word count: 4767
Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Magnificent Seven (TV) do not belong to me. Mog's ATF M7 Au is well...Mog's. Dragon idea belongs to TiffanyF.
A/N: Chris gets drafted into helping Joyce's daughters pack up the house in Sunnydale. However he walks in on a bit of chaos and everything changes for him.
Chris Larabee was a practical man. He'd never believed the stories his dad had told him as a child, enjoyed them? Sure. Believed them as an adult? Definitely not. Magic, vampires, demons, and dragons did not exist. It wasn't possible. That way of thinking had gotten him through his adult life, extended emotional breakdowns aside.
However the change of one of his men, Josiah Sanchez, had turned that way of thinking on its ass. Dragons were real, and Josiah was one. Dragons were real, and a whole lot of things were.
When they'd first found out, from Josiah himself, Chris didn't believe it. JD did, but the kid was more open to that sort of thing. When Chris had tried to tell Josiah to stop talking crap JD had defended the older man, telling Chris that 'a lot of things are real'. Then they'd gotten a story from JD's childhood that involved a narrow escape from some vampires...kid still had a couple of scars, fang marks on his bicep.
Ezra had supported JD's encounter with the supernatural as he had several contacts among the non-human communities...and the next thing Chris knew they were all going to a 'Demon Bar'...and the things he'd seen there. Josiah's new lady was uneasy about going into such a place, and hadn't explained why, and Josiah wouldn't betray her confidence.
So in the end he was forced to accept the existence of such things...that Josiah's eyes could glow now sometimes was the kicker. His friend was a dragon, had always been one apparently, he'd just needed a push from one person in particular to gain his dragon form. That push had been from Joyce Summers, Josiah had changed on their first date to protect her from a mugger. The rest, as the cliché went, was history.
Except it wasn't...because somehow Chris got roped into doing this...this being the chore of helping Joyce's daughters pack up their home in Sunnydale so that the youngest, Dawn, could join Joyce and Josiah in Denver.
Chris drove down the streets of Sunnydale, idly wondering how he got stuck with this particular task. He was starting to think the whole thing was rigged and Ezra had intended for him to draw the shortest straw all along. It was why he was currently headed toward the Magic Box, still fatigued from his flight out of Denver. All because of the first time they had met Joyce's oldest daughter.
God. She'd been fierce, wild, like a storm barely contained. Beautiful.
They'd all been at his ranch for the weekend, Joyce and Josiah included, though they were making plans to move her and her youngest daughter to Denver to Josiah's fixer upper. Dinner had been a work in progress as they made their plans, Joyce taking over Chris' kitchen with little effort, when they'd heard a car in the driveway. Chris had taken a quick look at the dark colored car the color hard to discern in the fading daylight, generic, probably a rental. He stepped outside, followed by everyone else.
Joyce had made a call to Sunnydale when Josiah had changed, and apparently she was used to unusual things happening, because she'd remained calm and sought help. Now, as a result her oldest daughter was here to check on Joyce.
A young man with dark hair, which they had not been expecting climbed out of the driver's side, while a beautiful and tiny bond girl threw open the passenger door. She had glared in their general direction...and then stalked toward Josiah and Joyce. Chris, and the others, every single one of them tensed because this tiny girl was a predator. He hadn't understood what he was feeling, but he knew she was dangerous...though it looked sort of ridiculous. This tiny blond coming to a stop and scowling up at Josiah.
She had stared at Josiah for a long moment before saying; “You're him. My mother's soul mate.”
Josiah nodded. “I am.” He held out his hand, offering it to her.
She'd just glared. “I can't kill you because that would hurt my mom, but-” And then Josiah had been on the ground, in pain, and unable to move because the girl had him immobile. Every one of them had reached for their guns then, but the young man stepped between them, right in the line of fire, no fear in his eyes. The girl ignored them and continued her threat. “You ever do anything to hurt her and I'll make you wish I could kill you.”
Joyce had her hands on her hips at that point, a stern...ferocious actually, look on her face. “Buffy Ann Summers that is enough!”
Then the young man pulled her, Buffy, off and away from Josiah, a gentle smile on his face. “Easy Buff, I think you made your point. Please desist from attacking the nice federal agent or your mom might never make us hot chocolate again.
Buffy stared at her friend...boyfriend maybe? “Really Xander. That's what you're worried about?”
Xander shrugged. “Well yeah. You know you worry too much about her, I mean your mom can totally handle herself. She did bludgeon a vampire with a fire ax to protect you that one time...”
