It was time.  Time to come face to face with her opposition.  This time she would not back down.  This time she would not only conquer the enemy but demolish them, grinding them into the floor, until they cowered before her.  She would not accept defeat as she did last time.  No, this time would be different.

She slipped a loop over her thumb and began to wind the thin, black cotton band around her left hand.  She wrapped the cloth from a few inches below her wrists, over her palm and around her thumb, and then an inch past the first set of knuckles.  Making sure the cloth wasn’t too tight or loose, she secured it in place and began the awkward process of wrapping the other one using her non-dominant hand.  With both hands firmly covered, she flexed her fingers and wrists, making sure that they weren’t too constricted.  She made a minor adjustment to the covering on her left hand and nodded her head in acceptance.  She was ready to start.

From out of nowhere, he appeared, running straight for her, his eyes locked on hers.  His gait was slightly off, favoring his right leg, as he ran. She crouched with her hands clenched in loose fists in front of her face, a bright flash of fear running through her.  Her eyes narrowed in concentration.  Her brain screamed at her to run, but she held her stance.  She would not attempt to flee, not this time.  When she could feel the heat of him, when she could smell the rancid rot of his breath, she weaved to the right to move out of his path.  As he came to an abrupt halt and turned towards her, glaring at her, she planted her left foot and pivoted on her right while dropping her right hand low and swinging it towards him in an arc, smashing her fist against his cheek, snapping his head to the left.  A look of surprise washed over his face as his head swung back towards her and he took a slight step backwards as he tried to collect himself.  That’s right.  I’m not giving in without a fight this time, you bastard.  She brought up both of her hands in front of her face again, daring him to fight back.

All of her training flowed through her, and she had never felt better.  Adrenaline surged through her as she faced her attacker and stared into his eyes.  Eyes black with hate.  She took full advantage of his momentary pause and threw a front kick, striking his right knee with cold-hearted precision.  It was his weakness, she knew, and she would not hold back.  There were no niceties, no rules, and no sense of honor in this arena.  He stumbled, his right leg crumbling before him as he dropped to his knees.  Now that he was this close, she could see the thick scar tissue that twisted around his leg and disappeared into the running shorts that he wore.  He was down, and she vowed that he would stay there.  He growled and swore, reaching wildly for her while trying to get back to his feet.  She knew if he succeeded in getting his muscled arms around her she was in trouble, being no match for his brute strength.  She backed agilely out of the span of his hands and then, as he still tried to force himself to his feet, moved in.  She brought her right leg up as she twisted her hips and leaned to the opposite side to balance herself as she slammed the heel of her foot into his temple.  He crumpled again to the floor and stared up at her.  She could see the hate in his eyes, but she could also see a glimmer of fear.  Fear of her.  It pleased her, to see that fear in his eyes.  It was so exhilarating that she bounced on her toes as she stood just out of his reach.

Still staring up at her, the man seemed to start to tremble, then shimmer, and then his image flickered before he finally disappeared in front of her.  Sweat ran down in small rivulets between her shoulder blades as she looked around violently.

“I wasn’t finished!” she shouted.

“Yes, you were,” a man said, leaning against the frame of the entrance to the room she was in.  He was at least twice her size, being well over six feet tall with massive shoulders.  His dusky skin and dark hair was a stark contrast against the white walls.

She stalked over to him and glared up at him.  “More,” she said heatedly.  At a mere 5’2” with a petite frame, he dwarfed her when she stood before him, but she stared up at him defiantly.

Although he was built like a linebacker, he was the gentlest man she’d ever known.  “That’s enough for now.  You’ve done your training well.  You had him on his knees,” he said kindly.

She faltered, and her breath caught as she tried to explain.  “It wasn’t enough,” she whispered.  Tears formed in her eyes and she dashed them away, angry at their appearance.

“This simulation was what you needed,” he said firmly.  “You needed to face your attacker, to face him now as you couldn’t before.  You felt weak before, when he caught you walking home three months ago and held you down.  You thought he broke you then, but you have proven that you’re not defeated, that you can indeed fight back.”

She struggled internally and was about to argue the subject more, when she finally recognized his logic.  Tilting her head, she asked hopefully, “Same time next week?”

He threw his head back and laughed, his green eyes glinting with amusement.  “Your therapy sessions are coming along very well.”  He slung his arm around her shoulders as they walked away from the room where she had faced and conquered that which had held her prisoner for so long.

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