There was a gun pointed at his head.
In general, Tony did not like this situation. To begin with, there was a gun, pointed at his head. To middle with, there was a gun pointed at his head by a gunnery sergeant who had flipped out over his paycheck and decided to hold a bank hostage without even robbing it first. To end with, there were about thirty other people in the bank. To postscript, gun and head.
"Okay," he said, holding up his hands. "I'm unarmed. I'm NCIS. Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo, you can call me Tony. I'm just here to talk." He kept his sentences short because it looked like Sgt. Waterman wanted to bite his head off his neck and chew his skull like bubblegum.
The gun did not waver. "I don't want to talk. What I want to know, Agent Tony, is what you can do for me."
Tony grinned until he got the disconcerting feeling that the gun was reflecting in his teeth, and then he stopped. "Well, Sgt. Waterman, there's a guy like me in every federal agency in America. I'm the guy who can get it for you."
"Get what?" Waterman said.
Tony blinked. "I was just—oh."
And then the real hostage negotiation started.
"I'm not saying that he's going to get everyone killed—"
"He is going to get everyone killed," Ziva said.
"Right," McGee said, "but I'm not saying that. What I'm saying is—any plan that turns on the fulcrum of Tony not annoying someone is probably a pretty flawed plan."
He put the binoculars up to his eyes again and watched Tony's attempt at a hostage negotiation. It appeared to involve a disproportionate amount of gesturing.
Yeah. Going to get everyone killed.
The first demand came out about half an hour after Tony had gone in.
McGee sputtered. "He wants—I'm sorry, what now?"
"He wants," Tony said slowly, "Rita Hayworth."
"Okay, Tony, first of all, I don't know who that is, and secondly, I really don't think we should be giving him more hostages right now."
Tony sighed. "A poster, McGee. He wants a poster of the actress Rita Hayworth, am I right, buddy?"
"Did you just call the gun with the gun buddy?"
"Poster. Rita Hayworth. Now."
All of a sudden, he sounded like Gibbs.
McGee got him the poster. He slipped it in through the night deposit slot.
"She was very pretty," Ziva said. "Nevertheless, I do not understand—"
"Why we're giving a lunatic a Rita Hayworth poster?"
"Yes. Well, I am not sure that Sgt. Waterman is a lunatic—"
"No," McGee said. "I meant Tony."
The next phone call they got from Tony requested a CD of The Marriage of Figaro.
"You've heard of The Marriage of Figaro?"
"Yes," Tony said. "It's beautiful and life-changing."
McGee covered the phone's mouthpiece with his hand. "They may have done something to him in there. Some sort of brainwashing."
"I can still hear you," Tony said. "Marriage of Figaro. Soon as you can."
"Fine. How long are you going to be in there?"
"When did I get in here?"
McGee told him.
"Okay, well, that, plus about two hours and twenty minutes."
Soon after that, a dazed woman left the bank and made a bee line for McGee. "He wants a Bible, and he's disappointed in you."
"The hostage taker is disappointed in me?" Okay: focus. "Is anyone in there hurt? Is Special Agent DiNozzo okay?"
"He's fine," she said. "Everyone's fine. He wants a Bible, and he's disappointed in you, and he wants to know if you don't even at least have TNT or a basic awareness of America." She leaned forward confidentially and said, "He's very strange, isn't he?"
"Okay, again, are we talking about Sgt. Waterman?"
She shook her head. "Agent DiNozzo."
"Should've gotten it from the TNT thing." He shook his head. "Okay, why does he want a Bible, why is he disappointed in me, and why does it matter if I watch TNT or not?"
She blinked at him. "Really? You still don't know?"
"No, I still don't know! Why does everyone think that throwing Rita Hayworth, Figaro, Bibles, and TNT at me is going to make me know what they're talking about!"
Ziva resurfaced beside him the way sharks come up underneath surfers. "Someone is throwing dynamite at you, McGee?"
"Tony's being weird," he said, knowing even as he said it that he sounded like a four-year-old.
The newly freed hostage rolled her eyes. "He said I could tell you if you absolutely had to know, but if you just made a scrunched-up looking face, you were just really irritated, and I didn't have to tell you, and also it's going to be over soon."
McGee rolled his eyes.
"Yes," the woman said. "He said you'd do that." She turned to Ziva. "Are you Officer David?"
Ziva had apparently overheard enough of the conversation to know that she maybe didn't want to be involved in it, but reluctantly said yes anyway.
"He says to pay attention," the woman said, "and watch how he doesn't kill anyone."
