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
. Sometimes, the biggest threat doesn't come from without—it comes from within. Warning:
SPOILERS FOR THE AVENGERS! Timelines still wonky. A/N 1:
So my whole plan was to do a set of interludes explaining, well, a bunch of stuff that happens between Star Spangled Man
and Hand of Sorrow
(formerly Powers of the World). Then I realized...yeah. You don't need to really know most of those stories to understand HoS so why not post simultaneously? Ha!
Also, tomorrow is my birthday but as I will be teaching a bunch of ten year old's, I will not have a chance to post so you get this today! Happy Hobbit Day!
“C'mon Ten, leave me alone for a minute, I need...where the hell is my shoe?!”
Ten bumped into her ass again and Dawn, wiggling out from under her bed, turned around with the intention of yelling at the machine.
She lurched forward instead.“My shoe!”
“Mistress!” Ten squeaked and Dawn suddenly recalled the tiny little robot did not like to be hugged. She let him go.
“Seeing you with that thing always disturbs me,” Buffy said from the doorway. Dawn smirked, taking the shoe from Ten and slipping it on.
Ten was a Dalek. Well, technically, it was a robot with limited AI that looked
like a foot tall Dalek. Tony had made it for Dawn as a Christmas gift last year, after Darcy blabbed about Dawn's recent and not so little obsession with Doctor Who. It moved on its own, either on the floor or by floating on tiny repulser beams he'd installed. It was completely loyal to Dawn, to the point where it acknowledged Tony as its creator but still sided with her when they got into an argument. It could speak (though not to the extent of JARVIS), and the Key had named him Ten because, as Darcy put it, Dawn had a warped sense of humor.
The group who owned the copyright on Daleks was still trying to get Tony to hand over the schematics or at least go into a partnership to make them en masse, which Tony was still blaming on her. Like it was her fault there'd been a photographer snooping around when she, Darcy, and Rogue had been playing with the little guy in Tony's
“Ten's harmless,” Dawn reminded her sister, watching in amusement as the little Dalek floated over to poke his little suction cup at the blonde and squeak 'Exterminate, exterminate!' Buffy swatted at him and Dawn laughed. “Ten, back off.”
She was almost positive the little guy made a huffing sound of disappointment but obligingly left her sister alone. Perhaps Dawn shouldn't have spent so many hours complaining about Buffy to the little dude.
“You ready to get going?” Buffy asked, deciding to ignore what she considered Dawn's pet. “You need to be there in about fifteen minutes.”
“Good thing Phil knows how to drive in Rome then,” Dawn noted with a grin. Buffy rolled her eyes. She'd learned to drive (eventually) in Sunnydale, but Rome was a whole other kettle of fish and they both knew it. Even Tony
admitted Rome's drivers were crazy and that said something. “But yeah, just let me grab my bag and we'll get going. Ten. Stay here.”
“No go,” she agreed. She could have sworn the little guy was trying to give her puppy dog eyes. She patted him on the head, grinning. “Sorry buddy.”
“Disturbing,” Buffy repeated. ~~*~~
Dawn was standing in the auditorium with the other couple hundred graduating seniors when her phone started blaring from her purse. I'm just your average ordinary everyday superhero
Trying to save the world, but never really sure
I'm just your average ordinary everyday superhero
Nothing more than that, that's all I really am
Luckily they hadn't gotten into line or anything yet, so Dawn pulled it out. It would be one of two people, both of whom knew dozens of ways to kill her if they ever found out what her ring-tone for them was. Given what was about to happen in ten minutes or so, she wasn't surprised to see Clint's face sticking his tongue out at her on the screen. She flipped her phone open.
“Hey Birdbrain,” she greeted. “What's shakin?”
“Oh, not a whole lot,” he answered and she could hear muted sounds behind him. He must be in a public space. “Just wondering if you're up for the after party Tony's planning.”
“So eloquent,” he teased. “”Aren't you about to graduate?”
“I'm not valedictorian, I'm allowed to be slow,” Dawn shot back. Clint laughed. “Seriously, what are you talking about?”
“Tony. Graduation. After. Party. That slow enough for you?” he teased.
