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 Post subject: Not Always (McGee)
PostPosted: Wed May 11, 2011 8:20 pm 
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AN: I was watching S2's Black Water Sunday night and realized two scenes in there could have planted the seeds for a choice McGee made in S4. This is my take on it. Entered in NFA's End Where I Begin Challenge. Also, this is dedicated to Jesse Stern, who announced today that Swan Song was his NCIS swan song. He's off to create his own projects. I'm excited about that, but sad for NCIS. Jesse said he made the choice because he can't live his dream while still working on somebody else's. So this seems all the more fitting to post today, since McGee is wrestling with a similar issue.

Not Always

Tim McGee set down his cell phone and stared at it. All those years of working and writing and now he had done it — he was going to be a published author. Not just any author, either. The publishing house had loved Deep Six so much that they had given him a three-book contract and a big advance. Big enough to let him do whatever he wanted.

Tim walked into his writing corner, and traced his fingers across the metal keys of his typewriter. They were cool now. When he got into one of his all-too-rare writing marathons, they absorbed his body heat and warmed. But he hadn't been able to settle into one for several weeks because they'd caught so many cases.

He sat down at his desk and looked at the typewriter, at the stack of pages beside it. Rock Hollow was two-thirds done, its words carved out of fragments of time on nights he couldn't sleep, nights the cases they tried to solve kept him up. The story was different, better, than Deep Six. The characters changed a bit as the book developed.

Deep Six had taken him three years to write, and he'd started over more times than he could count. It wasn't until he'd met Gibbs that the pieces started to fall into place, and even then he'd started over at least four times. The first two years he worked on it, he even had reasonable hours. Working for NCIS in Norfolk was closer to a nine-to-five job than anything at the Navy Yard. He'd had two or three hours a day to write, and he'd used them.

Then Gibbs promoted him, and some days he was lucky to have two or three minutes to think about the adventures of L.J. Tibbs. Writing became a stolen pleasure, something to sneak into those nights the crime scenes kept him awake or those increasingly rare days off. He tried to make every moment count, the crunch forcing him to learn to write quickly, to just let the words come out of his fingers as he typed. He'd been able to finish the first book, finally, and write most of the next. But now he had a decision to make.

Could he keep this up? Could he handle all the extra work of the book's publication, the deadlines his new editor would set? Could he find the time to finish Rock Hollow, then to write the next book his contract called for? Tim stared at his typewriter before standing, making his way to his gun safe in the bedroom. Inside, his badge lay next to his SIG. He pulled out the badge, running his thumb across the gold shield. It had been less than two years since Gibbs had given him a place on the team. Since he'd earned a place with his computer work on a dozen earlier cases with the MCRT.

"And the bad news?" He couldn't imagine what bad news there was after getting promoted.

"You belong to me." Gibbs walked past him as Tim stood speechless. Not just a promotion to field agent, but a spot on the agency's top team, working for the infamous Leroy Jethro Gibbs. He grinned.

He couldn't imagine working for any other team, doing anything other than what he did every day at the Navy Yard. Except for writing. It was the one dream he'd never given up. He'd never really thought about what would happen if it ever came true. Never thought about... No, that wasn't true. He had thought about the choice once before.

Last year, his first year on the team. When private investigator Monroe Cooper showed up on one of their cold cases, McGee couldn't wait to meet his hero. He'd even gotten Cooper to sign the book based on him, one he'd sworn he hadn't written.

"If I was a best-selling author, would I be crawling through the swamps of Virginia looking for reward money?" Cooper scoffed at the idea.

McGee hadn't known what to say at the time, but as the case ended, as Gibbs led Cooper out in cuffs and Tony tried to console him at the realization the man he looked up to was just out for the money, McGee realized Cooper had it wrong. That was the night L.J. Tibbs really came to life in his book, the night his story seemed to fall into place. That drive for justice above all else was why Tibbs could be the heroic character his book demanded. It was the reason spots on Gibbs' team were as prized as he was feared among other NCIS agents.

It wouldn't matter how much money Gibbs had — he'd be crawling around in the muck looking for evidence to put away dirtbags until the day he died, most likely in the line of duty. That's what he did, who he was.

McGee took his badge and went back to his writing desk, back to his typewriter. He set the shiny badge on the dull steel, thinking about his options. He could write full time, but that would mean giving up his dream of being at NCIS. That wasn't an option. Writing was enjoyable, but it didn't make a difference. It didn't give families the answers they needed, or keep the dirtbags off the streets. But then he thought about Tony's comments — he'd have a field day if he found out McGee had written a book. Especially one based on the team. If Tony ever found out... That couldn't happen.

He looked at the top page of Rock Hollow, sitting on the stack of his half-finished story. "By Timothy McGee" was beneath the title. The sticking point, the thing that would give him away. Unless...

McGee picked up a pencil from the desk and started writing letters, then erasing them. After a few minutes, he sat back and looked. "Timothy McGee" was crossed out. In its place was "Thom E. Gemcity," using all the same letters. McGee looked at the page, then at his badge, the gleaming gold bright against the worn metal typewriter. They both were part of him, but the badge was the face he would show the world. The books would remain his secret.

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 Post subject: Re: Not Always (McGee)
PostPosted: Wed May 11, 2011 9:49 pm 
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:clap: I like this! It's a nicely-thought-out, entirely plausible reason for Tim deciding to do what he did. His new insights into what drove Gibbs do seem to be a deciding point for him. And like many a writer, he writes because he is driven to do so. :)

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 Post subject: Re: Not Always (McGee)
PostPosted: Wed May 11, 2011 9:51 pm 
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Left you a comment on ff.net Jen, but I really think you did a terrific job with this, great insight into our Timmy and wonderful reasoning as to why he did things the way that he did. :yes: :clap:

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 Post subject: Re: Not Always (McGee)
PostPosted: Wed May 11, 2011 9:56 pm 
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That is a beautiful story, Jennie. :) I loved it. So gracefully written, and I like the thought process behind the penname. Nicely done. :)

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 Post subject: Re: Not Always (McGee)
PostPosted: Thu May 12, 2011 12:41 am 
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Lovely! I like the tie-in with Black Water :yes: And as much as this was a sort of character study of Tim, I also think it was a character study of Gibbs, and a spot on one at that. No matter how much money he could make elsewhere, he would always be there, doing what he does best ;D

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 Post subject: Re: Not Always (McGee)
PostPosted: Thu May 12, 2011 6:14 am 
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Thanks, ladies! It always seemed like there had to be a reason McGee kept Gemcity a secret, and I was watching the episode and just had one of those "Oh!" moments.

Pam and Colleen: Yes, Tim does have that insight into Gibbs in this bit - who Gibbs is partially forms who McGee became between stuttering probie and seasoned field agent. This was a big step in the process.

Lori and Sherry: That's our McGee, always thinking. :)

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 Post subject: Re: Not Always (McGee)
PostPosted: Thu May 12, 2011 4:55 pm 
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This is so good! I think your characterisation is spot on, and I could see how Gibbs’ actions that day would lead Tim to be inspired in his writing. This is a great way to explain Tim’s secrecy about his ‘other life’, a really super story!

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 Post subject: Re: Not Always (McGee)
PostPosted: Thu May 12, 2011 6:39 pm 
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Thanks, Mad! His secrecy always made me wonder - it didn't seem quite as simple as not wanting the team to find out because the characters were based on them. Then watching Black Water, it just seemed really obvious. :)

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