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Hand of Sorrow

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This story is No. 2 in the series "Powers of the World". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: Sequel to "Star Spangled Man". Sometimes, the biggest threat doesn't come from without—it comes from within.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Marvel Universe > Avengers
Marvel Universe > X-Men
JadedFR181136,4011426948,73411 Nov 1224 Jul 13No

In which Dawn arrives back in New York

Author: Jaded
Story: Hand of Sorrow
Disclaimer: Joss owns Buffy, The Avengers, X-Men, and the Fantastic Four are owned by Marvel. I write for fun, not for profit.
Summary: Sequel to Star Spangled Man. Sometimes, the biggest threat doesn't come from without—it comes from within.
Warning: SPOILERS FOR THE AVENGERS! Timelines still wonky.
Acknowledgments: Thanks to Misty, tealruby, Duchess, jupitersdaughter, TheDivineDemon, alynambered, kiwi, Angelskuuipo, RevDorothyL, link, Silence, tchizek, CageFire, Harry, Letomo, Morgomir, Dragonelf, QueenOfFantasy, & Olympus for the reviews!
A/N 1: Between family and teaching, I'm not getting nearly as much writing time as I'd like. *pouts*

**SPOILERS FOR THE AVENGERS!**

In which Dawn arrives back in New York

Dawn took a deep breath when she stepped off the plane. It had been a while since she'd been back on American soil and though she knew it was ridiculous, she liked to think that being back stateside had a certain...smell.

Which she was never ever telling Tony. She could just imagine the ribbing she'd get.

“Hey you!” a voice called out and Dawn looked over at where Darcy was fairly bouncing in excitement next to an equally jazzed Tony. “Get down here!”

Dawn laughed and quickly made her way down the stairs leading to the private jet, knowing from past experience that if she didn't, she and Darcy would crash in the middle and then, most likely, take a nasty spill down to the tarmac. And with Tony here, she knew they'd never live it down.

“Dawnie!” Darcy squealed when they finally crashed into each other. Tony joined them a second later, arms wrapping around them.

“How's my favorite linguist?!”

“I'm your only linguist,” Dawn said, rolling her eyes. Dawn had, on more than one occasion, translated for him when he needed someone and she wasn't in school. She'd actually spent all last summer as an “intern” with Stark Industries under Pepper, which basically meant she traveled the world with them and Darcy, who'd been manipulated into taking the summer off as Dr. Foster's intern to instead learn the ropes as the heir of SI.

Unfortunately, that summer had also cemented Tony's opinion that that made Dawn his and had been behaving accordingly. He'd made more than one crack about having gotten two daughters for the price of one, which she'd never contradicted. Giles had always been Buffy's father figure and though Dawn had a certain fondness for the head watcher, she'd never clicked with him the way she had with Tony.

“Where's Steve?” she asked Darcy quietly once Tony had let them go and had gone to talk to Happy who was taking all her luggage and stuffing it in the car.

“Fury called him in a meeting,” Darcy replied. She jerked her head over at her father, rolling her eyes. “Hence why you get the wonderkin over there.”

The Avengers had become beyond paranoid after Dawn had gotten kidnapped two months into her first year in Rome while on a school trip to DC. It had been some idiot who'd wanted leverage against the Council and had thought Dawn would be his ticket. It had, surprisingly, had absolutely nothing to do with the supernatural side of the Council but the mundane side—politically, they were very powerful. Giles had told her once that entire regimes and empires had crumbled in the past due to their influence. She still wasn't entirely convinced he'd been joking.

When the Council had gotten notification of the kidnapping, Phil had called Fury who'd then called Clint and Natasha. Tony, being Tony, liked knowing where all his people were and JARVIS had spied on the mission debrief. When Clint and Natasha had arrived at the airport in DC several hours later, Steve, Tony, Bruce, and Thor met them there. Dawn was grateful for their involvement, as the kidnappers had actually been fairly competent—and violent. She'd been sporting an impressive array of bruising by the time the Hulk had smashed into the far end of the room they'd been holding her in. And for one of the first times they could remember, Steve had had not scolded Tony when he'd taken one look at her and then smashed the kidnapper into a wall without any warning.

Point was that since then, whenever Dawn traveled to the States (and they knew about it), one of the Avengers insisted on at least meeting her at the airport and escorting her to wherever she was staying. Usually it was Steve, but all of the rest had done so before, including Thor and Bruce.

“So, Happy's got everything,” Tony said, coming back over. “Lets get this show on the road!”

“I am not staying with you,” Dawn replied promptly. They'd been having this argument off and on ever since graduation and he found out she was going to be living and going to school in New York City. He'd insisted she'd be staying at Stark Tower, possibly even getting her own floor, and she (and Buffy) had argued that, actually, no, she would not. “I found a perfectly nice loft space that Buffy is renting out for me and has four slayers living within spitting distance of.”

