A/N: The lawyer used in this fic, while perhaps equatable to one used on Angel, was simply a generic, formulaic substitute. Because I have yet to watch Angel or, for that matter, the latter four seasons of Buffy, I know nothing of the attorneys who worked for Wolfram and Hart other than that of which I have read in other stories. Also, the song lyrics used in this fic are from the song "Out of Control" by She Wants Revenge. If you are so inclined, look it up and listen to it while you read that particular section of the tale. It might further set the mood in which Angelus and Buffy find themselves immersed. Finally, although many of you already know this, this is my first time participating in the IWRY ficathon. Thank you for having me, thank you for reading, and thank you to Chrislee for organizing the event!

~Charlynn~

Pulsations

She had believed herself to be past the point of surprise, that her work experience thus far had hardened her against basic, human reactions and turned her into a machine of professionalism and detachment. She had thought that nothing could shock her, that she had seen it all, that no client or associate would be able to render her speechless. After all, when one worked where she did, the abnormal became routine, and the ordinary became foreign and unheard of. And she had assumed that this particular project would progress just like the others – meet, plan, strategize; wait for and then receive the results she anticipated, wanted; and then pay for the services rendered for her firm, neatly, quickly, and quietly – involved, though from a distance, a puppeteer, if you will.

She was wrong.

Leading the way into a small yet impeccably decorated conference room, the successful, rising attorney kept her astonishment and, truth be told, dismay to herself. No matter what her personal opinion might be of the new associate she was meeting with, the man or, rather, boy, in her estimation, had come highly recommended. According to rumors, he was the best dirty money could buy. If only his appearance would match and denote such a reputation, then she would feel more comfortable working with him.

"I assume you have already been debriefed on our little project?"

"Our project," the teenager across from her laughed mockingly. "Lady, you just cut the checks. I'm the one who does all the work."

When she went to object, shifting unnervingly in her leather chair, her firm's latest associate silenced her with a single, derivative glare. Rhetorically, he asked, "can you mix music? Can you pass for and get hired as a DJ in a teen dance club? Are you fluent in black magic?" Running his gaze up and down her suit clad form, he snorted, "yeah, I didn't think so."

No one, though, not even someone that she needed desperately, spoke to her that way. Rolling her shoulders so that she could sit with her back ramrod straight, the imposing lawyer narrowed her cold, calculating eyes in the younger man's direction. "Look at you," she sneered, "and then look at me."

As he did as he was told, she smirked. There was no mistaking which one of them was in control of the situation. While he was dressed in mismatched, baggy rags, his hair tangled and his pants so loose his cartoon character decorated boxer shorts hung out for, at least, six inches, there was not a single hair out of place on her head, not a single piece of lint on her designer clothes. Since her very first day at the firm, she had dressed to intimidate, to remind both those that she worked with and those that she worked for that, no matter what, she was the one in charge. Expensive, designer shoes, finely tailored power suits, and jewelry that both made a statement and spoke of class and elegance defined her look, and, in that small conference room, she used it to define the parameters of her latest working relationship.

"While, yes, I might be hiring you for your services, do not make the mistake of believing that I need you. You are a dime a dozen. If I decided today that you no longer suited my plans, I would have a hundred more applicants waiting in line to take your place before I could even lift a single finger." It was a lie, but she was the only one who knew that. "Do not forget your place. You are here to do a job for me. I am your boss, I am the one in control here, and you will do what I say, when I say it, and you will either like it or you will get the hell out of my sight. Do we understand each other?"

The pimply faced teen across from her swallowed roughly, nodding his head to assure her of his cooperation. "Good," she practically cooed, smiling darkly. "Now, tell me: how familiar are you with the legend of the slayer?"

Giles watched his slayer, concern for her well being and her mental stability weighing heavily upon him, but, frankly, other than guiding her, pointing her in the right direction, there was nothing he could do. He had never felt so impotent. But, still, he had a job to do; they had a job to do, and it was long past time that Buffy faced the cold, hard truth of the situation: Angelus had to be dealt with. Permanently.

However, after months of watching her put off the inevitable, Giles knew that he simply couldn't demand that she stake the master vampire so bluntly. Getting her to accept her responsibility towards all of humanity where the body of her former souled boyfriend was concerned would take finesse and logic, kindness and strength of conviction. First, though, unfortunately, there were other matters at hand as well.

"Buffy, there are things that we must discuss."

The slayer said nothing, did nothing but continue to remain seated in her chair, a far-off, dreamy quality to the expression upon her otherwise serene countenance. In fact, the only movement she made was the steady tapping of her right shoe, the sole of the boot creating a rather pleasant if not distracting sound against the tile of the library floor. The beat was fixed, rhythmic, almost as if the slayer was drumming her toes along to an insistent, never-ending song.

