Summary:Marissa finds out about the punching bag incident.

Background Info: Takes place the day after The Anger Management. Inspired by the last scene of Ryan and his punching bag. For this story to be more personal, read Punch first. This is NOT a sequel, but I still recommend reading it.

A/N: I just typed this up in like thirty minutes, even though I have had this story at the back of my mind for a month. I wrote it instead of doing vocabulary homework, studying for my math test, and writing an outline for a speech I have to give on Friday.This is a one-shot, but that doesn't mean you can't review! Pleaseeeeeee read and review. Please?

P.S.--Thanks for the reviews of The Call. I appreciate it!

P.P.S.--Again, I am EXTREMELY sorry for not updating Less of a Mother yet. I AM still working on it, it's just that one-shots take less time to write than a chapter. I think about it all the time though.Thanks for hanging in there with me.


When Marissa had walked into the pool house the next day, it was gone.

It was like it had never even hung there.

All that was left of the punching bag was a hook in the ceiling, too high and unimportant to be taken down.

She wondered where it had been taken to. And why it was gone.

Therapy, he had called it.

To each his own, she supposed. Her form of therapy used to be vodka, his was punching.

What a lovely couple they made.

When he had stepped out of the bathroom, a towel in his hands and his hair rumpled, still wet from the shower, she said nothing about it.

As his arms wrapped around her waist, bringing her closer to him, she noticed his movements were slower and awkward.

Yet she said nothing.

The hands sliding just under her the hem of her shirt and rubbing her bare hips felt different.

They weren't the same ones that had touched her yesterday.

Still, she said nothing.

Instead, she questioned him about school, life, Seth, anything but the punching bag.

For some reason, it was nagging at the back of her mind.

Finally, Ryan silenced her rambling with a passionate kiss, pushing all coherent thoughts out of her head.

He pushed her on to the bed and hovered above her. Impatient, Marissa pulled him down to her and placed a kiss on his jaw line.

The next thing she knew, her hands were on his and she had pulled back.

His knuckles, usually so perfectly aligned with her own, were now swollen.

It was time to say something.

"Ryan, what the hell?"

Not exactly the most romantic words, but better than nothing.

"Your knuckles…they're all swollen. What happened?" Marissa asked.

"Nothing, I promise," Ryan lied, avoiding her eyes. "Now, where were we?" He planted light kisses on her collarbone in hopes of distracting her, but the damage was already done.

"Don't tell me nothing." She pushed him off of her and turned to face him. "Did you go after Volchok?"

Ryan closed his eyes and sighed. He had tried to avoid this. She was going to freak out.

"No, I swear," he mumbled.

"Then how did they get so swollen?" She took his hands in hers and examined them. Each knuckle was big and red. There were cuts crisscrossing over his hand, making red patterns on the pale skin.

Marissa had never seen his hands like this. Not even after the fight with Trey.

Obviously, human bone had not caused this.

"That's why the punching bag is gone, isn't it?"

Sometimes it amazed Ryan how well his girlfriend knew him.

"I…I was just angry at that asshole, you know? I didn't think I would…I didn't plan…it was stupid," he babbled, unsure of how to word it. No matter how he said it, she wasn't going to understand.

She had never experienced that kind of anger, that kind of frustration.

What had started out as visualizing Volchok's face on the bag had turned into a full out war against everything that ever happened to him.

How could he explain to Marissa that, at one point, the punching bag had represented their relationship?

"I thought you said the old Ryan Atwood was gone," she said, stroking his hands.

"I thought he was. But then I see a guy like that, a guy who's just like Trey, or the other pricks from Chino, and I can't help it," he said, anger clouding his blue eyes.

"Well, you have to try anyway. I know it's not going to be easy, no one said it would be, but just have to do your best," Marissa advised, thinking back on her drinking days.

"Don't you think I do? Two and a half years in a place like this won't erase a life full of bar fights and brawls over the last beer, let alone fights that include knives and baseball bats. Maybe…" he trailed off, unable to continue.

"What? Baby, talk to me," she coaxed.

"Maybe I can't change," Ryan said quietly.

Gripping on to his hands, she brought them up to her mouth and kissed each knuckle.

"Don't ever think that," commanded Marissa. "You are not like Trey, or your father, or the pathetic excuses for humans your mother brought home. Do you hear me? Even if you never get over your anger, you are nowhere near those guys."

Letting go of his hands, she took his face in her hands and brought it up to look at her.

"You can change if you want to. But you have to do it for you, not me, or Seth, or jerks like Volchok."

"If only it were that easy," he complained mildly, touched by her words. Sensing the tension in the air, he opened his mouth and captured her pinky, sucking on it and making her laugh.

"Ew! Who said I wanted your germs?" she teased.

An hour later, the couple walked out of the pool house, talking about which movie to go see.

Her hand was laced around his, adjusting to the tenderness of his swollen knuckles.

She turned her head to look at the empty pool house and noticed, once again, the empty corner where the punching bag had been just yesterday.

And she said nothing.