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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 > Dawn-Centered
Marvel Universe > X-Men
JadedFR181136,4011628955,40511 Nov 1224 Jul 13No

In which Dawn has horribly bad timing

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. Dawn and Buffy are finally back in New York for good. New schools, new slayers, and new threats, Dawn, Buffy, and Steve are going to have one interesting year.
Warning: SPOILERS FOR THE AVENGERS! Timelines still wonky.
Acknowledgments: Thanks to kiwi, Misty, RevDorothyL, Angelskuuipo, HebiR, Duchess, Harry, eset, Bunney, & Niklarus for the reviews!
A/N 1: Halfway through my last week! Had some free time so...new chapter! Oh, and teeny tiny little hint of another fandom mentioned. You get a gold star if you catch it!

**SPOILERS FOR THE AVENGERS!**



In Which Dawn has horribly bad timing


Dawn started doing daily gun lessons with Bucky, for about an hour each afternoon. He was teaching her how to use every gun in each of the Avenger arsenal, plus a few he had for himself.

“If someone attacks the tower, I want you to be able to use any gun you can find to protect yourself,” he'd told her seriously when she'd reluctantly been putting one of them back together. “Because anyone stupid enough to attack us here won't be interested in hostages.”

Natasha, Sif, and Clint had found out about the lessons and had decided to get in on the act. The two women had been surprised to find she actually didn't know much in the way of hand-to-hand fighting, considering she lived with Buffy. Her sister had started to teach her but everything had been to take down demons and vampires, not regular joes off the street. And then when the Potentials had started showing up, Buffy had been more concerned with getting them up to snuff, Dawn had been pushed to the research side again.

So after her lessons with Bucky, she went to lessons with Clint, who was going through all the non-gun weapons he could get his hands on, including archery and how not to kill cats using a crossbow. After that it was hand-to-hand with the women and occasionally Hogan.

Dawn was in the gym a few days after the rotation got started, having done lessons with Clint and Bucky, to find Darcy being dragged inside with Pepper, Jane, Betty, and Sif.

“I don't want to do this!” her fellow brunette was complaining when Dawn looked up, finding all four of the women in work-out clothes. “Why do I have to do this?”

“Because in a few months we're announcing you're existence and the better you know to protect yourself, the happier Tony'll be,” Pepper informed her simply. “And we're doing it with you, so please, Darce, stop complaining.”

“You're doing it too?” Darcy asked, apparently not having taken in their state of dress. “Oh.”

“We're in danger because we're dating Thor, Tony, and Bruce,” Betty said. “I know a little because of my dad but I could stand to learn more.”

“Same,” Jane said.

“I've been meaning to take lessons but I never got around to it,” Pepper said, dropping down next to Dawn and stretching out a long leg covered in yoga pants. “Natasha mentioned she and Sif were teaching Dawn so...”

“I suppose that'd be helpful,” Darcy said hesitating. “All women, I mean. Right?”

“Right,” Natasha agreed, dropping down to stretch with them. “Occasionally Sif asks Hogan for assistance when we need to show something against bigger opponents.”

“Clint and Bucky both know I'm learning but Natasha talked them into leaving us alone,” Dawn added, deciding she wouldn't mind having more workout buddies to complain with. At least she wouldn't be the only one with sore muscles in the mornings anymore. “As far as I know, Steve and Tony don't know. Bruce might, he gave me some muscle rubbing stuff from India the third or fourth lesson.”

“Okay, then what are you doing with them for two hours before this?” Darcy asked as Pepper did a complicated thing that looked like actual yoga. “I tried finding you the other day but all JARVIS would say was you were in lessons.”

“Bucky's teaching me guns, Clint other weapons,” Dawn admitted. “Buffy wasn't exactly the most...consistent in teaching me so I'm probably way behind where I should be, all things considered.”

“Got it,” Darcy nodded as Betty looked confused but obviously unwilling to ask.

And that was how the women's defense lessons got started.

~~*~~

“I hear you're a better aim then I gave you credit,” Buffy said first thing when Dawn logged onto Skype a few days after the girls got together to learn defense. “Since when were you interested in learning how to fight, Dawnie?”

Dawn could hear what her sister wasn't asking: Are they trying to turn you against everything you grew up with? “I've always wanted to learn, you just never had time to teach me,” she said and internally winced when her sister flinched. “It's not your fault, it's just how it went. You had the potentials.”

“But you're my sister, I should have taught you to protect yourself,” Buffy said, looking stricken.

“When?” Dawn asked bluntly. “Between protecting me, fighting gods and witches and vampires and demons, when would you have had the time?”

