DiNozzo races through an empty warehouse, his gun clutched in one hand and his heart beating loudly in his ears. He doesn't hesitate as he nears two armed men standing at the warehouse's open door. Shooting wildly, he hits both men multiple times, never slowing down. Running full out, DiNozzo flings his gun away and dives headfirst from the pier into the green waters of the river. Bubbles rise from a car sitting a dozen feet below the surface. Inside the car Gibbs struggles to free himself and his passenger - a young blonde woman who is already unconscious. DiNozzo reaches the driver's side door and tries desperately, but cannot budge it. His eyes lock on the bullet-ridden windshield. He hits it again and again, as hard as he can beneath the water, until finally it gives, and he is able to pull it completely out of the frame. He grabs the lifeless body of the young woman and pulls her to the surface.
Gibbs is trapped, his legs held in place by the broken steering column. He struggles to move as air leaks from his nose and mouth.
DiNozzo reaches the surface and pulls the girl onto the dock. Gasping, he quickly checks for breathing or a pulse, and then flings himself back into the water - Gibbs hasn't surfaced yet. Arriving at the car a second time, DiNozzo finds Gibbs completely still, his eyes staring. Yanking and pulling on the steering wheel, DiNozzo finally manages to free Gibbs' legs, and he drags his boss's body towards the surface, adrenaline fueling his movements.
On the pier, a nearly frantic DiNozzo checks Gibbs for a pulse or respiration and can find none. He hurriedly begins chest compressions, listening again and again for any response as he mutters, "Don't do this to me, boss, don't do this to me." He begins mouth-to-mouth, and continues CPR, shouting at Gibbs. He looks back and forth between Gibbs and the young woman, checking Gibbs' throat, again, for any sign of returning life, for any hope. His eyes settle on Gibbs' face before he forces himself to move to the young woman and begin CPR, almost exhausted himself. As DiNozzo battles for the young woman's life, he keeps looking over his shoulder at Gibbs, lying completely still on the wooden pier, one hand outstretched towards the outstretched hand of the young woman.
Twenty-Four Hours Earlier
Abby is begging Gibbs for a favor as the two exit the elevator in the NCIS bullpen. She promises that, if he will do this one little thing for her, she won't bother him again for at least a week. Gibbs happily agrees and Abby whips out her new cell phone to take his picture. Just as she clicks the photo, McGee interrupts, and Gibbs turns his head, leaving Abby with a picture of Gibbs' ear. As Abby fumes, McGee tells Gibbs that a young woman named Maddie Tyler has arrived asking for Gibbs and that she is waiting in the lounge. As Gibbs walks away, Abby tries again, but only succeeds in catching a photo of her thumb. She is trying to get photos of everyone on the NCIS team for her new phone, so that she can set it to show their pictures when they call her.
Maddie Tyler, a blonde, twenty-something young woman recognizes Gibbs, but he doesn't seem to know her. She reminds him that she was his daughter Kelly's best friend. He remembers that she lived on base and that her dad was a Marine officer. Maddie tells him that her father died a few years ago, but that she is finishing her degree at Georgetown. Gibbs sits quietly across the table from her, patiently waiting for a very nervous Maddie to tell him why she's there. Finally, she admits that she needs his help with a "crazy guy problem." She dated a Marine once or twice 18 months ago, before he went to Iraq. Now that he's back the Marine is insisting on "restarting" their relationship, even to the point of wanting to move in with her. When she refused he got violent. She has reported him to the police for stalking, but they claim they cannot do anything. Folding up her sleeve she shows Gibbs a large bruise on her right arm. He can find this Marine, Rudy Haas, outside her building, Maddie tells him.
In the bullpen, Abby continues collecting photographs, getting a "cute" close-up of McGee, and a "pretty" shot of Ziva. DiNozzo turns away from the camera and then quickly turns back, making a scary face as Abby presses the button. He thinks that picture is the best one yet. McGee mutters, "Boss" and the agents split up. Abby quickly holds up her camera and pushes the button before she realizes that Gibbs is walking with Maddie Tyler. The two walk past the bullpen area towards the elevator which is just opening on Director Shepard. Exiting the elevator she mentions that she needs to talk with Gibbs about the latest East African threat assessments as she catches sight of the pretty blonde girl. Gibbs and Maddie enter the elevator, and Gibbs doesn't say a word as the elevator doors slide closed.