Taking her silence as permission to continue, Giles said, "I'm unsure of whether or not you've noticed, considering the limited… considering your current social circle, but several members of the swim team have gone missing." Still, Buffy did not respond. Hoping she was just as clueless about the situation as he was and looking towards her watcher for suggestions, he pressed on, "I don't suspect the culprit to be vampires, given the fact that their bodies have not been located. So, that means, in all likelihood, we're facing yet another supernatural opponent."

If nothing else, his slayer's tapping seemed to increase in vigor.

Deciding to attempt a different track, something more personal instead of his constant barrage of work and duty, the watcher tentatively inquired, "so, how are your finals shaping up this year, Buffy? I'm sure Willow has been working with you, studying, preparing you for all your tests."

The only visible response he received was the addition of Buffy's fingers as she started to drum the blunt edges of her digits against the wooden grain of the library table.

Having reached his limit of compassion and understanding, Giles exploded. "Buffy! Have you not heard a single word that I've said to you this afternoon?"

Without meeting his gaze, the slayer dreamily asked, "can you hear that, Giles?"

"If you dare compare the sound of my voice to the droning of some menial insect…"

But his unfinished threat fell onto deaf ears as the slayer persisted, redirecting her question. "Can you hear the music?"

"I… uh… Buffy, are you alright?"

"Fine, Giles," she reassured him, but her comfort felt empty to the watcher, hollow, blindly offered to render his concern null and void. Still sounding absentminded, the slayer pressed on. "I don't think I've ever heard the song before, but, at the same time, I know it. It… speaks to me. I love it."

Sighing, Giles complained, "dear lord, it's the 1960's all over again. She's been drugged."

Standing, Buffy crossed the room to halt in front of him. "Really, I'm fine; I haven't been drugged." And, as if to prove her point, to show him that nothing was wrong, the slayer smiled. "You worry too much, Giles. I think it's just my slayer abilities honing themselves, you know, super-hearing and all that. I'm sure there's just some kid out in the parking lot, playing his music too loud… if there is actually such a thing. As for everything else…, I need to go out tonight, have some fun, forget about… everything, but I'll keep an eye and an ear out for any information about the swim team, most of my finals are papers, so Willow's got that covered, and I'll just change some words, switch around some commas, and spill some fingernail polish or something on my final copies so the teachers think they're really mine, and I'll even manage to watch out for vamps while I'm dancing, too." Straightening his tie for him, the slayer grinned impishly. "Go home early tonight, Giles. Do something for you. It might be your last chance before…" Allowing her words to trail off, Buffy, apparently, decided against her track of thought and shrugged. "I'll see you tomorrow."

And, with that, she skipped off, humming the same beat softly under her breath.

Despite his kind's non-state of living, it wasn't an odd sensation for a vampire to wake to the sound of a beating heart. However, as Angelus rose that late afternoon, there were two things off, two things that bothered him. For one, he never awakened before sundown. After all, what was the point? He couldn't leave the mansion before dusk, and he very rarely brought his food or his fun home, opting not to share with his ungrateful, rather bothersome descendants. And that led to the second issue he had with his current wake up call. He knew that there should be no one inside of his concrete fortress who still possessed a heartbeat.

Perturbed by the interruption to his rest but still intrigued enough to go exploring, for why should he turn down a mid-siesta snack? - Angelus rose from his satin bed sheets, not caring to slip on any clothes as he went to explore his home. It wasn't as though vampires were ruled by a sense of modesty, and Spike and Drusilla had both certainly seen him naked before. As for any uninvited yet not altogether unwanted intruders, seeing as how their deaths were imminent, the master demon wouldn't begrudge them one last pleasurable moment, granted to them as they glanced at his form before he devoured them.

From the darkest, dankest recesses of his basement to the highest antechamber of his attic, Angelus searched, hunting with his predator senses on full alert, but, still, no human was discovered. Infuriated, he returned to his room, intent upon waiting for the final, killing rays of the sun to descend from the horizon so he could continue his exploration outside. By the strength of the beat, his prey had to be close; that much he was sure of, but, nevertheless, something seemed… peculiar about the heart's rhythm.

Although he could pick up no recognizable scent in the air, he knew that particular beat. It was familiar to him, achingly so, and so constant, Angelus would have sworn the person was entirely unaware of their own surroundings, almost as if they were unconscious. Yet, at the same time, the rate of the beats was too intense, too fast-paced to be sleep induced, and, for a predator whose very life depended upon his knowledge of and appreciation of the human heart's every last detail, he was perplexed.

And Angelus did not appreciate being in the dark, figuratively speaking, of course.

