The closer they came to the prison, the more nervous Buffy became. Knowing that he was more of a hindrance to her after his outburst, Spike remained in the front seat, while Cordelia sat in the back with her. Kate drove the small, determined band there.
Spike suspected that Buffy hadn’t really thought through her offer of speaking to Peterson. It was a logical choice that she wanted to see through. Her emotions told another tale. A glance in the visor mirror showed the trembling of her body, her hands clasped in her lap, while her eyes were wide with terror as they pulled through the gate of the California State Prison.
He heard her whimper then Cordelia’s murmured reassurances. Turning around, he grasped her hand, unwilling to sit by any longer. She clutched at him as she burrowed into Cordy’s lap. As much as he hated this whole scenario, he knew she had to see it through now. No matter what else she did in her life, she would always feel she let herself down if she didn’t face the bastard.
Kate pulled into a parking spot not far from the entrance. Spike hopped from the car and opened the back door of Kate’s sedan. He reached over and pulled Buffy to a sitting position, crouching at her feet.
“Look at me, pet,” Spike commanded, cupping her face in his hands. “When I said no earlier, it was wrong of me. I was being selfish because I’m so scared of losing you. But I know you have the strength to see this through. I have total faith in you.”
“You do?” Buffy said, wrapping her hands around his wrists. Her eyes searched his to see if he was telling the truth.
“Yes,” he responded, kissing the corner of her mouth. “You are the strongest person I know and you are going to show him that he never broke you. You survived his hell and there is nothing he can do to hurt you now.”
“Thank you, thank you,” Buffy whispered. “I love you so much.”
“I love you, too,” Spike said, kissing her mouth, hard and fast. He helped her from the car, then Cordelia. He was determined to see Buffy through this, in spite of the fact that every step she took, seemed to be another step away from him. “Let’s do this.”
The four of them headed for the entrance. Since this wasn’t an official investigation, it had been decided that Buffy and Cordelia would go in to speak with Peterson. Nothing he said could be used against him. Mostly they were hoping for something that would jar Buffy’s memory or that he would say something that would lead them to damaging evidence to build a case against him.
At the last minute, Buffy turned to Spike. “I want to go in alone. He won’t say anything if Cordelia is there.”
Spike wanted to refuse, but he knew she was right. He hugged her to him, keeping her close for a few moments before releasing her. He stepped back and let Kate and Cordelia prepare her. He was too emotionally involved and he didn’t want her to absorb his fears. While they talked to her, Spike stood with his hands in his pockets, staring out over the parking lot.
“Now, remember,” Kate said. “Don’t force anything. Don’t start interrogating him. Let the conversation develop naturally then tell him what you remember. See where it takes you. Okay?”
“All right,” Buffy said, and Spike could almost see her nodding her head.
“And, don’t forget,” Cordelia said. “He can’t touch you. He’s on the other side of the glass and you are completely safe.”
Buffy whispered, “Okay,” then he heard her make her way to the window to sign in. His stomach clenched as he forced himself to let her go.
The cold, sterile atmosphere of the prison scared Buffy almost as much as the prospect of facing Peterson did. It smelled antiseptic, reminding her of the hospital, in the first few days of her being found. Memories in the form of sensations flashed through her body, the cold, the isolation, the smell, and the persistent fear of him finding her. She swallowed it all back, forcing herself back into the present as she took a seat where the guard indicated.
A door clanged open and she knew he was near. The laughter shared with the guard bringing him to her, and Buffy felt her bowels clutching in fear. She could see his silhouette coming around the corner, and she heard a small sound. It was her as she saw him for the first time in four years. The same lanky build, the brown hair with the matching brown eyes, the smile that twisted his lips, and the nose that was a little too long. The insane wonder of what their child would have looked like crossed her mind. She could only stare at him as he sat across from her.
Numbness took her over as she froze in her seat. He picked up the phone on his side and nodded for her to pick hers up. She couldn’t move until he laughed…at her. With trembling hand, she brought it to her ear.
“Well, hello, Buffy,” Peterson said, with a grin. “Missed me, didn’t you?”
Buffy shook her head.
“Kitty got your tongue?”
“No,” Buffy said, forcing it from her mouth. Her free hand played with the hem of her jeans. Anything to keep her centered and in her seat. “I haven’t missed you.”
“Why have you come to see me then?”
“Because I needed to…find out some things.”
Each word was carefully chosen to keep him at bay. The monster was closer than her nightmares. Only a piece of Plexiglas separated them from each other. Would it hold if he decided to grab for her? She straightened up, trying not to look as afraid as the terror that was making her heart beat too fast.
“Oh, come on, baby,” Peterson cajoled, leaning on his forearms. He was too close. His face twisted in a leer as he looked her over. “A girl never forgets her first lover and everything he taught her. You haven’t really forgotten what we shared, have you?”
“Not everything,” Buffy admitted. “I’ve started remembering.”
