about violence, but you boys have something to learn about the art of the whisper."

Brendan looked away, properly chagrined. Jade tossed a smile at Tommy before turning back to the bag, continuing her work. The sight was dazzling, and something he wasn't sure he'd ever get used to. Her smiles were rare, but worth the effort it usually took to drag one out of her.

They watched in silence for a while, Tommy calling out instructions every so often to Jade as she continued to pound on the bag. "So what does she need to work on, Tommy?"

"Knees, kicks. She relies too much on her punches. Got a decent take down."

"Decent enough to put you on your back, Tommy!" Jade called out, her voice betraying the exertion she as putting into the bag.

"One time!" Tommy couldn't fight off the smile she brought to his face. "Take a break, doll, speed bag's next." He tracked her movements as she jogged over to the fountain to refill her water bottle.

Brendan chuckled beside him, shaking his head in a knowing manner. "Anything else?"

"She needs to be pushed. She pushes herself okay, but she's still capable of more." Jade jogged back to rejoin them, squirting water into her mouth. Tommy couldn't help but follow the track of a few stray droplets that rolled down her chin and neck. Her lips pulled up into a knowing smirk; she had known exactly what he had been looking at. So he got a little mean. "And she freezes up when she gets cornered." He felt bad when her face dropped. "It's true doll, sorry. It wont get any better if he doesn't know. Now c'mon, let's show him what you can do with the speed bag, huh?"

They watched as she went to work yet again, his brother peppering him with questions until Brendan seemed satisfied. Jade kept her speed up on the bag as Brendan started circling her, words of encouragement leaving his lips every so often as he paced. Tommy felt a little better about calling his brother for help in that moment. But he must have said something wrong to her, because suddenly Jade took a swing at Brendan.

Tommy chuckled under his breath as his brother ducked the punch quickly. "Forgot to tell ya, she hits when she's pissed too," he called out. Jade turned and glared at him, Tommy shrugging his shoulders as he tried to hide the smile on his face. Well it was true. She stormed off in a huff, making her way to god knows where. Wasn't anywhere she could hide in there. "What did you say to her, Bren?"

"Just told her how much of a natural she was at the bag, tried getting her to speed up a little." Tommy raised an eyebrow in suspicion. "I might have called her honey too? I say it to the girls all the time, it just came out."

He wondered what that was about. "I'll go talk her down. Grab some hit pads and we'll meet ya at the ring."

Tommy found her in a huff on a bench around the corner, watching a sparring session in another ring. She still looked pissed. "The fuck was that about?" he asked as he sat next to her.

"He called me honey," Jade replied through clenched teeth.


Jade was silent for a moment before the steam seemed to let out of her a little. "That's what Andrew used to call me," she finally explained, hands tugging at her ponytail as he might have expected. "Right before he would backhand me and tell me to fight back."

"Jade, Brendan didn't-"

"Know, I know. Just trigger words, you know?" She seemed to hesitate for a moment before laying her head back against the wall with another sigh. "Maybe he should know about everything, might make his job a little easier."

Tommy hesitated, not sure if she would let him touch her. Ever since the kiss, the friendly part of their relationship had been awkward. It had been all business between them for days. He didn't want to push her for something he wasn't sure she was ready for. Throwing caution to the wind, he decided to squeeze her hand, just once before pulling his hand away. She didn't acknowledge the contact, just kept yer eyes closed and her head against the wall. "It's up to you, doll. He knew you'd be difficult."

"And how is that?"

"I mighta clued him in about that part of you too."

"Tommy Riordan!" she exclaimed as she smacked his arm. "I am not difficult!"

He couldn't help but snort at the ludicrousness of her statement. "Or stubborn, or hostile, or tough to work with, or-"

She smacked him again, but this time she smiled. "Or what?"

"Nah, think I'll stop while I'm ahead."

"Who said you were ahead?"

"Me. Now lets go." Tommy reached out a hand, helping to launch her off the bench and upright. It was so hard keeping up with her emotions sometimes. She ran hot and cold so quickly. But rather than frustrating him, it just drew him in more.

Brendan was waiting for them with some hit pads on his hands, bouncing on the balls of his feet. Jade went off to grab her duffel from near the speed bags as Tommy climbed into the ring with his brother.

"She okay?"

"Fine. Just don't ever call her honey again."

Brendan chuckled then nodded. "So I was thinking, you said she relies on her hands too much. Maybe we can incapacitate them somehow, make her work with just her legs."

"Incapacitate them how?"

Jade climbed into the ring to join them, mouth guard in hand. "What'd I miss?"

"I was telling Tommy we should tie your hands up, make you work on your legs more."

The look on her face made the answer to that idea obvious. His poor brother just kept naïvely pissing her off. It would have been amusing, if it didn't cause Jade such apparent discomfort. Brendan would learn soon enough.
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