“Oh god, don't tell me he came for graduation.” Really, her classmates thought she was weird enough, they didn't need to know Tony Stark had a sort of big brother, paternal thing for her just because she snarked back at him and knew how to make a taser out of anything electronic.
Then again, she was graduating and wouldn't be seeing any of them again after today so...What the hell should she care what they thought? Besides, it would be hilarious to see that bitch Athena's expression at her friendship with the billionaire. Athena had spent the last two years trying to tear her down for being a “middle-class American” when she was the granddaughter of some high-ranking British diplomat. Dawn made a mental note to introduce them at some point.
“We all came,” Clint replied and Dawn almost dropped her phone in shock. “Even Fury.”
At that, Dawn really did drop her phone. “What do you mean you all came, even Fury?!” she hissed, scrambling to get the phone back to her ear. Nearby, a classmate gave her an odd look before turning back to his buddies.
“It's your high school graduation, Dawn,” Clint reminded her; like she didn't know that, like she wasn't in the damn cap and gown, waiting for the halls to clear so they could line up. “We weren't going to miss it. The F-Four and most of the X-Men are gonna cover if something comes up; we've been planning this for months.”
Dawn wasn't sure what to say to that. “Oh god, who's our speaker?” she demanded suddenly. The principal had been insanely secretive about it—not even their class sponsor on the faculty knew. “Tell me it's not Tony!”
“It's not Tony,” he laughed. “He contacted them about it himself a month ago but they'd already signed someone up. Tony pouted for hours.”
Dawn practically slid down the wall she was leaning against in utter relief. Thank God.
She could only imagine how that particular commencement speech would have gone. Being an honest to god superhero had calmed him down a lot (at least according to Pepper) but he was still unequivocally Tony
“Do you know who it is?” she asked, looking over when someone called her name. The teachers were starting to get them all in line. She had about four minutes, she thought, before they started getting irritated.
“Yup,” he answered, all amused smugness, and she scowled. “You'll find out soon enough. Trust me, it'll be worth it.”
Dawn winced. “I gotta jet, see you soon Birdbrain.”
“See you soon, Little D.”
She hung up, slipped her phone back in her purse, and jogged over to where her former PE teacher was glaring. “Sorry,” she said. “Big brother has nerves.”
The man rolled his eyes and pointed.
“Between Summerby and Stevenson,” he ordered. She gave him a sarcastic salute and took her place between the British and the Canadian seniors.
It took almost twenty minutes to get the students all in the correct order (twice people started moving around and the teachers had to corral them back in place). By the time everyone was ready, they were ten minutes late.
Standing in the hallway outside the large gym, Dawn did one more quick check of her make up and hair and then followed the guy in front of her into the room. Almost immediately her face turned beet red.
“You the girl!”
Dawn couldn't help but laugh as Tony suddenly became under the glare of Buffy, Natasha, Sif, and Darcy, who she grinned at spotting. Her classmates were laughing as well, though some looked stunned (Dawn inwardly crowed when she saw Athena's expression) and she decided that she was just lucky they weren't being any more obnoxious.
They were all there, the Scoobies, the Avengers, and even Rogue and Scott, who must have come with the New Yorkers. Steve was standing next to Buffy, an arm around her shoulder as they watched her proudly. Scott was on Buffy's other side, with Rogue next to him, Darcy after her, and Tony bringing up the end of the row. Clint, Natasha, Phil, Bruce, and Bucky were standing in front of them and in front of them
were Thor, Sif, and the Warriors Three, all of them in Earth clothes. Voltstagg gave an overly enthusiastic wave when he saw her looking and Fandral blew a kiss as Hogan nodded regally. She laughed.
Giles was behind Buffy, with Fury on one side and Willow on the other. Next to Willow was Xander, and Dawn's eyes pricked when she saw Spike and Angel had both shown up. Next to Angel was Faith, Vi, Rona, and Kennedy, who despite imploding with Willow, had turned out to be a good friend.
Once everyone was in their seats, the headmaster got up and started talking. Dawn didn't pay much attention, too busy looking around the stage. A flash of red hair caught her eye and Dawn straightened in her seat, staring at Pepper Potts, who was sitting next to the President of the Board of Trustees.
