Gibbs (Mark Harmon) and Torres (Wilmer Valderrama) forged an unlikely connection over unexpected blasts from the past on Tuesday's episode of NCIS.

Gibbs reconnects with an old friend whose daughter, a sailor, is suffering from Stage IV ovarian cancer. Her dying wish is that Gibbs re-open a cold case about one of her shipmates who went missing years before. He agrees, and she gets more good news when Ducky (David McCallu) says he knows a specialist who has developed a treatment that's extended some patients' lives by five to 10 years.

After another former sailor turns up dead, Gibbs assigns Torres to do protection detail for the cancer patient and he bristles at the notion, saying he's not a "hospital" guy. Torres and Gibbs have a cryptic conversation in front of Bishop (Emily Wickersham) in which Torres accuses Gibbs of giving him the assignment because he knew it would be a problem for him.

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When Torres gets to the hospital, he's standoffish to the patient, who says she can tell he's trying to keep his distance because he's previously lost a loved one to cancer. At this, he goes from standoffish to outright rude, and says he has no interest in re-creating a "Hallmark moment" with her. Things continue to go downhill when she's turned away from Ducky's friend's program because her cancer has progressed too far. And, her father tells Torres that the mystery of her friend's disappearance is what's kept her fighting all these years, and he's worried that she'll lose all motivation if NCIS solves the case.

Predictably, the patient is right, and Torres is haunted by a past loss. He shares that, despite not liking to have clutter around his work space, he keeps a framed photo on his desk of himself when he was 19. It was taken by Sophia, his best friend from childhood whom he planned to marry one day. Unfortunately, she was diagnosed with cancer their senior year of high school and, despite being determined to pull through, she passed away.

When the case is solved (it turns out the on-site investigator on the ship, who was smuggling drugs on the side, killed the missing sailor), Torres makes her promise to keep fighting. She, in turn, insists that he remember her not as some dying girl, but as someone he helped. And the former "not a hospital guy" sticks around to watch TV with her.

And that's not the only thing we learn about Torres this week. He's also apparently a speed demon. He, Bishop, McGee (Sean Murray) and Quinn (Jennifer Esposito) are training for a marathon, and to Bishop and McGee's disappointment and embarrassment, even a hungover Torres and Quinn leave them eating dust. (Torres, naturally, doesn't hesitate to post the results online.)

Later, McGee and Bishop discover that Quinn cheated -- she gave them a "head start" and then caught an Uber to the end of the race. Torres, however, really is that fast. But at least he doesn't have to run from his past any longer.

NCIS airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on CBS.

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