That had been the compromise she and Buffy had come to about housing. Buffy had wanted Dawn to actually move into the Council house they had in the city, Dawn wanted to stay in school housing for the “experience” and instead, she was staying in whatever place Buffy would pay for as long as it wasn't student housing or Council housing. All four of the of-age New York slayers lived in the same building and though Buffy didn't think she knew, four more slayers were moving into adjacent buildings over the summer.

Not to mention Buffy was officially handing off Rome to Andrew and was transferring to New York sometime in August, citing a need to strengthen bonds with SHIELD.

Yeah, Buff wasn't subtle at all.

“Yeah, about that,” Tony began and Dawn's eyes narrowed. He was looking completely unrepentant when he smiled at her smugly. “You're not going there for another week.”

“What did you do?” she demanded and then turned to Darcy when he refused to answer. “What did he do?!”

“He bought the building and is renovating it before you move in,” Darcy replied promptly.

“Traitor.”

“Why?!”

“He's putting in JARVIS,” Darcy answered, ignoring her father's glare. “And beefing up security. And don't bother complaining to the others cause Natasha, Clint, Steve, and Bucky all helped him come up with the security measures. And Thor had to be dissuaded from petitioning Odin for some sort of animal protectors they have on Asgard to keep in the yard.”

Dawn groaned as Darcy then dragged her unprotesting to the waiting car, Tony bouncing along behind them.

Where was the nearest wall when you needed it?

~~*~~

Thankfully, Tony hadn't renovated any new rooms or floors of Avengers/Stark Tower into living quarters for her, so she had hope he'd actually let her leave once the renovations were done. After dropping her bags off in the three bedrooms suite she and Buffy stayed in whenever they came to the city, Dawn immediately went down to the commons. Darcy and Tony had left her on her own once they dropped her off, the latter going down for a meeting with Pepper and the former going to his robotics lab. She hadn't seen any of the other Avengers since her graduation and though it had only been a few weeks since, they'd had two major battles and she wanted to see for herself that they were okay.

She felt him more than heard him so when Clint came up behind her to whisper, “Hey, Princess,” in her ear, she didn't jump like she knew he was hoping she would. Instead, she grinned and turned. “Hey, Birdbrain,” she greeted him as his arms came up to wrap her in a hug.

He laughed, squeezing hard before letting her go. She did so as well, stepping back to study him. He still had a few bruises peeking out of his raggedy tee and jeans, but he was in one piece. He was the Avenger she worried most for, because he was, as he so liked to put it, the token mundane on the team. The rest had armor or powers or whatnot to protect them—him, not so much. She worried for him like she worried for Xander.

“I'm fine,” he assured her, obviously knowing what was going through her mind. “You should see the other guys.”

“She can't,” Natasha said as she slid into the room behind them. Her eyes gleamed in amusement as Dawn gave her a quick hug which was returned briefly. “They're all dead, remember?”

“That's the point,” he said and Dawn shook her head as the two began bickering. Natasha was as put together and fine as she always was—if she had an injuries or trauma, Dawn would never see it.

“Dawn,” a quiet voice called and Dawn turned around to find Bruce getting up from the couch. Her eyes lit up and she dashed forward, hugging him. Almost immediately all the tension in his body leeched right out and Dawn hid her grin in his chest.

Whenever Dawn saw Bruce, she made certain she had physical contact with the man at least once a day. To her knowledge, Bruce had never looked into why Dawn's presence caused the Hulk to relax. He'd just accepted it was so and moved on. In return for not digging like some others would have, Dawn had made it her personal mission to try and help him control himself as much as possible when the two were together. Buffy knew of the mission because she'd gotten completely the wrong impression at first, and Tony, she suspected, knew as well, but she'd never told anyone else.

“How was your flight?” Bruce asked, leaning back with an almost reluctant air. Nearby, she could see a pretty brunette Dawn didn't know looking curiously at them from her place on the couch.

“Quiet,” she answered. “Tony really didn't have to send the jet, I could have flown on a normal flight.”

“You're his,” Bruce reminded her with a twinkle in his eye. “Of course he's going to spoil you.”

“Yeah, but she's Stark's what?” another voice asked. “That's the real question here.”

“Bucky!” she twirled around and jumped into the assassin's arms, laughing delightedly when he picked her up and spun her around.

“Hey D,” he greeted her with a lopsided grin when he finally put her down. “How you doin?”

“Good,” she said, skin tingling as it always did when in close proximity to Steve's oldest and best friend. One of these days, she'd deal with the hidden crush she had on the man. That day was not today, however. “What about you? Still fighting with SHIELD about your arm?”

