In which Dawn's family life takes an odd turn...
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 earelen, RevDorothyL, Harry, MarcusSLazarus (btw, YES!), Misty, kiwi, Calex, LostSpartan, Duchess, Inoeth, CageFire, Morgomir, gnomegoddess, & KWJordan for the reviews!A/N 1:
I apologize for the wait but it turns out the ulnar tunnel may just be a bit more serious than we originally thought. I'm up for more tests soon and should know what the hell is going on with my arm once the results come in. In the meantime, I can only go so long typing before my wrist aches to the point of agony so... As I refuse to post chapters that are less than 1500-2000 words, this will be slow going for the unforeseeable future. :(Personal Note:
Thanks to Calex for the new header!**SPOILERS FOR THE AVENGERS!**
In which Dawn's family life takes an odd turn...Genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist...Father?Tony Stark, Secret DadPaternal Stark
“Okay, that one I like,” Dawn noted, looking over at where Darcy was going through all the magazine and newspaper articles that had popped up since the press release the day before. The paps wrote quick
. “Who wrote that one?”
“Christine,” Darcy replied, chewing on her cereal. “Its a prelude blurb to the big article for their website.”
“Read it?” Dawn requested as Tony came inside the kitchen and plopped down at the island with them and Steve.
A plate was put in front of him and Dawn hid a smile at the face he made before he thanked Bruce. “Not that I'm not thankful or anything but what are you doing in my kitchen?” the engineer asked even as he dug in.
“I figured you, Pepper, Darcy, Dawn, and Steve deserve to be minimally pampered today,” Bruce shrugged. “So I came to make breakfast.”
Before Tony could answer that—and he definitely had something to say—Darcy started reading.
“I've done many articles over the years when its come to celebrity fathers. From those expecting their first to the lucky gentlemen dealing with teenage hormones, I've had my fair share of fatherly interaction. But nothing could have prepared me for the interview I did with Anthony “Tony” Stark, billionaire genius of Stark Industries and the hero known as Iron Man. From just how he found out about his previously hidden daughter, to the preparations and safeties put in place to protect her, the biggest surprise came not from learning about Darcy Stark. It came, instead, from discovering that underneath the playboy exterior Tony Stark is prime father material—and in the course of gaining one daughter, he may have also gained another.
Darcy set down the article, doing that thing where she was pretending not to look at someone but kept doing it with quick eye rolls. Dawn didn't even bother to try for subtlety: she smiled widely at Tony. He looked flummoxed.
“Is that it?” Steve asked, frowning.
“Yup,” Darcy said. “There's a little blurb about getting the full interview in next weeks magazine, plus one-on-one interviews with me and 'Darcy's best friend, Dawn Summers.' Its meant to be a hook, to get people to buy copies when they go on sale. It'll probably work.”
“What about the other articles?” Bruce asked when Tony still seemed unable to function.
“Mostly just stuff that was in the press release,” Darcy said, flipping through them. She stopped at one, looking livid. She put it down and visibly got control of herself. “This one claims they have an interview with my old college roommate. I'm gonna have to give it to Pepper.”
“Why?” Steve asked. Dawn wondered that too but she was more concerned about Tony—he really did look like someone had broken him.
“Because Becca dropped out sophomore year and six months later died of alcohol poisoning,” Darcy answered flatly. “So there is no way they got an interview with her unless they held a seance.”
“Could it be another roommate?” Bruce asked as Steve scowled at the paper in Darcy had just set aside.
“Nope,” Darcy answered and she was obviously upset. “Becca was my only one—I got my own apartment after sophomore year and Becca was with me freshman year too. God, I hope her parents don't see this—they were devastated when she died.”
Tony abruptly stood up, walking out of the room. Through the archway, she could see him hesitate a moment before heading to the elevator that led to his labs.
“What was that about?” Steve asked, frowning. Dawn and Darcy exchanged looks,conversing silently. Should you or should I?Maybe neither?No, one of us has to go to him or he'll stay cooped up all day.You go, I really do need to talk to Pepper about all this and he's not ready to have that talk with me.
Nodding, Dawn turned to Steve and Bruce. “Reread the last part of the blurb,” she ordered, grabbed Tony's unfinished plate, and heading upstairs.
Dawn made her way into the elevator as Steve and Bruce both reached for the newspaper. She looked up as the elevator doors slid silently behind her. “JARVIS, can you make sure there's no recording going on when I get there—I don't want anyone to know about this conversation.”
“In the interest of protecting Sir, I will,” JARVIS agreed after a moment.
“Good,” she nodded and the doors slid open again, this time at Tony's penthouse lab. She patted the wall slightly and stepped into the room.
Tony was already at the desk, a a hologram of a boot in front of him and Dummy and You nearby, hovering with a hopeful air. In the corner was Ten, in his power alcove. Tony kept saying he was going to put one upstairs for her but he kept forgetting—and she had no intention of reminding him. Knowing her luck, she'd get a sentient toaster or something if she let him have free access to her apartment like that.