He dressed meticulously as always, for one never knew when the opportunity to impress would arise. A chance opportunity to seduce, maim, or torture was always lurking just around the next bend in the road, and he always enjoyed pleasing his audiences visually even as he destroyed them blow by excruciating blow, bite by sensitive bite. Nothing seasoned the already heady flavor of blood better than arousal mixed in with a little pain, fear, and trepidation. So, with that thought in mind, he wore a pair of his leather pants, of course, a black, silk shirt, and he even tossed on his Claddagh ring… just in case he ran into Buffy while on the prow. Just as the last hues of bright blue were replaced with the dusky tones of pink and purple in the early evening sky, he finished arranging his hair, practically skipping out of the mansion, instinctively humming along to the beat of the nearby heart.

He circled his home, plowing through the lush plant growth that surrounded the stone monstrosity without thought or care, but, frustratingly, no human-sized and flavored appetizer was found. Still, though, the pounding continued on, if not stronger, for it seemed to be beating to the very same rate and measure, then, at least, louder, but that in itself was puzzling to Angelus. There was no way he should have been able to hear a heart as easily as he had in the depths of his slumber if it wasn't nearby, and, for that matter, how was the human masking their scent when, by the rising of the organ's volume, he should be getting closer and closer to it as he walked?

Something wasn't right, something was wrong, amiss, perhaps even perilously so, but he couldn't turn back. Somehow, the very beat echoing in his ears was stirring his own blood, awakening it unlike anything else he had encountered during his entire un-life. The nearer he got to the mysterious beating, the more alive he felt. Not even stalking and taunting the slayer made him feel so animated, so there was no question in Angelus' mind that he would see whatever it was that was calling to him through… even if it cost him everything. The pull was simply too strong.

As he neared town, realizing that the cadenced pounding was leading him to The Bronze, he recognize the fact that it wasn't a heart at all but music, the same song repeated, measure by measure over and over and over again. But, still, the adrenaline surged through his otherwise thin, unused veins, and his long dormant heart seemed to stir awake, practically readying itself for whatever it was he was about to experience. It was all incredibly implausible but so pleasurable, so… right, that not even common sense and his normally very attuned sense of self-preservation could prevent the master vampire from entering the club.

The lights were dimmed, the only illumination red and coming from the stage where a lone DJ tirelessly spun his craft, there was a fog that had settled upon the room, providing it with an almost surreal, illusory ambiance, and the dance floor was bare, devoid of any life or energy except for that which was created by the very pulse of the music. But Angelus knew that he wasn't alone; she was there, too.

Her scent, unique and utterly addicting, permeated the air, an aphrodisiac to his already charmed state of arousal, cloaking him, mesmerizing him, drawing him step by step closer to where the shadows and haze kept her form otherwise hidden from his intense, coveting sight. The sweet, tangy nectar of her blood pumped rigorously underneath her petal soft skin, hidden from him yet so close he could already taste her essence in the thick, choking air. And her strength of conviction and vigor for life served to increase the force of the cyclic song while, at the same time, taking power from it as well. For a lack of a better description, there was a connection, a circulation of energy that flowed between himself, the slayer, and the music, and, with every beat, it only increased in concentration and might.

By the time he found Buffy, surreptitiously watching her from the back of the club, Angelus knew two things to be fact. One, neither he nor the slayer were acting of their own volition. Something, in all likelihood some sort of dark magic, was controlling them, and, secondly, he didn't care. Whatever it was, it simply felt too good to fight, and Buffy, whether she wanted him there or not – probably not – was simply too damn tempting to walk away from again.

She was never one to dress conservatively, but, even for her, the slayer was dressed particularly… appealing that evening. Instead of her usual thick and chunky heel, easier to fight with and retain balance, of course, she wore thin, sexy, fuck-me pumps, and who was he to argue with such an invitation? Following the lean, muscular lines of her stalking, silk no less, covered legs, he found a leather skirt so short, there was bare thigh revealed, and he could see the very start of the garter belts she wore that disappeared underneath the barely there coverage of her clothes. Finishing the ensemble was a mere triangle of material, leather again, that, at its widest point, covered Buffy's breasts and then tapered off to a point above her delectable, begging to be licked belly-button. The scanty top was held up by two thin, leather strings that tied around the slayer's otherwise bare back. Her hair was up, leaving her neck invitingly bare, and her makeup was light, practically non-existent, a reminder of her innocence despite her otherwise deceptively erotic appearance. In the simplest of terms, she was Angelus' every wet dream actualized.

With her high heel against the wall
Kind of dancing, though not at all
She had stockings running up to her thighs
Snaps her fingers to keep the time

From the back of the room I saw her there
I said she wants to be alone and I shouldn't dare
But then she noticed me glance at her
I had no choice but to dance with her

He moved towards her with a predator's ease but found that she slithered and stalked towards him just as smoothly, her movements so pronounced, he could watch the feline grace of her muscles as they shifted and bunched, pulled and relaxed in tandem with the rest of her body. By the time they connected, their bodies already swaying perfectly in sync to the rhythm of the music, they were further out on the dance floor yet still far enough away from the stage to be cloaked and hidden from the club's static red light.