“Yeah, but then she made friends with him.”
“She made him hot chocolate and they complained about unfaithful ex's. You know your mom and Dawn are probably the only living things Spike would never hurt.” Then he'd helped Josiah up and addressed them all. “Hi. I'm Xander Harris and the violence happy lady is Buffy Summers. Nice to meet you.”
Chris snorted at the memory, and the ones that followed. Xander had spent the entire evening playing mediator and peace maker, regaling Team 7 with tales of their high school exploits. From the day he met Buffy to the day they blew up their high school to keep the mayor form eating their entire graduating class. Joyce had been pale during most of the conversation, hearing about the near misses her daughter had had, Josiah's arm wrapped around her.
She only interrupted Xander once and it had been...during a lull in his storytelling. Joyce cleared her throat and looked from Buffy to Xander. “I know only one slayer can be called at a time, Faith was called after Kendra died...but Kendra became a slayer after...” She swallowed. “When Buffy died...no one ever told me how that happened.”
Xander had clammed up then, eyes downcast, Buffy however smiled for the first time that night and Chris felt as if he'd been struck by lightning. “It was prom night sophomore year, I was fighting this really old vampire, had to be at least a thousand year old. He bit me, and left me unconscious in a pool of water. I drowned.”
Joyce was crying and reaching for Buffy's hand. “How...how did you survive?”
Buffy's eyes were wet, but her smile was steady. “I have really good friends who don't ever give up on me.” She nudged Xander. “Xander saved me, brought me back. Broke a prophecy and everything.”
Xander shook his head. “All I did was force Angel to take me to the Master's lair and then I preformed CPR.”
“Xander, that prophecy said I would die, it didn't say a thing about me coming back.”
“Still-” His words were cut off when Joyce moved to hug him. The young man sort of froze for a second, but then hugged Joyce back.
“You're welcome...I just...I had already lost one of my best friends that year. I wasn't going to lose another one.”
Joyce pulled back and settled beside her daughter, Buffy squeezed Xander's hand. “I wish we could have saved Jesse.”
Both young people had been awe inspiring...and both a little scary, okay so Buffy had been a lot scary and he didn't blame his men for being terrified of the girl. But that didn't mean he appreciated getting tricked into helping pack up Joyce and Dawn's things in Sunnydale while his men were safe in Denver.
He parked his rental in front of the Magic Box and was about to go in through the front door of the shop when he heard what sounded like a fight in the alley. Chris poked his head around the corner to see a man turn to dust and Buffy relax from her fighting stance, a wooden stake in her hand. Her tired eyes met his.
“You're just in time, follow me.” She turned and headed to the back way into the Magic Box.
He did follow her, and the boy in the alley, who'd she'd been protecting watched them with wide eyes before hightailing it out of there. Buffy was silent as they made their way to the main room. Xander looked up from a table where he and another girl, a red head were sitting. Two more women were with them, though slightly apart, one standing restlessly next to a shelf, the other in a chair staring at nothing. An older man stood at the counter, and Dawn was mysteriously absent.
“Trouble?” Xander asked.
“Just a vampire...and Larabee is here.”
Xander nodded at him. “Hey Chris, you're just in time. We're having a War Conference.”
“Xan, catch him up.”
“Sure.” Xander stood and motioned Chris to follow him toward the front of the store to a couple of stuffed chairs placed among the shelves of magical knick knacks. They settled in the chairs and Xander gave him a tired smile. “So you picked the worst possible time to show up.”
“What exactly are you supposed to catch me up on?”
“You know about our activities here in Sunnydale.”
“Yeah, you two filled us all in back in Denver.”
“What we didn't talk about was this year's big bad...and what she's after.”
“But you're telling me now.”
“You and your team are like us, you're a family and you don't keep secrets...and now you're sort of like our extended family. We've let you in the door, now we're letting you in the house.”
“Hit me kid.”
“I hope you don't mean literally...” Xander's amusement faded and his face grew serious. “So a few months ago Dawn didn't exist.”
“Let me finish. Dawn didn't exist, but then she did and we had memories of her always being here, we couldn't remember a time when she wasn't. Originally she was this green ball of energy called the Key, or Dimensional Key that was as old as the universe. The Key was under the protection of this order of monks, but then something came to take the Key to use it and the monks couldn't keep it safe anymore. So they used a lot of magic, powerful magic to give the Key form and life, to make it human. To make it Dawn, and sent her to a champion to keep her safe, sent her to Buffy in the form of a sister. They used Buffy's blood to make her.”