“I could have taught you instead of just...protecting...you...” Buffy trailed off, a chagrined look on her face as Dawn smiled at her. Her sister glared half-heartedly. “Don't think I don't see what you did there.”

“Glad to hear it,” Dawn said. “No worries, though. I'm being taught by the best.”

“Hmmph!” Buffy said, arms crossing. “I wouldn't say they're the best...”

“One's an actual goddess, the other is a master assassin who can keep up with you,” Dawn pointed out. “Outside of you and Faith, who better to teach me?”

“True,” Buffy conceded grudgingly. “But I could totally teach you to kick ass!”

“If you had the time, yes,” Dawn agreed, knowing from experience it was better to just go along with it when Buffy was in one of these sorts of moods. “Speaking of time, how goes the plans to hand the reins to Andrew?”

“Oh my God,” Buffy groaned and then the blonde was off and running, complaining about the sheer amount of paperwork and packing up the apartment with Andrew underfoot and the complaining of the slayers who didn't want her to leave, in contrast to the slayers who were happy she was going to New York. Dawn let her ramble on while she scrolled through the emails she'd gotten from Dr. Monroe about the projects Dawn was being assigned to. Most were simple translations of past recordings from missions, which explained the huge confidentially agreement she'd had to sign for the job. A few, however, were far more interesting—ancient translations of archaeological artifacts SHIELD had been digging up and collecting since Thor's initial visit. Given the Tesseract had been Asgardian in origin, she suspected SHIELD was trying to find anything similar that might have been left behind.

She bit her lip, wondering if she should say anything to Buffy. On one hand, she was loyal to a fault when it came to the Scoobies—they were her family—but on the other, what did it say about her that she was already thinking of breaking her work confidentially agreement at the first sign that SHIELD was looking into their backyard? And it wasn't even like they had the corner market on magical shenanigans—she'd heard about the other hunters that worked on their lonesome—so what right did they have to say SHIELD needed to mind its own business? The supernatural world might be what they worked in but they weren't the only ones. Did they really have the right to push anyone they didn't like out?

~~*~~

Dawn was no closer to figuring out her conundrum the next day, which was affecting her mood. She'd been grumpy throughout both lessons with Clint and Bucky and getting to punch at Sif, while ultimately fruitless, left her only slightly more upbeat. Violence, it seemed, was not her therapy form like it was Buffy's.

“So, you wanna tell me what's going on?” Bruce asked, having taken his life in his own hands to drag her out of the tower and to dinner a few blocks away. Betty was still in the tower, working on something, so it was just the two of them at a little Thai place.

“No.”

“Is it your sister?” he asked after a moment.

“No. Yes. Sort of,” she answered. His eyes narrowed.

“SHIELD?”

“Yes.”

“SHIELD versus your sister?” he prodded and Dawn looked at him. “I figured it'd come up sooner or later. What happened?”

“Nothing yet, that's the problem!” she said, deciding she might as well talk to someone about this and who better than Bruce? “I just...Dr. Monroe gave me a list of projects SHIELD is doing and...”

“And you think one of them might be your sister's purview?” he asked, head tilted. Dawn shrugged.

“Is it though?” she asked quietly. “Buffy is all supernatural fighting but is it just hers? They're so many different fighters out there, what right does the Council have to step in and say, 'this is our job, stay out!'”

“You're a loyal person, I noticed that right off,” he said after a few minutes of silence. He leaned back in his chair. “But you've sworn loyalty to two different groups and now you're having a moment of crisis.”

“Any advice?”

“SHIELD keeps tabs on anyone looking into the serum,” he said. His lips twisted wryly. “No one wants another accident like me.”

“Bullshit,” she said. “Hulk is awesome and so are you. And that is not advice.”

As usual, Bruce ignored her fervent support of the two sides of himself. “What if the next person...isn't so good? What if the serum creates something even worse than the Other Guy? No one wants that, so they keep tabs.”

“It's not the same,” Dawn said. “SHIELD is trying to find artifacts like the Tesseract to play with. They don't know what they're getting into.”

“Then teach them,” Bruce said simply. “I'm teaching SHIELD what to look for in gamma radiation and the serum research so we can be sure no one else ends up like me. Teach them what they need to know about the supernatural world.”

“Buffy tried that with the military once,” she said. “It didn't turn out so well.”

“No, she tried that with a crazy woman who was on a power trip and was trying to play god,” Bruce corrected and of course he'd heard about the Initiative. “Would you really be working for SHIELD if you thought they were the same?”

“No.”

“So maybe there's enough backyard for them both to work in,” he said. He grimaced. “As much as I detest military groups and what Fury did with Agent Coulson...I do think he's trying to keep the world safe. I...trust him.”

