Chapter 173: Passing the Torch
For their fifth bootcamp, Gibbs ended up with two more kids.
He hadn't been expecting Ziva and Breena to show up, but if they wanted to come, he was fine with it. Plus, having Ziva's eyes and skills would make this more effective for everyone. He'd be able to get input from her for training for all three of them, which would be a very good thing.
He was taping up Breena's hands when he asked, "Are you… should you…" He's tripping over the question because it's kind of delicate and he's never actually had a direct conversation with Breena. Sure he's smiled at her, kissed her cheek, offered hugs when congratulations were in order, and told her to do things when that was necessary, and they've been part of the same conversation, but he's never actually spoken with just her.
But she seemed to get what he wasn't asking. "Do you think he'd let me anywhere near this if my doctor didn't say I'm healed up enough for it."
He nods. "Okay. Molly with Abby?"
"Yep. Rumor has it she and Tony are making dinner for the rest of us. Did Abby invite you for dinner?" Gibbs nods. "I'm thinking it might be just her cooking. When we left, Tony was trying to convince Molly she wanted to play games that didn't involve him having to move because he hurts all over."
Gibbs furrows his eyebrows.
Breena understands that he doesn't know why Tony's hurting. "They did yoga yesterday. Tim and Jimmy are fine. Tony pushed too hard."
He nods at that. He's had a few conversations with Tony over the last year along the lines of Tim and Jimmy are a decade younger than he is, in awfully good shape, and if he wants to keep up with them he's got to take better care of himself. "What sort of fighting have you done?"
"I punched a guy in sixth grade." That was about what he was expecting.
"Make a fist."
She did. It didn't look too bad. Someone, and here he's thinking Ed, taught her how to make a fist, and probably how to throw a punch.
He pointed to Tim and Jimmy, who also started paying attention to what he was saying. "Watch those two spar. First round, they do whatever they want. Second round, Jimmy, your job is to focus on following where Tim's going. Figure out where he's going to hit you and block him. Tim work on hitting exactly what you're aiming for, right hand or either foot." Jimmy's accuracy was solid at this point, but he was still having a hard time anticipating where a hit was going to come. Meanwhile, Tim had gotten his accuracy up to one hundred percent with his left hand, but right and feet were still iffy, especially on anything other than the first round. "Ziver, by the time they're done, I want a training plan from you for each of them."
Ziva smiled and led the boys to the ring.
"Okay." Gibbs turned his attention back to Breena. "You sure you want to be here?"
She looked very determined. "Do you think I'm any less angry, less sad, or less frustrated than he is?"
"No." Gibbs shook his head.
"Do you think I shouldn't be able to try and beat it out?"
"Then why are you asking? Because I'm cute and a girl?"
"Well, I'm done sitting at home and crying. Taking down that wall felt good, going to the range felt good, and this might too, and maybe it won't help, but I've got to try."
"It'll help, maybe not enough, but it'll help. Come on." Gibbs led her to one of the punching bags. "Show me what you've got."
She looked at him, eyebrows high, apparently she'd been expecting something else. "Just hit it?"
"Yep. Hard as you like. Right now I just want to see you throw a punch."
So she did. Walloped it. No control. No finesse. Lots of anger, lots of force.
"How's your arm?"
"Shoulder hurts, wrist hurts."
Gibbs nods. "Watch." He made a fist and punched the bag. He didn't tape up his own hands because he didn't think he was going to be doing any punching, so he doesn't put much force into it. Then he put her hands on his hips, which startled her, and punched again. "Feel what I'm doing?"
He did it again, slowly, very little force, with her hands on his shoulders, elbow, and then his wrist. "Now you."
She hit again, very hard, but this time her form was a lot better.
"Not as much."
"Good. Now, do it slow and do it right. When you've got your form mastered on your right arm, we'll move to your left, and once you've got it down, then you can beat on anything you want as hard as you want as long as you want. Until then, soft, slow, easy." He cocks his head at Tim and Jimmy. "Just because those two idiots were dumb enough to beat each other into a pulp does not mean hurting yourself is a good idea."
She smiled a little at that, and then focused on the punching bag and hit it, slowly, but her form was perfect.
Gibbs nodded, small smile on his face. "Keep doing that. I'm going to see how your man's doing."
He stands next to Ziva, who's leaning against the ropes watching Tim and Jimmy intently.
"You suggested she come?"
"Jimmy suggested she go shooting with them. Apparently that went well. Tearing down the wall went well, too. So now she is here. When I heard she was coming, I suggested coming with her so she would have someone to spar with. Neither of them will fight her."
Gibbs kept an eye on them while Jimmy ducked under Tim's punch and got him in the ribs with his elbow. "Probably a good plan."
Ziva watched them spar for another thirty seconds, Tim sweeping Jimmy's legs out from under him, and nodded. "Neither of them has enough control to fight someone without possibly injuring them."
"What sort of training plan do you want for them?"
"Little bit of everything. Started elbows and knees with Jimmy last week. Still working on fist and foot with Tim. He's better on defense. Jimmy's better attacking."
