Sequel: Faith
Status: Complete.


"Stay? Please?"

And so it went for weeks. They'd run early, more often than not wolfing down eggs at Jade's place for breakfast. She'd stay to take care of her grandmother for a while, meeting him at the gym to train for hours until Jade had to return home before work.

The transformation was amazing for Tommy to watch. She had always been confident, to a fault. Now Jade was developing skills to back her swagger up. Her endurance and strength grew daily, as well as her instincts and reaction in the ring. Even the men at the gym were coming to accept her as one of them. The work didn't stop when they entered anymore, no crowds when they worked the ring, just a "Tommy, Jade!" as they walked in each day. She got so good at the bags, Tommy started training next to her, his punches in time with hers.

And her personality thawed as well. She gave him smiles and laughs more freely, didn't tense as long when he touched her in the ring. But only for him. Jordan tried to get her attention, often. Though he had been shot down so much now, it was more a joke than a true call for her attention. Tommy usually had to bite his tongue to keep from laughing at her creative ways of threatening him with violence. And the list was growing, the longer she trained.

Until one Wednesday morning. Tommy waited for her outside the gym for a while before Jordan came out to tell him Jade was already inside. It was odd; they always waited for each other. Her hands were taped and she was railing on the heavy bag as he rounded the corner into the gym.

"You're going to start bleeding if you keep that pace up," he tossed her way, sitting on a bench to tape his own hands.

"I. Don't. Fucking. Care," she grunted through gritted teeth, each word punctuated with a hit to the bag.

"Don't punish yourself, doll, that's my job."

Tommy's reaction was too slow as her uppercut caught him in the jaw. He had been too focused on his own hands to watch hers. He rolled his mouth open at the impact; she was really getting good.

"Don't fucking tell me what to do, Riordan." Her words dripped with venom, her eyes ice as she stared him down.

His breath hitched in his throat at the raw anger and pain in her voice. She never called him by his last name. Never. "The fuck is your problem? PMS?" He realized it was a mistake as soon as it left his mouth.

"Why is it," she yelled to the gym. "That every time a woman is pissed, it's fucking PMS!" She turned back to him, her face carefully blank. "Fuck you, Tommy."

And at that, she turned heel and left. "The fuck was that about, Tommy?" Jordan queried as he watched her leave.

"No clue."


She didn't answer her door. So he figured he would wait her out, knowing she had a shift at the restaurant that night. But she never came out. He tried knocking a few more times, but she never answered. Defeated, Tommy left and went home.

The pounding on his door started at 2am. It took him a minute to pull on some shorts and register the time before he finally made it to the door. And there she was.

The reek of alcohol was apparent, her movements sloppy as she literally fell into him as the door opened. "Tommy!"

"Keep your voice down, woman," he hissed, dragging her into his living room and depositing her on the couch before returning to close his front door.

"I sorry I'm suchabitch Tommy!" she yelled, still taking no care to lower her voice. "I came to 'spologize!"

"Fuck you're drunk, doll."

"Yep," she almost hiccuped, her lips popping on the 'p'.

"The hell are you thinking?"

She held a piece of official looking paper out to him. Tommy's eyes skimmed the page, a pit in his stomach growing as realization hit him, the pieces all falling into place. "Who's Andrew Locke, Jade?"

"The man that gave me this." Tommy swallowed as she lifted her shirt just so, tugging at the waistband of her pants until a long, ugly scar was visible across her lower abdomen.

"And they're not renewing the restraining order? Are they fucking insane?"

"He has a lawyer. I have a legal aide. There was no fucking hope. There is no fucking hope." And at that, she broke down.

Tommy hesitated. He knew she hated being touched, and now he knew why. He'd always suspected, but the proof was on the legal paper in his hands. In that moment, he couldn't stop himself, sliding next to her on the couch and pulling her into his arms in one smooth motion. Any doubts were erased when she turned into him, gripping his shoulders as she sobbed. He didn't know what else to do, or say, so he stroked her hair and whispered assurances that it would somehow be alright.

The tears gradually slowed, her breathing evening out as she fell asleep. Awkwardly, he hooked his arms under her, lifting her to his chest as he carried her to the bedroom and deposited her gently on the bed. He took her shoes and socks off, but that was all that he dared. Last thing she needed was to wake up pants less in an unfamiliar room. He grabbed a blanket and threw it over her sleeping form, daring to plant a kiss to her head before turning to leave.

"Tommy?" she whispered to the darkness.

"Yeah, doll, I'm here."

"Stay? Please?"

And at that he crawled into bed next to her, pulling her to his chest as they both silently fell asleep.