Bucky rolled his eyes. “I'm perfectly happy with what Stark designed me,” he told her, hand coming up and tweaking her nose. “Why they think I want something they made is beyond me.”

“Its SHIELD,” Dawn shrugged, grinning brightly when he wrapped an arm around her waist and kept it there. “Nothing they do ever makes much sense until its relevant.”

“So says their new intern,” Steve said, coming into the room with Thor and Sif. He frowned a bit at her—no, at Bucky, she quickly realized—but shrugged it off to give her a bright grin. “How's my favorite little sister?” he asked, tugging her from Bucky and giving her a hug.

Dawn rolled her eyes at Sif, who was watching in amusement, but obligingly hugged Steve back. Sif and Steve both knew about her crush, though she'd never actually told the former. Steve didn't really like it, something about Bucky having been close to a “player” back in the forties, but he was smart enough not to mention it to her. She didn't know if Bucky was aware of why Steve put himself between them so often and didn't want to know; she could only take so much embarrassment before she had to run away and hide.

“I'm good,” she told him, letting go. “Having to repeat myself a whole heck of a lot, but good. What about you? What did Fury want?”

“Security stuff for the office downtown,” he answered. “Since Buffy's not talking to him, he wanted my input.”

Buffy had been blindsided by the internship offer and was a bit miffed with the director for not clearing it with her first. Phil and Steve had been running interference between the two ever since, which was much more demanding than she thought anyone had ever suspected it would be.

Dawn snorted but didn't say anything. Instead, she turned to Sif and gave the Asgardian a quick hug, which was returned. “Warriors Three still here or did they go back home?”

“They and Thor are down in the gymnasium,” she answered. “I offered to help Steven with Fury's concerns; I think we came up with a possible plan to keep vampires out of the building.”

Dawn raised an eyebrow at the way Steve's name was said and gave the older woman a searching look. Sif's lips twitched and Dawn's jaw dropped. Sif gave her a warning look before she could say anything and Dawn had to forcibly shove all the squealing (and death threats) back into the recess of her mind. There would be more than enough time for that later.

Deciding to distraction was the call of the day, she turned to the woman she didn't know. She was tall, ethereally pretty, with dark brown, almost black hair and pretty blue eyes. “Hi, I'm Dawn Summers.” she held out a hand, which was grasped as the woman smiled back at her.

“Dr. Betty Ross, but you can just call me Betty,” she said and Dawn nodded, finally placing the woman as Bruce's former flame. “I've heard a lot about you.”

“I didn't know you and Bruce had met back up,” she said and Betty gave Bruce a fond look.

“Stark hired me last week to work for the Avengers,” she said, turning back to Dawn. “I only got in two days ago.”

“Nice,” she nodded.

“Bruce tells me you're going to Columbia?” the older woman asked, head tilted.

Dawn smiled wryly. “To his, Jane, and Eric's everlasting horror,” she agreed and Betty laughed.

“Columbia's a good school, especially for languages,” she noted, shaking her head and ignoring when Bruce grumbled under his breath. “Bruce said that's what you're going to study?”

“Yup,” Dawn agreed, lips stretching into a smile at the pout on the sometimes-jolly-green-giant's face. She looked around, remembering something. “Speaking of which, anyone want to tell me where the linguistics lab is? I wanted to check in with Dr. Monroe. I start with her in a week.”

“I'll show you,” Bucky said before any of the others could. He held an arm out, a charming grin on his face as he looked at her expectantly. “Milady?”

Out of the corner of her eye she could see Steve shaking his head and grimacing, as Clint's lips pursed and Sif tried not to smile. Catching Natasha's gaze, she asked with her eyes what to do and the redhead gave a slight nod, jerking her head at the two men and rolling her eyes. Dawn grinned and hooked her arm through Bucky's, completely unconcerned by the feeling of cold metal against her bare skin. There was no reason why she shouldn't play along, especially since she realistically knew her chances with the former army sniper was zilch. And if it made Steve and Clint all constipated, all the better.

“Thank you kind sir,” she said, smiling mischievously up at him. He laughed back and the two headed for the elevators. Mentally, however, she was counting down. Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, ….

“Hey, wait up, I'll go with,” Steve said and Dawn laughed softly to herself as Clint quickly agreed, squeezing in between her and Bucky.

Predictable to the last.

End Note: Normally, I keep the pairings to what works best with the fic but I'm taking suggestions because I have several different directions I could take this with different pairings. So, who do you think Dawn and Darcy should be with and why? This last part is very important as I don't just want “Dawn/Bucky” or whatever. I want to hear your reasoning as to why they'd be good. Thanks!
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