"I can see that. McGee usually wins?"
"Usually. They fight until one of them hits the canvas. Tim wears him down, defending, and then takes his legs out from under him. Jimmy still can't tell when he's not really going to punch and is about to trip him. How about when they finish their next round you and I show them how to really do this?"
"You want to fight me?" Ziva's shocked. They've never sparred before.
"No eyes, no balls." He didn't expect to be fighting today, so he didn't bring a cup, and he'd really prefer not getting nailed.
"I can do that."
There are a few things Gibbs knows going into this fight, the most important of them is that he is going to lose.
There was a time when he could have probably taken Ziva David.
But that time was twenty years ago, when he was as fast as she is and could use his size to his advantage. Now, he's too slow. He knows it. Has been too slow for a long time. And while it's true that age and guile beat youth and innocence, age and guile lose when they go up against youth, guile, experience, and superior training.
There's a reason why he's never actually sparred with Ziva before. Kate, sure, he sparred with her, because he knew he could take her, and that was that. But he saw Ziva David walk in, saw her moves and confidence, and knew he couldn't take her down without a gun, and knew that'd look awfully bad for his position.
So they've never sparred. As the Team Leader, part of his job is to be God on Earth, unassailable and unchallengeable. None of the three of them could ever see him go down. When he got to the point where he wasn't entirely sure he could still keep taking Tony down in hand to hand, he stopped making them do bootcamp.
But it's March. In ten months Tony'll be the Team Leader. Tim'll be moving along soon, too. There are other employees around the gym, and it's time to get the word out that the balance of power in the MCRT is shifting.
Ziva's their combat specialist. She's their fighter. And, honestly… he'd almost rather promote her to Team Leader. It's not anything against Tony. He's earned the position many times over and he's a great cop, with very good instincts, but Ziva's a little more focused, more dedicated, and a lot more dangerous. Basically, Tony's the better cop, but Ziva's the better leader. Ultimately, he'd like to see them share the leadership position, and he hopes that's how they'll handle it.
But for now, it's time to pass at least some of it on. And as he thinks about it, he does need to have a long chat with Tony and Tim and Ziva about what's coming up next year. They've got to start looking for replacements, getting a plan in order.
But all of that is for later.
The guys are finishing up. Breena's already come over to watch them, and Ziva wants to know if he'd like to tape up his hands.
He nodded, and she taped up his hands. He looks at her untaped hands, offering to tape her up, and she just shakes her head.
"No eyes." He's seen what she does with her fingers in a fight, and he wants to make sure they're clear.
"No eyes, no balls, and I will not touch your throat, either."
He sighed, sees Tim and Jimmy watching them, looking both amazed and a little scared, and gestures to the ring for Ziva. She headed in, and waited for him.
"Pay attention. This is what it looks like when someone who knows what she's doing fights. Anything she's willing to teach you, you learn." Tim, Jimmy, and Breena all nodded.
Gibbs' time sense slows down when he fights. That's always been true. It's part of what made him a good sniper, he could slow things down, see what was happening and anticipate what would happen next and then pull the trigger. But even slowed down, she is shockingly fast.
He's just trying to keep standing long enough to not be horrendously embarrassed. He got three solid hits on her and a few near misses when she did this thing where she was standing on one foot, kicked at his head with the other, forcing him to dodge back, shifting his weight onto one leg, and while her foot was whispering a quarter inch from his temple she hooked her forearm behind his weight-bearing knee and yanked hard, toppling him to the canvas.
His ears were ringing a little when he hit, but he was fairly sure the entire gym had gone silent at that. He knows Jimmy, Tim, and Breena were just staring at them, eyes wide and beyond shocked.
Ziva offered him a hand up, and he took it, wrapped his arm around her and kissed her on the cheek, big, fond smile on his face.
"Jimmy, how do you defend against that?" Gibbs asked. If he's going to get his ass kicked, they're going to learn from it.
"Don't get into a fight with Ziva."
That got a dry smile out of Gibbs. "Tim?"
"My Sig. I don't get into fist fights with people who can kick my ass that badly."
"One second you were standing up, the next you were on the canvas. I have no idea what happened in between."
"You're going to learn how to watch a fight so you can see what happened. Ziva?"
"Catch my foot up by your head and push backward. It's possible we both would have gone down. I may have gotten the hold I needed on his knee, but my balance was far enough off that it definitely would have taken me down." She turned away from Gibbs to speak to the other three. "I spent the first minute learning exactly how fast Gibbs is. The kick/grapple combination I took him down with takes split second timing, and after the first minute I was sure he couldn't match that speed, so I was safe to try it."
Gibbs nods at that. "Ziva, you're with Jimmy, you attack, he defends. These two are going to watch. Breena's gonna tell me what's happening. Tim's gonna tell me what to do about it."
"Come on, Jimmy," Ziva said. He ducked under the ropes, looking pretty nervous. "If you have a choice between defending or attacking, you want to defend. The defender has the advantage of responding. This is why, even though it looks like you are actually the better fighter, McGee keeps dropping you…"