by Nix
(crimsonquills AT gmail DOT com)

Author's Notes: This is not the story I originally wrote for the ncis_flashfic Self-Insertion challenge. I finished that one, but I hated it so much I couldn't stand to show it to anyone, not even for a second opinion. This is the fic I wrote when I realized that I had less than a hour to write a response to this challenge if I didn't want to miss answering a challenge for the first time since this community opened. Despite the rushed brainstorming of an idea and actual writing, I actually kind of like this one.

Thanks to Aurelia Priscus for helping with a panicked "I have an hour and thirty minutes to come up with an idea I don't hate and write it!" brainstorming session.

I gathered up the stack of manuscript pages in front of me and caught Tim's eye, tilting my head away from the door so he would know to stay behind. I waited until the rest of the workshop participants had filed out the door, chattering and checking their programs to see which panels they were headed to next. There was a half hour break before the next workshop was scheduled to start in this room, so no one filed in behind them, leaving Tim and I alone for the moment.

I walked around the table to where he was organizing his things in the plastic goodie bag the convention organizers had provided. He stopped when I leaned against the table next to him.

"Please tell me this isn't about the book," he said, closing his eyes briefly. "If it's about the book and you couldn't say it in front of the others, I'm not sure I want to know."

"Sorry," I said, wincing sympathetically.

He hung his head and sighed. Then he straighted up and motioned towards himself. "Okay, hit me."

"The others don't know anything about your job," I began, "which is why I guess they didn't notice, but...the main characters are all kind of Mary Sues of your co-workers." I paused, biting my lip. "I mean, it's well written, but..."

Tim's shoulders slumped. "In my defense," he said, "I didn't know what a Mary Sue was when I started. I just figured, write what you know, right?"

"That's not generally meant to be taken so literally," I said apologetically. "But it's a good book! This can be fixed."

"I've already got a publisher."

My eyes went wide. "You do? That's great! Tim, why didn't you say anything? The whole workshop would have taken you out for drinks! Heck, why did you submit the book to be workshopped in the first place?"

"I didn't say anything because I didn't want to seem stuck up," Tim explained. "Besides, it wasn't accepted when I signed up. And really, I learned a lot anyway. The next book will be better. But I really can't fix this one."

"You still deserve a celebratory drink," I said firmly. I hesitated. "But Tim?" He nodded.

"Don't ever let the team get a hold of this book."