Xander let that sink in for a moment and Chris asked. “What was after her?”
“Once there was a hell god who ruled over a hell dimension with two other gods...but this particular god was so bad ass that the other two kicked her out of their dimension and into this one. Her name is Glorificus, Glory for short...and she can't exist in this dimension in her true form...so she has a human vessel. Sometimes she's her, sometimes she's the vessel, Ben.”
“Why does she want the Key?”
“To go home. The problem with that, is Glory needs Dawn's blood to open the portal to her dimension and once the portal is open, the walls of our reality will collapse and let in things from other realities. Something we don't want to happen...and the only way to close the portal once its open...would be for Dawn to die. We're really hoping it doesn't come to that.” Xander looked worriedly back toward the group at the table, where Buffy was glaring at the other man, Giles if Chris remembered right.
“That hasn't been discussed as an option has it?”
Xander's eyes snapped back to Chris. “What?”
Xander was silent for a moment, brown eyes flashed with anger. “Giles suggested it, Buffy is against it, won't hear of it.”
“Where do you stand?”
“I'm just a sidekick...but I'm against killing Dawn. She and Buffy are like sisters to me...and if Joyce were here she probably would have punched Giles. Dawn is hers you know? She's ours, no matter where she came from.”
“Good answer. So what's the plan?”
Xander grinned. “Technically we don't have one yet, so we need to mosey on over and join the war talk so we can come up with a plan.”
Chris had driven Buffy home for her supply run, getting his first glimpse at the house they were supposed to be packing up. It was a nice house, a warm and lived in home, well cared for by a mother and her daughters.
He stepped inside, watching Buffy ascend the stairs. “Think we'll make it?”
“I don't know.” She looked over her shoulder at him. “This isn't your fight.”
“I think it is. The world ending affects us all. I'm making it my fight. We both have people to protect.”
“I can't loose her.” Buffy's words were nearly a whisper.
“You know something about this kind of thing Cowboy?”
He nodded, wondering why exactly he was able to talk to this young woman about his losses. “My wife and son. I lost them.”
“We're not going to loose your sister. I promise.”
Buffy's smile was nothing but sorrow. “Don't make me a promise you can't keep.”
Chris accepted the shot of Bourbon Giles offered him, threw it back then sighed. “This is insane.”
Giles gave a grimace. “Welcome to Sunnydale Agent Larabee, here's hoping this won't be your last visit or your grave.”
“Chris is fine, we're about to take on a god, any man going into battle with me is allowed to use my given name.”
“Right, its Giles then, as the children have taken to calling me.”
“You often threaten to kill children Giles?”
“Xander told you about Dawn, and the circumstances around her?”
“He did, and I have to say I agree with him and Buffy. Dawn shouldn't be killed.”
“Technically she's not real.”
“And if you kill that girl I'll shoot you.”
“You mean that.” They stared at one another for a long moment and Chris saw what lay behind those glasses and calm British demeanor. Giles was much more than he'd assumed. The man had seen hell, much like Chris had. Giles nodded. “I do follow Buffy's order's Chris. She made it quite clear that Dawn is to be saved at all costs.”
“You'd really shoot me wouldn't you?”
“For killing a child, you bet I would.”
“Fair enough...I'm not sure that I could, despite my conviction to save the world.”
“Speaking of the world...these kids really do this often? I'd hoped those two had been exaggerating when they stopped by my ranch to size Josiah up.”
“If only, but we do this at least once a year. Last year we had to clean up the government's mess.”
“Story for another time...I must say you're awfully accepting of all this.”
“Having a friend turn into a dragon will do that.” Chris gave a wry grin. “Xander tell you about the first impression Buffy made on my team?”
Giles smiled back. “Yes, as a matter of fact he did. Sorry I missed it.”
“And of course I couldn't lift that hammer like she could, like it was nothing.”
Chris poured himself another shot, but then Buffy was there, stealing it from his grasp and throwing it back herself. She made a face as it went down and once she got over the taste she nodded at them. “Its time. You coming cowboy?”
Chris nodded at the girl, woman. “Wouldn't miss it Boss.”
Her eyes softened for just a second. “Let's roll.”
Chris wasn't sure he liked this plan...then again he didn't see any other choice for the rag tag group. They followed Tara, Willow's girlfriend to what had originally been either a vacant lot or a scrap heap, that now was home to a tower. A rickety structure that didn't in any way look safe.
