Fight Club

By Rocket

Episode 9.13

Part One

 

Round One

MacGyver stopped his motorbike at the side of the road and switched off the engine. The sky was brightening and the night chill giving way to what promised to be a warm day. He sat back on the bike and put his hands in his jacket pockets, watching the sun rise over the city. Below, the first rays of sunlight sparkled on the water, and the Golden Gate Bridge shone red as the light touched it. He watched until the sun was fully over the horizon, then pulled a piece of paper out of his pocket. Checking the address written there against his map, he started the bike and descended into San Francisco.

* * * *


Phoenix Foundation


“Good morning, Helen.” Pete walked into his office, hung his jacket on the hook behind the door and sat down at his desk, propping his cane up beside him. He reached across his desk and his hand brushed against the paper there. He picked it up, bringing it close to his face, but couldn’t read the handwritten note. He frowned, irritated that he’d have to ask for help, and reached down to switch on the computer. As the machine booted up, clicking and whirring, Pete heard footsteps approach.

“Pete?” Willis knocked on the half-open door. “Helen said it was OK for me to come right in”.

“Willis, Hi. Have you seen MacGyver this morning?” Pete pushed a chair out for Willis and picked up the letter.

“Not so far.” Willis sat down, passing a mug of coffee to Pete. “He seemed a bit… strange on the way back last night. Really upset about the way the Phoenix directors… Well, you know.” He blew on his own coffee and sipped it.

“I know, I’m working on it.” Pete drummed his fingers on his desk. “Willis, I hate to ask, but someone’s left a note on my desk, and…” He trailed off, embarrassed.

“Oh, right. Sure thing.” Willis took the letter and opened it, scanning the contents. He frowned, reading the note again.

“What does it say?” Pete leaned forwards in his seat.

“I, um…” Willis cleared his throat, his voice quivered. “It’s Mac. He’s, um… He’s not coming back!”

* * * *

San Francisco


MacGyver could hear the familiar, parade-ground voice even over the bike’s engine. The door to the Visitacion Valley Challengers Club had been propped open and MacGyver could see rows of kids in white Karate suits practising punches. He checked his watch, surprised at such a large before-school turnout. Locking the bike, he stepped into the hall and sat down at the back, watching Rutherford T Hines at work.

Hines was encouraging a group of older kids to punch the heavy bags harder. The teenagers were sweating in the cool room, letting out a shout every time they landed a punch or set the bags swinging with a kick. Hines moved on to a group of smaller kids, kneeling down to hold a focus mitt for them to hit. His voice was stern, but the kids seemed pleased whenever he stopped to help their group.

MacGyver leaned forwards, resting his elbows on the back of the chair in front and his chin on his arms.

Hines had some rough looking kids in his class, gang tattoos visible on their necks and hands. He has some very young ones too, the smallest looking about kindergarten age, although there were no parents in the room. Hines looked at his watch and gathered his class into a circle.

“Now, today is a brand new day.” He looked around the circle. “Today, we hold our heads high and we meet the challenges that face us.” He looked at the older kids.

We will not take drugs.”

“No Sir!” The class replied.

“We will not fight except in self defence!”

“No Sir!” One kid at the far side blushed, avoiding Hines’ gaze.

“We will not participate in gang activity!” Hines started at the two tallest kids, nodding when they replied along with the rest. “We will work hard at school!” He dropped down on one knee, concentrating on the younger kids.

“Yes Sir!” The youngest nodded hard.

“We will make our families proud of us!” Hines’ expression softened and he placed a hand on the shoulder of a hollow-eyed kid standing next to him.

“Yes Sir!”

“Class dismissed.” He held onto the hollow-eyed kid for a moment longer, speaking quietly to her as the rest of the class got ready for school. The kid nodded, wiped her nose on the sleeve of her suit and ran off to get changed. Hines waited until the last of the kids had departed, then strode over to MacGyver.

“Tourist!” Hines’ voice echoed in the empty hall.

“Captain Hines.” MacGyver saluted, making Hines grin.

“What brings you to this fair city? Los Angeles not enough of a challenge, maybe – come to do some real work for a change!” Hines sat down next to MacGyver. “It’s good to see you.”

“You too.” MacGyver smiled back. “I’m just… taking a break, so I thought I’d come and see how you’re getting on.”

“Taking a break. Uh-huh.” Hines gave MacGyver a sharp look, then shook his head. “Whatever you say, Mac.” He sat back, spreading his arms across two seat backs.

“We’re doing well here, as you see. Next class comes in at ten – self defence for victims of domestic violence.”

“Sounds good.” MacGyver nodded.

“Wish it wasn’t necessary, but we live in dark times.” Hines shook his head, standing up. “Then drug rehab, young mothers and babies group, adult literacy and then back to Karate after school lets out this afternoon.” Hines counted the classes off on his fingers. “You sticking around for a while?”

“Few days, I thought.” MacGyver helped Hines to collect up the kick shields and focus mitts.

“Well, I could use your help. You got a place to stay?” Hines stowed the practice gear in a box and shut the lid.

“Only just got here.” MacGyver shook his head.

“Stay with me if you want.” Hines hooked his thumbs in his belt. “Couch is comfortable enough.” He glanced through the open door. “Wouldn’t leave your motorcycle there though – this isn’t such a good neighbourhood!”

“Right…” MacGyver looked at his bike, then out at the graffiti-scrawled and neglected buildings beyond. “You got your hands full here, am I right?”