She wound herself around him like a deadly serpent. Her arms found what felt like their natural position around his neck, one delving under the soft as kisses material of his shirt as the other sought its home at the nape of his scalp, clawing and scratching at the delicate skin located there. At the same time, Buffy lifted one of her legs and wound it around his gyrating hips, using her leverage to lift the rest of her body up so that the apex of her thighs was positioned directly over top of his own, their mutual excitement both evident and increasing by the nearness of the other. And, amazingly, she held her potent, lithe little body aloft with just the strength of her left foot's toes.

But the slayer wasn't alone in her eagerness, in her body's seeking actions, for his own form betrayed his readiness to hold her, to seduce her, to possess her, too. By bending his knees, he made it easier for Buffy to wrap herself around him, and, in turn, he did the same to her as well. With one arm covetously enfolded around her waist, his fingers dipping beneath the band of her skirt to flitter across and tease the very tops of her derrière's pert, round globes, and the other enclosed around her upper back, the silk of his sleeve dancing across her naked skin and his hand slipping underneath her top to embrace and arouse one lush, tender breast that was so warm to the touch, Angelus would have sworn she was capable of branding his fingertips, Buffy felt as though she belonged to him… just as he wanted her to.

They disappeared into the music, all rational thought evaporating into the suffocating fog and passion swelling throughout The Bronze. Occasionally, a blood hued strobe of light from the stage would pass across their faces, swathing them in brief color and awareness before moving on again, leaving the unlikely couple to their privacy and isolation once more. Time had no real meaning for them, for there was no way to measure it, but, eventually, despite the heat between them, their bodies' temperatures eclipsed that of the club, and, as the otherwise cool air caressed their heated, smoldering skin, a cool sweat started to trickle down the otherwise fiery canvases of their joined forms, causing them to shiver. Whether the chills, though, were from the cold moisture or from their mutual, melting, mesmerizing attraction, neither were aware; neither cared.

Slowly, Angelus' body seemed to come alive the longer it remained in contact with Buffy's. Her heat permeated his otherwise lifeless skin, and, as they pushed and swayed, dipped and rocked to the recurring music, he felt as though the very rhythm of her heart slowly energized and reawakened his own, as if his unnaturally animated body was pulsing with the same human beat as the slayer's, and both of their actions – their respirations and exhalations – were perfectly timed with the cadence of the DJ's authoritarian song.

The lights that move sideways and up and down
The beat takes you over and spins you round
Our hearts steady-beating, the sweat turns to cold
We're slaves to the DJ and out of control

Soon, though, dancing wasn't enough, living vicariously through Buffy wasn't enough. Angelus wanted more, felt as though he needed more from her, from the both of them together if he was going to survive. He needed to be closer. He needed to control her, dominate her, take over her, and he needed her to control, dominate, and take over him as well. He needed to be inside her.

Without missing a step or a beat, Angelus dropped his gaze from the unwavering caress of the slayer's eyes to watch her riveting body as it practically dissolved into his own. Gradually, moment by moment, he became even more aware of her presence surrounding him, and he realized that, without conscious thought, she was softly humming along to the nameless tune that was enchanting them both. Her charmingly pure yet musically imperfect voice only served to increase his insatiable libido.

Although she had been able to feel his arousal all evening, in that moment, the slayer seemed to sense the increase in his desire, and, with a coquettish grin, she leaned forward, licking his lips. Her silent invitation, though, was too late, for, without either of them noticing, he had already untied her shirt, allowing it to unceremoniously fall to the floor and hiked up her skirt so that it rested pointlessly on her otherwise bare hips. But Angelus was in too much of a hurry to strip her bare. Instead, he simply unfastened his own pants before lifting the slayer off her feet entirely, used one hand to push aside the slight barrier her tiny, damp, ineffectual pair of panties provided, and positioned himself at her weeping, begging core before driving, drilling, penetrating home.

I watched her feet move, her hips they sway
Does a hair flip then starts to say
Oh, my God, it's my favorite song
I pull her close and she sings along

We can't slow down even if we tried
If the record keeps spinning so will I
She likes disco and tastes like a tear
Tells me don't stop dancing and she's pulling me near

Despite their rather precarious position, Buffy met his every thrust with a downward plunge of her own, using the leverage of his shoulders to lift and then impale herself on his stabbing hips, their bodies joined in the most private of fashions as they continued to move to the compelling beat of the music around them. Their pace wasn't frantic, yet, at the same time, it was swift enough that Angelus could not latch onto or kiss any one part of Buffy's anatomy for any given amount of time. So, he gave up trying to, instead satisfying his urge to taste her by licking her naked flesh with every upsurge her figure performed, and, despite more than one hundred years of contrary knowledge, her salty sweat, permeated with the flavor of her arousal, need, and potency, tasted better than any blood that had ever flowed over his greedy, voracious tongue.

