Rating: PG-13 Language, Violence, Intense situation

Warning: This story is extremely DARK. If you're squeamish, please read with caution.

Disclaimer: The Magnificent Seven is owned by Trilogy, Mirish, MGM. No money is being made. This fanfic is purely for entertainment purposes.

Author's Notes: Thanks, as always, to Mog for making the AFT/AU and for letting others write in it. :) Thanks, Judy, for betaing for me. You're the best. :)

This is the first scary story that I've written. Please let me know what you think. Feedback is always greatly appreciated. :)

 

Something ATF/AU

By: Ruby

*****

JD sat up in bed, wide-eyed, sleep still clinging to him. 

What was that? 

There it was again. The chilling sound made the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end. It was a low, throaty growl, a sound that a large, viscous dog might make or even a big cat, like a mountain lion.

With his sheet pulled tightly against his chest, he suddenly felt like a scared little boy and not the well-trained federal agent that he was. He reached out and flipped the bedside lamp on as he tried to calm his frantic breathing. The growl sounded like it was coming from his closet. The closet door was slightly open and JD was *positive* that he'd shut it the night before. His heart froze.

*Something* was in the closet. 

Shit. 

Pushing the sheet off, he slowly stepped out of bed, keeping the closet door in sight the whole time. He shivered as cold air hit his legs and chest, goose bumps immediately rose on his bare skin and he wished that he'd slept in more than just his boxers.

Pulling the top dresser drawer on his bedside table open, he grabbed his pistol and, holding the gun firmly in his hand, slowly started walking towards the closet.

For a second, he wondered about how silly he must look - tiptoeing across his room wearing only boxers and holding a gun to his closet door.

JD stopped short. Maybe this was a Buck-practical joke. He shook his head. Sure, Buck liked pulling jokes on him, but he really didn't think that Buck would do something like *this*. Besides, Buck wasn't even home, he was out with what-ever-her-name-was and wouldn't be home probably 'till morning.

The thought crossed his mind that he *could* go for help. Sure he could. He could just hear himself on the phone with the 911 operator. "This is ATF Agent Dunne and I need the police. What is my emergency? Well, you see...um...there's ah...something in my closet." Yeah, that would go over real well. No, JD Dunne would handle this all by himself, thank you very much. Didn't mean he couldn't *wish* that someone was here with him....someone like Chris Larabee maybe, his idol, who could destroy with just a glare.

His attention was brought back to the closet. The noise was changing in pitch, it sounded so feral, so wild, and JD'd never heard anything like it. The thing snarled, like it was ready to jump and kill. If it *was* a dog, it was one that JD didn't want to meet, especially here, in the middle of the night, all alone. He shivered again. The growling sounded...it sounded - evil.

He shook his head and swallowed hard. If it *was* a practical joke, he was falling for it hook, line and sinker - because he was absolutely terrified.

His heart hammered in his chest and, even though he was freezing, he could feel sweat trickling between his shoulder blades.

The growling stopped. But JD could still hear heavy breathing, panting, so whatever it was, it was still in his closet.

He gathered his courage and walked the rest of the way to the door. He switched his gun to his left hand and carefully reached out with his right, grabbing the knob. The doorknob was hot to the touch. JD quickly let go and took an involuntary step back.

What the hell? 

Why would it be hot? It's not like this is the movie Backdraft and a raging inferno was waiting for him on the other side of a closed door. Hell, the door wasn't even closed all the way anyway, it was open about an inch. This is crazy, he thought. Maybe he was imagining it. Maybe that doorknob is really room temperature but because *he* was so cold it felt hot to him. He shook his head and blinked rapidly as he reached out and grasped the doorknob again.

Yelping, he pulled his burned hand away from the door. "Shit!" 

What in the hell? 

He stood, burned fingers in his mouth, gun still pointing unwaveringly at the open closet door, his heart thumping wildy, his ears roaring from fear, panic sweeping through him.

The growling had started again. 

JD's heart stopped and he stood rooted to the spot, terror sweeping through his body and paralyzing him. He couldn't yell. He couldn't breathe. All he could do was watch in absolute horror as his closet door ever so slowly swung open and he was face to face with what was inside.

There was something on the floor. It came up to about his knees and was shaped a bit like a dog, but instead of hair, the thing was covered in scales. The head was large with huge eyes and where its nose might have been there was a wide tear in its skin leading down to a mouth that was a huge gaping maw full of rows of razor sharp teeth.