Tara went in first, joining the others who had been driven mad, starting to work on the tower. Then Chris got his look at Glory, and it was hard for him to think of the beautiful girl as a hell god. His first glimpse of magic a moment later when Willow put her hands on Glory and Tara, fingers seeping into their heads before blue electricity threw them apart to the ground.
He started to move forward so he could help either Tara or Willow...but Buffy's hand on his shoulder stopped him. “Not yet. Let the bot do its job.”
“I still can't believe someone made a robot of you for sex.”
“Warren's a sick guy, making a Buffy sex bot for himself was his version of revenge.”
Conversation stopped for a moment as they watched Glory stagger to her feet, holding her head, and then taking on the Buffy-bot. It looked so real, so like Buffy, and it creeped Chris out. But it did its job, assaulting Glory with the Dagon Sphere to weaken her, and following through with blows.
When the demons herded the human slaves, their broke minds making them compliant, to the bottom of the tower to block the path to Dawn, Chris fired a shot. The first demon fell, and then chaos ensued.
While Glory was distracted by the Buffy they followed up Chris' first shot with an all out assault. Chris wished he'd brought Vin, because having a sniper on their side at this point would have been only good.
He'd thought that only his men could create or take part in this kind of madness, but this was the most scattered battle he'd ever taken part in. Demons, humans whod had their minds taken by a god, civilians fighting with God Hammers, baseball bats, a sword or an ax. Although Chris had to admit Anya, Xander's girlfriend was very handy with her bat.
And Giles...the man was absolutely deadly with the sword he wielded and Chris suspected that the man could have bested not only Ezra, but Nathan as well. He cut down the demon followers of Glory as if they were only a minor hindrace.
Xander struggled some with his ax, but he did show some skill, killing a demon, but then concentrating on knocking out the humans with the flat side of the blade.
Chris carried on, shooting any demons and killing them, that came near Willow and Tara's prone position where they huddled together. The Humans he took down he avoided lethal shots, damaged as they were they weren't at fault...but he couldn't let them hurt the kids.
But watching the battle around him he missed something vital. Sometime after Glory tore the head off the bot and Buffy herself started smacking the goddess with the god hammer...and after Xander had used a wrecking ball to knock her down. What he missed...was the moment Glory was no longer Glory, but a young man that Giles was suffocating. Chris took a step forward to stop Giles...but then it started.
A body hit the ground, having fallen from the ledge where Dawn was trapped, Chris could just see Buffy and Dawn, the young woman struggling to free her sister.
And a bit of hell broke loose.
The sky opened up and the earth started to shake and crack open. It was what they had worried about. Dawn had bled, and the end of the world was beginning. Wind whirled about them, accompanied by lightning, Anya pushed Xander out of the way. The lightning didn't strike her, but it did hit a cinder block wall behind her, sending it crumbling down on her. Xander scrambled up and started to unearth her from the rubble.
And then Chris looked up at the portal, it was growing steadily larger by the moment...but above it...something moved...someone ran...and jumped.
It was Buffy.
Chris felt his heart nearly stop and as she fell something seemed to break inside of him. Something he thought he'd never feel again. Not since the deaths of Sarah and Adam. He yelled, screamed really...and then he was surging upwards toward the portal where Buffy now hung, suspended like a moment in time by the crackling energy.
He reached her in what seemed like a second, his wings pushing him forward until he too was caught in the web of energy. And he could hear it, her heart . It had stopped. He screamed again, an inhuman sound and he caught her up, gently as he could so as not to cut her with his claws and held her close.
He shook her, screamed again called out to her soul with everything he had.
There it was.
In a second her heartbeat was back, thin and in sync with his. Another moment and it was beating on its own and her eyes opened. The energy around them dissipated, the portal satisfied with her brief moment of death closed.
Then they plummeted toward the ground, the net of energy no longer there to hold them up. But he spread his wings, and caught the air so they could glide down to the ground safely. Chris landed on his hind legs and set her down. Buffy stared up at him.
“You...you were made for me.” Her smile was surprised and tears came down. “I wasn't meant to be alone.” She reached for one of his clawed front feet, grasped it and held on. It triggered his change back to human form and he kissed the top of her head.
“I've lost enough. Don't do that again.”
“I'm the Slayer. I can't not save the world.”
“Fine, but you're not going it alone.” He stepped back just in time so he wasn't in Dawn's way when she tackled Buffy in a hug.
They had come through mostly intact, all of them. Anya was only bruised from her encounter with the crumbling wall, and Tara was dazed, but her mind was whole. Dawn had shallow cuts on her stomach that had been cleaned and bandaged the moment they got to the house and the well stocked first aid kit.