They crashed through the crescendo of their release together but continued on, nevertheless, unmindful of their satisfaction or sexual relief. It simply wasn't enough. The music demanded more from them, their bodies craved more, and their minds were simply along for the ride. If anything, Buffy seemed to pull him closer to her, seemed to hold onto his shoulders even tighter, and, as he plunged into her tight, hot recess over and over again, she seemed to squeeze his thick, hard, pulsating shaft even harder with her still quivering with fulfillment, tremendously resilient and robust slayer muscles.

We've got nowhere to go, we've got nothing to prove
Instead of dancing alone, I should be dancing with you
This song is turning me on, the beat is doing me in
Or maybe it's only you, but either way, let's begin

As the night wore on, Angelus lost count of how many times he came inside the slayer, how many times he made her scream out his name in release and pleasure. His consciousness became numb, his sight became nothing but a red miasma of images centered solely upon Buffy's panting, breathless countenance, but, still, his body moved on, matching hers, daring hers, mating with hers. With every new start of the unwavering song, their bodies spiraled even further out of control, and he gloried in the freedom, in the sheer humanness of the moment, his undead heart beating perfectly in tune with the slayer's the entire time they remained connected. Eventually, he lost consciousness, falling to the floor, but, even under the cloud of exhaustion and sleep, he somehow knew that his body continued to move on, Buffy's equally unaware form milking him of every single last drop of undead life he possessed.

Buffy entered the mansion, believing that she was prepared for whatever it was that Angelus was about to dish out. Xander had already stopped her, breaking the news to the slayer in his trademark oh-so-sympathetic manner where Angel was concerned that Willow would not be able to replicate the Romany's spell, and she was ready to deal with the wayward vampire once and for all, whatever was necessary. She had the sword from Whistler, those she cared about were safely ensconced at the hospital, the remaining daylight protecting them at least until nightfall, and, perhaps most shocking of all, she had an inside ally in Spike… well, as far as he could be trusted which was as far as a beaten and tortured Giles would be able to throw him.

She expected loud noises and chaos, shrill clapping and cheering from Drusilla, and Angelus' deep, resonating threats, but the massive stone structure was silent, so quiet, in fact, that she could hear the echo of her own nearly mute treads upon the concrete floor. Whereas she thought she would encounter the strong, metallic odor of blood, whether human or not, the mansion was free of any of the typical scents that warned of death and destruction, and, instead, Buffy was greeted by the gentle, harmonious aroma of jasmine and fresh blooming mint. Most surprising of all, her slayer senses could not pick up on any impending signals of malevolence and sin. It was as if nothing she knew to be fact had occurred there during the past twenty-four hours; the entire environment had been somehow cleansed.

But, as she entered the main room of the ground floor, Acathla stood, a proud and imposing figure, before her, undisturbed yet still a promise of unfulfilled iniquity, reassuring her that Angelus and his consorts had not fled unexpectedly from town to perpetrate their immorality somewhere else. Though it would have been a relief to have him far from the ones she loved and cared for, it was better that he was still near, that they were still on her home turf, that she wouldn't have to go back to her watcher and tell him that she had failed yet again only to regroup and re-rally for another day, another place, and another time of confrontation.

Deciding it was now or never, that, whether Angelus wanted to battle her that afternoon or not, she was ready to finish whatever it was that was between them then and now, Buffy stopped her wandering in the center of the great room, spread her feet into what could only be construed as a fighting stance, and positioned her clenched fists as her waist, her elbows bent out in a timeless display of irritation and impatience. "Ready or not, Angelus, I'm here, so come out, come out wherever you are."

"What," his mocking voiced asked from behind her. She didn't turn around to face him. "Miss me, lover?"

Instead of responding, she asked a question of her own. "Where's Spike?"

Before she could comprehend his movements, the demon masking himself with the face of her boyfriend… ex-boyfriend, whatever… was standing before her, glowering, hands poised to take possession of her upper arms, but, then, just as quickly, he relaxed, chuckled, and swaggered away from her, already back in control of his emotions and making her wonder if she had really seen the flash of jealousy from the master vampire at all. "I sent Spike and Drusilla out for dinner. I figured they should have one last meal together before I send us all to hell in a hand basket."

Dryly, she replied, "you're such a sweet, sensitive guy."

He shrugged. "I do what I can, but, between you and me, Buff, I had some ulterior motives."

"Color me shocked."