The body was stocky, with bunched muscles quivering just under the skin's surface. Each leg ended with what looked like a bird's foot, the talons long and sharp. A tail swished behind it, the tail of an alligator but with a long, lethal looking spike on the end.

All in all, the creature looked horrifying and JD brought his eyes back to the beast's face where flaming red eyes seared him as they seemed to look right into his soul. JD got the idea that the beast was sizing him up and, from the curl of its lip into a malicious sneer, finding him worthy of something...but what that something was, JD was afraid to find out.

Slowly, JD watched as the creature's leg muscles bunched up and it hunched down. Was it getting ready to spring?

JD's question was answered when, with narrowed eyes and a soul-eating smile, the beast jumped, its mouth wide open, drool slipping from yellow teeth.

The only thing JD could do before the thing landed on him was put his arms up in a self-defense posture.

The beast went right through them. 

JD heard the bones break before he felt them, but his scream was torn from him as the creature's teeth took hold of pale skin and ripped a chunk out of his throat.

As JD fell backwards, hot breath on his face made him sick and he opened his eyes to see flaming eyes just an inch from his own. JD crashed to the ground, the beast now planting its long talons into his chest, holding him down. Blood and gore dripped from the teeth that filled the leering mouth above him.

The corner of its mouth turned up into a viscously evil grin and it moved its face closer, sniffing him.

Then, it spoke. 

"I don't smell innocence often." The beast leered, sniffing him again while it rubbed its head against JD's chin. "I've come to get you," it said in a raw, scratchy voice that sounded like it was rarely used. The creature narrowed its eyes and smiled. "You're ours, now and forever." The thing smiled. "This," he nodded his head a fraction, motioning to JD's body. "This is just for fun." It leered at him again, but this time the look was more menacing, even more ominous if that were possible. This look promised death.

JD hissed as he felt the face so near his again. The thing was so hideous that JD couldn't even bring his gaze away from it, it was almost mesmerizing in a horrific way.

It *was* mesmerizing. 

The creature was doing something. Something with its eyes. It was... JD didn't have a chance to finish the thought, it was ripped out of his mind the second he felt those razor-tipped teeth sink into his throat. But this time, JD knew it wasn't going to bite *just* a chunk out. No, JD knew that the thing was about to rip his whole throat away and he'd be left with nothing but a bloody, gaping hole where his trachea used to be.

Suddenly, he had the ability to move again. He gasped and choked as the teeth started crushing his voice box. His air was cut off and he kicked his legs a bit, a last effort to stop what was happeneing. The thing was taking its time, inflicting as much pain as it could.

JD couldn't put up much of a fight with the thing's body weighing him down and its claws gouging holes in his chest. He kicked and fought, but his strength was ebbing.

He was fading. Spots danced in his vision and the room spinned. JD's eyes were fluttering closed and he almost didn't see the hand that reached down and grabbed the creature, pulling it off him.

Using the bit of strength he had left, JD crawled away from the spot he'd been held in and didn't stop until he reached the wall. Sitting there, blood running down his neck, his throat throbbing and bleeding, he watched, in horror, the scene in front of him.

With his black duster flowing around his legs and his eyes wild with fire, Chris Larabee stood in the middle of JD Dunne's bedroom facing off with the creature.

But the beast didn't look the same now as it had just a second ago. Now the thing was just an ugly blob of dark, lizard looking skin with two tiny wings holding it up in the air. Its eyes were small, dark dots and its mouth was tiny. The thing didn't even resemble the horror that had been there moments before.

"Larabee," it hissed, flitting around in a small circle, buzzing, staring at the black-clad man. "I thought you might come," the creature said knowingly, a smirk on its face.

"You can't have him," Chris said, his voice like ice and his face as hard as stone.

"Ahh," it sneered, "but that's where you're wrong. Tonight, you told my boss that you would give *anything* to have your wife and son back. *Anything*." It glanced over at JD, leering and grinning, then looked back at Chris. "He heard you. He listened. As we speak, there's a car pulling up to your ranch house. Your lovely wife and your oh-so-young son are seated inside that car, a long, sordid tale of kidnap and revenge planted inside their heads."

