In which Dawn's life becomes more complicated...
Hand of SorrowDisclaimer:
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 Duchess, Harry, kiwi, RevDorothyL, HmaxMarius, morgyair, Misty, Angelskuuipo, CageFire, betascud, & chrysanne for the reviews!A/N 1:
Happy Christmas!**SPOILERS FOR THE AVENGERS!**In which Dawn's life becomes more complicated...
Dawn didn't like falling asleep on the couch in the Avengers living room. The first time she'd done it, Clint had drawn a mustache on her; the second, she'd gotten sat on by Thor because he hadn't been paying attention and didn't realize that under the blanket, she had legs
So when she woke up in the living room to find the ceiling was moving, she understandably began wondering what the hell did the team have planned for her now?
It took her a few seconds to remember how she'd gotten there. There was decorating her office with Bucky and Clint (and Steve, who'd shown up halfway through to see how her first day was going), followed by dinner with the team and co at a little Indian place Bruce had found and wanted to try. Then they'd gone back to the Tower and Stark had had the bright idea to watch Fellowship of the Ring since they hadn't, surprisingly, shown any of the movies to Steve yet (and Bucky admitted to not having seen them either). Dawn was pretty sure she'd fallen asleep somewhere about the time Gandalf had died.
Once certain she knew how she'd come to be in the living room, she took a minute to figure out that the ceiling was not moving, her head was, and that was because she was stretched out on the sinfully deep couch, using Clint's chest as a pillow and his arms as a very flimsy blanket.
Well, that's not awkward or anything.
“I'm awake you know,” he rumbled and Dawn shrieked, rolling off of him and onto the floor. There was some laughter from the other end of the room and Dawn groaned, smooshing her face into the carpet. Clint chuckled as she heard him move around. “Sorry.”
“No, you're not,” she said, looking up to find him staring down at her, one hand propping up his head and what the hell, he wasn't wearing a shirt! He grinned at her and she realized she'd said that last part out loud.
“No, I'm not,” he agreed.
“What...is going on?”
“Dawn woke up, Clint woke up, and then he startled her and she fell off the couch,” Bruce answered from where he was watching with his head in Betty's lap.
“I...see,” Steve said and his arms crossed, staring down at Clint. “Dawn, its three am, why don't you head back to bed?”
It was obviously not a suggestion and fearing Clint was about to get a stern talking to, she decided retreat was the better part of valour and scrambled to her feet and out of the living room.
“It was nothing, Cap, jeez, don't get your panties in a twist,” she heard the archer say and she could practically hear him rolling his eyes.
“Why aren't you wearing a shirt?”
“I honestly have no idea,” Clint admitted after a moment. “I sometimes lose clothes when I fall asleep, I still don't know how.”
Despite herself, Dawn snickered. That was so not going to fly with Steve.
“You...lose your clothes?” The amount of skepticism in that man's voice...
“Yes,” Clint said, defensive now. “Natasha'll back me up. ... Seriously, fuck, Cap, I'd never do anything with her, she's young enough to be my kid!”
“Yes, she is,” Steve agreed.
“Steve, seriously man, she's like my younger sister,” Clint said and it sounded like he was starting to get angry. “I simply don't think about her like that. It's gross.”
“Miss Summers?” JARVIS broke in quietly and Dawn jumped about a foot in the air from where she was leaning towards the entrance to the living room. “The elevator has arrived. I suggest you get on.”
“Eavesdropping is rude?” she guessed and did as she was told, aware Steve really didn't believe Clint and was making that very apparent in the living room.
“Eavesdropping is rude,” JARVIS agreed.~~*~~
Things were tense the next day, with Clint and Steve glowering at each other every time they were in the same room. Natasha had tried to explain that Clint hadn't been lying about the clothes thing but, instead of helping, it only made Steve more upset and determined that Dawn would not be left alone with the man again.
Dawn and Clint, through a silent conversation with their eyes, decided never to mention that falling asleep on each other was not all that uncommon since they'd met—they'd done it several times whenever he'd visit her and Buffy in Rome and she'd done it twice when she'd visited the Tower. It was only awkward recently because, A, it had never happened outside of one of their apartments, B, they'd never settled down laying together with him wrapping her in his arms, and C, he'd been shirtless.
Tony, naturally, thought the entire thing was hilarious—he believed Clint when the archer mentioned he had no sexual intentions towards Dawn. It was something that rankled the captain, as Steve had seemed so sure Tony would, for once, side with him considering everything he'd been doing to Dawn to make her “safe and happy.”
Bruce was trying to stay out of it but Dawn knew if push came to shove, he'd be on Clint's side. He'd been in the room, he knew the score as well as anyone. Betty was siding with neither man, instead pointing out that neither of them really had any say on what DAWN did with her body. She was old enough to have sex (which made Steve, Clint, and
Bruce all turn red) and if she wanted to hang all over a shirtless and yummy Clint (“sorry Bruce”), Dawn damn well could and the only person who could object was Clint himself. Dawn had already been growing fond of the other woman before that, but her scolding of the two men put her firmly on Dawn's list of “Awesome and Kickass Women I Adore.”