He ignored her. Rather than replying, Angelus, instead, strolled back over to stand in front of her, his body so close she could feel his energy arcing across to her own skin, connecting and reacting, before returning to his cold and still form. It was like there was a magnetic charge between them, and it slightly unnerved her.

"When I do this, when I awaken Acathla, I want you to be here, Buff; I want you to be too hurt to fight me further but conscious so that you will be forced to watch me as you fail to save the world, and, then, together, we'll be sucked into hell at the same time. Since you brought me back into this world, I thought it would only be fitting if I took you out of it. Don't you just love karma?"

"Only if I'm the one dishing it out." Backing away from him, the slayer cocked her head up several degrees, angling her gaze so that she could pierce the stare of the demon before her. "You do realize that you're assuming quite a lot there, don't you? I mean, who's to say that I'm not going to kick your ass, that, by the time this afternoon is over, you won't be anything more than a lousy pile of dust beneath my boot?"

"You'd like that, wouldn't you," Angelus taunted her, "to return to your little loser friends and your pathetic watcher and finally tell them that you took care of me once and for all, but you won't, Buff. Do you know why?" Without waiting for her to answer, for her to argue, he pressed on, "because you haven't given up on Soulboy yet. You never will, we both know it, and, as long as I remind you of him and, well, let's face it, I always will, I'm just about the safest thing – human or otherwise – in this hellhole of a town. If last week proved nothing else, it proved this."

Last week? Last week? Buffy scrambled to follow the vampire's train of thought. Last week she had been battling mutated swimmers – part teenage boys, part fish, and Angelus had been relatively non-confrontational… well, for his lofty standards, at least, so, what he was referring to, she had no idea. However, her momentary sense of distraction cost her dearly as she felt the humanity saving sword being ripped from her grip and heard it being carelessly tossed aside to land somewhere out of her line of vision, off in the shadows of the cool, gloomy room.

"No toys for now, okay, lover," Angelus explained his actions, grabbing her by the wrists and yanking her towards his leather and velvet clad form. "Just you, and me, and a dance as old as time, but, wait, we already did that… many, many times, so I guess we'll have to settle for something a little less pleasurable but no less physically challenging. I'll even give you first shot."

Aggravated, disturbed, and bewildered by Angelus' barrage of cryptic insinuations, Buffy collapsed under their weight and gave in to what the demon wanted: she played right into his hand, forlornly asking, "what are you talking about?"

"Don't tell me you've forgotten already, lover?" Tsking her under his breath, the vampire continued, "even I couldn't so easily put a night like that out of my mind, and I've had thousands of women."

"Look, I don't know what the hell you're going on about, but, if you're implying that I somehow…" Swallowing against the sudden bile that surged into her mouth, the slayer recoiled slightly before finishing her thought, "actually slept with you, then…"

"Oh, there's nothing somehow about it, Buff," Angelus remarked, interrupting her and chuckling gleefully. "You did sleep with me - willingly, I might add, and you enjoyed it, too – every single time." She watched as he leaned closer towards her, sniffing the air. A furious, almost resentfully covetous scowl erupted across his otherwise perfect countenance suddenly, and Buffy felt herself tense with fear. Whatever it was that Angelus had scented upon her that he had not been expecting, it made him angry, and it sent her already reeling mindset further into a tailspin. Her heartbeat sped up to an almost painful cadence, her palms became slick with sweat, and every inch of her skin was fairly itching to simply run away from the demon before her and find somewhere safe to hide. Rather, though, she stood stock still, not even blinking.

In fact, it was Angelus who moved as he took a step back away from her. Crossing his arms against his chest, he glared down at her, abruptly making her feel diminutive and weak. In that moment, she was no longer the slayer. Instead, she was just a girl, a naïve, scared seventeen year old girl who knew she had done something wrong but had no idea what. "But maybe you haven't forgotten after all; perhaps you're the slut here, perhaps you're the one who is confusing being with me with being with someone else."

Her brow furrowed in thought, in confusion, in unvoiced dismissal as Angelus, once more, stalked towards her. "Who is he, Buff, or should I say who are they? Who else has been warming your bed, fucking you senseless, tasting what's mine?"

Gaping at him, she finally responded, "you… I… this is insane!" Running trembling fingers through her loose, blonde locks, Buffy yelled, "I haven't been with anyone since Angel. I couldn't even think about doing that with someone else, not now, not yet, maybe not ever. After what happened… with you…" Trailing off, she narrowed her gaze at him, suddenly irate. "And, as for being yours, don't even go there. According to you, when it comes to pleasing a man, I have a lot to learn, and there's no way in hell I'd ever want to please a soulless demon."

"But you did, lover," he contradicted her, "and, astonishingly, you did it well, too." At her perplexed look, he laughed. "Oh, Buff, Buff, Buff. How many times do I have to remind you of last week, you know – you, me, and so many orgasms, I, frankly, lost count."