Now though the others were downstairs, giving them a moment. Buffy smiled up at him.
“Its been a little while for me. I didn't think I'd be jumping into a relationship so soon.”
Chris started to back up a bit. “You need time.”
Her eyes narrowed. “I'm not getting you dead. I know how this works. So...we'll have the life saving sex and then we can work on getting to know each other better.”
He relaxed a bit. “Its been a long time since I let anyone in...and you should know...there's a crazy woman who will try to kill you for being with me.”
Chris swallowed. “She's the one who killed my wife and son.”
Buffy's eyes softened and she stepped closer. “I'm so sorry Chris...”
“Bound for life or not I can't lose someone like that again.”
“I'm pretty tough I can handle one crazy lady...she's not a god is she?”
“Just a woman.”
“I can take her.”
Chris smiled and kissed her for the first time...then she picked him up and tossed him on her bed before joining him. Clothes were carefully removed and when she straddled him, and he slipped inside her heat their minds connected and he heard her worried thoughts.
Don't screw this up. This is your last chance.
Chris smiled and kissed her again. “You won't. There is no way you can screw this up. And she smiled back, her thoughts quiet and happy.
Everyone looked up as they came downstairs, hair a little disheveled but otherwise they were put together. Buffy however halted when she saw how troubled they looked and she sighed tiredly. “What now? We should be good for at least a few months.”
They all looked toward Xander, who was standing apart from them. He stood, staring at the front door, a defeated looked on his face.
He started and turned to her, voice shocked. “Anya left.”
“It has been a long day.”
He swallowed and shook his head. “She gave back the ring I gave her.”
“She's not coming back.”
Buffy moved a step closer. “Xander.”
Xander held up a hand. “No. I don't...lets just have our usual 'The World didn't end party'. Please?”
Buffy hugged him and pulled him to the couch, Chris sat on her other side. Dawn was sitting on the floor, leaning against Willow and Tara's legs where they had crowded into a chair together. She looked up at Buffy and frowned. “I don't really feel like a party.”
“Here here.” Willow murmured, her face tucked into Tara's throat.”
Giles cleared his throat and wearily polished his glasses. “I suggest a night cap...and a week of sleep.”
Tara smiled. “I second that.”
Xander gave a sigh of defeat and looked to Buffy. “So what are you're plans now Buff?”
She shrugged. “You still want the house?”
He looked around the living room, eyes clouded in thought, but he nodded. “Yeah. The rent to own deal your mom and I have worked out is still on...but I'm guessing you're going to be somewhere else?”
Buffy looked at Chris and he blinked. “I have responsibilities in Denver...but we can work something out.”
“I'm not much of a cook.” She admitted.
Dawn scoffed. “Don't listen to her she does okay.”
“We'll manage...you don't have to cook. I've been cooking for quite a while now...do you want to finish school?” Chris winced at his words, remembering that Buffy was only twenty, more than ten years younger than him.
“Yeah but...the Hellmouth.”
Xander gave her a nudge. “We can handle the Hellmouth. We've got Super Watcher, Uber Witches and I'm not too bad myself. Though I can't use a wrecking ball in every fight...” Then Xander gave Chris a look. “Also, that time Buffy threatened Josiah?” Chris nodded and watched Xander's eyes go hard and cold, making the others stare in shock. “Same goes for you.”
Buffy gaped. “Xander!”
Xander's eyes were back to normal, jovial, with sadness from Anya's departure, but he kept his voice light. “Besides, if we need a slayer on the fly we can just break Faith out of prison.”
Chris stared. “I am a Federal Agent. I don't need to hear that.”
Buffy grinned and held his hand in hers. “Then you probably don't want to know about the rocket launcher in the basement.”
His eyes widened. “Rocket launcher?”
Xander rolled his eyes. “We needed it. Its not my fault the nearest armory had shoddy security. Are you going to leave it here by the way?”
Buffy nodded. “Yeah, you stole it, you keep it. It'll be of more use here in Sunnydale.”
Giles sighed. “Not sure that will work Buffy, there's no more ammunition for it.”
Xander smiled and ducked his head in a guilty gesture. “Heh.”
The Watcher stared at the younger man. “You have more ammo?”
“I might have a few hidden caches of various firearms stashed around.”
Chris groaned. “I never heard any of that. Not a word, stop talking about stolen weaponry.”
Buffy grinned and kissed his cheek. “Just remember, you didn't hear any of that.”