Title: The Undisputed

Disclaimer: All characters are the property of Joss Whedon, 20th Century Fox, et al.

Rating: T

Prologue: "Monday at the Hug & Pint"

"Did you see that?" Faith asked as she and Spike burst out of the small bar in beautiful mid-nowhere.

"I saw," Spike confirmed.

"He punched me in the chest!" she shouted in understandable rage.

"That he did," Spike agreed.

"Who even does that?" she demanded.

"Apparently the bloke you just knocked unconscious," Spike said.

"Is there a problem?" Faith asked, not at all appreciating his tone.

"We were supposed to do this one subtle," Spike said slowly, biting back slightly on his lip. "Get the information and get out without drawing attention to ourselves."

"'Without drawing attention to ourselves?'" Faith repeated incredulously. "Have you seen us? We don't exactly blend in around here." She thought a moment before adding thoughtfully "Or anywhere."

Spike fumed. "The orders were to do this quietly..."

"And we all know how much you love following orders," Faith broke in.

"...And you started a row the nearly brought the whole bleedin' bar down on our heads," Spike growled.

"He started the fight," Faith corrected, "I just finished it. And if B hadn't told you to play the white hat, you would have been right in there mixing it up, too."

Spike was seconds away from fang-face. "Now listen, you little--"

"Hey, David and Darlene Darkpast!" Lorne shouted from the window of the getaway car. "We're supposed to be inconspicuous here, kittens, so if you want to have your little lover's quarrels about who's gone the longest without wearing underpants, try not doing it in the middle of the crowded parking lot."

Without another word, Spike and Faith filed into Lorne's "subtle" vintage Cadillac.

"I'd drive quickly," Spike muttered with an awkward glance towards the bar. Faith remained uncharacteristically silent.

Lorne seemed to all this in stride. "Did you get the information?"

Spike nodded. "Nest of Vorlax demons under the KinderCare."

Lorne winced. "Well, that couldn't be more unappetizing. What's the plan of action?"

Spike shrugged. "Hit them tomorrow just before the Sun comes out. They're vulnerable to fire, but I think they'd kind of frown on us burning the place down, so..."

"Right..." Lorne agreed. "No burning children."

There was a lengthy pause.

"He punched me in the chest!"


"Are you sure about this?" Daniel asked. "It seems like a fairly major distraction for so small a target."

The Red King nodded gravely. "The Specimen is unique. Touched by darkness... yet ultimately an agent of light. The ceremony cannot be completed with that final sacrifice."

"It just seems a little like overkill," Daniel answered weakly.

"The Specimen has seen more combat than any of us, and has yet survived," the Red King roared dispassionately. "We must be willing to go to any extent to secure him. Krevlornswath of the Deathwok Clan must be brought in... and then he will die."

For a moment, the silence was palpable.

Then Daniel broke in. "Hey, did you see the new episode of 'Clark and Michael?'"

"Oh, yes," the King reflected. His thunderous laughter then rocked the endless marble halls of his domain.