Sequel: Faith
Status: Complete.


"I'm already broken."

She went an impressive thirty minutes before she dropped her arms in exhaustion. Men from around the gym passed nonchalantly and watched as she worked, Tommy staring them down as they did. But Jade didn't notice it. Every ounce of her attention was on the bag. She hit it each time as if it had done her a deep, personal wrong.

She was panting and dripping swear at the end, her hands on her hips as she bent over to catch her breath. "Fuck, that felt good," she panted. "I can't feel my arms, they're jelly."

Tommy chuckled. Oh, she had no idea what was coming to her.

"Same time tomorrow after our run, boss?"

"You think we're done, doll? We ain't even started yet." He watched as her eyes widened in realization. "Speed bag's next."

To her credit, she didn't complain. Just closed her eyes while she caught her breath before nodding. "Then lets go."

Tommy motioned her towards the bags, letting her take the lead. He could see the sweat droplets on her back, amazed that some of them were even aligned with her tattoo. He gave her a few minutes to get some water from the fountains, following her with his eyes as he did, always watching out for her now, it seemed.

"She's a hot piece of ass, I gotta tell ya, Tommy." Jordan was by his side, watching as she moved away from them. "Can I have your permission to 'touch' her?" he snickered, alluding to his previous speech to the gym.

Tommy was surprised when jealousy reared its ugly head in his chest. He had never looked at her that way, he read her well enough now to know he would never be allowed to do so. And this asshole thought he could touch her? He half wanted to see him try, just to see what Jade would do. But he was far too protective of her now to give him the chance.

"You touch her, I paralyze you, Jordan."

"Somebody's touchy on the subject. You hitting that yourself, then?"

Tommy faced him with a growl. "Walk away while you can, Jordan. Say another word, and you'll be limping out of here."

"Just sayin', Tommy. No harm meant." And he walked away.

But now Jordan had gone and kicked down the door. Jade was walking back to him and gave him the first, genuine smile he had ever seen cross her lips. His stomach gave out. And now he couldn't help but notice the plane of her stomach, the curve of her hips. Those piercing hazel eyes were sparkling as she smiled, following him as he stepped toward the speed bag.

He was in deep fucking trouble now.

Tommy was silent as he let her get into position, showing her how to work the bag slowly at first. He let her get into a rhythm before pushing her to start to speed up. A single tear fell down her face; he knew her arms were burning. "Faster."

"Tommy, I-"

"Faster, Jade."

She bit her lip as she sped up her rhythm, the hammering of the bag turning into almost music. It was, to a trained ear. The tears were falling in earnest now. But she continued. And he had to hand it to her, she was excelling at the speed bag where she had only been average with the heavy.

"You're doing good doll, keep it going."

A sob escaped her lips. "Tommy, my arms-"

"Give me 60 more seconds."


"The clock starts over every time you complain. 60 seconds starts now." She shut up at that, tears falling freely, but her rhythm continued. Tommy watched the clock, listening for any sound of slowing on her part. "Ten seconds." If anything, her intensity increased at that announcement. She was giving him everything she had. "You're done."

As soon as the words escaped her lips, she took a final punch to the bag before turning and taking a swing at him. He easily dodged it, her punch slow and wide due to exhaustion. Tommy jabbed through and tapped her on the chin, not to hurt her, but to show her where she was weak in her defenses.

"Fuck you, Tommy!" she screamed, coming at him again. Another wide hook, which he side-stepped before jabbing out again to tap her gently in the temple. She screamed in rage and tried to tackle him; he let her take him down for her own safety.

The feeling of her skin on his was almost too much, but he controlled himself. She lay on his chest crying for a moment before pushing herself off of him, wiping away at her nose like that first morning while she settled into a seated position.

"You got some piss and vinegar running in those veins, doll," he chuckled, staying on the floor as long as she did.

And then she laughed. It may have been half-manic, but it was one of the most beautiful sounds he had ever heard. Was the ice starting to melt? "Why did you do that, Tommy?"

He took some time to formulate his response. "Out there, you don't get to pick the when, or the where," he started, nodding to the door. "You gotta push yourself hard, here, to be ready for whatever gets thrown at you out there."

Jade nodded, understanding written on her face. "That's not all though."

Tommy stood up, extending his hand to her as he did. And to his shock and amazement, she took it. He nodded his head, acknowledging both her words and her gesture of trust by finally taking his hand. "You're right, that's not all." He briefly considered keeping it to himself before deciding against it. "We gotta break you down to build you back up."

He grabbed their bags and started making their way to an open ring. Jade whispered it, so he knew it wasn't for him to hear, but he still did.

"I'm already broken."