Author's Note: Sorry this chapter was so long in coming. The writer's block I've been dealing with has been a veritable brick wall – one that I've had to slowly chip away at brick by brick.
Brennan looked at Gibbs. Although she was not skilled at reading people's body language, she could tell he was not happy about something. "Ms. Vallejo, could we come inside? There is something we need to discuss with you."
"I suppose," Margaret Vallejo stated, stepping back to allow Brennan and Gibbs to enter. "But, I have no idea what NCIS would want with me."
Gibbs glared at Brennan and stepped through the door into a tiled vestibule. He was decidedly unhappy with Brennan taking the initiative in announcing the purpose of their visit, but he knew now was not the time to address it. They followed the woman into the living room, where she offered them a seat.
"Ms. Vallejo," Gibbs began, hoping to throw her off balance by not giving her the opportunity to again ask what their visit was about. "Your name came up in connection to a joint investigation being conducted by NCIS and the FBI into the murders of a number of military and public service members." He paused to observe Margaret's reaction. There was only the slightest change in her expression, but she quickly schooled her features into a mask of concern and surprise. /Got you/ he thought.
"What does that have to do with me?"
Brennan stepped forward, earning another glare from Gibbs. Booth had no problem with her participation in questioning suspects, and she didn't see the problem with doing it now, despite Gibbs's earlier admonition. "We traced a website that each of the murder victims had frequented to you. We want to ask you some questions about that."
Margaret's feigned look of confusion. "What website?" She knew exactly what Brennan had been talking about, but wasn't about to admit to anything.
Gibbs stepped forward. "It is a sex and bondage website known as madamx(dot)com. You are registered as the owner of the site. We have other evidence that ties you to the murders." He could sense that Margaret was preparing to make a break for it, but continued. "I have a search warrant to search these premises and to seize all of your computers and electronics for further examination. "
Gibbs was right. Margaret moved quickly toward the doorway leading into the vestibule and escape. However, Brennan stepped in front of her, blocking her path and grabbing her arm to halt her progress. Gibbs moved in behind Margaret, pulled her arms behind her back, and fastened handcuffs around her wrists. "Margaret Vallejo, you are being detained for questioning as a person of interest in the investigation into serial murders." Brennan stepped out of the way, and Gibbs, grasping Margaret by the upper arm, moved out of the room. As he went, he pulled his cell phone out of his pocket. "Ziva, I want you and McGee to get to the Vallejo residence and carry out the search warrant. I'm bringing her into interrogation."
NCIS BONES NCIS BONES NCIS BONES
Booth ended the call on his cell phone and glanced over at Parker as he pulled into the parking lot nearest NCIS headquarters. He'd just talked to Ducky to make sure the medical examiner was okay with the offer that had been made by Gibbs and to ensure that there would be no unpleasant surprises for Parker in the autopsy lab. Although he claimed he was fine, Parker still looked a little green around the gills. The school nurse through that the boy had simply gotten over heated during recess, but had advised Booth to have him checked out, saying that there had been a stomach bug going around the school.
Booth parked the car, and decided to try reaching Rebecca again. When he got her voice mail, he decided to leave a message. "Rebecca, when you get this give me a call. Parker got sick at school, and I went to pick him up when they couldn't reach you. I have him with me at work." To cover all of the bases, he sent her a similar text message. Slipping the phone into his pocket, he turned to his son.
"Come on, Buddy." Parker climbed out of the car and slipped his hand into his father's as they crossed the parking lot. "Where are we going?"
"Remember I told you about working with NCIS on a case?" Booth asked.
"Well, I'm taking you to see a doctor who works for NCIS. He's going to take a look at you to make sure that upset stomach of yours isn't anything serious. "
Parker wasn't sure he liked that idea. "But I don't need to see a doctor. I'm fine." He'd heard what the school nurse had told his dad. "I just got too hot during recess, that's all."
Booth grinned down at Parker. "I'm sure that's all it is, Buddy, but I'd still like the doctor to check to be sure. Don't worry. You'll like him. "
Parker still was sure about the situation, but didn't argue. When he and Booth entered Autopsy a few minutes later, Ducky came forward to greet them.
"Hello, Agent Booth. This must be Parker. I'm Dr. Mallard, but, please call me Ducky. Everyone does." The older man held out his hand to the boy. He nodded in response to Booth's silent appreciation for clearing any evidence of the work that was actually done there. Turning back to Parker, Ducky continued, "I understand you haven't been feeling well." He moved to stand beside a table and patted it, indicating that Parker should sit there. Booth watched as his son reluctantly climbed up to sit on the metal surface.
"Do you cut open dead people here? Can I see one?" Parker's had seen the sign identifying the purpose of the room and knew what as autopsy meant. His excitement at the idea that he was sitting where a dead body had been examined overrode the last lingering effects of his illness.
Ducky glanced over at Booth. "Yes, I perform autopsies on these tables. But, unfortunately, we do not have any guests of that nature at the moment." That was a little white lie, but Ducky felt that it was better than to have to refuse to give into the boy's inevitable pleading.
Booth watched as Ducky carried on light conversation with Parker as he examined the child. He couldn't help but think that Gibbs had been right in suggesting this. It was a whole lot easier than trying to get Parker in to see his pediatrician.
His ringing cell phone interrupted Booth's train of thought. He glanced down, half expecting it to be Rebecca. Instead, it was Gibbs. When he answered, he learned that Gibbs and Brennan were on their way back to NCIS with Margaret Vallejo.
"So, what's the verdict, Ducky? He gonna live?" Booth asked when he realized the Ducky was finished with his examination of Parker.
