A/N: Written for the ncis_verse "Picture Prompt Fanfic" challenge. Since I can't link to the photo, you'll have to use your imagination: Empty loft/storage facility on an upper floor of a high-rise building, and old table and single chair in one corner. One large window/access door rolled up to reveal other high-rise buildings in the city. Sun streaming in.
Story is set in present day canon, but links back to Episode 4x20 "Cover Story".
"It's you, Probie," Tony declared, leaning against the concrete column and staring out across the cityscape.
"You really think so?"
"Oh yeah. Definitely. Where better for Mr. Gemcity to live than a place that looks like it might have been a crime scene? Hey, come to think of it, this place looks familiar..."
Tim scowled. "You're mocking me."
"Of course I am, Probie. What did you expect?" Tony raised his eyebrows.
"Well, gee, I dunno, Tony. Maybe a little bit of honest feedback?" Tim shook his head. "What was I thinking? This is you, after all. Forget I even asked."
Tony turned to face him, lacing his fingers behind his head. "Ok. You want honest? I'll give you honest. You made big bucks when Deep Six came out, and yet you stayed put, in that little tiny apartment. It was good enough for you then. So why move now?"
Tim sighed. "I just feel like I need to get a change of scenery, that's all. I've been in the same spot for over eight years. It's getting stale."
A wicked grin spread across DiNozzo's face. "Ah! I get it now. You're hoping it'll unstick you...get rid of that writer's block."
"I do NOT have writer's block, Tony," Tim retorted. "I've been telling you that for –"
"-five years," Tony finished.
Tim's cheeks began to flush slightly. Had it really been that long since he'd started working on the sequel? He quickly did the mental math and confirmed Tony's statement.
He slumped down into the chair that stood in the corner of the room. "Who am I trying to kid? I was a one-hit wonder. Like J.D. Salinger."
Tony snorted. "You're comparing yourself to J.D. Salinger? Seriously? No wonder you have writer's block." Tim looked up at him mournfully, and Tony decided to take pity on his friend and change the subject. He began to pace around the room, examining it from all angles. "So...what's the rent on this place?"
"It's not a rental. It's a condo."
DiNozzo spun around, smiling incredulously. "You're kidding. You're seriously thinking of buying this place?"
"Yeah. It makes more economic sense to own property rather than rent. Besides, then the landlord can't get in with a spare key while I'm at work, and discover the body."
"You're seriously warped. You know that, McCriminal?" Tony grinned. "I like it."
"That was meant to be a jab."
"I know. Nice one. You're improving." He resumed pacing, and gazed up at the ceiling. "Condo fee?"
"$800 a month."
"Ouch. Couldn't you find anything cheaper?"
"I can afford it," Tim defended.
"Take it easy, McBigBucks, I never said you couldn't."
"It's close to the Navy Yard...it's near the train station and the market... Abby likes it." The moment the words were out of his mouth, Tim knew uttering them had been a grievous tactical error.
"You guys moving in together?" Tony inquired casually.
The tone of the question took him aback, and Tim couldn't quite decide whether it was wise to answer or not. Though if he didn't, his partner would only continue pestering him until he got some sort of a response, so he decided to forge ahead in an equally casual tone. "We're talking about it."
"That's great, Tim. It's about time." McGee stared at the pod person he'd previously known as Tony DiNozzo. The wisecrack about him not being gay after all never came, and relief washed over him as he realized that just maybe, they'd gotten past that.
"So, that tatt finally paid off, huh?" And there it was – the other shoe.
He decided to play along. "Best 200 bucks I ever spent."
The book launch for "Deep Six: Rock Hollow" was well-attended, and by the end of the evening Tim's hand was cramping from all the autographs he'd given. It seemed people had not forgotten about L.J. Tibbs, Agent Tommy and Officer Lisa after all, and were anxious to know their fates. His original publisher had given up on him when he'd missed his deadline five years ago, but another small house had been only too happy to pick it up recently, much to Lyndi Crawshaw's dismay.
Tim's new living arrangements had been key to finally getting the book polished up and ready for print. His antique desk and typewriter now had pride of place in front of the roll-up window, and sometimes just staring outside in the early morning sun would bring him needed inspiration. And it certainly didn't hurt when Abby would hop out of the coffin and sidle up behind him, wearing nothing but skull-and-crossbone socks and a pair of his boxer shorts, leaning in to wrap her gangly arms around his torso in a tight hug.
Ziva stood in line for 30 minutes just to get an autographed copy. When DiNozzo questioned her motives, she asserted that she wanted to know how much had changed from the original manuscript and how many of McGee's limbs she would have to fracture as penance for using her likeness. Only half of that was true – she was secretly impressed by how accurately Tim had captured her personality in his books (and her feelings for Tony, although she would never admit as much).
Tony arrived just as Tim, his agent and Abby were packing up the table. "Hold on there, Probie. One more for the road." Tony brandished a book in Tim's face, and received a scowl in response.
"We've been here for 8 hours, Tony. Where've you been?"
Tony gave him a knowing look. "Hiding the body."
He got his autograph.