McGee tried not to look too impatient as he sat at his desk. The way he continuously tapped his foot and kept glancing nervously at the clock, however, seemed to have given him away completely. The way Tony was looking at him, he was pretty sure he should be sprouting a second head, and the worried look on Ziva's face meant that said head was horribly deformed and she was pretty sure he'd have to get it amputated immediately. He sighed, his leg stilling as he rolled his neck to try and get less tense.


"You look like you've got a serious case of ants in your pants there, McJumpy. You got someplace better to be tonight?" He paused, scooting his chair towards his partner's desk, eyebrow's raising hopefully. "You got a hot date or something? Come on, you know you can give me details."

"No! No, it's -" Tim felt his cheeks heat, his eyes glancing at the time again. "It's not like that, alright?"

Ziva had, at some point, pulled herself quietly out of her chair and taken several steps to cross the squad room. When his eyes tore away from the clock on the wall, she was leaning in front of him. He let out a gasp, closing his eyes and trying to get his heart rate back to normal from the surprise.

"You are anxious. It is worrisome."

"Well, Ziva, you did try to give me a heart attack just now."

Tony had joined at her side, giving her a small nudge with his hip. "What have I told you about that? It scares people."

She glared at him, but gave no response, looking back to her other partner with a softer expression. "I am sorry, McGee. I did not mean to startle you." She leaned forward some more, going to grab his hand that had begun to tap at the desk top. "What is on your mind? You can tell us."

Tim went to shake his head. He wanted to tell them it was nothing, that they didn't have to worry. It was true, at least - there was nothing to be concerned about. Not in his mind. He bit his lip, wondering if maybe he should divulge all the same, but when his eyes glanced up again, the hour handle was moving quickly to closing time. Shutting down his computer with a quick click, he grabbed his bag, giving both of them a small, apologetic smile.

"See you guys tomorrow," he said quickly, before nearly rushing out of the squad room. Tony and Ziva watched as he entered the elevator, the doors swooshing closed behind him. Crossing their arms in unison, Ziva kept her skeptical expression, while Tony gave a soft, amused scoff.

Tim watched from outside the restaurant window for a moment. His hands were sweating and he tried wiping them on his pants, but it didn't do much good. His heart was pounding in his chest and he felt like he was going to throw up at any second. It had been a bad idea. He couldn't do this. He couldn't walk in there, pretend he wasn't scared as hell or ready to bolt and hide behind World of Warcraft or Call of Duty. McGee didn't fancy himself a coward, but he was thinking it would be pretty good to call it quits right now.

Licking his lips, he had just turned on his heal to walk away, when he bumped into an overly familiar figure.

"Doors over there, McGee," Gibbs said softly, pointing to the entrance of the restaurant.

Sighing, the younger agent glanced behind him, going to rub his perpetually sweaty palms against his pants once more. "I - I know, Boss, I just - ... I don't think I can do this. I tried, I'm just - I'm not... ready. I'm not."

Gibbs stayed quiet, staring at him for a long moment. It was an understanding silence, really. It didn't judge or force McGee to work through anything too quickly. It didn't make him have to reorganize his thoughts or make him question his fears. It was studying. Wondering. Empathetic, even.

"Progress always involves risks. You can't steal second base and keep your foot on first. " he said softly after a moment. It was a stolen quote and McGee knew it, but he didn't leave comment on it. "Your dad's waiting for you, Tim."

There was the silent confirmation between them. The knowledge that he could walk away and take the safe path. Taking a deep breath, he finally nodded, turning away from Gibbs to walk towards the door. With one, thankful glance back to him, he swallowed his fears and headed for the empty chair at the occupied table.