“So, you remembered our…little time together,” Peterson said.
His tone was seductive, luring her into his web again. Into the illusions he held of the relationship they had. It made Buffy’s stomach turn with repulsion and she found herself taking a mental step backwards, away from him and his sickness.
“I’m remembering what you did to me,” Buffy said. Her voice was a little stronger as she forced herself to meet his gaze.
“What we did together, sweet thing,” Peterson said, with a laugh. “Well, after you begged me to teach you everything. You were quite the student. Always begging for more.”
“I never begged you for anything except to let me go,” Buffy whispered hoarsely. The first time flashed through her mind, bringing tears that threatened to choke her. “I hated you touching me.”
Peterson shrugged. “I remember differently. We had quite the times together.”
“Why did you let me get dirty?” Buffy asked, out of the blue. It was something that had never made sense to her. “The first few days you let me clean up then you stopped bringing clean water. I was filthy when they took me to the hospital.”
“You were used up,” Peterson said, checking out his fingernails. “My little whore with nothing left to learn.”
“You weren’t coming back for me, were you?”
“Game got out of hand,” Peterson said, glancing around. He returned to his story. She could almost see the walls shutting down behind his eyes. “I thought you had the keys to free yourself.”
“They were out of my reach,” Buffy said, slamming her hand down on the counter. “You were going to let me starve to death or let the rats eat me.”
“Oh, baby, you’re the one who sent me away,” Peterson said, stroking the glass as if it were her face. “Said you never wanted to see me again, do you remember? You couldn’t forgive me for…”
“Faith?” Buffy finished. “I remember her. I remember a lot of things now.”
“Do you? Do you remember the lies that were told to put me away? You wanted me and the things I could do to you. You wanted to see what it was like to play with someone else. Not me,” Peterson snarled. “I wasn’t good enough for you. You lying little bitch.”
“You grabbed me off the street,” Buffy pushed back. What she couldn’t remember she made up. “You chained me up like some damn dog and forced me to…” She stopped. The sobs were strangling her as memories flooded her. “I never wanted you or what you did. I lied to you because I wanted to live. I would have told you anything so that I had a chance to get out of there.”
“And I’ll always be with you,” he said, with a smile. “Every time you fuck someone else I’ll be there. Do you have a boyfriend?”
“Yes,” Buffy whispered.
“Does he appreciate what I taught you? Does he scream when your hot little mouth is on his cock just like I showed you how? Do you wiggle your ass in the air for him? Begging him to fuck you there?” Peterson started laughing, making jerking motions with his hand. “You were one good little lay.”
Something struck Buffy then. A memory of a conversation, or was it just a taunt that echoed in her mind?
“And I was your first, too,” Buffy said, calmly. The fear was gone as she realized how pathetic he was and how little power he really had. “You never fit in anywhere, did you? Girls like me looked down on you. No one would give you the time of day. Your mind couldn’t accept it and you had to kidnap me just to play out your sick fantasies.”
“Lying bitch,” Peterson screeched. “Shut up, whore, you dirty lying slut. I was your every thing. Your every thing…you worshiped me.” He stood, sending his chair flying across the room. “I made you mine and you begged me for more.”
The guard hurried over and started to pull on Peterson.
“Where is she?” Buffy begged, silently asking the guard for one more moment. “What did you do with Faith?”
Peterson leaned closer to the window. “She was your game, not mine. We fucked and then she left us.” He laughed. “She kept talking about living in a big house one day. That’s probably where she is..., Sunshine.” He turned to the guard. “Get me away from her.”
And with that, he was gone. Buffy stared down the hallway where he disappeared, stunned by the exchange. Nothing useful had come from the conversation as she could see it. She had failed. Slowly, she stood and made her way back to the reception area.
Spike was waiting for her. He had been leaning against the wall, but as soon as he saw her, he straightened up. She ran for him. Throwing her arms around him, she let loose the emotions she had been trying to contain. Spike rocked her, murmuring words of endearment as Buffy tried to make sense out of what Peterson had told her.
His words, your game…I wasn’t good enough for you…Sunshine, kept echoing in her mind. There was something there. She just didn’t understand it.
“Are you okay?” Spike asked when she finally pulled away.
“I’m fine,” Buffy said, holding tightly onto his hand. “I don’t know.” She rubbed her brow, trying to find the clue that she knew was there. “I just can’t…”
“Don’t force it,” Cordelia said, coming over to put an arm around her. “Let it come naturally.”
“She’s right,” Kate said. “Let your mind figure it out on its own.”
Buffy nodded. “Can we get out of here now?”
“Hell, yeah,” Spike said, with a smile. He started for the door but stopped when Buffy hesitated. “What’s up, pet?”
She stared down the hallway toward the containment area. She shook her head then turned back to her friends with a smile. The monster in her nightmares had been vanquished. She had faced him and made the most startling revelation of all.
To be continued…