“Hm.” Dawn said, deciding not to give any indication to what she thought. Maybe if she just...ignored it, she wouldn't have to deal.

Hey, it worked for her sister. Mostly.

Besides, she had a horrible feeling this was something she was going to have to figure out for herself.

“So how's you and Betty?” she asked instead, head tilted and not even trying to hide the way she was changing the subject. Bruce choked on his drink and Dawn grinned wickedly when she realized he was blushing. “That good, huh?”

“I am not talking about this with you,” he mumbled.

“Too late,” she said, tongue peeking out of from between her teeth. His blush was a full on tomato red. “Wow. Really good.”

He hung his head and groaned.

“C'mon, you tell me about Betty, I'll tell you about Brian,” she needled.

His head snapped up, a frown on his face. “Brian? Who's Brian?” he asked suspiciously. Dawn just gave him a smug little grin.

“Betty?”

“Seriously, who's Brian?” he asked. “Because I remember Tony and Steve both muttering something about boys named Brian being no good around the same time you went to Prom.”

'Damn my big mouth,' she thought ruefully to herself. “Brian was indeed my date to prom,” she agreed, knowing they were going nowhere on the Betty front now. “And he's attending NYU. He's coming in next week to get settled with his mom. We've made plans to hang.”

“Hang?” he asked, frown getting deeper. Unspoken she could hear I've met Darcy—I know what hang means these days.

Dawn took a deep breath, mentally counting to ten in English, Spanish, Russian, and German before looking at him. “I am eighteen years old. A legal adult. I am in college. I put up with the over protectiveness because I'm not stupid—I know I have enemies cause of Buffy and you guys. But if you think I'm gonna put up with it forever, you guys have another thing coming!”

A shadow filled Bruce's eyes at the very clear reminder of why Dawn was followed every-time she left the Tower. “Dawn...”

“No, you don't like it when ShIELD keeps tabs on you when you try and go off-grid, why on Earth would you think I'd like it?!” she demanded.

Bruce's eyes widened. “That is not the same thing--”

“Its pretty damn close!” she snapped, anger getting the best of her. She looked down at her half-eaten plate of pasta and pushed it away. “I'm not hungry. I'll meet you at the Tower.”

She was halfway back when a shadow fell across her on the sidewalk. 'Fuck,' she thought to herself when she was roughly pulled into an alleyway. She fumbled with her pocket, found the taser Darcy had gifted her with at graduation, and promptly dropped it. Mystery guy didn't seem stronger than normal so Dawn was going with the idea this was a mugging. 'Typical,' she grumbled to herself. 'I finally get a backbone about the protecting and this happens!'

“Give me your money!”

Dawn's head snapped up. “Seriously?!” she demanded. “Cliche much?”

He frowned, obviously not expecting that. A shadow in the back of the alley caught her attention and she thanked Thor and all his friends that she knew how to keep an eye on two things at once. She turned to the mugger, taking in his raggedy jeans, black baseball cap, and the knife in his hands.

“I've heard better,” she informed him, deciding to try distracting him. She didn't think the shadow behind him was a foe, she could see what she thought was glint of red and blue. Either a demon or Spiderman. Both she could deal with better than this, which was, just, wow. Her life was fucked up. “And if you're really going to go with a New York mugging, maybe bring a bigger weapon?” she suggested before she thought it through.

'There you go, Dawnie, give the crazy man ideas!' she scolded herself. The man, for his part, was looking slightly constipated. This was obviously not how he expected this mugging to go. Well, it was about to get even worse for him, because that was definitely Spiderman and he looked ready to drop down on the muggers head. Yup, there he went.

“Thanks,” she said when the idiot went down like a sack of potatoes. “Spiderman, right?”

“Uh...” Spiderman was thinner than she'd been expecting, taller than her, and he really was dressed head to toe in some sort of spandex onesie. She resisted the urge to snicker; he had just saved her from putting her only recent self-defense lessons into practice, she didn't need to make fun of him.

“Thanks for the assist,” she said instead, bending down to pick up the dropped taser. She blew hair out of her face. More softly she muttered, “So could have done without this tonight.”

“You're...welcome?”

Dawn smirked at where he was standing awkwardly in the alley. “Not used to being thanked, huh?”

“Not really,” he agreed and there was something familiar about his voice. She frowned but was distracted from trying to figure it out when Mugger groaned on the ground. A quick flex of Spidey's wrist and webbing anchored the man to the ground by both wrists and his ankles. The knife was still in his hand but there was no way he was using it anytime soon.

“Kinky,” she blinked and Spidey snickered.

