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by: taylorgibbs (Send Feedback)
Series: - No Series - #1
Chapters: 001 Word Count: 2437
Character(s): Jethro Gibbs, Tony DiNozzo, Abby Sciuto, Timothy McGee
Category(ies): Character Study
Pairing(s): - No Pairing -
Episode(s): 5-18 Judgment Day
Summary: Gibbs' writing becomes much more than a hobby and in the process he makes some interesting discoveries. Sequel to Paperback Writer.
Author Notes: Thanks to Hilde for the beta!
Dedicated to anyone who has put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard in the hope of publication in any avenue.
Gibbs stifled a yawn and tried to crack his back as he walked into the squad room at NCIS. These late nights hunched over a computer were killing his back, though he’d never admit that to anyone else.
In the two years since he’d begun writing, Gibbs had switched from a typewriter to a computer, his annoyance of everything electronic giving way to the ease of editing his words—and a few typos—on the screen. He had a top of the line laptop with the brand new version of Word now. Turned out you could teach an old dog new tricks. The only thing that needed to change was that his desk chair needed to be upgraded. He kept planning to do it, but then the team would catch a hot case and they’d hit the ground running. It would happen the next time he had a day off, but until then he had to endure the old desk chair that locked his back muscles up.
Writing less was not an option. He was hooked.
Gibbs wrote at least twenty pages a week unless they were chasing a hot case. Even on those exhausting weeks, he found himself needing to get away, to dive into the adventures of Gary Tyler and his science fiction world, even if that meant writing only a page here and a paragraph there. He had a pocket notebook he used to jot notes down when he was on the run or caught in traffic.
Nobody would have ever expected that Gibbs was a writer, much less one writing science fiction, but he’d found his niche writing that genre. He’d read many of the classics when he was a boy, borrowing the books from the store shelves, reading them very gently, and returning them to the store when he was done. Gibbs assumed Jack knew what he was doing, but his father never made any comment. His father must have realized that it was one of Gibbs’ outlets after the death of his mother. That and the car project.
Writing was so different from anything he’d done before and had started as a completely foreign concept to him. He’d just hoped to burn off some energy and find a way to work his hands differently. He never expected to find a second career as an author. Gibbs had a new passion in life, something that was at times alien and as comfortable as his favorite flannel shirt, something that he looked forward to almost as much as working on the boat. It was a new calling for him, something completely unexpected that he had never thought he could do.
Gibbs hadn’t ever planned to send the book to anyone. When he’d completed it, he’d planned to shove it in a drawer and not think about it again. But when he read it front to back, he found he actually liked it. When Gibbs read some of the old classics in his library by Robert Heinlein, E.E. Smith, Edmond Hamilton, and Jack Williamson, among others, he realized his book wasn’t half bad. With some work, it might even be considered good.
When he’d approached Ray Munroe, a friend, who was a literary agent, Gibbs expected to be soundly rejected. What he liked was one thing; what was a publishable work was something completely different. Ray had warned him that getting published was a longshot before he even opened the book. Science fiction was a fairly hard genre to break in to and with the economy as it was, no matter how good the work, it was unlikely that Gibbs would get representation, even at the agent level. Forget about the publisher level.
A few weeks later, Ray had called him, raving about the book. He hadn’t known Gibbs had it in him. That made two of them, Gibbs had remarked. Ray had been eager to represent Gibbs and had promised that he’d do the best he could for both Gibbs and the book. And he’d urged Gibbs to keep writing. That part was easy; something had been unleashed in Gibbs now and he couldn’t stop even if he wanted to.
By the time Ray had called back a couple months later, Gibbs was over a hundred pages into the second of Gary Tyler’s adventures. Good thing, too, since Ray was calling to tell Gibbs the impossible. He had some feelers out and there was interest from multiple publishers. No contract yet, but it looked positive.
Ray’s orders were for Gibbs to get “partials” to him immediately and Gibbs had to put aside the second book to get started on the third. He wrote detailed summaries for both, packaged up the first fifty pages in each book, and sent the packet off to Ray a month later.
Even then, Gibbs hadn’t expected anything to come of it. He’d fallen back into his routine of working, writing, and spending time in the basement on a new boat. The new projects were distracting him, the cases were pretty straightforward, and the team was getting along—as much as they ever had. It had been easy for him to put the possibility of publication on the back burner.
When Ray had called again, Gibbs had been working on reports in the squad room. He’d had to remain completely impassive as Ray told him the first three books had sold at auction. Three publishing houses had been interested enough in his work to get into a bidding war for it. There was a three-book contract on the table and an incredible amount of money being offered as an advance. All Gibbs had been able to say in reply was a simple “yes.” Moments later, he mentioned going out for coffee and had a quiet celebration in the privacy of the elevator, away from prying eyes and questions he didn’t want to answer.
That had started a whirlwind few months of contracts, edit letters, cover discussions, promo and publicity. Gibbs had answered multiple emails every night, and had cut down working on his boat while all of this was going on. At least he’d been used to a light sleep schedule for years. He’d mostly managed to keep his emotions out of the office, and when he got testy, the team accepted it as normal behavior.
His pen name had been chosen and agreed upon by all parties—Jay Marrick. He would have liked to have used a part of his own name—if only as a tribute to Uncle L.J., but his initial written out would have to do. Marrick was an old family name that couldn’t be traced to him easily.
The day his cover art arrived, Gibbs had just come off a triple murder. He’d wanted nothing more but to get into the basement and lose himself in wood and bourbon for a while, but when he’d opened up his email and had seen the cover of his first book, pride and a sense of accomplishment had shoved the emotional exhaustion out of the way. He’d written fourteen pages in one marathon session that evening, the boat and bourbon hadn’t even been touched.