"Another seventy or eighty years, I would say," Ducky said with a wink in Parker's direction. "He's fine. It looks like the school nurse was correct, he simply became overheated during recess. He just needs to take it easy for a while and drink plenty of fluids." He moved to help Parker down from the examination table. "Was that Gibbs on the phone?"
Booth nodded. "They're on their way back with a suspect."
"You may wish to go meet Abby now," he told Parker. "If I'm not mistaken, she has a surprise waiting for you." He grinned at Parker's excited demand that his Dad take him to meet Abby .
NCIS BONES NCIS BONES NCIS BONES
Gibbs, followed by Brennan, heard the delighted giggles of a child as he stepped into Abby's lab. Margaret Vallejo had been placed in an interrogation room, and he was letting her stew while he came to update Booth. Despite his initial displeasure at having to work with the FBI agent, Gibbs found he was beginning to like the man.
Gibbs couldn't help but smiling a little himself when he spotted the boy standing at a work table with Abby. They were looking at something through a microscope. Parker looked up at Abby and spoke in response to the question she had just asked him. The forensic scientist had always been good with the children who had been involved in their investigations, so he wasn't surprised she and Parker were getting along so well. Looking around the room, Gibbs spotted Booth leaning against the wall, watching his son.
Abby was the first to notice the new arrivals. "Gibbs! Come meet my new lab assistant."
Parker grinned at Abby's words. Booth moved to meet across the room to where Gibbs and Brennan were standing. He gestured for Parker to join him. "Gibbs, this is my son, Parker. Parker, this is Special Agent Gibbs."
Parker held his hand out in greeting to Gibbs. "Hi."
"It's nice to meet you, Parker," Gibbs responded as he shook the boy's hand. When Parker moved past him to greet Brennan, Gibbs turned to Booth. "He okay?"
"Yeah," Booth stated. "Ducky says he just over did it at recess. Looking at him now, you'd never know he'd even been sick. Thanks for suggesting that I bring him to Ducky. It's the first time I've ever seen him happy to be visiting a doctor," he laughed. Turning serious, he continued, "What's up?"
"I've got Margaret Vallejo in an interrogation room. McGee and David are executing the search warrant at her house. She tried to run when she found out why we were there." Gibbs glanced in Parker's direction to make sure his attention was somewhere other than on their conversation. "She's not the same woman who is on the website. My gut's telling me that the woman on the website is just a model or something, and doesn't have any ties to this."
Booth understood gut feelings, he relied on them himself. "What's your gut's track record?"
Gibbs looked at Booth for a moment before answering. "It's rarely wrong." His cell phone rang, interrupting any response Booth was about to make. He looked at the caller ID and answered with a brisk, "Yeah?" After listening for several minutes, Gibbs closed his phone and turned back to Booth.
"That was McGee. He found some interesting emails on Vallejo's computer. In particular, he found communications setting up meetings with each of the victims. She specifically instructed them to wear their service uniforms."
"Well, that explains how they were dressed," Brennan stated as she joined the two men. Booth looked around and felt a brief stab of relief when he spotted Parker engaged once again in conversation with Abby on the other side of the room.
Gibbs nodded. "Let's go see what she has to say for herself."
Gibbs and Booth were just about to step into the interrogation room to begin their interrogation of Margaret Vallejo when Tony came rushing down the hallway. "Boss, I got the juvenile records. " He handed over the file to his Boss. Booth moved forward to read over Gibbs's shoulder. When they were finished, all three men exchanged a look.
Backtracking a few steps, Gibbs pushed open the door to the observation room where Ducky and Brennan were waiting to watch the interrogation. "Duck, take a look at this." He handed the older man the file and waited while he reviewed the information.
Ducky read through the information quickly, then closed the file. "This may very well give Ms. Vallejo her motive. "
Gibbs nodded. "Come on," he said, gesturing for Booth to follow him. Turning back, he directed Tony to find out where McGee and Ziva were with the evidence from Margaret's home. Entering the interrogation room, Gibbs pushed the remaining chair away from the table and sat down, tossing the file folder in his hand onto the table. Booth took up position in the corner.
"Margaret Vallejo, this is FBI Special Agent Seeley Booth. We want to ask you a few questions."
NCIS BONES NCIS BONES
Less than an hour later, Brennan, Tony, and Ducky shared a glance. They were in awe of what had just transpired in the interrogation room. Under the combined expert interrogation of Gibbs and Booth, Margaret Vallejo had confessed to everything. She told the agents that after the victims contacted her through the website she would make arrangements to meet them at a four or five star hotel. As the dominatrix of the pair, she would order them to come to the meeting in their service uniform. Once there, the men would be ordered to strip, and she would bind them in such a way that they would slowly strangle unless they stood in one certain position that was very hard to maintain for more than a few minutes at a time. She would also wrap a cloth coated in Phenobarbital around their noses and mouths to make it further impossible to keep from strangling.
"It stands to reason, considering her history," Ducky stated.
"How so?" Tony looked confused. He had seen the juvenile records, but obviously the medical examiner had seen something he hadn't.
"Well, her juvenile record was sealed, not because she committed a crime while she was a minor. Rather, she was the victim of one – she was repeatedly sexually abused over a period of four years by her step-father, an army drill sergeant."
"Each of the men she killed was a substitute for her father," Brennan stated. "By why attempt to mummify the bodies?"
"I would only be guessing, of course," Ducky stated. He paused a moment to observed the continuing proceedings in the interrogation room. Gibbs and Booth were taking Margaret through her confession again. He was sure that very question would be asked. "However, I would say that it was an attempt to preserve her childhood."
"Okay, that's just twisted," Tony observed.
Author's Note: I apologize to anyone who was looking forward to an interrogation scene. I repeatedly tried to write one, but I wasn't happy with any of them. So, I decided to leave that part up to your imaginations.