Whatever Tony was doing in there was winding down. McGee and Ziva sat on a bench across the street with their binoculars glued to their eyes. There had been something rapt about the room in the last twenty minutes or so—Tony's gestures had diminished by now but everyone, including Waterman, was leaning forward, clearly hanging onto his every word. Waterman didn't even seem to be doing any of the talking—how were they even coming up with those insane demands? Everybody's eyes were on Tony. McGee had two thoughts simultaneously:
1) Wow, he must be loving this.
2) Wow, he's Gibbs.
"What do you think he's doing?"
"I think," Ziva said slowly, "that he is going to hit Waterman with the Bible, deafen him with the figgy music, and then blow him up with the dynamite."
"There is no dynamite," McGee said. "There's a Rita Hayworth poster."
"Then I don't know. Perhaps we should have given him dynamite."
McGee imagined the number of ways he could go to prison for slipping dynamite into a night deposit slot. He weighed that against Tony getting his face blown off onto a Rita Hayworth poster. "Maybe."
"Wait," Ziva said. "Something's happening."
They watched Waterman. They watched Tony watch Waterman.
Waterman wrinkled his nose. Then his mouth twitched. Finally, he put a hand up to his face, just slightly slanted in front of his eyes. Was he crying?
That was when Tony tackled him.
"No harm," Tony said, holding his bloody nose closed, "and no foul. And that, kids, is how you handle a hostage situation."
McGee stared at him.
"Tony, what the hell was that?"
Tony looked at him over the wad of Kleenex. He looked slightly miffed. "That," he said, "was a cinematic masterpiece."
"No," Ziva said. "We were watching. There was no movie."
"Film," Tony said automatically.
"Yes, and not even one of those."
Tony sighed. "Clearly I will get nowhere with you people. Okay, so it's like a magic trick—you want to know how I did it?"
"Yes," Ziva said.
"I would not put dynamite in a night-deposit slot for you," McGee said.
"I'm going to take that as a yes as well, McFelon. The thing is—apparently you two and Sgt. Waterman have something in common. Well, more than one thing. McGee, you apparently have a thing about committing bank-related felonies and Ziva, I believe you and the good gunny could bond over a liking for high-powered weaponry, but what I'm thinking of here—the most important thing that could get all you guys together over a campfire—is that, apparently, none of you have ever seen The Shawshank Redemption."
McGee missed Gibbs.
Ziva was gaping at Tony. "And you—"
"Referenced The Shawshank Redemption, saw that he didn't understand it, and decided that everyone always has time for a classic."
"You—screened The Shawshank Redemption for him? The bank just happened to have a copy of The Shawshank Redemption?"
"Don't be silly, McLiteral. I told it to him."
"You told Waterman about The Shawshank Redemption?"
"Not about. I told it. I can pretty much recite the screenplay at this point."
"Oh God," Ziva said. "Of course you can."
Tony straightened. "I do a very good Morgan Freeman."
"All right," McGee said. "So your strategy, upon entering this hostage situation, was to recite The Shawshank Redemption verbatim for an armed psychopath—and to clue us in by requesting items that seemed, for the record, totally random—"
"They were highly plot relevant!"
"—and then tackle him at some moment you chose… how, exactly?"
"Oh," Tony said, "it was the end of the film."
"So when you ran out of film, you were just going to throw yourself at him like a javelin?"
"I was thinking linebacker," Tony said, "and no. Not when I ran out of film. When I got to the end. Because he would be distracted. There are tactics, McGee, plans within plans—you'll need to know this if you're going to be my senior field agent."
"A) I already am your senior field agent, and b) How did you know he was going to be distracted? You can't just make these out-of-nowhere predictions—"
"It's backed by solid scientific evidence," Tony said smugly. "Everyone always cries at the end of The Shawshank Redemption."
"But he's a Marine—"
"Everyone," Tony said. "It was a perfectly safe and entirely brilliant plan. And no one got hurt."
"You have a bloody nose," Ziva said.
"Because tackling a Marine into a marble floor is, well, a lot like tackling a Marine into a marble floor. But no one elsegot hurt, and now Sgt. Waterman will be going to prison, which gives us all a greater appreciation of irony."
"The movie's about a prison?"
Tony looked at him sadly. "I really don't understand why you choose to live your life like this, McGee." Then, informing them that he had talked for two and half hours and saved thirty people's lives single-handedly, he sarcastically thanked them for their teamwork and wandered off to find a drink of water and the slightly star-struck released hostage who had hung around to see how it all turned out.
McGee and Ziva watched him go.
"He is not Gibbs," McGee said.
"Nonetheless," Ziva said.
"It was a little bit cool."
"A very little bit."
"We could not quit yet," McGee said. "If you wanted."
"I admittedly did think that it would go far, far worse than this."
"Well, for next time," McGee said, "there's always the possibility—"
"I will bring some just in case."