Sirens sounded in the distance and Dawn looked out towards the street to see a crowd had formed at the entrance, some with camera's held up. She turned back to Spidey, only to find him up on the nearby fire escape. “Hey!” she called.

He paused and looked back at her. “Yeah?”

“Pass on a message for me?” she asked, thinking it couldn't hurt.

“Um...”

“If you really do know her, tell Gwen not to mention this anywhere in the Tower,” she said. “I really don't need my buddies finding out, especially after the tantrum I just threw with Bruce.”

“....Sure...”

“Dawn!”

“Never-mind,” Dawn sighed, looking over when Bruce pushed his way through the crowd. She saw his eyes flick to where Spidey was swinging away before focusing on her.

“What happened?!” he demanded, coming closer and doing an obvious once-over.

“I have horrible timing,” she informed him. She kicked Mugger with her foot and Bruce looked down. His eyes took on a green tinge, obviously connecting the dots. She hastily but a hand on his arm to calm him down. “Oh, hey, I'm fine. Seriously, I think I confused the guy so he forgot to really do anything. He was definitely not expecting someone like me.”

“'Someone like you?'” he repeated, taking deep calming breaths. Once certain he wouldn't Hulk-out in the cramped area, she nodded.

“I made fun of his weapon choice,” she smirked and Bruce snorted, obviously involuntarily.

“Next time, just throw your purse and run away,” he advised, forcing himself to calm down as the police finally arrived. Dawn pouted.

“But making fun of him is so much more entertaining!”

~~*~~

They were back in the Tower an few hours later, having given statements at the precinct with an odd Clint lookalike, when she asked JARVIS to stop the elevator. She turned to the confused looking Bruce.

“Look, can we just not say anything to the others?” she asked. “I know I was acting like a brat about Brian and everything--”

“No, you were right,” he said. “You are an adult and you need your freedom. We need to back off. Obviously you can take care of yourself.”

“And I need to not just throw a tantrum and actually talk to you guys about my issues,” she said. “I get that, I just...”

“Everyone has a limit, Dawn,” he said, pushing his glasses closer to his face and reminding Dawn painfully of Giles in Sunnydale. He smiled wryly. “I know that better than most.”

“Yeah, well, I wasn't going to say it,” she teased and he laughed.

“I'll talk to the others, let them know we're smothering you. I can't guarantee they'll listen but...”

“Some will.” She was fairly confident of that; Bucky, at least, maybe Clint. Tony, not a chance and if Steve found out about tonight he'd be insufferable...

“If I may,” JARVIS spoke up. “Sir is aware of what has happened this evening.”

“How?!”

“He has me continuously keeping track of any and all police communique,” he answered primly and Dawn groaned. “When you and Dr. Banner were mentioned, I informed him.”

“Yeah, don't do that next time,” she ordered.

“I make no promises,” JARVIS answered and the elevator began lifting again.

“Time to face the music,” Bruce said and Dawn looked over at him.

“Can we not mention my massively bad timing tantrum?” she asked hopefully and he nodded, a small smile on his face. The doors opened and the men were all there, waiting impatiently. Steve yanked her out of the elevator, hands hovering over her arms and torso, looking for injuries. She slapped at him but was ineffectual. Only once Steve was convinced she was uninjured did he tug her into a hug.

“No more going outside alone after dark,” he said into her hair. Nearby, she could hear someone snort.

“Yeah, good luck with that,” Bucky said and underneath the worry, she could clearly hear the amusement in his voice. “She's eighteen, Steve. Remember what we got up to once we turned eighteen?”

Steve tensed even further and Dawn rolled her eyes. “Thanks Bucky, now he's going to ground me until I'm thirty!”

“The idea has merit,” Tony said. Dawn squawked as she was tugged out Steve's hold and into Clint's. “I didn't get to play the uncool dad with teenage Darcy.”

Dawn was torn between wanting to melt at the thought and shout indignantly. She settled for making a strangled cat sound against Clint's chest.

“You can't ground her, Tony,” Bruce said patiently and thank God for sympathetic doctors! “How will she go on her date with Brian if she's grounded?”

Damn him!

“Brian?” Clint asked suspiciously. He pulled her out to arms length, glaring at her. “Who's Brian?”

“Isn't that the name of the boy who took you to prom?” Bucky added, frowning. He made the word “boy” sound like it was something dirty.

“You're not old enough to be dating,” Steve said, arms crossed, and everyone stopped to stare at him incredulously. He stared stubbornly back, even though she could tell he was regretting the words. “She's not!”

Dawn sighed.

She had a feeling Plan: Dawnie's Freedom was going to be an ongoing endeavor.
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