The gang begins speculating on "Maddie Tyler" and her connection to Gibbs. DiNozzo suggests that McGee "McGoogle" her, but he has a better idea - he pulls up Maddie's MySpace account. There they find that Maddie has an eclectic taste in music, has many college-age friends, and one friend she notes as "My first and still my best friend Kelly, Forever in my memory." They realize that Maddie was a friend to Gibbs' late daughter, Kelly.
At Maddie's apartment, she points out Sgt. Haas' SUV to Agent Gibbs as the two walk towards her building. Haas walks out of the building and approaches Maddie, calling her "Mads" and "baby." Gibbs intervenes and puts the Marine in a shoulder hold, pushing Haas' left arm up behind his back. Gibbs makes it very clear that Sgt. Haas is to leave Maddie alone, putting more pressure on the sergeant's arm as he makes every point. Haas stalks off, and Gibbs smiles at Maddie, as if brushing the entire episode off.
Gibbs sits at a small kitchen table in Maddie's very "lived-in" apartment, struggling to swallow a sip of horrible coffee as Maddie searches for something she wants to show him. She finally finds an old photo album and flips through the pages to a picture of her and Kelly with their arms around each other. The photo brings that day back to Gibbs in living color - the sounds of the girls' laughter, the brightness of the sunshine on their faces, and the light in his daughter's eyes. He remembers that he took the picture, and never did find out what the two girls were laughing about. He had shipped out to Iraq that month, and his wife and daughter followed him to Pendleton, but that was the last time he saw them before their murders. Maddie tells him that she and Kelly had just buried a time capsule - they'd filled a toy suitcase with all of their treasures. They were sitting on it when he took that picture. "I never stopped crying," admits Maddie, and she often wonders what Kelly would be like after all these years. Gibbs tells a tearful Maddie that Kelly would be just like her. Maddie gives the picture to Gibbs and he gets up to leave, telling her to call if Haas returns.
Outside the apartment building, Gibbs looks down the street and sees Haas talking on his cell phone in his parked black SUV. Gibbs moves quickly to confront the Marine, but Haas races off down the street.
McGee puts up Marine Sgt. Rudy Haas' file on the plasma in the NCIS bullpen. Haas works in logistics and is currently on a 30-day leave after returning from Iraq. He has a clean eight year service record, and grew up in Chicago. As Gibbs tells the team to look into his criminal background, Director Shepard appears, and wonders why NCIS is interested in the sergeant. DiNozzo, Ziva, and McGee try to listen surreptitiously as the director and Gibbs quietly discuss the circumstances - Maddie hasn't filed a complaint, but Gibbs wants to investigate the Marine on the stalking charge. Director Shepard moves closer to Gibbs and asks him if this is "personal." He denies that it is personal, but admits that he knows Maddie Tyler before walking away. The director nods to McGee and tells the team to proceed.
Ziva believes that Director Shepard knows what Gibbs is thinking - her woman's intuition told her something was going on with Gibbs and the girl. McGee wonders if the team should be worried about him.
Gibbs stands in the backyard of his house. It's changed a lot since he took that picture of Kelly and Maddie - the bushes have grown up in the planting bed where the two girls buried their Time Capsule. He digs one bush out with a hand trowel, and then smoothes away the dirt from a colorful child's lunchbox. He carries the box into his workshop and tenderly brushes the dirt from the bright rainbow painted on top. The memories come easily now, of his last moments with his daughter, of her tears as he said goodbye, of the song he always sang to her to calm her fears. He sits down on the floor, fingering the box tenderly as he remembers. Kelly and his wife had the same beautiful blue eyes and he hated saying goodbye to those eyes as he drove off that day so long ago. His phone rings, pulling him reluctantly from his reverie and he takes a moment to compose himself before he answers. Maddie's voice is full of fear, saying, "Jethro - he's back!"
