A/N: The deepest of thanks goes out to Arkangel_36 and Shelbylou for your muses and your help with this story.


PROLOGUE

Flexing his fingers after the long hours he'd just spent making children's toys, Gibbs took a minute to pick up his coffee cup; only to finally notice it was empty. Smirking at his own moment of unawareness, he walked around his work bench and trekked up the stairs to his kitchen for a fresh cup of java. Gibbs loved the night and the peace it offered, but he also knew that sleep was a must. So far this evening however, sleep hadn't even thought to show up on his doorstep yet. It merely stayed in the shadows, just out of reach. It was gonna be a long night.

Stepping up to the coffee pot, he lifted it up, swirled the contents of the almost empty carafe around; draining it, rinsing it out and refilling it with fresh hot water. Once he'd discarded the old coffee grounds and replaced them with new ones, he began pouring the water into the coffee maker. A smile came to him as he anticipated a nice fresh cup of coffee and nothing stressful to have to think about for a change, even if he couldn't find rest just yet.

Soon, though, the peaceful sounds of night were disturbed, shattered into fragments as, from seemingly right outside his home; a door slammed and the unmistakable sounds of a car taking off faster than their wheels would allow; stopping Gibbs' heart and almost making him drop the coffee pot.

Setting it down quickly, he bolted to his front door and looked out; shocked to his toes to find a body crumpled out on the sidewalk in front of his house and no sign of whoever had thrown the helpless person there like trash. He knew if it had been daylight, the rubber that the bastards had burnt as they'd peeled out would be visible on the street.

Grabbing his backup weapon and phone, thinking he'd call his team as soon as he helped the victim up out of the street, Gibbs hurried to the sidewalk, fully prepared to offer what assistance he could. What he wasn't prepared for, however; was the beaten and bloodied face looking back at him when he turned the non-resistant body over.

McGee!