No wonder Clint had been amused by the speaker—Tony had gotten beaten out of the commencement speech by his own girlfriend
. Pepper caught her eye and winked. Dawn broke down in giggles.
By the time Pepper was actually introduced, Dawn had gotten herself back under control but only barely.
(It should be noted that glancing back at Tony to see his reaction as Pepper took the podium did not help the giggles, nor did catching Pepper's eye as the woman stood at the podium. That was one woman who understood Dawn far, far too well).
Pepper's speech was epic, in Dawn's not so humble opinion. In between the congratulations and lauding their achievement, there were TONS of little digs at Tony and even the other Avengers, many of which no one but the people in question and their peeps caught. Dawn's favorite, which none of her classmates understood, was Pepper's comment about taking twelve percent of the credit for their achievement, as they, sadly, did not get through thirteen years of school on their lonesome. She'd glanced back at Tony to see him groaning as Natasha and Buffy both smirked at him. Turning back to the stage, Dawn stifled her giggles. Oh yeah. Pepper was awesome-sauce.
After the commencement address, they had the handing out of diploma's. Dawn was near the back, which wasn't as bad as she'd always feared; the school was really
small, given it was one of the few international academies in Rome. She only had 34 students in front of her, with an additional 16 after her. Nevertheless, it took an hour for them to get to her, because the academy had a tradition of announcing the after graduation plans of each student as they handed the diplomas. Dawn glanced back and snickered; Buffy and Steve were both leaning forward eagerly, expectant expressions on their faces. Neither knew what Dawn's plans for post-graduation were yet, Dawn hadn't told them, so her sister and brother were really looking forward to this part.
“Dawn Marie Summers,” her school counselor announced as Dawn stepped up onto the stage to deafening cheers and bellows from the peanut gallery. Dawn laughed as Pepper side-stepped the headmaster to give her a quick hug before she accepted her diploma from the startled man. The counselor continued, only hesitating slightly in surprise. “Dawn has gotten two full scholarships, from Stark Industries and the Sineya Council, to attend the school of her choosing. She's gained a four year, part-time paid internship with linguist Dr. Jessica Monroe while she studies ancient languages at Columbia University in New York City.”
Dawn had known about the scholarships—she and Buffy had argued with Tony about the SI one for a good month, because it was less a legitimate scholarship and more him throwing money at her for school because he liked her—but the internship was news to her. She stumbled slightly, looking over at the peanut gallery wide-eyed as they continued cheering and screaming themselves hoarse. Her eyes caught Fury and he smirked knowingly at her as she almost fell down the stairs.
No wonder he'd come with, the conniving bastard!
Making her way back to her seat, she remained standing, staring at nothing in particular as she tried to come to grips with her job offer—which was definitely what the so-called internship was, she knew. She barely heard the rest of her graduation ceremony, too stunned by the turn of events. As they were dismissed, she followed the rest of her classmates as they filed back into the hallway. From there, they were forced outside into the quad, which had been transformed into party central, with cake, drinks, and areas set up for picture taking.
Clutching her diploma in one hand, she looked up at Pepper when the woman finally joined her, wrapping her in a hug.
“What just happened?”
“Fury offered you a job,” she answered knowingly as around them, teachers and students alike stared. As far as they were concerned, she should not know Pepper as well as she obviously did. “Tony was going to do so too but Fury somehow talked him out of it. Either way, you'll be working in the Tower—Dr. Monroe was recently transferred to help the Avengers linguistics division.”
“The Avengers have a linguistics division?” Dawn asked dumbly and Pepper gave her a sympathetic look as she pushed a piece of hair out of her face.
“They do now,” she answered as parents, family, and friends began streaming into the quad. “Dr. Monroe's job is mostly coding and whatnot, but she accepted it because she can publish again in the new position. You're gonna love the lab we have—Tony never said it, but I'm pretty sure he designed it specifically with you in mind.”