"I have no idea what you're talking about."

He seemed to look inside of her, to really, finally, see that she wasn't lying to him or purposely blocking away any memories his words might have stirred within her. At last, he relented, murmuring softly, "interesting," before crossing the room and taking a seat on the couch. Gesturing for her to follow, Buffy did so somewhat unwillingly, but she needed to get to the bottom of whatever it was he was going on about, and she knew the only way Angelus would tell her what she wanted to know was if she cooperated with him.

Once she was seated next to him, at least an entire cushion's length separating their forms, he started to talk. "Let me guess, you woke up alone, sore, and cold on the floor of The Bronze with absolutely no memory of how you got there?"

"No, that's not entirely true," the slayer revealed. "I remember being at the library with Giles…"

"Of course you were," the master vampire interjected, snickering.

Disregarding him, she plunged on with her admission, "and I heard this music, this song that I'd never heard before, but, at the same time, I knew it. I knew it with every fiber of my being."

"Okay, skip the sappy prose, for a writer you are not."

"Anyway, I followed it. At first, I thought it was coming from the parking lot, but no one was there, so I started to go home, and…" Allowing her words to trail off, Buffy looked up into Angelus' unwavering gaze and added, "when I woke up the next morning, I just thought that I ended up falling asleep. And I wasn't at The Bronze; I woke up in my own bed."

"And, what, you're used to waking up feeling like a well-used whore?"

Glowering in the demon's direction, Buffy snarled, "I fight the things that go bump in the night. If I wake up not sore, then I think that something's wrong."

"Oh, but, lover, what you felt that morning was a whole different sort of stiffness."

Snapping to her feet, she paced away from him, tossing her next words acerbically over her shoulder. "I don't see what any of this has to do with you suddenly backing down from a fight."

He stood as well, following her. "I'll tell you, Buff," Angelus answered smoothly. "Whether you remember it or not, last week, we fucked like rabbits. We fucked for so long and so hard that we both lost consciousness, but, still, we kept on fucking, and, now, you come here, and I can smell it all over you."

"What, smell what," she yelled, demanding a response.

"That bastard growing inside of you."

Feeling all the color drain from her face, Buffy collapsed, luckily landing on the sharp, harsh edge of the fireplace frame. So numb from the shock of his words, she didn't feel the cold stone cut into the delicate flesh of her upper thighs. Silent tears raced down both sides of her pale, clammy face, and her hands shook so bad, she was forced to place them under her legs and sit on them so that Angelus wouldn't see her tremble.

"What," he sneered, "no passionate denial, no innocent platitudes about how you'd never do that to your precious Angel?" When she still didn't respond, he lunged towards her, gripped her chin so harshly she could feel the bruises forming instantly, and yanked her face up towards his own. "Damn it, say something, Buff!"

Despite the fact that it was impossible, that there was no logical way that she could be pregnant, that Angelus was a lying, cruel, vicious bastard, she believed him. Before the words had spilled from his hateful lips, she never would have even considered such a crazy idea, but, now that she was confronted with the thought, she knew it to be the truth. She could suddenly notice and feel the rapid changes sweeping across and throughout her body. They were minute, infinitesimal so far, so tiny a regular, normal girl would never notice, but she wasn't a regular, normal girl; she was the slayer, and her body was the only real weapon she had against those she fought. Her body was the only thing that kept her alive, kept those that she loved safe from harm, the world from being overrun and destroyed by demons like the one standing over her.

Finally, she spoke. In a voice no more than a whisper in volume, Buffy said, "for now, let's go with what you're saying, let's suppose that you're telling the truth, and I actually… slept with you last week. When you were with me, did you smell the baby then?"

He didn't question her belief, and he didn't argue with the fact that she still wasn't admitting they had been together. Rather, he simply said, "no," as if the knowledge she had requested surprised him once he thought about it as well.

Still, the slayer's tears fell. "Well, then you must be telling the truth, because I haven't been with anyone since Angel." When Angelus went to protest, she held up a single, tremulous hand, silently beseeching that he remain quiet and allow her to finish. "I swear to you on my mother's life, on Giles', Willow's, and Xander's safety, on Angel's soul that I have only ever been with one man… and, apparently, one demon."

The master vampire smirked. "Does it make you feel dirty, Buff; does it make you feel tainted, as if you somehow dishonored your simpering, spineless boyfriend's precious memory."

"Honestly," she admitted, astounded that she was even telling Angelus the truth. "I can't even go there, not yet. Right now, I'm just confused. How could this happen? I mean, you're dead!"

He shrugged, as if, now that she believed him, now that she had, in a way, acknowledged the fact that they had slept together, he had lost interest. "It must have been some kind of spell."