“Holding back the tide of scumbags, junkies and gangsters so that the next generation don’t grow up just like them!” Hines finished tidying the hall and turned to face MacGyver.

“Big tide…” MacGyver lifted his jacket off the chair and put it on.

“I ain’t beat yet.” Hines grinned. “What happened to you, Tourist? You used to be hell-bent on saving the world from itself!” His grin faded as MacGyver shrugged.

"Tell me about it later. Maybe we can help each other out.” Hines turned and walked down the Challengers front steps. “Come on – I’ll show you a better place to park the iron horse.”

* * * *

“So that’s it for today.” Hines followed MacGyver out of the Challengers building, locking the door behind him. MacGyver had helped with the kids Karate, been an ‘attacker’ for Hines to demonstrate self-defence techniques, mended a tennis ball machine donated by a country club and helped the youngest kids to make ‘bird-balls’ – wildlife snacks made from melted fat, seeds and raisins to hang in the club’s small back yard. Talking to the kids and to the parents who collected the little ones, he’d also heard story after story about how finding the Challengers Club had changed lives. Whatever he’d initially thought of Hines’ teaching techniques, they seemed to be working here.

He followed Hines’ beat-up truck through a maze of rollercoaster streets, the bay glittering blue between the buildings. They pulled up outside an older apartment building and Hines led him up to the third floor, unlocking his front door and standing aside to let him go first.

“You said you could use my help?” MacGyver pushed his bag behind Hines’ couch and sat down.

“I did.” Hines tossed him a bottle of juice and started making dinner. “We got us a competition coming up, with some other youth clubs, and I could use an extra pair of hands wrangling the kids. You in?”

“Absolutely.” MacGyver took a swallow of juice and looked around Hines’ apartment. It was neat without being military-smart, with a shelf of well-read books and a patchwork throw on the couch.

“My sister made it.” Hines watched MacGyver nod, tracing the pattern with his fingers. Hines stirred the onions in his skillet and frowned. “How come you’re here, Mac? Your head’s somewhere out in left field, so come on – what’s eating you?”

“You really want to know?” MacGyver sighed, got up and walked over to the window. “I quit Phoenix.” He turned to see Hines’ expression.

“Didn’t see that coming!” Hines shook his head. “Must have been a pretty good reason, right?”

“Right.” MacGyver turned back to the window, watching the traffic on the steep street outside. “The directors are probably going to do something I find… problematic. The fact that they’re even considering it is enough to make me leave. I didn’t join Phoenix to support the bad guys, RT.”

“Huh.” Hines frowned. “And if they decide to do the right thing after all?”

“I dunno.” MacGyver scrubbed a hand through his unruly hair, tugging at a tangle. “That’s why I’m up here, trying to decide what I’m going to do next.”

“Well, alright then.” Hines added tomatoes and beans to his chilli and turned the heat down, wiping his hands on a teatowel. “I’ll show you what we’re going to do next.” He picked up a flyer for a Karate competition and handed it to MacGyver.

* * * *
 

Despite his reservations about watching kids fight, MacGyver found he enjoyed the competition. Several youth clubs had entered teams, with competitors ranging from five year olds in too-big karate suits to teenagers who fought hard and accepted defeat almost as gracefully as victory, shaking hands and bowing at the end of each match. Only one group behaved differently, a group from Hunter’s Point whose logo was a clenched red fist.

“They cheat.” MacGyver looked down to see five year old Cody looking solemnly up at him. “And they’re bad losers. Mr Hines says they don’t display the true spirit of Karate.” He repeated the phrase carefully, then leaped up to cheer one of the Challengers kids, waving his flag with the Challengers ‘linked hands’ logo on it.

Concentrating on the Hunter’s Point team, MacGyver decided that Cody was right. They were very good at sneaking illegal hits past the referees and, once or twice, he was sure one referee was turning a blind eye to some of the more obvious fouls. Leaving Cody with some of the older kids, MacGyver made his way down to the edge of the mats, where Hines was refereeing. He waited for a break, and then signalled to Hines.

“Doing pretty good, aren’t they?” Hines grinned, waving to his team.

“Yeah, but we’d be doing even better if that ‘red fist’ team weren’t cheating!”

MacGyver watched Hines glance over at the Hunter’s Point area and nod.

“But if the referee don’t see it, it ain’t happening.” Hines held up a hand. ”I’m not saying you’re wrong, they do push the limits every time they compete, but I’ve been watching them when I can and there’s not enough happening to call them on it. We just have to be better than them is all. Prove that fighting fair is the best way to win.” Hines glanced at his watch, nodded to MacGyver and walked back to his mat to start his next fight.

MacGyver went back to the Challengers area, finding everyone watching the club’s final fight. The Challengers champion, Sherry, was fighting a girl from Hunter’s Point. The two were evenly matched in height, weight and determination but, where Sherry used skill to score her points, the Hunter’s Point girl used only aggression. Bur Sherry had strike after strike disallowed, while her opponent got away with sloppy throws and below the belt strikes. MacGyver and the Challengers kids grew angrier and when the Hunter’s Point kid was declared the winner, even she looked surprised.

Furious, MacGyver went to find Hines, who’d watched the end of the fight from across the mats.

“Hines!” MacGyver gripped his sleeve. “That was wrong and everyone here knows it! You saw it too – we have to do something!”

“Right.” Hines nodded, his face grim. “This time I agree – we can’t let that stand!”

 

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