Chapter 1:

It was late in the evening and the only sound was the repetitive tap-tap-tap of someone using a hammer. Pausing to take a drink, the man tilted his head a little at the sound of the floor creaking upstairs. He lived alone and he knew very few people that were brave enough to enter his house unannounced. Setting aside the hammer, he reached into a drawer and pulled out a gun, just in case it was an unwelcome guest.

Pretending to be occupied with the piece of wood in front of him, he continued to listen for any indication of who the person was and what they were doing. The floor creaked again, this time the noise coming from the direction of the kitchen. Smiling to himself, the man put the gun away. There was only one person who went to the kitchen before coming downstairs.

Keeping up the appearance of work, Gibbs turned so his back was turned towards the stairs. When his guest made his way down the stairs, Gibbs had to smile. 'He really needs to learn that he can't sneak up on me,' he thought to himself.

His guest halted halfway down the stairs, as if he were unsure of his welcome. Silence filled the basement.

"I know you're there, Tony. The sandpaper is right where you left it last time," Gibbs said, breaking the silence.

"How do you do that?" Tony asked exasperated as he made his way down the rest of the stairs.

"Trade secret," Gibbs replied with a smirk as he turned around.

"Uh huh," he said as he stepped off of the last step. "You sure…"

"Get to work, Tony," Gibbs instructed, knowing exactly where the younger man's thoughts were going. He received a timid look before his instructions were followed.

For the past few months Tony had started stopping by every now and again to help work on the boat. And even though Gibbs had welcomed him every time, Tony still seemed to hesitate a bit.

He knew Tony had his own demons to work out and he knew better than to push Tony into talking about them. Gibbs understood first-hand what it was like, going up against things from the past. However, he had hoped that after the undercover op that required them to pose as father and son that Tony would feel more confident in regards to how much Gibbs respected and cared for him.

'We'll get there,' Gibbs thought to himself.

The undercover op had revealed a lot about Tony's past, and not all of it was pleasant. It certainly answered some questions as to why Tony was the way he was, but it also brought up more questions.

"Hey, boss," Tony interrupted his thoughts. "You ever think about how you're going to get the boat to the water when she's done?"

Gibbs recognized this tactic. Whenever he seemed to be having more trouble than normal into getting relaxed, Tony resorted to conversation about the boat they were working on.

"Well, I was thinking about hiring a contractor," Gibbs answered with a grin. "Unless you've got a better idea?"

Gibbs knew he was right to appeal to Tony's knowledge of construction when he replied with a smirk, "Well, now that you mention it…"

The ring of a cell phone interrupted Tony's reply. Gibbs picked up his cell off of the workbench and answered. After acknowledging the information he received over the phone he hung up and looked over at Tony.

"Looks like you will have to enlighten me with your ideas later. We got a body at an abandoned warehouse," Gibbs said.

Tony nodded, already slipping into work mode, said, "I'll go get the truck."
"I'll meet you there," Gibbs informed him as he started to call the rest of the team.

"It's just as well we caught a case," Tony said as he headed upstairs. "Got more than one idea on how to move that boat outta here."

Before Gibbs could reply Tony was out of the basement and heading towards the front door. Smiling, he headed up the stairs himself as Ducky answered the phone.

"Dr. Mallard speaking."

"Time to go to work, Duck."

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As far as crime scenes go, this was one of the cleanest ones the team had ever scene. Which was saying a lot, considering the state the body was in.

"Doesn't look like he's been here very long," Ziva said as she took some photos of the area surrounding the body.

McGee gave her an odd look. "What makes you say that? Looks to me like he's been dead a while."

He did have a point. The body was unrecognizable; the tattered uniform of a marine being the only thing on the body that was identifiable. The man's face was covered with bruises and there were several deep cuts all over his body.

"He's obviously been tortured," Ziva explained. "The wounds on the body from such trauma can often make it hard to determine the time of death simply by looking at it alone."

"Ziva is correct," Ducky jumped in, having just finished checking the temperature of the liver. "This poor fellow only recently expired, perhaps no more than 12 hours ago."

"According to the security video, the only sign of movement was about 10 hours ago," Tony said as he joined the group. "The guard thought it was a delivery or someone doing inventory."

"I thought this was supposed to be an abandoned warehouse," questioned Ziva.

"A lot of bases use them as storage," McGee informed her.

"And they make deliveries at 10 o'clock at night? That makes no sense," said a baffled Ziva.

"What doesn't make sense is why there's a dead marine in the middle of a Navy base," said Gibbs from behind the group.

"Working on it, boss," McGee said.

"So what did he have to say?" asked Tony in reference to the young man who had found the body.

"Not much," Gibbs replied. "He was doing standard checks of the buildings and came across our vic. He reported it to his supervisor and secured the area."

Moving closer to the body, Gibbs asked, " Got a cause of death, Duck?"

"It's difficult to say, considering the amount of injuries he sustained," replied Ducky. "It could be anything at this point. I'll know more once we get him home."

"There wasn't any kind of identification in his pockets," McGee informed Gibbs. "Even his dog-tags are missing."

"Perhaps they are a trophy for our killer," speculated Ziva.

"That's assuming he is actually a marine," Gibbs stated.

"Security tapes are already on their way to Abby," Tony said.

"What else?" Gibbs inquired.

"There wasn't much to find," McGee said.

"This has definitely been one of our more cleaner scenes to investigate," Ziva said. "It is as if the body just fell out of the sky."

"Maybe it did," Tony said as he pointed to the forklift by the wall. "Lift the body out of the back of the truck with that and place it here on the floor. That's one way to decrease the amount of evidence being left behind."

Gibbs gave him a questioning look. "A truck, Dinozzo?"

Tony nodded. "Security cameras caught a truck with no tags pull up to one of the loading docks for this warehouse. Even shows someone using the forklift."
"Enough to identify who it is?" Gibbs asked.

"Hard to tell, boss," Tony replied with a smirk. "Just have to hope Abby can work her magic."

Gibbs gave him a look and instructed him to go check for fingerprints on the forklift.

"Already did," Tony said. " Got a few. Going to have to run a check with the employees here who use it and go from there."

"When did you have time to do that?" Ziva asked, looking a bit surprised and impressed.

Tony just laughed and shook his head. "A magician never reveals his secrets."

Gibbs grinned as he turned his attention towards Ducky, who had managed to get the body on the gurney while the rest of the team had discussed their findings. Even he didn't always know how Tony was able to get things done so quickly.

"All set?" he asked the M.E.

"Of course. I'll see you all later on," Ducky said as he headed out.

The team nodded their good-byes to Ducky and turned to gather up their own equipment.

"All right, lets head back," instructed Gibbs. "We've got a body to identify."

Author's note: Well here it is, the beginning of the sequel to Rapids. Hope you all like. I know it might seem a bit slow, I always seem to have a bit of trouble getting started. Once things get moving I like to think I do better. Any advice is welcome! Love reviews and thanks for all that read and reviewed my last story. Looking forward to hearing from you again this time around!