Gibbs' tires squeal as he pulls up in front of Maddie's apartment. Hurrying into the building, he pulls his gun when he sees that her front door has been broken open. He checks the ransacked apartment quickly, and then hears Maddie's screams coming from outside. Out the window he sees Maddie being pushed roughly into the back of the black SUV. When Gibbs gets back to the street, it is too late - the SUV has taken off.
Entering the bullpen, Gibbs barks at his team, but they are ready for him. DiNozzo reports that he has put a BOLO out on Haas' car, Ziva has sent Sgt. Haas' photo and details to the Metro Police, and McGee suggests they get the photo of Maddie Tyler that Abby took by mistake for the local police as well. Haas has not reported in to Quantico - which is listed as his current address - since he returned from Iraq. DiNozzo is working on compiling of list of every place Haas has ever stayed, while McGee is working on the cells phones - both Haas' and Maddie's. Director Shepard steps into the area and asks for a briefing, but Gibbs' answers are short and to the point: "She called me, I got there and the place was trashed. I saw her being pushed into Haas' SUV." He admits that he didn't actually identify Sgt. Haas. She turns to McGee and begins asking questions about the sergeant's record. He didn't re-enlist, so he will be out of the Marines in 60 days, his last deployment was in the Green Zone in Baghdad, working in logistics where every shipment into and out of Iraq went through his hands. According to his phone records, Haas has called Maddie 15 times in the last 8 days, and received 5 calls from a company called Bordais Security Solutions. They were the first call he received back in the states, and the last call he received before switching off his phone. BSS does Global Security and Haas may have been considering employment with that firm when he left the military. The CEO is U.S. Army Maj. Max Bordais (Ret.).
Max Bordais agrees to an interview with Gibbs and the director in her office, and tells the two a little bit about his company. He employs less than 100 people, mostly ex-military who served in Iraq. He sought to hire Haas because of his expertise in logistics, but the sergeant passed on his generous offer. Bordais explains that Haas was the best at procuring difficult items, and was known for his abilities to get people what they wanted. When Bordais claims not to know Haas' location, Gibbs accuses him of lying, but Director Shepard admits that he is not under arrest. Gibbs grabs Bordais' shoulder as he tries to get up to leave, pushing him back into his chair. He leans into the man's face, demanding to know Haas' location. Speaking calmly and quietly, Bordais tells Gibbs that Haas wasn't interested in his offer, and that the two never met in person. Gibbs allows him to leave. The director sarcastically compliments Gibbs on his interview style, and tries to get him to tell her what he is holding back. Gibbs continues to answer her questions with limited responses, but Director Shepard finally realizes why Gibbs is so emotionally involved with this case.
On the way down the stairs, Abby meets Gibbs and hands him a copy of the picture she took of Gibbs and Maddie. When she asks him if Maddie was a friend of his daughter's, he flashes a smile and nods, but he's immediately re-focused on the case when DiNozzo calls to him. McGee has analyzed Haas' cell phone calls, and found that three of his calls that week were made in range of the same cell tower limiting their search focus into a four square block area. DiNozzo adds that Haas' only job before joining the Marines was in a clothing factory within that four block radius.
The NCIS team enters the abandoned factory, guns drawn. They find Haas' SUV - empty - and a tape player playing a Johnny Cash song. Ziva holds one hand up in warning, and, as Gibbs shuts off the loud tape player, she asks the others if they hear it, too: the sound of flies. Ziva pushes the button on the freight elevator. The car rumbles down to their level and the doors slowly open to reveal the dead and mutilated body of Marine Sgt. Haas. Swarms of flies circle the Marine, whose hands and feet have been nailed to the wooden floor of the elevator car.