Dawn whimpered and Pepper laughed. Then the peanut gallery descended like a pack of wild freakin' dogs and Dawn wasn't given any more time to freak out about having an honest to God job offer from the cycloptic director of Heroes-R-Us. They were all talking over each other, laughing and joking around, and she only caught maybe one in every three comments, they were all so jumbled.
“You did it!”
“How's it feel knowing you could legitimately stay out of school for the rest of your life and not get yelled at?” That was Clint and in between Xander and Willow's arms, she could see Natasha and Phil both smack him upside the head.
“So proud of you, Niblet,” Spike whispered when he picked her up and twirled her around in a circle. “Always knew you'd do well.”
“Didn't you get into Culver? Culver's got just as good a linguistics program as Columbia,” Dawn had been set down and was somewhat dizzy when Jane got to her, looking all dismayed—Culver and Columbia were rivals so she couldn't be pleased with Dawn's choice.
“Congratulations on your auspicious achievement, Lady Dawn!” Volstagg and Thor embraced her on either side, causing her to squeak as Sif, Hogan, and Fandral laughed next to them. Sif reached forward and grasped her forearm, just smiling in approval and not actually saying anything. She might have fought to be a warrior, but in Asgard, even the higher forms of book learning could be difficult for a woman to do, so she was always pleased to see the women of Earth were encouraged to do both—there was a reason she spent so much time here.
“Truly, for wisdom is just as worthy a possession as strength and might,” Hogan agreed quietly and Dawn grinned at him. For all that Volstagg and Fandral made her laugh, Hogan was her not-so-secret favorite of the Warriors Three--most likely because he reminded her of Tara and Oz.
“Why linguistics?!” Tony practically shouted, pushing his way through the Asgardian's to shake a finger in her face. He was acting like he hadn't created the Avengers linguistics lab with her in mind—which meant she probably wasn't supposed to know about that. He gave her a quick kiss on the cheek before leaning back and scowling at her. “You're supposed to go into engineering and play straight girl to my crazy man!”
“WOMAN!” was chorused yet again and Tony threw his hands up in the air as every female glared at him.
“I get it, I get it, she's a little woman, sheesh!” was muttered as Darcy and Rogue elbowed him away to give her a quick hug.
“Why didn't you tell me you got an internship with SHIELD?!” That was Darcy and Dawn opened her mouth to answer that she hadn't known, but Buffy and Steve finally got to her, squishing her in between them.
“I'm so proud of you,” Buffy whispered, tears in her eyes. “And I know mom would be too.”
“As would Peggy,” Steve added, his grip around the two of them tightening to would-have-been-painful-levels-if-she-hadn't-grown-up-with-Buffy's-Slayer-hugs. He caught her eye, smiling softly. “She'd be ecstatic.”
Dawn got a lump in her throat but was able to keep herself under control—last thing she wanted to do was become a blubbering mess with so many people watching.
They stayed just long enough to get the professional pictures the school had set up (which took forever—everyone seemed to want in on the action) before they all left the school sponsored after party for the Stark party.
Walking inside the hotel ballroom Tony had rented out, Dawn started laughing.
Everything was books and languages and even the little cakes had various congratulatory sayings in a variety of languages written in icing. As everyone darted for the food, Dawn turned to find Tony and grabbed him in a hug.
“Thanks, Dad,” she whispered. She didn't often use the term, mostly when she was wanting to just joke around and make him squirm, but somehow it just felt....appropriate today. Tony hesitated before giving her a quick hug back. He still hadn't given any indication, in almost the year she'd started randomly calling him that for laughs, what he thought. He wasn't her father by blood (they still didn't know who was), and he wasn't her brother by choice (like Steve), but he was...something. One of these days she'd figure out what.
“Good job, kiddo,” he said quietly before looking over at the bar. “Now where's my scotch?!”
And with that, it was like nothing had ever happened, Tony arguing with Pepper about whether or not he would be drinking as Buffy came over and wrapped an arm around her shoulders.
“Stark sure knows how to party,” her sister noted. Dawn gave a semi-critical look around before looking down at the blonde, a mischievous smile on her lips.
“Well, it's not fire and smoke and explosions, but I suppose it'll do.”
She mentally counted down, waiting for it. Four, three, two, one.