Sequel: Faith
Status: Complete.


"You gotta trust me, doll."

Jade followed him obediently to the ring, her arms numb after her work on both bags. She understood, now, why he was pushing her hard. Tommy had said it himself, she might not like his methods. When the time came, they'd better work, though.

She dropped her bag at the side of the ring, climbing in behind Tommy where he held the ropes apart for her. Jade stood there limply, awaiting instruction. Tommy growled at her. "Stance, doll, this is your one and only warning. Next time I catch you, we're heading to the weight room to punish your arms some more."

Jade quickly adjusted her feet and hips, her knees loose like he had shown her. "Better," he said, stripping his shirt off as he did.

She couldn't help but stare at his ink, his tattoos too numerous to count as he turned away from her to drop his shirt off the side of the ring. Jade couldn't help but notice they were already drawing a crowd. "Shit," she murmured.

Tommy approached her, his eyes cold. He walked behind her, his voice low enough so that only she could hear. "You had to know they'd watch, doll." He paced the canvas, circling her, keeping his voice down. "I know you don't like being touched, but it's going to happen. I may hurt you down there," he nodded to the bags, "but I will never hurt you in here. You gotta trust me, doll."

Jade kept her stance as he had shown her, only following him with her eyes as he moved. Frankly, she was terrified. But she swallowed it down and put up her walls, same as she did every day. "I'll try, Tommy."

"You've gotta do more than try. You want to fight? This is the way it has to be. You're not going to learn dick about a real fight by hitting a bag." He changed direction, circling her closer and closer. "I will never hit you. But you damn sure better hit me. I'll know if you pull your punches, too."

The terror boiled up again in her throat. She was supposed to hit him?

"Fuck yes, you're gonna hit me. Don't worry about me, you just take care of yourself in here." She could feel his breath on her neck, sending traitorous goosebumps down her arms. "Now defend yourself, by any means necessary."

Before she could blink, his hand had snaked around her head, covering her mouth before she could scream. The other grasped her waist, restricting her movement as sheer panic rose in her throat.

Too familiar, it was too familiar. Jade froze. "You gonna fight back, doll? Or you going to let me have anything I want?" He pressed his body against her, sending shivers of fear up her spine. "You don't fight me now, Jade, and this is the first and last time we train. And every man here will know how easy of a target you are. Now stop hiding from your terror, use it and FIGHT BACK."

She snapped. Those two words were the trigger to releasing every bit of panic, fear, anger in her. They always had been.

She bit down on Tommy's hand, hard enough that she tasted the tell-tale metallic taste of blood. He released her head so she tried to snap her neck backwards to headbutt him, but he dodged it. So she dropped down quickly, dead weight breaking his hold on her waist. She threw an elbow over her shoulder, connecting with his nose as she landed on the canvas. Jade made a inept attempt at a leg sweep, but Tommy wasn't going anywhere. She stayed crouched on the ground, eyes watching his, ready to spring up if necessary. His nose was bleeding, his eyes crinkled with amusement.

"Not bad, doll, not bad." She could hear mumbles of appreciation before the men went back to their own work. Someone tossed Tommy a towel, which he used to mop some of the blood off his face before wrapping it around his hand. "Now let's work on that shitty leg sweep."