Ducky arrives as McGee finishes the crime scene photographs. He explains that crucifixion wasn't invented by the Romans, but was first used by the Egyptians and Greeks, and later by the Persians and Japanese. Gibbs is impatient, and Ducky begins examining the body. There are numerous cuts and nicks on Haas' torso and legs, and a large bruise on the dead man's left arm. When Ducky speculates that the bruise, which consists of easily identifiable finger marks, predates the more recent wounds, Gibbs admits that he gave Haas that bruise. Ducky believes the Marine was nailed to the floor so that he wouldn't struggle when his killers tortured him. Since rigor is fully set, Sgt. Haas was killed at least 12 hours ago - he was dead when Maddie Tyler was abducted.
Ziva and DiNozzo are concentrating on the SUV. DiNozzo is reviewing the facts of the case, wondering why a Marine would return from Iraq, stalk a girl he barely knows, trash her apartment, and then abduct her. When Gibbs tells the agents that Haas didn't abduct Maddie, Ziva begins thinking about the case in another way. Whoever abducted Maddie searched her apartment - they were clearly looking for something, and abducted her because they did not find it. McGee pops up from under the dashboard to show the others what he's found: a GPS locator wired directly into the car's radio.
Marine Sgt. Haas' body has just been delivered to Ducky in autopsy, and Gibbs has already arrived for answers. Ducky tells him what he can, that there were no fatal wounds, and very little blood loss at the scene, and the man wasn't strangled. He does find some petechial hemorrhage, suggesting that he was smothered. Speaking as a friend, Ducky reminds Gibbs that Maddie was abducted more than six hours ago, and, statistically speaking… Gibbs' facial expression keeps Ducky from completing his thought. Going back to the body, Ducky realizes that the hives and red rash might be signs of anaphylactic shock. He notes that Sgt. Haas' personal file lists a seafood allergy and tells Gibbs that Haas wouldn't have to have eaten seafood, just come in contact with it to have an adverse reaction. Finally, Ducky asks Gibbs "Just who are you trying to save?" Gibbs cannot help but remember his daughter's smiling face, and tells Ducky that he sees Kelly every time he looks at Maddie.
Abby enters autopsy in a manic mood, and doesn't notice the aura of the past surrounding both men. She speaks quickly, as if trying to convince herself of her words of comfort to Gibbs - that surely the team will find Maddie in time. Gibbs stands silently as Abby hugs him, and he and Ducky wait expectantly as Abby suddenly orders the two men out of her lab so she can focus on her work. Looking up and realizing where she is, Abby awkwardly apologizes and leaves. Gibbs and Ducky share a glance before Gibbs walks out.
In the bullpen, McGee has found that the GPS locator was placed in Marine Sgt. Haas' SUV by Bordais Security Solutions. The director orders the team to bring in Max Bordais. Watching from the observation room, DiNozzo and Ziva discuss the possibility of Maddie Tyler's survival as Director Shepard and Agent Gibbs enter the interrogation room. The two confront Bordais with the GPS locator they found in Sgt. Haas' car. Bordais tells them that he wants to make a phone call - but not to a lawyer, to the Pentagon.
Marine Col. Stacey Radcliffe arrives at NCIS to brief Director Shepard and Agent Gibbs about SIGIR - Special Inspector General for Iraqi Reconstruction. SIGIR was established to audit funds allocated to the rebuilding of Iraq. Much of the money is missing, namely $8 billion cash in hundred dollar notes. Two of Bordais' employees were suspected of stealing $4 million from a vault in Baghdad three years ago - Danny Coyle and Brian Judd. When Gibbs looks at pictures of the two, he identifies the man who abducted Maddie as Danny Coyle. They suspected the men, but couldn't find the money until two weeks ago. The two approached Sgt. Haas to help them get the money back into the US. Apparently, Haas got greedy, and he was the only one who knew how the money was going to be shipped. Gibbs sits on the director's couch and goes through the file on Coyle and Judd, noting the phone number recorded in it. The colonel was tracking Coyle, Judd, and Haas through GPS, until Coyle and Judd switched cars. She knows the money has arrived.