Thor seemed cheerfully oblivious to everything going on but Dawn had overheard Sif tell Natasha that Steve's overprotective nature was charming only up to a point and he was currently surpassing that point. So was Tony but, as Sif had said, that was an entirely different matter and was less protecting and more spoiling.
Darcy's only response was to complain that Dawn now knew what Clint felt like shirtless instead of her and that it was totally unfair. Thankfully, Tony had not been present for that declaration. Neither wanted to find out what the billionaire would do if he found out his daughter had been harboring a crush on the archer almost from the moment they'd met in New Mexico three years previously.
“The latest trend has hit its peak
They say that geek's becomin' chic
So now you're out of style as you can be
And I'm in vogue, so you can bite me
“Uh oh,” Dawn muttered, pulling her phone out of her pocket. “What does Vi want now?”
Last time Vi had called her, she'd been demanding Dawn do something about Kate, one of the younger slayers in Vi's squad who didn't particularly care for following Vi but listened to Dawn because she was friends with Hawkeye (the girl was slightly obsessed with him as she was an archer too). Dawn accepted the call.
“Vi, give me a sec and I'mma put you on speaker-phone,” she said in lieu of a hello. She thought she could hear Vi huff but ignored that to look up at the ceiling. “JARVIS?”
“Isn't that the computer guy Stark's got in his Tower?” Vi answered instead, voice coming from the hidden speakers in the kitchen. “Buffy mentioned him.”
“Yup,” she said, putting her phone on the counter and going back to making her sandwich.
“Huh,” Vi said. “She mentioned he was much better than Moloch...who's Moloch?”
“Demon who got into the computer and tried seducing Willow—it didn't end well,” she answered. “What did you need, Vi?”
“Oh! Right!” Vi said and Dawn smiled slightly, glancing over when Bruce, Bucky, and Clint came into the room, all looking hungry. “Have you seen the magazine SuperBiz this week?”
SuperBiz was a new magazine that followed the exploits of supers, both heroes, villians, and benign. SHIELD had been trying to get them shut down but the mag was simply too popular and, technically, protected by free speech. “No,” Dawn said, frowning. “Do not tell me you called about another quiz.”
“I didn't,” Vi assured her as the men exchanged looks. “No, it's, uh. They have a picture of you in it.”
Dawn froze, eyes widening to the size of saucers as Bruce choked on his water and Bucky and Clint froze. “What?” she got out.
“Yeah, it's a picture of you with Steve,” Vi replied. She sounded disturbed. “They seem to think you're dating. They did a poll in Times Square and asked people what they thought—its kinda funny in that way that things really aren't.”
“Has...” Dawn cleared her dry throat as Bruce snatched his phone up and started texting someone, probably Tony or Pepper. Bucky ran out of the room, most likely to get Steve. Clint came over to hover next to her. “Has Buffy seen it yet?”
“No, I only know about it because Kate's got a subscription and she came to me all freaked out,” Vi said. Kate got the magazine to follow Clint, Dawn knew. This was not something she'd told the Archer—he didn't need the ego boost, his head was big enough already. “They don't know much, they only know your name because of the crazy that was your graduation, but they also had a few pictures of you in the sidebar with the others on the team. It kinda looks like they're making you out to be a super groupie or something.”
“She's not,” Pepper said, coming into the room with Bucky and Steve hot on his heels and looking all business. It was a mark of how serious he was taking whatever Bucky had told him that he didn't even glare at Clint for being so close to her. Pepper's eyes flickered to the cell phone on the counter and then to the ceiling. “Hello, Vi.”
“Hi, Miss Potts,” Vi answered. Vi had met Pepper a year ago at Dawn's last birthday party.
“Pepper?” Dawn asked. It wasn't the first time the paparazzi had noticed Dawn but they'd never confirmed her name and the press had never had enough information on her to really do any deep digging. They'd certainly never thought to have an entire side-bar on her. The most they'd had was right after graduation, a couple magazines and websites had speculated on who Dawn was to garner the attention of the Avengers and co. Some of the mags had seemed to think she was Clint's younger sister, due mostly in part to a picture of Clint hugging her tightly and whispering congratulations in her ear while Buffy stood off to the side with Phil and grinning.
Pepper sighed as the four men and Dawn all looked at her expectantly. “I talked to Buffy and Rupert about this a while ago. It's common knowledge you're friends with Darcy, Dawn, and eventually we will have to reveal who Darcy actually is—when we do, you're gonna end up in the spotlight whether you like it or not.” She hesitated a moment and then sighed. “And someone may already have Darcy. We're looking into it.”