Dawn wandered around the lab, not speaking or even showing that she was there—she knew he knew. It took almost five minutes, almost a record with him, before he spoke himself. “I'm fine,” he said, not looking up from his work. “You can leave.”
“Nope, really can't,” Dawn said, picking up a wrench and weighing it in her hand. Lightweight, like most of his tools, and made of a metal she didn't recognize. If needed, it would make a fairly nice throwing weapon. “Christine meant it as a compliment.”
He didn't reply, but by the way he tensed, she knew he'd heard her and knew what she was talking about.
“You are a great dad,” Dawn continued, wandering closer to him. She kept out of arms length, knowing from experience that you didn't get too close too soon or it spooked him. In some ways, he and Spike had similar quirks.
“I wouldn't know,” Tony replied flatly. “And you're not my daughter.”
Dawn wasn't going to lie, that kinda stung. “Not biologically,” she agreed. “But blood does not will out in the end.”
“That's why your sister was able to sacrifice herself, right?” Tony said with just a touch of sarcasm and Dawn flinched.
“That was different,” she said and she wondered for a moment if she should tell him. Thor was still the only one who knew the full story, everyone else, even Steve, still thought Mom had had an affair that resulted in Dawn. She hadn't even told Darcy yet.
“Right, because of some voodoo,” he snorted.
“Don't knock the voodoo, dude,” she warned. “That shit's nasty.”
He snorted again and she decided to let that lay—for now. “Look, you're not the only one in the deadbeat dad club,” she said and that was totally not what she'd been planning to say.
“My father...” he trailed off, his hands stilling. “He did his best.”
“Yeah, but it wasn't good enough,” she said. “I get that, trust me—Hank did his best
“He's not your father, doesn't count,” Tony argued and Dawn had a feeling Howard Stark was now completely off the table. Mostly, anyway.
“I thought he was for fourteen years so...yeah, kinda does,” she said. “Hank was always a douche, always fawned over Buffy—I was the unplanned kid, the one he didn't want.”
Tony turned around, frowning. “What...”
“You thought I hated Hank because he wasn't my father, or because of the crap he pulled after the divorce? Nope, sorry, Hank was a douche since the day I was born. And not just to me, though it took Buffy longer to realize it.”
“What did he do?” There was an anger there, in his gaze, and Dawn stared back.
“He never hit us but abuse doesn't just mean physical as I'm pretty sure you know,” she told him softly and he flinched. “Buffy's insanely smart—coulda gotten straight A's easily if she wanted, even with everything she went through in high school—wanna know why she didn't?”
“Because Hank made it clear that he wanted a princess, a dumb blonde princess he could show off to his clients and coworkers. Being popular was what he wanted his daughter to be, not smart, not caring. Buffy...she did a soduko puzzle once in about five minutes, she was about thirteen. Instead of being proud of how quickly she'd done it, like Mom was, Hank tore it up and tossed it in the fire, and yelled at her for writing on one the gifts he got from his client, even though everyone knew he wasn't going to do it,” Dawn told him, remembering the entire fiasco. “I remember it because Buffy changed the next day. She went to the mall with his credit card and....well, the Ice Queen was born. She didn't start thawing until after she was Called.”
“Buffy started the blonde routine because of Hank?” Tony asked after a moment and Dawn nodded.
“Yup,” she agreed. “She still had hope he'd come around though, which is why everything post-divorce was so hard on her. I gave up on him years ago, before the divorce.”
Tony was quiet for several seconds, turning back to his project. His back was tense and Dawn wondered what was going through his head. She found out a moment later when Tony waved a hand and everything he'd been working on disappeared into the ether. Another wave and something new popped up.
She straightened, moving closer to the holographic projection. “Is that me?”
“Yup,” he agreed, pushing what looked like test results off to the side. “Buffy sent me the paternity tests they'd already done. All of them negative.”
She'd known that, of course, because Giles had insisted Dawn know the results of every test done. Which had been a lot, actually, as a stray comment from Faith had made them also test all the other women in the council who'd been around at time of Dawn's creation. A spell Willow had come up with had assured them Dawn's other parent was still alive, as there were a few people they thought it might be who had died (Wesley had been high up on the list, given his intelligence and physical appearance matched Dawn's). None of the Scoobies had come back positive, nor had Riley or Graham (none of them had actually thought it'd be Gray but Sam had convinced him to do the test too just to make Riley feel better about it all). Tony didn't seem to know who the tests were of, though, which made sense. They'd have to explain everything if he did.
“So you're really serious about finding my bio-pops?” she asked, stepping up closer to him. He glanced at her for a split second before turning his attention back to the holograms in front of him.
“I...don't know,” she said. “I might actually have a way but...”
He turned to her fully then, frowning. “What do you mean you have a way?”
“It's a potion-spell I found in the Council archives when I was in London,” she explained after a moment. “It creates a complete family tree, even with people you don't know you're related to. It could tell me who my bio-pops is.”
“Why the hell haven't you done it?!” he demanded. “I know you're not the best witch in the world but couldn't you have asked Willow for help?”
