James had been kitted out in shorts and a t-shirt (long-sleeved for James' sake). He'd asked some more questions in the car and Gibbs had been very brief – he only knew that his 'activity' was an hour long. Gibbs was thinking – he wasn't sure about the choice. It had been DiNozzo's idea actually.
A few days earlier:
'Hey Duck, you wanted to see me?'
'Yes Jethro. I've been thinking.' He responded. Gibbs waited for him to get to the point.
'James is a smart kid that needs structure in his life.'
'Your point, Ducky.' Gibbs said curtly. He hoped Ducky wasn't about to tell him how to bring up his kid, he didn't need that.
'Well, a recent case involved an athlete, which got me thinking about James and sport. He seems like he could be a sporty child.'
Gibbs cleared his throat. 'Well, I did cricket, but you could try athletics with him?'
'I have every intention of finding him a sport Ducky, but he hasn't been with me long ok? Give me a chance.'
PING. 'Sport? Who's playing? Team or individual? Home game or away?'
'I was just introducing Jethro to sport, Anthony. I was thinking athletics.'
'Don't you think Gibbs is a bit old for athletics Ducky? Ouch… I mean, sorry bossman, I bet you could do any sport - even gymnastics if you wanted to.'
'Gymnastics, DiNozzo? You were a basketball player and you see me doing gymnastics?' Gibbs smirked.
'Basketball was awesome. And you shouldn't dismiss gymnastics.'
Gibbs and Ducky looked hard at him and raised their eyebrows.
'I did it for a bit. Didn't last though, it was too structured for my liking.'
They'd parked up front. James looked at the sign – it read, 'Capitol Gym'. James tried not to look disappointed, a gym? For weights and stuff? Gibbs killed the engine and James followed him inside.
The size of the building was deceiving; it was much longer that it was wide. It was made of aluminum panels, painted grey and had a few small windows. Truthfully, it looked old and well in need of renovation. However, James' spirits lifted when he went inside – it was brightly lit by running bar lights and painted blue. Gibbs confidently strode to the reception desk and spoke to the receptionist.
'Right, I've told them you're here. This is a gym – for gymnastics not weights,' he added, as though reading James' mind. 'Give me your shoes, I'll wait here.' Gibbs said, motioning for James to go through a sliding door he hadn't noticed before. Gibbs watched and held his breathe, waiting for a reaction.
Once through the sliding door it was like another world. The room turned a shade of red due to the numerous crash mats lining the walls. Directly to his left were some bars – two sets, one raised up high and the others coming up to about James' shoulders. Further over on the left were some raised thin beams – James thought he'd seen them at school. In the distance he could see two trampolines, some more bar-type things (these ones were sideways), some things he didn't know the name of, some type of green edged track and a huge foam pit. There were also random pieces of equipment everywhere. He must have been standing at the door some time because someone came over to meet him.
James nodded. 'I'm a coach, Alex. That's Kerry and Craig. Come and sit down on the grey line for me.'
There were about 20 of them in the class, and James felt comfortable straight away. They started with 3 laps up and down the foam pit (James was told to take his socks off, apparently they get lost in the pit) and some races to 'warm up'. They then spent about 10 minutes stretching, and it was different to the stretching James had done in lessons at school – there were more steps involved. The only bit he didn't enjoy was called 'splits'.
They were then put into groups for 'lines' on the grey floor. James was pleased, he'd been put in a group with a boy named Adam who he'd been talking to. They did a few things, mainly the 'basics' for James' benefit (he said no when he'd been asked if he'd done gymnastics before). James learnt a tuck, star, straight, straddle and half and full turn jumps. He struggled with a pike jump. The coaches then got them doing forward rolls, cartwheels and handstands. James got a bit carried away at times with Adam, and his name was shouted to get him concentrating again. He was half watching these boys on the green track doing things that James thought were probably hard but really cool, but they made them look easy. The coach kept looking over.