They were now up to the part of the process where his editor sought cover quotes from famous authors. Gibbs wasn’t even convinced that the authors actually read the books, but he was assured that it would be a painless process for him. Most of the business aspects thus far had been taken care of by Ray and his editor, leaving Gibbs free to write.
His first two books, In Complete Darkness and Searching for Light would release only two months apart, and the publisher and Roy were eager to get people talking.
Galleys, which were bound versions of the final book without cover art or a blurb, had been sent out to a handful authors a few weeks back. They’d contacted a half dozen science fiction authors and a few who wrote thrillers as well, from what Gibbs had been told. They’d also sent him a copy of the book, which he wanted to read. Just as soon as he put the final touches on the last chapter of the fourth book.
Gibbs sat at his desk, sipping his coffee. He was the first one at work as usual, and he logged on to his Gee Mail account, checking to see if there was anything new in the author world. Satisfied that there wasn’t, he logged in to his work email, scanning subjects. He didn’t need more Viagra, to know the secrets to good health, to buy stamps, or to claim his university degree and there was nothing worth reading there.
Gibbs opened up the reports for the stolen goods ring they’d finished breaking yesterday and started reading. McGee’s report was at the top, and as always, it was professional and easy to read, and Gibbs concentrated deeply on it, marking the chain of events in his own mind.
“Morning, Boss!” Gibbs looked up as a cup of coffee was plunked on his desk.
“DiNozzo,” he greeted, knowing the other man must want something. He’d wait it out until Tony spoke again.
“Hey, Boss. Um…I know it’s unscheduled and all, but I have a friend coming into town and she needs a lift from Reagan National Airport and….can I take off at seventeen hundred sharp today?”
“Maybe,” Gibbs answered. He finished his original coffee and pulled the new one closer, jerking his head toward Tony’s desk.
“Yeah, okay. Um…right, Boss. Morning, Boss!” Tony danced over to his desk and Gibbs shook his head.
He was turning back to the report when another voice reached his ears, McGee’s excited tone as he spoke on a cell phone. Abby was trotting beside him, seeming to hang on to every word. “Sally? Hey, it’s Thom. Tim…yeah. Anyway, I read the books from Jay Marrick that you sent me. Yeah…they were incredible. Who is this guy? I’ve never heard of him.” Tim was clearly listening to someone on the other end of the phone.
Abby bounced from foot to foot and Gibbs couldn’t help giving her a small smile over the report. He was completely tuned in, but he had to appear above it all. But inside, that was another thing. McGee was talking about his book, and he liked it! Pride rushed through Gibbs along with a bolt of pure energy and he sipped his coffee, knowing he had to remain impassive. Keeping his hands from shaking was another thing, but he seemed to be the only one aware of the very uncharacteristic tremors.
“Brand new author? Can you give me Marrick’s email address? Of course I’m going to give him a cover quote, but I want to send him a letter too. Yes, he’s that good. Okay…I’ll send the quote to you later, Sally. Email me his address.”
As Tim disconnected, Abby grabbed his bag, rummaging through it. “You said I could borrow them, where are they? Anything that keeps you awake until four am is something worth checking out.”
“Like MMORPGS, ElfLord?” Tony cracked, walking closer. “Cause McGeek only spends his quality time with avatars.”
“Hardly, Tony,” McGee said, rolling his eyes. “I was reading.”
“What’s going on in the author world, McClancy? Find another fan fiction website?” Tony asked, parking his rear on McGee’s desk. When Gibbs gave him a look and a finger motion, Tony stood, shrugging. As Abby pulled a book out of McGee’s bag, Tony reached for it. “In Complete Darkness by Jay Marrick? What is this?”
“A book, Tony. You should try reading one,” McGee retorted. Gibbs noticed McGee’s cheeks reddening and he typed the words “fan fiction” and sent himself an email, feeling a burst of pride at how easily that part of technology was coming to him. He’d have to investigate this fan fiction later.
Both Abby and Gibbs smirked at McGee’s comeback. Tony picked the book up, reading the first two pages, his expression serious.
“Why do you have this, McGee? It isn’t even released yet. Says it won’t be published before December.”
“I was asked to give a cover quote for it.”
“Cover quote?” Tony asked.
“Sometimes publishers want a promotional quote from an author that they can put on the cover of a book. It helps to sell the book. Though this one doesn’t need much selling. It’s incredible!”
Abby snatched the book out of Tony’s hand. “And I get first dibs.” The disappointed look on Tony’s face was so overdone that Gibbs couldn’t help but smile. Tim thought his book was incredible! Someone Gibbs knew—had helped train—had read his work and enjoyed it. A sense of accomplishment completely different from anything Gibbs had ever felt before filled him. It was different from his work as an agent, different from his time in the Marines, even different than building a seaworthy boat with his own two hands.
Until this moment, Gibbs hadn’t realized how much he needed to know that his book appealed to the public. He’d been alone with it for so long that this just didn’t seem real. The team—his team—were reading his words, and from the expressions on Abby’s and DiNozzo’s faces, they liked the little glimpses they’d seen.
“I have the second book in the series, Tony. You don’t have to read the first one first, so if you and Abby want to switch off…”
“Deal!” Tony said, grabbing the book McGee offered.
“This isn’t a book club,” Gibbs growled, giving them all a stern look. “If you don’t have any work to do, I can make some for ya.”
“Working, Gibbs. Bye! And thanks, Timmy! Tony, you have two days before I want that book. You’d better read on your lunch hour.” Abby ran out and Gibbs had the sense that she’d been sneaking off to read the book as much as she could.
“No sense of humor. No sense of adventure,” Tony groused, and Gibbs had to smile at the irony. If they only knew!
MTAC - NCIS Fic