Her lip splits. She hits the mat. She's on her feet again in an instant, spitting blood.
"You're going to have to do better than that," he taunts. Green eyes flash. She glares at him, then the poster behind him-Championship Bout: Ted "Wildcat" Grant vs. Marco "The Misdemeanor" Dupage-and thinks, for a split second, that he's well past his prime. The boxer in the poster is hard-hard as granite-the old, tired, washed up fighter in front of her is soft in comparison. This should be easy.
Selina strikes at him again. A glancing blow to his abdomen, another to his shoulder. He returns her strike, more forcefully, and again throws off her balance, but she doesn't fall this time.
"What'd I tell you?" He asks impatiently, jerking his head at the place where he struck her. "The solar plexus is your best friend."
This hiss is out of her throat before she knows what happens, angry, feline, unfamiliar. Fingers curled into claws, she launches herself at him in a rage.
He swats her aside like a fly, grabbing her hair before she falls. She twists in his grip, still fighting, still reaching, still clawing.
Grant shakes his head like an exhausted parent. "And didn't we talk about this? Long hair is a liability. Lose it."
Selina grits her teeth, glares harder, twists some more. "You talked about it," she grinds out from between clenched teeth. "I never said I was going to listen."
"Then you're never going to learn, are you?"
The heel to his sternum is an obvious surprise. He loses his grip and staggers-just for a moment, but the moment's long enough. She follows with a roundhouse kick to his ribs, a couple of quick punches to his sides and an elbow, sharply slammed into the soft flesh around his collar bone.
He goes down. Her foot is on his throat immediately. She's gasping for air and a smirk is beginning to blossom. "I'd say I'm learning plent-"
He grabs her ankle, turns it savagely in his hands and she's flat on her back, counting stars.
"Never get cocky," he instructs harshly, pinning her arms above her head before she can register what's happened. "That's always your first mistake."
"I thought it was part of my charm," she shoots back defiantly, tongue darting out to lick her split-now swollen-lip. She butts her head against Grant's suddenly and his grip on one of her arms loosens just enough for her to swing a fist into his face.
He's too quick. One hand grabs at her curtain of hair again, pulling until she growls in protest, while the other grabs her fist before it connects with his jaw.
"Never. Get. Cocky."
She's ready to keep fighting, but he indicates quite clearly as he lets her up and rocks back on his heels, that's he's done for the day. "And cut your God damn hair."
Selina wipes the sweat from her forehead and the blood from her mouth. "And what if I don't want to?"
On his feet in the twinkling of an eye, he pulls her up by the hair and maneuvers quickly until he's behind her, twisting her arm in an angle it isn't supposed to go in. Stubbornly, she doesn't cry out, even as tears spring to her eyes and two of his fingers press into her spine.
"If I had a gun, you'd be lookin' at death or paralysis right about now, sweetheart."
"I don't know," she grunts, trying to keep her voice light. "I might get lucky."
"You might not." He releases her and steps away.
She rounds on him, but he's already moving to the water cooler as though he's forgotten she's even there. "You know, I'm not paying you to beat me up like this."
He snorts a little of his water. "On the contrary, that's exactly what you're paying me to do." He takes another sip and chuckles, hoarsely. "Although, come to think of it, you're not actually paying me anything, are ya?"
Her face flushes with shame-but only the least little bit.
"I didn't ask for your charity," she mutters with just enough petulance to remind him that she's a teenager-a kid. A street kid, a tough kid, a kid who's been through the wringer a few times, but still just a kid.
"You sure as hell didn't turn it down, either." Grant crunches his water cup and tosses it into the waste basket beside the cooler. "Two points."
Selina is not amused. Grant doesn't seem to care. He picks up a pack of cigarettes lying on the cooler's top, slides one out and lights it. He eyes her askance as he draws in a mouthful of smoke. "You're not gonna give me a hard time about this, huh?"
She crosses her arms and pointedly looks the other way. "Why should I care if you give yourself cancer?"
"You shouldn't." He stumps out the cigarette, having taken his single indulgent puff- he only ever allows himself one -and tosses her a towel from the small table next to the cooler where such things are kept. She catches it and dabs at the sweat still clinging to her skin.
At the mention of food, her eyes get big for just a moment, but her air of disaffected cool is back in place in seconds. "No. I'm not."
Grant ignores her, runs his tongue over his teeth absently. "Put your coat on. I'll buy you a horse burger."
She's too startled to put on any airs this time. "Horse…burger?"
"Burger the size of your head, kid. It's slang. And it's the least I can do after splittin' your lip."
She shakes her head. "No."
Ted Grant levels her with a look he might have reserved for his kids- if he'd had any. "All right, let me put it to you simple like. I'm taking you to the Tastee Diner, I'm going to buy you lunch and you're going to eat that lunch or else this training session's your last. You follow?"
She gives him a steely, rebellious glare, but huffs and agrees. "Fine."
He sighs wearily and walks to the coat rack in the corner, taking his own down, slipping into it and throwing Selina's to her. She catches it deftly, but doesn't put it on, even as Grant moves to open the gymnasium door for her. Selina sweeps past, a little haughty, but as cooperative as Grant can ever get her.
Ted shakes his head and follows her out into the hallway, muttering. "I've never known anyone harder to feed than you are. Jesus Christ, do we have to do this every damn week?"
A/N: For the continuity obsessed, this story takes place during Her Sister's Keeper-you know, the scenes that haven't been ignored by canon since its publication. Namely, Selina's time training with Ted Grant, AKA Wildcat..