Gibbs asks Col. Radcliffe if she knows where Coyle and Judd are located, and she tells him the Pentagon team lost track of the two 24 hours ago. Bordais insists that the two are experts at avoiding detection. When Gibbs tells Col. Radcliffe that the men abducted a young woman that morning, she reluctantly admits that she already knows. Their team actually saw the abduction happen, but felt they couldn't stop it without more manpower. Gibbs gets in the colonel's face and demands to know where her surveillance lost the abductors - in the street, in the next block, or two blocks away, but the director intervenes. Gibbs throws the file down and storms out of the room. Col. Radcliffe moves to leave as well, but the director stops her with a word. Director Shepard pointedly tells the colonel that she will "bring down the full weight of this service" if Radcliffe doesn't supply her utmost cooperation. Shepard then reiterates Gibbs' question - where did the Pentagon lose the track of the abductors?
Striding into the bullpen, Gibbs tells DiNozzo that, if Abby comes up with something, he should handle it. DiNozzo, working at his desk, agrees to call Gibbs right away if Abby calls. Gibbs stops and stares at his agent, a drawer in his desk half-way open, and asks DiNozzo if that is what he said to do. DiNozzo meets Gibbs' eyes and confirms that he will handle it. Gibbs puts his gun on his belt and stands, suddenly noticing the mail clerk pushing her cart around the office delivering mail. He heads swiftly for the elevator, and impatiently pushes the button as the director walks up. Director Shepard tells him that the Pentagon surveillance team lost the abductors somewhere in the old dock district. Gibbs points at DiNozzo and advises her to tell him as the elevator doors close. Shepard steps to DiNozzo's desk and asks if he knows where Gibbs has gone. DiNozzo tells her that Gibbs took his badge and his gun, so "maybe he's gonna shoot someone." McGee checks Gibbs' desk and finds that, while he took his gun, Gibbs left his badge and his identification on his desk. Now the entire team is worried.
In the elevator, Gibbs dials the phone number he found in the Pentagon file and leaves a message: "If you want your money, call me back."
McGee doesn't notice, at first, that DiNozzo is trying to get his attention - he has been staring at the plasma, lost in thought. Ziva tells the two that she tried to call Gibbs but that he won't pick up. Ziva is worried, but DiNozzo claims that he is only slightly concerned. McGee has been concentrating on a slide on the plasma showing a pyramid, each level listing one of the components to their current case, from the missing $8 billion, to dead Marine Logistics Officer Haas, to Maddie Tyler. DiNozzo calls it an iceberg, but McGee claims that it is the $4 million tip to the $8 billion iceberg. DiNozzo believes they should be focusing on finding Maddie, and that is just the problem - they don't understand how Maddie fits into this theft. The agents decide that Maddie knows something, or can lead Judd and Coyle to the money, but that she doesn't realize what she knows. Ziva again wonders why Haas, who only dated Maddie twice, would want to move in with her. The three stand in front of the plasma and brainstorm reasons Haas needed to move into Maddie's apartment when he had a perfectly fine room at Quantico. He may have wanted privacy, or to avoid vehicle searches, but it is the director, who has been standing nearby listening, who comes up with the answer: Haas needed a street address for a delivery. Haas wasn't stalking Maddie, he was hanging around her apartment to check the mail. Director Shepard orders the team to Maddie's apartment to find the mail carrier and McGee and Ziva take off, but DiNozzo stands still, watching. The director approaches him, and she and DiNozzo discuss the fact that Gibbs figured it out and didn't tell them. They've both tried to call him, but he didn't pick up either call.
Sitting on her bed, Gibbs waits in Maddie's trashed apartment, staring at the picture that she had given him that morning. He smiles at the memories of his daughter, remembering her laughing face as they played together, and then her tearful pleas as he went away for the last time. He thinks back to Maddie's comment, that she wonders what Kelly would have been like, and he repeats his original thought: "like you." The mailman gives a cursory knock at the open door, asking for Rudy Haas for delivery of a registered letter. When the mailman asks him for ID, Gibbs pulls back his coat and reveals his sidearm. The mailman hands over the letter. Gibbs rips open the envelope and pulls out a copy of a shipping manifest.