"And that's it? That's all you have to say?"

"Congratulations," he cheekily replied, grinning widely. "I'd offer you a cigar and a celebratory drink, but I wouldn't want to harm the baby. After all, it looks like I'm going to be a father."

"Surely, this must be a sign of the apocalypse."

Angelus chuckled. "Don't count on it, lover. I'm going to make sure that you're not that lucky."

Irrationally, she was exhausted, despite the fact that the most strenuous activity she had accomplished that day was walking to the mansion. Wiping away the few remaining, glistening tears, Buffy stood and yawned. "What now," she asked. "Are you ready to get this party started, so I can kill you and stop Acathla?"

"Suddenly, I've lost interest in the big pile of rock. Taking you to hell with me right now would be too easy on you, Buff. No, I think we'll both stay here, safe as houses in good old Sunnydale. I'll watch you get round and full with my child, and you'll watch as every single person you care about turns away from you, shuns you, kicks you out of their life. That kind of emotional torture would be better than an eternity of fire and brimstone any day."

"So, that's it?"

"Actually, no," the demon said, leering in her direction. "I want you to make sure that you start getting plenty of rest, that you drink lots of milk, and, if you wouldn't mind, I'd like to be the one to tell your mother. Joyce and I… we have what you could call a special bond, you know."

Turning her back on him which, granted, under normal circumstances was never a prudent thing to do, Buffy practically ran out of the large, eerie residence, Angelus' voice taunting her the entire time. "Oh, and make sure you make your first doctor's appointment at night. Daddy wants to be there to hear junior's heartbeat for the first time… that is, if junior even has a heartbeat. And we should probably get married soon, too, Buff. After all, we wouldn't want little Angelus, the Scourge of Europe II, to be considered a bastard. Well, on second thought, if he takes after his father, he'll probably be called one anyway, so, really, what will it matter? Oh, and don't even think about aborting my kid, Buff. I won't allow you to."

The thought had never even crossed her mind, not even for a second, because, despite everything, despite how much she hated Angelus, she still loved Angel, and, in her mind, the baby she was carrying was her former boyfriend's and not the monster's who currently resided in Angel's body. While, admittedly, such a fanciful idea didn't actually make plausible sense, it simply hurt too much to think any differently, and, if there was one thing Buffy could not endure any more of, it was pain at the hands of the demon who had taken everything that mattered to her away. After all, he already had Angel; he couldn't have her child, too.

The impeccably dressed lawyer smiled confidently at the coalition of senior partners assembled and seated across from her. While her audience certainly didn't include either all of those who employed her or even the most powerful, it was, by far, the greatest assembly of Wolfram and Hart's higher powers that she had ever been before. But she wasn't intimidated. In fact, for the first time since she started at the firm, she knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that, someday, she would be amongst their ranks. It was a heady realization, one that turned her previous smile into a downright smug sneer. Her cold, dead eyes glimmered with satisfaction, and she smoothly uncrossed her legs only to, seconds later, return them to their former position. It wasn't fidgeting, though; it was simply her way of stating she was tired of waiting.

Practically indistinguishable from the other senior partners, a single voice demanded, "tell us of your recent… endeavors."

Another voice, this time female added, "prove to us that we did not make a mistake with trusting you to handle such a delicate and imperative assignment."

Succinctly stated, the ambitious attorney explained, "through the use of a highly recommended warlock, I was able to mate the vampire slayer with the master vampire, Angelus. For a brief amount of time, he regained all physical traits found in a functioning human, so the child, due in approximately 39 weeks, will also be human. While the slayer has no memories of the conception, Angelus does, but I'm sure he will use that knowledge against her if he hasn't done so already."

"And the soul," a third partner asked, sounding impressed, though the sentiment was carefully masked behind a hint of impatience.

"Securely locked away within the fetus," she conceitedly revealed. After all, that was her pièce de résistance. "The only way the slayer will ever be able to bring Angel back again is if she murders her own child… their child, and I think we all know that's not about to happen any time soon."

As one, as if they all moved together in sync, the senior partners stood, closed their binders, and picked up their things to leave. Apparently the leader of the group, the man who spoke to her first deigned her with his attention once more. "Excellent. And you will keep us apprised of all and any updates, yes?"

There was no answering him, for what he wanted wasn't a request; it was an order, and she would be more than happy to continue informing the highest powers of their law firm of her success. As long as Angelus had free reign to plunge the world into ruin and chaos, then she had a job, and, as long as Angel wasn't available to save the world and keep their many influential and powerful associates from reaping the rewards of their maliciously planted seeds, then she was on her way to everything she had ever wanted: unlimited and unstoppable influence. And to think that all it took was a few magically garnered pulsations…

Human weakness was such a beautiful thing.