Steve and Clint's expressions both tightened as Bruce pursed his lips and Bucky frowned. Dawn's eyes widened as Vi asked, “Someone knows who Darcy is?” That was one of the tightest secrets of the Avengers. They'd successfully kept it quiet for two years, even with the few close calls they'd had. Vi was one of the few people in the Council (outside of the core Scoobies) who knew the truth, because Vi had once been on bed-rest following a severe attack just as Darcy and Rogue came to visit. They'd bonded.
Pepper made a face. “We're not absolutely certain but...it's looking like they do,” she admitted. “Darcy was told last night we may have to move up the reveal by a couple months.”
“Oh, she must love that,” Dawn noted with a brief grin. Then it faded as she realized what it meant for her. “What do you want me to do?” There was no way in hell Tony and Pepper didn't have a plan for her in the works.
“Darcy is going to do an interview, we'll mention you got kidnapped alongside her for the same reason but a paternity test proved you weren't Tony's,” Pepper said. “Buffy's unhappy about it but she agreed not to control what you do—we'd like to ask Christine if she'd do a side-bar or something on you as well, just so we can control the information. Nothing about the Council will be mentioned, just that you're the granddaughter of Steve's former girlfriend so the two of you are close, like brother and sister. Through him you met and befriended the rest of the Avengers, including Darcy, and Tony has a soft spot for you because, like Darcy, you're not even remotely in awe of him.”
Dawn frowned. “Christine?” She was pretty sure she knew everyone in the SI PR department, having met them after the fiasco with Tony at the charity ball last Christmas.
“Everhardt,” Pepper said and Bruce, Steve, and Clint all relaxed slightly—only Bucky seemed as puzzled as Dawn. “She's one of the few journalists Tony trusts to write a factual article. She's the one who did the initial Avengers interview after the Chitauri attack.”
“Why does Tony trust her so much?” Tony, though he put up a good front of being a picture hog, didn't particularly care for half the articles that came out about him because, in his words, they were mostly conjecture and outright bending of truths. He wasn't really as media crazy as some people painted him as. He tolerated it because it came with the life but he didn't like it.
“Because even though she knew about it, she never wrote anything about him being poisoned by the Arc reactor, back when he was still using the Palladium cores,” Pepper answered and Dawn stared. “Something like that got out, it could have severely damaged SI's stock, not to mention cause unrest by those scared of Iron Man.”
That sort of story could have easily given her clout for life, Dawn knew, maybe even a Pulitzer. It was a mark of her character that she hadn't wrote it. Dawn found herself wondering what the woman was like.
“So what does Dawn do now?” Steve asked. “I mean, its not like you're going to just go in and, I don't know, keep quiet.”
“That's exactly what we're going to do,” Pepper said and Dawn blinked. “The paps will hate it but we keep silent, they have nothing to write about except conjecture. There will probably be more pictures taken of you, people will want to know who you are, that's a given, but nothing will be mentioned at all until we want it to.”
Dawn nodded, somewhat relieved. “Okay,” she said. “How long until that happens?”
“Once we confirm they have it, we'll call Christine in,” the strawberry blonde/redhead outlined. “Christine will do a group interview with me, Darcy, Tony, Darcy's mother and stepfather, and one-on-one interviews with Darcy, Tony, me, and you. All the questions will be pre-approved but you can be as candid as you like. It won't be a big part of the article, I promise, but...”
“It helps you control what they know,” Steve repeated, nodding.
Dawn swallowed but nodded as well. “Okay.”
“We'll send out a press-release prior to the article or articles and if you want, we can make a brief mention of you being Darcy's best friend,” Pepper said, looking at her with sympathy. “It'll mean more pictures of the two of you when you go out but that's going to happen regardless once the planet discovers Tony reproduced. They're going to want pictures of the Stark heiress and ...”
Pepper held out her hands helplessly and Dawn nodded. She'd known that would happen once Darcy came out so...this wasn't news to her. She'd mostly come to terms with it but it would have been nice if she'd had had some sort of preparation before the thing in SuperBiz.
“Hey, um, what do I tell Kate?” Vi asked. “And the other girls? Kate's not the only one with a subscription.”
“Tell them the truth—Steve's like my big brother,” Dawn said and Pepper nodded. “They know Buffy and I are friends with the Avengers, this won't surprise many of them.”
“Okay,” Vi said and then suddenly she groaned. “Oh man, damnit!”
“What?” Dawn asked, frowning as the men tensed. They hated swearing from Slayers, in their experience it never meant anything good.
“Kate is going to be unbearable!” she answered. “If she doesn't petition to be transferred with Buffy and me after this, I'll be very surprised.”
“Oh, I wouldn't find this amusing, D,” Vi said and now she sounded smug. “Cause if she does get to New York, who do you think she's gonna be bugging daily to introduce her to Hawkeye?”
Dawn made a face as Steve snickered—he'd met Kate before, he knew just as well as Dawn how much the teenager idolized the archer.
Said archer who was frowning quizzically at her right now. Dawn mentally flipped Vi the bird when he opened his mouth.