McGee and Ziva arrive in the neighborhood and see the mail carrier pushing his cart down the sidewalk. Ziva jumps out of the car and approaches him, showing him her ID, and asking for the letter for Rudy Haas. Ziva calls the director to tell her that Gibbs had gotten there ahead of them, and that Haas shipped the money home as the personal property of a dead marine. Director Shepard tells her to find Gibbs. DiNozzo runs to his desk to pick up a phone call from Abby, "She's caught a fish."
Abby shows DiNozzo and Director Shepard the nails used on Sgt. Haas and explains that she found blue-fin tuna oil stuck in the spirals on each nail. When Coyle and Judd drove these nails into Haas, they acted as poison darts, sending him into anaphylactic shock. Abby checked with the fishing authorities, and there are only two piers that are involved with blue-fin tuna. The Main Pier is too crowded, so the only other option is the Southwestern Marine Pier 5 in SW Washington, DC. There was an exporting company there that closed down a few years ago. DiNozzo heads off. As the director begins to walk from the lab, Abby stops her. She is worried - she called Gibbs and he didn't pick up. Director Shepard whispers, "Good work, Abby."
Gibbs presents the shipping manifest to the Marine clerk, who releases two heavy duffel bags into Gibbs' possession. His cell phone rings, and Gibbs picks up, telling the person on the other end that he's "got it," and he's on his way to the rendezvous.
DiNozzo arrives at one side of an abandoned warehouse building at Pier 5. He glances through a chain link fence.
Gibbs walks into a warehouse carrying one of the duffel bags. Two armed men are waiting for him - Coyle and Judd - and Coyle is holding onto Maddie Tyler. Gibbs throws the bag to the ground and Judd searches him. Judd then opens the duffel bag and sees the cash, but Haas told them there were two bags. Gibbs takes car keys out of his pocket and tells the two that the other duffel is in his car. He will give them the keys if they give him Maddie, but the car is parked in the downtown parking lot. Coyle pulls Maddie closer to him, aiming the gun at her head, and tells Gibbs to go get his car. Gibbs answers, "get it yourself," and tosses the keys into the air. When the two are distracted, Maddie elbows Coyle in the stomach and Gibbs tackles Judd, sending him reeling into Coyle. Maddie and Gibbs run to the car parked at the warehouse exit and scramble inside. Gibbs throws the car into reverse and slams down the accelerator as Coyle and Judd put multiple rounds into the car's hood, grill, and front windshield.
Hearing the gunshots, DiNozzo draws his gun and looks through the fence at the warehouse exit to see the car carrying Gibbs and Maddie careening backwards off the pier and into the river. He races around the building to the other entrance as the car sinks into the green water of the Potomac. Gibbs pushes against his door, trying to force it open against the water pressure, but it won't budge. He turns Maddie's face towards him, and sees that she is already unconscious. Fighting against time, he tries to find a way out, but the steering wheel has wedged against his legs and he cannot move. He sees DiNozzo pierce the water above him. DiNozzo tries to open Gibbs' door, but fails. Finally, focusing on the windshield that has already been breached, DiNozzo pries it from its frame. Gibbs pushes the limp body of his daughter's best friend out through the opening to DiNozzo, and watches as they rise slowly to the surface, leaving him behind.
His daughter's smiling face is outlined with a blinding white light, and Gibbs cannot help smiling in response. Kelly and her mother are happy, and they tell him to go back. Gibbs reaches out his hand to his daughter, so happy to see her and to know that she is all right. Kelly tells her father that she loves him over and over again. The white light recedes, and the hand Gibbs is grasping is Maddie Tyler's. They are both alive. As DiNozzo kneels between them, gasping, Gibbs and Maddie turn to each other, hands clasped tightly.
The Time Capsule lies on Gibbs' workbench, the colors faded with age and dirt. Gibbs, dry and warm, places both hands on the box and then pulls two photographs from his back pocket. One shows best friends, Maddie and Kelly, faces alive with laughter. The other, Gibbs and Maddie walking through NCIS. Grabbing the garden trowel, Gibbs picks up the box, unopened, to put it back where he found it, leaving the photos on his workbench. The pictures have fallen on top of one another, so it seems as if Gibbs has his arms around each of his girls. One in death, and one in life.