Chris looked like he'd just been gut-punched. He glanced over at JD then back to the beast, his face losing every ounce of color. "You lie," he hissed.

"Me lie?" The creature smiled. "Why would I lie? It's the truth. They're getting out of the car as we speak, wondering where you are." The beast flitted around Chris's head. "But," it leered evilly as it looked over at JD, "you did say *anything*," it looked back at Larabee, "and the boss has had his eye on this innocent for a long time."

The creature flew towards JD but Chris caught one of its leathery wings before it got very far. "There's *no* way that you're getting him. No way! I said *I'd* give anything. I didn't say nothin' about you bastards takin' JD from me."

The beast fought, ripping at Chris's hands with it's tiny clawed feet. It finally broke loose and flitted a few away to quickly fall on the floor. It disgustedly looked at its ripped wing, then glared accusingly at Larabee. "It's too late, Larabee, you already made the deal."

"No," Chris said, his eyes wild. "No. I didn't mean it this way. I wasn't going to trade someone who's like a son to me to get my family back. Hell, JD *is* family as far as I'm concerned. I've loved him like a son as long as Buck has loved him like a brother." He looked over at JD then, his face red, his eyes wet. JD was looking at him, a look of fear and awe on his pale face. Chris could tell that he wasn't going to live much longer. The kid was bleeding to death before his eyes. Chris tore his eyes away and looked back at the beast when it spoke.

"What did you mean then when you said that you'd give 'anything'? Surely you had to know that that 'anything' was going to be something special to you. You can't just say 'I'll give *anything* and mean it lightly, or not mean it at all."

The beast's wing was slowly mending, and as soon as it was fixed, it flitted up into the air again. For a few minutes, it was silent. Then, when it spoke again, its voice was sinister. "I tell you what, I'll give you an out. You can make it all go away. You can wipe away the deal, but," it paused there making sure that he emphasized the 'but'. "But, you'll have to live forever with the knowledge that you *could* have had your wife and son back. That they *were* back for a few precious moments. But you gave it all away to save the life of your friend.

You'll have that memory forever - That your wife and son were back. That they were alive. That they didn't die in that raging inferno. That they didn't burn to death, dying in agony. But you made a choice. You chose for JD Dunne to live. You chose to save his soul. If you can live with your loss - and your gain, I'll let you out of the deal."

Chris stood for a moment, his head down, his eyes closed, his hands clenched by his side. When he looked back up, there were tears on his face. "I didn't understand the consequences of my actions. Tonight's the anniversary of the day-" his voice cracked then and he had to swallow hard. When he could speak again, he said, "I've learned that the things we want sometimes aren't the things we *want*. I'll never make a deal with the devil again," he spoke softly, his eyes hard, his gaze burning the creature's. "I want JD Dunne to live."

The demon nodded once and was gone. 

Chris slowly walked over to JD. The kid was quickly healing in front of his eyes. The blood was gone. The teeth marks were fading away. His bones were mending. He was once again a healthy man. The only scars now would be on the inside.

JD looked up at him, his eyes bright and his cheeks wet. His voice cracked as he said, "There wasn't a choice there, Chris. You shouldn't have even had to consider it for a second."

Chris stepped back, burned by the hurt and accusation in JD's brown eyes.

JD looked back down, tears dripping off his nose. His shoulders shook with sobs. "You should'a got them back, Chris. You should'a got them back."

Squatting down in front of the young man, Chris raised JD's quivering chin with a finger. "JD. You're right, there *was* no choice. My wife and son are dead and I mistakenly thought I could sell my soul to the devil to get them back. But what I didn't realize was that I was selling more than my soul. I was selling my life. "*You* are my family now, and Sarah and Adam understand that. Buck, Vin, Ezra, Nathan, Josiah - all of you are my family. Besides," he smiled, looking into JD's eyes, "you make us lucky number seven." He pulled JD to him then, hugging him tight. JD took in a shuddering breath and cried in Chris's arms.

Chris was thinking about how happy he was to have his family back and JD, well, JD was thinking about what he'd learned tonight.

He found out something that he'd never known. He'd learned just how much he meant to his idol, Chris Larabee. He'd learned that Chris loved him like a son just like JD loved the older man like a father.

JD was happy and content in the knowledge that he had a family once more. And both men knew that they'd fight Hell and all of its minions again to save the ones they loved.

 

the end  (October '01)

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