Whilst being kept in the same groups, they started on the 'apparatus'. James' group were put with the coach called Craig, and they walked over to what James now knew as 'p bars' – parallel bars- (the very first set of bars he'd seen). On the tall set, they had to swing along the bars side to side – James eventually got the knack of it. On the shoulder-height set of bars they had to walk along it using their hands and dangling their feet. Whilst waiting for his go, Craig asked another guy – Harry – to watch their group for a moment. James guessed that his coach was the one in charge. James carried on, but saw Craig go and talk to the man coaching the boys on the track. He watched their short exchange out of the corner of his eye.
James enjoyed the rest of the session; he was so involved that he didn't even notice Gibbs poke his head around the door every now and then. Out in the hall way, Gibbs was absolutely thrilled James appeared to be having a good time. James was putting his shoes on (after answering Gibbs' unasked question of how it was with an 'It was awesome!') when a ginger man walked towards them – James said he was his coach, Craig – he looked pretty young to be in charge (Gibbs made the same assumption as James had), maybe only about 21.
'Hello, I'm Craig, I'm the head of rec here – recreational gymnastics. Are you Mr. Gibbs?'
Gibbs assessed the man – he'd obviously done his research to come over here (i.e. checking who was picking James up, not making the mistake of calling him James' dad). This guy seemed alright. Gibbs nodded at him.
'I was wondering if you and James would like to come and have a chat in the gym?'
Gibbs frowned – this was a bit odd.
Seeing Gibbs' frown, Craig added, 'The boy's head coach, Simon, would like to talk you about James.'
Eventually, the duo complied and had to remove their shoes to enter the gym. Gibbs took in the red hue of the vast space. They were ushered into a small room – the staff room – off to the side of the gym. It was tiny, consisted of two double fabric chairs and painted bright yellow (this place could also do with renovating). Gibbs surveyed the man already sitting in there.
'Mr Gibbs? I'm Simon, squad boys head coach.'
Gibbs was fed up with the unnecessary formality. 'Call me Gibbs.'
Simon and Craig nodded, Craig made to leave – he was obviously needed elsewhere.
Gibbs watched as the man relaxed, they were on his territory now.
'I know this set up is a bit odd, but we go with what we've got.' He smirked. James was a bit unsure what was happening.
'Anyway, let me get to the point. This was your first time doing gym today James?'
James nodded. 'That's what I thought. You've got a lot of potential James, I was watching you today. And I bet you noticed Craig come and talk to me?'
James nodded again. Simon smirked, 'I don't bite James, honest. What I'm trying to say is I think you could make a great gymnast, there's so much potential there. Any thoughts?'
Gibbs got it. 'You want James to be a gymnast?'
'Yeah I do. If you like it James, you could start tomorrow. But there are some things I should say.' Gibbs just looked at him. 'Well, you're 10. It could be hard for you; most of the boys have been doing gym since they were 5 or 6. So that's gonna be an issue, you're a novice and learning the same stuff as our 5 year olds in the mini squad. But you would learn quick, being older. I should also say, you're the oldest kid I've offered the squad – the last one we had is Lewis, he was 9 – but if you've got so much potential.'
Gibbs could see James processing – he guessed the age thing was the main issue. 'Could we have a few minutes to decide Simon?'
'Sure. Just give me a shout when you're done.'
'Talk.' Gibbs said to James.
'I loved the gym Gibbs. It was amazing; I'd love to do it.'
Gibbs nodded, grinning; they hadn't needed the time alone really! In the next 5 minutes (much better compared the long explanation process) they had everything sorted. Gibbs set up payment with the receptionist, was given class times and told by Simon when to pick him up – James wasn't going to do the full sessions straight away. He was also given a squad t-shirt and shorts.
James had a huge grin on his face as they turned to leave.
'Wait James, I forgot, you need a leotard.' Simon said, passed it to him.
The look on James' face was priceless.
Author's Note: I know this chapter was a bit long and wordy, but I hope you enjoyed it anyway!