“I'm not sure I want to,” she admitted, hesitantly. “What if...what if, whoever it is, is worse than Hank?”
She didn't like how small her voice got then but it was too late to take it back. Tony was scowling at her.
“Then you tell him he's a dick and you come back to your real family,” he said firmly. She raised an eyebrow at him.
“My real family, huh?”
Tony's eyes widened as he realized what he'd said. “Forget I said that,” he ordered and Dawn felt a smile creep up at the utter panic on his face. “Seriously, stop, or I will figure out how to make a neuralizer and do it for you!”
She couldn't stop herself; she wrapped her arms around the other man, hugging him.
“No worries, Dad,” she said and it wasn't even teasing this time. “I won't tell anyone you're a big ole softie.”
He struggled for a moment and she could almost feel it when he rolled his eyes and gave in, wrapping her in a hug.
“Don't go spreading it around,” he said gruffly, chin going to her shoulder. “I have a bad rep to keep.”
“Uh huh,” she agreed, snuggling in closer.
They remained quiet for a few seconds, just basking (or, rather, Dawn was basking, Tony was probably thinking of ways to get her to do the damn potion-spell). It was broken only when the two of them were suddenly covered in fire retardant foam.
Two days later, Dawn got up from the cross-legged position she'd been in for the past three hours, stretching numb legs and arms. She hated time-consuming spells like this, especially when she was nervous about it in the first place. If not for Tony and Bucky, I wouldn't have even have done it,
she thought somewhat crossly to herself.
Tony had let slip she had a way to find out who her dad was, mostly to get the attention off of himself. Steve, Clint, Bruce, Natasha, Thor, and Darcy had kept looking at her expectantly and all had tried asking, in their own ways, why she hadn't done it yet. It was Bucky who'd eventually sat her down and listened and talked her into doing what she was fearful of.
She peeked over at the sheet she'd put down on the floor of her suite, biting her lip when she saw the various writing that had appeared on it in while she'd been meditating.
The potion portion had been fairly easy—the worst part of that was the blood component and that was only because Dawn was naturally wary of all spells that required blood (especially her own). Once it had been finished, she's soaked the white sheet in the concoction and then laid it flat on the cleared-and-tarp-covered living room floor. The spell portion required constant contact with the sheet while she chanted a spell and meditated for three hours. Technically she could have gone shorter, it equaled out to two generations for every hour she did the spell, but she'd decided she might as well go back six and find out if there were any surprises in the her tree (besides the obvious). She'd ordered JARVIS to let her know once the allotted time was up (though, technically, she'd told him three and a half hours because she'd known she'd need time to get into her meditative trance).
“Your vital signs appear somewhat weak,” JARVIS noted as she stumbled. “Should I call Sir?”
“No,” she replied firmly. “I'll be fine, spells like this always take the strength of the caster—you can put that in the file I know Tony has you compiling on magic.”
“Yes, Miss Dawn,” JARVIS replied and he sounded apologetic. “Sir doesn't understand magic.”
“I know, Jar,” she assured him. “We all knew once we told him he'd investigate. He's a bit too much like Willow in that way.”
“If you say so,” JARVIS replied, sounding skeptical. “Perhaps now would be a good time to investigate your family tree?”
Dawn glanced over at the sheet again. “You haven't scanned it or read it or anything, right?” She'd asked him not to but if Tony ordered it...
“I have not,” JARVIS assured her. There was a pause and then, “Sir may have told me to but Miss Potts and Miss Darcy scolded him and he rescinded the order.”
Dawn rolled her eyes. Of course they had. “So they all know what I'm getting into in here?” She was carefully avoiding actually looking at the sheet, still nervous. This was a welcome distraction, ironically enough.
“The team took turns watching over you on video,” JARVIS explained. “Dr. Banner insisted we keep an eye on your vitals as well, especially once I told him one of the ingredients seemed to be your own blood.”
Dawn blinked. Willow had assured her, once she'd looked the spell and potion over for herself, that Dawn would be fine. It was one of the easiest and non-invasive spells a witch could perform and the only danger was the blood—someone who was anemic or had blood problems should probably steer clear. Buffy had still asked for a second opinion from Giles but once he called on the Devon coven to confirm what Willow said, Buffy told Dawn it was her decision on whether or not she should do it. She wondered briefly if JARVIS had told the team she was doing it or if Buffy had called and warned them since there was little chance her sister could get here in time herself.
“Miss Dawn, my scans of the room do indicate the sheet is dry,” JARVIS said. “Perhaps now is the time?”
“Tony's bugging you about me getting on with it, isn't he?”
Dawn rolled her eyes again. “For the love of...” she took a deep breath and turned to the sheet, aware the team was probably still watching her, even if they couldn't read what was on her tree. She started at the top, scanning down. She lingered on a few names, frown in place, but kept going. Bartlett, Harkness, Jackson, Evans...she'd look into them later. It wasn't until she saw a familiar name that she stopped completely and stared.